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 6,749,828 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 199,027 deaths and 4,028,602 reported recoveries.

Globally, the numbers are:  29,472,046 confirmed coronavirus cases, 933,341 fatalities, and 21,297,131 reported recoveries.

•  The Washington Post writes that a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is out with a new report saying that "the blow inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic on the world’s largest economies has been significantly worse than the 2009 financial crisis … Nations in the Group of 20 - which includes China, Brazil, India, the United States and the European Union - saw an unprecedented 6.9 percent decline in growth between April and June of this year. By contrast, the same economies took a dip of 1.9 percent during the first quarter of 2009, which marked the apex of the global financial crisis."

The story goes on to say that "the OECD released its findings on the same day that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released its annual global development report, which concluded that the pandemic had stalled 20 years of progress and resulted in a 7 percent increase in extreme poverty. Long-standing inequalities have been made worse by the pandemic, while marginal gains in alleviating issues like hunger have been swiftly undone, the foundation found."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"New coronavirus infections in the U.S. fell from a day earlier as governors on the West and Gulf Coasts grappled Monday with how best to contain the pandemic as a spate of natural disasters demanded resources and attention.

"Officials in California, Oregon and Washington were battling catastrophic wildfires, which have begun to hamper some efforts to halt the virus, including closing down some testing centers. The fires have also displaced thousands of people, some of whom are now in temporary shelters.

"In Louisiana and Mississippi, governors beseeched residents to brace for the arrival of Hurricane Sally, which was projected to make landfall as soon as Tuesday morning near Biloxi, Miss., as a drenching Category 2 storm."

The story goes on:

"Texas and California led the nation in new Covid-19 cases. There were 4,260 new cases reported in Texas, and 2,795 in California, according to data from Johns Hopkins. New York reported just 725 new cases, while Florida, another former hot spot, reported 2,423 new cases. Arizona, which wrestled over the summer with a major outbreak, reported 384.

"There were pockets of growth in new cases in the Southeast and Midwest, including Wisconsin, which reported 1,582 new cases, eclipsing a previous high of 1,547 cases recorded Thursday. Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina and South Carolina each reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases."

•  From the Washington Post:

"New York City’s lockdown this spring reduced the spread of the coronavirus by 70 percent, but more consistency with mask-wearing would have brought it down even further, according to a forthcoming study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

"The city began closing public schools on March 15 and imposed stay-at-home orders for everyone except essential workers the following week. Lockdown restrictions remained in place until June, when the city began gradually reopening while keeping indoor dining and other high-risk activities off limits.

"According to the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, reducing contact rates by closing schools and telling people to stay home 'likely contributed to the largest reduction in transmission in the population overall.'  But masks also played a crucial role, the researchers wrote. New York City began requiring face coverings on April 12, which helped reduce transmission by an additional 7 percent overall, and by 20 percent among people 65 or older."

•  CBS News reports that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health "announced a new program for Los Angeles County business owners that offers no-cost online training educating owners of the essentials of the county’s health orders and what is needed to ensure they are in compliance with infection control and physical distancing requirements.

"After completing the training, businesses will receive a COVID-19 Safety Compliance Certificate that can be posted on storefronts … The training will be available in 13 languages and can be accessed online, though it is not mandatory."

•  The Washington Post reports that in England, health experts are saying that "a staggering number of people are relying on alcohol at “high-risk levels” to cope with stress sparked by fears linked to the global health crisis … raising concerns that addiction support services may buckle under the pressure.

"According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, more than 8.4 million people in England were drinking excessively in June compared to 4.8 million people in February.  Research found that those between the ages of 35 and 54 were the most likely to be consuming more alcohol following the nationwide lockdown."

The story notes that "a recent survey of British adults revealed that 1 in 4 people reported feelings of loneliness during the pandemic as social distancing restrictions drove a wedge between colleagues, families and friends."

There may be a reason they are drinking:  the Post also reports that "almost 700,000 people have fallen off British payrolls since March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures released Tuesday revealed.

"Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that 695,000 workers lost their jobs from March, when the nationwide lockdown was implemented, to August, with younger people hit particularly hard by the crisis.

"At least 76,000 people between the ages of 16 and 24 have found themselves unemployed in the last year, a drop higher than that faced by any other age group."

•  PepsiCo has come up with a new beverage dubbed Driftwell - an enhanced water drink that contains 200 milligrams of L-theanine, an amino acid that’s found in green and black teas and some mushrooms - that is designed to help people de-stress and sleep better.  It will be pitched as one remedy to pandemic-related blues.

It will be available via e-commerce before the end of the year, and in supermarkets early next year.

CNBC notes that "Pepsi employees came up with an idea for a beverage to help consumers de-stress and relax before bed as part of an internal competition started last year by CEO Ramon Laguarta. The concept won, and the food and beverage giant went to work to make it a reality."

•  NBC News reports that "the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a nearly century-old New York City institution, will be radically pared down from its usual larger-than-life format due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, officials said Monday.

"The department store announced that it had to 'reimagine' the upcoming 94th edition of the parade on Nov. 26 and said it'll be staged in a manner similar to its Fourth of July fireworks show."

According to the story, "The traditional 2.5-mile parade route will not be a part of this year's event, organizers said. High school and college marching bands from around the country who were invited to perform this year will have their appearances deferred until 2021, with local professional marching bands taking their place.

"The parade's trademark massive balloons will still be in play this year, but 'without the traditional 80-100 handlers,' instead employing 'an innovative, specially rigged anchor vehicle framework of five specialty vehicles tested and approved by' New York City police and transportation officials, according to Macy's."

Hate to say it, but I can see exactly where this is going…