Documenting COVID-19

The Economy Project

The Economy Project aims to track and document U.S. business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, by requesting data on the withdrawal or cancellation of liquor or alcohol licenses; sales tax or other tax authorities; and other business data maintained by local or state agencies.

The project, led by New York-based investigative journalist Derek Kravitz, has requested such business data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, along with year-over-year data to track "excess" closures. There are caveats: Like most government datasets, liquor license cancellations and, to a lesser extent, sales tax cancellations are imperfect measures of the true number of business closures in the United States. 

For one, many restaurants, bars and stores are simply waiting for their licenses to lapse past year-end or end-of-fiscal-year deadlines. We've captured some of those, where those deadlines have already come and gone. But many of those deadlines are not until Dec. 31.
Other businesses have already shuttered most of their operations — even selling off kitchen equipment and advertising the space for new leases — but have yet to finalize the paperwork to give up their regulatory licenses. In effect, these businesses have already quietly and permanently closed.
Lastly, some states, including Louisiana and New Jersey, don't track the expiration or cancellation of liquor licenses.
But by grouping cancellations and inactive licenses and comparing year-to-date changes, we can derive numbers of both expired and cancelled licenses and the much-smaller number of active businesses holding such licenses. This provides us with unique datasets that, up until now, are primarily housed in back-office IT functions in state offices.

For more information or to collaborate on this project, email

The Brown Institute

Record Set(s)

Illinois State University COVID-19 emails and response

Date Updated: October 19, 2020

Date Added: October 16, 2020

McLean County, IL

Principal Subject: Vice President for Student Affairs Levester "LJ" Johnson

This material includes emails sent to, from or copied to Vice President for Student Affairs Levester "LJ" Johnson from June 26 to September 24, 2020, regarding COVID-19 response, issues with testing and isolation in student housing.

Date Range: June 26 to September 24, 2020

Format Details: PDF, 206 pages

Iowa City Mayor COVID-19 school emails

Date Updated: October 5, 2020

Date Added: October 2, 2020

Iowa City, IA

Principal Subject: Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague

These documents include emails sent from, to or copied to Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague between August 15 to September 16, 2020, regarding local response to COVID-19 regarding schools and universities.

Date Range: August 15 to September 16, 2020

Format Details: PDF, 58 pages

North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission liquor license withdrawals and cancellations

Date Updated: September 29, 2020

Date Added: September 29, 2020


Highlighted Documents: North Caorlina PY 2020 liquor license withdrawals and cancellations North Caorlina CY 2019 liquor license withdrawals and cancellations

Principal Subject: North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission

This data includes the withdrawals and cancellation of North Carolina liquor license holders between January 1, 2019, and August 12, 2020.

Date Range: January 1, 2019, to August 12, 2020

Format Details: .xlsx spreadsheets

Ohio Department of Commerce liquor license cancellations and failure to renew data

Date Updated: September 29, 2020

Date Added: September 29, 2020


Highlighted Documents: Ohio liquor license cancellation data, 2019-20

Principal Subject: Ohio Department of Commerce

This data includes liquor license holders who have filed Cancellation Requests or have had Cancel for Failure to Renew, or CFRE notices issued by the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control between January 1, 2019 and August 27, 2020.

Date Range: January 1, 2019, to August 27, 2020

Format Details: .xlsx spreadsheets

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Documenting Covid-19