The Economy Or Maybe Your Life: How Much Pain Are You Willing To Endure?

Americans are facing a difficult dilemma during the pandemic. We have to decide between the economy or maybe your life or my life.

How long are we willing to purposefully shut down our economy to combat the coronavirus and risk losing even more people due to a great depression?

I don't know the answer, which is why I'm turning to you to hear your input.

My gut instinct is that most of our nation is willing to go through at most a 2-month (how wrong was I updating this post in 2021!) long lockdown/quarantine/shelter-in-place before we demand our local and federal governments allow most businesses to operate again, with modifications for safety.

As of March 23 ,2020, there are supposedly ~35,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 458 deaths (~1.3% mortality rate so far). The number of cases will surely go up as more testing becomes available and more carriers infect others in their community. On the positive side, the mortality rate should also go down as the denominator grows. You can check the daily numbers on

To put some perspective on the number of coronavirus cases and deaths so far, please note that since 2010, the CDC estimates that from 12,000 to 61,000 Americans die annually from the flu. Roughly 31 million Americans so far caught the flu during the 2019-2020 season.

Put differently, the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. needs to increase by 35X – 175X to match the number of flu deaths that occur each year. With the California Governor saying roughly 25.5 million people in California will get the coronavirus within eight weeks if no measures are put in place, the numbers are plausible if we believe him. Some scientists have postulated that 60% of the American population will eventually get the coronavirus.

Let me be clear that I'm not saying the flu is like the coronavirus. COVID-19 looks to be at least 10X deadlier. I'm just providing some numbers so we can think about what we are doing to prevent an unknown toll on human life.

At the same time, we know that millions of Americans will file for unemployment benefits in March, and millions more will file for unemployment benefits each month we are under lockdown. We also know that the S&P 500 is down ~30% so far and that a recession is almost an inevitability.

Eventually, millions of Americans will lose everything. The unemployment rate will skyrocket. Families will break apart. Children will go hungry. Homelessness will increase. Burglary and homicides will increase. Millions more children will be trapped in a cycle of poverty.

The result will be even more strain on the government and on our community to help those who've been most adversely affected. If this strain becomes too great, even more people will suffer.

How Many People Died During The Great Depression?

One would think that the more people living in poverty, more people would die during a great depression. However, life expectancy actually went up during the last one. Ironically, it is actually economic prosperity that increases U.S. mortality.

Here are some interesting insights from

In the first few years after the 1929 stock market crash, the only major cause of death that increased was suicide, says José A. Tapia Granados, a professor of politics at Drexel University and co-author of a 2009 research paper in PNAS about life and death during the Great Depression.

While suicides went up, Tapia found that deaths from cardiovascular and renal diseases stabilized between 1930 and 1932, the worst years of the depression. Traffic deaths dropped in 1932. Deaths from tuberculosis, the flu and pneumonia also declined.

As a result, the average U.S. life expectancy rose from about 57 in 1929 to 63 in 1933. In both decades, people of color had a lower life average expectancy than white people. Yet when the depression hit, the average life expectancy for people of color rose more quickly than that of whites, increasing by about eight years from 1929 to 1933.

According to the Association For Safe International Road Travel, below are the following crash and death statistics for America:

  • Over 37,000 people die in road crashes each year
  • An additional 2.35 million are injured or disabled
  • Over 1,600 children under 15 years of age die each year
  • Nearly 8,000 people are killed in crashes involving drivers ages 16-20
  • Road crashes cost the U.S. $230.6 billion per year, or an average of $820 per person
  • Road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad

Given this data, a clear silver lining from the coronavirus-induced shutdowns is that fewer people will die from car accidents since fewer people will have to commute to work. Further, given more people will tighten their spending, more people will reduce unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, and overeating.

In another study by Bluestone, Harrison and Baker, “The Causes and Consequences of Economic Dislocation” from 1981, for every one percentage point increase in unemployment, they estimated a 37,000 increase in deaths, of which, 20,000 are from heart attacks, 920 are from suicides, 650 are from homicides, and the rest are undisclosed.

If we get to a 20% unemployment rate from 3.6% currently, according to the authors, this might result in roughly 610,500 more deaths. In this scenario, it seems that there will be more deaths in America attributable to a great depression than to the coronavirus itself.

Estimated initial jobless claims 2020 due to coronavirus recession

How Much Of A Net Worth Decline Can You Endure?

The uncertainty of the lockdown period is what really hurts Americans. Because we do not know when the lockdown will end, we will have a difficult time planning for the future. As a result, we will rationally hoard as many resources as possible (food, toilet paper, water, cash, ammunition etc) in order to prepare for the worst.

If various governments can give us a detailed time-line guidance, everybody will feel much better and be able to plan and spend accordingly.

For example, if we assume that it takes up to 14 days from exposure for coronavirus symptoms to manifest and another 21 days for a person to recover from the virus, it would be helpful for the government to provide this informational guidance for a 45-day lockdown period.

How quickly do coronavirus symptoms show up

The guidance can be one of several different lockdown scenarios if they want to hedge their bets.

Unfortunately, because so much is still unknown about COVID-19, this type of guidance has not been forthcoming. Instead, people like the Governor of California are saying that schools could be closed until Fall (in 5-6 months) without any clear guidance as to why. As a result, families in California are freaking out about what to do. Californians are logically extrapolating that most businesses will also be shuttered until Fall as well.

This is a failure by the California government and governments everywhere to communicate and show strong leadership. The Wuhan lockdown lasted for roughly 50 days and economic activity is returning. Why not deliver this message and use Wuhan as precedence?

If you are a deca-millionaire Governor who has aspirations of becoming POTUS one day, you can afford to wait things out for another 5-6 months. Unfortunately, tens of millions of Californians cannot. And if you bankrupt tens of millions of people in your own state, you can kiss your aspirations of POTUS goodbye.

To add some color, I decided to ask several people about how much financial pain they would be willing to endure before demanding the government allow businesses to reopen. I've also shared some of my own thoughts.

27-year-old preschool teacher with no kids.

I share an apartment with three other people. My rent is only $800/month. It's a terrible apartment, but I've chosen to live frugally to save as much money as possible. I spend around $1,600 a month and I've been saving about $2,000 a month for the past six months. I've got about five months of living expenses saved up before I run out.

We've been creating videos at home for our students to watch. As of now, our school plans to pay us for the month of March and April, even though school is shut down. After that, our paychecks will probably stop unless the coronavirus goes away.

I only have about $10,000 invested in the stock market. I'm using this opportunity to buy a little bit of stock ($500), but I also want to save more more just in case I get laid off or don't get a paycheck until the fall or longer.

I would like the government lockdown to be lifted by May 1 (~40 days). My net worth would likely be completely wiped out by the end of the year if we go much longer than a two month lockdown. Most of my friends who are teachers will likely be laid off. I have plenty of friends in the restaurant and travel industry who have already lost 50% – 100% of their income.

We need the government to provide Universal Basic Income for the duration of the lockdown ASAP. They are the ones who are forcing our schools and businesses to close for good reason. I hope they are also the ones who will help us survive during this time crunch. $1,000 a month will help me and my friends a lot.

Flu fatality rate versus Coronavirus COVID-19 fatality rate

36-year old mother of two.

I'm a freelancer who used to make about $5,000 a month doing various web design projects. I expect my business to decline by 80% next month as my clients take a wait-and-see approach. We were counting on my freelance income to help us buy a home over the next couple of years. Maybe real estate prices will finally become more affordable.

Luckily, my husband works in the medical field where demand is high. He makes about $170,000 a year. On the downside, my biggest fear is that he will catch the coronavirus at the hospital, has to self-quarantine for 14 days, and then spreads the virus to the rest of our family. We live in a 900 sqft, two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment.

We've got about six months of expenses saved up in an emergency fund. But we also have about 90% of our net worth invested in the stock market. It is so painful to watch. I am very scared about our future. When the Governor said schools might not open until Fall, I had a nervous breakdown.

I'm using the decline in freelance work to homeschool my children while my husband works. I would like businesses to open up after 30 days. Based on what is being proposed in the Senate, we will not be eligible to receive any financial benefits.

Although the situation looks scary in places like Italy, they have an older demographic with different social customs. We cannot purposefully destroy our economy for longer than a month. I think the coronavirus has already been here for a while.

Median age of people dying in Italy due to the coronavirus COVID-19

32-year old food delivery man.

Business is booming, but I'm not making as much as I used to because I lost my other side job as a DJ 3X a week. I'm getting 3X more tips now than I was before the lockdown. Customers who would never tip are now at least tipping me $2 – $4.

I used to make about $4,000 a month at my day job. During really good months, I was making $6,000 a month from my side hustles with a lot more freedom. Due to the coronavirus, I'm back down to about $3,000 a month. It's enough for me to live. But I'm not saving much to get ahead.

I'm nervous about the future, but also hopeful too. I feel patriotic doing my part to help people get their food. With so few people on the streets, I feel safer.

This lockdown isn't going to last forever and I think a lot of things will get back to normal by summer. In the meantime, I'm going to continue delivering meals and groceries because that's where the opportunity is right now. The lockdown has to end by June 1 (70 days).

Jobs most vulnerable to layoffs during COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic

38-year old restauranteur and father of one.

Our small restaurant (14 tables) is still open during the shelter-in-place order, but only for pickup. We weren't on the various food delivery services because they took too much in fees. But we're going to sign up for at least one of the big ones now.

Business is down about 80% and rent is still due. I have let go of four people. Like you, we still need to pay preschool tuition this month and next month as well. Thanks to the preschool community and the surrounding neighborhood, we are still getting orders.

I don't think we can last longer than a 2-month lockdown. We need to be allowed to open up within two months. To make our restaurant safer, we plan to remove some tables to have a larger separation of space. We will install a hand sanitizer dispenser in the front and another one in the back. We don't expect people to return like they used to. But at least by lifting the lockdown, more people will likely drop by for a meal and order take out.

If the Universal Basic Income proposal is based on 2018 tax returns, we won't qualify for any help.

Business cash buffers

42-year old father of two (me).

Between December 15, 2019 – March 5, 2020, I was sick with a terrible cough. You can hear my husky voice in several previous podcast episodes. Before this incident, I had never been sick for longer than one month. My mind started to fray in February as I began wondering everyday whether I had the coronavirus. I'm sure I caught the cold from my son who caught it at preschool.

I never had a fever during this time. There might have been one or two days I felt a little achy. But I had enough energy to continue writing 3X a week and play sports two times a week. However, the three months were difficult because I also had to take care of a toddler and a newborn. Every day, I wondered whether I would get my baby daughter sick. She ultimately came down with a cough for five days.

With now roughly 25% of our net worth in equities (~21% before the selloff), we've so far taken a ~7% hit to our net worth with the S&P 500 down about 30%. Our real estate holdings are also in a precarious situation if the S&P 500 goes down much further and does not rebound in the second half. Overall, we expect to take up to a ~20% hit to our net worth during this bear market versus a ~35% hit during the 2008 – 2009 bear market.

Although both my wife and I don't have jobs, we do have various sources of passive income that provides for ~160% of our existing living expenses if we don't cut anything. With the excess investment income, we've been saving and reinvesting the proceeds since I left work in 2012.

As stock dividend payouts and several rental income sources gets cut, I expect our passive income to decline by ~20%. A 20% and 30% decline in our passive income will result in a reduction in expense coverage to 133% and 117%, respectively. To increase the buffer, we will cut down on extraneous expenses if things get more dire.

We also have Financial Samurai, which continues to generate online revenue despite a shutdown. Although traffic is down 16% YoY for the trailing 30 days as people work from home and shun their finances, there is little risk of Financial Samurai shutting down. Operating expenses are extremely low. For example, you can start your own website right now for less than $5/month. You can customize a free generic template. You also don't have to pay yourself anything.

I would like California to open for business after a 45-day shelter-in-place. A 45-day shelter-in-place order should be sufficient to flatten the curve. 45 days provides for 15 days of quarantine and 30 days of recovery if you have the virus. I also expect folks who end up sick to take more time off to protect their community. In the meantime, I expect the government to provide at least $1,000 in Universal Basic Income for two months or at least a total of $2,000.

Potential number of deaths of despair due to the coronavirus lockdowns and economic shutdown

Because our government and the media have sufficiently scared us straight, when the shelter-in-place ends, the majority of Americans will be much more careful going out when sick, much more diligent washing their hands, and much more considerate in practicing social distancing.

Losing 30% of our net worth (S&P 500 down about 70%) is where I draw the line and will start protesting to get our small and large businesses open again. At this level of net worth loss, I will risk getting the coronavirus to support local businesses by getting a haircut, getting a beer at a bar, buying some flowers for my wife, getting a massage, and going to the mall. So far, we've been delivery-ordering 90% of our food to support our local restaurants.

I assume by the time our net worth is down 30%, our country will be safer from the coronavirus since we will have likely been shut down for longer than three months. I also assume given our relatively conservative net worth asset allocation, if we get down 30%, millions more will feel even more pain and lobby for change.

Recommended et Worth Allocation By Age

How Long Are You Willing To Suffer?

It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours.” – Harry S. Truman.

To combat the coronavirus, I'd love to know how long you'd be willing to shelter-in-place and how much of a net worth loss you're willing to take before you demand the government open up businesses again. How do we make sure the cure is not worse than the virus?

When do you think the inflection point will be when the economic loss of a lockdown will be much more devastating than the loss incurred by the coronavirus? By answering the two survey questions below, I think we can get a decent idea of when Americans can get back to business.

The coronavirus figures coming out of China and South Korea look promising. These countries went through a serious two-month lockdown. I think most of us are willing to do the same provided our government communicates a clear plan why.

It seems like the entire world will only recover after there is a successful, concerted global effort to control the virus. Though China is mostly back in business, its stock market is still struggling. They can make all the widgets they want, but if the rest of the world isn't buying, there's no point.

How long are you willing to lockdown/quarantine/shelter-in-place and close businesses to combat the virus?

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How much of a net worth hit are you willing to take to combat the coronavirus?

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Update 2021: All I've got to say is thank goodness there are several efficacious vaccines being rolled out. Also thank goodness stocks and real estate have rebounded. Let's all hang on until her immunity!

Pandemic Post-Mortem 2023!

The pandemic is finally declared over as of May 11, 2023. HOORAY! It is surreal that we all went through this time period and I decided to write some wins and some regrets we had during the pandemic

My biggest regret was not seeing my parents more. I'm also sad my kids haven't gotten to know their grandparents. Time is so precious! The pandemic took away at least two visits. We plan to make up for lost time. 

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After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. Definitely run your numbers to see how you’re doing. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Update June 10, 2020: Lockdowns are easing across the country and by July 1, the majority of the country will no longer be under lockdown. The stock market has returned to an all-tim high and I think it's worth looking for any laggard real estate listings from sellers who think the worst is yet to come.

Related: Personal Lessons Learned From The 2008 – 2009 Financial Crisis

187 thoughts on “The Economy Or Maybe Your Life: How Much Pain Are You Willing To Endure?”

  1. Steven W Vogel

    No one had to die from COVID-19, as well as many other diseases. In our Declaration of Independence, we are guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So where and when did everything start to fail. Treachery and Tyranny and the path to the Magna Carta. Treachery means lying, deceiving, and ignorance. Tyranny is those who lie, deceive and are ignorant of suffering.

    It’s all about the economy, money is the root of all evil and everyone must trace the money to find the evil. I am self-taught and I use the Richard Feynman technique to solve problems.

  2. Great post and analysis, Sam. I also echo your sentiments that our economy cannot survive more than a 2-3 month shutdown. Do we want to live with an illness that as a 99% chance of survival (see my analysis below) or a depression where all bets are off and millions of people have no livelihood. I’m in the O&G industry. If oil goes down to $10 a barrel and stays like that, not sure of any energy company that will stay afloat. And that’s just one domino in the global economy. Can you imagine if a company like XOM were to go bankrupt? Uncertain if that were to happen, but I never thought I would see oil dip below $20 in my lifetime. At the moment, I still have a job, but if we have a shutdown of 3+ months or more? Not sure as I am part of overhead. I haven’t even checked my 401K but I suspect it is down 20%. Fortunately, I also am a cash hoarder and have enough to tide us over for 12 months.

    Perhaps I am still in denial, but I also am quite puzzled by the over reaction to the virus compared to swine flu. I do not dispute that the virus has a higher mortality rate than H1N1, but IMO it’s still premature to say that it is 10x higher. With all the issues with testing, I believe the actual number of COVID cases is probably 3-10 times higher than actually reported. Meaning the denominator will be much larger than the the numerator. I also am fairly certain the virus has been circulating in the US since late January 2020. If you read the scientific paper on H1N1, the doctors had to build in huge fudge factors for the numbers. BTW, I don’t put any stock in the reported numbers from China. They are telling us in a country with a population that is several times larger than the US, they only had 88,000 cases? BS, even with the draconian measures that were put in place. At the end of all this, I wouldn’t be surprised if the mortality rate will be around 1%, which means 99% of people will recover (which all of social media and the news media seems to ignore).

    At any rate, I don’t know the right answer, but IMO I don’t think our society can sustain this shutdown for more than 3 months.

  3. First of all, thanks to those in the front lines of fighting coronavirus – be it medical professionals, grocers, public space cleaners, restaurateurs, etc.

    How much am I willing to lose? Not much as the bulk of my savings are in a CD account and an emergency fund in a regular account and I ‘hopefully’ won’t be too affected. My pension has a guaranteed 3% interest as my employer foots the difference in case of negative returns. How long can I go with a shut down? On a personal note, as long as is needed. I work for an international organization and our positions and salaries are secure. We are now working from home and we have not had many issues with technology. Many of our short term consultants’ contracts were extended by 40 days above the regular days this FY because of the pandemic – of course there must be a business need for their services. Contractors, e.g. cafeteria staff, will be paid by my organization for a period of time even if there are no services received during the shut down. This has given many staff a peace of mind because we were worried about them. How long can I go with a shut down – from the perspective of circumstances outside my personal life? Not as long as in my personal life, definitely. I think of those who have already lost or will soon lose their jobs and have no savings. I think of economies being affected, which will affect me in the long run as well. I was fortunate to have not felt the effects of the 2008 recession as I was already with my organization and my job and salary were secure.

  4. It would be great hear some comments from folks on why so many can’t develop an EMERGENCY FUND. This may seem like an insensitive remark but please don’t let these events pass without starting one as soon as we get back on our feet. God bless all.

  5. South Africa imposed 21 day lockdown. No food delivery only groceries. No real financial support as the country is poor, but 2 billionaires have pledged $50m to help businesses. We’ll be fine, but I think most South Africans will be fighting the army soon if they cant work. They’re a tough bunch though having had to deal with hardship all their lives.

    Its interesting that the Governmenr took the compassionate route of lockdown, but have no money to support anyone.

  6. Find the propublica article online about a medical worker describing terrifying lung failure even in young patients.

    I am really surprised by your take on the situation. How many of you are prepared for your loved ones or even yourself to die like this needlessly just because you are concerned about your stock portfolio.

    What you should be focussed on is the incompetent administration and it’s enablers because if you had a normal president this crisis would have been dealt with better.

    What many have missed is that if you have half hearted measures and then after a while you lift the restrictions, the virus will re-emerge in larger numbers and threaten the capacity of hospitals, even more people will die and also it will impact the economy then.

    So it’s better to try to get on top of it now and improve the testing etc so that when you lift the restrictions you are in a good position to contain further outbreaks.

    Your government is not doing this so I fear you will end up with more deaths/ economic costs in the long run.

    1. It is hard. The more you speak to the people on the front lines and think about others, the more important it is to find solutions. All one way or another isn’t a good long term solution.

      Only the wealthiest people can really afford an indefinite shutdown.

      1. I’m also a physician. The trends are already looking better. We need to get back to work ASAP, but differently. We need to create work environments that alerts allow for social Distancing as well as social acceptance of wearing masks for a period of time until vaccine. Aside from suicides, neglect, domestic trauma, child abuse and depression will ultimate cause more damage.

        I’m an emergency medicine physician, go to the front lines, I know it’s difficult for all of us, but the collateral damage will be too high.

        I hope we don’t have an extended lockdown.

    2. Incompetent hospital administration is like a cancer within the US. Constantly understaffing, lack of equipment, and stretching the residents thin for the almighty dollar. It was only a matter of time something like this happened. Hopefully it will wake them up

  7. Will the Covid 19 go away completely? My husband and I are willing to stay put 3 months max despite having a new born and elderly parents with us. However our employers won’t let us and we still have to pay our bills. Unless we deplete our savings, we would have to return once it’s deemed safe by the govt. I am disappointed but I realized the American economy is only for the rich. Basically ultra rich people and their descendents will get to live and most of us will have to gamble with our life!

  8. I expect three to four weeks from now, this will stabilize to the point where we can start making economic projections for future investments. By that time, I expect at minimum eight million people to be living on continued government assistance (unemployment insurance or employer loan subsidies), and probably closer to ten million. Between now and four weeks from now, you are likely to catch a falling knife, in spite of the literally insane actions over at the Fed that are currently propping up WORLD credit and equity markets.

  9. In 2009 the swine flu killed about 12,000 people in the USA. It infected approx 580,000 right here in the USA. And no one seems to remember it! Why? My guess is the media’s dramatic approach is much more intense this time. It’s creating excessive fear. In 2009 the market didn’t crash like this. No lockdowns. Nothing, we just pushed through it. I am thankful we are taking this seriously but overreacting is going to cause more harm that good if we aren’t careful.

    1. SP crash, has nothing to do with virus, that just pushed us over the cliff.Liquidity problems have been surfacing since last Sept.This will be a rear view mirror thing.
      Theres living in a dream and living the dream.
      All things revert to the mean in time.
      Best to have your bases covered as best u can

    2. WannabeTrophyHubster

      “And no one seems to remember it! Why?”

      Well, for one thing your numbers are off by a couple of orders of magnitude. If 12 thousand had died out of 580 thousand infected, that’d be over 2% death rate and people would surely have remembered.

      As it turns out, it was 12 thousand deaths in US out of 58 or 60 million cases (call it 58,000,000 if you wish) for a death rate of 0.02%, not 2%.

      Note I do not disagree with your premise that the media, by and large, are milking this for all it’s worth.

      1. Alright, my bad. So, in 2009 we had 12,000 people who died in the USA of the swine flu. 60 million were actually infected instead of the 580,000 that I thought. Got it! And no one seems to remember the swine flu!

    3. Geoff Williams

      It is interesting how the media slept through swine flu, and is in 24×7 hysteria now. The hysteria will likely save many lives, but at what cost? Suicides spiked by 20% or so after the Great Recession started, so we have to strike the right balance. I can say I hate Trump, but clearly the media is out to get him and is intensely celebrating any bad news they can tie to Trump; it is disgusting to watch even while Trump displays less than zero empathy for the sick and those crushed by the fallout. I hope all the players learn an ounce of humility and respect from this crisis.

  10. WannabeTrophyHubster

    I guess I never answered the ultimate question of this post. Financially, I don’t care (personally) how long it goes on. I’m retired but still working profitably a few hours a week, and while I’ve lost maybe $700K in market value, it’ll come back and we’re not cash strapped.

    But I think it is horribly damaging to the nation and the world. Someone upthread mentioned the Yale doctor David Katz’s opinion piece in the NYTimes that we were going about this the wrong way, in the most wrong-headed way. Economist Thomas Friedman had another piece in the NYTimes (linked below) echoing his and others epidemiologists’ thinking that we’re going sideways on this whole crisis.

    I don’t know what the actual correct answers are, and again, I don’t care personally because we’ll be fine either way.

    But if there’re ways to do this with less damage to more vulnerable Americans, I hope the people in charge start looking at those ways.

    That’s all.

    1. WannabeTrophyHubster

      “echoing his and others epidemiologists’ thinking that”

      Sorry – on reading this I recognize it sounds like I’m lumping TF in with the epidemiologists. He’s not – he’s an economist and a journalist. Apologies for any confusion.

  11. It’s funny during all this you never hear on mainstream media about boosting your immune system with Vitamins A C and D3 Zinc and staying hydrated. All you hear about is drug this and drug that. Masks. Wash your hands. Sorry people, virus and germs have been around a long time and is part of nature. Take care of your own health and immune system and the virus will take care if itself.

    1. Crazy volatility indeed.

      “Best market day” headlines are so pointless though especially when one of the worst consecutive days preceded the “best” day. It’s like saying, look, my portfolio went from $100 dollars to $15 dollars yesterday, but today, it gained 300%!!!. Best day ever.

  12. About 18,000 coronavirus deaths worldwide up to this point in time.The seasonal flu kills 300,000-650,000 worldwide per year.And how many lives will be lost and financially devastated due to the economic shutdown? I’m not buying the fear mongering hype narrative.The USA is headed for a socialistic/fascism state.The Fed is buying up every asset known to man and many corporations will be nationalized under the Govt umbrella.They’re even talking about implementing a new digital currency in the future.”Don’t let a good crisis go to waste”- Rahm Emanuel Our future liberties are in jeopardy!

  13. Long time reader/ health care profession here. Thank you for the article, it was very thorough from the economic stand point of course. Couple of things, the thing with Covid-19 is that we are dealing with a lot of unknowns, literally everything is new and we are learning as we go. For example as for the mortality rate, if you compare the numbers that are coming out of China with Italy you arrive at very different percentages in China the confirmed cases= 81,171 Death=3,277 in Italy Cases= 69,176 Death=6,820 So far…) simple math shows that the 1-2% mortality rate simply does not hold true, there are variety of factors involved that can explain the variations between different countries. But we can easily increase the mortality rate Anywhere by not having enough I.C.U beds and not giving the proper supportive care to our patients. And having too many patients at the same time can easily do it. I work in semi-rural areas where I.C.U beds are extremely limited or just do not exist. In the hospital that I work at they just cleared out an old morgue that wasn’t being used for a long time. We are still not seeing cases, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. On a personal note, my home country ( will not mention its name,) has been hit hard with Corona and my father ( a physician himself) has lost a dear old friend/colleague to the Corona. Basically his hometown was hit hard by the disease and a lot of doctors just closed down shop and refused to see patients in fear of contracting the virus in the light of shortage of protective equipment. And yes he did fit the profile, 66 y.o male with underlying conditions, but he was not going to jump ship and abandon his people . Everything happened so fast, less than two weeks, the day before he died he felt much better and was sending texts from I.C.U to his family( especially for his new grandson..) promising them to return soon. After his death I have immersed myself in all the papers, interviews, studies that is out there regarding Covid-19, nobody really knows much… This virus can be really deadly and take you by surprise really quick. Don’t bet on the experimental treatments (medication wise)that are out there, they are just that Experimental. What you need is supportive therapy in a proper I.C.U, and a warning to young people : it can kill you too, the probability is lower but it is still possible.
    As for the economic side of things: It pains me to walk in our downtown and see my favorite restaurants , coffee shops, bookstore and other businesses close with no end in sight. I worry about my own sister who is almost done with her post doc in New York and is ready to move back to California, what will be her job prospects next year? I worry about my friend who has a photography business and drives UBER too and helps out his old mom, what will become of him( I am even not sure how to reach out to him and offer him help with offending him.) And many more…
    I have no answer as how much pain are you willing to endure, trust me those of us on the front lines are just living our lives one day at a time, I have effectively isolated myself from family and friends for indefinite period of time. A lot of my colleagues who relied on their parents for childcare are scrambling in fear of infection their elderly parents and so on . We are all paying the price of poor planning and preparation for an epidemic that we saw coming. I do not believe that a restaurant worker who probably has not much saved or an ER doctor with two young kids at home who relies on her elderly mother for child care should be paying the price of this failure, but it is what it is. At this point we are hoping for two months of insanity if all goes well… but then again most of us Do not know anything…. I like to say those people who got us into this mess at first place, and had access to data that none of us had, have to get us out of this mess.. But at the end of the day nobody is going to come to rescue us, so lets hope for the best and prepare for the worst… the good news is that there are other countries who have dealt with this problem longer than us and it seems like the infection rates are stabilizing and not growing exponentially, so I say there is hope…

  14. I was concerned and preparing for this back in January when I saw what was happening in China. Strangely I couldn’t get anyone to take me seriously and people were even teasing me. I happen to be in the Seattle area which is among the hardest hit. Now my neighbors and friends are panicked glued to the news while I am going for walks, watching comedies, and making the best of it.
    I find it strange how so many can switch from being blissfully ignorant to panic mode.
    This will be my third downturn so I am not worried about stocks. The government has proved that it will do everything in its power to prop it all up. If I get wiped out, 90% of Americans will be worse off and something will be done.

    1. I hope you’re right about the stock market coming back. This is my first real crash where I invested 97% of my net worth in stocks. I was happy until the crash . Now I can’t sleep at night . On top if it I lost my job. I realize now how reckless it was to take on so much risk, but if the stocks come back I should be fine. I am just not convinced about how probable that is within a few years . I think it will take a decade or more . I remember how a small Greece or UK would cause 8 to 10% drop in s&p 500. Now we have the whole world to contract significantly. So economic depression is probable (defined as severe drop in gdp like 10%, with high unemployment of 20 %, which both are very likely now in the US and the rest of the world). Many, including the stock market down at just 30-35 % , believe that the economy will snap back , otherwise we would be down by 60 – 80 % ,however looking at how quickly the virus spreads and how much hysteria there is in media and people’s minds the damage will probably be much bigger and contraction more severe and prolonged than most think ) . It took 25 years for stocks to recover from the Great Depression, but the good news they did recover! So I am staying invested . While the current crash is very depressing it’s nice to hear an upbeat perspective from a person who went through 3 crashes … That makes me feel a bit better , I hope you ‘re right

      1. By you saying this is your first crash, hopefully this means you are much younger than average and also have a much lower absolute dollar amount invested. If such is the case, then this crash could be an incredible blessing for you.

        1. I mean this is my first “real” crash where I am fully invested. I am 46 and was ready to FIRE a month ago. I lived through 08 crash, which taught me to stay fully invested so I went all in about 6 years ago. What I learned – all stock portfolio still works. In the long run it’s the most lucrative option, but this strategy requires the nerves of steel when you lose 35% of your wealth in just a few weeks. Yes, it might be ok to forgo some gains for better sleep during the next crisis and put 30% into physical real estate (after the stocks recover) . Just can’t see the traditional advice 60/40 to be working all the time as (corporate) bonds sold off big time too.
          As scary as it looks now , we do have the back of the Fed and the mighty US government to prop the markets. So the chances that the stocks will recover within 10 years in real terms are great. Thanks for your support – I felt much better after airing my concerns here and that 10% + daily declines seems to be subdued for now.


    Another take on this: how many of your fellow citizens are you willing to imperil even to death so you can preserve your life savings? This is not a condemnation. It’s a real moral choice. We are living a real-world actual trial of the Trolley problems — how many people are you willing to kill to save (others/yourself).

    The next one could be even worse. Are we willing to change our society at the other end of this to respond as effectively as the Koreans to the next one.

    1. Money Ronin

      It’s not exactly the Trolley problem, because you or your loved ones are among those your are either condemning to death or saving. Our collectively social isolation increases the chances of every individual’s survival but also financial demise. While my chance of infection and subsequent death is average, my ability to withstand a financial downturn is far above average. It’s an obvious choice for me personally.

  16. Guys, this all goes away. We are all going to die. Just enjoy today, be happy with what you have. You are just a little insignificant blip that doesn’t matter.

    Take It easy, take it easy
    Don’t let the sound of your old wheels
    Drive you crazy
    Lighten up while you still can
    Don’t even try to understand
    Just find a place to make your stand
    And take it easy

  17. If covid 19 kills large numbers, opening the economy will suffer regardless. People will drastically alter behavior to avoid infection. Even if you think you are healthy, your at risk from increased morbidity from infection. Without citing articles there are cases of end organ damage in healthy subjects, decreased lung function. Also you could have an unknown chronic disease process that has yet to present, then covid 19 hits you, you end up in the ICU. But ICU could be full so someone will need to decide who lives or dies. Thousands of front line physicians and nurses develop ptsd and cause a long term, hard to measure hit to society. What I’m babbling about is this does not end well.

  18. Anyone who says 2 months or less doesn’t grasp the seriousness of this health problem. We are basically at war. If bombs are falling all over, you don’t go outside and pretend life is normal. If this thing is raging in 2 months and we look like Italy, we will see how many insist on living a normal life. We must isolate to get this under control. How well we do that determines the financial pain we will endure.

    1. Bombs kill 100% of the people they detonate on, this virus kills 1-10% depending on demographic. I agree there will be adjustments and life will not be the same but it will be up to everyone to determine the risk they want to take when they try to start opening things up again.

    2. Money Ronin

      I appreciate the seriousness of the situation you are describing. However, in fact, people do carry on some semblance of normal life during a war. It’s a sad fact of survival in dire situations that people must choose between venturing out for work, supplies, etc. and facing bombs and bullets vs. staying at home and starving.

      Widespread testing and isolation of the infected and the high risk are reasonable long-term solutions. Mass social isolation is not a viable long-term option beyond 2 months. Other health problems caused by the financial stress may outweigh the human cost of isolation.

  19. We cannot use Wuhan’s lockdown numbers. They produced PPE and ventilators and erected entire hospitals overnight. In addition, their lockdown was draconian, which you can do in a totalitarian state. None of these tactics work in a western society. I understand the calculus but as a healthcare worker, saying you will allow the spread, knowing full well a percentage of patients and healthcare workers will die from lack of resources as a consequence of an economic decision doesn’t seem ethical to me. It’s possible to achieve containment. Look at South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc. It just takes a level of government oversight and individual discipline we simply don’t have.

  20. Overwhelmed

    I am a 34 yo pregnant anesthesiologist. I cannot sleep worrying about my own risk of preterm labor/miscarriage, the health of the residents at our hospital, my coworkers and our high risk patient population. The risk of increased mortality, both for people with covid-19 and any other chronic health condition, from an overwhelmed healthcare system is very real. For anyone who does not feel the severity of what is happening, ask yourself if you need any type of emergency medical treatment, what would you want or expect? If you are in a car accident and need surgery, if your mother has a heart attack or stroke, if a friend has cancer, would you want and expect good medical care? If your answer is yes, you should be supporting quarantine for as long as it takes hospitals to get ramped up and prepared for the surge of sick patients that have/are inevitably going to come. When hospitals become overwhelmed as they have in Italy and Europe, do not expect the same treatment you would have gotten even 2 weeks ago. If you are okay with getting no medical care, and will refuse any treatment, and will not contribute to overburdening the health care system, then, I would say you are free to continue your life as you wish. Anyone working in high risk professions (first responders, emergency departments, respiratory therapists, nurses, doctors) are scared for the health of their families and patients. Our department is understaffed at baseline; we can’t just stop working because there won’t be enough staff to run the hospital and enough people to take care of our patients. Hospitals are already running out of and rationing basic protective equipment to keep health care providers and thus all patients in the hospital safe, and we are only at the beginning of this. It only takes one super spreader to infect 30-60% of a hospital. 30% of positive tests in Wuhan were asymptomatic carriers and not included in official case numbers from China. China did not halt their economy and build thousand bed hospitals in a week for nothing. The US (particularly NY) is on a worse trajectory than China or Italy. Yes, everyone is going to be affected by this.

    1. Thank you for summoning this up well. I have tried to explain this to patients, over the phone, that are young and healthy. I’ve been to war torn areas of the world…Iraq and Afghanistan. People need to take it seriously and realize they need to sacrifice to help win many battles to win a war. Doing things right will cause less suffering than in these places hit the hardest in a battle.

    2. Thanks for your reply – it’s always nice to hear from people with strong medical credentials about their take on this. Your response was honestly more eye opening to me than a lot of what has been peddled on the news. Thanks and stay safe as much as you can.

    3. I agree completely. We’re asking medical professionals to make huge sacrifices. We need to support them.

    4. Paper Tiger

      I agree with everything you said having spent my nearly 40-year career working with Healthcare professionals. First and foremost, I pray for safety and security for you and your unborn child.

      Second, for all of these folks who think it’s time to reopen America, look at how well the grocery stores were stocked when the surge hit and imagine that is our healthcare system when YOU or someone you care about becomes sick. The reality is our healthcare system needs time to gear up for when the worst is upon us and not when we have no time to react to the surge that will inevitably come. If we are prepared, we can deal with it but the system needs some time to get ready which is why the restrictions in place now matter more than ever.

      Inconvenience in the short term is much better than having to choose between who lives and who dies in the long term because of rationed ventilators/respirators caused by an under-resourced healthcare system, not to mention the number of unavailable caregivers who wind up sick themselves and can’t be available to help anyone else.

    5. This was an excellent post. I am an anesthesiologist too and my wife is pregnant. Take care of yourself and your baby.

    6. Money Ronin

      I have many family members in the medical profession who continue to work. The least we can do is to maintain the quarantine to support them and the rest of society. This would be bad time to go to the hospital. The 3 months before this whole thing hit, my immediate family went to the ER 3 times, 3 family members were hospitalized in unrelated incidents, and everyone was ill with something.

      Thoughts of the virus do not keep me up. But I do consider multiple scenarios in my planning. Beyond an individual calamity (e.g., car accident, flu, chronic problems, etc.), one should also plan for a secondary mass event. What would happen to hospitals if we were to suffer a major earthquake right now? What would happen at supermarkets if we suffered a power outage for a few days? What if there were severe wildfires or snowstorms? Anything can be a tipping point.

      I don’t mean to be an alarmist and I don’t obsess over these scenarios, but I am keenly aware of the frailty of our support structures. Covid-19 is the all encompassing focus right now, but there are other risks out there.

  21. Patrick Way

    If 80% of Americans catch the disease, a 1-10% fatality rate means 2.6-26 million deaths.

    After 3k Americans died on 9/11 the United States went to war for 19 years and counting.

    We can afford to increase the social safety net to support Americans through this crisis.

  22. Love what you wrote and put things in perspective. I work in mental health, your comments on suicide are a good reminder on what we can focus on. Made me curious about the Great Recession, looks like suicide rates did not increase (Link below). But, I recall many calls from clients who were suicidal due to their financial situation at that time. Great article. I still grab take out, go for walks and meet up with a healthy friend. Other than that we stay home majority of the time. We stay away from older and immune compromised people. Willing to do social distancing for as long as needed.
    Not concerned for my health, more for others.

    On a side note from your other article, my hope is that you are successful in your endeavors. I take no pleasure in you not succeeding.

  23. There is no benefit to anyone getting yourself into a fetal position or running around like a headless chook!

    Enjoy the time away from the 9-5 grind.

    See this as an opportunity to look within and discover what is in your control and how this can benefit you.

    You may discover that what is really important to you, costs less, is already within reach and has been there all along waiting for this moment to reveal it self to you.

  24. My comments are not going to be popular. But, I personally don’t think we can afford to do a shutdown at all. Maybe two weeks while we get it together so to speak. First, most folks can’t afford it. Many of them because they were too lazy or too selfish to prepare. That doesn’t matter though. It is a reality and it has to be dealt with. They will not shelter in place. We are already seeing it and it will only get more and more obvious with each passing day. I have a nice view of my city from a very tall condo building and I can see with each day it is getting busier and busier. Construction workers are building, folks are out exercising, …. plenty of people are showing up to work (I am also in a shared office space in a downtown building nearby). Second, and here is the part you are really not going to like, we have given a playbook to every terrorist and rogue nation on the planet for how to cripple us. It is not that hard to create another one of these viruses. We simply cannot afford to do this again and again. It will destroy everyone’s way of life. It’s a sad reality. Thousands will die. That is simply the way it is and we need to deal with it like adults. You cannot shut down the world every few years. Way more people will die from poverty than a virus (at least one of this strength).

    Let’s flip the switch back on and ask everyone over 60 to stay in place while we work on a vaccine. Then let us send everyone of them a $100,000 check for the inconvenience. It would be cheaper. Way cheaper than what we are doing. Let’s all pitch in and bring them food, computers, whatever… Let’s dump another 500 billion into hospitals and ventilators, etc. Let’s all volunteer to help them. Whatever it takes. This current strategy though–is a loser from the word go. It won’t work, it cannot be sustained, and most importantly, it can never be repeated. Let’s use this case right now as a test case and figure it out the hard way.

    Finally, Sam, you want to put a more impressive stat up on your website? Put this link:

    “More than 480,000 deaths annually” from smoking. If we really cared about our healthcare system we would start by banning smoking today–right now. That would clear up a ton of hospital beds. But, I can still go by a pack right now (even with the shutdown). If this country (or this world) really cared about people dying, smoking would be a thing of the past. It offers zero value to society. It exists because we are a free people by and large. Free to kill ourselves (and apparently others via secondhand smoke). If we are going to do something as extreme as shutting down the whole world, let’s make some even bigger decisions while we have everyone’s panicked attention. If the government can’t ban smoking to save nearly a half million people annually in the U.S., then it has no business shutting down the country to save 50,000.

    I predict you will be drafting an article in six months with the title “What were we thinking???”

    1. Great point! Although we are willing to distance ourselves, agree on those that are vulnerable to stay home instead. The problem is most people who think they are healthy have poor immune systems, so it will be hard to identify these folks and might still overwhelm our healthcare system if we don’t identify clearly who needs to distance themselves. Plus those with multigenerational families, they run the risk of exposing those at home. Adolescents can be immune compromised and not even realize it. (These are the answers I’ve gotten to my equally unpopular comments that you mentioned in your comment).

    2. I totally agree.. I am 70 and could get the virus but I dont think I will.Even if I get the virus I have a 97 percent chance of living. GOOD ODDS . I had a heart attack 6 years ago and I coded twice. I think survival rate less than 10%. Let’s go on with our lives and not shut everthing down.

    3. We have to be okay with looking like we overreacted and saying “what were we thinking?” That means the shutdown worked. If we don’t, we will be Italy and if that’s the scenario you want, then please don’t come to my hospital when you can’t breath, I won’t have a bed for all those who need one.

      1. It is not your hospital. That’s a concept you may want to get comfortable with very soon. it is an American hospital. When kids are starving in the streets in a few months I don’t have to be “okay” with the overreaction. Life is a tradeoff. I will trade the young for the old. That’s what caring adults do and it includes myself. We are destroying the next generation to save people in their 80’s. Ask someone in their 80’s if they are okay with that. I bet you will be shocked by the answer.

        1. Since I take care of patients in their 80s, I can assure you that the majority of them (and their families who love them) would disagree with you entirely.

    4. When the bodies start piling up, people will change their tunes. By then, it will be too late. In the abstract, a death is just a statistic. When people are literally dying in hospital parking lots due to lack of space, people will finally understand the tragedy.

      Unfortunately, our government did not seem to have a plan for this. We must buy time in order to develop a comprehensive plan.

  25. Pompeo let it slip last nite that this is all a military exercise. There is no virus. It’s all a smokescreen to collapse the financial system.

  26. Pediatric critical care doc, as well as formal epidemiology training here.
    A much broader view of this is that we are very likely going to have to go through some sort of significant isolation scenario for 30 days at a time REPEATEDLY.
    Just because many of us hunker down for a period of time doesn’t mean the virus won’t still be circulating. Once folks are released to a semblance of normalcy because the number of new cases and/or hospitalizations has decreased enough to allow for hospital stability, the numbers will simply spike again, going right back to an overwhelming state. I expect that repeated cycles of sheltering in place will become the norm until viable vaccines and/or treatments are available.
    This is going to be a much longer fight than the next month or 2. I fully expect to see the same scenarios in Wuhan Province, SK, and throughout Europe once their restrictions are lifted as well.

  27. Hey Sam I respect your desire not to promote other channels. Have you had a look at ZM that I mentioned. The new leaders are emerging and your listening/calculating too much. Follow the leaders!

  28. WannabeTrophyHubster

    Upthread Sam mentioned to VOLinNYC:

    “… enjoy your beach house! But I recommend not telling anybody that you are. It’s bad optics during a pandemic.”

    This hit kind of close to home, but on a more temporary basis. I have booked a beach house for a week starting April 04 also on the SC coast, which was to be our Spring Break trip.

    I’ve been turning this over in my head – whether to go or not.

    On the “pros” side:
    – We can take enough kitchen essentials to not need to grocery shop (I hope you can trust me on this one – we rent houses about twice a year and I know what I need to get by for a week).
    – We can get there on one tank of gas, so we’d only need to interact with people at a gas station one time, when it’s time to go back (to the extent there’s any social interaction at a gas pump, in the first place).
    – Restaurants in SC are still permitted delivery/curbside pickup.
    – Being hermits and sheltering in place while watching the ocean off the back deck for a week is better than sheltering in place here for that week.
    – I’m already out half the rent because (so far at least) the real estate agency has not relaxed its cancellation rules.

    On the “cons” side:
    – Bad optics, as Sam already mentioned. Going on a “luxe beach vacation” during a pandemic.

    I’d welcome hearing people’s opinions about this.

    Many thanks.

      1. WannabeTrophyHubster

        Thanks Sam. No worries – no one uses social media (yes, we’re a weird group!).

    1. Be careful as some places have “closed” and you have to prove you live there (OBX) and other places are requiring quarantine when you get there (parts of Florida).

      1. WannabeTrophyHubster

        Thanks MoonKnight. I had to google – OBX is NC Outer Banks? I hadn’t previously learned of the local restrictions, so this was a very helpful watchout.

        Thanks again.

    2. WannabeTrophyHubster

      I should mention a couple of items. The house we plan to rent has been vacant since the first week January (apparently the Spring is one of their slow times). Also, both of our home county and the destination county are low/no in currently confirmed cases.

      We have taken recommendations seriously and so have been sheltered at home for 11 days now, with one person (me) getting groceries every 4th day (mainly eggs, milk, bread, etc).

    3. I am on Fripp Island right now for a week. We had the same debate on whether to come or not. Here now with wife and two children. We are so glad we came. Hunkered down with good weather but not interacting with other people. Yesterday I walked two miles on the beach without encountering another human.

      1. WannabeTrophyHubster

        I wanted to update this. I’ve been watching the news and many coastal cities in South Carolina have as of late last week or early this week prohibited vacation rentals, even those already rented/paid for.

        My rental agent called me Monday and canceled my reservation and will refund my partial payment.

        I’m glad for George that he got his family’s vacation in just ahead of the shut-down!

  29. At the end of the day, we don’t really have a choice in this. I mean, people can choose to not do what they should but businesses will be closed and things will be a mess. And by being out and about it just prolongs the problem.

    I’m not sure financial independence is entirely accurate. We need society to function to have the chance to be financially independent. If it doesn’t, forget about it. I’m also not expecting the end of modern society, but we’re more in this together than we sometimes realize.

    So I have my preferences for how long I can reasonably tolerate what is required, but the fact is, it really doesn’t matter what I think about it. It will be what it will be. For now I’ll stay home and wash my hands. :)

    1. If California shuts down borders will the rest of us been able to get fruits and fresh fruits and vegetables.

      1. WannabeTrophyHubster

        I assume shutting borders will be to typical human traffic, and not to trucks (and truckers) moving goods back and forth.

  30. Excellent article, Sam! I was beginning to see conversations about how this may be doing more damage to the economy than the virus itself. Thanks for putting some numbers together to give a better idea. I am certainly concerned for small businesses and even medium sized businesses in these times. As for myself, I am still working my part-time job over here in Canada, and my small blog income has been increasing. Fortunately, my job is not on the front lines, but I am still required to travel for work as my job supports some essential services. In fact, my hours are increasing during this pandemic, so my income is increasing and so is my small blog income. As long as I can stay safe, my financial situation may improve with what is going on. But obviously my portfolio is being dismantled. I am already concerned with the 30% drop…I would be getting seriously concerned around 50%. I am going to try my best to ride this out. I plan to hold and add more to my portfolio as long as my hours increase. Thanks for sharing!

  31. Hello all my wife and I had a 600k stock portfolio all in large blend funds….Vanguard and Fidelity…..we are currently down 35%….we are both 48 and plan on retiring at 55…I have a pension through ford motor co…..I plan on riding this out…we both continue to but 20% each in our 401k….our goal was to have 800k in our 401k…we plan on retiring in Arizona but the Philippines is also an option if our savings gets completely wiped out and never recovers…I still have a pension of 2500 a month after taxes….our current home is paid off and we also have another 300k after the sell….any thoughts would be appreciated…love all your articles…..

  32. Unfortunately, I don’t think a 30 or 60 day “lockdown” will end the pandemic. It wil subside but then quickly come back. The idea right now is to attempt to “flatten the curve”. I think we will likely see regional “rolling lockdowns” based on heathcare capacity. We also have to hope that the Senate passes a stimulus plan that actually puts money in the pockets of the poorest and most vulnerable. As of now, I’m worried that it will be too slanted toward helping big businesses with no strings attached. 2 Trillion allocated effectively could be a life saver for many families. Hopefully more states will follow New York’s lead and enact their own measures to shore up unemployement and provide funding to keep small businesses open if the federal government doesn’t act soon.

    1. There can be a whiplash effect when a lockdown is ended but also consider those who were previously contagious and had the virus are now immune and will not be carriers, creating an additional buffer we don’t currently have.

  33. I think we can take 2 months of lockdown. The problem is lots of people still aren’t serious about staying home. The news said the beaches and parks were very crowded last weekend. The US isn’t like China. People are too independent to go into real lockdown unless it’s really dire. Many locations still aren’t hit hard and the people aren’t locking down hard enough.
    I don’t think 2 months is enough unless everyone gets on board. Travel restriction will have to be in place too.
    I heard lots of bored young people from WA (a hot zone) came down to OR beach recently. They are going to spread it down here. We need to close the state borders, but that’s not going to happen in the good old US of A.

    Stay healthy everyone.

  34. SolitaryDudeSurvivalist

    I’ve been preparing for this scenario for decades. Social isolation. A rich net worth, chainsaws, axes, and holy water.
    This is only The Beginning.
    In the next phase, those who have died from The Virus will be returning to life.
    Thus begins The Zombie Apocalypse…
    In the following phase, the walking dead will be joined by Satan’s other footsoldiers: vampires, werewolves, demons…
    Then even weirder, scarier shit happens: skulls will fly through the air, fresh water will turn into pools of blood, mirrors will reflect your future death…

    You have two choices; Embrace Lord Jesus or Embrace Lord Satan (the latter has his proxy on earth in the White House). If you get infected and have the money, send it to Him in the White House–for He will give you a presidential pardon from death.

    Pain is Pleasure to some. And Pleasure is Pain to others.

    I’ve been warning people across decades about this new era. They laughed at me! Today many of them are dead or dying, or in hiding.

      1. I find the occasional “end of the world“ type of comment entertaining. It’s also informative because there are people who have always been very doom and gloom. If this person has been warning people for decades, does that mean he has been living a doom and gloom lifestyle for decades and has missed out on an incredible bull market?

        It’s just interesting to hear from different people so long as there are not direct insults. But let me have a look again as I sometimes overlook things given there are so many comments.

        1. I hear you but this is just comedic trolling at best…

          “in the following phase, the walking dead will be joined by Satan’s other footsoldiers: vampires, werewolves, demons…
          Then even weirder, scarier shit happens: skulls will fly through the air, fresh water will turn into pools of blood, mirrors will reflect your future death…”

  35. BullDogCapital

    Over here in the UK our ethically commendable / biblically expensive free universal healthcare system meant the National Health Service was on its knees going into this crisis. Hence we’re already rapidly heading for an Italy situation where Doctors are going to have to choose who’s Mother / Father / Brother / Sister gets the last ventilator and vast numbers of eminently treatable patients are going to die due to lack of capacity unless containment gets draconian and the infection rate slows.

    How you weigh that suffering against the suffering that will follow a decimation of the economy I have no idea but reading the article and the comments it feels like the consequences of the infection rate getting out of control are underestimated. I hope the US doesn’t repeat Europe’s mistakes.

    People here were complacent until a week or so ago thinking if you’re young you’re fine. Now there are plenty of previously healthy 20 & 30 year olds in hospital on ventilators fighting for their lives. This thing isn’t well understood and the age distribution in the death rate stats leads to a lot of complacency.

    Personally I think policy will have to be much more dynamic than a single containment period. The dilemma boils down to treading the line between an out of control infection rate leading to overwhelmed hospitals and a death rate far beyond what was unavoidable vs the consequences of a decimated economy, hence the calculation driving the extent of containment policies will presumably be based on the capacity of the healthcare system to cope with the volume of critical cases and the latest probability / timing of vaccine deployment. As government your optimum approach is essentially to impose the least economically destructive measures possible that are still robust enough to keep the number of critical cases at any one time within the capacity of the healthcare system. Ultimately that probably means a constantly shifting approach to containment and waves of isolation periods to arrest the infection rate as hospitals reach capacity, followed by looser periods to enable the economy to function at least in some capacity until herd immunity or a vaccine puts an end to this monster.

  36. Hello Sam and readers,

    I rarely post to the site but thought I’d update the group on my family’s situation and see if others are in a similar situation.

    I sell IT Consulting Services and my wife sells travel industry related advertising. We have a 2 year old and own our apartment in Manhattan. When NYC schools closed our nany let us know she could no longer take care of our toddler., since her own children needed to be cared for. Last Sunday 3/16, we made an executive decision and packed our bags, rented a car, and drove from NYC down to Charleston, SC. We are lucky in that my in laws rented a beach house there for March-May long before the pandemic started. We felt that we were sitting ducks in Manhattan and we turned out to be right.

    Economic impact: My wife’s company has already asked her to take a 40% salary reduction. So far my clients have clamped down on any new business, however I have a large run rate business in place and will be profitable to my company for the foreseeable future if I don’t sell anything new for the next 9 months and my clients don’t cancel Purchase Orders, etc… My wife and I are easily able to work 100% remotely, so we are extremely fortunate.

    Over the last 18 months I have been hoarding cash, making almost zero stock purchases. I felt that the market was overheated and a recession was on the way. At the moment I’m feeling a sense of relief that my wife and I will be able to buy into a market that is sure to decline by 35%, which will give us semblance of hope of getting the return on equity that our baby boomer parents got to experience during their earning lifetimes. So that’s the good news in my eyes. I plan on nibbling our way back into the market as it declines, buying S&P index, and well capitalized business that are going on sale (Visa, Mastercard, Disney, McCormick, etc…)

    The bad news is that we are unable to rent out our Manhattan Co-op for short term leases. So we’re taking a loss on that as we live in South Carolina paying roughly $2500/month for our beach house rental. So our home costs have temporarily risen ~ 40%.

    In the meantime, we are able to split up caring for our 2 year old between 4 adults, while working remotely, buying back into this market, and spending time on the beach. The beach here and will remain open only to those with a resident address, luckily we have our lease and that will get us on the beach each day.

    I’m hopeful that things will bounce back by May/June and have enough cash to live here indifferently should we need to. Perhaps if the local real estate market takes a hit (it’s been overheated here for years), we can put a down payment on a place and put down some roots here. That would be best case scenario of of course.

    1. Cool. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your beach house! But I recommend not telling anybody that you are. It’s bad optics during a pandemic.

      But this is another datapoint among many that shows perhaps more people are OK with this bear market that people realize.

  37. I’ve been thinking about the start date for your lockdown? Seattle, New York City, Colorado (ski areas), California have all been locked down early due to a high volume of visitors from out of state or foreigners. There may be a 60 day window before new cases sufficiently decline, but at that point, travel should be restricted to keep other areas safe (who have better managed their peak cases).

  38. My family recently paid off our school loans and I just started investing and learning about investing at the end of January, my overall investment have actually gone up thanks to timing healthcare industries but all others have tanked.
    I’m an embedded programmer and work from home but was laid off when the PA governor closed down the state on Friday (no orders in, no money to pay R&D) financially my family will be ok so long as unemployment payments come through (and doesn’t run out, the system will be under duress) since we live in a very low cost of living area, but I won’t have spare cash to invest when the market bottoms out. I think buying into the market now (or soon) is a big opportunity that I don’t want to miss out on.
    I’m also going to look into starting my own business while I’m laid off, hopefully I’ll have a product ready to sell when this is over (I’m hoping our curve follows Wuhans or faster) and then have an additional income stream when I do get back to work.

    1. I started Financial Samurai July 2009. In retrospect, it was the best career/business/lifestyle move I have ever made. Now is the time to test your creativity and try new things online while we are sheltering-in-place.

      If not now, then probably never.

  39. spaceassassin

    I have been following the virus since mid-January in Wuhan (i.e. less than 500 documented cases worldwide) and I am concerned with comparing the Wuhan lockdown with the California lockdown. If you were watching on Twitter daily (or hourly as I was) back then, there were post after post removed of the scenes of the lockdown, people dying on streets, video-recorded suicides, people scaling/falling from multi-story buildings, legitimate empty streets/cities, etc. The Chinese government was scrubbing the streets and Twitter by the minute as posts would appear and disappear (as with active people/reporters) within hours or days.

    In short, there quarantine was legitimate, locked/welded buildings, arrests, etc. Do not mistake this for condoning or recommending these actions, but that’s what they did (and it seems to have “worked”).

    I have been walking and riding bikes daily to get outside and living a quarter-mile from the beach, it looks like a summer day in terms of foot traffic. Sure, some people are a little more spread out on the sand, but Main Street, the bike/walking paths and hangout areas are as packed as a beautiful July day. Literally, trios of moms (with babies) walking within feet of each other. Volleyball courts? Every one–full. Grocery Stores? People sandwiched in line, everyone holding carts/baskets, every freezer/cold door opened and closed to clear the shelves, and a small fraction of people with gloves and masks. Del Taco? A couple groups of teens hanging outside the couple different ones I drove by.

    In short, our quarantine is a farce. I fully support a legitimate, no contact outside of home quarantine of 30-60 days, but beyond that and some sectors or parts of life will be damaged beyond repair, I am already concerned about some local establishments and we are not even two weeks in.

    Personally, I can weather the downturn as long as necessary so it’s easy to ask me, or most rational readers that respond here, but my real concern is my immediate family and the 99% of people not reading your blog. I think much longer than 30 days or if martial law is imposed things could turn ugly, quickly…and that has me concerned.

    Due to the uniqueness of the situation and political/economical carnage, some governments are being very careful about what is and what isn’t said, but some are not, which is a huge concern of mine. At this point the information and misinformation is borderline wreckless, which is scary. (Discussing potential drug combinations that MAY have some type of benefit to some group of people with the general public? Holy shit–c’mon.)

    The mass-buying/hoarding is a prime example of the psychological aspect of situations like this, and if someone doesn’t get involved in monitoring the information that is being put out to the people, I am concerned where this might be heading. People need to feel that someone has accurate information and control of the situation (regardless if they actually do), and until someone can give that feeling/impression, it’s going to get worse.

    Kids don’t know that there parents don’t know everything, but they think they do (or can at least figure it out), and that is extremely important to get them through the scary, strange world they navigate on a daily basis. And that’s where we are at right now. We need someone to believe in, and so far China, WHO, POTUS, etc. have all led the masses down a scary path of censored and misguided.

    1. I have been tube, especially this one Chinese youtuber named Chen something something who has now gone missing for almost two months.

      What would take for you and others to stay inside?

      1. spaceassassin

        I presume you are referring to Chen Qiushi, and yes, I too am curious where he and quite a few others have ended up over the last 6-8 weeks.

        For us to stay inside? I guess I don’t know if a true in-house lockdown is necessary. Not sure why I can’t sit in the driveway. Leave property? Not sure why I can’t ride my bike in the neighborhood. And down the slippery slope we go.

        But honestly, stay inside for x number of days? We could do it relatively easily, fortunately, even with 2 young kids. We have a small but nice home with everything we need for maybe 30 days and we didn’t rush out any buy or hoard anything. (And fortunately I am working at full-capacity from home, minus a hard drive that went bad for some reason.)

        As soon as the order is put in place to stay in, we are ready. Until then we are going to sneak out for some exercise (biking and walking) as currently allowed.

  40. Sam,

    The Wuhan lockdown lasted ~50 days , but this was with draconian measures. Videos showed officials knocking on doors, checking every residents temperature, and forcibly removing people from buildings who met certain criteria. These videos also showed officials soldering the locks on the exterior doors of apartments, to enforce quarantine. Shelter in place in one country is not the same as shelter in place in another. Therefore, the results from Wuhan showing a rapid recovery will be impossible here.


  41. This is definitely going to be a dance between too much action and keeping from killing the economy. There is absolutely a line where the cure is worse than the problem, I sure don’t know where that is though.

    What I’m personally worried about (other than dying of this damn virus) is a fundamental breakdown of the financial system and then no asset is safe. Bonds become worthless, real estate tanks 50%, hyper inflation makes cash worthless. So even though I was only 20% stocks before this mess because I didn’t need to play the game anymore. I realize this is highly improbable, but it isn’t impossible. Interesting times, stay healthy everyone!

  42. Jamie Schuster

    Thank you all for all your comments. I am a 40 yr massage therapist in Colorado who has been laid off. My husband might, as his job is tied into the tourist industry. We started out in 2009 as a young family and in absolute poverty. Finally, in the past year, we were able to finally be making enough money to actually start saving some. I am guilty of my over priced coffee, but we otherwise stick to a pretty strict budget. We will be fine with this shut down for maybe 3 weeks. The unemployment is over run, and with a normal 4-6 week turn around time, it’s not looking good. We have 3 kids ranging 11 – 5, and I am in a super panic about food availability, cost of food, and what this is doing to our country’s ability to come back economically.

    I am tempted to go out and get a job. But, after reading all your comments, I will stick it out as long as I can for the sake of the hospitals and health workers, because them becoming overwhelmed is also causing me extreme panic. I’m desperate for Italy to hit their peak, I hope it is coming soon.

    I guess I am surprised that some of you are shocked at the lifestyle a lot of us service providers live. I am not in the least bit surprised of the skyrocketing unemployment. I mean, every single thing that people do to have fun was cut. That’s a ton of work force. Those people are lucky to be making 14/hr, the service industry doesn’t get paid what they are worth. We are seeing that now with the nurses and grocery workers. Minimum wage is ridiculous and will not keep people alive, especially when rent is so high. They don’t have time or energy to learn to invest, and they don’t even know where to start. I was making 18/massage, and that is the best money I have ever earned. I was only just learning about investments starting this last fall.

    Thank you all for your words of encouragement. Thank you, to the ones that can, that are doing what they can for those still at work (grocery especially), and to keeping the small business going. They really are the backbone to the communities, and the longer they can go, the better we will be.

    1. Hi Jamie – Hang in there. One thing I feel strongly about is that there is a lot of food supply. The panic feeling does increase when we go to the grocery store due to to the numbers. Try going late morning or late evening 30 minutes before closing. Not the best time to go to get the best selection, but there is still tons of food. It is the TV and the images of hoarding that causes us anxiety.

      If you were in SF, I would book 10 massages from you! Demand will come back. Best of luck.

      1. Jamie Schuster

        Yes, I’m not so worried about the chain of supply breaking…. yet. I am more worried that the store workers are going to burn out, get sick, die… We went this morning, we had to go to two stores, but we got everything we need for now. Even found tp! However, one store was seriously under employed. That store is our regular store and they have always had a good amount of staff. Not today. The ones that were there looked so tired, not happy. If they are anything like me, then they also or living every moment in full panic while also dealing with the public. My panic gets to stay at home, so far.

        As for anxiety, I don’t watch t.v., but I read the news articles and I’m sure those are just as bad. My husband thinks the whole thing is overblown and is getting a little frustrated that I won’t go work at the store. Maybe next week, I don’t know. The back and forth on the type of illness to expect doesn’t leave me confident at all.

        And, thanks for the compliment! I do love massage work, I love helping people feel better. I’m not worried about the demand for that. I just hope it gets here sooner rather than later.

  43. I really like the crux of this article about the tradeoff between public health and the economy.

    That said, I’m not sure all of the criticism of the CA governor is fair. I too would love to know when shelter-in-place will be over, but I’m guessing there is too much uncertainty related to the public health cost (the economic cost seems more clear) to give a specific end date for shelter-in-place.

    If the governor said businesses could open April 30th, but on that day we weren’t yet at the flat part of the curve and it made since to extend the shutdown, it could cause more devastation (and even less trust in govt.) from business owners that previously planned on opening then.

    I’d prefer governments just be honest about what they know, honest about what they don’t know, and promise to take care of individuals and small business owners during the times of uncertainty.

    1. Saying “indefinite” is poor leadership. A leader must come up with a concrete plan with various scenarios. Wealthy people have the luxury to wait for months on end. The rest do not.

      1. We are likely looking at many months of closed businesses. Doubt schools will open next fall. People just aren’t taking this serious enough.

  44. Canadian reader

    Hi Sam,
    We entered this situation 36% cash- held in high interest savings accounts and GICs- which I think are the same thing as CDs in the US. We spread it out less than 100k per account as we wanted CDIC (insurance).
    We were 57% stock market exposed through direct investing accounts.
    The other 6% was invested in worker group RRSPs – which are similar to 401k.
    We are mortgage free on a house in Vancouver.
    So far our net worth is down 17% from our February month end numbers. We don’t include the value of our home since we don’t plan on selling and think it will retain value- but who really knows.
    I’m not sure how to answer the question you posed in terms of what is the breaking point. It’s very hard to attach a dollar value since we can’t be sure which costs will inflate or deflate given the circumstances (zero interest rates/ massive money pumping). I’m also worried about the value of Canadian currency without stable oil pricing. And of course safety is numero uno!
    Remember if you have been financially successful you’re just good at navigating rules under conditions in a stable economy. This can be taken from us at any time, so it’s best to acknowledge going forward that things may not be so easy.
    I worked as an ER nurse for 13 years- currently on maternity leave. I’m very familiar with Main Street versus Wall Street ;) I don’t believe 50% of Canadians have the money to stay at home for even 1 month without UBI mailed to them. Any longer than that – even with government support and the financial market gets too distorted.
    I love your posts and you’re a beacon of comfort for many of us. Thanks for taking the time to write and helping us all navigate in real time!

  45. I hear rumors of a federal curfew coming soon I.E. martial law, so I think this is great timing for this article. I would be ok with 1 or 2 months of a true shutdown. After which we need to be ok with the hard truth that many people will get sick and some will die. I hope what we are doing now will help prevent it but the fallout from mass poverty will cause much more harm to the country in the long run. 1 to 2 months should give us time to increase the PPE, testing and possible future ventilator shortage so we can take care of more people.

    Net worth wise, there is no limit to what I’d be ok with losing if I continue to have a job which is very likely given I’m on the front line as a physician. Still only a few years out of residency so do not have much net worth to lose!

  46. Forget about how much money people have or don’t have. There won’t be jobs to go back to if this keeps up. We aren’t just talking about servers, industries will crumble under this.

    There are quite a few people that have started questioning the logic or the modeling that’s out there. Unfortunately, fear has won out.

  47. 1918 Spanish flu disappeared on its own after 36 months without vaccine. We can end CORVID-19 with 28 days quarantine & mass testing kits that cost $55 per person: if anyone is tested negative twice, 14 days apart, you can wear a wristband to prove it and go about normal lives. We can require periodic retesting if needed.

    Unlike vaccine and medicines which would take 12-18 months and lots of trails, testing kits can be scaled up 1000x and multiple tests can be applied to address false negatives until precision improves:

    Trump and Newsom are either too stupid, or too in bed with big pharma and want everyone get sick and pay for $100K per treatment so they can hand out trillions to airlines, instead of simply pay for $55 per American and get this over with in 28 days and $16B.

    1. “Trump and Newsom are either too stupid, or too in bed with big pharma”

      Both will be the right answer it seems.

    2. Your plan will only work with 100% compliance and that is impossible. Further, test have an error rate in which a certain percentage will test negative, yet actually be positive. Your wristband population will still get exposed to the virus.

      1. That’s what wristbands are for – without wristbands you cannot go out and pass the flu to other people, stay in door you’ll be virus free in 30 days anyway.

        Repeated testing can reduce error rate: current PCR and CRISPR have good precision/recall (80%), for 3 tests, 14 days apart to miss the virus the chance will be extremely slow (0.2 * 0.2 * 0.2 <1% error rate). Even 1% minor outbreak can be easily contain: Taiwan/Korean/Japan already showed it can be contained with mass testing.

        The 1918 Spanish flu largely vanished even in NYC from Aug to Nov. In 2020, with mass testing and repeated testing we can contain this in much shorter time and let the virus die on its own (the Spanish flu vanished completely and we had to exhume the 1918 virus DNA from some frozen corps in Alaska and reconstructed it in lab using PCR in 2015, long story)

        It's absurd people want to wait for vaccine, which is by no means certain (Ebola, SARS, MERS still have no vaccine today), and would at least take 12 months even if we fast track everything. Just google the history of Spanish flu and learn simple math.

          1. It’s NOT mutated itself out (to mutate you need hosts to reproduce in the first place), it simply ran out of hosts to infect once people took proper distancing measures. Google 1918 Spanish Flu history and stop scaring each other. If our great grandparents knew how to deal with flu, we should too.

            There’s a good chances we’ll never be able to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, but that’s OK as long we can immediately deploy mass testings for millions (all proven and accurate, just need funding to scale 1000x, like this one:

  48. Hi Sam,

    Thanks for producing good content inspite of the current situation. Just to add to the discussion, below is an article from Reuters back in 2010 that states the Swine flu killed 17,000 Americans including 1,700 children:

    My question to the group is why the C virus is treated so differently from S flu even though the death toll and total hospitalized of the later are greater?

    Let’s hope we get through this sooner rather than later.

    Semper FI,

    1. It is the potential hospitalizations and death toll of this virus that many are worried about. Cold viruses are one of the most easily spread respiratory diseases.

  49. I just don’t think it is as deadly as the media says it is. Have you read the article by the Stanford professor of medicine Ioannidis? If not, I would recommend reading it for another perspective. I support what we are doing, as nobody really knows what is going to happen, but I expect by April 15 we will start living our lives again while taking protective measures for our most at-risk population.

  50. Very scary times. I see a massive shift coming. This is a country where healthcare is unaffordable/inaccessible for many people as is. People are over-leveraged to the brink. And the government that has no systems in place to help people financially en mass. This country will be hit harder than most. It’s definitely a wake up call the likes of The Great Depression.

    Our company and all of its 50+ employees have been furloughed. How can it be only 3% unemployment at this point with all non-essential business shut down? The numbers are much greater than this. In our state (Colorado) 25,000 have filed for unemployment as of last week. We are asked to file only on specific days of the week based on last name to reduce the influx. Apparently the grocery stores have put restrictions on the purchase of certain food items. That is very concerning.

    My husband and I both work at the same company that we had started and sold (thank god!) this past August. We have 2 weeks of PTO left before we will file for unemployment. We have a decent sized emergency fund that can see us through a year or more if we need to. We have not been looking at our investment accounts and have no plans to withdraw anything. We are still buying and will ride this out till our investments recover.

    Lots of fear and lots of people spewing information with no real basis. No one knows anything. I personally feel like this is only uncovering deeper financial problems within our economy and will not go away once the virus is gone. Some speculate there were band-aids in place from the last Great Recession that is finally coming to a head. Either way.. I don’t believe this is going to end soon.

    As for us, since we have cash, we are enjoying the Netflix life and the downtime at home on 5 acres where there’s plenty for us to do. I had planned a mini-retirement anyway in the next few months when our work contract ended so this is kind of a welcome break. But for many others.. I don’t know how they are going to make it. That is what keeps me up at night. This is much bigger than just the virus.

    1. Nobody expects unemployment to stay at 3.6%. We are estimating temporarily 20%+ unemployment levels in 2Q2020.

      From my article:

      “In another study by Bluestone, Harrison and Baker, “The Causes and Consequences of Economic Dislocation” from 1981, for every one percentage point increase in unemployment, they estimated a 37,000 increase in deaths, of which, 20,000 are from heart attacks, 920 are from suicides, 650 are from homicides, and the rest are undisclosed.

      If we get to a 20% unemployment rate from 3.6% currently, according to the authors, this might result in roughly 610,500 more deaths. In this scenario, it seems that there will be more deaths in America attributable to a great depression than to the coronavirus itself.”

  51. The truth is always in the middle. The issue with Corona virus is that it is 20X more deadly and >2X for infectious. So left unchecked, it could easily go out of control and infect 20 to 50% of the population, and kill 1% of the population. So far, no country is willing to “live” with that outcome. There are 30 million cases of flu with 300,000-500,000 hospitalization spread over 3-4 months. With Corona virus running completely unchecked, you will have at least 100 million cases, and 10 million hospitalization over period of a month, so that is the problem. One compounding issue is that hospitals do not have a lot of spare capacity. However, with more testing, it will be contained by the summer as anybody with a fever will be tested as is the case in South Korea.

  52. I am writing this from a state which has closed down businesses with the only exceptions related to life sustaining. At first it was “non-essential”, but everyone thinks they are essential so that flopped hard. 72 hours later a decree was sent with teeth.

    I am luckier than most…
    – Over the past two years I built a cash hoard as I think about FIRE. I’m good for 24 months based upon my typical spending.
    – I keep abreast of the news and saw this coming. Was concerned in January and acted in February. My family has the necessities of life (food, medicine, TP!) and my employer was ready for the remote worker crush (I’m an IT director).
    – My company is still open as we are life sustaining as we keep the supply chain going, so I still have a job.
    – My wife still has a job.

    It is not a sunshine and roses….
    – Despite my cash hoard, I still had significant exposure to equities and my net worth is down 15%.
    – My company is open, but sales are down significantly to a point where we cannot sustain the full workforce.
    – My college age kids lost their jobs and we moved them back home as their colleges went 100% online (plus neither of them listened to me in February when I said to prepare).
    – Both kids had internships lined up which we think will get terminated due to all of this. Hurts both with their long term job hunt once they graduate.
    – My wife does have a job – she is a nurse. We are resigned to the fact that she will most likely get this virus thus have a plan to segment the house.
    – My father and FIL are at serious risk – to a point where if either get it they will most likely not survive. My father is planning to self-quarantine for 6 months with minimal touch points (I cannot visit).

    I put this all out there to make a couple of points.
    – This pain now is to flatten the curve, not cure this. It will be a numbers game to try and prevent our medical capacity from being overrun like Italy. It is to spread out the infection rate and to delay for possible increases in medical resources and maybe even a vaccine.
    – I think we as a nation can put up with this for about 30 to 60 days before we have to release….which leads to the next wave of infection that we better be prepared for (either during or after the Summer months).
    – Getting to herd immunity will take more than 30 to 60 days – so just be ready for numbers which will hurt your soul. (BTW – 1) these comments about the flu…..the mortality rate of the flu is .1% whereas this is between .5% and 3.5% so best case is 5 times worse. 2) A nuclear weapon has not killed anyone in decades yet we treat that threat with due care. The point is don’t look at straight up death count comparisons as it will lead to poor decisions.)
    – This will need to be a shared pain. I bought gift cards and left high tips for service workers before the shutdown. I’m ordering in food 2 nights a week from local restaurants when i usually only go out once every two or three weeks. I’m in conversations to forsake my salary – as other leaders should – to minimize layoffs at my company. Donate. Help you neighbor.

    Just a rambling of thoughts to add to the discussion. Stay safe.

    1. WannabeTrophyHubster

      Wow. Thanks for taking the time to share. My college aged kids are also back home “remote learning” and the 2 high schoolers doing the same, but what really got me was your description of your wife’s infection being such a probable likelihood that you already have plans to segregate your household. That’s a wow, just wow.

      Thanks again.

  53. My family is in relatively good shape at the moment. We already homeschool our kids, so nothing changed there except no homeschool family get-togethers.

    I’m self-employed and we have at least 6 months of personal living expenses in reserve. I can work from home as long as there is work to do, and I’ve worked from home for several years in the past, so I’m fine with not going into the office.

    I’m really glad we paid off the mortgage last year as we now don’t have the stress of making a payment. We have no other debt, other than a mortgage on a rental house. The tenant is military, so we’re not too concerned about rental payments yet… We could cover the mortgage for a while if we had to.

    We’re down probably 25% already in stock market, but not planning to bail. It will recover eventually, and moving to cash has it’s risk as well. Wife and I are in early 50’s and used to fighting through adversity. It’s part of life. Stay positive and faithful in everything you do. Someone else is far worse than you do. Help them if you can.

    I am very concerned that my company clients will not be able to pay their monthly contracts, and I expect slow pay to no pay in 30 to 60 days. We have 18 employees that provide IT support services to our clients. We will continue to pay them as long as we can, which should be 2 or 3 months even if our recurring revenue dries up. After that, we’d need to lay people off, and hope they’re available to return to work when things start to recover.

    I don’t think the typical family or business is able to withstand more than 30 days of a frozen economy, and ultimately this is really bad for everyone, regardless of how well prepared one may be.

    1. Seems true about not being able to withstand more than 30 days of a frozen economy based on the data in the chart.

      Hence, if we have no government support along with 30+ days of a frozen economy, we are going to inflict permanent harm where the cure will be greater than the virus.

  54. I think social distancing is good for helping reduce the spread but agree we need some guidance on and end date. Saying indefinitely creates too much uncertainty and panic. I don’t see what’s wrong with guiding for 30 days and then changing it if it seems really necessary.

    I’m trying to stay out of the politics though because we need to support each other as people in this crazy time.

    The collapse in munis has really shocked me and I really fear for the large number of people who have lost their jobs or who will lose their jobs in the coming weeks and or months. The economic impact and millions of families who are hurting physically, mentally and financially from all of this is real and hard to comprehend.

    Great food for thought in this post. I think my limit would be 2 months. It’s sad how a lot of people can’t afford to be out of work for 2 months. I’m taking a big hit to my net worth just like everyone but I’ll be ok. Too many people can’t say the same and it really sucks that this virus is hurting all of us even if we don’t catch it.

  55. It’s sounds like you think everyone has been told to stay at home, currently only 8 of the 50 states have shelter in place or stay home requirements. In the other 42 states including mine, everyone is free to travel at will. We’ve been running, fishing, hiking, and offroading. Outside, far from others, is as safe as staying inside with family. Some of whom are possibly already infected. So far our governor says he has no shelter in place plans. Limiting your exposure and staying in your house might be the same for city people, they are not synonymous for rural folk.

    1. It’s only 8 states, but it’s over 100,000,000 people that are under shelter in place orders currently. More are coming, I wish we we just do it and get it over with.

  56. Financial Freedom Countdown

    We have never believed china’s economic numbers so why believe them now is my biggest question. Also the 45 day lockdown is working because they do rigorous temperature checks leaving your house, entering a grocery store, entering work environment, etc. And track movements via your mobile phone. Would Americans be prepared to live in such a police state?

  57. IMHO, If the Govt keeps us on lockdown for any length of time, then sadly I think you’ll see civil unrest rear its ugly head and the potential for martial law.It’s crunch time!

  58. How much pain? Do you really think there is a choice? This is not the Flu PERIOD. There is no comparison and if you try you are deluding yourself. They have never closed the nation for the flu. This is its own disease with its own infective characteristics, pathophysiology, morbidity and mortality. The only way to herd immunity, without a vaccine is through getting infected so this isn’t going away in 30 days. Pandemics typically last 2 years, and the rates ebb and flow cyclically with peaks and troughs during that time. It will last 2 years whether you let ‘er rip or flatten the curve. It’s just 10% less will die if you flatten the curve. The Chinese numbers are nonsense so drawing conclusions on nonsense…. The virus’s penetrance will not be stopped, only the rate of penetration can be adjusted resulting in fewer dead people. In NYC Cuomo said 50% of his critical patients are UNDER 50 so this idea it mostly affects the old is media spin. The barrel of the gun is pointed at all of us.

    1. I think mitigation is the point so as to not overwhelm the healthcare system / hospitals.

      I don’t know anybody who thinks the virus will just go away forever. It’ll always be with us and then there will be new viruses and new ones etc.

      So the question is: when do we finally have enough, accept this new reality, and open things up again.

  59. Thanks for the great write up, there were a lot of insightful points in this. I read a news article this morning that said some virologists and epidemiologists believe the shutdown could go on for a year, which seems ludicrous to me. Does anyone truly think the economy could sustain this type of slow down for an entire year, especially when 75 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck? Even the people cited in your article, who are financially conscious high-earners, are giving themselves several months before they start to freak out…millions of Americans are in much worse financial positions in the midst of this crisis. And back to the year long shutdown point, people aren’t even adhering to the social distancing recommendations now – when I’ve gone out to run necessary errands, I’ve been surrounded by seniors (and tons of people in general). I can’t see how a year-long shutdown could happen without strict interventions from the government…and at that point, we’d probably have much bigger concerns on our hands.

    Like you pointed out in the article, there’s no clear indication on when this will end. And that’s fair, it is an unprecedented situation in some ways. However, I would like to know what markers the government/health care officials are watching for to indicate that things are “safe” again. Basically, what data did China and South Korea use to feel confident that tough restrictions could be lifted? Assuming its known, if those milestones were more widely publicized, maybe we’d have less hysteria and uncertainty. Instead the news just regurgitates 24 hours of Coronavirus doom and gloom, 7 days a week.

  60. “What I see are rich people with good amounts of savings and professional jobs at well-capitalized companies where they can work remotely asking that the jobs of low-wage restaurant, factory, and retail workers be sacrificed through quarantine for their incremental safety.”
    First they treat you dogs, then they lock you up like dogs. Dangerous times.

  61. 99% recovery rate from the virus! Enough said!

    The virus is being used as a guise from the real crisis at hand which is the financial instability in the system that was showing up in the repo market in Sept 2019.The highly leveraged margin debt bubble is imploding due to easy money practices by the Fed for the past ten years.

    The Fed has been pumping trillions into the paper market to keep the credit markets from freezing over in the repo market.

    We’ve been conned!

    1. 99% recovery when you have critical care beds and ventilator support. Overwhelm those like what’s happening in Italy and NYC, and it’s game over.

  62. Hi Sam,

    To quote Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

    THANK YOU for all of your insights over the years, Sam! You’re an inspiration to us all. Here is to fighting the good fight, and pressing forward.

    My entire immediate family is stuck 500 miles away from our home, (and away from our newly purchased first home that we waited 11 years to buy). Our first child was born on March 10th (on Chuck Norris’ 80th birthday, mind you) and he is recovering from surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    He will continue spending the first few weeks of his life at CHOP. He has fought his entire young life to recover from a life-saving surgery. He will continue fighting every minute to recover, and he is THE STRONGEST person I know.

    My son’s STRENGTH and RESILIENCE to recover from surgery is what is moving me forward every minute. The entire economy appears to be put on pause, while we remain cautiously optimistic for our son’s recovery. As parents, we cannot wait to take him home to North Carolina, and let him see his extended family over the next few months.

    These past few weeks have been the most challenging for us as a young family, and we will remain strong and resilient through everything.

    Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House (the first one ever, btw) has been BEYOND amazing helping us during our young family’s most challenging time ever.

    Here is hoping to be home by April at the latest, and beat the Coronavirus!


  63. I think we could get through this with a 2-month lockdown of non-essential services and mandatory social distancing but people MUST take it seriously or they prolong that timeline for all of us. I went to pick up dinner last night at a favorite steakhouse that was offering a pretty good takeout special. I walked in the bar and it was full of seniors just sitting around drinking and having a grand old time. It almost looked like a van from a nursing home dropped them off for a couple of hours. It was nuts and just showed me that a lot of people still are not taking this as seriously as they should. Heck, if the people who are most at risk don’t care any more than this then how can I have confidence that a whole bunch of other people aren’t feeling and acting the same way.

    If we all got serious we really could bend the curve and work our way out of this a lot faster but we need to shame some people into doing what is right for all of us and not just what they think is right for themselves.

    1. Ms. Conviviality

      I completely agree that if everyone took social distancing seriously then we could all be out of this situation sooner. Now is the time to think of humanity rather than being selfish. I have a sister that is an E.R. doctor working in L.A. I worry about her every day. She tells me how there are so many cases that a tent was set up outside the hospital. The hospital had tens of thousands of face masks stocked but somehow, they disappeared, most likely stolen. This angers me that these doctors are putting their lives and their family’s lives at risk and yet, those that took the masks didn’t seem to care! Due to the hospital being short on supplies she has to reuse her N95 face mask, that is supposed to be disposable, but instead she sets it aside for 14 days so that any virus that may have landed on it dies off. Patients cough in their faces every day and the hospital didn’t have proper gear for workers so her co-worker went out to the local home improvement store and bought full face shields for his colleagues. These are the acts of kindness we should be showing each other. I worry that her sons (27 months and 5 months) may lose their mother due to her increased risk from being exposed to the virus every day. When I last visited my sister, her oldest son was sitting in her lap while playing with some building blocks. She kissed him a couple of times on the side of his head and he giggled with such delight to have his mother’s love. I’m wishing that won’t be the last time I see them that happy together. Please, please, please, for the sake of all our loved ones who are at highest risk, whether they are your grandparents, parents, elderly neighbors, friends and family with underlying illnesses, and healthcare workers, let’s do what’s best for everyone.

    2. The question is: if these seniors are risking their lives and don’t seem to care. At what point will other Americans stop caring whether they catch the virus or not?

      I tried to play tennis the other day with a friend a the park. All four courts were booked with 60+ year-olds playing doubles. One said, “this is OUR time now!”

  64. The people calling for a longer lockdown (3 or more months) are the most privileged and wealthy people. Many of us cannot survive for more than two months without a paycheck. We will be financially ruined.

    Rich people, including our politicians, think about the rest of us!

    1. Not true. I am not rich and I am not privileged. My family has lived below our means for over 15 years. We typically ask “what if” and what we can do to protect ourselves from the “what if” scenarios we see coming out months and years away. We do not rely on/factor in government help as part of our “what if” plans. It was typical for us to ask in the past “what is a really bad scenario and what do we need to do to maintain continuity of “household operations/survival” to keep everyone reasonably safe. We saved for years and lived a frugal life during that time. And thankfully, we did. Everyone else can do what we did. It takes years of sacrifice and and routine planning. You can survive if you make it a goal to prepare. You do not have to be wealthy, privileged, etc.

  65. Muni bonds have taken a big hit. What is advice on holding AAA and AA individual muni bonds at this point. Past history indicates no defaults with these high rated bonds. Should I sell them for possible risk of default in this current environment.

    1. My muni funds have gotten hit hard. I thought I was in a good place with the funds to protect me from my stocks. So much for safety.

      1. Were they leveraged muni funds? Those have seen a magnified hit over the last week.

        1. Greg, I actually don’t know if they are, something I should. The two funds I have are: VWALX – (Vanguard High-Yield Tax-Exempt) and VNYUX (Vanguard New York Long-Term Tax-Exempt)

          Thanks for the link

  66. As a trained scientist, without doing rigorous modeling, my hunch is the easiest way to look at this is to view it through transmission rate and the period of lock down in terms of average incubation cycles. The rate is proportional to the innate R0 of the virus itself and the contact frequency of the population. The only knob to strongly influence the transmission rate we have is via changing the contact frequency dramatically. Since the average incubation period of this virus is 7 days or so, with the possibility of it being as long as 14 days for some people. I think 2-3 cycles of the longest possible incubation period (equivalent to 4-6 cycles of average incubation period) should be more than sufficient to significantly slow the transmission rate. Remember, we are not trying to let the transmission go down to zero, just slow enough for the medical/health care capacity to be ramped up enough to handle the outbreak — and hopefully, the vast majority of people obtain immunity and therefore herd immunity through vaccine but not via going through the brutal infection. So anything longer than 1.5-2 months in lock down seems pretty senseless and irrational to me.

      1. That’s my crude estimate. Obviously I had the underlying assumptions that, 1. Once infected people are symptomatic (signaling the end of incubation), most of them tend to keep away from other people, stay home and rest and therefore much less effective as a contagious agent as the symptoms run its course as everyone is now aware of the severity of the novel virus; 2. The medical/healthcare capacity should be reasonably prepared in a month or two for an ongoing influx of patients for an extended period of time as this virus is here to stay as it seems at this point.

      2. What I think would be ideal is if we can afford as a nation to have an oversupply of ventilators, test kits, PPE etc, shorten test times so that we are in place to quickly quash any outbreaks as they arise. We were underprepared and it will cost us; people could work now if we had those systems in place.

    1. I’m not sure how this factors in, but they found “active” virus in cruise ship cabins 17 days after anyone had been in them.

  67. China and Especially South Korea are poor comps for how long it will take western countries to contain this. SK’s response in particular was swift and coordinated compared to how we have bumbled our response.

  68. Definitely feel like we are playing without a playbook on this one. You knock the Gov of California a bunch, but he at least seems rational, compared to what’s coming out of DC. Many of the states seem better prepared to at least take action until we can figure things out.Over reaction? Quite possible, but people would be going nuts if nothing was done and this spread like wildfire.
    Obviously our net worth will take a hit, but we are lucky enough to be able to weather things out for a while until this thing gets figured out. My heart goes out to folks with minimum wage jobs, no safety net etc. And missing from the comments are a big thank you to nurses, public service jobs, grocery clerks, delivery drivers etc. who are showing up every day. Yes, this whole thing sucks, but a call for working together is always appreciated. As always, appreciate your blog Sam and keeping folks talking one way or the other. Stay healthy!

      1. Not much. We are already shopping for neighbors who can’t get out.Have hired two kids who work at a restaurant we go to a lot to do odd jobs around the house and will continue to cook extra so we can surprise folks in the neighborhood with a good meal. Trying to think local and do good things.

      2. Indianmama,

        A subtle sign of intelligence is basic manners.

        We’re trying to have a rational conversation here.


  69. desidividend

    The event is happening in bigger scale,maybe needed,but we can see the impact already with so many business shutting down or closing temporarily.This may accelerate the UBI concept.

  70. I feel sick to my stomach. I have lost about 30% of my NW, or about $800K. However, I’m in my mid 30’s and am not going to need this money for decades so not sure how much this really matters assuming we go back to new highs a year or years from now… It’s really frustrating that all of my sacrifices and diligent savings for a decade plus are getting crushed daily; but what can I really do at these levels? I’m certainly not gonna book losses. This one really hurts.

    1. Hi J-

      I’m in the same boat. I had $1.4M invested in stocks (entire NW) and its now $1M. I feel like an idiot for not selling (I literally told my parents to get out of all their stocks before the market went down at all because of this). I said, they can’t afford any losses, but I can. Doesn’t make any sense why I wouldn’t of sold. I always said I would just buy into down markets and come out fine. I never quite appreciated that super down markets come with super scary times. We had some down markets in 2016 and 2018 with nothing scary, and I bought. This is different. Market is down 35% and I can EASILY see it falling another 15%.

      Going forward, I fear I’m going to be so afraid to invest but I need to get over it so I can ride the recovery.

      I am young and I am definitely going to be keeping much more % of my NW in cash going forward.

  71. What arrogance, way more people do die in car crashes but millions can die from covid-19, in a few short months. If you haven’t been in the front lines, then shut up. I’ve a family member risking her life, with inadequate protection, treating infected patients. The Feds have failed and the RT wing nuts are now open to socialist hand outs.

    1. Arrogance to talk about a dilemma that millions of people or struggling with right now? You must be very scared to lash out like this.

      And what have YOU done to help your community? I did see you ask people in a previous comment to send masks to Seattle. Why don’t you pitch in?

      All you’ve done is insult Sam who has spent time thinking about a serious situation. What is wrong with you?

      I think the government needs to paint a clearer picture of when the lockdown will end and not say “indefinite.”

    2. As soon as you start thinking about others, you will realize how asinine your comment is.

      I think this post does a great job and trying to Figure on what is the right risk reward trade off.

      Do you not caring about the millions of people who have suddenly lost their livelihoods and may get trapped in a cycle of poverty is truly selfish.

      I hope this post pressures politicians to provide better leader ship and a better timeline guidance. The timeline guidance as what we need.

    3. To IndianMama,

      Rich people to the working class: “Stop working, stay indoors and self-isolate. Just Netflix and chill”

      The average American cannot afford an unexpected $600 bill. Now you want them to just lose everything? You expect them to chill?

      IndianMama, F you, you non-empathetic pieces of sh*t.

      Are you the person who has been bragging about sending her kids to expensive Ivy League schools and paying for tuition? If so, you are truly truly selfish and screw the person who is not thinking about others.

      1. wow … he is just asking a question..don’t use that kind of language in this forum!! Go away!! Funny how a few months ago people were making money and all was great!! We need to unite and be positive!!

    4. Ms. Conviviality

      Indianmama, I can empathize with what you’re feeling. I’m sorry that you’re going through such a tough time. My sister is an ER doctor in L.A. and it’s so scary to think about the worst that could happen to her, too. Everyone’s perspective is colored by what they know, so it might not be so easy for people to understand exactly what a healthcare worker is going through if they don’t know any personally. All we can do is share what we do know and hopefully help each other to be more compassionate. Stay strong.

  72. My family are among the fortunate ones. We have been cutting expenditures and saving brutal amounts for years. My wife and I are both working professionals within a year or two of FIRE’ing.
    I began taking a defensive stance in our investments a couple years ago; moving completely out of equities and into cash and bonds (CD’s, munis, corporate bonds and Treasuries).

    I was able to sleep well at night knowing that we were prepared for the crash that is inevitable in all business cycles (especially since we were way overdue for a decline, and equities were the most overvalued in history – see Hussman).
    When the initial market declines hit, we were making excellent returns as rates plummeted and bonds exploded.

    A couple weeks ago, my corporate bond funds started closing lower each trading day and Gold started getting hit as well. Once I realized what was happening (a Global “Hunt for Liquidity”) I immediately dumped all my bond funds and went to pure cash. I got out with a 3% loss in my corporate bond funds.

    However, what really took me completely by surprise was last week’s implosion in the muni markets. With interest rates plummeting, THIS WASN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN! I got out of my muni funds with about a 5% loss. What bugs me the most is giving up some significant gains in equities the last couple years, but still losing in traditionally “Safe” investments. This is Crazy!

    Fortunately, having gone completely to cash, my family could easily sit through a multi-year quarantine, and still FIRE (though at a somewhat reduced standard of living). We haven’t had cable TV in decades; we read books, exercise, play musical instruments, build hobby projects, cook all our own foods, and are easily able to entertain ourselves. So for us, it’s strange to hear about all those who are going stir-crazy after just a couple weeks confined to their homes.

    The craziest part of all of this is the 40% to 50% of Americans with either negative or no net worth. Even with SEVERAL thousand dollar checks going out, they will be back to nothing in a month or so. The knock-on effects of the shutdown must ultimately result in long-term double-digit U3 unemployment and a resulting recession/depression that will likely be the worst since 1930.
    I hope I’m wrong

    1. Pool Shark,

      We must be a lot alike. I love John Hussman…been reading him for years. As a scientist, I appreciate his quantitative analysis on everything. He has been repeatedly mocked as an uber bear for a decade, even though the math supports everything he has been saying. It is just that people didn’t care. And they had the belief that omnipotent central banks could backstop everything. Maybe they still can. I have no doubt there will be a massive stock rally once the latest bailout comes out. But I’ve never been comfortable with putting my life future mainly in assets that can vary in value 5% or more per day, or were grossly overvalued. By most metrics, US stocks remain very overvalued.

      Like you, I was shocked about the Muni market. I sold Friday right after the Treasury announced they would start buying up short dated munis. Didn’t matter–the longer term market got hammered again. People don’t buy munis to speculate, but they got hammered almost as bad as the S&P and realized none of the 400%+ return of the S&P over the years. I had enough since that was meant to be a relatively stable value. I exited with about a 1% loss of capital/coupon payments from three years of returns.

      I have largely missed out on the wild ramp in stocks the last decade…in my early 40s choosing to have a modest 5% in stocks. But even so, I lost quite a bit off munis, emerging market bonds, and even gold and platinum over the last few weeks. Investments which historically are very weakly correlated to equities. But the stock market is the most political and visible investment and will likely be the target of all future bailouts…keep that in mind. And the reality is, the Fed and other central banks will endlessly pump the stock market since future pension promises and retirements are largely a function of that. It appears they’re willing to let the bond market crater, even though there is more money there–but it isn’t as convenient as a DOW or S&P number read on the nightly news (bonds are very complicated to explain to the average person, and a measure of value can’t be given in a single number given all the variables like issuance, maturity/duration, yield, credit risk, etc.)

      Good luck to everyone out there with their health and decisions going forward. We’re all in this together.

      1. Wow. We do indeed think alike!
        In anticipation of FIRE’ing, we sold our home in mid-2017 (just had a feeling, and out of sheer luck, caught top of the market). Since our house was nearly paid for, it scared me to death to have all that money invested in a house when I knew the market was topping and due for decline.
        Needless to say, I had to invest the sale proceeds in a ‘safe’ place, so I chose munis (in a taxable brokerage account).
        We were doing quite well midway through the equities crash, when it all went pear-shaped.
        As soon as the Feds announced the purchase of munis, I dumped them. The problem was, I was invested in Vanguard muni FUNDS, so the NAV wasn’t set until the end of the day. I watched the spike in CMF helplessly, wanting to get out, but couldn’t.
        By the end of the day, the NAV was set at a 2.6% loss.
        But, at least I’m out, sitting in cash waiting for the bottom that John Hussman has predicted (another 40% or so to go…)

      2. Gold and emerging market bonds have time to show their mettle. Gold has actually outperformed YTD but the appreciation tends to happen after the big leg down in equities, as all the govt easing works its way through.

        EM bonds….govts recover from defaults (if any) faster than company equity tends to from bankruptcy…give it a bit of time.

    2. Not only will local governments lose double digit percentages of tax revenues, but their outlays are going to explode as they provide pandemic funding to citizens and businesses.

  73. Excellent analysis. I still think that the first wave of extreme measures was warranted with what we knew at the time, but we’re ready for the next stage analysis and plan now. If you showed a 24/7 video feed of people dying in car crashes, wide ranging behavioral changes would occur. Same is happening by essentially showing a 24/7 feed of the COVID-19 crisis. Next steps are to do some rational analysis of how to mitigate the worst case scenario but to keep our eye off the one big thing for long enough to tend to the other problems that need attention. Thanks for writing this. I know you’ll get a lot of blow back and skeptics who will miss your point.

  74. anonymous123

    This whole quarantine is public health gone out of control. Way more people do die in car crashes, texting and driving etc. We will look back and see that the economic effects are far worse then the virus. Once testing is done to everyone, we will see that the mortality rate is well under 1%. So for this, we are laying the entire country off? its insane. I had to shut down my small business temporarily and temporarily lay off all my staff. Not to mention the huge increase in already gigantic federal debt. Given that it only kills old people and choose with serious comorbidites something should be done to protect them not destroy our entire economy. But, you cant say logical things like this in public or media because you will get villified. Even our Mayor Goodman out here in LV has been villified by media for taking this stance.

    1. You are 100% correct. I personally feel the “screaming fire in the crowded theater loophole in the 1st amendment” needs to apply to the media right now. I listen to the Task Force update from the White House everyday and all I hear is questions designed to induce panic & hysteria. Never in my life have I felt a greater need to volunteer, help my fellow citizens, and felt completely helpless to do so. I am under 30, no preexisting conditions, and a marathon runner. But I’m being asked to stay home and let the “government” handle it. Just like the government handled the Flint water crisis. This is a dumpster fire that in hundred years the history books will point to as one of the darkest hours of American history…and not because we faced a crisis, but because our leaders are locked in political gamesmanship of who can implement the most draconian measures possible. When is all over, the economy is in shambles, they’ll say, “wow, look at how good we did”.

    2. Mark Solomon

      But no one knows this at this point. COVID is nasty and brutal. There is no vaccine or treatment at this point. It is highly contagious and it could kill you. med science has about 4 months under its belt in understanding this.

      Anyone who exited equities a year ago is either extremely lucky or lying. I got laid off 2/6 and exited to 35-37% equities from about 75-80%. I thought I was lucky.

      Sanders wants to give everyone making less than $180k 2k a month until we are clear of this. I’m for that. Do not trust Trump or the GOP Senate. Especially the cancerous Lindsey Graham. Giving money to companies will not cut it. Increasing unemployment benefits will not reduce the time wasting bureaucracy. Get money into people’s accounts NOW!!!

      1. anonymous123

        Humans process new fast evolving things as far more dangerous then the things that are really likely to kill us such as bad diet, not exercising, car accidents etc. It was an advantageous trait when we lived day to day and died hunting etc. And media feeds into this loop by hyping up the worst cases and areas non stop. Why dont we quarantine against sugar or cars etc. Additionally, this virus is bad, but it primarily effects elderly and immunocompormised. Yet, I see athletic 20 year olds wearing N95 repsirators around town. The fear and panic are out of control in relation to this virus.

        1. Hello I work as a nurse at UCSF. We do want the 20 year olds to wear the mask to. We want everyone and the spring breakers to stay home just long enough to mitigate or dampen the trajectory. What we FEAR is the infections ramping up too fast and overwhelming healthcare systems. Currently our facility has a two week supply of protective equipment and not enough ventilators. We pray that we stem the curve enough not to go beyond the tipping point. We understand more people die of other illnesses, accidents, etc. Number of deaths is not the point, but in mitigation on the short term. After all this we still have to worry about 2nd 3rd waves.

          1. Anonymous123

            I’m in health care also, and I’ve never heard recommendations for healthy middle aged people to wear surgical masks and n95 face masks while going to the grocery store. Can you please cite he source of that recommendation

            1. So do you plan to listen to the CDC recommendations which reflect supply and demand or do you want to listen to WHO recommendations? Why don’t you look at what Taiwan has been doing, IMMEDIATELY they mandated for everyone to wear a mask. Look at Hong Kong. The populace has immediately put on masks in public , does not have to be N95. But they noticed that numbers of corona and even the flu have gone done. Being in health care you yourself should know that we are data driven and evidenced based. Ask yourself do we have enough data in the US, possibly but not really. That is when we should not be “elitist”. Nothing wrong with being overprotective. However the foreign data is there. cite me your resource saying that healthy people should NOT wear masks. Droplet precautions include wearing a mask and googles for any treatment that creates aerosol. Airborne precautions necessitate N95, papr, etc. WHO is rethinking that Covid-19 may be even airborne. droplet precautions need 6 feet of space. Airborne 5-165 feet. Im sure you know, being in health care that there is data that 0-9 years old can be asymptomatic and continue to infect. It doesn’t take a rocket science to see the measures that China has taken and how it reflects on them flattening their curve. Wake up we are not flattening our curve if you are in the same boat as those spring break Floridians. If this is just like the seasonal flu as you think, why are “our” colleagues in Italy suffering. They were on the same trajectory as ours. All we ask is that we stay indoors for a few weeks and that we wear masks outdoors.

            2. in addition to above. think about it, you work in healthcare. The idea where the CDC does not recommend masks in public and that in the hospital is okay, is purely bonkers. the virus does not discriminate public vs hospital setting. Being in healthcare, you should know that even when you talk and breath droplets are released. Not just coughing and sneezing.

              1. It is bonkers. Wear a mask. Costs little and there is no downside risk.

                Americans don’t wear masks because it is socially embarrassing. Screw that. Wear a mask when going to crowded places during the pandemic.

            3. here are some Citations of abstracts from the NIH.

              I am can’t wait to see your citations

              Am J Infect Control. 2010 Nov;38(9):676-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2010.03.012.

              J Public Health Manag Pract. 2009 Mar-Apr;15(2):112-7. doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000346007.66898.67.

              even better a systematic review.

              Epidemiol Infect. 2010 Apr;138(4):449-56. doi: 10.1017/S0950268809991658. Epub 2010 Jan 22.

        2. This quote “ this virus is bad, but it primarily effects elderly and immunocompormised“ is just not true. Anyone can get VERY sick. Sure, mortality may be 1% or less, but anyone can get sick enough to go to the hospital and take up a bed, even beautiful young super fit people. This means someone else may not get a bed who needs one, whether sick with COVID-19 or bad flu or cancer or car accident or anything else. And they could die from that.

          So, “peak virus” could kill many people indirectly. We need very much to slow down the spread, which I think Sam agrees with.

          However, it is a diabolical trade off. Losing one’s income means not being able to pay rent or buy food or afford health care, which also means many people will die.

          I agree with Sam that “shelter in place” cannot go on indefinitely, as the unintended effects will end up being dire for millions of people. I don’t think we’ll know how long is “too long” until we’re a couple weeks into this and we see what’s happening.

          Until then, I think it can help a lot to support local businesses. My family is ordering take-out for dinner nearly every night, even though we have a good amount of food in the pantry, because we want our local restaurants and their staff to stay employed. Likewise we’re ramping up donations, including to SF-Marin Foodbank and Project Open Hand (delivers dietetic meals to sick people who are home bound). There are many things that each of us with the means can do.

          1. “Sure, mortality may be 1% or less, but anyone can get sick enough to go to the hospital and take up a bed, even beautiful young super fit people. This means someone else may not get a bed who needs one, whether sick with COVID-19 or bad flu or cancer or car accident or anything else. And they could die from that.”

            This sadly is very misleading. When this is all over I will potentially save lives by not driving (no car accidents). I’ll also save the planet. If you don’t drive that lowers the death rate again and leaves a bed for an old person having a heart attack. On and on and on. Nobody is suggesting we give up driving, right? Why not? It would save lives….. We should all commit now to never drive again.

            I’m not trying to pick on anyone, but this logic is deeply flawed and applies to everything at every time in our lives. Balance is key in everything. The logic above is not an excuse to shutdown the economy. This logic is how this panic got started and why nobody stopped to truly calculate the unintended consequences. How many lives would be saved if we banned guns? Seriously, how many lives would be saved if we just banned McDonalds? We make decisions to let people die every single day in this country. We do it boldly and as proud Americans. We can save more lives by banning Big Macs (mathematically). If you can get Americans to ban Big Macs, I’ll “stay in place” for five years!

            1. I believe the logic only applies in the short term. We just need to sit tight and shelter enough to keep the curve below the point of overwhelming our healthcare systems. We are not saying to be a hermit along the same lines as quitting driving indefinitely. Those are long term bold and noble causes. We just want to slow it down so the healthcare system won’t collapse. Sure balance is key. However balance is always interrupted when extraordinary events occur. Let’s look at hindsight, which is always clear. If we were successful in containment, covid 19 would have been forgotten. However we are here and we have to deal with it. Bill Gates had a Talk in 2015 about a possible pandemic and how easily it would overwhelm the healthcare system. Seemed like a prediction coming to fruition. Problem with us humans is we only deal with big bad problems when it stares us in the face.

          1. DB is absolutely right. Also, here’s the math (I see too many commentators here making a flawed assumption): The probability of getting a COVID-19 infection is ADDITIVE to all the other risks, e.g., car crashes, flu, obesity, you name it. People cite those statistics, incorrectly assuming COVID-19 has an EITHER/OR relationship with the above. 1 in 4 or 5 people require hospitalization, so now imagine those coming *all at once*, on top of the car crashes, flus, obesity cases, does our healthcare system stand a chance? Also, people like to cite the “low” average death rate of ~4% (or whatever it has evolved to). However, death is not necessarily the worst case scenario, try breathing (*wheezing*) with permanent lung damage for the rest of your life.

            1. Good point about COVID-19 being ADDITIVE.

              Perhaps the virus will spur millions more to eat better and exercise more to get in fighting shape. There seems to be a correlation with fitness and mortality with the virus.

              Let’s control what we can control.

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