From Fair Warning: “We believe things will get worse as we get into January,” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a radio interview. And they have. The U.S. set a new record for daily Covid-19 deaths for the second day in a row yesterday, with more than 4,100 people dying, according to The New York Times. The daily new case record also fell, with more than 280,000 new infections reported. These extra-high figures could be skewed higher by lags in reporting following the holidays.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent forecast projected there could be between 405,000 and 438,000 U.S. deaths by the end of the month, CNN reports. Globally, there have been over 88 million confirmed cases and more than 1.9 million deaths; of those, more than 21.6 million cases have been recorded in the U.S., and more than 366,000 of the deaths.
Although all eyes turned this week to the chaos and violence in the nation’s capitol, if the CDC’s estimate is correct, 40,000 to 73,000 more people will die of Covid in the U.S. in the next three weeks.
SBA Releases Updated PPP Rules and Application
The Small Business Administration reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal this morning. The PPP website
has been updated with new details including the application
form and the Interim Final Rule
for the program changes recently signed into law.
Pasadena: Pasadena reported 117 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday and no additional fatalities. Pasadena as recorded 8,2590 cases of COVID-19 and 174 dets as of Saturday. With 238 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Pasadena on Friday, the city has reported more than 200 daily infections for four days in a row and exceeded 8,000 total infections, authorities said. Two new fatalities were also reported, city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. No details regarding the latest two victims were available. Officials reported an all-time high number of new infections at 253 on Tuesday, and daily infections have not declined below 200 since, according to city data. The new figures raised the overall tallies in Pasadena to 8,133 cases of COVID-19 and 173 deaths.
Huntington Hospital officials reported treating 197 COVID-19 patients on Friday, with 29 of them being treated in intensive care units. Pasadena’s average daily infections over the prior week reached a record of 179 on Friday, city data shows.
As officials continued overseeing the administration of vaccines, an online form was created by the city for eligible healthcare workers to request additional information about getting vaccinated at healthforms.cityofpasadena.net/v/Vaccine.
Los Angeles County: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported the county’s deadliest single day of the pandemic, with 318 fatalities documented on Friday, along with 18,313 new cases of the virus. L.A. County’s overall positivity rate had grown to 17%, and the daily positivity test rate was measured at 20.4%, according to county officials. L.A. County Director of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said it was up to county residents to end the ongoing surge. Officials reported 8,074 hospitalized COVID-19 patients county-wide. Twenty percent of them were being treated in ICUs.
California: At the state level, the California Department of Public Health announced 50,030 new infections and 492 new deaths on Friday. In total, 2,568,641 cases of COVID-19 have been documented in the state, along with 28,538 deaths. The state’s average positivity rate over the prior 14 days grew to 13.3%, according to the CDPH. As of Friday, L.A. County accounted for 35% of California’s COVID-19 infections and 42% of the state’s fatalities.
Coronavirus infections in California surpassed 2.5 million by the middle of this week, Rong-Gong Lin II and Luke Money report for the Los Angeles Times, increasing by more than a million in less than a month. Los Angeles County has by far the most cases in the country—more than 871,000 according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, over twice as many as next hardest-hit Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago. As the Times reports, in Los Angeles County one in five coronavirus tests is coming back positive, up from one in 25 in early November. The county is currently averaging 183 deaths a day from the virus, or one every eight minutes.
Hospital capacity is stretched to the breaking point, with horrific results: As Fenit Nirappil and William Wan report for The Washington Post, ambulance crews were instructed to use oxygen only for their worst-case patients, and not to bring patients to the hospital if they didn't have a decent chance at surviving, in order to preserve space for those that do.
Also: California officials estimate around $4 billion in pandemic unemployment relief has been paid out on fraudulent claims in a scandal focused on dysfunction at the state's Economic Development Department, Anita Chabria, Richard Winton, and Patrick McGreevy report for the Los Angeles Times. Millions of dollars have gone to jail and prison inmates in California and several other states, including Nevada, Illinois, South Carolina and Florida, where a man serving time for murder is among those who received scam payments.
More than 5.9 million people in the U.S. have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, just over a quarter of the doses that have been distributed, per the CDC vaccine tracker. The sluggish rollout has been blamed on a lack of funding and direction from the federal government, inadequate planning by state and local governments, on the holidays and on mistrust of the vaccine, the Associated Press reports.
A World Health Organization panel has approved delaying the second dose of the vaccine up to six weeks to allow more people to receive the first of the two shots, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises against this, according to The Hill. The global scarcity of vaccines means that even countries that took part in clinical trials, such as Argentina, South Africa, Brazil and Turkey, will not get enough vaccines to protect their populations anytime soon, Sharon Lerner reports for The Intercept.
In stark contrast, Lerner reports that the U.S., Canada, Germany and the rest of the European Union have contracted for enough vaccines “to inoculate their populations several times over.” Zain Rizvi, law and policy researcher at Public Citizen, described the situation as “a global vaccine apartheid.”
Also: The CDC released a study showing that about 11 of every million people vaccinated for coronavirus would likely experience anaphylaxis, a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. The rate is about 10 times higher than for the flu vaccine, CNBC reports. “The anaphylaxis rate for Covid-19 vaccines may seem high compared to flu vaccines, but I want to reassure you that this is still a rare outcome,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters.
Immigrant- and Black-owned restaurants are especially at risk of closing. A survey by the C.R.A. found that 60 percent of restaurants in California are owned by people of color. However, after the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was implemented in March, the largest benefits failed to reach many minority-owned businesses.
Unemployment: The New York Times reported over the weekend that already sputtering economic rebound went into reverse last month as employers laid off workers amid rising coronavirus cases and delayed government aid. U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department said Friday. It was the first net decline in payrolls since last spring’s mass layoffs and followed five straight months in which hiring had slowed. The report was a grim capstone to a year in which the economy lost more than nine million jobs, the worst on a percentage basis since World War II. It also means that President Trump will be the first chief executive since Herbert Hoover to leave office with a net loss of jobs, with a four-year decline of about three million.
The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent, down sharply from its high of nearly 15 percent in April but still close to double the 3.5 percent rate in the same month a year earlier.
December’s losses were heavily concentrated in the leisure and hospitality sector, which shed nearly half a million jobs as the resurgent pandemic led governors to shutter restaurants and families to cancel trips home for the holidays. Many forecasters expect those losses to continue into the new year.
At the same time, economists said the concentrated nature of the December job losses suggested that the damage from the latest wave of coronavirus cases had not spread to the rest of the economy. That may allow for a faster rebound as vaccinations become more widespread.
Most forecasters expect the economy to remain weak and perhaps shed more jobs in early 2021. But they are becoming increasingly optimistic about the rest of the year. The $900 billion relief package passed by Congress last month should provide an economic boost, and further federal aid could be more likely after Democrats won control of the Senate in this week’s elections in Georgia. And as coronavirus vaccines become widely available, it should allow the return of activity that has been suppressed by the pandemic.
The leisure and hospitality industry was hit hard in December, while other sectors made small gains.
Industries less exposed to the pandemic, like manufacturers and construction firms, continued to add jobs in December. Retailers, which laid off millions of workers last spring, added more than 120,000 jobs last month, a sign that they have learned to adapt to the pandemic.
And many of the latest job losses were temporary furloughs, which could be reversed quickly if the pandemic eases; permanent job losses, which had been rising, fell in December.
“I have a few on the bubble that might not make it, especially as sales have tailed down through the winter,” he said.
The course of the virus in coming months will be critical, Mr. Branca said. But the vaccine rollout is even more important: Once his staff and customers feel safe interacting face to face again, he expects business to pick up. Even then, though, it will take time to rebuild from months of depressed sales.
But the help came too late to save thousands of small businesses or to save many families from lasting financial harm.
Federal aid may also be crucial in another hard-hit category: the public sector. State and local governments cut more than 50,000 jobs in December and have cut 1.4 million since February. Mr. Biden is expected to make aid for state and local governments a priority when he takes office.
The December data underscored the deep inequality that has been a defining characteristic of the economic crisis. The low-wage workers who bore the brunt of the job losses in the spring — many of them Black and Hispanic women — did so again in December. Employment rose among men last month but fell among women, particularly Black women and Latinas. The unemployment rate among Hispanics jumped to 9.3 percent, from 8.4 percent in November.
Nearly four million Americans have been unemployed for more than six months, the standard threshold for long-term unemployment. That figure almost certainly understates the problem, because it excludes most people who aren’t looking for work, whether because they don’t believe jobs are available or because they are caring for children or other family members.
The number of people who have been unemployed long-term is still rising.
The Wall Street Journal reports that December capped the worst year for U.S. job losses in records tracing back to 1939, with Hispanics, Blacks, teenagers and high-school dropouts hit particularly hard. In 2020, the economy shed a net 9.37 million jobs, exceeding the 5.05 million jobs lost in 2009, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.