The big question on everyone’s mind is how to reopen? Major League Baseball (MLB) tried starting their season this week, but the number of players and support staff testing positive for COVID-19 exploded. This has led many to question that if pro sports teams and leagues that have a limited number of participants, vigorous testing, and comprehensive safety protocols can’t prevent the spread of the virus, then how are business owners and schools going to be able to do it? Unlike the sports teams, the majority of offices and schools don’t have the ability to test everyone at all, let alone every other day, which is the standard for the teams. They also don’t have the capability of implementing proper social distancing due to the nature of the work environment. This means that the virus will proliferate very easily in these settings.
Another concern with reopening schools is infected young people bringing the virus home. This could transmit the virus to family members, especially those who are vulnerable. Often, children live in the same household as a grandparent. In addition, many adults have diabetes, heart problems, or obesity, which increases their risk of not only contracting the virus but having complications.
As the struggle continues with reducing the spread, politicians are trying to provide relief for Americans. However, the Senate and House have yet to agree on a plan. Given the differences in their proposals, a compromise doesn’t seem likely in the near future.
The House Democrats approved a $3 trillion package back in May. They want to extend the $600-per-week jobless payments through January. In addition, they want to provide another round $1,200 direct payments for those making less than $75,000 a year. They’re also pushing for protections for workers by wanting to require workplaces to come up with infection-control plans. The Democrats allocate $1 trillion for state and local governments to help keep essential workers paid. Since their proposal was passed well before school was supposed to start, the current plan doesn’t include anything to help schools, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she would propose adding over $100 billion for the education system with no stipulations. The plan additionally provides almost $200 billion for rental assistance/mortgage relief, $3.6 billion to improve election security, and further aid for food assistance.
The Senate Republicans just revealed their $1 trillion plan this week. They feel that the jobless aid is discouraging people from going back to work because it exceeds their regular wages. So, they want to cut the payments to $200 a week and eventually switch it to calculated benefit that would top at 70% of a person’s prior income. However, they do agree that another direct payment of $1,200 is needed. They want to improve liability protections for businesses, schools, and hospitals from claims against them related to the virus. The Republicans don’t provide any further aid to state or local governments. Their bill would provide $105 billion for education, but two-thirds of the funds would go to schools that have reopened with in-person classes.
As the politicians continue to battle, the head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, said in an interview that the United States was slow in recognizing the threat of the coronavirus from Europe. He said, “The introduction from Europe happened before we realized what was happening. By the time we realized (the) Europe threat and shut down travel to Europe, there was probably already two or three weeks of 60,000 people coming back every day from Europe.” According to a CDC analysis, by the time the ban for traveling people from Europe was enacted on March 13th, the virus was already in widespread community transmission in New York City.
Dr. Redfield also said that the federal response hadn’t been the greatest. He admitted, “Yes, there’s been mistakes. And, yes, we fail. We’re in it doing the best we can and we’re trying to make the best judgments we can.” However, he did say that if we come together, we can defeat the virus. “We’re not powerless. We don’t have to wait for a vaccine, although I think we’re going to be successful sooner than many people think. We have the most powerful weapon in our hands right now, I mean it’s an enormously powerful weapon. It’s just a simple, flimsy mask,” he pronounced. “This virus can be defeated if people just wear a mask.”