Mar 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The coronavirus economic pain in the U.S. has begun

A theater worker dismantles the sign at Bow Tie Cinemas in Reston, Virginia. Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Brace yourselves for one of the toughest weeks in recent American history.

Why it matters: This is all the tougher because the hardships are intentional results of attempting to prevent a much greater calamity.

  • Service workers across the country are out of work after restaurants and bars closed up over the last few days.
  • 45% of all hotel jobs have been or will be eliminated in the next few weeks, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
  • "Much worse" than 9/11 for the travel industry: United Airlines says that this crisis is a greater threat to its existence than the aftermath of Sept. 11.
  • The shelter-in-place orders are coming to the East Coast. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio told residents to get ready to experience what's already happening on the West Coast.
  • Add to that the chance of tens of thousands of oil industry job losses, with the Saudis and Russians escalating their price war.

The big picture: It's going to keep getting worse for a while, even if the government and private citizens do everything right.

  • When we get testing up to speed, America's case count will soar.
  • As we get social distancing to work properly, big chunks of America's economy will shut down.
  • If/when we flatten the curve, getting things back to normal will be a start-stop process, denying people the stability that's so important to everyday life.

The bottom line: This will hit harder with local operations than big national firms.

  • In Washington D.C. on Tuesday, beloved Compass Coffee laid off 150 of its 189 workers.
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