Jobless Claims to Reveal Financial Toll of Rising Virus Instances: Stay Updates


Recognition…Maddie McGarvey for the New York Times

The economy’s ability to withstand a surge in coronavirus cases will become clearer Thursday morning when the government reports the latest numbers for new jobless claims.

Applications for unemployment benefits have increased in three of the last four weeks. This is an indication that consumer caution and new restrictions on businesses have hurt economic activity even as vaccines are introduced to fight the virus.

Indoor dining ceased in New York City on Monday, leading to new borders in California and other major states. At the same time, anti-travel health warnings have crippled airlines, hotels, rental car agencies and other service industries, and the situation is not expected to improve until vaccinations become more widespread in the spring.

“The labor market has been showing some weakness in recent weeks related to the pandemic,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. “It’s a rising number of cases, it’s consumer reluctance to spend, and it’s government restrictions.”

Against the backdrop of the weakening economy, Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress resumed talks Wednesday on another pandemic relief bill that economists have warned is overdue. Without action, two key unemployment programs expire this month, underscoring the situation of the unemployed.

Data released on Wednesday showed retail sales declined 1.1 percent in November, a disappointing start to the crucial Christmas season. Mr. Faucher expects economic growth to be weak over the next few months before accelerating later in 2021.

“Until we vaccinate many people, the economy will face a difficult test,” he said. “I don’t know if there will be a total decline or loss of jobs, but the pace of improvement will slow significantly.”

Rebecca Robbins and Jessica Silver-Greenberg of the New York Times continue to report widespread confusion over a key element of the plan to protect some of the most vulnerable Americans from the coronavirus: How nursing homes get consent to vaccinate residents who do not able to make their own medical decisions.

Some states are starting vaccinations in their nursing homes this week, but a broader nationwide effort will begin in earnest Monday as CVS and Walgreens employees arrive at tens of thousands of nursing homes and assisted living facilities to vaccinate staff and residents.

A CVS manager said these residents’ legal representatives will be able to approve nursing homes electronically or over the phone, but officials from several large nursing home chains said they were unaware of this.

If local residents or their representatives have not given consent before CVS or Walgreens staff show up, it is not clear if or when they will have another chance to be vaccinated.

There is no federal requirement for individuals to give consent prior to vaccination, but this is standard and is often required for billing purposes. States have different requirements on how medical consent can be given and what information must be provided to the consenting person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say residents or their representatives should receive an information sheet about the coronavirus vaccine and then consent to receive it.

CVS and Walgreens executives said in interviews that they had been planning the vaccination campaign for months and were confident that it would work. “Whenever there are concerns or challenges, we are definitely open to working with facilities to minimize disruption,” said Rick Gates, a Walgreens executive who oversees planning for the company.