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…

•  The United States now has had 28,523,524 total confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus cases, resulting in 505,309 deaths and 18,703,421 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been a total of 110,914,701 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 2,454,290 resultant fatalities, and 85,858,990 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Washington Post reports that "at least 42.3 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 16.4 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 73.4 million doses have been distributed."

•  From the Wall Street Journal this morning:

"Hospitalizations in the U.S. due to Covid-19 continued to decline and newly reported cases were at levels last seen in late October, though weather conditions are affecting vaccination efforts in some parts of the country … A total of 62,300 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in the U.S. as of Thursday, the sixth day in a row the figure has been under 70,000, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The number of people needing treatment in intensive-care units because of the disease also declined, to 13,045, the lowest level since Nov. 12.

•  From the New York Times:

"With vast swaths of the United States pelted by heavy winter storms that brought Covid-19 vaccinations to a near-halt over the past week, health officials say a daunting task has become even more difficult.

"But not impossible.

"'We’re going to just have to make up for it: namely do double-time when this thing clears up,' declared Dr. Anthony S. Fauci."

According to the story, "The brutal winter weather delayed the delivery of hundreds of thousands of doses across the country just as vaccine distribution was beginning to gather steam in the United States. Part of the problems is that the storms affected a FedEx facility in Memphis and a UPS facility in Louisville, Ky. — both vaccine shipping hubs.

"Shipment delays have been reported in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Utah and Washington, among other states, forcing vaccine sites to temporarily shutter and coveted appointments to be rescheduled.

"In Texas, where millions of residents lost power during the powerful storm, a delivery of more than 400,000 first doses and 330,000 second doses was delayed. A portion of those shots, roughly 35,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, were sent to North Texas providers on Wednesday, but shipments will continue to depend on safety conditions."

•  The Washington Post has a piece about continuing frustration at a lot of supermarkets and drug stores that have been administering coronavirus vaccines in their pharmacies, but have not yet been able to innoculate their own employees, despite their being labeled as "heroes" and "essential."

"The nation’s 3 million grocery workers lag other essential workers when it comes to vaccine priority," the Post writes.  "Just 13 states — including Maryland, Virginia, California, New York and Pennsylvania — have begun inoculating such employees as the broader vaccine rollout is hampered by widespread delays, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 800,000 U.S. grocery employees."

The workers have a point - and to my mind, it underlines the degree to which all the talk about essential-ness was just lip service.  (Though, to be fair, in a lot of cases lip service accompanied by bonuses and temporary pay increases.)  But there also are only 28 states where teachers currently are included in the groups being vaccinated.

The good news is that there seems to be general agreement that in just a few weeks there will be a lot more supply, and so it will be possible to open things up a bit.  I'd love it if states would allow retailers that are doing vaccinations to dedicate an hour or two a day during which they could focus on their employees.

•  USA Today reports that "CVS Health plans to contact Americans living in underserved communities to help them schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments amid signs that white people are getting the free vaccine at higher rates than Black Americans.

"The drugstore chain said Friday that it will call, email and text-message people living in what the federal government has deemed socially vulnerable areas to provide assistance and education in the vaccine process … CVS also said it will hold vaccine clinics in the most vulnerable communities it serves and send vaccination caravans into neighborhoods to make it easier for people to get their shots."

•  The Washington Post has a story about how "global vaccination efforts were set to get a boost Friday as Western governments and pharmaceutical companies pledged doses and funds to help poorer nations step up immunization campaigns.

"The announcements came ahead of a Group of Seven meeting of leaders of the world’s largest economies and amid wider concerns about growing vaccine inequality that experts warn could prolong the pandemic."

The US is expected to commit $4 billion to the effort, which is being administered by the World Health Organization (WHO).

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "the Ivy League Council of Presidents announced Thursday that it would not attempt to stage spring sports in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, making it the only conference in the NCAA’s Division I that remains completely on the sidelines for the fourth consecutive season … Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the Ivy League has been quick to act and slow to change its stance on athletics. The conference was the first to cancel its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in March 2020, about three days before the rest of the sports world ground to a halt."