Published on: October 14, 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, we now have 8,093,600 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 220,900 deaths and 5,227,279 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 38,411,580 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,091,625 fatalities and 28,877,124 reported recoveries.
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"U.S. hospitalizations are now at their highest level since Sept. 2, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project. As of Monday, there were 35,056 patients hospitalized across the country, more than 16% higher than the level a week earlier. While hospitalizations are rising, they are still lower than July’s daily highs of more than 59,000."
The story goes on: "The Northeast, which had an early surge of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, is once again seeing a rise in all three metrics. New Jersey last week reported more than 1,000 new cases for the first time since May. New York had its seventh straight day of more than 1,000 new cases.
"Connecticut, which doesn’t report cases on weekends, reported 1,339 cases Monday, up from 823 a week earlier. In Pennsylvania, the number of people in hospitals has risen to its highest level in more than two months.
"Several Midwest states continue to report elevated numbers of new cases. Illinois reported more than 2,700 new cases. Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin each reported more than 1,000 cases."
And: "Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson warned that high levels of hospitalizations in the state were straining the health-care system and urged residents via Twitter to 'work together to reduce our cases.'
The Journal notes that there is some good news: "Testing nationwide reached an all-time high over the past week, with over one million tests performed on four of the five last days. However, the average percentage of positive tests over the last seven days is also rising. The latest data shows an average of 5.1% of tests were positive. A week ago, the seven-day average was at 4.7% and the week prior, it was 4.6%, according to the Covid Tracking Project."
• From the New York Times:
"A government-sponsored clinical trial that is testing an antibody treatment for Covid-19 developed by the drugmaker Eli Lilly has been paused because of a “potential safety concern,” according to emails that government officials sent on Tuesday to researchers at testing sites. The company confirmed the pause … The Eli Lilly trial was designed to test the benefits of the antibody therapy on hundreds of people hospitalized with Covid-19, compared with a placebo. All of the study participants also received another experimental drug, remdesivir, which has become commonly used to treat coronavirus patients. It is unclear exactly what safety issues prompted the pause."
The Times writes that "the news comes just a day after Johnson & Johnson announced the pause of its coronavirus vaccine trial because of a sick volunteer, and a month after AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial was halted over concerns about two participants who had fallen ill after getting the company’s vaccine."
• From the New York Times:
"When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered offices around the United States in March, many companies told their employees that it would be only a short hiatus away from headquarters.
"Workers, they said, would be back in their cubicles within a matter of weeks. Weeks turned into September. Then September turned into January. And now, with the virus still surging in some parts of the country, a growing number of employers are delaying return-to-office dates once again, to the summer of 2021 at the earliest.
"Google was one of the first to announce that July 2021 was its return-to-office date. Uber, Slack and Airbnb soon jumped on the bandwagon. In the past week, Microsoft, Target, Ford Motor and The New York Times said they, too, had postponed the return of in-person work to next summer and acknowledged the inevitable: The pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon."
The Times continues: "Many more companies are expected to delay their return-to-office dates to keep workers safe. And workers said they were in no rush to go back, with 73 percent of U.S. employees fearing that being in their workplace could pose a risk to their personal health and safety, according to a study by Wakefield Research commissioned by Envoy, a workplace technology company.
"More companies are also saying that they will institute permanent work-from-home policies so employees do not ever have to come into the office again."
• The Associated Press reports that the National Football League, while saying it has no plans to move into a playing bubble in the way that the National Basketball Association did, and in the way that Major League Baseball currently is conducting its playoffs, it will "begin PCR testing for COVID-19 on game days starting this week, use of masks in walkthroughs are now mandatory and only play-callers will be permitted to wear face shields in lieu of masks or gaiters on the sideline … The updated protocols sent to teams Monday night also require anyone identified as a 'high risk' close contact to be isolated and not permitted to return to the team’s facility for at least five days."
The story quotes Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, as saying that "all options are on the table but warned there are several risks to moving into a bubble. He pointed out that other individuals such as service workers still have to go in and out of the bubble. He emphasized the infection can spread more rapidly if it gets inside. And, he stressed the human element, saying that being sequestered can cause an 'emotional' and 'behavioral health toll' that becomes a 'really significant stress point,' especially around the holidays."
• The New York Philharmonic said yesterday that its entire January-June 2021 season has been cancelled because of pandemic concerns.
“In the 178-year history of our institution, the cancellation of an entire season marks a historic first, and a dreadful one at that,” said Deborah Borda, president/CEO of the New York Philharmonic.
• Highly anticipated movies continue their migration from planned big screen runs to streaming services, with the latest being Coming 2 America, Eddie Murphy's sequel to his 1988 comedy. It was just sold by Paramount to Amazon Studios, which will launch it online in mid-December.
It is just the latest move by Amazon to take advantage of the consumer trend toward streaming that has been prompted by the pandemic. Others include the sequel to Borat, elaborately titled Borat: Gift of Pornographic Monkey to Vice Premiere Mikhael Pence to Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan, which streams later this month … Tom Clancy's Without Remorse, starring Michael B. Jordan … the much-anticipated One Night In Miami, directed by Regina King … and Aaron Sorkin’s Trial of the Chicago 7.
• Which is one of the reasons that, as the Wall Street Journal reports, AMC - the world's largest movie theater company - is saying that it "may run out of cash by year’s end if it doesn’t raise additional funds or get more people back to theaters following pandemic shutdowns that have disrupted businesses dependent on consumers gathering in public spaces."
The story notes that "movie-theater operators have been devastated this year as officials enforced restrictions against gatherings and people have avoided indoor crowds amid the pandemic. The sharp downturn in theater attendance has caused Hollywood studios to delay major movie releases and focus more on providing streaming entertainment to reach consumers at home, giving them less incentive to go to theaters."
Just last week, Regal owner Cineworld Group closed all its US and UK theaters indefinitely.