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 31,166,344 total cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 565,256 deaths and 23,673,462 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 129,594,382 coronavirus cases, with 2,830,627 resultant fatalities, and 104,500,042 reported recoveries. (Source.)

•  The Washington Post reports that "coronavirus deaths in the United States last year fueled a rise in the nation’s mortality rate for the first time since 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report this week.

"In 2020, more than 3.3 million people died in the United States, the CDC said, in what was the nation’s highest annual death toll in its history.

"The agency analyzed death certificate data from last year and found that covid-19 was the underlying or contributing cause of more than 377,000 U.S. fatalities — making it the third-leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer."

•  From Axios:

"America is on the verge of a fourth wave of the pandemic.

"It should be far less deadly than the previous three. But this persistent failure to contain the virus will only make it harder to put COVID-19 behind us … Roughly 63,000 Americans per day were diagnosed with COVID over the past week. That's a 17% increase from the week before, and echoes the rising caseloads of the second wave last summer.

"Average daily caseloads increased over the past week in 25 states. The biggest spikes were in Michigan and New York.

"Even as vaccinations climb, new cases declined in only five states, mainly in the Southeast."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "newly reported Covid-19 cases in the U.S. rose, as did deaths … The U.S. reported more than 66,000 new cases for Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and published early Thursday morning Eastern time. That was up from 61,240 a day earlier but down from 86,950 a week earlier.

"While dramatically lower than the highs of around 300,000 reached in early January, daily cases are trending higher … Deaths were also up, and appear to be entering an upward trend, with the seven-day average exceeding the 14-day average for two straight days through Tuesday, according to the Journal’s analysis of Johns Hopkins data."

•  The Journal also reports:

"Many states are broadly expanding Covid-19 vaccine eligibility this week, unleashing more demand in a time of still-tight supplies by targeting the shots at millions more people.

"Several states, including Texas, Ohio, Louisiana and Indiana, have set eligibility requirements to ages 16 years and up this week, joining states such as Arizona and Georgia that made the move recently. New York made people 30 years and older eligible starting Tuesday. Connecticut is shifting to 16 and up on Thursday.

"In some places that have expanded eligibility, demand is still outpacing vaccine supply. It varies from state to state and even within states, but some people are reporting having a hard time getting an appointment.

"States are banking on a growing number of vaccine doses to meet the need. President Biden has set a goal of 200 million shots by April 30."

•  The Washington Post reports that "at least 97.6 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 51.3 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 195.6 million doses have been distributed."

•  The New York Times reports that "Workers at a Baltimore plant manufacturing two coronavirus vaccines accidentally conflated the vaccines’ ingredients several weeks ago, ruining about 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and forcing regulators to delay authorization of the plant’s production lines … The mistake is a major embarrassment for Johnson & Johnson, whose one-dose vaccine has been credited with speeding up the national immunization program.

"It does not affect Johnson & Johnson doses that are currently being delivered and used nationwide. All those doses were produced in the Netherlands, where operations have been fully approved by federal regulators.

"But all further shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — projected to total tens of millions of doses in the next month — were supposed to come from the massive Baltimore plant.

"Those shipments are now in question while the quality control issues are sorted out, according to people familiar with the matter."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "the Miami Heat is about to become the first sports franchise to attempt a groundbreaking play: requiring some fans to show proof of vaccination in order to get into games.

"It’s a decidedly low-tech operation, relying on paper cards distributed to the vaccinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It will also, quite possibly, never be widely adopted.

"Around 450 Heat fans who flash CDC cards on Thursday showing they are fully vaccinated will be able to enter through a separate gate to gain access to two special 'vaccinated sections' in AmericanAirlines Arena. They will still be required to mask, but can sit closer together than the other 3,500 fans there - and know that they’re only around other vaccinated people.

"The team says it’s a chance to test something that patrons want, expand attendance capacity, and boost the benefits of vaccination."