CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship December 17, 2020

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December 17, 2020

COVID-19 Hardship

December 17, 2020

The come together right now edition. A deal is said to be in the works, and it can’t arrive fast enough to stave off the misery plaguing millions of Americans – and millions more to come if Congress does not act immediately. A new study out this week shows 7.8 million Americans slipped into poverty over a five-month period that began when government aid dwindled last summer. That’s the first time that has happened in single year in the 60 years we’ve been collecting data on poverty. And more bad news is coming if Congress doesn’t act – millions more will lose their jobs beginning next year as a loss in UI benefits suppresses consumer spending; millions more will fall into poverty, with soaring evictions, loss in aid for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and vaccines, and expiration of paid family leave all contributing to an increase in COVID-19 cases with more deaths coming in 2021.

While poverty and hardship surged, the wealth of billionaires surged too – by close to $1 trillion over about 6 months. Why even mention this? We’re a very wealthy nation. We can afford to save millions of Americans from devastation, and to invest what’s needed so the economy works for all of us. 

So, what’s in the deal? Here’s what it looks like as of Thursday morning: The deal would extend three types of UI benefits possibly for 10 weeks, which would keep more than 12 million jobless Americans from losing aid December 26. It would provide one-time stimulus checks – probably $600 per individual under a certain income level and would include mixed status immigrant households – a group that was pointedly and painfully left out last time. It was supposed to extend the moratorium on evictions to Jan. 31, and provide $25 billion in rent relief, something that would help renters and landlords alike. Now there are reports the moratorium might not be extended — and rent relief could be endangered as well. It aids small businesses and provides tens of billions of dollars for other critical needs, such as vaccines and schools. It does not include a get-out-of-jail free card for corporations and large employers in the form of immunity from lawsuits and worker safety enforcement actions.

The bad news? So far, it outrageously does not include $160 billion in aid for state and local governments, which desperately need the aid to provide essential services and avoid further job loss. Equally outrageously, it lets expire on December 31 the medical and family paid leave that encourages workers to stay home when ill, reduces the spread of COVID-19, and assists workers who have to stay home to care for a sick family member or because their child’s school is closed. Extending this paid leave for 3 months would cost only $1.8 billion. The unemployment benefits were supposed to extend for 16 weeks; now the deal seems to limit benefits to 10 weeks, when the economy will still be in bad shape. If the eviction moratorium is dropped, that would be terrible news. And there are reports that an increase in SNAP benefits may be in jeopardy. Advocates must continue to fight for a package that really helps – please click those tweets below!

Still: this emergency package – a down-payment on what is needed to get our country back on its feet – is a good start, and Congress must come together right now and pass it immediately. It comes as our COVID-19 death toll now exceeds U.S. combat fatalities in World War II, and as ICUs in South Dakota are overrun, makeshift morgues in Texas are being erected, and cities and states are shutting down all over in a desperate effort to somehow control this terrible pandemic. Congress must act. 

 

7.8 million 

The number of Americans who have slipped into poverty during the past five months after government aid dwindled, according to a new study released this week. It is the biggest jump in a single year since government began tracking poverty 60 years ago. Tweet this.

 

+$931 billion 

How much the total wealth of the 644 U.S. billionaires grew in roughly the first 6 months of the pandemic – a 32% increase. Tweet this.

 

2/10 of 1% 

The cost of extending paid sick leave and paid leave for child care for 3 months is $1.8b – just 2/10 of 1 percent of the growth in billionaires’ wealth. 87 million workers will see their paid leave expire on Dec. 31. Tweet this.

5.1 million 

The number of additional jobs that could be lost in the U.S. due to a decrease in consumer spending if Congress allows unemployment benefits to stop on Dec. 26. Tweet this.

 

-21% / +17% 

U.S. cities have seen a 21% drop in revenue since the pandemic began, while extra expenses – for PPE, remote work technology, and overtime pay – have risen 17%, a survey of 900 municipalities found. Tweet this.

 

6.2m/2.3m/2.6m 

 

6.2 million women, 2.3 Black workers, and 2.6 million Latinx workers will see UI benefits expire on Dec. 26 if Congress does not act. 

 

730,000 

By January, the state of New York could see 730,000 eviction filings and renters could face a combined shortfall of as much as $3.4 billion, according to a study commissioned by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

 

10.5 million 

The number of renters in households not current on rent – 18% of all renters. Among Blacks, 28%; Latinx, 24%; whites, 13%; and households with children, 24%.

 

48% 

Nearly half of all adult Americans, 48% or more than 119 million people, said someone in their household has lost income from work since March. This was true for 61% of Latinx people in households; 55% of Blacks, 46.5% of Asians, 43% of whites; and 55% of adults in households with children.

  

 

27 million 

The number of adults who reported that their household hadn’t had enough to eat in the previous seven days – 12.7% of all adults. Among Blacks, it was 22%; Latinx, 21%; whites, 9%; Asians, 7%; and households with children, 17.5%.

 

 

 

Action Alert:

Click-to-Tweet to key Senators: it’s very important that these Senators hear our concern, we are asking for 1. a comprehensive COVID relief package, and 2. for all immigrants and mixed-status families to be included in any stimulus payments- 10 million immigrants and their families were excluded from the April’s stimulus checks.

  • Sample tweet message calling for a comprehensive COVID package:

[email protected]__SenatorTweetHandle__ must support UI extension, stimulus, and state/local aid. Our people and cities need help: Cities have seen a 21% drop in revenue, while expenses have risen 17%. Public frontline workers are key to fighting #COVID and re-opening. We can do neither without them.

Click-to-tweet the message to Senator Crapo (ID),  Senator Grassley (IA), Senator Murkowski (AK), Senator Portman (OH), Senator Schumer (NY), Senator Rick Scott (FL), Senator Tillis (NC).

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  • Sample tweet message calling for a comprehensive COVID package:

@__SenatorTweetHandle__, immigrants & mixed-status families MUST be included in any new #COVIDRelief stimulus payments. In April, 10M immigrants were excluded from #CARESAct stimulus checks. Economy can’t move ahead if we exclude immigrants- a major, critical part of our economy.

Click-to-tweet the message to Senator Crapo (ID), Senator Grassley (IA), Senator Murkowski (AK), Senator Portman (OH), Senator Schumer (NY), Senator Rick Scott (FL), Senator Tillis (NC).