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:  34,113,146 total cases … 609,767 deaths … and 27,863,840 reported recoveries.

The global numbers:  171,506,864 cases … 3,566,205 fatalities … and 153,821,025 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 62.6 percent of  the US population age 18 and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 51.5 percent fully vaccinated.

•  Kroger Health, the healthcare division of The Kroger Co., is launching a new effort that it says is designed "to incentivize more Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The #CommunityImmunity giveaway campaign will start next week and provide individuals, including customers and associates, the opportunity to win life-changing prizes like one of five $1 million payouts and 50 chances to win free groceries for a year.

"The program comes after a collaboration with the Biden Administration to encourage increased vaccinations as part of the national push to have at least 70% of U.S. adults with at least their first dose by July 10."

•  CNN  reports that Krispy Kreme has given away more than 1.5 million doughnuts as part of its promotion offering one free doughnuts a day to people who can prove they've received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

•  USA Today reports that Target plans to have all the dressing rooms in all its store open today " after keeping them shuttered for more than a year amid the coronavirus pandemic … The move comes two weeks after Target and other retailers stopped requiring masks for fully vaccinated customers, following updated mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The story says that "Kohl's also recently reopened its fitting rooms after keeping them closed when it reopened stores … Fitting rooms remain temporarily closed at sister stores T.J. Maxx and Marshall's."

The only exceptions at Target, USA Today writes, are the fitting rooms that continue to be used to administer Covid-19 vaccinations.

•  Richard Galanti, Costco's CFO, said last week that the retailer is beginning "a phased return to full sampling. This will come in waves.

"The first wave of locations, about 170 of our 550-ish locations in the U.S. will be activated by the first week of June, with most of the remaining locations returning toward the near -- or toward the end of June. The first wave will actually determine how fast we roll out and what and when restrictions are lifted. I'm sure there will be a few states with unique restrictions as well.

"Increased safety protocols are and will be in place, including all samples prepared behind plexiglass, prepared in smaller batches for better safety control, and distribute it to members one at a time. Food courts, same thing as well. I'm pleased to report that our food courts are also coming back over the next few weeks in a bigger way … We began several weeks ago adding back tables and seating at a handful of outdoor food courts in a few states. Over the past few months, we've also added back a few more food items, including bringing back a new-and-improved churros, which will be at all U.S. locations by the 4th of July, and adding a high-end soft ice cream to replace our frozen yogurt. And by June 7, we plan to have tables in seating back at most locations, but with more physical separation, tables of four instead of six and eight, and about half the seating capacity as we had before."

•  The Washington Post reports that "the federal government relaxed its guidance Friday for summer camps, saying that vaccinated adolescents do not need to wear masks at camp and that even younger campers who have not been inoculated can generally shed face coverings when outdoors.

"The updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remove some glaring inconsistencies between earlier camp recommendations that all staffers and campers wear masks and more recent general announcements that face coverings are rarely needed outdoors and that vaccinated people can often forgo masks entirely. Still, even the updated guidance comes with a complex set of considerations that may prompt camps to change policies just days before they open."

•  Axios reports that New York State "will raffle off 50 four-year scholarships to any public college or university in the state for people between 12–17 years old who receive a coronavirus vaccine from tomorrow until July 7 … It's part of the state's initiative to vaccinate young people after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds."

•  The Los Angeles Times writes that "in the latest and most extraordinary effort yet to boost California’s flagging COVID-19 vaccination rates, state officials on Thursday announced what appears to be the largest inoculation incentive in the nation: the chance for 10 residents to win $1.5 million apiece.

"The goal of the multimillion-dollar giveaway is simple: Give residents every possible motivation to finally roll up their sleeves as the state’s vaccine rollout enters its crucial next phase.

"Those prizes - along with 30 additional awards of $50,000 each - are open to Californians who have gotten at least one dose. Those who have previously received their shots will be entered into the drawings automatically, and there is no need to register, according to state officials."