A crowded summer calendar, as the nation struggles to get back to business
By Tom Baxter
No summer in our lifetimes has been awaited so eagerly as this one.
After two months of lockdowns, Americans got outside over this Memorial Day weekend, enjoying the warm weather and its promise of relief from the pandemic. Some went too far for their own good, flouting masks and diving into the biggest mob scenes available to them. But many more Americans celebrated the coming of summer and the sacrifices of those who came before them with a quieter sense of relief.
These expectations don’t hang on much. Whether the level of coronavirus infections drops during the summer or not, the malady appears likely to be around for a long time. Politically and economically, the hot months look to be particularly dangerous. We aren’t going to look back on this summer the same way we greeted it.
Here are some of the significant dates to watch for over the coming months. The suspension of spring has made it an especially crowded summer calendar.
June 9 is primary day in Georgia. Politics will never be far throughout this summer, nor the advertising which comes with in.
June 12 is the day Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order is supposed to be lifted for those over 65 or medically vulnerable. That brings the governor’s state of emergency to an end, but Georgia’s sense of emergency remains an open question.
Some of those still under the order have reemerged already. Others may be staying home for a long time after June 12. Without the dollars older Americans bring with them when they go out to dinner, it’s going to be hard for many parts of the nation’s economy to kick back into life.
For those who make estimated tax payments, June 15 should be marked on the calendar as the first of two straight months they’ll be writing checks to Uncle Sam. The April payment was postponed in the first wave of emergency legislation to deal with the staggered economy, but summer will be catch-up time. That will be a bite on many budgets.
July 4 is Independence Day. By then we’ll know more than we know now about how much the summer sun has affected the spread of COVID-19. There have been promising signs the spread is slowing, but some have argued the virus hasn’t been leveled off so much as it has been passed off. As the number of cases fall in the original hotspots for the virus, reported cases have more than doubled since the beginning of the month in Montgomery, AL. Rather than a national wave followed by another in the fall, the pattern could be rolling outbreaks erupting across the country even in summer.
July 4 has also been projected as a possible opening day for Major League Baseball. The future of sports has become a major part of this story and that would be an important milestone.
July 15, this year, is Tax Day. People who got money back this year have probably already filed in order to get it. Those who file in July are also like to be among those making their estimated tax payments two months in a row. This could end up being a bigger drag on the struggling summer economy than predicted.
Speaking of which, July 31 is the day that extra $600 monthly unemployment benefit which was added to the normal unemployment benefit is scheduled to end. The period for unemployment benefits has been extended to 39 weeks, so that someone laid off in March could still be receiving their regular payments next year. But personal budgets will tighten when that extra money goes away, with a similar impact on the larger economy.
The expectation was that by that date, people would have returned to their jobs and the economy would be rebounding. Especially considering how many small businesses are in trouble, that seems optimistic.
Aug. 17 is the day the Democratic National Convention is supposed to begin in Milwaukee, after a July convention day was delayed. It’s still wide open what kind of gathering that’s going to be. The Republican National Convention is supposed to begin in Charlotte the following week of Aug. 24, but President Trump has threatened to relocate if North Carolina doesn’t open for business faster.
The only thing we can say for sure is that the weeks heading into Labor Day will be a frenzy of political posturing, ushering in the unpredictable fall.