Progress against the virus the U.S. seems to be stalling out.
The U.S. has had six weeks of incredible progress against Covid. But now, that momentum has stalled at a high plateau.
The U.S. is averaging about 55,000 new cases and 1,200 deaths per day. That is vastly better than the 250,000 daily cases and 3,300 daily deaths we saw on average just two months ago.
But what had been a rapid decline in case rates has slowed a lot since late February.
This slowing of the decline in cases comes despite the tremendous advancements in the vaccine rollout. It seems some states are fully reopening too soon.
Also, many people have already let down their guard against Covid risk. More Americans are traveling by air than at any other time during the pandemic.
And of course, Covid risk has risen as more contagious variants have emerged. These are becoming the more dominant as each day passes.
Vaccinations do continue to push the number of hospitalizations lower. But more people need to be vaccinated in order to not give back the gains in the fight against coronavirus.
The Big News
Brazil Variant: Existing Vaccines Can Work
Existing vaccines may protect against the Brazilian variant of the coronavirus. This is according to a University of Oxford study. The research data showed a nearly three-fold reduction in the level of virus neutralization by antibodies generated by the vaccines for the P.1 Brazil variant. That’s similar to the reduction seen with the variant first identified in Britain. It also highlighted how the South African variant poses the biggest headache for vaccine makers.
WHO Still Recommends AstraZeneca Vaccine
The benefits of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine far outweigh any risks. Countries across Europe should continue to use it to help save lives, the World Health Organization says. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said so far said it has found no link between the vaccine and any clotting or blood coagulation reports.
Covid Risk: It’s Good to Be a Kid
The CDC has published some Covid risk assessments by age. And it’s good to be a kid. The CDC said being a child aged 5 to 17 is 99.9% protective against the risk of death and 98% protective against hospitalization. For children 0 to 4, these Covid risk numbers are 99.9% (death) and 96% (hospitalization).
Vaccinations Outpace Biden’s 100-Day Goal
President Biden had promised to have 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days in office. On Thursday, he announced that the country would have administered 100 million vaccine doses by today, the 58th day of his presidency.
Online Shopping Surge to Last Past Pandemic
FedEx said it expects demand for its e-commerce shipping services will remain high for the “foreseeable future.” This comes after a pandemic-fueled surge in online orders drove up package volumes by double digits. FedEx and its rival UPS have benefited as consumers turned to shopping from home. FedEx reported that average daily package volume in its ground shipping business climbed by 25% year on year in the three months ending in February. Its express segment also handled more parcels, with average daily volume up 12%.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Friday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 121,882,440 Infected Worldwide
- 400,507,336 Vaccines Given Globally
- 2,692,806 Deaths
- 29,667,759 Infected in the U.S.
- 115,730,008 U.S. Vaccine Doses Administered
- 539,699 Deaths in the U.S.
The markets-versus-the-economy drama continues to unfold.
The Fed gave a bullish outlook on the economic recovery this week. And the central bank left its dovish course of monetary policy unchanged. That creates perfect conditions for a market rally, some might say.
But after stocks closed at record highs on Wednesday, the mood changed on Thursday. Yields popped, clobbering tech stocks . . . the US 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.75%, the Nasdaq fell 3%.
If the Fed wants to run the economy hot, the latest Philly Fed index suggests it’s already there. The index for current manufacturing activity in the region jumped from a reading of 23.1 in February to 51.8 for March, its highest point in nearly 50 years. The current new orders index also increased to a 50-year high, rising 28 points to 50.9 in March. And inflation again reared its head as companies reported price pressures from purchased inputs. The prices paid index rose from 54.4 to 75.9, its highest reading since March 1980.
These kinds of readings may become normal over the next few months. If it does, it will push yields even higher.
The big question is this: At what point will the Fed intervene? I don’t think it will buckle quickly. This will exert more pressure on yields. That could potentially lead to some kind of “tantrum” . . . not good news for stocks, particularly growth and tech.
Yours in Health & Wealth,