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 6,258,028 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 188,907 deaths and 3,497,431 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 25,928,158 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 861,703 fatalities, and 18,212,644 reported recoveries.

•  CNBC reports that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is debunking online theories challenging the fatality numbers used for the coronavirus.

At issue is a claim on social media - recently removed by Twitter - that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had "quietly" updated its numbers to suggest that only six percent of all deaths defined as being caused by the coronavirus actually were, and that the rest of them were from "other serious illnesses."

While it is true that a large percentage of people had other health conditions, "that does not mean that someone who has hypertension or diabetes who dies of Covid didn’t die of Covid-19. They did," Fauci said.  "So the numbers you’ve been hearing -- there are 180,000-plus deaths -- are real deaths from Covid-19. Let (there) not be any confusion about that.

“It’s not 9,000 deaths from Covid-19, it’s 180-plus-thousand deaths."

•  CNBC reports that "the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a draft report that lays out a federal plan for distributing a coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. if and when one is approved for public use. The vaccine would be distributed in four phases with health-care workers and vulnerable Americans, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, getting it first."

The story goes on:

"The U.S., as part of Operation Warp Speed, has already invested billions of dollars in six potential vaccines as of last month, including from drug companies Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, which have all entered phase three trials. 

"Some vaccine candidates are being manufactured before regulatory approval. Because of the pandemic, U.S. health officials have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates by investing in multiple stages of research even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.

"U.S. health officials have said they are optimistic they will find at least one safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year and possibly more than one by early 2021.

"While there is hope scientists will find a safe and effective vaccine, there is never a guarantee, scientists say. They warn that questions remain about how the human body responds once it’s been infected with the virus."

Not only that, but the scientists suggest that of the seven trials being supported by Operation Warp Speed, it is likely that four of them will fail.

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"The U.S. recorded its smallest number of daily coronavirus cases in months, continuing a slowdown in new infections, as New York City delayed the start date of in-person classes for the nation’s largest school district … New York City schools, which had planned a mix of remote and in-person instruction, will now start in-person learning on Sept. 21, instead of Sept. 10 as earlier planned, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. Students will start school remotely on Sept. 16 before returning in-person, giving the district more time to ensure the hybrid approach works and to prepare for a safe reopening."

•  Also from the Journal:

"While the number of Covid-19 cases has been hovering below the peaks of earlier this summer, caseloads remain elevated and the national total exceeds six million.

"Florida reported more than 7,000 new cases, its highest daily rise since Aug. 11, according to the Florida Department of Health. The number of infections also rose in Texas, which reported nearly 5,000 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins data."

•  From Axios:

"The 23rd installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index shows that a majority are hopeful we can get COVID-19 under control in six months. At the same time, however, most believe the federal government is making our country’s coronavirus recovery worse. For both of these items, and many others, attitudes are deeply divided along partisan lines. Additionally, as more parents report sending their child back to school, nearly half say their school district’s plans for the year have already changed."

•  Engadget reports that Apple is rolling out a new iPhone update, iOS 13.7, that offers access to the COVID-19 Exposure Notifications Express framework that "allows you to more easily participate in your local health authority’s efforts to inform people if they’ve been in contact with someone who got sick with COVID-19."

The story notes that "in places where the local health authorities have decided to use Apple’s new framework, iOS 13.7 allows you to receive exposure notifications on your device without downloading a separate app. As with any dedicated COVID-19 apps you can download, taking part in this new system is optional.

In the US, Maryland, Nevada, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. will be among the first jurisdictions to use Exposure Notifications Express. Those systems will be fully compatible with existing apps. An additional advantage is that those jurisdictions won’t have to develop and maintain their own apps."

•  The US Government is cancelling its orders for new ventilators.

The Associated Press reports that "the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement Tuesday affirming that the national stockpile has now reached its maximum capacity for the life-saving breathing machines, with nearly 120,000 available for deployment to state and local health officials if need.

•  The Associated Press reports that Uber has a new policy - "if a driver reports to Uber that a rider wasn’t wearing a mask, the rider will have to provide Uber with a selfie with one strapped on the next time they summon a car on the world’s largest ride-hailing service.

"The mask verification rule expands upon a similar requirement that Uber imposed on its drivers in May to help reassure passengers worried about being exposed to the novel coronavirus that has upended society. Now, Uber believes it’s time to help make its drivers feel safer, too."

•  The New York Times reports that "AMC Entertainment announced that it would reopen roughly 140 additional theaters by Sept. 4, bringing a total of 70 percent of its movie theaters in the United States back into operation … The majority of the theaters will reopen on Sept. 3, the same day that Christopher Nolan’s Tenet comes out. Theater executives are hoping the $200 million thriller will draw crowds of viewers out of their homes to experience the film on the big screen. But it remains to be seen whether people will want to sit in an enclosed space next to other moviegoers at a time when the virus continues to spread across the country."