North America Update: November 4
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- Heading into the U.S.’s Election Day, the record spike in new coronavirus cases continued over the past week, with the seven-day average of new cases surpassing 81,000 for the first time ever, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Texas has surpassed California as the state with the highest number of confirmed cases.
- Hospitalizations are also on the rise. Nationwide, there were 47,502 people in hospitals due to COVID-19 on Sunday, the highest total since August 12, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “The U.S. is in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation. All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”
- More than 239,000 Canadians have now tested positive for COVID-19. The country’s death toll stands at 10,202, as of Monday. The government released forecasts Friday indicating that with current social behaviors, Canada could see COVID-19 case counts increase to 8,000 per day by December. If Canadians reduce their rates of contact by 25 percent, that number could drop below 2,000, according to the data.
- Canada’s chief public health officer said the country has lost its lead in the ongoing “dance” with COVID-19 after curbing cases over the summer, and taking it back will require discipline. She noted that further restrictions and closures may be needed to buttress these practices in communities where the virus is surging.
- Restrictions are tightening in a number of European countries in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. Germany has begun a four-week partial lockdown with the closure of restaurants, bars and cultural and leisure facilities. In the UK, new measures will take effect Thursday, with restaurants, bars and most shops closing. The UK Prime Minister has vowed that the restrictions will end by December 2. In France, most restaurants, bars and shops will close and significant restrictions on movement of residents will be put in place. All countries have tightened restrictions on public and private gatherings. Contrary to the first wave of lockdowns earlier in the year, schools will remain open in the majority of countries.
- In a video conference last week, EU leaders pledged to step up their cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. This included keeping borders open, improving testing and contact tracing, monitoring critical care capacity and arranging cross-border patient transfers, and developing plans for the swift manufacture and distribution of vaccines.
- Social distancing has required many to adapt to remote working and using online collaborative platforms. As workers continue to operate remotely, many are struggling to separate work and personal time. This has led to increasing levels of burnout.
- The Indonesian Medical Association found that 25 percent of doctors were experiencing burnout, and 90 percent commented that they have not been able to seek the necessary mental health assistance. One in 10 Malaysian anaesthesiologists have symptoms of burnout and depression, leading to doctors urging hospitals to perform regular assessments to detect burnout and depression among their staff.
- Having faced a year of anti-government protests and pandemic anxieties, Hong Kong SAR’s residents are under immense duress. Professor Paul Yip Siu-Fai, director of the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of Hong Kong commented that citizens were frustrated about the impact of the pandemic on their lives, which could increase the threat of suicide. He also commented that businesses would have to pay more attention to people’s mental health and prioritizes employee mental well-being.
- The pandemic silenced one of Mexico’s signature holidays, Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, when Mexicans honor deceased loved ones in often-boisterous fashion, converging on cemeteries with flowers, candles, food and beverage, and leaving ornate altars in memory of the departed. This year, the vibrant amalgam of Christian and pre-Hispanic rites — coinciding with the Roman Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on Sunday and Monday — was a lonesome affair, more private reflection than collective tribute.
- Mexican airline Interjet cancelled its flights for at least two days, citing cash flow problems and fleet maintenance, but promised operations would resume Tuesday. The airline called it “a restructuring of its itineraries.” Steep drops in business have heavily affected Interjet.
- Despite pleas from the mayor of Juarez and Chihuahua health officials to restrict the entry of U.S. visitors to slow the spread of COVID-19, Mexico will take no such action, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said. At a press conference in Mexico City, Ebrard said his country is holding weekly meetings with officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security to evaluate the COVID-19 threat. He said the current policy banning only non-essential travel is adequate.
- Due to the second wave of COVID-19, the São Paulo stock exchange has faced the biggest drop since April.
- Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello was diagnosed with COVID-19 on October 21, the ministry said in a statement last Saturday.
Insights & Intel
- Hospitals and government officials are seeing signs of pandemic fatigue, with schools and child sports leagues looking to restart activities, friends celebrating birthdays, and families making plans to gather for the holidays. Health care providers are seeing an increase in people who are feeling defeated, burned out and engaging in risky behaviors that can increase the spread of coronavirus.
- Gallup is tracking the social distancing habits of Americans and is seeing fewer people practicing them, from 92 percent in April to 72 percent in September. The data shows that Americans are less likely now than at any point since the early days of the pandemic to say they are avoiding events with large crowds (70 percent), public places such as stores and restaurants (53 percent) and small gatherings (45 percent). However, Gallup reported that mask use has become routine for the vast majority of Americans since mid-July. At least 90 percent report having worn a mask when outside their home in the past week.
According to Sportico, ESPN executives have been told not to plan for travel or hospitality for the Super Bowl in February, becoming the latest major NFL partner to scale back its presence at America’s biggest sporting event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both mattress company Sleep Number and financial services provider USAA say they’re nixing standard plans for in-person activations on the ground in Tampa. Last week Sportico reported that Anheuser-Busch, one of the league’s most visible partners, would not be hosting its standard 600-person hospitality at the big game.
Below are summaries of interesting business responses to COVID-19 in recent days.
- Amazon announced that it will support more than a thousand charities around the world with product and monetary donations to help them get millions of items they need. Organizations in the U.S., U.K., Spain, Singapore, Japan, Italy, India, Germany, France, China, Canada, Australia and more will receive donations.
- The General Mills Foundation announced an additional $4 million of philanthropic funding for nonprofit organizations working to alleviate growing food insecurity worldwide. The $4 million in supplemental funding is in addition to General Mills’ charitable response since March 2020 of $10 million worth of grants from the General Mills Foundation and food donations from the company to help food banks, food pantries and other anti-hunger organizations meet the elevated community needs driven by the pandemic.
- GoFundMe announced the expansion of Causes, its program designed to help people drive progress in the following five areas: COVID-19 Relief, Justice & Equality, Basic Necessities, Learning & Education and Animal Rescue.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from CNBC, Economist, Politico, and Washington Post cover a variety of topics, including staying financially sound during this time of unprecedented challenges, the future of work, how women candidates fared post-election at all levels of public office and sustainability initiatives for business.
- WEF Update: The World Economic Forum’s 2021 Annual Meeting will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland, from May 18-21 and will focus on solutions required to address the world’s most pressing challenges under the theme, “The Great Reset”. During the week of January 25, the Forum will digitally convene high-level “Davos Dialogues” where key global leaders will share their views on the state of the world in 2021.
- Boston Marathon: The Boston Marathon organizing committee has announced the 2021 Marathon will be postponed from April to later in the year. The new date, potentially in the fall, is expected to be announced by the end of 2020.
- USL: The United Soccer League Championship title game between the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Phoenix Rising, scheduled for November 1, was cancelled after multiple Tampa Bay Rowdies players tested positive for the coronavirus. As a result, the USL ended the season, and named the teams winners of the Eastern and Western Conference titles, respectively.
- MLB: MLB has canceled the in-person portion of their fall owners meetings and the 2020 Winter Meetings due to the pandemic. Originally set as in-person meetings November 17-19 in Arlington, Texas, owners will now meet virtually as needed.
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