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 US Covid-19 coronavirus numbers:  33,180,441 total cases … 591,062 deaths … and 25,823,800 reported recoveries.

The global numbers:  153,565,239 total cases … 3,218,006 fatalities … and 130,919,428 reported recoveries. (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that more than 144 million Americans age 18 or older, or 56.1 percent of that group, have gotten at least one dose of the vaccination, with more than 104 million, or 40.3 percent, are now fully vaccinated.

•  Words of caution this morning from the New York Times:

"Early in the pandemic, when vaccines for the coronavirus were still just a glimmer on the horizon, the term 'herd immunity' came to signify the endgame: the point when enough Americans would be protected from the virus so we could be rid of the pathogen and reclaim our lives.

"Now, more than half of adults in the United States have been inoculated with at least one dose of a vaccine. But daily vaccination rates are slipping, and there is widespread consensus among scientists and public health experts that the herd immunity threshold is not attainable — at least not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.

"Instead, they are coming to the conclusion that rather than making a long-promised exit, the virus will most likely become a manageable threat that will continue to circulate in the United States for years to come, still causing hospitalizations and deaths but in much smaller numbers.

"How much smaller is uncertain and depends in part on how much of the nation, and the world, becomes vaccinated and how the coronavirus evolves. It is already clear, however, that the virus is changing too quickly, new variants are spreading too easily and vaccination is proceeding too slowly for herd immunity to be within reach anytime soon.

"Continued immunizations, especially for people at highest risk because of age, exposure or health status, will be crucial to limiting the severity of outbreaks, if not their frequency, experts believe … The shift in outlook presents a new challenge for public health authorities. The drive for herd immunity — by the summer, some experts once thought possible — captured the imagination of large segments of the public. To say the goal will not be attained adds another 'why bother' to the list of reasons that vaccine skeptics use to avoid being inoculated.

"Yet vaccinations remain the key to transforming the virus into a controllable threat, experts said."

•  The Washington Post reports that Saturday marked " the end of a pandemic era in the air: no more social distancing on flights.

"Delta was the final holdout, ending its practice of blocking middle seats on Saturday. That is more than a year after the airline first introduced the practice as the coronavirus cratered the number of air travelers.

"Other major U.S. carriers have long since returned to full flights. American and United starting selling all their seats last summer. Southwest started doing the same in December, and Alaska Airlines and JetBlue followed in January."