business 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…

•  In the United States, there now have been a total of 29,696,250 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 537,838 deaths, and 20,336,656 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 117,498,137 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 2,606,615 resultant fatalities, and 93,009,351 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Washington Post reports that "at least 58.9 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 30.7 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 116.4 million doses have been distributed."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. continued to decline, along with hospitalizations, as more people in the country received vaccinations … Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 across the country totaled 40,212, the lowest level since Oct. 20, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Sunday’s total is down nearly 70% from Jan. 6, when hospitalizations peaked at 132,474. The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive-care units also fell, to 8,137, down from 8,409 the previous day."

The Journal also reports that "some large employers are getting permission from public-health officials to administer vaccines, hoping to speed up inoculations of their employees. Among them, pharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc. has begun giving staff at its North Chicago headquarters doses, according to people familiar with the matter, giving priority to those over 65 years old and then workers in operations and manufacturing.

"Abbott Laboratories also has begun giving doses at its nearby headquarters to eligible workers, such as those in manufacturing, food service and daycare, a spokeswoman said, and Tyson Foods Inc. has delivered doses to staff at its Joslin, Ill., beef plant and to some workers in Iowa, a spokesman said."

•  The New York Times reports that "the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected this week to issue eagerly awaited guidance regarding how or whether Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus may set aside restrictions adopted to slow its spread.

"More than 30 million people in the United States - more than 8 percent of the population - are fully vaccinated, and many are wondering if it is safe to get together with friends and family, to travel or stop wearing masks, or to resume activities like going to gyms and restaurants."

Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the delay was because "these are complex issues, and the science is rapidly evolving … Our goal, and what is most important, is that people who have been vaccinated and those not yet vaccinated are able to understand the steps they can take to protect themselves and their loved ones … We are making sure and taking the time to get this right."

•  The Seattle Times reports that "the next group of Washington residents eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines starting March 22 includes 'high-risk essential workers groups' such as grocery-store personnel, child-care workers and corrections staff — but not, glaringly, restaurant workers.

"The guidelines for vaccine prioritization indicate that the next group, Phase 1B-2, is meant to encompass those working at 'significantly high risk of exposure and transmission' in settings 'in an enclosed space where they are interacting with a high volume of people (i.e., supermarket) over extended time and not able to consistently social distance (i.e., be more than 6 feet apart).'

"With indoor dining currently allowed at 25% capacity, restaurant staffers are one of few classes of Washington’s workers that are regularly exposed to the unmasked public at close range. Their omission from the next group to be vaccinated was met with disbelief on social media from many in the restaurant industry."

•  The New York Post reports that "Texas and California have urged spring break travelers to reconsider plans amid fears of surging COVID-19 cases after pictures and video of college students packing the Florida beaches flooded social media.

"Popular spring break destinations in Florida saw college students packing the beaches in bikinis, but no face masks in sight. The surge in out-of-state visitors forced a popular Fort Lauderdale destination to ban any visitors under the age of 23 … Other popular spring break spots, including Los Angeles, California and Galveston Island, Texas, have braced themselves for a possible surge in visitors in the weeks ahead.

"Concern remains high as multiple coronavirus variants across the country increase the likelihood of a spike in cases within any state."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "Arizona is ending occupancy limits at all businesses as new Covid-19 cases in the state have been steadily declining.

"Gov. Doug Ducey … issued an executive order Friday that ends capacity restrictions but directs businesses to continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health and workplace safety agencies, including social distancing and providing protective equipment to employees."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Russian intelligence agencies have mounted a campaign to undermine confidence in Pfizer Inc.’s and other Western vaccines, using online publications that in recent months have questioned the vaccines’ development and safety, U.S. officials said.

"An official with the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, which monitors foreign disinformation efforts, identified four publications that he said have served as fronts for Russian intelligence.

"The websites played up the vaccines’ risk of side effects, questioned their efficacy, and said the U.S. had rushed the Pfizer vaccine through the approval process, among other false or misleading claims.

"Though the outlets’ readership is small, U.S. officials say they inject false narratives that can be amplified by other Russian and international media."

•  Variety reports that "Disneyland, Universal Studios and other theme parks in California - as well as sports stadiums - have gotten the green light to potentially reopen their gates once again after a long shutdown prompted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"According to the California Department of Public Health, ballparks, stadiums and theme parks can open outdoors starting April 1 with 'significantly reduced capacity, mandatory masking and other public health precautions,' should certain conditions be met."

I'd have no interest in going to a theme park, but I'd love to be able to go to a Dodger game … just a little bit of normality that would do wonders for my heart and mind.