The COVID-19 pandemic arrived swiftly and decimated everything in its path, ransacking our daily way of life, disrupting our mental health, knocking out businesses and claiming too many innocent lives. Those who were hit the hardest are still in distress as we enter a new year. As a result of the widespread pandemic, our world came to a complete halt. People were suddenly ousted from their workplaces and forced to work from home. Many people were even terminated from their jobs and left without any source of income. For all of us, it was a very dark time that left us all in a very dark place.
A Terra Linda junior who wishes to remain anonymous spoke about his family’s experience throughout the shelter in place order. Like so many families around the nation, there were days where the future was always bleak. “In the very beginning of the shelter in place order, we were very confused. We didn’t know where’d we get money to buy food or pay our bills and we just didn’t expect everything to just happen all at once.” Thankfully, his mom and dad were able to successfully apply for the California Employment Development Department (EDD) benefits, which were sufficient enough to cover basic necessities around the house. He spoke upon the constant wait for news regarding any additional stimulus and the uncertainty of whether or not the EDD benefits would be extended through the next year, describing the situation as “kind of ridiculous”. He states, “Our lawmakers [on both sides] spent too much time arguing over what to add into the stimulus bill to benefit their own party and left the American people waiting for too long. Some of the stuff in the bill doesn’t even make sense.”
The most recent round of stimulus passed in December was valued at nearly $900 billion following the $2 trillion CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) which was passed in March. Stimulus checks were also mailed out in the second round, $600 per individual and another $600 per child, a boost for families on top of the $300 weekly federal enhancement benefits through March 2021. The bill goes on to provide funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which assists small businesses, helps fund rent protection, and other cardinal issues.
There were very random additions to the bill that caught people and social media off guard. The most engrossing controversial additions were the prohibition of doping in horse racing, a right to legally reproduce images and the likeness of Smokey the Bear, making illegal streaming a felony (a tip of the cap to Dana White), and billions of dollars to the military and foreign countries. For a stimulus bill that was meant to support and provide relief for American businesses and the American people, the subtle additions were beyond contentious.
While our government attempted to resuscitate the American economy, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy took matters into his own hands. Portnoy, a social media personality known for his epic sports betting, spontaneous pizza reviews, and entertaining live streams, started the Barstool Fund in an effort to raise donations to fund small businesses who are in desperate need of support. As of February 3, the Barstool fund has raised upwards of $34.2 million backed by over 212,000 donors, not to mention Portnoy’s own contribution of $500,000. The funds raised were dispersed to 223 businesses across the nation and counting. On the Barstool Fund’s website, you can browse through every single small business that received a donation along with their stories. In a local Boston news interview, Portnoy says, “We’re calling everyone, and the reactions are truly … you know, I’m not the softest guy ever to come down the pike, but even me, it hits me and I think that’s why everybody’s donating”, referencing the heartwarming reactions of business owners when Portnoy gives them “the call”.
2020 was an absolutely unforgettable year that affected us all in so many ways. Americans and citizens of the world are enduring the consequences that come with the effects of a raging pandemic. Talks are underway for a third stimulus bill that will now be negotiated under a Democrat-controlled Senate and White House. Leaving behind 2020, we have entered a new year where it is time to look forward to recuperating and coming back stronger than before.