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Charting a bull-trend whipsaw, S&P 500 absorbs pullback from record highs

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Technically speaking, the major U.S. benchmarks have whipsawed to start the new year, pulling in respectably from recent record highs.

Against this backdrop, the S&P 500 has reversed to its former December range, though amid a downturn that has inflicted limited damage in the broad sweep.

Before detailing the U.S. markets’ wider view, the S&P 500’s
US:SPX
 hourly chart highlights the past two weeks.

As illustrated, the S&P has pulled in to its range after briefly tagging record highs.

Tactically, notable resistance matches last week’s gap (3,723). Tuesday’s early session high (3,722.5) has registered nearby.

Conversely, significant support matches the November peak (3,646).

Similarly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average
US:DJIA
 has pulled in to its range after briefly tagging record highs.

Still, the index has initially maintained major support (29,964), an area matching the mid-November range top, also detailed on the daily chart.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite
US:COMP
has sold off from its range top.

This was the lone major U.S. benchmark not to conclude 2020 with a record high.

But here again, the index has maintained notable support (12,607), an area matching its breakout point, also detailed below.

Widening the view to six months adds perspective.

On this wider view, the Nasdaq is digesting the late-2020 rally to record highs.

Though the index formed a bearish engulfing pattern to start January — the long red bar, engulfing the prior session’s range — the downturn has been underpinned by the breakout point (12,607). Limited damage has been inflicted.

Delving deeper, the November peak (12,244) is followed by the 50-day moving average, currently 12,128, and the late-November breakout point (12,074). A sustained posture atop this area signals a bullish intermediate-term bias.

Looking elsewhere, the Dow Jones Industrial Average also registered a bearish reversal to start the new year. The index has pulled in to its former December range.

Against this backdrop, the index has maintained support matching the mid-November range top (29,964).

Delving deeper, the Dow’s former record high (29,568) — established last February — is followed by the 50-day moving average, currently 29,388.

Likely last-ditch support (29,127) closely matches the November gap. The Dow’s bullish intermediate-term bias is intact barring a violation.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 has started 2021 with a bearish engulfing pattern.

In its case, Monday’s downturn (long red bar) encompassed the range of the prior session, as well as the prior week’s range.

Still, the downturn has been underpinned by the 20-day moving average, currently 3,700, a widely-tracked near-term trending indicator. The S&P has not closed under the 20-day since Nov. 2.

The bigger picture

As detailed above, the major U.S. benchmarks are off to a less-than-stellar 2021 start.

Each index registered a bearish reversal to start the new year, selling off respectably from recent all-time highs.

But on the positive side, each index has initially maintained notable support. The single-day downdraft has lacked material follow-through early Tuesday, thus far inflicting limited damage in the broad sweep.

Moving to the small-caps, the iShares Russell 2000 ETF
US:IWM
 is digesting its late-2020 rally to record territory.

The small-cap benchmark has initially maintained first support (191.50) detailed previously. On further weakness, a deeper floor, circa 185.40, closely matches the November peak.

Similarly, the SPDR S&P MidCap 400 ETF
US:MDY
 is digesting a December rally to record highs.

Here again, the MDY has maintained first support (410.70) even amid a strong-volume first-day-of-the-year downturn.

Looking elsewhere, the SPDR Trust S&P 500
US:SPY
 has pulled in to its former December range.

Tactically, the former breakout point — the 370.80-to-371.07 area — pivots to resistance. Conversely, the SPY has maintained a deeper floor matching the mid-November range top (364.40).

Beyond specific levels, Monday’s internals registered as conspicuously tame despite the strong-volume downturn. Consider that declining volume surpassed advancing volume by about a 2-to-1 margin on both the NYSE and Nasdaq.

Placing a finer point on the S&P 500, the index has also pulled in to its former December range.

To reiterate, notable resistance matches last week’s gap (3,723) a level also defining the weekly low.

Tuesday’s early session high (3,722.5) has effectively matched resistance.

More broadly, significant support spans from 3,633 to 3,646, the latter matching the November peak.

On further weakness, the 3,588-to-3,594 area — detailed previously — closely matches the ascending 50-day moving average, currently 3,596.

Delving deeper, the October peak (3,550) continues to mark last-ditch support, an area partly defining the S&P’s late-2020 double bottom.

All told, a garden-variety pullback — or healthy consolidation phase — seems to be underway to start the new year. Still, the downturn has initially lacked material follow-through, inflicting limited real damage.

Broadly speaking, the S&P 500’s intermediate-term bullish bias is intact barring violation of the areas detailed above. The 3,550 area marks likely last-ditch support.

Also see: Charting a bullish backdrop as the S&P 500’s wild 2020 ride concludes.

Tuesday’s Watch List

The charts below detail names that are technically well positioned. These are radar screen names — sectors or stocks poised to move in the near term. For the original comments on the stocks below, see The Technical Indicator Library.

Drilling down further, the SPDR Gold Shares ETF
US:GLD
 has come to life technically.

As illustrated, the shares have gapped atop trendline resistance, rising amid increased volume to start 2021. The breakout signals a trend shift.

Underlying the upturn, the GLD’s relative strength index (not illustrated) has registered its best levels since early August, improving the chances of longer-term follow-through.

Tactically, the trendline pivots to support, an area closely matching the bottom of the gap (178.40). The prevailing rally attempt is intact barring a violation.

More broadly, the shares are well positioned on the 10-year chart, rising from a continuation pattern hinged to the sharp mid-2020 break to record territory.

Moving to U.S. sectors, the VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF
US:SMH
 is acting well technically.

As illustrated, the group has rallied to the range top, briefly tagging record highs amid increased volume. An intermediate-term target projects to the 232 area.

Conversely, a well-defined floor matches the December range bottom, circa 210.40. The prevailing uptrend is firmly-intact barring a violation.

Initially profiled Dec. 1, Cirrus Logic, Inc.
US:CRUS
 has edged slightly higher and remains well positioned.

Technically, the shares have reached 11-month highs, rising to start the new year despite a down market.

The upturn punctuates an orderly December range — a continuation pattern — hinged to a massive double bottom defined by the June and September lows. (See the one-year chart.) A near- to intermediate-term target projects to the 88 area.

Conversely, the breakout point (83.10) pivots to support. A sustained posture higher signals comfortably bullish bias.

FireEye, Inc.
US:FEYE
 is a well positioned large-cap cybersecurity name.

The shares initially spiked two weeks ago, rising amid a sustained volume spike after the December cyber-hack.

The subsequent flag-like pattern has formed amid decreased volume, placing the shares 16.8% under the December peak.

Tactically, the post-breakout low (20.76) closely matches gap support (20.80). The prevailing rally attempt is firmly-intact barring a violation.

More broadly, the shares are well positioned on the five-year chart, sustaining a break atop major resistance matching the 2018 peak (20.61).

Finally, Wheaton Precious Metals Corp.
US:WPM
 is a large-cap Canada-based gold and silver miner.

As illustrated, the shares have reclaimed the breakdown point (44.00) as well as the 50- and 200-day moving averages to start the year. The strong-volume upturn places trendline resistance under siege.

Tactically, the 50-day moving average, currently 43.15, has marked a recent inflection point. A breakout attempt is in play barring a violation.

Still well positioned

The table below includes names recently profiled in The Technical Indicator that remain well positioned. For the original comments, see The Technical Indicator Library.

Company

Symbol* (Click symbol for chart.)

Date Profiled

Check Point Software Technologies

CHKP

Jan. 4

Synaptics, Inc.

SYNA

Jan. 4

Ceridian HCM Holding, Inc.

CDAY

Jan. 4

Lumentum Holdings, Inc.

LITE

Dec. 23

Sunrun, Inc.

RUN

Dec. 23

ShockWave Medical, Inc.

SWAV

Dec. 23

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPM

Dec. 22

Coupa Software, Inc.

COUP

Dec. 22

PagSeguro Digital Ltd.

PAGS

Dec. 22

Ballard Power Systems, Inc.

BLDP

Dec. 21

LivePerson, Inc.

LPSN

Dec. 21

United Therapeutics Corp.

UTHR

Dec. 21

Shopify, Inc.

SHOP

Dec. 18

CyberArk Software Ltd.

CYBR

Dec. 18

Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

APLS

Dec. 18

iShares Silver Trust

SLV

Dec. 17

Calix, Inc.

CALX

Dec. 17

Elastic N.V.

ESTC

Dec. 17

Cerner Corp.

CERN

Dec. 17

Universal Health Services, Inc.

UHS

Dec. 16

Tenet Healthcare Corp.

THC

Dec. 16

Sunnova Energy International, Inc.

NOVA

Dec. 16

Xilinx, Inc.

XLNX

Dec. 15

Netflix, Inc.

NFLX

Dec. 15

Toyota Motor Co.

TM

Dec. 15

Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

WSM

Dec. 15

iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF

IBB

Dec. 15

SDPR S&P Regional Banking ETF

KRE

Dec. 14

Atlassian Corp.

TEAM

Dec. 14

Etsy, Inc.

ETSY

Dec. 14

Surface Oncology, Inc.

SURF

Dec. 14

Autodesk, Inc.

ADSK

Dec. 9

Monster Beverage Corp.

MNST

Dec. 9

Cimarex Energy Co.

XEC

Dec. 9

Plug Power, Inc.

PLUG

Dec. 9

F5 Networks, Inc.

FFIV

Dec. 8

Emerson Electric Co.

EMR

Dec. 8

Zscaler, Inc.

ZS

Dec. 7

Fortinet, Inc.

FTNT

Dec. 7

Kulicke and Soffa Industries, Inc.

KLIC

Dec. 7

Honeywell International, Inc.

HON

Dec. 7

Dillard’s, Inc.

DDS

Dec. 4

Caleres, Inc.

CAL

Dec. 4

Spotify Technology S.A.

SPOT

Dec. 3

Align Technology, Inc.

ALGN

Dec. 3

Valero Energy Corp.

VLO

Dec. 3

Analog Devices, Inc.

ADI

Dec. 2

Cirrus Logic, Inc.

CRUS

Dec. 1

Sonos, Inc.

SONO

Dec. 1

Dollar Tree, Inc.

DLTR

Dec. 1

Nuance Communications, Inc.

NUAN

Nov. 30

Northern Trust Corp.

NTRS

Nov. 30

American Airlines Group, Inc.

AAL

Nov. 30

Microchip Technology, Inc.

MCHP

Nov. 24

Coca-Cola Co.

KO

Nov. 24

Zillow Group, Inc.

ZG

Nov. 23

Yeti Holdings, Inc.

YETI

Nov. 23

Palo Alto Networks, Inc.

PANW

Nov. 20

Bank of America Corp.

BAC

Nov. 20

Eaton Corp.

ETN

Nov. 20

SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration and Production ETF

XOP

Nov. 20

MetLife, Inc.

MET

Nov. 19

Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc.

HLT

Nov. 19

American Express Co.

AXP

Nov. 18

Kohl’s Corp.

KSS

Nov. 18

FleetCor Technologies

FLT

Nov. 18

Applied Materials, Inc.

AMAT

Nov. 17

Delta Air Lines, Inc.

DAL

Nov. 17

Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR

XLP

Nov. 17

Ross Stores, Inc.

ROST

Nov. 16

RingCentral, Inc.

RNG

Nov. 13

Regions Financial Corp.

RF

Nov. 13

iShares Europe ETF

IEV

Nov. 13

Flex, Inc.

FLEX

Nov. 9

Snap, Inc.

SNAP

Nov. 9

Norfolk Southern Corp.

NSC

Nov. 9

Communications Services Select Sector SPDR

XLC

Nov. 5

Health Care Select Sector SPDR

XLV

Nov. 5

Alphabet, Inc.

GOOGL

Nov. 5

Uber Technologies, Inc.

UBER

Nov. 5

Keysight Technologies, Inc.

KEYS

Nov. 4

Harley-Davidson, Inc.

HOG

Nov. 4

Garmin, Ltd.

GRMN

Nov. 4

Pinterest, Inc.

PINS

Nov. 3

Sony Corp.

SNE

Nov. 3

8×8, Inc.

EGHT

Nov. 3

Exact Sciences Corp.

EXAS

Nov. 2

Universal Display Corp.

OLED

Nov. 2

Dentsply Sirona, Inc.

XRAY

Oct. 27

Maxim Integrated Products, Inc.

MXIM

Oct. 21

The Travelers Companies, Inc.

TRV

Oct. 21

Micron Technology, Inc.

MU

Oct. 20

Vulcan Materials Co.

VMC

Oct. 19

ON Semiconductor Corp.

ON

Oct. 16

Ford Motor Co.

F

Oct. 15

Texas Instruments, Inc.

TXN

Oct. 15

First Solar, Inc.

FSLR

Oct. 13

Nevro Corp.

NVRO

Oct. 12

Teradyne, Inc.

TER

Oct. 12

SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF

XHB

Oct. 9

Shake Shack, Inc.

SHAK

Oct. 9

SPDR S&P Biotech ETF

XBI

Oct. 8

Twilio, Inc.

TWLO

Oct. 8

Cloudflare, Inc.

NET

Oct. 7

Ceridian HCM Holding, Inc.

CDAY

Oct. 7

RSailPoint Technology Holdings, Inc.

SAIL

Oct. 1

Martin Marietta Materials, Inc.

MLM

Sept. 30

Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

ANF

Sept. 29

Zendesk, Inc.

ZEN

Sept. 23

Scientific Games Corp.

SGMS

Sept. 23

Crocs, Inc.

CROX

Sept. 14

Five Below, Inc.

FIVE

Sept. 10

Eastman Chemical Co.

EMN

Sept. 10

International Paper Co.

IP

Sept. 3

Anaplan, Inc.

PLAN

Sept. 2

Celanese Corp.

CE

Aug. 26

Westlake Chemical Corp.

WLK

Aug. 25

Deere & Co.

DE

Aug. 24

Expedia Group, Inc.

EXPE

Aug. 24

Johnson Controls International

JCI

Aug. 21

Canadian Solar, Inc.

CSIQ

Aug. 20

General Motors Co.

GM

Aug. 20

Starbucks Corp.

SBUX

Aug. 18

Builders FirstSource, Inc.

BLDR

Aug. 18

Steel Dynamics, Inc.

STLD

Aug. 17

Brinker International, Inc.

EAT

Aug. 13

Enphase Energy, Inc.

ENPH

Aug. 13

Nucor Corp.

NUE

Aug. 11

Freeport McMoRan, Inc.

FCX

Aug. 10

Natera, Inc.

NTRA

Aug. 10

Industrial Select Sector SPDR

XLI

Aug. 6

Penn National Gaming, Inc.

PENN

July 30

Procter & Gamble Co.

PG

July 29

SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF

XME

July 28

iShares MSCI South Korea ETF

EWY

July 28

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.

AMD

July 23

Materials Select Sector SPDR

XLB

July 20

Caterpillar, Inc.

CAT

July 20

Roku, Inc.

ROKU

July 16

Cognizant Technology Solutions, Inc.

CTSH

July 16

Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR

XLY

July 13

SunPower Corp.

SPWR

July 13

Walmart, Inc.

WMT

July 8

Danaher Corp.

DHR

June 24

Fiverr International, Ltd.

FVRR

June 19

HubSpot, Inc.

HUBS

June 8

Square, Inc.

SQ

June 8

SPDR S&P Retail ETF

XRT

June 3

iShares MSCI Japan ETF

EWJ

May 29

Synopsis, Inc.

SNPS

May 27

Agilent Technologies, Inc.

A

May 15

Qualcomm, Inc.

QCOM

May 12

ServiceNow, Inc.

NOW

Apr. 27

Five9, Inc.

FIVN

Apr. 24

Chewy, Inc.

CHWY

Apr. 24

Tesla, Inc.

TSLA

Apr. 23

VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF

SMH

Apr. 17

Okta, Inc.

OKTA

Apr. 16

Target Corp.

TGT

Apr. 16

Invesco QQQ Trust

QQQ

Apr. 14

Apple, Inc.

AAPL

Mar. 27

Nvidia Corp.

NVDA

Mar. 27

iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF

EEM

Mar. 19

Microsoft Corp.

MSFT

Feb. 22

* Click each symbol for current chart.



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My ex-wife passed away. I’m the beneficiary on her life insurance. Her family wants me to pay her funeral expenses and won’t leave me alone

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I am 32, and just a month ago I found out that my ex-wife, whom I haven’t spoken to since we divorced, passed away tragically in a moped accident. My ex-wife had life insurance through her job. My ex-mother-in-law informed my father that my ex-wife had kept me as her beneficiary on her life-insurance policy, and her family wants the money for funeral costs, bills, etc.

Not only did my ex-wife have me on her policy as the primary (and only) beneficiary, she updated my home address on the policy after we divorced. Also, I found out through the insurance company that my ex-wife had two term life-insurance policies, one for me and one for my ex-sister-in-law.

I blocked my ex-in-laws, and now I received a threatening voicemail from a blocked number, so I’ve taken it upon myself to notify the authorities. I live in New York, I am remarried, and my divorce was very simple and easy. We left the marriage with what we came into it with. The life-insurance company approved the check in my name, and is sending it to my home.

Am I legally in the clear? I have not spoken to or bothered these people once since we divorced five years ago. I just want to be left alone and move on with my life.

Thank you very much in advance.

Best regards,

Fed-Up Ex-Husband

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Fed Up,

First, I’ll deal with your life insurance concerns, and then the subject of your ex-wife’s funeral expenses.

The life-insurance policy was between your ex-wife and her insurer. It’s possible to overturn a life-insurance policy if it explicitly goes against the terms of a divorce decree, as happened in this case, but that too was a complicated lawsuit. Some states do have statutes that can revoke such beneficiary arrangements.

In “Kaye Melin and Metropolitan Life Insurance,” the children of the deceased were awarded the proceeds from the life-insurance policy, not the ex-wife who was named as beneficiary on the agreement. In that case, the law presumed that what her ex-husband wanted after their divorce was incorrect.

The ruling stated: “Thus, if a person designates a spouse as a life insurance beneficiary and later gets divorced, Minnesota law provides that the beneficiary designation is automatically revoked. At least twenty-eight other states have enacted similar revocation-upon-divorce statutes.”


‘I’m reluctant to say that you are ‘in the clear,’ given previous court rulings, and statutes in some states on the revocation of named beneficiaries post-divorce.’

I’m reluctant to say that you are “in the clear,” given previous court rulings, and statutes in some states on the revocation of named beneficiaries post-divorce. In your case, it seems clearer that your ex-wife wanted you to be the beneficiary. She did, as you say, update your address. It would be hard to see a more explicit sign of her intentions than that.

“Unless the policyholder of the life-insurance plan changes the beneficiary designation officially, the people originally named will remain the beneficiaries through the life of the policy,” according to Heban, Murphree and Lewandowski, a law firm in Toledo, Ohio. “Even if the policyholder was not on speaking terms with the individual upon his or her death, that beneficiary would still receive the income.”

“In the case of someone who divorced and remarried, the policy may name the first spouse as beneficiary. If the policyholder never changed the policy to reflect the divorce and remarriage, the ex-spouse could end up with the benefit. This can cause the current spouse and any children from the second marriage to dispute the beneficiary designation on the policy,” it adds.

But much, I suspect, would depend on what state you live in, and the specifics of your case.

On a separate issue, it’s difficult to glean from your letter whether your in-laws had little funds to pay for the funeral expenses, or were mad as hell that you were listed as beneficiary and felt you should contribute, or both. On the one hand, it seems like they are not in a state of mind to be reasonable and, chances are, if you did engage it would lead to further demands and acrimony.

Perhaps you could talk to your ex-wife’s lawyer and see if there is enough money to cover the costs of her funeral and, if not, you could make a contribution. But given the alleged harassing phone calls, their anger and grief, and their antipathy toward you, you would need to have all correspondence go through the attorney and refrain from any direct communication.

There is no excuse for their taking their grief out on you. Still, spare a thought for her family. If you are fed up, imagine how they feel.

The Moneyist: My boyfriend talked me into depositing my paychecks into his bank account, and paying for a car in his name. What can I do?

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 group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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These money and investing tips can help you when inflation is burning a hole in your wallet

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Don’t miss these top money and investing features:

These money and investing stories, popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week, focus on helping you make sense of the recent spike in U.S. inflation. Understand how rising prices can affect your investment portfolio, and taking appropriate steps now to respond, can prevent unpleasant surprises later.



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No, you’re not crazy. Yes, CDC mask guidelines are confusing — should you stop wearing a mask in public or not?

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Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. Make one. Buy one. Wear it outdoors. Wear it indoors.

Confused? You’re not alone.

So what’s the deal with the CDC’s new guidance? “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Vaccines have helped to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and this appears to be a natural next step for Americans tired of masking up. “We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Walensky said.

We are still far, far away from normal. You can take off your mask “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC says. You still need a mask on buses and trains, in museums and most stores, possibly at your place of work, but not inside restaurants, except when you’re going to the rest room.

How do you know a maskless person is vaccinated? It’s an honors system. The CDC guidance gives less reason for people to abide by that old American Express slogan: “Don’t leave home without it.” People are leaving home without their masks, even in states that still require everyone — vaccinated or not — to wear them in outdoor public spaces, including on the streets of New York.

Many people are fed up, it seems. Little wonder: The CDC’s announcement took many health professionals by surprise: According to a New York Times survey, 29% of epidemiologists surveyed thought people would be wearing masks in public spaces for at least aanother year, while 26% said they believed people would do so for another year, and 26% said they thought mask wearing would continue in some form from now on.


‘You still need a mask on buses and trains, in museums and most stores, possibly at your place of work, but not inside restaurants, except when you’re going to the rest room.’

The change in CDC mask guidelines comes just over a year since the CDC said everyone should wear masks. In April 2020, the Trump administration and the CDC reversed their policies on face masks, and said all Americans should wear cloth face coverings and not — as officials previously said — just medical workers. Trump cited “recent studies,” while the CDC cited “new evidence.”

Fast-forward to Thursday. “I think it’s a great milestone, a great day. It’s been made possible by the extraordinary success we’ve had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly,” a maskless President Joe Biden declared in the White House Rose Garden declared, citing the vaccines from Johnson & Johnson
JNJ,
+0.15%

Pfizer-BioNTech
PFE,
-0.20%

and Moderna
MRNA,
+7.68%
.

“It’s going to take a little more time for everyone who wants to get vaccinated to get their shots. So all of us, let’s be patient with one another,” the president said.

Forgive the public for having mask rules fatigue. We’ve been on quite a journey. Studies earlier in the pandemic suggested that adopting the practice of mask wearing, one that was already accepted in many Asian cultures, would have saved tens of thousands of lives. Many Americans were understandably frustrated, but also eager to do anything they could to stop the virus.

‘So what’s the deal with the CDC’s new guidance?’


MarketWatch illustration

Flashback: Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a briefing on Jan. 30 last year, “The virus is not spreading in the general community. We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness. And we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus.”

Three months later, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, ordered all New Yorkers to cover their faces in public when they can’t maintain a proper social distance. “You’re walking down the street alone? Great! You’re now at an intersection and there are people at the intersection, and you’re going to be in proximity to other people? Put the mask on.”


‘These are just guidelines from the CDC. It’s up to the states to decide what to do next. New Jersey and New York still maintain their mask guidelines in public spaces.’

The CDC’s latest mask announcement are just guidelines. It’s up to the states to decide what to do next. And that’s a whole other story. New Jersey and New York still maintain their mask guidelines when in public spaces. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is examining the guidelines, a spokeswoman for his office said in a statement. Murphy, like many governors, wears a mask in his Twitter profile. Perhaps that tells us all we need to know.

Roughly half of U.S. states have some mask mandate. Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Texas, among others, had already removed their statewide mask mandates in public spaces and/or had not instituted one. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said Thursday he would grant clemency to gym owners who broke the mask mandate.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, officially ended his state’s face-mask mandate in March, and allowed businesses to reopen, despite opposition from rival lawmakers and health professionals at the time. Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, described the move as “extraordinarily dangerous” and said it “will kill Texans.”

Cuomo, meanwhile, perhaps still reeling from this time last year when New York was the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., was definitive in maintaining current policy. Keep your masks on. “In New York, we have always relied on the facts and the science to guide us throughout the worst of this pandemic and in our successful reopening,” he said in a statement.


‘People take off their masks to make phone calls on the street in states where there is a mandate to wear them in public places, and they take them off while they are sitting outdoors eating.’

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, said his state will follow the CDC guidelines. “Later today, we’ll be updating Vermont’s mask mandate following the CDC’s updated guidance, announced yesterday,” he tweeted Friday. “This will mean those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks — indoors or outdoors — nor do they need to be concerned with physical distancing.”

In Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, said the state updated its own policies on mask wearing to follow the CDC’s guidelines with immediate effect. Nevada Health Response added: “COVID-19 is still very much a threat in our State and many Nevadans may choose to continue using masks based on their and their families’ personal health concerns. Others should respect this choice.”

That statement, perhaps more than any other, illustrates the tension, fear and frustration not only with state laws and changing guidance, but with each other. People take off their masks to make phone calls on the street in states where there is a mandate to wear them in public places, and they take them off while they are sitting outdoors eating. Most people are doing the best they can.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said people should still wear masks in public spaces for now, but likely not after June 15 when the state fully reopens. “Only in those massively large settings where people around the world, not just around the country, are convening and where people are mixing in real dense spaces,” Newsom told KTTV.

“Otherwise we’ll make guidance, recommendations, but no mandates and no restrictions in businesses large and small.” Is that all crystal clear? I’ll leave that for you to decide.





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