COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship February 26, 2021


February 26, 2021

COVID-19 HardshipFebruary 26, 2021

The 500,000/50 million editionThis week, the U.S. eclipsed the 500,000 mark for COVID-19 deaths. More Americans have died from COVID-19 than in combat during all of America’s wars against foreign enemies. On a brighter note, we are about to surpass 50 million vaccinations administered – it may have happened by the time you read this as delivery of vaccines ramps up considerably. 

Shots don’t hurt, much, but the pain to our economy is acute. According to The Century Foundation, some 19 million Americans – nearly 1 in every 8 workers – are currently collecting unemployment benefits, and that doesn’t even include many more who are out of the labor force and/or not collecting benefits for a variety of reasons. “The economic recovery remains uneven and far from complete, and the path ahead is highly uncertain. There is a long way to go,” says Fed Chair Jerome Powell. 

Tens of millions of people, especially in households with children, are struggling to put food on the table, make rent, or meet basic expenses. In recent weeks, U.S. Census data have shown that children in Black or Latinx households are nearly three times as likely as children in white households to live in a household where children did not get enough to eat because the household could not afford it. 

Adults who are parents or otherwise live with children are likelier to report hardship than adults without children, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. They are more than one-third more likely to report their household did not have enough to eat, and one-third more likely to report difficulties in paying for usual expenses. Renters with children are twice as likely as renters without children to report their household is not caught up on rent. 

Desperate times require bold action, but there are roadblocks that must be overcome.  On Thursday, we learned that a federal court had ruled against the current moratorium on evictions, and that Senate budget rules will apparently disallow raising the minimum wage to $15/hr as part of the COVID relief bill.  The emergency rental assistance in the bill will be needed more urgently than ever, but there is hope the eviction ruling will be overturned.  And the fight for $15 will continue, in or out of the COVID relief bill.   

Congress is moving toward passage of President Biden’s urgently needed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (H.R. 1319), with a vote expected in the House today (February 26). Senate votes will be more difficult. Final enactment must occur before unemployment benefits expire on March 14.That plan would expand and extend unemployment benefits, increase the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, expand nutrition assistance and health coverage, increase housing assistance, provide fiscal aid for states, territories, tribes, and localities, provide funding for K-12 schools, support paid leave, and offer emergency funds to families facing hardship. Please tell your House member and Senators to cut child poverty in half by expanding the Child Tax Credit here. 



The number of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths reported in the U.S. on Thursday, February 25. Cases were down 32 percent from the previous two weeks; deaths were down 22%. Tweet this.


More than 50,000 

California this week surpassed 50,000 COVID-19 deaths, the first state to reach this grim milestone. The state averaged more than 560 deaths a day at its peak in January. By contrast, for much of November, it reported fewer than 50 deaths a day on average. Tweet this.


More than 1 in 20 

Last year, 1.3 million state and local government jobs were lost – more than 1 in 20. Tax revenue fell in 26 states. Tweet this.


11.4 million 

The number of workers in the U.S. who will lose their unemployment benefits between March 14 and April 11 if Congress fails to act. Tweet this.


7 million 

The number of Americans who were lifted out of poverty in January due to unemployment benefits Congress approved in December. Those benefits expire beginning March 14. Tweet this.


Almost 9 in 10 

The number of voters who say unemployment in the U.S. is a “big” or “moderate” problem, a new poll finds. 51 percent say it is a big problem, while 37 percent say it is a moderate problem. 9 percent say it is a small problem; 3 percent say it is not a problem.



Through most of 2020, the proportion of pediatric emergency hospital admissions for mental problems, like panic and anxiety, was up 24 percent for young children and 31 percent for adolescents, compared to the previous year.


At least 10 million 

The number of children who have a family member who is unemployed or lacks paid work because of the pandemic.



Up to 30 percent of children in Latinx households and up to 28 percent of children in Black households did not have enough to eat the previous seven days because the household couldn’t afford it, compared to 8 percent of white households.


Nearly 1 in 3 

Nearly 1 in 3 Black,1 in 5 Latinx and 1 in 6 Asian renters said they were not caught up on rent, compared to 1 in 8 white renters.