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Notes and Highlights of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s Live Update November 18, 2020

Notes and Highlights of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s Live Update November 18, 2020
Notes by mr_tyler_durden and Daily Update Team
Watch here:
Headlines
  • 144,753 Cases (+2,753), 1,712 Deaths (+15)
  • New cases by county: 530x Jefferson, 196x Fayette, 99x Boone, 94x Kenton, 86x Warren, 85x Christian, 78x Madison, 70x Campbell, 67x Bullitt, 66x Hardin, 59x Daviess, 52x McCracken, 48x Henderson, 45x Laurel, 44x Hopkins, 37x Boyd, 34x Lee, 34x Muhlenberg, 33x Jessamine, 33x Oldham, 33x Pulaski, 32x Nelson, 27x Barren, 25x Shelby, 24x Whitley, 22x Greenup, 22x Marshall, 22x Union, 20x Grant, 18x Knox, 18x Pike, 18x Woodford, 17x Casey, 17x Marion, 16x Floyd, 16x Graves, 16x Monroe, 15x Bourbon, 15x Carter, 15x Edmonson, 15x Perry, 15x Trigg, 14x Clay, 14x Logan, 14x Ohio, 14x Pendleton, 14x Scott, 14x Taylor, 13x Bell, 13x Breathitt, 13x Calloway, 13x Larue, 13x Lawrence, 13x Lincoln, 13x Montgomery, 12x Grayson, 12x Jackson, 12x Simpson, 11x Magoffin, 11x Powell, 11x Webster, 10x Breckinridge, 9x Caldwell, 9x Harlan, 9x Mercer, 9x Owsley, 8x Adair, 8x Elliott, 8x Franklin, 8x Harrison, 8x McCreary, 7x Carroll, 7x Clinton, 7x Estill, 7x Johnson, 7x Rowan, 6x Boyle, 6x Butler, 6x Garrard, 6x Hancock, 6x Knott, 6x Lewis, 6x McLean, 6x Spencer, 6x Washington, 6x Wolfe, 5x Anderson, 5x Clark, 5x Cumberland, 5x Fleming, 5x Meade, 4x Carlisle, 4x Fulton, 4x Green, 4x Hart, 4x Henry, 4x Leslie, 4x Letcher, 4x Livingston, 4x Martin, 4x Mason, 4x Metcalfe, 4x Russell, 4x Todd, 4x Wayne, 3x Allen, 3x Bath, 2x Crittenden, 2x Morgan, 2x Nicholas, 2x Rockcastle, 1x Ballard, 1x Bracken, 1x Gallatin, 1x Hickman, 1x Owen
  • New deaths by county: 15 F Ballard, 60 M Barren, 75 M Caldwell, 90 M Calloway, 91 F Christian, 78 F Christian, 87 M Clay, 43 M Fayette (Right now we don't know of any pre-existing conditions there at all), 78 M Hancock, 73 F Jefferson, 32 F Jefferson, 78 M Marshall, 68 F McCracken, 86 F Nelson, 79 F Pike
  • The first step is we are further limiting private gatherings. We see far too much of the virus happening at family gatherings and neighborhood events. The result is often multiple family members hospitalized, some on a ventilator, or even worse outcomes. So from this Friday November 20th at 5pm through Sunday December 13th at 11:59pm, local time, private indoor gatherings, are limited to your current household, plus one other household, not to exceed a total of eight people. Your household is who you live with on a regular basis. You can have one other household over, but again, not to exceed eight people. <...>So two, what I would call immediate families, not extended families, per gathering.
  • The second step involves limiting attendance at venue spaces like weddings and funerals, where we continue to see significant virus spread. These events will be limited to 25 total participants per room. Beginning Friday, and lasting again through December 13th. These recommendations do not apply to in-person services at places of worship, which I'll be making recommendations on, directly to them, tomorrow.
  • Also beginning Friday at 5pm and lasting until December 13th bars and restaurants will be closed for indoor service. Carry out, delivery, and outdoor seated service may continue, but only if the mask mandate and the seating rules are enforced. Packed patios will result in further changes on what these venues can and cannot do.
  • Other new steps: Gyms will be at 33% occupancy, and masking will now be required. Group classes are prohibited. We see significant spreading through group classes.
  • And now let's talk for a minute about sports. KHSAA made a decision today to postpone all fall sports, and their practices until past the December 13th date we're operating.
  • Again, this is about a three week, or three week and several day effort, about two cycles of the virus to make sure we get this under control so that these types of events are safer when we come out of it. This occupancy also applies, 33%, to pools, bowling alleys, and similar businesses.
  • During the same timeframe we need our professional services, and our office-based businesses to have all employees who are able, to work from home. When possible businesses should close to the public and if open maintain 33% of their employees, at most, in their facility at one time. We're asking everybody in these targeted areas to do this at the same time, so we get our maximum impact.
  • So beginning this coming Monday, November 23rd all public and private K-12 schools will cease in-person instruction and move to remote learning. Middle and high schools will remain in remote instruction until at least January 4th, 2021.
  • Elementary schools may reopen December 7th if their county is not in a red zone and they follow the Healthy at School guidance.
  • Dr Stack:At the levels this disease is spreading right now, there is no place you can go out in public to avoid getting exposed to it. If you leave your home now you should assume that there's a high probability you will be exposed to this if you get close to other people. If you have Thanksgiving gatherings with large numbers of people from different households, you can almost be assured that you will have more infected people leaving that gathering than came to it. <...> As we enter the winter and people are driven indoors to stay warm and the disease is spreading so rapidly, if we allow it to spread as rapidly as it is spreading right now all of these harms are going to happen, and more. Hospitals are already curtailing their non-COVID medical and surgical care in multiple areas throughout the state, because the COVID pressure is increasing. In states like North Dakota, it's the worst place on the planet to be right now as far as COVID-19- it is hitting them so hard. And we've done a really good job here in Kentucky. We have stopped escalations in March, we’ve stopped them in July, now we need to stop it a third time.

  • Slides from Update
Full Notes
  • Good afternoon. It's four o'clock on Wednesday, a time we get together four days a week and remember that we're gonna get through this, and we're gonna get through this together. We are in very difficult times, where we are seeing a lot of cases, and a lot of loss. But there is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Today, Pfizer's vaccine was updated from 90% to 94%+ effective. That means we have two that are in that range, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to make sure that as many people can get there. And we're going to do that because we are not going to surrender to this virus, we're going to fight back, because we care about one another. Let’s start today with a difficult COVID report which we have just about every day.
  • Positive cases today: 2,753 - Today is our fourth highest day in terms of new positives, 2,753 new cases of COVID-19.
  • Top five highest days ever in this virus of positive cases have all been in the last week. As Dr Stack showed you yesterday, we are in the midst of exponential growth. At the same time that we are in the midst of this growth, which means that more individuals need help, because if a percentage of cases, need hospitalization, need to be in the ICU, then they need professionals out there that can help treat them. And what we are seeing is community spread like this is impacting our health care agencies, meaning that there are less of our first-, front- and only- line workers while the need for them is greater. In fact I want to go ahead and show at the Mayo Clinic today, came out with some rough news that shows us how exponential spread decreases our health care capacity when it's needed most. They announced that they have 900 employees that have tested positive in the last two weeks alone. So our challenge isn't going to be when we run out of beds, it's going to be when we run out of people. And the amount of available people are going to go down as the virus continues to surge. So a very concerning number of cases, and what it could cause.
  • Probable cases: 25,091
  • Total confirmed cases: 144,753
  • Children Under 18: 292
  • New cases by county: 530x Jefferson, 196x Fayette, 99x Boone, 94x Kenton, 86x Warren, 85x Christian, 78x Madison, 70x Campbell, 67x Bullitt, 66x Hardin, 59x Daviess, 52x McCracken, 48x Henderson, 45x Laurel, 44x Hopkins, 37x Boyd, 34x Lee, 34x Muhlenberg, 33x Jessamine, 33x Oldham, 33x Pulaski, 32x Nelson, 27x Barren, 25x Shelby, 24x Whitley, 22x Greenup, 22x Marshall, 22x Union, 20x Grant, 18x Knox, 18x Pike, 18x Woodford, 17x Casey, 17x Marion, 16x Floyd, 16x Graves, 16x Monroe, 15x Bourbon, 15x Carter, 15x Edmonson, 15x Perry, 15x Trigg, 14x Clay, 14x Logan, 14x Ohio, 14x Pendleton, 14x Scott, 14x Taylor, 13x Bell, 13x Breathitt, 13x Calloway, 13x Larue, 13x Lawrence, 13x Lincoln, 13x Montgomery, 12x Grayson, 12x Jackson, 12x Simpson, 11x Magoffin, 11x Powell, 11x Webster, 10x Breckinridge, 9x Caldwell, 9x Harlan, 9x Mercer, 9x Owsley, 8x Adair, 8x Elliott, 8x Franklin, 8x Harrison, 8x McCreary, 7x Carroll, 7x Clinton, 7x Estill, 7x Johnson, 7x Rowan, 6x Boyle, 6x Butler, 6x Garrard, 6x Hancock, 6x Knott, 6x Lewis, 6x McLean, 6x Spencer, 6x Washington, 6x Wolfe, 5x Anderson, 5x Clark, 5x Cumberland, 5x Fleming, 5x Meade, 4x Carlisle, 4x Fulton, 4x Green, 4x Hart, 4x Henry, 4x Leslie, 4x Letcher, 4x Livingston, 4x Martin, 4x Mason, 4x Metcalfe, 4x Russell, 4x Todd, 4x Wayne, 3x Allen, 3x Bath, 2x Crittenden, 2x Morgan, 2x Nicholas, 2x Rockcastle, 1x Ballard, 1x Bracken, 1x Gallatin, 1x Hickman, 1x Owen
  • Total tests conducted: 2,482,404 (PCR: 2,293,694, Serology: 90,785)
  • Positivity Rate: 9.13% - our positivity rate continues to increase which is alarming because we have significant testing out there.
  • Total hospitalized: 9,052
  • Currently hospitalized: 1,553 - Our individuals in the hospital continues to go up it's up 32 Kentuckians in the hospital with COVID-19 just from yesterday.
  • Total in ICU: 2,284
  • Currently in ICU: 359 - is up five Kentuckians from yesterday
  • On a ventilator: 176 - up one from yesterday
  • Total recovered: 25,058
  • New deaths today: 15
  • Total Deaths: 1,712
  • So we've lost our first student, a 15 year old girl in Ballard County. There are some significant pre-existing conditions, but a beloved member of her community where COVID was a factor in what took her from that community. We've reached out to this family and we hope to be able to remember her when they deem that it's appropriate. I can tell you, I have friends whose kids were specifically and positively impacted by this individual.
  • New deaths by county: 15 F Ballard, 60 M Barren, 75 M Caldwell, 90 M Calloway, 91 F Christian, 78 F Christian, 87 M Clay, 43 M Fayette (Right now we don't know of any pre-existing conditions there at all), 78 M Hancock, 73 F Jefferson, 32 F Jefferson, 78 M Marshall, 68 F McCracken, 86 F Nelson, 79 F Pike
  • All losses are a loss for Kentucky. Let’s light those houses up green and let’s ring those bells at 10am. This is a reminder that we are thinking of the Kentuckians we’ve lost, their families, and their communities. It’s the color of compassion and renewal as their souls move from their bodies to a better place.
  • Racial breakdown of all cases: 82.65% Caucasian, 10.38% Black or African-American, 1.41% Asian, 5.17% Multiracial
  • Ethnicity breakdown of all cases: 91.85% non-Hispanic and 8.15% Hispanic
  • Racial breakdown of all deaths: 84.84% Caucasian, 11.45% Black or African-American, 0.88% Asian, 2.83% Multiracial
  • Ethnicity breakdown of all deaths: 97.12% non-Hispanic and 2.88% Hispanic
  • Long Term Care Facilities (PDF): 105 new residents and 120 new staff positive from yesterday, and 13 more deaths. Our long term care facilities, just like our contact tracers, are being overwhelmed, their defenses overrun, because with this number of cases you just can't keep it out. That's worth more testing for people who go in and work there than anywhere else. This is what happens when there are this many cases, and with how these long term care facilities are lighting up with cases, it is going to further compound our loss, as we take decisive action.
    • Total facilities: 387
    • Total deaths: 1108
    • Active cases: 1675 residents, 987 staff
    • Total cases: 8369 residents, 6026 staff
  • K-12 Update (PDF): PDF update only
  • University Update (PDF): PDF update only
  • So that’s today’s report, now I want to address what we're going to do about it. Since March the sixth, the day that we Kentuckians had our first confirmed case, we have been under attack, we have been at war with this Coronavirus. It has upended every part of our lives. Folks, currently is the third leading cause of death in America, trailing cancer. That’s right, it's trailing cancer and it may even overtake it. It's damaged our economy. It has threatened our children's education. It's now taken more than 250,000 American lives- a quarter of a million people including 1,700 Kentuckians, that we love, that we miss, whose families and communities are heartbroken. Every day, the Coronavirus tests us. It tests our resolve. Our resolve to do what's right, our resolve to make good choices to protect one another, our resolve to defeat the virus, instead of giving in to it. Even with the difficulty and the cost and the sacrifice that fighting it takes. Our enemy, COVID-19, has come in waves. First, in March and April. 2nd over the summer. And the third, right now. Each of these waves has been deadly. The first overwhelmed the healthcare system in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana. We saw heartbreaking loss of life.
  • The second hit places like Florida, Texas, Arizona, where we began seeing tractor-trailer refrigeration trucks, just to hold the number of dead bodies. The third wave is hitting all of America. With places like North Dakota, having the worst rates of COVID-19 in the entire world. And cities like El Paso, losing people at unfathomable levels. Kentucky has been hit ,in part, or at least some, by each of these waves. But in response to each wave, to each attack. We did not surrender. We did not roll over. We did not say that we're going to let our people suffer and we're simply going to lose some people. No, we fought back in this battle because when addressing COVID-19, action is unpopular but inaction is deadly. To stop the March and April wave- we acted at a time, and we had to act at the time- we didn't know a lot about this virus, didn't have sufficient testing. We didn't have the basic PPE to protect the people who are trying to keep those suffering alive and healthy, when the mortality rate was far, far too high, when we didn't know the treatments that we now know about, and where it was difficult to know where the spread was happening and in fact exactly how the virus spread. So we implemented Healthy at Home, a counter-offensive that required real and significant sacrifice for all Kentuckians, and I know people are still feeling the impacts of that sacrifice. But in addressing the virus that sacrifice worked. We crushed the curve, and we stopped an early exponential growth that devastated other areas. And I remember, when we stopped that- we were all so proud of the work that we had done together, everybody doing their part.
  • When the second wave hit in the summer, it was concerning. Some states hitting 10,000 or more cases, I think even 15,000 in a single day. Once again, Kentucky fought back.
  • We knew more at this time, and we could be more targeted in our approach. We implemented a mask mandate and shut down bars and restaurants to in-person service for a limited period of time. That worked too. We were able to stop the growth level off the virus, we were able to continue to get more things open, and in fact our children back in school.
  • But here we are enduring our third attack, the third wave. Which means we are called to action once again. Surrender, ignoring this virus, pretending it isn't real, is not an option. Because we can, and we should, take the actions necessary to save thousands of lives. The 25 veterans we've lost to the virus at Thomson-Hood veteran Center are an example. That’s far too many, those are special people that fought for us. They would tell us to fight back against this virus. And the end, the defeat of this virus, we can see it, and almost taste it. Between Moderna and Pfizer, we have announcements of two highly effective vaccines. Where if we can just get to the point where it's approved, and it's manufactured, and enough people get it, we can be past this chapter in our history. That it won't be picking off our seniors and others. We won't be losing people around us.
  • It will be a day where I don't learn about a friend losing their aunt and uncle. Or, another friend who has to say goodbye to a parent and then drive to a separate house to quarantine, not being able to be back with his family at a time of what must be immense grief. With two promising vaccines on the horizon we’ve got to take action to make sure that we can save lives until we get there and to make sure that as many of our Kentuckians as possible see the end of this virus, and the new amazing day is going to be when we're past it.
  • So, it's time to do what it takes to finish this fight. So it's time for Kentucky's third counter attack against the coronavirus. Let me be clear about a few things. This is not, and there will not be, a shutdown. Our economy is open. And there will be no categorizing businesses as essential or non-essential and asking them to close. It is not picking and choosing based on my or Dr. Stack’s or anybody else's likes and dislikes. Instead, today we're announcing significant but surgical and targeted steps designed to slow the virus and protect our people.
  • These steps range from three to six weeks in duration and are designed to have the maximum impact with as little disruption, though there will certainly be disruption, as possible.
    • The first step is we are further limiting private gatherings. We see far too much of the virus happening at family gatherings and neighborhood events. The result is often multiple family members hospitalized, some on a ventilator, or even worse outcomes. So from this Friday November 20th at 5pm through Sunday December 13th at 11:59pm, local time, private indoor gatherings, are limited to your current household, plus one other household, not to exceed a total of eight people. Your household is who you live with on a regular basis. You can have one other household over, but again, not to exceed eight people. We see so much spread when people get together in larger groups and get comfortable, end up taking their masks off, and every local health department could tell you heartbreaking stories about what is happening all too often at those events. So two, what I would call immediate families, not extended families, per gathering.
    • The second step involves limiting attendance at venue spaces like weddings and funerals, where we continue to see significant virus spread. These events will be limited to 25 total participants per room. Beginning Friday, and lasting again through December 13th. These recommendations do not apply to in-person services at places of worship, which I'll be making recommendations on, directly to them, tomorrow.
    • Also beginning Friday at 5pm and lasting until December 13th bars and restaurants will be closed for indoor service. Carry out, delivery, and outdoor seated service may continue, but only if the mask mandate and the seating rules are enforced. Packed patios will result in further changes on what these venues can and cannot do. The CDC, Johns-Hopkins, Stanford University working with others have all released recent studies showing that restaurants and bars are clearly spreading, if not the greatest spread, of COVID-19. Any effort to lessen the exponential growth we are seeing right now requires this step. And our local health departments? They agree that we are seeing spread at these facilities. Matt Hunt, the director of the Barren River District Health Department, said, and I quote, “we have 46 total clusters impacting 189 cases at restaurants and bars within our district. Currently our district has 13 open clusters impacting 52 cases.” Matt remains committed to the COVID-19 response efforts and encourages the community to remain vigilant about using masks, social distancing, and following critical guidelines. Dr. Lynn Sadler, District Director of Health at the Northern Kentucky Health Department, said they “Strongly support their local businesses and economies are urgently concerned about the transmission of COVID in crowds”. She says “some local restaurants are being proactive with igloos and outdoor dining as well as takeout or third party delivery”. Dr Samuels said “many are placing great effort on following the rules, others are not”. She said quote “a restaurant environment still has plenty of opportunity to be unmasked while sitting in a crowded environment, and therefore a greater opportunity to become infected. Anecdotally, bars and bars with food service seem to do a poor job at having those in their establishments follow their guidance. Complaints keep coming in every day from individuals concerned about businesses not following the COVID guidance while case numbers are exploding. People need to do a better job for the sake of others, and the community”.
  • This is a tough, but an important step and I realize it's also a painful one. So many of our restaurants and bars, or small businesses, have people's futures invested in them. So to attempt to provide some, albeit not enough relief, we're launching a $40M fund to assist restaurants and bars impacted by this step. Entities that qualify will receive $10,000 to use for various costs, not alone- an attempt to help with those costs. To share more details we have La Tasha Buckner, my chief of staff, who will run down some of the general requirements.
  • Thank you Governor. As the Governor indicated he's allotted about $40M from the Coronavirus Relief Fund- it's a federal fund used to help offset some of the costs and expenses related to battling the Coronavirus. This Team Kentucky Food and Beverage Relief Fund will provide assistance to qualifying restaurants and bars, it will be administered by the public protection cabinet, which is finalizing the program details. Applications will be accepted online before November 30th through December 18th, and we'll be providing additional information as the process goes along and we set up the website, but here are a few key points.
    • It's available to businesses that are operating as bars and restaurants currently.
    • The businesses will be eligible for 10,000 in assistance, but the maximum award, if you have more than one location, will be $20,000 per business entity.
    • Businesses with at least 50% of their sales via drive throughs will not be eligible for the award.
    • And you may not be owned by a publicly traded company. We really want to make sure that we target the mom and pops and individual business owners out there who may be suffering from the largest impact.
    • All businesses must certify that they're going to be in compliance with the governor's orders and remain in compliance with the executive orders in public health quarters.
  • We know this doesn't cover the entire impact cost to your business by COVID-19, but we're hoping that it will help some in the meantime, and we'll keep you updated as we finalize more details. Thank you.
  • Thank you, La Tasha. We are working hard to save lives. It's not easy for anybody. We need your help to make sure we get there. We've all sacrificed so much and we don't have much farther to go; we cannot give up now.
  • Other new steps: Gyms will be at 33% occupancy, and masking will now be required. Group classes are prohibited. We see significant spreading through group classes.
  • And now let's talk for a minute about sports. KHSAA made a decision today to postpone all fall sports, and their practices until past the December 13th date we're operating. That same decision will be applied for all indoor recreation facilities. So, no indoor practices for sports teams. Think about cheerleading gyms closed to group activities, individual lessons are allowed, but masking is required. We've seen cases come out of numerous cheerleading gyms and martial arts studios. Again, this is about a three week, or three week and several day effort, about two cycles of the virus to make sure we get this under control so that these types of events are safer when we come out of it. This occupancy also applies, 33%, to pools, bowling alleys, and similar businesses.
  • During the same timeframe we need our professional services, and our office-based businesses to have all employees who are able, to work from home. When possible businesses should close to the public and if open maintain 33% of their employees, at most, in their facility at one time. We're asking everybody in these targeted areas to do this at the same time, so we get our maximum impact. If we're going to take a swing at this virus we want to make sure we swing hard enough to truly impact its direction, and to stop exponential growth. I want to thank everybody who has stepped up and done his or her part, but we need you now, more than ever.
  • And now schools. I want to thank everyone who is working so hard to continue to educate our children, and make sure they have access to healthy meals. Our children are resilient, but they are also sacrificing so much, and I see this firsthand.
  • My children do better when they are in-person classes and they're a lot easier to deal with at home. But this virus, at its level right now, is and will overwhelm each and every one of our schools, if we do not take action. Right now, I believe if you take the number of students who were quarantined for the first time last week, assuming a two week quarantine and what will happen through this week- I believe we will have close to 10,000 Kentucky students, K-12, at one point at the same time in quarantine. And if what holds from last week through this week about 2,000 of our faculty. And our teachers and administrators, rightfully, are very concerned as the virus continues to surge through their areas. Again, if we are going to be able to provide meaningful educational experiences, and in-person, especially, at the beginning of the next semester, we have to take action now and we've all got to do it at the same time. Steps have been taken in consultation and agreement with our commissioner of education, and our Chair of the Board of Education.
    • So beginning this coming Monday, November 23rd all public and private K-12 schools will cease in-person instruction and move to remote learning. Middle and high schools will remain in remote instruction until at least January 4th, 2021. In other words, getting through this semester. It is our hope and we will make every effort to make sure that in January we have the opportunity to return to in-person instruction. But in most every one of the communities out there right now, based on the community transmission that we're trying to stop here, remote learning is already in progress. If Thanksgiving ends up being what Americans are telling people, who are asking, what it's going to be with 40% or more people having 10 or more people at their home, the impact that could happen on schools after that event could be devastating.
    • Elementary schools may reopen December 7th if their county is not in a red zone and they follow the Healthy at School guidance. I also want to applaud our partners in post-secondary education, our public universities have all made the right decision to teach 100% virtually by Monday for the rest of the year. And I want to thank them for stepping up, we've asked our private universities and colleges to do the same. Most of them will certainly be there by Thanksgiving, we've asked them to move that timeline up.
  • So look, none of these decisions are easy. I can tell you that I'm not going to be popular. Now's the time, we make the decision on whether we are going to let our fellow Kentuckians become sick and more of them die, or we are going to take a stand against the third wave of this virus. These restrictions are necessary now and for activities I haven't listed, please follow the current guidance and others found at the Healthy at Work website. Notably, we are not asking our hospitals to curtail any of their elective procedures, they are doing it on their own when necessary. I'll tell you many of our hospital systems are already feeling the crunch and have not just concerns, but a real potential of being overwhelmed. We're also not restricting retail any further. But that is based on a commitment to re-up the mask mandate and the enforcement of it, because we need every Kentuckian to do their part.
  • I don't take this lightly. I know this will cause some more harm out there. We cannot continue to let this third wave devastate our families. We owe more to our seniors than some of the ageism we're seeing in saying “well they're already old” No, No, we owe it to them to those veterans at Thomson-Hood to fight for their lives. We owe more to those that are immunocompromised, that are making it through this life even though it's more challenging; than to say “Eh, they already had pre-existing conditions.” We owe more to each other than to try to deny, or explain away, something that is the third leading killer of people in the United States. We are at war and we need your help to win. We see the end. Oh, we can see the end, I can’t wait for it to be here. I can't wait to undo every order that I've had to do. I really look forward to that day.
  • And it's months. Just months. So from now till then, let's make sure we're doing the right things for those around us. This is our time. This may be the last counter offensive that we have to mount. Let's make sure that it's effective by everybody, and I mean everybody doing their part. With that, Dr Stack is going to make some, some brief remarks about the necessity of these steps and we will open it up to questions.
  • So thank you Governor I said as we've gone through this journey together over the last eight or nine months, the days I hate the most are the days we have to say what we can't do.
  • You know, the Department for public health exists to help people overcome their barriers and their challenges in life and to help folks achieve the fullest human potential. To overcome the things that challenge and give us difficulty, to define good health, define wellness, to find joy in life. And when we have to say no and we cause these hardships through actions, I think it's important that people understand that there's been a very thoughtful and calculated consideration for the different harms that could unfold. At the levels this disease is spreading right now, there is no place you can go out in public to avoid getting exposed to it. If you leave your home now you should assume that there's a high probability you will be exposed to this if you get close to other people. If you have Thanksgiving gatherings with large numbers of people from different households, you can almost be assured that you will have more infected people leaving that gathering than came to it.
(continued in stickied comment)
submitted by mr_tyler_durden to Coronavirus_KY

Putting $400M of Bitcoin on your company balance sheet

Also posted on my blog as usual. Read it there if you can, there are footnotes and inlined plots.
A couple of months ago, MicroStrategy (MSTR) had a spare $400M of cash which it decided to shift to Bitcoin (BTC).
Today we'll discuss in excrutiating detail why this is not a good idea.
When a company has a pile of spare money it doesn't know what to do with, it'll normally do buybacks or start paying dividends. That gives the money back to the shareholders, and from an economic perspective the money can get better invested in other more promising companies. If you have a huge pile of of cash, you probably should be doing other things than leave it in a bank account to gather dust.
However, this statement from MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor exists to make it clear he's buying into BTC for all the wrong reasons:
“This is not a speculation, nor is it a hedge. This was a deliberate corporate strategy to adopt a bitcoin standard.”
Let's unpack it and jump into the economics Bitcoin:

Is Bitcoin money?

No.
Or rather BTC doesn't act as money and there's no serious future path for BTC to become a form of money. Let's go back to basics. There are 3 main economic problems money solves:
1. Medium of Exchange. Before money we had to barter, which led to the double coincidence of wants problem. When everyone accepts the same money you can buy something from someone even if they don't like the stuff you own.
As a medium of exchange, BTC is not good. There are significant transaction fees and transaction waiting times built-in to BTC and these worsen the more popular BTC get.
You can test BTC's usefulness as a medium of exchange for yourself right now: try to order a pizza or to buy a random item with BTC. How many additional hurdles do you have to go through? How many fewer options do you have than if you used a regular currency? How much overhead (time, fees) is there?
2. Unit of Account. A unit of account is what you compare the value of objects against. We denominate BTC in terms of how many USD they're worth, so BTC is a unit of account presently. We can say it's because of lack of adoption, but really it's also because the market value of BTC is so volatile.
If I buy a $1000 table today or in 2017, it's roughly a $1000 table. We can't say that a 0.4BTC table was a 0.4BTC table in 2017. We'll expand on this in the next point:
3. Store of Value. When you create economic value, you don't want to be forced to use up the value you created right away.
For instance, if I fix your washing machine and you pay me in avocados, I'd be annoyed. I'd have to consume my payment before it becomes brown, squishy and disgusting. Avocado fruit is not good money because avocadoes loses value very fast.
On the other hand, well-run currencies like the USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, etc. all lose their value at a low and most importantly fairly predictible rate. Let's look at the chart of the USD against BTC
While the dollar loses value at a predictible rate, BTC is all over the place, which is bad.
One important use money is to write loan contracts. Loans are great. They let people spend now against their future potential earnings, so they can buy houses or start businesses without first saving up for a decade. Loans are good for the economy.
If you want to sign something that says "I owe you this much for that much time" then you need to be able to roughly predict the value of the debt in at the point in time where it's due.
Otherwise you'll have a hard time pricing the risk of the loan effectively. This means that you need to charge higher interests. The risk of making a loan in BTC needs to be priced into the interest of a BTC-denominated loan, which means much higher interest rates. High interests on loans are bad, because buying houses and starting businesses are good things.

BTC has a fixed supply, so these problems are built in

Some people think that going back to a standard where our money was denominated by a stock of gold (the Gold Standard) would solve economic problems. This is nonsense.
Having control over supply of your currency is a good thing, as long as it's well run.
See here
Remember that what is desirable is low variance in the value, not the value itself. When there are wild fluctuations in value, it's hard for money to do its job well.
Since the 1970s, the USD has been a fiat money with no intrinsic value. This means we control the supply of money.
Let's look at a classic poorly drawn econ101 graph
The market price for USD is where supply meets demand. The problem with a currency based on an item whose supply is fixed is that the price will necessarily fluctuate in response to changes in demand.
Imagine, if you will, that a pandemic strikes and that the demand for currency takes a sharp drop. The US imports less, people don't buy anything anymore, etc. If you can't print money, you get deflation, which is worsens everything. On the other hand, if you can make the money printers go brrrr you can stabilize the price
Having your currency be based on a fixed supply isn't just bad because in/deflation is hard to control.
It's also a national security risk...
The story of the guy who crashed gold prices in North Africa
In the 1200s, Mansa Munsa, the emperor of the Mali, was rich and a devout Muslim and wanted everyone to know it. So he embarked on a pilgrimage to make it rain all the way to Mecca.
He in fact made it rain so hard he increased the overall supply of gold and unintentionally crashed gold prices in Cairo by 20%, wreaking an economic havoc in North Africa that lasted a decade.
This story is fun, the larger point that having your inflation be at the mercy of foreign nations is an undesirable attribute in any currency. The US likes to call some countries currency manipulators, but this problem would be serious under a gold standard.

Currencies are based on trust

Since the USD is based on nothing except the US government's word, how can we trust USD not to be mismanaged?
The answer is that you can probably trust the fed until political stooges get put in place. Currently, the US's central bank managing the USD, the Federal Reserve (the Fed for friends & family), has administrative authority. The fed can say "no" to dumb requests from the president.
People who have no idea what the fed does like to chant "audit the fed", but the fed is already one of the best audited US federal entities. The transcripts of all their meetings are out in the open. As is their balance sheet, what they plan to do and why. If the US should audit anything it's the Department of Defense which operates without any accounting at all.
It's easy to see when a central bank will go rogue: it's when political yes-men are elected to the board.
For example, before printing themselves into hyperinflation, the Venezuelan president appointed a sociologist who publicly stated “Inflation does not exist in real life” and instead is a made up capitalist lie. Note what happened mere months after his gaining control over the Venezuelan currency
This is a key policy. One paper I really like, Sargent (1984) "The end of 4 big inflations" states:
The essential measures that ended hyperinflation in each of Germany,Austria, Hungary, and Poland were, first, the creation of an independentcentral bank that was legally committed to refuse the government'sdemand or additional unsecured credit and, second, a simultaneousalteration in the fiscal policy regime.
In english: *hyperinflation stops when the central bank can say "no" to the government."
The US Fed, like other well good central banks, is run by a bunch of nerds. When it prints money, even as aggressively as it has it does so for good reasons. You can see why they started printing on March 15th as the COVID lockdowns started:
The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals.
In english: We're going to keep printing and lowering rates until jobs are back and inflation is under control. If we print until the sun is blotted out, we'll print in the shade.

BTC is not gold

Gold is a good asset for doomsday-preppers. If society crashes, gold will still have value.
How do we know that?
Gold has held value throughout multiple historic catastrophes over thousands of years. It had value before and after the Bronze Age Collapse, the Fall of the Western Roman Empire and Gengis Khan being Gengis Khan.
Even if you erased humanity and started over, the new humans would still find gold to be economically valuable. When Europeans d̶i̶s̶c̶o̶v̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ c̶o̶n̶q̶u̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ g̶e̶n̶o̶c̶i̶d̶e̶d̶ went to America, they found gold to be an important item over there too. This is about equivalent to finding humans on Alpha-Centauri and learning that they think gold is a good store of value as well.
Some people are puzzled at this: we don't even use gold for much! But it has great properties:
First, gold is hard to fake and impossible to manufacture. This makes it good to ascertain payment.
Second, gold doesnt react to oxygen, so it doesn't rust or tarnish. So it keeps value over time unlike most other materials.
Last, gold is pretty. This might sound frivolous, and you may not like it, but jewelry has actual value to humans.
It's no coincidence if you look at a list of the wealthiest families, a large number of them trade in luxury goods.
To paraphrase Veblen humans have a profound desire to signal social status, for the same reason peacocks have unwieldy tails. Gold is a great way to achieve that.
On the other hand, BTC lacks all these attributes. Its value is largely based on common perception of value. There are a few fundamental drivers of demand:
  • Means of Exchange: if people seriously start using BTC to buy pizzas, then this creates a real demand for the currency to accomplish the short-term exchanges. As we saw previously, I'm not personally sold on this one and it's currently a negligible fraction of overall demand.
  • Criminal uses: Probably the largest inbuilt advantage of BTC is that it's anonymous, and so a great way to launder money. Hacker gangs use BTC to demand ransom on cryptolocker type attacks because it's a shared way for an honest company to pay and for the criminals to receive money without going to jail.
Apart from these, it's hard to argue that BTC will retain value throughout some sort of economic catastrophe.

BTC is really risky

One last statement from Michael Saylor I take offense to is this:
“We feel pretty confident that Bitcoin is less risky than holding cash, less risky than holding gold,” MicroStrategy CEO said in an interview
"BTC is less risky than holding cash or gold long term" is nonsense. We saw before that BTC is more volatile on face value, and that as long as the Fed isn't run by spider monkeys stacked in a trench coat, the inflation is likely to be within reasonable bounds.
But on top of this, BTC has Abrupt downside risks that normal currencies don't. Let's imagine a few:
  • A critical software vulnerability is found in the BTC codebase, leading to a possible exploitation.
  • Xi Jinping decides he's had enough of rich people in China hiding their assets from him and bans BTC.
  • Any event that shatters shared trust in BTC:
    • Some form of 51% attack succeeds
    • Some form of bank run takes hold for whatever reason. Because BTC wallets are uninsured, unlike regular banks, this compounds into a Black Tuesday style crash.

Blockchain solutions are fundamentally inefficient

Blockchain was a genius idea. I still marvel at the initial white paper which is a great mix of economics and computer science.
That said, blockchain solutions make large tradeoffs in design because they assume almost no trust between parties. This leads to intentionally wasteful designs on a massive scale.
The main problem is that all transactions have to be validated by expensive computational operations and double checked by multiple parties. This means waste:
  • BTC was estimated to use as much electricity as Belgium in 2019. It's hard to trace where the BTC mining comes from, but we can assume it has a huge carbon footprint.
  • A single transactions is necessarily expensive. A single transaction takes as much electricity as 800,000 VISA transactions, or watching 50,000 hours of youtube videos.
  • There is a large necessary tax on the transaction, since those checking the transaction extract a few BTC from it to be incentivized to do the work of checking it.
Many design problems can be mitigated by various improvements over BTC, but it remains that a simple database always works better than a blockchain if you can trust the parties to the transaction.
submitted by VodkaHaze to badeconomics