Coronavirus Report July 7: Economic Problems Persist

Rising coronavirus cases are causing states to reverse reopening, causing more long-term economic damage.

Coronavirus cases in the U.S. climbed 47,700 in the past 24 hours, down slightly from numbers last week that were over 50,000 per day.  The total count for U.S. cases is 2.958 million and is expected to exceed 3 million by tomorrow’s report. While the death rate climbed over 130,000 to 130,392, this reflects less than 400 new deaths attributed to COVID-19 over the past 24 hours.  That’s a rate of  0.8 percent of new cases and 4.4 percent of all cases, one of the lowest in the world.

It’s worth noting that an increase of cases due to reopening isn’t affecting only the Southern states like Florida, Georgia, Texas and the Carolinas.  Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Michigan are among the 40 states where the New York Times says cases are increasing.  Red blotches, signaling counties with high growth, are popping up across much of the Midwest, including Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and Iowa.

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Coronavirus Report July 2: Two Big Numbers

Unemployment drops as the economy recovers, but at what cost?

We have two big numbers this morning: 

First, the U.S. just hit 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time ever.  That’s a large number, which we’ll dig into shortly.

Second, the U.S. added 4.8 million jobs in June, almost double the number initially reported for May (and revised upward since then by 190,000).  Predictably, the stock market is already up.

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Coronavirus Report June 17: Stay Out of Crowds

Churches, bars, meat packing plants and other places where people congregate are responsible for recent COVID-19 clusters.

There is more and more evidence that coronavirus spreads best via aerosols and in crowds.  To avoid infection, stay out of crowds, avoid places where people are packed together closely, and minimize time spent face-to-face with other individuals.

This shouldn’t really be a surprise, and we have given this advice before, but both scientific and anecdotal evidence reinforces this position.  For example:

This just drives home the point: Avoid concerts, sporting events, bars and other crowded activities, especially those held indoors.

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Coronavirus Report June 12: Reversing Reopenings?

As the North East recovers and the coronavirus retreats, the South is seeing a burst of growth.

North Carolina’s Health Secretary Mandy Cohen raised the possibility of  re-issuing stay-at-home orders after the state saw five record breaking days subsequent to its May 22 reopening, including 1,430 cases yesterday, a state record.  If they were to again order the state or certain counties closed, there may be quite a few people who refuse to comply.  The state recently sued to shut down a race track that had reopened despite the government’s order to remain closed. 

In Texas, reopening continues, moving to Phase 3, even as cases rise with active clusters around Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.  Yesterday, the state had 1,826 new cases, or about eight percent of the nation’s total.  To put this in perspective, New York had only 736 new cases.

Florida also set a record yesterday with 1,698 new cases.  California, saw 3,570 new cases yesterday, its second highest total ever, and leads the nation in new cases. 

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Prepper Diary June 11: Shortages Continue

We do some shipping to take advantage of the gap between the first wave of coronavirus and possible second wave, but there are still shortages.

On May 28, exactly two weeks ago, I said that we would probably be ending our quarantine diary because so much of the country was reopening.  That may have been premature.

Yes, we made a road trip, we had company, and we increased the number of stores we visit, but it does not look like the coronavirus is cooperating.  In fact, cases are growing in states all around us. So while we are not going back on a lock down, we are planning to minimize our outside excursions and go into what I’m goign to call, “Quarantine lite.” 

We were ahead of the curve when it came to self-quarantining, and I think we may be playing it a bit extra safe this time around, too.  Still, better safe than sorry.

That didn’t stop me from getting the first haircut I’ve had in more than three months.  I’m happy my hair is back under control, and my wife is thrilled that my mountain-man beard was neatly trimmed.  I miss having something to grab onto at the bottom of my chin, but that’s a reflex I’ll outgrow in a few days.

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Prepper Diary June 9: Post Lockdown Travel

Traveling across several states shows that social distancing and mask wearing really varies by location. The further you get from cities, the less they worry about COVID-19.

While looking at real estate this weekend, we traveled out of our area and out of state for the first time since quarantine. Here’s how it went for us:

The further away we got from a city, the less likely people were to wear face masks.  We noticed this the first time we stopped for gas at a Sheetz along the Interstate.  Only the employees and one customer work a mask; all the other customers were mask free and there was not much attention paid to social distancing.  The further away we drove, the more obvious it was that people didn’t care. 

Where we live now, in a county outside a small city, people are still careful about the virus.  The more rural we went, the less compliance with virus rules we saw. Now I will grant you that some counties we were in had fewer than 50 or even 20 cases, a fraction of those in our home country, but after being surrounded by people wearing masks, the absence surprised me almost as much as their presence the first time I saw one.

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May 27 Coronavirus Report: The Two Faces of The Coronavirus

The coronavirus has hit hard in some states, killing tens of thousands, while in most states deaths still number in the hundreds. We must address it locally, not nationally.

Three months ago, predictions that the coronavirus would kill 100,000 or more people caused panic and fear.  Today, as we approach 100,000 deaths, there is some finger pointing and blaming, but people seem more worried about when they will be allowed to get a haircut than the loss of 100,000 of their countrymen.

As we wrote on May 10, familiarity with the virus has helped calm our fears, but we are also seeing a virus in retreat, at least in the U.S., and that lends us confidence.  Add to that the pent up demand to get back to “normal,” the frustration with months-long confinement, and the appearance of unreasonable and often extreme prohibitions on our constitutional rights by petty bureaucrats and it is no wonder people are protesting and refusing to comply.

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The Economic Repercussions of Coronavirus

The initial surge of reopening excitement feels good, but the economic repercussions of the coronavirus are going to be tough to shake off.

If you read either How Prep for the Second Wave of COVID-19 published yesterday or How to prep for a Recession, then you probably know that I remain concerned about the economic repercussions of the coronavirus and the shutdown. But while I’ve discussed what we need to do to prepare, I haven’t really talked about what will happen.  Here’s my best guess, because I don’t have a crystal ball.

A Slow Recovery

Reopening will put many people back to work, but nowhere near all of them.  In three months, I predict we’ll see half of those unemployed working again, but the other half will be out of jobs.  There’s going to be a recovery, but it will come in fits and starts.  We may see one step forward and slide one step back.

Going from zero business to 50 percent is going to feel pretty good, and that there’s going to be initial enthusiasm and relief. Soon after, when reality sets in, the enthusiasm will diminish.  There will not be a 100 percent recovery and as the economic repercussions of the coronavirus persist, we’re likely to be stuck in a recession for some time.

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May 25 Coronavirus Report: Memorial Day

People are taking advantage of the three-day weekend to leave quarantine behind, with little concern for social distancing.

My grandfather served in the Navy in WWII and my uncle fought in Korea.  They both made it home alive, but knew plenty of men who did not.  They are no longer around to remember, so I remember and honor their comrades in arms on their behalf. Thank you and the many others for your sacrifice.

The Great Beach Experiment

Based on what we’ve seen in the media, summarized in this round-up article from ZeroHedge, beaches up and down the East Coast are flooded with visitors this Memorial Day weekend.  Tired of being under lockdown, thousands of American are heading out and ignoring social distancing. Few choose to wear masks.

And you know what?  I’m fine with that.

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How to Prep for the Second Wave of COVID-19

Getting a pet and improving your back yard are two ways to prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19.

If the news media are to be believed, scientists appear convinced that there will be a second wave of coronavirus cases.  They seem less definite about whether this will be due to seasonality, much like the flu returns every winter, or if it will be due to a lack of social distancing and relaxation of stay-home orders.

We also don’t know if the second wave will be worse than the first.  History tells us that the second year of the Spanish Flu was worse than the first, but it may simply have spread slower due to the lack of airline travel and the more rural nature of our country at the time.  It could well have taken a year in 1918 to spread as far as it has here in a quarter.

Either way, as a wave of viral illnesses and death rolls across South America and makes inroads in Africa, it’s pretty clear that COVID-19 is not going away.  Hot spots like Brazil and India could account for hundreds of thousands or even millions of new cases, creating fertile spots from which the virus could spread, or re-spread, across nations and continents.

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