Inflation, War, COVID-19, and Other Dangers Lie Ahead

Our hopes of getting back to the pre-COVID normal seem pretty dismal, but there have always been reasons to prepare.

We addressed inflation as recently as two days ago, but in their article “The perfect storm making everything you need more expensive” CNN sums up their reasons for rising prices thusly:

“Companies are furiously trying to restock inventories following last year’s global recession, straining supply chains already reeling from the pandemic to breaking point. A shortage of shipping containers and bottlenecks at ports have made matters worse and increased the cost of moving products around the world. Throw in accidents, cyberattacks, extreme weather and the huge disruption caused by the desperate hunt for cleaner sources of energy, and you have a perfect storm.”

No mention of the money supply’s explosive growth, but CNN admits that the pursuit of green energy is a contributing factor. While the word “inflation” does not appear until the sixth paragraph, they admit that “inflation is back and it’s widespread.”

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Ending our Weekly COVID-19 Report with a Victory

When Charlie Sheen famously said “Winning!” it came back to bite him, but we’re still declaring victory over COVID-19. For now, at least.

Fourteen months after the start of the COVID-19 outbreak swept through the U.S., I am putting what I hope will be a definite hold on our Monday report that has ran every Monday for months. We’ll be back if COVID-19 is back, but we hope that won’t be necessary. Coverage of fallout from the virus will continue.

This blog started as a way to kill time and report on my self-imposed quarantine, but has evolved into much more. Thanks to the many people who have checked in from time to time and especially to our regular readers.

India is still adding 1.5 million cases per week and may eventually overtake the U.S. to become the worst-hit country in the world.

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COVID-19 Plunges in U.S. But Sees Growth in Other Countries

The CDC relaxes its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals, but we expect everyone except the very sick or the very paranoid to remove theirs.

Author’s Note: We are on a 1,000+ mile road trip, so my opportunities to post have been few and far in between. My apologies for the delay, and I hope to be back on my regular posting schedule tomorrow. This COVID-19 update is going to be a bit shorter than usual as a result.

The big COVID-19 headline in the past week has been the CDC’s relaxation of the mask mandate for people who are “fully vaccinated,” which it defines as having had both shots with at least two weeks have passed since the last shot. Multiple states quickly relaxed their guidelines.

Close to 60 percent of the population has had one shot, but my observation is that far more than 60 percent of people have immediately stopped wearing their masks. This was based on traveling through rest stops, fast-food restaurants, gas stations, and convenience stores in a piece of Virginia, a section of Tennessee, a chunk of North Carolina, a large section of South Carolina, through Georgia, and into Northern Florida. This was to be expected in Florida, where Gov. Desantis has relaxed rules for some time, but it was a surprise to see masks discarded so quickly in many other parts of the Southeast.

I’ll talk more about masks and the gas shortage in my next post.

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U.S. his Lowest COVID-19 Case Count in 11 Months

While the U.S. is setting records for its lowest rate of growth, India now accounts for about half of all new COVID-19 cases.

On May 9, the U.S. reported only 22,073 cases of COVID-19, its lowest number of cases in 11 months. The downward slope in cases that bumped up in early April is heading downwards again as the average number of cases for the past 14 days dropped to 30 percent.

Europe is also seeing its numbers slow, although not quiet as fast as the U.S. While they are rolling our vaccines more smoothly, they are still relying on social distancing, curfews, and lockdowns to minimize cases. Over the past two weeks, new cases are down 31 percent in Germany, 40 percent in France, 29 percent in Spain, and 28 percent in Italy.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the hotspots of the world. Brazil, which has seen more than 15 million cases and 422,000 deaths is seeing an uptick in cases, with 8 percent growth in new cases reported over the past 14 days. India, with more than 22 million cases and 242,000 deaths is up 23 percent in the past 14 days, with around 400,000 cases reported per day. In fact, India alone produces about half the world’s cases.

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COVID-19 Cases Skyrocket in India as U.S. Numbers Drop

COVID-19 cases are overwhelming the healthcare system in India as smoke from funeral pyres smudge the sky. It’s a different story here in the U.S.

The average number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. over the past week has fallen below 50,000. The last time the new-case average was that low was October 7, 2020.

Only 29,536 new cases were reported on Saturday, May 2, a new low not seen since September 2020. Meanwhile, hospitalizations and deaths have also dropped.

Vaccines Drop Off, Too

But cases are not the only thing dropping. A few months ago, not long after the vaccine program rolled out, the U.S. celebrated when it hit the milestone of giving 1 million shots per day. Before long, that doubled to 2 million. The daily total of vaccinations peaked at 3.4 million on April 13.

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India Sets COVID-19 Record, U.S. Cases Drop for Second Straight Week

While COVID-19 cases drop in the U.S., scientists worry that many of the unvaccinated Americans don’t want to be vaccinated.

In the past week, India broke the record for most cases of COVID-19 in a single day, surpassing the previous record long held by the U.S. This helped drive the world to set a record for the highest number of new cases ever, with 5.6 million cases reported per week.

Meanwhile, cases continued to slow in the U.S. Number is California, once the epicenter of the outbreak, have dropped to new lows, even as its neighbor Oregon is seeing the highest rate of case growth in the U.S. Michigan, the worst-hit part of the U.S., is seeing slight improvements.

The U.S. has reported 32.1 million cases, of which 58,353 occurred on Sunday. Deaths have also declined with 707 reported in the past 24 hours, for a total of 571,753. Globally, there 146.8 million cases and 3.1 million deaths. 

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Three Million Dead as COVID-19 Continues to Spread

Even as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. stabilize, hotspots around the world see new cases jump by 10 percent.

Global deaths topped 3 million on Saturday with almost 19 percent of the deaths (about 567,000) here in the U.S. An ugly milestone for a disease that has existed for just over a year, it is still better than some of the early predictions that caused panic and lockdowns.

Thanks to rising cases in hotspots like India (over 261,500 cases reported on Sunday), Brazil and Turkey, and vaccines from China and Russia that may not be as effective as we were lead to believe, it is becoming clear that COVID-19 will not be going away in 2021. As mutations spread and vaccine makers publicly discuss the need for a third booster shot, it becomes apparent that we may have to deal with COVID-19 for years.

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COVID-19 Continues to Spread in Europe, Latin America and Michigan

While COVID-19 cases remained relatively steady in the U.S. this past week, Europe and Latin America continue to struggle with the virus.

After the initial outbreak in China, our coverage of Coronavirus has focused on the United States (31 million cases), where we are based, and Europe, which has had a terrible outbreak (44.2 million cases). Lately, the extent of the infections in Brazil (13 million cases) has made the news. Now, we learn that Latin America and the Caribbean have surpassed 25 million cases. Their death toll is second only to Europe.

In Europe, things are especially bad in the Czech Republic, where the lockdowns and curfews remind many older residents of the repression they suffered under the Communist regime. The country reportedly has the highest number of deaths per 100,000 residents in the world.

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To Mask or Not to Mask, that is the Question

I can’t count how many times I walk up to a store and see the mask sign, forcing me back to my car to get my mask. We’re seeing those signs come down.

We went to the hardware store today, a place I seem to visit weekly to pick up fasteners and other hardware, and as I parked the truck, I told my wife she didn’t need to wear her mask. This surprised her, but went with it. Sure enough, none of the employees were wearing them, and I only saw one customer wearing a mask–around her chin but not her nose or mouth.

There was some point in late January or early February when I went into the hardware store and noticed I was the only one in there wearing a mask. Ever since then, I’ve left it in the car. For my wife, It was her first public outing without a mask in months.

After we left the store, my wife commented that it felt weird not to wear her mask. Not freeing, mind you, but weird.

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As the Shutdowns Draw to a Close, Traffic and Crime Rises

Shutting down the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had plenty of unintended consequences, from the economic to mental health. Reopening may have consequences, too.

My daughter, who lives in a mid-sized city, was complaining about the recent increase in traffic and how it is making her commute longer. (Since she works in healthcare, she has been back at work for months. And yes, she caught COVID-19 but recovered quickly, probably thanks to being young.) Apparently, people are going back to the office after the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and the highways are getting crowded again.

A friend in our old home town confirmed that traffic is “back to normal” or perhaps worse. Construction is also going on at a rapid pace, possibly because the area is one where people from large cities are moving to escape. I’m not sure moving from an apartment in a large city to a townhouse or condo in a mid-sized city is that big an escape, but it took me multiple steps to get from New York City to the country, so you have to start somewhere. That’s why we call it your prepping journey.

It will be interesting to see if the re-opening of American and the thought of facing crowds again drives more people out of cities.

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