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 United States, we've now had 14,314,265 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 279,867 deaths and 8,462,434 reported recoveries.

Globally, the numbers are these:  64,948,823 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1,501,535 fatalities, and 45,043,555 reported recoveries. (Source.)

•  NBC News reports that "the United States set three grim records on Wednesday, recording the highest number of daily deaths, new infections and hospitalizations since the pandemic began.

"The U.S. reported 2,777 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday alone, according to an NBC News tally. The country registered nearly 205,000 new cases of Covid-19 on the same day, a figure that comes just a month after the U.S. single-day record topped 100,000 cases for the first time.

"Meanwhile, more people than ever are hospitalized. The Covid Tracking Project reported that 100,000 people were hospitalized across the country."

These numbers make we want to pose two questions to the folks who think this is just like the regular flu, and that way too much of it is being made by the media (including MNB).

Is this freakin' serious enough for you yet?    And if not, exactly what will it take?

•  Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday about the coming winter months, "I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation."

However, the New York Times points out that he didn't stop there.  In fact, Redfield sounded a note of hope.

"It’s not a fait accompli," he said. "We’re not defenseless. The truth is that mitigation works. But it’s not going to work if half of us do what we need to do. Probably not even if three-quarters do."

The Times writes that there is a significant difference between the pandemic realities of the spring and what we are experiencing today:

"In April, the virus and the deaths were concentrated in New York and New England. Today, the pandemic’s toll is being felt across the country.

"Still more sobering: The April peak represented the worst moment of spring. It was followed by a decline in deaths as lockdowns were imposed and many Americans altered their behavior.

"And as staggering as it is, the death toll reported Wednesday appears likely only to worsen, experts say, as the delayed effects of Thanksgiving travel are felt. And many Americans are now weighing how to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s."

•  The Hill reports that Moncef Slaoui, who is running the federal government's Operation Warp Speed initiative, says that he hopes that 100 million people in the US can be given the vaccine by the end of February.

According to the story, "Slaoui said that number essentially represents all of the nation's front line health workers, the elderly and people with underlying conditions … he is basing the 100 million people estimate on the number of vaccines that could be available from Moderna and from Pfizer and BioNTech."

"Operation Warp Speed CEO Gen. Gustave Perna said the government plans to ship out 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine within 24 hours of it getting the green light from the Food and Drug Administration," The Hill reports.  "Officials plan to send 12.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine in the same period. 

"Perna noted that the initial allocations to states will be sent in separate shipments because the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses administered three weeks later, and the Moderna vaccine requires a second dose four weeks later.   Perna said giving states separate shipments will help make sure the limited storage capacity and capability isn't overwhelmed, especially with the deep-freeze requirements of the Pfizer vaccine. 

"Both Moderna and Pfizer have requested emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for their respective COVID-19 vaccines. The agency has scheduled a meeting for Dec. 10 to discuss Pfizer’s request for authorization and Moderna's for a week later. Authorization could occur days after the meetings. "

•  CNN reports that "the Department of Defense released the first images of a Covid-19 vaccination record card and vaccination kits Wednesday.

"Vaccination cards will be used as the 'simplest' way to keep track of Covid-19 shots, said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of the Immunization Action Coalition, which is supporting frontline workers who will administer Covid-19 vaccinations."

"Everyone will be issued a written card that they can put in their wallet that will tell them what they had and when their next dose is due," Moore said. "Let's do the simple, easy thing first. Everyone's going to get that."

•  As expected, the Washington Post reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued revised guidelines saying that "the standard 14-day coronavirus quarantines potentially can be shortened to 10 days or even seven … The move reflects the agency’s recognition that the two-week quarantine rule is onerous for many people and that most of the public health benefit from quarantining people exposed to the virus can be gained with a more flexible approach."

The Post writes:  "The CDC acknowledges that this new guidance involves a trade-off. The existing 14-day quarantine recommendation reflects the ability of the virus to incubate for a long period before symptoms appear. But lack of compliance - for example, among people who fear that they will lose a job, or two weeks of income, if they admit to being exposed - can undermine the public health benefit from that standard."

•  The Los Angeles Times reports that "San Francisco this week will announce more rollbacks to its reopening plan, including a possible quarantine order for travelers and reduced indoor capacity at businesses, as the coronavirus continues to pummel the state, city officials said Tuesday.

"During an online news conference, Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of public health, said shutdowns ordered during the past few weeks have failed to stem the pace of infections and warned the city may have a shortage of hospital beds by Christmas … San Francisco has an average of 140 new cases a day, four times the number of just one month ago."

•  Starbucks said this week that all of its stores will offer free coffee to all frontline responders for the month of December.

The qualifying list:  “doctors, nurses, public health workers, pharmacists, dispatchers, fire fighters, paramedics, EMTs, law enforcement officers, dentists and dental hygienists, mental health workers (therapist, psychologist, social worker, counselor), hospital staff such as janitor/housekeeping/security, military on active duty, contact tracers, vaccine and pharmaceutical researchers, pilots, flight attendants, TSA, and medical researchers.”

“It has been an extraordinarily difficult year, especially for the front-line responders who are serving our communities. We want to show our deep gratitude for those who support and protect us every day with a small gesture of kindness and a cup of coffee,” Virginia Tenpenny, Starbucks vice president of global social impact said in a statement.

•  From the New York Times:

"CVS has reached a deal with the federal government to give out a Covid-19 antibody treatment in patients’ homes and long-term care facilities, the pharmacy chain announced on Wednesday, providing a new way for certain high-risk patients to get a drug aimed at keeping them out of the hospital.

"The treatment, called bamlanivimab and developed by Eli Lilly, has been administered mainly at hospitals since it received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration less than a month ago. Since then, the federal government has distributed to state health departments nearly 170,000 doses of the treatment, though only some of those doses have been given to patients so far. The federal government has purchased 950,000 doses to last into January, including the doses that have already been distributed.

"The three-month pilot with CVS involves just 1,000 doses, enough to treat 1,000 Covid-19 patients. It’s not clear how much impact that will have as the virus is spreading rapidly and demand for treatments is surging."

•  From Sports Illustrated:

"Among the changes to daily life amid the coronavirus pandemic, sports teams have seen few to no fans at games for most of 2020.

"With several vaccine trials underway, there is hope that things will slowly return to normal in 2021. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has provided an update on when we could see full-capacity crowds return to games next year."

Fauci said that while live sporting events attended by big crowds will be "the last thing[s] that you're gonna see … it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable [with full sports stadiums]–if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don't think we're going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer."