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 totals for the Covid-19 coronavirus:  44,682,835 total cases … 722,268 deaths … and 34,154,777 reported recoveries.

The global numbers:  236,273,465 total cases … 4,825,148 fatalities … and 213,332,342 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 75.9 percent of the US population age 12 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 65.5 percent being fully vaccinated.  Eight percent of the US population age 65 and older has received a booster shot of the vaccine.

•  The Boston Globe this morning reports that Johnson & Johnson asked the Food and Drug Administration this morning "to allow extra shots of its COVID-19 vaccine as the US government moves toward expanding its booster campaign to millions more vaccinated Americans.

"J&J said it filed a request with the FDA to authorize boosters for people who previously received the company's one-shot vaccine. While the company said it submitted data on several different booster intervals, ranging from two to six months, it did not formally recommend one to regulators."

•  The New York Times this morning reports that "newer variants of the coronavirus like Alpha and Delta are highly contagious, infecting far more people than the original virus. Two new studies offer a possible explanation: The virus is evolving to spread more efficiently through air.

"The realization that the coronavirus is airborne indoors transformed efforts to contain the pandemic last year, igniting fiery debates about masks, social distancing and ventilation in public spaces.

"Most researchers now agree that the coronavirus is mostly transmitted through large droplets that quickly sink to the floor and through much smaller ones, called aerosols, that can float over longer distances indoors and settle directly into the lungs, where the virus is most harmful.

"The new studies don’t fundamentally change that view. But the findings signal the need for better masks in some situations, and indicate that the virus is changing in ways that make it more formidable."

•  From the Associated Press:

"Southwest Airlines on Monday became the latest U.S. airline to require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"The Dallas-based company said its workers must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 in order to remain at the airline … Southwest said it has to mandate vaccines because of new rules from the Biden administration requiring companies with federal contracts to have vaccinated staffs. Southwest's work for the government includes flying the military in emergencies and carrying mail for the U.S. Postal Service.

"Last week, rivals American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue told their staff they needed to be vaccinated. United Airlines in August was the first major airline to do so and has since said that more than 97% of its workers have been vaccinated."

•  The AP also reports that "International tourists won’t be welcomed back to Australia until next year, with the return of skilled migrants and students given higher priority, the prime minister said on Tuesday.

"Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was expected to reach the vaccination benchmark on Tuesday at which the country could begin to open up: 80% of the population aged 16 and older having a second shot."

•  The Boston Globe has a piece about Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, in which he suggests a federal mandate requiring that all airline passengers be vaccinated for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

According to the story, "Jha broke down his reasoning on Sunday night, sharing his experience taking an overnight flight from Los Angeles to Boston over the weekend.

The doctor said when he arrived at the gate for the trip, he noticed another passenger with a mask that was 'barely' covering her mouth. He said he moved away from the area, but once he boarded the plane, the woman sat down next to him.

"'Sitting next to someone who is essentially maskless wasn’t great,' Jha said.  'Truth is, if your nose isn’t covered, you really aren’t wearing a mask. She then started singing to a video on her phone. Really. Her flimsy cloth mask wasn’t doing much at that point'."

Jha said that "the problem is that there is very little ability to control what happens on planes, spaces where the air is shared by strangers for what can be long periods of time. 

"Already, flight attendants are 'exhausted' trying to police stricter enforcement of masking, he said.

"'Asking them to do more is not tenable,' Jha said. 'But vaccine mandates for air travel are. Canada has done it. We should too. Mandate vaccine or negative test for air travel'."

Jha, to be fair, makes the point that the woman traveling certainly has the right not to be vaccinated.  But he - and the other passengers and crew on the flight - also have the right not to risk a breakthrough infection because of her irresponsible behavior.  He argues that by mandating passengers be mandated, the country has the ability to move the needle on Covid spread … and the numbers at this point suggest that mandates work.

And I agree.