Headlines were dire around the coronavirus on Tuesday.
Spain reported 849 new deaths, marking the fourth day in five the country has seen record fatalities. The total death toll is now 8,189. Cases rose to 94,417, representing a truly disconcerting one-day surge of 9,222.
In Russia, where a nationwide lockdown is in the offing, total infections jumped to 2,337. Out of 500 new cases reported overnight, 387 were in Moscow, where residents will soon need QR-codes to walk their dogs, according to some reports.
China, meanwhile, unveiled data on asymptomatic cases, which the country says total 1,541.
There are in excess of 800,000 cases globally. More than 62,000 new infections were reported on Monday alone.
In the US, New York City’s death toll rose 16% in six hours. The state has more than 67,000 cases and more than 1,200 fatalities. The United States infection total rose to 164,600 on Tuesday morning, on the way to “millions”, according to what Anthony Fauci told CNN on Sunday.
For reference, New York now has nearly as many cases as Hubei, where it all began in December. Here’s some context:
“This is like a fire through dry grass with a strong wind behind it”, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told MSNBC on Monday night. “New York is just the test case for this. We’re the canary in the coal mine. There is no American who is immune from the virus”.
“We are at war against a virus, which has a devastating impact on families and societies”, Rabobank wrote Monday. “The health crisis has morphed into an economic crisis [and] hopes of a V-shaped recovery appear elusive, and are replaced by U- or W-shaped recoveries. It’s going pear-shaped, really”.
Trump administration officials – notably Fauci – have variously warned that deaths in the US could climb as high as 200,000. On Sunday, Trump cited a worst-case estimate from a model that showed 2.2 million Americans dying if containment measures weren’t put in place and/or were abandoned prematurely.
Late Monday, the US passed a grim milestone. More people have been killed by COVID-19 than the 9/11 attacks.
“The virus’s death toll in the US hit more than 3,100 on March 30, exceeding the 2,977 victims who were killed in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and four hijacked planes on September 11”, Mother Jones writes, adding that “while the virus is incomparable in many ways to the sudden deaths on American soil in a terrorist attack, its slow-moving toll on civilian lives promises to upend American society in peacetime as only terror has done”.
Although many will surely criticize and otherwise critique the comparison, the wartime parallels are piling up alongside the infection total.
Indeed, the last time the USNS Comfort (which sailed past the Statue of Liberty to cheers on Monday) docked in New York City was after 9/11, when it was stationed off Manhattan’s West Side.
There are reasons to be optimistic, though. “This is an unprecedented situation, so we can’t just assume that the bearish outlook is set in stone”, Rabobank said, in the same note mentioned above, adding the following:
Never before have so many resources been channelled at finding ways to mitigate a virus. Hopes are pinned on vaccines, medicines, testing and increased health care capacity. Plenty of cash is also thrown at households and businesses, but we should see more of this if the health crisis takes longer than policy makers currently envisage. If households come out of this crisis relatively all right, there will be a combustible mix of low rates, low inflation, rising asset prices, low inventories, and plenty of fiscal stimulus.
And yet, it’s hard to escape the feeling that once this is all over, the world will never be the same – for better or for worse.