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 58,805,186 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 853,612 deaths and 41,999,896 reported recoveries.
Globally, there have been 298,477,857 cases, with 5,484,453 resultant fatalities and 256,961,286 reported recoveries. (Source.)
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 78.5 percent of the US population age five and older has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 66.2 percent of that cohort being fully vaccinated. The CDC says that 73.9 percent of the total US population has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 62.3 percent of the total population being fully vaccinated.
And, the CDC says, 34.9 percent of the total US population has received a vaccine booster dose.
• The CDC also announced yesterday that it has approved an advisory committee's recommendation that booster shots of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine should be given to 12- to 17-year-olds, ideally five months after they've received their original vaccinations.
Axios writes that "the move comes days after the Food and Drug Administration expanded its authorization of Pfizer boosters to allow 12- to 15-year-olds to receive the third shots.
"The CDC on Tuesday also updated its COVID-19 vaccine guidance, recommending that individuals who received the Pfizer shot get a booster five months after getting their second shot, instead of six.
"The CDC also encouraged children who are immunocompromised between the ages of 5 and 11 to receive a third primary COVID-19 shot 28 days after their second shot."
• Los Angeles Magazine reports on a new study from the UCLA Labor Center saying that "fast food employees in Los Angeles County are at a higher risk of contracting COVID in addition to facing difficult work conditions during the pandemic … The report reveals that fast food workers don’t receive workplace protections to which they are legally entitled despite their frontline roles during the pandemic. Nearly a quarter of fast food employees contracted COVID in the last 18 months and less than half were notified by their employers after they had been exposed to the virus."
The story cites the study's conclusions that "violations of labor standards within fast food restaurants have increased during the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of employees have experienced wage theft, and more than half of them have faced health and safety hazards on the job, resulting in injuries for 43 of workers."
• From the Washington Post this morning:
"The omicron coronavirus variant is slowing the economic recovery, making worker shortages for already-shorthanded employers more severe and leading consumers to pull back from spending on restaurants, hotels and airlines that have been battered by two years of pandemic upheaval.
"In the United States, major airlines this week canceled thousands of flights, while public transit systems in New York and Washington curtailed service because of staffing shortages. Professional sports schedules were upended and corporations such as American Express, Goldman Sachs and The Washington Post have shelved their January return-to-office plans."
• Tennis star Novak Djokovic traveled to Australia yesterday to defend his Australian Open title, but was denied entry to the country as authorities ruled that his medical exemption from vaccination mandates was illegitimate.
The Wall Street Journal reports that "a spokeswoman for Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed that Djokovic would not be allowed to enter the country. Djokovic and his team had been held at Melbourne Airport for more than six hours by the Australian border force when he was informed that he needed to leave immediately."
According to the story, "Djokovic had not secured the necessary medical exemption to rules requiring arrivals to have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccine … the government told Australian Open organizers in late November that a diagnosis of, and recovery from, Covid within six months of entry would not exempt players from Australia’s vaccination requirements.
"The saga of Djokovic’s possible trip to Australia had been brewing for months. The men’s world No. 1 had made it known that he didn’t want to be vaccinated while Australian Open organizers and the local government insisted that no unvaccinated players would be admitted, in accordance with national law requiring travelers to be jabbed."
Djokovic certainly has the freedom not to be vaccinated, if that is his choice. But choices often come with consequences, and this is one of those times.
• The Associated Press reports that "the Grammy Awards were postponed Wednesday weeks before the planned Los Angeles ceremony over what organizers called 'too many risks' from the omicron variant, signaling what could be the start of another year of pandemic upheaval for awards season.
"The attempt at a back-to-normal show had been scheduled for Jan. 31st at the newly renamed Crypto.com Arena with a live audience and performances, but no new date is on the books. The Recording Academy said it made the decision to postpone the ceremony 'after careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners'."
The AP also reports that "the Sundance Film Festival is canceling its in-person festival and reverting to an entirely virtual edition due to the current coronavirus surge.
Festival organizers announced Wednesday that the festival will start as scheduled on Jan. 20 but will shift online. The festival had been planned as a hybrid, with screenings both in Park City and online. Last year’s Sundance was also held virtually because of the pandemic."