Why Coronavirus Relief Is Necessary


Adam Barnes General Assignment Reporter
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Another round of COVID-19 relief worth an estimated $908 billion is in the works as many Americans struggle financially and emotionally with the consequences of a pandemic.

Many Americans are set to lose protections offered by several major stimulus programs over the next month. Without a plan, millions could lose unemployment benefits, paid sick leave and eviction protections. Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told the Washington Post that nearly 25 relief programs could expire without congressional action. She warned that this could cause “widespread hardship.”

“All the bad things we were worried would happen — but were successfully addressed in the first round of bills — could hit at once,” MacGuineas said. “It would be blatant neglect to allow all these things to expire.”

New stimulus checks are not a part of the current relief proposal, which is being negotiated amid an increasing number of virus related cases and deaths. At least 283,800 people have died in the US due to COVID-19, according to data from the New York Times.

A survey released in September by the Pew Research Center found that 1 in 4 Americans have had trouble paying bills since the beginning of the pandemic. Further, 25% of adults said “they or someone in their household lost their job.”

Twelve million Americans, if programs expire, could lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas.

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual “Stress in America” report released in October found the coronavirus pandemic is having a profound effect on Americans’ mental health. The usual stressors have been exacerbated by COVID-19, the survey says. (RELATED: Pandemic Has Led To ‘National Mental Health Crisis,’ APA Survey Finds)

“The unusual combination of these factors and the persistent drumbeat of a crisis that shows no sign of abating that is leading APA to sound the alarm: We are facing a national mental health crisis that could yield serious health and social consequences for years to come,” the report said.

“There is no question: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on the lives of all Americans, and it will continue to do so. It has disrupted work, education, health care, the economy and relationships, with some groups more negatively impacted than others, the report continued.”

A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August found 1 in 4 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 seriously considered suicide in the last week of June. Moreover, the study found the same rate of increasing substance abuse among the same age group over the same period.

“The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was approximately three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% versus 8.1%), and prevalence of depressive disorder was approximately four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019, according to the study.”

The study’s authors noted, however, that differences in survey methods and possible “unknown biases” in survey design could impair a true comparison between the years.

Gallup’s annual mental health survey found a nine point decrease in Americans’ own appraisal of their mental health compared to 2019 results. Since 2001, according to the poll, the number of respondents who believe they are in excellent mental health averaged between 81 to 89%. But in 2020, the number fell to 76%.

Vaile Wright, clinical research director at the American Psychological Association, told the Washington Post that mental and physical health go hand-in-and questioned why mental health is not a bigger part of coronavirus treatment.

“Why isn’t there a mental health leader on the coronavirus task force?” Wright said. “Our physical and mental health are completely intertwined, and we need to treat them that way.”