Published on: September 24, 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, there now have been 7,140,137 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 206,598 deaths and 4,399,996 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 32,126,541 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 982,442 fatalities and 23,699,810 reported recoveries.
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"After peaking in mid-July, daily new infections in the U.S. began to trend downward, but they have been going up again since mid-September—especially in the West. The sharpest increases, where the seven-day average number of new cases has been rising in September, occurred in Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Oklahoma and North Dakota, the data show … Several factors are likely to contribute to the rising trend, including cooling temperatures, more indoor social activities and growing frustration among the public with public-health measures imposed to combat the virus, said Lisa Lee, an epidemiologist and associate vice president at Virginia Tech.
"In contrast to the spring, American society is seeing 'a great deal of population mixing,' she said, including air travel and the return of students to college campuses and schools. 'You’re bringing people from high-density, high-infection places to other places, and sometimes they will be bringing the virus with them'."
The Journal goes on: "Labor Day gatherings may have been a factor helping to drive the recent increase in cases, as well as the reopening of colleges and universities, which can draw together young people who are carrying the virus but not necessarily displaying symptoms … It is too soon to know if reopening K-12 schools will cause greater community transmission of the virus, in part because the health precautions in place can vary widely, and because experts have insufficient evidence from contact tracing to know how readily the virus is being spread."
• Axios reports that "CDC Director Robert Redfield said at a Senate hearing Wednesday that preliminary data shows that over 90% of Americans remain susceptible to COVID-19 - meaning they have not yet been exposed to the coronavirus."
• Also from the Wall Street Journal:
"The new coronavirus can leave some patients with signs of heart inflammation and injury months after they get sick with Covid-19, even in cases where their illness wasn’t severe, researchers say … The findings could help explain the symptoms of recovered Covid-19 patients, some of whom are struggling with such issues as shortness of breath, chest pain and heart palpitations, scientists say.
"And in some patients, the heart inflammation and damage could lead to serious problems years from now, including irregular heartbeats and even heart failure, though there hasn’t been enough time to study the long-term implications, according to researchers."
Gee, I wonder how long it will be before insurance companies will claim that these things are pre-existing conditions for which they should not have to pay off claims. I'd guess that they're already preparing the legal documents, and will add the dates later … but then again, I'm pretty much a cynic on such issues.
• From the Washington Post:
"Scientists in Houston on Wednesday released a study of more than 5,000 genetic sequences of the coronavirus, which reveals the virus’s continual accumulation of mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious.
"That mutation is associated with a higher viral load among patients upon initial diagnosis, the researchers found.
"The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, was posted Wednesday on the preprint server MedRxiv. It appears to be the largest single aggregation of genetic sequences of the virus in the United States."
According to the story, "The new report did not find that these mutations have made the virus deadlier. All viruses accumulate genetic mutations, and most are insignificant, scientists say. Coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes the illness covid-19, are relatively stable as viruses go, because they have a proofreading mechanism as they replicate.
"But every mutation is a roll of the dice, and with transmission so widespread in the United States – which continues to see tens of thousands of new, confirmed infections daily – the virus has had abundant opportunities to change, potentially with troublesome consequences."
• From the New York Times:
"As public health officials raise alarms about surging coronavirus cases among young people, new research suggests that Americans under 25 are most likely to believe virus-related misinformation about the severity of the disease and how it originated.
"In a survey of 21,196 people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, researchers identified a clear generational divide. Respondents 18 to 24 had an 18 percent probability of believing a false claim, compared with 9 percent for those over 65, according to the study, conducted by researchers from Harvard University, Rutgers University, Northeastern University and Northwestern University."
According to the story, "The results diverge from past research that said older people were more likely to share false news articles on social media."
• The New York Times reports that "the Metropolitan Opera announced Wednesday that the still-untamed coronavirus pandemic has forced it to cancel its entire 2020-21 season, prolonging one of the gravest crises it has faced in its 137-year history and keeping it dark until next September.
"The decision is likely to send ripples of concern through New York and the rest of the country, as Broadway theaters, symphony halls, rock venues, comedy clubs, dance spaces and other live arts institutions grapple with the question of when it will be safe again to perform indoors. Far from being a gilded outlier, the Met, the nation’s largest performing arts organization, may well prove to be a bellwether."
The story goes on:
"Grand opera is in some ways uniquely vulnerable to the pandemic: It is so expensive to produce that it is financially difficult to sustainably perform to reduced-capacity audiences, and it attracts older people, who are among the most vulnerable to the virus. (The average age of Met opera-goers was 57 last season.)
"But the broader question - when will it be safe to hold large-scale indoor performances again in the United States, which has been much less successful at curbing the spread of the coronavirus than many of the nations in Europe where theaters are gingerly beginning to reopen - is being asked throughout the arts world."
• Variety reports that "Disney has postponed the release of fall blockbusters such as Marvel’s Black Widow, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile by several months. The results are bad news for the exhibition industry, which is facing fierce headwinds after closing for months due to coronavirus … Disney’s release date shifts all but guarantee that box office revenues this year will reach a nadir - analysts have already projected that domestic grosses would decline between 70% to 80%."
Black Widow, which was set for a November 6 opening, now is scheduled to open on May 7, 2021.
Death on the Nile, scheduled for October 23, has been delayed to December 18.
West Side Story, planned for a December 18 opening, has been pushed to December 10, 2021.
These are big movies, and so presumably Disney didn't want to take the streaming route … though I suppose that this could change if theaters remain empty into early next year. Still planned for theaters in November - though I wouldn't gamble on it - is the new James Bond movie, No Time To Die.