Thursday, November 19, 2020

Your trash is now a ‘hot commodity’

From takeout containers to Amazon boxes, Americans are generating more trash as they stay at home during the pandemic — and it’s “recharging the U.S. market for recycled paper and cardboard.” Residential refuse has become a “hot commodity” as the paper industry seeks out alternatives amid a scarcity of recycled office paper. While U.S. mills have historically avoided low-quality mixed paper from curbside recycling programs, the pandemic-driven e-commerce boom has increased the share of delivery boxes in recycling bins, making residential mixed paper attractive for recycling. (The Wall Street Journal)


Amazon jumps into pharmacy retail

Amazon has marked its entry into the $300 billion market pharmacy space with the launch of Amazon Pharmacy. The service will deliver prescription medications to customers’ homes in the U.S., while Amazon Prime members will get free delivery. With so many Americans home during the pandemic, the move is well-timed as some say it “threatens the dominance of traditional pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens”. The e-commerce giant first entered the space via its acquisition of PillPack in 2018. (CNBC)


FAA says Boeing 737 MAX good to fly

The Federal Aviation Administration gave the green light for Boeing to fly its 737 MAX aircraft once again. The jet had been grounded for 20 months following two fatal incidents that claimed close to 350 lives. Boeing was hit with hundreds of order cancellations and the pandemic, which brought the travel industry to a near standstill. With regulators in Europe, Brazil and Asia set to give their own approvals, the grounding of the jet is the longest ever for a commercial aircraft. The deadly crashes and subsequent grounding has cost Boeing some $20 billion. (CBS News)


Pfizer: Vaccine is 95% effective

Pfizer and partner BioNTech announced that, following completion of final stage trials, their coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective in protecting people from COVID-19. Pfizer plans to ask for authorization “within days,” and says the vaccine has no serious side effects and works in older people as well. It comes as welcome news after coronavirus cases have jumped by more than a third in the U.S. over the past seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University data, the fastest pace since late March. Earlier this week, Moderna announced that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective against the virus, per preliminary results from a late-stage trial. (Business Insider)


Giant Food store apologizes for ‘super spread’ ad amid coronavirus pandemic

Giant Food has apologized for running an insensitive ad promoting “super spread” platters that missed the mark with its play on words amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Thanksgiving right around the corner. The major grocer is now expressing remorse for the controversial circular, which ran as a full-page ad in its branded magazine, Savory. Giant Food operates 164 locations across Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to their website. (TMZ)


A restaurant group in Michigan has sued the state’s health department over new coronavirus restrictions in the state. 

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association filed a complaint against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director after the department announced that restaurants and bars would not be allowed to offer indoor dining for the next three weeks. The restaurant association, along with two other groups, filed the injunction in federal court asking for restaurants to be allowed to continue to serve patrons indoors. The association would agree to reduce indoor dining capacity to 25% and after a 10 p.m. curfew for the next three weeks. According to statement, the association estimates more than 6,000 restaurants will be closed permanently by spring. The association filed the complaint along with Heirloom Hospitality Group, LLC and H.I.H. Inc., in the U.S. District Court of Western Michigan. The state health department announced the new restrictions on as a way to “curb the rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates,” the announcement said. (Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association )


CDC suggests Americans ditch singing, loud music, alcohol for holidays due to pandemic

In a holiday-focused health and safety guideline published by the agency, the CDC offered detailed considerations people should take if they are hosting or attending a gathering or plan to stay or host guests overnight. These guidelines suggest people modify their holiday activities to minimize the spread of COVID-19. “Encourage guests to avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors,” one of the CDC’s bullet points recommend. “Keep music levels down so people don’t have to shout or speak loudly to be heard.” Research has shown that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory droplets like saliva. Actions like singing or raising your voice can increase a person’s chance of exposure. Sneezes and coughs also increase the chance someone coming into contact with a respiratory droplet, which is why the agency recommends avoiding close contact and adhering to a social distance of at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is outside your household. Aside from boisterous environments, the CDC has labeled alcohol consumption as a high risk activity. Other holiday activities the CDC considers high risk include shopping in crowded stores around Thanksgiving, participating or watching a crowded race, attending a parade or large indoor gathering with people who aren’t from your household. Conversely, the CDC considers small dinners with people who live in your household a low risk activity in addition to delivering food to family members contact-free, hosting a virtual gathering, shopping online and watching sports or parades from home. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)


Walmart announces free Thanksgiving dinner for everyone

Through partnerships with other companies, Walmart is launching the Free Thanksgiving Dinner program in an effort to feed millions of American families this Thanksgiving. The exclusive promotion is between Walmart and leading mobile rewards platform Ibotta, Campbell’s, Butterball, and Coca-Cola. Families can participate through Thanksgiving, November 26. The Free Thanksgiving Dinner program hopes to make a difficult holiday season more rewarding for families everywhere by giving them a delicious meal without the financial burden. (iBotta)


Toilet paper limits, empty shelves are back as coronavirus surges

A surge of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. is sending people back to stores to stockpile again, leaving shelves bare and forcing retailers to put limits on purchases. Walmart said it’s having trouble keeping up with demand for cleaning supplies in some stores. Supermarket chains Kroger and Publix are limiting how much toilet paper and paper towels shoppers can buy after demand spiked recently. Amazon is sold out of most disinfectant wipes and paper towels. The biggest supply issue seems to be paper products: 21% of shelves that stock paper towels and toilet paper are empty, the highest level in at least a month, according to market research company IRI. Cleaning supplies have remained level at 16%. Before the pandemic, 5% to 7% of consumer goods were typically out of stock. Contributing to the problem is the fact that roughly 10% of the workforce at manufacturing plants where the products are made are calling out sick, mainly because they’ve been in contact with others who were tested positive to COVID-19. (US News)


Pickup truck-sized asteroid came less than 250 miles from hitting Earth

An asteroid roughly the size of a Ford F-150 flew less than 250 miles away from Earth last week, setting a record for the closest-known asteroid to fly past the planet without hitting it, NASA announced. According to the Center for Near-Earth Studies (CNEOS), the space rock, known as 2020 VT4, passed within 240 miles of Earth’s surface on Nov. 13 at 5:20 UTC. It was initially discovered by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System, which is run by both NASA and the University of Hawaii. 2020 VT4 is considered a Near-Earth Object (NEO) given its close proximity to Earth. However, given its size (between 16 feet and 32 feet wide), it is not considered a “potentially hazardous” NEO and likely would have broken up in the atmosphere. (Fox 10 Phoenix)


Former Burger King employee charged with stealing $30G from restaurant

A 35-year-old former Burger King employee accused of stealing about $30,000 from the chain in a yearlong scheme has been charged, court records show. The man from Pelham, Alabama was arrested for theft, identity theft and computer tampering for stealing from BK and Premier Kings. He is accused of tampering with a computer program to increase his work hours in the system or creating fake Burger King employees to profit off the company, the report shows. He is also accused of stealing a former employee’s debit card, depositing falsely claimed company money and spending it. The man was arrested and taken into police custody at the Shelby County jail earlier this week. He is now free on $50,000 bond. (WBMA)


America is at an unsettling moment, yet one tradition will continue as planned

The President of the United States will pardon the annual Thanksgiving turkey at the White House on Tuesday (11/24), according to a White House official. The annual pardon will go on, is somehow both comforting and unsettling, and sure to ruffle some feathers. President Donald Trump has not had a public event on his schedule in 11 days. He’s made just four official appearances since November 3, and he’s only spoken publicly twice. With exception of golf on the weekends, and a visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran’s Day, he has not left the White House. (CNN)


Americans hit pause on shopping

October was a tepid month for shopping in the U.S., signaling a slowdown of U.S. economic recovery. The Commerce Department reports that retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in October from a month earlier, down from a 1.6% increase in September, and the smallest monthly rise since May. A third surge in coronavirus cases has prompted new restrictions, and as a result, Americans are tightening their wallets. Analysts warn November might not be much better and “weaker consumer spending” could be seen into the next two quarters. (The Wall Street Journal)


Thursday Bites Back With:

  • American Made Matters Day
  • Beaujolais Nouveau Day (Third Thursday)
  • Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day
  • Children’s Grief Awareness Day
  • Educator For A Day (Thursday of American Education Week)
  • Equal Opportunity Day (aka Gettysburg Address Day)
  • Great American Smokeout (Third Thursday)
  • Have A Bad Day Day
  • International Men’s Day
  • Parental Involvement Day
  • Play Monopoly Day
  • Rural Health Day (3rd Thursday)
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle Day
  • Use Less Stuff Day (Thursday of Week Before Thanksgiving)
  • Women’s Entrepreneurship Day
  • World Pancreatic Cancer Day (Third Thursday)
  • World Philosophy Day (Third Thursday)
  • World Toilet Day

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