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…

•  Here are the US Covid-19 coronavirus numbers:  33,896,660 total cases … 604,087 deaths … and 27,502,255 reported recoveries.

The global numbers:  167,579,949 total cases … 3,479,587 fatalities … and 148,623,665 reported recoveries.   (Source.)

•  MarketWatch reports that "the number of global deaths caused by the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 is likely far higher than official numbers suggest, as all countries are struggling to provide accurate statistical models and counts, the World Health Organization said Friday.

"The agency’s annual 'state of the world’s health' assessment presented in its World Health Statistics report for 2021, found that as of Dec. 31, 2020, the true number of global COVID deaths was at least 3 million, or 1.2 million more than the 1.8 million officially reported at the time.

"The official number has since risen to 3.4 million, based on data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, but that is also likely not accurate, said WHO."

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 61.3 percent of the US population age 18 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, and 49.6 percent is fully vaccinated.

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that it seems to be unvaccinated people, rather than vaccinated people, who are driving the country's economic resurgence.

According to the story, "Vaccinated consumers were less likely to go out to restaurants, salons and entertainment venues than those who don’t plan to get the vaccine, April spending and survey data from market-research firm show.

"The vaccinated are 'proceeding with cautious optimism,' said Derrick Fung, chief executive of Cardify. 'They’re still not really comfortable doing live entertainment where there’s crowds of people.'

"People who aren’t vaccinated, on the other hand, tend to be more risk tolerant and are already living a relatively normal life, Mr. Fung added.  'As places open up, they’re the ones leading the charge'.

"Spending at entertainment venues was up 20% among consumers who don’t plan to get the vaccine in April compared with January 2020. It was up just 10% among vaccinated people during that same period, according to Cardify."

•  Axios writes that, "Instead of mandating COVID-19 vaccination, more companies are offering employees cash, paid time off, and other financial incentives to get the shot …Employers are favoring 'carrots' over 'sticks' in the push to get more people vaccinated … Dollar General, Houston Methodist, Kroger, Petco, Target, Walmart, the Maryland state government, and numerous other companies have offered various-sized cash stipends to workers who get vaccinated. The bonuses usually don't exceed $500."

The problem is that "those carrots could run afoul of federal law - if the rewards are too big … There is no clear standard for how large those rewards can be without violating federal disability, anti-discrimination, and privacy laws, as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission continues to lag on issuing guidance."

•  The Wall Street Journal writes that "supermarket workers are back in the middle of a national conversation about face masks … Masks have become a flashpoint at many supermarkets through the pandemic. Some customers refused to wear masks or to put them on properly, leaving store employees to apprehend shoppers and manage confrontations.

"Workers said changing rules over masks are adding to that burden.

"Robert Newell, president at the United Food Commercial Workers International Union’s New York chapter, said the union is encouraging supermarkets to keep mask requirements in place because there’s no easy way to tell whether someone is vaccinated."