Coronavirus Report July 29: COVID-19 Doesn’t Scare us Anymore

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There were 63,100 new cases of Coronavirus reported in the U.S. in the past 24 hours, an increase of 1.5 percent. This brings the total number of cases to 4,366,900.  There were 1,324 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the same period, bringing the total to 149,774.  COVID-19 death rates are climbing in 24 states, according to The New York Times.

The number of deaths continues a slow march upwards and it looks like we’ll be facing more than 1,000 per day for the immediate future.  Even with this increase, the death rate is expected to remain well below the April highs as doctors better understand how to treat the coronavirus and have access to more therapeutics.

Globally, the case count climbed by 288,000 as India surged past 1.5 million.  The total worldwide case count is now 16.783 million.  Deaths due to COVID-19 around the world increased by 6,386 to 661,203.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Even as deaths rise again, many are finding it hard to get worked up about COVID-19. It’s not dominating the news like it did three months ago, despite political wrangling about the next stimulus package.

COVID-19 is no longer the issue, it’s just an issue, and one of many that people have to deal with. To some extent, that’s good news because we’re going to have to live with it for some time and a state of constant fear and anxiety isn’t good for anyone.  On the other hand, that’s bad news because people are more relaxed about social distancing, mask wearing, and other actions that might help curb the spread.

There are many coronavirus issues that are not illness related, such as:

  • What to do with the kids if schools don’t reopen? 
  • How will we feed out children without the free school lunch program?
  • How can I work/look for a job if I have to stay home with the kids?
  • Will we run out of money before the next stimulus check arrives? 
  • How can we pay the rent/mortgage if the extra unemployment money is not extended?
  • Will we get evicted or foreclosed if the government protections are not extended?
  • What are the chances of my employer going bankrupt or having layoffs?
  • How can I pay my college loans if I am unemployed?

In many minds, these and related issues have become more important than the possibility of getting sick.  In fact, for many younger people, the fear of infection is negligible since it is often asymptomatic or causes only mild symptoms.  The prospects of not finding work is more intimidating.

COVID-19 in late July is just not as scary as it was in late March.

It’s the Economy

Did you notice how most of those bullet points are related to money?  Making a living and paying the bills is getting harder for many, thanks to the coronavirus.  Businesses are shutting down with many restaurants and retailers that closed temporarily now shutting their doors forever.  Shopping malls, which were struggling before, are losing tenants as stores like Sur La Table, J. Crew, Lane Bryant, and Anne Taylor declare bankruptcy.  Airlines are losing money, rental car companies are liquidating their fleets, and businesses that count on tourism are hurting as people stay home. 

Any business that counted on putting buts in seats – from sporting events to concerts, cinemas to theatrical events – is suffering, and that means all their employees are suffering.  People who sell beer at stadiums or worked the gate at a concert venue are often contractors who are not eligible for unemployment.  People who used to count on side gigs to pay the bills no longer have that option.

From where we are sitting, the economy is a bigger issue than disease, and no matter what Congress does, there is no quick fix.  All Congress is really doing is delaying the problem, pushing it off, by putting temporary money in people pockets.  At some point, the house of cards is going to crash and it will be a boom heard around the world.

How can you prepare for an economic crash?  As we say in How to Prep for a Recession, build your pantry, build your skills, and do whatever you can to keep that roof over your head.