Writing "COVID-19 has impacted families across the US" would be something of a gross understatement. From financial instability, to an eminent housing crisis, to concerns mounting over the 2020/2021 school year, American families have faced no shortage of challenges thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, we're going over some of the largest hurdles facing American families, so you know what to expect throughout the rest of 2020 and going into 2021.
American Families Grapple with Economic Uncertainty Heading into 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely damaged the US economy. The economy shrunk by 32.9% from March to July of 2020—the biggest economic downturn in almost a century. More than 40 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits since the outset of the pandemic, and the number of workers filing isn't slowing down as we head into July.
Unfortunately, the economic outlook on the other side of the virus isn't stellar, either. Some economists predict that as many as 42% of the jobs lost to COVID-19 may not come back in the near future, particularly jobs generated by small businesses that closed forever during the pandemic.
As if things weren't uncertain enough, many COVID-19-related protections for citizens—like a $600 a week bonus to unemployment benefits and eviction moratoriums—are set to expire throughout July.
While the US Senate is considering a second stimulus bill to help keep citizens afloat, lawmakers are dragging their feet on passing any meaningful legislation. The GOP recently proposed the HEALS Act, which would cut unemployment bonuses down to $200 a week and eventually transition into a plan whereby states would give 70% of lost wages to formerly employed individuals.
However, Senate Democrats argue that the bill, which would reduce unemployment benefits by half or even two thirds for many citizens, wouldn't help citizens enough financially. Considering around a third of Americans missed paying some rent in April and recent studies suggest that between 19 and 24 million families could face eviction once eviction moratoriums lift in mid-August, there's a strong argument the HEALS Act simply wouldn't be enough for most Americans.
As legislators argue over the second stimulus bill, American families pay the price.
Disputes Arise Over the 2020/2021 School Year
The 2020/2021 school year has fast become the newest subject of debate for parents as schools decide whether to reopen.
Proponents of reopening argue that children are a relatively low-risk demographic—which is true. Children under age 17 only account for around 2% of COVID-19 cases in the US so far, and children are 56% less likely than adults to contract the virus after coming into contact with an infected person.
Additionally, children are less likely to suffer from the virus when they do contract it. Data from seven countries shows that only one out of three million children have died from COVID since the pandemic's outset. Given these statistics, proponents of reopening argue that opening schools would enable parents to get back to work and children to see their friends with minimal risk.
But critics of reopening aren't so sure. They point out that, no matter how unlikely children are to contract the virus, chances of infection would go up dramatically in schools where thousands of children and hundreds of teachers and staff congregate daily.
Speaking of teachers and staff, most are adults and many are older—making them a high-risk demographic. A COVID-19 case in schools could set off a tidal wave of infections throughout teachers, staff and parents—which would be disastrous.
Additionally, many reopening critics argue that US schools simply aren't well-funded enough to take effective safety measures against the pandemic. If even one child dies who would have stayed alive if they stayed home, it's a needless death.
There are no easy answers here. Parents are caught between a rock and a hard place, and may need to make unique decisions tailored to their specific circumstances.
Needless to say, life hasn't been easy for Americans post-divorce. Unfortunately, that trend is likely to continue into the near future. Our thoughts are with you and your family during these challenging times.
At Family Law San Diego, we help families deal with a variety of legal disputes. To schedule a consultation with our team, please contact us online or via phone at (619) 577-4900.