2020 – The COVID-19 Story

The COVID-19 Pandemic struck the United States hard and heavy starting the first week of March 2020, we should have seen it coming as it started in China the first week of January. I guess we we all thought it would stay in China versus spreading globally like it has. In my 50 years of life, this has to have been one of the more scary moments I have experienced. It was a feeling of a pending Tsunami coming your way, which is also invisible to see.  I recall emailing with my colleagues during their period of lockdown and just not grasping what they were going through. I have kept some high level notes on what this has been like listed below.

What does the U.S. see today?

  • One of the greatest pandemics to reach us since the Spanish Flu of 102 years ago,
  • The greatest economic contraction since the Great Depression, which ended 80 years ago,
  • The greatest oil-price decline in the OPEC era (and, probably, ever), and
  • The greatest central bank/government intervention of all time.

Microsoft update – 5/5/20
What we’re seeing in the data
We continue to look at effective reproductive rates (R) as an indicator of the situation across the globe. As a reminder, R is the key measure of the rate of infection and is defined as the number of people infected by each person previously infected. To control the growth of the disease, R needs to be below 1.  In other words, someone with the virus on average needs to infect fewer than one other person for the total number of cases to go down. This is just one of many factors that we use to determine how we turn the dial. It is clear from the data that we are seeing improvement in many areas of the globe, particularly in Western Europe, but we are also seeing areas that appear to have not yet peaked or are easing restrictions too soon. Here are some notable trends in certain areas, including places with major Microsoft operations.
Sampling of bright spots:
  • Israel R is approximately ~0.6
  • Ireland R is approximately ~0.8
  • Japan R is approximately ~0.8
  • Additional European countries with decreasing R rates include (list is not exhaustive): Belgium (~0.8), France (~0.7), Germany (~0.7), Netherlands (~0.7), Portugal (~0.8), Spain (~0.8), Switzerland (~0.8), Slovakia (~0.7)
  • The United States R is approximately ~1.0
    • Washington state R is approximately ~1.0, with certain areas like Puget Sound being below 1.0
    • California R is approximately ~1.0 with certain areas in Northern California likely less than ~1.0
    • The Washington DC Metro Area R is approximately ~0.9
  • New Zealand and Australia have had an R lower than 1 for several weeks, and as a result, both countries have very few new cases per day. New Zealand had a few days over the last week with 0 new cases, while Australia is heading in a similar direction with less than 20 new cases per day.
Notable areas we are watching with R likely above 1:
  • Singapore has an R of approximately ~1, but cases appear to still be increasing. Even though cases are likely increasing, Singapore’s mortality rate is just a fraction of Southeast Asia, and in fact has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.
  • India’s R remains higher than 1, and we can see cases are likely still increasing. With this, the India Development Centers (IDC) have extended mandatory Work from Home until May 31st for now.
  • We’re also seeing many areas in South America and EMEA where the estimated R is more than 1 and likely increasing. We will continue to track progress in these regions.
To track our progress against COVID-19 along with us, please visit the AI for Health interactive visualizations.

First recorded Deaths in U.S
2/6 & 2/17 – confirmed on 4/21/20, originally thought to be in Washington in March.
In January said to Amy, “I’m worried about this Corona virus situation, it’s hitting our China office hard” oh it’s nothing to worry about — Amy
Week 1
2/23 – 2/29
  • 2/26 – 2/28 – In Sunnyvale, attended the AI Bootcamp and flew home Friday evening. – Things just starting to get crazy, and trending. Masks on flights, etc
Week 2
3/1 – 3/7
  • USC Speaking event Friday night, LA Marathon Packet Pickup. Things getting crazier, thoughts on should we or not do LA Marathon, things are still all moving along
  • Cancelled Dublin trip
Week 3
3/8 – 3/14
  • LA Marathon on Sunday (4:47), great time, struggled with the thoughts of 27,000 people and getting infected.
  • 3/13 (Friday) – Isolation begins
  • Things start getting more intense, WFH in the Bay Area in play
Week 4
3/15 – 3/21
  • Full blown WFH for all Microsoft and LinkedIn
  • Kids school moved to online
  • 3/19 – California moves to “Safer at home” state, only critical services remain open, everyone else stays home
  • This is absolutely surreal and beyond scary
  • Dads 88 Birthday – Had a very nice Zoom meeting with the full family.
  • Market was like a wild roller coaster.
  • Fear and hoarding of food
  • Panic and thoughts of layoffs for everyone.
  • Very dark and scary time
  • I struggle with feelings of symptoms you don’t know if they are real of made up
Week 5 – 300K Cases (12K Deaths 4%) globally 20K in the U.S
3/22 – 3/28
  • 3/23 – The dark clouds are heading in the direction of the U.S
  • 3/25 – weeks of isolation
  • 3/26 – 3.3 Million applications for unemployment putting us into the teens for overall unemployment in the U.S
  • The S&P 500 has had three up days hitting 2,500 points today.


Week 6 – 597K Cases (27K Deaths 4%) globally 104K in the U.S
3/29 – 4/5
  • Week 5 WFH
  • Nice run with ZuZu today – not really sweating anything
  • Unemployment claims 6.6M forecast teens for unemployment (high end will hit 30%)
  • Company All Hands failed- BlueJeans
  • Took Jack driving
  • 4/3 – The beloved Dr. Wayne Strom passed from Corona virus. This is the first person I know and so incredibly sad one of the top most impactful people on my life.
Week 7 – 1.1M total cases, 60K deaths (global) US – 278K cases, 7,100 deaths
4/6 – 4/12
  • This week will be 30 days working from home
  • Company All hands this week – Please don’t fail
  • Eating at home is really getting old.
Week 8 – 1.6M total cases, 100K deaths (global)  US – 500K cases 18,500 deaths
4/13 – 4/19
  • 37 days working from home
  • Hitting real middle of the journey slump, every day feels like ground hog day, I don’t even look at news or stock market.
  • So tired of the grind of working, cooking, cleaning…..rinse and repeat
  • We are healthy and lucky
  • There are a lot of hidden silver linings (reading, learning C and coding)
  • Great Article from Howard Marks  “In short, it’s my view that if you’re experiencing something that has never been seen before, you simply can’t say you
  • know how it’ll turn out.”
Week 9 – 2.3M total cases, 158K deaths (global)  US – 730K cases 39.000 deaths
4/20 – 4/26
  • 4/20 – 50 days since first US death
    WFH = 41 days – (4/26)
  • S&P 500  = 2,874
  • US Population 328M
  • GDP = 20.5T
  • Unemployment rate for March = 4.4% (from 3.5%) expected to be 15% in April
  • Unemployment in the U.S = 22M people  have filed in the last 4 weeks (13.5% of the labor force)
  • 350B allocated for paycheck protection program 268B already approved for small businesses most likely need another 300B
Week 10 – 2.8M total cases,  202K deaths (global)  939K US – cases 53K deaths
4/27 – 5/3
  • WFH 48 days (5/3)
  • S&P = 2,836
Week 11 – 3.3M total cases,  239K deaths (global)  1.1M US – cases 66K deaths
5/4 – 5/10
  • WFH  – 55 days
  • Death tool surpassed Vietnam war
  • Microsoft excellent earnings for Q3
  • Phased recovery plan submitted my Gavin Newsom
  • Berkshire Hathaway earnings call – Incredible lesson in History
  • Berkshire dumped all interests in Airlines 6.5B
Week 12 – XX total cases,  XX deaths (global)  XX US – cases XX K deaths
5/11- 5/18
  • April Jobs report worst in history – 20.5M jobs lost
  • Unemployment 14.7% (highest since 1940)
  • Tech firms doing layoffs (AirBnB 25% RIF, Uber, etc) travel hit hardest
  • 23.1M unemployed 18.1M are temporary layoff – this could help recovery
  • Employment population ratio: 51.3% (fell by 8.7%) best “all in” metric




























John Hopkins