US Headlines March 27, 2020
The sinking price of oil
(Eurointelligence, The New York Times) The Covid-19 crisis acted as a trigger for an oil price war that has seen benchmarks drop to a third of where they were three months ago, from the $60-75/bbl range to the low twenties. The prospect of $10 oil is not far-fetched. Those with storage capacity are taking advantage of increased Saudi oil production and lower prices to build up inventories, and that is actually keeping up demand and so propping up prices. But inventories will max out soon and then demand for oil will fall as people are still not driving or flying due to lock-downs, and so the price of oil could drop further.
Good news for dogs
(Foreign Policy) A surge in applications from homebound New Yorkers has led to a shortage in dogs to adopt and foster. A similar trend has emerged in Los Angeles, where the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals noted a 70 percent increase in animals entering foster care. “For the moment we definitely don’t have any dogs left to match” with foster homes, said Anna Lai, of Muddy Paws Rescue, “Which is a great problem to have.”
3.3 million seek US jobless aid
(AP) Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week–almost five times the previous record set in 1982–amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus. The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs. Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have closed factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they’re cutting jobs to save money.
Coping with virus through humor
(AP) Neil Diamond posts a fireside rendition of “Sweet Caroline” with its familiar lyrics tweaked to say, “Hands … washing hands.” A news anchor asks when social distancing will end because “my husband keeps trying to get into the house.” And a sign outside a neighborhood church reads: “Had not planned on giving up quite this much for Lent.” Laughter can be the best medicine, and in a crisis, it can be a powerful coping mechanism.
Funerals Are Another Thing That Now Must Wait
(NYT) The rituals of honoring and saying goodbye to the dead run deep. Reaching out to touch in sympathy and condolence feels instinctive. But the coronavirus, in its confounding and confining effects–stay-at-home orders, bans on large gatherings and fears of travel and exposure–is blowing those traditions apart, no matter the cause of death. Postponement and uncertainty, and for many families a painful triage of who can physically attend a service and who cannot, are becoming part of the language of obituaries and family discussions even as people grieve.