Having led to community transmissions in nursing homes in the US, Covid-19 is now expected to be spreading across school lunchrooms, according to economists.

Claudia Sahm

Claudia Sahm, economist and former director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and a section chief at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, shared an article on Covid-19 cases soaring among children in the US. A number of children going to schools today are neither vaccinated nor follow mask mandates, leading to rising infections within school campuses. Some parents also remain unvaccinated, citing that they do not even take the flu shot.

Although children are less likely to suffer severely from Covid-19, paediatric hospitalisations have increased in the country in the past few weeks. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, more than 5.7 million children are infected since the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, federal data has revealed that more than 540 Americans up to the age of 18 years lost their lives to the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Washington Post data further revealed that coronavirus infections among children topped for the first time in August. The highly contagious Delta variant has been ravaging across US states, including the State of Tennessee, where vaccination rates are low and infections among children have risen in August and September. Contrarily, states with higher vaccination rates are seeing fewer paediatric infections, the analysis revealed.

Only 17% of those aged between 12 and 17 years have been immunised in Tennessee, as against 52% nationwide. In addition, 45% of adults have been vaccinated compared to 56% across the nation. Children, as result, now account for almost one in four coronavirus cases in the state.

Chad P. Bown

Chad P. Bown, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) in Washington, DC, a research fellow at CEPR in London, and a non-resident fellow at the World Trade Institute (WTI), shared an article on the growing supply chain challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Economists believe that America’s port crisis is not sustainable with the chaos in global shipping likely to persist.

The port of Savannah in Georgia, for instance, with approximately 80,000 shipping containers is waiting to be either hauled to warehouses or shipped to their final destinations. Approximately 700 containers have been left on the port, on the banks of the Savannah river, by their owners for almost a month. As a result, the staggering pileup of cargo at shipping ports is now being viewed as a new post-pandemic reality to be faced by the global shipping industry.

The broader supply chain crisis and disorder in the shipping industry seems persistent and untenable for port authorities, while the world economy hoped to return to growth with the introduction of coronavirus vaccines that limited the spread of the virus. A spike in shipping prices earlier this year was also viewed as a momentary outcome of the pandemic lockdowns. However, according to Sea-Intelligence, an industry research firm in Denmark, half a year later the congestion has worsened with 13% of the global cargo shipping capacity restricted by delays.

Timothy Ash

Timothy Ash, an economist professor of European Studies at Oxford University, shared an article on the CEO of the American food company Kraft Heinz involved in the production of baked beans and tomato sauce, stating that people will have to get used to the Covid-induced food inflation as the company inflated its prices on more than half of its goods in the US.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the cost of products such as oil and cereals pushed global food prices to a 10-year high. Although the cost of raw materials like vegetable oils and crops fell drastically during the pandemic due to limited output and delivery caused by ongoing efforts to control the disease, the reopening of economies today has made it difficult for food manufactures to meet the high demand. As a result, food prices have risen along with producers having to bear the burden of higher wages and energy prices.

The pandemic, however, boosted the sales for some of Kraft Heinz brands as people preferred to stay indoors and cook more than earlier. Meanwhile, anti-plastic campaigners raised concerns over the use of single serving sachets, which grew short due to the rising demand for takeaways during the pandemic. The company increased the production of sachets by 30%, at that time, but is now working on developing new packaging to reduce plastic use.