COVID-19 UPDATE: USA cases surge +2,873 to 25,483. NYC to open early June. Universal Orlando opening plan approved (big deal) and USA no longer epicenter of COVID-19.

May 21, 2020
COVID-19 UPDATE:  USA cases surge +2,873 to 25,483.  NYC to open early June.  Universal Orlando opening plan approved (big deal) and USA no longer epicenter of COVID-19.

COVID-19 remains a global crisis and we realize that many people need to keep up with COVID-19 developments, particularly since we are moving into the more critical stage ("restart economy"), so feel free to share our commentary to anyone who has interest.

This week saw progress in the US on two fronts: substantial progress on healthcare (vaccine via Moderna, etc.) and steps forward on the re-opening of the US economy (CT re-open on 5/20).  But a return to normalcy in the US is more than retail openings, outdoor dining and it is as much about sports, traveling, business travel and entertainment.  

Entertainment is very much a part of the American experience and also one of the industries most impacted by the reality of post-COVID-19 world.  A major step forward took place today.  Universal Orlando's phased opening plans were approved by the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force group today and also approved by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.  CNBC's Scott Wapner interviewed Mayor Demings this evening (5/21) (CNBC interview -->  Based on the approved plan, Universal will have a soft open on 6/1 and a public opening by 6/5.

With each passing day, the US is incrementally re-opening its economy, with new procedures to maintain the safety of the public.  There is going to be a short-term cost to meet this compliance, and procedures that will be initially felt inconvenient but over time, with no doubt, will become part of the new normal.  For instance, a CEO acquaintance of mine (insurance company) in Hong Kong noted that whenever an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, deep cleaning and sanitation is embarked upon, costing this company ~$40,000 per cleaning.  Hence, we can understand why some businesses may initially favor keeping WFH in place (work from home).

Daily case growth has been stubbornly flat.  I know many of our clients have pointed out this is due to testing (correctly), but it also shows COVID-19 is not declining and with states opening, this increases movement.  While there will be concerns about a second wave (which has not been evident in any nation or region opening), the consensus among health experts is that such a potential wave is probably more likely when flu season returns in the US (late Fall).  And thus, the openings of the US economy is really a story about tracking engagement and seeing how the new normal is reflected in screening and sanitation and mitigation.

This is still progress nonetheless, and perhaps better progress than many imagine in early March as the crisis was in its earliest stages.  But COVID-19 is not necessarily fading around the rest of the world, global daily case counts are still elevated and it looks like Brazil (and Latin America, Russia, Middle East are the regions now dealing with high cases counts and growth.

POINT #1: Total USA cases surge to 25,483, +2,873 from 22,610 1D ago, led LA, FL, NY, VA, MD... NYC to open early June
As has been the case for the past few weeks, case numbers surge in the US midweek and today, total reported COVID-19 cases +2,873 to 25,483.  The case numbers simply have stayed stubbornly high.  Granted, part of this is an increase in testing (see below) which was >430,000 today, but it also tells us that case prevalence in the US is just lingering.  And makes us continue to posit whether it is realistic to expect cases to fall to zero in the US.

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