Is Mitch McConnell Scared of Trump?

Mitch McConnell

New research shows that a new coronavirus carrier in town could pass the virus to eight other people.

Modeling from a team of data scientists suggests that the basic reproduction number (R0) of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in both Wuhan, China at the beginning of the outbreak and the United States recently is quite similar at around 8. The study was published in a non-peer-reviewed paper posted in a few weeks ago.

This number is significantly more than previous estimates, according to this new study by Chinese scientists. Most previous estimates of the R0 ranged from 2 to 4 for Covid-19. This was similar to the number from the SARS outbreak.

For perspective, the R0 of the 1918 pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus was 2.2 to 2.9. For measles – a  highly infectious disease – the R0 can be from 12 to 18.

Unfortunately, this rapid virus spread will continue to happen here in the United States “in the absence of control measures,” the researchers said.

A separate study in July by a research team from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University school of medicine found the R0 in the U.S. reached 8.2, one of the highest in the world.    

These results raised the question of whether the infectivity of the virus had increased over time.

And indeed, the virus has mutated. The dominant virus strains circulating around the globe today carry D614G. This is a mutated gene that could increase the number of spike proteins used by the virus to bind with the host cells.

This question, though, is still being debated by scientists.

The Big News

Get Ready Northeast. The Second Wave Is Starting

States across the Northeast are witnessing a troubling rise in cases. This leads many to believe this is the beginning of the second wave of the virus. Boston halted plans to brings kids back to school as virus cases soared. And new case clusters are emerging in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. There are a number of reasons for the uptick in cases. The weather has turned colder . . . students have returned to schools and college campuses, and Northeasterners may be growing weary of social distancing and wearing masks.  

Mitch McConnell Shuns White House

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has avoided visiting the White House for more than two months because of its handling of the coronavirus. The 78-year-old lawmaker spoke to reporters Thursday. “I actually haven’t been to the White House since August 6, because my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different from mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” Mitch McConnell said.

Coronavirus Fragments Hard to Kill

Fragments of the coronavirus that are no longer infectious can linger on surfaces wiped down with bleach for as long as eight days. That’s according to the authors of a recent study published in mSystems. Over the weekend, another study suggested the virus could stay stable on human skin for up to nine hours.           

China Joins COVAX

China has joined a global plan for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine backed by the World Health Organization (WHO). This gives a major boost to the initiative named COVAX shunned by President Trump. So far, 171 nations have joined the program to back equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for rich and poor countries alike. COVAX is co-led by the GAVI vaccines alliance (founded by Bill and Melinda Gates), the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).               

Stimulus Talks: Waiting for Godot

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are still talking about a potential compromise on additional federal aid. The sticking point is that President Trump is interested in only a “skinny” aid bill that targets specific groups. Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke for many when he said, “The discussion from day to day can be confusing for all of us to follow.” The odds for a deal remain dim. 

The Coronavirus Numbers

Here are the numbers from Friday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:

  • 36,565,929 Infected Worldwide
  • 1,062,636 Deaths
  • 7,607,890 Infected in the U.S.
  • 212,789 Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

The stock market remains decoupled from the realities of the economy. That is all thanks to the vast amount of Fed stimulus and liquidity. So, nothing has changed there.

It was interesting to note, though, that Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan is still a rare “hawk” on the Fed.

He said there is no need for additional asset purchases on top of the Fed’s $120 billion-a-month program. Kaplan said that “the bond-buying needs to curtail, the Fed balance sheet growth needs to curtail.”

However, a Fed paper this week suggested it could increase asset purchases by $3.5 trillion to boost the economy! And the Fed’s position remains that it will continue to purchase assets at least at the current clip.

But even the hawkish Kaplan is almost on his knees pleading with Congress to get off their backsides. He said that another round of economic stimulus is crucial to any longer-term economic recovery.

Hopes for that economic stimulus will keep the stock market moving higher  although volatility will rise as Election Day approaches.

BTW, gold is making higher lows and now pushing up to the top of the recent trading range channel. The resistance at $1,920 still needs to be cleared. It is challenging that level this morning.

As Election Day nears, gold should rise further because of the uncertainty surrounding the election outcome.

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Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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