COVID-19 Mid-April 2020

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The world has just surpassed the 2 million mark for COVID-19 cases. And since it has been over three weeks since my last post on the matter, I thought I would revisit.

First, a look at my March 24 post.

Canada will see a peak of single-day new cases in mid-April

According to the below chart, so far (and I can’t stress those words enough) the peak was 10 days ago on April 5. As a country it appears that we have flattened the curve. I don’t believe a decline in daily new cases will be quick, but rather gradual. Because different parts of the country are still struggling such as Quebec, and though Ontario also seems to be flattening it is still very much a battle. Ontario peaked on April 8 (so far). I would also like to see the impact of Easter weekend, as far too many families still got together physically. But, the bottom line is that if the trend holds then we will have passed our peak day as a country on April 5, and as a province on April 8. This is earlier than my guess, and to me that is a positive.

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The United States won’t be so lucky

Well, yes and no. The US spiked extremely high, led by the state of New York. Shockingly high. It shot up very quickly, but then they got a handle on it. Right now their peak day was all the way back on April 4 at just over 34,000 and in 11 days since, they have not exceeded that number. Given the Easter weekend that saw several American churches hold Easter mass in front of hundreds of people, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of another spike.

 

Donald Trump feels that the country may open up again in a week or two, feeling that the sacrifice of ‘some’ would actually result in fewer lives lost than a destroyed economy would cause…Would 30,000 new cases in a single day get Mr. Trump’s attention? It certainly would. And it will happen…Would 1000 coronavirus deaths in a single day get Mr. Trump’s attention? It certainly would. The United States passing Italy in total cases? That will happen before April… I wouldn’t be afraid of Trump opening businesses again in two weeks (because it won’t happen).

All of this came to pass. The businesses did not open up by Easter, they did hit a 30,000 new-case day, and 1000 COVID-related deaths per day is a regular thing in America now. They passed Italy in total cases well before April.

 

The Spring Break Effect

I was very uneasy about the impact of Spring Break and the carelessness of young party-goers who flocked to Florida, Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I felt that those places would spike, even calling Florida the potential epicenter. I was wrong. New York is the epicenter – but for the same reasons. The highest concentration of people in the United States is going to have the highest risk. I should have considered that. Sure, people travel to the beaches during Spring Break, but they also visit family and friends. Or they go to the beaches and bring the virus back with them – and New York was primed to spread it as soon as they returned home.

Meanwhile, Mexico jumped from around 300 to around 5400 in three weeks. Dominican is up over 3600. Cuba has things much more under control and I suspect this is due to Americans still under travel restrictions when it comes to that country.

 

What’s Ahead

The numbers will start going down after mid-April and, provided we continue our vigilance, could feasibly reach a ‘zero-cases’ day at the start of June. At the end of June, businesses re-open and sports start up again – cautiously.

Three weeks later, this is still looking quite viable.

I’ve heard some mention that because China was locked down for 76 days before they lifted it, then Canada can follow that same timeline. That would put it at mid-May, depending on the province. Well, Canada was not as prepared as China. Canada was quick with the restraints and then the lockdown, but not as quick as China. China also had masks and medical equipment ready to go, plus they erected an entire hospital in just 10 days (!) – dedicated solely to the coronavirus. Genuis. How much money did a hospital cost them? And how much money did it save them? (Hint: look at how much the Canadian government is giving away, and will need to give away, to prop up the economy for an extra few weeks due to not having built a hospital in 10 days – then multiply that amount by the difference between the two populations). China spent hundreds of millions of dollars and potentially saved billions of dollars because of it.

So no, Canada is not following the Chinese timeline. But we will only need an extra two or three weeks. At the start of June we will have our first zero-new-case day or very close to it. And after consistent low new-case numbers, things will start to roll out again. I think by early July some businesses will get to re-open (carefully) and by September the last of the home workers (or non-workers) will go back to the office. If things continue according to trend. And we all know how shaky a ‘trend’ can be when we know so little about it.

 

Sports

Sports are important to the business world and our sense of well-being. I don’t know if August is early enough to allow MLB to put in a half-season. But if so, then the MLB can be salvaged – without fans. MLB playoffs in late October can probably have fans, depending on how well America is doing at that time. The NFL will start late. The NBA and NHL will be looking at a condensed format for the playoffs and, as much as they would like to have some sort of finish to the regular season to make it fair, I don’t see how that can happen. I put forth the following prediction for the NHL, in a recent Ramblings over on DobberHockey:

  1. Top 5 teams from each Conference based on points percentage make the playoffs.
  2. The shortened Stanley Cup tournament would begin in, say mid-August.
  3. It will be held in two neutral cities, and in empty buildings.
  4. 5v4 in a best 2-out-of-3 series, with the winner making the quarter-finals.
  5. 1v4 (or 5) and 2v3 for each conference, best 3-out-of-5
  6. Cup semi-finals would be best 3-out-of-5
  7. Stanley Cup Final begins in mid-September and is best 4-out-of-7
  8. NHL Awards held early October, NHL Draft held mid-October, NHL Free Agency opens around October 20.
  9. Training camps open in early November with empty buildings
  10. The season will begin November 18. This time they will allow people in provided they have proof of negative test results or some sort of proof of immunity (a vaccine won’t likely be available until March or April so I’m not really sure the logistics of this). Or perhaps they sell to half-capacity, or maybe empty buildings will continue into the New Year. Whatever the setup is – it won’t be normal at first.

This would pit Pittsburgh against Philadelphia to battle it out for the final playoff spot. Carolina and Toronto are far enough back that there really is no dispute. And West is similar in terms of the gap between sixth and fifth – really no dispute as Dallas is ahead of Winnipeg by two points with two games in hand, and ahead of Vancouver/Nashville by four points with equal games played. So Dallas and Edmonton would play for the quarter-final berth.

That’s where my head is at. If Canada doesn’t have a zero-new-cases day by late June then I’m sure they’ll scrap the idea of playoff hockey altogether for this year. Some of you wanted an updated prediction from me, so there it is.

 

Current Headlines

The media is trying to get you to click and read their articles. They can’t do that with “Last Peak Day for New Cases Now Reaches 10 Days Ago”

No. They can do that with actual headlines like this one:

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To be clear – if the peak for new cases was 7-14 days ago, then the peak for new deaths will be now. That’s just math. You don’t get diagnosed with coronavirus and then die the same day. Don’t let the headlines frighten you.

Stay safe everyone. We’re doing the right thing here and you’ll start seeing more obvious signs of hope in just a few weeks.

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