Monday, November 23, 2020

Covid-19: Shutdown or Economic Health: The Dilemma

Pandemics run their course. The Coronavirus pandemic will end when at least one of three scenarios occurs: 1) The virus mutates to a less virulent form; 2) Herd immunity, partially facilitated by 3) Vaccines Much of America shut down in March. The hospitals were overflowing with Covid patients. Ventilators and personal protective equipment, such as face masks, were lacking. We were told we had to flatten the curve. We had to lock down to save the hospitals which were running out of beds. We had to control the spread. The shutdown may have flattened the curve, and controlled the initial outburst, but it did not kill the virus. Covid lingered on, waiting for its opportunity. That time has come. Covid lingered in Los Angeles, New York City, and much of America, slowly spreading, waiting to explode again. Covid-19 is a stealth virus. Science now knows several introductions of the virus in the United States may have circulated before the first diagnosed case on January 15 of a Washington traveler returning from Wuhan China in Washington and the later deaths in a Kirkland, Washington nursing home. The early scanning technique was a temperature scan which did not detect the millions who were asymptomatic or had minor infections. The spring lockdowns were an economic disaster for America. The economy was booming prior to the pandemic. The unemployment rate was down to 3.8% in February with 6.2 million unemployed. The unemployment rates for African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans were at record lows. The second quarter gross domestic product dropped an annualized 32.9%. 20.5 million Americans were unemployed in May. The unemployment rate jumped to 14.4% in April. A list of large companies entering bankruptcy or closing, some already in trouble or excessively debt ridden, includes: Aeromexico Alog Ascena (Ann Taylor & Lane Bryant) Avianca Airlines Brooks Brothers CBL Chesapeake Energy Cirque Du Soleil Chuck E Cheese Coronavirus Bankruptcies CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) J. Crew Friendly’s Furla (USA) GNC Gold Gyms Guitar Center Hertz Impresa Aerospace, LL.C. Lord & Taylor Luby’s/Fuddruckers Lucky Brand Dungarees Muji Neiman Marcus New York Sports Club Noble Corp. Norwegian Air Shuttle NPC International (1227 Pizza Hut and 393 Wendy’s franchises) J.C. Penney Paper Store Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust Pet Valu (USA) Pier 1 RTW Retailwinds (New York & Co.) Ruby Tuesday Sizzler Souplantation Stage Stores Steinmark Sur La Table 24 Hour Fitness Tailored Brands (Gentlemen’s Warehouse, Joseph A. Banks) Tuesday Morning Virgin Atlantic Virgin Australia XFL A listing of large enterprises does a grave injustice to the hundreds of thousands, soon to be millions, of small businesses that failed. Those that barely survived are at great risk of total failure with the new shutdown. The shutdown was a body blow to America. Americans were increasingly frustrated and desperate. President Trump heard their cries. He decided to emphasize economic recovery rather than shutting down America as the virus runs its course. Economic distress leads to emotional distress. We know the infection rate is much higher than the reported numbers. Studies have consistently shown higher infection rates than actual because millions that were asymptomatic or only mildly infected were not recorded. Some day in the future we will have antibody studies that will show the true picture. The actual infection rate is believed to be multiple times greater than the tested rate. A theory is that the actual mortality rate approaches the low rate of the flu, which is no consolation for those who perish from Covid or suffer from long term complications. Many experts believe the actual mortality rate will approach that of the general flu - .1%. We will only know once a large number of Americans are tested for antibodies, especially those that were a symptomatic. The Covid mortality rate is about 2.16% if you divide the reported fatalities by the number of cases. This figure is grossly inaccurate. The number of deaths is high while the number of reported cases is many times greater. Hospitals are wont to list Covid as the cause of death if it were present in the patient at time of death even if not the actual medical cause. Conversely several studies show the infected rate is many times greater than the reported rate. Tens of millions have gone unreported because the infected were asymptomatic or incurred minor symptoms. Entire industries were decimated, including hospitality, hotels and restaurants, bars, taverns, travel, airlines, airports, cruise ships, theaters, museums, the stage, Broadway, other cultural attractions, barbershops and salons (except for Speaker Pelosi), fitness centers and gyms. Disneyland is closed until next year with a loss to the local economy of $5 billion. Times Square is so quiet you can hear a pin drop in the tourist shops. Mass transit systems are shrinking. Small stores were shuttered while Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Loews, CVS, RiteAid and Walgreens remained open. Landlords ranging from small apartment buildings to large mall owners are suffering. All indoor and patio dining in Los Angeles County will be shut down for at least three weeks – only takeout and delivery will be allowed. Public schools are closing even though studies show little risk exists to the children or of them spreading the virus to adults. President Trump made the decision to reopen the economy as Americans began to defy the restrictions. He weighed the economy against the virus. The economy rebounded with a V shaped recovery. All is at risk now. New lockdowns are imposed. Curfews from 10:00PM to 5:00Am are imposed. Pueblo, Colorado is a city imposing such a curfew because the mayor and other city officials were “desperate to try anything at this point.” Thanksgivings celebrations are limited. New York Governor Cuomo announced a ban on private gatherings, including Thanksgiving. One New York sheriff said he would never interfere with “the great tradition Thanksgiving dinner.” Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo issued an order barring anyone in the state from spending time in a social setting with anyone from outside their household. Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota similarly barred social gatherings of social gatherings. Many police chiefs and sheriffs have said enough is enough. They will not enforce the new measures. They will not make criminals of law-abiding citizens. California’s Governor Newsom lost all moral authority at the French Laundry Restaurant when he and 11 others had an expensive dinner closely seated with no face masks. Governor Cuomo says we must follow the law, but New York City is a sanctuary city not following federal law. Oregon Governor Kate Brown uttered the most incredulous statement. She asked the citizens of Oregon to call the cops when she see coronavirus violations. Yes! Phone the Portland Police every time you see the non-masked Portland mob rioting. Forget about the looting, rioting, arson, assaults and batteries; just complain about the coronavirus violations. Therein lies the priorities of Governor Brown. The CDC is discouraging travel over Thanksgiving. Someone forgot to tell the nation’s universities who are sending students home over Thanksgiving, ending the semesters early. Much has been learned about Covid, but much remains to be determined, including the effectiveness of masks and medications, President Elect Biden says he values controlling the virus over the economy, but recently said he will not shut the country down. He won’t have to. The Democratic governors and mayors are doing it for him. Memo to the Nation's governors and mayors: Thanksgiving promises to be a day of civil disobedience!

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