Coronavirus infections are growing. The unemployment rate has ballooned to double digits. Reopened states are shutting down again. School officials and parents are unsure if children will return to school in the fall. And aid given to millions of families to weather the economic storm caused by the pandemic is set to expire this week. With very little federal guidance, lawmakers are returning to Washington today to find a solution to the problem on the horizon: a second wave of economic destruction.
A federal $600-a-week addition to regular unemployment benefits expires at the end of the month. And as the rate of evictions is returning to what it was pre-COVID-19, the federal ban on evictions on millions of rental units is also set to expire at the end of July.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admits that his $1 trillion-plus proposal is facing opposition from the White House and other Republicans. And the battle with Democrats is a whole other hurdle that will be difficult to overcome.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., already pushed through a more sweeping $3 trillion relief bill to increase virus testing, keep aid flowing and set new health and workplace standards for reopening schools, shops and workplaces. It has no Republican support.
“Time is running out,” Pelosi said over the weekend. “If we don’t invest the money now, it will be much worse.”
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
According to a Sunday tally by Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. now has almost 3.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases. That translates to 1 in 100 Americans have contracted the virus. Almost 141,000 people have lost their lives to the pandemic. Almost 600,000 people have died worldwide.
The Gulf Coast county of Nueces in Texas is reporting more than 80 children under the age of two have test positive for the coronavirus. Fifty-two of those children are under the age of one. County health officials believe the infections are the result of near-impossible social distancing within families. The majority of the infants are recovering at home.
In a Fox interview over the weekend, Trump sent mixed messages to the public over the use of face masks to stop the spread of the virus. He disagreed with CDC Director Robert Redfield on the effectiveness of masks and said that masks “cause problems too… “And I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody would wear a mask, everything disappears.”
At the end of the exchange, Trump concluded, “I think masks are good.”
As pandemic continues to spread out of control and the general election nears, election officials are recruiting poll workers to staff polling places. States and local governments nationwide are targeting younger people who are at less risk of developing serious complications if the virus is contracted.
Experts note the difficulty in finding enough poll workers, even when there isn’t a pandemic.
More than two-thirds of poll workers nationwide are over age 61. Many of those older workers sat out primary elections for fear of contracting the virus, taking with them years of polling experience.
Home improvement retailer Home Depot has announced that beginning July 22, customers must wear masks inside all U.S. stores. Young children and those with medical conditions are exempt from the mandate.
Home Depot is the latest retailer to implement a face covering requirement to stop the spread of the virus. About 85% of Home Depot stores already require customers to wear masks due to local ordinances. Walmart, Target, CVS, Starbucks and Walgreens have made similar announcements in recent days.
Also On Black America Web: