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 a total of 51,290,979 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 823,390 deaths and 40,343,561 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 272,589,694 total cases, with 5,348,575 resultant fatalities and 244,999,858 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 76.8 percent of the US population age five and older, and 72.3 percent of the total US population, has received at least one dose of vaccine, while 65 percent of the five-and-older population and 61.1 percent of the total US population has been fully vaccinated.

In addition, the CDC says, 30 percent of the 18-and-older population and 27.6 percent of the total population in the US has received vaccine booster doses.

•  From the Washington Post:

"Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Wednesday that an omicron-specific coronavirus vaccine is not needed at this time because early data indicates existing booster shots bolster disease-fighting antibodies.

"Protection against severe illness should remain intact, though somewhat diminished.

"'Our booster vaccine regimens work against omicron. At this point, there is no need for a variant-specific booster,' Fauci said at a White House coronavirus briefing. 'If you are unvaccinated, you are very vulnerable not only to the existing delta surge we are experiencing but also to omicron'."

"At this point."  Those are the key words here, for those people who don't understand why advice and guidance change as time goes by.

•  From the Financial Times:

"France will block entry from UK tourists, tightening its border restrictions in an effort to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

"Travel from the UK will be largely limited to French nationals, residents and their families, although there are exceptions for students and some professions such as doctors who have a work-related reason to come.  The prime minister’s office said the new restrictions would apply from midnight on Friday.

"The emergence of the Omicron variant, which was first identified by South African scientists in November, has led many countries to impose fresh travel restrictions. Omicron has dozens of mutations that scientists expect make it more transmissible than earlier variants and more likely to evade the immune protection provided by vaccines or previous infection."

•  From NBC News:

"Covid-19 is disrupting the NFL, NBA and NHL, sidelining dozens of players, including some of the leagues’ biggest stars.  New cases this week have battered the leagues and prompted NBA and NHL postponements. The NFL is grappling with the virus’ wrath with the playoffs beginning next month.

"The NFL reported the number of positive cases Monday and Tuesday ended up at 88, but with players coming and going on the list, about 100 is more accurate, the league's worst two-day stretch during the pandemic.

"Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Wednesday, the omicron variant has been found among the dramatic increase in Covid-19 cases throughout the league."

• The Wall Street Journal reports that "a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases on several campuses is prompting some colleges and universities to reinstate remote learning and require booster vaccination shots, upending the last days of the fall term and casting doubt over whether schools will remain in-person heading into next year.

"Princeton, Cornell, Middlebury and some others shifted to remote exams, while still others, such as Tulane, gave students the option of finishing the semester online. The current rise in newly reported cases on some campuses comes as many students are taking final exams and preparing for winter break."

•  In New York City, the New York Times writes, "The coronavirus pandemic has upended the theater industry’s longstanding 'show must go on' philosophy, supplanting it with a safety-first strategy. The result: a raft of cancellations unlike any in history.

"On Wednesday, 'Tina,' a jukebox musical about Tina Turner, canceled both of its performances; 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,' a stage sequel to the novels, canceled its matinee, and 'Hamilton' canceled its evening performance. A new musical adaptation of 'Mrs. Doubtfire' had already canceled four performances between Sunday and Wednesday, while Lin-Manuel Miranda’s improv troupe, 'Freestyle Love Supreme,' canceled three, and 'Ain’t Too Proud,' the Temptations jukebox musical, canceled one. At an Off Broadway theater down the street, a strong-selling revival of 'Little Shop of Horrors' scrapped four shows last weekend.

"All cited Covid.

"In each case, at least one member of the show’s cast or crew tested positive for the coronavirus, and, either because of a lack of enough people to replace those who test positive or a concern about contagion, performances had to be canceled. They were not the first, and almost certainly won’t be the last, as the persistent pandemic continues to pose a challenge to an industry struggling to get back on its feet after a lengthy and damaging shutdown kept theaters dark for more than a year … Broadway has taken precautions — there is an industrywide vaccine mandate for audiences and workers, and patrons must wear masks — but nobody lives in a bubble, and frequent testing (daily at some shows) is turning up a steady stream of breakthrough infections. And as the Omicron variant causes caseloads to rise, some performing arts institutions are starting to go further: The Metropolitan Opera said Wednesday that, starting Jan. 17, it would require booster shots for both employees and audience members."