NEW YORK — The second half of the year from hell is here, and it could be even messier than the first.

As a chaotic, sometimes surreal 2020 continues to unfold, frantic planning is underway to reopen schools, stage professional sports seasons and hold in-person voting for the upcoming presidential election.

Meanwhile, coronavirus is surging again in several states, with Florida and California re-shuttering bars and beaches in a desperate bid to contain it.

More than a fifth of the nation's workforce has asked for unemployment assistance, but the extra $600 weekly benefit ends this month. Whether Congress will extend it remains an open question.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2020, economic predictions range from cloudy to downright dire.

"This is an extraordinarily difficult period that we're entering," former labor secretary Robert Reich told the Daily News. "We're going to see evictions and foreclosures very likely at a rate we haven't seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s."

He said delinquency rates on mortgages have more than doubled since March and evictions are "very, very likely to balloon" as pandemic protections for millions of struggling renters run out this month or shortly thereafter.

"And layoffs right now are a different type than March and April. These are more permanent — businesses throwing in the towel or permanently slimming down," he said.

Amid so much uncertainty, sports fans are still hoping to hear "Play Ball" as Major League Baseball plans for opening day on July 23 or 24 even though some players have already opted out of the season.

The Democratic and Republican conventions will likely happen remotely in August, but President Trump is sure to hold more rallies before polls open Nov. 3.

All the while, protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other black people killed by police are expected to continue with a massive march meant to commemorate the 57th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech set for Aug. 28 in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Tanisha Ford, a history professor at CUNY's Graduate Center, said she's heartened by so many young people joining demonstrations during such a turbulent time, but she's also mindful of the past.

She pointed to the Red Summer of 1919, when anti-black rioters terrorized cities across the country amid labor unrest, the second year of a deadly flu pandemic and a resurgence of white supremacist sentiment.

"Many governors and White House officials have shared stories about the 'Spanish Flu' and how it ravaged America in the early 20th century, but what they're not saying is that it was also a time of intense anti-black violence with lynchings and the torturing of black people," she said.

"We've been in a similar moment before," she told The News. "I look at the systems that were in place in 1919, and I see how the same structural inequality has persisted. People still don't have access to adequate housing and health care."

The "cross-currents connecting the two moments" are hard to deny, she said.

"Moving forward, I have a real concern that in order to fight for change, people will have to continue putting their bodies on the line in a different way — with the protests," she said.

For the Nov. 3 general election, it remains to be seen how pandemic-driven demand for mail-in voting will ultimately play out, especially with Trump opposing the option even though he voted by mail as recently as March.

Sixteen states including New York and Texas only allow general election absentee voting with a qualifying excuse.

Many election watchers, including the Daily News, are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to override that rule and send all New York voters a mail-in ballot, a trend already started by New Jersey and California.

Experts warn time is of the essence. Poor planning could disenfranchise voters too scared to show up in person or lead to a last-minute surge of mail-in ballots that swamp underfunded election officials.

"It's appropriate to be worried," election law expert Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School, told The News.

"We know we can hold vote by mail elections, but we've also learned there are a lot of bumps in the road that need to be addressed, such as getting ballots to voters and processing them. And we need to not forget about in-person voting, and make that sanitary and safe," he said.

"We only have the time that we have. The question is, will there be enough money and enough training and enough commitment. This is an election that can't be postponed," he said.

One historian said she's worried about President Trump's words and actions as Election Day closes in.

"I expect there will be irresponsible things that will be said, largely by a president desperate to hold on to his position, who doesn't care about the fires he sets behind him," Saje Mathieu, a U.S. history professor at the University of Minnesota, told The News.

"I think the next six months could be even messier than the last," she said, adding that she anticipates some level of "backlash" to the last few months of self-isolation and racial reckoning as people start returning to work, sporting events, movie theaters and other public spaces.

"It's one thing to imagine forfeiting space to advancement or equality and another to accept someone squeezing their desk into your office," or "sneezing at your baseball game," she said.

"But I hope we're better than that. I hope we're smarter than that," she said.

Experts agree the best-case scenario is that science delivers a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year that works and gets widely administered.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that we will have one or maybe more candidates of vaccines that could be available and be effective by the end of the year, the beginning of 2021," Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said last week.

Fauci said he would "settle" for a vaccine that's only 70% to 75% effective — but if 25% of the U.S. population refuses to take it, the chance of achieving herd immunity would be "unlikely."

"That's one of the reasons why we have to make sure we engage the community," Fauci said during his interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival. "We are doing everything we can to show that it's safe and that it's effective and it's for the good of them as individuals and in society to take the vaccine."

He said officials still "have a lot of work to do" to unify the population around the common good.

"There is a general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among some people in this country — an alarmingly large percentage," he said.