Monday, March 30 – US Cases Surpass China, Deaths to Peak in Two Weeks
Global deaths from the virus have surpassed 30,000, with more than 10,000 of those in Italy. Spain reported its highest increase in coronavirus deaths Sunday but saw a drop in infection rate.
At 137,000, the US surpassed China and Italy with coronavirus cases. The US has 2,400 deaths, but the death toll is expected to peak in another two weeks. A Navy hospital ship docked in New York City, where some patients must share one ventilator or go without, and refrigerated trucks hold bodies because the morgues are full.
Stocks turned positive last week with the Dow more than 20% from its recent low as lawmakers and central bankers around the world made progress on relief and stimulus measures. President Trump extended social distancing guidance until April 30, where last week he wanted the US economy back in the swing by Easter, April 12th.
Thursday, March 26 – 1/4 of the World’s People are in Lockdown
With India declaring a lockdown, it means almost 3 billion people in 70 countries are staying home.
US deaths from Covid-19 reached 1,000 today. The Senate passed a coronavirus stimulus bill, on which the House will vote Friday. The Senate vote was delayed last night while Democrats reinserted prohibitions for President Trump’s receiving any bailout money.
New York City is scrambling to find more hospital beds and ventilators, as patients die in emergency rooms. 2,000 ventilators from the national stockpile, but has less than half of the 30,000 it needs.
Wednesday, March 25 – US Stimulus Deal Reached as Unemployment Surges
Spain now has 3,434 deaths from Covid-19 – more fatalities than in China – up 27% from the day before. In Madrid, an ice skating rink has been converted to a mass morgue.
In New York City, where 192 people have died from Covid-19, hospitals are already nearing capacity. New York accounts for 60% of US cases, and cases have doubled every three days. Ventilators and intensive care beds are already in short supply, and estimates say twice as many will be needed. In New York City, where 15,000 are infected, residents are leaving in droves.
In the US the House and Senate reached a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. The stimulus would send $1,200 to individuals making less than $75K per year, and a lesser amount for those who earn between $75-$99K. The income limits for couples in double, and gives an extra $500 per child to families. Payouts would cover about 90% of Americans.
The Federal plan boosts unemployment insurance payments $600 a week on top of state benefits for four months. The program also provides jobless benefits to independent contractors, gig economy workers and the self-employed, who typically don’t qualify for unemployment.
While politicians first spoke of getting money in the hands of Americans “within two weeks”, the reality is that the process could take longer. In 2001, it took six weeks for the IRS to start sending out rebate checks authorized by President George W. Bush’s tax cut.
Projections estimate new US unemployment claims will be over 2 million this week, a spike so large and unprecedented that all economic predictions are suspect. However, some project the unemployment to cap around 9%, slightly less than the peak of the Great Recession in 2009.
Tuesday, March 24 – Italy Deaths Nearly Double China
Worldwide, there are over 392,700 confirmed cases and more than 17,200 deaths. Most new cases of coronavirus are now outside of China – in the US and Europe – with Italy the hardest hit and Spain close behind. Today in Italy 64,000 infections are reported with 6,000 deaths, and Spain has 40,000 cases and 2,700 deaths. With 6,733 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 336 deaths, UK is declaring a lockdown of citizens.
China has 3,281 deaths, but cases have steadily declined since February. More than 73,000 of the 81,588 confirmed cases have recovered, and the lockdown in Wuhan, China where the outbreak started is set to lift on April 8.
In the US there are 46,481 confirmed cases of the virus and 593 deaths. New York has the most cases with over 20,800. Congress is still debating and adding amendments to a stimulus bill that would send checks to Americans and extend unemployment benefits, among other measures.
As non-essential businesses close, others are hiring frantically. Help wanted signs and billboards advertise immediate jobs for food delivery, at supermarkets such as Kroger and Albertsons, pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, convenience and discount stores like Dollar General and 7-Eleven, and retail giants like Amazon and Walmart.
On the news of a stimulus, today traders bought back some of the worst-hit stocks, such as Boeing and Chevron, driving the Dow Jones industrials to a gain of around 8.5%. The S&P 500 jumped more than 7%, but crude oil futures dropped to $24.01 due to slack demand and the Russia / OPEC price war.
Friday, March 20 – Italy Deaths Exceed China’s, UK Shuts Down
Amid growing coronavirus shut-downs, the US moved tax day from April 15 to July 15, and student loan payments can be deferred. Illinois will shelter in place starting Saturday, and New York is preparing for a state-wide lockdown starting Sunday night when only essential businesses remain open. New York City has reported 5,100 coronavirus cases so far.
The death toll from coronavirus in Italy has surpassed China. In the UK the Prime Minister announced a nationwide lockdown, ordering cafes, pubs, and restaurants to close tonight and not reopen. The government will pay 80% of wages to those out of work up to $2,900US per month.
An economic report predicted that infections will peak globally by the third quarter of 2020, with the recovery beginning in the second half of next year. Today an economist said the economic downturn may be less severe than the deep recessions of 1981-82 and 2008-09, but worse than the mild recessions of 1991 and 2001. The S&P 500 has plunged by around 30% since its all-time high on Feb. 19 – just one month ago. After the stock market crash of Oct. 29, 1929, the S&P 500 fell 86% in less than three years and did not regain its previous peak until 1954.
Thursday, March 19 – Fatalities Grow
Today global deaths passed 9,300 with more than 230,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Italy now has 3,400 deaths – more than in China where the virus originated. In the US there were more than 10,750 confirmed cases, up from about 1,600 a week earlier, when there were 40 reported deaths. Deaths jumped to 154 across 22 states – including the first reported fatalities in Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.
Wednesday, March 18 – Coronavirus Infections Double in Two Weeks
As of this morning, there were 6,519 cases and 114 deaths in the US, and 201,000 cases and 8,000 deaths worldwide. More new cases are reported in Europe each day than in China at the height of the epidemic, leading some to wonder if less authoritarian countries can stop the spread.
The IRS is giving more time to pay taxes, while President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act so the private sector can ramp-up manufacturing and distribution of emergency medical supplies and equipment such as masks, ventilators, and respirators. Trump also order Navy hospital ships deployed to the American coasts.
General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler closed all US factories due to the coronavirus. Ford said it plans to close its factories in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Tuesday, March 17 – New Reality Sets In
Forecasts say the US could lose up to one million jobs in April alone, which would be worse than the steepest job loss during any month of the Great Recession 10 years ago. The Trump Administration’s emergency stimulus proposal sounds more like the Democratic candidate debates, with talk of sending money to Americans immediately, except for millionaires. San Francisco is already under a “shelter in place” order, with New York City soon to follow. In Kentucky, a Covid-19 patient’s home isolation is enforced by police after he checked himself out of the hospital, but in Florida half-naked college students still congregated on the beach. Countries worldwide are closing borders, nobody is allowed outside in Italy, and in France, all gatherings are banned.
In the US life changed over the past two days by social distancing from people and public places, and many people financially strained or out of work. While the focus is on containing the spread over the next two weeks, preventive measures may be needed for months or even a year until a vaccine is made.
Monday, March 16 – the US Shuts Down as New Cases in China Decline
There are now more coronavirus cases outside China than inside as global infections stand at 167,000 and 6,000 deaths. The number of infections in Europe is growing faster than in China during the height of its outbreak, where new cases are decreasing. Iran has the worst outbreak in the Middle East.
The Australian stock market had the biggest decline ever, the price of oil continued to drop, and in the UK the FTSE fell another 6%. The Dow and S&P 500 indexes had their biggest one-day losses since 1987, falling at least 12%, respectively, and the Nasdaq Composite had its biggest one-day plunge ever, tumbling 12.3%. Even the price of gold fell as people sold assets in a “dash for cash”.
Most states and cities closed restaurants, bars, and gyms, Las Vegas casinos are closing, beaches are closed, while other states and restaurant chains now offer only pickup or delivery, and Hoboken, NJ declared a city-wide curfew at night.
Friday the 13th – Everything is Canceled, Everywhere
President Trump today declared a national emergency with tallies of 1,700 cases and 40 deaths from coronavirus. In a press conference, Trump announced plans to catch up on testing capacity with emergency approval from the FDA for tests, and partnership with drug companies and even Walmart and Target who volunteered their parking lots for drive-through testing. The US is short on tests and testing procedures because it rejected a test provided by the World Health Organization, and had the CDC make their own, flawed version. Plus, siloed public and private healthcare in the US means there’s no national testing procedures or even a central tracking database.
Schools have extended spring break, sporting events have barred spectators, parades, church services, and concerts are canceled, Disneyland is closed, and the NBA season has been postponed. Airlines have canceled flights and laid-off workers, and restaurants are closing seating areas, operating only the drive-through. US stock markets recovered nearly 10% today on news of the national emergency and federal stimulus proposals but were down 10% for the week.
Over the weekend Australia imposed a fourteen-day quarantine for all new arrivals, UK announced plans to isolate those over 70 years old, and testing of Americans inbound from Europe saw confusion and long delays at US airports. Uneasy citizens practiced “social distancing” as prescribed by health officials, even while queuing to panic buy any remaining toilet paper and bottled water left on the shelves. Some health officials say more than half the population of some countries may become infected, so the priority is containment and quarantine to “flatten the curve” of infections so the spike of patients doesn’t overwhelm the fixed capacity of healthcare supply. On Sunday, the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates to almost zero and launched a $700B stimulus program.
And for the first time in recent memory, news headlines were free of Greta Thunberg.
March 12 – Stocks Dive After US Bans Travel From Europe
President Trump banned non-Americans traveling to the US from 26 European countries, not including the UK and Ireland, effective tomorrow. Even worse, Ireland canceled St. Patrick’s Day festivities. The day ended with a 10% dive of US markets, the largest single-day decline since Black Monday in 1987.
March 11 – Pandemic Declared
The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic. In New York National Guard troops delivered food to people inside the quarantine zone in new Rochelle, just north of New York City. Google and other companies are telling employees to work from home. The worldwide death toll has surpassed 4,200, mostly in China, but at least 168 coronavirus victims died in Italy.
About 80% of the cases were mild, but the virus had a fatality rate of 2-3%. In comparison, the flu killed tens of thousands of Americans this winter, with a mortality rate of 0.05-0.1%.
In the US where there are more than 1,000 cases, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Congress that Americans must immediately change their everyday lives to prevent catching or spreading the virus.
March 9 – Stock Market Drops
The FTSE index lost 8% before opening, and in the US the NYSE lost 6% which automatically halted trading temporarily. Oversupply and lower demand due to coronavirus, plus a crude oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia drove down markets sharply. Russia’s price war is part of Vladimir Putin’s strategy to take market share from Saudi Arabia and cripple shale-oil production in the US, where oil companies are preparing to cut investment and drilling plans due to plunging prices.
Beyond the economic impact on the coronavirus worldwide, traders are scared of Donald Trump losing the November election due to a stalled economy. Both indexes rebounded the next day on news the Federal government is working on a stimulus package for hard-hit industries, but remain down from historic highs only a month ago.
March 2 – Hoarding Begins in the US
The beginning of March saw “spontaneous” cases in the US and American online shoppers searching Google for “can you get coronavirus buying products from China”. Conferences and sporting events worldwide have been canceled, and Italy has closed all schools.
With US deaths from #COVID19 still in single digits, the first days of March saw Walmart, Home Depot, pharmacies and hardware stores already running out of N95 respirator masks. Price gouging quickly followed on Amazon where shoppers searched for “N95 Mask” almost a million times in February, compared to a few thousand searches in December. The CDC is stockpiling respirators for healthcare workers, even while saying that wearing a surgical mask (alone) doesn’t stop virus spread in the general population.
February 2020 – Coronavirus Named, Continues Spreading
The new official name for the virus, Covid-19, was announced as the death toll reached 1,000. In China, the lunar new year holiday was extended to help stop the spread of the virus. Major factories closed, airlines suspended service, and uncertainty caused sell-offs in stock markets.
South Korea had the most cases outside China, spread in the compound of the religious group Shincheonji Church of Jesus. The Diamond Princess cruise ship was initially not allowed to dock after some of the 3,700 passengers contracted Covid-19. American passengers were evacuated and spent 14 days in quarantine on military bases before being released. Other passengers remained aboard for 14 days and were allowed to leave only after testing negative for the virus. Among the first infections in Iran was the Deputy of Health. To prevent panic Iranian police arrested citizens for spreading rumors about the virus on social media. At a White House briefing, President Trump announced Vice President Mike Pence would be “in charge” of the U.S. response to the coronavirus. Trump claimed “tremendous success” in keeping US infections low, citing travel restrictions and promising to spend billions to fight the outbreak.
February ended with Covid-19 infecting more than 80,000 people and killing nearly 2,800. The virus has spread to 47 countries, with the most cases in China. While there are only a handful of cases in the US, the CDC warned Americans to brace for its spread. Thanks to social media and the hashtag #Covid19, new cases worldwide are reported and quarantined almost instantly, but health officials warn the virus could still develop into a pandemic.
January – Flu and Virus Outbreaks and the Employment Rate
Cities in China went into lockdown over deaths from a new SARS-like coronavirus that likely jumped from animal to human in a seafood market known for sales of bushmeat. First detected in the central city of Wuhan with 11 million residents, the “Wuhan flu”, officially named 2019-nCoV, spread to Huanggang and other cities quickly. Chinese authorities halted all planes, trains, and busses, and closed cafes, cinemas, and theaters during the Chinese New Year to slow the spread.
In the US, airports are screening visitors from areas infected by Wuhan flu, while an early start to the flu season and a rise in B strain infections, against which the flu shot was ineffective, led to millions of cases and thousands of deaths. High employment helps spread the flu, with each 1-percentage point increase in the employment rate leading to a 16% rise in flu-related doctors’ visits. The US employment rate is nearly 72% or pre-2008 recession level.