The COVID-19 situation has worsened. What does this mean for dunning checks?
Last year, as Americans across the country prepared to ring in 2021, there was an air of desperation that was hard to ignore. The COVID-19 epidemic was in full swing, and with vaccines for the most part unavailable, the winter was shaping up to be bleak.
Unfortunately, we don’t exactly start 2022 on a much better note from a COVID perspective. While vaccines are thankfully easy to find, the highly transmissible variant of omicron is currently wreaking havoc, causing outbreaks to explode across the country. And while early reports seem to indicate that omicron may produce milder symptoms than previous variants of COVID-19, many people begin 2022 in quarantine due to exposure to the virus or a confirmed case.
Now the good news is that if the pattern in the United States mimics that in South Africa, where omicron was first reported as a worrying variant, the current wave of infections could subside by now. at the end of January. But if it is prolonged, it could be a very difficult winter not only from a health point of view, but also from an economic point of view.
Will economic turmoil ensue?
By the end of 2021, the national unemployment rate had reached its lowest level since the start of the pandemic. And right now, the US economy looks generally strong.
But that could change in the coming weeks if omicron pulls a large chunk of the US workforce out. Additionally, if the situation does not improve, local closures and restrictions may need to be enforced, resulting in layoffs and loss of income, even if only temporarily. And that’s a scenario that could trigger a fourth stimulus check.
To be clear, President Biden has said he has no plans to implement widespread shutdowns similar to those imposed at the start of the pandemic. But if the omicron variant continues to fuel an increase in COVID-19 cases to the point where health systems are overwhelmed, some degree of government intervention may become necessary.
Should Americans Expect a Fourth Stimulus Check?
The economy has, at this point, come a long way since the start of the pandemic, when the unemployment rate hit an all-time high. If the COVID-19 situation worsens and negatively impacts the economy, it could justify sending another stimulus check to Americans’ bank accounts. But it is a step backwards that no one can hope for.
If anything, we should hope that the omicron surge indeed turns out to be relatively smooth and short-lived. And we must also hope that companies are not forced to temporarily close in its wake.
Many companies are still recovering from 2020. And at this point, we should be aiming for continued economic improvement instead of a setback.
It’s also worth noting that if too many restrictions are imposed due to the current outbreak, it could lead to more supply chain disruptions. And that could, in turn, produce even higher levels of inflation for American consumers.
Right now, many people are struggling to make ends meet due to the higher cost of living across the board. A fourth stimulus check could help in this regard, but if soaring inflation persists, it could easily erode this advantage.