How One Little State Beat the Virus


It looks like the Trump administration is waving the white flag. It is surrendering to the virus.

Over the weekend, President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said, “We are not going to control the pandemic.”

This seems to reflect the highly dangerous “herd immunity” strategy. This strategy is being pushed by Trump advisor Dr. Scott Atlas, who has no experience with contagious diseases.

But it does not have to be this way. The virus can be contained. For proof, look no further than the state of Vermont . . .

Vermont was hit with the first wave of the virus. It bordered on states that were hard-hit by the virus. And it has the third-oldest population in the country.

Yet, Vermont swiftly flattened its initial wave. And it has gone weeks at a time without a single new Covid-19 death!

Overall, fewer than 60 Vermonters have died. This gives the Green Mountain State the second-fewest deaths per capita.

If our country, as a whole, had the same per capita death rate as Vermont, the nationwide death toll would be only 30,000 instead of more than 225,000.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said about Vermont: “This should be the model for the country.”

So how did Vermont do it?

First, the politicians cooperated. A moderate Republican governor and Democrat-led legislature put any political bickering aside. The health of their citizens came first.

Next, Vermont reopened slowly. The lockdown from March is still gradually being lifted. Restaurants and bars are still limited to 50% of indoor capacity. Outdoor gatherings still have a 150-person limit.  

Local governments were given autonomy. They have the authority to set their own stricter rules.

Vermont also controlled its borders. Visitors are required to quarantine for two weeks if they arrive from places with higher infection rates.

And the state invested early in testing and contact tracing. It also implemented a state-wide mask mandate early on.

Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, summed up the secret to Vermont’s success: “They took action early, they let science lead, and they were consistent but willing to pivot when the science told them new strategies were needed.”    

The Big News

Pollen Reduces Spread of Coronavirus

Pollen could play a role in curbing the spread of the coronavirus, according to a new study in the Netherlands. Researchers noticed that the number of Covid-19 cases dropped during the blooming season – but went up sharply afterwards. The researchers wrote in a paper that appeared in the journal Science of the Total Environment:“Pollen is documented to be allergenic, it plays a role in immuno-activation and defense against respiratory viruses, and seems to create a bio-aerosol that lowers the reproduction number of flu-like viruses.”

Winter Is Coming

There is growing evidence there will be larger COVID-19 outbreaks in winter. SARS-CoV-2 favors cold, dry conditions, particularly out of direct sunlight, lab experiments show. And during winter, people will more often interact indoors in places with poor ventilation. However, the biggest factor is opportunity:  so many people remain vulnerable to infection when they fail at mask wearing and social distancing.

Trump Closes Vaccine Safety Department

Once Covid vaccines become common, who will monitor Americans’ reaction to it? Apparently, no one. Last year, the Trump administration quietly closed the National Vaccine Program Office. This agency was tasked to monitor the long-term safety of vaccines. That leaves no one in charge to monitor future vaccines, with responsibility scattered among several agencies.   

Vaccine Trials Resume

Major Covid-19 vaccine trials from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson were given the green light to restart on Friday. The FDA concluded it was safe to resume testing the experimental vaccines. The two drug makers’ U.S. trials had been paused as the Food and Drug Administration investigated whether serious adverse events could be linked to the vaccines. 

U.S. GDP Gain Expected

The big economic number of the week is out on Thursday. Third-quarter GDP will be the last major economic data point before the election. It’s expected to show a record-breaking 30% annualized surge. However, it follows a collapse of roughly the same size in the second quarter. That means the economy will still be down from where it was at the start of the pandemic.             

The Coronavirus Numbers

The U.S. has passed another grim milestone. More than a quarter of a million people have died from coronavirus. Here are the numbers from Monday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:

  • 43,121,946 Infected Worldwide
  • 1,154,746 Deaths Worldwide
  • 8,637,109 Infected in the U.S.
  • 225,239 Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

It’s set to be a very busy week, with earnings season moving into high gear.

Some 183 S&P 500 companies will report results this week. Many companies reporting include Big Tech. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet and Facebook are among the names to deliver quarterly updates.

I expect most companies to beat greatly lowered expectations.

Meanwhile, global central banks are in action aplenty. The European Central Bank, Bank of Japan and Bank of Canada are all holding policy meetings.

Speaking of tech, Germany’s SAP (NYSE: SAP) plunged 20% in Germany this morning after it cut its 2020 sales outlook. SAP cited weak demand for cloud services. This may have a knock-on effect on Amazon and Microsoft.

With the presidential election just around the corner, the stock market may continue to move sideways to down slightly as Wall Street awaits the outcome.

And of course, any headlines surrounding stimulus and the spread of the virus will generate volatility. So, expect volatility but no clear trend until the election is out of the way.

A Democrat clean sweep would unleash a massive deluge of stimulus. However, anticipation of a hike in capital gains tax could lead to a wave of tax-related selling before the end of the year.     

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Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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