Published on: December 9, 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, we've now had 15,594,534 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, leading to 293,496 deaths and 9,088,387 reported recoveries.
Globally, we stand at 68,684,817 total coronavirus cases, 1,565,757 fatalities, and 47,587,282 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• From the Wall Street Journal this morning:
"Newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose back above 200,000 and hospitalizations due to Covid-19 hit a record for the third day in a row.
"The U.S. reported more than 215,000 new cases for Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the first time since Dec. 5 that the daily tally has topped 200,000.
"New cases in California surpassed 20,000 for the sixth consecutive day, while Virginia reported its second-highest daily tally and infections in Idaho topped 2,000 in a single day for the first time since the pandemic began.
"Other states took steps to restrict social interactions in an effort to curb the virus’s spread.
"In Washington state on Tuesday, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee extended broad limits on gatherings, restaurants and other indoor activities until Jan. 4. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said that beginning Friday he would institute a new, modified stay-at-home order, requiring business closures and people to be at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m."
• Gallup is out with a new survey saying that "with two COVID-19 vaccines now in the final stages of approval for use in the U.S., 63% of Americans say they are willing to be immunized against the disease. The public's willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccination approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has nearly rebounded to the previous high of 66% after hitting a 50% low point in September."
As in all things these days, reactions are polarized. Gallup writes:
"Majorities across most key demographic subgroups now say they would get inoculated should the FDA approve a COVID-19 vaccine, but some U.S. adults are more inclined to do so than others. Democrats' willingness to be vaccinated plunged 25 points in September to 53% but mostly rebounded in October, and has risen to 75% now. Political independents' readiness was also shaken in September and is now restored to its prior level, at 61%. Meanwhile, the percentage of Republicans saying they would get the vaccine, currently 50%, has held steady, although it is up from 37% in August.
"Women were initially about as likely as men to say they would get the vaccine, but they drastically soured on the idea in September, and they are now less likely than men to express readiness. Similarly, non-White adults were among the most willing to be vaccinated in July, but they now lag behind White adults. At the same time, college graduates remain more likely than those without college degrees to say they would be immunized, but less so than in July."
I have a simple standard for whether I trust and will take the vaccine: If Dr. Fauci takes it and says it is safe, I'm all in.
• From the New York Times this morning:
"In El Paso, hospitals reported that just 13 of 400 intensive care beds were not occupied last week. In Fargo, N.D., there were just three. In Albuquerque, there were zero.
"More than a third of Americans live in areas where hospitals are running critically short of intensive care beds, federal data show, revealing a newly detailed picture of the nation’s hospital crisis during the deadliest week of the Covid-19 epidemic.
"Hospitals serving more than 100 million Americans reported having fewer than 15 percent of intensive care beds still available as of last week, according to a Times analysis of data reported by hospitals and released by the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Many areas are even worse off: One in 10 Americans — across a large swath of the Midwest, South and Southwest — lives in an area where intensive care beds are either completely full, or fewer than 5 percent of beds are available. At these levels, experts say maintaining existing standards of care for the sickest patients may be difficult or impossible."
• The Boston Globe reports that "Rhode Island now leads the country with an average daily case rate of 122.9 per 100,000 people, according to data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s among the highest numbers in the world, according to The Financial Times. By comparison, neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts have positive rates of 74.2 and 65.6 per 100,000, respectively."
• From the Los Angeles Times:
"Prospects for reopening campuses this school year dimmed Monday for hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles students with the hard shutdown of all in-person tutoring and special services amid a dangerous coronavirus surge — and officials declining to estimate when children could return to classrooms.
"The decision by the nation’s second-largest school district stands to intensify an impassioned debate over the safety of operating schools that divides parents, educators and experts."
• Bloomberg reports that "more than 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently or long-term across the country as the industry grapples with the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. And more pain is ahead, with a potential shutdown of indoor dining in New York City just as the temperatures drop.
"The nationwide tally - representing one in six U.S. eateries - is among the findings of a survey released Monday by the National Restaurant Association. The figure was up from about 100,000 shutdowns in a September survey. The Washington-based trade group shared the latest results with Congressional leaders in an attempt to secure financial support for a sector rocked by rising costs and falling sales."
I am really impressed by the supermarkets around the country that are doing their best to throw lifelines to their local restaurants, finding ways to sell their wares, while at the same time hiring people for their foodservice operations who used to work in restaurants. Supermarkets - at least, those that see themselves as being in the food business (which isn't every one of them, to be sure) - understand that they benefit when communities have thriving food cultures, and restaurants are a real and innovative part of that.
• The Verge reports that "American Airlines is about to start offering at-home COVID-19 tests to domestic fliers in order to help them meet various state travel restriction requirements, the company announced Tuesday. The airline is partnering with direct-to-consumer home testing company LetsGetChecked, which will sell the tests for $129 on top of the cost of travel.
"The at-home tests help travelers check off one of the most common travel restrictions that states have implemented, which is a negative test result either before departure or upon arrival. It will also help customers get reliable access to testing, which is still hit-or-miss in many parts of the United States."
• The Columbus Dispatch reports that "for the first time in more than a century, Ohio State's football team will not play Michigan.
"The 2020 edition of The Game has been canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Wolverines. Michigan called off last week's game against Maryland because of it and the COVID numbers have not improved enough to play this Saturday in Columbus."
• The New York Times reports this morning on the latest shortages being dealt with by consumers: they can't find antacids.
"People searching online or in stores for over-the-counter tummy soothers are finding that they can’t easily buy antacid medications like Tums, Pepcid and its generic version, famotidine, in parts of the country," the Times writes. "A few weeks ago, Wegmans Food Markets took the step of limiting shoppers to two packets of famotidine products per trip.
"During a pandemic that has seen bursts of hoarding, this may be the most unexpected.
"Americans are stressed. They’re concerned about the rising number of coronavirus cases. They worry about their jobs. Remote learning is a nightmare, and grocery shopping is no walk in the park. Not to mention the elections. And now, here come the holidays. The result is that some people are dealing with 'Pandemic Stomach,' acid-churning episodes that are increasing demand for over-the-counter and prescription antacids."
• The Washington Post has a story about one industry that has boomed during the pandemic: the plastic surgery business.
The Post writes:
"Call it a Zoom boom. Or an opportune moment. Plastic surgeons across the globe are anecdotally reporting an unprecedented number of requests for procedures. 'It is unknown if this is pent-up demand from the months of shutdown when patients were not able to get their procedures, or increased interest because of other potential factors,' said Adam Ross, spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, adding that the organization would not have estimates for the number of procedures done this year until spring 2021."
The Post goes on: "Many workers are spending more time on Zoom, which isn’t the most flattering of mirrors. They’re also realizing they won’t have to return to an office anytime soon, which will make recovery, and keeping surgery private, easier. Those who choose facial surgery can cover postoperative swelling with a mask when in public. Add to that the backlog of patients whose procedures were postponed during shutdowns, and the cosmetic surgeon’s clinic or operating room has become a very coveted place to be."