A pandemic atlas: USA by the numbers, telling and horrifying

Adam Geller
Associated Press

Month after dismal month, Americans have been 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.

Family members wave goodbye to nursing home resident Barbara Farrior, 85, at the end of their visit at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, in New York.

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 participants in meetings on Zoom each day last December: 10 million
  • Number of participants daily in Zoom meetings by the end of March: 300 million
  • Employment rate of low-wage workers as the year nears its end, compared to January: down 20.3 percent
  • Employment rate of high-wage workers compared to 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 to 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 last year: 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
  • Number of TSA agents at New York’s John F. Kennedy International who have tested positive: 152
  • Number of people who went to a New York Broadway show during the first week of March: 253,453
  • Number of people who have been to a Broadway show since mid-March: 0
  • Number of jobs lost at New York City restaurants and bars between February and April: 233,751
  • Number of jobs regained at New York City restaurants and bars from April through September: 89,559
  • People who applied for a job at Amazon.com 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 to January: down 36.6 percent
  • Americans’ spending on transportation, compared to January: down 50.9 percent
  • Americans' spending on entertainment and recreation, compared to January: down 64.3 percent
  • Americans' spending on groceries, compared to 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 to a year ago: up 256 percent
  • Sales of tequila for home consumption in September and October, compared to a year ago: up 56 percent
  • Champagne: up 71 percent
  • Ready-to-drink cocktails: up 131 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 last year: 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
US COVID-19 numbers

Sources: Federal Highway Administration; Sivak Applied Research; U.S. Government Accountability Office; Zoom Video Communications Inc.; Opportunity Insights using data from Womply, Affinity Solutions, Paychex Inc., Intuit Inc., Earnin and Kronos; Bureau of Transportation Statistics; International Air Transport Association; Transportation Security Administration; The Broadway League; Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Amazon.com Inc.; Internal Revenue Service; The Nielsen Company; GOJO Industries; American Dental Association; Major League Baseball.