Despite the fact that more than half of the U.S. population and more than 60 percent of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the latest surge in COVID-19 infections has left its mark on businesses across the country.
According to footfall data from data company SafeGraph cited by the Wall Street Journal, restaurants, gyms, and retailers have seen a significant drop in visitor numbers in late July, coinciding with the CDC’s updated mask guidance. On July 27, the CDC had changed its stance on masks for fully vaccinated people, advising them to continue wearing masks in “public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.”
That, together with reports of breakthrough infections and warnings about the contagiousness of the Delta variant, has left many Americans uncertain, doubtlessly leading some to revert to caution. Since the beginning of July, the seven-day average of daily new cases has increased more than tenfold, climbing to the highest level since early February on August 17.
As the following chart shows, retailers, gyms and restaurants had seen activity surpassing pre-pandemic, i.e. 2019 levels for the larger part of July, before seeing the number of visits drop 30 to 50 percent below 2019 totals through the first week of August.