Published on: June 11, 2020
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 2,066,508 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 115,137 resulting deaths and 808,551 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 7,478,234 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 419,391 fatalities and 3,792,244 reported recoveries.
• From Axios:
"Texas health authorities reported a total of 2,153 coronavirus hospitalizations on Wednesday, up from 2,056 on Tuesday and 1,935 patients Monday … The three days of record-breaking coronavirus hospitalizations come more than a month after Texas allowed its statewide stay-at-home order to expire.
"The recording-breaking hospitalizations also follow large protests in urban areas over the death of George Floyd."
Axios points out that "hospitalization figures are generally viewed as a more reliable indicator of coronavirus spread than growth in reported cases, which can be a product of increased testing." It also reports that "hospitalizations have increased in nine states since Memorial Day — Texas, North and South Carolina, California, Oregon, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah and Arizona."
• The Wall Street Journal has a story about the impact of the pandemic on small business owners who saw themselves as heading for the exists, but now no longer can afford to.
Here's how the Journal frames the story:
"More than 40% of the 30.7 million who own small businesses are 55 and older, and the majority of them have poured their savings into their shops and companies. Many have been hit by coronavirus closures at a time when they were within a year of selling in order to fund their retirement. They have to decide whether to invest more time, energy and money in businesses they have put their hearts into, or cut their losses. At their age, they don’t have the time to start over."
The story goes on: "What to do next is not just a financial decision, but an emotional one as well. Many began with a dream and spent decades fulfilling it, raising children along the way, some of whom joined them at the counter or warehouse. They and their business are often a part of the local community and provide jobs and gathering spots for neighbors. Closing that chapter means beginning another one that many associate with their last."
Interesting piece … and, as a small business owner myself, kind of a sad one. You can read it here.
• Fox News reports that "the Mall of America was back in business on Wednesday, nearly three months after the Minnesota tourist attraction shut down because of the coronavirus.
"About 150 of the 500 stores in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington reopened their doors to a new shopping experience that included signs encouraging social distancing, reduced seating, touchless hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass dividers at checkout areas.
"The mall, which is the nation's largest, initially planned to reopen on June 1, but it pushed back the date because of protests in the Twin Cities over the death of George Floyd."
• The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and its country sibling, Stagecoach, have been cancelled for 2020 because of the pandemic.
Originally scheduled for April, promoters had pushed them to October, hoping that pandemic-related issues would have subsided sufficiently by then to hold the events. But concerns about the coronavirus and a possible/probable second wave of infections made the holding of the festivals increasingly problematic.
Coachella, the Journal notes, is the highest grossing music festival in the world.
• Axios reports that "United Airlines on Wednesday became the first major U.S. airline to ask all passengers to complete a health self-assessment during the check-in process amid the coronavirus pandemic … Whether checking in online, at a kiosk or in person at the airport, passengers would be required to accept United's 'Ready-to-Fly' checklist that includes confirmation that you: will wear a face mask … haven't been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 21 days … haven't had symptoms or been in close contact with someone who tested positive in the past 14 days … (and) haven't been denied boarding by another airline for medical reasons."
The story says that "to reassure the public it's safe to fly, battered airlines are stepping up their cleaning and disinfection procedures. Most carriers are requiring employees and passengers to wear masks and now United is going a step further by asking travelers to confirm they are healthy."
• Variety reports that Disney has proposed a "July 17 reopening of Disneyland, its flagship U.S. theme park in Anaheim, Calif., amid a months-long closure that occurred as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Its theme parks and resort facilities have been shuttered since mid-March.
"The company’s parks division has planned a phased reopening, beginning with Downtown Disney on July 9, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on July 17 and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel on July 23."
According to the story, "In order to comply with governmental requirements and to promote social distancing, the company said that it will use a new theme park reservation system to manage attendance, which will be rolled out soon. All guests will have to make reservations in advance to enter the park. For the moment, Disneyland is temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Annual Passport sales and renewals … Parades and nighttime spectaculars will 'return at a later date.' While Disney characters will be in the parks, there will not be any character meet-and-greets for the time being. The company did not announce an anticipated return date for those events and activities."
• Los Angeles Magazine reports that iconic fast food chain In-N-Out Burger is suing its insurance company, Zurich American, for not paying out on a claim filed when the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close all its more than 350 units in California, Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Texas.
In-N-Out says that its policy was an "all risk" policy, which meant that it should have been covered not just for traditional risks such as fore, but also for "unknown and novel risks" such as a pandemic.
Los Angeles says that the policy would have capped out at $250 million; In-N-Out has sales of close to $1 billion last year.
The story also notes that "Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood and chef Thomas Keller, with restaurants in Yountville, New York, Las Vegas, and Miami, are among the restaurants filing similar lawsuits against their insurers."
Insurance companies love to say "no" - it is their default position until pushed. In this case, I would imagine that the insurers have made a mistake, because In-N-Out almost certainly has attorneys that will go after them animal-style.