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Overnight, U.S. Gov’t and Corps Announce Coronavirus Lock-down Measures

This morning Americans woke up to a new socio-economic reality, as the government along with other leading corporate institutions, implemented extreme emergency measures to try and mitigate the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.

Following the World Health Organization’s official designation yesterday of the COVID-19 crisis as a global pandemic, President Donald Trump declared a halt in air travel between the US and Europe, initially for a period of 30 days. During his address he stated:

“The European Union failed to take the same precautions (as the US) and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe.” 

“After consulting with our top government health officials I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health of all Americans. To stop new cases from entering our shores we will be suspending all travel from Europe to our shores for 30 days.”

resident Trump arrives after a meeting with Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety Steve Monroe, about the coronavirus, at Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Photo Credit: AP/Alex Brandon)
President Trump arrives after a meeting with Associate Director for Laboratory Science and Safety Steve Monroe, about the coronavirus, at Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Photo Credit: AP/Alex Brandon)

Major U.S. fears are stemming from an unprecedented call for a state of emergency in Italy, where officials instituted what amounts to a total commercial lockdown of most local economic activity.

Department of Homeland Security acting secretary Chad Wolf added that, “President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States.”

No doubt these annoucements will have severe consequences economically, eviscerating the bottom lines of numerous airlines, as well as a devastating blow to sectors like tourism and trade, sectors which are already struggling on both sides of the Atlantic.

Saudi Arabia also announced its own travel ban to and from Europe, mirroring U.S. measures.

To date, the U.S. has recorded some 1,300 infections, including 38 deaths, spread across 44 states and the District of Columbia.

‘Social distancing’

Trump’s air travel ban also coincided with the announcements of the canceled major public gatherings and sporting events, and even the temporary closure of an entire professional sports league. These type of prohibitive measures are known now as “social distancing.”

Last night, the NCAA college sports authority announced that it would be closing its upcoming national championship games to fans, and instead require university teams to play their televised national basketball tournament games – to empty stadiums.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) took the risk assessment a step further by suspending the remainder of the 2019-2020 season until further notice after one of its star players, Rudy Golbert, a Center for the Utah Jazz, tested positive for the coronavirus.

Golbert, a French national, is said to be in care and under observation for worsening of his symptoms.

“A player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19,” the statement read. “The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of [Wednesday’s] game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.”

Similar measures have been enacted in hard-hit regions like Italy, where Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte decreed a shutdown bars, restaurants, hairdressers and ‘non-essential’ businesses except for supermarkets, food sellers and pharmacies.

In the UK, Boris Johnson has announced his action plan for increased ‘social distancing’ which will include mandated measures like school closures, limits on public gatherings, home-working, and the highly risky move of scaling back on “non-urgent” essential public services including hospital, fire and police.

Perhaps the most extreme reaction has been in the Republic of Ireland, who announced the closure of all schools, colleges and major public facilities following the the death of one elderly woman in Dublin. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar extended the ban to any that indoor “mass gatherings” of more than 100 people, and for outdoor gatherings exceeding more than 500 persons.

The Economy of Fear

As predicted, the stock and money markets have been severely hit, with European stocks down to four-year lows, and with oil prices dropping well below levels considered profitable for a limping US shale industry. The Dow Jones Industrial average also took a major hit, with panic selling triggering a bear market loss of over 2,000 points at the day’s opening.

U.S. market loses were also reflected in similar sharp downturns in both Asian and European markets.

According to Mohamed El-Erian from City insurer Allianz, the global economy has now fallen prey to  the “economics of fear”.

“The advanced economies are now likely to feel the full force of economic sudden stops that destroy both supply and demand at the same time,” El-Erian told the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

“The collapse in economic activity risks being amplified by the economics of fear, uncertainty and adverse economic-financial feedback loops.”

“I believe there is a high probability of global recession.”

Fear and panic is also set to increase among entertainer class and Hollywood elites after the news broke last night that actor Tom Hanks and his wife had contracted the coronavirus.

“The news about Tom Hanks will fuel uncertainty, prompting people to disengage more from economic activities,” added El-Erian.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE UPDATES.

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