Executive Summary

Today marks the six month anniversary of the first announcement of Covid-19 on U.S. soil. Since then, Covid has impacted nearly every facet of life around the world. From health, to work, to school, to civic engagement, the virus has catalyzed dramatic changes in the status quo. The Covid crisis has also highlighted and exacerbated pre-existing inequities in the U.S. economy, criminal justice, housing, education, and health care systems. 

In the inaugural release of Pandemic to Prosperity, we look at the first six months of the pandemic in the United States to understand the initial impact of the virus, while laying the groundwork for the efforts needed to achieve a more prosperous future for all Americans. Future releases will track updates against these benchmarks and incorporate new data as the pandemic evolves.

Pandemic
Prosperity - Government
Prosperity - Institutions
Prosperity - People
Pandemic
  • Pandemic to Prosperity examines how the Covid-19 crisis has damaged lives and livelihoods across the United States. 
  • Indigenous, Black, and Hispanic/Latinx people are around 5 times more likely to be hospitalized due to Covid-19 than white individuals. 
  • While unemployment rates have improved since April, 19 states still had unemployment rates exceeding 10% in June.
Prosperity - Government

High functioning governments and civic institutions will be crucial as we aim to build a more perfect union with well being for all post-pandemic. 

Government

  • Only 5 states–all in the Northeast–are currently making progress towards the White House Opening Up America Guidelines, with the majority of states either trending poorly or facing uncontrolled spread of the virus. 
  • At least 10 states are projecting fiscal year 2020 tax revenue reductions of 10% or more. In FY 2021, at least 26 states expect additional tax revenue reductions of 10% or more.
  • In 6 states, 2020 Census self-response rates to date are below 56%, requiring extensive door-knocking to achieve a complete count.
  • The majority of registered voters in 9 states who did not vote in 2016 cited structural issues such as polling place hours and accessibility challenges. Only 19 states are well-prepared for voting from home in the upcoming presidential election, despite increased barriers facing our potential voters due to Covid.
Prosperity - Institutions
  • More than half of the counties in the United States are local news deserts with no or only one local newspaper, exacerbating a lack of reliable information during the pandemic.
  • Roughly 1 in 4 households nationwide do not have internet access, hindering their ability to participate in remote learning, telehealth, and working from home.
Prosperity - People
  • The share of adults with employment fell from a high of over 61% in January to 55% in June. While 55% of white adults had employment, only 51% of Black adults had employment as of June.
  • More than 1 in 10 adults in the United States report not having enough food for their households during the pandemic. 
  • Nationwide, 1 in 4 adults is unlikely to be able to pay their rent or mortgage in August. In 10 states, this rate is even higher at 1 in 3 adults. 

With the spread of Covid-19 increasing nationwide, and unemployment at 11.1%–higher than at the peak of the Great Recession–the virus has taken a terrible toll on both lives and livelihoods in the last six months. Federal stimulus packages are nearing the end of their anticipated lifecycle, and many small businesses are struggling to survive in the new pandemic reality. With expanded federal unemployment benefits slated to end this month, many renters and homeowners may be unable to pay for housing in the coming months. Communities may face a devastating wave of homelessness as eviction courts reopen. States vary greatly as to their ability to protect lives and livelihoods, support their most vulnerable, and prepare for safe and fair upcoming elections. 

Pandemic to Prosperity provides baseline indicators to track progress as the nation struggles to simultaneously manage Covid, and build a more equitable future for all.

Pandemic

Lives & Livelihoods

To begin to recover from any disaster, an assessment of damages is a necessary first step. In the case of Covid, the damage is not related to a single event. Instead, pandemic-related damages will continue to unfold until an effective vaccine is developed and universally distributed. As such, tracking Covid-related damage will require tracking more than one metric over multiple months.

Introduction
Hotspots for the Virus
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Introduction

This section tracks a select number of highly-vetted indicators to examine the extent of Covid-related damage to lives and livelihoods. It examines how peoples’ lives are faring, and how this differs across different sections of society. It also examines damage to livelihoods state by state. 

 

Much of the current discussion about the pandemic is limited to these types of indicators on the health and economic impacts. In later sections of this report, they serve as a backdrop for a unique analysis of the complex interactions between the pandemic and our nation’s civic health. 

 

As more data becomes available, additional metrics will be added to this section to better assess how states are doing at protecting lives and livelihoods.

 

Hotspots for the Virus

Hotspots for the virus have emerged in the Southeast and West coast, with some evidence of stabilization in the Northeast. 

New Covid cases per 100,000 people in past week, by county

Analysis of state and local health agencies and hospitals data as of July 20, 2020

Source: From The New York Times. © 2020 The New York Times Company. All rights reserved. Used under license.

With the expansion of diagnostic testing nationwide in recent weeks, the rate of new cases now represents the most valid and immediate indicator of Covid’s spread. Both hospitalization and death rates–while important measures of impact–lag weeks or months after initial diagnosis and fail to capture the full magnitude of the pandemic.1 However, epidemiologists warn that in the absence of widespread random sampling of the population, we will not know the true scale of the pandemic, and will not be able to optimally manage the crisis. The hotspots of new cases over the last two weeks are troubling, and only represent perhaps 20% or less of the actual infection rate.2,3  

 

Even though data on new cases primarily represents individuals who are symptomatic or are known to have come into contact with someone who was Covid-positive, the patterns are nonetheless stark. Texas, Oklahoma, and 9 southeastern states are experiencing extraordinarily high rates of infection, while record case incidence is also seen in California and Arizona.  At the same time, states including Idaho, Washington, Minnesota, Nevada, Kentucky, and Iowa are attributing isolated flare-ups to spread in group quarters such as correctional facilities and nursing homes, and failure to social distance.4,5,6,7,8 States including California and Oregon are rolling back reopening plans due to surges in caseload.9</sup<>

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Prosperity

Government

Governments–local, state, and federal–are being asked to do a lot during the Covid crisis. We start with metrics that assess how states are performing relative to White House reopening guidelines, available data on Covid-related funding to states, the projected tax revenues states will need for their myriad public functions, challenges and preparedness for the upcoming presidential election, and success at getting all residents counted in the critical 2020 Census. For each indicator, we provide a brief, evidence-based set of findings and implications to help readers quickly grasp a top-level overview of how each state is doing.

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