After what was described by both Republicans and Democrats as an “unproductive meeting,” Trump has signed four executive orders potentially aiding in Coronavirus relief. The orders aim to temporarily extend unemployment aid and provide eviction protections.
What We Know:
Meetings regarding the next Coronavirus relief package, the HEROES Act, have been ongoing for the last two months. Conversations have been unable to produce a new relief package, one many Americans need as the first wave of benefits from the CARES Act expired on July 30th. “Through these four actions, my administration will provide immediate and vital relief to Americans struggling in this difficult time,” stated Trump.
Here are the focuses of the four executive orders:
- Federal Unemployment Benefits Extension
- Payroll Tax Suspension
- Eviction Moratorium Extension
- Student Loan Assistance
Federal Unemployment Benefits Extension
The first executive order aims to provide $400 weekly in aid for millions of citizens who’s $600 weekly benefits expired at the end of July. Trump states that at least a percentage of the money would be paid by states, many of which have already dealt with major budget cuts and shortfalls. Governors have pleaded with Congress for additional aid.
However, according to an unemployment insurance expert, Michele Evermore, “States cannot pay unemployment insurance benefits in a way that has not been authorized by Congress through enactment of legislation. By definition, states’ administration of unemployment insurance must conform to federal law — and there is no federal law on the books allowing for an additional sum.”
Payroll Tax Suspension
Another order seeks to defer payroll tax payments from August 1, retroactively, through December for people who earn less than $100,000. The president further claimed that if he was re-elected, he would “terminate” the tax. US payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare benefits, there was no guidance on what would happen to those programs without it.
Eviction Moratorium Extension
The eviction moratorium provided in the CARES Act provided protections to those living in buildings with mortgages guaranteed by the federal government. The third order would potentially extend these protections and offer assistance to renters and landlords. Unfortunately, no further details were provided on this.
Student Loan Assistance
One protection from the CARES Act set to expire on September 30th of this year is the 0% interest rate on student loan payments. The final order would extend this administrative forbearance through the end of 2020.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate decreased to 10.2% with the number of unemployed Americans falling by 1.4 million. Despite this, the overall unemployment rate is up by 6.7%, equating to approximately 10.6 million Americans.
The United States currently ranks #1 globally in Coronavirus cases with over 4.9 million confirmed cases and over 161,000 deaths as of the time this article was written. For context, the second highest globally is Brazil with over 2.9 million confirmed cases and just over 100,000 deaths. India ranks third at just over 2 million cases and over 42,000 deaths.
Details were not provided and it remains unclear what, if any, authority Trump has to act on his own to release or redirect funds. With no clear guidance on when these orders would take effect for the many Americans waiting, Trump stated if negotiations are still stalled by the end of the coming week, these orders will possibly take effect then.
U.S. Exceeds 500,000 Deaths From the Coronavirus
On Monday, February 22, 2021, President Biden and Vice President Harris stood outside the White House with a candlelight vigil and mourned 500,00 American deaths caused by the Coronavirus since February 2020.
What We Know:
- More Americans have died from the Coronavirus than in wars in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Specifically, black and Hispanic/ Latino death rates are six times higher than for Caucasian people. Since super spreading events such as clubs, venues, and restaurants were closed, people started having indoor events or large gatherings, which made spreading the coronavirus more easily. It takes only one person to contact the coronavirus, and then they can transmit it to everybody in the room without knowing it.
- The coronavirus has killed more than 2,462,000 people worldwide, according to NBC News.
- California remains on top with 187,000 new cases, but that is a 30 percent decrease from the previous weeks. Texas is second with approximately 127,000 new positive cases, and those numbers showed a 15 percent decrease. In third is New York, with 90,000 new cases and a 12 percent decrease occurred.
- A few important things start to decrease, such as hospitalization and air population because fewer people are outside or traveling. This is happening because more people are getting the vaccine, the busiest holiday is over, and more people are starting to follow safety protocols.
Even though the numbers are decreasing in certain areas, everybody needs to continue the safety protocols such as wearing masks, avoiding indoor events, especially ones with crowds, and maintain a distance of 6 feet apart at all times.
Michigan Woman Dies After Receiving COVID-Infected Lungs for Transplant
Michigan woman contracted Covid-19 and died two months after receiving a double lung transplant.
What We Know:
- The unnamed woman from Michigan tested negative and showed no symptoms of Covid-19 before her surgery. The woman contracted Covid from the infected lungs of a woman who was declared brain dead after a car accident. After receiving her new set of lungs, she had concerning symptoms of Covid, such as difficulty breathing, a high fever, and her blood pressure fell.
- The doctors realized that the virus took a primarily respiratory route because signs showed lung infection, and when her symptoms got worse, she went into septic shock and had heart function problems. Doctors tested her for Covid-19 and the samples from her new lungs came back positive, which led doctors back to retrieve even more specimens from the transplant donor.
- The test showed that a swab from the transplant donor’s nose and throat retrieved 48 hours later came back negative. The donor’s family said she had no recent travel history or been around anybody with Covid-19 and was not displaying any signs of Covid. It was not until the doctors received a specimen of fluid from the donor’s throat, that they received a positive Covid-19 result. Four days later, the surgeon fell ill after the surgery and tested positive for Covid.
- The test shows that the recipient and surgeon were both infected by the donor, the surgeon later recovered. It’s the only confirmed case out of almost 40,000 transplants in 2020, according to health.com. Now, medical professionals in the transporting department must take extra precautionary measures to avoid the risk of bidirectional viral transmission between patient and surgeon, such as wearing an N95 mask and eye protection during surgeries, even in instances where donors tested negative.
Before donors donate organs, they must take a Covid test, get checked for possible symptoms, and have their exposure history checked. If a donor has been in a high-risk area, the medical team will inform the donor that they must wait 14-28 days after returning. Living donors are asked not to travel 14 days before donation and to monitor their symptoms.
Fauci Urges Americans To Take Any Vaccine Available To Them When Eligible
Dr. Anthony Fauci urges the American Public to take whichever vaccine is most accessible to them.
What We Know:
- Dr. Fauci, Director of the U.S National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said Americans should not compare the vaccines’ statistics. He believes that Americans should take any of the approved three vaccines approved to help combat the spread of the Virus. “All three of them are really quite good, and people should take the one that’s most available to them,” said Fauci in an interview on NBC’s Meet The Press.
- The only vaccines currently available as of late are the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson. Fauci stated that the vaccines all differ in dosage, and the vaccines were all tested under different circumstances. One example is that Johnson and Johnson is a one-shot dosage, while Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna require two-shots.
- According to Fauci, public health officials have recently been very concerned about the virus’s variants that could dodge the vaccines. One variant is B.1.351, which is spreading like wildfire in South Africa. This also serves as a reason why Fauci advises that Americans shouldn’t be comparing the efficacy rates of the virus. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has a 72% efficacy rate in the U.S, compared to 64% in South Africa.
- Fauci also noted on Meet The Press that the United States has started to see a decline in the number of infections due to COVID and has seen an increase in the number of vaccinations. Fauci urges that we still must stay resilient in combating the virus and that we are nowhere close to lifting restrictions because there is a chance that lifting restrictions will cause another spike.
We are approaching the anniversary of the COVID-19 being declared a National Emergency. However, this news from Fauci might be enough to give the country hope of returning to what we deem as “normal.”
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