Things have quieted a bit (but only a bit) in terms of the coronavirus crisis. As such, I thought it would be a good time to provide an update on this evolving situation. Let’s start with the trends in the spread of the virus to understand what they mean in the present for the markets, as well as in the future for the pandemic itself and the economy.

Growth rate

Although we continue to see case counts rising, that rise is unavoidable at this stage of the pandemic and will continue for some time. Expect it—and don’t assume it means that things are getting worse. Right now, the metric that signals whether things are getting better or worse is how quickly, in percentage terms, the cases are growing. Here, the news is better.

In the chart below, you can see that growth rates around the world are now at or below 10 percent. This number is not great. In fact, it implies that total cases will double in just over a week. But to put things in perspective, it is substantially better than the 15 percent of a week ago here in the U.S. (which doubled cases every five days) and the 30 percent of a couple of weeks ago (which doubled cases in less than three days).

Source: Worldometer

Another way to look at this chart is to view case growth as a representation of the steepness of the case growth curve. When we say “flattening the curve,” what we really mean is slowing the growth rate, which is just what we see above. As growth rates decline, the curve gets flatter and the likelihood of overloading the health care system declines. Again, we are not out of the woods yet, but we are getting much closer. If current trends continue, we can reasonably expect to be turning the corner in the next month or so.

Confirmatory testing

Other trends are positive as well. After a slow start, testing for the virus is now around 150,000 per day. There has been a slowdown in the growth rate in the past couple of days, but the testing rate should be poised to rise again in the next week. Again, it’s not where it should be, but it's much better than it was and likely to improve further.

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