Key developments for Thursday, November 19, 2020

Smart sentiment of the day: When billionaires start growing potatoes, it’s time to pay attention to what’s happening. The folks with the big bucks are eyeing investment in hard assets.

Citibank thinks Bitcoin could have some breakout growth in the next year.

Food insecurity is a growing problem in the US. Global food insecurity has also worsened because of COVID. Over 25% of households with children have experienced food insecurity this year. Lines for food programs are an increasingly common sight:

Tens of millions of Americans could lose unemployment benefits the day after Christmas as more CARES Act programs expire. Nearly 750,000 workers filed for unemployment last week. Weekly initial jobless claims have been worse than the worst Depression era stats for the last eight months in a row.

The world has over 57.1 million COVID cases.  The world has added over 4.1 million cases since last Thursday. Case growth is increasing. There have been over 1.3 million deaths in total. The US has over 12 million cases. The US has added over 1 million cases in a week. Over 258,000 Americans have died—almost 2,000 in the last 24 hours. The US has gained over 171,000 new cases since yesterday, which is (once again) record-breaking. The US still leads the world in case growth.

People in the US are flying less than half as much as they did before COVID, but they’re still flying. Current case numbers don’t seem to be slowing people down compared to the summer or spring.

The Administration transition is not going forward in any meaningful way at the moment, so COVID vaccine planning isn’t transitioning, either:

A COVID test that can be used at home has been approved by the FDA:

On final analysis, Pfizer sees efficacy of its COVID vaccine grow to 95%. Pfizer plans to seek FDA approval imminently. The vaccine also appears to be 94% efficacious in the elderly, which is fantastic news.

Having trouble finding toilet paper and other paper goods again? You’re not the only one:

Los Alamos National Labs is having a significant outbreak:

The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccine can help those over age 70 produce a good immune response as well.

Hospitals across the US are struggling with damaging staff shortages. Hospitals in 25 states are facing this problem now, and more will be facing it as cases grow and as more staff become infected and sidelined. Nearly 1,000 staff of the Mayo Clinic Health System have been infected in a short period of time:

Our estimates of case fatality rate have improved with improved testing, but it’s clear than many positive cases are still going undiagnosed. If we extrapolate anticipated deaths based on a model that incorporates symptom and reporting lag time, we project that 1,800 out of every 100,000 cases will die. Considering we’re adding over a million cases a week, the implications are staggering. As hospital systems continue to get overwhelmed, we may find that this model underestimates projected deaths.

California is back on partial lockdown, and a month-long 10pm curfew: