News from Bloomberg reveals coronavirus deaths and infections worldwide surging in record numbers. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows Germany with unprecedented new cases, and record numbers of patients in ICUs across Belgium, France, Spain, and many other nations. With the U.S. presidential election still up for grabs, the world is reeling from the ongoing effects of a pandemic that some leaders promised would go away by itself. It’s time we came to terms, with the real impact of COVID-19.
Here in Greece, officials are due to announce fresh restrictions today to fight the virus, and people on the streets expect a full lockdown to be set in place no later than Monday. Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to hold a press conference on Friday in the wake of news from the National Organization for Public Health (EODY) that new infections on Wednesday reached 2,646 new cases. Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced on TV that the government will impose a month-long nationwide lockdown.
In the US, the pandemic continues to rage with 100,000 new cases recorded for the first time earlier this week. Some states there are overwhelmed by the number of patients seeking hospital care. Overall, worldwide cases of COVID-19 have passed 48 million, with the death toll exceeding 1.22 million. The end is nowhere in sight. A magnificent initiative I ran across, one not reported by any of the mainstream media I am aware of, provides graphic symbolism in the real of what this pandemic really is all about. Human lives, at least in my homeland in America, are now more expendable than ever. Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg — Creator of the Memorial to U.S. COVID-19 Victims, may be the only person in the United States who truly understands what this pandemic has done. The images for my story reveal part of her mission to connect America with the reality of so much death.
Meanwhile, the threat of a total European lockdown looms as economists say such a preventative would risk double-dip recessions. But fiscal issues may soon be far in the back of the minds of the people. The second wave of COVID-19 has now struck Europe like a thunderbolt. Dire forecasts from the UK brought about England’s 27-day lockdown focused on preventing its health system from being entirely overrun. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was cited saying:
“The huge exponential growth in the number of patients would mean that doctors and nurses would be forced to choose which patients to treat, who would get oxygen and who wouldn’t, who would live and who would die.”
Models in the UK show that deaths from unchecked COVID-19 cases could easily reach between 2,000 and 4,000 per day. And now Italy has become the latest European country to go into lockdown as the COVID-19 pandemic’s second wave sweeps the continent. The short version of this story can be summed up with one word. “Disaster” fits every explanation of what the immediate future is for much of the world. One glowing example to the contrary is Finland, where government response and public trust seem to have conquered the virus even in a second wave. Unfortunately, every country’s leadership is not so well trusted.
On the business side of COVID-19, cruise lines have finally given up on the idea of cruising in 2020. News that the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced its members would extend the voluntary suspension of cruise operations in the U.S. until January. Even TUI has announced it will stop cruises to nowhere from Thursday as requested by authorities. Also, Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard North America, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Seabourn have also extended their halt on cruise operations until further notice.
Across Europe Christmas markets will probably not operate this year. A new study by McKinsey tells us that more than half of Europe’s small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) will probably go under within the next year if their revenues don’t improve markedly soon. And with new lockdowns going into effect, the chances of this happening are remote.
The long view from both Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) can be seen in their downgrade of expectations for European gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter, as new waves of COVID-19 infections sweep the continent. Everything from airlines to retail and even manufacturing is going to be hit hard. In America, President Donald Trump was quoted saying:
“Europe imposed draconian lockdowns and cases were surging and deaths were surging but think of it, draconian. Now they have to do it all over again. What the hell are they doing? I think I’ll go over and explain it to them. But they’re locking down parts of Europe again.”
The idea that the effective first lockdowns should have been extended, or that opening borders back up too soon might be factors, seems to have escaped not only Donald Trump but many of Europe’s leaders as well. If there were ever any question as to why the public has lost trust in leaders, the coronavirus pandemic has answered this question once and for all. The COVID Memorial in the feature image taken November 4th should shock us all awake. The fate of civilization is at stake here, in case you did not know.