COVID-19 Cases Improve, Economy Worsens

Man wearing face mask. Photo by Engin Akyurt on unsplash
Face masks are now required across much of the U.S. Photo by Engin Akyurt on unsplash

Only 21,600 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. over the past 24 hours, an increase of 1.8 percent.  This brings the total case count to 1,186,900.  Coming on the heels of yesterday’s drop, it represents a significant downward trend and a new low.

In other good news, there’re were only 1,058 deaths in the past 24 hours, also a new low.  This represents an increase of 1.6 percent and brought the total reported deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. to 68,843.

In New York, where cases and deaths continue to fall rather remarkably, current hospitalizations fell below 10,000.

Globally, there are now 3.607 million cases of coronavirus, an increase of 78,000, or 2.2 percent.  Global deaths climbed over 250,000 to 252,151.

Financial Dominoes Start to Fall

While the spread of the coronavirus appears to be slowing, the damage caused to the economy by the reaction to the virus is just beginning to be felt.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the rental car company Hertz is preparing to file for bankruptcy.  Like all travel and hospitality services, they have been hit hard by the stay-home orders.  As the article reports, Hertz and its peers are also suffering as the price of used cars drops.

But Hertz isn’t alone in seeking bankruptcy protection.  Retailer J. Crew has already filed, as has God’s Gym, while Nieman Marcus and JC Penny are in preliminary talks prior to declaring bankruptcy.

In New York, hard-hit bars and restaurants are seeking aid from city and state officials.  But why are bars and restaurants more important than retailers and other small businesses?  Why should the government pick and choose winners?  If they pass legislation protecting restaurants, it should apply to other businesses as well.

Some Positive Housing News

On the positive side, housing prices are holding steady thanks to a lack of supply.  While sales have slowed due to the coronavirus, sellers are not cutting prices.  Opendoor, a home flipping company that buys and sells homes online, has announced it will start buying properties again after halting operations in March due to the virus.

For many Americans, their homes are a store of wealth and the continued rise in prices will help them feel less threatened. If homeowners who cannot afford their mortgage payments sell at fire sale prices, that will represent a significant threat to the economy.

Want to see how today’s numbers look in the grand scheme of things? Compare them to news and data from yesterday or last week.