Fear of the coronavirus is causing shutdowns on a global scale like we have never seen before. Just about every major sporting event that you can think of has been either canceled or postponed, schools and universities are keeping students away, global tourism is absolutely collapsing, churches are being shuttered, conferences and festivals are being taken off the calendar, businesses are asking workers to work from home, and even Disneyland is being closed down. Over the past several days the wave of closings and cancellations has become an avalanche, and all of our lifestyles are going to be dramatically altered for the foreseeable future.
For the first few days, a lot of people are actually going to enjoy this “free vacation”. After all, what kid doesn’t enjoy time off from school, and there are lots of Americans that relish the opportunity to work from home.
But as the weeks drag on and the economy grinds to a standstill, this “free vacation” will start evolving into a horror show.
The more this coronavirus spreads, the more restrictions we will see on human interaction throughout the western world, and that has very serious implications.
Yes, there is much that we can do through the Internet today, but most economic activity still requires at least some actual human interaction. So when authorities restrict human interaction they are actually choking off trade.
I can’t think of too many other things that could trigger an economic collapse faster than a global pandemic could. We had better pray that life will get back to normal in a few weeks, because a complete and utter economic nightmare is ahead if that does not happen.
Unfortunately, life is not likely to get back to normal any time soon. The number of confirmed cases continues to grow at an exponential rate, and those that are getting infected now will be able to infect others for weeks to come…
Researchers looking at cases in China say patients could spread the virus for up to 37 days after they start showing symptoms, according to the study published in the British medical journal The Lancet.
On average, survivors still had the virus in their respiratory system for about 20 days and could presumably continue to spread the disease, researchers found.
So how long will it be before this pandemic is finally over?
Will it be months?
Could it be years?
Don’t forget, the Spanish Flu pandemic lasted from January 1918 to December 1920.
I think that Wall Street is starting to grasp the reality of what we are potentially facing. On Thursday, we witnessed the largest single day stock market point crash in American history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2,352 points, and that shattered the “old record” of 2,013 points that was just set on Monday. Overall, the Dow was down 9.99 percent, and that was the biggest percentage decline since the nightmarish stock market crash of 1987.
Incredibly, European stocks did even worse on Thursday. In fact, it was the worst day ever for stock markets in Europe.
We have never seen a time when the entire western world has been in the process of literally shutting down simultaneously. The following is how a Slate article described what we are currently witnessing…
Virtually every activity that entails or facilitates in-person human interaction seems to be in the midst of a total meltdown as the coronavirus outbreak erases Americans’ desire to travel. The NBA, NHL, and MLB have suspended their seasons. Austin’s South by Southwest canceled this year’s festival and laid off a third of its staff. Amtrak says bookings are down 50 percent and cancelations are up 300 percent; its CEO is asking workers to take unpaid time off. Hotels in San Francisco are experiencing vacancy rates between 70 and 80 percent. Broadway goes dark on Thursday night. The CEOs of Southwest and JetBlue have both compared the impact of COVID-19 on air travel to 9/11. (That was before President Trump banned air travel from Europe on Wednesday night.) Universities, now emptying their campuses, have never tried online learning on this scale. White-collar companies like Amazon, Apple, and the New York Times (and Slate!) are asking employees to work from home for the foreseeable future.
On top of everything else, March Madness has been canceled for the first time ever…
The NCAA will not crown a men’s or women’s basketball champion in 2020.
Conceding defeat to the COVID-19 virus and a cascade of uncertainty about how bad its ongoing spread might impact public health across the United States, the NCAA announced Thursday all its winter and spring championships have been canceled after a series of moves across multiple sports leagues that foreshadowed the eventual arrival at this decision.
I can’t even imagine the heartbreak that many of those athletes are feeling right now.
They have been training all of their lives to fight for a championship, and now that opportunity has been taken away.
Sadly, just about every major sporting event has either been canceled or will be canceled shortly.
Of course the business world has been thrown into chaos as well. Companies all across America are going to great lengths to minimize human interaction, and all sorts of non-essential activities are being eliminated.
Even a New York seminar entitled “Doing Business Under Coronavirus” has been canceled because of the coronavirus.
In the days ahead, the list of public gatherings that are still happening will probably be much shorter than the list of public gatherings that have been canceled.
All of this is being done to save lives.
But in the process, it is going to absolutely kill the economy.
At this point, President Trump is even thinking about imposing “travel restrictions within the United States”…
REPORTER: Are you considering travel restrictions within the United States, such as to Washington State or California? [Emphasis added]
TRUMP: We haven’t discussed that yet. Is it a possibility? Yes. If somebody gets a little bit out of control, if an area gets too hot. You see what they’re doing in New Rochelle, which is — which is good, frankly. It’s the right thing. But then it’s not enforced, it’s not very strong but people know that they’re being watched … New Rochelle, that’s a hotspot.
Can you imagine the giant temper tantrum that we would see if that actually happened?
Earlier today, the top headline on CNN was “America’s way of life changes indefinitely”, and for once they got it exactly right.
As long as this virus is spreading out of control, decision makers all over the western world are going to be afraid to resume normal activities.
Just think about it. If you are a decision maker and you resume normal operations too quickly, someone could get sick and die. Not only could that cost you your job, but it could also get you sued into oblivion.
In our overly litigious society, the threat of lawsuits is going to play a major factor in this crisis. In fact, I am sure that some people are already in contact with their lawyers.
Hopefully the measures that are being taken will help to reduce the spread of this virus. But as one of my good friends has pointed out, even if the U.S. was totally locked down for 30 days, this virus would just keep coming back into the U.S. from other countries that are not locked down.
So the truth is that we would need the entire globe to be completely locked down for an extended period of time to really defeat this pandemic, and that simply is not going to happen.
Many among the elite can see what is happening, and they are taking off in their private jets to their “holiday homes or specially prepared disaster bunkers”…
Like hundreds of thousands of people across the world, the super-rich are preparing to self-isolate in the face of an escalation in the coronavirus crisis. But their plans extend far beyond stocking up on hand sanitiser and TV boxsets.
The world’s richest people are chartering private jets to set off for holiday homes or specially prepared disaster bunkers in countries that, so far, appear to have avoided the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Of course most of us do not have that option.
Most of us are going to have to ride this thing out right where we are, and that reality is causing a lot of people to completely panic. Just check out what is happening in New York…
Panicked New Yorkers rushed to stock up on essentials forming long lines and clearing shelves of produce as Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in the city due the coronavirus outbreak.
He made the decision on Thursday afternoon saying the last 24 hours had been ‘very, very sobering’ and that the world had been turned ‘upside down’ in just a day.
The announcement immediately sparked furious panic shopping from New Yorkers as grocery stores across the city saw chaos and frantic stockpiling with residents fearing the worst.
Sadly, this is just the beginning.
As things go from bad to worse, we are likely to see fear and panic on a scale that is absolutely unprecedented.
But as I discussed yesterday, now is not a time for fear.
During any major crisis, cool heads and calm hearts are needed. The days ahead are going to be full of challenges, and by God’s grace we shall do our very best to meet those challenges.