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, here are Covid-19 coronavirus numbers:  14,535,196 total confirmed cases, 282,829 deaths, and 8,561,427 reported recoveries.

The global numbers:  65,626,723 confirmed cases, 1,513,866 fatalities, and 45,462,244 reported recoveries. (Source.)

•  The New York Times writes that yesterday was a day on which "officials across the United States reported 216,422 new coronavirus cases, the highest single-day record since the start of the pandemic. Experts cautioned that the number may have been impacted by anomalies in states’ reporting, but it has been part of an overall rise in new infections. At least 2,857 deaths were reported, bringing the U.S. total to over 276,000.

"More than a 100,000 Covid-19 patients were filling hospital beds — when they could find them. In Lubbock, Texas, on Thursday, they could not. The West Texas city of 250,000 has had a daily average of 382 new coronavirus cases in the past seven days, according to a New York Times database."

•  The Wall Street Journal writes that "at overstretched hospitals in regions of the U.S., some patients who need intensive care can’t receive it.

"Hospital administrators say they are racing to hire more nurses, squeezing extra beds onto floors and, in some cases, moving patients across state lines to find room for the critically ill. In some overrun pockets of the country, these emergency measures are no longer enough, doctors and nurses say … An estimated one in four intensive-care beds nationally is occupied by Covid-19 patients, up from one in 10 in September, according to the University of Minnesota’s analysis of Department of Health and Human Services data.

"That has raised overall ICU occupancy, according to federal estimates, which is further constrained by staffing shortages as health-care workers are exposed or infected. More than 1,000 hospitals on Wednesday reported a critical staffing shortage, federal data show."

•  From the Los Angeles Times:

"Californians will soon be asked to comply with strict limits on community outings, travel and in-person shopping under a statewide order issued Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a set of new and far-reaching restrictions tied to regional strains on critical care services as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

"The rules, which take effect on Saturday, are designed to last for at least 21 days once local critical care facilities approach capacity. But with so many hospitals in the state experiencing a rapid surge of patients with the disease, the 'regional stay-at-home' order described by Newsom is likely to limit activities across California throughout the holiday season and possibly into the new year."

“The bottom line is, if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said in a midday news conference. “If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see our death rate climb, more lives lost.”

•  President-elect Joe Biden said yesterday that he has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to remain as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a position he has held since 1984.  Fauci said yes, and also agreed to Biden's request that he become a medical advisor to the incoming administration.

Biden also said yesterday that he would ask - but not mandate - that beginning on January 20, Americans agree to wear masks for 100 days as a way of trying to tamp down on coronavirus spread.

•  In Canada, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister went on television yesterday to plead with his constituents to stay home during the upcoming Christmas holidays and respect the guidelines designed to stem the growth of the coronavirus.

"“If you don’t care for me I understand, I totally do,” Pallister said. “I’m the guy who has told you that you cannot shop. I am the person who has come forward here in front of you 75 times, and has asked you to do things you’ve never done before, and has asked you to do that every day … I’m the guy who has to tell you to stay apart at Christmas and in the holiday season.  I’m that guy. And I’ll say that because it will keep you safe. I’m the guy who’s stealing Christmas to keep you safe.”

Pallister went on:  "If you don’t think that COVID is real, right now, you’re an idiot.  You need to understand that we’re all in this together, you cannot fail to understand this.”

Local media points out that Pallister has fast-falling approval rates among Manitoba's voters, probably related to his inconsistency on the issue - he vacationed in Costa Rica during the early days of the pandemic, and has been accused of moving too quickly to reopen the province's economy after it was shut down.  Still, it probably is better to get religion late than never.

•  The Bellingham Herald reports that "Albertsons Cos. has begun taking daily temperature checks and health screenings of employees and vendors at it supermarkets, warehouses and other locations.

"The Boise, Idaho, grocery company is rolling out touchless temperature scanners and a digital COVID-19 health questionnaire at its more than 2,200 stores nationwide.

"Employees and vendors answer several questions about their health on their cell phones. A video monitor scans their temperature and ensures they’re wearing masks. A machine prints an adhesive sticker with an employee’s photo and the word 'cleared' to show the employee has met the protocols and is cleared for work."

•  The New York Times has a terrific calculator that lets you estimate - based on age, location, occupation and basic health issues - where you'll be on line when the vaccine finally is available.  It only is an estimate, based on available information, but it is kind of fun to check out and compare with the people in your pod.