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 a total of 64,359,409 total cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus - up almost three million from yesterday -  resulting in 866,891 deaths and 42,805,090 reported recoveries.

Globally, there have been 317,933,760 total cases, with 5,533,176 resultant fatalities and 263,135,745 reported recoveries.  (Source.)

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 74.6 percent of the total US population and 79.3 percent of the population that is age five and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, with 62.7 percent of the total population and 66.7 percent of the five-and-older population being fully vaccinated.  The CDC says that 37 percent of the total US population have received the vaccine booster shot.

•  The Associated Press reports that "scientists are seeing signals that COVID-19′s alarming omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the U.S., at which point cases may start dropping off dramatically … The variant has proved so wildly contagious that it may already be running out of people to infect, just a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa."

The AP writes that "at the same time, experts warn that much is still uncertain about how the next phase of the pandemic might unfold. The plateauing or ebbing in the two countries is not happening everywhere at the same time or at the same pace. And weeks or months of misery still lie ahead for patients and overwhelmed hospitals even if the drop-off comes to pass."

• From the Wall Street Journal this morning:

"Public-school attendance across the U.S. has dropped to unusually low levels, complicating efforts to keep schools open, as districts also contend with major staff shortages.

"Many students in kindergarten through 12th grade are out sick because of Covid-19 or are being kept home by anxious parents, as the Omicron variant surges, officials say. Remote learning often isn’t being offered anymore for students who are home. Empty desks create a quandary for teachers, who must decide whether to push ahead with lesson plans knowing a large number of their students will need to catch up.

"New York City, the nation’s largest school district, saw its overall attendance rate fall below 70% when classes resumed after the winter holidays, far beneath the district’s pre-pandemic average of over 91% students at school each day. Many students missed class because of fears of contracting the virus or because they or a family member had tested positive, teachers said."

The Journal also writes that "the Biden administration plans to distribute millions of free Covid-19 tests to schools around the country, part of the federal government’s effort to keep schools open amid a surge in coronavirus cases caused by the Omicron variant.

"Later this month, the administration will begin shipping five million rapid Covid-19 tests to K-12 schools each month, White House officials said. States will have to apply to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to receive the tests. The administration has previously distributed $10 billion in resources to states for testing at schools. That funding was included in the coronavirus response legislation signed into law last year, according to the White House … The rapid tests for schools are in addition to the 500 million rapid tests the administration plans to begin distributing to the public for free in the coming weeks, a White House official said. The administration has faced criticism for testing shortages around the country that led to long lines and empty shelves at the start of the Omicron surge."