The emergence and rapid spread of the Omicron variety is already taking its toll on US markets and has put the World Health Organization on edge. And that’s a renewed demand for a fourth stimulus check in some people.
To date, nearly 3 million people have signed a Change.org petition calling for recurring payments of $2,000 to adults and $1,000 to children, making it one of the platform’s most signed petitions. And the Senior Citizens League continues to advocate for a special $1,400 incentive to help with cost-of-living adjustments.
But even with Omicron, the odds remain remarkably low, with lawmakers not looking forward to a fourth round of scrutiny.
The variant certainly has a major impact in a short time. The World Health Organization has labeled it a “very high” global risk and says the “unprecedented number of peak mutations” in the variant “could affect the trajectory of the pandemic.” The [hotlink ignore=true]Dow[/hotlink] has lost about 700 points in the past two trading sessions on concerns about the virus, while the S&P index is down 54. And both markets fell sharply during early trading Tuesday.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will tell the Senate today that Omicron could pose a risk to the economy.
“The recent rise in COVID-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity and greater uncertainty for inflation,” he said in prepared remarks to lawmakers, released before his testimony. . “Increased concerns about the virus could reduce people’s willingness to work personally, which would slow progress in the labor market and amplify supply chain disruptions.”
But the widespread availability of vaccines and a better understanding of preventive measures, such as wearing masks, means people aren’t really at home. President Joe Biden said Monday he saw no need for a new lockdown “for now…if people get vaccinated and wear their masks.”
It is also unlikely that state governments will make additional payments, although some still pay out money to their citizens.
In Maine, for example, Governor Janet Mills announced Frontline workers who kept the state economy open during the pandemic will receive a one-time aid check for $285. More than 524,000 people qualify for that bonus.
The Biden administration has historically downplayed talk of a fourth round of stimulus checks, pointing instead to the Child Tax Credit and the American Rescue Plan. Senate Democrats also seem reluctant to support the idea of a fourth check. In March, a group including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders sent a letter to Biden supporting the idea of recurring payments and automatic unemployment insurance renewals.
Virtually nothing has been said about that proposal since then.
This story was originally on Fortune.com