I've kept a close eye on the coronavirus and found a few facts and trends:
- It seems to me the logistical plan here in the US is to have a lockdown for a few weeks, and in that time, set up hospitals and build personal protective equipment and ventilators night and day so that we don't end up with a bottleneck where there aren't enough supplies to go around.
- Heart & lung disease, diabetes and high blood pressure (basically, diabesity) are high risk factors. This is worrisome for the US. I'm being careful to avoid high-carb foods that would raise my blood sugar.
- Some articles have said the virus is vulnerable to oxidation. I'm not taking high-dose vitamin C. It's being tried for people who are already very sick, but I'm not convinced it's a preventative.
- COVID-19 can be killed by UV light and heat (low oven for half an hour). Humidity seems to limit transmission. Light, humidity and UV rays sound a lot like summer, and countries in the tropics and southern hemisphere are seeing far lower death rates. Considering that the bats the virus probably came from live in chilly caves, and that bats are nocturnal, it makes sense that the virus isn't well adapted to light and heat. I'm hopeful that warm weather will mitigate this.
- Financially--grocery stores, dollar stores and Amazon are hiring by the tens of thousands and the government has passed a financial aid bill. But unemployment filings are through the roof.
- Socially, there may be a rethinking of the push to live in crowded cities, travel extensively, use public transportation, and show up all day, every day at the office.
- While the media has focused on the places that are nightmares, all but a few countries are, so far, seeing a death rate per population that is half or lower of the rate for flu deaths in the US (72 flu deaths per million this season v. 5 COVID-19 deaths per million in the US). (Source: CDC.) Should we have shut down everything for this? I don't know. Even when looking at different approaches in different places, there are a lot of factors affecting the outcome: population density, latitude, how fast they closed the borders, age of the population, smoking rates, pollution, cultural practices like cleanliness and whether generations tend to live together...
- Investing-wise, I only invest in companies that have a solid balance sheet--i.e., not too much debt. We all need some cushion in times like these.