The end of the first quarter of 2021 loosely coincides with the one-year mark since the lockdowns and other broad-based coronavirus mitigation strategies went into effect. Obviously much has occurred during this time relating to economic, social, political, and market dynamics.
Currently in terms of economics, aggregate trends in data warrant optimism. As the economy continues to amplify the scope of its regeneration, there is evidence that increased consumer activity is helpful to that effort. High-frequency data (month-over-month) relating to areas in this regard such as box office receipts, hotel occupancy, revenue per available room, rail car traffic, Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) checkpoint data, staffing indexes, etc. all point to early but strong trends towards a normalization of activity.
Correspondingly, the data on Covid is encouraging. Since its peak on January 8th of 2021, new positive daily cases in the US have declined by over 77%. During the same time frame, deaths are down approximately 70% and hospitalizations have decreased over 68%. Vaccines (162 million delivered so far) combined with increased immunity levels in those who have had Covid have made gains in the quest to achieve greater herd immunity. These indicators support the notion that we are solidly on the back half of the case curve. These observations relate to the current predominant strain. If variant strains proliferate to meaningful levels, they will of course dampen the optimism related to recent trends.