Published on: December 22, 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 18,473,716 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 326,772 deaths and 10,802,496 reported recoveries.
Globally, here are the numbers: 77,808,174 confirmed coronavirus cases … 1,711,294 fatalities … and 54,696,037 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• ShopRite announced yesterday that "it has joined a partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure Americans have access to the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.
"The Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care (LTC) Program for COVID-19 Vaccination will provide COVID-19 vaccine coverage to pharmacies across the United States, including select ShopRite pharmacies. Under the federal program, HHS and CDC will work with select ShopRite Pharmacy locations to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines in the communities that ShopRite stores serve."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "the nation’s drugstores and groceries are racing to hire thousands of pharmacists and technicians to administer Covid-19 vaccines to the masses.
"Pharmacies big and small were laying off pharmacists as recently as summer, as the profession’s outlook grew dim. Now some of those same pharmacies and supermarkets are making public pleas, reaching out to retired workers and offering signing bonuses. Several retail pharmacy chains, including CVS Health Corp. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., have agreed to work with the U.S. government to serve as Covid-19 vaccination sites."
• CNN reports that "the White House is considering requiring travelers from the United Kingdom to present proof of a negative coronavirus test before arriving in the United States … The discussions come amid the discovery of a new variant of coronavirus discovered in the UK and as a slew of countries have suspended travel. US public health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said they do not believe the situation currently warrants suspending travel from the UK."
The story notes that "three airlines have already agreed to enforce a similar arrangement with New York for flights arriving in that state."
• From CNN:
"Pfizer and Moderna are testing their coronavirus vaccines to see if they work against the new mutated version of the virus that's recently been found in the United Kingdom and other countries, according to company statements.
"'Based on the data to date, we expect that the Moderna vaccine-induced immunity would be protective against the variants recently described in the UK; we will be performing additional tests in the coming weeks to confirm this expectation,' according to the Moderna statement.
"Pfizer said it is now 'generating data' on how well blood samples from people immunized with its vaccine 'may be able to neutralize the new strain from the UK.'
"The novel coronavirus has mutated before, and both companies say they've found that their vaccines worked against other variations of the virus."
• The Seattle Times reports that in Washington State, "Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday announced new travel restrictions for people arriving from the United Kingdom, South Africa and other nations where a new variant of the novel coronavirus has been reported.
"Early estimates indicate that the new mutation of the virus, while not more deadly or vaccine resistant, spreads faster and more easily than prior strains. There is not yet evidence of this new strain of the virus in the United States, but Inslee said it was crucial to act early, 'before the horse is out of the barn.'
"Inslee’s new proclamation requires anyone arriving in Washington from those countries within the last 14 days to quarantine for 14 days — and the restriction applies to those who have recently arrived. It also urges those people to get tested for the virus. The quarantine is mandatory and legally enforceable, but the state is not likely to take many enforcement measures, Inslee said."
• From the Washington Post:
"BioNTech said Tuesday that its coronavirus vaccine will likely be effective against the new variant identified in Britain, but that a new version could be developed within six weeks if necessary.
"Whether regulators would be willing to quickly approve a slightly-modified version of the vaccine that has been cleared for distribution in the United States, Britain and European Union is another story, CEO Ugur Sahin told reporters at a news conference. But from a technical perspective, tweaking the vaccine co-developed with Pfizer would simply be a matter of replacing one mutation with another while the 'messenger' molecule remains the same."
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"The pandemic is reshaping the way Americans care for their elderly, prompting family decisions to avoid nursing homes and keep loved ones in their own homes for rehabilitation and other care.
"Americans have long relied on institutions to care for the frailest seniors. The U.S. has the largest number of nursing-home residents in the world. But families and some doctors have been reluctant to send patients to such facilities, fearing infection and isolation in places ravaged by Covid-19, which has caused more than 115,000 deaths linked to U.S. long-term-care institutions.
"The drop-off has persisted since spring, including at times when the virus’s spread was subdued. In the summer, when many hospitals were performing near-normal levels of the kinds of procedures that often result in nursing-home stays, referrals to nursing homes remained down.
"Occupancy in U.S. nursing homes is down by 15%, or more than 195,000 residents, since the end of 2019, driven both by deaths and by the fall in admissions."
I've got a couple of years before I have to worry about getting moved to a nursing home, but I have to say that there never has anything about the experience that seemed the slightest bit desirable - and the pandemic has just made it even less so. Which I did not think possible.
Me, when I think about the ideal way to get old, I think of this lyric…
"Now he lives in the islands...Fishes the pylons...And drinks his green label each day...He's writing his memoirs...And losing his hearing...But he don't care what most people say…"
• The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Cliff House there, a landmark restaurant that has been operating for more than 150 years, has fallen victim to the pandemic (though a lease squabble with the National Park Service, which owns the land on which it is situated, didn't help).
Cliff House will close at the end of the year, with the current operators planning to auction off memorabilia. It had closed for indoor dining in March, and was unable to make a take-out business work.
The Chronicle says that the restaurant's location, on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, makes upkeep of the facility expensive, and that the costs to maintain it while closed are high. The costs of rehabilitating it after a long period of closure may be prohibitive, the owners say.
I don't remember the food being all that great, but I vividly remember than in 1973, when I went to California for the first time, my Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Tom (who lived in Livermore) took me there because of its spectacular views. Then, maybe 25 years later when I took Mrs. Content Guy and our three kids to California on a vacation, that's where Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Tom took us all, for the same reason.
I mention this because it is important to understand that as all these institutions close, it is not just businesses that vanish. It also is the ability to revisit memories and traditions, which strikes me as almost incalculably sad.