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 US, there now have been 8,219,123 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 222,754 deaths and 5,320,386 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 39,229,001 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1,103,719 fatalities and 29,409,329 reported recoveries.

•  The Wall Street Journal points out that "new coronavirus cases hit their highest level since mid-August on Wednesday, a sign of a fall surge predicted by public-health officials.  For the eighth time since October began, newly reported cases nationally ticked above 50,000, fueled by simmering outbreaks in every region of the country."

But here's the problem, according to the Journal:  "Hospitalizations also have swelled across the U.S. in recent weeks, though deaths haven’t yet surged. Deaths often lag behind new cases and hospitalizations, given the duration of the disease. The seven-day average of daily deaths attributed to Covid-19 has been hovering around 700 for about three weeks, down from around 1,000 two months ago."

Now, it isn't all bad news, the Journal says, since while "the U.S. has more fatalities than any other country in the world—more than 217,600 since the pandemic began," it also is true that the US "doesn’t have the highest percentage of cases that are fatal. About 2.7% of reported cases in the U.S. have been fatal, according to data from Johns Hopkins. That figure has declined in recent months as treatments have improved and testing has expanded, allowing more mild and asymptomatic cases to be detected."

The Journal notes that there are a variety of reasons cited for the burgeoning number of coronavirus cases:  "The virus has spread to more rural counties and other communities, exposing vulnerable populations that hadn’t yet experienced it significantly and who are now reacting instead of taking steps to prevent the virus, public-health researchers said.

"Some people have grown tired of restrictions on their movements and might be taking more risks than they did in the spring, they said. Mixed and inconsistent messaging from federal and local officials over preventive measures has sowed confusion and complacency. Some local governments have eased restrictions on businesses and requirements to wear masks. Meanwhile, college students returned to campuses, leading to some spreading of the virus, and the onset of cooler weather has led many Americans indoors, where the virus is more transmittable, the public-health researchers said."

One fact remains:  "Without a vaccine or a therapeutic breakthrough, prevention tools are the best approach for controlling the spread. Precautions like wearing masks and maintaining distance help lower risk of transmission but don’t entirely eliminate it, especially without full compliance, according to health officials."

•  From Axios:

"The U.S. is headed solidly in the wrong direction — and at a dangerous time, as experts say the fall and winter will likely make the pandemic worse. They had hoped we could get cases under control before then, but that seems unrealistic … The number of new infections rose in 38 states, spanning every region of the country.

"Three states — Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota — saw their case counts rise by over 50%.

"The pace of new infections slowed down in only one state: Texas."

And, Axios goes on:  "Experts say the fall and winter will likely make things worse, as colder weather causes people to move their socializing indoors, where the virus can spread more easily. If those assumptions bear out, those increases will come on top of a caseload that's already too high."

•  From the New York Times:

"Remdesivir, the only antiviral drug authorized for treatment of Covid-19 in the United States, fails to prevent deaths among patients, according to a study of more than 11,000 people in 30 countries sponsored by the World Health Organization.

"The data, which were posted online on Thursday, have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal."

•  From the Seattle Times:

"The Seattle-area nursing home resident first tested positive for the novel coronavirus in early March. He spent more than 40 days in the hospital with fever, pneumonia and difficulty breathing before testing negative multiple times and being discharged.

"Then, nearly five months later, he got sick again with COVID-19.

"Now, genetic testing by a team of Seattle physicians and scientists has revealed that sexagenarian’s second bout of the illness caused by the coronavirus in July wasn’t a relapse but a new infection with a slightly different variant of the virus.

"The patient is only the third person in the United States — and one of about 20 worldwide — confirmed to have experienced such a double whammy."

•  The Washington Post reports that "Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris canceled her travel through this coming weekend after two people who were around her tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday night."

Harris, the junior US Senator from California, "tested negative for the virus Wednesday and Thursday, the campaign said.  Harris has not been in close contact recently with either communications director Liz Allen or the other person around her who tested positive, a flight attendant who is not a campaign staff member, an aide said.

"Hours later, the campaign said another person--one who flew on the same plane as former vice president Joe Biden this week--had also tested positive. Biden was never within 50 feet of this person, the campaign said, and the candidate’s doctor concluded there was no need for him to quarantine."

•  The Boston Globe reports that "as the pandemic stretches on, and more Boston-area restaurant operators stare down the long, cold winter months ahead, some are now taking cues from nature and going into hibernation. The choice to temporarily shut down is not a simple one, but for many, it has the benefit of at least being something concrete."

•  The Specialty Food Association (SFA) announced that the Winter Fancy Food Show, scheduled to take place in San Francisco from January 17-19, 2021, has been cancelled because of the pandemic and resulting travel restrictions and public health policy issues.