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…

•  The United States now has seen 63,390,876 total Covid-19 coronavirus cases, resulting in 863,896 deaths and 42,641,852 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 314,453,071 total cases, with 5,523,842 resultant fatalities and 261,904,172 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 74.5 percent of the total US population and 79.2 percent of the population age five and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 62.6 percent of the total population and 66.6 percent of the five-and-older group have been fully vaccinated.  The CDC also says that 36.7 percent of the total US population has received a vaccine booster dose.

•  From the New York Times this morning:

"The latest Covid-19 wave has left millions of Americans scrambling for tests, braving long lines in the cold at pop-up sites or searching furiously online for kits to use at home. But for a select group of employees at some of the country’s largest companies, tests are free and often readily available.

"Without an adequate federal system for developing and distributing rapid tests, companies have put their own testing services in place.

"Google will send full-time employees in the United States free at-home tests that deliver results within minutes and retail for more than $70 each. BlackRock, an investment firm that manages nearly $10 trillion in assets, offers tele-health supervision as employees self-administer rapid tests for international travel. At JPMorgan Chase, bankers can order at-home rapid tests from an internal company site.

"Some companies are using the tests to call their staff back to the office. For others, at-home Covid testing has become the newest wellness benefit, a perk to keep employees healthy and working — even from their couches — while providing peace of mind.

"The testing available to a small number of white-collar professionals underscores the difference between their pandemic experience and that of other Americans, putting them at an advantage over many, including workers at small businesses without the means to procure testing kits for their staffs. Like personal protective equipment and vaccines, tests have become the latest example of how a tool to battle the pandemic can exacerbate social and economic divides."

•  From the Washington Post:

"For several months, Quebec has required residents to show proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter venues such as gyms, bars and restaurants. Last week, it expanded the list of spaces to include government-run liquor and cannabis stores.

"Now, Premier François Legault is considering a novel way to boost vaccination numbers and slow a growth in hospitalizations that has severely strained the health-care system: a 'health contribution' — or fee — imposed on unvaccinated adults … He provided few details about how his proposal would work or when it could take effect.

"The premier did not specify the fee amount but said it would be “significant” and probably exceed $100. Residents who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons would be exempt.

"As of Jan. 7, more than 78 percent of people in hard-hit Quebec were fully vaccinated, according to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Provincial officials have said that although the unvaccinated make up a small percentage of the population, they are overrepresented in hospitalization figures."

A tax on people who don't get vaccinated?  Even if I thought this sounded like a good idea, I'm pretty sure that at least here in the Us, it would be unworkable - it might be the last straw that would result in a new civil war.  At the very least, people's heads would explode.

But, that said, how about a tax deduction for people who do get vaccinated?  Wouldn't have to be much - maybe $100 per person - but that strikes me as perhaps more palatable.