September 28, 2020

Trend Watch and New This Week

Recent US COVID-19 trends have continued to improve generally, particularly for hospitalizations and deaths. With respect to cases and deaths, we are parsing through some new data, which we hope to share in the coming weeks, that appears to show the infections are increasing among younger people but is leading to fewer deaths.

The number of confirmed US COVID-19 cases bumped higher this past week (slide 3). But the state of Texas lumped roughly 28,000 COVID-19 cases that were missed or improperly categorized from the past several months into this past week. If we exclude those, the case trend declined. Meanwhile, the 7-day average of US testing reached a new high, over 870,000, which is encouraging.

Globally, though, infection case numbers continued to climb, particularly in India, France and Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Public transit ridership remains impacted, but fairly steady (slide 5). Besides work-from-home, there is a lack of large-scale events, such as sporting events and concerts, which typically drive ridership. Social unrest has also impacted public transit usage. Air passenger throughput also remains impacted, but has been erratic in the past few weeks (slide 6).

Meanwhile, freight traffic has been robust as companies have scrambled to ramp up production and satisfy consumer demand (slide 7).

Bottom Line

US activity-based data, which has reaccelerated in September, reflects further gradual reopenings occurring. This is also likely due to consumers, businesses and institutions (like schools) adopting and adapting strategies to better deal with the pandemic.

Overall, we maintain our general optimism about the US recovery path. Though in the early innings, the US economic recovery remains ahead of most of the rest of the world, with the exception of China and a few Asian countries. Still, within the US, the recovery will continue to be uneven—both by industry and region.