Deaths were not the only effect of the coronavirus pandemic. It worsened the livelihood of the marginalized and disadvantaged groups of society. With the numerous lockdowns, traveling restrictions, and stay-at-home initiatives, the poor became destitute, and poverty quickly joined the covid-19 inflected world. Most families suffered under the strategies above to curb the spread of the virus and reduce the number of infections across the globe. There was a substantial economic and financial upset triggered by lockdowns utilized in most countries.
And it became a worldwide concern that not everyone could get their income while at home except for employees in the government and those with profitable businesses. Starched food, money, and daily resources depleted at a fast rate since everyone was encouraged to stay indoors to stop the continuous spread of the virus.
Against this background, various governments decide to release funds channeled at rescuing ‘locked down people whose financial constraints were deepened by covid-19. Most nations such as Yemen, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and the United Kingdom resorted to giving out food humpers and necessities to those striving the most.
During the period of emerging poverty-stricken communities and families due to covid19, the United States of America (US), led by former President Donald Trump, approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in March 2020 during the 116th US Congress Session. This stimulus was a financial boost to enable the striving individuals to survive the economic hardships incurred during the pandemic outbreak.
The funding also extended to assisting corporate companies, learners, state and local departments, small-scale businesses, and low-income earners. The money was supposed to buy food, pay for bills, cater for health services, and covid-19 testing or treatment services for the beneficiaries. The first US stimulus was pegged around 2 trillion dollars, making it the highest relief fund by the US. $1 200 was to be given per head [Source].
Coronavirus dominated the whole year of 2020, and this prompted the US government to authorize a follow-up stimulus due to the persistent problems enacted by the pandemic. It was launched in December 2020 by former president Trump, and the budget was around 900 billion.
Although this was way too short considering the 2 trillion set for the first stimulus, it was recorded as the second highest relief fund towards such initiatives [Source]. As per the specifics of the fund, individuals would get $600 per person. Just like the first CARE Act, the second one targeted the impoverished ones in the country.
Trump introduced ‘Pandemic Unemployment Programs’ for persons who were not employed and were restricted from going outside to look for work. He also included giving out grants and loans for schools going individuals and extended the funding to the arts industry and performers. Any bills incurred in child care needs, purchasing food, rental and housing services, hospital treatments, and vaccines were put under the same funding.
Trump alluded to the departments above, which he deemed vital in the US. This stimulus was a welcomed move mainly because some programs from the first CARE Act had expired. For example, the government withdrew food and weekly payments as the Act had suggested a momentary budget that had not predicted the longevity of the pandemic.
Trump’s predecessor, President Joe Biden, in March 2021, launched the third stimulus termed ‘American Rescue Plan Act.’ The basis of this third Act was to save Americans from the jaws of coronavirus. President Biden injected 1,9 trillion into this scheme, and the focal point was on buying food for the starving masses and the financial effects of covid-19. The rescue plan was accredited for improving the lives of many Americans and marginalized groups of people.
According to US lawmakers, there is a need for a fourth stimulus as the previous programs have expired. Most of the money given to the beneficiaries was a once-off payment. The problem is that the prolonged corona pandemic effects would empty the finance coffers, and poverty would re-emerge in these homesteads again.
It seems as if Trump and Biden were overlooking the fact that they have to feed their citizens for as long as it takes. An idle person, especially children and the unemployed, needs constant, consistent income to fend for the family. More so, World Health has recommended that countries maintain the traveling and gathering restrictions, so a lot of businesses are still on hold, and profits are being lost by the second.
The emergency of vaccines had sparked a light of hope across the globe, and the US is one of the leading countries that has vaccinated about 41% of their total population. But this success has been undermined by the arrival of the Beta Variant (B.1.351) form of the coronavirus. This rejuvenated coronavirus variant was first discovered in South Africa, and all the doled-out vaccines have proved to be ineffective against it. The popular vaccines used in the US have been Johnson and Johnson’s and AstraZeneca, which need to be improved to deal with the B.1.351.
The ineffectiveness of the current vaccines has raised serious concerns over the best choice to prevent another fatal loss of human life to the new variant. Thus, Americans propelled a petition for the Biden government to develop a fourth stimulus that has been long overdue.
The prescribed suggestions on the petitions are that the funding must be used for low-income families and isolated groups of people. Since no one knows or can predict when the coronavirus pandemic will subside or disappear, the petition signatories have argued that the US must introduce the fourth stimulus. It should be adequate to accommodate all the relevant sectors. The proposed payment is $2000 monthly per head for anyone eligible for this program [Source].
All eyes are now on president Biden and his team to approve the fourth stimulus. Since many government officials and parliamentarians have signed off, the pressure is now exerted on the president. Therefore, Biden has to think before making a move that affects the lives of the masses critically.