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COVID-19

Today’s numbers: The COVID economy

Scott Tong and Mitchell Hartman Mar 4, 2021
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As of March 4, 2021 (we’ll update every weekday morning).

U.S.‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌deaths‌, yesterday:‌‌ 2,449 (falling)

U.S.‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌new‌ ‌cases‌, yesterday: 66,836 (falling) ‌ ‌

Americans receiving first COVID vaccine dose: 80.5 million (75% of doses shipped) 

COVID ‌patients‌ ‌now‌ ‌in‌ ‌hospital:‌‌ 45,462 (falling)


COVID case forecast

Source: CDC

“Credit invisible” Americans with no credit history: 26 million 

First-time unemployment claims (regular state programs), most recent week: 745,000

Continuing unemployment claims (all state and federal programs): 18,026,537

“The leading economic indicator is … the virus.” More than one analyst has put it to us this way. As we try to understand and quantify this unprecedented global economic collapse — and now the attempted restart — we’re following key metrics for COVID-19 and the broader economy.

Keep in mind: The tally of COVID-19 cases represents only the ones that are documented.

Our main trusty sources: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University, Our World in Data (based on WHO data, Covid Tracking (scientist/journalist collaboration), GasBuddy.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

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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