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    Published on: July 28, 2020

    This weekly series of Retail Tomorrow podcasts features Sterling Hawkins, co-CEO and co-founder of CART-The Center for Advancing Retail & Technology, and MNB "Content Guy" Kevin Coupe teaming up to speculate, prognosticate, and formulate visions of what tomorrow's retail landscape will look like post-coronavirus.

    Almost six months of pandemic-induced sheltering-at-home has led to a spike in alcohol sales … and Sterling and Kevin belly up to the bar to look at the marketing and merchandising innovations that companies are embracing, as well as technology inventions that are allowing businesses to bring the bar experience home.  It  is all part of the changing landscape that is defining the world of Retail Tomorrow.

    You can listen to the podcast here, or on iTunes and Google Play.

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    There is a piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning about the future of e-grocery, which has been accelerated by the pandemic into greater relevance to the consumer, and therefore must be a higher priority for retailers.  KC notes that it is no longer a question of "if" or "when," but "how" … and he lays out some recommendations.

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    by Kevin Coupe

    Fascinating story in Fast Company about a libation delivery system that didn't really catch on until the the Spanish flu of 1918, at which point it became what the Smithsonian later would call a "life-saving technology."

    You know it better as the Dixie Cup.

    Fast Company writes, "As any VC will tell you, timing is one of the crucial stars that must align for a startup to succeed. But what if timing isn’t right for a startup?

    Chances are, timing won’t be exactly right. To succeed, you must survive until it is."

    In other words, you have to wait until it becomes essential.

    The story notes that "in 1907, Boston attorney Lawrence Luellen created a cup. It wasn’t made of glass or metal - the norm at the time. Instead, it was made of paper so it could be thrown away after use. While not earth-shattering in our current context, in the early 1900s there were no disposable paper tissues or paper towels. A cup made of paper was a novel idea, one with a noble goal: Luellen hoped his paper cups could help stop the spread of disease."

    The story goes on:  "When Luellen invented the paper cup, which he originally named the 'Health Kup,' the timing wasn’t great … Communal metal drinking cups known as “tin dippers” were commonplace. A single 'tin dipper' could be shared by hundreds of different people. If that sounds gross, it was. But scientists were only just beginning to understand how contagion was spread. As a result, when Luellen and his cofounder Hugh Moore went to market with their paper cups, the product didn’t fly off the shelves. It’s hard to sell a solution to a problem people don’t know they have."

    But then the Spanish Flu hit.  And people knew they had a problem.

    "Suddenly, drinking out of a disposable cup became a matter of life and death," Fast Company writes.  "In response, Luellen and Moore launched an advertising campaign to drive the point home and rebranded from the Health Kup to the more memorable Dixie cup in 1919."

    The irony:  "With the success of Dixie cups came other disposable products, such as Kleenex in 1924 and paper towels in 1931. This also led to new and environmentally harmful materials such as polystyrene finding their way into consumer products."

    So here's the question:  What will be 2020's Dixie Cup?  (Zoom, maybe?)

    The answer, I suspect, will be Eye-Opening.

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    Albertsons said yesterday that its Q1 results showed a 276 percent growth in e-commerce sales and a 26.5 percent increase in chainwide same-store sales, "both largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic."

    The company said that "sales and other revenue increased 21.4% to $22.8 billion during the 16 weeks ended June 20, 2020, compared to $18.7 billion during the 16 weeks ended June 15, 2019. The increase was driven by the Company's 26.5% increase in identical sales, partially offset by a reduction in sales related to store closures and lower fuel sales."

    Bloomberg reports that the company said that " growth has slowed to the mid-teens in the current period, Chief Executive Officer Vivek Sankaran said in an interview. The company is still grappling with limited availability of key items like soups, baking products and household cleansers."

    The Bloomberg story adds, "Albertsons, like many other companies, said it can’t predict what impact the pandemic will have on its business for the rest of the year. Sales in states hard-hit by the coronavirus in recent weeks, like California and Arizona, have accelerated, Sankaran said."

    Inevitably, the story suggests, pandemic sales may be "the top of the mountain for grocery stores."

    KC's View:

    The Bloomberg observation is correct.  Albertsons - and every food retailer - will be judged by how they transform during this time, how they are a different company in the late days of the pandemic than they were in early days.  That means both bricks-and-mortar and e-grocery … it means finding new initiatives that challenge the status quo … and it means defining for itself and its customers what a mid-21st century supermarket needs to be, and how it is going to get there.

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    Following Walmart's lead, Target said yesterday that its stores will be closed on Thanksgiving this year.

    Business Insider writes that "it would do so in order to make holiday shopping as safe and stress-free as possible amid the coronavirus pandemic."

    In a prepared statement, CEO Brian Cornell said, "The investments we've made in our business and our incredible team have enabled us to move with flexibility and speed to meet guests' changing needs during this global pandemic.  This year more than ever, a joyful holiday will be inseparable from a safe one, and we're continuing to adjust our plans to deliver ease, value and the joy of the season in a way that only Target can."

    According to the story, "Target also announced it would start rolling out holiday deals in October in order to prevent the large crowds that typically mark the end-of-year shopping season. Holiday discounts will be available both online and in stores.  Target also said it would make 20,000 more products eligible for pickup and delivery."

    KC's View:

    If one of the results of the pandemic is that bricks-and-mortar stores all over America are closed, with their employees home with their families, treasuring that time together, it will be at least one positive that comes out of it.

    But here's what I want to see.  Don't just do it in 2020.  Do it in 2021, too.  Show commitment to your employees' well-being that goes beyond the ephemeral.

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    CBS Sunday Morning had an excellent story a couple of days ago about restaurateur Danny Meyer, CEO of the  Union Square Hospitality Group, in which he talked about how his business - and the restaurant business at large - is working to recover from pandemic-induced closures.  Meyer alone had to close 20 restaurants and lay off some 2,100 people.

    Mostly, Meyer says, he is trying to figure out "what hospitality will look like for the Union Square Hospitality Group in an inhospitable COVID world."

    The story goes on:  "Danny Meyer is nationally-known as a leader and innovator. He thinks the COVID crisis has exposed an ugly truth: that the restaurant industry is broken, and now is the time to rethink not only how to social distance restaurant kitchens, but everything about the business model, from employee pay and tipping, to impossibly high rents."

    You can see the story here:

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    Interesting piece in Kaiser Health News questioning a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt "new temporary guidelines allowing manufacturers facing supply chain shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic to make ingredient substitutions without changing food labels."

    According to the story, "While FDA spokesperson Peter Cassell declined to address specific concerns from consumers with food allergies, he said the new guidelines were developed in conjunction with other federal agencies as one of several temporary measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers are required to make ingredient substitutions public."

    You can read the story here.

    KC'S View:

    I'm sure that people who get sick or die from allergy attacks will take comfort i the fact that at least it was made easier for businesses to label their products in a time of pandemic.  

    Geez.  What a crock.  This is about labels being inaccurate … and knowingly so.  It strikes me as a fundamental abdication of responsibility.

    Published on: July 28, 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 crossed a line yesterday - there now are more than 150,000 people killed by the Covid-19 coronavirus.  The precise numbers:  4,433,941 confirmed cases, 150,458 deaths, and 2,137,187 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 16,675,143 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 657,292 fatalities, and10,264,869 reported recoveries.


    •  Axios reports on the creation of "social bubbles" as a reaction to the coronavirus, with a large percentage of the US population establishing circles of people they can trust not to infect them.  It is, the story says, a reflection of the fact that "Americans are grappling with the reality that the virus isn't going away anytime soon."

    According to a new Axios-Ipsos poll, "47% of Americans said they've established social bubbles, including 51% of women … 50% of suburban residents … 54% aged 65 and older … 51% with a bachelor's degree or higher … 49% of Black Americans, 47% of white Americans, and 41% of Hispanics had established bubbles."

    It is - perhaps remarkably - not a partisan issue:  " 50% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans say they've established bubbles, as have 42% of independents."

    The story suggests that this may be inevitable:  "46% of Americans say they know someone who has tested positive.  18% say they know someone who has died."

    And, of course, there are still some people who call it a "shamdemic."  Go figure.


    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "States are relying on their own public-health indicators when deciding whether to reclose portions of their economies to try to stop rising coronavirus infections that many attribute to the reopening of shops, bars and restaurants.

    "In Mississippi, state leaders said they imposed restrictions on counties that had more than 500 new cases per 100,000 residents or more than 200 new cases in the last 14 days. In California, a county is put on a watch list and ordered to further restrict operations, if among other metrics the new case rate tops 100 cases per 100,000 people for three days."


    •  More from the Journal:

    "New analyses from a coalition of public-health experts and crisis-response specialists show the overwhelming majority of states don’t meet the CDC’s criteria for lifting restrictions. The group’s online dashboard, covidexitstrategy.com, tracks state-level data on the spread of the disease, using the CDC’s reopening criteria.

    "The dashboard, as of Monday afternoon, listed only four states as trending well in controlling the spread of the virus: Connecticut, Maine, New York and Vermont. Also, just Arizona, Iowa, Maine, Texas and Utah had a downward trajectory in the number of documented cases over a 14-day period, one of the guidelines for reopening.

    "However, states that seemed to have passed the peak of Covid-19 infection before reopening now have rising rates of infection, according to the data.

    "Officials in Baltimore last week called on Maryland officials to halt indoor service at restaurants and bars, citing a surge of new cases, especially among younger people."


    •  From the New York Times:

    "There were glimmers of good news on Monday. New cases leveled off in Florida, Texas and Arizona.

    "In Texas, which on Monday joined California, New York and Florida to become the fourth state with more than 400,000 known cases, the seven-day average of new cases has tapered from a high of 10,461 on July 19 to 8,243 on July 26. Florida’s seven-day average of new cases hit a high of 11,870 on July 17 and fell to 10,544 on July 26.

    "In Arizona, another hot spot, the seven-day average of new cases is also down, from 3,849 on July 6 to 2,628 on July 26. Oklahoma and New Mexico broke state records on Monday for single-day cases."

    Important to not get complacent about this stuff…remember the immortal words of Michael Corleone…


    •  In the UK, the New York Times reports, the government has decided to "crack down on junk food advertising and introduce calorie counts on menus in an effort to tackle obesity and ease the pressure on the health care system during the pandemic … As part of the government’s new obesity strategy, advertisements for any food high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned on television and online until 9 p.m. to avoid hours when children are most likely to see them. There will also be a consultation on whether Britain should entirely ban online ads for junk food.

    "All large restaurants and cafes will be required to add a calorie count to their menus, and the government will look into adding calorie labels to alcoholic drinks.  Promotional offers like 'buy one, get one free' on fatty or sugary foods will also be prohibited.

    The Times writes that "the intersection of obesity and the coronavirus is personal for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was, by his own admission, 'way overweight' when he was admitted to the hospital after becoming ill with Covid-19 this year. His health deteriorated to such an extent that at one point he needed intensive care."


    •  From CNBC:

    "McDonald’s pause on reopening U.S. dining rooms will continue for another 30 days as coronavirus cases continue to surge in some parts of the country.

    "The company will also require customers to wear face coverings, starting Aug. 1, and will add protective panels in its restaurants to allow franchisees to increase order taking, seating capacity and staffing levels."


    •  From the Wall Street Journal:

    "Luxury department-store chain Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. is walking away from Hudson Yards, the glitzy development that opened last year and that housed the sole Neiman Marcus location in Manhattan.

    "The bankrupt Dallas-based company added four Neiman stores, including the one in Hudson Yards, to its list of closures, out of a total of 43 Neiman-branded locations. That’s on top of 17 Neiman Marcus Last Call stores the company said it was closing before it filed for bankruptcy in May amid the coronavirus pandemic … The three other Neiman stores slated for closure are in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Bellevue, Wash."

    The Journal writes that "the company’s decision to reject its Hudson Yards lease, revealed in court documents filed Thursday, underscores the pandemic’s toll on both brick-and-mortar retailing and commercial real estate.

    "If the vacancy isn’t taken up by another tenant quickly, the empty space could hurt other retailers at Hudson Yards and tarnish the new development’s image."

    Think the pandemic has hurt businesses like Neiman Marcus?  Wait until they get a load of the recession.


    •  Variety reports that pandemic realities, which have closed movie theaters all over the country, have forced Warner Bros. to change its plans for releasing Tenet, a new sci-fi thriller from director Christopher Nolan that was originally scheduled to open in the US earlier this month.

    Now, eschewing tradition, Tenet will open "at the end of August in 70 international territories, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United Kingdom," and then will open "in select cities in North America on Sept. 3."  Those cities, however, might not include the highly profitable New York and Los Angeles markets, where theaters may remain closed depending on the status of the pandemic.

    Variety reports that "the studio hopes to innovate and recalibrate given the fact that international markets are already starting to reopen safely and desperately need new Hollywood movies to entice crowds."  But, the story notes, "Tenet has been delayed three times since it was originally scheduled to debut in July, and there’s no telling if this release date will stick. Given the rapidly-changing nature of the pandemic, these plans could remain fluid if the situation worsens."

    Innovate and recalibrate.  Words for everyone to live by during the pandemic.


    •  Sad story in the New York Times:

    "Across the emerald Alsace wine country, now carpeted in deep-green vines — and across France’s other wine regions as well — thousands of winemakers, famous and obscure, are facing similar moments of heartbreak.

    "The economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus, combined with the Trump administration’s 25 percent tax on French wines in the trade war dispute with Europe, has collapsed the wine market … And so some of the succulent and subtle white wine for which this region is famous, nurtured on the stony, sunbathed Alsace slopes, will wind up as hand sanitizer … In Alsace alone, over six million liters of wine, or about 1.5 million gallons, will end up like this."

    It is hardly the worst result from the pandemic.  But it certainly brings a tear to my eye…

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    From the BBC:

    "Amazon is ramping up its online grocery service with the aim of serving millions of shoppers across the UK by the end of 2020."

    The tactic to be employed by Amazon:  The availability of free same-day or next-day delivery.

    The story notes that "online food sales have almost doubled during the pandemic with grocers struggling to keep up with demand.

    "Amazon is now after a bigger slice of this fast-growing market, which analysts say could increase pressure on rivals such as Ocado."

    Here's how the BBC describes Amazon's approach:

    "Amazon Fresh offers same or next-day grocery deliveries for customers in London and parts of the Home Counties.

    "Shoppers have to subscribe to Amazon Prime to get it and users currently have to pay an additional monthly fee or a delivery charge per order. It has about 10,000 products including fresh, chilled and frozen food.

    "From Tuesday, this service will now be a free benefit to subscribers in these areas on orders above £40.

    "About 40 postcodes in Surrey will also have access to a faster offer, with a possible same-day delivery before midnight if you order by 21:00."

    The BBC reports that "Amazon says it will roll out this quicker and unlimited free delivery grocery service to 'multiple cities' by the end of this year."

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    "Americans’ thirst for cheap milk—and grocers’ rush to provide it—are remaking the centuries-old dairy industry.

    "When supermarket shoppers reach for white gallon jugs these days, most of the time they grab a low-priced store brand. To expand those offerings, major grocery retailers, including Kroger Co., Walmart Inc. and Albertsons Cos ., have built their own milk-bottling plants.

    "Grocers’ move into the bottling business is threatening some of the biggest operators in the $40 billion U.S. milk industry, the purveyors of national brands. Dean Foods Co., which until last year was the largest U.S. milk processor by sales, and Borden Dairy Co., another big producer, were sold this year after filing for bankruptcy in November and January. Executives of both had blamed some of their struggles on grocers’ focus on cheap milk, often used as a loss leader."

    While milk sales have been declining for years, they've actually experienced a resurgence during the pandemic, the Journal writes, as "stay-at-home orders (and) pantry-stocking consumers this spring pushed up milk sales at retail for the first time in a decade."

    KC's View:

    More than a half-century ago, Stew Leonard's was a story that bottled its own milk … in fact, that always has been the core value proposition even as it has grown and expanded.

    So this isn't exactly new.

    More importantly, when my kids were little, they didn't like to drink milk from anywhere else, because they'd been persuaded that it was fresher when it was Stew's and tasted better.

    This is a great example of finding things that can make you different, and working it in every possible way.

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    •  Marketplace Plus reports that Walmart's third-party Marketplace "has surpassed 50,000 sellers, doubling in size from July 2019. The partnership with Shopify, announced on June 15th, has accelerated its growth, bringing over 5,000 new sellers during the six weeks since."

    However, the story says, "despite the growth in the number of sellers, the total catalog size has instead decreased. Since the start of the year, the number of products for sale on Walmart online has shrunk by fifteen million - from over 50 million to just 36 million. The decrease occurred from a few large marketplace sellers delisting their catalogs, mainly in the Books and Home departments."

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    •  Farmstead, the pure-play, fresh food-centric e-grocery startup based in the San Francisco Bay Area, said yesterday that the pandemic has created enough demand "that it has signed a lease for a new, greatly expanded microhub space in Burlingame. The space is 6x bigger than Farmstead’s previous microhub on Harrison Street in San Francisco. The company will be transitioning operations to this new facility in July, and will soon have the capacity to serve tens of thousands of Bay Area households per week."

    The company said that "when San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order went into effect, Farmstead’s order volume immediately increased by 5x, and its average basket size doubled."

    Farmstead CEO and co-founder Pradeep Elankumaran said, "Our new facility, coupled with our continued hiring spree, will help us immediately quadruple our delivery capacity, and grow it by 10x in the coming months."


    •  Reuters reports that "California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has opened an investigation into steps that Amazon.com Inc has taken to protect its workers from the new coronavirus, according to a court filing on Monday.

    "The attorney general's office, California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) and the San Francisco Department of Public Health 'have all opened investigations into Amazon's practices' around the pandemic, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman wrote in Monday's filing."


    •  From Glossy:

    "Instagram continues to roll out new ways to encourage users to shop on the platform, and a growing number of beauty brands are getting on board.

    "Instagram introduced Instagram Shop feature on July 16, which features a shopping page with curated product collections, brand shops and items personalized to a user’s interests and brands they follow. According to Instagram’s announcement, brands can be featured by tagging products in content and making their own product collections … As Instagram places a greater emphasis on shopping, a wide range of beauty brands have now adopted the beta Instagram Checkout feature that allows shoppers to purchase within Instagram sans a link to an external site. Launched in March 2019, the feature is now used by multiple brands in the portfolios of top conglomerates."


    •  Business Insider reports on how "chains including McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks have quietly raised prices for menu items being ordered for delivery.

    "Average fast-food menu prices are 15.3% higher for delivery orders than pick-up orders, before additional fees or tips, according to Gordon Haskett analysis.

    "The same Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, ordered at the same restaurant in Brooklyn, New York is listed as costing $6.85 on the menu if ordered for delivery. But, the same sandwich has a listed price of $5.29 if ordered for pick-up.

    "Chains hike prices on delivery menus because partnerships with third-party delivery companies, such as DoorDash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats, cut into earnings."

    Of course, the story points out, "as the coronavirus pandemic has made delivery a bigger part of restaurants' business models, some restaurants say that these fees and commissions make it difficult to turn a profit."

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    •  Kroger announced yesterday that "the Ohio Tax Credit Authority has approved a 75%, 15-year data center sales tax exemption for all technology equipment purchased for Kroger's two data centers and a supporting technology facility respectively located in Blue Ash and Hamilton, Ohio.

    "To qualify for a 75%,15-year data center tax exemption, companies must invest at least $100 million in capital investments at the project site over three consecutive calendar years and pay annual compensation of $1.5 million. The tax exemption covers equipment purchased for qualifying data center projects from Ohio sales tax."

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    •  From Business Insider:

    "Stefano Pessina plans to step down as CEO of Walgreens, the company announced Monday.

    "The company says it's searching for a replacement meant to 'drive further progress' on its 'key strategic priorities and to transform the business for the future to address the rapidly evolving healthcare sector' … The move comes with Walgreens' turnaround efforts being thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic."

    The story notes that "Pessina, who first took over as CEO in 2015, will become executive chairman of Walgreens Boots Alliance after the leadership transition."

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    Responding to our story about Google deciding that its employees will continue working from home until at least July 2021, one MNB reader wrote:

    My company, Advantage Solutions, permanently closed many of our regional offices at the beginning of the pandemic.  Everyone from my Metro NY division office, including managers and administrative colleagues, is working from home permanently.  They are looking for a small office space for conference rooms and printers, but nothing as large as we had.

    On another subject, from an MNB reader:

    Knowing you like information and facts, I wanted to share an interesting read I came across due to a Facebook post by Mike Rowe.  He shared a book written 10 years ago by Michael Osterhold and Mark Olshaker called Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs.  In that book, the authors predicted a pandemic of coronavirus and the subsequent impacts it would have.  They based their predictions on known information about SARS and MERS, as well as their extensive knowledge of how viruses spread.  The new edition has a forward speaking to COVID-19.  It's been a fascinating book to read and I continually have to remind myself it was written 10 years ago, because the scenarios they lay out seem to be pulled from today's headlines. 

    Michael Osterhold is an epidemiologist and founding director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.  This book has changed the way I think personally about this pandemic and how to operate in a world where it exists.  It has also made me aware that this likely will not be the last one we face as a global population.  I only hope our country's leaders and policy makers have a copy of this and are paying attention. 

    I see Dr. Osterhold from time to time on TV, and as much as any doctor, he scares the hell out of me … but I believe every word he says.

    On another subject, from an MNB reader:

    Today was a great MNB… loved the Google and Delta articles and your side comments on COVID news.

    Ok…back to the commercial you posted. Are you sure this isn’t a joke? The interviewee is Bob Luther of Lex Products Co. as in Lex Luther? Maybe my overly comic book hero brain is just reading into it… but I thought I’d share the observation.

    Nope.  Not a joke.  See the site here:

    https://lexproducts.com

    Got a very different reaction to the commercial, which was for commercial real estate company RD Scinto but, I pointed out, showed office buildings without making any reference to the vastly changed reality of such places during the pandemic.

    Almost all of today's MNB is related to Covid-19.  As a vulnerable guy I agree with you and applaud your missionary position on wearing a mask and social distancing. But doggone it,  give Bob (Scinto)  a break! 

    Bob is a self-made man who rose from being a dyslexic plumber to building and owning millions of square feet of office space. Most builders are optimists who look into the future and see good things. When you say that Bob's advertising is out of touch with reality please keep three things in mind. 

    1st.  You are projecting your and my concerns on Bob's  commercial,  but you work at home and are not a potential customer. 

    2nd.  Bob is marketing a Covid-19 free environment to other dreamers who want to grow in the future.  He has no duty to sponsor a public service announcement about masks and distancing although ventilation and cleanliness could also have been selling points. 

    3rd. Bob is facing a world of hurt. He has 4.3 million sq. ft.  with 678,734 sq. ft. vacant. The 15.78%vacancy rate is above Collier's 1st quarter national estimate of 11.5%. With a average national suburban rent of about $32.00, Bob is sitting on $21,719,488 in unleashed space while the world is thinking about reducing their office space needs.  He will be in an acute battle for market share.

    Your article on Google's plan to keep employees at home until July of 2021 defines Bob's dilemma. Bob has chosen to fight  although some pessimists might describe him as dead man walking. 

    I wish Bob success. 

    Disclosure:  My numbers came from the RD Scinto website.  I don't know Bob. 

    I take your point.  Mine was simple:  Tone-deaf communications put a business - any business - at a disadvantage.

    I'm not suggesting that the company do public service announcements.  I am suggesting that to run a commercial in July 2020 that could've run in July 2019 - and indeed, may have - misses the point, and maybe the opportunity.

    I wish RD Scinto luck, too.  He ought to make his own luck, and hire you as an advisor.

    Published on: July 28, 2020

    Here's an update from Axios Sports on how the pandemic is affecting Major League Baseball:

    •  "Four days into the 2020 MLB season, and we already have a coronavirus outbreak … At least 14 members of the Marlins have tested positive, forcing the postponement of games in Miami and Philadelphia on Monday and kicking off an emergency league meeting.

    Instead of flying to Miami to play the Orioles, the Marlins stayed in Philadelphia, where they played the Phillies over the weekend.

    "Pending test results, the Marlins are scheduled to play the Orioles in Baltimore tomorrow, while the Phillies are set to host the Yankees today."

    Axios Sports writes that "this is a bad sign for baseball. But it's also a bad sign for just about everything in our daily lives — showing that something approaching normal can't simply be willed into existence."

    How this plays out for baseball is likely to have an impact on other sports.

    "MLB opted not to create a 'bubble' environment like other leagues have done, instead allowing teams to crisscross the country. The NFL has a similar plan, so baseball's outbreak raises concerns about the fall."  (There's also college sports to consider, as schools make decisions about their own schedules.)

    "The NBA and MLS, both bubbled in Florida, turned up zero cases in their latest round of tests, and the NWSL executed a successful bubble in Utah.  The NHL reported zero cases last week, but the real test starts today, with exhibitions set to begin in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbles."


    •  Even as baseball wrestles with the broad impact on its schedule, one player is dealing with the specific impact on his health.

    According to The Hill, Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez "confirmed that he was infected with the coronavirus earlier this year and is now suffering from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle … The condition is typically the result of a viral infection and can affect the heart’s capacity to pump blood or cause abnormal heart rhythms. It has frequently occurred in coronavirus patients, even though the virus is considered a respiratory infection."

    The story points out that "while patients in Rodriguez’s age group are far less likely to die from coronavirus complications, his case is an example of the lingering health conditions it can cause across age groups."

    KC's View:

    Which ought to scare the hell out of everyone.  Or at least scare them into wearing a mask and doing everything possible to protect the people around them.