Published on: October 21, 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 US, there now have been 8,521,465 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 226,204 deaths and 5,546,675 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 41,094,667 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1,130,550 fatalities, and 30,656,153 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• The Washington Post reports on new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) numbers suggesting that "the novel coronavirus has caused about 285,000 more deaths in the United States between Feb. 1 and Sept. 16 than in an average year … The health agency said people ages 25 to 44 were particularly hit hard, with an 'excess death' rate shooting up 26.5 percent over that in past years. Racial and ethnic minority groups, including Black Americans and Latinos, were found to be among the hardest hit."
• From CNN:
"A leading health expert says US Covid-19 cases will begin to rapidly accelerate in a week as the country topped 60,000 new infections Tuesday -- triple what the daily average was back in June, when restrictions had begun to ease.
"The prediction comes after several state leaders reimposed some measures to help curb the spread of the virus, fueled by small gatherings increasingly moving indoors with the colder weather, as well as other factors such as college and school reopenings. The national seven-day case average has increased at least 18% since the previous week and is now a staggering 61% higher than what it was five weeks ago. And as multiple experts have warned, things will likely get worse before they get better."
The health expert cited by CNN is Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and he says that "it's going to be a difficult fall and winter. I think we're about two or three weeks behind Europe -- so we're about a week away from starting to enter a period where we're going to see a rapid acceleration in cases."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "the seven-day moving average of new cases, which smooths out irregularities in the data, was 58,397 on Monday, and the 14-day moving average was 53,970, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data. When the seven-day average is higher than the 14-day average, it suggests infections are increasing.
"The seven-day average has surpassed the 14-day average for 15 days, the longest it has done so since a 43-day stretch that ended July 26. Monday’s seven-day average was the highest since Aug. 4.
"Hospitalizations in the U.S. continue to rise as well. There were 39,230 people with the disease in hospitals as of Tuesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That is the most since Aug. 22 and the eighth consecutive daily increase."
• CNN reports that "in Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak warned of 'Covid fatigue' and said more restrictions could be on the way if residents don't help bring Covid-19 numbers down … Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday several regions of the state will see more restrictive mitigation standards go into effect by the end of the week … New Mexico is also implementing more measures to help slow the spread, state officials announced Tuesday."
In Washington State, the story says, "Gov Jay Inslee said the state was battling outbreaks on college campuses and 'significant increases in Covid-19 infections that have occurred particularly in congregate living areas, like Greek houses, and large social gatherings of students.' He announced new restrictions for campuses including limiting the number of residents sharing a sleeping area and requiring people in all common areas to wear a mask and remain socially distant."
• The Boston Globe reports on how the supermarket industry appears to have recovered from the product shortages that plagued it during the early days of the pandemic, but poses the question: "But with winter approaching, and the threat of a second surge of the virus looking more likely, are we on the verge of another period of shortages and panic buying?
"Not necessarily. This time, grocers, suppliers, and even consumers have the benefit of experience. And people in the industry say they’ve taken advantage of the time they’ve had to prepare for another onslaught.
"Retailers and wholesalers have been stockpiling items that would be most coveted if customers must retreat to their homes again, and they are hopeful that shoppers will be less likely to hoard supplies this time around — reducing the strain on the system."
The question that nobody really has the answer to is, what happens during the holidays? Right now, everybody is guessing … but I suspect that consumers may be less patient a second time around if they have to deal with shortages. If there is a shortage of needed products, there also may be a shortage of Christmas spirit.
• Amazon said yesterday that because of concerns about the health of its employees, people who want to work from home can continue to do so through at least 2021.
“We continue to prioritize the health of our employees and follow local government guidance,” an Amazon spokesperson. “Employees with work that can effectively be done from home can continue to do that work from home through June 30, 2021.”
CNBC writes that "Amazon follows in the footsteps of several tech companies that have extended their work from home policies until at least early 2021, including Apple, Facebook and Uber. Twitter has allowed employees to work from home 'forever' if they wish."
• The New York Times reports that "California health officials issued long-awaited guidance for reopening theme parks in the state on Tuesday, setting targets for when attractions like Disneyland Resort, in Anaheim, and Universal Studios Hollywood, in Los Angeles, can open their doors. For the big parks, it could be a long road: their counties must reach the least-restrictive 'yellow' tier of the state’s four-tier Covid-19 economic-reopening plan.
"In terms of coronavirus cases, Orange County, home to Disneyland, is currently in the 'red,' or second, tier and Los Angeles County, Universal Studios’ location, is currently in the most restrictive 'purple' tier. It could be months before either county meets the guidelines for the 'yellow' tier, which requires there be fewer than one case a day per 100,000 residents and a testing positivity rate of less than 2 percent. The parks have been closed since March."
The story also says that "when parks do reopen, they will have to implement a reservation system allowing guests to book visits ahead of time. They will also have to screen guests for symptoms and mandate masks everywhere inside the park, except when people are eating and drinking. Larger parks, like Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, will have to limit capacity to 25 percent."
Disney officials shot back describing the guidelines as "“arbitrary” and “unworkable.” DisneyWorld, in Florida, has been open for months and the company points to its ability to keep the park open while minimizing the impact on public health as being indicative of its ability to make it work.