- Most New York City restaurants and bars struggled to pay rent during the indoor dining ban, according to a survey of 450 businesses from the New York City Hospitality Alliance. In the survey, 87% said they could not pay rent in August, up from 80% in June. Less than half of the businesses surveyed have outdoor dining space, reported the New York Times (September 22). Full Story
- Purchasing on mobile devices will hit $314 billion this year, $200 billion more than four years ago, representing over 44% of all e-commerce sales, according to eMarketer. The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for older generations to adopt the technology as shoppers are worried about their safety and are reluctant to shop in stores. Additionally, a holiday survey from Sezzle revealed that the older the shopper, the less likely they will be to shop in-store over the holidays, reported Forbes (September 22). Full Story
- ServSafe released two new COVID-19 Conflict De-escalation training modules, one for restaurants and one for hotels, according to the National Restaurant Association. The training provides specific actions employees can take to de-escalate difficult situations and provide solutions for handling conflict throughout all interactions. The modules meet expanding COVID-19 training needs across the hospitality industry (September 21). Full Story
- While New York City restauranteurs can reopen for indoor dining on Sept. 30, they are pushing back against 25% capacity rules. Balancing paying chefs and managers a full salary while receiving one-quarter of the usual pay from customers could prove fatal for businesses over the winter, some restauranteurs say. In response some are pushing for more government assistance, some remaining closed, and others willing to open only if they also have outdoor eating space, reported the New York Post (September 21). Full Story
- Environmentalists issued a call for the IMF and other banks to stop investing in factory farming, which they claim boosts the risk of further pandemics and contributes to antibiotic resistance. The letter to banking giants also blames industrial farming for undermining food security and contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, and water pollution reported The Independent (September 21). Full Story
- 7-Eleven stores hired more than 50,000 workers amid the pandemic and expect to add an additional 20,000 jobs this year. The new positions will help meet the surge in mobile orders through its 7NOW delivery app, which offers delivery of essentials and nonessentials including grocery staples like milk and bread, over-the-counter medicine, and a range of food and beverage options (September 21). Full Story
- Americans are paying more for groceries during the pandemic, according to a survey of 2,040 consumers from C+R Research. Prices of beef, paper products, and poultry, in particular, are contributing. In response, 43% are eating less meat, 38% looking for discounts, and 33% eating less poultry, while 69% say they changed their grocery shopping habits to an alternative pickup or delivery method. Full Story
- Restaurants are increasingly turning to food truck operations to survive. The trend is boosting enrollment in food truck programs at Wake Technical Community College, reported Miami Herald (September 21). Full Story
For the latest economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, look to the expertise of the Food Institute. Monthly analysis of CPI, PPI, retail, and foodservice data is available to Food Institute members in our Economic Benchmarking portal. Learn more.
- The price of tea is up due to weather, climate change, labor shortages, port closures, and pandemic precautions among growers. Wholesale tea leaf prices have risen 50% over the course of the pandemic. In particular, a draught in Sri Lanka and COVID-19 precautions in India slowed some production while consumption is up. However, prices are expected to stabilize, reported The Wall Street Journal (September 23). Full Story
- The U.S. is lagging other countries in coronavirus protections for meatpacking workers as it still hasn’t imposed any mandatory safety measures to contain infections. The assistant general secretary of the Geneva-based International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations said the U.S. has poorly handled the situation and the lack of enforceable safety rules is “downright dangerous,” reported Delta Farm Press (September 21). Full Story
- Squid imported to China from Russia contained traces of COVID-19, Chinese officials reported. The product was sold at a local wholesale market in late August. Mainland China reported relatively few infections in late summer and has strict rules in place for imports that may contribute to the spread of the virus, reported Reuters (September 21). Full Story
- Lack of tourism during the coronavirus contributed to a major food shortage in Cuba. Government-run grocery stores charging exorbitant prices in U.S. dollars makes it difficult for citizens to buy staples, while the Cuban government is also running low on funds due to a lack of foreign investment. The cycle leads to shortages of basic goods, despite the virus itself being short-lived on the island nation, reported the New York Times. (September 20). Full Story
- Hurricane Laura caused an estimated $1.6 billion in damage to Louisiana’s agriculture industry and forests, more than the $1.5 billion caused by both hurricanes Katrina and Rita combined in 2005. The estimate for Hurricane Laura’s destruction, which tallied $525.4 million in damages for the state’s farmers, did not yet account for fisheries, which could push the total higher, reported The Advocate (September 15). Full Story
- President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program begins Sept. 21 and runs through Dec.11. (September 21). Full Story
- There were about 860,000 seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims in the week ending Sept. 12, down 33,000 from the prior week’s revised level, according to the Department of Labor. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 8.6% for the week ending Sept. 5, a decrease of 0.7 percentage point from the prior week. (September 17). Full Report
- The Federal Reserve expects its benchmark interest rate will remain pegged near zero through at least 2023 in an effort to improve economic growth and combat the unemployment rate. Additionally, it will seek to push inflation above 2% annually, reported Boston Globe. (September 16). Full Story
- The Trump Administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods allegedly violate global trade rules, according to a ruling from a three-member panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO ruling will have no immediate impact on the tariffs but is expected to be a diplomatic dent in trade talks, reported Washington Post (September 15). Full Story
- A Brooklyn bar opened a federal suit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo alleging the midnight cap on restaurants is arbitrary and hurts businesses. The curfew, intended to help halt the spread of COVID-19, limits 50% of The Graham tavern’s sales since many of its customers are late shift workers or employees at other restaurants, says the owner. A representative for Cuomo said limiting late-night service reduces the likelihood of large gatherings, reported the New York Post (September 15). Full Story
- USDA granted nearly $14 million to help U.S. universities find solutions during the pandemic. The funding includes $13 million made available for 17 grants through the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, while 14 grants worth $1.3 million were allocated through the Small Business Innovation Research Program (September 9). Full Story
- Indoor restaurant dining will be allowed in New York City at 25% usual capacity starting Sept. 30, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Diners will be required to wear face coverings while not seated; temperature checks will be given at the door; a member of each party must provide information for contact tracing; bar seating will not be permitted; and restaurants will close at midnight, reported MarketWatch (September 9). Full Story
- Congressional lawmakers agreed on funding to prevent a government shutdown, but hopes are dwindling for another coronavirus relief bill. Talks between top Democrats and the Trump administration broke off in August and hopes for a fifth bipartisan pandemic response bill is seen as unlikely in the lead up to the November election, reported Yakima Herald-Republic. (September 7). Full Story
- CDC told the nation to prepare for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine this fall. The agency notified public health officials across the country that limited doses of a vaccine could be available by later October, which would be routed to healthcare workers and other high-risk groups, reported HealthDay (September 2). Full Story
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a virus closely related to the SARS virus.
- People who are infected may have few symptoms or develop fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
- Cases can progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure.
- There is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment, with management involving the treatment of symptoms, supportive care, and experimental measures.
- The case fatality rate is estimated at between 1% and 3%.
What You Should Watch Out For:
- Symptoms: CDC reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath have been reported two to 14 days after exposure.
- Prevention: There is currently no vaccine to prevent the disease, so CDC says the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. CDC recommends everyone wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.
- Testing: Please check with your healthcare provider for testing availability.
- If You Are a Parent: Schools can play an important role in the effort to combat coronavirus and can prepare to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For schools in the midst of a community outbreak of COVID-19, temporarily dismissing childcare programs and K-12 schools is a strategy to stop or slow the further spread of COVID-19 in communities.
- If You Are Elderly: Much like the seasonal flu, older adults and those with chronic health conditions are at higher risk of being impacted by the coronavirus in the event it does spread. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urged nursing homes to keep abreast of CDC updates on coronavirus.
- Johns Hopkins University Global Coronavirus COVID-19 Cases Tracker
- CDC: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary
- WHO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
- Department of Labor: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
- Department of Labor: Guidance On Unemployment Insurance Flexibilities During COVID-19 Outbreak
- International Foodservice Distributors Association: Coronavirus Information and Resources for Businesses
- National Restaurant Association: Coronavirus Information and Resources
- OSHA: COVID-19