The spread of the Omicron variant is steadily increasing. The number of cases hit a record 265,000 seven- day average, slightly higher than the previous record of 252,000 cases back January 11, 2021 reported by CNBC.
Though the symptoms of the variant seem to be milder, it still resulted in quarantines and absenteeism, forcing schools to close and disrupting supply chains. The milder symptoms also resulted in fewer deaths and overall hospitalizations compared to previous Covid variants, causing relatively less damage to the economy.
Surprisingly, though 62% of the US population is fully vaccinated, there seems to be an alarming number of people who are vaccinated who still caught the virus. A report by John Hopkins Medicine stated that up to 1 in 100 breakthrough infection cases in some populations.
Federal shutdowns are still in talks, with President Biden showing no intentions of a forced widespread business shutdown, reported by Motley Fool. Local shutdowns might be possible due to the lack of employees able to work with a good number being in quarantine.
Even without enforcement, some business might shut down if the number of customers dining and shopping is lacking, or if there aren’t enough employees to cover shifts. All of this begs the question: Will there be a fourth stimulus payment to boost the economy?
There are certainly advocates of this move, with lawmakers calling for the stimulus payment, or possibly even a monthly payment through 2022. A change.org petition for calling for a $2,000 monthly payment currently has over 4 million signatures.
Analysts from Wall Street don’t seem to think this is likely though, as releasing a fourth stimulus will most likely not help the economy. Pumping that much money into the economy could hasten inflation, negating the benefits of the stimulus. While whether or not a fourth stimulus payment will be given, rather than hoping for it, as Maurie Backman from Motley Fool wrote “we should hope that businesses can remain open and that the omicron strain remains mild and ends quickly.”