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Coronavirus update: White House works for stimulus compromise, mortgage forbearance keeps homeowners afloat

People are neglecting other health issues during the pandemic

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 26,194,662 (26,091,122)

Total U.S. deaths: 441,409 (440,043)

Total global cases: 103,090,224 (102,741,314)

Total global deaths: 2,230,829 (2,223,750)

Biden, GOP senators seek stimulus compromise

President Biden will meet with 10 Republican senators who have said they would vote for a scaled-down coronavirus (COVID-19) relief bill. The Democrats have proposed a $1.9 trillion spending bill that the GOP has called too large.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) wrote to Biden on Sunday to say she and her colleagues believed more stimulus is needed, but she said they could only support a more modest bill. She suggested a meeting to promote an exchange of ideas.

"We appreciate the president's quick response to our letter, and we are pleased to accept his invitation to the White House tomorrow afternoon to discuss the path forward for the sixth bipartisan COVID-19 relief package," the 10 GOP lawmakers said in a statement last night.

Many homeowners face day of reckoning at end of March

In the weeks ahead, COVID-19 mortgage forbearance programs will be drawing to a close, presenting significant financial challenges for homeowners who are still seriously behind because of the pandemic.

The Data & Analytics division of Black Knight reports that about 6.7 million Americans have been in a forbearance program at some point during the pandemic. Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske says these programs have served as an essential lifeline.

"The vast majority of plans have a 12-month cap on payment forbearance, though,” he said. “And the various moratoriums which have kept foreclosure actions at bay over the past 10 months may be lulling us into a false sense of security about the scope of the post-forbearance problem we will need to confront come the end of March.”

Black Knight says 2020 saw the largest number of homeowners – nearly 3.6 million – become 90 or more days past due since 2009. At the end of December, 2.1 million remained in that position.

Survey: Many Americans neglected health issues during pandemic

At the beginning of the pandemic, health officials were concerned that Americans would neglect other health needs such as doctor’s visits and health screenings. New research from the Cleveland Clinic suggests that has indeed been the case

The clinic’s new survey shows that only 52 percent of Americans reached out to a doctor or sought medical care after experiencing a concerning health issue during the COVID-19 outbreak. When it comes to patients with heart disease, that number increased to 63 percent

"The concerning trend we saw in this year's survey is that the very people who should not be avoiding the doctor during a pandemic are doing just that," said Samir Kapadia, M.D., chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. 

"Ignoring symptoms of heart disease or not maintaining regular health checks like blood pressure or cholesterol screenings can lead to serious health consequences, especially if you have pre-existing conditions. Hospitals, including Cleveland Clinic, are taking every precaution to keep patients safe while at the doctor's office.".

Why has California turned the corner?

Things have gotten better in California. The reason for that is the subject of debate.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials point to the tough restrictions imposed on businesses last month as a major reason why new cases throughout the state are on the decline. But some experts say the genesis of the change goes back to late 2020, when Californians began to make some changes.

Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, tells the Los Angeles Times that residents radically curtailed their movements in early December. He says part of that was due to stay-at-home orders and part was due to Californians being more mindful of the dangers and taking extra precautions.

Anti-vaccination protesters disrupt event in Los Angeles

Some people have been adamant in their refusal to receive the coronavirus vaccine. A small number have gone even further by trying to prevent others from receiving it.

In Los Angeles over the weekend, a small group of protesters blocked the road into Dodgers Stadium where a mass inoculation event was being held. Police responded to the scene, but the event was eventually delayed.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the protesters included “far-right groups” and people known as “anti-vaxers,” who are opposed to all vaccinations. One witness told police that the protesters were spreading false information.

Around the nation

  • West Virginia: Health officials around the country are complimenting the job West Virginia has done with the vaccine rollout. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the state has already administered 85 percent of the vaccine it has received.

  • Missouri: Missouri reported no deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, the first time that’s happened since early January. Health officials say the seven-day average of new cases of the virus is also on the decline.

  • Virginia: The University of Richmond halted men’s basketball for the third time this season because of concerns about the virus. Days earlier, St. Louis University’s team departed Richmond without playing the scheduled game without elaborating on the reason.

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