The omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. New COVID cases in the last week of December hit a record seven-day average of 265,000 cases, higher than the previous record of 252,000 cases on January 11, 2021, CNBC reported. The symptoms of the new variant tend to be milder, leading to quarantines and increased absenteeism, disrupt supply chains and even get some schools to close. On the plus side, there are fewer hospital admissions and deaths than we saw in January 2021 with the original strain of COVID, leaving economy slightly less worse for wear.
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Plus, despite the fact that nearly 62% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, there are an alarming number of people vaccinated who catch the virus. Johns Hopkins Medicine reported that some populations have experienced breakthrough infection cases as high as 1 in 100.
While federal and state governments seem reluctant to force shutdowns again, local shutdowns may begin to occur due to a shortage of workers who are able to work because they are in quarantine. Motley Fool reported that President Biden does not intend to enforce widespread corporate closures. But businesses can close if customers are not out shopping or eating, or if there are not enough employees to cover guards.
Plus, despite unemployment being low and the economy seemingly strong, many Americans are still struggling to recover economically. A U.S. census survey conducted in the first two weeks of December 2021 showed that more than 25% of Americans struggled to cover household expenses the previous week.
All of this raises the question: Can US residents expect another stimulus check to boost the economy? Some advocates and lawmakers are demanding a fourth stimulus payment or even ongoing monthly payments until 2022. Over 4 million people have signed up on Change.org petitions requiring $ 2,000 recurring monthly payments for American citizens.
Last spring, 21 Democratic U.S. senators signed a letter to President Biden that also recommended recurring monthly payments.
Wall Street analysts, however, say a fourth stimulus check does not seem likely, in part because pumping more money into the economy could accelerate inflation. Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at the Commonwealth Financial Network, said in a note reported by CBS News: “One cause of inflation has been a explosion of demand driven by federal stimulus“Now that the stimulus is over, he argued, inflation and supply chain problems will continue to subside.
A supply of cash to the economy can increase inflation, which can offset the benefits of additional stimulus funds.
Instead of hoping for more stimulus money, wrote Motley Fools Maurie Backman, we should hope companies can stay open and that the omicron stem remains mild and ends quickly.
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This article was originally published on GOBankingRates.com: Stimulus check in 2022? How Omicron could give rise to discussions on further relief payments