As Coronavirus Cases in U.S. Pass 6 Million Mark, Expect Repercussions for Years to Come

By Jonathan Spira on 30 August 2020
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It took three months from the report of the first confirmed coronavirus case in the United States on January 21, 2020 to the one millionth, yet it took only 22 days for the total to go from five million on August 5 to 6 million on August 30, and just 16 days to go from four million to five million prior to that.

Even though there were only 44,469 new cases in the past 24 hours – a number that has been more or less decreasing over the past 30 days and that is down 20% in the past 14 days – the numbers do add up.  Indeed, the reported total number of new coronavirus cases in August is over 1.3 million.

The coronavirus odometer rolled over to six million in the United States just as the world’s coronavirus tally hit 25 million, and neither is a cause for celebration.

Frighteningly enough, the United States accounts for almost 25% of the world’s reported Covid-19 infections, even though it only accounts for 4.3% of the world’s population, dwarfed by China with 18% and India with 17.5%.

While the business and economic community was optimistic in the spring that the impact of the pandemic would wane come summer, that has not been the case. More and more large companies are both announcing job cuts and making furloughs permanent redundancies.

MGM Resorts International is the most recent large U.S. employer to announce such cuts.  It said it would lay off 18,000 furloughed staff members in the United States as the global slowdown in travel continues to batter the casino and entertainment industries.  Stanley Black & Decker also recently told some furloughed employees they wouldn’t be returning, while Salesforce.com and Coca-Cola warned of imminent job cuts.

Airlines and hotels have announced the largest cuts.  American Airlines said it will shed some 40,000 employees through firings and voluntary buyouts on October 1 if Congress does not come up with a new bailout plan.  United Airlines said it would end up with 36,000 fewer staff, also through voluntary and involuntary reductions.

This all comes as college and university students return to campus.  Over 60 campuses in 3 states have reported outbreaks and virus clusters on campus.  Over 1,200 students at the University of Alabama have tested positive since the recent start of the semester. Classes began on August 19.  Meanwhile, coronavirus outbreaks have been identified among hundreds of students at Kansas State University, where members of four sororities have been told to quarantine.

Some have returned to remote learning as a result, while others, such as the State University of New York at Oneonta, shut down completely for several weeks.

One thing is clear: it isn’t only an economic disruption that we are experiencing. The disruption to people’s educations – be it in kindergarten, high school, or university – is something that cannot be undone and the combination of these two types of disruptions is not only unthinkable but will have repercussions for years to come.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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