The Covid Nightmare Continues; Biden to Address the Nation
Author: Greg Valliere
September 9, 2021
WITH COVID CASES STILL RISING IN SOME STATES, especially among children, Joe Biden knows that his political fortunes depend on addressing widespread confusion and partisanship over the virus. He has scheduled what his advisers are calling a “major address” at 5 p.m. ET today.
BIDEN WILL URGE MORE VACCINATIONS AND MASK-WEARING, but that still encounters strong resistance in the Southeast U.S. New cases may be leveling off at about 150,000 daily nationwide, but health experts are holding their breath after hundreds of thousands of unmasked young people attended football games last weekend.
ONLY ABOUT 54% OF THE POPULATION in Florida is fully vaccinated, with just 48% fully vaccinated in Texas. Hospitals are at full capacity in the South; nationwide, fatalities are exceeding 1,500 per day. Children now account for about one-quarter of new cases.
THE SIMPLE TRUTH, finally accepted in the financial markets, is that we’re not out of the woods yet on Covid. Medical experts concede that the virus may never be eliminated, just simply simply contained — but even that stark conclusion relies on more vaccinations, which should reduce hospitalizations and fatalities.
EVEN IF THE NUMBERS IMPROVE this fall, there’s persistent uncertainty about school attendance and a renewed reluctance by some Americans to return to work. Economic growth in the second half is shaping up as a disappointment — just as the Federal Reserve considers tapering and fiscal policy encounters turbulence in Congress.
SOME OF THE ECONOMIC WEAKNESS COMES from clogged ports and a shortage of semiconductor chips, which may persist well into 2022. Whatever the reasons, the economy no longer is a political plus for Biden, as the public sees inflation everywhere — a product of runaway federal spending, many voters contend.
BIDEN’S JOB APPROVAL RATINGS have plunged by 10 percentage points since early summer; his declaration of victory over Covid on July 4 was a huge miscalculation, as was the inept evacuation of Afghanistan.
RECENT POLLS SHOW A STUNNING DROP in Biden’s ratings for leadership on Covid, which was a strong suit for him in the spring. Thus today’s address will be crucial; most Americans are confused over booster shots and whether vaccines will become available for those under 12 years old.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, Biden needs to restore confidence, which has slipped badly in the last two months. We have a colleague who preaches that confidence is the ultimate economic stimulus. Conversely, a lack of confidence is a serious headwind.
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