Monday, March 16, 2020

Day 4 of National Emergency: Susie Buffett Exposed, Goldman Sachs Takeaways, Energy Savings, and a Female VP

Over breakfast Gilda, who reads the Omaha World-Herald on line to keep abreast of what’s happening where Ellie, Donny and their family live, informed me that Susie Buffett, daughter of Warren Buffett, has been exposed to the coronavirus (

To which I responded, “The virus has no knowledge of your Dun & Bradstreet profile.” (For those not familiar with D&B, it is a longstanding financial rating service of companies.) 

Donny’s brother Rob sent along notes he took from a Goldman Sachs conference call with some 1,500 companies over the weekend. Among the major takeaways:

  • 50% of Americans will contract the virus (150 million people) as it is very communicable. This is on a par with the common cold (Rhinovirus) of which there are about 200 strains. The majority of Americans will get a common cold 2-4 times per year.
  • Of those impacted by COVID-19, 80% will be early-stage, 15% mid-stage and 5% critical-stage. Early-stage symptoms are like the common cold and mid-stage symptoms are like the flu; treatment is stay at home for two weeks and rest. 5% will be critical and highly weighted towards the elderly. 
  • In the U.S. about 3 million die every year, mostly due to old age and disease. Coronavirus might accelerate those deaths because of respiratory issues and may put undue stress on the healthcare system.
  • Though COVID-19 will impact the economy and stock prices, experts predict they will bounce back later this year or in 2021.

Time Out for the Census: With time on your hands it’s a good moment to fill out your family’s census form on line. Gilda did ours earlier today. Go to

Energy Savings: Gilda keeps records of our electric energy usage. Here’s what she analyzed today on how we’ve fared since we made several energy enhancements:

In 2013 ConEd billed us for 14,563 kilowatts.

After changing most of our lightbulbs to LEDs the next year, our usage dropped to 12,337 in 2014.

In 2015 we installed solar panels. ConEd-provided kilowatts fell to 5,961. 

In 2018 they fell again to 4,447 after we installed Nest thermostats with an away-from-home factor. 

Even after Gilda retired in January 2019 and was home for more hours, usage dropped for last year to 3,494 kilowatts. 

Grumpy Old Men: There were no knockout blows delivered Sunday night between the last two Democrats—both septuagenarian men—sparring for their party’s presidential nomination. Their debate in a CNN studio in Washington without a live audience resembled trench warfare, lots of skirmishes with shifting positions but no outright victor, unless you applaud Joe Biden, and to a lesser extent the older by a year Bernie Sanders, for standing up for more than two hours without making any gaff that could boomerang back into their faces. 

The big news of the night was Biden’s unequivocal statement that he would pick a woman as a vice presidential running mate. Sanders said he would likely do so as long as she supported his revolutionary agenda. Both said women and minorities would comprise the majority of their cabinet officers. 

They also agreed climate change is an existential threat to America and the world—second only to Donald Trump serving four more years as president—but they differed in their approaches to abating global warming.

Speculation on Biden’s choice for vice president included names most anyone interested in politics would recognize—Warren, Klobuchar, Harris, Abrams and Cortez-Masto, to name a few. Realistically, only the last three would add sizzle to the ticket among Black and Latino voters so necessary for a Biden triumph. Klobuchar would help secure Rust Belt states, the ones Hillary Clinton failed to sew up in 2016. Biden has warmed to some of Warren’s progressive policies, but the public didn’t as evidenced by her failure to win any primary including that of her native state of Massachusetts.

All in all, Biden succeeded in shifting the political discussion and speculation from who will win the presidential nomination to which woman could be a heartbeat away from the next presidency.