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 a total of 33,922,937 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 604,416 deaths and 27,563,930 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 168,035,170 coronavirus cases, with 3,488,66 fatalities, and 149,377,299 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is saying that 61.5 percent of the US population 18 or older has received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 49.8 percent being fully vaccinated.

•  The New York Times this morning that "Moderna said on Tuesday that its coronavirus vaccine, authorized only for use in adults, was powerfully effective in 12- to 17-year-olds, and that it planned to apply to the Food and Drug Administration in June for authorization to use the vaccine in adolescents.

"If approved, its vaccine would become the second Covid-19 vaccine available to U.S. adolescents. Federal regulators authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month for 12- to 15-year-olds.

"The Pfizer shot was initially authorized for use in people 16 and older, while Moderna’s has been available for those 18 and up."

•  Kroger chairman-president-CEO Rodney McMullen has contributed an op-ed piece to CNN in which he writes about the company's vaccination efforts.

An excerpt:

"According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, businesses are among the most trusted institutions in American life.

"Business leaders have a social responsibility to lead with facts and act with empathy. At Kroger, we've found that our associates became less hesitant about vaccinations after we offered a financial incentive of $100 and provided consistent, factual information from trusted authorities about vaccine efficacy and safety.

"For many, receiving the vaccine may require time off work, travel time or childcare. By offering solutions with financial support, it makes the decision to get vaccinated less of a burden. To help address these practical challenges, our family of companies is awarding a $100 payment to each associate who becomes fully vaccinated.

"Beyond rewards, education is key. There are unfortunate misconceptions and skepticism about the vaccines, so being proactive with employees and sharing the facts about the science is extremely important.

"We also launched a content series featuring Kroger's chief medical officer, Dr. Marc Watkins, who shares his professional opinion, answers employees' questions and offers a good dose of myth-busting facts to help people make an educated vaccination decision. And our leaders are sharing their confidence in the vaccine, their personal vaccination experience and also their "why" — the often deeply personal reason they chose to get vaccinated, whether it's to spend time with aging parents, to protect a spouse who is a cancer survivor or to safeguard customers and each other."

•  United Airlines said yesterday that members of its loyalty program "who upload their vaccination records to United’s mobile app or website through June 22 are eligible to win a round-trip flight for two 'in any class of service, to anywhere in the world United flies.'  The carrier will give away 30 pairs of tickets in June. On July 1, United will give five people a grand prize of travel for a year for themselves and a companion."

The sweepstakes is part of a broader effort around the country by both public and private institutions to find ways to incentivize people to get the vaccine.

I'm glad that these incentives are being offered, but you'd think that just preventing oneself from getting stock and inhibiting the spread of a pandemic - you know, being personally invested in the public health - would be enough.

•  The Washington Post reports on how drones may be employed to get vaccines to hard-to-reach people.

"While more than one-third of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there are still millions of people who have yet to receive a single dose," the Post writes.  "Reasons for not getting a shot vary — some don’t want one at all, while others say they’ll wait a bit longer to decide. And then, there are people who want to get vaccinated but are in too remote of an area to get to a typical vaccination site.

"They include people working on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico or living in rural areas miles from the nearest doctor’s office or pharmacy. Drone companies are positioning themselves to deliver refrigerated medical products to those people. If the plans don’t pan out in time to combat the coronavirus crisis, then they hope to be set up to assist swiftly in the world’s next big health scare."

"The world's next big health scare."  It is really important to think about this - what we have learned about our public health system - the infrastructure that works, as well as the gaps that allowed for greater spread - that can be applied the next time.  Most importantly, we cannot wait until the next time to apply these lessons … we have to start the process now. (Of course, if we can't get our act together and raise our vaccination rates this time ...)