Americans protesting the Coronavirus-related restrictions (Getty Images)

The Markets
The second quarter was one of the best for the US market in decades. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18%, and the broader S&P 500 Index rose 20%, for the latest 3-month period. Despite the strong rebound since mid-March, both indices are still down from their all-time highs. You can read Springwater’s entire Q2 2020 market commentary here.

COVID-19 Numbers
Globally, across 188 countries and regions, nearly 11.5 million have contracted the virus and nearly 535,000 have died. In the US, nearly 2.9 million have been infected and almost 130,000 have died.

The Public Health
The US increasingly looks like an outlier in the battle against the coronavirus, and not in a good way. As we’ve noted in previous writings, the US has about 4% of the world’s population but nearly 25% of its COVID-19 cases and deaths. The US is now recording over 40,000 cases per day, on average.

As America struggles with rapidly rising infection rates, case counts and deaths, millions of us continue to socialize in proximity, without masks. The US now ranks with Brazil, Peru and Sweden as having the most rapid virus growth rates. Meanwhile, in other countries, life is gradually moving back toward “normal life”, without major new outbreaks. What can we learn from them?

There have been two main ways that countries have successfully managed the coronavirus pandemic. The first approach prevented major outbreaks through an aggressive initial response that included travel restrictions, broad testing, robust contact tracing, strict quarantining and required mask-wearing. Several Asian countries, like South Korea and Vietnam, adopted this strategy.

The second set of countries, including several in Western Europe, did suffer major outbreaks. But they responded with lockdowns and then began reopening carefully. All of these countries continue to cope with new cases, and will for a long time, but the numbers are relatively small.

In contrast, here in the US we reacted too slowly to prevent an initial outbreak, and only a few regions have responded aggressively since then. Mask-wearing has become politicized, contact tracing is sporadic in most areas, and testing continues to lag.

Looking Forward
With the number of coronavirus infections skyrocketing in the US, many politicians are now acknowledging what public health officials had cautioned about – the risks and danger of rushing to reopen the economy. The rolling seven-day average for daily new cases hit a record yesterday for the 27th day in a row. The mayors in Austin and Houston, Texas – a state that reopened early and is now one of several that are seeing cases explode – are warning that their hospital systems will soon be overwhelmed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH said several weeks ago when asked about the timetable for reopening the country, “The virus sets the timetable”. It is clear that in the US, the virus is in control, rather than under control.

Keep the faith, be safe and stay healthy.

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