COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States as the most contagious Delta variant of the virus spreads. The spread of the variant has already led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that people vaccinated against the virus resume wearing masks indoors.
In Michigan, eight colleges have already announced that they will require vaccinations of some form for students, staff and / or faculty if they wish to return to campus this fall. While there have been no federally or state-imposed mask shutdowns or requirements following the rise of the Delta variant, many retailers are demanding masks in their stores, regardless of local laws.
The rise in the number of cases has also led to more calls for a fourth round of stimulus measures as economic uncertainty persists. Unemployment claims rose nationally in July compared with June, and thousands of workers have been made redundant in the manufacturing and auto industries in recent weeks.
However, progress on a possible fourth round of stimulus is slow. Although Congress is currently negotiating a $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill, there has been no serious discussion about another round of stimulus checks.
In May, six members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling for additional payments to be made to Americans, calling the payments a “lifeline” during the ongoing pandemic.
“The pandemic has served as a stark reminder that families and workers need certainty in a crisis,” part of the letter read. “They deserve to know that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.”
A fourth round of checks was backed by more than 80 Congressional Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris.
However, Biden was unwilling to give his full support to the idea. When asked about the controls in May, White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not look into the matter, leaving Congress to decide.
âWe’ll see what members of Congress come up with, but it’s not free,â Psaki said.
In June, Psaki was again asked about the controls and said the president was ready to discuss anything that could help Americans during the pandemic.
“He is happy to hear a series of ideas on what would be most effective and most important for the future of the economy,” Psaki said, addressing reporters.
Psaki went on to say that Biden believes his infrastructure plan and the proposed $ 1.8 trillion plan for American families are the best ways to get Americans back on their feet.
âBut he also came up with what he thinks is most effective in the short term in getting people back to work, in getting through this pivotal time, and also in making us more competitive in the long term,â Psaki said. .
While Congress has yet to act, pressure from Americans for some sort of additional payment continues. A petition to send monthly checks for $ 2,000 to adults and $ 1,000 to children has added 200,000 more signatures in recent weeks and now has more than 2.7 million signatures.
Meanwhile, child tax credit advance payments continue to be mailed along with the series of checks due on August 13. As part of the expansion, the credit has increased from $ 2,000 per child to $ 3,000 for each child aged 6 to 17, and $ 3,600 for children under 6. It also allowed parents to receive half of the credit in the form of monthly payments from July to December 2021.
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