Published on: September 30, 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 7,406,729 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 210,797 deaths and 4,649,521 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 33,878,383 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,013,233 fatalities and 25,175,064 reported recoveries.
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"In the Midwest, rising coronavirus cases are a growing concern, as the weather turns colder and more activities move indoors.
"Rates of Covid-19 have increased across Wisconsin, including in rural areas, said Laura D. Cassidy, Professor and Director of Epidemiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Rates were particularly high in the young adult population at the end of summer, she said. Wisconsin reported more than 2,000 new cases for Tuesday and the seven-day average stood at 2,255 cases, according to the state’s Department of Health Services."
The Journal goes on:
"Federal and state health authorities warned about the threat posed when younger people are infected with the new coronavirus, and recommended universities and colleges strengthen measures to limit transmission. Young people tend to be at lower risk of having a severe case of Covid-19, but they can infect older people they come into contact with, public-health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote in two separate studies."
• From the Columbus Dispatch:
"In normal times, Gov. Mike DeWine would be inclined to oppose a bill passed by the Ohio General Assembly that would deprive local governments of another aspect of their local control and home-rule rights.
"But these are not normal times. With Ohio in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republican governor is ready to sign a bill headed to his desk that would forbid Ohio communities from regulating single-use plastics such as grocery bags.
"DeWine typically respects local communities' home rule, but the pandemic raises health questions about banning plastic bags in favor of reusable bags and containers that are more likely to spread the virus, said DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney."
• The Financial Times reports that "the Spanish government is planning new national coronavirus rules that will impose tougher restrictions on Madrid, after days of confrontation over how to respond to the upsurge in cases that has hit the capital harder than any other region in Europe. The central government and the regional administration have been at loggerheads over imposing further controls on Madrid…the government will on Wednesday propose new rules to restrict people's movements and gatherings in urban areas with high levels of infection and hospitalisations, according to criteria to be uniformly applied across Spain."
According to the story, "The move is likely to translate into the imminent imposition of controls on virtually all of the capital as well as on other hard-hit cities throughout the country."
• Axios reports that the federal government, hoping that the cruise ship industry "can sail in a safe and responsible manner and that the companies assume the burden of dealing with any possible outbreaks," is ending a no-sail order on the industry, effective October 31. The date chosen is the same as the one that the industry itself had chosen for a self-imposed moratorium on new trips.
However, Axios also notes that Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would've preferred to extend the order into next year, but was overruled by the federal coronavirus task force.
• NBC News reports that "in the hopes of winning back passenger confidence, Tampa International Airport will be the first airport in the nation to offer voluntary Covid-19 testing for all incoming and outgoing flyers.
"The airport has set up testing sites within its main terminal and while the sites officially open on Thursday, some passengers have already begun taking the two tests available for purchase as part of a soft opening.
"Before boarding or after landing, travelers can get a $57 antigen test with an 88 percent accuracy that gives results within 15 minutes, or a $125 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test that has 95 percent accuracy but takes 48 hours to deliver results."
• The New York Times has the sad story of Chad Dorrill, a 19-year-old college student at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., a young man described an athlete who was living off campus and taking classes remotely, who nonetheless got sick from coronavirus-related complications and passed away on Monday night.
In this case, the coronavirus attacked his brain, not his respiratory system, as is more common. It is believed that Dorrill had an undiagnosed case of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which was triggered by Covid-19.
"Although the coronavirus targets the lungs foremost, it also attacks the kidneys, liver and blood vessels, and a significant number of patients report neurological symptoms, including headaches, confusion and delirium," the Times writes. "Although colleges and universities have become hot spots in the pandemic, young, healthy people generally have been at lower risk for developing severe forms of Covid-19. Only a few deaths among American college students have been linked to the virus, including a football player at California University of Pennsylvania."
But, the story says, "A New York Times database tracking the virus on college campuses has recorded at least 130,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, mostly this fall, and about 70 confirmed deaths, mostly in the spring among college employees.
Some might argue that this is not a Covid-19 death, because there was an underlying condition. I would not be one of those people - most people are able to recover from Guillain-Barré syndrome. And this was a young, relatively healthy person who never would have died if not for the coronavirus.
• The Washington Post reports that "the only U.S. airline of the Big Three that are still committed to distancing seat assignments on flights, Delta will block seats on flights through Jan. 6, 2021. The airline announced in August that the current commitment means it 'will block the selection of middle seats in Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin'."
American and United have made no such commitment.
Smaller airlines that currently, at least, are blocking seats include Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue, and Hawaiian.
Other airlines not blocking seats include Allegiant, Frontier, Spirit, and Sun Country.
• Variety reports that Disney is laying off 28,000 US employees, two-thirds of them part-timers, "due to the pandemic’s impact on Disneyland and Walt Disney World … Disneyland has remain shuttered since mid-March. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., which also closed in March, reopened in mid-July with increased health and safety measures as well as reduced visitor capacity."
Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro, in a letter to employees, called the decision "heartbreaking" but “the only feasible option we have."
• From ESPN:
"The Tennessee Titans have closed their facilities until Saturday after three players and five team personnel members tested positive for the coronavirus, the NFL announced Tuesday.
"The three players -- starting nose tackle DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson -- have been placed on the Reserve/COVID 19 list.
"While no official decision has been made about the Titans' game Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Nashville, the NFL wants and intends to have that game played as scheduled, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
"One of the contingency plans to allow for additional testing and contact tracing would be to move the game to Monday night, a source told ESPN."
The Wall Street Journal writes that "the situation will be the first rigorous probe of the NFL’s coronavirus protocols and a window into whether the virus’s spread can be stymied in a sport that’s inherently incompatible with social distancing.
"The NFL spent its summer in unprecedented negotiations with the NFLPA to hammer out both the economics of playing during the pandemic and policies to try to pull off the season. Those included: daily testing of players and critical staffers, overhauled facilities to encourage social distancing, and the implementation of location-tracking devices to allow for contact tracing."