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 have been 31,033,801 total Covid-19 coronavirus cases, resulting in 563,206 deaths, and 23,509,220 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 128,317,896 coronavirus cases, with 2,806,154 resultant fatalities, and 103,530,069 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Washington Post reports that "at least 95 million people have received one or both doses of the vaccine in the U.S.  This includes more than 49.5 million people who have been fully vaccinated … 180.6 million doses have been distributed."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "a shrinking percentage of Americans are expressing reluctance to get a Covid-19 vaccine, a positive sign for the efforts to get shots in the arms of enough people to reach herd immunity.

The findings come from the latest release of a large-scale survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and developed in concert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics … The survey found about 17% of adults said they would either definitely or probably not get vaccinated, down from 22% in January. The decline was almost entirely due to fewer respondents saying they probably won’t get the shot; the share saying they definitely won’t has remained essentially unchanged in the past two months."

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "the U.S. vaccine drive is expanding. President Biden said Monday that the administration is more than doubling the number of pharmacies in the federal program and opening additional mass-vaccination sites. He said 90% of adults would be eligible for vaccination by April 19 and that 90% would have a vaccination site within 5 miles of their residence."

•  Bloomberg reports that "Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. effectively prevented coronavirus infections, not just illness, with substantial protection evident two weeks after the first dose, government researchers said.

"Two doses of the vaccines provide as much as 90 percent protection against infection, according to data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Monday. Earlier clinical trials had established that the shots also prevent illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The study adds to evidence that new vaccines made with messenger RNA technology actually reduce the spread of the virus in real-world conditions."

Today marks two weeks since my second vaccine.  Feeling good creates a positive state of mind.

•  However, it is not all good news on the pandemic front …

The Washington Post reports that "new coronavirus cases in the United States continued to rise in the past week, jumping by as much as 12 percent nationwide, as senior officials implored Americans to stick to public health measures to help reverse the trend.

"The seven-day average of new cases topped 63,000 for the first time in nearly a month … while states such as Michigan, Vermont and North Dakota reported substantial spikes in new infections. The nation appeared poised for a fourth wave of illness even as vaccine eligibility is expanding in many states.

"Michigan led the nation in new cases with a 57 percent rise over the past week. The state, which relaxed covid-related restrictions earlier this month, also reported the largest increase in coronavirus hospitalizations, which grew by more than 47 percent."

•  Axios reports that "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky went off script at a briefing Monday and made an emotional plea to Americans not to let up on public health measures amid fears of a fourth wave … 'I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,' Walensky said, appearing to hold back tears. 'We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge'."

The Axios story points out that the White House coronavirus response team "is seeking to confront the current dichotomy in the U.S., in which immense optimism from the speed of the vaccine rollout must be balanced with continued restraint in moving forward with normalcy.

"'The thing that’s different this time is we actually have it in our power to be done with this scale of vaccination and that will be so much slower if we have another surge to deal with as well,' Walensky said.  'I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer. I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there, but not quite yet'."

•  The Washington Post writes that "Troubling signals abounded Monday. Daily case counts continued their trend in the wrong direction. The seven-day rolling average of infections, which is considered the most reliable measure of daily case counts, rose for the seventh consecutive day, finishing just below 64,000 … Some hospitals reported admitting younger people with more severe disease. That is evidence that vaccines are protecting people older than 65 who once were the most vulnerable but leaving the unvaccinated exposed. A new variant of the virus that is more contagious and causes more severe disease is taking hold across the country."

Evidence of the age shift, according to the Post:  "At Connecticut’s Yale New Haven Health System … admissions of covid-19 patients ages 35 to 44 are up 41 percent in the past seven weeks, while admission of people 65 and older is down more than 70 percent. At Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, inpatients older than 65 have largely disappeared, replaced by a younger population. And among the patients in Michigan’s Henry Ford Health System, the median age has declined to 58, years younger than during previous surges of the virus."

•  The Associated Press reports that "more than 20 heads of government and global agencies called in a commentary published Tuesday for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness that they say will protect future generations in the wake of COVID-19.

"But there were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively.

"World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and leaders including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, Premier Mario Draghi of Italy and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda proposed 'a renewed collective commitment' to reinforce preparedness and response systems by leveraging the U.N. health agency’s constitution.

"'The world cannot afford to wait until the pandemic is over to start planning for the next one,' Tedros said during a news conference. He said the treaty would provide 'a framework for international cooperation and solidarity' and address issues like surveillance systems and responding to outbreaks'."

The story notes that "international regulations governing health and implemented by WHO already exist - and can be disregarded by countries with few consequences."