Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere begins in April, and people braced for the impact of the flu and COVID-19. However, the months came and went while the flu seemed nonexistent. Experts believe that mask wearing, travel restrictions, social distancing and school closures contributed to the decreased amount of cases. Those practices that were implemented for COVID are also effective in combating the flu. South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South American countries are reporting similar findings. These countries put lock downs and strict travel restrictions in place. New Zealand was able to go nearly 3 months without a COVID-19 case while other countries in the world were spiking.
For the first time since March, U.S. jobless claims have fallen to under 1 million. The estimate for initial claims was 1.1 million and ended the week at 963,000. Continued claims were 15.5 million against an estimate of 15.8 million. This report had ended a 20-week streak were initial claims were above the 1 million mark. Pre-pandemic jobless claims were around 250,000. While the labor market continues to show improvement, the total levels of unemployment remain elevated.
Public colleges and universities are not immune from the financial distress in the wake of Covid-19. “Public colleges and universities across the nation have had to spend enormous sums of money to support their students through the pandemic; switch to online education; and issue refunds to students for parking, housing, and dining services for the period of time when they were not on campus in the spring.” While there is the CARES Act to provide funding for these institutions, the funding verses the lost revenue is leaving a huge divide.
In an historic weekend, the NASA and SpaceX launched two U.S. astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into space for landing on the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk and plans to expand its galaxy travel to flights around the moon and direct to Mars. The Mars flights would (hopefully) result in the establishment of cities on Mars and a million occupants of the planet.
Over the past seven weeks, more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment. President Trump is looking for the states to relax their social distancing guidelines, but the number of virus cases is still rising. The CDC has prepared guidelines to reopen the country, but the administration has rejected them stating they are too “prescriptive.” The guidance, while not being currently available to the public, was intended to help establish measures that keep the virus from spreading once areas begin reopening. Economists are not optimistic that economies will rebound quickly. Even as restrictions lift, people will remain leery of being in public places with large groups of people. Further adding to fears are the increased number of cases of the virus in the states that are relaxing restrictions.
As Passover begins and Easter approaches, many families will continue social distancing through a time that they would generally spend these holidays with their loved ones. This disruption to life as we know it has mental health experts warning about the impact of mental trauma. Feelings like anxiety and depression might start to impact people now and into the next few months. Families are stuck inside and those who live alone are cut off from their daily interactions.
It’s no secret that you cannot go anywhere without hearing about pandemics and the coronavirus, but the lingering question is what will happen to me? The number of global cases has grown exponentially but containment and the latest trend of “social distancing” is attempting to slow the spread. These measures would not prevent the illness but slow its impact on the communities and associated consequences. The concept is simple – stay away from large gatherings of people, keep yourself home if you feel sick, and wash your hands.
As the market closed on Monday, the stocks had taken a sharp decline. Not since December 2018 had all three benchmarks fell by more than 3% on the same day. The S&P 500 was down 111.85, the Dow was down 1031.40, and the Nasdaq was down 355.31. “Monday’s downturn has wiped out this year’s gains for the Dow (now -2.02%) and the S&P 500 (now -0.15%).”
As the world continues to take precautions against the Coronavirus epidemic, scientists are feverishly looking for a vaccine. The virus is still being considered an epidemic – meaning more than a normal number of cases are being reported in a specific area or among a specific group of people. It is still not being considered a pandemic. “A pandemic is an epidemic that occurs across several countries and affects a sizable portion of the population in each, although there’s no formal definition of what constitutes ‘sizable.’” The last pandemic was the H1N1 flu in 2009 that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Using the terminology of pandemic would incite a new level of global fear.