Argentina surpasses 900,000 COVID-19 cases, virus spreads to the interior

FILE PHOTO: Men recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) donate convalescent plasma, at the Hemotherapy Institute in La Plata, Argentina October 5, 2020. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina surpassed 900,000 cases of coronavirus on Monday, with strong growth of infections in large populated centers in the interior of the country after months of the virus’ being concentrated in Buenos Aires and its suburbs.

The government late last week tightened restrictions on the movement of people in 18 provinces for two weeks due to the growth of COVID-19 cases. On Monday, the Health Ministry said the death toll reached 24,186 and the number of infections totaled 903,730. During the previous 24 hours, 318 deaths and 9,524 new cases were reported.

As an example of the virus’ spreading outside of Buenos Aires, in areas untouched by the virus in the early days of the pandemic, more than 90% of the intensive-care beds at the Centenario hospital in the city of Rosario, 300 kilometers north of Buenos Aires, are occupied by COVID-19 patients, hospital staff told Reuters.

Rosario is the main ports hub carrying agricultural commodities from the Pampas farm belt to export markets. Argentina is a major global soybean, corn and wheat supplier.

“Hopefully we continue as we are, with 95% to 97% occupancy (of ICU beds) and that narrow margin will allow us to have a reasonable turn-over of beds,” Rosario intensive care doctor Juan Pendino, 62, told Reuters.

Over the last week Argentina registered almost 100,000 new cases, with a positive rate of 72.5% as of Sunday, one of the highest levels in the world.

“We are not going to have normalcy again – neither in the short- nor medium-term – until we have a high rate of immunization of the population, either naturally or through a vaccine,” Gerardo Laube, an infectious disease doctor at the Muniz Hospital in Buenos Aires, told local radio on Monday.

Reporting by Jorge Otaola and Juan Bustamante; writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Leslie Adler

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Wow Bao’s Groundbreaking Dark Kitchen Initiative Surpasses 100 Locations Nationwide In Just Six Months

CHICAGO, Oct. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — As the restaurant industry continues to navigate this challenging time, Wow Bao, the fast-casual Asian concept steaming up bao, potstickers and more, is proud to announce that its groundbreaking Dark Kitchen initiative has surpassed 100 locations nationwide in only a six month time frame, an unprecedented amount for the restaurant industry. The program, developed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic to assist restaurants and increase margins and profits, is now more vital than ever, as it has been a significant way to help restaurants survive this uncertain moment.

“In November 2019, we created a way to help restaurants grow top line sales and bottom line profits,” said Geoff Alexander, Wow Bao President & CEO. “Although we didn’t envision this initiative as a response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are proud to say our Dark Kitchen platform is assisting operators to help pay rent and employ staff in order to survive this difficult time.”

Unlike Ghost Kitchens, which allow restaurants to rent space at larger kitchen facilities, Wow Bao’s model offers brick and mortar restaurants alternative sources of revenue by using their existing kitchen space to prepare Wow Bao’s menu offerings. Items are made and shipped frozen to the participating restaurants, prepared by the restaurant’s kitchen staff and made available to consumers through third-party delivery services including, DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub, Postmates and Caviar.

The goal of Wow Bao’s Dark Kitchen is for operators to achieve a minimum of $2,000 in weekly sales within the first six weeks of launch. Multiple operating partners have already surpassed $5,000 in weekly sales; generating an annual run rate of $260,000 with a projected bottom line of more than $100,000. Additionally, the Dark Kitchen program revives the supply chain by increasing demand, thereby supporting farmers and food suppliers, as well as the operating restaurants, staff and third-party delivery services in the process.

“When we first started engaging with Wow Bao, our discussions quickly changed from ‘why do we want to do this?’ to ‘why wouldn’t we want to do this?’” said Buster Minshew of MFM Group, LLC. “From the onset, we were impressed with the quality of food and the simplicity of execution. We have looked at other Dark Kitchen concepts, but have not discovered any other that is so simple to get up and running. The initial investment is minimal; there is virtually zero prep required so it requires no additional labor, the training tools make it very easy for our teams to absorb into the operation and the food is fantastic. We are proud to be part of the Wow Bao Dark Kitchen team.”

“The Dark Kitchen program has been a seamless integration into our operations,” says Edmund Woo, Owner of Saskatoon Lodge in Greenville, South Carolina. “I have trained existing employees to handle the production at virtually no incremental cost. The ability to not only continue operating during such a vulnerable time, but to help increase margins, is instrumental to help maintain business.”

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