A fourth wave of the Covid-19 virus may force companies to reconsider their return-to-the-office plans. Apple was one of the few tech companies to be reluctant to fully embrace remote work. It’s somewhat surprising and concerning that the iPhone giant will delay its strict plans for workers to return to the office because of the sudden surge of the Delta variant, Bloomberg reported.
Initially, the tech giant wanted its staff back to the office at least three days a week by early September. Now, the deadline has been pushed back to October, at the earliest. Workers will be told at least a month before when they’ll have to return to an office setting.
Depending upon how the new wave plays out, Apple’s decision could cause other companies to reconsider their return-to-work programs as well. Corporate executives won’t want to be the lone holdouts and expose their staff to the virus. If a bellwether, such as Apple, says that they are concerned, by virtue of their decision, it’s likely that others will follow suit. The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook and Google haven’t yet made any decisions, but are both monitoring the situation. Since the reporting indicates that the unvaccinated are the most at risk, some businesses may feel it’s necessary to require workers to get their shots.
Just when we thought we were out of the woods and past the pandemic, the Economist reported, “The more virulent Delta variant is taking hold across America.” It appears, according to the United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, that the new flare-up is being driven by the Delta variant that was first identified in India, which has also caused concerns in the United Kingdom, France, Australia and other countries.
The global magazine added, “Over the past two weeks, cases of Covid-19 have increased by 75% nationwide, with a seven-day average approaching 30,000 a day.” The Delta variant “now accounts for 83% of infections.” The Economist darkly states, “Daily deaths remain low, but are creeping higher.” The hardest hit areas are in states with low vaccination rates. Arkansas has the highest case rate and the lowest vaccination rate “with some hospitals running out of space and resources.”
During the pandemic, it became difficult to separate fact from fear mongering. Health agencies that we rely upon have changed the rules on a number of occasions. At the onset of the outbreak, it was said that there was no need for masks. Later, masks were made mandatory in many states. We were told to aggressively wash our hands since we’d contract Covid-19 through touch. This narrative changed. Simply asking where the virus started or inquiring about alternative treatments to the virus would get a person banned from social media and accused of being anti-China and a racist.
Big-box retail chain stores were allowed to remain open, whereas small mom-and-pop shops were ordered to shutdown operations. Last summer, when protests, riots and looting occurred, the government turned a blind eye to the large crowds that could have caused massive spreading of the virus. Recently, a group of Democratic lawmakers from Texas took a private jet flight, in an attempt to gain a political advantage over their rival Republicans. Photos of the smiling politicians showed them not wearing masks. Later, we found out that a number of them contracted Covid-19.
In an effort to be politically correct, government health officials gloss over the uncomfortable fact that around 40% of all Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. were among diabetes patients, who tend to be obese. We were told to protect the old and frail. Meanwhile, in cities such as New York, patients with Covid-19 were placed in nursing homes, causing avoidable cases and fatalities.
With these and other instances, it’s not surprising that about half of all Americans question the edicts of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). It’s not completely unreasonable to question the narrative of the government, given its contradictory statements and penchant for overriding civil liberties during the lockdowns. The lack of clarity makes it exceedingly difficult for companies to figure out how to navigate their return-to-work models.
There is an unrelenting new narrative hyping the “dreaded fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, even as the percentage of fully vaccinated Americans inches toward 50%.” Time Magazine reported, “In the past two weeks, the number of average new daily cases has more than doubled, from 13,200 on July 4 to more than 32,300 on July 18, a surge that harbors grim reminders of the fronts of the second and third waves in the summer and fall of 2020.”
Amazon, as of now, doesn’t seem that concerned. The giant online retailer said it will stop testing workers for Covid-19 at its warehouses at the end of this month. Amazon is ending the program because public health conditions have improved and free Covid-19 testing is more widely available.
The company added that it would help employees find local, free Covid-19 testing, as needed. As of mid-May, the retailer won’t require masks for fully vaccinated warehouse workers, reported CNBC. Amazon hasn’t mandated warehouse workers get vaccinated, but it is encouraging workers to get their shots by providing bonuses of up to $80 for getting vaccinated.
On FOX Business Network Monday afternoon, Wall Street chronicler Charlie Gasparino said he “talked to people at the big banks, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, they’re still reopening according to plan. Morgan Stanley reopening after Labor Day. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, particularly in New York bringing people back in the office sooner.”
He added, “Other banks doing similar stuff, variations of the sort, but here is where this thing gets interesting, when you really push them on it. They are closely monitoring the spread of the Delta variant.” Gasparino said, “None of them, not one of them I spoke to today, would rule out a delay of the reopening or telling people to work from home more or, you know, play it by ear. This is fascinating. Wall Street is worried about the Delta variant.”