Published on: January 5, 2021
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, here are the numbers: 21,353,051 confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus cases … 362,123 resultant deaths … and 12,736,512 reported recoveries.
Globally: 86,186,625 coronavirus cases … 1,862,862 fatalities … and 61,164,999 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"The U.S. reported fewer new Covid-19 infections than a day earlier, as hospitalizations again hit a record high.
"The nation logged more than 180,000 newly reported cases for Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, down from 210,479 a day earlier. The number of newly reported cases tends to be lower at the beginning of the week, as fewer people are tested over the weekend, but a gap in some states’ reporting on New Year’s Day led to a backlog in cases that has skewed national numbers in recent days."
• From the Washington Post:
"More than 128,000 people across the United States are currently hospitalized with covid-19 on Monday, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. That number is a record and represents an increase of 2,800 patients in a single day."
• The Wall Street Journal writes that "the U.S. is struggling to roll out enough vaccine doses to get ahead of the virus. In California - the hardest hit state, with more than 2.45 million cases, according to Johns Hopkins - Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that logistical hiccups in vaccine distribution meant the majority of doses sent to the state hadn’t been administered."
• The Wall Street Journal also reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday rejected "suggestions to cut the recommended dose of Covid-19 vaccines so more people could be inoculated. The federal health agency said suggestions, including from Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to the federal government's Operation Warp Speed coronavirus response program, to lower the doses, weren't supported by evidence and could put public health at risk.
"The two vaccines authorized for use in the U.S.—from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.—require two doses, given three or four weeks apart. Mr. Slaoui had suggested on Sunday that some people could be given two half doses of Moderna’s vaccine."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "British Prime Minister Boris Johnson began a national lockdown Monday, ordering the British population to stay home until mid-February amid spiraling infection rates caused by a new variant of the coronavirus.
"As of Monday evening, schools and nonessential shops are to shut across England and people have been told to only leave their homes if necessary.
"The imposition of a third national lockdown came after the government’s chief medical officers warned the more-contagious strain was spreading quickly across the country and that some hospitals risked being overwhelmed within three weeks if new restrictions weren’t put in place … There are now more Covid-19 patients in British hospitals than at the height of the pandemic in the spring."
• Reuters reports that a coalition of major US airlines is proposing that the federal government simultaneously implement "a global testing program requiring negative tests before most international air passengers return to the United States" and at the same time "rescind current entry restrictions on travelers from Europe, the United Kingdom and Brazil as soon as possible."
The group, Airlines for America, "represents American Airlines , United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other major carriers," Reuters writes.
The story says that the airlines support a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposal for global testing of people returning to the US, but the proposal "faces significant opposition at top levels of the administration."
No word on how the incoming administration might deal with the CDC recommendations after January 20.
• The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration has decided to pump $1.5 billion into the Farmers to Families Food Box program, which "has been a staple of food banks and food pantries throughout the pandemic" and "pays large food distributors to supply pre-packed boxes to nonprofits running food lines."
The move signifies a federal government reinvestment in a program that has distributed more than three million meals to hungry families around the country, but that ran out of money at the end of the year, forcing "the cancellation of weekly food drives across the country, leaving tens of thousands without a critical supply of food just before the holidays."
• From the New York Post:
The highly-contagious UK variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Saratoga Springs, marking the first known case in New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
"A 60-year-old man recently tested positive for the mutated COVID-19 strain, and is recovering, Cuomo said during an afternoon conference call. 'He appears to be on the mend,' said Cuomo.
"It’s believed that the patient, who was not identified by name, contracted the disease at a jewelry store in Saratoga Springs.
"Three other people in the store have also fallen ill, though it is not yet clear if they have the UK variant, Cuomo said.
"He had not traveled recently, suggesting that he contracted the strain from another yet-unidentified person within the community, Cuomo said."
• Meanwhile, CNBC reports, Cuomo "said he plans to propose a law that would make it a crime to sell or administer coronavirus vaccine shots to people who are trying to skip ahead in line.
"Providers in New York can already lose their license if they fraudulently administer vaccines, though the law would add criminal penalties if approved by the state legislature, he said. So far, health-care workers and people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are eligible for Covid-19 vaccines.
"'If there’s any fraud in the distribution - you’re letting people get ahead of other people, or friends or family, or they’re selling the vaccine - you’ll lose your license, but I do believe it should be criminal and I’m going to propose a law to that effect,' Cuomo said at a press briefing.
"The Democratic governor also pushed for the state’s hospitals to administer the shots faster, saying they could face fines up to $100,000 if they don’t administer their allocated doses by the end of this week."
• Axios reports on how "efforts to reopen America's public schools are running up against teacher unions who say they're more scared of Covid-19 than losing their jobs." In Chicago, the union "says some of its staff won't return for in-person class, and it's holding a teach-in today on the dangers of school reopening plans."
The story points out that "public health officials - including in Chicago - say schools can safely reopen for in-person instruction. They are pushing for reopening because of the toll that remote learning has taken on young students, particularly minority and poor children."
• The Indianapolis Star reports that "the NCAA and city of Indianapolis have finalized plans to hold the entire men's NCAA tournament here.
"What is an unprecedented move comes in response to unprecedented challenges. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of last year's tournament, has already caused significant disruption across college basketball. Games have been canceled or postponed, and several programs around the country have had to pause activity midseason because of the virus … Holding the tournament in one centralized location, the NCAA hopes, will make the logistics of doing so safely and smoothly more manageable."