EDITORIAL: No help: With COVID relief in doubt, adjustments may be needed

Months after much of the original COVID-19 relief package expired, and a new package was promised by both major political parties, there is still no relief in sight. The viral pandemic is still a threat — in fact, a new rise in cases and deaths has been reported in several parts of the country — and although some state and local officials are still trying to bring their respective economies back to some semblance of normalcy, that will take time. Many Americans remain unemployed or furloughed by business closures, long after jobless benefits and other provisions of the original CARES Act ended.

Unfortunately, despite their promises and vague assurances that they were working on a new relief package, members of Congress have been forced to address an issue that is far more important than the welfare of the American people — their own political fortunes in the wake of a contentious and close presidential election.

Therefore, it is up to the people themselves to continue to look after their own welfare in any way they can. Fortunately, many landlords and creditors have understood the needs of their clients and have been willing to defer or take partial payments while those clients have dealt with revenue shortages. We hope they are able to continue offering such help.

It might not be so easy, however. Lenders and other businesses depend on the revenue from their clients to meet their own financial obligations, and any reduction in that revenue affects their ability to pay their own bills. It’s an unfortunate domino effect that strengthens the argument that indeed personal fortunes, both good and bad, do trickle up and down throughout the economy.

The pandemic itself is delivering its own major hit to our economic resources; COVID-19 already has killed more than a quarter-million Americans — that’s more than triple the total number of military deaths suffered in the Vietnam War and is approaching the total number of casualties in World War II. Moreover, those deaths are a fraction of the nearly 12 million cases that have been reported in this country. Many of these deaths were working-age Americans who contributed to our nation’s financial welfare, and they are among the millions of victims who are leaving their families with enormous medical bills that they can ill-afford to pay due to their reduced incomes.

So we hope that those who have shown benevolence during this time of difficulty, from major banks that offered millions of credit card holders the option of skipping payments to neighborhood lenders and renters who have endured their own hardship as they have their clients extended times to pay, will be able to continue offering that needed assistance for a little while longer.

Most importantly, we hope that our Congress members soon will remember why they were elected in the first place, stop their petty bickering and grandstanding, and start tending to the needs of their constituents — by helping them find ways to make it through this economic crisis.