June 17, 2021 Corona Log Entry
June 17, 2021- Corona Log Entry
It is a cool 48 degrees and sunny here in Western New York. Much of the country is sweltering in 90-degree heat. We have contractors in yesterday and today, replacing some plumbing and air conditioning units.
New York Governor Cuomo “opened up” all of New York, two days back, for business. Restaurants, bars and sports stadia now have no covid-19 restrictions. This occurred after the N.Y. Health Dept. determined that 70% of all New Yorkers had received at least one vaccine shot for the Corona virus. Some businesses are still requiring mask wearing in their stores. But, we are all used to that and find it no inconvenience.
What businesses now are discovering is that they can’t find workers, to fill employment slots, to fully reopen. Some businesses blame the $300 “unemployment bonus” that “out of work people” can now collect, in addition to their regular unemployment stipend. It is more profitable for some to stay home, than go to work. It is one of the curious anomalies of the pandemic. Even a near across the board raise in wages, to $15 per hour, isn’t mitigating the shortage. Anyone who wants to work can find a job immediately. There are “help wanted” signs everywhere.
In general, there is a feeling of relief and freedom across the country. National Park attendance, and reservations for park rooms this Summer, are at off the charts levels. There is a massive pent up demand. People want to “get out and go.” Travel to Europe is still all but non-existent. We were supposed to be in Amsterdam, awaiting a cruise up into the Baltic, today. Philosophically, we shrugged and decided that there is always “next year.”
California and other states have also reached a similar plateau and are now “open.” Only a small number of U.S. States, in the deep South, are struggling with inoculation programs and Corona infection rates. Nationally, the U.S has lost over 600,000 souls since the pandemic first appeared in March of 2020. The CDC is still wary of newer strains of the virus that may erupt in the Summer and Fall of this year.
To our North, our Canadian friends are still struggling. The international border is closed. Increasing pressure, from business interests on both sides of the border, have Canadian officials considering some partial reopening by late July or early August. Premier Trudeau is adamant that the Canadian border will remain closed until 70% of all Canadians have received at least one Vocid-19 vaccination.
Across the pond, Europe is having some success in getting all of their populations inoculated. Various “partial openings” of business are a ray of hope. The crucial tourist industry is still in the dumps. A few cruise lines attempted to reopen, launching ships from Saint Martin and the Bahamas, in the Caribbean. But, they ran into Covid-19 infections on board, even though every member of the crew and passenger compliment had been vaccinated against Covid-19. It looks like the cruise business won’t be full operable, until the 2022 season.
A newly emerged “Delta variant” is ravaging India and the Asian sub-continent with Covid-19 infections. Africa and South America are also under medical siege. The United States, and several European countries, are pledging to donate 100 million vaccines to these stricken regions. But, recovery will probably go well into 2022.
In the economic sector, the stock market is still rolling along at the 34,0000-pt. level, seemingly unaffected by the pandemic. Gasoline prices at the pump are rising. We paid $3.09 for a gallon of regular gas yesterday. The price levels rose after the Russians hacked the Colonial pipe line system, in the southeastern United States a few weeks back. Why it hasn’t fallen back is anyone’s guess. Only Congress can reign in these greedy rascals, but characteristically they aren’t listening, busy making speeches and politicking.
New housing prices are soaring. A shortage of lumber, and other building materials, is cranking up the cost of new home construction. The industry is already under pressure from a lack of inventory. Fortunately, low home mortgage rates, near 3%, aren’t making matters worse. Domestically, food prices are also on the rise. But there is no ready explanation offered as a cause.
On the political front, U.S. President Joe Biden has just finished up a week-long visit to Europe. Meetings with the G-7 financial summit, and a visit with Queen Elizabeth in England and a meeting of The NATO Alliance in Belgium, were followed by a summit meeting with Russian Premier Putin in Switzerland. Biden was attempting to reassure our NATO Allies of our continuing commitment and support, in the face of Russian aggression. Not much was actually accomplished but it made for grand political theater.
In general, I think my commentary on “living in the time of Corona” is nearing an end. There are and will be spikes, in Covid-19 infections occurring. But hopefully, they will blend in with the ongoing medical problems across the globe. We have weathered sixteen months of this Pandemic. Hopefully, we will be more prepared for the next one.
Joseph Xavier Martin