‘It is daunting to think about what the consequences will be.’ With no new stimulus deal, much of America’s temporary financial safety net is set to expire Dec. 31

The prospect of another stimulus package before Election Day is uncertain, even as the White House and Democratic leaders kept talking Wednesday.

What is certain for now, however, is that many Americans who are struggling financially will soon see their temporary financial safety net end unless lawmakers intervene.

A wide range of financial assistance programs designed to help people stay in their homes, stay current on their student loans, keep their lights on and meet other financial obligations during the pandemic-induced economic downturn are scheduled to end on or before Dec. 31.

“It is daunting to think about what the consequences will be for families, individuals, businesses, our economy when the COVID-19 protections and financial assistance are no longer available,” said Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, a research, service and advocacy organization promoting consumer interests.

If no deal materializes soon, a stimulus package — or at least some aspects — could conceivably pass in the lame duck session after Election Day and extend some of the deadlines.

But for now, here are the looming expiration dates people are looking at when it comes to protections on past-due rent, unemployment benefits, utility bills, student loan payments and more.

Eviction moratoriums for renters

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a nationwide eviction moratorium in September. Health officials argued that people losing their homes could exacerbate the coronavirus pandemic, as displaced renters could be forced to move into more crowded living conditions with family or shelters.

Those protections only last through the end of the year. The CDC’s order ends on Dec. 31, meaning that starting in January of next year, landlords can resume evicting tenants.

The CDC recently clarified that landlords can take their tenants to court over missing rent payments in the meantime. In these cases, a judge could evict a tenant, but under the CDC order they would be allowed to remain in their home until the end of the year, at which point sheriff’s deputies could be ordered to escort them out.

The CDC’s eviction moratorium doesn’t offer blanket protection to all tenants. Renters have to notify their landlords proactively with a signed document to be covered by the order. And property owners have continued to evict tenants who did not take this step.

Renters who live in properties with federally-backed mortgages have additional protections if the property’s owner receives forbearance. The Federal Housing Finance Agency has barred landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent while in forbearance on Freddie Mac FMCC, -1.57%   and Fannie Mae FNMA, -0.99%  loans.

Both Fannie and Freddie have portals where renters can search to see if their property is covered by these protections. Here is Fannie Mae’s portal and this is Freddie Mac’s portal.

Some states and localities across the country have issued their own moratoriums on evictions since March. Under the CDC’s order, those moratoriums take precedence over the national one if they are more proactive. Many of these eviction bans have already expired, but in some states they will remain in place into next year.

California’s moratorium, for instance, lasts until the beginning of February, while New Jersey has prohibited evictions until two months after the state declares that its health emergency is over. Colorado recently enacted a 30-day eviction moratorium.

Mortgage forbearance and foreclosure moratoriums for homeowners

Under the $2.2 trillion CARES act passed in March, homeowners with federally-backed mortgages — which includes loans backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture — can request up to a year’s worth of forbearance on their home loan.

The legislation required mortgage servicers to provide an initial forbearance period of 180 days, at the end of which borrowers could request an extension of 180 days. The bill did not require that borrowers show proof of financial hardship to qualify.

Because many homeowners initially requested forbearance back in the spring, their initial forbearance periods will end soon. If they still cannot afford to make their monthly payments, they need to request an extension from their loan servicer. Otherwise, the servicer will move to set up a repayment plan.

Homeowners should know they aren’t expected or required to make all of their missed payments at once. They can work with their servicer to set a suitable repayment plan, which could include an adjusted interest rate or longer loan term.

In August, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Federal Housing Administration both extended their moratoriums on foreclosures until the end of the year. These protections apply to any homeowners with federally-backed mortgages.

Under these orders, mortgage servicers are barred from pursuing new foreclosure actions against homeowners and evicting households. homeowners whose mortgages aren’t backed by the federal government can be foreclosed on or evicted.

It is not yet clear whether the federal agencies will extend these moratoriums into 2021; however both agencies have extended their bans on foreclosures multiple times.

Unemployment benefits for gig workers, independent contractors and other nontraditional workers

Before the CARES Act, self-employed workers, freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors were all ineligible for unemployment benefits. With the CARES Act, however, these workers became eligible for the $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits, which expired in July. They were also eligible for state unemployment benefits that were calculated based on the average weekly unemployment benefits in their state.

These state-level benefits, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, expire Dec. 31. Come Jan. 1, more than 11 million Americans, including wedding photographers, Airbnb hosts and Uber UBER, -3.77%   and Lyft LYFT, -3.34%   drivers, will see their benefits reduced to zero.

“It’s a grim cut off for those counting on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Century Foundation.

The only way many of these Americans could still qualify for unemployment benefits is if they “have a history of W2 work,” Stettner said, meaning that they worked a “traditional” job where their employer reported their earnings to the government. That is also the main way of proving that you qualify for unemployment benefits.

There is an appetite on Capitol Hill for making sure these types of workers continue to receive some form of unemployment benefits, said Michele Evermore, a senior policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy organization focused on workers’ rights. “But financing it would be tricky,” she added.

Paid time off for employees coping with coronavirus and child care issues

A federal law enabling paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave is expiring at the end of the year.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act applies to people who have to stay away from their job because they have to quarantine. The law also applies to workers who need to stay home to take care of a loved one, like a child who’s suddenly stuck at home because of a school closure.

Pay amounts depend on whether the leave has to do with medical reasons or family care. For example, someone who is taking sick leave can receive up to $511 daily and $5,110 in total, according to the Department of Labor. A worker can also receive up to $2,000 in a two-week period for child care under one part of the law, and an additional $10,000 for another 10 weeks of leave under another part of the law. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees can apply for exemption from the law if they can say granting leave will jeopardize business operations.

A range of state and local laws might also kick in for workers looking for paid time off, but experts note coverage under those statutes are not a given.

Protections against having utilities disconnected

At one point, 35 states implemented moratoriums blocking utilities from shutting down gas, water and electricity for non-payment. As of late October, 17 states and Washington D.C. still have moratoriums in force — but 13 of those moratoriums will expire at or before December 31.

Though many moratoriums are coming to a close, experts say cash-strapped consumers still have ways to avoid shut-downs. One way is apply for financial assistance to defray utility bills through the federally-funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Another way is to call the utility directly to see what sort of payment plan or deferral can be arranged.

“In general terms, if someone is in arrears or facing a shutoff, the first step is try to work out a payment plan with the utility,” Gillis said. “Paying something shows good faith. In the case of service provided by an [investor-owned utility], it could be useful to call and see what the state public utilities commission or public service commission has to say.”

Payment pauses on student loans

President Donald Trump extended the pause on payments and collections for some federal student loans through Dec. 31.

The pause, which was part of the CARES Act, was originally set to expire on Sept. 31, roughly one month before the presidential election. Advocates have worried the extension won’t be enough to provide borrowers with meaningful relief.

As of September, the economy had only recovered about 11.4 million of the 23 million jobs shed during the pandemic. Without a significant uptick in employment, it’s unlikely that borrowers will be in a much better position to repay their student loans in January than they were in October, advocates say.

That’s in part why many are urging policymakers to consider some form of student debt cancellation as part of a coronavirus relief package. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said that if he’s elected, he would immediately cancel $10,000 in student loans for borrowers. Congressional Democrats have gone even further; Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer have urged the next president to immediately cancel up to $50,000 in student debt.

Advocates have also urged for any coronavirus relief package to include more borrowers. Right now, at least $165 billion in federal student loans are excluded from the payment and collections pause, according to Mark Kantrowitz, the publisher of Savingforcollege.com.

They’re also warning of a wave of administrative and financial headaches once student loan payments resume. Borrowers have been victim to a host of errors during the payment and collections pause, including, in some cases, continuing to have their wages garnished during the pandemic and experiencing a ding on their credit score.

A break on payroll taxes

With stimulus talks at a stalemate in late summer, Trump signed an executive order allowing employers to temporarily stop deducting 6.2% from an employee’s paycheck for Social Security taxes. The deferral is in place from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31 and it applies to people making under $104,000 annually.

It’s up to employers to decide whether to arrange a deferral for their employees. But one expert noted that if a paycheck is larger now because it’s forgoing the tax, it’s going to be smaller starting next year. That’s because the worker’s 6.2% tax obligation will be back in effect — and they will also be paying the deferred taxes from September through December.

Favorable terms for 401(k) withdrawals

The tax code typically discourages people who tap their 401(k) plans early, assessing a 10% penalty on the withdrawals of anyone who’s under age 59 and one-half. But the CARES act put aside the early withdrawal penalty through Dec. 31. The same law allowed people facing hardship from the pandemic to withdraw up to $100,000 this year from their IRA or 401(k); if they pay back the amount in three years, the account holders can avoid paying income taxes on the retirement money they tapped this year.

Experts caution the interim tax consequences can be complicated, but those twists may be a small price for people who need the money now.

Leslie Albrecht contributed to this report.

The Moneyist: At the end of the month, my son asks me to pay his rent and says, ‘You don’t want us to be evicted do you?’ So I have to pay

Dear Moneyist,

My adult son lost his job when he became disabled. He is married with one child. His wife — who has degrees in finance and accounting —does not work.

We managed to get Social Security disability payments for him, and thought his financial problems were solved.

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But instead of paying rent, they spent his disability payment on private-club dues and expensive iPhones, none of which we have ever been able to afford.

We are retired, and live on our savings and Social Security. We are already paying for private school for our granddaughter, their medical expenses, car repairs and weekly cash for food, etc.

At the end of the month, my son asks me to pay his rent and says, “You don’t want us to be evicted do you?” So I have to pay.

What should I do?

Elderly Retired Father

Dear Retired,

Rule No. 1: You never have to do anything in life that you don’t want to do.

To quote MTV’s “The Real World,” you need to stop being polite, and start getting real. Your son will not live in the real world if he doesn’t have to, and as long as you are paying his bills, he will continue to have you keep him in the life to which he would like to become accustomed. He can pay fees for his private clubs and iPhone, but not his food and rent?

He has made a decision to remain a child, and will do so as long as he is receiving pocket money, and he is using his children as leverage. It’s manipulative. If you want to be free of being used in this way, you have to be able to use “no” as a complete sentence, accept that he may become angry with you and withdraw for a time, and/or risk losing your son for good.

Roughly one-quarter of young adults were financially independent by age 22 or younger, compared with just less than one third in 1980, according to the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, D.C. Young men are more likely to “launch” than young women, but that gender gap has diminished in recent years, Pew found.

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They too tap their parents for essential bills. “A majority of young adults who have received financial help from their parents say at least some of it was for recurring expenses,” the researchers wrote. “Six-in-ten say the money went toward household expenses such as groceries or bills, and significant shares used it to pay their tuition, rent or mortgage.”

“Today’s young adults are staying in school longer and are marrying and establishing their own households later than previous generations. A growing share are living in their parents’ homes well into their 20s and even early 30s,” they added. But that does not account for your son, who has left home (in theory, anyway) and is married with children.

Here’s what I would do in your position: Hire a financial adviser for one day to go through their income and expenditure, and frame it as a gift. Then I would sit down with your son and his wife, and see exactly how much financial support he needs, excluding expenses for their aforementioned lifestyle. Last but not least, suggest what they can do to rectify it.

The Moneyist:My brother is in his mid-50s and nearly lost his home twice. Should I give him half of my inheritance to pay off his mortgage?

The good news is: Your son does not live with you and you don’t have to evict him from your home. You may recall the 2018 case of Mark and Christina Rotondo, a couple based in Syracuse, N.Y., who went to the New York State Supreme Court to evict their 30-year-old son Mark from their home. Their son called the judge’s decision “outrageous” and vowed to appeal.

There is no easy answer to your question. Entitled children who want money for simply existing in the world are not uncommon, and it’s always messy. There will be no clean ending to your situation. We like simple solutions. We go to the movies for them. We live in messy times. The pandemic had a messy start, and it will likely have an equally unsatisfying end.

You and your wife must present a united front, and stick together. Be prepared for a backlash and guilt trips and/or even threats that they will have to move away and take their kids. Hire the financial adviser to lay it out in black and white for your son and his wife, highlight what you are willing to do for your grandchildren, and all you have done for your son, and tell them they’re on their own.

Rule No. 2: If they can afford to attend a private members club, they can afford to work.

The Moneyist: My wife and I live with my dying mother. My brothers and I will inherit her home. Should I ask her to sell it — and move in with me?

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com. Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here.

Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook FB, +2.35%  group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

NerdWallet: Change for the better? How travel might look after the pandemic

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.

Mindfulness practice has helped keep me relatively sane throughout the pandemic so far, but no amount of living-in-the-moment can stop me from daydreaming about a time when we can travel freely again. Maybe it will be next spring, or several lifetimes from now, but someday we’ll once again cram into aluminum tubes and soar blissfully through the air together.

Some prognosticated changes to the travel industry have already come to pass. Airfare change fees are disappearing across many airlines (albeit mostly for domestic, non-basic-economy fares alone), and airlines got serious about keeping their aircraft surfaces and air clean, introducing new protocols that are unlikely to disappear even after the virus is under control.

But what other changes could we see once the pandemic clears? While the present moment remains dismal, let’s cast our minds forward to a utopian travel future.

Hotels could offer better accommodations for remote workers

One surprising byproduct of this global catastrophe is a sudden, unprecedented wave of remote workers spreading from high-cost coastal cities into the rest of the country. At first, these untethered workers were fleeing the higher rates of infection in major cities, but now many seem to be realizing they don’t ever have to go back “home” if they don’t want to.

This has created a huge demand for accommodations that support this geographically ambiguous workforce. Some hotel brands have dipped their toes into this new ecosystem, offering interesting work/live packages.

But as someone who was working remotely and living on the road since before all these Gen Z nomads were in preschool, there’s still plenty of room for improvement, especially with long-term stays. Nomads don’t want a room for a long weekend — we can stay for a month if the price is right.

Savvy hotel brands could even offer “memberships” that, for a fee, offer deep discounts across their entire portfolio of properties. Imagine:

“Where do you live?”

“The Hyatt.” H, +2.65%  

“Huh, which one?”

“All of them.”

Airbnb has already pivoted hard to long-term stays of a month or more, and some co-living ecosystems already cater to global digital nomads, but hotel brands could get into the action by effectively becoming landlords to the new nomadic generation.

We could see more dynamic award prices

You may have forgotten about those frequent flyer miles collecting dust in a long-neglected account, but I haven’t. I tracked the value of points and miles in 2020 compared with 2019 and found some interesting trends.

For the most part, these award points are worth less in 2020 than they were in 2019, but not for the reason you might think. Airlines and hotels didn’t hike the price of award tickets and nights in 2020, but they (mostly) didn’t lower the cost of these award bookings to match the dramatic shift in cash prices.

Don’t miss: The best places to live in America in 2020

For example, a given flight on American Airlines AAL, +1.91%   might have cost $200 cash in 2019 but only $100 in 2020, while the award price stayed the same. This would halve the effective cent-per-mile value of the award booking, simply because it hadn’t kept pace with dropping cash prices.

The only domestic airline — United UAL, +1.57%   — and hotel program — IHG — IHG, +5.50%   that bucked this trend were those with the most “dynamic” award programs. That is, the ones that tied the cost of award bookings most closely to cash bookings.

Professional points-slingers like myself generally decry these “dynamic” award systems, as they don’t allow for the ultra-valuable redemptions we crave. But in this case, the dynamic programs were able to offer better relative value. I expect more static programs will adopt this free-market approach in the future.

Politics could stay out of travel safety

Whatever side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, you should be able to agree that public health should remain as apolitical as possible. Local health inspectors shouldn’t change their criteria for inspecting restaurants based on local politics, just as federal organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Aviation Administration should consider only health and safety when making and enforcing policies.

Read: Royal Caribbean trials ‘cruises to nowhere’ with ships sailing in circles from Singapore

In April, at the height of the outbreak in New York City, I remember noticing with stunned disbelief how many daily flights were departing the city’s three major airports. “Why are flights still leaving NYC?” I asked a colleague. I’m still waiting to hear a satisfactory answer.

I’m not an epidemiologist, but it doesn’t seem like the airborne proliferation of New Yorkers across the country in April helped our country’s fight against the virus.

Nonpartisan federal agencies should have the authority to lock down air travel in the event of a global pandemic, or at least enforce sensible safety precautions onboard. The major domestic airlines now all require masks, not because any agency required them to, but because overwhelming popular opinion demanded it.

The bottom line

I may not know what the future of travel will hold, but I have a few hopes about how it might unfold. Better long-term accommodations, more dynamic award pricing and common-sense airline safety rules top the list.

Read next: Champagne and noodles — travel-bereft passengers pay top dollar to dine out in grounded planes

Now, mindfulness meditation teaches us to let go of thoughts of the future and return to the present moment. But forget that — the present moment is awful.

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Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif.

NerdWallet: How do I know if grad school is worth it?

This article is reprinted by permission from NerdWallet.

College enrollment is down overall compared with last year due to the coronavirus. But the economic effects of the pandemic may actually be pushing some students back to school.

“(It’s) probably the worst time to graduate from college in this generation,” says Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “What are you going to do?”

The answer, for many, is getting additional education: As of Sept. 10, graduate program enrollment was up 3.9% and post-baccalaureate certificate program enrollment was up 24.2%, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

If you’re thinking about continuing your education — because you can’t get a job or lost yours — here’s what to consider before you enroll.

Know your timeline

It’s not surprising that recent college graduates or those who’ve lost jobs or been furloughed are looking to gain new skills.

Alana Burns, chief marketing officer of Southern New Hampshire University, said via email that the school saw similar behavior due to the 2008 recession.

Burns said enrollment in SNHU’s graduate-level programs is currently up roughly 55% compared with this time last year. That includes master’s-level courses and graduate certificate programs.

Also see: Early decision is good for colleges, but is it good for you?

Either option could make sense if you want to make yourself more marketable. But make sure whichever you choose addresses your short-term needs or your long-term goals.

“If you are looking for a specific skill or industry-specific certification, a certificate might be best,” Burns said. “If you’re looking to stand out in the job market or change careers, a full graduate degree program might be the best fit.”

Certificate programs take less time and don’t require the entrance exams that graduate degree programs do. Shapiro points to those lower barriers as potential reasons for what he calls the “outrageous” increase in these programs’ enrollment. A degree will require more planning.

“It’s not the kind of thing you can do on the spur of the moment,” he says.

Have a plan to pay for it

Certificate programs also likely cost less, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re inexpensive.

For example, Kent State University in Ohio estimates the cost of its nursing administration and health systems leadership graduate certificate at $12,300. Its online master’s degree in nursing costs up to an estimated $22,500.

Bradley Sommer, president and CEO of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, says to consider the financial implications when deciding whether to go back to school.

“Is it something you can afford?” Sommer says. “Are there scholarships available to you?”

If you can’t get free money — via a scholarship or research grant, for example — you’ll need a plan to pay for a graduate program.

More than half of graduate students turn to loans, finishing their programs with an average debt of $71,000 in 2015-16, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. That total does not include any existing undergraduate loans.

Be sure to read: This graduate degree will be a job magnet as the world recovers from COVID-19

But you may not be able to take out federal financial aid or private graduate student loans for a certificate. Ask the school’s financial-aid office what aid a program is eligible for.

If you need to finance a certificate, you may have to put it on a credit card or take out a personal loan. Both options usually come with higher interest rates than student loans and lack those loans’ protections — like letting you pause payments if you lose your job.

Understand your return on investment

People with advanced degrees earn more money than those with a bachelor’s degree; they also face lower unemployment rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But not all graduate degrees offer equal returns.

For example, Edwin Koc, director of research, public policy and legislative affairs for the National Association of Colleges and Employers, says earnings increase 100% if you go from a bachelor’s degree in biology to a master’s degree. The benefit isn’t nearly as great for those with history degrees, he says.

Also on MarketWatch: How COVID-19 protocol at University of Illinois reduced infections after a recent spike

It’s unclear how much you might gain financially from a certificate.

“It might translate into better prospects for you,” Koc says, “but I don’t have the data to support that.”

You can find data like median earnings for some graduate-level programs in the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. That can help you estimate if a program is affordable. Ideally, your total monthly loan payments would be no more than 10% of your take-home pay.

Keep in mind that those payments can be paused if you’re enrolled at least half-time, but interest may accrue on all your loans, further increasing the amount you owe.

Sommer also recommends reaching out to professional organizations to understand how a school or certificate is perceived. For example, he says there are plenty of accounting organizations across the country to contact, if you were interested in such a program.

“Or even just find a CPA in your town,” he adds, “and say do you know anything about the program at (a specific) university?”

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Ryan Lane is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: rlane@nerdwallet.com.

The Margin: Jeff Bridges is one of the 85,000-plus lymphoma cases expected in the U.S. this year

Careful, man, there’s a beloved actor here.

Jeff Bridges revealed that he has lymphoma, which is the most common type of blood cancer. And this sobering news has spurred celebrities and fans to send their best wishes to the star best known for playing “the Dude,” the White Russian–drinking bowler and casual-wear icon from the Coen brothers’ 1998 cult classic, “The Big Lebowski.”

But the Dude abides, and Bridges suggested that his outlook looks just as promising.

“As the Dude would say.. New S**T has come to light,” tweeted Bridges, 70, on Monday. “I have been diagnosed with Lymphoma. Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good.

Celebrities such as Cary Elwes, John Lithgow, Patricia Arquette and George Takei posted encouraging words and prayers to Bridges, who is the son of Lloyd and Dorothy Bridges, and has starred in more than 70 films including “Starman,” “True Grit” and “The Last Picture Show.” He won an Academy Award in 2010 for “Crazy Heart,” and was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime-achievement award during the 2019 Golden Globes.

And he is now one of the most high-profile cases of lymphoma, a cancer of the body’s infection-fighting lymphatic system that affects the blood and bone marrow. And more than 85,000 new cases of lymphoma are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, according to American Cancer Society data shared by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, with some 791,550 people currently living with lymphoma or in remission from the disease in the U.S.

Many different types of lymphoma exist, and Bridges did not share any more details about his diagnosis or treatment. But his disclosure is an opportunity to share more information about lymphoma, the risk factors and symptoms to be aware of, as well as treatment options.

What is lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that starts in cells that are part of the body’s immune system, specifically the lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell that fights germs. So these cancers can affect the blood and bone marrow, as well as the other tissues and organs that produce, store and carry white blood cells including the spleen.

Doctors still don’t know what specifically causes lymphoma, but at some point a lymphocyte mutates and begins to reproduce rapidly. The mutated, abnormal cells live longer than the normal cells would, and in time, the diseased and ineffective lymphocytes outnumber the healthy cells, which causes the lymph nodes, liver and spleen to swell.

There are two main types of lymphoma, the CDC explains, including:

Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), which spreads in an orderly manner from one group of lymph nodes to another.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), which spreads through the lymphatic system in a non-orderly manner.

What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms of lymphoma may include:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes in your neck, armpits or groin
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Itchy skin

These symptoms can be signs of other health conditions, of course, so it’s recommended that anyone experiencing them should see a doctor to determine the cause.

How is it treated?

There are many different types of lymphoma — including 90 different types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma — and treatment varies depending on the type and severity. Generally, lymphoma treatment involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy medication. The Mayo Clinic, which is an international authority on lymphoma research, explains that the goal of treatment is to destroy as many cancer cells as possible to bring the disease into remission. A bone marrow or stem cell transplant may be performed in some cases to help rebuild healthy bone marrow after chemo and radiation has suppressed the diseased bone marrow.

Bridges didn’t specify his own treatment, only saying that he is beginning treatment and will keep the public posted on his recovery.

Treatment can be very expensive, however, with almost 60% of patients covered by Medicare telling the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in a 2019 study that they decided to delay or forego treatment, largely due to steep out-of-pocket costs. It noted that some traditional Medicare lymphoma patients getting anti-cancer therapy though infusions experienced out-of-pocket costs of more than $19,000 in their first year. And costs can extend two or three years beyond a blood cancer diagnosis.

Who is most at risk?

While children, teens and adults can all develop lymphoma, some types are more common in certain age groups. The CDC notes that rates of Hodgkin lymphoma are highest among teens and young adults (ages 15 to 39) as well as among older adults (ages 75 and older). But non-Hodgkin lymphoma becomes more common as people get older.

Men are also slightly more likely to develop lymphoma than women, the CDC adds, and white people are more likely than Black people to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Cases have also been more common in people who are immunocompromised, including those who take drugs to suppress their immune systems. And some infections such as HIV and the Epstein-Barr virus are also associated with an increased lymphoma risk.

And like many other cancers, family history has been linked with a higher risk of Hodgkin lymphoma.

What is the survival rate?

The good news is, Hodgkin lymphoma is now considered to be one of the most curable forms of cancer, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, with a five-year survival rate of 94.4% among patients younger than 45 at diagnosis. And the five-year relative survival rate for those with Hodgkin lymphoma more than doubled from 40% in whites in 1960 to 1963 (the only data available) to 88.5% for all races from 2009 to 2015.

And the five-year relative survival rate for people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma rose from 31% in whites from 1960 to 1963 (the only data available) to 74.7% for all races from 2009 to 2015.

Still, an estimated 20,910 Americans are expected to die from lymphoma this year, including 19,940 with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 970 with Hodgkin lymphoma.

How does COVID-19 complicate things?

While the medical community is still learning about COVID-19, the general consensus is that people with cancer, who are in active cancer treatment or have previously been treated for cancer, may be at higher risk of severe illness and death if they get the coronavirus. So it’s important that these folks lower their risk of exposure to COVID-19 by avoiding large crowds and non-essential travel; working from home, if possible; staying at least six feet away from people outside their household; wearing a face mask when they can’t socially distance; as well as washing their hands frequently, and not touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Where can I find more information or support?

Visit the CDC and American Cancer Society pages on lymphoma.

The Mayo Clinic also outlines its lymphoma research and treatment strategies on its website.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Lymphoma Research Foundation also provide valuable information and support.