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US refuses to learn lessons about COVID-19, economy: media

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-01-12 10:03
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People line up for a COVID-19 test during the coronavirus disease pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, on Jan 4, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW YORK -- For the time being, the United States seems to be hoping the Omicron variant is a temporary danger, refusing to learn the lesson about COVID-19 and the economy, thus forcing American workers to white-knuckle it once again, said an article published by Vox, an American news and opinion website, on Tuesday.

"Millions of COVID-19 cases means millions of people missing work while in quarantine, and that means serious disruptions. Flights are canceled. Hospitals face staffing shortages. Businesses are shuttering and reopening. Shows and sporting events are shutting down, off and on. Schools have once again been thrown into chaos," said the article.

It's too early for the effects of Omicron to start showing up in most economic data. However, "still, the variant is obviously making a difference and throwing a wrench into the recovery", wrote the author Emily Stewart, a senior Vox reporter. "Amid fear of the virus, a subset of the public is choosing, once again, to stay home."

The effects won't be experienced equally. The scenario for someone who has paid leave or can work from home is quite different from someone who doesn't have paid leave and has to work in person, according to the essay titled "The lesson America refuses to learn about COVID-19 and the economy".

"Disruptions for businesses will also depend on what happens to their workers and customer bases. What's more, the government support that undergirded many in previous times during the pandemic -- expanded unemployment insurance, the extended child tax credit, small-business loans -- has disappeared," it added.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, was quoted as saying that "we're getting a sense that there are a lot of infections, but it's not going to, in all likelihood, overwhelm us. But how long is it going to be around? Because that is disruptive".

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, told the reporter that "forecasting during the pandemic has been akin to standing in quicksand. Every time it seems we have a tether to pull us out, the ground beneath us shifts again in response to a new wave of infections".

Out of the uncertainty, many economists believe the impact of Omicron will be significant, but the hope is that it will be quick. "That's what Wall Street appears to be betting on," said the report.

In the meantime, some economists have cut their forecasts for economic growth in 2022 due, in part, to the Omicron variant. Zandi has slashed his forecast for GDP growth in the first quarter of the year to 2 percent annualized compared to 5 percent, according to Stewart's article.

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