Published on: January 28, 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've now had 26,166,423 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 439,521 deaths and 15,942,827 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 101,529,722 confirmed coronavirus cases, 2,186,606 resultant fatalities, and 73,441,147 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• The Washington Post reports that "at least 21.1 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S. This includes more than 4 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 47.2 million doses have been distributed."
• The Los Angeles Times reports that the International Air Transport Association is asking the World Health organization (WHO) to rule that "it’s safe for people to fly without quarantining once they’ve received a Covid-19 vaccine," saying that "acknowledgment of that principle from the WHO, a United Nations agency, is vital to the development of a proposed digital travel pass aimed at getting people moving again once infection rates ease."
The Times writes that "the aviation and travel industries have been appealing to governments and global institutions to work together on a unified way to ease passage across borders since the early months of the pandemic. A lack of consistency and a number of abrupt changes in policy have put off most people from making journeys, leaving many companies with bleak prospects."
Seems to me that a coordinated global approach to creating a viable travel pass makes a ton of sense for lots of reasons, and if such a WHO declaration helps the process along, that's a good thing. People have to understand that it isn't just getting a shot, though. My understanding is that if you're getting the two-shot vaccine, you get the first shot, then the second shot four weeks later, and then have to wait two weeks after that for the immunities to kick in. So it really is a six week process … plus, we have to hope that these same people keep wearing masks and washing their hands frequently. (Can we get an app for that?)
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"The U.S. saw further declines in the number of people hospitalized because of Covid-19, while newly reported cases hovered around 150,000 for the third day in a row. Hospitalizations, which totaled 107,444 as of Wednesday, have been on the decline since Jan. 12 when the figure was at 131,326, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The number of people in intensive care units also fell slightly to 20,497."
• The Journal also writes:
"As the number of new cases eases in parts of the country, some states have begun rolling back restrictions on businesses and everyday life.
"On Friday, the statewide risk level in North Dakota will be dropped to its lowest level, allowing for increased occupancy limits at bars, restaurants and other food-service establishments. Michigan, meanwhile, will allow indoor dining starting Feb. 1, as cases have dropped to levels last seen in October. Restaurants will be required to operate at below 25% normal capacity, and tables must be set at a minimum distance of six feet apart.
"Indoor dining at restaurants in New York City may also soon return. The state is considering a plan that would permit indoor dining at a capacity of 25%, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. A decision will come by the end of the week, he said, after consultation with local health officials and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio."
• The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is predicting that sales and US eating and drinking establishments will grow 10.2 percent in 2021 … which would be a significant turnaround from the 19.2 percent drop in sales that took place in 2020.
Considering we have no idea when we're going to emerge from the pandemic tunnel, this strikes me as being the very definition of betting on the come. I hope they're right, but I wouldn't bet the mortgage. I completely believe that the economy will surge at some point because of demand pent up during the pandemic, but the timing is a little iffy.
• From the Seattle Times:
"With better testing, new treatments and vaccines raising hopes for an eventual end to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bill Gates is mapping out a battle plan for the next time a dangerous new pathogen appears.
"In the annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Microsoft co-founder calls for billions of dollars in investments to develop a global alert system for emerging germs and build the capacity to respond quickly … While the cost may sound high, billions spent on infrastructure and technology would represent a huge savings compared to the estimated $28 trillion global toll of COVID-19 and its associated economic fallout, he said.
“We can’t afford to be caught flat-footed again,” Gates wrote. “To prevent the hardship of this last year from happening again, pandemic preparedness must be taken as seriously as we take the threat of war.”