Published on: July 1, 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 2,727,996 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 130,123 deaths and 1,143,490 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 10,609,666 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 514,449 fatalities and 5,817,890 reported recoveries.
• Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a US Senate committee yesterday that "new coronavirus cases 'could go up to 100,000 a day' if people continue to flout advice on social distancing and face masks," the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Journal goes on:
"'It could get very bad,' Dr. Fauci said. The U.S. is now recording about 40,000 new cases a day of the new coronavirus. The surge of new infections and rising hospitalization rates in states such as California and Texas have jeopardized reopening plans throughout the U.S., threatening a nascent economic recovery."
And, the Journal writes, "Health experts say mass adherence to basic guidelines such as distancing and mask wearing, in addition to rolling back some reopenings, is sorely needed to combat the rising number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates across the U.S., which has taken a patchwork approach to fighting the virus.
"'As a country, we need a coordinated federal response because viruses do not care about state borders,' said Lisa M. Lee, a public-health expert specializing in infectious-disease epidemiology and public-health ethics at Virginia Tech.
"Containing the spread of the virus is increasingly unlikely if people continue to shun mask wearing or practice social distancing, she said."
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, makes the point that Fauci is referring to "100,000 diagnosed cases a day," an emphasizes that we're already at 100,000 cases a day - we just don't have the numbers.
• Another quote from Fauci's testimony:
"I can't make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that, because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country even though in other parts of the country they're doing well, they are vulnerable … We can't just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk."
• USA Today reports on a new Goldman Sachs survey saying that wearing a mask during the pandemic could directly affect the ability of the economy to recover.
Here's how USA Today frames the story:
"Wearing a face mask has become a politically-charged issue in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, but a national mask mandate could lower infections and help the economic recovery, according to a new report from Goldman Sachs.
"As outbreaks flare up across the Sun Belt in states like Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, a national mask mandate could partially substitute for more lockdowns that threaten to depress economic activity even further, Goldman Sachs says.
"A face mask mandate could raise the percentage of people who wear masks by 15 percentage points and cut the daily growth rate of cases by 1 percentage point to 0.6%, Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman, and a team of analysts said in the report. 'If a face mask mandate meaningfully lowers coronavirus infections, it could be valuable not only from a public health perspective but also from an economic perspective because it could substitute for renewed lockdowns that would otherwise hit GDP,' Hatzius said in a note to clients."
The study goes on to say that a mask mandate could be an effective replacement for lockdowns and shelter-at-home orders that have a negative impact on the economy.
Y'think this will influence the thinking of the powers that be? I hope so … the argument here has long been that wearing a mask isn't just selfless and intelligent, but patriotic.
• H-E-B has announced that it will require all customers in its stores to wear masks, even in stores located in communities that do not require them.
The only exception - children and people with health-related issues that make mask-wearing difficult.
Less than 15 percent of its stores are located in areas that do not require masks, the company noted.
• The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday said that he "is relaxing the state’s self-quarantine guidance for potentially millions of out-of-state visitors, exempting people arriving from seven Northeast states that are making progress in the battle against the coronavirus.
"The decision to ease guidance came as Massachusetts officials hit a new milestone in the pandemic, reporting zero new COVID-19 deaths for the first time since March. State health officials also reduced by 41 the state’s total number of confirmed and probable deaths to 8,054, citing the removal of duplicate death reports."
However, "even as Baker eases the guidance for people traveling from New York, New Jersey, and the five other New England states, many are tightening their own travel guidelines. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday expanded to 16 the number of states from which travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days if they come to New York. New Jersey and Connecticut officials are also advising travelers from 16 states to do so."
Those states are: Alabama, Arkansa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
Doesn't seem that long ago that there were states that didn't want people from my part of the country to visit, believing that this was a coastal problem that wouldn't affect them. That said, nobody in my neck of the woods should get complacent, because the evidence to this point seems to be that when things start to get better, it is almost a sure sign that things are about to get worse.
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state was “not going back” on reopening, adding that the increase in cases was caused by young people out socializing, rather than people visiting businesses. The Florida Department of Health reported more than 6,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, high for the last 30 days but lower than the record of more than 9,500 cases reported Saturday.
"The state did move to restrict alcohol sales in bars Friday and several Florida counties plan to close beaches ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend. Los Angeles officials also closed beaches for the holiday weekend and banned all July 4 fireworks displays, as cases throughout the county continued to rise.
"The hospitalization rate, as well as the number of patients in intensive-care units, has continued to increase in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom said 6,367 more people had tested positive for the virus."
• Willamette Week reports that "Oregon will require masks in all indoor public spaces, effective Wednesday, July 1.
"Gov. Kate Brown announced the expansion of her mask requirement this afternoon. Oregon had previously required masks in eight counties, including the three largest counties in the Portland metro area.
"She cited modeling that showed a looming spike in COVID-19 cases, and warned that if spread of the novel coronavirus doesn't slow, 'our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks'."
• From Bloomberg:
"Colorado Governor Jared Polis said the state will order bars and night clubs to suspend indoor service, two weeks after allowing limited capacity. Establishments that serve food and alcohol will be allowed to remain open.
"'With neighboring states now closing bars, we don’t want Colorado to become a mecca of night life in the pandemic,' Polis said at a news conference in Denver."
• Reuters reports that "the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Tuesday it would extend its partnership with private pharmacies and grocery chains to provide better access to COVID-19 testing.
"The partnership with CVS Health Corp, Rite Aid Corp, Walgreens boots Alliance Inc, Kroger and Walmart Inc has been scaled up to more than 600 COVID-19 testing sites across the country. About 70% of the testing sites under the program are located in areas that have moderate-to-high vulnerability to the virus."
• The Seattle Times reports that Alaska Airlines is getting aggressive in how it deals with passengers that don't wear masks on its flights.
According to the story, "Starting in early July, the airline will hand yellow cards to noncompliant passengers, advising them that it is their 'final notice' and that a written post-flight report about them will be made. From there, if a passenger continues to refuse, it will be noted in the report and a decision could be made to ban the offending passenger from future flights."
In a prepared statement, the airline said: "Overwhelmingly, those who fly with us understand and appreciate the importance of wearing masks and face coverings during this time of COVID-19. We also rely heavily on our guests to do the right thing for the greater good of everyone onboard our flights.
"Our flight crews encounter moments when some travelers disregard or disobey our mask requirement. It creates tension and anxiety for many of our passengers who do have their face coverings on. So, a change is needed."
Good for them.
Almost certainly the best they can do, since tossing them off the plane at 30,000 feet probably isn't an option. (Though they'd only have to do that once…)
I saw a doctor on television the other night who expressed bewilderment that, as he put it, people seem to be more concerned about wearing masks than they are concerned about wearing ventilators. I totally agree with that, and will say, on the record for everyone to see, that I'm pretty much terrified of ending up in the hospital and on a ventilator with this disease.
• This report, from Bloomberg, just what we needed:
"A strain of flu virus spreading in Chinese pigs has shown it can also infect humans, suggesting that another pathogen with pandemic potential waits in the wings behind Covid-19, according to a team of researchers."