Some good news for a change

Home Column Some good news for a change

By Steven Feldman

Steven Feldman

Four months to go until we put 2020 in our rear-view mirror. New Year’s Eve can’t come soon enough. Or can it? While I lament the fact I haven’t been to a live sporting event or concert since March 12, or sat at a bar in Manhattan in five and a half months, things could be a whole lot worse.

I mean, every retailer I’ve spoken with since May has told me things are not that bad out there, all things considered. Many dealers had a record June and July, and August has not been far off. To that point, many say they will be in the black this year. And for the purposes of this magazine, that supersedes all else.

In most Presidential election years, the industry prepares for a bit of a slowdown in September and October as the country pauses and watches as the imminent sh%& show plays out. But maybe not this year. Did you see that existing home sales were up 25% in July? That’s incredible news for this industry. People will be replacing floors for the rest of the year and into 2021 for sure. July marked the second straight month with a record- breaking increase in existing home sales, which rose 20.7% in June.

The housing market has been among the quickest sectors of the economy to recover from the initial shock of the coronavirus pandemic. What’s driving this phenomenon? Massive declines in interest rates for one. Also, months of working from home have prompted households who’ve managed to hold onto their jobs and wealth to find larger living spaces. Finally, people are escaping big cities everywhere amid fears of another lock- down (I sincerely doubt that will ever happen again) and civil unrest. Most people respect a peaceful protest, until it’s in their own backyard—or it becomes non-peaceful.

While we’re on the subject of positive news, I came across an article about the pandemic I thought was encouraging. This comes from what I believe to be a reputable source: Business Insider magazine. Basically, the article states that we now have the best evidence yet that most people develop long-term coronavirus immunity after infection.

Early research suggested that coronavirus antibodies—blood proteins that protect the body from subsequent infections—could fade within months. But in their concern about those findings’ implications, many people failed to consider our immune system’s multi-layered defense against invading pathogens. Specifically, they discounted the role of white blood cells, which have impressive powers of recollection that can help your body mount another attack against the coronavirus should it ever return. Memory T cells are an especially key type since they identify and destroy infected cells and inform B cells about how to craft new virus-targeting antibodies.

A study published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Cell suggested that everyone who gets COVID-19—even people with mild or asymptomatic cases—develops T cells that can hunt down the coronavirus if they get exposed again later. “Memory T cells will likely prove critical for long-term immune protection against COVID-19,” the study’s authors wrote, adding that they “may prevent recurrent episodes of severe COVID-19.” That’s because memory T cells can stick around for years, while antibody levels drop following an infection. Maybe that’s why you don’t hear too many stories about people getting the same strain twice.

The authors of the new study examined blood from 206 people in Sweden who had COVID-19 with varying degrees of severity. They found that regardless of whether a person had recovered from a mild or severe case, they still developed a robust T-cell response. Even coronavirus patients who did not test positive for antibodies developed memory T cells, the results showed. (Even health guru Dr. Anthony Fauci lauded this study, calling it “good news.”)

Other recent research bolsters the new findings. A study published in July found that in a group of 36 recovered coronavirus patients, all produced memory T cells that recognize and are specifically engineered to fight the new coronavirus.

Though this news about T cells and coronavirus immunity is promising, scientists still don’t know precisely how long people who recover from COVID-19 will be protected from future infection. However, clues gleaned from other coronaviruses, such as SARS, suggest T cells’ lifespan could be decades long. The July study also looked for T cells in blood samples from 23 people who survived SARS. Sure enough, those survivors still years after getting sick. Those same T cells could recognize the new coronavirus, too.

I know we like to focus on flooring. However, news like this can get our industry closer to, dare I say, normal.

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Sept. 7, 2020