Sorry To Say, Travel Isn’t Rebounding As Quickly As Some Think

The TSA reported a low of 87,534 people passing through airport security checkpoints on April 14. That’s compared to 2.2 million the previous year.

Since then we’ve seen a bounce off of the bottom, and consistent growth. Some people thought that 340,000 people in a day over Memorial Day would represent a high, and indeed travel numbers dipped after that, but then started climbing. We saw 419,675 people through checkpoints on June 5; 441,225 on June 7; 430,414 on June 8. We crossed 500,000 passengers on June 11, still only 18% of comparable 2019 travel.

Then traffic dipped again to 338,382 on June 9 and 386,969 on June 10. There are still peak days of the week to travel, just like there were before the pandemic. Fridays and Sundays are still big travel days. Wednesdays are still slow.

Seeing the bounce off the bottom has led to a great deal of optimism – too much optimism – about how quickly travel will return.

The Case For A Quick Snap Back

Consultant Mike Boyd is doing a victory lap over his projection that travel would rebound quickly. He targeted 85% recovery in air passenger travel by the end of 2020, and says now that may have been ‘conservative’. He’s massively overstating his case.

For The Cassandras, Read’em And Weep. The indicators now are all very strong. We have seen Frontier adding new markets, Allegiant taking back airliners from the desert, American noting they will be back to 55% of pre-CCP-COVID capacity. We see Delta’s July schedule filings indicating a 70% increase in departures over June, and 146% more ASMs. Spirit is restoring capacity, also.

The fact is that the economy is coming back, and it is taking air transportation demand along with it.

American’s current domestic schedule for July is back to 55% of last year’s levels, overall they’re just at 40%. This tells us that some airlines are projecting to be able to pick up more passengers. American and Southwest were ahead of the curve here (taking advantage of the fact that Delta and United were being more conservative).

Allegiant’s numbers are too small to matter. Allegiant also is an all-leisure model with very little exposure to markets that had been heaviest hit by the virus early on.

And so far the single biggest air travel day was only 16.5% the number of people clearing security as in 2019.

We can play games and say that there’s been 400% growth in air travel in two months, and at that pace we’ll be back to 70% demand in mid-August, and we’ll have three times the size of an airline industry that we did before the pandemic in October! Of course that’s not how this works.

Business Travel Won’t Return This Year

Summer is traditionally peak travel season, with the greatest number of passengers. Come the fall we see business travel picking up the slack. But business travel will be slow to return.

  1. Companies are reticent to push employees back onto the road.

  2. Companies suffering in the economy find travel budgets an easy place to cut as they try to rebuild their balance sheets.

  3. Some trips do get replaced by online meetings. Not all, of course, but with the significant push three months ago towards work from home people were forced to incur the transaction costs to get acclimated to remote work. Indeed, many offices will continue remote work to some extent which means employees won’t be visiting headquarters or satellite offices, either.

  4. Conferences and conventions won’t return in person right away either. Gatherings of hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands of people are exactly the events that will be avoided due to the virus. These events are planned years in advance, and have value mostly based on who else will be there so people won’t want to return until other people return. The coordination challenge involved will mean this segment returns last.

  5. Until offices are back at full capacity, and taking visitors, business travelers aren’t going to visit clients or prospects there either.

How Travel Opens Up And Recovers Has Too Many Unknowns Based on Spread Of The Virus

Overall how travel recovers will depend on developments with the economy and the virus. And while new cases have plateaued in the U.S. at the moment they aren’t falling.

  • At one point it seemed like the whole country could experience the virus the way New York did, and that hasn’t happened.

  • New York is recovering, and probably reached something close to herd immunity – which seems like it triggers at far less than a 60% infection rate. Super spreaders tend to get the virus first, some people are naturally immune (this may correlate with blood type), and others may retain some immunity from prior viral infections. What happens to New York though a year from now as temporary immunity subsides?

  • Domestic leisure destinations have seem some of the recovery traffic, American Airlines touted itself as the biggest airline to Florida in July with growth also in Gulf markets. But Florida and Texas, along with states like Arizona, are seeing new growth in virus cases and also in hospitalizations. While there’s reason to believe in seasonality, when people retreat indoors from the heat into air conditioning that’s ripe for spread too.

  • The best hope is that everything we’ve learned about the virus so far has improved patient treatments, which helps with better patient outcomes. And we’re not doing truly stupid stuff anymore, like New York ordering nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients being discharged from hospitals. That’s a bridge to treatments on the horizon. Right now remdesivir is in short supply, and works best on patients early, but is just being given to the worst cases. We’ll soon have other treatments, not just repurposed drugs but new antibody treatments developed from the blood plasma of recovered patients. We won’t have enough of it, but it too will help us manage through to the point where there’s a vaccine (assuming there is one).

  • We won’t shut down whole economies again, but the biggest challenge to more targeted policies is lack of good data on how the virus is really spreading – not just number of cases, but where those cases are coming from. In my home city many were showing up at construction sites (where non-employee undocumented workers, who can’t get unemployment or sick leave, were showing up to work sick). Knowing whether cases are coming from prisons, nursing homes, or people going out to bars gives us data on how to control spread.

So does the virus continue with a slow burn, or mini-fires – as it rushes into places that had previously been spared – dragging out the pandemic here in the U.S.? That will harm airline recovery.

And it isn’t just U.S. spread that matters. There are issues of countries that keep their borders closed, out of fear of bringing the virus back in, and countries that are effectively closed to visitors right now because of prevalence of spread.

It isn’t just Brazil, Russia and India. Did you know that Qatar has per capita confirmed spread four times the rate of the U.S.? They’ve had very few deaths, which I presume is because the virus has spread predominantly through their guest worker communities which skew much younger.

Even If Travel Snaps Back, It Only Does So Part Way

Boyd writes, “One of the usual suspects is claiming it will take three or four years to get back to 2019 levels. It’s what happens when consultants rely on “models” instead of having a grasp of industry trends.”

However even if we take his claim at face value that travel returns 85% by end of 2020, at 6% annualized growth after that it’s still… 2023 before travel gets back to 2019 levels. And by the way you’ve lost out on the growth that would likely have happened without the virus.

Meanwhile it’s easy to conflate the effects of the virus and the economy but the U.S. economy is in a very deep recession. Just for order of magnitude and not suggesting that the numbers themselves are correct, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow forecast for June 9:

The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the second quarter of 2020 is -48.5 percent on June 9, up from -53.8 percent on June 4.

Ultimately once the effect of the virus trails off dragging down air travel, aviation growth tends to mirror the economy. How quickly air travel returns is both caused by, and in part determined by, growth in travel (especially business travel). I’ve been pessimistic about a ‘v-shaped recovery’ hope from the start though we’ve fallen far enough that initial growth numbers will look impressive. But I believe it will be some time before the economy returns to its previous trajectory.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “Companies are reticent to push employees back onto the road.”

    For me it is less about this – I’m ready to travel to most places now and my employer would let me – than it is about my customers being willing to accept visitors. Most office buildings have temperature checks and mask requirements at a minimum, but they also severely limit guests. Mostly limited to people making deliveries or doing maintenance work. Unless I’m called in to help fix something on a late government/military order, I don’t think I’m getting back on the road until Nov/Dec at the earliest?

    There is a small-ish (~500 people) trade show in Santa Clara in September that is pushing ahead full steam…but I imagine any resurgence in Silicon Valley area and they’ll be on the chopping block for sure.

  2. Loss of OPM flying will hurt the airlines most.
    And its about time there was a significant shift there. There has never been an actual need for most work-related trips.

  3. “New York is recovering, and probably reached something close to herd immunity – which seems like it triggers at far less than a 60% infection rate. Super spreaders tend to get the virus first, some people are naturally immune (this may correlate with blood type), and others may retain some immunity from prior viral infections. What happens to New York though a year from now as temporary immunity subsides?”

    Where did you get this information? Do you even know how herd immunity work? I have no idea what you mean by “something close to herd immunity.” What do you mean by “Super spreaders tend to get the virus first?” I’m afraid this whole paragraph is pure nonsense, except for, maybe the first 4 words.

  4. I would side with Mike on this, with a few notes:.

    Pluses
    a) Our own business, our recovery hasn’t been V shaped… it’s been VERTICAL.
    We’ve recovered all of the entire year, and we’re ahead of 2019. And we’ve hired two more staff in June. It’s as busy as it’s been in 15 years, just crazy.

    Minuses
    a) Fear – I’ve never seen the level of fear in the public that I see now. Normal, reasonable people, are still nervous about getting on planes. This is not logical, this is FEAR.
    The media has done an amazing job of scaring the bejeezus out of the world.

    I think we’ll get to 75% recovery this year, but, those last 25% will be a BEAR…. people are shell shocked after watching the news for 3 months. It’s just pure, primal fear.

    b) Business travel is going to be in the toilet for years. But, not for the reasons people think.
    Go back to point a). Fear.

    Businesses want to cover their rears, and no big public company wants to be the first to ‘put their employees in harms way’ Who needs THAT publicity?


    So, it’s a game of chicken.
    Companies will always need to travel, and have people on the road. No matter how many Zoom meetings… as the world economy grows, more total number of people will travel.

    We now wait for the big P&Gs, Amazon, Nikes to get back to buying business class seats and last minute fares.
    THAT is what we need to get back to 90-95% of *revenue* for airlines. Not just Butts in Seats.

    Back at the airport today, flying out now. Anyone who is traveling, is realizing it’s fun and lovely.
    It’s the people still at home that are trying to convince their friends the world is such a scary place that I worry about…

  5. Ive been traveling as ‘essential’ throughout and I have noticed a significantly more people in hub airports

  6. @George – Amazon doesnt buy biz class seats for their employees. Their employees have to travel as cheaply as possible. Certain consulting firms and banks, sure. But not Amazon. They’re cheap for a reason.

  7. NYC won’t hit herd immunity because every one was locked up. You need contact and infection (see Sweden) to create herd immunity. NYC is going to see a huge spike in 3-4 week (just like TX, FL and AZ have) and they will have fight thought it. If EVERYONE, washes up, wears a mask and social distance as much as possible, it will slow but until a high percentage gets infected or a vaccine is available we are going to need to change behaviors.

    BTW. . .Mike Boyd is usually right, but I do feel he over estimated the comeback. AA and SWA have more flights because they have an actual domestic network and fleet that is not built only to feed international traffic like UA and DL.

  8. @Naoyuki –

    Herd immunity is a function of the reproduction rate of the virus. Measles has such a high reproduction rate that you don’t get herd immunity unless 92-95%+ of the population is immune. For a virus with a reproduction rate below 2, the threshold may be 50% or less. We don’t know enough yet to know the true R0…we have guesses or ranges that are possible…but still uncertain.

  9. I agree it’s hard to get my hands around an 85% recovery by year end, first one has to get those airplanes back in the air, in order to do that you need something simply like demand, hard reservations, pilots refreshed in simulators, cabin crew, maintenance etc. Conventions from what I am hearing from various staff and others in my industry there proliferation of conferences and conventions is over, period. Best guess 50% reduction, thats a lot of potential airline seat demand gone, hotel room demand gone.

    Other posters are correct they want to travel but clients don’t want to see you and it will be while before they do. The question is “can we do this via Zoom? ” and the answer is correct we can.

    Hawaii is also slowing down airline recovery not that I can blame the governor its a small island and one or two visitors with the virus can reap havoc.

  10. There is not a single major airline, hotel, or car rental CEO that I’m aware of who is on record saying they expect to achieve 2019 levels of revenue and profit before 2023. Based on history, 2023 is actually very optimistic. After the 2001 recession/terrorist attacks, it wasn’t until 2007 before most U.S. airlines touched their prior revenue levels. After the 2008-09 downturn, it also took 5-6 years for most large travel companies to return to previous high water marks. It all depends on what one means by “recover”. Will significant travel resume in 2020? Sure. Will many travel companies be in a position to make profits in 2021? I think so. For many large travel companies, 2019 was their best-ever year. We are unlikely to see those performances exceeded for several years. Of course there will be exceptions. But those exceptions will mostly be smaller, younger companies. The travel industry, as a whole, has a very deep whole to climb out of.

  11. IMHO, it’s a matter of convincing the public that it’s safe to travel. That will come once there is a vaccine. Already everyone I speak with has a pent-up demand for travel and is just chomping at the bit to get back “out”. Witnesses all the bookings for 2021 Cruise vacations, which is at an all-time high.

    The public is assuming that a vaccine will be coming out, and sooner rather than later. UK media has discussed AstraZeneca’s vaccine that is going into phase 3 trials, and the AZ factory in India is already producing the vaccine that is being trialed, because the assumption is that this vaccine is going to work. This is the Oxford vaccine. It says that 400 million doses are already allocated; 100,000,000 to be dispersed in the UK in September/early October, and the remaining 300,000,000 million vaccine doses are allocated to be dispersed in the US at that same time. If this should happen, then I see a huge demand for travel starting in Thanksgiving holidays and onwards.

  12. As much as I agree with most of the article unless you have sources please don’t post anything about a herd community. Like someone said, total made up nonsense.

  13. @Kye – I absolutely have sources on all of this, and I frame it speculatively rather than with certainty but it the combination of various factors – pre-existing immunity and cross-immunity, early infection of the highest spreaders, and infections does seem to achieve a level of herd immunity at much lower levels than some epidemiologists assumed with models that suggested (1) everyone was at risk of contracting the virus, (2) everyone was at equal risk, and (3) everyone spread the virus equally.

    More recent models have taken super spreaders into account though it’s only the most recent research that’s suggested some cross-viral immunity, and heterogeneity based on a variety of factors including blood type and whether someone smokes to name just a couple.

  14. Congrats, Gary — you’ve now written two bizarrely foolish “airline industry analyses” in one month. First was arguing the CARES Act was a failure the day before the stock market decided it was a spectacular success. And today you decide to write “Sorry To Say, Travel Isn’t Rebounding As Quickly As Some Think”? On the day where another massive week-over-week increase in TSA enplanements took the industry over 500K for the first time since March 21. What the heck? Is adding 100K enplanements a day from the prior week’s total not a good enough rebound for you? And this is as we head into summer when the numbers will certainly rocket higher. We will easily see 1 million enplanements sometime next month. That’s an AMAZING recovery, especially given the irrational media fear regarding the virus. The only place the rebound is lagging is on int’l travel due to closed borders. When they open, we’ll see several hundred thousand more enplanements added to the totals. Mike Boyd knows what he’s talking about. And we can all follow the gains in real time on the TSA website to confirm this.

  15. Mike Boyd is also the guy who predicted Denver International Airport would fail and need a bailout…… I dont think air travel going to 85% until Dec 2021.

  16. I will remain on the ground until the muzzle requirement is limited, which, given the cowardice of the vast majority, means it may be years before I fly again–if ever. As for the muzzles, they’re ineffective and pose serious danger with regular, day-in, day-out use. https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/06/jon-rappoport/to-citizens-wearing-medical-masks-youre-whacko-conspiracy-theorists/
    Much more information backing this up is widely available. That companies’ leadership, including the airlines, force this on their employees is, IMO, negligent ignorance. The average age of those who have succumbed to this virus–if we’re to believe the faulty tests and fudged death certificates–in my state? 82. Forgive me, but people that age do not engage in commerce. To shut down the means by which people sustain life–businesses and the economy–over the possibility of getting a virus that the vast majority recovers from?? I am beyond ashamed and disappointed in the cowardice, servility, and mind-numbing incorrigibility of the vast majority of people in this country who have gone along with this. Truly disheartening–and frightening in its implications.

  17. @chopsticks – your claim that the CARES Act was a success is what, exactly? It was meant to bridge airline payrolls so that travel would fully recover and no one would lose their jobs, but all of the major airlines are shedding jobs. It’s just delaying that process. [And CARES Act subsidized loans haven’t even been awarded yet, and many airlines say they don’t need them.] A jump up in airline share prices, which are still WAY off pre-pandemic levels, says what about the CARES Act? It’s not obvious there’s any relation, other than that if you pump up to $58 billion into airlines that benefits equity holders, as I said from the start.

    And you’re impressed by the most recent numbers? I give the numbers at the top of the piece. I’m suggesting that getting to ~ 18% of last year doesn’t suggest a quick snap back to 2019 levels. Why do you think that it does?

  18. @Kathleen –

    I’m a libertarian who agrees with more on LewRockwell.com than most of the general population, but Jon Rappaport doesn’t know what he’s talking about:

    “And finally, I have a lone report about a person from the region of Piedmont, Italy, who checked out his medical mask, which he’d received in the mail from the Department of Civil Protection. He discovered it contained zinc pyrithione.

    If true, this is ominous. Consulting a simple safety data sheet on the chemical, from Cayman Chemical, I found a succinct statement: ‘Toxic if inhaled.'”

    This is the same tactic that the “no chemicals” crowd uses to claim that “Ewwww…Subway uses the same CHEMICAL [azodicarbonamide] in their bread that is used to make yoga mats!” The implication being that you are basically eating a yoga mat when you chow down on your $5 footlong. When in reality all the chemical does is act as a dough conditioner to produce CO2 and make your bread/yoga mat more “bubbly”. It’s harmless.

    Back to the masks…same with zinc pyrithione. In the form it exists in a mask, it cannot be inhaled. Sure, don’t stand over a vat of it at the Cayman Chemical factory. But this chemical is actually used to treat contact dermatitis (why it’s in the mask in the first place) and is an anti-fungal for things like Tinactin (athlete’s foot) or treating dandruff (Selsun Blue shampoo).

    Also thanks for calling it a muzzle so we can clearly realize you’re not willing to talk about it objectively.

  19. @Steve, do the referenced links that Jon includes matter in your assessment of his article’s assertions? As for calling them muzzles, it’s my “preferred pronoun”. :):) That is what they do, Steve, along with inhibiting oxygen intake and exhalation of CO@ while serving no purpose if one is healthy, except acknowledging submission.

    Do you have a link for your assertion re the safety of zinc pyrithione within the muzzles–I mean,
    masks?

    Of course, we could argue these points all day long, Steve, but I view this government and media created debacle in its entirety. Through fear and ignorance, we have permitted the destruction of the economy and so much more. This will go down as one of the greatest man-made catastrophes in history–to the applause of the herd that cheered its own corralling by known power-hungry, lying freaks in government, academia, and media.

  20. @Shacker, crushing the economy, destroying lives and livelihoods, death projections so egregiously inaccurate they had to be modified twice by the guy promulgating them, Neil Ferguson, who has shown his incompetence on at least two prior occasions, forced medical interventions for everyone–which is what wearing a mask is–fudged death certificates to increase the “covid” death numbers, social distancing based on a 15-year-old’s third place science project, etc., etc.

    All good?

  21. “Through fear and ignorance”

    I don’t get the “ignorance” angle. This is a new virus that we are learning about how it works, and how we react to it is changing constantly because we LEARN NEW THINGS. Changing your mind when you learn new things is not “ignorant”. As you look back on the month of March you can laugh at how stupid we all were but you’re cheating because you’re using new information from May/June.

    But you’re right we’re not going to change each other’s minds in the View From the Wing comment section…so have a good weekend, see you on a plane sometime soon!

  22. @Steve, with witnesses in front of me as the whole economic shutdown B.S. was being discussed–and looking like the nitwits would do it–I stated flat-out this was wrong, that it had to be a cover for something else because it was too stupid to be just…stupid. Since when does the whole freaking world shut down because some people might get a virus and some might need hospitalization and some might succumb?? This had to be a play, an operation…and it is certainly that. As for just one example of the rampant ignorance, it seems the entire world has forgotten it has an immune system, that we’re designed to live here amidst all manner of viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence presented by doctors, epidemiologists, statisticians (John Ioannidis, for one), health writers like Bill Sardi (Lew Rockwell’s site and elsewhere) people continue to act as if this virus is the plague, and I find the fear nauseating. So many afraid of dying they’re willing to participate in the wreckage and deaths from the secondary-effects from this catastrophically idiotic man-made debacle. You’ll see your fellow muzzle-wearers on a plane, Steve, but you will not see me. Not until that idiocy ends. In the meantime, try not to think of what you’re submitting to and agreeing to every time you loop that elastic over your ears.

  23. @Kathleen
    Yep, nothing I trust more than a rant that starts out by calling people names. Mr. Rockwell’s article shows what happens when someone is given a little information and a lot of space to spread disinformation.
    I am not a viral expert, so I trust the experts.
    DJT inspires no one except for his cult-like true-believers and because of him the leash has come off for the nasties to come out.
    I’m happy we make you mad because the great thing about science (as NDT said) you don’t have to believe in it to be true.

  24. @WileyDog.

    It’s fine if you want to label the expression of my outrage as the destruction of lives as a “rant”. That tells me everything I need to know about you.

    We need to be “viral experts” to know whether or not it’s a good idea to shut down the world’s economy? This is the kind of mindset that allows a debacle like this to happen. You apparently lack any compassion at all for the millions and millions who are suffering as a result of this, but I can tell from here you like to congratulate yourself for your “goodness”.

    You don’t make me mad, WileyDog. You choose to believe and leave unquestioned the “experts” who have been shown repeatedly to be wrong. Fine. You have lots and lots and lots of company among the credulous, the obeisant, and the cowardly.

  25. @Kathleen
    We don’t make you mad? Given your scathing response I would hate to see you really angry. My comment about the name-calling was actually referring to Mr. Rockwell, not you.
    In general, the viral experts know what to do in the case of a pandemic. However, every situation and pandemic carries different characteristics and they are obviously still learning about this one.
    Actually, you don’t know me at all. I don’t “choose” to believe anything. I believe what the scientists say. And, yes they are still adjusting their response.
    In a normal flu season that is 8 months long about 50k people die in the USA. We have already lost almost 120k people and we may yet hit the original estimates of 200k dead in half that time because of deniers like you and the denier we have in the White House. And, that’s with masks and social distancing.
    Of course I care about the people out of work. I also care about their lives. People, like you, who IGNORE the facts are, by definition IGNORANT. You are the one who chooses what they believe and is always looking for “confirmation bias”.
    These are the facts whether you “choose” to believe them or not:
    gravity is real
    the earth is spherical
    climate change is happening and is mostly man-made
    evolution is a fact

  26. Kathleen, it truly is sad to hear about a world as dark as the one you reside in, where “ the whole freaking world shut down “ and people thought it was “ a good idea to shut down the world’s economy”. I am blessed that I am not living in that world, but rather one that I can participate in a blog discussion, go out to a choice of restaurants with outdoor dining or go to my local market to pick up what I need to cook dinner after playing golf this morning. I much prefer my world, even with an economy that that is hurting , than your world which sounds very bleak indeed. I am flying again in August, and it will not be a disappointment that you will not be one of my fellow passengers.

  27. The things leisure travelers do for fun – sports events, concerts, festivals, museums, bars, theme parks, etc. – are mostly canceled, closed, or operating in such restrictive ways that make it logical for people to prefer to wait. I could see the visiting relatives flights picking up, but the tourism sector will grow slowly.

  28. @Gary — I suspect you are the only human on the planet who thinks the current rebound in domestic USA travel is slow. I would characterize the improvement as “impressive,” especially since the virus has not been completely defeated. I don’t think there’s a single airline executive who, two months ago, would have believed the current numbers. That’s why there’s a mad scramble to get more planes in the air. BTW, AA is currently winning that battle against DL and UA, as it’s flying a way more robust schedule next month. Of course, DL and UA will catch up in August. As far as the CARES Act goes, nobody can predict the future, but picking the end of September for payroll support looks absolutely brilliant. It’s giving the airlines time to right-size without layoffs. It’s also giving the airlines incentives to fly more this summer, which will greatly help the economy recover. When October comes, we’ll probably see some reduction in personnel, but it may not be involuntary and it probably won’t be very large. The policy, while arguably over-generous to employees, looks like a big winner to me right now. The President and Congress seems to have basically saved the airline industry as we know it. I would think you of all people might think that was good for the country, especially travellers.

  29. Nor should it. The virus is spreading in 19 states. Last thing we need is people in those states moving around to other states and forcing the country back into another shutdown. The economy can’t take another shutdown and the global economy is being shaken because of how reckless parts of the US are being with the virus.

  30. @Kathleen it would be helpful if you told us your last name and the general region you live in so we can keep a watch on the obituaries for that area. Sorry you’re not enjoying 2020 since you seemed determined not to make it to 2021.

  31. @kathleen sounds like she also believes that vaccines cause autizms and that chemikillz are bad.

  32. It’s complete madness.

    I’m a doctor in Australia. Nobody dies of Coronavirus here or in New Zealand whereas Nebraska with 1/15 of our combined population still has more new cases every day than we have had in the last two months.

    And we had it before you. And we are more reliant on air travel than you. And a higher percentage of our population lives in towns and cities than is the case in the USA.

    Our economies and daily activity are largely back to normal due to closing our borders – including state borders – and aggressively policing quarantine, whereas the US and UK allow air travel to endlessly seed the virus.

    It’s really simple: air travel needs to stop and be accompanied by a Vastly Harsher lockdown again to kill the virus that’s already in.

    New Zealand did it and is back to having 40,000 football fans at a match. But as long as failing countries like the USA and UK try to reopen while the virus is still spreading in the community, they will never emerge from this. They will be trapped in a neverending pandemic.

    Premature exit just prolongs the problem.

  33. I’m just curious, have any of the commenters here had covid-19 to the point of being seriously ill?

  34. @Kathleen,
    As a doctor, I must say that your efforts to trivialise this pandemic don’t work.

    You say “this isn’t the Plague”.

    No, it’s not. That only killed 75,000 people in London – this has already killed 120,000 in America and 50,000 in the UK.

    The Great Plague had a mortality rate of 10%. This virus has a mortality rate of 15% in the UK.

    People have watched too many episodes of the X Files and expect half the population to drop down dead. But this pandemic is of such a contagious virus that even with a true mortality rate of around 1% it had to be resisted with a lockdown.

    And look at Australia and New Zealand: lockdown works if you close your borders and ground aviation. And you get back to normal economic activity much quicker.

  35. @ DavidF

    Not everyone wants to live life like that. Should we just consult you, and you only whenever we want to do anything in life?

    I’ll call you, make sure you approve?

    A doctor should understand people are different. Unless you treat every patient the same because it’s easier for you.

    Maybe people would care what people in New Zealand or Australia thought if they mattered at all in the global theater.

    But they don’t.

    No one cares what 4 million people on two islands do. No one cares what people in Australia do.

    The rest of us have to power the world economy you enjoy. So, we’re going to do that while you complain on the Internet.

  36. @Howard
    It’s actually people like you who insist on their “freedom” who are responsible both for the hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths in the USA and UK and the economic carnage.

    As Trevor Noah said, it’s like the freedom to drive a car with no brakes: your freedom is a death sentence for the vulnerable people unlucky enough to live in your community.

    By closing our borders and locking down hard and early countries like Australia and New Zealand didn’t just squash the virus, we got back to a point where economic and all other activity is back to normal – 40,000+ people in a stadium in NZ.

    We don’t wear masks because we don’t need to. We don’t socially distance because there’s no virus in our countries.

    We are the ones with a functioning economy – not you. You are pretending the virus isn’t there while even in places like Nebraska and Tennessee it has killed more people than in our two countries.

    Freedom comes with responsibilities. And during a droplet-transmitted pandemic it is irresponsible and economically destructive for passenger flights to happen at all.

    (And by the way, you don’t “power” our economy. Your country, much as I love it, isn’t even a marginal contributor to the Australian and New Zealand economies. We are independently successful and wealthy, and proud of it.)

  37. https://www.nber.org/papers/w27373#fromrss

    “This paper provides a quick survey of results on the classic SIR model and variants allowing for heterogeneity in contact rates. It notes that calibrating the classic model to data generated by a heterogeneous model can lead to forecasts that are biased in several ways and to understatement of the forecast uncertainty. Among the biases are that we may underestimate how quickly herd immunity might be reached, underestimate differences across regions, and have biased estimates of the impact of endogenous and policy-driven social distancing.”

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