The novel coronavirus has now killed 25 people in Orange County out of 1,425 confirmed cases, nearly a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay home order to help combat the spread of the virus, which also produced record-breaking numbers of unemployment claims.
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Nearly 16,000 people in Orange County have been tested for the virus as of Thursday and there’s 138 people hospitalized, with 68 in intensive care units, according to numbers released by the county Health Care Agency.
Meanwhile, the stay home order has closed down large swaths of the economy because it essentially shut down non-essential businesses like bars, nightclubs, sports venues, concert halls, theme parks and movie theaters. Many niche retailers also closed, like video game stores, fabric stores and a host of other speciality Ami Glazer, economics professor at University of California, Irvine, said the economic downturn is not only from the stay home orders, but also people’s reluctance to go to stores and restaurants because of the virus.
And it’s going to get worse, he said.
“In the short run, say within a year or six moths, this is worse than the Great Recession. This is more like the Great Depression — so the short run is really bad. The problem is not just whether people can go to work, but whether people will go shop and spend money,” Glazer said.
“Let’s say workers can go back to restaurants and there’s plenty of safety equipment like masks and gloves, that doesn’t mean that consumers will go and buy,” Glazer said.
He said not only is demand down because of job loss and the stay home orders, but supply has also suffered because non-essential manufacturing is halted.
At a Wednesday news conference, Newsom said 2.7 million Californians filed for unemployment benefits.
A report from the Economic Roundtable released last Friday found 43 percent of California’s workers face a high risk of unemployment stemming from the stay home orders.
The report found scores of blue collar workers are facing higher unemployment prospects: 70 percent of construction workers, nearly 70 percent of retail employees, 56 percent of mining and oil workers, 56 percent of temp agency jobs and 55 percent of warehouse and transportation employees.
“In summary, 43 percent of California workers have a high risk of unemployment. The burden of unemployment is unequally distributed. It rests most heavily on young adults, Latinos, and restaurant, hotel, personal care, and janitorial workers,” states the report.
It also found 42 percent Orange County residents face a high risk of unemployment and the numbers are higher for lower-income communities like Santa Ana and Anaheim.
In West Anaheim, 54 percent risk unemployment and 62 percent of workers are at risk from losing their jobs in Santa Ana, the report found.
But the chances of job losses drop in higher income neighborhoods.
In Newport Beach, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Hills, 35 percent of people face high unemployment prospects. That number drops to 27 percent in Irvine.
“Many households already have unpaid rent, bills and loan obligations. Half of California’s workers earn $40,000 or less a year. These workers are likely to have little or no financial reserves and many are encumbered with debt. Workers in this group who are unemployed, or become unemployed, need immediate wage replacement,” states the report.
People began receiving one-time checks of $1,200 from the federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus package this week.
There’s also an extra $600 a week for unemployment insurance in that package.
Here’s the latest on the virus numbers across Orange County:
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio.
Digital Editor Sonya Quick Contributed to this story.
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