retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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…

•  Here are the numbers in the US:  23,374,560 total confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus … 389,790 deaths … and 13,820,516 reported recoveries.

Globally:  92,102,570 confirmed coronavirus cases … 1,972,408 fatalities … and 65,951,898 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"The U.S. reported its highest daily number of deaths from Covid-19, and newly reported cases again exceeded 200,000.

"More than 4,300 people died from the disease in the U.S. on Tuesday—a single-day record, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s total death toll surpassed 380,000.

"More than 215,000 new cases were reported for Tuesday, the eight consecutive day above 200,000, according to Johns Hopkins … The stretch of elevated daily caseloads is weighing on the nation’s hospitals. More than 131,000 people were hospitalized for Covid-19 as of Tuesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, slightly higher than the previous day’s tally. The number of patients in intensive care units rose to 23,881, the 14th day in a row above 23,000."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"The Trump administration is releasing second doses of coronavirus vaccines that had been held back for booster shots and is urging states to administer the vaccine to anyone over age 65 and people with pre-existing health conditions, a shift from its earlier guidance to give priority to doses for health-care workers … According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25.4 million doses of vaccine have been distributed, but only 8.9 million Americans have received a shot … The decision could help increase the number of people who receive the vaccine. But it also raises the risk of not having reserves to provide booster shots and could strain some states that lack the staffing or infrastructure to meet potential demand."

•  The New York Times reports that "Johnson & Johnson expects to release critical results from its Covid-19 vaccine trial in as little as two weeks — a potential boon in the effort to protect Americans from the coronavirus — but most likely won’t be able to provide as many doses this spring as it promised the federal government because of unanticipated manufacturing delays.

"If the vaccine can strongly protect people against Covid-19, as some outside scientists expect, it would offer big advantages over the two vaccines authorized in the United States. Unlike those products, which require two doses, Johnson & Johnson’s could need just one, greatly simplifying logistics for local health departments and clinics struggling to get shots in arms. What’s more, its vaccine can stay stable in a refrigerator for months, whereas the others have to be frozen.

"But the encouraging prospect of a third effective vaccine is tempered by apparent lags in the company’s production. In the company’s $1 billion contract signed with the federal government in August, Johnson & Johnson pledged to have 12 million doses of its vaccine ready by the end of February, ramping up to a total of 100 million doses by the end of June.

Federal officials have been told that the company has fallen as much as two months behind the original production schedule and won’t catch up until the end of April, when it was supposed to have delivered more than 60 million doses."

•  The New York Times reports that "before boarding their flights, all international passengers headed to the United States will first need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test, according to a new federal policy going into effect on Jan. 26 … The new policy requires all air passengers, regardless of vaccination status, to get a test for current infection within the three days before their flight to the United States departs, and to provide written documentation of their test results or proof of having recovered from Covid-19.

"Proof of immunization will not be sufficient, because the vaccines have only been shown to prevent serious illness, said Jason McDonald, a spokesman for the C.D.C. Vaccinated people may still become infected, in theory, and transmit the virus on a flight."

•  From MarketWatch:

"U.S. bars and restaurants got crushed again in December after the biggest coronavirus surge yet across the country.

"Eating and drinking establishments lost 372,000 jobs last month, marking the first decline since April when they laid off a whopping 5.4 million people."

The story goes on:  "Restaurants and other businesses in the broader category of leisure and hospitality — such as hotels, theaters, casinos and theme parks — have suffered the most during the pandemic.

"The restaurant industry, for example, is one of the largest employers in the country and had 12.3 million workers before the coronavirus began in March. That doesn’t even include several million food-service workers at hotels, hospitals and the like."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that Zoom Video Communications has "filed papers Tuesday to sell $1.5 billion worth of common stock, its first offering since going public in April 2019 … Zoom’s videoconferencing business is still booming, in large part because of Covid-19, but investors are already grappling with what post-pandemic life could mean for the company. The once-highflying stock is now 40% off its mid-October peak. And while still richly valued at around 30 times forward sales, it is no longer the most premium play among cloud stocks. At least a dozen now carry higher multiples relative to projected sales.

"But Zoom is still valued at close to $100 billion, a level that software companies don’t typically reach until they have established multiple lines of business. So the company still faces some pressure to show it is no one trick pony."

What this suggests, analysts say, is that Zoom is likely to be looking for acquisitions that can supplement and expand its business model, keeping the company's business model relevant for a post-pandemic world.

•  Another casualty of the pandemic:  the CNN Airport Network, which for three decades has played newscasts in dozens of US airports.

The company said that the company is shutting down the business because of a "steep decline" in the number of travelers because of Covid-19.

Management also acknowledged that most travelers don't need a broadcast network to get their news because of the easy accessibility of smart phones and other mobile devices.

•  The New York Post reports that "New York will turn Citi Field into a 24/7 'mega' coronavirus vaccination site by the end of January in an effort to vaccinate thousands of residents daily, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

"NYC Health and Hospitals will operate the site, home to the New York Mets, with the aim of giving between 5,000 and 7,000 shots a day, de Blasio said in a joint announcement with Mets owner Steve Cohen."

As a Mets fan, may I suggest that the first vaccines be given to Francisco Lindor, James McCann, Pete Alonso, and Jacob deGrom?  Please?