Published on: June 16, 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 2,182,979 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 118,286 deaths and 890,015 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 8,136,712 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 439,561 fatalities and 4,248,838 reported recoveries.
• From ABC News:
"Miami, which is among Florida's most populous cities, will not move into the next phase of reopening because of concerns about rising COVID-19 cases, Mayor Francis Suarez announced during a Monday news conference.
"Although the majority of Florida is in Phase 2 of reopening, rising new coronavirus cases in the state may put a damper on residents' new freedom."
While the state maintains that increased testing is the reason for an increased number of confirmed cases, ABC News reports that "a more worrisome sign is that Florida has seen a rise in new hospitalizations in recent weeks … that uptick cannot be attributed to more testing."
Furthermore, the story says, "Data out of Florida has been mired in controversy. The state's coronavirus data scientist was fired over disagreement surrounding Florida's public-facing coronavirus database … That scientist has since launched her own competing Covid-19 database, which shows higher case counts and deaths than the state's database does."
• From National Public Radio:
"The Environmental Protection Agency ordered Amazon and eBay to stop selling certain pesticide-containing products, many of which claimed to fight off and disinfect from the coronavirus.
"The orders also bar the e-commerce giants from selling products that contain toxic chemicals like chlorine dioxide and methylene chloride, which is federally regulated as a toxic substance.
"Exposure to methylene chloride can cause death, but in one instance, eBay marketed and sold 55-gallon drums of methylene chloride as a coronavirus disinfectant and paint stripper, according to the EPA press release.
"Amazon was ordered by the EPA to stop selling over 30 products and eBay, more than 40, some of which falsely claimed to provide 'Epidemic Prevention,' '2020 Coronavirus Protection' and 'complete sterilization including the current pandemic virus,' according to an agency press release."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "grocery stores are selling more milk for the first time in a decade as U.S. consumers use more of the staple during months at home because of the coronavirus pandemic." However, it "isn’t enough to reverse the fortunes of many struggling dairy farmers."
The problem is that while at-home demand for milk has gone up, demand at restaurants and hotels - representing about a third of milk sales - has dried up.
One success story cited by the Journal:
"Milk sales at Stew Leonard’s Inc., a Northeast grocery chain that began as a dairy goods store, have increased 46% by volume since March. After customers cleared beverage cases of milk that month, Chief Executive Stew Leonard Jr. said he made panicked phone calls to milk suppliers, inspiring one to drive through the night to restock shelves in time for the morning rush."
• From the Detroit Free Press:
"An executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on March 23 suspended the redemption of 10-cent deposit beverage cans and bottles by retailers and others, part of orders intended to protect public health amid the coronavirus pandemic. Of the 10 U.S. states with bottle and can deposits, Michigan was the only state to completely shut down returns, and residents accumulated more than $50 million in dimes-in-waiting during the shutdown.
"As coronavirus-related restrictions are beginning to lessen, the state this month announced bottle and can deposit redemption could resume. All grocery stores, supermarkets and other retailers with bottle return facilities located at the front of the store, or housed in a separate area, and serviced exclusively by reverse vending machines, were required to begin re-accepting returns by Monday. The reverse vending machines, into which customers feed bottles and cans and receive a printed out receipt, minimize person-to-person contact during the transactions.
"While some stores began taking returnables again last week, Meijer and Kroger waited until Monday — at least officially."
Amazing what passes for "normal" these days, huh?
• CNN reports that "major US airlines in Airlines for America, the carriers' industry group, announced Monday that they intended to more strictly enforce mask wearing aboard their planes, including potentially banning passengers who refuse to wear a mask.
"The announcement comes in lieu of a federal regulation requiring all passengers to wear masks -- the sort of enforceable measure that governs requirements to wear seatbelts and not smoke."
In addition, the story says, "United Airlines came out Monday with its own separate announcement that has more teeth than what it's been doing so far. If you refuse to wear a face mask starting June 18, you could find yourself on a restricted travel list … United's policy does not include forcibly removing a passenger who still refuses to comply, but the attendants will file an incident report."
CNN writes that "six other major US airlines -- including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines -- pledged to roll out new policies requiring masks, also enforced with a penalty as severe as a ban on flying with that particular airline."
The airlines are getting tougher, but the story points out that they all would've preferred that the government had given them cover with enforceable regulations. I agree with them on this - for the time being, the FAA should be mandating the wearing of masks … and maybe even keeping empty middle seats so that physical distancing is more easily attained.
• In Oregon, Eater Portland reports that the Pok Pok restaurant group there, which over the past decade became a go-to brand for street food-style Thai cuisine, plans not to reopen every one of its Portland locations except for the original on SE Division Street.
Owner Andy Ricker announced the decision on his Instagram account, saying that it was necessary "to focus on the potential reopening of the original Pok Pok down the road, though Ricker writes that 'It is not clear when that might happen.' The post describes the financial and practical hurdles that face reopening multiple restaurants in accordance with the state’s phase one and phase two requirements."
This is a shame. I wasn't the biggest Pok Pok fan in the world, but recognized that it was a symbol of Portland's culinary diversity and innovation. It is sad as the pandemic claims these kinds of victims … which isn't just a restaurant group, but also the livelihoods of all the people who worked there.
• The USA Tennis Association (USTA) is expected to announce this week that the 2020 US Open will be played as scheduled between August 31 and September 13 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York - assuming government approval is granted.
The Open would be played without spectators.
It is expected, the New York Times writes, that "players will be subject to frequent coronavirus testing. Many will be lodged together at a hotel outside Manhattan, and some restrictions are expected to be placed on their movement to protect their health."
Variety reports that the pandemic, which has shut down the nation's movie theaters for months, as well as suspending production of countless movies and delaying the release of others, now has pushed The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to delay its annual Academy Awards ceremony, moving it from February 29, 2021, to April 25, 2021.
In addition, the Academy has extended its eligibility dates - instead of mandating that movies have to be released in the 2020 calendar year, it says that eligible movies have to have been released by February 28, 2021.