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Power outages lead to shortages in groceries and other essentials in Hurricane Ida

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Almost 800,000 customer remains without electricity, Louisiana residents are scrambling to load up on milk, bread and water and find gas for their cars.

Five days after  Hurricane Ida hit the Southeast,  more than 800,000 homes and businesses still don’t have power service. The hunt for essentials — groceries, cleaning supplies and fuel — continues fueling the people  dread for the challenges still ahead.

On Friday at gas station in Louisiana lines stretched for blocks.Some markets had begun rationing water, ice, bread, milk and other staples, while one pharmacy chain had deployed mobile units to devastated communities.

Id workers deliver food on dark nights in the neighborhood by the headlights of their trucks.In New Orleans a Louisiana ran groceries and ice from a supermarket in Lafayette to an elderly Catholic nun about 2½ hours away in ideal condition.

Families gather to avoid many shopping trips and waste of critical supplies due to lack of fuel supply.The result, residents and aid workers say, is a growing sense of anguish as Louisianians confront the storm’s sprawling aftereffects.

In the Northeast after the  Hurricane Ida pound the region has more than 47 death toll.

Blair Broussar said, “I’m passionate about making sure people know about how impactful the storm really was, even though you don’t see video of the French Quarter being destroyed,” 

A spokeswoman told The Washington Post that the Waffle House, considered by emergency management officials the gold standard of disaster preparedness, has reopened all but 10 of the 90 restaurants it closed when the storm struck.

An estimated 825,000 electric meters remained offline as of Friday, including 700,000 from Entergy, Louisiana’s largest utility. The company said it would be another five days before its grid was fully restored, down from earlier estimates of up to three weeks.

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Stimulus Checks: President Joe Biden Confident About Build Back Better Bill

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The year is 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of Americans and had a catastrophic effect on economies on both a local and global scale. Indeed, the American economy is battling to recover from one of the greatest contractions it has experienced in history. Inflation is soaring – around about 7%. The Omicron variant of the pandemic is affecting many more citizens. So far January has not been easy.

History Of Build Back Better

President Joe Biden and his administration issued a group of stimulus checks – 3 to be precise since 2020 to help citizens in the United States of America to cope in this contemporary economic environment. Furthermore, he also made amendments and extended the Child Tax Credit program to aid millions of middle and lower-income citizens and families cope during these trying times.

However, millions of citizens in the United States of America, due to inflation and unemployment and the outbreak of the Omicron variant, as mentioned earlier, believe they need further federal aid or a 4th stimulus check, at least, to be issued by the federal government.

President Joe Biden had proposed a bill or a set of laws called the Build Back Better bill which would aid those affected by the pandemic. It would tax the rich and help the poor. However, with opposition from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin – or refusal to give his essential vote to pass the bill – further stimulus checks offered on a federal /level, and federal relief – may seem unlikely even though many states have taken the initiative into their own hands.

Again Confident

On January 21, however, according to National Interest, during one of the longest presidential media addresses in history, President Joe Biden made it clear that he is confident that the Build Back Better Bill/ Legislation or laws will still be passed as negotiations with the appropriate parties are promising.

Indeed, the President of America believes that breaking the proposed bill up into parts and having them debated, negotiated, and then passed by the House – means that there might be a solution to get his laws into legislation. This might be some very good news, and again – the child tax credit program might be extended to at least 2025 – and further stimulus checks might be on the horizon for millions of struggling American citizens and families alike.

 

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Record Number US Banks Shut Down Branches in 2021

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Banks are a significant component of the US economy; a record number of branches shut down last year. Around 4,000 retail units were closed in 2021, with about 1,000 new openings. Most US Banks Shut Down Branches in 2021

A net of 2,927 branches was shut down. Last year, Wells Fargo closed 267 branches, the most among all banks, while JPMorgan Chase opened most branches. PYMNTS.com reports that the US market is seeing a new wave of mergers; merging banks had $77 billion in revenue last year, breaking the previous 15 years’ record. Several banks in the UK also called times on the many branches in 2021.

PYMNTS.com quoted Gerard Cassidy, head of US bank equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets; he said, “We anticipate the downward trend in branches will continue for several years……as more of the transaction-oriented aspects of banking are done digitally. As consolidation continues and there are overlapping branches when deals are approved, there’s no need to have two branches on Main Street.” The reports said that the Standard Chartered Banks in Nigeria shut down 50% of its branches to enhance various banking aspects.

Banks Focus On Enhancing Customer Service

The banks are focusing on developing advanced infrastructures to provide a better experience to the users. The digital shift is also one of the significant factors behind the closure of branches; the pandemic has forced the market giants to switch online to cater to maximum customers. PYMTS.com reports that the majority of the account holders prefer online operation due to increased health risks at present. The data shows that 41% of the users opt for mobile banking apps for transactions, and 26% prefer their computers.

Online Services Are The Need Of The Hour

The online banking platform is quicker and more convenient for customers; it allows rapid data transfer and ensures complete security. The reports suggest that more than 50% of the accountholders prefer biometric authentication over passwords of PINs. Banks can look into the general references to expand their market. Customers might choose touser online methods for a more extended period, the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country has brought hardship for millions of customers. Still, the introduction and boost of online banking services have bailed them out of trouble.

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Banking News

BNP Paribas, Citigroup To Resume Work-From-Office Next Month

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Citigroup and BNP Paribas have informed their employees to return to the office from February 7. The banks delayed their plans to call the staff due to a recent surge in Omicron cases across the US; working individuals decided upon returning to their offices before the winter COVID wave surprised them.

BNP Paribas, Citigroup To Resume Work-From-Office Next Month

Reuters reports that Citigroup is calling back its staff in New York. However, the employees of other branches are yet to receive a callback. The reports say that the employees will have to turn up at least twice a week as per the bank’s policy. Individuals who have not been vaccinated before January 14 will get an unpaid leave, resulting in employment termination at the end of February.

Omicron Delayed Reopening Of Offices

Reuters quoted Kevin Abaraxzek, HR head for change and transformation at BNP Paribas, New York; he said, “With what happened with Omicron, we wanted to go back into a more conservative model. So we only have people in the office if there’s a business-critical need for them to be in. we were generally skewing around 25% to 30% late last year, we’ll probably reach that level, and then we hope that throughout the spring, and certainly into the summer, that we will get closer to that 50%.”

Employees’ Health Is The Priority

The reports suggest that the bank was allowing unvaccinated employees in the office earlier, but the policies are more strict about safeguarding their health due to present critical conditions.

Abraszek told Reuters that the bank would look into the policies concerning vaccination as the year progresses. However, the banks will not compromise the health of hundreds of staff by allowing unvaccinated employees. Several banks have delayed their office resumption due to an increase in COVID cases recently. The workers should also recognize the need for vaccination to shield against the virus and take preventive measures to protect their health.

Reuters reports that Goldman Sachs has postponed its office return by two weeks to February 1. The banks should provide leeway to the employees suffering from the virus and encourage them to recover and resume working. The banks should introduce flexible policies due to uncertain times ahead.

 

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