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…

•  There now have been 29,862,124 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus in the United States, resulting in 542,191 deaths and 20,640,270 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 118,723,992 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 2,633,965 resultant fatalities and 94,312,350 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  Axios writes about how "today, one year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the end of that pandemic is within reach.

"The death and suffering caused by the coronavirus have been much worse than many people expected a year ago — but the vaccines have been much better."

The story goes on:  "A year ago today, the U.S. had confirmed 1,000 coronavirus infections. Now, we’re approaching 30 million.

"In those early days, Americans were terrified by White House projections - informed by well-respected modeling - that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die from the virus … Many models thought the virus would peak last May - nowhere close. The deadliest month of the pandemic was January."

•  The New York Times writes that "as vaccine production and deliveries and inoculations ramp up, a growing number of U.S. states are allowing ever more people to get vaccinated, providing optimism for those who have been waiting for their moment."

Some examples:

"Next week, Texans age 50 and older will be eligible, the state’s health department announced on Wednesday, the same day Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia said that people in that state over 55 would be able to get a shot next week.  New Yorkers age 60 and older became eligible on Wednesday, with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo citing increased supply from the federal government. The governors of Minnesota and Ohio also said this week that they would open eligibility to larger groups of residents."

This is addition to Alaska, which earlier had announced expanded eligibility, and Utah, which also is expanding availability.

Vaccines currently are being administered at the rate of more than two million a day.

•  The Boston Globe reports that "Massachusetts recently moved up teachers in the state’s vaccine rollout. Now, several dozen lawmakers are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to give grocery store workers the same treatment.

"In a letter Tuesday, 35 state lawmakers … implored Baker to 'prioritize the vaccination of supermarket workers in a most expeditious manner'."

The letter pointed out that "grocery store workers are disproportionately people of color, a community that has been hard hit by the pandemic due to structural inequities."

According to the Globe, "Supermarket workers aren’t quite at the 'bottom' of the state’s three-phase vaccine rollout. Rather, they’re included in the third priority group in Phase 2 along with a number of other frontline workers.

"Educators had also been lumped into that group. However, Baker announced last week that they would allow teachers and other school staff to begin signing up for appointments at any of the state’s vaccination sites this Thursday."

•  Politico reports that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has signed an executive order "to roll back capacity limits on restaurants, retailers, fitness centers and religious establishments and loosen those on large venues like convention centers and concert halls.

"Hogan’s order also eliminates quarantine requirements for out-of-state travelers - but the state’s masking requirement is so far still in place, and bars and restaurants must still keep customers physically distanced."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Newly reported Covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. edged higher, as the country continued to ramp up its vaccination effort and more states expanded eligibility for shots … Rising vaccination rates across the U.S. offer a hopeful note that the country could be turning a corner nearly a year into the pandemic, public-health officials have said. Still, they continue to advise caution. While key metrics have broadly declined from records set in January, they remain high and could be plateauing."

•  The Washington Post reports that "at least 62.5 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 32.4 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 127.9 million doses have been distributed."

•  The federal government said yesterday that it is in the process of securing an additional 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with the New York Times noting that "the White House said that the additional doses could help the country begin to vaccinate children after the necessary clinical trials are completed. The doses could also, if necessary, be used as boosters or be reformulated to combat emerging variants of the virus."

And, federal officials said, extra doses of the vaccine could also be distributed to foreign countries in need of assistance.

•  Fox Business reports that "Target is partnering with CVS to distribute coronavirus vaccines at store locations across 17 states, the companies announced Wednesday.

More than 600 CVS pharmacies within Target locations nationwide will be offering vaccinations to eligible guests … The two companies will follow state and federal guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine distribution."

•  From Axios:

"Despite severe technological barriers, some Native American tribes are vaccinating their members for COVID so efficiently that they've been able to branch out and offer vaccines to people outside of their tribes."

The story says that "Native Americans are one of the most at-risk groups for contracting and dying from COVID-19. But tribal nations have rallied to get members vaccinated and helped nearby communities while major cities have struggled with rollouts.

"Three Indigenous principles have helped provide the impetus to get vaccinated, according to activist Allie Young, a citizen of the Navajo Nation:  Recognize how Native Americans' actions will impact the next seven generations … Act in honor of ancestors who fought to ensure their survival and elders who carry on their traditions and cultures … Hold on to ancestral knowledge in the ongoing fight to protect Mother Earth."

Seems to me that these three indigenous principles would be worth adopting by we non-indigenous folks. 

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that AMC Entertainment, having just announced a 2020 loss of $4.59 billion because the pandemic shuttered the vast majority of its facilities, "said roughly 527 out of its 589 domestic theaters were open as of Friday, including those in New York City. Cinemas in Los Angeles are expected to open shortly."

Big change … though I'm not sure I am ready to go to a movie theater just yet.  But once I get that second vaccine, I may feel differently.  But still, the numbers are hopeful.

I am still staggered by one thing, however.  The Journal story says that AMC had total 2020 revenue of  $162.5 million and yet, according to the Hollywood Reporter, AMC CEO Adam Aron "received compensation of $20.92 million in 2020, up from $9.67 million in 2019."  I'm not sure exactly what the pay boost was a reward for, and his compensation package is more than 10 percent of the company's total annual revenue.  Must be a cold comfort to all the AMC employees who lost their paychecks during the year to know that at least their boss didn't have to suffer.

•  Finally…the Ad Council and the the COVID Collaborative have released a new commercial in which four well-known Americans and their spouses get together (virtually) to urge citizens to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them, how it is safe, and how it will allow all of us to get back to the lives we enjoyed before the pandemic:

Just one thought this morning … it just seems like for the first time since I started doing these daily Coronavirus Updates, the majority of the news is good news.  That must be hard for the people who are still losing loved ones to Covid-19, and to be sure, it won't be all good news until virtually nobody is dying from this coronavirus.  But still … one year in, it just feels different.