It is Day 41 (on 4/20) since the start of the COVID-19 American shelter-in-place/quarantine response (7 states did not issue a shelter-in-place order), and the day that the WHO declared it a ‘pandemic’ (3/11/20). I know there is currently a popular social media meme, saying that the quarantine started 3/23 and will end 5/1, exactly 40 days, which fits their Latin derivation of the word ‘quarantine’ being 40, the 40 days and 40 nights of flooding during the Biblical story of Noah and the Ark, the Biblical story of Moses fleeing Egypt for 40 years, the Biblical story of Moses spending 40 days on Mount Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments, the Exodus lasting 40 years, the Biblical story of Jesus fasting for 40 days, the optimal number of weeks for human gestation being 40, etc. But, today is Day 41.
I want to wish you and your families are staying healthy and safe. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its literal mortal, economic, and mental toll on millions of people around the world. My special needs brother tested positive for COVID-19 two Saturdays ago, and has beaten it. Thank you for your prayers. Everything seems to have ground to a halt, except the work of many brave doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, sanitation workers, law enforcement, fire departments, paramedics, pharmacists, warehouse employees, truckers, teachers, factory workers, military personnel, government employees, postal service workers, restaurant workers, delivery workers, farmers, and many other frontline heroes. We have a new paradigm shift, in which our previous heroes (athletes, movie stars, and entertainers), who were paid tens of millions of dollars a year, turn out to the non-essential ones at this time, and the real heroes now are all these front-line workers, healthcare workers, first responders, and military, who never were paid what they were supposed to be paid. It has long been an upside-down paradigm, with essential workers paid the least. Now, they are being more appreciated and, it appears, may wind up getting some kind of hazardous duty pay. There are some silver linings in this cloud and I will try to point them out in the Repo Commentary, whenever I spot them. Also, some areas of the world and the country are seeing peaks in the number of cases and/or deaths, perhaps turning the corner on COVID-19.
Pressures on family life, relationships and marriages continue, as we hunker down in close quarters for longer periods of time than we normally do and try to find things to do, or tackle parenting, adopting new animals, home schooling, and going on hunting/seeking necessary supplies. We are all in the same boat. Without our collective patience and caring, we won’t defeat the disease. Since the US has chosen this path or response, do the right thing and stay in, unless you absolutely have to go out. Although I am of the minority opinion that that was not the right way to handle the pandemic, we have pursued that course and need to finish the plan. Meanwhile, I’m here to entertain you while you are at home or at work (or remotely at work), and give you some news. I am shooting to publish a Repo Commentary on Monday or Tuesday each week. I mentioned that the book I ghostwrote last year, was finally published last week. I have been commissioned to write some articles on a non-industry subject and to begin a second book, as a ghostwriter.
I am still not retired. I am available for consulting (for hire, sorry I had to put that in because many of you are calling and writing for free help and advice) on all things Repo and Securities Lending, while working hard on a Fintech solution for the market. So, if you need my almost 38 years of Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or hit me up on LinkedIn.
My Repo Commentary, however, is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website: www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. You are now seeing it more frequently again. With the virtual quarantine on, I’m able to write it once or twice per week.
Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information. I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures, to make it better! I miss all the pictures you guys used to send me, especially the State Treasurers and CIOs for Redneck Friday features. Yes, they were surprisingly one of my sources. But, I digress, on with the non-fake news.
Holidays or Events (04/20):
- UN Chinese Language Day
- Lima Bean Respect Day (not from me)
- National Cheddar Fries Day
- National Look Alike Day
- National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day
- Patriots’ Day (celebrated as a full holiday in Massachusetts, typically the running of the Boston Marathon)
- Volunteer Recognition Day
Sunday, was the 25thAnniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Some Famous People Born on 04/20 in History:
- 1889-Adolf Hitler, Austrian born Fuhrer of Nazi Germany
- 1908-Lionel Hampton, American vibraphone player, pianist, bandleader, and actor
- 1923-Tito Puente, American drummer and producer
- 1929-Harry Agganis, American baseball and football player
- 1941-Ryan O’Neal, American actor
- 1945-Michael Brandon, American actor and director
- 1949-Jessica Lange-American actress
- 1951-Luther Vandross-American singer-songwriter and producer
- 1961-Don Mattingly, American baseball player, coach, and manager
- 1966-David Filo, American businessman, co-founded Yahoo!
- 1972-Carmen Electra, American model and actress
Daily Weird Facts:
Queen Victoria and King Christian IX’s descendants currently occupy the thrones of Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. That includes all of the remaining kingdoms of Europe, except for Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.
“Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.”–anonymous
Currency and Commodity Markets:
Oil prices closed at:
$74.34/barrel on 10/5
$47.66/barrel on 12/23
$48.63 on 01/07
$52.31/barrel on 01/16
$55.26/barrel on 2/3
$55.41/barrel on 2/26
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$63.28/barrel on 5/17
$54.07/barrel on 6/18
$55.96/barrel on 7/24
$58.31/barrel on 9/10
$53.50/barrel on 10/2
$59.10/barrel on 12/8
$58.81/barrel on 1/17
$54.39/barrel on 2/7
$35.92/barrel on 3/11
$27.15/barrel on 3/18
$29.90/barrel on 3/23
$27.43/barrel on 3/27
$24.90/barrel on 4/01
$31.80/barrel on 4/12
$28.31/barrel on 4/17
Oil prices turned lower again. They are down more than 60% this year. There is talk that oil prices could actually go NEGATIVE! In fact, this morning, US oil prices (Light Crude May 2020 futures contract on the NYMEX) was trading at -$16.18/barrel. Heating Oil was trading this morning nearly at zero, $0.90. Unleaded Gas (Futures) were trading at $0.73/gallon. This is crushing the economies based on Oil exports and hurting our fairly young shale and new exploration domestically. OPEC and Russia had just agreed to a 10 million barrel per day production cut, according to the FT. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station grudgingly fell another 11 cents this week, to $1.71/gallon. Most of the other stations in the area are 20-60 cents more per gallon. US banks are establishing companies to take control of oil and gas fields to avert losses if energy companies that have borrowed from them go bankrupt.
One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates):
112.20 on 12/24
108.60 on 01/07
109.07 on 01/16
103.18 on 02/03
104.86 on 2/25
103.86 on 5/17
102.59 on 6/18
102.43 on 7/24
101.72 on 9/10
102.16 on 10/02
102.96 on 12/06
104.30 on 01/17/20
104.80 on 02/07/20
99.23 on 03/11/20
101.67 on 03/18/20
104.77 on 03/24/20
102.22 on 04/13/20
102.14 on 04/19/20
One Euro was trading on:
12/24 at $1.1426
01/07 at $1.1478
01/16 at $1.1396
02/03 at $1.2047
02/25 at $1.1955
05/17 at $1.1761
06/18 at $1.1825
07/24 at $1.1740
09/10 at $1.1623
10/02 at $1.1504
12/06 at $1.1688
01/17 at $1.1721
02/07 at $1.1543
03/11 at $1.1937
03/18 at $1.1575
03/24 at $1.1400
04/13 at $1.1523
04/19 at $1.1394
One British Pound was trading on:
12/24 at $1.2655
01/07 at $1.2770
01/16 at $1.2880
02/03 at $1.3758
02/25 at $1.3728
05/17 at $1.3427
06/18 at $1.3157
07/24 at $1.3070
09/10 at $1.2959
10/02 at $1.2882
12/06 at $1.3819
01/17 at $1.3753
02/07 at $1.3574
03/11 at $1.354
03/18 at $1.2665
03/24 at $1.2231
04/13 at $1.3143
04/19 at $1.3058
One USD versus the CAD at:
1.3442 on 12/24
1.3297 on 01/07
1.3255 on 01/16
1.2492 on 2/03
1.2492 on 2/25
1.2800 on 5/17
1.2740 on 6/18
1.2480 on 7/24
1.2520 on 9/10
1.2560 on 10/02
1.2530 on 12/06
1.2390 on 01/17
1.2640 on 02/07
1.3020 on 03/11
1.3540 on 03/18
1.3690 on 03/24
1.3250 on 04/13
1.3390 on 04/19
Gold closed on 9/09 at $1504.90/ounce. On 10/02, it closed at $1498.70/ounce. On 12/6, it closed at $1,464.40/ounce. On 1/17, it closed at $1557.30/ounce. On 2/07, it closed at $1,576.20/ounce. On 3/11, it closed at $1,641/ounce. On 3/18, it is trading at $1,487.60. On 3/24 it was trading at $1,659.80, way up. On 3/27 it is trading at $1,627.00. On 4/01, it is trading at $1,591.60. On 4/12, it skyrocketed to $1,738.00. Yet, on the eve of 4/20, it has backed off a little to $1,694.50.
Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):
$8,185.21 on 7/25
$6,350 on 10/5
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,7774.97 on 01/07
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02
$7,470.41 on 12/06
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20
$9,793.18 on 02/07/20
$7,871.60 on 03/11/20
$5,216.64 on 03/18/20
$6,728.03 on 03/24/20
$6,646.60 on 03/27/20
$6,443.44 on 03/31/20
$6,908.13 on 04/12/20
$7,128.45 on 04/19/20
After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer, rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020. It has now given up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion.
Global Financial News:
FT reports that the World Bank says its so-called pandemic bonds will pay out $132.5 million payout to affected poorer nations, which seems like too small an amount to me, and also kind of late in the pandemic cycle. Banks have expressed concerns with some of the terms of the Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program, which is set to launch in the coming weeks. They say that the minimum loan size of $1 million will shut out borrowers who need less. They are also complaining about the stipulation that the loans must be tied to the SOFR rate, instead of LIBOR or other benchmarks. ISLA and its newly-launched Council for Sustainable Finance (ICSF) has released its first “position paper” to address the role of lending and short-selling during periods of heightened volatility. This addresses the now popular topic of environment, social and governance (ESG), according to Securities Lending Times. The ICSF is intended to introduce a set of principles of sustainable securities lending (PSSL), which will be a voluntary rules framework promoting ESG. Proposed (and now implemented in some markets of Europe and Asia) bans against short-selling, a topic thrust on the securities lending industry back in the early 90s, has reared its head again in late 2019. The thing that makes the market work, is blamed for the problem. The ridoncoulous volatility in equity and fixed income markets during the pandemic, has led to some record trading profits for banks. For those of you in the business, this is not at all a surprise. Historically, trading desks, whether money funds, investment banks, commercial banks, hedge funds, or other sectors, always have more opportunity in volatile markets, than they do in flat markets. Of course, greater opportunity or benefits, comes with greater risks. And, for nearly every trade, there is someone on the other side of that trade. So, if someone made money being short Oil or Equities, and got in and out, there was likely someone who lost money. The big difference between the Great Recession and the bailouts and the US Government response the following 2 years of financial crisis, is that THIS time, the US Government is willing to spend whatever it takes to save the economy from COVID-19. Forbes reported on 4/18 that, before Congress adjourned for vacation, they were working on a proposed bill (Emergency Money For the People Act) that would include $2000/month stimulus checks for Americans over age 16, and and another proposed bill (Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act) that would forgive Rent or Mortgage payments for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to one year. It would be retroactive to 3/13/20. This forbearance is tricky and is something I take up in the Housing News section below. The Bill would also establish a ‘relief fund’ for landlords and mortgage holders to cover losses due to cancelled receivables, managed through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It would also create an optional fund to finance the purchase of private rental properties to increase the availability of affordable housing. Another article noted that many people have still not received their $1200 stimulus checks and that some deceased taxpayers have received stimulus checks. It has been predicted that there will be many bankruptcies due to this pandemic. Many small businesses, particularly restaurants, have already shut down, especially after getting shouldered out of receiving PPP loans by much larger chain restaurants and businesses. Now, 24Hour Fitness is weighing bankruptcy, another casualty of COVID-19. This one puzzles me a little, because most US fitness centers are still charging their members monthly fees, even though they are closed. So, their revenue is the same, granted it’s not increasing with new memberships or walk-ups, and their expenses are way down because they don’t have the facilities open and using power and I don’t think they are paying their employees. I would think their profit margins are higher than they have been in years. Investors have poured a record $10.5 billion in high-yield bonds in the week that ended last Wednesday, according to BOA, after the Federal Reserve said that it would buy speculative-grade debt, as part of its stimulus program. US high yield bond returned the lowest yield since 2008 last month. The pandemic has caused the Federal Reserve and others to focus more on Asian monetary policy and how it impacts US monetary policy. The Members Exchange, which just raised money before the pandemic hit, has delayed its 7/24 planned launch until Q3, because of the pandemic. The exchange platform will be MEMX. Per WSJ, Q1 profits at 6 major banks declined 30-89%, as banks booked substantial provisions for loan losses. Balance sheets ballooned as banks issued loans, and trading revenue increased with higher volumes and higher volatility. But, banks will still contend with unknown credit losses, low interest rates, and a decline in trading activity. Goldman Sachs is predicting a plunge in corporate cash spending.
US Market News:
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on global equity markets. It is most apparent in the ridonculous volatility of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as regulators continue to resist reinstating the Uptick Rule which disappeared after the Great Recession.
Here are the latest DJIA closes for the past month or so, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (I’m starting to think I missed the bottom to buy in):
4/10/20 market closed
2/12/20 29,551.42 record high
The Dow Jones closed at (Repo Commentary Dates):
26,656.77 on 9/20/18
26,447.05 on 10/5/18
21,792.20 on 12/23/18
21,712.53 on 12/26/18
24,207.16 on 01/16/19
25,063.89 on 2/06/19
26,106.47 on 2/25/19
25,862.68 on 5/16/19
26,465.54 on 6/18/19
27,269.97 on 7/24/19
26,793.09 on 9/10/19
26,229.31 on 10/02/19
28,015.06 on 12/06/19
29,348.10 on 01/17/20
29,185.07 on 02/07/20
29,551.42 on 02/12/20 record high
23,553.22 on 03/11/20
21,237.38 on 03/17/20
18,591.93 on 03/23/20
22,552.17 on 03/26/20
21,917.16 on 03/31/20
23,719.37 on 04/09/20
24,242.49 on 04/17/20
S&P 500 has closed on:
10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
01/07/19 at 2,549.69
01/16/19 at 2,616.10
02/06/19 at 2,706.53
02/25/19 at 2,799.34
05/16/19 at 2,876.32
06/18/19 at 2,917.75
07/24/19 at 3,019.56
09/10/19 at 2,969.04
10/02/19 at 2,906.94
12/06/19 at 3,145.91
01/17/20 at 3,329.62
02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high
03/12/20 at 2,480.64
03/17/20 at 2,529.19
03/23/20 at 2,237.40
03/26/20 at 2,630.07
03/31/20 at 2,584.59
04/09/20 at 2,789.82
04/17/20 at 2,830.88
Nasdaq too gave up its 8/28/18 high of 8,030.04, closing on:
10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
01/07/19 at 6,823.47
01/16/19 at 7,034.70
02/06/19 at 7,263.87
02/25/19 at 7,561.87
05/16/19 at 7,898.05
06/18/19 at 7,953.68
07/24/19 at 8,321.50
09/10/19 at 8,043.58
10/02/19 at 7,809.22
12/06/19 at 8,656.07
01/17/20 at 9,388.95
02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high
03/12/20 at 7,201.80
03/17/20 at 7,334.78
03/23/20 at 6,860.67
03/26/20 at 7,797.54
03/31/20 at 7,700.10
04/09/20 at 8,153.58
04/17/20 at 8,650.14
I mentioned in the last Repo Commentary, something J.P. Morgan said in 1912, “Gold is money. Everything else is credit.” It’s interesting that this has come up again. It isn’t unusual in a world-catastrophic event that everyone buys gold and US Treasuries. Ironically, up until the mid-20thCentury change (1931 for Great Britain and 1933 for the US, and finally 1973), the US Dollar was backed by Gold, which was physically held at Fort Knox. It was considered the Gold Standard. We moved to “fiat money”. Gold is still being mined in various countries, even pan-handled in creeks in the US. There are now Gold ETFs, Gold futures, and rarely movement of physical Gold. It has been an interesting debate for more than 50 years, whether the US should go back to the Gold Standard. The Gold Standard was a monetary system where a country’s (once the US) currency or paper money has a value directly linked to Gold that is held as collateral to back it. So, back then, if the US set the price of Gold at $500, then the value of one US dollar would be 1/500thof an ounce of Gold. Theoretically, it would allow anyone who has paper currency from any country, using the Gold Standard, to turn in the currency for actual Gold. There are arguments for both sides. Obviously, the physical quantity of Gold available would act as a limit to currency issuance and inflation. But, strict adherence to such a policy could be a hindrance to economic growth, leverage, and political unrest. The Gold Standard, or obsession with Gold, has been going on for at least 5,000 years. Did you know that Gold is so dense that one ton of it can be packed into a cubic foot? It’s interesting that since I wrote about it, President Trump even mentioned it, sounding like he may be in favor of reinstating the Gold Standard. I’m not an expert (on this) but with dilution of the US dollar in the last few decades, do we still have Gold to ‘back’ it? The short answer is “no”, according to the smarter people than me I checked with. If the people who are long Gold futures decided to take physical delivery, instead of have their contract expire and be paid for it, there would not be enough physical Gold to cover the expiration of the contracts. I assume that would lead to a very serious problem. Apparently, the same holds true for the metals ETFs. Given that, how would we have enough physical Gold to back all those US Dollars out there? Unfortunately, that leads to the awful question of what is that US Dollar piece of paper worth, besides the ‘backing’ of the US Government? Remember, the credit rating agencies, who were probably already on a tightrope with the public, chose to downgrade the credit rating of the US Government? As President Hoover famously said in 1933, in his argument to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We have gold because we cannot trust governments.” Wow, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, Gold has recently risen in price.
The mega-purchasing of US Treasuries, Agency MBS, municipalities, corporate bonds, and ETFs (up to $2.2 trillion) by the Fed has shouldered out the buyers for the OTHER flight-to-safe haven/flight-to-quality, US Treasuries, as a favored investment, so investors have turned to Gold.
2 YEAR NOTES closed on:
10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.53%
01/16/19 at 2.55%
02/06/19 at 2.52%
02/22/19 at 2.48%
05/16/19 at 2.20%
06/18/19 at 1.86%
07/24/19 at 1.83%
09/09/19 at 1.58%
10/01/19 at 1.56%
12/06/19 at 1.61%
01/17/20 at 1.58%
02/06/20 at 1.44%
03/11/20 at 0.50%
03/17/20 at 0.47%
03/23/20 at 0.28% wow!
03/26/20 at 0.30%
03/31/20 at 0.23%
04/09/20 at 0.23%
04/17/20 at 0.20%
3 YEAR NOTES closed on:
10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
01/16/19 at 2.53%
02/06/19 at 2.50%
02/22/19 at 2.46%
05/16/19 at 2.15%
06/18/19 at 1.80%
07/24/19 at 1.79%
09/09/19 at 1.52%
10/01/19 at 1.51%
12/06/19 at 1.64%
01/17/20 at 1.58%
02/06/20 at 1.43%
03/11/20 at 0.58%
03/17/20 at 0.54%
03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!
03/26/20 at 0.36%
03/31/20 at 0.29%
04/09/20 at 0.29%
04/17/20 at 0.26%
5 YEAR NOTES closed on:
10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
01/07/19 at 2.49%
01/16/19 at 2.54%
02/06/19 at 2.51%
02/22/19 at 2.47%
05/16/19 at 2.18%
06/18/19 at 1.83%
07/24/19 at 1.82%
09/09/19 at 1.49%
10/01/19 at 1.51%
12/06/19 at 1.67%
01/17/20 at 1.63%
02/07/20 at 1.45%
03/11/20 at 0.66%
03/17/20 at 0.56%
03/23/20 at 0.38%
03/26/20 at 0.51%
03/31/20 at 0.37%
04/09/20 at 0.41%
04/17/20 at 0.36%
7 YEAR NOTES closed on:
10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
01/07/19 at 2.60%
01/16/19 at 2.62%
02/06/19 at 2.59%
02/22/19 at 2.55%
05/16/19 at 2.28%
06/18/19 at 1.93%
07/24/19 at 1.93%
09/09/19 at 1.57%
10/01/19 at 1.59%
12/06/19 at 1.78%
01/17/20 at 1.74%
02/06/20 at 1.56%
03/11/20 at 0.78%
03/17/20 at 0.91%
03/23/20 at 0.63%
03/26/20 at 0.72%
03/31/20 at 0.55%
04/09/20 at 0.60%
04/17/20 at 0.53%
10 YEAR NOTES closed on:
10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
01/07/19 at 2.70%
01/16/19 at 2.73%
02/06/19 at 2.70%
02/22/19 at 2.65%
05/16/19 at 2.40%
06/18/19 at 2.06%
07/24/19 at 2.05%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!
12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!
01/17/20 at 1.84%
02/06/20 at 1.65% and back down again!
03/11/20 at 0.82%
03/17/20 at 1.02% and back up again
03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again
03/26/20 at 0.83%
03/31/20 at 0.70%
04/09/20 at 0.73%
04/17/20 at 0.65%
30 YEAR BONDS closed on:
10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
01/07/19 at 2.99%
01/16/19 at 3.07%
02/06/19 at 3.03%
02/22/19 at 3.02%
05/16/19 at 2.84%
06/18/19 at 2.55%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
10/01/19 at 2.11%
12/06/19 at 2.29%
01/17/20 at 2.29%
02/06/20 at 2.11%
03/11/20 at 1.30%
03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!
03/23/20 at 1.33% back down
03/26/20 at 1.42%
03/31/20 at 1.35%
04/09/20 at 1.35%
04/17/20 at 1.27%
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will let borrowers facing hardship defer 2 months of mortgage payments. The FHA and VA have joined Fannie and Freddie in relaxing some loan standards. Banks have been deluged by applications for refinancings, as mortgage rates have hit all-time lows. My friend just refinanced from 6.75% to 3.25% for 30-years. However, one of my mortgage lenders tells me that some major banks have recently made the application process and qualifications and the process harder, to stem the rising tide. GNMA announced that it plans disaster aid for virus-hit mortgage servicers, utilizing its contingency funds for natural disasters, but that only covers federally-regulated mortgage servicers, mostly banks.
There has been a big credit unwind in mortgages, as banks have marked the assets down, particularly private label MBS, CMBS, and commercial and residential mortgage loans. They have subsequently issued margin calls on asset managers and securitization conduits, many of whom are using leverage to purchase the securities. This may force some to sell the securities at distressed prices. He said that some non-QM residential mortgage sales are down 10 points with some bids down 15 points from the previous marks of 104-105. And this is on brand new high FICO score borrowers with the alternative bank statement documentation that intend to stay in their homes and are set to receive direct government checks in the next few weeks. You would think these mortgages would not drop in price like this in a 2-week period. Contrast this with commercial office property loans, backed by leases with businesses that may not be using their offices for a while. Most of their employees are working virtually and these businesses may not have enough cash flow or revenue at the moment to meet lease payments and payroll. Further on these low marks and margin calls, on Sunday, the Mortgage Bankers Association in a letter urged the SEC and the nation’s main brokerage regulator, FINRA, to address the problem by telling broker/dealers not to escalate margin calls to “destabilizing levels”, as Bloomberg reported last week. It’s unclear how many billions of dollars of these non-QM commercial loans are out there, as have not been able to confirm any distressed sales of commercial loans as of this writing. Forbesreported on Friday that credit rating agency, Fitch Ratings, said that commercial mortgage delinquencies may reach the Great Recession level. It predicted that CMBS loan delinquencies could spike between 8.25% and 8.75% by the end of Q3, coming close to the peak of 9.01% in July 2011. Just as a reality check, that delinquency rate stood at 1.31% in March 2020. The most vulnerable businesses are hospitality, retail and student housing. Another area that could suffer are shopping malls. The banks have probably marked the commercial loans and securities down even further than they did the residential loans. One thing that would really help in both parts of this key the non-QM market and provide much needed liquidity would be for the Federal Reserve to include these as eligible collateral in their new resuscitated TALF program from 2008-2010. TALF was a useful program to keep the plumbing functioning in vital markets during the Great Recession and the US government ultimately made money on it. The Hill reports that the $2.2 trillion stimulus package just signed will let homeowners with federally-backed mortgages seek forbearance on payments, a provision that could cause enough losses to bankrupt mortgage servicers. Industry advocates say Federal intervention is essential to ward off a chain of crises. I apologize to those that think I am beating this subject like a dead horse, but you don’t know who all the people are that actually read this Repo Commentary. It’s hard to see all of these liquidity facilities and the resurrected alphabet programs of the Financial Crisis, without noticing the glaring absence of support for the mortgage originators and servicers. Some 40% of GSE and 70% of GNMA loans, for example, are being serviced by non-banks, who are already beginning to deal with forbearances, which all told could total as much as $80 billion over the next 6 months, per JPMorgan. 15 different associations have come together to call for additional liquidity to mortgage originators and servicers, with a letter to the Federal Reserve about a much needed advancing facility, similar to what liquidity is now being provided to regulated depository institutions. This is already being manifested in the loan market, as concerned lenders of existing loans are now starting to reduce the amount of Jumbo lending they are doing. GSE’s According to Forbes, NY has suspended mortgage payments 90 days, for those facing financial hardship. Nationwide, foreclosures have been suspended indefinitely. In Florida, with the onset of the pandemic, real estate agents say deals that were in the works have encountered all types of problems, creating havoc in the market, as buyers try to back out of contracts. It is not clear, according to real estate lawyers, whether buyers CAN cancel due to COVID-19. The buyers are pointing to a provision in the FAR BAR contract used by most of the more than 10,000 Florida real estate agents, called force majeure.The Latin term means an unforeseeable action that prevents someone from fulfilling a contract. Listed actions are acts of God, such as hurricanes or floods. But it does not list pandemics. There has been one bright spot, according to some agents, who see an increase in the number of people fleeing the Northeast and making snap decisions on Palm Beach County homes, almost sight unseen. One Connecticut woman bought a home through FaceTime for $100,000 more than the $399,000 asking price, only hours after it was listed online, without ever seeing the house in person.
Pending Home Sales were released last week and were up 9.4% in February from February 2019. Those are signed contracts, perhaps some are now being backed out of, as I described above.
Many media outlets and people are trying to sort through just what forbearance and suspended mortgage payments are, and whether it simply just kicks the can/problem down the road for 3 months. As an example (to make this easier to understand) of mortgage suspension, I wanted to share this letter to customers from Wells Fargo, which says, “If you’re not able to make your regular mortgage payment because of hardship related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Wells Fargo can help with a short-term suspension of payments. This means:
- Your payments will be suspended for the next 3 months
- We won’t charge late fees
- We won’t report a past-due status for this account to the consumer reporting agencies
- At the end of the initial 3-month payment suspension, we will guide you on the next steps which may include: a continuation of the payment suspension, moving the missed payments to end of the loan, or a modification to address longer-term financial changes that may impact your ability to keep up with the monthly payments
- We will not take foreclosure activity during this period [this is actually Federally mandated at this time]
- If you’re in an active bankruptcy, we recommend you speak with your bankruptcy attorney to see what options may be available to you”
Repo/Securities Financing News:
To make this more legible and easier to follow, I will provide the newest headlines in the Repo & Securities Lending market at the top in RED. The subsequent paragraphs of this section will include other issues and my thoughts on the market, for those who haven’t read them before. They will be updated, but won’t change as much as the first paragraph. At some point, I will assume people have read parts of those further paragraphs and will trim them from the Repo Commentary.
Today, GC repo rates traded negative, as low as -0.25% for overnights this afternoon. Suddenly, the repo market is awash with cash. Once again, which can be a frustrating part of the Repo Market, something happens that is counter-intuitive. The Fed RP operations are declining, meaning that they are giving the 24 Primary Dealers less cash, so you would expect GC repo rates to rise, as they do monthly when GSE’s send out P&I on MBS securities. However, rates went down. Apparently, there is a ton of money fund cash looking for collateral to finance. The Primary Dealers don’t appear to be expanding their balance sheets and taking on more collateral through reverse repo from collateral providers, so it isn’t available to cash providers. That would also explain why money funds again gave cash to the Fed in the RRP program, to the tune of $31 billion. Still, it doesn’t explain it all. There must be other sources of cash that have re-entered the market. You would have thought the new Cash Management bill issuance would have sopped that all up? This is definitely worth watching.
The Federal Reserve has activated a temporary repurchase agreement facility that lets foreign central banks exchange US Treasuries for US dollars. This was an activity that many central banks and sovereign wealth funds were doing in the Repo market with broker/dealers, repoing their US Treasuries for term 1-3 months for US dollars, then taking those US dollars and buying their own currencies, propping those currencies up, until their own economies improved (or oil prices rose in some cases). But, with oil prices at historic lows, their economies struggling with the pandemic, and the apparent lack of liquidity in the term repo markets, the Fed felt it needed to step in with this Facility. Both the Facility and the term repos to broker/dealers are designed to be alternatives to them selling the US Treasuries outright in the market, something the Treasury Department and the Fed absolutely don’t want them to do.
The Fed Funds target of 0%-0.25% means that we are likely to see some negative repo rates for Treasuries that go Special. That also means we will have to watch those TPMG fails rates. On Monday, Overnight GC traded at 0.04%, at the low end of the Fed Funds target range, but that was with an injection of $449 billion from the Fed. That injection, so far, has only helped the Overnight market, and the yield curve rises dramatically for term repo, as does the bid/offer spread, similar to post 2008. Of course, this is a different market than 2008, as we only have 24 Primary Dealers, and, as Skyrm points out, $23.5 trillion in US Treasury issuance, compared to $10 trillion in 2008.
Bill Foley has begun a new Securities Finance TV, SecFinHub, featuring interviews and discussions with experts. I am looking forward to participating remotely.
I am hearing that the Federal Reserve may be working on resurrecting the Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility (TALF), which was a subset of the successful TARP program, both from the 2008 Financial Crisis response in 2009/2010. I don’t have a list yet of the securities that the Fed will take in the proposed program, and am curious to see if they will take real estate loans.
In the Securities Financing industry, we are again facing a tsunami of acronyms in regulations and events, much like during the Financial Crisis. ESMA is delaying rules on failed trades by 2 more months. LEI rules are being postponed for emerging market securities, as nearly 50% of them still don’t have LEIs. Even 10% of European securities don’t have LEIs.
ESMA’s SFTR Level 3
EU Crypto Regs
FCA Crypto Regs
EC Cyber-attack Guidelines
FCA Financial Services Duty of Care Bill/MiFID II
LIBOR replacement (SOFR, SOIA, EuSTAR)
ISLA/ICSF/ESG and short selling
Well, “repo” is the lubricant of the money market system, particularly the issuance of US Treasuries and other bonds, and it only comes up in conversation among non-participants when the gears start squeaking or fail to function. And, the last time the general public heard about “repo” it was during the Financial Crisis.
This is broadly what has happened since the Financial Crisis.
- The regulators, particularly the Federal Reserve, instituted emergency liquidity programs for different sectors of the money market (CP, Corporate Bonds, Broker/Dealers, GSEs, etc.). They eventually unwound those many programs.
- They opened up for a brief time the Discount Window to more participants and without the previous stigma attached, for collateral providers to access cash.
- They put FNMA and FHLMC into conservatorship.
- They began easing Monetary Policy massively for years.
- They began Quantitative Easing and built up the Fed’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion. They added to it by buying more securities every month from the paydowns on their MBS portfolio.
- They propped up some broker/dealers, allowed some to fail, and helped others to consolidate/merge.
- The Repo Market shrunk in the US from about $7 trillion to $3 trillion, before recent increase to about $3.6 trillion.
- Regulators instituted mountains of new reforms, especially the 310 new rules of Dodd-Frank, globally to decrease the likelihood of systemic risk in the financial system and to force, particularly the broker/dealers and GSIB banks to hold more capital/reserves for liquidity.
- The market began looking for alternatives to financing through broker/dealers via CCPs, peer-to-peer financing, Sponsored Repo, and electronic trading platforms.
- The Fed began its much hailed RRP program, kind of like a P2P repo, which added over 300 cash providers from the Repo market to finance the Fed’s balance sheet and provide ‘liquidity’ for those cash providers. Of course, that didn’t help the Primary Dealers, who were using those cash providers to finance their balance sheets.
- The Fed stopped QE and began reducing their balance sheet down to $2.5 trillion.
- The US Treasury began ramping up issuance to the tune of about $1 trillion more, which is funneled through the 24 primary broker/dealers and the central banks.
- The Fed began tightening monetary policy and tinkering with new measures of repo rates and LIBOR replacement. They also began tinkering with the Interest on Excess Reserves (IOER) from banks and credit unions, to try to create higher reserves.
- The Fed did an about-face and began easing monetary policy. They had also lowered IOER. They now have raised IOER in the last two FOMC meetings.
- The Fed effectively reinstated QE, injected at least $500 billion to buy US Treasuries again, $200 billion to buy Agency MBS again, and injected funds into the Dollar Roll market.
- They then began reinstating specific bailout/backstop programs of 2008.
Having just moderated a panel at the IMN Securities Financing Conference 2/12-2/13/20, my panel and I were able to share with the audience the current state of ETPs, CCPs, and P2P securities financing, and painted, in no particular order, a current map below (this is based on what we have been able to ascertain, but may not be accurate or complete):
- Eurex/Deutsche Borse/Clearstream (CCP)-has been doing predominantly European governments repo for some time now.
- LCH-Clearnet-London (CCP)-I do not have any info yet.
- LCH-Clearnet-Paris (CCP)-split out years ago, not because of Brexit.
- Shanghai Clearing House-China (CCP). I do not have any info yet.
- OCC (CCP)-has hit daily volumes of $80 billion of repo and outright trading, with futures and options as well. It also still owns AQS/Quadriserve (ETP) for US securities lending.
- FICC/DTCC (CCP)-has hit high volume of $552 billion, increases coming from the 3 participant banks in Sponsored Repo, bringing their clients into the CCP, along with their standard dealer vs dealer repo. Has been around a while now.
- CDCC-Canada (CCP)-brand new CCP involving derivatives and repo.
- com (ETP)-fairly new, trades total return swaps.
- HQLAx (ETP)-securities financing, just started, uses blockchain tokens to represent trades.
- Liquidity Marketplace-LMX (ETP), I do not have any info yet.
- Asterisk (ETP)-brand new, focused first on government securities and equities financing.
- Treasury Spring (ETP)-fairly new, focused on European asset managers.
- GLMX (ETP)-a Silicon Valley solution, primarily dealers and some asset managers.
- TradeWeb (ETP)-longtime system, primarily dealers and some asset managers.
- BNY DBVX (ETP)-fairly new and has changed, for internal BNY Mellon clients now.
- DealerWeb (ETP)-primarily for dealers.
- AFX/CBOE (ETP)-trades collateralized loans and futures.
- State Street Direct Access (ETP)-fairly new, has started securities financing for internal State Street clients.
One of many developments that I thought was really cool to hear about at the IMN conference (among other things I will share with you over time in the Repo Commentary or in consultation), was the newly formed Global Peer Financing Association created by 4 of my larger pension fund clients (CALPERS, HOOPP, OHPERS, SWIB) to promote peer-to-peer financing, not only among pension funds, but potentially with other sectors too (such as SWFs, Central Banks, Insurance Companies). It is of course near-and-dear to my heart, as I had many discussions with all 4 about peer-to-peer securities financing, over the past decade. I am very happy to see this development, which includes rate negotiation, standardization of legal documents, a credit vendor’s service, and some indemnification for certain clients from a securities lending agent. I am very supportive of this effort and hope to be involved in its evolution.
Securities Finance Industry Conferences: (subject to COVID-19-related postponements or cancellations)
- Deutsche Borse/Clearstream/Securities Lending Times held their annual GFF Summit in Luxembourg, 1/28-1/30/20, which I attended two years ago.
- IMN 26thBeneficial Owners International Securities Finance conference will be held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/12-2/13/20. I was the Chairperson in 2019 and will be a moderator this year. I hope to see many of you there!
- iMoneyNet/Informa has yet to announce its annual MMExpo, after the merger. I have spoken at this one several times.
- PASLA/RMA will hold its 17thannual Conference on Asian Securities Lending in Tokyo, Japan on 3/3-3/5/20.
- GIOA will hold its 16thannual conference in Las Vegas 3/18-3/20/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one. I may attend.
- Crane Data will hold its annual Bond Fund Symposium in Boston, MA on 3/23-3/24/20.
- IHS Markit will hold its annual Securities Finance Forum in London, England on 3/24/20.
- Finadium will hold its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference in NYC on 5/13-5/14/20. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
- GFOA will hold its gigantic 114th(wow!) annual conference in Los Angeles on 5/17-5/20/20. I have attended this one in the past.
- IMN/AFME will hold its annual Global Bank ABS (West) conference in Barcelona, Spain on 6/16-6/18/20.
- Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders USA Summit in Nashville, TN on 6/8-6/10/20.
- ISLA will hold its 29thAnnual Securities Finance and Collateral Management conference in Vienna, Austria on 6/23-6/25/20. I have spoken (and sung) at this one before.
- ICMA/Securities Lending Times will hold their annual AGM and conference also in Vienna, Austria, on 6/24-6/26/20.
- Crane Data will hold its annual Money Fund Symposium on 6/24-6/26/20 in Minneapolis, MN.I heard there were 580 attendees in Boston last year. I have spoken at this conference before.
- National Association of State Treasurers will hold its annual conference in San Diego, CA on 9/13-9/16/20. I’ve spoken and sung at this one.
- IMN will hold its annual European Securities Finance conference in London, England on 9/15-9/16/20. I’ve attended this before.
- Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income & FX Leader Summit in Singapore on 9/22-9/24/20.
- IMN will hold its annual ABS East conference in Miami Beach, FL on 10/5-10/7/20. I’ve attended this before and might again.
- Worldwide Business Research will hold its annual Fixed Income Leaders 2020 conference in Barcelona, Spain on 10/12-10/14/20.
- RMA will hold its 38thannual Conference on Securities Finance and Collateral Management in Amelia Island, FL on October 12-15. I saw many of you last year in Boca Raton. It was my 37thRMA I’ve attended.
- Crane Data has yet to announce its annual European Money Fund Symposium.
- Finadium has yet to announce its 4th annual Investors in Securities Lending Conference Europe.
- American Financial Professionals (AFP) will hold its large annual conference in Las Vegas, NV on 10/18-10/21/20.
- Finadium has yet to announce its Rates & Repo conference in New York. I’ve spoken and sponsored this one.
- net has yet to announce its 26thannual Risk USA conference. I’ve chaired this one.
- SIFMA has yet to announce its annual Meeting.
Federal Reserve News:
Similar to what I am doing for the Repo News section of the Repo Commentary, I will report news headlines in RED in the last paragraph of this Federal Reserve section. That paragraph will be preceded with other issues, timelines, and general information that will be updated, but will remain pretty constant, until I decide to trim them from the Repo Commentary.
The Fed announced on 3/23 that the amount of liquidity available for it to buy US Treasuries and Agency MBS in the outright markets is now UNLIMITED.
The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).
The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks.
The Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) is supposed to be a broad measure of the cost of borrowing cash overnight collateralized by US Treasury securities. It is also reported by the NY Fed on its website. It has been controversial and has been considered as the likely replacement for LIBOR. SOFR includes trades in the Broad General Collateral Rate of Repo plus bilateral Treasury Repo transactions cleared through the DVP services at CCP FICC, ostensibly filtering out issues trading Special. However, critics (and I am one) say that it only picks up the Offered Side of Repo (not a median), that it only picks up the small amount of DVP transactions cleared at FICC and Triparty Repo done at Bank of NY, ignoring the growing amount of bilateral (non-Triparty) repo being done peer-to-peer, dealer-to-dealer, and client-to-dealer, outside of FICC. It is a good representation of where Money Funds (except for a few savvy ones who trade peer-to-peer) are paid on their cash versus US Treasuries in Repo each day by broker/dealers. It almost completely ignores other sectors, particularly buy-side clients with collateral.
The next FOMC meetings (and they are all two-day meetings so these are the second day, when they actually announce) are: 4/29/20, 6/10/20, 7/29/20, 9/16/20, 11/5/20, and 12/16/20. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the Crisis we are facing now.
The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. This facility, dormant by the middle of 2019, has seen a lot of action in the last few weeks, as cash providers have trouble finding enough repo collateral among their broker/dealer sources.
On 3/4/20, the FRB approved a rule to simplify its capital rules for large banks, still preserving the strong capital requirements already in place. On 3/5/20, the FRB announced the termination of enforcement actions. It also postponed its 2020 National Interagency Community Reinvestment Conference because of COVID-19. On 3/6/20, the FRB published the Community Reinvestment Act. On 3/9/20, the Fed and other Governmental agencies encouraged financial institutions to meet financial needs of customers and members affected by COVID-19. The FOMC chose to have an unscheduled meeting and press conference on 3/3/20 (sort of like the old days), because of the COVID-19 crisis. The FOMC set the Interest on Excess Reserves Rate (IOER) target to 1.10%, effective on 3/4/20. They also voted to authorize and direct the Open Market Desk at the FRB NY, until instructed otherwise, to execute transactions in the System Open Market Account (SOMA) as necessary to maintain the Fed Funds rate in a target of 1.00%-1.25%, down 50bp. The FOMC also instructed the Fed to continue purchasing Treasury bills at least into Q2 of 2020, to maintain over time ample reserve balances at or above the level that prevailed in early September 2019 (before the liquidity problems of year-end). The FOMC also directed the FRB to continue conducting term and O/N repo operations at least through April 2020 to ensure ample supply of reserves. The FOMC also directed the desk to conduct overnight Reverse Repo operations at an offering rate of 1.00% in amounts limited only by the value of Treasury securities in its SOMA account that are available for such operations and up to a per-counterparty limit of $30 billion per day. If that wasn’t enough, the FOMC also directed the desk to continue to reinvest P&I from MBS securities it owns in Treasury securities, up to $20 billion per month, and to engage in Dollar Rolls and Coupon Swap transactions as necessary to facilitate the market.
The US Treasury Department is making $10 billion available to support businesses’ liquidity through outright purchases of CP issued by highly rated companies. The CP Funding Facility will be managed by the Federal Reserve Bank of NY.
The Fed is encouraging banks to use capital buffers imposed by regulations to loan to borrowers hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Fed needs to clarify what is permitted.
The Federal Reserve has reportedly begun buying ETFs and Corporate Bonds, although some question its legal authority to do so. I actually looked into how the Fed can do it and found that they use Special Purpose Vehicles that they have created and backed by their capital, and then trade with the backing of the US Treasury. I think if it is considered to be on behalf of the US Treasury. It has an interesting by-product, putting pressure on the US Treasury to also take on more risk, per Bloomberg. Thursday, the Fed announced that it was beginning another program, the Municipal Liquidity Facility, to directly purchase short-term municipal debt. I saw an Opinion piece by my friend, James Grant, of the popular Interest Rate Observer, carried in the WSJ, “The High Cost of Low Interest Rates”. James goes into the weakness of American finance and that he thinks the Federal Reserve made the COVID-19 crisis worse than it had to be, with its “suppression of borrowing costs” and “distortion in the cost of credit.” Sorry, any more than that public info and I’ll have to get permission from WSJ. Fed Chairman Powell explained the Fed’s new round of $2.2 trillion in lending programs last Thursday, which will include Corporate Debt backstops for states, cities, and small businesses. This will include riskier bonds issued by corporations that had recently lost their investment-grade status. This brings me back to my earlier point about CMBS and mortgage loans needing a Fed backup program like TALF. Even I am losing count of how many trillions of dollars the Fed has hosed this economic fire with. However, the Fed wants the market to know, according to Bloomberg, that it still has plenty of ammunition available beyond the latest $2.3 trillion effort. For instance, the Fed has so far only used about 40% of the $454 billion in seed capital allocated by Congress for such efforts, which leaves it at least $250 billion, which used through the Repo market could be levered as much as 10-times that, to provide further relief. Bloomberg reports that Fed Chairman Powell said that US banks have strong capital buffers now and that there is no reason they should stop paying dividends.
Earthquakes and Volcanoes:
Did you know that the earthquakes that hit Idaho on 3/31/20 have left its iconic Sawtooth Mountain Range forever altered?
Earthquakes above 4.5-magnitude, in the last 2 days:
04/20 4.7 Kavieng, Papua New Guinea
04/20 4.5 Vinchina, Argentina
04/20 4.7 Hihifo, Tonga
04/20 4.6 Mendi, Papua New Guinea
04/20 4.5 Chichi-shima, Japan
04/20 4.7 Makurazaki, Japan
04/20 4.5 Gharm, Tajikistan
04/20 4.6 Naha-shi, Japan
04/20 4.8 Hofn, Iceland
04/20 4.6 Severo-Kuril’sk, Russia
04/20 4.5 Ofunato, Japan
04/20 5.2 Luganville, Vanuatu
04/20 6.3 Ofunato, Japan
04/19 4.7 Bual, Philippines
04/19 5.1 Sarangani, Philippines
04/19 4.9 Visokoi Island, South Sandwich Islands
04/19 4.7 Neiafu, Tonga
04/19 4.7 Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
04/19 4.7 Neiafu, Tonga
A widespread and deadly tornado outbreak hit the Southeastern US on Easter Sunday and Monday, killing at least 32 people, as there were 132 confirmed tornadoes that touched down across 10 states. 14 of these tornadoes became intense tornadoes of EF3 or EF4. The worst one was in southern Mississippi, with windspeed up to 190mph. it was the deadliest tornado outbreak since 4/27-4/30/14.
The Northeast and Midwest continue to deal with unseasonably cold temperatures and very late snowfalls. Florida is experiencing extremely warm temperatures and humidity, breaking records with heat indices of 105 degrees. We finally had our first complete day of rain, the first in 40 days.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1stand ends November 30th. I want you to know that I am constantly searching for good or uplifting news, but at the moment, the majority of news items are on the negative side and almost all dealing with COVID-19. Here is something different, but once again, while informational, kind of to the negative. According to Accuweather, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have a more -active-than-normal season. They expect about 12 storms, 6 hurricanes, and 4 of them major hurricanes. The 2019 season had 18 named storms, matching 1969 for the 4thmost-lively season in the past 150 years. For the 2019 storm season, CSU, which has historically been the most used, had forecast a near-average season of 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes. It turned out to be the 4thyear in a row of above-average damaging seasons. We had 18 named storms, 7 hurricanes, of which 3 were major hurricanes. It became the 7thyear that there were multiple Category-5 hurricanes in one season. Did you know that commercial airplanes equipped with special air-sampling equipment provide an estimated 250 million observations annually, and now that many are grounded (some 64%), the National Centers for Environmental Protection and NOAA are not getting enough data, during one of the most active times of the year? And, despite plenty of bad news about COVID-19, on Friday, the official hurricane forecast for the Atlantic Hurricane Season came from CSU, giving us Floridians something else to worry about: CSU is predicting an above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic for 2020, with the likely absence of El Nino. Tropical and subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are currently higher than normal, which tends to promote active hurricane seasons. Also, for the Pacific Hurricane Season, they have warm ENSO conditions, with waters slightly warmer than normal in the eastern and central tropical Pacific, but will likely cool and dissipate El Nino. Consequently, CSU predicts 16 named storms in the Atlantic, with 8 to become Hurricanes, and 4 to reach Category 3 or above strength.
The Pacific Hurricane Season starts 5/1/20 and ends 11/1/20. There is yet to be a forecast for this Hurricane Season. Cyclone Harold, not following the calendar, struck the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga (while the are was also struck by earthquakes over the last 2 days), killing at least 29 people.
As for the weather, in West Palm Beach, we continue to see warmer-than-normal temperatures, and it was in the 90s again this week, with high humidity, record temps in the middle of the week, and heat indices above 100 degrees. However, we finally got rain on Sunday and Monday, and have cooled down over the weekend, for the first time in almost a month.
Given that many sports have suspended or cancelled their events and seasons, this section of the Repo Commentary will still have less, changes. There are some things happening in ownership support of arena workers out of work, free agent market trades, Drafts, and rescheduled events. I will update any changes in bold RED, so you can find them quickly. For those not seeing different colors, they will appear at the end of each sub-section. CDC’s latest recommendations could mean no professional sports until June or July now.
On 4/16, the major professional sports in the US began conversations with the White House about when and how they might open. Each has different timelines and different agendas, mostly to protect fans and protect players. I will highlight the latest news on each in the sub-sections below, as I hear them.
The 2019 MLB regular season began on 3/28 last year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months). The World Series went 7 games, and the Washington Nationals, who were in the Postseason for the first time, beat the Houston Astros, who had won the World Series in 2017. The cool thing, from my perspective, is that they share the same brand new Spring Training facility right here in West Palm Beach, FL, and I sing the National Anthem for both teams several times during Spring Training, and I auditioned for both 2020 Spring Training for the Cardinals, Marlins, Astros, and Nationals. So, I’ve already had the honor to sing 3 National Anthems and “God Bless America’s this year, and I had at least 3 more to sing at. That would have broght my total of MLB games that I sang at, since 2003, to 156. We were about halfway through Spring Training. For the third year in a row, all 30 MLB teams were to be in action at the start of the season on the same day, March 26th. But, the COVID-19 put an end to Spring Training and delayed the start of the 2020 MLB regular season. It has also suspended all levels of MLB Minor League games. The 3 remaining Spring Training games that I was to sing the National Anthem at were also cancelled. All 30 MLB teams, today, each pledged $1 million to pay ballpark employees who aren’t able to work, until the season can open.
MLB is still in discussions among team management, players, and the White House about how they will re-open and when they will re-open. President Trump even commented that he wants sports to return, because he is tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old. Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner has died at age 63. There are a few proposals out there:
- Scott Boras has proposed a 162-game season beginning in July, with the World Series played on Christmas Day.
- Playing baseball in the usual MLB stadiums, but without fans, adjusting for weather, and hold playoffs in neutral warmer sites.
- The Palm Beach Post reported two Fridays ago, that another proposal calls for baseball to be divided into two 15-team Leagues, the Grapefruit and the Cactus, with each consisting of three 5-team divisions, aligned based on the geography of their Spring Training sites. For example, the East Coast of Florida has the Mets, Nationals, Astros, Marlins, Cardinals, etc., and the West Coast of Florida has the Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and Orioles. So, those teams that are near each other, would play some 19-20 games against each other, as they do now. Basically, the West Coast of Florida is made up mostly of teams from the AL East and AL Central (the I-75 route), and the East Coast of Florida is made up mostly of teams from the NL East, and NL Central. Arizona has many teams from the NL West, AL West, and NL Central. Of course, not only because I had already been discussing this proposal with Mark, but also because I have 2 awesome stadiums with 4 MLB teams right in my backyard. And, there is a chance, if they have fans in the stadiums, they will need a National Anthem singer!
- MLBPA is pushing for playing ALL MLB games in Arizona, utilizing all types of stadiums there, without fans, and housing each team in their own hotels. As of 4/16, this plan apparently is leading the pack of proposals. The Palm Beach Post reported on Friday that a plan calls for baseball to be divided into two 15-team Leagues, the Grapefruit and the Cactus, with each consisting of three 5-team divisions, aligned based on the geography of their Spring Training sites. For example, the East Coast of Florida has the Mets, Nationals, Astros, Marlins, Cardinals, etc., and the West Coast of Florida has the Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and Orioles. So, those teams that are near each other, would play some 19-20 games against each other, as they do now. Basically, the West Coast of Florida is made up mostly of teams from the AL East and AL Central (the I-75 route), and the East Coast of Florida is made up mostly of teams from the NL East, and NL Central. Arizona has many teams from the NL West, AL West, and NL Central. Of course, not only because I had already been discussing this proposal with Mark, but also because I have 2 awesome stadiums with 4 MLB teams right in my backyard. And, there is a chance, if they have fans in the stadiums, they will need a National Anthem singer!
Tyrell Hatton, from England, won the PGA’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. The PGA Tour started the Players Championship is went forward with the “fifth Major’s” first round, on schedule, at Ponte Vedra (TPC Sawgrass and the island green). But, then it cancelled the tournament before Friday’s Round 2 and cancelled 5 other tournaments to come. It also announced that it was postponing the Masters in Augusta.
The European Tour’s Hero Indian Open, was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, as have all other scheduled tournaments. The European Tour schedule for 2020 season was:
- 11/28-12/1/19 Hong Kong Open
- 11/28-12/1/19 Alfred Dunhill Championship
- 12/5-12/8/19 Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open
- 12/19-12/22/19 Australian PGA Championship
- 1/9-1/12/20 South African Open
- 1/16-1/19 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
- 1/23-1/26 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
- 1/30-2/2 Saudi International
- 2/6-2/9 ISPS Handa Vic Open
- 2/20-2/23 WGC-Mexico Championship
- 2/27-3/1 Oman Open
- 3/5-3/8 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
- 3/12-3/15 Magical Kenya
- 3/19-3/22 Hero Indian Open
- 3/25-3/29 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
- 4/9-4/12 The Masters
- 4/16-4/19 Maybank Championship
- 4/23-4/26 Volvo China Open
- 4/30-5/3 Estrella D. Andalucia Masters
- 5/9-5/10 GolfSixes Cascals
- 5/14-5/17 US PGA Championship
- 5/21-5/24 Made in Denmark
- 5/28-5/31 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open
- 6/4-6/7 Trophee Hassan II
- 6/11-6/14Scandinavian Invitation
- 6/18-6/21 US Open
- 6/25-6/28 BMW International Open
- you have to believe that I had no idea this would be so long and that I just wanted to be helpful/informational…
- 7/2-7/5 Open de France
- 7/2-7/5 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
- 7/9-7/12 Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open
- 7/16-7/19 The 149thOpen (British Open)
- 7/30-8/2 Betfred British Masters
- 7/30-8/2 Olympic Men’s Golf Competition
- 8/6-8/9 UK event
- 8/20-8/23 D+D Real Czech Masters
- 8/27-8/30 Omega European Masters
- 9/3-9/6 Porsche European Open
- at least I can keep this in the Commentary and just update it for the next year…
- 9/10-9/13 BMW PGA Championship
- 9/17-9/20 KLM Open
- 9/25-9/27 The 2020 Ryder Cup
- 10/1-10/4 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
- 10/8-10/11 Italian Open
- 10/15-10/18Mutuactivos Open de Espana
- 10/22-10/25 Portugal Masters
- 10/29-11/1 WGC-HSC Champions
- 11/5-11/8 Turkish Airlines Open
- 11/12-11/15 Nedbank Golf Challenge
- 11/19-11/22 DP World Tour Championship
Fred Ridley, the Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, made a statement on Monday 4/6 that the Club has identified, with leading organizations in golf, November 9-15 as the intended dates to host the postponed 2020 Masters Tournament. I’m glad to see that.
The 100thNFL season ended last year, in Miami, in an entertaining 31-20 comeback victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs had not won a Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV, 52 years ago, snapping the longest drought of any NFL team. The Bengals have the No.1 pick in the NFL Draft, unless they trade it away. The Patriots currently have 12 picks in the Draft and only a backup as a QB.
The Jaguars have a serious feud going, between pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and the co-owner, Tony Khan, in a heated Twitter exchange. Ngakoue desperately wants out of Jacksonville. Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden is considered an NFL Draft sleeper. Dolphins are now expected to pass on Tua Tagovailoa and go for another top QB. The Patriots unveiled their new uniforms, which I think were an alternate color-wash uniform before, featuring blue jersey, with white numbers and red/white stripes on the shoulders.
In a surprise move to all of the Tennis Tours (ATP, FFT, WTA), French Open officials announced that the French Open, the red clay Major, will be postponed from May 24thto late September 24-October 4, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The controversial change may cause the French Open’s biggest winner, with 12 French Open titles, Rafael Nadal, to boycott the tournament. Apparently, the decision from leftfield by the Federation Francaise de Tennis was made without consultation with other stakeholders. There may be a schedule ripple effect on the US Open, which is currently scheduled to finish just a week before, so the French Open may lose players, and the Laver Cup, which was supposed to be played in the same week that the French Open is moving to. The potential boycott from Nadal comes, not only because he may also choose to play in the US Open instead, but also because he and Roger Federer are the ones who champion the Laver Cup exhibition team competition, with the leading players of the world, a fan favorite. Federer is actually more likely now to skip the French Open, as he is returning from knee surgery at Wimbledon, and has been leaning away from clay tournaments. If enough top-ranked players skip the French Open, can it still be considered a ‘Major’? The WTA suspended its tour until 5/2, amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The ATP suspended its matches for six weeks.
Speaking of Wimbledon, at the end of last week, the 134th June 29-July 12 tournament was cancelled. It was the first time that this Major was cancelled since WWII. It will instead be played next year at its normal time, 6/28/21-7/11/21. Following the Wimbledon announcement, the WTA, ATP, and ITF postponed its matches another 5 weeks until 7/13. The US Open is still planning to play at its normal time in September, a week before the now rescheduled French Open.
The head of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics insisted that the Games are on track, despite the COVID-19 outbreak. With the mounting pressure, the IOC finally announced that the Summer Olympics, which were to start in July 2020, will be postponed until 2021. A virus has done what even a war couldn’t do; postpone an Olympics. This is the first time ever that a Summer Olympics was held on an odd year. The start of WWII in 1939, forced the 1940 Summer Olympics to be delayed a few weeks, and then canceled. The 1944 Olympic Games were also not held. The Summer Olympics did not begin again until London in 1948. But, they were never postponed. On Wednesday, President Trump congratulated Japanese PM Abe and the IOC. Some sports reporters are pointing out that the Olympics will likely overlap with the playoffs for the NBA and NHL, and perhaps the MLB season, in 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will begin in July 2021.
Soccer’s 2020 European Championship, scheduled for Russia, has been postponed for a year because of the outbreak of the virus among the Norwegian and Swedish football associations, on Tuesday. The Premier League suspended their season, as did most of the top European leagues.
After about 100 bowl games (it seems) over many weeks, the College Football Playoffs came down to 4 teams: No.1 and unbeaten LSU made easy work of No.4 Oklahoma 63-28 on 12/28, and No.3 Clemson won a close battle over No.2 Ohio State 29-23, on the same day. That left LSU to play Clemson for College Football National Championship, which they did this week on Monday. Despite LSU playing in the New Orleans Superdome (so, a home field/crowd advantage), and having the Heisman Trophy-winning QB Joe Burrow, they were down in the 2ndquarter 17-7 to Clemson star QB Trevor Lawrence, but came roaring back by halftime, and won 42-25, winning their first National Title since 2007.
COVID-19 has caused the NCAA to cancel all spring men’s and women’s sports. The NCAA then announced that seniors would have another year of eligibility to play in their sports. However, they then changed that to include ALL players, not just seniors, would have an extra year of eligibility.
Here is the post-bowls, final AP Top 25 Poll:
- LSU 13-0
- Clemson 14-1
- Ohio State 13-1
- Georgia 12-2
- Oregon 12-2
- Florida 11-2
- Oklahoma 12-2
- Alabama 11-2
- Penn State 11-2
- Minnesota 11-2
- Wisconsin 10-4
- Notre Dame 11-2
- Baylor 11-3
- Auburn 9-4
- Iowa 10-3
- Utah 11-3
- Memphis 12-2
- Michigan 9-4
- Appalachian State 13-1
- Navy 11-2
- Cincinnati 11-3
- Air Force 11-2
- Boise State 12-2
- UCF 10-3
- Texas 8-5
Near the halfway point of the college hockey season, analysts were seeing Cornell University (my alma mater) and North Dakota as legitimate national title contenders to be in the Frozen Four. Cornell is currently ranked No.1 in the nation. That all froze, when the NCAA cancelled the college hockey season due to the COVID-19.
As teams entered their week of Conference Championship Tournaments, prior to the Committee’s decision on the 68 seeds for the National Championship (also known as March Madness), it all came to halt due to COVID-19. One after another conference cancelled their tournaments and the NCAA cancelled the National Championship, before it ever started.
I know this is a little weird, but Kentucky is No.1 on the early 2020-2021 Coach’s Poll basketball rankings. Gonzaga is No.2, followed by (in order) Baylor, Creighton, FSU, Villanova, Virginia, Duke, Iowa, and Texas Tech.
Here was the current AP Top 25 for the regular season:
- Kansas 28-3
- Gonzaga 29-2
- Dayton 29-2
- FSU 26-5
- Baylor 26-4
- San Diego State 30-2
- Creighton 24-7
- Kentucky 25-6
- Michigan State 22-9
- Duke 25-6
- Villanova 24-7
- Maryland 24-7
- Oregon 24-7
- Brigham Young 24-7
- Louisville 24-7
- Seton Hall 21-9
- Virginia 23-7
- Wisconsin 21-10
- Ohio State 21-10
- Auburn 25-6
- Illinois 21-10
- West Virginia 21-10
- Houston 23-8
- Butler 22-9
- Iowa 20-11
Last season ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The puck dropped on this season on 10/2/19.
We were approaching the long postseason, after 82 games, which should have ended again in June, and here were the current standings. In the Eastern Conference: in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are in first with a smoking 44-14-12 record (best in NHL with 100 points) after breaking the Flyers win streak of 9 games Tuesday night on Tuuka Rask’s birthday, with the Lightning in second (tied for 2ndbest record); in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals are in first with a 41-20-8 record ( tied for 3rd best in the NHL), followed by the Flyers in second. In the Western Conference: in the Central Division, the Stanley Cup Champion Blues are in first place at 41-19-10 (tied for 2ndbest in NHL), followed by the Avalanche in second (tied for 3rdbest in NHL) and the surprising Stars in third; in the Pacific Division, the Golden Knights lead with a 39-24-8 record, and the Golden Knights are just ahead of the Oilers in second place. The Canucks, who had been leading the Division through most of the season, have dropped to 4thplace. The worst team in the NHL continues to be the Red Wings, boasting a dreadful 17-49-5 record. This too, all came to an end, with the season at least being suspended, with no games to be played for a while.
After requesting arena availability from each team last Tuesday, the NHL general managers said they intend to resume their regular season in July. This lines up well with a popular plan among players, who wanted to compete in the postseason in August and September, take October off as the new “off-season” and then return to the next regular season in November. There will be some obstacles to this plan though, the most important one being ice conditions in the heat of the summer months. Another interesting obstacle is that a number of players’ contracts expire on June 30. The NHL itself has not decided what to do. Also, this could pit the NHL and the 3 other major team sports in the US against each other for fan viewership in the same quarter of the calendar. I, for one, as a fan, am not complaining AT ALL about that bonus!
This year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We were nearing the playoffs. COVID-19 is having an impact on the NBA now, as the League suspended the NBA regular season indefinitely.
There was only a little over a month left in the 2019-20 NBA regular season and teams were still jockeying for a playoff position. The current standings are: Eastern Conference had No.1 Bucks, No.2 Raptors, No.3 Celtics, No.4 Heat, No.5 Pacers, No.6 76ers, and the rest were well behind; Western Conference has No.1 Lakers, No.2 Clippers, No.3 Nuggets, No.4 Jazz, No.5 Thunder, No.6 Rockets, and No.7 Mavs, and the rest were well behind.
ESPN’s documentary series on Michael Jordan, called The Last Dance,is getting high praise for its first two episodes.
For the first time since WWII, the Kentucky Derby was postponed.
NASCARfinally chose not to do ‘fan-less’ races and, instead, chose to postpone its race events through May 3, in accordance with safety protocols recommended by the CDC in response to COVID-19. Of the 3 major racing circuits, the NASCAR one has the potential to lose the most races in the 2020 schedule, perhaps as many as 10.
In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2019, Kyle Busch won in the last race at Homestead. In 2018, the winner was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead. Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017. The 2020 regular season will begin in February with the Daytona 500. Here is the complete schedule of races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup in 2020 and the results:
2/16 Daytona 500
2/23 Las Vegas, Jiffy Lube Pennzoil 400
3/1 Auto Club 400
3/8 Phoenix, FanShield 500
3/15 Atlanta, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
3/22 Homestead, Dixie Vodka 400
3/29 Texas, O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
4/5 Bristol, Food City 500
4/19 Richmond, Toyota Owners 400
4/26 Talladega, GEICO 500
5/3 Dover, NASCAR Cup Race at Dover
5/9 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Race at Martinsville
5/16 Charlotte, NASCAR All Star Open
5/24 Charlotte, Coca-Cola 600
5/31 Kansas, Kansas 400
6/7 Michigan, FireKeepers Casino 400
6/14 Sonoma, Toyota/Save Mart 350
6/21 Chicagoland, Chicagoland 400
6/28 Pocono, Worry-Free Weather Guarantee 350
7/5 Indianapolis, Big Machine Vodka 400
7/11 Kentucky, Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart
7/19 New Hampshire, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
8/9 Michigan, Consumers Energy 400
8/16 Watkins Glen, Go Bowling at The Glen
8/23 Dover, Drydene 400
8/29 Daytona, Coke Zero Sugar 400
9/6 Darlington, Southern 500
9/12 Richmond, Federated Auto Parts 400
9/19 Bristol, Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
9/27 Las Vegas, South Point 400
10/4 Talladega, Alabama 500
10/11 Charlotte, Bank of America ROVAL 400
10/18 Kansas, Hollywood Casino 400
10/25 Texas, Texas 500
11/1 Martinsville, NASCAR Cup Fall Race
11/8 Phoenix, NASCAR Cup Series Championship
Formula Onebegins with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari. That will be followed by Pre-Season Testing schedule. Three F1 team members have been placed in isolation over COVID-19 fears. The opening of the season has been delayed at least until 5/3, although they refuse to confirm date change for that race to later, despite the likelihood that the Dutch Grand Prix probably can’t be staged on 5/3. F1 is considering having an abbreviated 19 race season, when it begins. It was set to have a record 22-race season, when pre-season testing ended and the Australia Grand Prix was about to run. Then, COVID-19, upset the race schedule and also took down F1’s (FWONK) share price, initially down 25%, and now down 40% from it January 2020 high of over $48.00/share. I will be posting the 2020 Formula One calendar in the next Repo Commentary:
3/17 Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne-won by V. Bottas
3/31 Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/14 China Grand Prix in Shanghai (this will be the 1000thGrand Prix)-won by Lewis Hamilton
4/28 Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku-won by V. Bottas
5/12 Spain Grand Prix in Barcelona-won by Lewis Hamilton
5/26 Monaco Grand Prix in Monaco-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/9 Canada Grand Prix in Montreal-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/23 France Grand Prix in Le Castellet-won by Lewis Hamilton
6/30 Austria Grand Prix in Spielberg-won by Max Verstappen
7/14 Great Britain Grand Prix in Silverstone-won by Lewis Hamilton
7/28 Germany Grand Prix in Hockenheim-won by Max Verstappen
8/4 Hungary Grand Prix in Budapest-Lewis Hamilton
9/1 Belgium Grand Prix in Spa-Charles Leclerc
9/8 Italy Grand Prix in Monza-Charles Leclerc
9/22 Singapore Grand Prix in Singapore-Sebastian Vettel
9/29 Russia Grand Prix in Sochi-Lewis Hamilton
10/13 Japan Grand Prix in Suzuka-V. Bottas
10/27 Mexico Grand Prix in Mexico City-Lewis Hamilton
11/3 USA Grand Prix in Austin, TX-V. Bottas
11/17 Brazil Grand Prix in Sao Paulo-M. Verstappen
12/1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Island
Here is the IndyCar Racingcircuit and its 2019 calendar and results (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars). The season just ended, with Josef Newgarden coming in 8thin the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. I will be posting the 2020 calendar when they post the updated one:
3/10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg-Josef Newgarden
3/24 Circuit of the Americas-Colton Herta
4/7 Grand Prix of Alabama-Takuma Sato
4/14 Grand Prix at Long Beach-Alexander Rossi
5/11 Grand Prix of Indianapolis-Simon Pagenaud
5/26 Indianapolis 500-Simon Pagenaud
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 1-Josef Newgarden
6/1 Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Race 2-Scott Dixon
6/8 Texas Grand Prix-Josef Newgarden
6/23 Road America-Alexander Rossi
7/14 Honda Indy Toronto-Simon Pagenaud
7/20 Iowa 300-Josef Newgarden
7/28 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio-Scott Dixon
8/18 Pocono Grand Prix-Will Power (I love that name!)
8/24 Gateway Grand Prix-Takuma Sato
9/1 Grand Prix of Portland-Will Power (that’s all it takes)
9/22 Grand Prix at Laguna Seca-Colton Herta
IndyCar Racing also hit the brakes on the 2020 season, due to the COVID-19. So, instead of the first race running in mid-March, the first race is now scheduled for 5/9, basically losing 4 races from the 2019 schedule. Here is the updated 2020 schedule (unless it gets changed again because of the pandemic):
5/09 GMR Grand Prix, Indianapolis, IN
5/24 104thIndy 500, Indianapolis, IN
5/31 Chevrolet Duel in Detroit, MI
6/06 Genesys 600 in Texas
6/21 Rev Group Grand Prix at Road America
6/27 Indy Richmond 300
7/12 Honda Indy Toronto
7/18 Iowa 300
8/16 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
8/22 Bommarito Automotive Group 500
9/06 Grand Prix of Portland
9/20 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
Here again, in this section, the most recent news is highlighted in RED. I am continuing to reduce the old news in this section, now mostly to just the Public Service Announcement, because I assume you have already read that news and I would like to reduce the overall size of the Repo Commentary (making it easier to read for you and easier to type for me).
More than 1.5 billion people around the world are still ordered to stay-at-home because of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. As of this morning (4/20), globally, more than 166,256 people have died from COVID-19. More than 2,424,419 people have been infected with COVID-19. On the positive side, more than 636,183 people have totally recovered. The reason that is important is for “herd immunity” (see INTERNATIONAL NEWS section). The WHO says the virus has spread to at least 175 countries. Given that there only about 190 countries on the Earth, that’s pretty much the entire Globe, except Antarctica. Several countries have experienced large outbreaks (including China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Spain, US, and France). Spain’s COVID-19 confirmed cases total of about 200,210 as of 4/20, makes it 2ndonly to the US. Spain has had at least 20,852 deaths from COVID-19. Italy, suffered very early in Europe, with total confirmed cases in Italy of 178,972 as of 4/20, leaving it behind US and Spain, but ahead of France, Germany, UK, Turkey, and China (83,817), in that order of Confirmed Cases. Italy has had 23,660 deaths as of 4/20 from COVID-19, the second most behind the US.
The US is the country with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, at 760,570 (as of 4/20), more than 25% of the world’s total. The death toll from COVID-19 in the US, as of 4/20, is now 40,702, and now No.1 in the world. One of the reasons that the number of confirmed cases keep rising is because the US has now tested nearly 3.9 million people. Another reason that the death toll has risen in the US is because of a controversial way of reporting. Coroners, particularly in NY, have been instructed to put under “Cause of Death” COVID-19 on Death Certificates, if some of the symptoms were present, whether or not the patient had been tested for COVID-19 or not. So, many officials believe that the number of COVID-19 deaths in the US is probably exaggerated. On just one day in NYC, 3,700 deaths were changed to COVID-19 on the Death Certificates.
New York is the worst-hit state by COVID-19. As of 4/20, there have been more confirmed cases (238,831) in the state than in any other country, let alone state. Of those cases, NY has seen 12,654 deaths. Yet, still people are not practicing social distancing in Central Park or on the NYC Subways. Many people are crying out for the at least the subway to be closed. On 4/16, while discussing the effects of COVID-19 on NY state, including a plateauing of total hospital admissions and a decline in ICU admissions, Gov. Cuomo said “the number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that, fate did not do that, destiny did not do that, a lot of pain and suffering did that.”
More than 1/3 of COVID-19 patients have had brain impacts, without sense of smell or taste, with confusion, neurological damage, large blood vessel strokes (12 years younger than typical on average), and unconsciousness. So, the virus is not just impacting the lungs with fibrosis, and the gastro-intestinal systems, but also the brains. It turns out that, not only did we hoard toilet paper, Kleenex, Tylenol, Purell, napkins, paper towels, sanitizer, peanut butter, ketchup, meat, eggs, milk, and Vitamin C, we also hoarded loads of comfort food (or the ingredients to make it). When people shop for food for to shelter from a crisis (usually a storm), they stock up on comfort food. Most of us probably have eaten those dishes in the last few weeks, maybe some in the first few days! It makes sense, since this crisis did not only kill people, crater our economy, shut down our hobbies and past-times, shut down our work, but it took a toll on us mentally, like trauma does.
Part of the re-opening of businesses will focus on the two types of tests: testing to see if workers have the antibodies for COVID-19, which may then allow them to work; and testing to see if workers are infected with COVID-19. The first test is only just being rolled out. Both types of testing will challenge current privacy laws and whether other employees should be told that someone has antibodies or is infected. The US is now testing more people daily than any other country. A flood of new research suggests that far more people have had COVID-19 without any symptoms, fueling hope that the virus will turn out to be less fatal than originally feared and the hope that herd immunity is working.
In a rare but growing number of cases in Massachusetts, children are becoming increasingly hospitalized due to COVID-19, even requiring ventilators in some cases. This is counter to the general global numbers, which show the pandemic as largely sparing the very young from serious complications. The Boston Globe set one of those records we don’t want to set, running 16 pages of death notices, the most in the history of the newspaper. France is reporting having 82 heart incidents linked to using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients.
The CDC just released its final estimates for this Flu season:
Public Service Announcement:
How do you know if you have COVID-19? The CDC says the following are symptoms which may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Severe sore throat that moves to the lungs.
- Severe headaches (although not everyone is presenting with headaches)
- Fever (although not everyone is presenting with a fever)
- Oz, and celebrities confirmed, that if you don’t present a fever, you will lose the sense of smell and taste for the duration of the virus. This is a new symptom or tell-tale sign. After you have rid the virus, your senses of smell and taste return within weeks. This ‘anosmia’ is occurring in about 30% of the cases, those that are mild or moderate.
- Cough (for Asthmatics, this would be a dry cough as opposed to the damp cough they are accustomed to). This dry cough is affecting at least 1/3 of all patients and feels like it is coming from the breastbone or sternum and feels like the bronchial tubes are inflamed, and may include coughing up sputum from the lungs.
- Shortness of breath
- Digestive or stomach issues, which have been in about half of the patients.
- Chills and body aches
- Pink eye, about 3% of patients are experiencing conjunctivitis
- Major fatigue
The CDC says the following are symptoms which are EMERGENCY WARNING SIGNS REQUIRING IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION (this list is not all inclusive):
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Sudden confusion or inability to wake up
- Bluish lips or face
With the WHO globally and the CDC domestically urging “social distancing” to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, they recommend the following steps (obviously certain states, cities, and countries have adopted even more severe measures):
- I actually wrote about this in the Repo Commentary on 3/18, but now have heard a lot more information about it. The French government (another French study) on 3/16 and later the UK NHS, announced that people infected with COVID-19 should avoid using ibuprofen (like Advil) and instead use acetaminophen (like Tylenol) during the duration to treat the fever and aches. The reason, according to both of these groups, and several doctors from Cornell, Harvard, and the virologist I mentioned on 3/18) is because ibuprofen tends to suppress the immune system somewhat, which could be disastrous during COVID-19, and they felt it could expedite the virus to move into the lungs. There has been mixed reactions from the medical community, as there has not been enough research on whether the virus thrives more on ibuprofen or not. However, some doctors believe that it can make the results 10 times worse than using Acetaminophin. So, it is your choice. Snopes.com said it has not been proven False or True yet. The British Ministry of Health has previously issued guidelines on the use of ibuprofen with infections or viruses. I am hearing from my friends in the homeopathic community that you shouldn’t take NSAIDs generally because of their tendency to suppress the immune system. Frankly, I think if it doesn’t hurt me, I’ll switch to acetaminophen, at least until this is over, just in case it is true. I would like you all to be around too and safe. I’m sure you have all heard anecdotally through the years that more doctors recommend Tylenol than Advil in hospital stays, partly because of the immune system response and partly because of the alleged impact to the kidneys of constant use of ibuprofen. However, what is not spoken about much is that constant use of Tylenol can also lead to bad results for the Liver. In fact, the study that the French Government relied on for its guidelines was based on their own previous study about a woman who had died allegedly taking ibuprofen and how ibuprofen compares to acetaminophen. But, the study was flawed, since the original woman was actually on acetaminophen, not ibuprofen, according to the latest reports. So, I really don’t know.All I know is, after someone mentions it in the media or in a press conference, Tylenol is suddenly gone from all the shelves at the pharmacies, grocery stores, and Target. But, there is plenty of Advil! So, another one to add to the Endangered Species of rarely spotted home goods, along with Emergen-C, Vitamin C, Zinc, paper towels, pasta sauce, pasta, latex or nitrile gloves, n95 masks (or any face masks of any kind), Handiwipes/Wet Ones or any type of antibiotic soap, spray, or towel, Purell, and the odd one, toilet paper.
- Stay home if you are mildly ill with COVID-19, except to get medical care. Do not visit public places.
- Stay in touch with your doctor. Call before you get medical care, so that the office can protect themselves and other patients. Be sure to get emergency care if you worsen or have any of those symptoms.
- Oz says that there are signs that taking Vitamin C and Zinc at the first signs or even as preventive medicine, could be effective against COVID-19 infection and recovery. Of course, some other doctors have come out and said that there was never verifiable proof that Vitamin C or Zinc helped with other viruses or the common cold. And, I still don’t know if eggs are good for you or bad for you, but I still eat them.
- Avoid public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
- Stay away from others, as much as possible, including people in your home. Try to do as much ‘home isolation’ as possible, staying in a designated “sick room” with a separate bathroom, if available, and away from other people in your home.
- Limit contact with your pets and animals. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals contracting COVID-19 from humans, it is still recommended for those with the virus to limit contact with animals, until more information is known.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you have COVID-19. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you have COVID-19, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
- If you are sick, you should wear a facemask when you are around other people and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.
- If you are caring for others who are sick, you should wear a facemask. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw used tissues in a lined trash can. Wash hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. On average, we touch our nose and mouth about 90 times per day, without realizing it.
- Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home. After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water or clean in a dishwasher.
- Daily clean disinfect high-touch surfaces (phones, remote controls, counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables) in your “sick room” and bathroom. Let someone else clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas of your home, but only you in your “sick room” and bathroom. If a caregiver must clean and disinfect a sick person’s bedroom or bathroom, they should do so on an as-needed basis. The caregiver should wear a mask and wait as long as possible after the sick person has used the bathroom.
- The CDC says that people with the following underlying health conditions BEFORE contracting COVID-19 are at higher risk (this is not a complete list):
- Chronic lung disease or asthma
- Heart failure or heart disease
- Sickle cell anemia
- Cancer or undergoing chemotherapy
- Kidney disease and dialysis
- Body Mass Index over 40
- Autoimmune disorder
- Recent transplant patients
- Per the CDC, people with COVID-19 may discontinue home isolation if:
- You will have a test to determine if you are still contagious
- You no longer have a fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers.
- AND other symptoms have improved.
- AND you received 2 negative tests in a row, 24 hours apart.
- Or, if you will not have a test to determineif you are still contagious, then these 3 things must happen, before ending home isolation:
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours, without the use of medicine that reduces fevers.
- Other symptoms have improved (cough, shortness of breath, etc.)
- AND at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
- You will have a test to determine if you are still contagious
A southwestern province of China, afraid of a rabies outbreak, decided to kill over 50,000 dogs. I actually had to find 3 sources for this information, because I just couldn’t believe it myself. This morning, World News Daily Report, reported that a Chinese immigrant in Brooklyn, NY has been arrested by NYPD after authorities were informed that the man was making his own hot dogs with the meat of dead stray dogs from local animal shelters. Chow’s operations allegedly used dead dogs in dumpsters of the Animal Care Centers all over the City. Sixteen other family members are also under investigation, as they are currently volunteering in the different Animal Care Centers in the NYC area and suburbs, according to authorities. Chow’s wife believes the tip was called in by a rival hot dog vendor across the street and has no merit. Some experts estimate that Chow may have sold as many as a million hot dogs from his hot dog stand for the past 18 years. Killing dogs and cats for meat is expressly prohibited in the state of New York for human or animal consumption. However, it is still legal in 44 other US states. What??? Let’s move on to happier news, for the first time ever, Florida shelters are empty of animals to adopt, as people in stay-at-home orders want a pet to keep them company. You need to be careful about transferring the virus to your pets. Many stories continue popping up about the silver lining of COVID-19, with Mother Nature reclaiming the Earth and the Earth healing from pollution, smog, noise, traffic, ozone layer, etc. Flowers are blooming, rivers are cleaning up, vegetation is claiming back the jungles, and humans are committing less crime (theft and murder). Starving and angry rats are getting desperate during COVID-19 pandemic and resorting to cannibalism. Africa’s mountain gorillas are at risk from COVID-19. A mountain lion had to be killed after attacking a Colorado resident and a deputy. Parker, the endangered red panda at Birmingham Zoo has died at age 4. A 6-year-old girl was attacked by a mountain lion in California. Denver city council has voted to repeal a 30-year-old ban on pit bulls. Turkey has issued an order for people to feed stray animals, so they don’t starve during the pandemic. A Standard Poodle named Siba won Westminster Dog Show’s Best in Show. A white orca was spotted this weekend in Puget Sound. White killer whales are so rare that only a handful have ever been documented. Two of the last white giraffes on Earth have been slaughtered by poachers.
In South Africa’s Kruger National Park, lions have been seen sleeping on the empty roads.
An actor I respected a lot, Brian Dennehy, famous for his work in film, stage, and television, in roles from TOMMY BOY, RAMBO-FIRST BLOOD, COCOON, and Eugene O’Neill’s plays, Brian Dennehy has passed away at age 81. While he was not one of the 17 people who have won the awards in all 4 mediums (an EGOT), he did win a Golden Globe, 2 Tony Awards, and 6 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations. Something I didn’t know until I did this research, he used to work as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch in Manhattan during the mid-1970s. Globalcitizen.com is put on a 2-hour live entertainment show on ABC on 4/18. They are not actually raising money for this one, as Lady Gaga put it, “because they already raised it,” $40 million for WHO to fight COVID-19. If you remember from a previous Repo Commentary, that $35 million began with a $10 million donation from Apple’s CEO. If you didn’t get to see it, or got tired of the frequent interviews and celebrity interruptions, there was one sensational performance on “The Prayer” by Andrea Boccelli, Celine Dion, John Legend, and Lady Gaga, that you have to see. I have posted the video on my Facebook. Princess Beatrice has had to postpone her wedding plans for a second time, this time due to COVID-19 pandemic. Last time, it was because of Prince Harry and Meaghan’s feud with the Royal family. In the trend of British rockers getting their own biopics (like Freddie Mercury and Sir Elton John), a David Bowie biopic, Ziggy Stardust, is ready to premiere. ProjectCasting announced that Hollywood movie filming will not resume until September. A woman who was rescued during the mass shooting in Las Vegas at the open-air concert has just married the stranger who saved her life. Today, Massachusetts opened up newly expanded unemployment insurance for tens of thousands of workers who are self-employed, independent contractors, freelancers, or “gig” workers, according to the Boston Globe. This will include many of my entertainment, artist, writers, and photographer friends. Stranger Things star’s, Joe Keery, apparent Twitter hack has gotten people concerned about their own Twitter. Green Acres star Tom Lester has died at age 81. THE BATMAN and SOPRANOS prequel (THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK) movies have received new release dates. THE BATMAN, with Robert Pattinson, was supposed to be released on 6/25/21, but now will be in theaters on 10/1/21. The SOPRANOS prequel was pushed back from 9/25/20 to 3/12/21. Both films are Warner Brothers movies. Willie Nelson is going to host a virtual “Come and Toke It” variety show. American Idol was one of the most high-profile entertainment shows that was shutdown by COVID-19 pandemic. ABC and Fremantle have spent the last few weeks working out how to get it back up and running, going through dozens of scenarios. Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman are suspending their feud during the COVID-19 crisis. Julianne Hough has posted about betrayal amid marriage woes with Brooks Laich. Bethenny Frankel reportedly had a meltdown after Real Housewives of New York producer said that the show didn’t need her. Adam Kutcher and Kunis launched a quarantine-themed wine. Alicia Silverstone is recalling ‘hurtful’ body shaming after BATMAN & ROBIN movie. Robert De Niro said that NYC “feels the same” as 9/11 amid COVID-19 pandemic. I noted previously that there is a similarity, the trauma and the worry that something is still out there and is lethal. Broadway star Nick Cordero had to have his leg amputated, due to COVID-19 complications. A Julia Child documentary from “RBG” filmmakers is in production. Randall Emmett has paid tribute to Lala Kent, fromVanderpump Rules on their canceled wedding plans. Khloe Kardashian just paid the grocery bill for elderly shoppers in Los Angeles. Reese Witherspoon is sharing her struggles with postpartum depression. Bruce Willis is with his ex-wife Demi Moore, not his wife, during quarantine. Despite rumors, Bill Cosby is not being considered for release due to virus. Johnny Depp is thanking fans for ‘unwavering support’ as he joins Instagram. Sharon Stone tested friends’ temperatures at her birthday party. Halle Berry says being single is “so great”. Madonna’s new “diaries” have fans questioning her mindset. Hugh Jackman revealed that he turned down a role in the failed movie adaptation of CATS. CAPONE movie trailer features Tom Hardy in the lead role. Lady Gaga is referring to her current boyfriend as “the love of my life.” US animator/filmmaker Gene Deitch has died in Prague at age 95. I didn’t know that Gage Edward and Jeff Lewis broke up? Chris Cross has been temporarily paralyzed due to COVID-19.
Yes, I have some pet peeves during this “shelter-in-place” quarantine (you knew I would). Not only does the atmosphere of panic make it harder to convince companies to part with their money and hire me, but I’m still paying my car insurance premiums and not driving my car much. I’m still paying my fitness club on the first of each month, even though it remains closed for more than a month. Many of you probably are paying monthly to watch Live sports, when no sports are being played live. Supposedly, Comcast told Arstechnica that “any rebates will be determined once the NBA, NHL, and MLB announce the course of action for their seasons, including the number of games that will be played, and of course we will pass those rebates or other adjustments along to our customers.” But, if the leagues aren’t giving Comcast rebates, what exactly are they passing on to the customers? Verizon (which owns FiOS TV) told the NY Times last week that “we don’t want to charge our customers for content they aren’t watching and receiving…Whether that is going to be in the form of a refund or discontinued billing, we are looking at all of those options right now.” But, they also said that they need other industries to cooperate, to “make that happen.” The third largest TV provider, Charter, said to Ars that “this is a very complicated situation involving multiple parties with individualized agreements that will likely take months to figure out. We are closely monitoring this situation, and to the extent that we receive rebates for canceled sports programming, we will pass that along to our customers.” There it is again, ‘rebates’ they receive. So, unless the cable provider receives rebates from the sports that you did not get to watch, that probably made no revenue without ads or you at the event watching, you won’t get paid back. AT&T (which owns DirectTV) said it is “in contact with programmers and sports leagues as they plan their next steps,” and that “any rebates we receive from programmers and leagues will be provided to our customers.” Dish Network declined to comment at all. Because of complex contracts, in which not only teams, leagues and broadcasters pay TV networks, but also other TV networks pay each other for use of broadcasts or broadcasters. In Europe, Sky Sports simply said that it will allow customers to “pause their subscriptions until the action resumes.”
Technology & Space News:
Google added a “Teacher approved” category to its app store. This is really helpful to parents who are scrambling to find intelligent apps to help them home-school their kids. Apple launched another version of the iPhone SE. Speaking of apple, people have found 10 other apple varieties that were long thought to be extinct. (I know it should have gone in Animal News, but I couldn’t resist!). The Gates Foundation has called for a global cooperation to create a COVID-19 vaccine for all 7 billion people. SpaceX has set a date of 5/27/20 to launch NASA astronauts into space. It marks the first time astronauts have left US soil bound for the International Space Station since 2011. An exoplanet similar in size and possibly temperature to Earth has been found a mere 300 light-years away by scientists examining data collected by the Kepler space telescope.
Here again, in this section, the most recent news is highlighted in RED. I am phasing out the old news, now down to just one paragraph at the end.
More than 90% of the US population is currently under a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our “New Reality” or “New Normal”. President Trump has indicated that many states can reopen on 5/1. On Thursday, in President Trump’s daily COVID-19 update, he said that the curve has finally flattened and we are “seeing no new cases”. He also said that anybody who needs a ventilator, now has a ventilator. With the help of his task force (Vice President Pence, Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci, etc.), he has crafted new guidelines to reopen business in 3 Phases. To the public and media, he was not sharing the specifics of the timing or elements of each phase, but he unveiled it that day to state governors. I actually have looked at the plan online, in NPR’s website. The plan calls for opening up each state’s economy, not all at once, but pieces at a time slowly, while working with the state Governors on what timeline works best for each of them and their citizens. This was a major change from his tone at the end of last week, when he was rebuked by 6 Democratic Governors for saying that he would tell the states when to open up. They pointed out that, ultimately, the Federal Government can’t force any action on the states. Apparently, the President has decided to soften his approach and work WITH the states, not ordering them. He made it clear that the Governors are “going to call their own shots.” The Plan outlines “Proposed State or Regional Gating Criteria” that includes 14-day downward trajectory of influenza-like and COVID-19 Symptoms, 14-day downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 Casesor downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests, and Hospitalstreating all patients without crisis care and robust testing program in place for at-risk healthcare workers (including emerging antibody testing) thresholds that have to be met, prior to proceeding to Phased Opening. The plan also has ‘recommendations’ for state preparedness and Federal help on sourcing testing and medical supplies for States. In the Phased Opening, where general terms will be interpreted specifically for each State or Region, PHASE 1, with continued sanitation protocols and strict physical distancing, would allow elective surgeries to begin, gyms to open, restaurants to open (but not bars), movie theaters to open, sporting venues to open, and places of worship to open. It would still encourage telework and return to work in phases and minimize non-essential travel. PHASE 2, with continued sanitation and distancing protocols, would still have all vulnerable individuals sheltering-in-place, but would allow non-essential travel, still encourage telework, reopen schools, still prohibit visits to senior care facilities and hospitals, and allow bars to open. PHASE 3, would lift all restrictions, as long as sanitation protocols and certain limits are followed.
He also talked about moving towards sheltering-in-place those who are weaker or elderly (which is part of the main plan that Sweden followed). He said that some scientists think that the virus may return in the Fall, as a seasonal virus. He talked about the mental toll on the public, as well as increases in alcohol abuse, drug abuse, suicides, and heart problems. He also mentioned the fact that some people have put off necessary medical procedures because of the virus and have suffered from not having those procedures.
Dr. Fauci has told all states that this is now the time to issue extremely strict stay-at-home orders, but the response has been mixed, leaning towards opening up business. As you have noticed, across the country, many Governors have been forming pacts, typically by proximity and/or political party. Rather than continuing to report thios news piecemeal for some states that I had news headlines about, I decided to use CNN as a source for the latest news about what each state is thinking.
ALABAMA-Gov. Ivey issued a stay-at-home order until 4/30. They have announced a task force to reopen the state’s economy, with a plan by 4/17 for the Governor.
ALASKA-Gov. Dunleavy issued a stay-at-home (unless absolutely necessary) order until it is rescinded. The Governor plans on reopening the state as early as this week.
ARIZONA-Gov. Ducey issued a stay-at-home order until 4/30.
*ARKANSAS-Gov. Hutchinson has yet to issue a stay-at-home order, but schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic term. Fitness centers, bars, restaurants and other public places are closed until further notice. One of only 7 states to not issue a stay-at-home order.
CALIFORNIA-Gov. Newsom issued a stay-at-home order that has no end date. He just extended social distancing into June. He also made a pact with Oregon Gov. Brown and Washington Gov. Inslee on 4/13. Gov. Newsom issued on Tuesday, HIS guidelines on reopening the economy in the 3 states based on six criteria, saying “we can’t get ahead of ourselves and dream of regretting.” The State is now being sued by pastors for not allowing services to continue in-person. The State also reportedly is now giving aid to non-US citizens harmed by COVID-19.
COLORADO-Gov. Polis extended the state’s stay-at-home order until 4/26. He said that he hoped the state would be able to open up on 4/26, but that does not mean “things are going to go back to how they were in terms of 60,000 people at a stadium (or) a busy nightclub.”
CONNECTICUT-Gov. Lamont extended the mandatory shutdown in the state until 5/20. CT has joined a coalition with the Northeast states of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to coordinate reopening their economies. Gov. Lamont feels it would take at least another month before they could make a decision on reopening.
DELAWARE-Gov. Carney issued a stay-at-home order until 5/15. He also joined the above Northeastern state coalition.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-DC Mayor Bowser extended a stay-at-home order until 5/15.
FLORIDA-Gov. DeSantis (one of only two current Governors that I have met) issued a stay-at-home order until 4/30. He has been a bit rogue, allowing disparity of orders among counties, not approving retroactive unemployment benefits, and pushing unproven drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. He has closed schools until the end of the school year and cancelled graduation ceremonies. He has probably been the most active Governor in the US in defending his state borders from non-residents, from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia, and Louisiana.
GEORGIA-Gov. Kemp issued a stay-at-home order until 4/30. He has closed schools until the end of the school year. He feels that his state is behind the curve, more so than other states, because of lack of testing. He has made it clear that churches will remain closed, but just opened up the beaches.
HAWAII-Gov. Ige issued a stay-at-home order through 4/30. He has been extremely quiet since.
IDAHO-Gov. Little issued a stay-at-home order until 4/30. His goal is for most businesses to open after that.
ILLINOIS-Gov. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order through at least 4/30. He hopes that restarting production will go “industry by industry, and maybe company by company.”
INDIANA-Gov. Holcomb issued a stay-at-home order through 4/20, but it may be extended. He is encouraged, but mentioned that the “new normal” after restrictions are lifted may include new measures such as taking employees temperatures at work, wearing masks, and physical distancing.
*IOWA-Gov. Reynolds has not declared ANY stay-at-home order. However, he did issue an Emergency statement that closed all nonessential businesses until 4/30. This one of the states with probably the least restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic, and one of only 7 states that technically didn’t issue a stay-at-home order.
KANSAS-Gov. Kelly issued a stay-at-home order, which has been extended to 5/3. She expects to see the state’s peak to be 4/19-4/29.
KENTUCKY-Gov. Beshear issued a “Healthy at Home” order that will be in effect indefinitely. He has closed schools until at least 5/1.
LOUISIANA-Gov. Edwards extended the stay-at-home order through 4/30.
MAINE-Gov. Mills issued a “Stay Healthy at Home” order through at least 4/30.
MARYLAND-Gov. Hogan issued a stay-at-home order with no end date.
MASSACHUSETTS-Gov. Baker issued an emergency order closing all nonessential businesses until 5/4. MA has joined the Northeastern states coalition. On Sunday, the Governor spoke on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and said that the state was in the “middle of the surge.”
MICHIGAN-Gov. Whitmer extended the stay-at-home order through 4/30. She outlined the 4 factors she will take into consideration before reopening the state. She, along with Governors from New York and Florida, has been particularly vocal during the pandemic, particularly in criticizing the President.
MINNESOTA-Gov. Walz extended the stay-at-home order through 5/3. Minnesota did just open golf courses on 4/18.
MISSISSIPPI-Gov. Reeves (I think he is one of only two current Governors I have met personally) issued a shelter-in-place order which expires on 4/20. He announced this week that schools will remain closed for the rest of the semester. He also said that “There are still more sacrifices to be made.”
MISSOURI-Gov. Parson issued a “Stay Home Missouri” order through 4/24 and has made no plans to reopen the state.
MONTANA-Gov. Bullock extended the stay-at-home order through 4/24. He said last Monday that he will allow the state to reopen sooner rather than later.
*NEBRASKA-Gov. Ricketts issued the “21 Days to Stay Home and Stay Healthy” order on 4/10, which ordered all hair salons, tattoo parlors, and strip clubs closed through 4/30, and all organized group sports cancelled until 5/31. Nebraska is one of only 7 states that did not issue a stay-at-home order.
NEVADA-Gov. Sisolak issued a stay-at-home order until 4/30. He is monitoring several parameters in his decision to reopen the economy.
NEW HAMPSHIRE-Gov. Sununu issued a stay-at-home order until 5/4. Public and private schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.
NEW JERSEY-Gov. Murphy issued a stay-at-home order with no specific end date. NJ is part of the coalition of Northeastern states. He said “that no one is more eager to restart our economy than I am.”
NEW MEXICO-Gov. Grisham extended the state’s emergency order to 4/30. She is waiting for the peak to occur, before taking any actions.
NEW YORK-Gov. Cuomo issued a “New York State on PAUSE” executive order until 4/29. NY has joined the coalition of Northeastern states. He has been the most vocal Governor in the country during the pandemic and the one who has challenged the President the most (and vice versa).
NORTH CAROLINA-Gov. Cooper issued a stay-at-home order until 4/29.
*NORTH DAKOTA-Gov. Burgum has only shut down schools, restaurants, fitness centers, movie theaters and salons. ND is one of only 7 states that did not issue a stay-at-home order.
OHIO-Gov. DeWine issued a stay-at-home order in place until 5/1.
OKLAHOMA-Gov. Stitt extended a “Safer at Home” order for adults over age 65 and other vulnerable residents until 5/6. He is working on a plan to possibly open the state’s economy on 4/30. He is also allowing elective surgeries to resume on 4/24.
Omg, I thought there were only 50 states, but this feels like 100! It never ends!
PENNSYLVANIA-Gov. Wolf issued stay-at-home orders until 4/30. PA joined the coalition of Northeastern states. He has seemed, like NY Gov. Cuomo, to be on the reluctant side to reopening his state’s economy. He said, “If it’s not in the best interest of keeping people safe, I’m not going to go along with it.” I could see this potentially becoming a moral, political, and revenue issue, as other states (Florida and Texas, for example) may be willing to reopen earlier, possibly to attract business away from the northeastern states coalition (which has happened to some degree previously due to state tax differences).
RHODE ISLAND-Gov. Raimondo issued an extension to the state’s stay-at-home order to until at least 5/8. RI has joined that Northeastern coalition of states.
SOUTH CAROLINA-Gov. McMaster extended his previous “State of Emergency” executive order through at least 4/27. He has said that, “We want to get all of these businesses going back as soon as we can.”
*SOUTH DAKOTA-Gov. Noem has refused to issue a stay-at-home order, despite the state’s COVID-19 cases spiking. SD is one of only 7 states without such an order. South Dakota’s Governor has been praised for her Sweden-like approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on herd immunity and sheltering only the at-risk population, while not cratering the local economy. However, on Monday, the NY Post reported that the confirmed cases in the state jumped from 129 to 988 since 4/1, when the Governor criticized other states’ “Draconian measures” of social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. She even went on to say “South Dakota is not New York.” South Dakota is now home to one of the largest single clusters of COVID-19, with 300 workers at one pork processing plant of Smithfield Foods infected, according to the Washington Post. Yes, to those astute readers who remember that I reported that Smithfield Foods had sold itself to a Chinese meat processor in July for billions of dollars.
TENNESSEE-Gov. Lee extended the state’s stay-at-home order until 4/30. He said that the state would be reopening the economy in May.
TEXAS-Gov. Abbott issued a stay-at-home order through 4/30. He said last Monday that only businesses “that will have minimal or zero impact on the spread of coronavirus will be the first to open up.” He intends to open some businesses on 5/1.
*UTAH-Gov. Herbert extended the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive through 5/1. Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the year. Technically, UT is one of the 7 states to not issue a stay-at-home order.
VERMONT-Gov. Scott issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order which has been extended until 5/15.
VIRGINIA-Gov. Northam issued a stay-at-home order until 6/10. This is the longest such order among the 50 states, by more than a month.
WASHINGTON-Gov. Justice issued a stay-at-home order until further notice.
WISCONSIN-Gov. Evers issued a “Safer at Home” order that prohibits all nonessential travel until 4/24. Wisconsin just joined neighbor Minnesota in opening up golf courses on 4/18.
*WYOMING-Gov. Gordon did not issue a stay-at-home order, one of only 7 states that didn’t.
You may have also noticed that, across the country, in different states, the public is beginning to protest the lockdown and demanding for things to be opened up. Protests have erupted in Michigan and California. The Michigan protests on the state capitol had protesters carrying guns too. The protests themselves are large assemblies of people, not practicing social distancing, so they themselves are in violation of lockdown guidelines. There have been varied responses to the protests and to calls for opening up business. Los Angeles mayor has threatened to cut power and water to businesses that violate COVID-19 orders. California, in an effort to stop skateboarders from using parks and congregating, dumped tons of sand into skateparks. The angry young community countered with shovels and buckets, not only restoring the skateparks, but using the state’s sand to create additional dirt biking parks.
On the Unemployment front, the weekly US Initial Jobless Claims data skyrocketed from 282,000 on 3/14, to a record (and twice as high as expected) 3,283,000 on 3/21. Then, on 3/28, the number skyrocketed again by 6,648,000, making it almost a 10 million increase in 2 weeks (way more than expected). The over 6.6 million reading was also “the highest level of seasonally adjusted claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series,” per the Department of Labor. On 4/9, Initial Claims jumped by 6,606,000. Then, on 4/15, Initial Claims were up another 5,000,000, taking the four week total of new Unemployment Claims to 22,000,000. Many officials and economists had forecasted a total COVID-19 impact on new Unemployment Claims reaching 20-30 million people, and that looks like a spot-on forecast.
A disturbing trend is emerging, that many nursing homes, elderly care centers, and assisted living centers have had over 5,670 deaths due to COVID-19. These were the most at-risk people from COVID-19 and the people who were sick should have been hospitalized and kept away from the other residents. It appears that in some of the facilities, staffers, many of whom make minimum wage, chose their safety first and abandoned the residents, not returning to work. So, there are more stories, like the anonymous tip that police received, to search a nursing home in Andover, NJ, where they found 18 bodies in a makeshift morgue, stacked on top of each other. At least 68 people, including 2 nurses, connected to the facility have recently died. In Paramus, NJ, at least 24 people have died at the New Jersey Veterans Home and at least 75 residents have tested positive. There are about 1 million mostly frail and elderly people who live in such facilities across the US.
President Trump stopped US funding for the WHO for its handling of COVID-19 and its criticisms of his policy.
The US Government has streamlined the information on what relief is available for those impacted by COVID-19 on a website, benefits.gov. Okay, the first $349 billion of the SBA’s PPP program, a subset of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, was gobbled up in just 14 days! Ostensibly, of the 1.3 million applicants, small businesses got these forgiveable loans to keep themselves afloat and pay their employees. But, a few things went terribly wrong. First, the SBA said that they would include non-banks along with banks in the program to take applications. But, SBA did not approve electronic non-banks until the day before the program ran out of money. Second, the fees for the loans were to be paid by SBA to the banks and the loans guaranteed not by the banks but by the US Government. The fees were not to be paid by the borrowers. However, many borrowers had to pay ‘finders’ fees to apply to banks for them. Third, the large banks chose to prioritize their own banking customers first and put the applications from non-customers at the bottom of the stack or just reject them. When brought to SBA’s attention, SBA said that it was okay for the banks to put their customers first. What they failed to comment on or realize was that those banks then prioritized their customers in order of size, so the small business clients, who the money was intended for and who needed it the most, were shouldered out by much larger customers of the banks. Fourth, the SBA changed the application forms 3 times during the 14 days and the online systems at many of the large banks could not handle the load of all the applications, and some online banking systems froze, then froze again when the $1200 stimulus checks overwhelmed them from the US Treasury. Also, although the SBA said that the PPP loans were for companies under 500 employees, they did not realize that that left a loophole for much larger companies who had franchises or branches that had less than 500 employees. Consequently, many of my friends’ small businesses did not get PPP money, but chains like nationwide 5000-employee Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse received $20 million in PPP loans, and the owner of companies like 189-restaurant chain, Shake Shack, received $10 million in PPP loans. After the public outrage response, Shake Shack said it was now giving the PPP loan back to SBA, according to NBC News. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses were unable to get loans through the PPP. There are undoubtedly many companies who are not small businesses that received the bulk of the PPP loans. There may be public backlash/boycotts of those larger companies, when the economy comes back online. NBC News estimates more than a dozen companies with revenues in the hundreds of millions that have received the PPP loans, and those names will come out over the next few weeks. But, only the ones who are public companies and report to the SEC about the loans, will come to light. There are many companies that are owned by financial institutions and are not public, so do not have to disclose these loans. Some of the companies that received PPP loans were actually part of industries that have their own specific bailouts allocated by the CARES Act, so this is sort of double-dipping for them. This mess, which is a combination of greed and administrators’ poor efforts at policing, must be rectified for those small businesses that should have gotten loans, and the rules have to be more precise, before the next $310 billion proposed PPP money becomes available. Otherwise, we will just see a repeat of this bad behavior. That would be “throwing good money after bad.” According to Newsweek, Harvard University Endowment, worth $40 billion, will receive $8.7 million in Federal Aid for pandemic relief. Senators are reportedly near completing that deal. There is also a $60 billion Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
In few headlines not about COVID-19, Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has quit the 2020 Presidential race, paving the way for former Vice President Joe Biden to be nominated by the Democratic party to oppose Republican President Trump in November. Surprisingly late in the process, Biden’s President when he was Vice President, Barack Obama, has finally thrown his support behind his Vice President, Biden. It seemed like he was almost reluctant, and I heard rumors that it was the result of President Obama negotiating whom Joe Biden’s running mate will be.
At least 43,000 American millionaires, who will not be getting the US Treasury $1200 checks (as they are too wealthy to qualify), will be getting larger economic relief from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as wealthy business owners, according to a Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. The Washington Post reports that pass-through businesses (ones taxed under individual income, rather than corporate) and unlimited amount of deductions against their non-business income, such as capital gains. So, these roughly 43,000 individuals who make at least $1 million per year, will save $70.3 billion, or roughly $1.6 million each. Ironically, during the COVID-19 crisis, this portion of the act is awarding a total amount that is greater than new funding for all American hospitals and more than the total aid being provided to all state and local governments.
We are just 200 days away from a General and Presidential Election, although Congress is currently out on vacation. Analysts are busy analyzing the key Senate races and latest fund-raising reports coming Wednesday. A potential 50-50 tie is becoming more of a possibility in the Senate. USA Today reports that Land O’Lakes butter has removed the non-specific Native American woman’s illustration from its packaging, as the company approaches its 100thanniversary.
COVID-19 Myths (NEWISH):
I have just updated this section with additional information.
I came up with the idea for this NEW section and began writing about it on Facebook to gather more theories than the dozen or so videos and memes that I had been sent in the few weeks. Consequently, many of my friends shared more myths and conspiracies with me there, and I wanted to write it all here. Since I began writing this in the Repo Commentary edition on 4/11, I discovered that Rolling Stone magazine had published an article debunking the 12 most popular COVID-19 myths in their 3/18 edition, with “Coronavirus Is Spreading—And So Are the Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories Around It”, which gave me some great background info on some of the ones I was writing about. And, through that article, I discovered that the WHO had also put on their website a section dealing with some of the conspiracy theories. So, I guess I’m in good company with my line of thinking, and hopefully you will benefit and/or be amused.
In the last few Repo Commentaries, I seemed to have adopted a theme of ‘debunking conspiracy theories’ and since then, I’ve been collecting them to bring the popular ones to light to, not only debunk them ‘en masse’, but also to make sure, in the very unlikely event that one of them is partially true, at least I’ve reported it. With people having way more time at home and on their social media, videos and conspiracy theories are viral. I get at least 5 videos per day sent to me about one conspiracy or another, and I’m trying to keep a list of the circulating rumors, hoaxes and misinformation about the virus, especially the rabid conspiracy theorizing and racist paranoia, exacerbated by the general public anxiety and the fact that the virus seems to have originated in China (where the US has strained relations). The social media and mainstream media perpetuation of these myths and theories to panic the public has forced the WHO to set up its own online page to debunk COVID-19 hoaxes. Well, here are the ones I’ve heard so far and some background (I am only reporting them, in no particular order, and with no personal belief):
- The Democrats released the COVID-19 virus, somehow, to make up for failing to Impeach the President in this election year, exacerbated by the fact that the two events seemed to be so close on the calendar. Although it seems highly unlikely that a political party would evilly risk the lives of millions of Americans and the country’s economic foundation, just to shove out a President and gain political power, this is a conspiracy theory that just won’t quit, touted mostly by conservatives Somehow, George Soros, an anti-Trumper, became wrapped up in this theory’s story, for his alleged part in getting the virus to China (hence his meetings there) and to callously bring down the financial markets, sacrifice many people, and ruin jobs and industry, just to unseat the President in the 2020 Presidential election. A brand new version of this is that the Democrats unleashed the virus to cover up and detour the investigation of Hunter Biden.
- The Republicans released COVID-19. The government introduced the virus in 2018 and Bill Gates was somehow responsible. Jordan Sather followed up by linking the Pirbright Foundation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, based on a 2019 release announcing that the foundation would help fund an unrelated project to study livestock disease and immunology. There were similarities to Zika virus conspiracies. Somehow, the Cabal and government were supposed to make money off the potential vaccine. This quickly gained traction with the 2008 anti-Wall Street movement, QAnon, and anti-vaccine Facebook groups. They pointed to an alleged Coronavirus ‘patent’ to prove that it was planned ahead of time. As I wrote in the Repo Commentary recently, and focused on the generic name of “coronavirus”, not COVID-19 in the patent, Firbright said to BuzzFeed News that the 2015 patent was to facilitate the development of a vaccine for a specific type of bird flu coronavirus found in chickens (remember that several viruses are in the generic family of ‘coronavirus’). Also, Firbright made it clear that the Gates foundation did not fund the 2015 patent. The conspiracy still did not die, based on a 2018 presentation that Gates gave, in which he simulated that a flu similar to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic could kill 50 million people within 6 months and that the global public health system was ill-equipped to handle such an event. He was merely pointing out that “The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war.”
- China’s government released COVID-19 on its own people, to test the spread and to infect the rest of the Western World in a type of biowarfare. Conspiracy types pointed to the possibility that China knew about COVID-19 as early as October 2019, not January 2020, when the rest of the world found out about it, that the epicenter was concentrated in an area allegedly near a top laboratory (Biosafety Level 4 Super Laboratory that researches human infectious diseases) where it could have been engineered, and that spread of the infection was to the West coast of the US (California, Washington), Italy (who had just signed a $2.5 billion pact with China and had sold many of its factories to China who then employed Chinese workers), and US large cities (because of their busy airports). Some theorists also tied in the new trade deal between the US and China, and alleged that China was dissatisfied with the results and wanted to bring down the US economy, in a literal bio-trade war, which China would profit most from as the supplier of many goods to the Western world. This myth was endorsed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) on Fox News in March. Scientists have debunked this theory, saying that there is “absolutely nothing in the genome sequence of this virus that indicates the virus was engineered.” The Washington Post even came out debunking the “deliberately released bioweapon” theory. But, yet, the US government officials continue to use the theory to sow doubt in Americans’ minds. Gates has even been brought into this theory, as some people have ridiculously alleged that his visits to China were a funding mission for that particular Wuhan lab. Twitter has even had to add a link to the CDC at the top of search results on this subject. With some insinuation from President Trump, this conspiracy has seen a recent revival. The evidence offered is that the epicenter of the pandemic, Wuhan, with its open wild animal markets, is very close geographically to the political and military Capital of China, Beijing, and the economic Capitol (and where the wealthy live), Shanghai. Wuhan had many cases and deaths and was forced into lockdown. The virus spread from Wuhan to every corner of the world, some 195 countries. Many have been greatly affected and their major cities shut down in: Italy, Spain, France, Great Britain, the US, etc., who were each some 15,000km away from Wuhan. Yet, Beijing (only 1152km away) and Shanghai (only 839km away), in adjoining provinces, escaped major infection and impact, with a limited number of cases and small numbers of deaths, particularly in contrast to the enormous size of their populations. Also, if you look at the worlds’ leaders, the PM of Great Britain, the HM of Australia, Hollywood stars, Spain’s PM’s wife, Canada’s PM’s wife, Britain’s Prince Charles, and other world dignitaries have contracted COVID-19. Yet, not a single political leader or military commander in China has tested positive for COVID-19. Wuhan was reopened completely on 4/8. All cities of China are open, no longer in lockdown (some never were) and business areas are open, while most businesses in North America, Europe, and Middle East are still shuttered. The pandemic and lockdowns cratered the economies in many countries, with stock markets down 20-50%, and forced them to close their borders to control the spread of the virus. Yet, China’s economy was not affected (stock market down 10%) and, instead, it has gained superiority over the world’s other economies.
- The US military released COVID-19 on the Chinese in a type of biowarfare. This is the reverse argument of the one above, but using similar alleged reasons. It seems that if this one were true, then it backfired.
- Russia released COVID-19 on China and US as a type of biowarfare. I guess this would be anti-collusion and in contradiction to Russia’s delivery of masks and medical supplies to the US during the crisis.
- There is a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 that the US government won’t release yet. This wild theory actually began on 1/22 with a screengrab of an alleged patent filed by the CDC for what is supposed to be a COVID-19 vaccine. This suggests that the US government introduced the virus, so that big Pharma could profit from the treatment of it and the vaccine for it. The money made from this, in addition to bailout funding for pharmaceutical companies and additional funding for the CDC, would be the driving force. This one, besides being inconceivably evil, is also illogical, since the virus is a ‘novel one’, never seen before, so how could there be a vaccine? Back to the screengrab, it actually applies to severe respiratory syndrome (SARS, another type of coronavirus from 2002-2003), not COVID-19. I addressed this subject a couple of weeks ago, but it keeps getting virally circulated on social media, so I wanted to address it again here in this new section. A viral video on social media shows a guy who looks like a doctor, although in black scrubs, who is purportedly showing that “Coronavirus” received a US Patent in 2006 for one of the big Pharmas (of course, feeding into the public’s bias against Big Pharma and the conspiracy theory that Big Pharma must be involved and making a huge profit on the pandemic or in cahoots with some government in research on humans of a new weapon in Biowarfare, as if we are simply lab rats) and then, purportedly, showing a European Patent for a “Coronavirus cure” in 2019 (implying that someone or some group has been withholding the cure and letting tens of thousands of people die). No one has been able to verify this information and I have seen some doctors’ interviews where they debunked the entire theory. I personally think that the whole thing is a deliberately intertwined puzzle of non-related facts, and whatever was allegedly patented has been confused with the current Coronavirus, COVID-19. As the alleged doctor in the video says, there is a patent for Coronavirus from 2006. He does not say that there is a patent for COVID-19, which is the particular virus from the ‘family’ of Coronaviruses. You recall that when I first reported on COVID-19 weeks ago, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals. Rarely, do animal coronaviruses infect people and then spread between people (referred to as zoonotic), but those diseases have gained the most media attention and panic over the last couple of decades, including: MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, Swine Flu, H1N1 Bird Flu, and this SARS-CoV-2. The MERS and SARS viruses have their origins in bats, although the transfer of MERS was from dromedary camels and the original SARS via civet cats. It is possible that the Coronavirus that he found in his Internet search, that he believes is patented, was one of the other Coronaviruses, which were around at that time in 2006. It is more likely that his information is false because why would someone use a generic name like Coronavirus for a Patent and not the specific virus name, COVID-19? That would be like getting a patent on a generic 4-wheel driving machine, but not the specific Cadillac. It’s unlikely, if you were trying to protect a formula, that the US Patent Office would grant you a patent for a general subject and not the specific formula. Because of this potential confusion to other Coronaviruses that have come before (a new strain of Bird Flu has just broken out again in China, in fact), I have removed all the instances that I am using the word “Coronavirus” in the Repo Commentary (except here) and swapping in the word “COVID-19”. Let the rest of the media inaccurately use the word “Coronavirus” to continue to incite panic and also confuse people, I will not add to that. Plus, I want to help that small percentage of rednecks that still think this virus has something to do with Corona beer and are boycotting the brewery.
- There is another video making its way virally through social media, accusing the CDC of knowing about COVID-19 as early as mid-November, when it posted job postings on its website to hire quarantine specialists, well ahead of February, which is when the media has reported the CDC knew. There may a small grain of truth to the fact that COVID-19 may have been around during our Flu season, as I mentioned above in the Health Section, but we had no ability to test for it then, and it is unlikely that the CDC deliberately withheld information. The video goes on to say that the CDC was in cahoots with Big Pharma to get them bailout money and the CDC funding, positioning both to save the country from the pandemic.
- COVID-19 originated with Chinese people eating bats from a live market. Because coronaviruses have originated among mammals and crossed over to humans and because the working theory is that COVID-19 originated in a live animal market in Wuhan, China, the public has jumped to the conclusion that some people’s preference for eating bats has put us all at risk. Chick-fil-a restaurants even carried this further and changed their billboards from cows uddering “Eat More Chickin!” to “Eat Less Bats!” This fear has been bolstered by viral videos showing people eating bat soup. The theory has fueled tabloids and animal rights groups as well. It turns out that the odd habit is not that commonplace among China’s 1.3 billion human population. In fact, the habit of eating exotic animals diminished even further after the SARS outbreak. SARS turned out to be transmitted by civet cats and now authorities suggest that COVID-19 was actually transmitted by snakes or pangolins, not bats. Wherever COVID-19 came from, it’s not fair (and actually offensive) to say that the virus is a product of an entire country’s eating habits.
- Dean Koontz (one of my favorite authors) predicted the COVID-19 virus in one of his books in 1981. Some conspiracy theorists revel in digging deep like detectives to find sources of a premonition, similar to the alleged findings in the BIBLE CODE, and the prediction of the unlikely Chicago Cubs’ first World Series win since 1907 in the movie BACK TO THE FUTURE II. So, last month, someone did a screengrab of a passage in Koontz’s 1981 novel “The Eyes of Darkness” in which he appears to allude to the creation of a deadly virus known as Wuhan-400, named after the city in which it originated. Interestingly, Wuhan, did not appear in the first edition of the book. Also, Wuhan-400 allegedly killed 100% of those who contracted it, and created a toxin that ate away brain tissue. There are no real similarities, except the reference to Wuhan.
- The Simpsons predicted the coronavirus. There are screengrabs allegedly showing a “Marge in Chains” episode about an outbreak in 1993 and supposedly a newscaster delivering a report about a “corona virus”. However, that episode actually was focused on “Osaka flu”, which would be Japanese origin, not Chinese origin. And the screengrab is actually “Apocalypse Now” and morbid Photoshopping.
- Hand-dryers are effective at killing COVID-19. This hoax started, ironically, in Chinese social media, saying that using a hand dryer for 30 seconds was a way to ward of COVID-19. The WHO came out and said putting your hands under heat does nothing.
- COVID-19 will go away by Summer. Even the President and other important figures have touted this. Part of the reason is that other coronaviruses and influenza have, in the past, gone away by Summer. Also, it has been shown that the virus does not survive well in warmer temperatures or water. However, there has yet to be any scientific proof that warmer climates and more sun will kill the virus. Some of the top health officials have said recently on the other side of this myth that COVID-19 may not go away and may become an annual seasonal virus. Also, it is hard to justify COVID-19 going away in warmer weather, when Florida has been hard hit by COVID-19 infection and deaths, despite having one of the driest and warmest March’s on record.
- The country is calling out the National Guard to enforce a nationwide quarantine effective in the next 48 hours, which will include micro-chipping all civilians. This conspiracy theory, which I previously reported on, began on 3/16, and was attributed to the President invoking the Stafford Act. The Stafford Act is real and is a disaster relief law passed in 1988, and has been used several times, first probably by President Clinton in 2000 to fight the West Nile virus. It allows the President to direct FEMA’s resources into states and cities for disaster relief, like in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It does not give the President the power to declare a nationwide lockdown. Coincidentally, the state of emergency declared by many state Governors has involved the mobilization of their National Guard for various non-military functions and has seen the movement of military vehicles in response to the disaster that have been misinterpreted, deliberately or not, to imply that there is a government takeover or lockdown of the public. Even though the National Security Council officially debunked this rumor on Twitter, it just won’t die.
- A “miracle” bleach product can cure COVID-19. QAnon infected social media with this insidious and dangerous conspiracy theory, telling people to drink Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), which is a bleach-based product that anti-vaccine folks have been touting for years, as an effective way to ward off various illnesses, like COVID-19. Unfortunately, the ingestion of the product, which contains toxic chemicals, can result in vomiting, intestinal problems, and acute liver failure in large amounts. YouTube has banned the videos promoting use of MMS, but they can still be found across social media.
- COVID-19 is no worse than the common cold or common influenza, per Rush Limbaugh on 2/24. He even showed the statistics of how many more people catch and die from those two illnesses than from COVID-19. Of course, that was before we had done a lot of testing globally and before the spread of the virus had begun to accelerate. He claimed that it was a conspiracy of Trump-haters just trying to use as a media weapon to bring down Trump. Well, COVID-19 is much worse than the flu or the common cold, in its symptoms and its mortality rate of about 2-3%.
- I didn’t realize this one was a ‘myth’ and I had to remove it from the Health News Section as a possible sign of COVID-19: If you can’t hold your breath for 10 seconds without coughing, then you have COVID-19. This self-check COVID-19 “test” was circulated on social media in early March. It included another ‘myth’ that you should drink water every 15 minutes to flush COVID-19 down your throat into your stomach where it would be killed by your ample stomach acid. I actually saw both of these ‘myths’ broadcast locally on NBC News and in a segment from Dr. Oz. These myths are difficult to rid, because they are extrapolations of actually true statements. Yes, COVID-19 seems to move towards fibrosis of the lungs and/or pneumonia, in some severe cases, which could then require treatment with a ventilator. So, it would likely be hard to hold your breath, if you were suffering such acute symptoms. However, it is not a sign that you HAVE COVID-19 if you can’t hold your breath without coughing. It is also true that if you had COVID-19 virus in your mouth, that rinsing it out with water and swallowing would send the virus into your stomach, where it would be killed by your stomach acid. But, there is no proof that if you wash your mouth out with water every 15 minutes, you will reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Here is another one that I didn’t know was a “myth” and I had to take out of my Health News Section: Regularly taking Vitamin C will help you ward off COVID-19. One viral social media post even describes a “quarantini” made up of Emergen-C packet mixed with gin. This is all based on the belief that vitamin C can combat the common cold and that it boosts your immune system. While these are beliefs that have then been extrapolated to COVID-19, there is actually no scientific evidence that taking vitamin C treats or prevents cold and flu. It doesn’t do any harm and it may help immune systems, although there is still no proof. Dr. Oz did say it can’t hurt and pointed to some vague evidence of this and other doctors’ belief. He also said the same thing about Zinc at the onset of flu or cold. I am taking Emergen-C and Zicam (because they ran out of Cold-EEze), since it won’t harm me. By the way, Emergen-C immediately disavowed the Quarantini post.
- Frequencies of vibration allegedly had become too low in a geopathic sense. Okay, I do not totally understand this one, but I’ll give it a go (with some help from an unusual friend). We became too entrenched in low geopathic places, such as subways, electric vehicles, malls, office buildings, bars and restaurants, prisons, and ironically hospitals. The Schumann Resonance Index reading in those places is usually below 20. Also, feelings, stimulus, and emotions apparently also Lower your vibrations. SARS-CoV2, according to “Scientists in Europe”, like any virus, thrives in a LOW vibration, “closed electromagnetic circuit structure” with a resonance in the range of 5.5-14.5 Hertz, and it cannot survive in environments which carry a reading of 25.6 Hertz or higher. So, you must avoid things that bring down your vibes, literally, such as worry, stress, fatigue, emotional breakdowns, etc. Okay, I sort of understood that, I guess, whether I believe in it or not. But, this part is a little too Twilight Zone for me: apparently those Schumann readings for planet Earth have been rising steadily for decades, as our Solar System moves along our orbit around Sagittarius B, the Supermassive Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, our 230 million year cycle, along with the Procession of the Equinox and our other orbits, as per the new 25,800 super cycle that measures our movement around Alcyone in conjunction with the Seven Sister Solar Systems, and more specifically the new 2,150-year cycle, our shift out of the low frequency Pisces constellation, and into the high-vibe Aquarius constellation (from which the name “Age of Aquarius” is derived) and our push deeper into the highly charged Photon Belt. So, with the readings now spiking to increasing new record highs, measured at its peaks as high as 110 Hertz, up from the (then) record highs set in 2017 at 40 Hertz, putting it all together, you are safest when OUTDOORS, which would ostensibly kill the virus. I think I’m going to go check my chakra, if I can find it.
- Nancy Pelosi is holding back. I had to hunt for this conspiracy theory. It is in reference to her leadership role in Congress and accusations that she is “holding back” COVID-19 funding (the initial $8.3 billion which became law on 3/6/20), so that Democrats could run negative ads about 7 “vulnerable” Republicans that made the latter look bad. Snopes.com, my favorite fact checker, says this is FALSE. Pelosi simply had no bill yet, since it was in negotiations between both parties, to present to the House floor and she doesn’t chair the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or run its ad campaigns.
- 5G Network is causing symptoms of radiation sickness, which are identical to the symptoms of COVID-19 and the cure is an oil that the utilities are withholding, except for their own employees who get sick running fiber optic lines.
- Schiff, after failing with the Impeachment, the Ukrainian meddling, and Russian meddling, is now calling on a commission similar to 9/11 Commission to see if the Administration did anything wrong in the response to the pandemic. He is being ridiculed as trying to pull another media relations stunt.
- Of course, COVID-19 is now traced back to the ultimate, longest-standing conspiracy theory, the Illuminati. As told in the wildly popular 3 novels (and Tom Hanks’ movies) by Dan Brown, the Illuminati have been around before and included the Knights of the Templar, and have been a pseudo-religious and powerful secret faction of the world’s most intelligent, influential, wealthy, connected people, who have allegedly been behind much of the greatest achievements and turning points in human history. There are offshoot conspiracy theories to the Illuminati including the Priory of Sion and the Holy Grail. Obviously, I’ve looked into the Illuminati quite a bit, when the Dan Brown books came out, fascinated by the stories, but there has been little proof behind them, and I really don’t see the connection to COVID-19, except that it the Illuminati is one of the world’s most popular myths (even more so than the Loch Ness Monster or ancient astronauts, Chariots of the Gods), both of which I did papers on in college.
I am keeping the last paragraph on Sweden’s unique response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for those who didn’t read it yet, although it was in the last Repo Commentary. The rest of this section is recent news.
A mass shooting in Nova Scotia, Canada, left at least 19 people dead, on Saturday. The suspect, who was dressed as a police officer was shot and killed. It was the worst mass killing in the history of Canada. In the South Korean election, the ruling Democratic Party and their allies increased their majority in the National Assembly. A 99-year-old man, Captain Tom Moore, began a quest to raise GBP 1,000 for the UK’s National Health Service, in its fight against COVID-19, by walking laps in his backyard. To date, he has raised GBP 20,000,000! And so it begins…Germany has sent China an invoice for GBV 130 billion for “Coronavirus Damages”, which has sparked outrage in Beijing. I don’t think that’s the last invoice that well be sent. The Atlantic is hailing New Zealand’s PM Lucinda Ardern for her leadership style, focused on empathy, and praising her as the most effective leader on the planet. They compare her informal social media chats with her people, sharing the same issues during the COVID-19 lockdown, to German Chancellor Merke’s embrace of science, Brazilian President Bolsonaro’s rejection of science, US President Trump’s daily contradicting briefings and bullying of reporters, and Indian PM Modi’s zero regular briefings during lockdown of the country. Her people apparently feel that Ardern “doesn’t preach at them; she’s standing with them.” That leads to the recent poll by Colmar Brunton which found that 88% of New Zealanders trusted the government to make the right decisions. However, as others point out, crisis decision making is very different from strategic decision making.
I read a thought-provoking article in the National Review, “Has Sweden Found the Right Solution to the Coronavirus,” written by a man who has collaborated with the Swedish Institute for Health Economics for nearly 40 years. I don’t normally read the National Review, but somebody sent me this article and I found it really interesting. Sweden, unlike the other 165 countries touched by the pandemic, has chosen so far to avoid isolation and economic ruin, during the pandemic. They may wind up proving the other countries wrong in their social-distancing controls, Draconian measures, removal of all citizens’ rights, and demolition of those nations’ and the global economies. Many of those countries have tried to discredit Sweden’s approach, including President Trump recently, saying that it is a ‘mass experiment’, when actually what other countries, like the US, are doing is a real ‘mass experiment’, having “taken political, illiberal, and unconsidered actions” that are not justified by the facts. No one knows if social distancing actually works, and do they work for COVID-19, in particular? And when to those social-isolation controls need to be implemented, at the outset, or a month or two later? It is the first time that we have actually quarantined HEALTHY people, rather than quarantining the sick and vulnerable (like with leprosy, tuberculosis, plague, etc.) And we have done it without proof or actual evidence to 1.5 billion people, yet we need ‘proof beyond a reasonable doubt’ to convict a person and throw them in jail. Plus, the burdensome lockdown our governments have imposed has no end in sight and nothing to prevent being re-imposed at the whim of health or or political officials. Sweden is taking calibrated precautions and isolating only the most vulnerable of its population, the elderly and the immune system compromised, rather than imposing a full lockdown. Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited and high schools and colleges are closed. But, Sweden is keeping its borders open, as well as bars, restaurants, parks, stores, preschools, and grade schools. They are focused on ‘flattening the curve’ in the fastest and safest way, they say, by allowing young people to mix normally, build up herd immunity, which will eventually protect the frail and sick, who currently are being isolated. Unlike a lockdown, you don’t “tire the system out”, you can practice their method for a long time. You can’t keep a lockdown going for months though. Also, unemployed people can be a greater threat to the public health. By the numbers, so far, Sweden’s population of 10.1 million people, using these far less austere measures, has had 401 COVID-19 deaths (40 deaths/million population), most of Sweden’s ICU cases today are elderly, and 77% have underlying conditions. Plus, the admissions to ICU in the country are flat or declining, and there hasn’t been a single pediatric ICU case or death in Sweden. The young people have spread the virus, mostly asymptomatically, as happens in a normal flu season, and causes them to generate protective antibodies and develop a herd immunity to the virus, which then protects the frail and sick. In fact, the current COVID-19 death rate is Sweden (40/1 million), is half the Swedish death rate during a normal flu season. Contrast this to Switzerland, who has implemented strict social isolation and has 8.5 million people (similar to Sweden), but has had 715 deaths from COVID-19, for a death rate of nearly double the number in Sweden. Norway, with a population of 5.4 million and a 1,000-mile open border with Sweden, has substantially higher rate of COVID-19 ICU admissions than Sweden, despite much harsher measures. And, here is the big difference in Sweden versus the US: the Swedish government estimates that the virus will cause a 4% decrease in the Swedish economy (mostly due to global economic shutdowns impacting its trade), while the Federal Reserve recently forecast that the US Unemployment Rate could go to 32%. I don’t know what to think, but the idea that humans have been coping with new viruses for many generations is thought-provoking. Since I started writing this, a study is now being conducted with 3,500 people in San Francisco to determine whether they have antibodies for COVID-19, which would indicate both the timing of when COVID-19 actually appeared in the US (some scientists are thinking that it could have been misdiagnosed as Flu during the influenza season in Q4 2019) and how herd immunity has been progressing since.
Here again, in this section, the most recent news is highlighted in RED.
Florida has just surpassed 24,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as of Friday 4/17. The number of deaths is near 700. The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, continues to try to protect Florida from the influx of visitors from states that are more impacted by COVID-19. Florida is still “a few weeks out” from peaking, so re-opening will likely be later than other states. Re-opening will likely be based on concentration of population. The Governor is still ordering everyone to ‘shelter in place’ except for going to the below-mentioned ‘essential businesses’. The Governor has considering reopening some schools. Florida is no different than other states or the counties in those states in the disparity of their rules and efforts against COVID-19. Florida is also lagging behind 20 other states in COVID-19 testing. Although Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Miami-Dade County all closed private and public golf courses a couple of weeks ago, Martin County reaffirmed on Thursday that it would leave both public and private golf courses open, but limit play on public courses to Martin County residents. All 4 counties’ beaches are closed. Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, announced Friday morning that it would reopen beaches for ‘essential activities’ on 4/17 at 5pm. These activities do NOT include sunbathing or gatherings of 50 or more people, but do include swimming, fishing, walking, surfing, and running, as long as people adhere to social distancing guidelines. Obviously, this is counter to the President’s Plan to Reopen, because the suggested criteria of that Plan have not been met. This was very controversial here in Florida, and many people feared people would not practice social distancing and that many people would come from other states where beaches are not open. Well, the latter did happen, but there was an odd silver lining. Apparently, an accused Pennsylvania murder suspect was captured by police on Jacksonville Beach, taking advantage of the newly opened beach to catch some rays. Boat ramps in Port St. Lucie re-opened on Friday, 4/17, after being closed for 3 weeks. Bike shops in Florida are reporting “crazier than Christmas” uptick in sales and repairs. Palm Beach County’s City Council meets Tuesday, 4/21, to decide whether to open up PB County beaches, parks, and private golf courses. Starting on 4/20, Publix is now requiring all employees to wear face coverings. I and my Harmony Group, Generation Gap, is actually performing a charity concert this Saturday, 4/25, at Double Roads Tavern in Jupiter, FL from 4-6pm, while practicing social distancing for people from the hospitality and entertainment industries in the parking lot, who are there to receive free food from the restaurant’s owner, Vince Flora.
Palm Beach County authorities closed down all “non-essential” businesses two weeks ago, urging people to stay at home. It probably would have been easier and shorter to just list the “non-essential” (also known as ‘fun’) businesses that they were closing (realtors, bars, churches, retail stores, clothing stores, golf courses, gyms and fitness centers, bowling alleys, theaters, beaches, parks, amusement parks, and strip clubs.) They specifically designated “essential” businesses (allowed to be Open) as the following:
- Doctors’ offices
- Dentists’ offices
- Urgent care centers
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Physical therapists
- Mental health professionals
- Research and laboratory services
- Blood banks
- Medical cannabis facilities
- Medical equipment facilities
- Healthcare manufacturers and suppliers
- Reproductive healthcare service providers
- Substance abuse providers
- Medical transport services
- Grocery stores
- Farmers markets
- Farm and produce stands
- Food banks
- Convenience stores
- Liquor stores*
- Businesses engaged in food cultivation (farming, livestock, fishing, etc.)
- Businesses that provide food, shelter, social services, and necessities of life for needy individuals
- Television stations
- Radio stations
- Media services
- Gas stations
- Automobile dealerships
- Auto-supply stores
- Auto-repair facilities
- Financial institutions
- Insurance firms
- Pawn shops
- Hardware stores
- Gardening stores
- Building material stores
- Contractors and other trades
- Building management
- Home Security Firms
- Fire and Water Damage Restoration
- Public adjusters
- Appliance repair personnel
- Mailing businesses
- Shipping services
- Private colleges to provide distance learning
- Trade schools to provide distance learning
- Technical colleges to provide distance learning
- University, College or Technical College residence halls for students who cannot return to their homes
- Dry cleaners
- Laundry service providers
- Restaurants for take-out only*
- Schools and other entities to provide free food pickup
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing Homes
- Adult day care centers
- Businesses providing professional legal or accounting services
- Landscape companies
- Pool care businesses
- Childcare facilities
- Logistics providers
- Trucking consolidators
- Telecommunication providers
- Propane and natural gas services
- Open construction sites
- Architectural firms
- Engineering firms
- Land surveying firms
- Manufacturing facilities
- Bottling plants
- Industrial distribution
- Supply chain facilities
- Waste management services
- Commercial lodging establishments
- Temporary vacation rentals
- Pet boarding facilities
- Funeral homes
- Funeral product suppliers
- Firearm and ammunition supply stores
- Any businesses providing services to government
- Electrical production and distribution services
- Moving, storage, and relocation services
- Personal grooming services: hair salons and nail salons?
- Religious services
- Natural gas, water, electric utilities and cable service providers
I am usually singing a National Anthem, singing in my 6-part harmony group Generation Gap, and/or doing an Elvis Presley gig, each week here in Palm Beach County, FL. I had many gigs in November and December, quieted down in January, but had picked up again with private gigs and 6 MLB Spring Training games. However, that all came to a halt when MLB CANCELLED Spring Training and Florida authorities limited gatherings to less than 50, particularly for events and restaurants, then closed the restaurants, except for Delivery and Takeout. We are actually in constant touch with party planners, hotels, and restaurant owners, who are planning to hire us as soon as they reopen, some guessing that that will be in June or July. If you were inclined to see much more famous bands or solos in concert than my Generation Gap or Elvis Presley performances, there were many acts which came to Florida in 2019, and these were scheduled for for 2020 (below), although that all changed with COVID-19. A public service announcement about the outdoor amphitheater in West Palm Beach (currently adjacent to the South Florida Fair), it has been very confusing with all the name changes, and it has happened again. It was originally called the Coral Sky Amphitheater, then was changed to the Cruzan Rum Amphitheater, then to Perfekt Vodka Amphitheater, then back to Coral Sky Amphitheater, and was changed again to iThink Financial Services Amphitheater. None of the names have been particularly catchy and all those changes occurred only in the last 11 years! Because of the pandemic, some events, such as fairs and boat shows in Florida have been cancelled or postponed. So, please check ahead of time to see if the concert you are going to is still being held.
SOUTH FLORIDA 2020 SCHEDULE (next 2 months):
Celine Dion-Miami, January 17
Queensryche-Fort Lauderdale, January 17
Brian Wilson-Miami, January 17
Mary Wilson-Bonita Springs, January 19
Starship-West Palm Beach, January 22
Steve Martin & Martin Short-Hollywood, January 25
Guns N Roses-Miami, January 31
Jason Aldean,Riley Green,Morgan Wallen-Orlando, January 31
Maroon 5-Miami, February 1
Zac Brown Band-Sunrise, February 1
Styx-Port St. Lucie, February 1
Andrea Bocelli-Miami, February 11
Kool and the Gang & Village People-Key West, February 21
John Fogarty-Fort Lauderdale, February 22
Paul Anka-West Palm Beach, March 13
Harry Connick Jr.-Fort Lauderdale, March 18
Cher-Miami, March 24
America-Fort Lauderdale, March 24
YES and Alan Parsons Project-Fort Lauderdale, March 25
Little River Band-Fort Lauderdale, March 26
The Who-Fort Lauderdale, April 21
Elton John-Miami, May 30
Def Leppard and Motley Crue, Miami Gardens, July 7
Nickelback-West Palm Beach, August 15
Foreigner, Kansas, and Europe-West Palm Beach, September 6