Published on: November 17, 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 11,540,461 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 252,684 resulting deaths and 7,021,101 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 55,446,791 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,334,296 fatalities and 38,584,824 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"The number of newly reported Covid-19 cases in the U.S. increased drastically from a day earlier, and the number of those hospitalized also rose, hitting another record … The number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations as of Monday … jumped, to 73,014, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That number has stayed above 61,000 for the past week, hitting a record every day but one. Before Nov. 10, the U.S. hadn’t reported more than 60,000 hospitalizations in a day since the start of the pandemic.
"The number of people with Covid-19 in intensive care units increased from a day earlier to 14,313, according to Covid Tracking’s data, a number not seen since late April, when the U.S. was seeing its first surge of cases.
"At least 10 states logged record numbers of newly reported infections for Monday, including Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Connecticut and Vermont, according to Johns Hopkins data, and numerous others have hit records in the past few days."
• NBC News reports on a new report issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association saying that "more than 1 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with Covid-19 … The new numbers also reflect the largest one-week increase in pediatric Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began. Last week alone, nearly 112,000 children were diagnosed. Pediatricians believe the true number of children infected with the virus is much higher, because the illness is often mild in kids and may go undetected."
Children may not suffer the same symptoms and severity of illness as adults, and they may not transmit the disease to the same degree. But the fact that so many kids have it may speak to the lack of seriousness that their families are bringing to the situation.
• Politico reports that "California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered widespread closures of indoor operations as the state faces its fastest surge in cases since the Covid-19 pandemic began, pulling what he called the 'emergency brake' on 94 percent of residents. Newsom said he was compelled to act by a case surge that is 'simply without precedent in California’s pandemic history'."
The story notes that "California’s daily cases have doubled in the past 10 days … That has led Newsom to accelerate the stay-at-home process, ensuring 41 of California's 58 counties will have to shut churches, indoor dining and gyms until the state deems them safe for operation. That includes most of the state's heavily populated counties, including most of the San Francisco Bay Area that previously had forestalled the same coronavirus spread seen elsewhere."
• From the Washington Post:
"Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a statewide mask mandate on Monday, months after dismissing such orders as 'feel-good' measures with little impact. Coronavirus infections in the state have doubled over the past month, and the number of hospitalized patients reached a new high on Monday."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "doctors who have been treating coronavirus patients from the pandemic’s earliest days in the U.S. said they are now better equipped to face a new rise in hospitalizations, with evidence on drugs that work to combat Covid-19 symptoms, research on treatments, and their own patient experiences through the months. The virus’s resurgence across the country is testing whether what they have learned so far will lead to shorter hospital stays and fewer deaths."
• CNBC reports that "Walmart beginning Saturday is resuming monitoring and counting the number of customers entering its stores, to make sure it doesn’t exceed capacity limits, as coronavirus cases surge at record rates across the country.
"Dating back to April, Walmart has been restricting the number of people in its big-box stores to not exceed five customers per every roughly 1,000 square feet, or about 20% of a store’s capacity. Those levels can also vary based on local mandates, the company said.
"For a period of time, however, the biggest retailer in the United States had stopped physically counting people as they came inside and left."
The move, CNBC reports, "comes as America continues to push new Covid records. More than 68,500 are hospitalized with Covid-19 across the country, more than at any other point during the pandemic, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, which is run by journalists at The Atlantic."
• The Washington Post reports on how, in some markets where restrictions have been put in place to slow down the coronavirus pandemic, some businesses are fighting back.
"Movie theaters in New York City are demanding the right to reopen," the Post writes. "Restaurateurs in Massachusetts are trying to serve more customers at night. And top retailers are targeting store limits across the country, hoping to boost shopping — and profits — as the holidays approach.
"Even as the coronavirus ravages the United States, a wide array of tourism, hospitality, restaurant and retail groups have fought to preserve their ability to operate anyway, seeking to stave off shutdowns and some other restrictions that public health experts see as essential for bringing the nation’s deadly contagion under control."
The story points out that "the stalemate over federal coronavirus aid has fueled some of the resistance nationwide toward another round of coronavirus-related shutdowns. In Oregon, for example, a broad coalition representing local gyms, restaurants, hotels, wineries and other businesses pointed to the loss of enhanced federal unemployment and small business assistance as it urged Democratic Gov. Kate Brown against adopting 'any future business closures or curtailed operations'."
However, "Brown on Friday imposed a two-week halt on everything from office buildings to zoos in an attempt to bring the state’s outbreak back under control."
The story goes on: "The arrival of the lucrative holiday season has added even more urgency to some of the lobbying efforts. More than half of Americans say they aren’t planning any holiday travel this year, according to a poll conducted by the U.S. Travel Association. More than a quarter of Americans say they expect to spend less on gifts over the coming weeks, according to a survey conducted by Gallup … The downturn threatens to deliver another blow to some retailers that have already experienced significant revenue shortfalls this year. The potential for additional sky-high losses appears to have emboldened the industry to look more skeptically — and fight more aggressively — against new or heightened restrictions viewed as onerous for some retailers."
I am sympathetic. These folks are looking for ways to stay in business. I'm just not sure that they're well-served if their patrons end up sick. Or dead.
• Fast Company reports on interviews that it conducted with scientists who reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for how families should approach the Thanksgiving holidays - mostly by mitigating risks for in-person gatherings - and concluded that "these official guidelines are too lax in that they do not issue a sterner warning to cancel in-person Thanksgiving altogether."
The reason for the lenient approach: concerns that national Covid-19 fatigue would lead people to ignore any stricter suggestions for how to deal with the holidays, even if it means getting sick.
There is some precedent for a tighter approach: Fast Company writes that "Canada celebrated its Thanksgiving in early October. Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s calls to cancel in-person gatherings to curb the spread of the coronavirus, celebrations went on, and led to now-documented outbreaks. The experience of our northern neighbor, which has significantly lower COVID-19 cases, could serve as a warning for how Americans treat the event on November 26."
• From Axios:
"Thanksgiving will be a big test for colleges with students on campus … Some schools, including the University of South Carolina, Syracuse University and Emory University, plan to end in-person instruction ahead of the holiday, while others are asking students not to go home … Health officials fear indoor gatherings and traveling will worsen the spread of COVID-19 nationwide. If students do go home, experts recommend self-isolation, coronavirus tests and flu shots."
• The Washington Post reports on how, despite a Washington State ban on weddings larger than 30 people, "a couple in rural Ritzville, Wash., held their own ceremony — and brought 10 times that number of revelers to their party.
"Health officials in Washington said Monday that more than 300 people attended the wedding, providing a case lesson in why the restrictions were originally put in place. Two separate outbreaks have now been fueled by at least 17 guests who have since tested positive for the virus, officials said - with more new cases from the event 'being added daily'."
• ESPN reports that "due to challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic, the entire 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament will be played in one location, the NCAA announced Monday."
That location is likely to be Indianapolis, the story says, as negotiations continue.
"The decision comes after NCAA officials met to consider a variety of contingency plans," ESPN writes. "The move means that 13 sites across the country will no longer host a preliminary round of the NCAA tournament."