The Wall Street Journal - 28.03.2020 - 29.03.2020

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A2| Saturday/Sunday, March 28 - 29, 2020 **** THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.


overwhelmed, they predict.
Suppressing the virus, ac-
cording to their model,
would require population-
wide social distancing com-
bined with home isolation of
people with symptoms and
school and university clos-
ings. The interventions
would need to begin before
hospitals become over-
whelmed and remain in place
for at least five months—
perhaps longer.
Abandoning the strategy
before a vaccine or other
treatment is developed and
administered, they warn,
could allow the pandemic to
The evidence of that po-

tential outcome is the 1918
flu pandemic, when trans-
missions resurged after in-
terventions were lifted.
The researchers acknowl-
edge there are many uncer-
tainties, but they believe this
strategy is the one most
likely to ensure new infec-
tions won’t exceed U.S. and
U.K. hospitals’ critical-care
capacity—although they de-
clined to estimate how many
people might still die if
these precautions are taken.
“That’s just too difficult to
give a clear answer to at the
present time,” said Steven
Riley, a professor of infec-
tious-disease dynamics at
Imperial College London who

THE NUMBERS|By Jo Craven McGinty

What Will It Take to Flatten the Curve?

By now
you’ve heard
the phrase
“flatten the
It refers to
the quest to slow transmis-
sions of Covid-19 so the ac-
cumulating number of infec-
tions looks like a gentle
slope instead of a vertigi-
nous spike.
The matter is urgent, ac-
cording to infectious-disease
experts who’ve modeled
strategies to curb the
spread. Reining in the virus,
they say, requires immediate
and drastic social distancing.
To be effective, the interven-
tions must last for months—
not just days or weeks—and
to avoid overloading hospi-
tals, they must cut transmis-
sions by more than half.
If instead the virus is al-
lowed to multiply unchecked,
a deluge of patients is ex-
pected to overwhelm health-
care systems that aren’t
equipped to handle the num-
ber of people who will need
Already, the U.S. has con-
firmed more than 100,
cases, a figure that has dou-
bled or tripled every three
days for nearly a month.
With widespread trans-
missions, even a fraction of
critically ill patients could
strain hospitals. Experts at
Imperial College London in

collaboration with the World
Health Organization project
that 4.4% of Covid-19 infec-
tions will require hospital-
ization. Of that number, 30%
will need critical care, such
as a ventilator. And half of
the critically ill patients will


n the absence of inter-
ventions, that means 2.
million Americans and
510,000 Britons could die,
according to the projections,
with hospitals’ critical-care
capacity exceeded as early as
the second week of April.
“The world is facing the
most serious public health
crisis in generations,” Neil
Ferguson, director of Impe-
rial College’s MRC Centre for
Global Infectious Disease
Analysis, said in a statement.
(He developed symptoms
last week and self-isolated.)
The Imperial College re-
searchers evaluated two
strategies to flatten the
curve: mitigation focused on
slowing but not stopping the
virus’s spread and suppres-
sion aimed at reducing the
average number of person-
to-person transmissions to
less than one. (It’s currently
around 2.2.)
Only suppression—the
most disruptive interven-
tion—would prevent the
health-care systems in the
U.S. and U.K. from being

worked on the analysis. “If
we look at China, they have
achieved very low levels of
incidence, so we would fore-
cast very few deaths in the
near future.”


he less aggressive
strategy of mitigation
modeled by the re-
searchers calls for home iso-
lation of people with symp-
toms of Covid-19, voluntary
home quarantine of con-
firmed cases, and social dis-
tancing of people older than
70 (the group most at risk).
Policies for isolation and
quarantine would endure for
three months, while require-
ments for social distancing
of those over age of 70
would remain in place for
one month longer.
If this were done, the re-
searchers predicted around
1.1 million Americans and
250,000 Britons would die,
and demand for hospital
critical-care beds would ex-
ceed the supply by a factor
of eight.
“Perhaps our most signifi-
cant conclusion is that miti-
gation is unlikely to be feasi-
ble without emergency
surge-capacity limits of the
U.K. and U.S. health-care sys-
tems being exceeded many
times over,” the researchers
wrote in their analysis.
They acknowledge that no
public-health intervention as

disruptive or enduring as
what they recommend has
been attempted previously,
and they didn’t analyze the
social or economic hardships
such extreme measures
might cause.
But one way to reduce the
disruption, they said, would
be to implement adaptive re-
strictions that are eased or
tightened as transmissions
of the virus ebb and flow, us-
ing the number of cases at
any given time as a trigger
to switch interventions on or
In a study published this
week, researchers at Harvard
T.H. Chan School of Public
Health who examined inter-
mittent distancing found
that an “on” threshold of
37.5 cases per 10,000 people
would keep the number of
critical-care patients below
0.89 per 10,000 adults.
“The need for intense so-
cial distancing is very
strong,” said Marc Lipsitch,
a professor of epidemiology
at Harvard T.H. Chan School
of Public Health who con-
tributed to the work. “People
who get infected today take
an average of around three
weeks before they are sick
enough to need intensive
care, if they’re going to get
that sick.”
We have to act now, he
said, to protect ourselves
three weeks from now.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention





Without intervention



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The State Departmentof-
fered a total of $60 million for
the arrest and capture of sev-
eral people charged with drug
trafficking and conspiring with
terrorists: $15 million for Vene-
zuelan President Nicolás Ma-
duro, $10 million for each of
four other top current and for-
mer officials, and $5 million for
a senior member of the Revolu-
tionary Armed Forces of Co-
lombia, or FARC. In some edi-
tions Friday, a World News

article about the charges incor-
rectly said the State Depart-
ment offered a total of $65 mil-
lion for the arrest and capture
of Mr. Maduro and four current
and former officials.

Dave Matthewswas booked
for a live-stream performance
on Twitter on Thursday, March

  1. A Life & Arts article Thurs-
    day about what to watch incor-
    rectly said the performance
    was scheduled for Wednesday.

Readers can alert The Wall Street Journal to any errors in news articles by
[email protected] by calling 888-410-2667.



Subway Operator

Dies; Arson Possible

A New York City subway op-
erator was killed and 16 passen-
gers injured early Friday in a
train-car fire under investigation
as one in a string of possible ar-
sons in subway stations, police
officials said.
Police, paramedics and fire-
fighters responded to 911 calls
reporting the fire on a north-
bound 2 train at the 110th
Street subway station at Lenox
Avenue in Manhattan’s Harlem
neighborhood just after 3 a.m.,
according to transit and New
York Police Department officials.
Heavy smoke and fire was re-
ported coming from the second
car of the train, NYPD Deputy
Chief Brian McGee said.
After Fire Department of
New York firefighters put out
the fire, officers tended to three
men and one woman suffering
from smoke inhalation. A 36-
year-old man identified as a
train operator by transit officials
was discovered on the tracks
and taken to Mount Sinai Hospi-
tal, where he was pronounced
Arson investigators are prob-
ing several other fires at three
other subway stations, according
to police officials.
—Ben Chapman

petent to stand trial.
Marinette County Court Judge
James Morrison ruled Thursday
that Raymand Vannieuwenhoven
didn’t understand the proceedings
and couldn’t assist in his own de-
fense against two counts of first-
degree murder.
Mr. Vannieuwenhoven was
charged last year in the fatal
shootings of David Schuldes, 25,
and Ellen Matheys, 24, in Silver
Cliff, about 200 miles north of Mil-
waukee. Investigators didn’t have
any major leads until 2018, when
a Virginia lab identified the genea-
logical background of the suspect.
—Associated Press


Man Is Accused
Of Threatening Pelosi

A Texas man remained jailed
Friday on federal charges that
he made online posts threaten-
ing Democrats, including U.S.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Gavin Perry, 27, of Wichita
Falls, was charged Wednesday
with transmitting a threatening
communication in interstate
commerce. Prosecutors said he
wrote on Facebook that Demo-
crats, including Rep. Pelosi, “will
be removed at any cost neces-
sary and yes that means by
death.” Court records didn’t list a
lawyer who could speak for him.
—Associated Press


Is Destroyed in Fire

The house of Hall of Fame
golfer Davis LoveIII was de-
stroyed by fire Friday morning in
a blaze that couldn’t be con-

trolled, even with 16 firefighters
arriving within minutes, the fire
chief said. No one was injured.
Mr. Love, a former PGA
champion and two-time Ryder
Cup captain, is one of the most
prominent figures at Sea Island.
It is part of the “Golden Isles”
about 40 miles north of the

Florida state line. He runs a PGA
Tour event at Sea Island Golf
Club, and the area is home to
several PGA Tour players.
Glynn County Fire Chief R.K.
Jordan says the emergency call
was placed from the horse barn
at Mr. Love’s house at 5:18 a.m.
—Associated Press


Defendant Unfit for
Trial in 1976 Killings

A judge ruled that an 83-
year-old man charged with killing
a camping couple in a Wisconsin
park in 1976 isn’t mentally com-

The St. Simons Island, Ga., home of Hall of Fame golfer DavisLove III wasdestroyed by fireearly Friday morning. No injuries were reported.


Bernier, a senior sales man-
ager. She said the mint has re-
ceived “unprecedented levels
of demand,” largely from U.S.
banks and brokers.
The price of gold futures
rose about 9% to roughly
$1,620 a troy ounce this
week—that is 31.
grams, per the U.K. Royal
Mint—and neared a seven-year
high. Only on a handful of oc-
casions since 2000 have gold
prices risen more in a single
week, including immediately
after Lehman Brothers filed for
bankruptcy in September 2008.
“When people think they
can’t get something, they want
it even more,” says George
Gero, 83, who’s been trading
gold for more than 50 years,
now at RBC Wealth Manage-
ment in New York. “Look at
toilet paper.”
Gold has been prized for
thousands of years and today
goes into items ranging from
jewelry to dental crowns to
electronics. For decades, the
value of paper money was
pinned to gold; tons of it sat in
Fort Knox to reassure Ameri-
cans their dollars were worth


something. Today they just
have to trust. President Nixon
unpegged the dollar from gold
in 1971.
The government still holds
lots of gold in Fort Knox,
though not as much as it did
decades ago. The Federal Re-
serve Bank of New York has a
massive gold stash. That gold
isn’t released on the open mar-
ket, though; it’s held as na-
tional reserve. London is the
hub of physical gold trading
that often changes hands.
Gold is popular with surviv-
alists and conspiracy theorists
but it is also a sensible addi-
tion to investment portfolios
because its price tends to be
relatively stable. It is espe-
cially in-demand during eco-
nomic crises as a shield
against inflation. When the
Federal Reserve floods the
economy with cash, like it is
doing now, dollars can get less
“Gold is the one money that
can’t be printed,” said Roy Se-
bag, CEO of Goldmoney Inc.,
which has one of the world’s
largest private stashes, worth
about $2 billion. (He’d rather
not say where, for obvious rea-
There are two ways to own
gold: in bars or coins or jew-
elry stored in bank vaults, or
in futures contracts traded on
an exchange, which guarantee
the holder a certain amount of
gold at a certain price on a
certain date.
Those contracts trade on

CME Group Inc.’s Comex divi-
sion of the New York Mercan-
tile Exchange. The problem?
Much of the world’s gold is in
London and has been since the
17th century, when the Bank of
England set up a vault.
Today, the Bank of England
says it has the second-largest
collection of gold in its vault,
behind only the New York Fed.
The disruptions this week
pushed the gold futures price,
on the New York exchange, as
much as $70 an ounce above
the price of physical gold in
London. Typically, the two
trade within a few dollars of
each other.
That gulf sparked a high-
stakes game of chicken in the
New York futures market this
week. Sharp-eyed traders

started snapping up physical
delivery contracts, figuring
banks would have trouble find-
ing enough gold to make good
and they would be able to
squeeze them for cash. That
set off a scramble by banks.
Goldmoney’s Mr. Sebag said
bankers were offering him
$100 or more per ounce over
the London price to get their
hands on some of his New
York gold.
Wade Brennan, a former
gold trader at Scotiabank who
now runs an investment firm
called Kilo Capital, said he had
heard from bankers in the U.S.
who were literally checking the
corners of their vaults for any
gold that might have been
overlooked. “Everyone’s looking
through the cupboard,” he said.

Getting gold to New York,
where it can be sent on to gold
dealers, jewelers, dentists and
electronics makers, is a heavy
lift in the best of times, and, it
turns out, quite tricky during a
Most gold bars are stowed
in the cargo hold of passenger
planes. Security firms such as
Loomis Group, which arrange
the flights and meet planes on
the tarmac, don’t like to move
more than about five tons on
any flight, in case the plane
crashes and because of high
insurance costs. From there,
the haul is trucked under
For those able to deliver,
there is big money to be made.
In normal times, it costs

around 20 cents to fly an
ounce of gold, just under 20
cents to melt the bars down
and refabricate them to match
New York’s delivery standards,
and another 10 cents or so in
financing costs, according to a
retired senior gold trader.
(London bars are heavier than
those in demand in New York.)
So if New York prices are $
an ounce higher than in Lon-
don, a bank can make $80,
moving five metric tons of
gold—almost risk-free. At
Tuesday’s prices, the same
load would net $11 million in
profit, minus the cost of char-
tering the jet.
——Anna Isaac, Jacquie
McNish and Alistair
MacDonald contributed to
this article.


Gold Rush

Is On

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