Cartoon

The Task Force

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

(Cartoonist - Mike Luckovich)

In other news, state researchers in New York have found that about 14 percent of residents have blood markers for the coronavirus, suggesting that as many as 2.7 million people have been infected; far more than the current officially tally of about 264,000.

Meanwhile, another 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment in the last week bringing the total number of Americans who filed since the pandemic began to 26.5 million.

Finally, Bill Gates, who has some experience with dealing with infections through the Gates Foundation, says he does not expect a vaccine for the coronavirus to be widely available to all until the second half of 2021.

The good news, he said, is we can look forward to a “semi-normal” world over the next two months.

“People can go out, but not as often, and not to crowded places,” Gates wrote. “Picture restaurants that only seat people at every other table and airplanes where every middle seat is empty.”

He said he believes schools will reopen, but stadiums won’t. [...]

“The bulk of the story will be what happens next,” he wrote. “Even if governments lift shelter-in-place orders and businesses reopen their doors, humans have a natural aversion to exposing themselves to disease. Airports won’t have large crowds. Sports will be played in basically empty stadiums. And the world economy will be depressed because demand will stay low.”

He said life will only return to normal when most of the population is vaccinated, and that could take awhile, though he hopes that one will be in mass production by the second half of 2021.

The idea that things will reopen at half capacity, or that the economy will stay depressed because demand will remain low, is what I've spent the most time thinking about recently.

It's not as if things will reopen and business activity will return to levels observed just before the pandemic. Businesses that aren't already dead may also have a really tough time surviving in an environment where consumer demand is maybe 25 to 50 percent lower on a semi-permanent basis. And if businesses are operating at half capacity to maintain social distance, like in restaurants, that means they won't need as many employees to serve half as many customers as before. I feel like we've barely grasped the long-term implications.

Forgive the light posting today. I physically felt like hell.

  • KanaW

    Take care, feel better soon.

  • muselet

    When LA County first shut down restaurant dining rooms, I talked with the owner of a local burger place for a couple of minutes, and said I figured things would get back to normal in a year or a year and a half. It’s depressing that Bill Gates thinks so, too.

    Feel better, mate.

    –alopecia

  • gescove

    Hard to know just how to assess the NY infection data. It could indicate a much lower infection fatality rate than we thought. It could also mean we vastly uncounted the number of people who may have died without realizing they were infected.

    • Tony Lavely

      My cynicism screams it’s the latter, since no one was really looking at deaths that weren’t obviously due to the virus in the beginning.