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Terrific Tuesday – Talk of Another $2.2 Trillion Stimulus, Re-Opening Boosts Market

Trump gives governors 3-phase plan to reopen economyCognative Dissonance.

That's the mental state experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time.  On the one hand, the President and Fox News are pushing the idea of "Opening Up America Again" as if their lives depend on it and, politically, Trump's does because if he doesn't "beat" this virus, he won't be re-elected and, if Trump isn't re-elected, he is very likely to go on trial for all sorts of things he's currently being protected from.

 On the other hand, the Senate is about to look at a relief packgage aimed to shore up the states, including paying unemployment benefits (like they are supposed to) for 24M newly unemployed Americans and that "CARES 2" package is looking like ANOTHER $2.2Tn.  So are we ready to open up Amercia just 6 weeks after we locked it down or is this a lingering crisis that requires $4.4Tn of direct Government aid PLUS $4Tn from the FED?  That's cognative dissonance – they can't both be true – but we're acting as if they both are.

All this talk of throwing MORE FREE MONEY around is driving the Dollar down and boosting the market and our Futures are up another 1% as the Dollar drops another 0.5% – which is pretty much the usual relationship between the two.  

It's not much of a rally when the buying power of the currency your stocks are priced in keeps falling but it undoes a lot of technical damage as yesterday the S&P 500 pushed over our Must Hold line at 2,850 and we're also back above the 50-day moving average at 2,800 so, if we can hold that today without going under, next stop is testing the 200 dma at 3,000 and that's just 15% off the all-time high – what virus?

A "recovery" like this sows the seeds of its own destruction as we're going up on stimulus and ignoring the reality of businesses opening up at 25-50% of capacity and the very real possibility that we're re-opening America far too soon (as most medical experts are warning), which will ultimately prolong the lock-down if the virus begins to spread too fast and we're forced to run back inside.

Donald Trump launches new push to expand coronavirus testing ...Trump says we will soon be able to test 2M people a week and that does sound like a big number but it's only 150,000 a day, up from 100,000 per day we've been testing for the past month so Trump is saying that all the resources of the US Government have only been able to come up with a 50% increase in testing and that it will take 150 weeks (3 years for you Fox viewers) just to test everyone once.  Why am I not impressed?

Do you ever get the feeling that Trump's mom must have put everything he did right on the refrigerator – no matter how mediocre it was?  The President acts like every little step he takes is an accomplishment of epic proportions and I spent an hour watching Fox News last night and, guess what, they couldn't agree more!

You really do have to watch Fox once in a while so you can understand what your Conservative friends are talking about.  Yesterday it was mostly about Tara Reade's accusation that Joe Biden assaulted her in 1993, which the mainstream media has investigated and found very doubtful but on Fox it's an absolute fact and a huge cover-up by all other media outlets.  

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. | 1984 by ...To be fair, the media did cover the allegations against Brent Kavanaugh like they were facts and Democrats are not tolerant of sexually assaulting women the way Republicans are so there's plenty of meat on that bone for Fox to chew on – even though it's ridiculous to attack Biden for an uproven accusation from 27 years ago while Trump had many PROVEN sexual situations (there are checks!) and his own admission/boasting about assaulting women that they completely gloss over.  More cognative dissonance…

Cognative dissonance is what Fox News sells.  It's also how the fictional Government of Big Brother controlled the people in 1984 – forcing them to constantly hold contradictory beliefs until they simply had no idea what the truth was anymore – so it became whatever Big Brother would tell them.  They called that DoubleThink.  In the novel, for someone to even recognize, let alone mention, any contradiction within the context of the Party line is akin to blasphemy, and could subject that person to disciplinary action and the instant social disapproval of fellow Party Members.  Sound familiar?

"The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them… To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies—all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth." – Orwell

That's because George Orwell was a propaganda expert in World War II and wrote 1984 in 1949, as TV was just beginning to become a part of everyone's lives.  He foresaw a future in which the public could be controlled through non-stop manipulation of the media they watched, repeating lies endlessly until the people were unable to remember what the truth was anymore – even taking away the very concept that the truth exists.

The only truth we care about today is the 2,850 line on the S&P 500 but it's all good news this morning as we're ending the lockdown and no one got sick (because we haven't actually done it yet but let's not quibble) so now they can say "I told you so" and encourage more people to go out before the results are in from the first round – why not?  

We just passed 3M confirmed Global Covid-19 infections and, as of this morning, the US will have 1M of those infection (that's 1/3 Fox fans!) with 56,253 deaths so far and, as you can see from this infection graph – it is clearly time to declare victory and go outside because we obviously have this virus under control and our ability to test 1 out of 130 citizens every week tells you how safe and well-planned this is.  

See what I did there, that last part was CLEARLY the opposite of what is true yet you WANT it to be true so, DESPITE starting right at factual evidence that contradicts every word I was saying – you start losing your sense of what is real and what is not – Cognative Dissonance!  

$4.4Tn is a very real amount of money being pumped into the market and, as you can see from the chart on the left, we should be heading towards a record recovery and there's nothing at all to worry about because $4.4Tn was found between the cushions of the couch in the Oval Office and there's probably $4.4Tn more where that came from.

Cinemas Across America Are Screening George Orwell's '1984' In ...

"He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” – Orwell 

 


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  1. Phil--

     

    On Friday you had talked about purging a few positions from the portfolios.  Are you still sticking to that plan or has the rally changed your thinking…  Thanks


  2. The Bug: My friend Andrew Salmon looking at the global impact on a personal level (yes, that's a typo; June's temp was 102 not 120). https://asiatimes.com/2020/04/virus-apocalypse-puts-small-businesses-in-icu/?fbclid=IwAR1HJExt0nUBpzyyQh-u5kg9kkPWvcrpNF2t9lHpaexIo57wfn3WPTx-jXg


  3. Good Morning.


  4. The Bug: Looks like Texas will be reopening this week. There's something I've been wishing for, a control group for the social isolation measures. Texas vs. California, the ancient rivalry.



  5. snow   Yep, Texas is opening up. I just got a text from a friend asking where I wanted to go out to dinner next Wednesday.  Traffic on the streets is higher than I've seen since March 16.   Almost no one wears a mask unless its law and you can see shop owners cleaning up their storefronts.  I think it will play out as described in Phil's post yesterday.  It will harder and harder for me ( 66+ ) to avoid getting exposed and all of a sudden I feel the urge to get my personal affairs in order.  Sad. 


  6. Good morning!

    That's what goes through my head while I'm writing about Big Brother.  

    Purging/Jeff – Yes, see above – I'm dubious of the rally as it's paid for but we've learned, over the last 10 years, not to short funded rallies so, as I noted on Friday, the gains are now a buffer before we HAVE to pull the trigger though, in the Money Talk Portfolio tomorrow, we're still ditching IMAX and FCX, as they are both too risky to leave on for 3 months where I can't touch them.  

    The LTP finished the day over $600,000 and the STP is still over $500,000 so we're back to our $1.1M high on the pair from barely $1M last week so we're clearly bullish enough so we either need to add hedges or remove risk when we start getting nervous again and that list we made was about removing risk first – rather than spend money hedging into a rally that may keep going.  

    If the rally does keep going, we don't think FCX, IMAX, etc. are going to be worth keeping but that doesn't mean we're giving up – it just means we think there are safer, easier and MORE PROFITABLE things to do with the cash and margin we are tying up in those positions.

    Bug/Snow – It's amazing the way some stocks are acting when clearly we're heading into a scaled-down economy.   CA has 45,883 confirmed cases (1,782 dead), Texas 25,516 (672 dead) so we'll see how things go.  What worries me is NY has 298,004 cases and 22,623 deaths and they have the best hospital bed/population ratio in the country so the virus becomes much, much more deadly when your system gets overwhelmed.

    814,542 active cases in the US out of 1,010,507 identified is not a good number either as it's been 6 weeks.  Given these numbers – I think re-opening is madness as we started March with 30 cases (3/1) and now we have 1M (33,000x for the Foxes) so we're going to start May with 814,542 active cases and roll the dice to see how that goes?  MADNESS!!!

    Of course, the chart is comforting:

    Speaking of charts – Big Chart!  Nasdaq is breaking up, S&P and Dow over the 50 dmas NYSE over this morning and so is the RUT so all is well until/unless we fail them.

    Opening/Stock – Yep, that was my weekend project – weighing all the possibilities to get to the probability and, like you, I am DEEPLY concerned with the path we are marching down as a nation.  Still, it MIGHT work out.  Trump is willing to bet our lives on it and maybe we'll thread the needle – unlike all those times he made similar bets and lost…

    Image

    Nothing better than rolling the dice with other people's money (and lives)!  




  7. Trump urges states to consider opening schools before summer



  8. There Is No Perfect Way Out of This



  9. Snow- control group- what about Sweden?


  10. Controls/pstas: Not so clear a difference, much smaller population. Besides, it's Texas versus California – how much fun is that?

    The Sweden comparison would be Norway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrYchlMWcdU&t=3745s


  11. Phil what ever it was that 2.2 Tn did not last tooooo long


  12. snow – for Texans, it would be easy to keep a safe distance… ;)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLoYFvbR0XY


  13. Snow- OK , fair enough- TX vs CA it is.

    I have looked around but have not found any mention of analysis of the virus effect from the continued operation of so called essential services. Here in Orange County, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware, Albertsons, Ralphs, etc. have all been open and been busy. Can you shed any light on that?


  14. Britain breaks record for coal-free power generation




  15. So we know that the market will eventually go up. The real question is will it go down first. I think that we are nearing, or really probably have already surpassed an all time high on stock valuations when one takes into account what the next two or three quarters are going to look like from an earnings perspective. Then you have the withdrawal of buyback support, the fact that the rest of the world's economies are in disarray, and the looming specter of coronavirus going exponential again. 

    I'm far from convinced this is a good time to be long anything other than cash. The talking heads on Fox Business were pumping the market again this morning, but I remember the week before the bottom fell out they were saying the exact same things. "Up and up it goes with no end in sight!" And then "oopsie! We've got a huge sell-off today." No mention of the fact that the day before they were saying everything is just grand and nothing can stop the US stock market. 
    And here we are again "This is the best month for stocks since 2002!" or some crazy shit. Oh the best month ever huh? Did they forget that last month it dropped 40%?

    Bottom line is that when the investment thesis is stimlulus and FOMO, I have to ask myself what the hell am I thinking?


  16. Virus / Phil – This goes back to what we discussed yesterday. So with no confinement, we might have additional 1.5M deaths but as we see in NY, when you overwhelm the healthcare system, the death rates goes higher. And we bring the system to its knees and it fails, other sicknesses – cancer, heart conditions, strokes, will become more deadly as well as no one will be around to treat them. So the normal 2.8M deaths might become 4M or more. The virus kills 1.5M people directly and another 2M indirectly. Before you know it, you have 5-6M deaths that where 1/2 could have been avoided. And does the economy recover from that? This rush to re-open simply makes no sense until we can test or vaccinate and there is no plan from the WH for either. Instead, they fire people who have a plan that doesn't match what Trump is saying.


  17. pstas – here in Georgia all of the essential businesses have been open and people going to them everyday.  Our new cases and deaths are dropping significantly each day.  Go to Georgia Dept of Health website if you think I am wrong about out numbers.  No one can explain why all these people are no quarantined yet our numbers are going down.  And the people who are staying home are no longer staying home.  People are having friends over, shopping at Walmart and Target, and going to parks and the lakes. Never made any sense to me why young and healthy people were told to stay home.  And the idea that letting them out is going to cause the cases to go way up is not supported by any numbers.  Young healthy people are not at risk. My wife's mother has diabetes, and we haven't visited her in months.  That is us taking responsibility for our family.  We don't need the government to lock down the country for her safety.  As Georgia gets back open, people will realize that the lock down was not necessary.  Other states will eventually follow.  


  18. StJ – and 7M lives have been saved by lower air pollution


  19. Essential crowds/Pstas – well, I'm not out much here in Altadena, but I go to Trader Joe's in La Canada once every 10 days or so. They limit the people in the store, so we all stand in a line outside, 6 feet apart, with masks/bandanas on, and people without some sort of mask are not allowed in. Takes about half hour in the line before you get inside. They wipe down the carts before handing one to a customer, and they have 6 ft. markers in the checkout lines. People seem to be buying a lot more than usual, so I assume less frequent trips.

    Aldi's in Altadena is the other place I go to – not so busy, bigger store, usually a short line, not such large loads of groceries. The Altadena Aldi's is a little out of the way, so doesn't get the business TJ's does.

    Haven't been to any of the big chains you mention.


  20. rb / lockdown… 

    So you're honestly saying New York should have stayed open?  


  21. rb – So, you just happen to know how many cases there would have been with no quarantine? Really?


  22. Potter-Yes, Every state should have remained open. I think we should have had elderly and people with underlying conditions stay home.  It is a fact that healthy young people have little to no symptoms, so letting them continue to work would not have caused any significant impact. If you had elderly or people with underlying conditions in your home, you should stay home as well.  That would still have left a lot of people still able to work.  


  23. 1020 – Cases is not the issue, it is the impact.  No I don't know how many would have gotten it without quarantine of young healthy people, but that would not matter since they would not have gotten very sick.  And it would have increased herd immunity which is what we need to develop for the next season.  I am not one that thinks that a vaccine is the great answer.  We have flu vaccines and yet people still get the flu.  We need herd immunity and we are not going to get there with people locked at home. A study from Australia just came out that shows not only are young people not as likely to suffer any significant symptoms, they are also less likely to get or transmit the virus. 


  24. rb – ok gotchas. so it's kind of a ;   go-to-work-unless-you-want-to-see-your-parents/go-to-school-unless-your-parents-are-50-or-over/take-your-kids-to-day-care-unless-another-kids-parent-has-underlying-conditions/500-other-tranmission-scenarios-nobody-can-think-of type of situation?


  25. seems reasonable. 


  26. potter / exactly, people having the choice of how to protect their own family rather than the gov't taking over our lives. Georgia is open and we are not going out acting like idiots, have more faith in people.  Makes more sense than shutting down the entire economy.    


  27. rb / the problem with faith in people is its all well and good until money gets involved.  People will make a decision, in a monetary crisis, that will not be in the best interest of public health.  New York is an ultra dense urban population, all walks of life, financial standings, belief systems.  I can see your argument against national lockdowns but it is undeniable that many states needed it.  


  28. Value and small caps seem to be doing way better this week. Can we draw any conclusions from this?  Is this the point where these beaten up segments catch up a bit, right before the rug is pulled out from everyone?


  29. rb, just out of curiosity are you an MD and have some expertise in pandemic response, or do you just not give credence to the recommendations of Fauci, Birx, Gates et al?


  30. Well, so much for today's rally. 

    $2.2Tn/Yodi – Well one day, when we see how much of it was stolen, we'll know where it went so fast.  

    Thinking/Dawg – That's your first problem – thinking!  I advise against it and just go with the flow for now but keep on hand firmly on the exit door at all times.  

    Deaths/StJ – I did the interview yesterday and it will be on tomorrow (Money Talk) and I'm not sure how much they'll use but we had a lengthy discussion about it which I'll summarize.

    We all understand this chart (I hope):

    Flatten the curve: How one chart became a rallying cry against ...

    So, if you run over the top of the line, deaths go up exponentially but what's more important to understand is that the number of people contracting the virus does not change – it is simply spread out over time.  

    That means it's a FACT that everyone will be exposed to the virus at some point.

    From an economic standpoint then, while you do want to minimize deaths by not going over capacity, you also don't want to drag it out longer than necessary. 

    The Healthcare System Capacity of the US is not one thing – it varies greatly by state so it does actually make sense to ENCOURAGE states with excess care capacity to get infected faster and get it over with.

    As I noted yesterday, if NY is an indicator and it turns out 15% of the people (3M in NY) have antibodies and only 300,000 have presented enough to hit the medical system (as confirmed cases) and "only" 22,623 have died (7.5%, though way too early to tell with 230,000 cases still active) then we're talking about a 10% "serious" infection rate and 90% herd immunity from an exposed population.  

    Of the exposed people, let's say 10% die and it's a 1/200 overall chance of dying from the virus and that skews drastically to people over 50 so it's a very Logan's Run kind of future we're looking at with just another major way you can die when you get old – even if you can get re-infected.  If you can't get re-infected, then an unlucky 500,000 to 1.5M will die (I think they'll get bett

    If you can accept that (and we don't have much choice until there is a vaccine) then there's nothing you can do about how many people will eventually be infected so, economically, we want to INCREASE the rate of infection to stay as close to the line as possible in order to decrease the duration of the outbreak.  

    Georgia/Rb – Numbers are not going down – I can't imagine how you have that opinion:

    You can see the day by day of any state here and even your county

    CA and TX are both on similar tracks at the moment so we'll see if the rate of infection changes.  That's all we can do is sit back and watch the little science experiment in action.   Georgia had 4,600 cases on 4/1, 9,900 cases on the 8th, 15,000 cases on the 15th and 21,200 on the 22nd so we'll see how it's going on the 29th but I'm going to guess the over on 27,000 and, of course, those are just the confirmeds.

    Anecdotally, of course the chance of you, as one of the 3,975,000 people NOT infected in your state, are going to be able to tell us how it's not a big deal and your friends and their children have only a 1/160 chance of coming across an infected person so, with even some precautions – it's going to be really hard to get infected or know someone who's been infected.

    Of course, that was Trump's logic on March 1st, when only 30 people in the US were infected.  That's because people don't understand how compounding works.  The virologists call it R (rate of infection) but it's nothing more than a standard compound rate of return, if you are at R1.2 (bad), then an infected person infects one person for every 5 they come in contact with.  That doesn't seem like a big deal and it's not if you limit their contacts but it only takes on R1.2 person to ride a bus with 40 people and now 8 people can be infected and so on and, before you know it, America has 33,000 times more infections in 2 months. 

    As much as they like to believe so, Georgia is not exempt from either science or math in this case.


  31. It also appears that people can get re-infected which would be another factor to consider! 

    In any case, I am still staying home for now. Of course, if we had more competent leadership, maybe that would make a difference as people would consume actual facts rather unproven (or deadly) remedies and conspiracy theories! It's going to take trust to rebuild confidence in the system and we are short of both now.


  32. Well, SPG has gotten to the point where I don't think it can be ignored.  At $64.25, their $8.40 dividend is almost 15%.  Yes, they own shopping malls (BOO!!!) but they are generally top-tier ones and a lot of weak ones are going to fail, driving more traffic to the survivors.   They just announced they are opening 49 (out of 230) malls starting May 1st, checking people's temperatures and requiring masks.  They will also limit it to 1 person per 50 sq ft of space and that's a lot more crowded than malls have been in the past few years anyway.  cheeky

    They just bought 80% of TCO (24 malls), taking advantage of their troubles.  

    Year End 31st Dec 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020E 2021E CAGR / Avg
    Total Revenue
    $m

    4,871 5,266 5,435 5,527 5,645 5,755 5,231 5,464 3.39%
    Operating Profit
    $m

    2,416 2,798 2,669 2,677 3,215 2,806     3.04%
    Net Profit
    $m

    1,409 1,828 1,839 1,948 2,440 2,102 2,225 2,385 8.33%
    EPS Reported
    $

    4.43 5.88 5.87 6.24 7.87 6.81     9.00%
    EPS Normalised
    $

    4.33 5.47 6.04 6.64 6.94 7.14 6.91 7.54 10.5%
    EPS Growth
    %

    +29.4 +26.2 +10.5 +10.0 +4.42 +2.97 -3.33 +9.12  
    PE Ratio
    x

              8.01 8.28 7.59  
    PEG
     

                0.908 0.945  
     

    SPG is $20Bn at $65 so roughly 10x usual earnings and mostly they will still collect those rents.  Some stores will go bust but they'll replace them so the hits will be limited unless the virus is much worse than we think it is.  

    In the LTP, we're happy to get 1,000 shares cheaply so we can sell 10 2022 $45 puts for $14 ($14,000) and consider that free money with a net $31 entry.  As they are such a bargain, I think we can add 20 of the 2022 $40 ($30)/65 ($20) bull call spreads for $10 ($20,000) and then we have a net $7,000 entry on the $30,000 spread.  

    For our Dividend Portfolio, let's:

    • Buy 500 shares of SPG for $64.44 ($32,220) 
    • Sell 5 2022 $65 calls for $20 ($10,000) 
    • Sell 5 2022 $45 puts for $14 ($7,000) 

    That nets us into the stock for $15,220 and the dividend alone is $4,200 (27.5%) annually and, if we get called away at $65, that's $32,500 back for another $17,280 (113%) profit over 2 years.  Not bad for a boring, dividend stock.

    Re-infected/StJ – If that's the case, life expectancy is going to be down quite a bit in the future.  


  33. rb

    While I do have to respect your right to a contrary opinion, I feel compelled to share a very opposite perspective of daily life in the most densely populous part of Georgia – Atlanta and its suburbs.

    Almost all restaurants are open for take out only (at least those whose patrons are accustomed to using utensils). Malls are essentially closed; clinics accommodate patients via telemedicine; barbershops/hairstylists just opened with stringent requirements (masks and gloves required for all and sanitizing after each patron), religious services are suspended.

    Socially, folks are walking around neighborhoods but religiously maintain social distancing and are absolutely not getting together in private homes. This may not be the case in other parts of Georgia where some still may listen to what Gov Kemp says without wetting themselves. I direct you to Geo Carlin's classic quip about the intelligence of the average person.

    Consider what scientists – who have the best long-term interests of people in mind – have to say  as opposed to those political spokespeople who are motivated by the need to re-elect our present leaders  - and prevent them from facing criminal prosecution – are spinning with their fingers crossed behind their backs.


  34. 8800 – These are the same scientists that modeled that millions would die even with lock downs. I prefer to look at the actual numbers of what is happening as the scientists have proven to be unreliable in projecting what will happen.  And you prove my point, we could have put all of the precautions you mention in place for all businesses including nonessential without the lockdown and had similar results.  And outside of Atlanta, other than 1 county, the state has almost no deaths. Why have Krgoer, Publix, Walmart, etc. not had tones of cases since they never closed? Becasue they institued precatutions, something that every busines could have done.  I live in North ATL, and most of my area is treating this like a vacation.  Playing golf, tennis, swim parties, going to lake, etc.  I have noted most of my neighbors constantly have friends over.  But these are all young, healthy people who could be working.  Kemp mentioned yesterday we have plenty of testing available, but do not have people coming forward to be tested.  


  35. SPG - I haven't seen an announcement. Is SPG going to actually pay the May dividend?


  36. rp,

    In the interest of not taking up more bandwidth over a narrow, regional issue, I will admit that we have vastly different perspectives of the same – or adjacent – social realities and just close with the reminder that  Kemp was the governor who admitted on TV that he didn't know that asymptomatic people could transmit the virus. Kemp saying that there is plenty of testing available in Ga.has the same level of credibility as Trump erroneously claiming the same thing nationally.

    All the best


  37. In a bizarre twist, Mayo clinic in Scottsdale is furloughing healthcare workers because with the shift to coronavirus care (and the severe lack of coronavirus patients), and the stoppage of elective surgery, and people generally afraid to go to the doctor unless they are dying or have coronavirus, Mayo hasn't got enough customers to keep the staff working. 


  38. shhhhh don't tell the Super market any of this


  39. I am Georgia also and have been closely tracking cases each day and we have certainly not had substantially less and less each day.  And, only 35% of cases are age 60+,  with 61% of cases are ages 18-59.  So neither end of that information is correct.


  40. Hey all.  Apologies for the long post, and while I enjoy the banter and the differing perspectives, I feel the need to weigh in here based on my experience with the virus.  There is a reason governments have done what they’ve done, and the biggest issue is how little we still know about the virus.  While it’s true that many people are asymptomatic or experience very mild symptoms, we don’t know why it hits some people very hard and some hardly at all.  I live in midtown Manhattan near Times Square and Penn Station, so I”m in the middle of it (although arguably East Elmhurst and Corona in Queens is the epicenter of the epicenter), and I contracted the virus and first started showing symptoms six weeks ago.  I’m 40, I eat healthy, lift weights, run regularly and am in very good shape with no underlying conditions—and this virus nearly put me into the hospital.  My symptoms were very bad the first week (did not go to the hospital but I came very close), and I started improving on Day 5, before relapsing on Day 6/7 for several days.  I felt pretty much back to normal by Day 12/13, with the exception of some congestion and the lingering pressure in my lungs.  I went to Mount Sinai on Day 18 to donate plasma, at which time they again tested me for the virus.  Five days later I received my test results—still positive, although they also said I had very strong antibodies in my blood.  I again relapsed on Day 24 with the pressure and irritation in my lungs getting worse, and the deterioration in my breathing forced me to go to the hospital on Day 26 (Although I believe this relapse was from the virus itself, but rather the lingering damage the virus did to my lungs after going for a walk and a bike ride on Day 22/23).  They checked my vitals in one of the triage tents they set up outside of the ER, and everything was good—they would not admit me (thankfully) as their criteria for admission for difficulty breathing was only if you couldn’t speak a full sentence without gasping for air—and I was not at that point.  Two days later my breathing improved and I went for my third test on Day 29, at which time I was finally negative.  However, I’m now on Day 43 since the onset of my symptoms and I can’t walk for more than a mile without my lungs flaring up and my breathing becoming labored, at which time I have to relax for a couple days until the pressure and irritation subsides.  Having lived through the virus (and continuing to live with the lingering effects), I fear for other people catching it—and I don’t wish this on my worst enemy—not even that dimwit cult leader that currently occupies the White House.  With that said, I agree with Phil that we are all eventually going to catch it (hopefully not more than once, but I’m skeptical about immunity as well—they just don’t know enough about it yet) and I also agree with Phil’s “Phuket” theory….as I’m already seeing that here in the city and have discussed the same with friends.  Many people are just going to say “Phuket” and take their chances.  This is a delicate balance and it’s also a statistics exercise as to transmission and containment vs economic damage—and I completely agree that it’s a regional decision—but it is one that is not to be taken lightly.  When this virus hits you hard, it is not “just a cold or a flu” (and I am guilty of downplaying it with those exact words back in February and early March).  It’s amazing how your perspective shifts when you go through it or when you have friends and colleagues hospitalized or even die from it.  I just hope that these areas of the country that are opening up in advance of having adequate testing and contact tracing in place don’t suffer a fraction of what has happened here.  Stay safe all.


  41. Marz17 – Good write up and glad to hear you are fully recovered.


  42. Marz17:  Thank you for giving us an account of what you went through.  It is useful for us to understand how taxing even a relatively "good" experience with the virus is.   I am glad that this nightmare is largely over for you.   I just lost my beloved friend and assistant to the virus — she had a bad response and her family and I are heartbroken.  Stay well!


  43. Marz17 – Thanks for giving us your first hand account and good to hear you are on your way to recovery. 

    What kind of medications and treatment did you take when recovering?

    I have a few Dr friends who have been working continuously at their hospital – apart from initial flu shots, they have been doing steam 4-5 times per day. They also have like 3-4 layers of clothes and masks during the day. 


  44. Marz17 -  thank you for sharing your experience with Covid.  I am glad you have recovered. 


  45. Atlanta Mayor was just on daily show.  Made good points and mentioned the pressure they are getting to raise the curve closer to Healthcare Line (at about 7 mins in).  As I said, this is what "THEY" are deciding to do – keep us right at the line and get this thing over with.  

    SPG/Dawg – They paid Feb but I haven't seen a forward announcement.  They paid out $2.5Bn in dividends last year so suspending the dividends to pay the bills wouldn't bother me at all if it helps them ride this out.  That's why I left plenty of room to buy more if they do drop the dividend. 

    Hold the Mayo/Dawg – There's going to be a lot of backlash after as people finally go to the doctor – many too late.  

    BA/BDC – I don't believe that either.  Either we develop herd immunity in a couple of years or we simply live with the fact that people over 60 randomly die of the virus from now on and sometimes people younger and that's not going to stop us from enjoying life while we can.

    People forget that only 200 years ago, life expectancy was 35.  People died from all sorts of things and that was in developed countries – African and Asia were lucky to make 30.  Still, they lived their lives and had their accomplishments and built a whole World (which we have since ruined) and I bet if they had planes – they'd be getting on them – despite the risks.  Anyone who spent 3 weeks crossing the Atlantic in a wooden boat with plague-infested rats would laugh at you for worrying about who sits next to you on a plane!  

    3 world maps of life expectancy e1538651530288

    Thanks so much for sharing Marz and I'm so sorry you had to go through (are going through) this experience.  I would very much like to know if you have updates as your recovery progresses and, of course, notes from the war zone are always appreciated.  


  46. Thanks for the well wishes all—I was fortunate.  JohnC1–sorry for your loss.  What makes it even harder is that you can’t be with people who are passing or even have a funeral after they pass.  All of it is very sad.  I too have lost a couple friends (all older), and I have friends and people on my team who have lost friends and family members—ages ranging from 30’s into 90’s.  As for medication, the only thing the doctor told me (this was March 17, mind you….so still “early” in our struggles with the virus in the city) was Tylenol for the fever and drink a lot of water.  That was it—and that’s what I did.  And I can’t tell you how thankful we all are for the doctors, nurses, EMTs, police, firemen/women, grocery store clerks, janitors…..all those essential workers that are carrying us through this and keeping our economy here running.  The 7:00 cheering on of those essential workers that happens every night all across the city is incredible and has brought us all closer together.   My team and I haven’t stopped working (I run one of the largest construction programs in the city—and we were deemed “essential” throughout, although we don’t hold a candle to the real “essential” workers—the doctors, nurses and personnel on the front lines fighting this war), which probably didn’t help me when I was sick, as I was on the phone all day/every day throughout my bout with the virus.  I’ll definitely keep you all updated as things change, but interestingly enough I saw a Starbucks (love them or hate them) on 8th Ave and 40th open up a couple days ago, so there are signs of life coming back!  And it sounds like the governor is leaning towards opening up some more in mid-May.


  47. Life span/Phil – one thing to realize, that's an average. People weren't keeling over at age 35. A lot of people died in infancy and young childhood, pulling that average down. Once you made it into adulthood, you generally had a pretty good chance of the proverbial biblical span. There's a comment floating around, maybe apocryphal, from Margaret Mead, to the effect that a sign of a compassionate, thinking culture was finding skeletons with healed femur breaks. Because the group took care of the person while the break healed.


  48. Marz17/Virus,

    Good to know you recovered and also helped by donating the plasma. So was it just Tylenol and water for the entire 43 days? Did they recommend any vitamin C or other immunity boosters?

    Thanks


  49. JohnC1/Virus

    JohnC1…sorry for the loss and wish strength and all good vibes and health to their friends and families.


  50. Pat / Tylenol - The Tylenol was only while I had the fever, which subsided after five days, so I stopped taking it.  No other supplements or immunity boosters (and definitely not hydrocloroquine!!!!  Sorry…..I had to….).  And to clarify, I didn’t mean that Cuomo is going to open up more Starbucks In mid-May (lol!)….I meant that he is going to start relaxing some of the restrictions to allow more businesses to start operating in mid-May


  51. Marz – thanks for sharing the details of your experiences. Best wishes for a speedy full recovery.


  52. Marz17 and pat_swap thanks for the condolences.  The friend who died of the coronavirus was one of the greatest people I've ever known — incredible vitality, force of will, and the biggest heart around.  Before she worked for me, she founded a school for severely underprivileged kids and managed to get nearly 100% of her students into higher education for 25 years.  She transformed a lot of lives.  When you look beyond the statistics of the coronavirus outbreak at the actual people it has taken from us, it is devastating.


  53. Pence does not wear a mask in Mayo Clinic visit where masks are required.  I would say they should have denied entry except who knows what kind of penalty Trump would impose.


  54. pDence was told not to wear a mask….


  55. Hi Marz17 – thank you for sharing your experience and I'm glad you are feeling better. Do you mind if I share your story? Has anyone else here been infected with COVID-19?


  56. Marz, thanks for haring, and as a runner about your age I'm wondering about your recovery and how it goes. Lot's of folks are well wishing your recovery but you have significant recovery left to go it sounds like. I've been reading a lot about folks struggling with recovery.

    Phil dismisses me ("laughs at me") for some odd reason but the misconception this virus is "like the flu" and everyone will be flying normally again doesn't reflect reality. It sounds like a high percentage of recoverees aren't back to "enjoying life as usual." 


  57. shhhhhhhh don't tell the Russel this.


  58. Hi Ilene.  I do not mind if you share my story—especially if you think it can help people.  And BDC, you are correct—I am about four weeks into my recovery and I am far from being back to normal with respect to my breathing.  Otherwise I do feel fine though.


  59. I don’t get where you think I dismiss  you, BDC, I take this virus very seriously!  It is very important that people like Marz tell their stories to give other people a dose of much-needed reality.  The fact that I think people will be willing to risk getting the virus is not the same thing as me diminishing the danger – I am just being realistic about the risk reward along with human nature and the economics of the situation. 
     


  60. Marz / covid

    really sorry to hear it man – but eerily similar to me. 

    im 36, also healthy and live in Astoria.

    I believe i contracted it from my wife (school teacher) as the timing of me being at home didn't make sense. Her classroom assistant was complaining of no taste and smell before it was a documented symptom. My wife never showed any symptoms.

    I was in bed for almost a week – but it never really developed into severe breathing problems, my pulseOx meter would read low sometimes but then level out the next day. All the other symptoms of a bad flu, the exhaustion was so intense, you could have told me Obama was at the front door to congratulate me on my life's work and i would have likely stayed in bed. -

    HOWEVER,  day 10, i was feeling a lot better, or so i thought, and really just having a lot of anxiety from cabin fever, so i went for a run.  I got home, extremely short of breath, burning in my lungs, chest pain – i almost called 911.  Lasted about 4 hours.  Many days of sore throats followed, lingering cough, sour taste in mouth.

    Long story short (and after a few more days of fear), its turned out to be acid reflux.  Something i have NEVER even remotely suffered from in my life. I didn't even know what the sensation of heartburn felt like.  

    I did a video call with my ENT doc and she said that a lot of post-'Rona patients of hers have been suffering from similar symptoms. There may be some underlying trauma from the lung infection that affects the esophagus.  The stress of the disease both physically and mentally plays a huge roll too. 

    I was prescribed an antibiotic to kill off any lingering sinusitis and then reflux meds which have made a huge difference. I feel like full recovery is in my sights. 

    This is just one mans story but i wanted to share incase it was an avenue you hadn't explored yet. 

     

    One last anecdotal thought..  The absolute biggest problem with Covid19, is the unknown.  Stories like yours, to people dying terrifying deaths, to people feeling like that had a heavy weekend on the booze and just need to rest for a night, to people literally have ZERO symptoms and everything in between.  

    Combine that, with the massive differences in state populations, the different types of people in every city and it really does remind you of how hard it is to manage these united states on any level. 


  61. Potter—thank you for sharing and I’m sorry you’re going through all of this as well.  Definitely sounds like a typical ‘rona story—and the after-effects we keep hearing about, like yours, are mind-boggling. I saw my primary care last week and she said my lungs sound good and that she’s seeing a lot of “recoverees” with the same lung issues I’m having.  She said to take it slow and ease back into exercising, and if I don’t see any improvement in the next month or two she will refer me to a pulmonologist.   Time will tell, but I agree with Phil on taking the emotion out of it and looking at it from a numbers/actuarial perspective—as this is a website about investing, after all, that’s why we’re here—but when you add in the personal stories coupled with the wide swath of how and who this impacts, it is quite worrying.  But I do appreciate everyone’s perspectives on this board, as it’s good to hear different points of view. I hope stories like mine and Potter’s can help give people some insight and perspective though.


  62. rperi – If you look at the charts on the DPH website the # of new cases and # of deaths IS decreasing significantly each day and has been the last couple of weeks.  If you are tracking total cases, that is meaningless as it is a commulative number.  Of the 25,000 cases, only 4,900 were hospitalized.  I believe the virus is more widespread than thought and i expect cases to continu.  However, I also believe it is not nearly as deadly as we have been led to believe. Since we are testing more more positives will show up, but they are people who are not requiring hospitalization. Even hard hit Albany still has bed capacity.  

    As far as the ages, 18-59 is a pretty large range.  The DPH did have a breakdown of the deaths but has taken it off the website.  The breakdown showed most of those were over 50 and almost all had an underlying condition. Not sure why the took that down, unless they felt it might show young healthy people that the virus is not that dangerous to them.  


  63. Hello All. I am a physician and of course have been following Covid Story  since it got started. There is a lot we don't know and understand about this virus currently. I am a Radiologist and recent data shows a very high incidence of Pulmonary embolism and unusual Large Vessel Occlusion Strokes in young people. The NYC EMTs are also seeing much higher rates of chest pain calls where the patient is dead when they arrive. Are these Thrombotic Myocardial Infarcts also? Maybe the new onset reflux is direct effect of virus on Esophaeal muscle, we just don't know. It certainly causes heart inflammation, myocarditis in some patients. Bottom line its this is just not "the routine flu" and we still have a hell of a lot to learn about how this effects people


  64. Thank you, Marz17!


  65. Marz17 and Potter – thank you thank you thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Seeing 1Mil+ affected and 55,000+ deaths on the various covid stats tracking website is one thing but realizing that there is an agonizing (and some times deadly) story behind every one of those cases gives you a different perspective on life.  Glad to hear you are both on the mend and hopefully no relapses. Once again, thank you so much for sharing.


  66. potter:  Studies have shown gastrointestinal manifestations of CovID-19 for a few months now: 

    https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(20)30281-X/pdf

    Apparently the virus enters through ACE-2 receptors which are expressed in the lungs (obviously) but also in your gastrointestinal lining, kidneys and liver.  Which is what scares me, because I have a history with liver disease.


  67. It can even effect the Brain and Central Nervous System directly. One of the NYC ER physicians was so overwhelmed by the personal trauma of caring for so many dying patients she committed Suicide. It is taking a fierce toll.


  68. millardd: Yes coronaviruses CAN have physiological effects on the nervous system.  Some neurons also express ACE2 and that is believed to be the reason why some people lose their sense of smell and taste in the early stages becauses the viruses enter through that area of the brain.


  69. COVID-19/ after hours

    A lot has been written today about it. First, I am very happy that one of our PSW members is almost recovered. I hope he continues to get better. 
    We have heard about the symptoms caused by this virus. These include, but perhaps are not a complete list:

    General: FEVER above 100.5F, malaise, weakness, listlessness, joint pains, muscle aches, loss of apetite,

    Respiratory: COUGH, nasal congestion, sinus pain, shortness of breath, chest wall discomfort/pain, wheezing

    Heart: severe chest pain (different from chest WALL pain and likened to a heart attack), pain radiating to arm, neck, jaw and associated shortness of breath.

    Neurological: loss of taste, loss of smell, headache, blurred vision, partial loss of vision, stroke, confusion, severe neck stiffness

    Gastrointestinal: general pain in abdomen, right upper abdominal pain (from inflammation of liver), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

    ENT: loss of smell, loss of taste.

    Vascular: see below.

    As noted by others, the virus can cause damage to the heart muscle, as well as blockage of the heart blood vessels, inability to breath from blockage of lung/pulmonary blood vessels (pulmonary embolism), direct inflammation of brain (encephalitis), and stroke from brain blood vessel blockage from clots. 

    Personally, I think that while we have seen the maximum risk of complications and mortality in the older population, the younger are not necessarily without risk as cardiac arrhythmia, myocardial infarction and myocarditis, pulmonary embolism and generalized clotting in the body ( hypercoagulable state) are increasingly being documented.
    There are so many features of this virus that we are discovering as we continue to see more and more patients. Even the nuances of respiratory support are different from other conditions associated with respiratory distress/failure. The biggest issue is that besides the known risk factors, we don't know who (besides the elderly) will get really sick very quickly and how to identify these patients beforehand. It also appears to be one of the most easily transmissible viruses out there, as evidenced by anecdotes of restaurant diners getting sick from one person, presumed due to air conditioning, taxi drivers getting sick from passengers, whether from the passenger breathing or from contact with luggage or other surfaces in the taxi? 

    We are learning…
    Just putting out a little information, and you all may know all this already, but if it helps anyone avoid even a single complication or loss of life in a loved one, I would be thrilled.


  70. Thanks, Maya – the rest of you, she didn't mention it, but Maya is one of PSW's physician members; that's why she can give a good, clear description. Me, I'm a retired med school teacher, but please don't bring a patient around me – my field is epidemiology so I diagnose and treat populations.
     


  71. Maya & Snow, thanks to you both for your contributions, I read all your posts.


  72. Good morning!

    Thanks all for sharing a great discussion.  So glad you are feeling better Potter.  

    I had dinner with my Mom last night (from 6 feet away on her porch but progress!), came home and passed out so only just catching up this morning.

    Indexes look like they want to give it another try ahead of GDP at 8:30 and there shouldn't be too much damage to Q1 but Q2 is going to be a biblical disaster.  We have a Fed Meeting today and Powell at 2:30 but we'll be doing our Webinar then so live coverage.