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 10,708,728 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus … 247,398 resulting deaths … and 6,648,705 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 52,529,547 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 1,291,135 fatalities and 36,749,363 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  From Axios:

"New coronavirus infections jumped by 40% over the past week. The U.S. is now averaging roughly 119,000 new cases per day — by far the highest daily average of any point in the pandemic … Cases rose over the past week in 45 states, and held steady in the other five. Not a single state saw an improvement.

"Nearly 62,000 Americans are in the hospital for coronavirus infections."

•  From Fox News:

"The last time hospitalizations rates nearly reached the 60,000 mark was on July 23, when some 59,718 people were hospitalized, or during the so-called “second peak” that occurred over the summer.

"Hospitalizations have been trending upward over the past weeks, with medical professionals treating COVID patients feeling the effects first hand. The Midwest and Texas, in particular, are driving the hospitalization surge."

Some examples of how bad things are getting:  In Minnesota, "state director of infectious disease Kris Ehresmann said last week that 92% of beds in intensive care units (ICUs) were full. In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced another $28 million in relief for the state’s hospitals and county health departments to address staffing needs, per a news release. And in North Dakota, health officials pointed to staffing strains as a key issue in treating the recent influx of coronavirus patients.

"In Texas, the city of El Paso has more people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 than 29 states, Bloomberg reported. As of Tuesday, some 1,076 people were hospitalized in the border city, according to official estimates."

•  From the Washington Post:

"The coronavirus pandemic is rolling across America like a great crimson wave.

In Illinois, the rate of new infections is so high that a group of doctors sent an urgent letter to the governor. 'We’re having to almost decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t,' said one of its leaders.

"In Ohio, the rapid spread of the virus has pushed the state health-care system to the brink. Expressing deep concern, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) vowed to enforce his statewide mask mandate and issued new restrictions on social gatherings. 'We can’t surrender to this virus. We can’t let it run wild,' he said.

"And in Iowa, where a record number of new infections in a day coincided with a record number of deaths, the White House coronavirus task force issued a dire warning about 'the unyielding covid spread' throughout the state.

•  And from the Wall Street Journal:

"Indiana’s single day number was above 5,000 for the first time, according to Johns Hopkins. Other states recording all-time highs included Illinois, North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky, Arkansas, Idaho, New Mexico and West Virginia."

The Journal writes that "a range of factors has contributed to the recent surge in infections, hospitalizations and deaths, say epidemiologists and public-health officials. Inconsistent messaging on masks and other preventive measures has hindered their effectiveness, they say, and pandemic fatigue has increased some people’s willingness to take risks."

•  The New York Times adds, "The list of deeply troubled locations — each with its own, different gauge of the problem — goes on and on. If anything, the sheer number of hot spots comes as a reminder of how widespread this outbreak has grown … Here are some of the places in the country that might be considered the most trouble-prone when it comes to Covid-19, including Minot, N.D.; Sioux City, Iowa; New York City; Los Angeles County; the Navajo Nation; and Texas, among others."

•  The New York Times also has this portrait of the situation in El Paso, Texas:

" Coronavirus patients filled beds on one floor. Then two. Then the University Medical Center, a teaching hospital in El Paso, set up tents to care for patients in a parking lot. A downtown convention center became a field hospital. To free up even more space, the state began airlifting dozens of intensive care patients to other cities.

"Local leaders clashed over what to do to quell the spiraling coronavirus crisis. The top county official ordered a lockdown and curfew. But the mayor disagreed, and the police said they would not enforce it. Then the state attorney general weighed in — a lockdown was unnecessary and illegal, he said.

"And the patients kept coming … El Paso, a border city of 680,000, now has more people hospitalized with Covid-19 than most states — 1,076 as of Tuesday — and is more than doubling its supply of mobile morgues, to 10 from four."

Is there anyone who does not find the term "mobile morgues" to be quite literally chilling?

•  The Los Angeles Times reports that "San Francisco health officials announced Tuesday that they would be rolling back several coronavirus reopenings, meaning that indoor dining will be suspended, capacity at gyms and theaters will be reduced and the city’s high schools will have to wait to reopen.

"The city has one of the state’s lowest rates of coronavirus cases and deaths and was not forced by state health officials to implement the new restrictions. But health authorities have noticed a recent uptick in cases and decided to act to prevent another surge of infections.

"The new restrictions, which go into effect Friday at 11:59 p.m., represent another blow to the city’s famed restaurant industry."

•  From the Associated Press:

" In Italy, lines of ambulances park outside hospitals awaiting beds for incoming patients. In France, the government’s coronavirus tracking app prominently displays the intensive-care capacity taken up by COVID-19 patients: 92.5% and rising. In the ICU in Barcelona, Spain, there is no end in sight for the doctors and nurses who endured this once already.

"Intensive care is the last line of defense for severely ill COVID-19 patients. Europe is now running out of beds and the doctors and nurses to staff them.

"In country after country, the intensive-care burden of those sickened by the coronavirus is nearing and sometimes surpassing levels seen at last spring’s peak. Health officials, many advocating a return to stricter lockdowns, warn that adding beds will do no good because there aren’t enough doctors and nurses trained to staff them."

•  NBC News  has a story about how, at least in Southern California, retail execs are saying that consumers do not have to stockpile because of concerns about shortages.

According to the piece, "Representatives of Ralph’s and Food 4 Less say they are confident that the supply chain is strong and will hold steady and again.

"Because it’s the holiday season, Food 4 Less officials say they are working to keep everything stocked in the store. Sometimes you might notice empty shelves, but that can mean shipments are late or they haven’t gotten around to get out and stock everything that’s needed in the store."

•  The Columbus Dispatch reports that "Ohio State's game at Maryland on Saturday has been canceled due to a coronavirus outbreak within the Terrapins' program. It will not be rescheduled.

"Maryland announced eight players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past seven days, prompting the matchup to be called off … It is the first Buckeyes game to be impacted this season, which began last month and has seen them play in three games."

•  From the Department of Things You Didn't Think You Had To Think About…

The Wall Street Journal reports that there one unexpected pandemic-related issue likely to occur this winter.

Y'know how when you're flying in northern climes during the colder months, and sometimes they have to de-ice the plane before it takes off?

It ends up that when airport personnel spray the de-icing liquid on planes, it is important that the flight crew turns off the ventilation systems that circulate outside air.

And it is those same ventilation systems that the airlines have touted as being one of the main factors in preventing the spread of the coronavirus on airplanes.

Airlines say they are studying the issue, and may make changes in some procedures.  Which makes me wonder which ones they'll change.  The de-icing?  The ventilation?  I'm trying to see where the passenger win is here…

•  From the Associated Press:

"Hong Kong’s first socially distanced outdoor entertainment park opened its doors to the public on Tuesday in an attempt by the entertainment industry to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The park, called The Grounds, has a hundred socially distanced enclosed areas spaced 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) apart that seat two to four people.

"Visitors can enjoy a variety of entertainment programs, including live performances and an outdoor cinema … The outdoor park, which is scheduled to operate for just two months, has implemented health measures including online pre-registration, health declarations, temperature checks, mandatory face masks, and hand sanitizers at each entry and exit point."

I do love that one of the first events held at The Grounds was a screening of Jaws … which, appropriately enough, is about the dangers of denial.