business news in context, analysis with attitude

Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  In the United States, we've now had 51,136,442 total cases of Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 821,335 deaths and 40,239,513 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 271,905,597 total cases, with 5,340,623 resultant fatalities and  244,470,121 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 76.7 percent of the US population age five and older and 72.2 percent of the total population has received at least one dose of vaccine, while 64.8 percent of the five-and-under population and 61 percent of the total population has been fully vaccinated.

The CDC also says that 29.5 percent of the 18-and-older US population and 27.2 percent of the total population has received a vaccine booster shot.

•  From the New York Times:

"The proportion of coronavirus cases in the United States caused by the Omicron variant has increased sharply, and may portend a significant surge in infections as soon as next month, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"During the week that ended on Saturday, Omicron accounted for 2.9 percent of cases across the country, up from 0.4 percent in the previous week, according to agency projections released on Tuesday.

"In the region comprising New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the percentage of Omicron infections had already reached 13.1 percent.

"In a briefing on Tuesday with state and local health officials and representatives of public health labs across the nation, C.D.C. officials warned of two possible scenarios. The first was a tidal wave of infections, both Omicron and Delta, arriving as soon as next month, just as influenza and other winter respiratory infections peak … Federal health officials also proposed a second scenario in which a smaller surge in Omicron cases occurs in the spring. It was unclear which forecast was more likely."

•  The Washington Post adds:

"Officials stress that early data shows that individuals who are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot remain largely protected against severe illness and death from omicron. But they worry about how few Americans have been boosted to date. Over 55 million people in the United States have gotten the additional shots, out of 200 million who are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC."

•  CNBC reports that "Google has told its employees they will lose pay — and will eventually be fired — if they don’t comply with the company’s Covid-19 vaccination policy, according to internal documents viewed by CNBC.

"A memo circulated by leadership said employees had until Dec. 3 to declare their vaccination status and upload documentation showing proof, or to apply for a medical or religious exemption. The company said after that date it would start contacting employees who hadn’t uploaded their status or were unvaccinated, as well as those whose exemption requests weren’t approved.

"The document said employees who haven’t complied with the vaccination rules by the Jan. 18 deadline will be placed on 'paid administrative leave' for 30 days. After that, the company will put them on 'unpaid personal leave' for up to six months, followed by termination."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "Apple Inc. stores across the U.S. are returning to requiring masks as Covid-19 cases surge.

"The iPhone maker said Tuesday that the new mask mandate would apply to all customers and employees. The company’s prevention efforts have waned in recent months in step with U.S. infection rates, with masks being optional in domestic Apple stores since the first week of November … Throughout the pandemic, Apple has been quick to close locations and institute mask mandates and other protocols in its retail stores. During the first year of the pandemic, some observers noted that Apple store closures often came ahead of big waves Covid-19 cases in certain areas."