Cumberland Advisors Market Commentary – Zika & COVID-19: We Need Action Now!

Author: David R. Kotok, Post Date: August 14, 2020
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Dear Readers: This is an appeal to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, House Members and Senators, and including those on the far right and on the far left of American politics. The nation needs you to set aside the partisan politics. Students, their teachers, businesses, investors, the retired, the unemployed, the charities, state and local governments, healthcare workers, other essential workers, and more – ALL need you to act right now in the interest of the nation.

Please do so now. We must not repeat the Zika error of a political stalemate.

In my pamphlet on Zika, Chapter 12 (page 41), I wrote:

“Our congressional representatives enjoy their summer recess. Both political parties have conventioned, nominated, and vilified each other’s choices. Neither mentioned the political dysfunction they own with their respective behavior.” That was written a few years ago.

Chapter 12 in the pamphlet describes how funding for Zika was delayed a year because of political infighting among the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. All agreed that Zika was the enemy. None could agree on the funding bill. Why?

It wasn’t about Zika. No one wanted Zika to win, just as no one wants COVID-19 to win. The fight then was because the anti-abortion folks wouldn’t allow Planned Parenthood offices to administer Zika help to pregnant mothers who were carrying a Zika-infected child or who wanted a test to find out if they were. The pro-choice folks would not budge, either. And President Obama didn’t budge in his negotiating stance. So the nation lost an entire year in vaccine and treatment development against Zika.

The chapter in the pamphlet has maps of the United States that show the states where about half of the two million possible mothers resided at the time. The chapter contains a timeline that recounts the dismal failure of federal governance because of politics. The result was sickness and family suffering that didn’t have to occur.

For the purpose of saving American lives, my Cumberland colleagues and I, as author, are suspending the copyright and granting full permission to anyone to reproduce or distribute or quote from the pamphlet.

We will send the pamphlet free to anyone who wants it. Just email me. We have also posted it on Cumberland’s website: https://www.cumber.com/zika/  Anyone who is interested in the public health system in the United States is granted full permission to use it.

Please read the five-pages in Chapter 12. Then ask yourself whether history is repeating itself.

In our Sarasota region, 15 people died yesterday of COVID-19, according to local TV news. That is a one- or two-day count. The federal funding that awaits Congressional passage is needed in our region and throughout the United States. To get it, Congress has to pass a funding bill. That takes a conference, since both the Senate and House have passed enough legislation to get to an agreement if they would only lock themselves up in a room and not come out until they reach a compromise.

The senators are waiting because Leader McConnell is holding up a piece of a bill dealing with treatment of liabilities (not the medical treatment of COVID-19). Why not set aside the legal fight over defining a COVID-19 liability and get the rest of the money flowing to all the folks in our nation who desperately need it now?

Fight later over a new provision for rewriting the law about liability management in a pandemic. Do that with full hearings and thoughtful deliberation – not by withholding virus treatment and care for the sick as a captive item. Fight now against this pernicious virus.

As with the Zika fiasco I wrote about, the legislative holdup delays testing and treatment and vaccine funding and distribution and all the things that are needed to defeat COVID-19. We lost an entire year in the fight against Zika. And people are dying every day as the US fights against COVID-19 continues with one hand tied behind the nation’s back.

Please take a few minutes to read the five-page chapter and scan the timeline of the Zika story. Then fast-forward a few years to the present and decide how you can best respond.

The poet George Santayana said, “Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.”

For two decades and around the world, this writer has followed SARS, MERS, Ebola, Zika, and now COVID-19.

From my firsthand experience, every day counts.

David R. Kotok
Chairman of the Board & Chief Investment Officer
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