Published on: July 29, 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 4,498,887 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 152,358 deaths and 2,189,592 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 16,920,350 confirmed coronavirus cases, 664,139 fatalities, and 10,484,480 reported recoveries.
From The Hill:
"Twenty-one U.S. states are currently in the 'red zone' for coronavirus outbreaks under federal criteria, reporting more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week, according to a new federal report.
"Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin… Three of the states — Missouri, North Dakota and Wisconsin — had not been on the list when the last edition of the federal report was published in mid-July."
The story goes on:
"Only one state, Vermont, is in the so-called green zone, which indicates fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people per week. All other states, as well as the District of Columbia, are considered to be in the 'yellow zone,' or between 10 and 100 cases a week per 100,000 people."
• From the Wall Street Journal this morning:
"Some U.S. hot spots appeared to be getting a respite from skyrocketing coronavirus case counts as the number of confirmed infections in the U.S. dropped below 60,000 for the second day in a row.
"But for some states, the decline in new cases coincided with a drop in testing over the past week, even as the number of tests performed nationally has grown."
The Journal goes on: "Almost 20 states, including several hot spots, have seven-day new case averages that are less than their 14-day averages, according to the Journal’s analysis.
"In Texas, for example, the seven-day new case average is 8,079, compared with the state’s 14-day average of 9,326. In Florida, the seven-day new case average is 10,336 compared with a 14-day average of 10,737. Arizona and California also followed this trend."
The Journal continues:
"Several states are also still grappling with increased coronavirus-related hospitalizations and deaths. The Florida Department of Health reported 186 new coronavirus-related deaths among residents as of midnight Monday, the highest recorded increase over a 24-hour period. State reporting on coronavirus deaths vary, and it’s possible deaths reported on a particular day may not have occurred over the previous 24 hours.
"North Carolina reported its highest number of hospitalizations during the pandemic so far, with 1,244 people in hospitals Monday. But new cases and testing positivity rates were stabilizing in the state, said Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, attributing the decline to prevention measures like the state’s mandate."
• The New York Times has a story about how pervasive the pandemic has been:
"Not only are American cities in the South and West facing deadly outbreaks like those that struck Northeastern cities in the spring, but rural areas are being hurt, too. In every region, people of color will continue to suffer disproportionately, experts said.
While there may be no appetite for a national lockdown, local restrictions must be tightened when required, the researchers said, and governors and mayors must have identical goals. Testing must become more targeted.
"In most states, contact tracing is now moot — there are simply too many cases to track. And while progress has been made on vaccines, none is expected to arrive this winter in time to stave off what many fear will be a new wave of deaths."
“'We are in a worse place than we were in March,' when the virus coursed through New York, said Dr. Leana S. Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner. 'Back then we had one epicenter. Now we have lots'."
The Times writes that scientists to which it spoke "conveyed a pervasive sense of sadness and exhaustion. Where once there was defiance, and then a growing sense of dread, now there seems to be sorrow and frustration, a feeling that so many funerals never had to happen and that nothing is going well. The United States is a wounded giant, while much of Europe, which was hit first, is recovering and reopening - although not to us."
• From the Washington Post:
"At 6:45 a.m. Monday, a volunteer in Savannah, Ga., received a shot in the arm and became the first participant in a massive human experiment that will test the effectiveness of an experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate. The vaccine is being developed by the biotechnology company Moderna in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.
"The vaccination marks a much-anticipated milestone: the official launch of the first in a series of large U.S. clinical trials that will each test experimental vaccines in 30,000 participants, half receiving the shot and half receiving a placebo.
"Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer also announced it was initiating a 30,000-person vaccine trial, at 120 sites globally."
The story goes on:
"'We are participating today in the launching of a truly historic event in the history of vaccinology,' Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a news conference. He noted that the United States has never moved faster to develop a vaccine, from basic science to a large Phase 3 trial designed to test safety and effectiveness.
"Fauci predicted that researchers would probably be able to tell whether the Moderna vaccine was effective by November or December, although he explained that it was a 'distinct possibility' an answer could come sooner. Pfizer officials have said the company expects to be able to seek regulatory authorization or approval by October.
"Company and government officials repeatedly underscored that although the vaccine development effort is moving at record-breaking speed, safety is not being sacrificed."
• Yelp has released a new survey saying that there is "a correlation between increased interest in restaurants, bars and nightlife, and gyms to a spike in COVID-19 cases across hotspot states."
The report also shows "a declining trend in total business closures, however, permanent closures now account for 55% of all closed businesses since March 1, a 14% increase from June. Additionally, YEA finds slower, but still consistent changes in consumers getting back to pre-pandemic activities, as well as sustained interest in supporting Black-owned businesses."
• From CNBC:
"The coronavirus pandemic is likely to change how and what consumers buy, forcing the retail industry to quickly innovate in a race that’s likely to squeeze smaller brands.
Retailers were already under pressure prior to the pandemic, struggling to adapt to a growing online world and facing lower margins amid a plethora of competitors. The Covid-19 outbreak has accelerated some of these trends, with more people shopping online and an inventory excess that’s likely to cut margins even further."
However, the story says, some analysts remain bullish on retail, believing that consumers - especially younger consumers - are anxious to get their lives back to some semblance of normality and will return to stores when they can.
• Simply Flying reports that Delta Air Lines is as good as the word of its CEO, Ed Bastian, who has said that the company will play hardball with passengers not compliant with its mandated face mask policy.
"Last Thursday," the story says, "despite instructions from staff, two passengers refused to wear masks onboard a Delta Air Lines flight to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. As a result, crew turned the plane around to go back to Detroit Metro Airport."
Delta also reportedly put more than 100 people who have not complied with its mask policies on a no-fly list, and Bastian has said that no amount of apologizing will get them back on Delta flights.
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "with fall semester just a few weeks away, the Covid-19 pandemic has stumped the brightest minds at universities across the U.S. There is no consensus about how college campuses are going to open, and what they will look like if they do. There are as many plans as there are institutions, and their guidebooks are being written in pencil, leaving families and students in limbo.
"At stake are the health and well-being of more than 20 million students, faculty and staff - as well as billions of dollars in revenue from tuition, dormitories, dining halls and sports competitions. If colleges allow students back on campus, they could be inviting a public-health nightmare. Yet keeping classes online risks a drop in enrollment by students transferring elsewhere or sitting out the year. The University of Michigan, which plans to have students on campus, estimated this spring that its losses from the pandemic could reach $1 billion."
• The Associated Press reports that Massachusetts state education officials and three teachers unions " have reached an agreement that will allow public school districts across Massachusetts to delay the start of classes in September up to 10 days so schools can properly develop a plan to make sure students and staff are safe from the coronavirus.
"Under the deal announced Monday between state Education Commissioner Jeff Riley and the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and the Boston Teachers Union, classes can start no later than Sept. 16.
"The 10-day delay can be used for schools to redesign classroom lessons, learn techniques to help students overcome trauma they may have experienced during the pandemic, and to learn new safety and health protocols … When schools reopen this fall, most students and staff will be required to wear face coverings, desks will be reconfigured to maintain social distancing, and students will spend most of their time in small groups with the same students."
• The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) yesterday announced that its annual Consumer Electronics Show, scheduled to run January 6-9, 2021 in Las Vegas, now will be an "all-digital experience," with plans to return to Las Vegas for 2022.
“Amid the pandemic and growing global health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, it’s just not possible to safely convene tens of thousands of people in Las Vegas in early January 2021 to meet and do business in person,” CTA president/CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement.
It was only a month ago that CTA had said it was still planning on the physical show taking place. Variety writes that "even when CTA had been planning to go ahead with the in-person running of CES 2021 - with safety protocols - the group had acknowledged that it would be 'a smaller show than it has been in recent years. Fewer people will be able to travel to the United States and to Las Vegas, and many of our smaller and international exhibitors will not be able to travel to Las Vegas to exhibit this year'."
Not at all a surprise, but the hit that already-stressed Vegas will take will be huge - CES brings in close to 200,000 visitors during the show.