retail 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 7,637,066 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 214,615 deaths, and 4,849,454 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 35,432,909 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1,042,289 resultant fatalities, and 26,643,410 reported recoveries.

•  There are a lot of high-profile names among those cases at the moment:  President Donald Trump (who at this hour remains hospitalized and is being aggressively treated for Covid-19), First Lady Melania Trump, Sen.Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Sen. Mike Lee from Utah, Sen. Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, Notre Dame University President John Jenkins, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, Trump aide Hope Hicks, and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

•  From the Washington Post:

"Coronavirus cases have risen in 33 states and Puerto Rico since late August, and at least a dozen states have reported rising hospitalizations in recent days, according to data analyzed by the Washington Post.

"The coronavirus map shows flare-ups coast to coast and from the Canadian to the Mexican border. Brooklyn is once again dealing with a spike in cases, and the state of New York on Friday reported its highest one-day case count since May 28.

"New Jersey and Delaware have experienced rising numbers, as has Texas, which just recently endured a midsummer surge. Wisconsin, a critical swing state in the presidential election, has been hammered. It had logged record highs in case counts for 20 straight days as of Thursday, and recorded more than 17,000 new confirmed infections in a single week."

The Post goes on:

"'I’m concerned we are going into the fall and ultimately the winter season, when the weather changes, [and] we are stuck at this baseline of 40,000 new infections every day,' Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview before news broke about the president’s infection … Fauci and other infectious-disease experts say a cold-weather surge is not inevitable. They urge people to adhere to simple public health guidelines that are effective in limiting transmission — wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowds, interacting with people outside rather than inside if possible, and frequent hand-washing."

•  From the Boston Globe:

"The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients is steadily increasing across Massachusetts as health care leaders dig in for what they suspect will be a long winter of illness and unease.

"Since late August, when the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients across Massachusetts hit a low, the caseloads are up 41 percent, according to Sunday’s data from the state’s Department of Public Health. The steepest increases have come in the past two weeks … The rise in the number of infected patients is a far cry from the spring surge. Yet it is increasingly apparent among several hospitals in so-called red zones — communities determined by state health officials to have an elevated risk of coronavirus infections."

•  The New York Times reports that "Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sunday that he intended to “rewind” the reopening in nine neighborhoods in New York City that have had a testing positivity rate of more than 3 percent over the last seven days.

"That means the closure of nonessential businesses, public and private schools and day care centers in those neighborhoods, which are in Brooklyn and Queens. Many of them have large populations of Orthodox Jews, and the virus has been spreading rapidly in those communities in recent weeks … In total, the mayor’s plan would affect only 20 of the 146 ZIP codes in the city. Still, the move reflects the growing fear of a second wave of the virus, and marks the first major reversal in the city’s reopening since it was hit hard by the outbreak in March."

•  One of the results of the pandemic and the recession it helped to create:  "tens of millions of Americans who have turned to a local food bank for help after becoming newly food insecure," the Washington Post writes, adding, "About 10 percent of American adults, 22.3 million, reported they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat within the past week, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse Survey fielded between Aug. 19 and 31. That is up from 18 million before March 13."

Here's the bigger problem, according to the Post:  "Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks, projects a 6 billion to 8 billion meal shortfall in the next 12 months, a deficit that may be magnified with federal food assistance programs set to expire in the coming weeks and months. The Feeding America analysis estimates the total need for charitable food over the next year will reach 17 billion pounds, more than three times last year’s distribution."

•  The Wall Street Journal offers an elegy for the salad bar, which along with hot bars has become a "casualty of the pandemic" because of concerns about safety and health.

"To those who always sniffed at the self-serve station, it should have been tossed long ago, and merits no eulogy," the Journal writes.  "Salad-and-hot bars snobs find them unappetizing, their open-air fixings exposed to coughs and picked up with shared utensils, containers topped with sneeze-guards splattered with ranch dressing.

"But to devotees, the banishment of buffet bars signifies the closing of a cherished chapter in childhood memories. Salad bars, mirages of healthful eating, provided free choice for kids. Affection for the set-up often carried into adulthood."

•  James Bond may have been able to defeat Ernst Stavro Blofeld in numerous movies, but he apparently is having a lot more trouble with Covid-19.

No Time To Die, the 25th film in the James Bond series, has seen its release postponed yet again, to April 2, 2021.

The film, featuring Daniel Craig in his fifth and final outing as 007, originally was slated to open this past April, ands then was pushed to November 20 because of the pandemic.

Variety writes that "back in March, No Time to Die was the first major tentpole to shift its release date before the global health crisis caused by coronavirus could even be classified as a pandemic."

•  The postponement of the release of No Time To Die was in many ways the final nail in the coffin of this year's fall and winter movie season, as Cineworld Group, which owns the Regal chain of movie theaters in the US, the second-largest multiplex chain here, has decided to indefinitely close all of its US operations.

The move affects a total of 663 theaters, 40,000 employees in the US and 5,000 employees in the UK.

There has been a "cascade" of movie postponements over the past six months, the story says, and the delay of the new Bond film made it clear that things were not going to get better anytime soon, especially since in some communities movie theaters have not been allowed to reopen since being shuttered earlier this year.

"After witnessing moviegoers’ subdued interest in Tenet, Warner Bros. said it was moving Wonder Woman 1984 to Christmas Day, from October," the Journal writes.  "Walt Disney Co. quickly followed suit, shifting release dates on 10 titles, including bumping its Marvel spinoff Black Widow by six months."

The folks at Cineworld have been criticizing the studios for postponing their movie openings, saying that they could provide a safe environment for patrons.  The problem is that most patrons don't believe it.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  In any given year, I would go to the movies dozens of times - way more than the average American (46 percent of whom go to the movies once or less a year), and I have no interest at the moment in going to a movie theater.  If you can't get me into a theater, then you have a real problem.

•  The New England Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs football game, originally scheduled to be played yesterday, now is slated to be played tonight.  It was postponed after Patriots' quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for the coronavirus.

The game only will be played if all the players on both teams test negative for the virus.  So for, reports say, only Newton has tested positive.

•  From the New York Times:

"For more than a century, Rio de Janeiro’s carnival has been an irrepressible force, unstoppable by wars, disease, labor strikes or political repression.

"Raucous celebrations took over city streets despite the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, during both World Wars and through Brazil’s military dictatorship. Glitter flew, hips swayed and drummers pounded in 2008, despite a dengue outbreak that sickened more than 200,000 in the state.

"Even in 2014, when trash collectors struck, the revelry continued amid the filth … But now, amid the pandemic, the official carnival parade has been suspended, indefinitely. Rio is reeling."

According to the story, "The organizers of the parade decided, for the first time since 1932, when Rio’s samba parade became official, to suspend it, depriving the city of an important source of revenue and its citizens of performances that often deliver skewering political commentary.

"The heads of the city’s leading samba organizations found that without a vaccine, conditions would not be safe."