Health Care

Obama encourages Americans to prepare for a year of ‘ripple’ effects from coronavirus

Former President Obama is urging Americans to prepare for an extended period of economic turmoil and other lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a recent virtual town hall hosted by My Brother’s Keeper, a national initiative for young men of color launched by Obama while he was in the White House, the former president said that he didn’t want people to view the current pandemic as a “short-term thing.”

“Even in the states that are doing it best, even when things reopen, it’s still not going to be what everybody wants. It’s going to take some time,” Obama said. “The economic effects are going to continue to ripple out. We haven’t seen all the impact that’s going to occur. I say that not to scare folks, but to get people thinking this going to be a marathon, not a sprint.”

Obama touted the efforts some states have taken in the crisis, specifically hailing the initiatives Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has launched to expand testing and contact tracing. 

“I think the governor is being more proactive and effective than the federal government at the moment,” Obama said. But he cautioned against moving too quickly, noting that people should prepare for themselves for normality not to return “for a while.”

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, first appeared in China in December and has since infected more than 1 million people in the U.S. and caused more than 60,000 deaths in the country, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University database

The outbreak spurred widespread quarantine measures that shut down scores of schools and nonessential businesses, leading to mass layoffs and furloughs. More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the six weeks since the virus began rapidly spreading through the U.S. 

President Trump last month signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help American workers and businesses financially impacted by the pandemic, and lawmakers are already at work on another round of relief spending. 

Trump has repeatedly faced scrutiny over his early response to the outbreak, with governors consistently voicing concerns over medical equipment and testing shortages. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that every person in the U.S. who needs a test should be able to get one by early June. 

Obama has regularly commented on the outbreak, tweeting last week that the federal government has yet to develop a “coherent plan,” but he hasn’t yet called out Trump by name while talking about the crisis. 

His latest comments came during a My Brother’s Keeper virtual town hall focused on the millions of Americans at risk of being out of work or school for an extended length of time, a significant portion of whom are African American men. 

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus coronavirus stimulus Donald Trump My Brother's Keeper

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