Published on: November 6, 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, there now have been 9,926,637 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 241,026 deaths and 6,341,604 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 49,142,851 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,241,678 fatalities and 35,050,605 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• From the Wall Street Journal this morning:
"The U.S. recorded another record day of newly reported coronavirus infections Thursday, a nearly 20% increase from a day earlier … . It is the third day in a week the U.S. has set a daily record. Last Friday's tally was 99,321.
"With 53,322 people hospitalized, a number not seen since early August, hospitals in the South and Midwest are scrambling to accommodate a surge of new patients. Face masks are once again in short supply in many parts of the country.
"The number of people dying of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is increasing again as well. More than 1,200 deaths were reported on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins data, a figure not seen since mid-September following sharp increase in the summer."
The story goes on: "States in the Midwest are being hit particularly hard—with many reporting record-high infection counts on Thursday—including Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska and North Dakota. Several others have reported record-high daily figures in recent days.
"Overall, 13 states posted record-high numbers on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins."
• Some more context from the Washington Post:
"No region of the country is being spared from the onslaught: The 20 states reporting record single-day increases on Thursday span New England, the Midwest, the Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest. Those witnessing the most dramatic increases over the past week include Maine, Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota and Nebraska.
"But nowhere looked more bleak than North Dakota, which broke records for the number of new infections and fatalities reported in a single day, as well as the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients. Adjusted for its population, North Dakota has reported more new coronavirus-related deaths over the past week than any other state, and its seven-day average for both new cases and fatalities also reached new highs on Thursday."
• And, from the New York Times:
"In a single day across America, the coronavirus churned through homes, workplaces, hospitals, schools and laboratories. From dawn to nightfall on Thursday, the worst day of the pandemic in terms of new cases, snapshots offered glimpses of the virus’s persistent spread and devastating fallout: In Cleveland, lab workers began another grinding day of processing coronavirus tests. In Minot, N.D., a hospital scrambled to find space for the crush of coronavirus patients who came through the doors. In Unionville, Conn., grieving relatives finalized plans for the funeral of a family’s 98-year-old matriarch, who died from the virus.
"And in Missouri, officials interrupted the day with a jarring announcement: A person who tested positive for the coronavirus last week disregarded orders to isolate and worked as an election judge in suburban St. Louis on Tuesday. The person, whom St. Charles County officials did not identify, has since died.
"On Thursday morning, governors began what is now a familiar routine, pleading in front of news cameras for Americans to do their part to stop the spread of the coronavirus."
• The New York Times reports on a new study from Columbia University in New York suggesting that "children infected with the coronavirus produce weaker antibodies and fewer types of them than adults do, suggesting they clear their infection much faster."
According to the story, "Other studies have suggested that an overly strong immune response may be to blame in people who get severely ill or die from Covid-19. A weaker immune response in children may paradoxically indicate that they vanquish the virus before it has had a chance to wreak havoc in the body, and may help explain why children are mostly spared severe symptoms of Covid, the disease caused by the coronavirus. It may also show why they are less likely to spread the virus to others."
So a strong immunity system is bad? Then again, I had to re-take biology in summer school after my sophomore year at Iona Prep, so I'm basically incapable of understanding this stuff.
• Some international pandemic news from the Washington Post:
"In London, more than 100 people were arrested Thursday night during a demonstration against England’s month-long lockdown, which took effect earlier in the day. The London Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement that the majority of arrests were for breaches of the new lockdown rules, which include a 10 p.m. curfew and a ban on large gatherings.
"In Denmark, where a coronavirus mutation has started spreading from minks to humans, authorities ordered the closure of most businesses in seven affected communities on Thursday and told residents not to venture outside the municipal boundaries, according to Politiken. All 15 million minks in the country will be killed by the country’s military and police."
"Strict stay-at-home orders appeared to be paying off in Ireland, which last month became the first European country to enter a second national lockdown. Health officials said Thursday that case numbers appear to be declining rapidly, and the country is on track to lift some of the harshest restrictions on Dec. 1."
Maybe the Irish once again will show us how to save civilization?
• While it seems to be a basic fact of life that many of us are drinking more during the pandemic, the trend "has done little to buoy turbulent wine, beer and spirits stocks," the Wall Street Journal writes.
The reason: "Without bar and restaurant sales, revenue in the wine industry won’t recover until a full reopening. Jon Moramarco, a wine analyst and industry veteran, projects that this year, on-premise wine sales in the U.S. will be about 50% to 60% of last year’s levels.
"Sales to bars and restaurants make up a large portion of the companies’ sales as the establishments tend to buy large volumes of alcohol on a recurring basis. In the U.S., about 20% of alcohol sales are done via on-premise sales, said Brandy Rand, chief operating officer for the Americas at IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. Without that volume being sold regularly and the number of restaurants and bars reduced for the long term, distributors are taking a hit."
• Vermont, apparently, has to decide if it is going to be all downhill from here.
The Wall Street Journal reports that "Vermont’s economy depends on reopening its crucial tourist industry this winter, even though that will mean letting in skiers from states still ravaged by the virus.
"The state remains an outlier in its success combating the virus, though cases have increased in recent days. Vermont’s Covid-19 death toll remains at 58, the lowest of any state. It hasn’t recorded a death from the disease since Aug. 6, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
"How to reopen safely is a challenge consuming government officials, ski resort managers and the scores of other businesses whose livelihoods depend on winter tourism."
The story points out that ski resorts are going to have to reconfigure virtually every part of their operations to make sure that people are both safe and protected. And, they have to "prepare customers for the state’s stringent health protocols. Similar to resorts in other states, ski areas will require masks indoors and outdoors, and ban sharing of lift seats with strangers."
• Variety reports that the pandemic has forced Disney to cancel the winter theatrical releases - Ryan Reynolds’ action comedy Free Guy and Death on the Nile, the follow-up to Kenneth Branagh’s hit The Murder on the Orient Express.
According toi the story, "The delays are another blow to movie theaters, who have been struggling to sell tickets with the dearth of new films. As it stands, Wonder Woman 1984, the comic book sequel starring Gal Gadot, is the only potential blockbuster still scheduled for 2020. The superhero tentpole will premiere on Christmas Day."
I wouldn't bet on it.
• Some heartening perspective from the Washington Post theatre critic, Peter Marks, who points out that "more than 400 years ago, as epidemics raged in London, forcing theaters and other public places to shutter, William Shakespeare was busy crafting stories of kings going mad and thanes coveting power. He was, scholars believe, in the midst of an astonishingly potent creative period, one that produced some of the most extraordinary tragedies ever written — 'King Lear' and 'Macbeth' among them."
The question, Marks suggests, is whether history can repeat itself.
"In perilous, isolating times, we hunger with a special zeal for great work by artists who can capture the experience for us," he writes, adding:
"We who eagerly await the next big thing from one of the great imaginations of our time will have to contain our impatience. We have to sustain ourselves with the belief that the great work has begun. I like to imagine that some writer or composer right now is taking time to reread the plays of Henrik Ibsen — maybe 'An Enemy of the People,' his timeless drama of a doctor who is ostracized for warning his community about a pestilence in the water supply. And who knows? Maybe when we all can gather again, we’ll assemble in a big concert hall for the premiere of 'Fauci, the Opera'."
Sign me up for tickets. After all, in the immortal words of Shakespeare, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…"