COVID-19 by the numbers: A horrifying pandemic atlas

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.

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:


400 million

School lunches and breakfasts that went unserved in March and April after schools were closed: 400 million

10 million

Number of participants in meetings on Zoom each day last December: 10 million

300 million

Number of participants daily in Zoom meetings by the end of March: 300 million


20.3 percent

Employment rate of low-wage workers as the year nears its end, compared to January: down 20.3 percent

Less than 1 percent

Employment rate of high-wage workers compared to January: up 0.2 percent

Almost 30 percent

Share of small businesses that are still closed even as the U.S. economy has reopened: 28.8 percent


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

$269 billion

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


35.3 billion

Miles that Americans did not drive because they were unemployed, working or studying from home and traveling less: 35.3 billion (through August)

272 million

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).

$188.5 billion

Dollars the international airline industry has lost this year: $118.5 billion

2.21 million

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

Nearly 90,000

Number of jobs regained at New York City restaurants and bars from April through September: 89,559


37 percent

Americans’ spending on restaurants and hotels, compared to January: down 36.6 percent

51 percent

Americans’ spending on transportation, compared to January: down 50.9 percent

64 percent

Americans’ spending on entertainment and recreation, compared to January: down 64.3 percent

2.7 percent

Americans’ spending on groceries, compared to January: down 2.7 percent


$62.5 billion

Total sales of alcoholic beverages during the pandemic: $62.5 billion, up 21.8 percent

256 percent

Online sales of alcohol in September compared to a year ago: up 256 percent

56 percent

Sales of tequila for home consumption in September and October, compared to a year ago: up 56 percent

71 percent

Champagne: up 71 percent

131 percent

Ready-to-drink cocktails: up 131 percent


300 percent

Production increase in bottles of Purell hand sanitizer this year: up 300 percent

54 billion

Number of Purell single-pump “doses” contained in bottles shipped to U.S. hospitals this year: 54 billion


97.1 percent

Dentists who closed their offices entirely, or to all but emergency patients, in April: 97.1 percent

65.6 percent

Dentists whose offices have reopened, but with fewer patients than usual: 65.6 percent

59.4 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

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