Published on: January 8, 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, we now have had 22,137,009 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 374,197 deaths and 13,143,317 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 88,599,836 confirmed coronavirus cases, 1,908,642 fatalities, and 63,688,727 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• From the New York Times this morning:
"Thursday began with a warning, and it was soon borne out.
"'We believe things will get worse as we get into January,' Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease specialist, said in a radio interview at the start of the day.
"It didn’t take long for him to be proved right: Things immediately got worse.
"For the second day in a row, the United States set a record for daily reported deaths: at least 4,111. And public health officials recorded a new daily case record, too: at least 280,028 new infections."
There was some good news on the vaccine front, the Times writes: "In the third week of the drive, more people were reported to have received their initial shots than in the first two weeks combined. The government count rose by 470,000 from Tuesday to Wednesday, and then by another 612,000 from Wednesday to Thursday."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "hospitalizations in the U.S. were at 132,370 on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, down slightly from a day earlier after four record-high days in a row. A record 23,821 people were in intensive care units, the project reported."
• From the Washington Post this morning:
"The United States on Thursday shattered records for the number of coronavirus-related deaths on a single day, topping 4,000 fatalities for the first time. Experts worry that the new, more contagious strain of the virus that has already been detected in eight states could make matters worse.
"'We are in a race against time,' Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Washington Post. 'We need to increase our speed in which we act so that we don’t allow this virus to spread further and allow this variant to become the dominant one in circulation. The clock is ticking'."
• The Washington Post also writes that "people with no symptoms transmit more than half of all cases of the novel coronavirus, according to a model developed by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Their findings reinforce the importance of following the agency’s guidelines: Regardless of whether you feel ill, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay socially distant and get a coronavirus test. That advice has been a constant refrain in a pandemic responsible for more than 350,000 deaths in the United States.
"Fifty-nine percent of all transmission came from people without symptoms, under the model’s baseline scenario. That includes 35 percent of new cases from people who infect others before they show symptoms and 24 percent that come from people who never develop symptoms at all."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "Connecticut officials said Thursday a fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus has been found in two residents.
"State health officials said they detected the variant, first discovered in the U.K., in two people aged 15 to 25 who live in New Haven County. Both had traveled: one to Ireland and the other to New York state. Both developed symptoms three to four days after returning. The cases are unrelated, Gov. Ned Lamont’s office said.
Contact tracers have identified the residents’ close contacts."
The story notes that the variant also has been detected in Colorado, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.
• The Washington Post reports that "the human body typically retains a robust immune response to the coronavirus for at least eight months after an infection, and potentially much longer, researchers said in a study published in the journal Science. About 90 percent of the patients studied showed lingering, stable immunity, the study found."
• Reuters reports that "Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared to work against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and South Africa, according to a laboratory study conducted by the U.S. drugmaker.
"The not-yet peer reviewed study by Pfizer and scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch indicated the vaccine was effective in neutralizing virus with the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein."
• Reuters reports that "Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, said on Wednesday it is actively preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution to employees and has medical capabilities at its U.S. plants.
"Meatpacking workers were among the groups hit hardest by the new coronavirus last year, as U.S. slaughterhouses became hot spots for outbreaks in the spring, helping spread the virus around rural America.
"Smithfield, owned by China’s WH Group, is one of the first companies in the United States to say it is preparing to vaccinate workers, although it declined to provide details on its plans and said circumstances vary by state."
• If you were planning to come to New York to see "Mean Girls" on Broadway once the pandemic subsides, better make other plans.
The producers of the show announced that when Broadway shows begin to reopen, hopefully later this year, "Mean Girls" won't be among them.
The New York Times writes that "the 'Mean Girls' closing was prompted by the costs of keeping the production intact while theaters are dark. Broadway has been closed since last March, and it seems likely that most shows will not return until the fall or later … The show is the fourth Broadway closing prompted by the pandemic: Disney announced last spring that it would not reopen 'Frozen,' and the producers of two plays that had been in previews, Martin McDonagh’s 'Hangmen' and a revival of Edward Albee’s 'Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,' decided not to wait out the shutdown at all."
"Mean Girls" was profitable during its run: "It opened in 2018 and was a hit, recouping its $17 million capitalization costs and grossing $124 million over 834 performances."