By early fall, fifty million Americans (many with already high burdens of debt) had lost jobs; financial forecasters were issuing warnings about further layoffs; and millions of the still-employed were earning less than pre-pandemic (Andriotis, 2020). In addition, the bulk of the trillions in federal stimulus (which by early May exceeded the gross domestic product of all but six nations worldwide) had made its way to large corporations; Forbes reported that roughly 70 percent of the initial $350 billion intended for struggling small businesses went to large companies (Simon, 2020). Observers suggest that by channeling taxpayer bailouts to the companies that already had the greatest ability to withstand the shutdowns, the largest players have been able to gain even more of a “stranglehold” over the economy (Kampf-Lassin, 2020).
As U.S. billionaires’ wealth increased by almost a trillion dollars (a weekly average of $42 billion), weekly jobless claims, requests for food bank assistance, and reports of addiction, overdoses, depression, and suicide began “shatter[ing] all historical records” (Feeding America, n.d.; Alcorn, 2020; Americans for Tax Fairness, 2020; Baldor & Burns, 2020; Community FoodBank of New Jersey, 2020; Dubey et al., 2020; Ettman et al., 2020; Hollyfield, 2020; Lerma, 2020; Prestigiacomo, 2020; Schwarz, 2020; Sergent et al., 2020; Thorbecke, 2020; Wan & Long, 2020). Outside the U.S., the situation is similar (Bueno-Notivol et al., 2020). As a marker of the global surge in hunger, the Nobel Committee awarded its 2020 Peace Prize to the World Food Programme, prompting the agency’s head to warn that the world is “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could result in “famines of biblical proportions” in the coming year (Lederer, 2020).
In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data identifying over 100,000 excess U.S. deaths “indirectly” associated with the pandemic (Rossen et al., 2020), including a “stunning 26.5% jump” in excess deaths in young adults in their mid-twenties through mid-forties (Prestigiacomo, 2020). Commenting on these mortality data — which reflect “a death count well beyond what [researchers] would normally expect” (Preidt, 2020) — the former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb voiced his suspicion that “a good portion of the deaths in that younger cohort were deaths due to despair,” including drug overdoses (Squawk Box, 2020). University researchers writing about mortality in JAMA concurred that “Excess deaths attributed to causes other than COVID-19 could reflect deaths . . . resulting from disruptions produced by the pandemic” (Woolf et al., 2020), including “spillover effects . . . such as delayed medical care, economic hardship or emotional distress” (Preidt, 2020). Multilateral entities like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) emphasize that it will be essential to assess the long-term impact of “confinement and deteriorating financial conditions” on mortality and warn that the social and economic fallout is likely to be “significant” (Morgan et al., 2020).CHD Article on Big-Picture Look at Current Pandemic Beneficiaries Accepted by Peer-Reviewed Journal • Children’s Health Defense