Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dr. Joseph Varon talks to a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Joseph Varon talks to a patient in the Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) during Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center on November 26, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo: Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

As US Mourns 500,000 Lives Lost, Report Shows Billionaires Added $1.3 Trillion to Their Fortunes During Pandemic

"It is unseemly that billionaires have experienced such gains as we mark a half a million lives lost and millions more who have lost their health, wealth, and jobs."

Jake Johnson

As the United States this week mourned the devastating milestone of 500,000 lives lost to the coronavirus, a report out Wednesday shows that the nation's billionaires have seen their collective wealth grow by $1.3 trillion since the deadly pandemic began last year.

According to the new analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), America's 664 billionaires now have a combined net worth of $4.2 trillion—a figure that stands in staggering contrast to the economic pain being felt by countless families across the U.S. as joblessness, uninsurance, and hunger remain sky-high.

"Taxing those who have experienced windfall wealth gains to pay for Covid relief and recovery is a matter of equity and justice."
—Chuck Collins, Institute for Policy Studies

"It is unseemly that billionaires have experienced such gains as we mark a half a million lives lost and millions more who have lost their health, wealth and jobs," Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality at IPS, said in a statement. "Taxing those who have experienced windfall wealth gains to pay for Covid relief and recovery is a matter of equity and justice."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—the richest man in the world—and SpaceX founder Elon Musk saw their wealth grow by $76.3 billion and $158 billion respectively between March 18, 2020 and February 19, 2021—bigger gains than any other U.S. billionaire. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, saw his net worth jump by $41 billion during that period.

"Even as congressional Republicans try to nickel-and-dime suffering Americans by opposing President Biden's American Rescue Plan, including its $1,400 relief checks, American billionaires have reaped $1.3 trillion in pandemic profits," said ATF executive director Frank Clemente. "The need for the kind of fair-share tax program Biden ran and won on becomes clearer every day, as billionaire wealth balloons while working-family hopes deflate."

The U.S., which has the highest coronavirus death toll in the world, reached 500,000 lives lost to Covid-19 on Monday. "About one in 670 Americans has died of Covid-19, which has become a leading cause of death in the country, along with heart disease and cancer, and has driven down life expectancy more sharply than in decades," the New York Times noted.

While declining cases and an improving vaccine rollout have prompted some optimism, the grim milestone and still-rising death toll served as urgent reminders of how much work remains to be done to bring the catastrophic pandemic under control.

"We are still at about 100,000 cases a day. We are still at around 1,500 to 3,500 deaths per day. The cases are more than two-and-a-half-fold times what we saw over the summer," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC earlier this month. "It's encouraging to see these trends coming down, but they're coming down from an extraordinarily high place."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'We Are Trying to Save It,' Progressives Say as Right-Wing Dems Sabotage Biden's Agenda

"The Biden agenda—our Democratic agenda—is at stake. It's progressives who are fighting to pass it in its entirety."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush and Warren Lead New Bill to Protect Renters Nationwide From Eviction

"This pandemic isn't over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet."

Jessica Corbett ·


Campaign Slams Vaccine Makers for Fueling 'Unprecedented' Human Rights Crisis

"Covid-19 vaccines must be readily available and accessible for all. It is up to governments and pharma companies to make this a reality."

Brett Wilkins ·


Sunrise Movement Targets Kyrsten Sinema for Obstructing Build Back Better Act

"Who do you work for? Do you work for the young, BIPOC, and working people who put their lives on hold to elect you? Or do you work for ExxonMobil and fossil fuel corporations?"

Brett Wilkins ·


UN Chief Tells World Leaders To Their Faces That Vaccine Apartheid Is 'An Obscenity'

Persistent inequality represents "a moral indictment of the state of our world," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo