In case you weren’t paying attention yesterday, the recently soaring stock market crashed to its lowest level since March 16th, the Dow dropping 6.9%, the S&P 500 dropping 5.9% and the Nasdaq down 5.3%. As the racial justice protests began to cool down and demand less airtime, the markets began to notice that coronavirus cases were continuing to rise, and that several states were registering record numbers of infections, likely the result of social interaction on Memorial Day. Some governors were even beginning to wonder if another lockdown might be necessary–or in some states, their first full lockdown. An expert at Harvard estimated that the US could see the death total rise to 200,000 by September at the current rate of infection.
At the same time, a consensus has been emerging among European economists that the economic impact of the pandemic will be significantly worse than their worst-case scenario from several months ago. Many huge economies, like India and South America, are fully in the grip of the virus and their troubles will add to the damage. Some experts are estimating that global GDP could drop by eight percent, which would be economically catastrophic for millions, if not billions of people.
The markets are only now coming to grips with the reality that we will be battling Covid for a lot longer than they had been hoping/assuming, and any “reopening” will be fraught with risk, as many states are discovering. The virus isn’t going away just because we desperately want to get back to normal, and this fact will have real impacts on workers, the economy and the government’s response.
Just as important, the markets are confronting the reality that the United States has no federal strategy nor effort to do ANYTHING about the raging contagion. Zero. Many other countries have mounted a coordinated attack on the virus but because it might make him “look bad,” Trump has clearly decided he will simply ignore a historic epidemic and move on to other activities that might make him look better, like holding a new series of hate-rallies where masks and social-distancing will not only not be required, but will be actively discouraged.
It beggars the imagination that sooner or later Trump will contract coronavirus–along with many of his cult of supporters. Based on how easily Covid spreads, and given the physics of large crowds screaming in tightly packed arenas, it’s a medical and statistical certainty that Trump’s rallies will seed hot-spots. Recall the 2.5-hour church choir practice in Skagit County Washington where one sick parishioner out of 61 in attendance caused 30 confirmed and 20 suspected cases of Covid, including two deaths. That’s why Trump’s campaign is requiring attendees at his upcoming rallies to sign a virus waiver releasing Trump from any liability if they get sick. Trump obviously doesn’t care about the health and safety of his supporters, but it’s surprising that he would put his own health at risk, too.
Circling back to the core of the problem, the United States government has given up fighting the coronavirus. Trump surrendered and moved on. Our national ability to mass-produce PPE still stinks. There are still equipment shortages in many hospitals. We still have formidable supply chain issues. We’ve muzzled the CDC, who should be communicating with us daily but hasn’t been heard from in weeks. We should be getting medical updates on the latest findings, statistics and research breakthroughs, but instead we hear crickets. The abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration is an absolute disgrace, and will go down in history as one of the most profound and consequential derelictions of duty in American political history. Trump, Pence and Kushner gave up and said to the states, “You deal with it.” Why is this not more of an outrage?
If the financial markets continue to roil, the lack of federal action will become more of an outrage. Many people in the south and midwest sneered and said “I’m laughing at New Yorkers, living on top of each other in that dirty city–this is their problem!” But if those skeptics begin to get sick or have friends and relatives die unnecessarily from this disease, the lack of federal action will become more of an outrage. If more shutdowns are needed and the financial pain of millions of workers increases and lengthens, the lack of federal action will become more of an outrage. But absent any of these grim developments, Trump’s irresponsible capitulation to the pandemic remain an outrage.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”
PS – don’t forget to fill out your Census forms!!
Have a restful weekend.