Pandemic’s impact on U.S., by the numbers

Month after dismal month, Americans were inundated by an ever-rising tide of devastating numbers. Hundreds of thousands of deaths. Tens of million unemployed.

By mid-December, five in every 100 Americans — more than 16 million — had been infected by COVID-19.

Those numbers testify to a historic tragedy. But they don’t fully capture the multitude of ways, large and small, that the virus has upended and reconfigured everyday life in the U.S.

For that, there are a host of other numbers. Some may be less familiar than others, yet all are just as telling in calculating the pandemic’s sweeping impact:

  • Miles that Americans did not drive because they were unemployed, working or studying from home and traveling less: 35.3 billion (through August)
  • School lunches and breakfasts that went unserved in March and April after schools were closed: 400 million
  • Number of people participating in meetings on Zoom each day in December 2019: 10 million
  • Number of people participating daily in Zoom meetings by the end of March: 300 million
  • Employment rate of low-wage workers as the year nears its end, compared with January: down 20.3 percent
  • Employment rate of high-wage workers compared with January: up 0.2 percent
  • Share of small businesses that are still closed even as the U.S. economy has reopened: 28.8 percent
  • Drop in the number of passengers traveling on U.S. domestic flights this spring: 272.01 million, a decline of 76 percent (March to July, compared with the same period in 2019).
  • Dollars the international airline industry has lost this year: $118.5 billion
  • Passengers screened by Transportation Security Administration agents at U.S. airports on April 14 in 2019: 2.21 million
  • Passengers screened by the TSA on April 14 this year: 87,534
  • Number of TSA screening agents who have tested positive for COVID: 3,575
  • People who applied for a job at in a single week, after the online retailer announced a hiring fair to keep up with skyrocketing orders: 384,000
  • Payments to Americans by the Internal Revenue Service to help ease the pandemic’s economic fallout: 153.1 million checks and direct deposits through August, totaling $269.3 billion
  • Americans’ spending on restaurants and hotels, compared with January: down 36.6 percent
  • Americans’ spending on transportation, compared with January: down 50.9 percent
  • Americans’ spending on entertainment and recreation, compared with January: down 64.3 percent
  • Americans’ spending on groceries, compared with January: down 2.7 percent
  • Total sales of alcoholic beverages during the pandemic: $62.5 billion, up 21.8 percent
  • Online sales of alcohol in September compared with a year ago: up 256 percent
  • Production increase in bottles of Purell hand sanitizer this year: up 300 percent
  • Number of Purell single-pump “doses” contained in bottles shipped to U.S. hospitals this year: 54 billion
  • Dentists who closed their offices entirely, or to all but emergency patients, in April: 97.1 percent
  • Dentists whose offices have reopened, but with fewer patients than usual: 65.6 percent
  • Dentists who say they are seeing more patients who grind their teeth, usually an indicator of stress: 59.4 percent
  • Games played during Major League Baseball’s regular season in 2019: 2,430
  • Fans who attended those games: 68,494,752
  • Games played during MLB’s shortened regular season this year: 898
  • Fans who attended those games: 0

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