2022 didn’t start off well with regards to COVID-19. The new Omicron variant is currently wreaking havoc across the country. A similar situation was seen at the start of last year as well, and this was partially responsible for the approval of the third round of stimulus checks. With Omicron cases continuing to rise, many people are expecting and demanding the government to issue fresh coronavirus stimulus checks.
Congress so far has sent three stimulus checks since the start of the pandemic. The first stimulus check came immediately after the first COVID-19 wave, and the same was the case with the second and third round of stimulus checks as well.
The second stimulus check came in January 2021 at the time of the second wave, while the third one came in March 2021 when coronavirus cases were still high, and vaccines were limited.
So, with Omicron cases increasing across the country, many are expecting President Biden to approve another round of stimulus checks. The petition asking for $2,000 regular monthly stimulus checks is now just about 2,000 short of its goal of 3 million signatures. Though the petition failed to reach its goal in 2021, it added about 1.25 million signatures in the second year of the pandemic.
Reasons Why More Stimulus Checks Are Unlikely
Despite the rising demand for more stimulus checks, another round of stimulus checks seems unlikely, and there are several reasons for that.
The very first reason is the Omicron variant itself. If the Omicron pattern in the U.S. follows the same trend as that of South Africa, where this new COVID-19 variant was first flagged, the current wave could weaken by late January.
The second reason why another stimulus check is unlikely is because the U.S. economy is in a much better position now than it was last year. At the end of last year, the national jobless rate was at its lowest since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The situation, however, could change if the new variant infects a bigger portion of the workforce.
If the new variant infects more people, then the government would have to intervene with more restrictions. Such a scenario could trigger another round of stimulus checks.
Another crucial reason that discourages new stimulus checks is the rising inflation. The massive amount of stimulus money that the government poured into pandemic relief is partly responsible for the current level of inflation, which is the highest in decades. With the Federal Reserve working on ways to tackle rising inflation, it is unlikely that Congress would issue more stimulus checks.
So, for now, another round of stimulus checks is unlikely, but if Omicron worsens in the coming weeks or months, authorities would be forced to come up with restrictions similar to those imposed at the time of the first wave in 2020, and this, in turn, could trigger another round of direct relief as well.