Published on: December 15, 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, the latest figures show that there now have been 16,942,980 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 308,091 deaths and 9,871,915 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 73,270,606 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,630,029 resultant fatalities and 51,413,632 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• From the New York Times:
"The first shots were given in the American mass vaccination campaign on Monday, opening a new chapter in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more people in the United States — over 300,000 — than in any other country and has taken a particularly devastating toll on people of color.
"Shortly after 9 a.m., the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was administered in Queens, the first known inoculation since the vaccine was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration late last week. It was a hopeful step for New York State, which the virus has scarred profoundly, leaving more than 35,000 people dead and severely weakening the economy.
"While the first dose of the vaccine was administered in New York, people across the nation began receiving it on Monday as well. There was plenty of applause and some tears as news cameras captured the mundane rituals of an injection, underscoring the pent-up hope that this was the first step in getting past the pandemic."
• From the Associated Press:
" Hundreds more U.S. hospitals will begin vaccinating their workers Tuesday as federal health officials review a second COVID-19 shot needed to boost the nation’s largest vaccination campaign.
"Packed in dry ice to stay at ultra-frozen temperatures, shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are set to arrive at 400 additional hospitals and other distribution sites, one day after the nation’s death toll surpassed a staggering 300,000. The first 3 million shots are being strictly rationed to front-line health workers and elder-care patients, with hundreds of millions more shots needed over the coming months to protect most Americans."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "a second Covid-19 vaccine is likely to gain emergency-use authorization later this week, a process kicking off with the release of data Tuesday on the effectiveness of the shot developed by Moderna Inc.
"The data that the Food and Drug Administration is releasing will include Moderna’s 30,000-person clinical study of its vaccine, along with the FDA’s own analysis. The data will then be reviewed Thursday by an outside panel of medical and scientific advisers.
"Moderna’s vaccine will be the first of several that are expected to augment U.S. vaccine supplies after rollout of the first coronavirus shot, from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, to Americans this week."
• Axios reports that "the share of Americans who say they'll get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available has doubled since September … This increased comfort is being driven by people 65 and older. But it's happening across both parties, and all ages and racial groups.
"Trust in pharmaceutical companies rose to 43%, up from 35% in September."
• The New York Times also writes:
"The surge in deaths reflects how much faster Americans have spread the virus to one another since late September, when the number of cases identified daily had fallen to below 40,000. A range of factors — including financial pressure to return to workplaces, the politicization of mask-wearing and a collective surrender to the desire for social contact — has since driven new cases to more than 200,000 per day. Preventable deaths on a staggering scale, many experts said, were sure to follow … Three hundred thousand is more than the number of Americans who died fighting in World War II. It is roughly half the number of total cancer deaths expected this year. It is the population of Pittsburgh.
"But the worst is yet to come. The first 100,000 U.S. deaths were confirmed by May 27; it then took four months for the nation to log another 100,000 deaths. The latest 100,000 deaths occurred over a span of about three months. The next 100,000 Americans to die, many public health experts believe, may do so in closer to one month."
• One central challenge in the vaccine program, the New York Times reports, is persuading older Americans , who "are pivotal to the success of the vaccination campaign now rolling out across the United States … In some states, nearly 40 percent of deaths from Covid-19 have occurred among residents of nursing homes. That’s why an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine be given first to the nearly three million residents of long-term-care homes."
• The Boston Globe reports that "mayors in some of the region’s biggest cities — including Boston, Brockton, Lynn, Newton, and Somerville — have agreed to close down gyms, museums, movie theaters, and other aspects of their battered economies as rising infection rates force officials to roll back their tentative steps toward normalcy.
"In the coming days, more cities and towns are expected to join the effort to put in place a modified version of Phase 2, Step 2 of the state’s reopening plan, a three-week pause that will begin in some communities as soon as Wednesday. The move made it clear that some municipal leaders do not think the state is doing enough to control the spread of COVID-19 … The businesses that will be required to close for at least three weeks in the cities include indoor fitness centers and health clubs, movie theaters, museums, aquariums, sightseeing and other organized tours, indoor historical spaces and sites, and arcades, among other places. While mayors have generally agreed to return to Phase 2, exact details and timing are still being worked out city by city."
• The Washington Post reports that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a designated medical advisor to the incoming Biden administration, "expects to be vaccinated publicly as early as this week. It's not just because the country's top infectious-disease doctor is still seeing patients: He believes his on-camera inoculation could help boost Americans' confidence that the vaccine is safe to take.
"When I am vaccinated, that will be public so people can see that I'm vaccinating myself, and I encourage others to get vaccinated," Fauci tells the Post.
He's right. I've always said that this is the sign I'm looking for - if Fauci trusts the vaccine, I trust the vaccine.