North America Update: November 18
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Liz Schrayer, President & CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), joined Weber Shandwick’s EVP of Geopolitical Strategy & Risk, Michelle Giuda, for a conversation on the intersection of global and local, vaccine geopolitics, the U.S. election – and the implications of all of the above on the future of U.S. global leadership, development and diplomacy.
TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: NOVEMBER 18, 2020
- On average, the U.S. is recording close to 150,000 new cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. As outbreaks worsen across the country, some state and local officials are re-imposing lockdown measures ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. In earlier surges, infections were concentrated in large cities such as New York and Chicago and in the most populous states such as California, Florida and Texas. Now it is reaching rural areas and mid-sized cities across the country.
- Health experts say several factors are behind the most recent surge of COVID-19 cases: colder weather is driving people indoors, including into bars and restaurants; students have returned to college campuses; and people are becoming lax about public health measures such as wearing masks in public and social distancing.
- The number of U.S. hospitalizations reached a new high. However, hospital stays are shorter and the virus death rate is lower compared to the spring, resulting from greater medical knowledge and improved treatment. The seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. was above 1,000 last week. However, that average is half of the daily deaths seen in April when the seven-day average was 2,200.
- Thanksgiving in Canada fell on October 12 this year, and as family and friends gathered, it fueled a widespread surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Now, public health officials warned the health care system cannot handle a repeat at Christmas.
- Canada’s total COVID-19 case count has surpassed 300,000 as the pandemic continues to rapidly accelerate across the country, which recorded a record number of daily cases last week. It’s estimated that if current trends continue Canada could hit an average of 10,000 cases daily by early December.
- The Canadian military is making plans to play a role in the eventual rollout of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide. As news about potential vaccines continues to make headlines, there are already military teams “fully integrated” with the Public Health Agency of Canada on planning for getting vaccines to millions of Canadians once Health Canada approves them.
- The World Health Organization recorded 65 cases of COVID-19 among staff at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. An email from a representative of WHO said about half of the infections were in people who had been working from home. However, 32 were in staff who had been working in the headquarters building.
- Hospitals in Europe are beginning to fill back up amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections and deaths. Several countries are in partial lockdowns, with many hoping that restrictions will begin to have an effect as intensive care units fill up.
- Infections in the Czech Republic have started to decline after a two-month rise to record-high levels. The number of people hospitalized also dropped below 8,000. The country has recorded an additional 7,874 cases, down from more than 15,000 last week. However, the country still has the EU’s highest 14-day incidence rate for COVID-19 deaths with 27.2 fatalities per 100,000 population. Of the country’s 5,755 deaths from the virus, around 2,270 occurred in November.
- During the lockdowns across Southeast Asia, malls in the region saw a 90 percent drop in footfall while online sales are on the rise.
- In Singapore, store closures hit a 10-month high in September, according to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. The city-state mourned the closure of department store Stalwart Robinsons after 162 years of operation after its owners decided to liquidate the stores citing shifting consumer tastes and cost pressures. Parkson Retail Asia’s auditor EY has flagged that there is uncertainty about the retail group’s ability to operate its stores across Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia.
- South Korea’s retail sector grew 8.5 percent in September, with sales from e-commerce platforms growing 20 percent year-on-year. According to a Nielsen survey, South Korean shoppers were most interested in value for their money and fast “within six-hour” delivery timetables when shopping online.
- Mexico’s Director-General of Health Promotion Ricardo Cortes Alcala announced on Saturday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico is now 1,003,253, with at least 98,259 deaths from COVID-19.
- Mexico is currently participating in five different vaccine trials to combat COVID-19. Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard says that results of some of the vaccines are promising.
- Last Friday, Mexico City announced the closure of bars two weeks after the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 rose to levels not seen since August. The city’s mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the number of tests administered would be increased to as many as 10,000 per day. An upgrade of the nation’s policy to test only those who have serious symptoms.
- The municipal elections for Brazil began on Sunday and so far, Brazilians are gravitating toward experienced leaders from traditional parties amid the pandemic – a move some speculate may impact the reelection of President Jair Bolsonaro.
- Last Monday, Brazil halted a late-stage trial of a Chinese vaccine that had been considered a global front-runner in the race to develop a protective shot for the coronavirus after a “serious adverse” reaction in a participant. The government offered little explanation to why it halted testing. An institute involved in the trial said a participant’s death was unrelated to the vaccine.
INSIGHTS & INTEL
- A second COVID-19 vaccine is showing promising results in stage three of its clinical trials. Moderna’s experimental coronavirus vaccine was 94.5 percent effective at protecting people from the virus. The vaccine also showed signs of being safe. Researchers and regulators must wait for the complete efficacy and safety data from the study, which is expected later this month. Moderna said it plans to ask U.S. federal health authorities by early December to approve the vaccine for emergency use.
- By the end of the year, Moderna expects to have approximately 20 million doses of the vaccine ready to ship in the United States. It is on track to manufacture 500 million to 1 billion doses globally in 2021. It has supply agreements in North America, the Middle East and in other regions of the world.
- Two other vaccines, developed by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, are also in late-stage trials and could deliver results this year.
CNN commentator Brian Stelter believes that the coming winter season, amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, is a chance to get creative. He thinks this is an opportunity for media outlets to come up with new forms of programming and ways to connect with “isolated” populations.
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced new commitments totaling $70 million to global efforts to develop and distribute safe, affordable, and timely vaccines for low- and middle-income countries. Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, made the announcement at the Paris Peace Conference.
- Cheetos launched a limited-edition holiday cookbook featuring recipes inspired by the PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay snack brand. The campaign cookbook is designed to inspire people who have spent more time making home-cooked meals during the pandemic while raising money for charity.
- The CDC Foundation announced it is redoubling its response efforts through the official launch of the “Crush COVID” campaign. This campaign aims to raise support and advance work targeted to end the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives in America alone and shaken the global economy.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from Bloomberg, Economist, Fortune, Techonomy (CDX & Worth) and Politico cover a variety of topics, including the work-from-home experience, COVID-19’s impact on mental health, the current and future state of the health and wealth of America, and the management and mitigation of risks posed by climate change.
- Reuters Next: Reuters will host a four-day virtual leadership summit (January 11-14, 2021) with 25,000 leaders in business, finance, politics, tech and media on the theme of “Rethink, Rebuild, Recover: A New Vision for a Better Tomorrow.” The event will focus on topics such as global trade, climate change and sustainability, the fallout from the U.S. election and the impact of Brexit, new work models, press freedom, and economic recovery following the pandemic through a blend of fireside chats, presentations, panel discussions and networking.
- Return to Play: As COVID-19 continues to affect the sports industry; two big names are discussing taking matters into their own hands. The Golden State Warriors have announced a plan to spend up to $30 million on fan testing in hopes to open the 2020-2021 season at 50 percent arena capacity. Similarly, the Tokyo Games have begun discussions around securing their own supply of a potential vaccine to ensure a safe environment.
- NHL: The NHL has announced they are exploring a temporary realignment for the 2020-2021 season, which includes short-term hub cities. The Commissioner will look to place athletes in short-term hubs for 10-12 days at a time, allowing players to return home for a week and then move on to the next hub. This is just one of many options the league is looking at to ensure a safe and successful season.
- NFL: While the NFL is committed to finishing the season, they also remain intent on trying to do so without the use of a bubble environment. As the playoffs approach, however, the NFL is reportedly open to a bubble format if league leaders and medical advisers believe it will help ensure the postseason is played without interruption.
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