The United States has come to a standstill as COVID-19 continues to sweeps the nation, many state and city governments have been issuing “stay-at-home” orders, imploring the people in their city to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. Many states have reacted much more slowly to the crisis than others, and some states have not issued any restrictions at all regarding the coronavirus. Those states include North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Arkansas. These orders could last weeks, as the U.S. social distancing guidelines that have triggered these stay-at-home orders have been extended through April 30.
The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, just issued a stay-at-home order for the state of Florida on Wednesday, April 1. DeSantis stressed that the change in President Donald Trump’s attitude towards the coronavirus signaled that the time had come to shut down. Some Florida residents worry that the shutdown came too late. “The mortality rate here, in this specific city, is pretty high … just because it’s a lot of the elderly people are here,” Rey Arcenas said.
Arcenas is a resident of central Florida, and he fears for his father, who works as a doctor on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus. “The hospital that my dad works for has handled it very poorly,” he said. “Until very recently, they were just telling the doctors and the nurses ‘it’s okay, it’s okay.’ Then they started running out of [personal protective equipment] … They don’t seem like they know what they’re doing,” Arcenas said.
With non-essential businesses closing across the country, the American economy has taken a significant step back. As a part of his slow response to the crisis, Trump recently signed a $2 trillion stimulus package to help families and businesses that are struggling as the economy collapses. As part of this bill, single adults will receive a $1200 check, with an additional $500 for each child. According to the New York Times, this payment is an advance on future tax credits, which is nice now, but can hurt in the future. Sixty-eight percent of respondents to a recent creditcards.com survey claims that “their financial well-being depends on [their tax return.]” While not having a tax return next year may hurt a large group of people, the people who are now out of work will be in much worse shape without this stimulus than they will be without their full tax return next year. It goes without saying that if the jobs people have been forced to leave are no longer there once the virus fades away, it would be detrimental.
$500 billion of the $2 trillion is dedicated to large businesses, and another $350 billion will go to small businesses, which will hopefully ensure that those jobs are still available. This $350 billion dollars has already run out. This stimulus package is incredibly different from the $787 billion stimulus package President Barack Obama signed in 2009 to help families during the huge recession in the late 2000s. Obama’s stimulus was largely directed at families, and Trump’s stimulus bill, while there is a huge emphasis on families, gives businesses much more relief than Obama’s. This likely has to do with the political parties they hail from, but it also has to deal with the nature of the crisis. By the time Obama’s stimulus was passed, the recession had been at the forefront of society for over a year. Hopefully, Trump’s stimulus will be enough to hold the country over until this pandemic passes.
A popular sentiment is that the whole country should just shut down for a few weeks and try to stop the spread of the virus. The U.S. is inching closer to that reality as more states continue to issue stay-at-home orders. As of April 16, 42 states are under stay-at-home orders. It will take weeks to months for this all to blow over. It’s like a second winter, except this time the American economy will hopefully mimic an alligator in the winter, doing just enough to survive until the metaphorical ice melts away and we can move again. Until then, it’s best to just stay at home and make the best of what we have. Now more than ever, it is essential to trust medical professionals and expert advice, even if you live in a state that is reacting more slowly than is ideal.