COVID-19 in Central New York: Five charts that tell the story of pain and recovery

Local News

ACROSS CENTRAL NEW YORK (WSYR-TV) — Efforts by the federal, state, and local governments to stop the spread of COVID-19, and “Flatten the Curve” back in March can be illustrated in the data collected in the past year.

We begin with a look at the active cases of COVID-19. Below you can select local counties and see how we all “flattened the curve” last spring, and then soared to new heights in the last quarter of 2020 that threatened to overwhelm hospitals.

From bartenders to airline pilots, millions of Americans lost their jobs as the economy shut down to slow the spread.

The nation went from record low unemployment to levels not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s. The chart below shows the number of weekly claims for unemployment insurance, compared with the comparable week the year before.

Even a year after the lockdown began, the jobless claims are still high.

And for those who lost their jobs, trying to file a claim became a full-time job as the state labor department’s website and phone system crashed under the strain of millions of new unemployment insurance applicants.

State and local government finances took a big hit. with millions unemployed, all but the most essential businesses closed, state income tax revenues, and state and local sales tax revenues dropped.

Local sales tax collections across the state were down 10% for 2020 compared to 2019. After taking a big hit in the second quarter of the year Central New York counties were down just 0.2% and Onondaga County was down 2.6% for the year.

Data supplied by the New York State Comptroller’s Offices show what you might have expected; the restaurant and travel industry suffered severely in the spring of 2020. Neither sector has fully recovered.

Clothing stores, which were closed–except certain big box retailers like Walmart and Target which were deemed essential, also suffered.

But online sales exploded as you can see by the sales tax revenues. The comptrollers office describes Other Information Services as “Internet content publishers and broadcasters.”

And not surprising, sales of beer, wine, and liquor increased.

And as we mark the one-year anniversary of this mess, there is optimism. Cases are down, warmer weather is on the way, and the U.S. now has three vaccines in use and millions of more doses on the way. We tracked the progress in the two charts below.


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