But more recently, the projections are surely on the side of this nearly two-year-long health crisis being with us for months or even years to come—and that could mean even more financial pain for already struggling Americans.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged that a more transmissible version of the Omicron variant will increase in circulation around the world. The agency, though, did admit that it is not yet clear if this subvariant can reinfect those who had already caught an earlier version of the Omicron strain.
According to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, the agency is currently tracking four different versions of the Omicron variant. She added that the BA.2 subvariant—deemed to be more contagious than the currently dominant BA.1 version—will likely become more common globally going forward.
“BA.2 is more transmissible than BA.1 so we expect to see BA.2 increasing in detection around the world,” Van Kerkhove claimed during a question-and-answer session live streamed on the health agency’s social media platforms on Tuesday.
Adding to the concern is that researchers in Denmark have found that BA.2 is roughly 1.5 times more contagious than BA.1 and is more proficient at infecting those who are vaccinated and even boosted.
Stimulus Checks Still on Table?
This all seemingly spells trouble for the ordinary working class Americans who have been the hardest hit amid the pandemic. That’s why even though ten months have passed since the approval of the third stimulus check via the American Rescue Plan, there are still passionate calls from members of the public for more direct payments to help regular Americans make ends meet.
Although both the White House and Congress have stayed mostly silent on the possibility of more stimulus checks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki did admit last month during a press conference that “we’re in constant conversations” about giving out more payments.
In addition, this past summer, Psaki told reporters in a media briefing that the president “is happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what’s most important to the economy moving forward.”
Localized Stimulus Payments
However, despite the inaction in Washington, several states have stepped in to disburse their own stimulus payments, though on a smaller scale. They include Indiana, Maine, California, Maryland, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, and Tennessee.
Moreover, due to budget surpluses, reports suggest that the governments of California and Minnesota will send out their own stimulus checks in the coming months.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.