Welcome to the 77th issue of the California Coronavirus Weekly Recap newsletter.
In This Issue:
- The Economy & Your Finances: PUA ends Sept. 4; jobless claims rising
- The Market & Industry: Consumer confidence lowers; interest rates rise slightly; U.S. Supreme Court rules against CDC’s authority to maintain national eviction moratorium, but leaves local ordinances in place
- Around the State: Cases rising; 80 percent of Californians at least partially vaccinated
- Health Check-Up: ICUs filling up; do not take ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19
The Economy & Your Finances: PUA ends Sept. 4; jobless claims risingAnyone who has been receiving unemployment benefits through the federally-funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program needs to know that the programs will end on Sept. 4, 2021. Those payments ranged from $467 to $750 per week, providing crucial support for an estimated 2 million Californians who became unemployed due to the pandemic. The Employment Development Department (EDD) has confirmed that those benefit payments will end even for claimants that show a remaining claim balance. EDD will continue to accept new PUA applications through Oct. 6, as long as the application seeks benefits for weeks before Sept. 4. We encourage all claimants to certify as promptly as possible for each benefit week through Sept. 4.
Initial U.S. jobless claims rose slightly last week, totaling 353,000, up by 4,000 from the prior week, while continuing claims stayed almost flat at 2.86 million. However, in California, unemployment claims rose again, to their highest point in two months. Workers filed 67,200 initial claims, up by 2,500 from the prior week. California’s jobs recovery has lagged behind the nation’s, recovering only 58.3 percent of the jobs lost during March and April of 2020, compared to the nation’s 75 percent. Despite representing just 11.8 percent of the nation’s labor force, California accounted for 22.6 percent of unemployment claims filed in the U.S. last week.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department estimated that the gross domestic product (GDP) increased at a 6.6 percent annualized pace during the second quarter of 2021. This indicates that the economy is growing despite concerns over quickly rising cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
Sources: CNBC, Mercury News, EDD, Sacramento Bee
The Market & Industry: Consumer confidence lowers; interest rates rise slightly; U.S. Supreme Court rules against CDC’s authority to maintain national eviction moratorium, but leaves local ordinances in place
U.S. consumer confidence fell to a six-month low in August as concerns over rising COVID-19 infections affected the outlook for the economy. A survey from the Conference Board on Tuesday showed most people were less inclined to buy a home or big-ticket items such as cars and major appliances over the next six months. However, more consumers planned to go on vacation, indicating a shift in spending from goods to services for now.
On Tuesday, mortgage rates remained low while nudging slightly upward, to 3.08 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage, an increase of 7 basis points from last week; 2.38 percent for a 15-year fixed, which is also 7 basis points higher; and 3.11 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage, for a rise of 9 basis points.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have the power to maintain sweeping, national eviction moratoria without Congressional action. It did, however, state that the landlord-tenant relationship is the “particular domain of state laws.” This ruling does not affect state and local ordinances relating to evictions. Landlords in California must still comply with existing eviction ordinances at the state and local level until and unless a court specifically strikes them down. Unlike the CDC ban, California state law allows landlords to evict tenants for certain “no-fault” reasons, such as a landlord in contract to sell their single-family home to a buyer who will occupy the property. However, local eviction laws may be more restrictive. The U.S. Supreme Court, while ultimately the legal authority, has not ruled on the state and local ordinances.
Although COVID-19 cases are rising swiftly nationwide, California’s rise is not as severe, thanks mostly to the relatively high rate of vaccination. More than 80 percent of eligible Californians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 65 percent are fully vaccinated.
As of 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, there were 4,316,161 confirmed cases in California, with an average of 12,861 new cases daily, which is a 5.6 percent rise over the last two weeks. Hospitalizations numbered 8,268, up 2.3 percent from the prior week. Statewide, only 20.1 percent of ICU beds are available.
This week, Democratic lawmakers dropped a controversial proposal to mandate vaccines in California. Language from the bill was leaked and caused an uproar that seemed to add fodder to the upcoming election to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. The drafted language that would have been added to Assembly Bill 455 called for Californians to show proof of vaccination to enter many indoor businesses, and it required both public and private sector workers to be fully vaccinated or complete regular testing. However, it was unclear how the mandate would have been enforced and what it would have cost to do so.
For the second time since the pandemic began, U.S. daily hospitalizations due to COVID-19 rose above 100,000 per day. In several states, such as Georgia, Mississippi and Florida, intensive care units (ICUs) have reached capacity. Alabama, Texas, Idaho and Arkansas have less than 10 percent of their ICU beds available, and hospitals are adding beds in hallways, conference rooms and waiting areas. Unvaccinated people are 29 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who have been vaccinated. In the past week, about 204,000 children tested positive for COVID-19, a 500 percent increase from the month prior, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In California, higher vaccination rates have helped to protect the state from such steep increases in new cases and hospitalizations.
Instead of getting vaccinated, some people have turned to the veterinary anti-parasite medicine, ivermectin, in an effort to avoid or treat COVID-19 infection. However, the medicine is intended for use in large animals such as horses and cattle and is typically dispensed at concentrations that are toxic to people. Health officials warned the public not to use ivermectin to try to prevent or treat COVID-19 due to the high risk of overdose. While before the pandemic pharmacies typically filled about 3,600 prescriptions for ivermectin a week, by early August that pharmacies were filling more than 88,000 per week. Symptoms of ivermectin poisoning include vomiting, nausea and seizures. If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of ivermectin overdose, seek prompt medical attention or call the poison control hotline at (800) 222-1222 for medical advice.
Sources: The Los Angeles Times, CNN, the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy