The United States is feeling the pressure of the rapidly-spreading Coronavirus, with major events canceled, stocks tumbling and a President that has chosen political battles over practical solutions.
Facebook became the latest events casualty of the Covid-19 virus this week, when it called off its headline F8 developers’ conference in San Jose, California yesterday. Instead the social media platform will run “locally hosted events, videos and live streamed content.” F8 joins a growing list of events that have postponed or shut down due to the virus, including Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, due to be staged this week.
Other American shows—especially those in the San Francisco Bay Area, which receives high levels of travelers from China, where the Coronavirus originated—are expected to be shuttered throughout the course of the year. Yet Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, one of the calendar’s largest with crowds of over 30,000, will go ahead next month, organizers have vowed.
But there may be far more lasting economic effects of the outbreak. As it continues to wreck supply chains, consumer demand and travel, Covid-19 has torn through American stock markets. Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 4.4%, the largest one-day drop in its history.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs yesterday slashed its growth forecast for US companies to nil. A “severe decline in Chinese economic activity in the first quarter,” a spokesperson for the bank told Bloomberg, will cause American industry—tech included—to tank.
CNBC‘s analyst Jim Cramer has singled out shares he believes will buck the decline, all of which are in tech. They include Adobe, Etsy, Nvidia, RingCentral, Shopify and Zoom, the conference call provider, whose remote solution will surely benefit from what Cramer calls a “stay-at-home era.”
The human cost of the virus is growing. Almost 3,000 people have died from Coronavirus to date, with over 82,000 cases spread across almost 50 countries. Europe’s response is ramping up, with Italy shutting down towns and banning travel, and German health minister Jens Spahn today declaring that his nation was at the “beginning of an epidemic.”
Several cases have now hit the United States, where yesterday a patient from California was thought to be the first who has not traveled anywhere the virus is circulating. “At this point, the patient’s exposure is unknown,” wrote a statement of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). “The case was detected through the US public health system and picked up by astute clinicians.”
US President Donald Trump blamed the virus’ spread on Democratic rivals at a White House press conference on Wednesday. Trump offered a string of lies surrounding Covid-19; namely that cases were “going very substantially down, not up,” and that America is “rapidly developing a vaccine.”
Trump, who has handed the government’s response to the virus to his VP Mike Pence, also claimed cases would reduce to zero within days – an extremely unlikely outcome that has experts questioning whether his autocratic tendencies will add fuel to the virus’ ever-inflaming fire.