Investment-advisors are increasingly worried that U.S. authorities are not doing enough to prevent a widespread outbreak of coronavirus in the country, potentially adding further downside to already-battered markets, Reuters writes.
Their criticisms include the number of people so far tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which some say is too small, the possible difficulties of imposing lockdowns on U.S. cities and concerns that the White House could bungle containment efforts.
The worries have magnified the uncertainty that has accompanied the coronavirus outbreak over the last several weeks, as investors scramble to adjust their portfolios to price in the virus’ potential for damage to the global economy and assess its further impact on asset prices.
The CDC states on its website that “as of Feb. 24, CDC teams are working with the Department of Homeland Security at 11 airports where all flights from China are being directed to screen travelers returning to the United States, and to refer them to U.S. health departments for oversight of self-monitoring.”
U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said as of Thursday morning the CDC had tested 3,625 specimens for the fast-moving virus.
For some investors and analysts, those assurances ring hollow.
“Much of what we’ve seen about this virus has shaken confidence in governments,” said James Bianco, head of Chicago-based advisory firm Bianco Research.
His list includes doubts over China’s accuracy in counting cases, criticism over Japan’s handling of a cruise ship quarantine at one of its ports, and the comparatively small number of people that U.S. authorities have so far tested.
Worries over the growing number of cases outside China sent the S&P 500 into intraday correction territory on Thursday morning. Stocks took an earlier hit on Wednesday after health officials in Nassau County, New York, said they were monitoring 83 people who visited China and may have come in contact with the coronavirus. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state has had no confirmed cases so far.