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An Opening Act to Repudiate

A bad opening foretells show cancellation. Australia and Hawaii reveal the threat of early openings even with near eradication of the virus. The egregious events transpiring in California, Florida, and Texas show the price of expediency over stoic resolve. The conspiratorial nature of nefarious leadership and the evocation of an election year are encumbering the US with a gratuitous ordeal. While the comprise between life and economics stirs virulent political debate, the proletariat labors precariously. Leaders face an unequivocal dilemma: limiting travel outside your bubble and gathering inside with the consequential economic impact or accepting the increased deaths and concede the prior economic sacrifice was meaningless. Plaintive politicians know these alternatives are an atrocious trade.

Photo: Ronny Coste on unpslash

"The reopening experiences of Australia and Hawaii are a cautionary omen for those seeking a return to normal.

From a near eradication of the virus in mid-June,

their reproduction rate now exceeds the national US rate.

This outcome forewarns the reopening plans of

Canada, Europe, and the US Northeast."

Opening act. For Australia, victory was at hand as the virus approached single-digit lows in mid-June. The confluence of fast action early in the pandemic and the natural shield of an island continent rapidly dispatched the virus. By mid-June, they had reached only six cases per day (exhibit 1). With an apparent victory at hand, they started to reopen in early June. This good fortune forgot the justification for the prior closures: the ease at which the virus spreads.

Exhibit 1. Australia Confirmed Cases (7-day average)

Capital Risk - Australia Confirmed Cases

Source: Capital Risk calculations with John Hopkins data.

The desire to reverse the economic carnage brought by the closures was warranted. The dilemma is that a virus does not consider economics and needs only one host to maintain viability. Complete removal of the restrictions occurred by the third week of June. It took less than three weeks afterward for the virus to escalate, centered in Melbourne. This fallout foretells doom for those that will follow suit.

Revisiting the lessons learned are required as Europe, Canada, and others contemplate next steps. While not numerous, there are a few key lessons that provide guidance. The trouble is that they imply economic dread for specific sectors of the economy and their forlorn employees.

Setting the stage. While the precise characteristics of the virus remain contested, a few key attributes are apparent. The virus spread can transpire through the air. This trait is unhelpful for people working close. Indeed, the mantra “social distancing” is one of the critical three “Cs” to slow the virus spread: don’t get close. This action suggests that the assembly of people close together is off the table until a vaccine. We will enjoy sports and movies from the safety of our couches.

The protests that erupted in May and June brought millions of people in close contact outside. Yet, cases did not spike in these locales. While it is hard to isolate the effects, outdoor activities seem less amenable to transmission because of the dilutive effects of copious amounts of circulating air. This trait follows the second critical C: don’t remain in a closed space. Australia, which is now in its winter season, provides credible evidence that returning to offices, schools, and other places with less fresh air circulation are unlikely.

While parts of the US immolate themselves on a fraudulent altar of freedom, most of the US is “Masked Up.” This action reflects the final critical C: cover-up. That the virus is airborne and circulates easier indoors requires that people reduce the ability of the virus to spread. This result occurs by limiting its projection in the air and reducing the probability of achieving the minimum infectious dose (MID). The implication is that masks will be required until a vaccine arrives and suggests limited TV and movie production.