COVID-19 Briefing Memo

June 1, 2020

Monday sees the markets landing in positive territory, as “U.S. stocks booked modest gains Monday … as the potential for an economic rebound overshadowed strife in American cities that has sparked chaos and curfews.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.4%, the S&P 500 rose 0.4%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.7%. As one chief investment officer told MarketWatch, “The near-term path remains uncertain, but signs that the economy is picking itself up off the mat is a positive.” That near-term path was initially paved at the end of last week with news that “U.S. consumer spending, the U.S. economy’s main engine, fell by a record 13.6% in April, the steepest decline for records tracing back to 1959,” while the U.S. GDP “fell at a 5.0% annual rate in the first quarter, adjusted for seasonality and inflation.” The Q1 drop in GDP “marked the largest quarterly rate of decline since the last recession.” However, as mentioned by The Wall Street Journal, “gradual May reopenings of state economies and government support of businesses and households have led to a recent easing of job losses and a slight uptick in spending.” According to the chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics, “Some of the data suggests a stabilization … [but] it’s still overall a very tentative, slow recovery.”

And as every state moves further along in their reopening plans, it’s clear that Americans are over the pandemic, even if the pandemic isn’t over with us. As we saw in the social conversation the last week, with restrictions lifting, people are beginning to question whether the coronavirus threat was as dire as they initially thought, given we have not experienced another spike, yet. The Washington Post’s Dan Zak put it this way, “We’re over it. The masks, the kids, the Lysol. Over it. The tragic hair, the diminished hygiene, the endless construction next door, the Zoom meetings from hell, the mind games with the unemployment office, the celibacy, the short tempers and long evenings, the looking forward to the mail, the feeling guilty about the mail carrier working double time, the corporate compassion pushing products we didn’t need even before the world went funky and febrile. The now-more-than-everness, the president-said-whatness. Over it. Does 99.1 count as a fever? Over it. Some of us have reached the outskirts of Netflix, and we’re over it. Some of us can’t make rent; over it. And so we are deciding to have a summer after all, it seems. A summer of playing freely, of living dangerously.”

This idea of “deciding to have a summer after all,” even if it’s one of “living dangerously,” continues to be a theme we seen in new travel research this week from Destination Analysts. In this week’s research, it notes that “1 in 5 [Americans] are now already traveling or ready to travel with no hesitations. These Americans have fewer concerns about the impact of the virus, and are more optimistic about its course. They’re more likely to prioritize having new experiences in their lives and seek joy and relaxation. Conversely, these travelers are less likely to avoid long-haul travel and be motivated by a staycation message. They are also more likely to be Caucasian and between 41 and 55 years old (GenX).” At the same time, “openness to travel inspiration and excitement to take a getaway in the next month jumped up this week; plus, Americans’ next air and road trips will be sooner than they were reporting last week.” Additionally, “the proportion of American travelers who have at least tentative trip plans in 2020 grew to nearly 70%.”

But what was interesting in this week’s research was the reason given for wanting to travel so soon, even during a still-raging pandemic: travel was “commonly seen as integral to health and wellness.” So, to answer the question of “what’s motivating Americans to travel?” “It appears that travel is commonly seen as integral to health and wellness, with two-thirds of those prioritizing their emotional well-being and finding joy in their lives saying that leisure travel will be important in helping them do so. The majority of Americans who are prioritizing their stress management think that vacations are a good way to do so. What’s stressing them out? Worries about coronavirus first, then work and their finances.”

So, as Americans increasingly decide to have their summers after all, it’s important to understand that, for many, the idea of travel goes beyond simply needing a change of scenery or just wishing to see family and friends again – it’s seen as a critical tool in both maintaining their mental health and managing the stressors of a life that has been dictated by a pandemic they largely have no control over.


Congressional Response Briefings

June 3, 2020
R&R Partners is tracking the congressional response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting the nation. Our reporting primarily tracks Congress’ response and the Administration’s implementation of COVID-19 subject legislation including but not limited to the Families First Coronavirus Response (FFCRA) Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As Congress continues to contemplate future phases of response, relief and recovery legislation on the federal level, we will track and report on these important federal developments.


Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

April 10, 2020

Congress has completed its work on the CARES Act, also known as “Phase 3” of the COVID-19 federal response. We now shift our updates to the regulatory and implementation side with a focus on helping our clients and partners navigate the options for federal assistance during the pandemic and beyond.