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, there now have been 56,142,175 total cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 847,408 deaths and 41,543,060 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 290,759,134 total cases, with 5,462,030 resultant fatalities and 254,668,218 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 78 percent of the US population age five and older and 73.3 percent of the total population has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 65.9 percent of the five-and-older group and 62 percent of the total population being fully vaccinated.

The CDC also says that just 36.3 percent of the US population age 18 and older, and 33.4 percent of the total population has received a vaccine booster dose.

•  From Bloomberg:

"Almost twice as many people were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past seven days as the pandemic’s previous weekly record thanks to a tsunami of omicron that has swamped every aspect of daily life in many parts of the globe.

"The highly mutated and infectious variant drove cases to a record 10 million in the seven days through Sunday, almost double the previous record of 5.7 million seen during in a week in late April. The surging number of infections, at a time when many people have given up on testing or are using at-home kits with results that aren’t reported to local authorities, has led to canceled flights, closed offices and strangled production facilities and supply chains."

There is a silver lining, Bloomberg suggests:  "Weekly Covid deaths are still on a downward trajectory, falling to their lowest level in more than a year. The outlook for 2022 depends on whether the death toll follows cases and picks up in the weeks to come, or if early evidence suggesting the omicron wave will be less severe holds up as more real-world data emerges."

•  From the New York Times this morning, a story about how "many people with compromised immune systems in the U.S. who have sidestepped government guidelines and received unauthorized fourth or fifth shots.

"The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in charge of determining when additional doses should be administered, but some patients and their doctors feel that federal agencies have acted too slowly to protect the most vulnerable.

"Israel has already begun rolling out fourth shots — Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday that the country would offer additional shots to people age 60 and over, as well as to medical workers, becoming the first country to roll out an additional booster so broadly.

"By comparison, the C.D.C. updated their guidelines in late October to say that immunocompromised groups would be eligible for a fourth dose six months after a third. For those who followed the rules, the earliest eligibility for a fourth would be in late February.  

"But as new variants like Omicron arise and vaccination rates continue to be sluggish in many areas, worrying those with weak immune systems,  many of them are getting extra shots without being certain of whether they are safe or effective."

•  The Wall Street Journal writes today about how "the rapid spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant is weighing on U.S. businesses, keeping more workers home sick or quarantined and leading some companies to cut services and reduce hours.

"The rise of U.S. Covid-19 infections to record levels in recent days has driven thousands of canceled flights, prompted retailers to train available employees on new jobs, and closed some stores altogether, companies said. The rapidly spreading Omicron variant is hitting businesses at a time when consumers’ demand for products and services has surged, and many companies already are struggling with staffing and supply-chain challenges."

•  The New York Times reports that business owners are confused and little frustrated with new rules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which said over the holiday that it was cutting in half, to five days, "the recommended isolation period for those without symptoms and those without fevers whose other symptoms are resolving. Those leaving isolation should wear masks around others for an additional five days under the new guidelines … While a briefer isolation could help people get back on the job more quickly, some owners also worry about how to determine when someone is healthy enough to return."

And, to be fair, there are employees out there who feel that they will be pressured by their bosses to return to work because of the new guidelines, even if they're not feeling well enough to go back on the job.

•  Variety reports that "the Sundance Film Festival is planning to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to eligible in-person attendees, multiple sources told Variety.

"Following last week’s festival mandate requiring all participants in screenings and official events to show proof of three vaccination shots, Sundance is putting resources into offering boosters on the ground in Park City, Utah. Over a series of filmmaker calls this week, international artists and producing teams were informed of the offer, two individuals familiar with the matter said.

"While the initiative has not yet been formally announced, the CDC’s guidelines for booster eligibility say individuals must have received their second COVID vaccination at least six months prior to a booster shot. Boosters are also only available for those age 18 and older. Sundance is scheduled to run from Jan. 20 to 30 and will also mount a hybrid virtual edition."

Love this idea.  More conferences and festivals ought to adopt it.