Week in Review, April 6-10: A Flatter Curve, Record Unemployment and a Stock Market Rally
NEW ORLEANS – Last Friday, there were more than 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 400 deaths in Louisiana. Almost a week later, the numbers have risen to more than 18,000 cases and more than 700 deaths. That being said, by the beginning of the week, there were already reports that social distancing efforts were succeeding in reducing the number of new cases being admitted to the hospitals.
This “flattening of the curve” has led to Gov. John Bel Edwards and other leaders to implore Louisianans not to let down their guard and to continue to follow stay-at-home guidelines.
In a demonstration of how the stock market can be disconnected from the economy, the market rallied this week. One of the three major indexes, the S&P 500, rose 12.1%, which equals its best one-week gain since 1974. Meanwhile, the number of Americans who have filed unemployment claims in the last three weeks has risen to 16.8 million – which is the largest number in history.
Businesses small and large along with everyday citizens are all waiting for their government stimulus funds. Local banks were busy since last Friday taking applications from small businesses for their Payroll Protection Program loans/grants while others complained about problems with the SBA program.
Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans are already hashing out a second phase of the stimulus bill that could double the $350 billion being made available to small businesses and on Thursday the Federal Reserve announced another $2.3 trillion plan to loan money to states, localities and companies.
In New Orleans, healthcare workers, couriers, grocery store employees and other critical service providers continued to work on the front lines of the pandemic while many others worked from home or tried to figure out how to pay their rent after losing their jobs as a result of the social distancing measures. There were inspiring stories of people making masks or hand sanitizer and donating meals.
At the end of the week, we talked to New Orleans business leaders about what will need to happen for the city to re-start its economy.