For many Americans, economic uncertainty remains despite a decrease in first-time unemployment claims. This uncertainty, along with economic instability caused by the pandemic, is providing more reason for several U.S. mayors to advocate for universal basic income. The coalition of 16 mayors, called Mayors for Guaranteed Income, is framing the concept as a simple, and equitable solution for families and local economies that can be of great benefit during times of crisis like a pandemic.
The group was launched in June and includes 16 mayors from cities nationwide and includes participation by leaders of St. Louis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle and Pittsburgh.
The CARES Act, they say, proves that giving cash directly to people works. And as federal assistance ran out at the end of July, these mayors say the need for universal income has become more urgent, as it could help address racial disparities that COVID-19 has exposed.
Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California, who is leading the coalition, has been piloting a universal basic income program for 18 months, before the pandemic began. His program provides $500 a month to 125 people. During the pandemic, about 45 percent of that money went to food, Tubbs said, while the rest was used to pay other essential costs, like rent. The pandemic has only strengthened the group’s case.
In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, Mayor Tubbs called guaranteed income “a step toward abolishing poverty.” But the money, unlike a universal basic income, would go only to those in need, not to everyone regardless of wealth.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
Federal officials have issued given emergency approval to a coronavirus saliva test that Yale University researchers use to test NBA players and staff.
The test is being praised because it doesn’t require additional components that are typically needed with the standard nasal swab Covid-19 test.
The test, known as SalivaDirect, “is simpler, less expensive, and less invasive than the traditional method for such testing,” Yale said in a news release this past weekend. Developers of the test expect labs to charge about $10 per sample.
A joint Kaiser Health News and Associated Press investigation finds that many communities with large coronavirus outbreaks have spent little of the trillions of dollars of federal money on local public health departments.
For example, the states, territories and 154 large cities and counties that received allotments from the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund reported spending only 25% of it through June 30, according to reports by the U.S. Treasury Department.
But even as infections in the U.S. top 5.4 million and economic uncertainty looms, Republicans in Congress are pointing to the slow spending to argue against sending more money to state and local governments to help with their pandemic response.
Reasons for the delayed spending vary, including bureaucracy, politics and understaffed departments struggling to navigate the red tape required to justify asking for extra dollars.
According to a new study published by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, Black, Latino, American Indian and Alaskan Native people were disproportionately hospitalized for Covid-19 in the spring and early summer.
During a two-month span from late April to late June, the percentage of Black patients’ hospitalizations surpassed the percentage of their proportion of the state population. This was highest in Ohio, where Black patients accounted for 31.8% of hospitalizations and are 13% of the population. Other states with similarly high rates of hospitalization for Black people include Minnesota, Indiana and Kansas.
Seventeen states are performing fewer tests this past week compared with the previous week. The Covid Tracking Project, which gathers data on coronavirus testing, also found that while testing is decreasing in those states, test positivity rates have increased in 34 states.
The test positivity rate represents the percentage of tests being performed that come back positive for the virus and is a key metric used by officials who make decisions on reopening.
In an effort to address the wealth gap and economic inequalities amplified by the pandemic, 27 CEOs, including those at Google, Amazon and Microsoft, have started an initiative to bridge the racial gap in business and promote economic prosperity.
“Those least able to bear the burden have been the most affected,” Fed Chair Powell said after last month’s monetary policy meeting. “In particular, the rise in joblessness has been especially severe for lower-wage workers, for women, and for African Americans and Hispanics. This reversal of economic fortune has upended many lives and created great uncertainty about the future.”
The initiative will support student learning, connect participants with career resources and equip students with the skills they need for the shifting workplace of the future.
In a shift to adjust to consumer demands during the pandemic, Pizza Hut will be closing up to 300 dine-in restaurants.
In its bankruptcy filing, NPC International, which owns over 1,200 Pizza Hut franchises, said that closing stores the stores will allow it to invest in smaller stores that can fulfill online orders.
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