Published on: February 18, 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 28,453,526 total cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 502,544 deaths, and 18,596,497 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 110,506,240 total coronavirus cases … 2,442,742 resultant fatalities … and 85,404,402 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• The Washington Post reports that "at least 41.4 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S. This includes more than 15.7 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 72.4 million doses have been distributed."
• Axios reports that "the U.S. averaged roughly 82,000 new cases per day over the past week — a 24% drop from the week before. Cases have been falling at about that pace for weeks … This is the first time since early November that the U.S. has averaged fewer than 100,000 cases per day … Hospitalizations were down by 25%, and average daily deaths fell by about 5%."
The story suggests that there probably is a combination of factors contributing to the improving numbers, including more responsible personal behavior that could be keyed to the availability of - and greater receptiveness to - vaccines.
Of course, the improvement may not be sustained. Coronavirus variants could throw a monkey wrench into the numbers. In addition, "The bitter cold and ongoing power outages in Texas could force people to huddle together indoors for their own safety, which in turn could lead to new coronavirus outbreaks."
But for the moment, at least, things seem to be headed in the right direction.
• The daily assessment from the Wall Street Journal:
"Newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. remained under 80,000 for the fourth day in a row, while hospitalizations fell to their lowest level since Nov. 10 … Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 in the U.S. continued to decline. As of Wednesday, there were 63,398 people in hospitals because of the disease, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The number of Covid-19 patients requiring treatment in intensive care units also fell, to 13,103, the sixth consecutive day the total has been below 15,000, according to the Covid Tracking Project."
The Journal also reports that that the federal government plans to "pump $1.6 billion into ramping up Covid-19 testing and sequencing the virus," which presumably would give public health officials more weapons in their battle against this pandemic.
• The Washington Post reports that "the two coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna appear to be highly effective against the more transmissible variant of the virus first detected in Britain, according to new reports in the New England Journal of Medicine, in a potential boost to vaccination efforts around the globe.
"The vaccines, however, showed a decreased ability to neutralize the strain now dominant in South Africa, worrying some researchers and prompting Pfizer and BioNTech to announce they were taking necessary steps to develop a booster shot or updated vaccine."
• Kroger Health yesterday announced a "new vaccine scheduling tool, making it easy and efficient to book COVID-19 vaccine appointments online.
"The new tool can manage more than 250,000 requests daily and will reflect the amount of vaccine doses confirmed within Kroger’s system while allowing visitors to check vaccine eligibility and create appointments as availability of the vaccine increases. Customers will also have the ability to book appointments for both their first and second dose at the same time. "
Kroger said that the rollout of the platform "reflects the company’s commitment to the health and safety of its associates, customers and communities and follows the company’s three-pronged pandemic health response: testing, vaccine administration and supportive care services."
• From this morning's New York Times:
"Life expectancy in the United States fell by a full year in the first six months of 2020, the federal government reported on Thursday, the largest drop since World War II and a grim measure of the deadly consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Life expectancy - the average number of years that a newborn is expected to live - is the most basic measure of the health of a population, and the stark decline over such a short period is highly unusual and a signal of deep distress. The drop comes after a series of troubling smaller declines driven largely by a surge in drug overdose deaths. A fragile recovery over the past two years has now been wiped out."
The Times also notes that the numbers reflect "a deepening of racial and ethnic disparities: Life expectancy of the Black population declined by 2.7 years in the first half of 2020, after 20 years of gains. The gap between Black and white Americans, which had been narrowing, is now at six years, the widest since 1998."
The Times makes the point that as the pandemic eases, life expectancy numbers can be expected to go up … though it also is possible that persistent socioeconomic issues exacerbated by the pandemic could lead to things like growing numbers of drug deaths. And so, Covid-19's repercussions may be felt for years after the last vaccination has been administered.