The United States passed a grim milestone yesterday: 250,000 deaths from Covid-19.
Our immediate future looks just as dark. The U.S. reported 163,075 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, pushing the total cases past 11.3 million. Hospitalizations hit a record 79,410. That’s about 32% higher than the longstanding peak in mid-April.
And sadly, U.S. coronavirus deaths reported daily rose by the most in more than six months (since May 7) on Wednesday to 1,869.
This propelled the country’s average fatality rate above that of the summer. It is now at its highest level since May. The U.S. has averaged 1,162 deaths a day over the past week. That surpasses the summer peak of 1,142 when southern sunbelt states were battling the outbreak.
All of this comes a week before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Public health experts including Dr. Fauci have issued warnings to the public. Thanksgiving has the potential to accelerate the pandemic’s already rapid spread as families gather indoors to celebrate.
But these pleas from Dr. Fauci and others are falling on deaf ears. United Airlines, for example, is adding 1,400 Thanksgiving flights in response to the growing demand for flights over the holiday.
And of course, the Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s holidays are just around the corner.
Buckle up. The days ahead will be bumpy.
The Big News
Dr. Fauci: Why People Need to Get a Covid Vaccine
Dr. Fauci had a warning on vaccines in 2021. Dr. Fauci said that at least 75% of society would need to take the Covid-19 vaccine (even if it has 95% efficacy) before it was safe to stop wearing masks and social distancing. That’s a very high threshold . . . especially since public health has become politicized. So, returning to normality could take longer than we think.
Bill Gates Foresees Permanent Changes
Bill Gates is in the same camp as Fed chairman Jay Powell. He predicted that, even after the pandemic, people’s habits will have changed. For example, Gates believes that business travel could halve over the long term. This would have obvious and massive economic implications.
AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine Shows Promise
The Oxford Covid-19 vaccine is showing promise. A study found that the vaccine – which will be manufactured by AstraZeneca – generates a strong immune response in the elderly. These Phase II findings on 560 healthy adults is especially encouraging. That’s because this vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures between 35.6°F and 46.4°F.
NY City to Close Schools Again
New York City’s entire public school system will close today. This signals that the second wave of the coronavirus has arrived in the Big Apple. The shutdown was prompted by the City hitting a 3% test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. It’s the nation’s largest system, with 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools. Schools have been open for in-person instruction for just under eight weeks.
The Smart Money?
A number of hedge funds sold positions in Moderna and BioNTech in the quarter before both companies announced vaccine breakthroughs. Breakthroughs, I might add, that sent their stock prices soaring. Very few hedge funds took stakes in the companies in that quarter. And this is the so-called “smart money”?
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Thursday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 56,358,603 Infected Worldwide
- 1,351,381 Deaths
- 11,530,345 Infected in the U.S.
- 250,548 Deaths in the U.S.
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Stocks remained under pressure Thursday despite positive vaccine updates. Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine is 95% effective after completing the final phase three trial analysis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 declined over 1%, and the Dow Transports index dropped 0.7% after hitting a record high. The small-cap Russell 2000 also dropped over 1% after achieving a fresh intra-day record high.
The problem is that the lack of progress on a new stimulus aid package is going to put a lot of pressure on companies and their earnings before the vaccines do their stuff.
Meanwhile the virus is showing no signs of slowing down. We passed the grim milestone of 250,000 dead Americans yesterday. And cases and hospitalizations are soaring.
However, I want to underscore that 2021 will be much brighter. And while temporary restrictions and lockdowns need to be endured, the back-to-normal trade is still “on.”
But you must be cautious.
For example, look at oil. Crude oil stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma rose 1.2 million barrels to 61.6 million barrels. That was the highest level since May.
Vaccines are not immediately on the horizon. The virus is ripping through the U.S. So, inventories will only continue to build over the winter. This will heap pressure on pricing, hurting any stock energy-related.
Meanwhile, the #1 biotech to buy now is going public. And shares could surge 454% after its huge IPO.
Yours in Health & Wealth,