Published on: November 4, 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 9,694,176 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 238,656 deaths and 6,237,271 reported recoveries.
Globally, the numbers stand at 47,929,034 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1,221,889 fatalities and 34,401,296 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• From the Wall Street Journal this morning:
"The U.S. reported its second-highest count of daily new Covid-19 cases on record and hospitalizations reached their highest levels since early August … States including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Idaho, New Mexico and Maine logged record-high daily tallies Tuesday."
According to the Journal, "The nation’s seven-day moving average of newly reported cases, which helps smooth out irregularities in the data, rose to 86,363 as of Tuesday, the latest in a series of record highs. The 14-day moving average was 79,124. When the seven-day average is higher than the 14-day average, as it has been since Oct. 5, it suggests cases are rising."
• From the New York Times:
"The Northeast held back the coronavirus tide this summer after enduring the worst of America’s catastrophic first wave in the spring. But now states like Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut have all reported records for new daily cases in the past week."
Last month, the Times writes, "it became apparent that many Northeastern states had won only a temporary reprieve. A second wave of infections had come, forcing state and local officials to reinstate restrictions on businesses, schools and mass gatherings.
Connecticut has been averaging over 800 new cases per day, approaching its April peak of over 1,000.
"Maine is well above its May peak with a seven-day average of 88 new cases per day as of Tuesday, when the state set a record with 127 new cases.
"Rhode Island, with fewer people than Maine, has been averaging over 400 new cases per day, above its spring peak."
Still, the New England numbers remain much lower than those in states like North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The Times also writes that "on Monday, a judge in Connecticut ruled against a conservative group’s emergency request to block Gov. Ned Lamont’s requirement that students wear masks in the classroom. 'There is no emergency danger to children from wearing masks in school,' the judge wrote, adding, 'Indeed, there is very little evidence of harm at all and a wide ranging medical consensus that it is safe'."
Speaking as the father of a teacher who is with students every day in Connecticut, I'm glad the judge ruled this way. Masks on kids help to keep their teachers and other students safe. Not only that, they promote the notion of selflessness - we wear masks to protect others as a demonstration of patriotism as opposed to self-interest.
• The Los Angeles Times reports that "California is no longer the state with the highest number of coronavirus cases, as Texas officially surpassed the overall case count despite having 10 million fewer residents … The Lone Star State’s leapfrog illustrates both the magnitude to which COVID-19 cases are surging there, and the extent to which California — so far — has escaped the significant spikes striking many other parts of the United States."
• Reuters reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cautioning "clinical laboratory staff and healthcare providers that false positive results can occur with COVID-19 antigen tests … The U.S. agency said false positive results may occur when users do not follow the instructions for the use of antigen tests for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2."
The other problem, Reuters writes, is that communities and institutions trying to stave off a second wave of Covid-19 "are turning to faster, cheaper but less accurate tests to avoid the delays and shortages that have plagued efforts to diagnose and trace those infected quickly."
• The Financial Times reports that "the virus that causes Covid-19 was present in New York City weeks before the first confirmed case of the disease, infecting more than 1.7m New Yorkers and killing them at a rate 10 times greater than flu, a new research paper has shown. Researchers have discovered antibodies to the virus in samples from February as part of a study of more than 10,000 plasma samples conducted at Mount Sinai, the New York-based hospital system, and published in a peer-reviewed paper in the science journal Nature on Tuesday."
FT notes that "New York — whose initial response to the virus was hampered by a lack of access to tests — identified its first confirmed case on March 1. But the study suggested it could have been circulating in early February."
• The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Park MGM hotel on the Strip there "will close at noon Mondays and reopen at noon Thursdays. Its casino, pool, restaurants, amenities and the NoMad hotel within Park MGM will remain open throughout the week."
The closure is expected to remain in place through the end of the year.
According to the story, "The new operating hours come as the Strip property faces low midweek occupancy rates and the absence of major meetings, conventions and events during the slower holiday season."
The Las Vegas Review-Journal notes that "other casino operators have announced midweek hotel closures amid the pandemic, including Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp."
• CNN reports that "US cruise lines have canceled sailings through at least the end of the year because of new safety guidelines related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday announced a new framework for resuming sailings. The CDC technically lifted a ban on sailings to and from US ports, but it raised concerns about the safety of resuming sailings while cases of Covid-19 increase around the globe."
The CNN story notes that "cruises worldwide were essentially halted in March following the outbreak of the disease. US cruise lines had been set to resume sailings as of December 1. The Cruise Lines International Association, the industry trade group, Monday issued a statement that they will work with the CDC to resume sailings as soon as possible."
• From the New York Times:
"The blueprint for France’s second national lockdown, which started Friday, sounded straightforward enough: Shutter restaurants, bookstores and other “nonessential” businesses, but let supermarkets, electronics chains and online retailers like Amazon keep operating so consumers can work and shelter at home.
"Instead, the measures have ignited a nationwide backlash. Small businesses are revolting against what they say is unfair competition from dominant retailers — especially Amazon — that continue to sell items the shopkeepers can’t. Politicians and trade groups have joined the outcry, forcing President Emmanuel Macron’s government to scramble to come up with a new game plan.
"On Tuesday, the government announced its solution: Supermarkets such as the retail giant Carrefour were given until Wednesday morning to drape giant plastic tarps over items considered nonessential, including books, clothes, toys, flowers and even dishes, to put them off-limits to consumers during the monthlong lockdown. Since smaller stores can’t sell such items, the thinking goes, big stores shouldn’t be allowed to, either."
• It may seem counterintuitive, but the BBC has a story this morning about how "independent shops have been 'more agile' and better at surviving Covid-19 than chain stores."
According to the story, "Small independent firms on the High Street suffered a net decline of 1,833 stores in the first half of 2020, according to research by the Local Data Company (LDC) and accountancy firm PwC. That was less than a third of the 6,001 chain stores lost, the LDC said."
The BBC writes that "Lucy Stainton, head of retail and strategic partnerships at the LDC, said it had been 'an immensely challenging few months for the retail and hospitality sector'.
"She said the independent market had fared better as those businesses had been 'more agile, bringing in new product lines and offering food deliveries'. They also had a smaller cost base to cover during periods of little or no trade and had been able to take advantage of government support schemes.
"'However, as we continue through the year with various local lockdowns and restrictions, life will not get any easier for operators,' she added."
• Fox News reports that in the UK, Burger King actually is suggesting that its customers should patronize the competition.
The fast feeder used its Twitter feed this week to suggest that people order from the likes of McDonald's - as well as KFC, Taco Bell and Five Guys - as a way of supporting the fast food sector, which has been hard hit by the pandemic and now is enduring a second national lockdown as the UK tries to slow down the spread of the pandemic.
• The Washington Post reports that the National Football League "continued to grapple" with the coronavirus, as Denver Broncos front office executives John Elway and Joe Ellis both tested positive for Covid-19, "and the Dallas Cowboys placed quarterback Andy Dalton on their covid-19 reserve list."
The Post adds that the NFL also "announced several new game-day measures, including a renewed call for mask-wearing by players and additional distancing provisions on the sideline, in reaction to the positive test results by Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers players from Sunday’s game-day testing … The NFL told teams in a memo Tuesday that it continues to 'strongly recommend' that players wear masks while on the sideline during games. Coaches and team staffers are required to wear masks while on the sideline, but that requirement does not extend to players except in certain cities under applicable state and local guidelines. The NFL said Tuesday that players are required to wear masks for any interactions between teams before and after games."
The Post also reports that "Wisconsin’s football game Saturday against Purdue has been canceled as the Badgers continue to deal with a coronavirus outbreak among the team’s players, coaches and staff members. It’s the second cancellation for Wisconsin this season after it played its opener against Illinois on Oct. 23."