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 6,828,301 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 201,348 deaths and 4,119,158 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 30,063,255 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 945,542 fatalities and 21,819,114 reported recoveries.

•  Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a US Senate subcommittee on appropriations yesterday that a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine may not be widely available until the middle of 2021.

"If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public, so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at third, late second quarter, third quarter, 2021," Redfield said.

Any limited supply available earlier - perhaps as soon as the end of this year - should be prioritized for first responders and high-risk communities, he said.

Redfield also emphasized the importance of wearing a mask, saying that it “is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine."  He called masks "the most powerful public health tool we have," and said that if everyone in the country wore a mask, it would bring the pandemic under control in 12 weeks or less.

•  Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that "Covid-19 can be removed as a public-health threat with good, widely administered vaccines and strong public-health measures, and a degree of normality might return by the end of 2021."

“With a combination of a good vaccine together with good public health measures, we may be able to put this coronavirus outbreak behind us, the way we put the original SARS behind us,” he said.

According to the story, "Dr. Fauci said it is unlikely Covid-19 could be eradicated. But he said that it would be possible under the right conditions to remove it as a public-health threat. Whether or not that happens will depend on how effective vaccines that are currently in development or testing prove to be, how many people get them, and how well public-health measures such as isolating exposed or infected people are deployed, he said."

•  Southwest Airlines yesterday pledged to extend its no-middle-seat occupancy policy through the end of November as it looks to assuage customers still nervous about flying during the pandemic.

CNBC reports that the decision comes as Southwest announced that "it expects revenue to drop 65% to 75% in October and capacity to be down 40% to 50% from the same month last year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt travel demand. It forecast November capacity to drop 35% to 40% from 2019."

•  Eater New York reports that the New York City Council has passed a new bill "that will give restaurants in the city the option to add a surcharge of up to 10 percent to diners’ bills as an economic recovery support measure during the pandemic. The provision will go into effect immediately after the mayor, who is in support of the bill, signs it into law. It will extend until 90 days after indoor dining at full capacity is allowed … The extra revenue from the surcharge can be put towards any part of the business that the restaurant owner chooses, although it has to be clear to customers that the charge isn’t interchangeable with tips and the money doesn’t go towards staff wages."