CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM / Public domain
In 2020, COVID-19 ripped through our nation like a plague, devastating us in every way possible. It has drastically changed our lives. We will never work and interact the same way again.
The disease reared it’s ugly head in a Chinese seafood and meat market in Wuhan, China in late 2019. In less than a year’s time, the coronavirus has spreaded to more than 177 countries, sickening 11.8 million people and killing 544,200. The World Health Organization declared it as a pandemic.
Currently, the U.S. has 3.29 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and a whopping 137, 000 deaths. The virus, its symptoms and its worse case scenario has impacted people’s psychological process, causing us to shift into our own personal survivor’s mode. Some people panicked. Their survivor instincts told them to prepare and isolate. While others soothed themselves by diminishing the virus’ debilitating and terminal capabilities. Convincing themselves that it’s no worse than the flu and acting like it doesn’t exist.
It’s difficult to accept the fact that there’s a virus that has no vaccine or cure at this time. You can’t help but feel like you’re trapped inside of a nightmare. However, the sooner we all accept that COVID-19 is more dangerous than the flu, that it shouldn’t be taken lightly and start taking the necessary precautions to curve the spread of the virus, we can beat this thing.
With one half believing the severity of it and the other half that doesn’t, COVID-19 has created more division in an already divided nation. Trump –seated in the highest office in the U.S.– has encouraged the disbelieving half of the nation by rejecting medical advice and feuding with top health official, Dr. Anthony Fauci time and time again.
Trump has no medical degree, yet he is confident enough to argue with a medical professional about the virus and refuses to take preventative measures that was advised, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. His defiance is divisive, and it’s resonating among the disbelieving half of the nation.
Trump was informed about COVID-19 and its potential to spread during two intelligence briefings on Jan. 23 and Jan 28. However, he failed to prepare the country for what was to come. He should’ve been assisting hospitals with stocking up inventory, securing COVID-19 tests, trying to come up with a plan of action to keep Americans safe and financially afloat if the worse case scenario came about, and seeking advice from medical professionals and actually adhering to it. Instead, he downplayed the severity of the virus as to not affect the economy.
During the national shutdown, nearly 40 million Americans were unemployed. The 40 million doesn’t even include the freelancers and the self-employed. Mortgage and rent payments were due. Utility bills were due. Car payment was due. Schools closed so children that depended on school lunches to eat everyday were now hungry. Hopes and dreams were postponed. Americans drained their savings trying to survive, while the nation’s wealthy 1% was still getting richer.
On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress in an effort to address the economic fallout. The bill was estimated at $2.2 trillion that was supposed to be distributed among taxpayers, hospitals, veterans, SSI recipients, Social Security recipients, businesses, U.S. states, etc. Additionally, it expanded unemployment benefits and SNAP benefits.
Another part of the CARES Act was the one-time $1,200 stimulus payment that was probably less than Trump’s weekly grocery bill.
For many Americans, they were able to receive a direct deposit of the $1200 payment, but Trump the narcissist had to have his name printed on each check before the remaining struggling low and middle class Americans were sent a stimulus payment. The Treasury Department, however, denied that adding Trump’s name to the checks delayed the delivery. According to the Washington Post, this was the first time that a president’s name had to appear on an IRS disbursement of any sort.
Some people never received a $1200 stimulus payment. However, a million dead people received coronavirus stimulus payments, totaling $1.4 billion.
The $1200 stimulus payment is equal to four weeks of minimum wage payment plus an extra $40. That’s it. The Trump Administration gave Americans the bare minimum to survive on. Other countries –on the other hand– had leaders that were more concerned about the welfare of their people rather than the contents of their wallets. These world leaders gave their citizens enough money to stay home and social distance, allowing COVID-19 to cases to decline.
Stimulus packages around the world:
UK: 80% of workers’ salaries
Denmark: 75% of workers’ salaries
S Korea: 70% of workers’ salaries
Netherlands: 90% of workers’ salaries
Canada: $2k per month
Australia: $1k per month
US: One time $1200 check that may take months to arrive
— Nate Lerner (@NathanLerner) April 10, 2020
This doesn’t even include the generous financial help that these countries provided to small businesses and freelancers.
Under the CARES Act, unemployment benefits significantly exceeded expectations. It was $385 a week in January. After the CARES Act passed, unemployed Americans are getting $600 a week in unemployment benefits plus the amount each state provides every month for four months. Unemployment benefits are being distributed based on the average median replacement rate of 134%. Low wage earners are collecting more from unemployment benefits than they were when they were working.
The median UI replacement rate is 134%. Intuitively, the median wage in the US is well below the mean. A worker who gets say $700/week at her job will get about $1000/week in benefits.
The lower the prior wage, the higher the replacement rate. pic.twitter.com/pPRB6OGlbf
— Peter Ganong (@p_ganong) May 15, 2020
That’s where the money is for some Americans because that one-time $1200 stimulus payment was barely enough to pay rent or mortgage for one month, depending on where you live.
Nevertheless, for every 10 people that got unemployment benefits, there were about four people that couldn’t get through the UI (Unemployment Insurance) system because it wasn’t designed for an overhaul, or they found it too difficult to file and just gave up. You can’t forget the Americans that didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits and the ones that were rejected. They were stuck trying to make it with the one-time $1200 stimulus check. If there are Americans that are living better lives on unemployment benefits than when they had jobs, there’s a huge problem in the system.
Not all low wage earners are prospering during the pandemic. For example, workers, like janitors, who work for essential businesses that are forced to stay open during the pandemic will probably get less money than an unemployed janitor and would not get hazardous pay either. In other words, certain employees are getting more money to stay home than the employees that are risking their lives to continue to work. This speak volumes about the income inequality in the U.S.
The Trump Administration is dragging their feet about a second round of stimulus payments. There has been talk about it for months. but no action. I just got a feeling that they’re trying to jilt a specific demographic out of receiving anything.
While they’re still negotiating our financial future, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the U.S.