THE DON JONES INDEX…

 

GAINS POSTED in GREEN

LOSSES POSTED in RED

 

 

 

 

(THE DOW JONES INDEX:  9/2/2028,645.66; 8/28/2028,492.27; 6/27/13… 15,000.00)

 

LESSON for Sepember 2, 2020 – HIGHER MASCHEMATICS!

Readers take note (AGAIN): this week’s Index dates forward, covering only five days due to the length and timing of the Democratic and Republican Conventions. (Also the two hurricanes supposed to hit hereabouts but which wandered westward, out of the powerlessness zone.) 

 

To reiterate from last week’s DJI:  ”We’re here and they’re not!” – President Trump, pointing to the White (or People’s) House.

8/26/20…  14,831.84

        8/26/20…  14,794.89

    6/27/13…  15,000.00

 

 

After the past two exhaustive weeks of Conventional capers… all of the ballyhoo but none of the fun… it’s only appropriate to face a short week with a weak shortage… the weakness deriving from the government’s lack of honesty over the disappearance of millions of N95 plague masks (the good ones, the ones that work both to protect others from your coughing and speaking and to protect you from the skydiving droplets of others).

If simply putting on masks would eradicate the plague, America would be in more or less the same straits as Switzerland or Denmark… few infections, fewer communicable encounters (turning away those from the guilty countries at national borders and airports has helped, too).

An assortment of people… the good people… the people who know better than you and feel more empathy than you… their ritual scoldings of the unwashed and unmasked masses pertain almost as much to the wearing of the ritual vestments of the cheap, blue and white cotton masks (and, for certain high-contact laborers like chicken processors, healthcare providers and the police) latex gloves are almost as common as Mother’s admonition to “wash your hands, junior!”

That these masks… or the improvised but personalized adaptations of bandannas, towels, torn-up strips of shirts, dog blankets and underwear… have saved lives is no longer disputable (except to a few hardcore conspiracy theorists… even those gradually moving on to Elon Musk’s mysterious brainwave modification chips that will start spewing out of the Tesla factories come 2021).  That people have also died after catching the coronavirus, even while masked, is also indubitable.

 

As the masking detractors, denialists and Deep State conspiracy dorks dwindle in number and in influence… even to an unusually gullible Chief Executive… serious individuals and pedigreed institutions have endeavored to explain the options in terms Don Jones can understand.

One such authority is the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, who have pondered the options and rendered jundgment in a more or less non-judgmental manner.  (See Attachment One)  The N95’s feel cardboardy and flimsy, but unlike floppy surgical or fabric masks, they hold a distinct, muzzle-like shape. They’re about as cheap as they feel, going for $1.75 retail in the small quantities in which they’ve long been sold to the public, and while bulk health care prices are a well-kept secret, they’re likely quite a bit lower, at least in normal times.

So – if the N95 masks work… not only for the poor souls the wearer coughs, spits upon or speaks to, but for the wearer, him/herself, shouldn’t the solution be obvious.

Apparently not.  You see, there are so few N95s at hand that even the first responders, healthcare workers and most vulnerable patients are having trouble finding one.

Not that the missing masks do not exist, according to Bloomberg.

:Federal officials have 44 million N95 masks in warehouses and more than a half billion on order, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They’ve also purchased at least 4.6 billion gloves, 6.7 million goggles and 4.8 million face shields. While officials decide how to distribute the supplies, hospitals and nursing homes are again scrounging gear, struggling with soaring prices and dealing with shady vendors.

“The stockpile is part of a plan announced by President Donald Trump in May to build up a 90-day supply of personal protective equipment for future surges of Covid-19. By fall, federal agencies aim to have 300 million N95 respirators on hand, more than 10 times the number available before the virus struck this year.

“Trump unveiled the plan when the pandemic appeared to be receding in New York, New Jersey and other states that suffered most during its first wave. Since then, however, cases have exploded elsewhere, with massive outbreaks in California, Florida and Texas. Hospitals and nursing homes once again find themselves rationing and reusing masks and gowns, a practice that can endanger doctors, nurses and patients alike.”

On In April,  President Donald Trump said during a press conference the country’s stockpile of personal protective equipment, including medical gear like N95 masks, is almost depleted.

Established in 1999 to prepare the country for threats like pandemics, natural disasters and acts of bioterrorism, the United States has used and maintained its Strategic National Stockpile of medical supplies during times of acute crisis in the health care system.

The reserve was originally named the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, but was renamed during a 2003 restructuring when additional materials were added to the supply. The stockpile is jointly managed by the departments of Defense and Health and Human Services.

Warnings about the United States' lack of preparedness for a serious pandemic have come from both inside the federal government and elsewhere since at least the early 2000s and as recently as last year.

Fact check

Did Bill Gates predict the coronavirus in 2015?

“SARS has infected relatively few people nationwide, but it has raised concerns about preparedness for large-scale infectious disease outbreaks,” a 2003 analysis from the Government Accountability Office reads.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in April 2019 the BioDefense Summit that a pandemic was among his top concerns, CNN reported on Friday. "Of course, the thing that people ask: 'What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?' Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern," Azar told the summit. (His full remarks are available on the HHS website.)

And Obama’s culpability?

The blame, shame game quickly found name of note – fomer President Obama?

In April, USA Today reported on an earlier report by the Daily Wire, affixing blame for the shortfall on the former President.

On March 26, The Daily Wire published an article centering on the Obama administration’s role in using and allegedly failing to replenish the federal stockpile of N95 masks.

“The Obama administration significantly depleted the federal stockpile of N95 respirator masks to deal with the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009 and never rebuilt the stockpile despite calls to do so,” the piece begins.

The article draws from the reporting of outlets including Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times. According to Bloomberg News, “after the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009, which triggered a nationwide shortage of masks and caused a 2- to 3-year backlog orders for the N95 variety, the stockpile distributed about three-quarters of its inventory and didn’t build back the supply.”

“After the swine flu epidemic in 2009, a safety-equipment industry association and a federally sponsored task force both recommended that depleted supplies of N95 respirator masks, which filter out airborne particles, be replenished by the stockpile,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

ProPublica reported on April 3 that congressional budget battles in the early years of the Obama administration contributed to stockpile shortages. But the article notes available funds were used not to replenish masks: "With limited resources, officials in charge of the stockpile tend to focus on buying lifesaving drugs from small biotechnology firms that would, in the absence of a government buyer, have no other market for their products, experts said. Masks and other protective equipment are in normal times widely available and thus may not have been prioritized for purchase, they said."

The verdict?

 rating: True

 

“We rate this claim TRUE because it is supported by our research. There is no indication that the Obama administration took significant steps to replenish the supply of N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile after it was depleted from repeated crises. Calls for action came from experts at the time concerned for the country’s ability to respond to future serious pandemics. Such recommendations were, for whatever reason, not heeded.”

Score one for the Trumpster.

But, eventually, all evils Obamafied begin receding as if viewed through rear-view mirrors and President Trump, being a creature of self-preservation, cast about for a new scapegoat upon whom to pin the onus for the mask massacre.

The lowest hanging fruit – hoarders.  That it was the government itself did not seem to concern POTUS,

It’s like we’re in the middle of a hurricane here. They should not be stockpiling PPE,” said Bob Gibson, vice president of the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest such union in Florida. “It should be given to the frontline health workers. They have been in this fight for five months now, and they are exhausted. At a minimum, the federal government, the state and employers should be giving them the equipment they need.”

The official in charge of the federal cache said in a Friday interview that a plan to distribute the goods will be forthcoming.

“I have no intention of allowing a federal warehouse to fill up with supplies when I can see there are a few nursing homes or hospitals that may not have as many supplies as others,” said Navy Rear Admiral John Polowczyk. He said the administration would change supply contracts to free some materiel.

The President’s fickle finger of blame wagged and wiggled, finally settled on 3M. (See Attachment Two)

On the evening of April 2, some two weeks into America’s full-blown Covid crisis, President Donald Trump fired off a tweet to his more than 80 million followers:

We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks… Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing — will have a big price to pay!

The notion of 3M ending up square in the bilious crosshairs of the Tweeter-in-Chief would have seemed absurd just days earlier, according to David H. Friedman of Marker.com. “A staid, 118-year-old, Midwestern manufacturing company, 3M is best known for Scotch tape, sandpaper, and Post-It notes — it sells enough of them that it pulled in $32 billion last year, and employs nearly 100,000. Unlike the flashy high-tech wizardry radiating from Silicon Valley, 3M was built on made-America-great, meat-and-potatoes innovation.”

It turns out the majority of N95 masks in the U.S. comes from one company — 3M, which developed the first N95 masks back in the ’70s. “And inexplicably, 3M wasn’t making nearly enough of them.”

“The extreme shortage of N95 masks is ongoing and is one of many reasons the pandemic is raging on with no clear end in sight,” Marker concluded. “The shortage could well become catastrophic during a pandemic second wave this fall or winter.”

Fortunately or not, private enterprise is entering the lists in mask production and marketing online.  Or maybe just doing… something…

Internet scams are commonplace.  But at least one entrepreneur even tried to scam the taxpayers.

Consider the case of one Greg Lindberg…

Lindberg rose to prominence as the founder of Eli Global, now Global Growth, a private-equity firm that at one time owned more than 100 companies, spanned multiple industries and continents and employed thousands. In 2017, a spokesman said Lindberg was worth $1.7 billion, according to a story by the Raleigh News & Observer.

The character reference noted that Lindberg was planning to build an “amazing,” sprawling, 2.1-million-square-foot protective-mask-making plant in Macon.

“He always does what he says he’s going to do,” a private-banking associate of Lindberg’s wrote in the letter to the world. “He is a breath of fresh air in a financial industry, in a financial world that is overly-abundant with users and abusers. Mr. Lindberg’s words, statements and handshake are as solid as steel or in his case, gold — he has the Midas touch for sure.”

The next paragraph, as an example of the 50-year-old Lindberg’s financial acumen, told how the proposed Macon face-covering facility “will most assuredly become the USA’s, and within a few years the world’s, largest mask manufacturer with over 1 billion N95 masks made per year (by EOY 2021),” and that it “will employ minority ex-cons from the local community.”

 “This new Lindberg business,” the letter went on, “... will provide countless jobs to the local Macon, GA community and to persons in great need of such jobs. We are excited, encouraged and highly confident that these jobs will help to drastically reduce the recidivism rate of these minority ex-cons. This new company is a perfect example of the highly-intelligent, well-meaning, generous man, that Mr. Lindberg is, and I am honored to call him my friend.”

The glowing testimonial penned by Ronny Vogel, the CFO of Seattle-based Assets America, became necessary, however, because Lindberg was convicted of attempting to bribe North Carolina’s insurance commissioner using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, despite Mr. Vogel’s description of him as “generous, magnanimous, upstanding, fair-minded, and incredibly brilliant.”

Seems the plague will be with us a while longer.  Then again, the CDC (what trove of incriminating or embarrassing documents do the Feds possess on Dr. Redfield?) has seconded the President’s contention that a pandemic panacea will manifest on or about November 1st, just in time for the election.

 

Now that you’ve been duly warned, it’s back to our journal of the plague week, with commentary by Daniel DeFoe regarding the plague of London, 1665.  Do some of the attitudes of the habitués of the Pie Tavern sound like those of student pool parties,

The experts now say most cases are coming from (and to) young adults 18 – 30.

 

And so…

 

AUGUST 28 – SEPTEMBER 1

Friday, August 28, 2020

   

    Infected: 5,878.388

            Dead: 180,468

         Dow:  28,595,43

America ready to buy 150M tests from Abbott Pharma.  Trump and Biden exchange Coronavirus catcalls – the President contends Uncle Joe’s (still secret) plans are “not a solution to the virus but a surrender to the virus.”  Biden strikes back, calling Trump’s plague policy “delusional” and his convention speech a “Super Spreader” after four White House attendees get it.  Other liberals say CDC director Redfield has gone over to the dark side in promoting the Presidents “vaccine by election day” scheme while DHS’ Paul Mango says he knows nothing about vaccines.  Nevada man first reinfection case (with different strain).  Kenosha’s Morty the Militian (Kyle Rittenhouse) wanders past police with assault rifle, given water and not arrested for several days.  Laura spins north after blasting Lake Charles, La.  Acter Chadwick Boseman (“Black Panther”) dies of colon cancer as March on Washington assembles.  Closing: clothiers Lord & Taylor to shut down.

 

“This put it out of question to me, that the calamity was spread by infection; that is to say, by some certain steams or fumes, which the physicians call effluvia, by the breath, or by the sweat, or by the stench of the sores of the sick persons, or some other way, per yaps, beyond even the reach of the p hysicians themselves, which effluvia affected the sound who came within certain distances of the sick, immediately penetrating the vital parts of the said sound persons, putting their blood into an immediate ferment, and agitating their spirits to that degree which it was found they were agitated; and so those newl y infected persons communicated in the same manner to others.”

Saturday, August 29, 2020

 

 

        Infected: 5,878,388

             Dow:  28,595.43  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

 

    Infected: 5,918,381

           

Colgate U. President Casey says wastewater (piss) testing is a valid plague detection tool.  SoKo, France, Germany, Spain and Malaysia spiking.  China staggers school reopening.  Dr. Birx recommends quarantining on campus as more colleges (in 49 states) are spiking… new hot zones are Indiana U., Temple and SUNY Oneida.  Funerals and poultry processing plants also super spreaders.  As states and cities run out of money, NYCs diBlasio pleads for Federal subsidies; Djonald Unmoved scoffs.

 

“It was a great mistake that such a great city as this had but one pest-house for had there been, instead of one pest-house viz. beyond Bunhill Fields, where, at most, they would receive perhaps two hundred or three hundred people – I say, had there, instead of that one, been several pest-houses, every unable to contain a thousand people, without lying two in a bed, or two beds in a room, and had every master of a family; as soon as any servant especially had been taken sick in his house, been obliged to send them to the next pest-hose if they were willing, and many were, and had the examiners done the like among the poor people when they had been stricken with the infection… that not so many, by several thousands, had died…”

 

University of Washington predicts 317,000 deaths by December 1st, up from their August 6th prediction of 300,000 deaths by New Years’ Eve.  IPSOS poll sees Biden bouncing, Trump torpid with 8 to 14 point spreads.  German alt-righters (aka “Nazis”) storm parliament to oppose new plague regulations.  One Jodie Dione-Odom, an expert, believes that Labor Day family gatherings will be Super Spreader events.  U.S. Open opens (bubbled) but Nadal, Federer and Osaka pass it up.  Lefty kills rightie in Portland, Trump praises pro-Rittenhouse tweeter-ers; Dept. of National Intelligence John Ratliffe theatens takeover of weak Democratic-run cities and reinstate Law and Order,  Acting DHS Alpha Chad Wolf says Kenosha officials are to blame for not taking action on coziness between police, Rittenhouse and militias.  Long line for necessities in Lake Charles on the hottest day of the year.

 

“I must here take further notice that nothing was more fatal to the inhabitants of this cit than the supine negligence of the people themselves who, during the long notice or warning, they had of the visitation, made no provision for it by laying in store of provisions, or of other necessities, by which they might have lived retired and within their own houses…”

Monday, August 31, 2020

 

 

    Infected: 6,023,368

            Dead: 183,398

         Dow:  28,430.05

CDCs Hahn denies that a rush to unloosen untested vaccines before Election Day is a political ploy.  South Carolina pool party busted for mass unmasked anti-social anti-distancing.  Tributes to Chadwick Boseman keep pouring in… ABC shows Black Panther” (without commercials!) followed by a Gayle King documentary.  Re=opening: Miami restaurants, DisneyLand (allowing Halloween costumes, with masks) Closing: Pittsburgh schools, Georgia Tech, DisneyWorld. 

 

That there were a great many robberies and wicked practices committed even in this dreadful time I do not deny.  The power of avarice was so strong, in some, that they could run any hazard to steal and to plunder, and particularly in houses where all the families or inhabitants have been dead and carried out, they would break in at all hazards, and without regard to the danger of infection, take even the clothes off the dead bodies and the bed-clothes from others where they lay dead.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

 

 

    Infected: 6,068,139

            Dead: 185,594

         Dow:  28,645.66

  

President Trump tours Kenosha, brushes off Blake family (too many lawyers!) and then says that killer cops are “chokers” (a perhaps unintended George Floyd reference?) i.e. golfers who missed an easy putt while the enemies of America (Team Biden?) dress in black, live in Dark Shadows (vampires?) and fly around to trouble flashpoints in airplanes.  He also said that he “inherited” Dr. Fauci, who pretends that he and MikePence value his contribution to the Operation Warp Speed Task Force, but their signing on to the contention that most deaths are due to “pre-existing conditions”, not the plague is erroneous.  Fauci also corrects Dr. Scott Atlas’ crash program of reopening schools and athletic events without restrictions, saying “you don’t want vaccines released until they are proven safe and effective.”  As Apple and Google collude to develop a contact tracing app, hungry bears invade post-wildfire California, breaking into grocery stores and stealing candy.

 

”Now, at the beginning of September, the plague raging in a dreadful manner and the number of burials in our parish increasing… (the authorities) ordered this dreadful gulf to be dug – for such it was, rather than a pit.

   “The pit being finished by September 4th, they began to bury in it the 6th… they had thrown into it 1,114 bodies to fill it up…”

For a week of so many developments… hurricanes and floods and fires, Covid cases rising almost as fast as the stock market, our Index was relatively quiet.  No big statistical entities checked in, despite rumours that a vaccine had been or was about to be developed, and President Trump visited Kenosha, Wi and, though he did not meet with the Blake family, escaped without incident.  Are people beginning to realize that Trump is stirring up the violence, arson and looting so as to have a campaign issue to campaign upon?

 

 

THE DON JONES INDEX

             CHART of CATEGORIES w/VALUE ADDED to EQUAL BASELINE of 15,000

                        (REFLECTING… approximately… DOW JONES INDEX of June 27, 2013)

                                                  See a further explanation of categories here                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                            ECONOMIC INDICES (60%)

 

DON JONES’ PERSONAL ECONOMIC INDEX (45% of TOTAL INDEX POINTS)

 

CATEGORY

VALUE

BASE

 

RESULTS

 

SCORE

SCORE

      OUR SOURCE(S) and COMMENT

 

  INCOME

(24%)

6/27/13

LAST

CHANGE

NEXT

8/28/20

 9/2/20

                             SOURCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wages (hourly, per capita)

9%

1350 pts.

8/26/20

- 0.44%

9/9/20

1,396.39

1,396.39

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/wages  24.63

 

Median Income (yearly)

4%

600

8/26/20

+0.05%

9/9/20

647.52

647.84

debtclock.org/    34,328 345

 

Unempl. (BLS – in millions

4%

600

8/26/20

 -8.82%

9/9/20

196.63

196.63

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000   10.2%

 

Official (DC – in millions)

2%

300

8/26/20

 -0.13%

9/9/20

240.03

240.34

http://www.usdebtclock.org/ 16,194 161

 

Total. (DC – in millions)

2%

300

8/26/20

 -0.12%

9/9/20

212.68

212.93

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    26,720 689

 

Workforce Participation

Number (in millions)

Percentage (DC)

2%

300

8/26/20

+0.029%

 -0.013%

9/9/20

302.02

301.98

In 143,721  763 Out 100,681 721Total: 244,484

http://www.usdebtclock.org/  58.80

 

WP Percentage (ycharts)*

1%

150

8/19/20

 -0.16%

9/9/20

151.71

151.71

http://ycharts.com/indicators/labor_force_participation_rate  61.40

 

OUTGO

(15%)

 

 

 

 

 

Total Inflation

7%

1050

8/19/20

+0.6%

9/9/20

1032.10

1032.10

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.6 

 

Food

2%

300

8/19/20

+0.4%

9/9/20

284.69

284.69

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm      -0.4

 

Gasoline

2%

300

8/19/20

+5.6%

9/9/20

379.43

379.43

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +5.6

 

Medical Costs

2%

300

8/19/20

+0.5%

9/9/20

289.37

289.37

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0.5

 

Shelter

2%

300

8/19/20

+0.2%

9/9/20

296.11

296.11

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm     +0 .2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEALTH

(6%)

 

Dow Jones Index

2%

300

8/26/20

 +0.54%

9/9/20

307.57

309.23

https://quotes.wsj.com/index/DJIA  28,645.90

 

Sales (homes)

Valuation (homes)

1%

1%

150

150

8/26/20

+ 24.15%

+ 2.98%

9/9/20

   164.29                

165.07                   

   164.29                

165.07                   

http://www.realtor.org/research-and-statistics

     Sales (M):  5.86 Valuations (K):  304.1

 

Debt (Personal)

2%

300

8/26/20

  -0.05%

9/9/20

288.53

288.38

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    62,630

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             AMERICAN ECONOMIC INDEX (15% of TOTAL INDEX POINTS)

 

NATIONAL

(10%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues (in trillions)

2%

300

8/26/20

 +0.15%

9/9/20

234.10

234.45

debtclock.org/       2,702

 

Expenditures (in tr.)

2%

300

8/26/20

 - 0.07%

9/9/20

264.91

264.72

debtclock.org/       5,591

 

National Debt (tr.)

3%

450

8/26/20

+0.09%

9/9/20

348.18

347.88

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    26,714

 

Aggregate Debt (tr.)

3%

450

8/26/20

+0.19%

9/9/20

409.04

408.28

http://www.usdebtclock.org/    81,434

 

GLOBAL

(5%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foreign Debt (tr.)

2%

300

8/26/20

- 0.07%

9/9/20

 298.77               

  298.22               

 http://www.usdebtclock.org/   6,946

 

Exports (in billions – bl.)

1%

150

8/12/20

+9.55%

9/9/20

133.28              

133.28              

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/  158.3

 

Imports (bl.)

1%

150

8/12/20

 - 4.69%

9/9/20

163.25               

163.25               

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/  208.9

 

Trade Deficit (bl.)

1%

150

8/12/20

 - 7.69%

9/9/20

131.75               

131.75               

https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/  50.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL INDICES (40%)

 

ACTS of MAN

(12%)

 

  World Peace

3%

450

8/26/20

-0.2%

9/9/20

421.04

420.20

Belarus expels foreign journalists.  Russia holds war games just off Alaska coast.  Gaza sends balloon bombs over Israel, which sends back airplane bombs.

 

Terrorism

2%

300

8/26/20

+0.6%

9/9/20

275.86

274.20

Riots continue in the usual places plus Tallahassee, Fl.  Warrants out on Jacob Blake for sex and domestic abuse – his sister says “The reality of America is not real.”  Presumed Portland lefty (white) with black fist tattoo kills Trumpy invader.   College Repubs hold benefits for righty (also white) Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha.

 

Politics

3%

450

8/26/20

 +0.7%

9/9/20

456.64         

463.86         

Hundreds of thousands march on Washington chanting: “Get your knee off our necks.”  Best speech from MLK granddaughter Yolanda.  William Barber: “We’re gonna take up the baton,” of MLK, 57 years ago.  Jersey authorities cancel $2,800 bill to BLM spokeswoman for “security”. 

 

Economics

3%

450

8/26/20

+0.1%

9/9/20

399.05         

399.45         

Airlines counteract slumping sales by cancelling flight change fees.  Newest TikTok suitors: MicroSoft and WalMart.  Money man Mnooch blames unemployment on “certain states that are not opening up.”  CDC warns that evictions spread the plague.

 

Crime

1%

150

8/26/20

  +0.4%

9/9/20

274.60

273.50

Jacob Blake paralyzed after behing shot 7 times.  Police finally agree to remove the shackles from his hospital bed.  Homicides up 37% in big cities, partisan blamers assign blame.  In Atlanta, cops capture fiends who assault Mom and steal a one-year old from its stroller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACTS of GOD

(6%)

(with, in some cases, a little… or lots of… help from men, and a few women)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environment/Weather

3%

450

8/26/20

+0.5%

9/9/20

443.61

445.83

Laura spins east, brings rain to Gotham.  But more hurricanes are on the way.  California wildfires fading, but flash floods afflict Dallas and North Carolina while the first snows of 2020 blanket Montana.

 

Natural/Unnatural Disaster

3%

450

8/26/20

  +0.2%

9/9/20

429.21

428.35

16 deaths (more than half from generator CO) and 800K powerless after Laura.  Dozens die in collapse of Chinese restaurant.  In China.  Banksy-funded boat of refugees founders, survivors picked up by Italy.

 

LIFESTYLE/JUSTICE INDEX   (15%)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science, Tech, Education

4%

600

8/26/20

  -0.1%

 

9/9/20

632.34

631.71

Elon Musk invents coin-sized brain implant to do things to people.   FAA greenlights Amazonian drone deliveries despite passenger planes’ narrow miss of jetpackers. 

 

Equality (econ./social)

4%

600

8/26/20

+0.4%

9/9/20

574.00

576.30

BLM march on Washington largely peaceful, tho’ Trump calls them “thugs, anarchists and looters” but admits that shooting Jacob Blake “was not a good thing.”  A marcher says “We are in a worser position than 1963.”  MLK 3 advocates Floyd and Lewis bills passed by Congress but killed by Mitchy. 

 

Health

       Plague

4%

600

8/26/20

-0.1%

-0.2%

9/9/20

507.27

  - 500.00

506.76

  - 500.00

Experts say 90% of American youth are flabby and overdevoted to social media.  President Trump denies his November journey to Walter Reed Hospital was due to (minor) strokes. 

 

 

Freedom and Justice

3%

450

8/26/20

-0.3%

9/9/20

445.58

444.24

Ronnie Long freed after 44 years at NC prison for rape and burglary he did not commit,  Directorate of National Intelligence ends Congressional briefing, citing what John Rafcliffe calls “a pandemic of leaks” to the evil media.  Liberals compare actions to Lukashenko in Belarus; Nancy says: “All roads lead to Putin.”

 

MISCELLANEOUS and TRANSIENT INDEX        (7%)

 

 

 

 -

 

 

 

 

Cultural incidents

3%

450

8/26/20

+0.4%

9/9/20

470.69

472.57

College football opens (at 25% capacity) with Austin Peay v. Arkansas State.  Walked-out athletes protesting police killings walk back into their bubble.  Tyra Banks to host “Dancing With the Stars” (See Attachment Four).  Chadwick Boseman remembered for visits to children with cancer.  RIP John Thompson, Georgetown  hoops coach.

 

 

Miscellaneous incidents

4%

450

8/26/20

+0.3%

9/9/20

461.42              

462.77              

Stories of helpful Americans crisscross the globe – donating time and money to Laura victims and people in trouble.  Pressured by reporters and Republicans, Uncle Joe Biden asks: “Do I look like a radical Socialist with a soft spot for rioters and looters?”

 

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      * HEALTH – In light of the spread of the coronavirus, making an objective (or even subjective) determination of its effect on Don Jones becomes a very dubious prospect; literally an all-or-nothing proposition where the prospects of the unfortunate sink to zero.  Then, there is the collateral damage to those sickened, but not terminated, by the virus, the friends and families of the deceased, the police, fire, EMT and medical workers laboring with what even President Trump now admits are inadequate protection, those who lose their jobs, businesses who lose their customers and have to shut down and a public deprived of social assemblies and ritual gatherings from holiday, arts and sporting events (today’s latest casualty, Wimbledon).  Taking these into account would decimate almost the entirety of the Social index.  So here is our compromise.

       Coronavirus impact will not be factored into the individual social indices.  Moreover, health will be given a “no change” rank for the duration.  However, a more or less general VC levy, a tax if you will, will be imposed on the entire Index at this category, although not deducted from the score until a reckoning of some sort, some time into the future.  This “tax” will consist of two factors only… a rough case penalty of one percent for every 100,000 new confirmed American victims and another one percent “tax” on every new one thousand deaths.  In this Index, that amounts to a deduction of two percent (on 200,000 cases, more or less) plus four percent (on an estimated four thousand deaths, as of today).  This total of six percent will be taken from the most recent Health value of 571.44, leading to an April 1st score of 537.19,  (Doing a little math, the CV penalty almost equals the drop in the entire Index, due to the late reporting of collateral effects like unemployment and inflation statistics.)  However, to prevent a CV overloading (or, rather, diminution) of this category, its fall will be capped at 500.00 (down from a January 1st value of 600) after which further deductions may or may not be made from the total, but not Health,

      As of today, our August 19th Index has reached its -500 cap.  Hereafter, only a $3.11 penalty will be imposed this week and, after this, no deductions at all will be made from the weekly score (although the points lost will still be recorded).  Barring some outrageous spike or decline in the toll of infections and/or deaths, this model will remain viable until the disease has run its course (meaning several months, at best, to years, at worst).  Modifications will be made to the conventional “Health” score in the event of, for example, a proven cure or vaccine or, conversely, emergence of a new strain that re-infects the survivors (or, like the TV series, turns them into vampires).  The removal of a President who eschews masks but advises drinking bleach will be slotted into the “political” category.     

 

 

The Don Jones Index for the week of August 28th through September 1st, 2020 was UP 9.33 points.

The Don Jones Index is sponsored by the Coalition for a New Consensus: retired Congressman and Independent Presidential candidate Jack “Catfish” Parnell, Chairman; Brian Doohan, Administrator/Editor.  The CNC denies, emphatically, allegations that the organization, as well as any of its officers (including former Congressman Parnell, environmentalist/America-Firster Austin Tillerman and cosmetics CEO Rayna Finch) and references to Parnell’s works, “Entropy and Renaissance” and “The Coming Kill-Off” are fictitious or, at best, mere pawns in the web-serial “Black Helicopters” – and promise swift, effective legal action against parties promulgating this and/or other such slanders.

Comments, complaints, donations (especially SUPERPAC donations) always welcome at feedme@generisis.com or: speak@donjonesindex.com

 

 

BACK

See further indicators at Economist – https://www.economist.com/economic-and inancialndicators/2019/02/02/economic-data-commodities-and-markets

 

ATTACHMENT ONE – from the Mayo Clinic

 

How to wear a cloth face mask

 

The CDC recommends that you wear a cloth face mask when you're around people who don't live with you and in public settings when social distancing is difficult.

Here are a few pointers for putting on and taking off a cloth mask:

·         Wash or sanitize your hands before and after putting on and taking off your mask.

·         Place your mask over your mouth and nose.

·         Tie it behind your head or use ear loops and make sure it's snug.

·         Don't touch your mask while wearing it.

·         If you accidentally touch your mask, wash or sanitize your hands.

·         If your mask becomes wet or dirty, switch to a clean one. Put the used mask in a sealable bag until you can wash it.

·         Remove the mask by untying it or lifting off the ear loops without touching the front of the mask or your face.

·         Wash your hands immediately after removing your mask.

·         Regularly wash your mask with soap and water by hand or in the washing machine. It's fine to launder it with other clothes.

And, here are a few face mask precautions:

·         Don't put masks on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.

·         Don't put masks on children under 2 years of age.

·         Don't use face masks as a substitute for social distancing.

Tips for adjusting to a face mask

It can be challenging to get used to wearing a face mask. Here are some tips for making the transition:

·         Start slow. Wear your mask at home for a short time, such as while watching television. Then wear it during a short walk. Slowly increase the time until you feel more comfortable.

·         Find your fit. If your mask isn't comfortable or is too difficult to breathe through, consider other options. Masks come in a variety of styles and sizes.

If these tips don't help or you have concerns about wearing a mask, talk with your doctor about how to protect yourself and others during the pandemic.

 

ATTACHMENT TWO – from Marker.com

 

David H. Freedman

 

On the evening of April 2, some two weeks into America’s full-blown Covid crisis, President Donald Trump fired off a tweet to his more than 80 million followers:

We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks… Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing — will have a big price to pay!

The notion of 3M ending up square in the bilious crosshairs of the Tweeter-in-Chief would have seemed absurd just days earlier. A staid, 118-year-old, Midwestern manufacturing company, 3M is best known for Scotch tape, sandpaper, and Post-It notes — it sells enough of them that it pulled in $32 billion last year, and employs nearly 100,000. Unlike the flashy high-tech wizardry radiating from Silicon Valley, 3M was built on made-America-great, meat-and-potatoes innovation. The company owns some 120,000 patents, and sells some 55,000 products. So how did a much-admired all-American sticky-paper company end up being publicly cast as a pandemic villain?

The answer: N95 masks. At the time of the tweet, there was growing public horror over cries from America’s frontline health care workers running out of the N95s that would keep them from getting infected by the flood of sick and dying patients. N95 masks are designed to be discarded after a single patient encounter, but medical professionals were getting infected as a result of relying on the same mask for as many as five shifts, or even sharing the mask with other health care workers. It was still a few months before there would be hard data on the actual number of U.S. health care workers infected with Covid-19 — by the end of July, estimates reached 150,000 to 200,000, with some 1,300 fatalities — but it was already clear the country was verging on a massive health care meltdown right at the peak of the crisis.

It turns out the majority of N95 masks in the U.S. comes from one company — 3M, which developed the first N95 masks back in the ’70s. And inexplicably, 3M wasn’t making nearly enough of them.

Things only got worse for the company. 3M wasn’t merely falling severely short of producing enough of the masks — press reports indicated the company was sending much of its supply to China. The very country that, to hear Trump and his backers tell it, virtually manufactured the novel coronavirus and shipped it to us. And in return 3M was sending them our life-saving masks. Trump announced he was going to invoke the Defense Production Act to force 3M to keep all its masks here.

To be sure, Trump’s tweeted ire is a vast and largely indiscriminate commodity that has scorched plenty of other companies during his tenure, including Macy’s, Ford, Merck, and AT&T. But while most of these attacks draw little more than “he’s at it again” shrugs from the world at large, the attack on 3M got traction. Suddenly, the story was everywhere, and 3M was getting hammered on Fox News. Much of America suddenly wondered how such an iconic company, one that has long been considered the beacon of innovation, could let us all down in such a spectacular way.

3M’s square-jawed, normally limelight-avoiding CEO, Mike Roman, fired back publicly on CNBC, insisting that the White House’s accusations were “absurd.” Trump’s attack was apparently too much even for the low-key CEO, a former engineer who took the reins in 2018 after 30 years with the company. In keeping with 3M management tradition, Roman had until then steered away from controversy. “The narrative we are not doing everything we can to maximize delivery of respirators [N95 masks] in our home country, nothing could be further from the truth,” he said in the interview.

The mask fiasco has left 3M with a big dent in the golden reputation it’s been building for more than a century. The reality is, masks are barely a line item on 3M’s balance sheet.

Trump would soon announce his shaming had worked — he had pushed 3M to get its act together and produce more N95 masks for America. Little more about the blowup would be said publicly, leaving the widespread impression that 3M had initially failed us when it came to supplying this suddenly precious and critical resource, but then got to work to close the gap.

Those were the optics, but not the reality. The charges that 3M was unprepared for a spike in N95 demand, and too beholden to China, were a cartoon version of a much more complicated picture. At the same time, the notion that 3M has gone on to solve the N95 problem is pure fantasy. The extreme shortage of N95 masks is ongoing and is one of many reasons the pandemic is raging on with no clear end in sight. The shortage could well become catastrophic during a pandemic second wave this fall or winter.

Like millions of other U.S. businesses, the pandemic has not been easy on 3M. The Saint Paul, Minnesota-based corporation has seen demand for most of its products plummet in a rapidly contracting economy, crushing its revenues. But while many of those other companies are seen as victims, the mask fiasco has left 3M with a big dent in the golden reputation it’s been building for more than a century. The reality is, masks are barely a line item on 3M’s balance sheet. Up until the pandemic, N95s only accounted for less than 1% of the public company’s $32 billion in annual revenues. But when you take on the risk of having a product in your portfolio that has the potential to become the lifeline for the country overnight, you better be ready to step up to the occasion. It might only be a fraction of your business, but it’s your entire reputation on the line.

 

Inmid-January, Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota researcher who heads the school’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy, contacted 3M to urge them to start making more N95 masks. There were no known U.S. cases of Covid-19 at the time and only dozens of known cases anywhere in the world outside of China. The World Health Organization was still nearly two months away from declaring the disease a pandemic. It would be a full half-year before the president of the United States conceded that mask-wearing was a good idea.

But Osterholm was among those experts who could see what was about to come, and the resulting surge in demand for N95 masks. 3M listened to Osterholm, and immediately started ramping up its production.

Headquartered in the Twin Cities, 3M built its multibillion-dollar business and its solid reputation around innovation in common industrial products that require tricky, complex manufacturing processes. It wasn’t like the electronic-chip or blockbuster-drug complex, where breakthroughs come from Nobel-Prize-winning scientists. No, this was the sort of midlevel complexity that calls for a team of industrial scientists laboring in obscurity to come up with a way to make a better adhesive or abrasive — two of 3M’s biggest products. (Or, famously, a worse adhesive: Post-It notes were dreamed up by a 3M scientist in 1974 who realized the disappointingly semi-sticky glue he unintentionally developed might actually have a use.)

In spite of their low-rent look and feel, N95 masks are precision instruments compared to the cloth masks we’re now all buying from Etsy or The Gap (or the hundreds of other brands now selling them).

The company has retained its image as an innovative but stolid source of utilitarian products that mostly come in tubes or rolls — think caulk or Scotch tape — and that while rarely dazzling, tend to be perceived as being at least a bit better than its competitors’ versions. “It’s an old-school science-and-technology company whose products are high-quality, and more expensive than its competitors’,” says John Inch, a senior analyst at research firm Gordon Haskett Research who follows 3M. That sturdy but somewhat unglamorous profile hasn’t exactly made 3M a darling of Wall Street, Inch says, noting that the company’s stock has been declining from a high of $259 in early 2018 to around $165 today — though he adds the drop has been partly driven by a lawsuit over alleged contamination of Minnesota water supplies with perfluorochemicals tied to 3M plants, which the company settled in 2018 for $850 million.

3M’s N95 masks in some ways typify the company’s moderately innovative, modestly complex, but highly regarded products. N95 “respirators” — a technical term for a mask that provides a higher level of protection than ordinary masks — are made from cloth-covered plastic. They feel cardboardy and flimsy, but unlike floppy surgical or fabric masks, they hold a distinct, muzzle-like shape. They’re about as cheap as they feel, going for $1.75 retail in the small quantities in which they’ve long been sold to the public, and while bulk health care prices are a well-kept secret, they’re likely quite a bit lower, at least in normal times. In frontline high-risk health care use with infected patients, the masks are meant to be used for a single patient encounter and tossed. But in less-high-risk health care uses, as well as in the painting and dusty construction work that, until the pandemic, accounted for 85% of the market, they can be good for eight or more hours of total wear before they start to clog, making it difficult to breathe.

In spite of their low-rent look and feel, N95 masks are precision instruments compared to the cloth masks we’re now all buying from Etsy or The Gap (or the hundreds of other brands now selling them). Cloth masks can protect others, by catching most of the tiny, potentially virus-carrying droplets that an infected wearer might blow out while breathing, speaking, or coughing. But they don’t do much to protect the wearer from others who are maskless, because someone else’s expelled virus can zip right through the fabric, as well come in through the gaps.

Not so with the N95. They’re tested to block at least 95% of virus-sized particles in either direction, and when properly worn, sit tight against the face with no air gaps. Simply put, they are the closest thing to complete protection against infection and are considered absolutely essential for health care workers and other critical frontline workers at high risk of exposure.

(For the record, there are other types of masks that riff on the N95: KN95s, which mostly come from China, are supposed to offer similar protection, but aren’t certified to that effect. 3M’s N100 offers a slightly higher level of virus filtration, at higher cost. “Surgical N95” masks, also made by 3M, are another more-protective version of the N95, designed to also protect against spraying fluids, namely blood. Some N95 masks from 3M and others incorporate a half-dollar-sized valve that makes it easier to breathe out, but also lets viruses escape.)

3M practically invented the N95 mask. Around 1970, the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) came up with an “N95” standard that a mask would have to meet to earn that designation. In 1972, 3M became the first to figure out how to make a low-cost mask to meet it, drawing on its expertise with pliable, plasticky materials that had until then been used mostly for gift ribbons and bras. (The earliest versions of the masks weren’t all that different from a single bra cup.) Other companies — most notably Honeywell and Prestige Ameritech — would go on to make fairly similar N95 masks. But for five decades, 3M has dominated the market, shipping 30 million masks a month to health care and industrial supply companies as well as home-improvement retailers before the pandemic. (For comparison, Honeywell ships around 1 million.) Even so, masks are a blip in 3M’s business.

The design, performance, and manufacturing processes behind the masks have been upgraded extensively over the years. For the past two decades, that’s happened under the watch of Nicole McCullough, a PhD occupational health scientist who is now the company’s head of global safety. Some 300 3M scientists and technicians work under her direction on 3M’s personal-protection products, which include everything from safety glasses to anti-slip tape. But masks get an outsized share of attention, says McCullough, noting that an entire lab at the company is devoted just to constantly test and improve the fit of the mask to ensure it seals tight against a variety of face sizes and shapes. “It looks like a simple device,” she says. “But it’s full of technology.”

In January, after getting the call from infectious disease researcher Osterholm and consulting with other experts, 3M immediately committed to doubling its production of masks to 60 million a month. By mid-April, it would commit to quadrupling it.

3M could promise that sort of dramatic ramp-up because it had, in recent years, taken steps to prepare for a sudden pandemic-driven surge in N95 demand. It was an effort undertaken after the SARS outbreak of 2003. That outbreak was tiny compared to Covid-19, killing less than 800 people worldwide and infecting only eight in the U.S, but public fear of a wider outbreak drove a spike in N95 demand. That’s when 3M started paying attention.

To gear up for the next potential health crisis, 3M purchased the “melt-blown polypropylene” material and the huge, complex machines required to produce the masks, and put it all in mothballs. It also trained more technicians on the equipment and processes. While almost all other U.S. manufacturers of N95 masks were shifting their N95 production to China, India, and other countries where costs were lower, 3M kept its biggest N95 manufacturing lines in the U.S., in South Dakota and Nebraska, recognizing that in a serious outbreak, overseas pipelines might dry up.

“A lot of us were exhausted. We had to make room for crying time.”

These moves flew in the face of generally accepted good business sense, says Kyle Goldschmidt, a researcher at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis who studies supply chains and follows 3M. “Investing in spare tooling and materials for emergency capacity provides no value to the company,” asserts Goldschmidt. “Almost all companies focus on lean practices, taking all excess capacity out of the supply chain. 3M added it in.” 3M’s approach may not have made much business sense, but it would be vital in a pandemic.

So when Covid-19 started to have the makings of a pandemic, 3M was ready to hit the gas. It added shifts and overtime to its plants worldwide to get to 24/7 operation on its lines, pulled the tarps off its extra equipment and materials, and moved hundreds of employees over to mask production. When it started running out of people it could shift over or hire, it began purchasing robots to pitch in. Its researchers studied ways to sterilize masks for reuse. It even successfully pushed the federal government for fast changes to regulations that would have prevented the company from diverting shipments of N95 masks earmarked for industrial use to hospitals. For weeks McCullough and other managers and researchers leading the emergency ramp-up were waking multiple times a night to answer urgent calls and texts from 3M plants around the world. “A lot of us were exhausted,” she says. “We had to make room for crying time.”

When the pandemic exploded in New York City and other hot spots in March, the company began airlifting and hand-delivering mask shipments to hard-hit hospitals, moving as many as half a million masks per day. But it wasn’t enough. As the crisis sharply worsened, more hospitals started running out of the masks, and of other protective gear. There was nothing else 3M could do to make masks any faster. The machines that make them are complex, and getting more of them would take months. The world’s supply of melt-blown polypropylene, difficult to obtain on short notice in the best of times, dried up overnight.

Then came the president’s tweetstorm and his threats of invoking the Defense Production Act to keep masks here. 3M had been sending masks to China, reportedly in quantities somewhere “in the millions.” In January, when the company first started kicking up production, it contracted with Chinese authorities to send many of the extra masks it was making there — because that’s where the pandemic was at the time. It did so with the full blessing of the Trump administration. In fact, for more than another month the administration continued to encourage all U.S. medical-supply companies to ship more goods to China because of skyrocketing demand there. At the end of February, the Commerce Department helpfully issued a guide for medical suppliers on the best way to do it. Some $16 million worth of masks and other medical personal protection equipment were shipped to China in February by U.S. manufacturers, including 3M.

When the pandemic took hold in the U.S. in March, 3M started winding the shipments to China down, but hesitated to simply shut them off. For one thing, 3M runs an N95 plant in Shanghai and didn’t want to risk losing access to it. China is also a key source of the raw materials used in the masks and of a variety of medical supplies. By April 3, 3M announced it was importing 10 million N95 masks to the U.S. from its factory in China, likely far more than 3M had sent there.

Within a few days Trump backed down, though characteristically dressing up his retreat as a victory. Rather than invoke the Defense Production Act against the company, he said, he had wrung a commitment from the company to increase U.S. mask shipments — ignoring the fact that the company had started doing so more than two months earlier, and that under the new “agreement” 3M would continue to fulfill its contractual obligations to China.

Clearly, 3M deserves some credit for a fast response to the initial disastrous shortage of N95 masks. And there are plenty of others that share the blame for this crisis, starting with the federal government. Congress funds a national stockpile of personal protective gear for health care workers to the tune of $600 million a year, and by 2009 had built up a store of more than 100 million N95 masks. That sounds impressive, but the CDC has estimated that a major pandemic like Covid-19 calls for some 3.5 billion masks per year. Even worse, after 85 million masks were distributed from the stockpile during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, no effort was made to restock even that inadequate supply.

The bulk of 3M’s business has actually suffered under the pandemic, with overall sales falling 13% in the second quarter.

When Covid-19 hit, there were 17 million masks in the national stockpile — and 5 million of those were past the masks’ five-to-10-year expiration dates, which are set because the rubber head bands deteriorate over time. When Trump finally realized he had to act to address the shortage, his main action besides trying to blame 3M was to put his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of finding more masks and other critically short supplies. Kushner, who has no health care, manufacturing, or supply-chain experience, bungled the job, throwing tens of millions of dollars at companies owned by Trump supporters who delivered little in return.

To be fair, the U.S. has never had a strong centralized public health system as most countries do, relying more on state and local public health agencies. But few state agencies have maintained significant stockpiles either. That means the country has left hospital systems on their own to maintain the stocks of masks and other equipment needed to face an epidemic. Did they? Let’s put it this way: Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Harvard’s flagship teaching hospital that’s universally considered to be one of the top few hospitals in America, as well as one of the best-funded, had a mere week’s supply of N95 masks just days into the pandemic’s initial flare-up in March. Most hospitals in America were less prepared than that.

The reason hospitals failed to even minimally stock up on masks, says St. Thomas University’s Goldschmidt, is that unlike 3M, hospitals and hospital-supply distributors insist on hewing to lean supply chain practices — safety be damned. “They focus on keeping their inventory costs low,” says Goldschmidt. “They’ve prioritized profits over preparedness.”

But, as the premier manufacturer of N95 masks in the U.S., there’s plenty more 3M could have been prepared for: It would have had a good handle on how woefully low the government and health care industry N95 inventories were. It would have anticipated that if a pandemic exploded demand for the masks, all eyes would have turned to the company to meet that need. And it would have known that quickly doubling and even eventually quadrupling production wouldn’t come close to solving the problem.

3M wasn’t helpless; it could have pushed the government and hospitals to store more masks, it could have built up even more excess capacity, or it could have simply just gotten out of a business that barely contributes its bottom line while carrying the risk of big reputational hit. The mask shortage may not be 3M’s fault, but unlike the inconvenience of a pandemic-induced toilet paper shortage or flour shortage or bike shortage, it carried a much heavier burden — preventing the shortage of a life-saving item.

AsCovid-19 rages on, 3M will almost certainly remain by far the U.S.’s largest manufacturer of N95 masks. But even with the massive ramp-up, the masks still aren’t likely to account for more than 3% of the company’s revenues, even at peak production. Meanwhile, the bulk of 3M’s business has actually suffered, with overall sales falling 13% in the second quarter compared to the same quarter last year. Steep pandemic-driven declines in the airline and car industries wreaked havoc on the company’s bread-and-butter abrasives and adhesives business. With many offices closed and schools shifting to remote learning, there isn’t as much demand for Scotch tape and Post-It notes. Ironically, even 3M’s overall health care sales have fallen in the midst of this enormous health crisis. While the demand for masks and other protective equipment has spiked, sales of most of its bandages and IV connectors and dental materials have withered under the steep drop in all but essential medical and dental procedures.

In the past six months, the mask-manufacturing industry has steadily ramped up N95 output, with the sector expected to continue to grow its revenue by 23% per year over the next five years, according to one estimate. 3M alone is on track to produce 2 billion masks this year, more than half of which will be made in, and thus will be sure to stay in, the U.S. Honeywell is building up to a 250-million-masks-a-year capacity. And new manufacturers, like Miami-based Maskco Technologies, are springing up. Along with partners, Maskco has bought 56 Chinese N95-like mask-making machines capable of producing nearly a billion masks per year (they can’t be called N95 masks until they’re thoroughly tested by NIOSH and approved by the FDA). “I already have purchase orders in hand for my first two years of production,” says CEO Scott Weissman, an investment banker who founded the company in April in response to the pandemic.

The enormous ramp-up in mask production may not do all that much for 3M’s bottom line, but far more important, the resulting higher capacity from all this activity should be enough to see most hospital workers through the pandemic. Unless that is, there’s a massive, sharp spike beyond any we’ve seen so far, which unfortunately remains a distinct possibility, given the U.S.’s track record.

But what about the general population? It was taboo in the early months of the pandemic for health experts to publically sing the praises of N95 masks while their supply remained dangerously short of what health care desperately needs. But as the shortages ease, more are speaking out about what a plentiful supply of N95 masks could do to keep people safe as they mingle with the maskless masses.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review in mid-June, two Harvard Medical School physicians and two other health and policy experts explained that N95 masks “would give people control over their own safety, a greater incentive to wear them, and the confidence to resume economically important activities. If worn widely enough in crowded and indoor settings where most transmission seems to occur, these masks could potentially stop the epidemic altogether.” In a July opinion piece in USA Today, two intensive-care specialists put it this way: “How should individuals protect themselves from infection in areas where near universal indoor mask use is not the norm? In such a situation, the best option is to wear an N95.”

But that’s not an option right now — there’s no scenario under which N95 masks would become plentiful enough in the coming months to permit widespread distribution to the general population, and the U.S. will likely be struggling simply to keep health care workers safely stocked up for at least a year.

3M, meanwhile, will become a case study on how creating a potentially life-saving product can become your biggest liability in a crisis. “3M has taken the bulk of the blame,” says University of St. Thomas researcher Goldschmidt of the N95 shortage. “It’s a little unfair, but the finger always has to point somewhere.”

 

ATTACHMENT THREE – from the Notre Dame (student) Observer

If we’ve learned anything in the past months, it’s to take nothing for granted. The expectation that everyday life will continue as it always has can no longer exist. As redundant as it sounds, the next two weeks will shape the trajectory for the rest of the semester and perhaps the ones to follow.

The blame for this does not lie with just one party. We — as students, faculty, staff and administrators — need to share responsibility for the outbreak on our hands. We longed to return to South Bend while in quarantine last semester. Now, we are at risk of hurting the community we’ve come to know and love. 

We implore members of the tri-campus community to do everything within their power to approach this virus in an appropriate and serious manner. Otherwise, we fear the worst is yet to come. 

Don’t make us write a tri-campus employee’s obituary.

Don’t make us write an administrator’s obituary.

Don’t make us write a custodian’s obituary.

Don’t make us write a dining hall worker’s obituary.

Don’t make us write a professor’s obituary.

Don’t make us write a classmate’s obituary.

Don’t make us write a friend’s obituary.

Don’t make us write a roommate’s obituary.

Don’t make us write yours.