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, the total number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases now has reached 30,636,534, resulting in 556,883 deaths and 23,039,585 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 124,905,056 total coronavirus cases, with 2,748,4 35 resultant fatalities and 100,907,719 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose slightly, while Covid-19 vaccination campaigns continued to ramp up, with more than a quarter of the country having received at least one dose.

"The U.S. reported more than 51,000 new cases for Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published early Wednesday Eastern time."

•  The Washington Post writes that "at least 83.9 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 43.1 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 164.3 million doses have been distributed."

•  Also from the Wall Street Journal:

"Vaccination levels vary by state. In New Mexico, 33.5% of residents have had at least one shot, while 20.3% are fully vaccinated. In Georgia, which along with Texas announced plans to expand vaccine eligibility to all adults, 19.4% of residents have received one vaccine dose and 11% are fully vaccinated."

•  The World Health Organization (WHO) is cautioning that after a drop in new Covid-19 infections around the world during January and February, there is evidence that they are beginning to increase again.  The Washington Post reports that this likely is a result of "more transmissible variants and the relaxation of restrictions - a phenomenon also observed in the United States. Deaths are now catching up with a 3 percent global rise in fatalities over the past week - Southeast Asia in particular has seen a major increase of 14 percent.

•  The Wall Street Journal writes that "Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said the company is developing a vaccine targeting both seasonal flu and Covid-19 that, if successful, would protect recipients from both illnesses. Mr. Bancel said Tuesday that the shot could be ready for use in a couple of years, a timeline dictated by both the company's progress and the regulatory process."

And, the Journal reports,  "Pfizer said Tuesday that it has begun testing in people an oral Covid-19 drug, which if proven to work safely could provide doctors with another tool to treat patients. Researchers are enrolling 60 healthy subjects to evaluate the safety of different doses of the treatment. If results are positive, Pfizer would see whether the treatment works safely in people infected with Covid-19."

•  The European Commission "is expected to propose new curbs on coronavirus vaccine exports on Wednesday, in a move that is likely to widen the rift between the E.U. and its former member state Britain," the Washington Post writes, saying that a probable six-week curb would be tied to reciprocity - at the point, the UK has received nine million vaccine doses from plants in the EUY, but has exported none back.

"Open roads run in both directions. And this is why we need to ensure that there is reciprocity and proportionality,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.  “If the situation does not change, we will have to reflect on how to make exports to vaccine-producing countries dependent on their level of openness.”

Sounds like that "yelp" you hear is Brexit rising up and biting the UK on the rear end.

•  The Boston Globe reports that Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser "has barred internal video calls on Fridays and encouraged vacations in an effort to combat workplace malaise brought on by the coronavirus pandemic."

The last day of the work week, she said, would be designated "Zoom-free Fridays."  In addition, the story says, "Staff at Citi, one of the world’s biggest lenders, are also encouraged to avoid scheduling meetings outside of what were normal working hours before the outbreak of COVID-19 kept most of its workers home."

"I know, from your feedback and my own experience, the blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being," Fraser wrote in a memo to staff.  "It’s simply not sustainable."

•  The Associated Press reports that "Regal Cinemas, the second largest movie theater chain in the U.S., will reopen beginning April 2, its parent company, Cineworld Group, announced Tuesday.

"Regal had been one of most notable holdouts in the gradual reopening of cinemas nationwide. For nearly half a year, its 7,211 screens and 549 theatres in the U.S. have been dark. Doors will open early next month with attendance limited to 25 percent to 50 percent capacity in about 500 locations."

•  From Variety:

"As moviegoing slowly begins to rebound in the U.S., it appears Hollywood studios aren’t yet ready to release their biggest blockbuster hopefuls on the big screen.

"All that is to say Disney has massively overhauled its upcoming slate and amended release plans for Black Widow, Emma Stone’s Cruella, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Pixar’s Luca and several others.

Notably, Black Widow and Cruella will now premiere on Disney Plus at the same time they open in theaters. Cruella is arriving as scheduled on May 28, while Black Widow has been pushed back two months and will debut on July 9 instead of May 7. Both titles will be offered on Premier Access, which comes with a $30 rental fee.

It may not matter that theaters are reopening, as streaming becomes a more mainstream option even for tentpole properties.

•  Published reports say that Staples is now offering to laminate the completed vaccination cards being handed out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - for free.

Staples reportedly is making the freebie available until April 3.

One quick note.  One of the stories that I read about this pointed out that people often get things like their Social Security cards laminated … but, as a public service, I am here to tell you that you are not supposed to do that.  I did - after all, my card was originally issued back in the mid-50s - and when I tried to use it as proof if identity at the DMV to get a "Real ID" driver's license, they rejected it - and I had to go get a new one from Social Security.