86 Society–Day 3

A bar sits empty

Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill that extended family and medical leave to those who worked for companies with under 500 employees. As we discussed in the podcast, this bill was likely to pass, as well as an upcoming $1 Trillion stimulus package that could potentially include $1,000 for every American.

If you didn’t listen to the podcast–which you should–there are some key elements to the bill that was passed yesterday that you need to hear. Those provisions are as follows:

  1. Provides Coronavirus testing at no cost.
  2. Employers with fewer than 500 employees must offer two weeks of sick leave, which expires at the end of the year.
  3. These employers must also offer up to 3 months of paid family and medical leave for people forced to quarantine due to the virus or care for children or family members because of the outbreak.
  4. Payroll tax credits for employers who provide those benefits
  5. $1 Billion in emergency State grants for providing unemployment insurance benefits. ½ of which will go toward actually paying out benefits, but only to those states that see a 10% increase in unemployment. The other ½ reserved for state staffing salaries.
  6. $500 million for low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children (unknown how young) $400 million to local food banks and $250 million into senior nutrition.
  7. Suspends the work requirement for food stamps.

Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist, told the Washington Post that we are headed into a recession that will be worse than the 2008 recession when the housing and bank industry collapsed. It took roughly eight years to fully recover from that recession if you were only looking at GDP growth–an indicator of how well the economy is doing overall.

What We Now Know About Coronavirus

A study of the deceased in Italy has shown us that 99% of those who died, had other illnesses. 48.5% of those who died had 3 or more additional diseases, 75% had high blood pressure, and the median age at the time of death was 80.5 years old.

That being said, the Italian government has not ruled out the possibility that the nationwide shutdown will extend beyond the first week of April. Many people believe that the United States is two weeks behind Italy in terms of response. If that is the case, the Italian extension of the national shutdown does not bode well for the US economy.

Survivabilty on Surfaces

We discussed this at the beginning of the outbreak, but the virus can live on surfaces for several hours–or days–after it has landed on the surface. Little research has been done in terms of how long a virus–any virus–can live outside of the human body, but more is being conducted to better understand how this relates to transmission. A study which was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has found that SARS and MERS viruses–Coronavirus is SARS–can live on plastic, glass, and metal for up to 28 days under the right conditions.

The CDC does not believe that surfaces are the main cause of transmission, but they do advise that surfaces be sterilized regularly and that you don’t touch your face after touching things like glassware or door handles. I have attempted to determine whether or not “quat” sanitizer will kill the virus, and it appears that it should. This conclusion is based on my understanding of two articles. The first explains the use of quat-sanitizer in hospitals and the second explains the physical structure of Coronavirus. Again, that is my understanding and should be taken with a grain of salt unless or until that is proven correct.

Conclusions

We still may be headed toward a nationwide shutdown of the hospitality industry, despite my predictions that it would have happened on Wednesday. Cities and states are beginning to mandate curfews and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and the World Health Organization are both calling for uniform containment policies on entire continents. For the World Health Organization, this would mean restricting travel across Europe for 30 days. In the United States, the issue is that not every state is reacting the same way, which is causing tensions among neighboring states.

Whether or not the virus is under control, or coming under control, is up for debate at this point. What we do know is that our government leaders are making decisions and taking action that implies that we are not close to the end of this. We do know that the time frame is hinging on how quickly we can test people for the virus.

The longer it takes to test people, the longer these social-distancing measures are going to be in place. Right now, it’s a waiting game until there is a vaccine or transmission is contained.

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