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 49,573,122 total Covid-19 coronavirus cases, resulting in 805,004 deaths, and 39,318,563 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 263,934,210 total cases, with 5,245,591 resultant fatalities, and 238,241,187 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 74.8 percent of the US population age five and older, and 70.4 percent of the total US population, has received at least one dose of vaccine.   The CDC also says that 63.2 percent of the five-and0-older population, and 59.4 percent of the total population, has been fully vaccinated.

According to the CDC, 22.8 percent of the US population age 18 and older, and 21.2 percent of the total US population, has received a vaccine booster shot.

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"The first known case of the Omicron variant in the U.S. was identified in a person in California who recently returned from South Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"The CDC said Wednesday that the fully vaccinated traveler, who returned to California on Nov. 22, has mild Covid-19 symptoms that are improving. The person has been self-quarantining since testing positive, and all known contacts have so far tested negative for the variant, the CDC said.

"The confirmed U.S. case raises the number of countries where Omicron has been identified to at least 24 on five continents since scientists in South Africa first identified it in late November. The World Health Organization days later designated it a variant of concern, formally alerting health authorities around the world to the extra risks the new strain appears to carry."

•  From the New York Times this morning:

"As recently as last week, many public health experts were fiercely opposed to the Biden administration’s campaign to roll out booster shots of the coronavirus vaccines to all American adults. There was little scientific evidence to support extra doses for most people, the researchers said.

"The Omicron variant has changed all that.

"Scientists do not yet know with any certainty whether the virus is easier to spread or less vulnerable to the body’s immune response. But with dozens of new mutations, the variant seems likely to evade the protection from vaccines to some significant degree.

Booster shots clearly raise antibody levels, strengthening the body’s defenses against infection, and may help offset whatever advantages Omicron has gained through evolution.

"Many of the experts who were opposed to boosters now believe that the shots may offer the best defense against the new variant. The extra doses may slow the spread, at least, buying time for vaccine makers to develop an Omicron-specific formulation, if needed."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that the federal government "plans to tighten up Covid-19 testing timelines for travelers entering the U.S. and extend a mask mandate on airplanes and other public transportation as part of a broad administration effort to combat the Omicron variant.

"International travelers coming to the U.S. will have to test within a day of departure, regardless of vaccination status, rather than the 72 hours currently required for vaccinated travelers, under new protocols early next week, senior administration officials said. The new testing rules will apply both to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals entering the country.

"The administration will also require travelers to wear masks through mid-March on planes, buses and trains, and at domestic transportation hubs such as airports and indoor bus terminals, rather than allowing the requirement to expire on Jan. 18 as planned."

•Los Angeles Magazine reports that "indoor businesses in Los Angeles will face fines and citations if they fail to comply with some of the strictest COVID vaccination mandates in the country. Although the rules went into effect on November 8, enforcement of the regulation that employees must check the vaccination status of their patrons commences today … businesses such as restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms—as well as the operators of large outdoor events—will be given a warning the first time they’re caught failing to review the vaccination proofs of guests, followed by a fine of $1,000 for a second offense. The third strike will earn establishments a $2,000 fine, and if that doesn’t get the message across, fourth and subsequent violations will be met with a penalty of $5,000."