How did health become so political? How did I become the poster boy for the "forever shelter" crowd, the guy who wears a rubber suit, according to a guest who was on Squawk Box this morning, the implication being I am afraid to go outside lest I bump into Covid-19 and have it get on my clothes or naked body.
This nonsense. There is nothing political about my stance. I think that opening up is a subjective, regional issue. If your state is riddled with illness and there's little sign of peaking, your governor should keep things tight as a drum. That's how I feel about my state, New Jersey, where it feels out of hand.
If things are truly getting better and you think that they won't get worse if people come out of their houses and start leading their lives with the exception in a regular fashion, hopefully wearing a mask, which the CDC misled us into thinking didn't work, and practicing physical distancing, then I think it's time to let some businesses open up but maybe close others. In many states doctors and dentists haven't been able to work. They know how to wear masks. It's time for dermatologists to make a living again. In fact, I suggest you own AbbVie (ABBV) , which is buying Allergan (AGN) , in large part because of its botox franchise. It's elective, it's cash pay and it's viewed as a necessity for many.
Contractors know all about masks. Before Covid-19 became the pandemic of a generation, the contractors were the biggest N-95 customers. We've had a huge amount of work delayed. People just got government checks in the mail. Small and medium-sized businesses should be opened and there has to be a sense of caveat emptor. It's not the government's job to endlessly shutdown business.
New York's taking no chances: it's demanding mask wearing? I say, terrific, it helps get things open.
Finally, there are states like Washington which has flattened the curve to the point where April has been a stronger month than March. I think that with the exception of physical distancing, they should try to be as normal as possible. If you don't want to be physically distant I don't think it's the job of the government to stop you even as I think it is ill-advised. Maybe you decide that a certain number of people can congregate. I think that's good.
Just because I want to be as careful as possible, doesn't mean I am mandating that you should or your state should.
But let me make clear what would change my mind. First is the blood test that Abbott (ABT) just announced today. They are going to have the capacity to have millions of them. They will tell you if you have the anitbodies. We don't know if you can get Covid-19 twice, but the people with antibodies can become a vibrant part of life. I actually want to give these people a card saying they've had it. They are at the vanguard of the new social worlds. The more who have had it the more I would feel confident that the 6% mortality rate in New York is way too high.
Second, I want the places I go to to be like Costco (COST) . They tell you what physical distancing is. I want that in restaurants and retail stores even as I know it's not ideal for the smaller business people who lack the room for physical distancing, hence why so many will not make it through.
Finally, I want to get it on the table what we really need to get things going: we need a vaccine. We need it for multiple reasons, obviously to keep people from dying of this horrendous disease. If we can get a vaccine that keeps you from getting symptomatic and make it so you can't give it to anyone then we would be free of this scourge. Right now many people I talk to say that's not possible. There are whole schools of public health that say forget it, no vaccine can stop this illness. Others say don't expect one until three to five years. That would be devastating.
Me? Just as I am not rubber suit Jimmy, I am an optimist on the vaccine front. After listening to yesterday's Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) conference call I came away convinced that they have something up their sleeves that will make you wished you owned some sort of travel and leisure stock or a fintech, maybe a Disney (DIS) or a Visa (V) or a Mastercard (MA) . Their work with Zika and Ebola is too similar to Covid-19 to think that they can't get started with human tests very soon.
In fact those who have left this market including many hedge funds, I have to warn you, if JNJ gets it right, after all of this stimulus, the market will never look back.
So yes, I think Covid-19's been a tough opponent. Truly, I worry about the health of all of us. But I do not think Covid-19 is invincible. And when it's beaten you will wish you own stocks, especially the stocks that are right now lethal to your portfolio.
(AbbVie, Abbott Labs, Costco, Johnson & Johnson, Disney and Mastercard are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells these stocks? Learn more now.)