Published on: July 15, 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 3,546,278 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 139,162 deaths and 1,600,910 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 13,480,595 coronavirus cases, 581,732 fatalities, and 7,872,233 reported recoveries.
• US News & World Report reports on new modeling from the University of Washington projecting that coronavirus fatalities in the US will grow by some 78,000 by November 1, bringing the total to more than 200,000 - but suggests that "new deaths would be reduced by nearly 60% and the overall death toll would be slashed to 163,000 if 95% of people wore masks while in public."
The model also projects a worse case scenario - that the total number of deaths in the US attributable to the coronavirus could be closer to 250,000 by November 1.
The model factors in the likelihood that there will not be a national mask mandate, that there will be economic shutdowns in states where pandemic-related deaths hit certain levels, and that schools largely will reopen in the fall.
• From Axios:
"Florida is the new domestic epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, and it's on track to keep getting worse … Of the 20 U.S. metro areas with the highest daily case growth, nine are in Florida, according to Nephron Research … Florida now has more confirmed cases, adjusted for population, than New York ever had — although New York's true caseload was almost certainly multiple times higher than its official one."
• The New York Times reports that "North Carolina will allow schools to reopen in the fall, but at no more than half their usual capacity, the governor announced on Tuesday. He said districts could meet the capacity restriction by, for example, having students attend on alternate days. Everyone would have to wear masks. And districts could opt to continue with all-remote instruction, the governor said."
The Times also notes that "for the third time in its 120-year history, Philadelphia is canceling its Mummers Parade as the city is banning all public events involving more than 50 people for the next seven months."
Seven months? Wow. I guess that ends any speculation about spectators attending any Phillies or Eagles games.
• New York State announced that it has added four more states - Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin - to the list of those from which people traveling to the state must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
The other states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
Start spreading the news…because if you come from one of these places and break quarantine, you could be hit with a fine of up to $10,000 or put into forced quarantine on Rikers Island.
Just kidding. About the Rikers Island part. Everything else is accurate.
• From the Puget Sound Business Journal:
In Washington State, "Gov. Jay Inslee extended his ban on further steps to reopen the state’s economy until 'at least' July 28 on Tuesday and warned that Washington could be poised to roll back the progress it’s made in opening bars, restaurants and businesses.
"'People should not be surprised if more gets rolled back depending on the course of this pandemic, and that’s going to be determined by how many people wear masks and socially distance,' Inslee said during an afternoon press conference.
"Earlier this month, Inslee paused for two weeks further steps to reopen the economy and placed new restrictions on bars and restaurants. His announcement Tuesday amounted to an extension of that order through late July.
"It’s possible, but not certain, that the state could close bars or once again ban indoor seating in restaurants, Inslee said, naming a few examples of the kinds of measures that may be on the horizon."
The story says that Washington State "has had 41,757 confirmed Covid-19 cases and confirmed cases have spiked into the 600 and 700 range per day in recent weeks. Inslee noted that Covid-19 cases have now surpassed what was believed to be its peak in the spring and that the number of people infected for each new infection has risen to more than one.
"'That means it grows exponentially,' he said. 'This is a very dangerous position we are in…. We are heading to big trouble if we do not figure out a way to knock this pandemic down'."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that Best Buy "will require customers to wear face coverings inside all U.S. stores to protect against the new coronavirus, including in places without mask mandates.
"Best Buy said its mask rule, which goes into effect on Wednesday, will 'help protect not only our shoppers and communities, but also the tens of thousands of Best Buy employees working to serve our customers each day'."
• The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is calling for national face mask mandate and, until that happens, for business leaders "who offer products and services to the public to require their employees and customers to wear masks whether or not it is required by local law. This vital step will help protect workers and customers.
"Such requirements will greatly increase the rate of mask wearing," the UFCW argues. "This should be done in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, hand hygiene, physical distancing, testing, and contact tracing strategies." But, it says, scientific evidence points to the degree that face masks can inhibit the spread of the coronavirus, and therefore must be taken seriously.
I agree … but the UFCW should've been calling for this months ago.
• Axios reports that many US technology companies "are realizing that their reopening plans from as recently as a few weeks ago are now too optimistic."
The story says that "many tech companies had already announced plans to allow most workers to telecommute through the end of the year (and in some cases indefinitely). Quietly, though, companies had been drawing up playbooks for portions of their workforces to return to the office sooner.In many cases, though, those plans are now on hold."
The story goes on:
"Most companies didn't want to talk publicly about reopening plans, but private conversations with many of them revealed a consistent theme: The industry is expecting even more of its workforce to be out of the office longer than they'd anticipated before the latest U.S. resurgence of the pandemic.
"The key factors driving the shift are the increase in COVID-19 cases, a continued lack of widespread testing and the likelihood that many schools will remain closed this fall. That has left companies that had yet to communicate fall plans scrambling to do so … A clear sign of where things stand is companies are now spending more to help workers get set up in their home offices, paying for things like ergonomic furniture and other gear that's expensive upfront but can pay dividends over time."
However, Axios also notes that tech companies have "the luxury of taking care of its valuable workers. In many other industries, the practical and ethical equation is far more complex, because keeping the business going often requires some workers to be put at risk."
• The New York Times reports that KFC has "closed dining rooms in all 40 of its corporate-owned restaurants in Florida … as coronavirus cases in the state continued to skyrocket." It is urging franchisees in Florida - and other hot-spot states - to do the same.
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"Tuna fish has surged in popularity thanks to pantry loading during the coronavirus pandemic, but producers of the canned fish are dealing with higher prices and other challenges that are making it difficult to keep up with the increased demand.
"Americans have been buying more canned tuna during the economic downturn, in part because it is one of the cheapest proteins on the market, costing as little as $1 for a 5-ounce can. Bumble Bee Foods said sales of canned and pouched tuna jumped as much as 100% from mid-March to early April, while Costco Wholesale Corp. put limits earlier this year on how many tuna containers a customer could purchase.
"Even after the initial feeding frenzy, canned tuna producers say sales for these products have remained significantly higher than a year earlier."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "Delta Air Lines Inc. trimmed plans for more summer flights amid rising Covid-19 cases nationwide after a $5.7 billion loss for the latest quarter underscored the depth of the crisis facing the aviation industry.
"Chief Executive Ed Bastian said that the recovery from April’s near-collapse in domestic flying had stalled. Delta will halve the number of extra flights it adds in August to 500, and capacity in the September quarter is expected to be at best 25% of the level a year ago."
• Variety reports that "the 2020 edition of the Telluride Film Festival has been canceled." The 47th annual festival was scheduled for Sept. 3-7.
“After months of intense due diligence around physically holding an event, we’ve come to the heartbreaking but unanimous conclusion to cancel this year’s Labor Day celebration of film in Telluride,” the festival said in a statement. “But with a seemingly unending number of new cases of Covid-19 and the national chaos around it, even the best strategy is threatened by this out of control environment.”
"National Chaos" will probably be the name of the one of the films entered in the 2021 festival.