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 as of this morning, there have been 2,263,756 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 120,688 deaths and 931,079 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 8,602,039 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 456,791 fatalities and 4,552,243 reported recoveries.

•  From the Los Angeles Times:

"Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all Californians to wear face coverings while in public or high-risk settings, including when shopping, taking public transit or seeking medical care, following growing concerns that an increase in coronavirus cases has been caused by residents failing to voluntarily take that precaution.

"Newsom’s order came a week after Orange County rescinded a requirement for residents to wear masks and as other counties across California were debating whether to join local jurisdictions that had mandated face coverings … Under state law, residents who violate the new requirement could be charged with a misdemeanor and potentially face a financial penalty, according to a representative for the Newsom administration."

Newsom said in a statement that "simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered - putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease.  California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing.”

The Times story notes that "the mask requirement comes as California and Los Angeles County saw single-day highs in coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a clear sign that the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of waning in the state. More than 5,300 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in California thus far, including almost 3,000 in L.A. County."

It is critical for California to get back to work … and to show the rest of us the way.  After all, it isn't just the state with the largest economy, but at $3.1 trillion its economy is the firth largest in the world, just below Germany and above the UK.  

•  Fox News reports that "American Airlines has temporarily banned a passenger who they kicked off a flight Wednesday after he refused to wear a face mask.

"Brandon Straka, a popular conservative activist, had just boarded a plane at LaGuardia Airport on Wednesday when a controversy erupted over his lack of a facemask. After arguing with multiple American Airlines personnel, he obliged their request to get off the flight. He was then rebooked on another American Airlines flight to Charlotte and then to Seattle."

American Airlines spokespeople said that Straka's "actions and statements were inconsistent throughout his journey."  Straka said that he was "fed up with what he called conflicting messages from politicians about face masks and what is acceptable during the coronavirus pandemic."

This is why we need the federal government to say what California has said.  If you are in an enclosed place of any kind with other people, other than a private home, you have to wear a mask.  No argument, no equivocation, no ambiguity.  If we're going to end the pandemic, we have to do the patriotic, selfless thing - wear a mask.

•  From the Columbus Dispatch:

"A southeast Ohio couple is being sued by the state for hoarding hand sanitizer and selling it for 11 times the price to profit off of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Marcus and Ellen Fultz of Athens are accused of using an Amazon account to resell hundreds of bottles of hand sanitizer, which are in high demand because of the pandemic. According to the lawsuit, they stocked up on bulk quantities of the sanitizer and listed them for sale, jacking up the price by as much as 1,017.3%."

Throw the book at them.   Put them in work-release, and have them sanitize public schools during the fall semester.

•  The Washington Post has a story about an unexpected byproduct of the pandemic and the nation's shelter-at-home policy - "a nationwide shortage of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies," because when people don't go out, it halts "the flow of coins through households, businesses and banks."

Jerome H. Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, told the House Financial Services Committee, that "the Fed has been working with the U.S. Mint and reserve banks to fix the temporary issue."

“The places where you go to give your coins, and get credit at the store and get cash — you know, folding money — those have not been working. Stores have been closed,” Powell said. “So the whole system has kind of, had come to a stop. We’re well aware of this. … As the economy reopens, we’re seeing coins begin to move around again.”

Now that I think about it, I've hardly used cash over the past few months … and the coin jar into which I normally throw my loose quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies has remained pretty static.  I wonder, though, if this is another case of the pandemic accelerating what was going to happen anyway, moving us closer to being a cashless society?

•  From Variety:

"AMC Theatres, the world’s largest exhibitor, has unveiled plans to re-open after coronavirus forced it to close its more than 600 venues in the U.S. for nearly four months … As part of that process, AMC is reducing its seating capacity in order to help people social distance, it is implementing new cleaning procedures, placing hand-sanitizing stations throughout its theaters and encouraging contact-less and cash-free concessions."

I'm just not there yet.  I really want to be, but I cannot see myself going to a movie theater for several months … and this has to be a problem for theaters, since I see a lot more movies in a year than the average consumer.

But here's my bigger problem.  AMC says it won't require customers to wear masks because it doesn't want to bet drawn into a political debate.  But masks shouldn't be political.  They are a way of keeping other people safe … and AMC, by not requiring them, makes itself an even less desirable place to go.

•  From Los Angeles Magazine:

"If you want to get your pump on without contracting the deadly coronavirus, a Redondo Beach gym is offering accommodations once available only to convicts in 24/7 solitary confinement at a supermax prison.

Inspire South Bay Fitness on Artesia Boulevard has redesigned its weight room to incorporate a series of isolated workout pods built from pipes and shower curtains where clients can lift weights without inhaling their fellow iron pumpers’ respiratory detritus. The pods—which took three days to construct—not only protect clients from infection, they are also a cheap alternative to installing plexiglass dividers.