Published on: January 5, 2022
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: 58,040,720 total cases to date … 851,439 deaths … and 41,901,183 reported recoveries.
The global numbers: 295,814,361 total cases … 5,476,755 fatalities … and 256,276,006 reported recoveries. (Source.)
A quick note on this, if I may. I got an email from an MNB reader who wanted to throw doubt on these numbers from Worldometer by noting that its China numbers - 102,932 total cases … 4,636 deaths … and 95,005 recoveries - seem clearly inaccurate.
Worldometer says that it "manually analyzes, validates, and aggregates data from thousands of sources in real time … We collect and process data around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Multiple updates per minute are performed on average by our team of analysts and researchers who validate the data from an ever-growing list of over 5,000 sources under the constant solicitation of users who alert us as soon as an official announcement is made anywhere around the world."
Now, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that sources inside China are not as forthcoming as in other nations. And so, if this reader's argument actually is that the pandemic numbers are worse than is being publicly acknowledged, I'd completely agree with that. Though, I'm pretty sure that's not what this reader was suggesting.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 78.4 percent of the US population age five and older, and 73.8 percent of the total US population, have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 66.2 percent of the five-and-older group and 62.2 percent of the total population have been fully vaccinated. The CDC also says that 34.7 percent of the total US population has received a vaccine booster.
• From the Wall Street Journal:
"Walmart Inc. and Kroger Co. are raising their prices for BinaxNOW at-home rapid tests, after the expiration of a deal with the White House to sell the test kits at cost for $14.
"The two U.S. retail giants and Amazon.com Inc. agreed with the Biden administration last summer to discount the tests, which are made by Abbott Laboratories and generally cost $24 or more for a box with two tests.
"BinaxNOW, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is among the most commonly used over-the-counter, rapid antigen tests, which have been in high demand as the highly contagious Omicron variant spreads across the U.S.
"The deal with the White House expired in December, and Walmart said this week that it is raising the kits’ price to $19.98 a box. Kroger now sells them for $23.99. The BinaxNOW tests aren’t currently available on Amazon."
• The New York Times reports that "Macy’s began requesting the vaccination statuses of employees on Tuesday, a sign it was preparing for a potential mandate of vaccinations or weekly testing ahead of a special Supreme Court hearing about such rules on Friday.
"In a memo sent to employees that was obtained by the New York Times, the retailer — which also owns Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury — told workers in the United States to upload their vaccination statuses to a third-party platform by Jan. 16 'regardless of whether you work in a store, a supply chain facility, an office, or are remote/hybrid.' For employees who say they are unvaccinated, Macy’s said it would 'review your submission and you may be contacted by someone from the Colleague Advisory team to discuss next steps.' The company also said it might require proof of negative tests to be uploaded to the same system starting on Feb. 16."
• The Los Angeles Times reports that the LA Unified school district has ordered mandatory coronavirus tests "for all students and staff before they return from winter break next week as a new period of high anxiety takes hold among parents and educators amid the explosive surge of the Omicron variant."
The Times writes:
"The goal in mandating back-to-school tests, said school board member Nick Melvoin, is to provide safe, open campuses and also 'peace of mind.'
"The drill in the nation’s second-largest school system will mean anyone who intends to step on a campus next week to work or learn will have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test. The announcement was made hours after a hastily called special school board meeting Monday morning.
"Employees not already on duty this week would receive two hours’ pay to get the testing this week. If they wait till Monday — when they are back on the clock after winter break — they will receive any time off needed to be tested but no extra pay. School employees return to work Jan. 10. The students return Jan. 11."
If institutions and businesses are concerned about mandating vaccinations, they certainly can mandate negative test results. That works for me.
• The Washington Post reports that "French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to make daily life more inconvenient for unvaccinated people in the country, which is facing a spike in coronavirus infections driven by the omicron variant.
"'I am not for pissing off the French … however, the unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off,' he said in an interview published Tuesday in the French newspaper Le Parisien. 'I’m not going to throw [the unvaccinated] in prison. I’m not going to get them vaccinated by force. … We put pressure on the unvaccinated by limiting their access to social activities as much as possible.'
"Macron’s remarks come as his government moves to impose more restrictions on the unvaccinated. France requires people to present proof of vaccination, recovery from past infection or a recent negative coronavirus test to access venues such as restaurants and cinemas. But the government is pushing through a bill that would remove the option of providing a negative test for entry.
"The president had said in November that vaccine passports would allow Paris to avoid the strict lockdown of the unvaccinated that countries such as Austria have implemented. The potential tightening of the system has sparked anger among anti-vaccination activists and extremist politicians, though numerous polls indicate a majority of the country supports vaccine passports."