Starting next week, the US should see the beginnings of a turnaround in the fight against the coronavirus, Anthony Fauci told Fox News, in an interview on Wednesday.
He also confirmed that tentative discussions around restarting the economy are in the works. “That doesn’t mean we’ll do it right now”, he cautioned, noting that this is most assuredly not the time to scale back social distancing efforts.
Sources say the administration will lean on widespread testing as part of a bid to jump start the world’s most formidable economic machine, which was deliberately shut off last month in a bid to contain a deadly pathogen that, through Wednesday, had killed more than 83,000 people globally.
In a coma
Although US cases approached 400,000, this week brought more figures to suggest the trajectory is leveling off.
Fatalities will obviously (and sadly) continue to rise – deaths are a lagging indicator. But hospitalization and new case trends offer some glimmers of hope both domestically and abroad.
New York, for example, had seen three straight days of falling new infections through Tuesday, while hospital admissions remain far below levels seen last week. ICU admissions are down sharply as well.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has been adamant over the past 48 hours that New York City should count those dying in their homes as part of the official death toll.
“The blunt truth is coronavirus is driving these very tragic deaths”, de Blasio told CNN. “We’re not talking about, you know, 10 people, 20 people. We’re talking about something like 100, 200 people per day”.
“What I’ve said to our health care experts is we should just acknowledge this is overwhelmingly being driven by the coronavirus”, he remarked, in a separate interview with Fox 5. “Not every death but clearly the vast majority are related to the coronavirus. We should count them as part of the overall very painful count”.
Apparently, the NYC Fire Department has seen as many as 200 daily deaths at home in the past two weeks, around eight times the normal rate.
De Blasio also said the city has enough ventilators to last through the week and cautioned that it’s important to avoid “false dawn” scenarios when it comes to reading the data on leading indicators.
New York state is expecting a big budget hit from the virus, likely on the order of $10-15 billion.
ISM’s gauge of New York City business activity plunged 39 points for March to 12.9, the lowest reading in history. Simply put, the “city that never sleeps” is in a coma.
The six-month outlook gauge tumbled to the lowest in more than a decade. It was 33 in February of 2009 and 31 in November of 2008.
New guidance, new normal
“It looks at degree of exposure and really making it clear that exposure occurs within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes, so really understanding where you shouldn’t be within 6 feet of people right now”, Deborah Birx told CBS on Wednesday, commenting on proposed CDC guidance that would allow people exposed to an infected individual to return to work if they are asymptomatic, take their temperature twice daily and wear a mask.
The new proposal, reported by AP, may be rolled out as soon as today.
Meanwhile, abroad, Spain saw the largest daily case increase in four days, daily infections in Iran fell, and Belgium suffered its deadliest day of the epidemic, as 205 people died in the last 24 hours, although officials said the outbreak is likely nearing its peak in the country.
The World Health Organization is cautious. “To think we’re close to an endpoint would be dangerous”, Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, said at a briefing.
“We have got to ensure that the public understands we’re moving to a new phase”, the organization’s Bruce Aylward, a member of a mission to Spain, added. “It’s not lifting lockdowns and going back to normal. It’s a new normal”.
Donald Trump on Tuesday warned the US may pull funding for WHO, due to what the US president suggested is a “bias” towards Beijing’s version of events.
“After months of living the way that we all live now, it is natural to expect the desire to go back to normal as soon as possible”, CIBC wrote, in a note dated Wednesday.
“As a society, we should resist that temptation”, the bank remarked, on the way to cautioning that “the 1918 pandemic came in three waves, as an early flattening of the curve led to a premature increase in activity”.
Nobody tell Michael Burry.