Assuming Americans exercise a modicum of common sense, COVID-19 cases are projected to see a “sharp decline” by July, the CDC said Wednesday, in an updated scenario analysis that was good for a few headlines.
The forecast was based on “data from six models” which indicated that “with high vaccination coverage and moderate nonpharmaceutical intervention adherence, hospitalizations and deaths will likely remain low nationally” and new infections will plunge within a few months.
Naturally, the study was replete with caveats, some of which referenced new virus variants, while others could be roughly summarized as exhortations to the public, which is advised to use good judgment and let the science do the talking. (No bleach injections, please.)
In comments delivered during a virtual White House press briefing, Rochelle Walensky called the virus variants a “wild card.” “The models projected a sharp decline in cases by July and even faster decline if more people get vaccinated sooner,” she remarked, before warning that “local conditions and emerging variants are putting many states at risk for increases in cases, especially if we don’t increase the rate of vaccinations and if we don’t keep our current mitigation strategies in place until we have a critical mass of people vaccinated.”
Speaking of increasing vaccinations, New York is going to try handing out free Yankees tickets as an incentive. You can even get your shot at the game.
“If you love baseball (and protecting your community) go to a game, get vaccinated and get a free ticket!” Andrew Cuomo exclaimed. He also said that starting May 19, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field will offer full capacity seating for fully vaccinated people. If you’re not vaccinated, capacity will be 33%. Masks are required for everyone. Broadway shows should begin in September at 100% capacity, Cuomo said. Tickets go on sale Thursday.
In other vaccine news, Pfizer and Moderna sank (figure below) as the Biden administration appeared poised to back a waiver of patent protections on the vaccines. In a sad testament to day-trader obliviousness, a quick scan of social media and other social trading platforms suggested most regular folks had absolutely no idea this was even a discussion.
“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Katherine Tai said. “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”
“The issue is coming to a head as the World Trade Organization’s General Council, one of its highest decision-making bodies, meets Wednesday and Thursday,” The New York Times wrote, summing up the debate and adding that,
India and South Africa are pressing for the body to waive an international intellectual property agreement that protects pharmaceutical trade secrets. The United States, Britain and the European Union [had] blocked the plan. Inside the White House, health advisers to the president admit they are divided. Some say that Biden has a moral imperative to act, and that it is bad politics for the president to side with pharmaceutical executives. Others say spilling closely guarded but highly complex trade secrets into the open would do nothing to expand the global supply of vaccines.
It’s a shame when humanitarian concerns get in the way of good old fashioned profits, ain’t it?
Meanwhile, a federal judge decided it would be a good idea to strike down the CDC’s national eviction moratorium, a decision which, if upheld, has the potential to create a housing crisis that could worsen the pandemic. “The question for the court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium?,” Trump appointee and former Orrin Hatch staffer, Dabney Friedrich, wrote. “It does not.”
The Justice Department will appeal. Experts suggested the effect would be limited in the near-term. “Several court rulings have attempted to strike down the moratorium, but all had limited application,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition told NBC. “While this ruling is written more starkly than previous ones, it likely has equally limited application, impacting only the plaintiffs who brought the case.”
As Bloomberg pointed out Wednesday, rents are now rising in some locales. “The median monthly charge on a vacant rental jumped by $185 in March from a year earlier,” a Wednesday article read, citing the Census Bureau (figure, below, from the original).
This goes without saying, but that effectively means that getting evicted now is an even more perilous proposition than it would be at any other time. MBA data shows nearly a quarter of renters missed one payment or more over the course of the crisis.
I suppose there’s always the tent cities. I hear they’re “pretty substantial” these days.
Who knows, you might even get a visit from the Fed Chair. Well, not the real one. She’s busy. But the guy who plays Fed Chair on “60 Minutes” said he might stop by at some point. You know, “when it’s no longer a news story.”