Don’t Panic, America! Just Practice Social Distancing

The economy has been doing very well lately and I would prefer to be talking about this.  But, of course, we now have a more immediate problem to deal with.

The atmosphere in the U.S. about the coronavirus threat is almost panicky but consider:

  • There are currently 3115 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. and 60 deaths.
  • There have been 81,000 cases in China (with four times our population) so far and 3199 deaths.
  • China now reports that there are fewer and fewer new cases reported every day.
  • Since China, with a late start, has been able to get the virus under control in a ten week period, the U.S. with a sensible strategy, should be able to do the same.
  • Just in the last few days a very sensible strategy has sprung up spontaneously around the country: social distancing. Isolate yourself from other people to minimize your infection risk.
  • Also, the federal government has declared a national emergency and has set up a flu testing strategy with major businesses such as Walmart, CVS and Walgreens.

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  • Our economy is being hurt by the coronavirus outbreak, especially for transportation and entertainment. Cruise ships, airplanes and restaurants will all be badly affected.  In Omaha NE, where I live, both  the College World Series (each June) and the Berkshire Hathaway annual convention (each May) have been cancelled for 2020.  Omaha will thus take a big financial hit.
  • Performance theaters and art galleries in Omaha are suspending operations but not yet movie theaters and restaurants. This will also hurt the economy.
  • Economists are mixed on whether or not the U.S. is likely to go into recession  which requires two successive quarters of negative growth. We won’t know officially until October of this year, after the third quarter ends.
  • In the meantime, watch the monthly unemployment rate which activates the Sahm Signal indicator of recession. I will be watching this carefully and reporting on it.

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Summary.  The coronavirus is very serious.  The federal government is now responding forcefully even if it did delay initially.  Practice social distancing but without overreacting.  My wife and I (both retired) will continue most of our normal daily and weekly activities such as working out, meeting with others in small groups, going to movies and eating out at our favorite restaurants.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Panic, America! Just Practice Social Distancing

  1. The last flu pandemic began about 104 years ago, in Kansas. Historically, they have occurred every 70 years. Maybe the sum effects of our worldwide immunization efforts have paid off. I am feeling more positive about our nation’s survival knowing that our government is pursuing border control. It seems that several national experts suspect that we might only have six weeks until we know for sure how bad it’s really going to get. We may also receive a boost in our nation’s social cohesion. I’d say that the level of trust, cooperation, and reciprocity seems to have gathered it own momentum.

    Remember that the occurrence of tornados (annually), hurricanes (a 7-year cycle), massive earthquakes (every 300 years, last 1770), and national economic cycles (another story) are largely known. What is largely unknown is how to rebuild our nation’s eroding social cohesion that began about 1960. Social cohesion is especially important as a result of its connection with preventing, mitigating, and ameliorating the disaster effects occurring at the local community level.

    • Thanks for your long term perspective. I hope that you are right about the possible increase in social cohesion resulting from the new pandemic. That would be highly beneficial for American society.

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