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Wuhan Virus Watch: Steven Mnuchin Says Economy Will Rebound Over the Summer

Wuhan Virus Watch: Steven Mnuchin Says Economy Will Rebound Over the Summer

Experts worry ‘quarantine fatigue’ is starting. Doctors in France and New York begin testing new drugs. Sewage testing used to determine extent of asymptomatic carriers.

Let’s start this week’s updates with some hopeful news.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin believes the American economy will “bounce back” quickly from the coronavirus crisis over the summer.

In an interview Sunday with Fox News, the former Goldman Sachs banker said as the nation’s small businesses begin to reopen in May and June, the economy will quickly rebound in July, August and September.

“This is not the financial crisis,” Mnuchin told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. “This is a scenario where we’ve closed the economy. And we are going to open the economy.”

His reentry projection is based on the government’s stimulus package which is set to pump trillions of dollars into small businesses and checking accounts for weeks to come. The relief trickled out after millions lost jobs and nonessential businesses were instructed to close shop until further notice because of COVID-19.

Experts worry ‘quarantine fatigue’ is starting

At least this is one assessment that the experts are getting right.

Researchers tracking smartphone data say they recently made a disturbing discovery: For the first time since states began implementing stay-at-home orders in mid-March to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, Americans are staying home less.

The nationwide shift during the week of April 13 was relatively slight. However, any loss of momentum, particularly when stay-in-place orders remain in effect across most of the country, has some public health experts worried about “quarantine fatigue.” Any increase in travel, they say, is premature when staying home remains the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus until widespread testing and contact tracing become available.

“We saw something we hoped wasn’t happening, but it’s there,” said Lei Zhang, lead researcher and director of the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland. “It seems collectively we’re getting a little tired. It looks like people are loosening up on their own to travel more.”

French researchers to give nicotine patches to coronavirus patients

The French noticed that smokers had statistically significantly fewer infections with the Wuhan Coronavirus, despite the virus’ impact on the respiratory system. So, its researchers are going to take their findings to the next step.

French researchers are planning to trial whether nicotine patches will help prevent – or lessen the effects of – the deadly coronavirus.

Evidence is beginning to show the proportion of smokers infected with coronavirus is much lower than the rates in the general population.

Scientists are now questioning whether nicotine could stop the virus from infecting cells, or if it may prevent the immune system overreacting to the infection.

Doctors at a major hospital in Paris – who also found low rates of smoking among the infected – are now planning to give nicotine patches to COVID-19 patients.

They will also give them to frontline workers to see if the stimulant has any effect on preventing the spread of the virus, according to reports.

New York hospitals are quietly testing a heartburn drug as a treatment

Meanwhile, doctors at the heart of the American epidemic are testing out a heartburn drug to determine if it is an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Northwell Health had tested famotidine (sold in oral form under brand name Pepcid) on 187 critically ill patients out of an intended 1,174 as of Saturday as part of an American trial.

Interim results from 391 patients should be available in ‘a few weeks’ Kevin Tracey, a former neurosurgeon in charge of Northwell’s research told Science magazine.

Interest in the drug amid the pandemic developed after doctors in Wuhan found that although one in five COVID-19 patients over the age of 80 were dying, of the survivors, many were taking pills for heartburn.

Scientists are using sewage to measure the prevalence of coronavirus in communities

The quest to determine how many asymptomatic carriers there are in this country continues.

Groups of scientists around the world are using wastewater testing as a non-invasive way to measure the prevalence of coronavirus in their communities.

Local governments in the US are also turning to the tests, which detect traces of coronavirus genetic material — known as RNA — in fecal matter.

The data can be used to gain a sense of how many people may have had the virus asymptomatically and are passing it through, in addition to those testing positive because they are outwardly sick, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer told CNN.

His county in Delaware has partnered with Biobot — an MIT-based startup — to screen wastewater for coronavirus. Biobot is testing sewage in 150 facilities across 30 states, according to a company spokeswoman.


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Speaking as a woman who has her hair streaked three times a year to make me look less mousey brown (Okay, and to hide a few gray hairs too!), I am hoping Cuomo will allow barber shops and salons to reopen VERY soon.

I think looking good goes a long way in feeling good and because most of us are not looking our best, if we can at least be allowed to look better, our mental outlook might be less gray too.

    My barber returned from his quarantine in Czechoslovakia with neon green hair. Being a wiseguy, I asked him “Did you quarantine make you hair turn prematurely neon green?

    I’ve been dying my wife’s hair for years, and cutting my own – but we’re getting dangerously close to me having to cut her hair … and my only move is the crew cut … fortunately, I own several ball caps …

Quarantine fatigue is being triggered by the government’s fuzzy explanations based on dubious data that is obviously being shaped to fit a narrative that argues for “caution” for fear of a “second wave” etc…. The problem is that many of us are reading ALL of the studies that Dr. Fauci tells us to ignore and are coming to our own conclusions. Fauci is a Chinese government tool.

Getting out there without “permission” is an in-your-face response by we citizens that we aren’t buying into it and don’t believe the “experts”. So we are staging an already substantial legal insurrection to remind the government that our rights are not theirs to take away. So… shoot us? Keep fudging the statistics?

Time to make the donuts.

    rightway in reply to Pasadena Phil. | April 27, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Until we develop a vaccine (not guaranteed) or develop herd immunity we will continue to experience spikes whenever lock downs are lifted. It is beginning to look like the Swedes are right. Let the young and healthy get through it to develop herd immunity to protect the elderly and at risk.

    I am also sick of “scientist” calling “models” of complex systems with almost infinite variables science. It isn’t. It is statistics. Faulty assumptions and incomplete data, with a bias towards extreme results (just to be safe) result in worthless prediction of catastrophic global warming and pandemics.

      OH Deplorable in reply to rightway. | April 27, 2020 at 11:15 am

      That model is based on the NYC experience. The place that has the highest population density of any place in the country. The place that isn’t able to function without their roaming petri dish (subway system). The place where every death is chronicled as being caused by Corona Virus, no matter what the real reason is. The place where the Governor forced uncontaminated nursing homes to accept contaminated patients.

        Olinser in reply to OH Deplorable. | April 27, 2020 at 7:23 pm

        The simple fact that the CDC hasn’t demanded New York shut down the subway tells you that this entire lockdown is pure bullshit.

        If this were actually about controlling the virus the subway would have shut down day 1 or been covered in bleach at every line changeover.

        Telling people they aren’t allowed to take a walk alone in the park while allowing them to pack hundreds shoulder to shoulder in ludicrously unsanitary subway cars THAT AREN’T EVEN BEING REGULARLY CLEANED makes ZERO SENSE.

        The longer they demand this go on the more obvious it is that this was never about the fucking virus.

      My understanding of the nature of the Wuhan virus is that it is related to the common cold. There is no vaccine for the common cold. Or for that matter, there is no vaccine for the common flu either. Yet we don’t shut down economy for them. We just take reasonable precautions.

      Interesting that Dr. Brix becomes the spokesperson now that the daily briefings have been suspended. Let’s see if she plans on continuing stonewalling the herd immunity solution now that As is becoming clear this has been a political game of fear via narrative based on largely manufactured data. Maybe a lot of CYA by Fauci too.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to Pasadena Phil. | April 27, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    So much motivated reasoning, fed by so many massaged factoids.

    Yes, things will never be the same after the Kung-Flu. To get on with living our lives, individually need to know a few things, n have a few things.

    — Get some facts. How far does it spread, how long does contamination last, how much exposure will get you sick?

    — Translate those into robust, livable protocols for us. “Close everything.” is not livable; “Close what random governors want to close.” is not robust.

    — Develop empirically valid mitigations. “You’re exposed, let’s roll those dice.” is not good enough. How to throw onto the CowPox vs. SmallPox track: limited course of disease, creating robust immunity.

    — Ubiquitous, cheap, robust testing would be nice.

    — Stuff that’ll help would … er … help. Why are there not pallets of masks n isopropyl on every street corner? Why are people improvising their own masks, and why can’t I buy a bottle of isopropyl? (Good general health seems to impact infetion and course of disease. So, we’re blowing up the food supply chain, creating shortages of veggies n meat, making people stay home n get fat, and feeding them stress. Truly clever.)

    The higher-order failure is useless people having a fine old time telling people, subjects, us, what to do en mass — not their job — vs. doing with us the things we need to do together — their actual job. They are our agents.

    So, research, fundamental and applied. Specs n guidelines. Goosing supply chains. Information, information, and more information. And quit trying to direct everything, for everybody, everywhere.

If healthy people continue to stay home, their immune systems will weaken. Maybe the media doesn’t want this to get around?

Our Rights. Reclaim them or lose them. It can happen here.

    Mr. Whitewall (and Pasadena Phil, above):
    I’ve forgotten who said it, but with regard to our bill of rights, IIRC, when one of our founders was challenged as to their necessity, he pointed out that; these men promise to be kind masters, but they will be our masters.

      When our rights are secured in our constitution as being INALIENABLE God-given rights, a constitution that specifically enumerates ONLY 3 specific rights to the federal government, there is no ambiguity about who is right.

      To quote Thomas Jefferson, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” The bill of rights is laid out to put the government on notice that their existence is not a right but rather the result of our tolerance.

      It’s ultimately up to us to make all of this true. If we don’t mean it and aren’t willing to take risks when we are still in the game, we will lose our freedoms forever. Once you vote away your rights or allow the government to take them away from you without your consent, those rights are gone for good. We don’t get to vote our rights back.

      We frogs better jump out of the boiling pot while we still can. The Masters of the Universe are about to put the lid down.

I wish Mnuchin didn’t sound so much like past Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, who spent all of 1930 and 1931 promising that “Prosperity is just around the corner!!!”

The virus is just about over, agreed, but the economic damage we’ve done to ourselves is just starting to be felt. We’re going to be very lucky just to get back down to 15% unemployment by election day.

I’m sporting a double-barreled version of the french twist. It looks good, and it keeps my hair from burying me.

In my area of San Diego County, they are still refusing to test people who are symptomatic for coronavirus, if they aren’t yet sick enough to be hospitalized. This is no way to end an epidemic.

In my opinion, the State of California is not using this shutdown time to test, trace, and treat the epidemic. We might as well open up.

    Looks like CA citizens will open up the state themselves. Newport Beach was crowded this weekend and not everyone there is named Dennis Rodman. These are mostly local residents since there is not parking available for non-residents. This is a very liberal place so the legal insurrection is already non-partisan. Nobody likes neighborhood commissars telling them what to do.

American Human | April 27, 2020 at 12:18 pm

I believe he is correct. I don’t know the rate it will recover but think about it. During a recession, the underlying business is not there and the economy reflects that and really, until the government gets out of the way, an economy will not move.

Here, the businesses are there and ready to go and raring at the bit to take off. It will be like the starting line at a horse race, the horses are nervous and antsy to get started and once the gate opens…off they go at full speed.

However, many businesses will not recover and haven’t closed their doors temporarily but permanently because their margins were slim and without this, they have not been able to make mortgage/rent/lease/supplier etc. payments and even if the doors open today, they will not be at the starting line.

My wife and I will be visiting some small stores in our downtown area to buy some stuff when they open back up. There is a local candy maker (yummmmm) and a store that sells nice clothing and such. Every dollar helps!

I do expect, though, that this will be a rapid recovery.

There is no way the economy bounces back quickly, we have no idea the temporary way we are conducting business is incorporated into permanent change.
How does the travel / leisure / hospitality business change and how fast do they recover? Are conventions and business travel ever recover after more and more are doing the teleconference thing? How many working from home return to the office?
How many people will have available cash for vacations?

    Whitewall in reply to buck61. | April 27, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    We may have a series of ‘W’ recoveries up to election. After election all bets are off, depending.

Politicians and reality are strangers, even at local level. Here in NW Ohio (Toledo), the Mayor, while encouraging a permanent income tax increase, told of it’s stimulus effect by allowing public works spending. I wonder why the tax shouldn’t be higher, as that would stimulate even more.

What a load of manure from Mnuchin.

The economy is not going to rebound quickly. The main reason for this is that it always takes a complex system, such as the US economy, many times as long to rebound from any interruption as the period of the interruption itself. Add to that the nature oif the disruption, in this case a cataclysmic one, and the rebound period is lengthened even further. Finally, add in the fact that the global economy has been shut down as well and the boost from foreign trade is eliminated.

Here is the situation. First, unemployment has reduced the actual consumer class. In order for a consumer economy to work, consumers have to possess discretionary funds to spend on non-essentials such as restaurants, entertainment, clothing, automobiles, travel, vacations, small appliances, etc. These discretionary funds have been severely depleted if not wiped out. And, as the cost of necessities rises, this makes accumulation of discretionary funds, by the consumer class, harder. This means that businesses and industries will not rebound quickly. Also, small businesses will either not reopen or will fail. This means that laid off workers will remain laid off until the economy recovers. All of this extends the time for the recovery.

Then you have business liabilities. Businesses still have creditors. They still have to pay rent, suppliers, taxes, loans, etc. These liabilities do not simply disappear and the businesses are on the hook for them, regardless of what the consumer market looks like. Now, if businesses can not pay their bills, what happens to the entities which depend upon those bills being paid? Landlords suffer. Suppliers suffer. Financial institutions suffer. Taxpayers suffer as government services are decreased or they have to additional taxes or fees.

The Kung Flu lasted six months and the number of people who directly suffered from it was very small. The resulting economic downturn, due to the draconian measures used in response to the virus, will last years and negatively affect an exponentially larger number of people. The politicians of the world engaged in the equivalent of shooting the patient in the head because he had a slight infection on his foot.

Now, the economy will reopen. It will reopen because people are becoming desperate and they will force its opening. But, the next question is who is going to pay for the damage done by closing it in the first place? The second question is will we ever allow incompetent boobs and/or malevolent actors to knife us in the back again? We shall see.

I picked a bad year to stop smoking (last week January 2020) but am still using lozenges. wonder if that helps.

“Any increase in travel, they say, is premature when staying home remains the most effective way to limit the spread of the virus until widespread testing and contact tracing become available.”

They keep saying this. No one has provided evidence that it is true, or has worked.