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 78,556,193 total cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 932,443 deaths and 48,828,328 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 401,853,062 cases, with 5,785,153 resultant fatalities and 321,590,920 recoveries.   (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 75.7 percent of the total US population has received at least one dose of vaccine … 64.2 percent is fully vaccinated … and 42.4 percent has received a vaccine booster dose.

•  The New York Times this morning reports that New York Governor Gov. Kathy Hochul "will drop New York’s stringent indoor mask mandate on Wednesday, ending a requirement that businesses ask customers for proof of full vaccination or require mask wearing at all times, and marking a turning point in the state’s coronavirus response, according to three people briefed on her decision.

"The decision will eliminate a rule that prompted legal and interpersonal clashes over mask wearing, especially in conservative parts of New York. It was set to expire on Thursday and would have required renewing.

"Ms. Hochul’s decision will let the mask mandate lapse just as a crushing winter surge in coronavirus cases is finally receding. But it was not yet clear whether the governor would renew or drop a separate mask mandate in New York schools that is set to expire in two weeks."

I worry that perhaps we are spiking the ball too early, but hopefully not.  The thing is, thousands of people continue to die every day, though for the most part they seem to be people who have not been vaccinated.  I'll continue to be cautious in my personal and professional behavior even as embracing the idea that reality is getting more pleasant;  it is not an original observation to say that the people who are being the most cautious are the people least likely to get seriously ill and hospitalized because they've behaved in a way that public health officials would describe as responsible.

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "the pandemic has had a more muted impact on childbearing than expected," and that "the U.S. saw about 7,000 fewer births through the first nine months of 2021 compared with the same period the year prior, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The numbers reflect conceptions that occurred roughly from April through December 2020, a period that includes the first part of last winter’s Covid-19 case surge, which started in October 2020 and waned by February 2021.

"Starting in June 2021, monthly births began to show consistent gains over their year-earlier levels, which reflect pre-pandemic conceptions, and that mostly offset declines in the first two months of 2021, the data show."

The Journal goes on:  "Despite the small uptick in births starting in mid-2021, Americans continue to have babies at historically low rates. The number of babies born in the U.S. in 2020 was the lowest in four decades. The total fertility rate that year—a snapshot of the average number of babies a woman would have over her lifetime—fell to 1.64, the lowest rate on record since the government began tracking it in the 1930s.

"Low fertility helped drive down U.S. population growth to 0.1%, the lowest rate on record, for the fiscal year ended July 1, according to Census Bureau figures. For the 12 months ending in September, births declined 1.7% from the same period a year prior."

In other words, fewer customers.