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Today’s numbers: The COVID economy

What’s the latest on direct payments for Americans under the COVID relief package from the U.S. government? The Treasury Department has already started sending out the new round of pandemic relief payments.

The IRS says it started making direct deposits into some people’s bank accounts as of the last week of December. People who don’t have a bank account on file with the agency can look forward to getting either a paper check or a prepaid debit card in the mail.

The cards have some advantages over paper checks — but some drawbacks, too . How are retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens planning for vaccine distribution to the general public? Eventually vaccines will be available for everyone at retail pharmacies. Preparing for that is a huge logistical and staffing challenge .

Chains will have to predict how high demand will be at each store so they don’t end up wasting doses. They’ll also have to keep track of everyone getting two doses for the vaccines that require it, hire thousands of workers that will have questions about how long they can expect to remain employed and make space in stores so people can line up […]

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