Published on: March 27, 2020
Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…
• The United States yesterday became the nation with the most confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus - 85,749. (China is second, followed by Italy, Spain, Germany and Iran.) There have been 1,304 deaths and 1,868 reported recoveries in the US.
Globally, there have been 549,430 coronavirus cases, with 24,872 deaths and 128,701 recoveries.
FYI … New York State alone, with 38,977 cases of the coronavirus, has more infections than most countries, exceeded only by the US, China, Italy, Spain and Germany.
There are two stories you should read about how the US is dealing - and should deal - with the coronavirus, both by Donald G. McNeil Jr., a New York Times correspondent who specializes in epidemics and disease. You can access them here and here.
• CNBC reports that Walmart "is offering help to its small business partners" hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, waiving rent for the more than 10,000 "hair and nail salons, optometrists, restaurant franchises, veterinary clinics and local and regional banks" that operate inside Walmart stores and Sam's Clubs.
“It’s our hope that this rent relief will help these businesses financially weather the current situation and take care of their employees,” Walmart said in a statement. “We’ll continue to monitor the need for additional support past April. We’re also working with many of our partners to encourage their impacted employees to apply for the 150,000 temporary jobs we plan to fill in the coming months.”
Walmart also reportedly "is making changes to its supply-chain financing program to help qualified suppliers get payments faster," saying that "more than two-thirds of our 18,000 suppliers are small and medium sized businesses who could benefit from this newly enhanced program."
• From CNN:
"The coronavirus is crippling most American industries. But it's also creating opportunities for some unexpected businesses.
"Grocery Outlet, an 'extreme value' supermarket chain with around 350 stores, mostly on the American West Coast, is capitalizing on shoppers stockpiling groceries during the outbreak and the havoc across supply chains.
"The grocer, which does not sell online, went public last year and sells its products 40% below conventional supermarket prices. It said Tuesday that sales at stores open for at least one year increased 5.1% during its most recent quarter. Like other grocers and retailers that have stayed open during this crisis, Grocery Outlet's sales accelerated in March as the virus spread across the country. The company also drew new customers to stores."
The story notes that Grocery Outlet also will be able to expand its selection because of the pandemic, since "'non-traditional suppliers' have recently approached Grocery Outlet, such as food service companies who don't have restaurants to sell to during the crisis, health and nutrition companies that don't have as many gyms open, and suppliers that sell to retailers that have closed."
• The BBC reports this morning that in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus and "is experiencing mild symptoms."
Johnson said he will self-isolate at 10 Downing Street but "can continue thanks to the wizardry of modern technology to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus."
• Add Southeastern Grocers, parent company to Bi-Lo, Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket and Winn-Dixie, to the list of retailers that have "proactively implemented additional safety measures by beginning the installation of protective Plexiglas partitions in all stores."
The company said that it "will also enforce additional social distancing protocols and adhere to stricter store occupancy regulations to further safeguard customers and associates from the spread of COVID-19 in the communities it serves."
• Reuters reports this morning that Target is saying that "it saw a more than 50% rise in same-store sales so far in March for certain essential goods, joining a list of grocery chains benefiting from consumers hunkering down for an extended period due to the coronavirus outbreak."
According to the story, "UK’s biggest retailer Tesco said the coronavirus-led panic buying has put the company in 'uncharted waters,' while Ocado, UK’s top online grocer, said on Tuesday orders currently were 10 times normal rates. The biggest global names are cautious in admitting it, but after a decade of an e-commerce induced 'retail apocalypse,' the coronavirus outbreak is providing the relief that big-box supermarket operators have been hoping for."
Axios reports that "China will temporarily suspend entry for foreign nationals with visas or residence permits beginning at midnight on March 28 in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday … It's a sign that China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, is seeking to curb the number of imported cases in order to stop its epidemic from flaring up again."
• Fast Company writes that "as the world faces ventilator shortages in the growing COVID-19 pandemic, Dyson - the U.K. company known best for making vacuums, air purifiers, and hair dryers - is collaborating on a ventilator in coordination with The Technology Partnership (TTP). Dubbed CoVent, it’s a bed-mounted, portable ventilator that can run from battery power in field-hospital conditions."
Dyson reportedly will produce 15,000 ventilators as soon as regulatory approvals some though.
The story points out that "while American companies including GM, Ford, and Tesla have expressed a willingness to produce ventilators to address current shortages, the medical technology used by existing ventilators is proprietary, and most reports say it could take months to convert such vehicle manufacturers to ventilator production."
If Dyson can make a $400 hair dryer, they should be able to make a ventilator.
• Fashion designer Ralph Lauren said today it will "produce 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns to help with COVID-19 efforts," Newsweek reports.
"The fashion house is also donating $10 million to various charities, including the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, to assist with its response to the coronavirus outbreak."
• To help provide assistance for the youngest members of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic,Ahold Delhaize-owned The GIANT Company announced "a donation of $250,000 to support COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Penn State Children’s Hospital, The Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger, Children’s National Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Children’s Center will each receive $50,000."
• From CNN:
A woman purposely coughed on $35,000 worth of food at a Pennsylvania grocery store, police said. She likely faces criminal charges for coughing, one of the primary ways the novel coronavirus spreads.
"The unnamed woman entered small grocery chain Gerrity's Supermarket in Hanover Township and started coughing on produce, bakery items, meat and other merchandise, chain co-owner Joe Fasula wrote on Facebook. Staff quickly removed her from the store and called Hanover Township Police, who found her a few hours later and took her into custody, Police Chief Albert Walker told CNN.
"Hanover Township police said the woman 'intentionally contaminated' the food, and they plan to file criminal charges against her once her mental health treatment concludes."