Good Afternoon,

Things are heating up this week. States are beginning to reopen, Merck (MRK) agrees to help Johnson and Johnson (JNJ) produce its single shot COVID-19 vaccine, markets are facing some headwinds and staycations could be a thing of the past.

On Tuesday, Texas and Mississippi governors announced they will lift their mask mandates and allow businesses to reopen at 100%. Governors of both states feel that it is up to individuals to make decisions on their safety, but recommend following CDC guidelines. Some restrictions will still be in place for schools and sporting venues. Montana and Iowa have also declared that state mandates were no longer needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

President Biden announced that we will have enough coronavirus vaccines for every adult by May of 2021. Biden said his administration is invoking the Defense Production Act to boost production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Johnson and Johnson will team up with their competitor Merck to help them produce their single-dose vaccine. To achieve herd immunity, 70 to 90 percent of the population would need to acquire resistance to the coronavirus. At the current pace of administrating first doses, approximately half of the total population would be vaccinated by mid-June and nearly all by October.

Markets have been turbulent recently as bond yields have soared higher and sectors that have been struggling through the pandemic are bouncing back. Both are likely related to the optimism over the advanced rollout of the vaccine which has given some cyclical stocks some help. On Wednesday, travel-related companies like American Airlines (AAL) and Carnival Corp (CCL) rose about four percent each, and the energy sector gained two percent. Seems like vacations will be back on the minds of Americans soon. I can’t wait to start traveling again. One person that won’t be going on vacation any time soon is Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Today, he signaled that the Fed has more work to do and they plan on keeping interest rates low until U.S. unemployment improves.

Keep an eye out for an invitation to our next virtual event, Medicare & You, on Wednesday, April 21st at 11 AM. We hope you can all join us!

Warmest regards,

Rhonda Ducote