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COVID-19 Deaths Per Hospitalization Has Held Constant Since May, But an Uptick Could Be Looming in US

Source: Oliver Wyman Pandemic Navigator

Since April, the ratio of deaths to hospitalized COVID-19 patients has decreased from 15% and has held steady around 2% since May in the U.S. However, as hospital capacity becomes further strained across the country, there is potential for this trend to reverse if COVID-19 patients no longer have access to the level of care they need, according to Oliver Wyman.

The decrease in the death rate is likely due to a variety of factors. For instance, there was a greater need for triage and ventilator rationing in the early stages of the pandemic when hospital/ICU capacity was reached. Also, new treatments for COVID-19, including antivirals and steroids, have been shown to improve survival rates. Lastly, sophisticated and optimized protocols have been developed that improve outcomes, such as lower use of ventilators and improved body positioning for oxygenation.

One in 10 Americans live in a region where fewer than 5% of ICU beds are available as of December 9, according to the New York Times. With the increase of Thanksgiving travel — and as the holiday season approaches — this could result in a new wave of cases and hospitalizations. 

COVID-19 Has Changed China’s Reputation — And It’s Impacting Business Decisions

Source: Central European Institute of Asian Studies (CEIAS) and Sinophone Borderlands

A significant number of Europeans believe that China gained economically from COVID-19. China recently announced that its economy grew by 4.9% in Q3 — becoming the first country to announce growth during COVID-19 — however experts are questioning the accuracy of this information.

Ten of the 13 countries surveyed had an overall negative view of China, according to a joint survey by CEIAS and Sinophone Borderlands. The majority of European countries reported negative views toward issues such as Chinese investments and China’s impact on the global environment and democracy — trade being the only predominantly positive view. 

The pandemic brought a devastating shock to the system for global manufacturers, prompting business leaders to discuss how to build resilience. Some are even relocating away from China: Already, 33% of global supply chain leaders have moved manufacturing activities out of China or plan to do so by 2030 to adapt to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. 

Increased Productivity Among Employees Takes a Toll on Mental Well-Being

Source: The Conference Board

Almost half of U.S. companies surveyed reported growth in productivity among their employees during the coronavirus pandemic — a 24% increase in the number of companies compared to April. Sixty percent of companies surveyed believe employees are working longer hours, according to The Conference Board, which surveyed over 300 U.S. companies in September. 

However, 42% of organizations note an increase in employee burnouts, 46% of organizations note a decrease in work-life balance for their employees and 40% of organizations note an increase in mental health problems. The report says that business leaders are questioning the long-term sustainability of these new working practices. “Managers should be more aware of and proactively limit the number of hours their employees are working.”

As remote work continues indefinitely, some business leaders are looking for new ways to support their employees’ well-being to help lower the likelihood of burnout by encouraging vacation time, offering benefits that are relevant to our new way of working and implementing quiet time throughout the workday. 

What Makes Travelers Feel Safe Enough to Fly?

Source: Oliver Wyman

Those traveling by air while the pandemic continues want to see cleaning, mask mandates and an empty seat next to them in order to feel relatively safe, a survey by Oliver Wyman shows. “Although the travel industry has been focusing heavily on ‘touchless travel,’” according to Oliver Wyman’s analysis, “this does not appear to be resonating strongly with travelers.” 

More than 4,600 people across nine countries were surveyed, and at least half of respondents believe their long-term travel habits will change after the pandemic: 43% of respondents who travel for business plan to travel less in the future — up from 27% in the spring. The survey also found that travelers are relying less on government and public policy and more on personal risk assessment when determining when it is safe to travel again. 

Industry leaders predict that international traveling could take years to recover, but for now, airlines have been focusing on how to help travelers feel safe enough to fly. 

How Will the Recession Affect Holiday Spending?

Source: Consumer Confidence Survey, Nielsen

U.S. consumers plan to spend the same amount this year on holiday gifts as they did in 2019, despite the current economic recession, according to a survey by Nielsen for The Conference Board. Not surprisingly, respondents say they’ll spend more on toys and games, as they look for ways to stay entertained under stay-at-home orders

The retail industry is preparing for pandemic-related changes to shopping behaviors, such as a longer holiday shopping season, increased e-commerce and reliance on shipping, and a drop in in-store holiday traffic. In fact, predictions indicate that online shopping will grow by 25% to 35% this holiday season.

The holiday season could help boost the economy in the final months of 2020, as retail accounts for 68% of GDP. Even though the country is struggling with low consumer confidence and high unemployment rates, shoppers are expected to spend $673 — just under the $675 household spending average from 2019.

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