Children have been largely spared from the most severe symptoms of the coronavirus but the resulting economic impact and hardships may not be so kind.
The poorest and most vulnerable members of society are being hardest hit by the pandemic response, said a recent report released by the United Nations.
“I appeal to families everywhere, and leaders at all levels: protect our children,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Leaders must do everything in their power to cushion the impact of the pandemic.”
An estimated 42 million to 66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the coronavirus crisis this year, adding to the estimated 386 million children already in extreme poverty in 2019, according to the U.N.
With the global recession gaining momentum, there could be hundreds of thousands additional child deaths in 2020, Guterres said.
“With children out of school, their communities in lockdown and a global recession biting deeper, family stress levels are rising. Children are both victims and witnesses of domestic violence and abuse.”
The report also points to an increase in extreme poverty this year of 84 million to 132 million people. Approximately half of those 132 million people are children.
“Let us protect our children and safeguard their well-being” said Guterres.
Growing number of Americans say it’s time to lift restrictions and return to work
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump and a growing number of Americans say it is time to relax restrictions on the economy and lift stay-at-home orders.
“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” the President tweeted.
Some 6.6 million Americans reportedly filed for unemployment insurance last week. This was double the previous record, which was set only the week prior. Analysts are predicting that GDP could shrink by double-digit percentages this quarter.
With businesses shut down and more than a billion people told to stay home to avoid spreading the virus, the International Monetary Fund has predicted the world would this year suffer its steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“Keeping businesses’ doors completely closed will have huge costs,” said Jonathan Caulkins, a professor of operations research and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College said in a Politico interview. “Given this possibility, we need to figure out how to work sustainably in this new reality.
Caulkins said keeping Americans safe doesn’t require shuttering all jobs.
“It does, however, require re-thinking how people do them. There’s a large swathe of jobs, somewhere between essential and optional, that could be reengineered to allow many to get back to work soon and safely.”
Multiple states have seen protests as stay-a-home orders and restrictions continue. Many protesters are angry about the economic ramifications the restrictions are causing.
Governors of about 20 U.S. states have indicated they may be ready to start the process of reopening their economies by President Donald Trump’s May 1 target date. Others have said that they intend to continue imposed lockdowns.
Protestors gathered outside the Minnesota governor’s mansion on Friday to defy stay-at-home measures instituted by Governor Tim Walz. The demonstration was organized by anti-lockdown group Liberate Minnesota.
The day before, demonstrators in Virginia gathered outside the state capitol building in Richmond to protest Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order. And, earlier in the week, thousands of Michigan residents blocked traffic in Lansing, the state capital.
In a series tweets on Friday, Trump said: “Liberate Minnesota!” “Liberate Michigan!” “Liberate Virginia!” and said the 2nd Amendment was under siege.
A growing number of Ohio legislators are calling on Gov. Mike DeWine to lift restrictions and allow Ohioans back to work.
DeWine stated last week that he will begin implementing a plan beginning May 1 to slowly reopen the state in stages, but did not elaborate.
“Is it the government’s job to extend my life or is it the government’s job to protect my liberties and freedoms?” Rep. Nino Vitale said in letter to the governor, calling on him to allow surgical centers to reopen and medical personnel to return to work.
Churches suing state governments for banning worship gatherings
Churches and their leaders in states across the country are suing governors for COVID-19-inspired orders that they say are infringing on their right to worship freely.
In Kentucky, Maryville Baptist Church and its pastor sued Gov. Andy Beshear (D) in federal court for the “unconstitutional application of the gathering orders,” claiming he “targeted” churchgoers who gathered on Easter Sunday for the only in-person service in the state.
A few of those churchgoers filed their own lawsuit earlier in the week, after receiving notices in the mail that they need to self-quarantine for 14 days. They were identified by their license plates in the church parking lot.
In the new lawsuit, the church and pastor, Jack Roberts, expressed outrage that church gatherings were not categorized as essential services in the state, while institutions like “liquor stores” were.
In Texas, a number of pastors, churches and conservative activists are suing Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) for similarly constraining their religious liberty.
“The Texas Constitution guarantees our God-given unalienable rights to worship, to peaceably assemble, and to move about freely without unconstitutional restrictions on one’s egress and ingress,” the lawsuit, noted by a Houston Chronicle reporter, said.
“None of these rights is contingent upon our health status or subject to the limitations Governor Abbott is attempting to impose on those rights.”