More than 60 percent of households with children in the United States reported serious financial problems — including struggles to afford medical care, depletion of household savings and difficulty paying credit card and other debts — during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll.
Black and Latino households with children bear the brunt of the hardships. Of the Latino households who responded, 86 percent reported these difficulties; in Black households, 66 percent reported them. In white households, the number hovers around 50 percent.
The immense differences were surprising, as they came after federal and state governments invested heavily in programs for communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic, said Robert Blendon, a director of the study behind the report and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
“So much money was spent to put a cushion under households,” Dr. Blendon said, adding that because of this, “the expenditures should have lowered for everybody.” But, he said, “the numbers of people in trouble, that is the shock.”
The poll, conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, surveyed more than 3,400 adults, 1,000 of whom were living with children under the age of 18, between July 1 and Aug. 3.
Now that some government measures to support households financially during the pandemic are waning, experts are concerned that the financial devastation could be worse than what the survey shows, said Julie Morita, the executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Now, Dr. Morita said, “households are probably suffering just as much if not more,” leaving Black and Latino communities especially “unprotected.”
The survey highlights other challenges faced by households with children during the pandemic. Over a third of them reported “serious problems” keeping children’s education going. Six in 10 said that an adult in the home lost their job, was furloughed or had wages or hours cut. And in nine out of 10 households where someone was diagnosed with Covid-19, they faced “serious financial problems” in addition to difficulty caring for their children.
These responses, Dr. Blendon said, show that a high number of households — particularly Black and Latino ones — will face substantial long-term financial effects from the pandemic.
“It’s a very large number of people who can’t pay the basics,” Dr. Blendon said. “You have unbelievably vulnerable people over the next six months.”
The first presidential debate between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. unraveled into an ugly melee Tuesday, as Mr. Trump hectored and interrupted Mr. Biden nearly every time he spoke and the former vice president denounced the president as a “clown” and told him to “shut up.”
During the chaotic, 90-minute event in Cleveland, Mr. Trump defended his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and deflected blame, referring to the virus as the “China plague.”
“It’s China’s fault,” he said of the crisis. “It should have never happened.”
In Beijing on Wednesday, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said the accusations leveled against the country during the debate were “groundless and untenable.”
Mr. Trump also voiced impatience with a range of public-health restrictions, while Mr. Biden criticized the president for being dismissive of measures like mask wearing and social distancing.
“He said, ‘It is what it is,’” Mr. Biden said, referring to Mr. Trump’s reaction when the country’s death toll from the virus surpassed 100,000 in May (the number is now over 200,000). “It is what it is, because you are who you are,” Mr. Biden said.
When Mr. Trump was asked about his statements regarding the availability of a vaccine before the election — which directly contradict his own health experts who say it will most likely not be publicly available before next summer — the president said they were wrong: “I’ve spoken to the companies and we can have it a lot sooner.”
Mr. Biden said, “We’re for a vaccine, but I don’t trust him at all and nor do you, I know you don’t. We trust the scientists.”
Negotiators will continue discussions in a bid to end an impasse in Congress over a broad coronavirus relief package, even as House Democrats prepare to approve an updated $2.2 trillion relief bill as early as Wednesday in the absence of a bipartisan agreement.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, are expected to speak on Wednesdayafter a 50-minute phone call on Tuesdayin which they discussed the legislation that House Democrats unveiled this week.
While the conversations amount to the most significant action yet toward a deal on stimulus legislation, lawmakers in both parties cautioned that deep divisions remained over the scope of such a measure and that time was running out for both chambers to act before the Nov. 3 election.
Economists and top officials have warned that to bolster the economic recovery from the pandemic, Congress needs to approve additional aid for American families and businesses. Airlines and other large companies have warned that tens of thousands of workers will be either furloughed or laid off in the coming days because of the toll of the pandemic and the limitations imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The package that House Democrats unveiled on Monday contained several provisions initially included in the $3.4 trillion bill the chamber approved in May, though lawmakers curtailed how long some provisions would last in order to lower the measure’s overall price tag. They slashed their original proposal of nearly $1 trillion for state, local and tribal governments in half, and they cut aid for the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service to $15 billion from $25 billion.
But the package’s price tag remains $1 trillion above what the Trump administration has signaled it is willing to accept, and senior Democrats are moving to approve their own package as early as Wednesday, most likely without Republican support, if Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Mnuchin do not make significant progress in their talks.
Israel’s second national lockdown is likely to last at least a month and perhaps much longer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, as the country’s soaring infection rate of around 8,000 confirmed new cases a day remained among the highest in the world.
“In my opinion, it won’t be less than a month, and it could take much more time,” Mr. Netanyahu said during a Facebook Live video session.
The lockdown came into effect this month, on the eve of the Jewish New Year holiday, and was tightened on Friday after Mr. Netanyahu warned that without immediate measures, Israel would “reach the edge of the abyss.” Israelis must remain within 1,000 meters of their homes unless they are going to authorized places of work or seeking essential supplies or services, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 20 people.
But synagogues were allowed to hold indoor prayers for limited numbers of worshipers during Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, which fell on Sunday night and Monday, and large gatherings of ultra-Orthodox worshipers were captured on video in several locations.
The number of seriously ill virus patients has surpassed 800, a number that government and health officials had long cited as the maximum that Israel’s hospitals could cope with in their current capacity.
Israel reported 243 virus deaths over the past week, according to a New York Times database. That works out to 2.7 per 100,000 people, one of the highest per capita death rates in the world.
In other developments around the world:
South Korea said on Wednesday that it would impose a fine of up to $85 on anyone caught without a mask in high-risk areas like outdoor gatherings and public transportation, starting on Oct. 13. As people in the country began on Wednesday to celebrate Chuseok, a major holiday that runs through the weekend, health officials reported 113 new cases, the highest daily tally in five days. Tens of millions of South Koreans are traveling for Chuseok and officials fear that holiday gatherings could create new vectors of infection.
Finland on Tuesday ordered bars and restaurants to close at 1 a.m. and to stop alcohol sales at midnight starting Oct. 8 to help contain the spread of the virus. Finland’s virus numbers have remained among the lowest in Europe for months but its public health authority said 149 new coronavirus cases had been reported on Tuesday, among the country’s highest daily numbers for several months. Finland has recorded nearly 10,000 cases of the virus and 345 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
Belgium has recorded more than 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus, one of the highest death tolls in Europe. In a country where paramedics and hospitals sometimes denied care to older people, more than half of the deaths in Belgium have been residents of nursing homes.