North America Update: November 11
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- President-elect Joe Biden has appointed a 13-member COVID-19 task force, co-led by former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and Marcell Nunez-Smith, a professor at Yale University, to guide his administration’s national response strategy. Biden’s plan is expected to call for a more coordinated national strategy and less reliance on state and local leaders managing policy. The Biden-Harris campaign laid out a plan that includes use of the Defense Production Act to make protective equipment for frontline workers, increasing both drive-in and at-home testing, instituting a nationwide mask policy, and the United States rejoining the World Health Organization.
- The United States topped 10 million cases on Monday. The 10 million mark was reached just 10 days after the U.S. reached 9 million cases. The U.S. is reporting a record-high weekly average of roughly 108,736 cases every day, growing more than 33 percent compared with a week ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Last week, 28 states broke their records for the number of new cases in a week.
- The spread of COVID-19 is accelerating in Canada, with the country reporting more than 4,000 new cases in one day for the first time on Saturday. In response, the province of British Columbia enacted two weeks of sweeping constraints in major population centers, including barring household gatherings of any size, while Manitoba has expanded its “red-zone” restrictions, and Peel Region, west of Toronto, has put in place the strictest anti-COVID-19 rules in Ontario, which include closing banquet halls and prohibiting wedding receptions until next year.
- Last week, Canada’s top public health official Dr. Theresa Tam recommended that Canadians choose three-layer non-medical masks with a filter layer as Canadians prepare to spend more time indoors over the winter.
- More Europeans are seriously ill with the coronavirus than ever before, new hospital data for 21 countries shows, surpassing the worst days in the spring and threatening to overwhelm stretched hospitals and exhausted medical workers.
- Countries across Europe are scrambling to find solutions to the influx of hospitalizations across the region. Swiss authorities approved deploying up to 2,500 military personnel to help hospitals handle rising infections in the country, while others like France have postponed non-emergency surgeries. In Belgium, staff shortages have led some hospitals to ask doctors and nurses who have tested positive for the virus but don’t have symptoms to keep working.
- On Monday, Portugal and Hungary became the latest European countries to impose curfews against the resurgent tide of coronavirus infections and deaths lashing the continent and filing its emergency wards.
- Due to COVID-19, food production trends have altered. Urban farming is growing in popularity as countries seek to build their supply chain resilience and food security.
- As an increasing number of people stay home, urban farming has grown popular in Indonesia. According to an animal biotechnology researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Science, COVID-19 urban dwellers have realized that they must guard their food security.
- In Malaysia, conglomerates such as Sunway Group developed a 50,000 sq. ft. urban farming, food solutions and agritech innovation hub. In Singapore, where less than 1% of the country’s land is dedicated to agriculture, the emergence of urban farming presents a solution to reducing the country’s reliance on imports. By encouraging urban farming, Singapore is aligning with its vision of locally sourcing 30% of its food by 2030.
- Mexico’s Health Ministry reported 5,931 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on Friday with 551 additional fatalities as a second state planned to enter the highest alert level. As of Friday, the country has recorded a total of 955,128 cases and 94,323 deaths, with the number of its confirmed cases ranking fourth in Latin America after Brazil, Argentina and Colombia.
- Mexico’s economy expanded at the fastest pace in at least three decades in the third quarter, making up for part of the output lost during the pandemic as manufacturing surged to meet strong U.S. demand.
- Ten governors launched a legal battle against the Mexican government to change the current fiscal model, which could pose significant risks for manufacturing companies located in border states and as well as in more industrialized states.
- The Brazilian federal government is in talks with Pfizer Inc. in Brazil to buy its experimental COVID-19 vaccine for inclusion in its national vaccination program, a spokesperson for the company said on Monday.
- Brazil has now registered 5,631,181 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 162,015, according to ministry data, in the world’s most fatal outbreak outside of the United States.
- President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday, November 5, in his traditional streaming on social media, that Brazil’s economy is reacting and, after quoting positive data on job creation in the country, asked mayors and governors not to “invent” new confinements and lockdowns after the November municipal elections.
INSIGHTS & INTEL
- News that the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is proving to be 90 percent effective in late-stage clinical trial candidates brings the vaccine a step closer to applying for federal government approval for widespread use.
- The U.S. Food & Drug Administration wants two months’ worth of safety outcomes after vaccination for at least half of the people participating in any large, final-stage clinical trial before it considers authorizing a COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and BioNTech say they expect to reach that target during the third week of November and then may apply for emergency use authorization.
- Pfizer says it expects to produce up to 50 million doses globally in 2020 – enough for 25 million people because the vaccine will be given in two doses – and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021. This means only the highest risk groups, such as front-line health care workers, would be vaccinated before the end of this year. Moreover, Pfizer’s outcome is positive for another COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna because it uses similar mRNA technology. Moderna expects efficacy and safety results from a large trial of its vaccine later this month.
According to Digiday, as publishers begin to make plans for 2021 and look for ways to slim down their sales organizations, many are looking to give more responsibility to their sales teams’ account managers, partly to cut costs but also to nurture the kind of always-on relationship that many publishers are trying to forge with their clients. These efforts come particularly in an era of compressed planning cycles, fewer RFPs and more pressure on buyers to prove that their spending is driving results.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from Washington Post, Politico, and Bloomberg cover a variety of topics including the future of work and use of new digital technologies, how women candidates fared in 2020 elections, and the next generation of banking.
- ESPN: As COVID-19 continues to up-end the sports industry, ESPN announced its largest layoff in company history. The sports network announced 300 employees will be laid off and 200 currently vacant jobs will go unfilled.
- Bridgestone: Bridgestone is the latest sponsor to cancel its Super Bowl LV hospitality program. Originally planning to host 100 tire dealers and retailers for three days of parties and VIP access, the uncertainties of COVID-19 has led Bridgestone to follow other top-tier sponsors (such as AB-InBev) and plug on in-person activities.
- NFL: Due to repeated COVID-19 protocol violations, the Las Vegas Raiders faced a new fine of $500k and were stripped of the 6th round draft pick, while Head Coach Jon Gruden was hit with a $150k fine. The Raiders have now been fined a total of $1.185M for failing to follow the league’s COVID-19 protocols. The Steelers also faced a team fine of $250k and Head Coach Mike Tomlin received a $100k fine.
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