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    Published on: July 27, 2020

    KC didn't realize how much he missed baseball until the game came back this weekend (though he would've been happier of the NY Mets had managed a better opening series against the Atlanta Braves).  But he also realized that he missed something else about the baseball experience, and in that realization, he found a metaphor for business.  (Of course.)

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    by Kevin Coupe

    So I was watching the New York Mets-Atlanta Braves game over the weekend, and a commercial for a local commercial real estate company came on.  Take a look, and we'll discuss it on the other side.

    I'm sure this building is very nice.  I think it is great that the landlords make you feel like "part of the family," with tenants given access to the gym and a cafeteria, plus an annual building picnic.

    Except … the ad seems tone deaf at this particular moment.

    There isn't a mask to be seen.  People are shown congregating at close quarters.  And there's nary a mention of the pandemic that has made many offices problematic and the shelter-at-home orders that recently made them empty.

    It just seems to me that this company does something that businesses should be doing their best to avoid - spending money on advertising and promotions that appear completely out of touch with reality.

    The way it is, this ad is an Eye-Opener.  But not in a good way.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    The Wall Street Journal reports that "Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, people familiar with the matter said, making the search-engine giant the first major U.S. corporation to formalize such an extended timetable in the face of the pandemic."

    The decision, the Journal writes, "will affect nearly all of the roughly 200,000 full-time and contract employees across Google parent Alphabet and is sure to pressure other technology giants that have slated staff to return as soon as January."

    The Journal reports that Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai "made the decision himself last week after debate among Google Leads, an internal group of top executives that he chairs, according to a person familiar with the matter. A small number of Google staffers were notified later in the week, the people familiar said. Mr. Pichai was swayed in part by sympathy for employees with families to plan for uncertain school years that may involve at-home instruction, depending on geography."

    KC's View:

    This strikes me as one of those cases where someone had to go first, but that we may now see a march of companies making similar decisions.  It won't affect every worker in every business, of course, because there are a lot of people who don't have the luxury of working from home.  But maybe it at least will raise people's consciousness about how dire the situation could get if we're not vigilant.

    I am happy to see that education was part of the calculation.  It remains amazing to me that schools will close down for a few inches of snow, but a pandemic that could result in students infecting their teachers, parents and grandparents … not to mention getting sick themselves … well, let's get those kids back in the classroom ASAP.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    Antitrust Hearing Featuring Amazon's Bezos Now Set For Wednesday

    The New York Times reports that four prominent tech CEOs, including Amazon founder-CEO Jeff Bezos, now will appear before the US House fo Representatives  Antitrust Subcommittee in Wednesday.

    The testimony, which will be sworn and delivered virtually, originally was scheduled for today, but the death of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, and the decision to have his body lie in state at the Capitol early this week, resulted in the postponement.

    In addition to Bezos, also scheduled to appear are Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

    Published on: July 27, 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, we've now had 4,371,839 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 149,849 deaths and 2,090,129 reported recoveries.

    Globally, the confirmed coronavirus case count is 16,441,814, with 652,602 fatalities and 10,064,541 reported recoveries.

    • In breaking news this morning, Bloomberg reports that "President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien has tested positive for Covid-19, according to people familiar with his situation.

    "O’Brien has been out of the office since late last week, one of the people said.

    "O’Brien came down with the coronavirus after a family event and has been isolating at home while still running the National Security Council, doing most of his work by phone, according to one of the people."

    The story notes that "O’Brien is the closest official to Trump to develop the novel coronavirus, as the pandemic continues to surge with infections and deaths on the rise in many U.S. states.

    "O’Brien and senior staff on the NSC are tested daily for Covid-19. His office is near the Oval Office and Vice President Mike Pence’s West Wing office."

    The White House press office is not commenting on the report.

    •  The World Health Organization (WHO) said this weekend that the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is "easily" the worst global health emergency with which it ever has dealt.

    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "The number of new coronavirus cases in Florida has hit 414,511, giving the state the second-highest total in the nation.

    "Florida surpassed New York’s case count on Saturday as its health department reported 12,180 new infections. New York, once one of the hardest-hit by the virus, has driven down its infection rate and on Saturday reported 750 new cases for a total of 411,200. California, which has the highest number of cases in the U.S., reported 10,066 new infections on Saturday, bringing its total to 445,400.

    "Meanwhile, the U.S. recorded more than 73,700 new coronavirus cases Friday, its second-highest single-day increase.  The country also reported more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths for the fourth straight day, as the cumulative death toll surpassed 145,500."

    The Journal goes on:

    "Friday’s new case count represents a significant jump from the previous day’s rise of 68,000. The highest one-day increase of 77,300 was registered on July 16, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

    "The latest surge has been largely driven by Southern and Western states that had quickly reopened, though the outbreaks there haven’t yet been as severe as the earlier wave of infections that took hold in the Northeast U.S. in March and April.

    "Texas reported 8,112 new cases and 168 deaths on Saturday … Health departments in Houston and surrounding Harris County signed a public-health order for schools to remain closed for in-person classes through Sept. 7.

    "Georgia reported 3,787 new cases on Saturday. And in Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves introduced additional statewide restrictions on social gatherings, bars, restaurants and alcohol sales, citing the stress on the state’s hospital caused by the increase in coronavirus cases."

    • reports that "for the second time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, bars in New Orleans will be shuttered completely under a new order from Mayor LaToya Cantrell aimed at reversing a surge in new cases in the city that has officials bracing for increased strain on hospital resources.

    "The new order … will ban the sale of go-cups from both bars and restaurants, eliminating a staple of the city’s nightlife. Combined with statewide rules prohibiting bars from serving patrons on their premises, that amounts to a full closure of the city’s watering holes and will add strain to the restaurants that had been using to-go alcohol sales to help limp through the pandemic."

    •  Business Insider reports that despite the fact that Walmart has mandated the wearing of masks in its stores, it will not enforce that rule because it wants to avoid "physical confrontations" between employees and customers.

    Home Depot, Lowe's, CVS, and Walgreens will also serve people refusing to wear them, the story says, noting that while "mask acceptance is increasing … there have been several incidents of violence in stores and towards staff members from customers who object to mask rules."

    I think this is the best argument for government mandates - laws, one would hope, would have a greater ability to persuade people to do the right thing.  It wouldn't be foolproof - there always will be fools who will decide that a mask that protects people from getting the coronavirus somehow is an abridgment of their 'freedom.'  But it would shift the burden away from retailers, who simply do not have the ability to enforce such rules and keep the pandemic from further spread.

    •  In an interview with MarketWatch, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that people should think twice before eating indoors at a restaurant.  "Yes, absolutely. Indoors is much worse than outdoors," he said, adding, “If you’re going to go to a restaurant, try as best as you can to have outdoor seating that is properly spaced between the tables."  And, he said, "I am not going to restaurants right now."

    •  The New York Times reports that "on Friday, McDonald’s, one of the largest fast-food chain in the United States with 38,984 locations as of March 31, joined other retailers and restaurants with mask mandates."

    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "If any of the most-advanced Covid-19 vaccines prove to work safely, they may protect people for months or years rather than the rest of their lives, according to emerging science and health experts.

    "Only a handful of vaccines generate lifetime immunity for most people, such as the ones for measles, a viral infection that naturally produces lifelong immunity. Experts caution against expectations of such longevity for Covid-19, citing experience with other respiratory viruses plus emerging data on the longevity of the antibodies that can prevent the virus from entering human cells and replicating."

    Proving that vigilance will have to be ongoing … which shouldn't be a problem or even a revelation to those of us who line up to get a flu shot every year.

    •  TMZ reports on the case of a woman who in San Diego who came upon a couple that was eating - while not wearing masks - while sitting in a dog park.

    The woman reportedly called them "idiots" and then sprayed them each with her can of mace.

    The story says that "a bystander shot the video and got the woman's license plate before she drove off.  The couple says they'll file a police report."

    Please don't judge those of us who believe in rigorous adherence to mask protocols - including understanding that you can't eat while wearing one - by the actions of a few morons.

    •  From the Daily Beast:

    "A Minnesota couple donned swastika-emblazoned face masks at a Walmart in protest of the state’s face-covering mandate Saturday. 'If you vote for Biden, you’re going to be living in Nazi Germany,' the woman told Walmart patron Raphaela Mueller, who filmed the couple as they were checking out.

    "Mueller, who grew up in Germany, shared the now-viral video to Facebook alongside a message decrying the swastika’s use and describing how her great-grandmother had fought against Nazis during World War II.

    "The couple, a 59-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman, were expelled from the Walmart by law enforcement officials and have been banned from returning."

    Those of us who believe in masks will try not to judge those of you who don't by the actions of morons like these.

    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to reject the appeal of a lower court's ruling that Nevada's Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley had to adhere to state rules about limiting attendance at live religious services during the coronavirus pandemic.  The church had argued, unsuccessfully, that the state was being tougher on churches than on casinos.

    The majority consisted of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

    •  USA Today reports that "Universal Orlando has joined Disney World in canceling its mainstay Halloween event this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Universal said Friday it had made the 'difficult decision' to cancel its Hollywood Horror Nights to focus on operating its Florida theme park but added that the event would return next year. Universal Hollywood has not yet reopened, but a similar event there is also canceled."

    The story notes that "Disney World announced in mid-June it had decided to cancel Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. The event is intended for families, so it does not feature the haunted houses and horror scenes of Universal's but instead focuses on a parade, fireworks and trick-or-treating throughout the park."

    Not sure why this was a "difficult decision."  Seems pretty cut-and-dried to me, since the real horror would've been how many people would get sick after attending.

    •  Fast Company has the story of how "hoaxsters are pushing fake notices with letterhead pulled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to undermine the use of face masks."  There is, apparently, "a fraudulent missive, purportedly from the CDC, saying it does not recommend N95 masks as protection against COVID-19 and claiming that other kinds of masks can harm the wearer’s health (a widely debunked falsehood)."

    The letter has been "circulating on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and other social forums. The viral image comes amid a politicized campaign against wearing masks, which some believe infringes on their personal choice."

    Hoaxsters?  I think that way understates behavior which could be perceived as criminal.  Find the clowns that are circulating this information, and maybe it'll be worth throwing the book at them.  Maybe put them in one of those prisons where the pandemic is running rampant.

    People are getting seriously ill and dying, and these idiots are playing games?

    Probably a good thing that I'm just a pundit, and not a judge or government official.  Because my patience with this crap has pretty much run out.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    Time has an interview with Delta CEO Ed Bastian in which he talks about the airline's decision to play hardball when it comes to masks.  Here's what he says:

    "We’re getting somewhere between 10 to 20 customers a day that have concerns about wearing the mask. We let the people know that they’re going to need to. First of all, you can’t get on the plane without wearing the mask. And then, to the extent customers take them off and refuse to put them back on, we’ve been very clear they’re going to lose their rights to fly Delta if they don’t comply with the flight attendant’s request.

    "If after a second or third reminder the customer refuses to put it back on, what our flight attendants are doing is handing out a little card to the customer outlining for them that they’re going to lose their privileges to fly Delta in the future because of their decision, and do you really want that? Because if you do, we will have someone meet you at the end of the flight, when you disembark, and let you know that you’re no longer welcome on Delta. And that’s serving to be a really good deterrent."

    Bastian adds, "We currently have probably about a hundred people we’ve put on that no-fly list … I’ve had a number of customers email me back after going on the list, saying they’re sorry and they won’t do it again, asking to be reinstated. And the answer is no."

    Bastian goes on:  "Our No. 1 mission is restoring confidence in consumers in air travel again in the face of the pandemic. And we know space and distance is one of the key attributes to containing the virus and keeping people confident and safe, psychologically as well as physically. And having that middle seat open, and having that commitment that every single flight on Delta our customers will have the seat next to them open, is huge in their minds. I would add planes rather than passengers."

    KC's View:

    Good for him.  There is such a thing as the intelligent loss of business, especially if it says to your other customers and employees that you are putting their safety first.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    Good piece in Fast Company about how "Walmart, Target, and CVS Health are announcing the Beyond the Bag Initiative, a plan to reinvent single-use plastic bags. The three companies are leading the new initiative with Closed Loop; Kroger and Walgreens have signed up as well.

    "With $15 million in promised investments, the partners are inviting entrepreneurs and inventors to pitch new ideas to replace the 100 billion plastic bags still used in the United States every year … The best ideas will enter a product accelerator with Closed Loop Partners, knowing that those businesses will have a market of the world’s biggest retailers eager to not just fund their efforts, but buy their bags—and any other new product delivery system they might imagine."

    You can read the story here.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    •  WTOP reports that Kroger is making headway on the building of a new 350,000 square foot warehouse in Frederick, Maryland, that will be powered by Ocado-developed robotics and "will provide online grocery delivery services to residents throughout the Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. metro area despite not having any physical Kroger branded stores in the area."

    •  The Verge reports that "Amazon will start publicly listing the names and addresses of US-based third-party sellers on its Marketplace platform as a measure to fight counterfeiters … The change goes into effect on September 1st."

    According to a note to sellers, the change will "help customers learn more about the businesses of a seller and the products that they are selling.  We are making this change to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions.”

    The Verge writes that "the change in policy will make it harder to stay an anonymous seller on Marketplace, but it also means customers will know exactly which individual or entity they’re buying form and where that business is located."

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    •  Gothamist reports that bankrupt Fairway has sold two of its remaining stores, in Red Hook and Douglaston, Queens, to  Food Bazaar operator Bogopa Enterprises, which will convert them to the Food Bazaar format.  According to the story, "The company paid less than $900,000 per store, according to reports, and that price covers assets and inventory, as well as lease assumption."

    The story notes that after declaring bankruptcy, Fairway "began auctioning off assets, including a deal with ShopRite owner Village Super Market Inc for most of its Manhattan stores and a distribution center for about $70 million. The leases to two New Jersey locations were sold to Amazon.  Last week, the Harlem Fairway location closed, laying off about 165 employees."

    •  NJ.comreports that "bagged salads mixes sold under multiple store brand names including Walmart, Aldi and ShopRite been recalled in 31 states after more than 600 people have been sickened by parasites in 11 of those states, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration.

    "The salads made by Fresh Express, which is based in Illinois, are contaminated with Cyclospora, a parasite that can cause an intestinal illness after being ingested."  More than 600 people have been affected in 11 states, with 37 people hospitalized.  No deaths have been reported.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    •  Schnuck Markets announced that Ryan Cuba, the company's Chief Business Development and Transformation Officer, has been promoted to the role of Chief Merchant.

    •  BJ's Wholesale Club announced that it has hired Monica Schwartz, VP of  Online Merchandising at Home Depot, to be its new Senior Vice President/Chief Digital Officer.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    •  Regis Philbin, who in a long career hosting a variety of talk shows and game shows - including  “Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee” (1988-2000), “Live! With Regis” (2000-1) and “Live! With Regis and Kelly” (2001-11), plus "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" - became the most-watched person in television history, with more than 17,000 hours of airtime, has passed away.  He was 88.

    •  Olivia de Havilland, who was the last surviving star of 1939's Gone With The Wind, has passed away at her Paris home at age 104.  (Leslie Howard died in 1943, Clark Gable in 1960, and Vivien Leigh passed away in 1967.)

    Variety notes that de Havilland won best actress Oscars for The Heiress and To Each His Own in the late 1940s, and was Oscar-nominated for Gone With the Wind, The Snake Pit and Hold Back the Dawn.  She also starred with Errol Flynn in a number of hit films - including Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and They Died With Their Boots On.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    Regarding the impact of the pandemic and shifts in consumer and business behavior on the automobile industry, MNB reader Andy Nash wrote:

    This is/was inevitable before COVID-19. The long run of the automotive industry and its peripheral industries (garages, fuel, parts, and aftermarket) will decline as vehicle ownership goes down given autonomous and electric cars. If a car can drive itself completely, there is no need to own it - it can just be summoned on demand and take you someplace. 

    The pandemic is speeding up this decline. The long run of owning a dealership or service garage is not very bright. 

    I say all this as a HUGE automotive enthusiast. I love cars. My hobby and passion will see a massive change soon. Certainly the environment will thank us. 

    I agree.  And I feel sort of the same way - I think this is all good, even if it runs contrary to the pure joy that I get putting the top down on the Mustang and hitting the road.  (It has been a few years since I've done it, but I'm already fantasizing about driving cross-country to teach at Portland State next summer.  Of course, a lot of things have to break right to make that possible … but hope springs eternal.)

    On another subject, from another reader:

    As a vegetarian (for environmental reasons), I’m fascinated by the prospect of meat made from CO2. However, I’m skeptical of the claim that this “meat” has “no agricultural inputs”. Where are the “nutrients” and “natural flavors” coming from if not ultimately from from some sort of agricultural product? I know many consumers aren’t interested in that kind of detailed science, but also, many whose first reaction is revulsion may be more comforted to know what these mysterious inputs are. 

    The other day, MNB took note of a Bloomberg report that Instacart is suing Uber Technologies, charging that its Cornershop unit "stole intellectual property, including listings of inventory at grocery stores."

    Uber bought Chile-based Cornershop last year and was plotting an US rollout this year that would focus on grocery delivery.

    One MNB reader reacted:

    Let’s hope Uber/Cornershop improves on Instacart’s representation of store inventory while they are pirating it.  An Instacart Shopper shared that she’s often forced to fight with Instacart over pricing issues - for example, the app told her that crabs were $8.99 a pound when in fact the price was $8.99 per crab!  The issues are not easily resolved, apparently. 

    MNB reader Andy Casey chimed in:

    This brings up some interesting competitive possibilities. For example, what are the possibilities of Cornershop offering a white label version, simply providing pick and delivery for a fee while the retailer remains center stage with customers?

    I love a good story.  Like this one from an MNB reader:

    My experience with masks:

    “Put on a f’k’n mask”, she screamed. 

    She added some other salty comments, but I heard them sparingly because:

    ·      I was in my neighborhood

    ·      I was outside

    ·      I was trekking uphill in pretty obvious exercise and

    ·      She was 100’ away, and no others were around.

    I thought “hmmph??”   “I wonder if the mandate in Texas has changed?”

    I went home and checked it out, the rules for outside were the same.  If over 6’ and or exercising, no mask required.   

    So then I wondered, “why did she yell?”  

    Three possibilities:

    1.     She paid attention to some press or politician quip, wrapped around a sound bite, or more likely totally made up.  

    2.     She heard that some people refuse to wear masks and she figured I must be one of those

    3.     She experienced a loss due to the virus or was just plain scared perhaps in addition to being under-informed.   

    I pretty much never listen to politicians or press whether it be Tweedle-dee or Tweedle-dum, for my medical, economic, business or social advice.   If one says the sky is…you know the drill.    

    If we are to make sane, calm, considered decisions, even on matters that have no complete answers or solutions (yet), don’t we need to ignore the usual sources and spend the effort to find the common sense to this?  Look at the numbers, read the entire text of reports and talks, and ignore the hype.  

    More about what I decided to do on masks outside later…

    “Put on a f’k’n mask”, she screamed.

    I was clearly IN rule compliance but thought, well since she is probably confused either due to sound bite intelligence or political bias maybe I should wear a mask anyway.   So why WOULDN’t I wear a mask even if outside and exercising?

    The common excuse I hear is that it restricts oxygen or has you breath too much carbon dioxide.   So, as a data geek I figured, TEST IT.

    Three layer mask, three days, generally around 90+ degrees, generally a medium to high stress hike, always between 3-4 miles.    Day one all mask all the time.   Day two breath in thru uncovered nose except when folks within 50’.   Day three mask up full when people within 50’.     Day three, definitely most comfortable but the others were fine.   In other words from a comfort and effectiveness standpoint.  Why not?

    I don't wear a mask while exercising, but I am diligent about staying more than six feet away from other people … I'll run in the middle of the street and block traffic rather than put other people (or myself) in danger from infected droplets.  (So far, drivers have been understanding.)

    From another reader:

    Your pointing out the obvious is not nagging. I am astounded that in Boise, so many people are not wearing masks and now we’re in the middle of a hot spot.

    And from MNB reader Olivier Kielwasser:

    You’re right, we must remain vigilant and responsible, anywhere and everywhere.  July and August, traditionally vacation months, act as catalysts for people to enjoy themselves and rightfully socialize, sometimes at the expense of vigilance.  Socializing, much needed for everyone after several months in confinement, unless practiced with vigilance, leads to bad consequences for society in general and at enormous costs for the newly infected. 

    Although difficult in an industry as social as ours, for the next 6 months to a year it is necessary to act responsibly in regards to socializing.  Can we decide to put our “unguarded” social lives on hold, intentionally, for the sake of society?  Most people have adopted this approach already, a small amount of us doesn’t seem to notice or even care and their actions continue to have tragic and unintended consequences for us all.

    Responding to the story about Whole Foods not allowing employees to wear face masks emblazoned with the words "Black Lives Matter," one MNB reader wrote:

    If they allow these masks, then they need to allow everyone else to where whatever cause or design they choose as well—whether it be pro-life, pro-Trump, Confederate flag, etc.  It’s pretty selective when only one point of view is being allowed.  As long as they are consistent, I believe they are doing the right thing in not allowing ANY message.  If they are allowing others - then enough said - they’re in the wrong.  Did they distribute “generic” masks to all or Whole Foods branded?  That should have been step one.

    Regarding the possible sale of bankrupt Brooks Brothers to an Italian company, MNB reader (and MNB fave) Beatrice Orlandini wrote:

    I guess most Americans don't know that Brooks Brothers is in Italian hands since 2001 when Claudio Del Vecchio (son of Leonardo, Luxottica) bought it from Marks & Spencers (UK).

    So it hasn't been American for quite a while...

    Regarding my exchange with an MNB reader who called the pandemic a "shamdemic," MNB reader Michael Fetterer wrote:

    Deniers like him surely have enough of a platform in far-right media.  Don't give them the luxury of your time, it's not worth it.

    A note on another subject from MNB reader Chelsea Ware:

    I saw your post on doomscrolling and have some thoughts on how recent events have impacted consumer’s mental health, and in turn, food trends. 

    I’ve been reading a lot about how people are planting freedom gardens right now. In fact, garden stores are seeing record sales despite the covid economic fallout. 

    Not only does growing one’s own produce give people a sense of  control in these chaotic times, but they also provide an outlet to be outside and away from the news. The trend of rage baking has transferred over to rage gardening, and people are embracing channeling their anger into homegrown vegetables that nourish their bodies and soul. 

    I’ve also seen in consumer insights reports that people are interested in prepared /packaged food items that offer physical and mental health benefits.

    “Mood boosting” is a growing label trend right now, and I think people will continue to seek out items that have that value add. 

    I'm a big fan of mood-boosting, and find Tito's to be a pretty good prescription.

    Regarding a proposal by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst that would have essential workers excused from paying federal taxes for a period of time, one MNB reader wrote:

    As an Iowan and a spouse of an “essential person” who is a medical provider, I am conflicted by this story.  By going to work each day, my wife puts herself into harm’s way while taking care of her patients and during that time she has always understood the risks that she has faced in her job, both to herself and her family.  Over the past four months, I’ve never gotten the sense that she or her co-workers felt that they needed to be financially rewarded by our government for simply doing their jobs.

    Ironically, my spouse was given her share of her employer’s PPP funds by her boss in a lump sum last month and was told that it was her annual bonus six months early (it all went into her 401(k))……so she has already received another form of “government aid” for doing exactly the same work she has been doing for almost three decades.   Is her sense of personal discomfort in dealing with the public currently increased in this pandemic environment?   Absolutely.  Does she think she is worthy of being financially incentivized by our government for upholding the oath she took after graduation?   She would say not.    

    Given the substantial amount of debt that has been created this year by our Federal government in an attempt to keep our economy afloat, my wife would argue that she would rather see that debt used to benefit someone else who was food-insecure or jobless and needed it far more than she does.   Senator Ernst has not accomplished a great amount during her time in office and this bill proposal smacks of being a last-ditch attempt to have something she could point to as an accomplishment going into the election.  It helps to explain why her Senate seat is currently a toss-up and the polls are in a statistical dead heat.  

    If Senator Ernst and her fellow Iowa Republican lawmakers truly wanted to reward health-care workers (and others who are deemed  “essential personnel”), they would set a personal example by wearing masks and enforce a statewide mandate of mask-wearing that would benefit all of us - as well as take enormous pressure off all the folks who are working with the public every day.  

    One MNB reader responded to Michael Sansolo's comment about vaccinations last week by saying, "What difference does it make if everybody doesn't get vaccinated as long as you get vaccinated?"

    This set me off … because if, say, only 50 percent of the population were to get vaccinated, it would mean that the nation would never have a real economic recovery, there would be continued stresses in the health care industry, and it would reflect selfishness and a singular lack of faith in science - not to mention ignorance - on the part of the population refusing to be vaccinated.

    MNB reader Bob Samples responded:

    You’re right on, if everyone doesn’t get vaccinated then will have a rinse and repeat COVID-19 maybe Covid 20 and Covid 21. 

    Who’s to say a vaccine will last a year, or two years? Or Six months? Is it like your dogs rabies vaccine that has to be renewed every year. Or Is it like the measles vaccine that lasts nearly a lifetime?

    We just won’t know for a long time. 

    The economic impact of doing this piecemeal will take the USA out of our leadership position internationally. We’re almost there now.

    Let’s start by everybody wearing your mask. It has been shown to reduce the impact of catching Covid to a asymptomatic level in 40% or more of the population. Well also reducing the chance of catching it at all. 

    MNB reader Joe Axford wrote:

    KC you hit the nail on the head today - and I will tell you that what I'm seeing and hearing is that the anti-vaxxers are the same people who won't wear masks, because it's all about them.  Their rights, their freedom, etc.  They don't care about the rest of the country/world, which is very sad... 

    MNB reader Ron Johnston wrote:

    My sentiments exactly, Kevin.  If World War II was the greatest generation (and it was), this one is the most selfish...and dangerous.

    I'm not sure that the people we're talking about here are part of just one generation - it actually seems to be cross-generational.

    But I get your point.

    Regarding the story about the former Amazon VP advocating for the break up of Amazon, one MNB reader wrote:

    It's curious to me that some advocate for government to expand into new areas, yet have a completely opposite POV when a business expands.  Does a city/county have the expertise to lead and manage effectively these areas: library, k-12 school system, college, water/waste system, garbage/recycling, recreation: water parks, beaches, forest preserves, golf courses, Medical: hospitals, nursing homes/assisted living, Safety: fire/police, Justice: courts/prisons, public transportation: roads, bus, trains, airports, bicycles, scooters, Pension/investments, land and buildings infrastructure: codes, audits, and the list is much longer.

    Seems to me we should be advocating for a break up of government.

    Really?  And who exactly will make sure that the roads are repaired, that the water is clean, that public safety is assured, that buildings are up to code, and that children are educated?  Are we leaving that to the vagaries of the open market?

    I cannot imagine anyone would argue that most government entities do these things as well as they can be done.  But I'm not ready to turn the entire country into the wild west.

    Published on: July 27, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In breaking news this morning, ESPN reports that "the Miami Marlins' home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night has been canceled … as coronavirus cases continue to pop up among the team."

    According to the story, "Eight more players and two coaches with the Marlins have tested positive for coronavirus, as an outbreak has spread throughout their clubhouse and brought the total of cases in recent days to at least 14, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN.

    "The Marlins remain in Philadelphia and continue to undergo testing after their weekend series there.

    "On Sunday, four Marlins players tested positive for the coronavirus, including that day's starter, Jose Urena, according to sources familiar with the situation, leading the team to delay its postgame trip home amid concerns about a possible outbreak."

    Here's the kicker from the ESPN story:  "It's possible that the infections occurred Wednesday on the team's trip to and from Atlanta, where the Marlins played the Braves in an exhibition game."

    Of course, the Braves then came to New York to play the Mets over the weekend.  How long before the same problem erupts in the Braves clubhouse, and the Mets clubhouse?

    Of course, the Braves are supposed to play Tampa Bay in Atlanta now for a four-game series, and then host the Mets for a home series.  And the Mets?  Well, they're supposed to host the Boston Red Sox for a series at Citi Field before going to Atlanta, and then the Red Sox are supposed play the Yankees in New York.

    Y'think any of these teams are having trepidations about making these trips and taking the field…?

    • The Toronto Blue Jays finally have a temporary home for the pandemic-shorted 2020 Major League Baseball Season.

    Buffalo.  At Sahlen Field, where the Blue Jays' Tripe-A affiliate plays.  (Not this year, though.  Minor league baseball has been cancelled because of the pandemic.)

    The Blue Jays couldn't play at home, because the Canadian government ruled that going back and forth between Canada and the Us would heighten the chances that the coronavirus would be spread.

    The Wall Street Journal writes that the decision is at odds with the team's preference to play in a major league ballpark.  "Baseball’s top executives tried. They received permission from local officials to share PNC Park with the Pittsburgh Pirates, only for Gov. Tom Wolf to quash the plan because of an increase in cases in Southwestern Pennsylvania. They explored a partnership with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, but that possibility fell through as well … They theoretically could have gone to TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., their spring training site, but that meant sending a third team to Florida, a virus hot spot."

    The Miami Marlins story must have the Canadian health officials who ruled that the Blue Jays couldn't play their home schedule in Toronto feeling vindicated.