Texas Freezes Reopening Push As Houston Faces ‘Apocalyptic’ July 4th

“Suddenly the virus matters again”, Rabobank’s Michael Every wrote Thursday, referencing the market’s adverse reaction to this week’s deluge of dour headlines around COVID outbreaks in a handful of “problem” states.

“Stock markets [are] discovering that, yes, they too can go down — as US infection numbers continue to go up”, Every went on to say.

Earlier this month, I suggested the market’s next hurdle would be “a wave of ‘second wave’ coverage”. The point was simply that, regardless of whether fatalities surged, ongoing outbreaks in states that reopened early would make easy targets for the media, and that, in turn, would likely undermine market sentiment. Since then (the linked post is from June 13), the trend in new cases has inflected visibly for the worse.

In an interview with Bloomberg Thursday, Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor, warned that “the huge amount of transmission going on in our community” bodes ill indeed (and you can take “ill” figuratively and literally in this case).

Houston is rapidly running out of ICU capacity amid what’s universally described as a worrying trend in infections.

Hotez cited a model from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s PolicyLab, which projects cases out four weeks based on current social distancing practices which they define as follows:

We measure social distancing as the percentage change in travel to non-essential businesses, as compared to normal activity before the pandemic. We calculate travel to non-essential businesses using cellphone GPS data from Unacast.

The figure (below) is taken directly from the official website, where you can run the model for dozens of locales across the country. Effectively, the two-week window shows the fate which could befall various jurisdictions by July 4th.

That projection, Hotez told Bloomberg, would be “apocalyptic”. “We can’t go there”, he added.

On Thursday, Texas governor Greg Abbott officially halted new phases of the state’s reopening push.

A new executive order says businesses which had been cleared to open can stay open as long as they observe occupancy limits, but further steps are now frozen. Elective surgeries are suspended in order to preserve hospital capacity.

“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses”, Abbott remarked. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business”.

Meanwhile, Larry Kudlow is clinging to the narrative.

There will be “spikes and hot spots”, he told Fox on Thursday, conceding that shutdowns are possible “in individual places or certain stores”.

“We’re going to see these things, but the economy is not going to be closed down again”, Kudlow insisted. Americans, he said, will “have to live with this, from time to time”.

Or die from it. Either or.


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14 thoughts on “Texas Freezes Reopening Push As Houston Faces ‘Apocalyptic’ July 4th

  1. Wow, if that model is even close to accurate, Maricopa County in Arizona is about to get absolutely devastated.


    That link shows the projections from the same model two weeks ago and Maricopa County is outpacing those projections. The model currently shows over 10k cases a day two weeks from now. This is terrifying to watch as the president buries his head in the sand and holds a rally with 3,000 unmasked attendees sitting right next to each other. Absolutely reckless disregard for human life.

  2. I’d also love to see Marko Kolanovic’s model of lockdown vs. post-lockdown transmission rates updated. Sure seems like we’re starting to see the impact of opening things up and it’s not looking pretty.

    1. Yeah it turns out a virus… does not care if you think it is a threat, test for it or use PPE… that this is news to anyone at all is just proof of how insane our current situation is. This is how it spreads in the summer heat… in TX, FL, AZ and CA… We are in for a seriously bad time the coming 12-24 months. This thing has zero mercy and at this point I would have a hard time not considering the White Houses response to the threat anything but mass manslaughter via gross negligence. We have been lucky enough to see therapeutic effects from statins and anti inflammatory drugs but we are dangerously close to having an explosion of cases that render the concept of treatment via hospitalization implausible.

  3. Or…..wear a mask, every single time you leave your house.
    Is that really too much to ask until covid is under control?

    1. Wear masks and minimize shopping to essentials and limit people in the shopping party. I see about 99% of people in stores these days going without a mask… the sheer arrogance is astonishing.

  4. There is one concept that needs rethinking. Hope and comparisons with other Corona Viruses has led to the perception of a second wave. This virus has not slowed in warmer weather hence southern republican governors easing early was based on a hope and reality is proving otherwise. POTUS must immediately request Governors to instate mandatory masking. It is becoming a deadly malfeasance and actual blame may come to rest on this Administration. At the very least Governors should be held to account. Vanity is proving to be a deadly sin.

    1. Completely true, this thing is heat proof and we know it and have known for months. 136 F is not a temperature we encounter in nature so unless your infection method was licking the asphalt the heat is doing nothing. This thing is a Juggernaut and we cannot allow it to build speed.

      1. What is striking to me is that it was well known that this virus would not subside with warmer weather. The lack of respect and more importantly the lack of understanding of science is astounding. As you say @joesailboat decisions based on hope. Even intelligent people have a hard time understanding concepts like serologic vs antibody testing, false negs and false pos and prevalence effects, the lag time implicit in the graphs, which are meaningful changes or not, etc. Its like investing in stock based soley on their price…going up it must be good, going down it must be bad.

  5. And with Trump and Barr putting their own people in charge of the states judicial systems they will be hard to be held to account for 150 to 200k deaths for mass manslaughter via gross negligence.

    1. And what about the non-maskers? I can’t help but think many of them see the deaths of 250K “old people” as “they were going to die anyway” or “the cost of doing business, after all a failing economy is destructive to,” or just mistrusting “fake news” and our institutions. I suspect many people won’t take protective measures seriously until they personally know a person or two who has died.

  6. Masks can do nothing as long as a significant part of the population believe the narrative that they are at low risk. This narrative is about to change. The average age of hospitalization in the hardest hit places is now in the thirties and the specter of the “long haulers” is starting to take hold.

    Sequlae. The down stream consequences of this illness and the fact that It may have a lifetime of debilitating effects even if the initial infection is mild is now being reported and studied. The young, it seems, has a bullseye on them and the coming months will bring this to their attention.

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