Published on: February 16, 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 28,317,703 total confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 498,203 deaths, and 18,356,625 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 109,735,851 confirmed coronavirus cases … 2,420,401 fatalities … and 84,299,843 reported recoveries. (Source.)
It seems certain that this week, less than a year after warnings about the pandemic began to be sounded, we're going to pass a half-million Covid-19-related deaths in the US. Who could've imagined such a thing in February 2020?
• The Washington Post reports this morning that "at least 38.8 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S. This includes more than 14.3 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 70.1 million doses have been distributed."
This means that 4.3 percent of the US population has been fully vaccinated, with 11.7 percent partially vaccinated.
• From the Wall Street Journal this morning:
"Newly reported Covid-19 cases in the U.S. fell to their lowest level in nearly four months over Presidents Day weekend, and daily reported deaths declined sharply from a recent spike.
"There were more than 52,000 new cases reported for Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, down from 64,938 a day earlier and 89,727 a week earlier … There were 65,455 people hospitalized in the U.S. on Monday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, the latest in more than a month of daily decreases."
• Axios reports that "CEOs - more trusted than government - want a larger role in what may be the biggest countrywide undertaking of our lifetimes: the mass rollout of coronavirus vaccines … A slew of big businesses are offering up the resources they have, including technical expertise and physical space. But there's no coordinated effort at the federal level to tap the full potential of the private sector’s muscle."
According to the story, "Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tells Axios there's an 'overwhelming desire' from businesses to help with the vaccine rollout.
""It extends from those already involved with logistics and production to retailers, financial services companies. They're all saying, 'What can we do to help get to the goal of getting everyone vaccinated?'"
• Axios reports that "the giant surge of coronavirus cases over the fall and winter hit white Americans disproportionately hard, narrowing the racial disparities in Covid deaths." However, "when age is factored in, Americans of color still have a significantly higher death rate than white Americans, meaning people of color are dying at younger ages."
At the same time, the story says, "Racial disparities have already appeared in the vaccination effort, with communities of color initially falling behind. If these disparities persist, particularly as new variants of the virus become more prevalent in the U.S., the gap between different racial groups' death rate will likely widen in the coming months."
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "last week, 21 retail chains and pharmacy networks started administering those doses, including CVS, Walgreens, Kroger and grocers in all 50 states. The government initially plans to give around a million doses a week directly to pharmacies."
Among the retailers administering the vaccine are CVS, Publix, Kroger, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, Costco, Albertsons, Hy-Vee, Meijer, H-E-B, and Winn-Dixie.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines for school districts that want to reopen their buildings for in-person learning, pointing to five key mitigation strategies - requiring masks, physical distancing, handwashing, maintaining clean facilities, and contract tracing - that are necessary, but not pointing to teacher vaccinations as being a necessary component.
CNN reports that "about 89% of children in the US live in a county considered a red zone with high levels of Covid-19 transmission under new school opening guidelines shared by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, according to a CNN analysis of federal data.
"Red, or 'high transmission,' communities are defined by the CDC as counties where there were at least 100 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people or a test positivity rate of at least 10% during the past seven days.
"When the CDC guidance was released on Friday, closer to 99% of children lived in red zones, according to CNN’s analysis. The CDC says school districts should re-assess weekly, noting that transmission levels will change over time. "
• The New York Times reports that "people with dementia had significantly greater risk of contracting the coronavirus, and they were much more likely to be hospitalized and die from it, than people without dementia, a new study of millions of medical records in the United States has found.
"Their risk could not be entirely explained by characteristics common to people with dementia that are known risk factors for Covid-19: old age, living in a nursing home and having conditions like obesity, asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. After researchers adjusted for those factors, Americans with dementia were still twice as likely to have gotten Covid-19 as of late last summer."
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"Pediatricians are warning that the coronavirus pandemic’s protracted disruption of in-person schooling, sports and other activities is leading to weight gain that could have long-lasting impacts on children’s health.
"Students are snacking more and exercising less, and nutritionists and doctors who study obesity worry the pandemic is putting children at greater risk for type-two diabetes and asthma, among other health concerns."
Not just kids. Oy.
• The New York Times reports that "doctors across the country have been seeing a striking increase in the number of young people with the condition … called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C. Even more worrisome, they say, is that more patients are now very sick than during the first wave of cases, which alarmed doctors and parents around the world last spring."
The Times writes that "the reasons are unclear. The surge follows the overall spike of Covid cases in the United States after the winter holiday season, and more cases may simply increase chances for severe disease to emerge. So far, there’s no evidence that recent coronavirus variants are responsible, and experts say it is too early to speculate about any impact of variants on the syndrome.
"The condition remains rare. The latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 2,060 cases in 48 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, including 30 deaths. The median age was 9, but infants to 20-year-olds have been afflicted. The data, which is complete only through mid-December, shows the rate of cases has been increasing since mid-October.
"While most young people, even those who became seriously ill, have survived and gone home in relatively healthy condition, doctors are uncertain whether any will experience lingering heart issues or other problems."
• And, because one pandemic isn't enough, Fox News reports that "Guinea, the West Africa country, announced Sunday that the Ebola virus has become an epidemic after the deaths of three people and hospitalizations of four others, a report said … The last outbreak ended up killing about 11,300. The country of 12 million, which is one of the world’s poorest, is in the process of erecting treatment centers to deal with the potential of an increase in patients. The outbreak has occurred in the southeast region of the country. Health officials there believe the outbreak started at a funeral."