Published on: August 26, 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 5,956,160 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 182,421 deaths and 3,254,739 reported recoveries.
Globally, there are 24,086,728 confirmed coronavirus cases, 823,987 fatalities, and 16,629,964 reported recoveries.
• The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a new survey from the city's Chamber of Commerce saying that more than half the city's storefronts have been shuttered by the pandemic - meaning that some 1,300 have closed, leaving 1,200 still open.
• From the Washington Post:
"A Florida judge Monday granted a temporary injunction against the state’s order requiring school districts to reopen schools during the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying in a harshly worded decision that safety concerns had been ignored.
"Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson, in a 16-page decision, granted the request in a lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association (FEA) to block the order issued July 6 by state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran compelling schools to reopen five days a week for families who did not want their children to do all virtual learning. Districts were threatened with loss of state funding if they did not comply.
"But late Monday, state officials filed an intention to appeal, which put a stay on the preliminary injunction. Lawyers for the FEA said they would file a motion to reinstate the judge’s ruling."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "an uptick in coronavirus cases in Danbury, Conn., has prompted officials to close down athletic fields and boat launches and delay in-person learning, likely until October.
"The infection rate in Danbury, a city of roughly 85,000, jumped to about 6% or 7% in a relatively short period, Gov. Ned Lamont said at a news conference Tuesday. Connecticut’s statewide infection rate has hovered around 1% for months … Officials are also seeing a higher rate of infection among young people. Mr. Lamont said the state had shut down the boat launch to nearby Candlewood Lake after several large parties were reported there."
Also from the Journal:
"As new coronavirus cases continue to decline nationally, health officials and business leaders in rural parts of Illinois are raising alarms about rising infection rates that are fueling a steady increase in positive cases statewide.
"In the past two weeks, eight of the 10 counties in Illinois with the fastest rates of new Covid-19 cases per capita were in smaller nonmetropolitan counties across the state, compared with two metro counties, according to an analysis of data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.
"This is a reversal from an earlier trend, which saw Cook County, which includes Chicago, leading the state in coronavirus infections. Since March, Cook County has accounted for about 55% of the state’s Covid-19 cases. But its contribution has slowed as cases have spread to other corners of the state. In the week prior to Aug. 17, Cook County accounted for 38% of the state’s new cases."
• From the New York Times:
"The United States is no longer the world’s only rich country still suffering through a major coronavirus outbreak. So is Spain.
"Spain’s number of cases has surged in the last month. Over the last week, its per capita rate of new cases has been five times larger than France’s, six times larger than Portugal’s and 15 times larger than Japan’s. Adjusted for population, Spain’s outbreak has even surpassed the U.S. outbreak over the last few days."
The story says that analysis suggest that a number of factors have played into the resurgence of coronavirus cases in Spain, including a lack of clear national message and strategy, not enough testing and contact tracing, and premature reopenings that put more people at risk.
• The New York Times has a story about how the British government is helping to support and rejuvenate the UK's restaurant industry, which, like its US brethren, has been hit hard by the pandemic and its resultant shutdowns.
"The answer: half-price food. For the month of August, the government has been paying for a 50 percent discount on all meals eaten in restaurants, pubs or cafes, up to 10 pounds ($13) per person, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays."
The Times writes that "it’s a discount that Britons have taken up with relish … In the first three weeks of the Eat Out to Help Out program, 64 million meals — enough for nearly the entire British population of about 67 million — were eaten using the discount, costing the government £336 million ($441 million).
The story notes that "the restaurant industry is grateful for the rush of customers, but there are concerns about whether a temporary discount can trigger a sustainable recovery.
"The government’s offer, aided by some pleasant weather this August, has encouraged customers to return to restaurants, especially the outdoor seating offered by many establishments. If diners retreat back to their homes once it’s too cold to dine outdoors, however, or unemployment rises as the furlough program ends in October, what then?"
• The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) announced yesterday that it is canceling its 2020 Private Label Trade Show, scheduled for Chicago from November 15-17, "in light of continuing uncertainties concerning the health and safety of participants at large-scale, in-person gatherings."
PLMA said that its live show will return next year, but also announced what it called "a new and unprecedented virtual event for February 1-5, 2021: PLMA Live! Presents Private Label Week," which is designed to "provide retailers and private label manufacturers the opportunity to interact and work together via live video meetings and chat communication tools using PLMA’s own digital platform."
• ESPN reports that "world-record sprinter and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt has tested positive for the coronavirus and is self-isolating at his home in Jamaica after celebrating his 34th birthday with a mask-free party last week."
• Fascinating story in the Washington Post about how attendees at a leadership meeting for drug company Biogen ended up being responsible for broad spread of the coronavirus.
Here's how the Post frames the story:
"None of the biotech executives at the meeting noticed the uninvited guest. They had flown to Boston from across the globe for the annual leadership meeting of the drug company Biogen, and they were busy catching up with colleagues and hobnobbing with upper management. For two days they shook hands, kissed cheeks, passed each other the salad tongs at the hotel buffet, never realizing that one among their number carried the coronavirus in their lungs.
"By the meeting’s end on Feb. 27, the infection had infiltrated many more people: a research director, a photographer, the general manager for the company’s east division. They took the virus home with them to the Boston suburbs, Indiana and North Carolina, to Slovakia, Australia and Singapore … A sweeping study of nearly 800 coronavirus genomes, conducted by no less than 54 researchers at the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and several other institutions in the state, has found that viruses carrying the conference’s characteristic mutation infected hundreds of people in the Boston area, as well as victims from Alaska to Senegal to Luxembourg. As of mid-July, the variant had been found in about one-third of the cases sequenced in Massachusetts and 3 percent of all genomes studied thus far in the United States."
You can read the entire story here.