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 7,321,465 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 209,454 deaths and 4,560,742 reported recoveries.

Globally, we've crossed the grim line - there now have been 1,002,965 coronavirus-related deaths, with a total of 33,340,693 confirmed cases and 24,653,826 reported recoveries.

• From ABC News:

"With the U.S. averaging 40,000 new cases per day, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci says the country is 'not in a good place' right now.

"'It's something you don't want to be in a position like that as the weather starts getting cold,' Fauci said, warning that the numbers are particularly worrying to him as the colder months set in and people begin to move to more inside activities.

"In August, Fauci said the U.S. needed to get to 10,000 cases per day to have some control over the coronavirus.

"Fauci is warning that we may see an increase in deaths as states show an uptick in cases and hospitalizations."

•  From the New York Times:

"Less than 10 percent of Americans have antibodies to the new coronavirus, suggesting that the nation is even further from herd immunity than had been previously estimated, according to a study published Friday in The Lancet … The results roughly matched those of an analysis to be released next week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that about 10 percent of blood samples from sites across the country contained antibodies to the virus.

"Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the C.D.C., was referring to that analysis when he told a congressional committee this week that 90 percent of all Americans were still vulnerable to the virus, a C.D.C. spokeswoman said."

The story says that the study "found wide variances in antibody levels around the country. In the New York metropolitan area, including New Jersey, antibody levels were higher than 25 percent of samples tested. In the western United States, they were below 5 percent.

"Over all, the researchers estimated the prevalence to be about 9.3 percent."

•  The Times goes on:

"In the U.S., the virus is spreading fastest in the heartland.

"The heart of the American outbreak is shifting to the heartland. As the coronavirus crisis drags on, less populous states in the Midwest and the Great Plains are seeing furious growth, while dense states in the Northeast are experiencing some of the slowest rates of new infection.

"In South Dakota, cases have risen steadily throughout the month of September. In the past week, more new cases have been diagnosed than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic and twice broken a record for coronavirus hospitalizations. Officials announced 457 new cases Friday."

And, the Times writes, "Across state lines, North Dakota is experiencing the single fastest rate of growth of coronavirus cases per capita in the country. In the past week, the state has averaged 390 new cases per day — a 50 percent increase from the average two weeks ago … In Wisconsin cases have more than doubled since the beginning of September. The state, a critical battleground in the presidential election, has had an average of more than 2,000 cases per day in the past week … Two more central states also reported single-day case records on Friday: Oklahoma with 1,276 and Missouri with more than 2,020. The other three states that reported single-day records were Idaho, Oregon, and Utah.  In Oklahoma, more cases have been announced over the last week than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic."

•  The New York Daily News reports that "coronavirus continues to spread 'at an alarming rate' in several New York City neighborhoods, the Health Department said Sunday, a day before it is expected to decide whether to shut down private schools and nonessential businesses there.

"The COVID infection rate in Gravesend/Homecrest, Brooklyn, is 6.75%, up from 6% last week; 5.34% in Midwood, Brooklyn, up from 4.95%, and 4.41% in Borough Park, Brooklyn, up from 3.53%, according to the Health Department.

"It also flagged Kew Gardens, Queens; Edgemere/Far Rockaway, Queens; Bensonhurst/Mapleton, Brooklyn; Gerritsen Beach/Homecrest/Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Flatlands/Midwood, Brooklyn, as areas of concern."

Last week, the Daily News writes, "the agency said it would shutter private schools and nonessential businesses in the neighborhoods, which include large Hasidic populations, if the outbreak is not brought under control by Monday night.

"The department flagged four additional areas — Rego Park, Queens; Kew Gardens Hills/Pomonok, Queens; Kensington/Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, and Brighton Beach/Manhattan Beach/Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn — as 'showing increased growth of cases and test positivity between 2% and 3%.'

"Statewide, the percentage of COVID tests that came back positive Saturday was 1.02%, according to Gov. Cuomo’s office."

"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance," someone once said.  He or she was not referring to a pandemic, but it seems appropriate … the minute we stop paying attention and get complacent, the virus senses an opening and moves in.

•  Axios reports that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "announced Friday the state will completely reopen its economy, allowing restaurants to operate at full capacity and barring localities from ordering businesses to close … The state now enters Phase 3 of its reopening, lifting the vast majority of any remaining restrictions on gyms, bars and retail spaces. These spaces had already been operating at or near full capacity under previous phases of Florida's reopening.

"Cities and counties would be forced to justify any localized restrictions that bring capacity below 100%."

Some context:  "Florida's coronavirus case count over the past week has been steady, averaging about 2,700 new daily cases over the past week.  Nearly 700,000 people have contracted COVID-19 in Florida, and the death toll is more than 14,000, according to the state's health department."

•  The New York Times writes that even if adults are able to get a Covid-19 vaccinating by next summer, it may be "a lot longer" before children will have access to a vaccine.

While "a number of Covid-19 vaccines for adults are already in advanced clinical trials … no trials have yet begun in the United States to determine whether these vaccines are safe and effective for children."

“Right now I’m pretty worried that we won’t have a vaccine available for kids by the start of next school year,” Dr. Evan Anderson, a pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and a professor at the Emory University School of Medicine, tells the Times.

According to the story, "Whenever these trials do start, it could take upward of a year to get vaccines for Covid-19 ready for children. Vaccine makers will need to write protocols and get them approved by the F.D.A. They’ll need to recruit volunteers — a process that is more time consuming for pediatric vaccines since parents must give informed consent. Getting to the first injections could take a couple of months.

"By necessity, the trials would have to start small, with researchers giving perhaps just half a dozen kids a low dose of the vaccine and then monitoring them for several days. Then the trial could expand to dozens and then hundreds of kids.

"A couple more months might pass while the vaccine developers give a low dose to a small group of kids. Each group of children would need two months of observation to check for their immune response and to make sure they don’t have any side effects. Only then would vaccine developers start a new trial with a higher dose."

•   The New York Times has a story saying that doctors are noticing that one result of the coronavirus pandemic seems to be an increase in hair loss, "a phenomenon they believe is indeed related to the coronavirus pandemic, affecting both people who had the virus and those who never became sick.

"In normal times, some people shed noticeable amounts of hair after a profoundly stressful experience such as an illness, major surgery or emotional trauma.  Now, doctors say, many patients recovering from Covid-19 are experiencing hair loss — not from the virus itself, but from the physiological stress of fighting it off."

And it isn't just people who have had Covid-19:  "Many people who never contracted the virus are also losing hair, because of emotional stress from job loss, financial strain, deaths of family members or other devastating developments stemming from the pandemic."