There are worrisome COVID-19 trends in some parts of the country, both for rates of infection — that’s cases of people testing positive for having the virus — and for the number of people hospitalized from the disease.
There have recently been COVID-19 spikes in Arizona, Florida, Texas, California, North and South Carolina, Nevada, Oregon — all of which have just reported record-high weekly case numbers.
Many of the states that are seeing COVID-19 spikes, reopened their economies early. At the same time, more residents are being tested for COVID-19.
So, are case numbers rising because more infections are being detected, or because there’s more person-to-person contact to spread the virus?
Epidemiologist Kumi Smith at the University of Minnesota said it’s some of both. But, bottom line: More people are getting sick.
“What is undeniable is that hospitalization rates are increasing — notably in these sort of Sunbelt regions,” Smith said.
And consumers are taking note, said John Leer at polling firm Morning Consult.
“So in the country as a whole, consumer confidence continues to increase,” he said. “But we’re seeing a flattening in those regions, in the South and in the West, that have been most affected by the recent surge in cases.”
Leer said where consumer confidence is stagnating, people will be less likely to go out and spend.
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?
Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.
How has the pandemic changed scientific research?
Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.
What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?
Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”
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