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, we've now had 31,918,601 total cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 575,829 deaths and 24,480,522 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 136,728,940 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 2,951,278 resultant fatalities, and 109,965,166 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Washington Post reports that "at least 119.2 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 72.6 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 237.8 million doses have been distributed."

•  The Wall Street Journal writes that "younger people who haven’t been vaccinated are helping drive a rise in new Covid-19 cases, health officials are finding.

"Five states - Michigan, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey - account for some 42% of newly reported cases. In Michigan, adults aged 20 to 39 have the highest daily case rates, new data show. Case rates for children aged 19 and under are at a record, more than quadruple from a month ago. There were 301 reported school outbreaks as of early last week, up from 248 the week prior, according to state data.

Epidemiologists and public-health authorities have pointed to school sports as a major source of Covid-19 transmission. Since January, K-12 sports transmission in Michigan has been highest in basketball, with 376 cases and 100 clusters; in hockey, with 256 cases and 52 clusters; and in wrestling, with 190 cases and 55 clusters. Overall, cases and clusters have occurred in over 15 sport settings, data from the state shows.

•  Axios writes that "all the things that could prolong the COVID-19 pandemic - that could make this virus a part of our lives longer than anyone wants - are playing out right in front of our eyes … This is a preview of the longer, darker coronavirus future the U.S. may face without sufficient vaccinations — one that many experts see as pretty likely.

Although the pace of vaccinations is still strong, there’s a growing fear that it’s about to slow down. In some parts of the country, particularly the South, demand for shots has already slowed down enough to create a surplus of available doses."

While "the U.S. is still making fantastic progress on vaccinations," the story says, "as variants of the virus cause new outbreaks and infect more children, the U.S. is also getting a preview of what the future could hold if our vaccination push loses steam - as experts fear it soon might … Variants are beginning to infect more kids, even as schools are on the fast track back to reopening, making the pandemic 'a brand new ball game,' as University of Minnesota epidemiologist Michael Osterholm recently put it."

Axios writes that "the more widely a virus can spread, the more opportunities it has to mutate. If the U.S. and ultimately the world don’t vaccinate a sufficient percentage of the population, we’ll be setting ourselves up to let the virus keep spreading, and keep mutating, continuing to give us new variants that will continue to pose new threats."

•  Bloomberg reports that "Covid-19 vaccination requirements are fast becoming facts of life in the U.S., spreading business by business even as politicians and privacy advocates rail against them.

"Brown, Notre Dame and Rutgers are among universities warning students and staff they’ll need shots in order to return to campus this fall. Some sports teams are demanding proof of vaccination or a negative test from fans as arenas reopen. Want to see your favorite band play indoors in California? At bigger venues, the same rules apply. A Houston hospital chain recently ordered its 26,000 employees to get vaccinated."

However, "privacy advocates are bristling over so-called vaccination passports, with some states moving to restrict their use … Civil-liberties advocates worry about the privacy implications of any passport system."

To this point, the companies requiring such passports are in the minority:  "A recent survey by the consulting firm Mercer Total Health Management found that 73% of employers don’t plan to make vaccination a requirement."

•  CNN reports that Costco, which shut down eating areas and trimmed the menu in its food courts because of the pandemic, is getting ready to get them back to normal, "albeit slowly."

According to the story, a "return to normal is gaining steam. Costco recently began adding back ice cream and smoothies to the menu and is bringing back tables and chairs in stores that have outdoor seating areas. The company also is bringing back churros to the menu and plans to resume indoor seating as more states loosen Covid-19 safety restrictions."

Costco CFO Richard Galanti expects a full return to normal for the company's popular food courts: "God willing. But it's going to take some time," he tells CNN.

•  I've written before about how I think retailers can actually use a high vaccination rate among employees into a competitive advantage … which is exactly what Stew Leonard's did over the weekend with this email to customers:

And then, Stew's also circulated this video - cheeky, a little irreverent and just plain fun - internally to promote even further participation among staff: