business news in context, analysis with attitude

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 5,306,851 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 167,761 deaths and 2,756,107 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 20,544,424 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 746,366 fatalities and 13,461,683 reported recoveries.

•  Notes from the Washington Post:

-  "Coronavirus-related deaths in the United States topped 1,300 on Tuesday, with Florida and Georgia recording their highest single-day death tolls since the start of the pandemic."

-  "Of the more than 1,332 deaths reported Tuesday, Florida and Georgia recorded their highest single-day death tolls since the start of the pandemic, with 277 and 122 coronavirus-related deaths respectively, according to a data analysis by the Post. Tuesday marked the first time Georgia has exceeded 100 deaths in a day and its highest reported seven-day average.

"Texas and California also ranked among the deadliest counts, with 220 and 109 dead.

"Wisconsin surpassed 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths since the state’s first reported death in mid-March."

-  "Aside from Georgia exceeding its average death count, Puerto Rico and five states — Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia — tied for their highest seven-day death averages, which is considered a more accurate metric than daily figures. The country’s seven-day average for deaths was 1,052."

-  "Before Tuesday evening, Omaha was the largest city in the nation that did not require residents to wear face coverings in public spaces.

"But after a marathon meeting, the Nebraska city’s leaders unanimously adopted a mask mandate — the public policy tool that is perhaps the single easiest way to combat the spread of the coronavirus."

•  From the New York Times this morning:

"Across the United States this summer, restaurants and bars, reeling from mandatory lockdowns and steep financial declines, opened their doors to customers, thousands of whom had been craving deep bowls of farro, frothy margaritas and juicy burgers smothered in glistening onions.

But the short-term gains have led to broader losses. Data from states and cities show that many community outbreaks of the coronavirus this summer have centered on restaurants and bars, often the largest settings to infect Americans.

"In Louisiana, roughly a quarter of the state’s 2,360 cases since March that were outside of places like nursing homes and prisons have stemmed from bars and restaurants, according to state data. In Maryland, 12 percent of new cases last month were traced to restaurants, contact tracers there found, and in Colorado, 9 percent overall have been traced to bars and restaurants.

"It is unclear what percentage of workers transmitted the virus among themselves, or to patrons or whether customers brought in the virus. But the clusters are worrisome to health officials because many restaurant and bar employees across the country are in their 20s and can carry the virus home and possibly seed household transmissions, which have soared in recent weeks through the Sun Belt and the West."

•  Go figure.  Not every face covering is created equal.

The  Washington Post reports on how researchers recently "unveiled a simple method to evaluate the effectiveness of various types of masks, analyzing more than a dozen different facial coverings ranging from hospital-grade N95 respirators to bandanas. Of the 14 masks and other coverings tested, the study found that some easily accessible cotton cloth masks are about as effective as standard surgical masks, while popular alternatives such as neck gaiters made of thin, stretchy material may be worse than not wearing a mask at all."

It ends up that the precise things that make neck gaiters a preferred face covering, especially for joggers, also make it less than optimal in terms of preventing spread.

Some may suggest that this is just another example of how intelligence changes.  They're right.  It does.  If you're intelligent, you understand that time often breeds greater understanding.

•  The Associated Press reports that New Zealand has gone back into lockdown - four cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus have been detected there, the first to be found in 102 days.

The government has contacted some 200 people who may have come into contact with the four people to see if there is further community spread.

Figuring out sourcing and spread will be a lot easier on what essentially an island nation of five million people.  I admire the decisiveness of the authorities, though - no dithering, no dissembling.  Just moving quickly to lock things down.

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"The Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences voted on Tuesday to postpone college football and other fall sports because of the coronavirus pandemic, a move that could begin the final unraveling of a lucrative season that collegiate sports officials have labored for months to save."

The Big Ten, at least, "will evaluate the possibility of playing the affected sports - which also include cross-country, field hockey, football, soccer and volleyball - in the spring."

The story goes on:  "With two of the five most powerful leagues punting on fall and some winter sports, the pressure on the rest of college football’s major conferences immediately ratcheted up. The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference issued statements around the same time Tuesday evening expressing confidence that the medical protocols in place on their campuses would permit safe athletic competition."

Some more context from the Journal:

"College administrators have become increasingly concerned about growing evidence that athletes who contract even mild cases of Covid-19 may be at increased risk of developing myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can be fatal if left untreated.

"But the prospect of not playing this week brought vocal objections from some of college football’s biggest stars, such as Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The athletes early Monday had begun advocating, via a loose coalition, for a season to be held, provided certain safety and scholarship concerns were met.

"At the same time, several of the Big Ten’s most prominent coaches this week came out against the idea that playing football this fall is unsafe."

I don't envy these college administrators having to make this decision, especially since it will cost them so much money even as challenging entrenched interests and even some political pressures.  But there is evidence that the coronavirus can have a lasting impact on the health of people who contract it - even young athletes who are in terrific shape.  There was a report from ESPN saying that myocarditis - a rare heart inflammation that could be linked to COVID-19 - has been found in at least five Big Ten athletes as well as several athletes in other conferences.  It up to the adults in the room to make mature decisions even if those decisions work against their self-interests.