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 up-to-date Covid-19 coronavirus numbers for the US:  36,301,744 total cases … 631,879 deaths … and 29,805,593 reported recoveries.

The global numbers:  201,817,159 total cases … 4,283,757 fatalities … and 181,562,463 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 70.4 percent of the US population age 18 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 60.8 percent being fully vaccinated.  The CDC also says that 68.1 percent of the population age 12 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, while 58.4 percent has been fully vaccinated.

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "the Food and Drug Administration expects to have a strategy on Covid-19 vaccine boosters by early September that would lay out when and which vaccinated individuals should get the follow-up shots, according to people familiar with discussions within the agency.

"The Biden administration is pushing for the swift release of a booster strategy because some populations—people age 65 or older and people who are immunocompromised, as well as those who got the shots in December or January shortly after they were rolled out—could need boosters as soon as this month, two of the people said.

"Any booster strategy from the U.S. government will need to address declining protection for certain people at a time when vaccines remain in short supply in the developing world."

The Journal goes on:  "Recent data from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE shows the efficacy of their shot declines about 6% every two months, which suggests boosters may be needed broadly, one of the people said.

"Pfizer plans to ask U.S. regulators this month to authorize booster shots of its two-dose vaccine, arguing that a third shot may be needed to protect against the evolving virus.  Moderna Inc. said on Thursday that it expects people who received its two-dose vaccine to need a third shot in the fall to keep strong protection against newer variants of the coronavirus. Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said the company expects to ask the FDA to authorize its booster shots in September."

Just like to say that I'm ready to get a booster as soon as one is available.  No dithering here … I'm all in on trying to stay as healthy as I can.

•  The New York Times reports that "a bipartisan group of officials from the past five presidential administrations, as well as public health experts, are pressing private sector leaders to adopt a new set of recommendations to maximize coronavirus vaccination among their employees.

"'You have a key role to play in our national quest to keep Americans safe, while respecting individual liberties,' an open letter from the group says, asking businesses to institute new workplace rules that would complement actions by federal and local governments to increase vaccinations against the surging Delta variant."

The letter also "recommends steps for companies to take if they choose not to require vaccination for their workforces.

"Those include an 'infection screening protocol,' which would require twice-a-week screenings through rapid tests. Anyone with proof of vaccination would be allowed to bypass that routine testing. The letter also recommends that companies provide incentives for employees to get vaccinated, including cash payments and paid leave."

•  The Los Angeles Times reports that "with coronavirus cases continuing to rise, Los Angeles is now considering a proposal to require proof of COVID-19 inoculation as a condition of entry at a host of indoor public spaces in what, if passed, would be the widest-ranging vaccination-verification effort in the city yet … The move comes amid a surge in coronavirus cases fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant, which has both public officials and private businesses scrambling to slow the spread. Some L.A. restaurants have already begun requiring proof of vaccination for customers, saying they hope that action can forestall the more intense restrictions seen earlier in the pandemic that pushed some retailers to their breaking point."

The story notes that "if the city, county or state imposes such a requirement … it takes the onus off of individual businesses — and eases fears among small businesses about the legal risks of doing so themselves."

•  The Boston Globe reports that "the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI), a consortium of major tech and health care companies including Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, and the Mayo Clinic, says it’s come up with a more durable way to show genuine proof of vaccination. It’s the SMART Health Card, a national standard for digital vaccine certificates based on technology from Boston Children’s Hospital. The standard was recently finalized, and is now rolling out across the United States."

•  Amazon said yesterday that it will "delay corporate employees’ return to offices until next year as conditions around the Covid-19 pandemic evolve," the Wall Street Journal reports.

“We will continue to follow local government guidance and work closely with leading medical healthcare professionals, gathering their advice and recommendations as we go forward to ensure our work spaces are optimized for the safety of our teams,” Amazon said in a prepared statement.

•  The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that "United Airlines will require its U.S. employees to be vaccinated this fall, the first major airline to take this step as the Delta variant drives a nationwide increase in Covid-19 infections … In a letter to employees Friday, Chief Executive Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said they expected that some would disagree with the decision but said the move was necessary to keep workers safe."

•  Variety reports that CNN "terminated three staffers who came to its offices without being vaccinated and indicated to employees it will push back a scheduled full return to the office by several weeks," from early September to mid-October.