CHN’s COVID-19 Watch: Tracking Hardship, January 15, 2021
January 15, 2021
The it’s-always-darkest-before-the-dawn edition. On Thursday, January 14, 238,390 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed – up 27 percent from two weeks prior. An additional 3,973 deaths were reported – up 39 percent from two weeks ago (but down from 4,400 reported on Tuesday, January 12). The national COVID-19 death toll is approaching 400,000. Cases in Arizona and California continue to surge; in Los Angeles County earlier this week, a person died from COVID-19 every eight minutes. Washington, D.C. on Monday, January 11 reported its highest daily infection rate yet — only to break that record two days later. Early in the pandemic, cities bore the brunt of the pandemic, but now it is everywhere – deaths are spiking in rural areas such as Butler County, Kansas; Sevier County, Tennessee; and Etowah County, Alabama. And the economy continues to tank – new unemployment claims announced Thursday, Jan. 14 were up sharply.
Still, hope is on the horizon in two forms. First, President-elect Biden Thursday evening announced a robust proposal to corral COVID-19 and resurrect our sputtering economy. His American Rescue Plan includes $1,400 stimulus checks, expanded jobless benefits and rental assistance, money to re-open schools safely, a paid sick-leave program to encourage people to stay at home when they are ill, and funds to accelerate vaccines. The plan funds 100,000 public health workers to carry out vaccine outreach and contact tracing. The plan also includes a significant and historic expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit, nutrition assistance, aid for state and local governments, small businesses, and mass transit systems on the brink. And it raises the minimum wage to $15.
Also: after a sluggish rollout, reports suggest that the number of vaccines administered daily is on the rise. As of late this week, 28 states plus D.C. were offering the vaccine to Americans 65 years of age and older.