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 US, there now have been 5,701,285 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 176,364 deaths and 3,063,213 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 22,602,281 confirmed coronavirus cases, resulting in 791,424 fatalities and 15,319,627 reported recoveries.

•  The Wall Street Journal writes that "the number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. climbed but remained below 50,000 for the fourth day in a row, as some universities and schools moved classes online to avoid campus outbreaks … Johns Hopkins’s data showed California had more than 8,000 new cases, Texas had more than 7,000 and Florida had over 3,000, Georgia had more than 2,000, while Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina and Tennessee all exceeded 1,000.

"In all of those states, except for California and Illinois, the seven-day average of new cases is lower than the 14-day average, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data, suggesting cases are falling. Across the country, different states have enacted various restrictions to stop the virus from spreading."

•  The Washington Post quotes Moncef Slaoui, who is co-directing the government's vaccine development response, as saying that "late-stage clinical trials of vaccine candidates from biotechnology companies Moderna and Pfizer are going 'very well' and that "a vaccine for the novel coronavirus should be widely available next spring."

According to the story, "Slaoui said he was 'pretty confident' that people would be able to get a vaccine next April, May or June," that "70 million or 80 million high-risk people would be immunized before then," and that "the United States should be able to return to normal life in the second half of next year if enough people take the vaccine."

"If enough people take the vaccine."  Ay, there’s the rub!

The polling suggests that only about a third of Americans say they'd be willing to get a vaccine once one becomes both approved and available … and experts worry that it will be hard for the country to really recover at those levels.  (It also reflects an appalling lack of confidence in science and public health experts who have dedicated their lives to keeping the country safe.)   What really makes this problematic is that there seem to be multiple disinformation efforts, some of them promoted by nutcase fringe groups, designed to create doubt about both the seriousness of the pandemic and the importance of a vaccination.

•  In an interview with an Albany, New York, public radio station, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed regret about one part of the state's response to the coronavirus:  “I should have done masks earlier,” he said. “That would have made a dramatic difference.”

The Washington Post writes that "according to public health experts, Cuomo is correct: mask mandates save lives. One study estimated that a nationwide mandate at the beginning of April could have prevented nearly 40,000 deaths. The impact would have been especially profound in New York, where nearly 30,000 people have died - far more than in any other state, according to data tracked and analyzed by the Washington Post.

•  The Washington Post reports that Hawaii, concerned about people from outside the islands bringing the coronavirus there, has officially delayed its reopening to mainland visitors until at least October 1.

According to the story, "The move replaces a program that was set to allow entry with a negative test on Sept. 1 and comes after a recent surge in coronavirus cases that prompted the state to impose quarantine restrictions on inter-island flights between Kauai, Hawaii Island and Maui.  All residents and non-tourist visitors will continue to be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine, according to guidelines."

•  Want to catch the Covid-19 coronavirus?  Head to Kansas City.

The Washington Post reports that thousands of people from as many as 40 states are expected to attend an indoor wrestling tournament there "despite a rising number of novel coronavirus cases in the area and warnings about indoor events being ideal places for the virus to spread."

The story notes that the Hy-Vee arena, where the tournament will be held, is placing restrictions on how many people attend and will keep attendance much lower that the facility's capacity.

Cannot imagine that Hy-Vee is pleased about having its name potentially in so many sentences and headlines that also have the word "coronavirus."

•  The Washington Post reports that "the NFL is giving preliminary consideration to conducting playoff games in a 'bubble' environment, a top league official said Wednesday, in hopes of bolstering its chances to complete its postseason amid the novel coronavirus pandemic."

A "bubble" would bring all the playoff teams to a single location so that there would be minimal opportunities for exposure to infected people.

The big assumption here is that the NFL even makes it to the playoffs without the pandemic having an impact on the teams and their schedules.

•  The Associated Press reports that "Airbnb is banning house parties worldwide as it tries to clean up its reputation and comply with coronavirus-related limits on gatherings.

"The San Francisco-based home sharing company said it will limit occupancy in its rental homes to 16 people. It may offer exceptions for boutique hotels or other event venues.  Airbnb said it may pursue legal action against guests and hosts who violate the ban."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Public schools in several states, including Indiana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Georgia, closed to in-person learning this month after students and staffers tested positive for Covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, sending thousands into quarantine and remote learning. Several superintendents working to reopen schools also tested positive, and at least one died.

"Dr. Thomas Dobbs, with the Mississippi Department of Health, announced that 1,970 students and 328 teachers and staff are under quarantine in the state."

•  From the Washington Post:

"The union representing New York City’s public-school teachers said its members would not return to classrooms next month unless the city met their health and safety demands — including testing all students and staff for that coronavirus and ensuring all schools have a nurse.

"The announcement from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which represents 75,000 professionals, comes a week after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that schools would reopen Sept. 10 for in-person classes, saying he believed the city’s low positivity rate would allow for students to return safely. The city, once the nation’s epicenter of the pandemic, has a positive test rate of less than one-quarter of 1 percent, the mayor said Wednesday."

The betting here is that if there is a teachers strike in one place, there will be strikes in lots of places.

•  The New York Times writes that "school nurses were already in short supply in the United States, with less than 40 percent of schools employing one full-time before the pandemic. Now those overburdened health care specialists are finding themselves on the front lines of a risky, high-stakes experiment in protecting public health as districts reopen their doors amid spiking caseloads in many parts of the country."

Probably another reason you might see teachers striking … since in schools without a full-time nurse, they'll be expected to carry much of the load.