Gold prices continued to consolidate around $1,800 per ounce, closing last week at $1,823.20 per ounce (see the following chart). The effect of the pandemic on the U.S. economy so far has been devastating. Here is an accounting of just some of the damage: - 7 million : The number of people in the U.S. the Congressional Budget Office believes would have jobs right now if the COVID pandemic had never happened. - 8 million : The number of additional people in the U.S. that are considered poor since the pandemic began, according to Bloomberg . - 9 million : The number of small businesses in the U.S. that say that they won’t survive in 2021 without more government assistance, according to a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank . - 10 million : The number of people behind on rent at the end of January, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau . The amount of government stimulus needed to cover this damage could undermine the U.S. dollar and provide support for higher gold prices going forward. Rick Andrews is president of Avant Capital Management.