The question has been How long would it be before the surge in new coronavirus infections forced states to re-institute the lockdowns and “stay at home” orders they used to contain earlier spikes in the pandemic?
The answer, I’d say, is that a new round of “stay at home” orders has started today.
Today New Mexico became the first state to re-institute a full statewide “stay at home” order to begin on Monday and to last for two weeks. New Mexico residents are being asked to shelter in place except for essential trips. Nonessential businesses must bear in-person activities.
And today Oregon announced a partial lockdown for two weeks. Gyms and restaurant dining will be shuttered. Social gatherings will be limited to six people or less.
Governors have been hesitant to close businesses again opting instead of incremental steps such as curfews on bars and limits on public and private gatherings. In Virginia, for example, the state has limited public and private gathering to more more than 25 people and ha imposed a 10 p.m. curfew on bars.
But with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage out of control–Thursday saw more than 160,000 new cases in the United States, a new record for daily cases–states are being pushed to take more comprehensive steps.
In New York City, the locus of spike in cases early in the pandemic, the mayor has warned that public schools could close as early as Monday if the seven-day average positivity rate surpasses 3 percent. New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, said he believed that the situation is going to “continue to deteriorate in the coming weeks,” and that he was planning an emergency meeting with his counterparts in six northeastern states.
A rising tide of hospitalizations is driving the restrictions. Hospitalizations for Covid-19 also set a national record on Thursday for the third-straight day, reaching 67,096. That figure has doubled in just five weeks.
Which means that vast swathes of the country are on the verge of running out of space to put Covid-19 patients and face a horrendous shortage of staff to care care of patients. One worry is that as hospitals run out of the ability to create for patients the death rate will start to rise again.
The stock market so far doesn’t seem especially worried about prospects for new restrictions cutting into economic growth. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 1.36% today, November 13, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.37%. The Russell 2000 small cap index, which has been particularly sensitive to shifts in sentiment about the U.S. economy, was ahead 2.08% today.