Published on: August 18, 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 now have 5,613,183 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 173,772 deaths and 2,974,780 reported recoveries.
In terms of global confirmed coronavirus cases, we've now passed the 22 million mark - the number stands at 22,073,611, with 777,812 fatalities and 14,810,207 reported recoveries.
• CNN underlines the impact the pandemic has had:
"A virus that didn't even exist a year ago is now killing more Americans than Alzheimer's disease, accidents and diabetes."
Only heart disease and cancer are killing more people in the US, the story says.
• From CNN:
"The number of tests performed each day in the US dropped by an average of 68,000 compared to the daily rate in late July, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.
"Fifteen states conducted fewer tests this past week compared to the previous week: Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, Washington state, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.
"Yet test positivity rates -- the percentage of tests that are positive -- are still higher than the recommended 5% in more than 30 states, according to data from Johns Hopkins University."
• Some hopeful analysis from the New York Times:
"The pandemic will end only when enough people are protected against the coronavirus, whether by a vaccine or by already having been infected. Reaching this threshold, known as herd immunity, doesn’t mean the virus will disappear. But with fewer hosts to infect, it will make its way through a community much more slowly.
"In the early days of the crisis, scientists estimated that perhaps 70 percent of the population would need to be immune in this way to be free from large outbreaks. But over the past few weeks, more than a dozen scientists told me they now felt comfortable saying that herd immunity probably lies from 45 percent to 50 percent.
"If they’re right, then we may be a lot closer to turning back this virus than we initially thought.
"It may also mean that pockets of New York City, London, Mumbai and other cities may already have reached the threshold, and may be spared a devastating second wave … It’s too early to say with certainty that those communities have reached herd immunity. We don’t know, for example, how long someone who was infected stays protected from the coronavirus. But the data suggests that the virus may move more slowly in those areas the next time around."
• From Reuters:
"The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it was concerned that the novel coronavirus spread was being driven by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, many of whom were unaware they were infected, posing a danger to vulnerable groups.
"WHO officials said this month the proportion of younger people among those infected had risen globally, putting at risk vulnerable sectors of the population worldwide, including the elderly and sick people in densely populated areas with weak health services.
"'The epidemic is changing,' WHO Western Pacific regional director, Takeshi Kasai, told a virtual briefing. 'People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread. Many are unaware they are infected'."
• From the New York Times:
"In Arizona, where the virus surged earlier this summer, many students started school on Monday. But classes in the J.O. Combs Unified School District, about an hour outside of Phoenix, were canceled through Wednesday after a significant number of teachers and staff members called in sick to protest in-person classes, and it was unclear when and how the school year may start there … And in Cherokee County, Georgia, which by the middle of last week had nearly 1,200 students and educational staff ordered to quarantine, a third high school closed to in-person learning this week after 500 of its students were quarantined and 25 tested positive for the virus."
The Times writes that "with the planned first day of school in New York City rapidly approaching, Mayor Bill de Blasio is facing mounting pressure from the city’s teachers, principals and even members of his own administration to delay the start of in-person instruction to give educators more time to prepare.
"Mr. de Blasio has been hoping to reopen the nation’s largest school system on a part-time basis for the city’s 1.1 million schoolchildren on Sept. 10. No other big-city mayor is attempting reopening on such a scale, and many smaller districts that have already reopened have had to change course significantly almost immediately after students returned."
The Times adds, "If New York is able to reopen schools safely, it would be an extraordinary turnaround for a city that was the global epicenter of the pandemic just a few months ago. Schools are the key to the city’s long path back to normalcy: opening classrooms would help jump-start the struggling economy by allowing more parents to return to work and would provide desperately needed services for tens of thousands of vulnerable students."
The good news: "New York City has a virus transmission rate so low that it is closer to that of South Korea than of many other American cities, and there is agreement among many public health experts that the city’s infection rate is low enough to reopen at least some schools."
• From USA Today:
"Walgreens and CVS pharmacists plan to check patient temperatures and wear face shields for the first time when delivering flu vaccines.
"The nation's two largest drugstore chains are now offering the seasonal influenza vaccine with new precautionary measures.
"The rollout comes amid swirling concerns about the collision of the COVID-19 pandemic with the flu season, which is expected to strain the health care system."
CVS says it expects to administer double the number of vaccines this year compared to last year; Walgreens says it thinks the numbers will go up 30-50 percent.
• Axios reports that "while some retailers are still highlighting their backpacks and lunch boxes, forward-thinking competitors are hawking stylish masks, homeschooling supplies, and products to help turn your home into a school — clever tag-lines included."
Target is saying, "Find everything you need for wherever you college." And, from Bed Bath & Beyond, "How to design your own 'dorm room' at home."
• The Associated Press reports that "UK retailer Marks & Spencer says it plans to eliminate about 7,000 jobs as it streamlines management and store operations after sales plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"London-based Marks & Spencer said Tuesday the job cuts would take place over the next three months in its central offices, regional management and U.K. stores. The reductions represent about 9% of the company’s workforce."
• The Financial Times reports that the Carlyle group "has told its employees to avoid public transport on their commute to work because of concerns about coronavirus, as the $221 billion private equity manager prepares to reopen its London office next month.
"The policy also requires staff who use public transport at weekends to stay away from the office for 14 days. It applies to Carlyle's 31 offices around the world, although many of those remain closed."
The story notes that "asset managers, banks and accountancy firms based in global finance centres are rewriting their office policies amid growing fears of a second Covid-19 rise. Some companies, such as Schroders, the UK's largest listed fund manager, and PwC, the accountancy group, are making permanent some of the changes they introduced in response to the lockdown."