The first quarter of 2021 experienced the peak of U.S. cases in early January and a shaky vaccine rollout before offering a glimmer of hope in late January. While U.S. cases peaked in early January, the second stimulus, which started hitting bank accounts in late December, provided some relief, and while vaccine rollouts were less-than-perfect, the rapid expansion in testing, distribution, and vaccinations led to more Americans being vaccinated than infected for the first time. With the rollout of a third vaccine, the vaccination program beginning to hit its stride, and with a third round of stimulus checks going out to around 85% of Americans, the first quarter of 2021 was a big step forward in the fight against COVID-19 and getting back to normal.
The national economy has been attempting to shake off the effects of COVID-19 since its plunge in April 2020. Most economic measures have been recuperating since May or June of 2020, and while economic indicators were positive this quarter, the U.S. economy has yet to get back to pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. remained in a recession that marked February as the peak of an economic expansion lasting 128 months from its beginning in June 2009.
By the end of the fourth quarter of 2020, 19,943,605 cases and 344,497 deaths had been reported in the U.S. from COVID-19 . It continued to spread exponentially into January 2021, hitting its peak on January 8th. By March 31, 2021 there were 30,282,764 confirmed cases and 551,784 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S.