Staunton, July 1 – Because of the constitutional amendment vote today, coverage of the coronavirus and associated economic crisis was the most sparse it has been in months. But despite the desire of the authorities not to spoil the day with bad news, some nonetheless surfaced and should be noted.
According to the results of a new survey, 45 percent of Russians entered the crisis without any savings; and 46 percent of all Russians say they are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic (thinktanks.by/publication/2020/07/01/pochti-polovina-rossiyan-voshla-v-pandemiyu-koronavirusa-bez-sberezheniy.html).
Perhaps because of this report, Russian media outlets highlighted Vladimir Putin’s directive to the government to take all steps necessary to restore employment by 2021. The Kremlin leader acknowledged that the pandemic had cost 2.3 million Russians their jobs, pushing unemployment to 4.5 million (profile.ru/economy/kak-koronakrizis-povliyal-na-bezraboticu-354264/).
Russians may get another form of relieve if a proposal by the Presidential Human Rights Council is accepted. That body is calling on the powers that be to cancel all fines imposed on those who violated the self-isolation orders issued earlier when the pandemic was at its worst (ng.ru/politics/2020-07-01/3_7899_rights.html).
But if the media largely took a day off from pandemic coverage, the coronavirus didn’t. There were 6556 new cases of infection, bringing that total to 654,405; and 216 new deaths recorded bringing the cumulative number to 10,281. Many continue to say these figures understate the extent of the crisis (стопкоронавирус.рф/).
There was other bad news as well. Medical experts say that Russian researchers have identified more than 100 different strains of the virus on Russian territory, raising the possibility that a vaccine that may work against some of them may not work against all (sovsekretno.ru/news/v-rossii-zafiksirovali-bolee-sotni-shtammov-koronavirusa/).
Medical officials did say that once any vaccine is developed, it will be given to high risk groups, such as the elderly or those with other diseases, before it will be made available to the population at large, an indication that the Russian pharmaceutical industry may not be able to ramp up as rapidly as some have hoped (ria.ru/20200701/1573718543.html).
Reports from various regions highlighted the continuing diversity of impact of the pandemic and official responses. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin says he does not expect a repeat of the pandemic or a second wave (ria.ru/20200701/1573749637.html). But officials elsewhere are struggling with the original one and extending restrictions (govoritmagadan.ru/reanimaciya-magadanskoj-oblastnoj-bolnicy-zakryta-na-karantin-iz-za-covid-19/eastrussia.ru/news/rezhim-poveshennoy-gotovnost-prodlili-v-magadanskoy-oblasti/ and ru.chuvash.org/news/5359.html).
Meanwhile, experts are suggesting that the pandemic may have one additional impact on Russia that would have significant consequences for the country. Because of the risk of new pandemics and future lockdowns, experts say, ever more Russians are going to want low-density housing rather than staying in the high rises of major cities (ng.ru/economics/2020-07-01/1_7899_building.html).