COVID Still Dominates Headlines as Cases Resurge, News about Evictions Rises, Monitor Trending Topics

RavenPack COVID-19 Update | July 09, 2020

In this update, news about coronavirus remains high as case hotspots trigger second wave fears, stories about housing and evictions become a trending topic and we highlight more key features from our COVID dashboard.

Key Takeaways

  • Panic and Media Hype indexes are bottoming as parts of the U.S., UK, and Australia - to name but a few - come under lockdown again.
  • Stories about mortgages and evictions spike as protective laws near expiration
  • How can users make the monitor analyze the main trending topics in the media about COVID?

Go To Coronavirus News Monitor

COVID Dominates Headlines Again

The Coronavirus continues to spread, reflected by the plateauing of our monitor news analytics indexes. Previously they had been in a slow decline as the news about coronavirus had started to ebb, but that may have proved a false dawn as cases once again start to rise.

Coronavirus has climbed back up the news agenda after outbreaks led to reinforced lockdowns in California, the city of Leicester in the UK, and Melbourne in Australia, to name a few.

This new trend is reflected in the worldwide Media Hype Index which measures the percentage share of all news that is about coronavirus.

The Index has been found to correspond with both changes in levels and frequencies of new cases and by extension financial market returns, suggesting a heightened that risk stock markets may be about to decline.

COVID  Media Exposure Remains Steady

The clear basing pattern in this index shows that the coronavirus story is still very much alive. The percentage share of the news talking about COVID remains stable around the late 30% levels after falling from a peak of 69% in March.

It is highly unusual for a single story to take up such a large share of the news for this long. The reason is probably signs of the reemergence of a second wave - as already mentioned - and themes connected with continued widespread concerns about the socio-economic fallout of the pandemic.

Another key metric we follow is the Panic Index, which measures the level of panic or hysteria mentioned in the news. Changes in the Panic Index have often been found to precede fluctuations in the spread of the virus.

In this case, the index has stopped declining and formed two higher highs - a sign it may be reversing trend which may not bode well for the virus’s containment.

Panic On the Rise Again

The Panic Index can also be generated for individual countries such as Russia - where the virus arrived late and is spreading rapidly - and here we note it hit a 3-month high recently after news infections were on the rise.

Panic in Russia Spikes Higher

Another interesting metric to look at in regards to the recent uptick in new cases is mentions of “confirmed cases” of COVID in the news. This recently spiked to a 3-month high.

3-Month High For “Confirmed Cases” News Mentions

News About Evictions Increases

Talk of mortgages in the news has spiked, especially in the U.S., after a rise in stories about how homeowners and tenants are facing the threat of eviction after losing their jobs during the COVID crisis.

Comentions of “Mortgage Repayments” in the News Spike

Many states are being pressured to extend laws preventing evictions as well as creating mortgage and rent relief programs.

In one story from the monitor, protesting residents in Chicago tapped their eviction notices to the gates of governor J.B. Pritzker’s home “in hopes of drawing attention to what they say is an imminent housing crisis.” According to the report featured on the monitor from the Chicago Sun Times.

In California, one of the worst-hit states in the U.S., the number of homeowners late with their payments has now tripled because of the crisis.

“In May, 6.85% of California mortgages were estimated to be “non-current,” a troubled-loan category that includes mortgages with missed payments plus those formally in the foreclosure process. The rate’s 228% jump in six months from 2.1% was topped by only two states: Alaska, up 256%, and Nevada, up 236%,” writes Jonathan Lansner in the Mercury News.

A further report from the monitor relates how the governor of Virginia is being pressured into extending the deadline for anti-eviction laws and has called for the creation of a $50m CARES (COVID Aid Relief and Economic Security) fund to help those in arrears with their rent or mortgage repayments.

Monitor Highlights

The Related Topics table on the right-hand side of the monitor enables a deeper inquiry and analysis of the key themes driving the news coverage of the Coronavirus pandemic.

COVID Related Topics

The list includes 84 topics from “social distancing” to “layoffs” to “face masks” and ranks them according to either the percentage of news about them (the ratio) or the daily change in the ratio.

The default setting is for them to be ranked from highest to lowest but this can be inverted.

Users can click on topics to bring up a window showing the time-series of daily results in a chart.

Social Distancing COVID Related Topic

Dropdown menus also enable cross-comparison by country and topic.

 ‘social distancing’ and ‘clinical trials’ compared

Finally, the news feed on the right is set to only show those stories relevant to the topic.

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