Published on: February 14, 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…
• In the United States, there now have been 79,325,576 total cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 943,411 deaths and 49,836,893 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 412,731,737 total cases, with 5,836,608 resultant fatalities and 333,339,799 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 75.9 percent of the total US population has received at least one dose of vaccine … 64.4 percent is fully vaccinated … and 42.8 percent has received a vaccine booster dose.
• The New York Times reports that "with Covid treatments still in short supply in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave emergency authorization to a new monoclonal antibody drug that has been found in the laboratory to be potent against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
"The Biden administration said it would make the therapy immediately available to states free of charge.
"The authorization of the treatment, bebtelovimab, means that the United States now has four drugs available for high-risk Covid patients early in the course of their illness that have been found to neutralize the Omicron variant. While there is a greater menu of Covid pills and treatments now than at any other point in the pandemic, the drugs have been so scarce that doctors have been forced to make painful rationing decisions during the Omicron surge."
• Also from the New York Times:
"Nearly two years into the pandemic, pharmacists and technicians across the nation are under intense strain as their jobs shift from filling prescriptions and counseling patients to administering Covid-19 vaccines and tests, handing out masks and dealing with increasingly angry customers.
"The situation has been exacerbated by a labor shortage that has squeezed most industries and that has resulted in droves of nurses and caretakers leaving their posts in a pandemic that has pushed them to the brink.
"Large retail pharmacy chains have tried to respond, with some reducing store hours, increasing starting wages, offering more breaks and giving out bonuses to retain employees. But customers have felt the impact, with some experiencing disruptions in vaccine appointments, longer lines to pick up prescriptions and frustration over securing masks and at-home virus tests.
"The situation is worrying the pharmacy industry. Scott Knoer, the executive vice president and chief executive of the American Pharmacists Association, said inadequate staffing posed serious health risks by increasing the chances that workers make mistakes while filling prescriptions or inoculating patients. A survey released last month from the association found that 74 percent of respondents said they did not think they had sufficient time to safely perform patient care and clinical duties."
• From CNN:
"Walmart updated its Covid-19 policy for US associates Friday, dropping its mask mandate and Covid-19 sick leave policy, the company announced in a memo viewed by CNN Business.
"The nation's largest private retailer announced the changes as several US states, from New York to California, issued their own plans to lift indoor mask mandates as Omicron cases decline … Fully vaccinated Walmart associates will no longer be required to wear masks unless required by the state or local governments. Unvaccinated employees and those who work in clinical care settings, such as pharmacies, will be required to keep wearing them.
"Walmart also is dropping a sick pay policy it had put in place for Covid-19, which gave associates extra paid time off beyond sick leave. The emergency leave policy will end in March, unless required by the state or local government.
"The company also is phasing out daily health screenings, except for workers in California, New York and Virginia, where they are a state requirement."