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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from DCReport.

The 3.5 percent unemployment rate before the coronavirus-fueled pandemic erupted may reach 20 percent by the scourge’s end.

Follow these facts:

Unemployment is much worse than even the record number of initial claims filed last week suggests. We know this because initial claims for jobless benefits in one state were wildly out of proportion to that state’s share of national jobs.

Almost 3.3 million initial claims for unemployment benefits were made last week. That’s 4½ times the previous highs of just under 700,000 seen in 1982 and 2009.

Pennsylvania reported 378,900 of those claims. That’s 12 percent of the nationwide total even though the Keystone State has less than 4 percent of all U.S. jobs.

Many people could not get through to state offices to file claims either in person, by telephone or online.

Projecting the number of Pennsylvania claims to America as a whole implies that more than 13 million people lost their jobs last week. That is a figure almost certainly too high, just as the 3.2 million claims reported filed is almost certainly too low.

Many people could not get through to state offices to file claims either in person, by telephone or online.

In many states, tight restrictions block many people from receiving unemployment benefits. The $2.2 trillion relief bill is intended to address this by making freelancers, gig workers and others not usually eligible for benefits to be able to file claims and collect money.

Pennsylvania residents were on notice that they might be laid off since March 14, the day when Gov. Tom Wolf issued the first in a series of orders limiting public activities to slow the spread of the virus. That means many people had thought in advance about how to file claims.

What the Pennsylvania claims numbers tell us for sure is that when we get the current week’s unemployment claim numbers next Thursday, April 2, they will continue to show that millions of people lost their jobs.

At DCReport we predict 1 in 5 Americans will have lost employment as this catastrophe plays out. Before the pandemic, the rate was 3.5 percent.

The 20 percent unemployment prediction is based on reports by a host of sources. The prediction should stand unless Donald Trump and governors like those in Florida and Mississippi reopen business because they choose making money over saving lives.

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.