COVID-19 Monitor

Last Updated:July 3, 2020

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Global Response

Covid-19 is here to stay. The world is working out how to live with it (The Economist) Published on: July 2, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • It took more than three months for global cases to reach a million; the last million came in less than a week.
  • Yet even in the countries with the worst outbreaks, just 5-15 per cent of people have been infected. They may be immune to future infections, at least for a while, but with most of the population still susceptible, getting back to life as usual is impossible.
  • The priority is to shield from infection those who are most likely to become gravely ill.
  • Ensuring people understand how to assess their own risk—especially in the event of an outbreak in their area—is crucial. In March Britain’s National Health Service sent letters to some 2.2m people deemed to be at particularly high risk, telling them to avoid going out when the outbreak was at its worst.
European Health Experts Concerned by U.S. Hoarding of Only Licensed Coronavirus Drug (TIME) Published on: July 1, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Health experts on Wednesday slammed the U.S. decision to hog nearly the entire global supply of remdesivir, the only drug licensed so far to treat COVID-19, warning that type of selfish behavior sets a dangerous precedent for attempts to share scarce treatments amid the pandemic.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services said Trump has secured 500,000 treatments of the drug through September, representing 100% of Gilead’s July production capacity and 90% of its capacity in August and September.
  • It is the only drug licensed by both the U.S. and the European Union as a treatment for those with severe illness from the coronavirus.
If Your Colleague Has Covid-19, Will Your Employer Tell You? (WSJ) Published on: July 1, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • With more workers back on the job, companies from clothing retailers to auto makers are increasingly confronting a difficult question: If an employee tests positive for Covid-19, who should be told?
  • Employers are prohibited by federal law from identifying the infected worker.
  • Beyond that, there is no universal playbook for whether or how confirmed cases should be disclosed and to whom, resulting in a patchwork of approaches that can vary widely even within the same industry.
Revealed: Covid-19 outbreaks at meat-processing plants in US being kept quiet (Guardian) Published on: July 1, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • A chicken processing facility in western North Carolina reportedly underwent widespread testing for Covid-19 in early June.
  • Workers at the plant were scared. Several employees had already tested positive and the company, Case Farms – which has been repeatedly condemned for animal treatment and workers’ rights violations – was not providing proper protective equipment.
  • The testing turned up 150 positive cases at the facility, the worker said.
  • Yet neither the company, county officials nor the North Carolina department of health and human services would confirm whether those cases were connected to Case Farms.
‘No mask. No ride’: Uber will require drivers and passengers to wear face masks indefinitely (USA Today) Published on: July 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Uber is extending its mask requirement indefinitely throughout the U.S. and Canada as coronavirus cases continue to rise across several states.
  • The decision was made based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The news comes in tandem with the company’s launch of a campaign running on TV, social media and in the app. It’s called “No mask. No ride” and depicts drivers and Uber Eats delivery people working during the pandemic.
E.U. Formalizes Reopening, Barring Travelers From U.S. (NY Times) Published on: June 30, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The list of nations that European Union countries have approved includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand, while travelers from China will be permitted if China reciprocates.
  • The list of safe countries will be reviewed every two weeks to reflect the changing realities of the coronavirus outbreaks in individual nations, officials said, and countries could be added or removed from the list.
  • Exceptions are also being made for travelers from countries outside the safe list, including health care workers, diplomats, humanitarian workers, transit passengers, asylum seekers and students, as well as “passengers traveling for imperative family reasons” and foreign workers whose employment in Europe is deemed essential.
Companies Hit by Covid-19 Want Insurance Payouts. Insurers Say No. (WSJ) Published on: June 30, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • A cavalcade of restaurateurs, retailers and others hurt by pandemic shutdowns have sued to force their insurers to cover billions in business losses.
  • But insurance companies have largely refused to pay claims under this coverage, citing a standard requirement for physical damage.
  • More than half of property policies in force today specifically exclude viruses. The firms filing the lawsuits mostly hold policies without that exclusion.
The radical technologies to keep offices clear of coronavirus (FT) Published on: June 30, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The big challenges posed by the virus indoors are the collection of particles on surfaces and the flow of air between individuals.
  • NitroPep’s spikes are tiny antimicrobial agents that can be added to desks, walls and other surfaces and rupture anything with a membrane that lands on them.
  • Coronavirus has even turbocharged demand for UV disinfecting robots. Danish company UVD Robots was the first company to invent these machines, which travel around buildings emitting UV light that leaves bacteria and viruses too damaged to function.
If and when there is a COVID-19 vaccine, will people actually get it? (Poynter) Published on: June 30, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Think it is hard to get people to wear a mask? Wait until health workers try to vaccinate the entire population.
  • A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that if a COVID-19 vaccine were available today and proven effective, only 54% of Black adults would be willing to get it, compared to 74% of white adults.
  • For one thing, health insurance companies could tell their customers that they have to get vaccinated if they want coverage when they get sick.
  • A plurality of U.S. adults (38%) say they now find it harder to identify “what is true and what is false about the outbreak,” while three-in-ten say they are finding this easier to do. Another 31% say the difficulty of parsing truth from fiction has not changed.
Survey: Americans trust CDC most, Trump least for information about COVID-19 (The Hill) Published on: June 30, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The majority of respondents to the survey, 64 per cent, said the CDC and other public health organizations get the facts right almost or most of the time regarding COVID-19.
  • Pew’s survey found that 50 per cent of Americans said the same about their “local news media” and 44 per cent said so about “the news media in general.”
  • The White House task force held its first coronavirus briefings since May on Friday, amid spikes across the country, largely in the South and the West.
Choosing the right path to unlock the economy (McKinsey) Published on: June 30, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • How should governments approach the different possible paths to reopening their economies? And what is needed to spur businesses and consumers to start spending again?
  • Flattening the infection curve as fast as possible and ensuring hospital capacity, treatment and testing were the imperatives to safeguard our lives.
  • The expansion of treatment capacity has been impressive; we can think back to when Wuhan managed to build a hospital in two weeks, and no one in Europe or the US believed it would be possible there—but it was.
The Video Call Is Starting. Time to Put on Your Zoom Shirt. (NY Times) Published on: June 29, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • If you ask, people who have managed to stay employed during the pandemic will confess to owning a Zoom Shirt: a top, typically kept on the back of the computer chair or a hanger nearby, that they pop on in the moments before their webcam lights up.
  • Maria Rugolo, an apparel industry analyst for the NPD Group, said her company had run a poll showing that only 10 per cent of people get dressed for working at home at the start of the day and change into “comfortable clothes” later.
  • Ironically, a garment that rarely leaves a single room needs the same qualities as a travel shirt: durable, easy to store, able to front in a variety of social settings. It also must come on and off in a flash.
Lufthansa to link Covid-19 tests with tickets in effort to avoid quarantine (FT) Published on: June 29, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Lufthansa is to offer passengers Covid-19 tests at Frankfurt airport that provide results within hours and can be linked to individual tickets in an effort to allow travellers to avoid quarantine.
  • The introduction of mandatory quarantines in several countries, including the UK, for international visitors, has hit airlines attempting to increase their long-haul flights in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Research carried out for the airline trade association Iata found that more than 80 per cent of travellers were concerned about being forced to quarantine at their destination, or upon their return to their home countries.
‘Kat’ Returns to the Office. Her Employer Is Watching Her Closely. (WSJ) Published on: June 29, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Follow a day in the life of a fictional U.S. office worker coming back after working remotely during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A thermal camera in her building’s lobby again checks her temperature, while her Bluetooth ID badge notifies a nearby sensor that she has arrived.
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals from her smartphone log the amount of time she spends at least six feet away from colleagues, factoring that into a score.
What factors are impacting Canadians’ mental health during pandemic? (Benefits Canada) Published on: June 29, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Employment status, income level and helpful coping strategies are key factors impacting how Canadians feel about their mental health, according to a new survey by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Conference Board of Canada.
  • The factors with the biggest changes in concern levels were family well-being (24 per cent), respondents’ personal future (23 per cent), experiencing isolation and loneliness (21 per cent) and feeling anxiousness or fear (21 per cent).
  • Of unemployed Canadians, those laid off due to the pandemic reported a 25 per cent change in their mental-health concern score, as did those who said they received government support.
Air New Zealand’s coronavirus refunds fail: Anatomy of a PR disaster (Stuff.co.nz) Published on: June 28, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • When an Air New Zealand customer got so frustrated they paid for a personals ad in the paper to get a response, alarm bells should have already been going off in HQ.
  • Unlike any other airline, it had the best corporate reputation in Australia and New Zealand before the virus struck – and reputation is valuable currency for any serious company.
  • It wasn’t just that Air New Zealand issued credits for customers who actually wanted refunds for flights that were cancelled as borders rolled shut.
  • Also provoking the flood of angry emails and letters was the difficulty customers had in finding out what was happening to their money, in some cases many thousands of dollars saved up for the trip of a lifetime.
Officials warn coronavirus pandemic could worsen as global death toll hits 500,000 (Global News) Published on: June 28, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The world surpassed two sobering coronavirus milestones Sunday — 500,000 confirmed deaths, 10 million confirmed cases — and hit another high mark for daily new infections as governments that attempted reopenings continued to backtrack and warn that worse news could be yet to come.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back reopenings of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles.
  • South Africa’s health minister warned that the country’s current surge of cases is expected to rapidly increase in the coming weeks and push hospitals to the limit.
  • Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize said the current rise in infections has come from people who “moved back into the workplace.
The pandemic pivot: How IT groups are laboring to make remote working work (Silicon Angle) Published on: June 28, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Almost half of the 1,000 IT professionals recently surveyed by Mendix Tech BV said they’re shifting at least some of their priorities to better support remote work streams outside of IT.
  • Mendix’s survey found that more than 70 per cent of respondents said they’ve put some IT initiatives on hold, but “at the same time there’s a big push for digitization,” said Jon Scolamiero, manager of architecture and governance in Mendix’s product marketing organization.
  • An Accenture survey found that 73 per cent of new at-home workers say they miss the social interaction of the workplace, Burden said.
South Korea has entered its 2nd wave of coronavirus. What can Canada learn? (Global News) Published on: June 27, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Earlier this week, South Korea became the first country to officially announce a second wave of the novel coronavirus after a recent resurgence of cases.
  • In order for there to be a second wave, there needs to be a severe case increase in an area where the virus appeared to have been naturally wiped out, and return as a new variation of itself, Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr told Global News.
  • The concept of physical distancing may not have been firmly “embedded into their thinking,” particularly with young people — a key demographic in nightclubs, Furness said.
  • This is also not the first time nightclubs were linked to an increase in cases.
Blackstone skips payment on $274m hotel loan (FT) Published on: June 27, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Blackstone has skipped a payment on a $274m hotel loan, joining the ranks of leading real estate investors that have fallen behind on debt during the coronavirus crisis.
  • On Friday, Blackstone characterised the hotel deal as “a very small investment that had been written down prior to Covid-19 as a result of unique operational challenges”.
  • Some of the debt is trading at values that suggest the investors do not expect to make a full recovery.
Decoding the confusing messages of the coronavirus epidemic in America (The Economist) Published on: June 27, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The US has too few cases for a total lockdown and too many to open up safely.
  • America’s death toll and caseload are high, and not only in absolute terms. Per head, it has had twice as many cases as Europe and about 50 per cent more deaths.
  • The epidemic began as an infection of inner cities, minorities and Democratic areas. It is now spreading through suburbia, among whites and in Republican places.
As support for mask-wearing grows, so do political risks for forgoing them (Washington Post) Published on: June 26, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • As infections spike in red states such as Texas, Florida and Arizona, support for masks has grown.
  • More than 70 per cent of Americans believe that people should wear masks most or all of the time in public places, according to a Pew Research survey from mid-June.
  • A Fox News poll from last week found that 80 per cent hold a favorable view of those who wear masks, including 68 per cent of Republicans and 61 per cent of respondents who strongly approve of Trump.
Britons to be allowed to holiday abroad from July via ‘air bridges’ (Guardian) Published on: June 26, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Overseas holidays will be given the green light from early next month, with the government expected to suspend the 14-day quarantine period for a series of countries and also to set up so-called air bridge arrangements for overseas destinations.
  • At the same time, the current Foreign Office travel warning against all but essential international travel will be lifted for countries deemed safe.
  • The list of permitted destinations will remain fluid, with what is described as a “strict handbrake mechanism”, meaning any sudden outbreak of coronavirus in certain countries – or even in particular parts of a country – could require travellers unexpectedly to isolate for two weeks when they return to the UK.
Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texas bars to close again and restaurants to reduce to 50% occupancy as coronavirus spreads (Texas Tribune) Published on: June 26, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday took his most drastic action yet to respond to the post-reopening coronavirus surge in Texas, shutting bars back down and scaling back restaurant capacity to 50%.
  • Bars must close at noon Friday, and the reduction in restaurant capacity takes effect Monday. Before Abbott’s announcement Friday, bars were able to operate at 50% capacity and restaurants at 75% capacity.
  • On Thursday, he announced the state was putting a pause on any future reopening plans, though none were scheduled and the announcement did not affect businesses that were already allowed to reopen.
  • Earlier in the day, Abbott sought to free up hospital space for coronavirus patients by banning elective surgeries in four of the state’s biggest counties: Bexar, Travis, Dallas and Harris.
Governments eye new taxes on cigarettes, homes and tech giants to pay for big budget shortfalls related to the coronavirus (Washington Post) Published on: June 26, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Cash-starved cities and states across the country are starting to weigh whether to raise taxes on homes, cigarettes, local businesses and global tech giants, hoping to rake in new revenue that might help them close the massive budget shortfalls created by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Philadelphia increased fees on parking and raised wage taxes on workers who reside outside the city. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said this month she could not rule out a property tax increase to cover her city’s $700 million budget shortfall.
  • Unlike the federal government, which can cut taxes and rack up huge deficits with impunity, localities generally must balance their budgets each year.
Zoning adjustments could help cities rebound from coronavirus (Axios) Published on: June 25, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Cities should ease rigid permitting and zoning rules to help businesses and residents recover during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a trio of policy briefs out today by researchers at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
  • Restrictions on the amount and type of housing allowed to be built are contributing to the public health crisis by causing overcrowding in some places and unsustainable rents in others.
  • “Regulatory wiggle room” can go a long way to letting businesses and restaurants open in new locations or allowing residential development in commercial zones, the researchers argue.
Asia-Pacific makes a tentative return to international travel (FT) Published on: June 25, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Asia will embark on an ultra-cautious return to international travel when about 440 Japanese businesspeople will take “exceptional” flights to Vietnam over the next three days.
  • According to officials involved in the negotiations, countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are struggling to agree on broader rules for travel as they try to protect the advances they made in controlling coronavirus.
  • European governments are seeking to restart not just business but also tourist travel before the summer holiday season.
Politicians ignore far-out risks: they need to up their game (The Economist) Published on: June 25, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Low-probability, high-impact events are a fact of life. Individual humans look for protection from them to governments and, if they can afford it, insurers.
  • Virologists, epidemiologists and ecologists have warned for decades of the dangers of a flu-like disease spilling over from wild animals. But when sars-cov-2 began to spread very few countries had the winning combination of practical plans, the kit those plans required in place and the bureaucratic capacity to enact them.
  • Keeping an eye on the future is part of what governments are for. Scientists have provided them with the tools for such efforts, but few academics will undertake the work unbidden, unfunded and unsung.
  • Private business may take some steps when it perceives specific risks, but it will not put together plans for society at large.
Coronavirus Surge Alarms States, Markets and Businesses; Slow Recovery Feared (NY Times) Published on: June 24, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • On Wednesday, governors, mayors, investors and others across the United States woke up to news that was impossible to ignore.
  • More than 35,000 new coronavirus cases had been identified the day before. It was the highest number of cases reported in a single day since late April.
  • It was as if the country had found itself back in March — at the start of the pandemic, in the early days of the lockdown, when masks were in short supply and the death toll was skyrocketing.
  • In Washington State, where cases are rising again, Gov. Jay Inslee said residents would have to start wearing masks in public.
Companies Agonize Over Reopening Timetables as Covid-19 Spreads (WSJ) Published on: June 24, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Apple Inc., which said Friday it would close nearly a dozen stores in four states, said Wednesday it would shut seven more in the Houston area, where cases have doubled so far this month.
  • Restaurants around the country that recently reopened have closed again for anywhere from three days of deep cleaning to two full weeks so staff could self-quarantine after outbreaks.
  • Political leaders also signaled concerns. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the state would delay reopening shopping malls, movie theaters and gyms, while the State Department of Health reviews more data about indoor viral transmission.
Data Shows Significant Drop in IT Services Spending Post COVID-19 (NextGov) Published on: June 24, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Federal and central governments across the globe have shifted spending priorities to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, with notable declines in IT spending worldwide, according to a new report.
  • The U.S. has not been immune to this shift, with a major drop in spending on IT services canceling out continued investments in hardware and software, according to IDC’s “COVID-19: Global and U.S. Federal Spending—Where the Money Is Going,” published Tuesday.
  • The report notes the COVID-19 pandemic has forced changes for every sector but argues “the health crisis is affecting government IT spending differently than other industries.”
  • Even though trillions of extra dollars are being disbursed, most is going into grants, health and expense relief, not [new] IT systems.
Atlantic provinces agree to regional COVID-19 pandemic bubble (CBC) Published on: June 24, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The four Atlantic provinces have agreed to open their borders to each other on July 3, the Council of Atlantic Premiers announced Wednesday in a news release.
  • Other Canadian visitors to the three Maritime provinces who have self-isolated for 14 days may travel within the Maritime region, but not to Newfoundland and Labrador, said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.
A Multibillion-Dollar Opportunity: Virus-Proofing the New Office (NY Times) Published on: June 22, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Truework, an income verification start-up, recently introduced software to help employers keep track of their workers’ health status.
  • Gensler, an architecture and design firm, has a workplace floor-planning app that generates social-distancing layouts for desks and other office furniture.
  • In the United States, the market for contact-tracing technologies for employers could soon be worth $4 billion annually, according to estimates from International Data Corporation, a market research firm.
France shows Europe can keep Covid-19 in check after reopening (FT) Published on: June 22, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Since May 11, when President Emmanuel Macron ordered the gradual reopening of schools and businesses, the rate of Covid-19 infections has slowed — including in Paris and the north-eastern region where the epidemic struck most fiercely.
  • This has prompted Jean-Francois Delfraissy, France’s top scientific adviser, to declare that the virus was “under control”.
  • France is to allow all businesses to resume and all children to return to school from Monday.
  • Similar promising trends have been observed across Europe.
Covid-19 has led to a pandemic of plastic pollution (The Economist) Published on: June 22, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Data are hard to come by but, for example, consumption of single-use plastic may have grown by 250-300% in America since the coronavirus took hold, says Antonis Mavropoulos of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), which represents recycling bodies in 102 countries.
  • According to a forecast from Grand View Research, the global disposable-mask market will grow from an estimated $800m in 2019 to $166bn in 2020.
  • If the public’s increasing appetite for single-use plastic worries environmentalists, then so too does its diminishing inclination to recycle materials that can be reused.
  • In Athens, for example, there has been a 150% increase in the amount of plastic found in the general-waste stream, says Mr Mavropoulos.
Airports beg government to set face mask policy for passengers (The Hill) Published on: June 21, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Airline passengers are encountering a patchwork of rules when it comes to wearing masks on planes and in airports, creating confusion and frustration among customers and companies alike.
  • With no federal law for wearing masks on planes or in airports, airlines are setting their own policies.
  • Some have removed non-compliant passengers and banned them from future flights, as was the case earlier this week when American Airlines removed a pro-Trump activist.
  • The recent policies imposed by airlines and any subsequent federal rules for airports are likely to add fuel to the political fire surrounding masks.
Women’s Job Losses From Pandemic Aren’t Good for Economic Recovery (WSJ) Published on: June 21, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Women have lost jobs at a steeper rate than men during the coronavirus pandemic, a factor that is likely to hold back the economic recovery.
  • Married women, who in past recessions took jobs to offset lost wages when their husband or male partner was laid off, also are less likely to seek work because their employment prospects are now limited, one researcher concluded.
  • The fragility of female-dominated jobs is different from past recessions, when goods-producing sectors such as construction and manufacturing—which are predominantly men—saw greater employment losses.
Canadians working from home permanently should expect salary changes, experts say (The Globe and Mail) Published on: June 21, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • “That means if you live in a location where the cost of living is dramatically lower, or the cost of labour is lower, then salaries do tend to be somewhat lower in those places,”  said Mark Zuckerberg on a video conference, where he announced more employees would be allowed to work remotely permanently.
  • Only one-third of Canadians working remotely expect to resume working from the office as consistently as they did pre-pandemic, while one-in-five say they will remain primarily at home, according to a June study from the Angus Reid Institute.
  • The companies that don’t offer remote work at all could also find themselves at a disadvantage, if their industry starts to value flexibility and look less favourably at companies that don’t offer it.
NFL union asks players to stop joint workouts amid coronavirus fears (NY Post) Published on: June 20, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The NFL Players Association has asked players to stop working out together.
  • “Please be advised that it is our consensus medical opinion that in light of the increase in COVID-19 cases in certain states that no players should be engaged in practicing together in private workouts,” wrote NFLPA medical director Dr. Thom Mayer.
Coronavirus halted L.A.’s biggest K-pop festival. Now fans have a digital alternative (LA Times) Published on: June 20, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • If any music genre was going to thrive in the era of quarantined livestreams, it was K-pop.
  • While events like KCON and massive concert tours like BTS and SuperM have become fixtures in SoCal’s music calendar, K-pop’s life here began online and flourished in digital spaces.
  • Enter KCON:TACT, a digital incarnation of the festival happening this weekend.
  • True to the genre’s ultra-online culture, it doesn’t just replace the arena shows and fan panels, but also opens up other avenues for fans to stay invested, like one-on-one video conferences with acts and fan performances broadcast alongside those of idol groups.
Dressing up again? Fashion tries to recover from ‘brutal’ crisis (FT) Published on: June 20, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Within a couple of weeks of the Covid-19 shutdown in New York City, Diane von Furstenberg realised that the pandemic risked being an extinction-level event for her eponymous brand.
  • In its new incarnation, DVF will probably continue to sell online and remain in China via a franchise agreement that includes more than 30 stores.
  • McKinsey has forecast the $2.5tn global fashion industry (apparel and footwear) will contract by 27-30 per cent in 2020, while the personal luxury goods sector — including fashion, accessories, watches, fine jewellery and high-end beauty — will be hit even harder, with sales down by 35-39 per cent.
Muddled mask messaging may be haunting coronavirus re-openings (San Diego Tribune) Published on: June 19, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Crowds gathering without face coverings spark warnings, shrugs. Now California is requiring them when you’re inside.
  • Like the novel coronavirus itself, official guidelines about wearing face masks in public have been a moving target.
  • Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially downplayed the efficacy of masks; now they recommend them. Same with the World Health Organization.
Emerging digital channels are here to stay: omnichannel lessons of the crisis will fuel campaigns for the future (Digiday) Published on: June 19, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • According to their survey, 85 per cent of consumers have a positive or neutral opinion of brands that proceed with normal advertising during the outbreak, going up to 93 per cent if that advertising communicates how these brands are responding to the crisis.
  • In our survey, 64 per cent of consumers especially want to hear from brands they trust during this time.
  • The GlobalWebIndex coronavirus research shows that 52 per cent of consumers report spending more time streaming online videos, and this is higher than the increase observed by broadcast TV channels.
California requires masks statewide in bid to slow coronavirus spread (Politico) Published on: June 18, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday he will require masks in most public settings statewide in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19 as new cases rise by thousands daily in the state.
  • The California Department of Public Health released updated guidance Thursday that requires Californians to wear a face covering in most indoor settings, as well as outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible.
  • Any workers who engage with the public will be required to wear a mask. So will riders of public transit and anyone visiting a health-related office.
Many shoppers to continue with ‘cheaper’ online workouts and hairdressing post-lockdown (Wales Online) Published on: June 17, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • A survey has found that 35 per cent of shoppers say they intend to still use online workout classes and follow remote hairdressing tips post-lockdown.
  • Nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) retailers said they had seen an increased demand for in-home experiences over the past three months. Over half (56 per cent) had initially planned these at-home product lines or services to be temporary.
  • Kirsty Morris, managing director for account development at Barclaycard Payments, said: “Lockdown has undoubtedly been challenging for retailers, but it’s promising to see how many have been quick to cater their product lines to consumers looking for entertainment and personalised products while at home.”
CAMH survey shows pandemic affecting mental health, but anxiety levels may be easing (CBC) Published on: June 17, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The study sampled more than 2,000 Canadians — about half in early May and the other half in late May — and asked a series of questions to determine the effects of the pandemic on mental health.
  • It found that 20 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they have been experiencing loneliness during the pandemic.
  • The study also questioned Canadians on patterns of binge drinking and whether they had been drinking more alcohol during the pandemic outbreak, as well as about feelings of depression.
  • Approximately 24 per cent of the respondents said they were drinking more than usual , and 20 per cent reported feeling more depressed.
In Canada’s COVID-19 capital, younger students return to class in ‘bubbles’ (Reuters) Published on: June 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Quebec’s elementary and younger high school students will be divided into smaller subgroups, or “bubbles,” and no longer switch classes when they return to school this fall, education officials in the Canadian province hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak said on Tuesday.
  • China’s capital, Beijing, said it is closing schools amid a fresh outbreak.
  • Only British Columbia has reopened both elementary and high schools, though students are attending on a rotating basis, while Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have both resumed some in-person classes on a limited basis.
Covid-detecting ‘smart rings’ to be trialled by staff at Las Vegas resort (FT) Published on: June 16, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • A prominent Las Vegas casino operator is embarking on a novel strategy to fight coronavirus among its staff, giving them wearable “smart rings” that can detect infection before symptoms occur.
  • It will be the first big US company to deploy such pre-symptomatic virus detection devices internally.
  • The rollout comes as researchers are turning increasingly to wearable technologies to track the spread of the pandemic in real time, often before symptoms appear.
Covid-19 has prompted boom for TV news, dip in media trust worldwide and surge in misinformation (Press Gazette) Published on: June 16, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • In the UK, just over half (55%) of respondents to this year’s Digital News Report said they used TV as a source of news in January, compared to more than three-quarters (77%) for online, including social media.
  • Among the under-35s surveyed in April, more than half (57%) said they had used TV as a source of news in the last week – a rise of 25 percentage points on January – compared to 61% for social media, up 9%.
  • The report said: “Overall our April 2020 survey found the news media were considered to have done a good job in helping ordinary people understand the extent of the crisis (60%), and also in making clear what people can do personally to mitigate the impact (65%).”
  • Across the six countries surveyed for the report in April, 59% of respondents rated news organisations as trustworthy on Covid-19, on a par with national governments and behind scientists, doctors, and health organisations.
Coronavirus Breaches Chinese Capital, Rattling Officials (NY Times) Published on: June 15, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The authorities in Beijing placed a swath of the city under lockdown on Monday and tested tens of thousands of people as they rushed to contain a new coronavirus outbreak that marked an unnerving breach in China’s capital.
  • Until now, the efforts appeared to have protected the capital against the virus after it emerged late last year in Wuhan, a city in central China.
  • While the dozens of new cases in Beijing seem slight compared to the hundreds and even thousands of infections reported daily in other countries, the fresh outbreak has jolted China, prompting the government to fire local officials and reinstate some recently relaxed restrictions.
COVID-19: Poll says Canadians fatigued, less concerned about virus protocols (Vancouver Sun) Published on: June 15, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Just 36 per cent of respondents say they’re staying away from public spaces as much as they were during the early days of the pandemic, while 56 per cent are still physically distancing.
  • The poll also found that 31 per cent of Canadians reported feeling fatigued in recent weeks and 28 per cent say they are anxious, with the majority of those being under the age of 55.
  • Just under half of Canadians (41 per cent) still believe the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to come, while the rest believe Canada has survived the lowest point of the health crisis.
Risk sentiment rides the waves with some central bank help (FT) Published on: June 15, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Global investor sentiment was challenged by signs of another Covid-19 wave on Monday, before Wall Street was bolstered by an announcement on corporate bond purchases from the US Federal Reserve.
  • The catalyst for the rebound was the Fed announcing that it would purchase corporate bonds to create a portfolio that reflects “a broad, diversified market index of US corporate bonds”.
  • The latest demonstration of seemingly unlimited central bank support drowned out the worrying news over the weekend that Beijing had experienced a jump in coronavirus infections.
At A Time Of Great Need, Public Health Lacks ‘Lobbying Muscle’ (Kaiser Health News) Published on: June 15, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • “We don’t have millions of dollars to spend on billboards, and we can’t call in a hundred people to stand up at a hearing and say ‘I didn’t get sick because of public health measures” said Kat DeBurgh, executive director of the Health Officers Association of California.
  • Health officials say the additional $150 million they’re requesting would help them hire public health nurses and disease investigators, fund public health labs and purchase protective gear.
  • County health directors say chronic underfunding has forced them to make difficult decisions to curtail spending and cut programs like public health labs — 11 of 40 have shuttered in the past two decades.
Korea crushed a huge coronavirus outbreak. Can it beat a second wave? (Honolulu Star-Advertiser) Published on: June 14, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • South Korea became one of the world’s top virus success stories by learning from past experiences.
  • Now it’s using lessons from a fresh spate of clusters to prepare for what officials say will be an inevitable second wave.
  • Steps taken include introducing entry registration for nightclubs and gyms, requiring tracking and health-monitoring phone apps for foreign visitors, and installing mask vending machines in parks and subways.
Fauci says second wave is ‘not inevitable’ as coronavirus cases climb in some states (CTV News) Published on: June 13, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Most Americans are adhering to CDC guidelines introduced to mitigate the pandemic, according to a survey from the CDC.
  • In the survey released Friday, close to 80 per cent of Americans surveyed nationwide said they had self-isolated last month and 85 per cent of New Yorkers said they had when the survey was conducted in May.
  • And 84.3 per cent of those surveyed believed their state’s mitigation strategies were the right balance or even not restrictive enough, the survey team, led by the CDC’s Michael Tynan, said in the agency’s weekly report.
More funding, health, equity measures needed ahead of September school reopening: OSSTF (CBC) Published on: June 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The union representing thousands of Ontario high school teachers and education workers is raising the alarm over what it calls “clear risks” involved with reopening public schools in September in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Among other things, the union is calling on the government to provide more personal protective equipment, more cleaning and more funding for the increased staffing it says will be needed to keep everyone as safe as possible from the novel coronavirus.
  • Though Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce says a full plan for reopening the province’s schools will be released by the end of June — including measures to ensure physical distancing and restrictions on the movement of students at school — Bischof says the province needs to take additional steps in its reopening plan, and do it quickly.
Businesses Want Virus Legal Protection. Workers Are Worried. (NY Times) Published on: June 12, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The stock exchange required Mr. Corpina and others who work there to acknowledge that returning to work could expose them to the coronavirus, and to promise not to sue if they were infected.
  • Whether companies are liable if their workers and customers catch the coronavirus has become a key question as businesses seek to reopen around the country.
  • Companies and universities — and the groups that represent them — say they are vulnerable to a wave of lawsuits if they reopen while the coronavirus continues to circulate widely, and they are pushing Congress for temporary legal protections they say will help get the economy running again.
COVID-19: B.C. Hydro survey shows change to daily routines (Vancouver Sun) Published on: June 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Since mid-March, nearly 90 per cent of British Columbians reported drastically shifting their daily routines, including nearly 40 per cent that are working at home five days a week, according to the survey.
  • Other findings include that 45 per cent say they are eating breakfast at a later time, and 24 per cent said they are showering less often and for shorter periods of time in the morning.
  • Almost half of those surveyed said they are cooking more now than they were pre-pandemic, and almost a quarter are making dinner earlier these days.
America Is Done With COVID-19. COVID-19 Isn’t Done With America (TIME) Published on: June 12, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The U.S. is very much on fire, well into a second phase of the crisis, with the COVID-19 caseload steadily rising to more than 2 million confirmed cases and more than 113,00 deaths.
  • Four of those states—Arizona, California, Mississippi and North Carolina—have yet to decline for any extended window even temporarily; the rest appear to have initially bent the curve downward and are now experiencing a second wave of infections.
  • Yet the pandemic, if not remotely yesterday’s news, has begun to fade as a front-of-mind issue, pushed out both by the recent demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism, triggered by the May 25 murder of George Floyd, and perhaps a sort of cultural numbing to all things COVID.
  • The White House Coronavirus Task Force, whose press conferences were daily fixtures in the early months of the crisis, now convenes three times a week instead of daily—with Vice President Mike Pence, the group’s chair, attending only one of those three regular sessions—and there has not been a press conference in the last month.
One metre or two? Economic pressure stokes distancing debate (FT) Published on: June 11, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Intense economic pressure to lift coronavirus lockdowns around the world has stoked debate over the minimum physical distancing needed to limit the spread of infection.
  • Evidence so far suggests that the World Health Organization guideline of one metre is a bare minimum, and that the transmission risk falls further as that gap widens to two metres and beyond.
  • Fernando Simón, the epidemiologist leading Spain’s virus fight, said this week that two metres was still ideal, even though his country would cut its requirement to 1.5 metres from June 21.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says ‘we can’t shut down the economy again’ (CNBC) Published on: June 11, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that shutting down the economy for a second time to slow Covid-19 isn’t a viable option.
  • The Treasury secretary’s comments came as Wall Street grew more concerned about a second wave of coronavirus cases in the U.S.
  • “And not just economic damage, but there are other areas and we’ve talked about this: medical problems and everything else that get put on hold,” he added.
Covid-19 challenges New York’s future (The Economist) Published on: June 11, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Cities around the world, take heed.
  • Construction and manufacturing have now restarted; shops offer pavement pickups. But many businesses are still shut, and most office workers at home.
  • Workers and firms have continued to pile into cities like New York, even as travel and telecommuting have become easier, because there is so much to be gained by proximity to other human beings, especially when it comes to the “knowledge economy” reliant on highly skilled, highly educated and highly productive workers.
Busy shops and packed buses as Sao Paulo reopens amid coronavirus pandemic (Independent.ie) Published on: June 10, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Brazil is among the South American countries hit hardest by the pandemic, with about 39,000 deaths according to official figures.
  • Sao Paulo mayor Bruno Covas authorised the restart of commerce between 11am and 3pm as long as shops require customers to use masks and limit those allowed inside.
  • As the day began, many commuters headed back to jobs unmasked, ignoring Mr Covas’s order that only those wearing masks be allowed in buses and other public transport.
Fed predicts no rate increases until at least the end of 2022 (FT) Published on: June 10, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Federal Reserve officials predicted they would keep interest rates close to zero until at least the end of 2022, as the US central bank indicated it would take years to bring joblessness back down to the levels before the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The dovish tone from the Fed, which is expecting the US economy to contract by 6.5 per cent this year, with unemployment falling to 9.3 per cent, reinforced expectations that the central bank was settling in for an extended fight against the economic shock triggered by the virus.
  • Mr Powell pushed back against concerns the Fed had artificially propped up markets in a way that could be a source of financial trouble ahead.
Widespread mask-wearing could prevent COVID-19 second waves: study (Reuters) Published on: June 10, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Population-wide face mask use could push COVID-19 transmission down to controllable levels for national epidemics, and could prevent further waves of the pandemic disease when combined with lockdowns, according to a British study on Wednesday.
  • The research, led by scientists at the Britain’s Cambridge and Greenwich Universities, suggests lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, but that even homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people wear them in public.
  • In all scenarios the study looked at, routine face mask use by 50% or more of the population reduced COVID-19 spread to an R of less than 1.0, flattening future disease waves and allowing for less stringent lockdowns.
In the W.H.O.’s Coronavirus Stumbles, Some Scientists See a Pattern (NY Times) Published on: June 9, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Even as the World Health Organization leads the worldwide response to the coronavirus pandemic, the agency is failing to take stock of rapidly evolving research findings and to communicate clearly about them, several scientists warned on Tuesday.
  • In a news briefing on Monday, a W.H.O. official asserted that transmission of the coronavirus by people without symptoms is “very rare.” Following concerted pushback from researchers, officials on Tuesday walked back the claim, saying it was a “misunderstanding.”
  • The agency delayed endorsing masks for the general public until Friday, claiming there was too little evidence that they prevented transmission of the virus. Virtually all scientists and governments have been recommending masks for months.
Two-thirds of Canadians intend to get COVID-19 vaccine, about half wearing masks in public: survey (Richmond News) Published on: June 9, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Sixty-eight per cent of survey respondents said they intend to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available, while 16 per cent said they didn’t know, and another 16 per cent said they would not get vaccinated, according to the poll, released Tuesday, by a Canadian market-research company.
  • When it comes to wearing a mask to help prevent the spread of the virus, 51 per cent of Canadians said they put one on while grocery shopping, 45 per cent for trips to the pharmacy, 17 per cent in workplaces or offices.
  • When it comes to transit, 14 per cent of Canadians said they wear a mask, and another 12 per cent said they wear a mask when they go for a walk.
Will UK schools fully reopen before September and can parents refuse to send their children? (The Independent) Published on: June 9, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • “To reflect the fact that children will still be doing part of their learning at home, we are going to invest a further £30 million to provide laptops for disadvantaged children and young people to study online,” the first minister stated. Kirsty Williams, education minister for Wales, said that schools in the country will not reopen on 1 June in line with England as any update would need to be “communicated well in advance”.
  • It is currently understood that while children can contract the coronavirus, they are less likely than adults to become seriously ill. “The evidence to date [as of 24 April 2020] suggests that although children do develop Covid-19, very few children develop severe symptoms, even if they have an underlying health condition,” Great Ormond Street Hospital states.
  • In Switzerland, authorities said on 29 April that it was safe for children under 10 to hug their grandparents because young children “do not transmit” the virus.
Why can’t the GTA lift COVID-19 restrictions? These 5 charts explain our lockdown limbo, how the virus is multiplying and more (Toronto Star) Published on: June 9, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The inability to scale back cases here could be due a number of reasons, including increased testing, which has led to the discovery of more positive cases, or an increase in public gatherings, said Dr. Jennifer Kwan, a family physician who’s been tracking COVID-19 data in the province.
  • As well, she said, delayed reports of positive tests to public health units, which the province acknowledged happened earlier this month at a drive-thru assessment centre in Etobicoke, could have allowed people to spread the virus unknowingly.
  • On Monday evening, the province’s regional health units reported 314 new COVID-19 cases, a decrease of 101 cases reported the same time Sunday.
Energy Firm BP to Cut 10,000 Jobs Worldwide Amid Coronavirus Pandemic (TIME) Published on: June 8, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Energy company BP said Monday that its global workforce will be trimmed by 10,000 jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic slams the oil and gas industry.
  • The changes are expected to significantly impact senior levels, cutting the number of group leaders by a third. The company said it will make the senior structure flatter.
Asia Today: New Zealand succeeds in eradicating coronavirus (660 News) Published on: June 7, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • New Zealand has eradicated the coronavirus from its shores after health officials reported Monday that the final person known to have been infected has recovered.
  • It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported in New Zealand, and Monday also marked the first time since late February that there have been no active cases.
Shipping industry warns of trade logjam as crews remain stranded (FT) Published on: June 7, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The international shipping industry has warned of a threat to global trade from a mounting crisis on board merchant vessels, with up to 400,000 crew stranded either at sea or at home by travel restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Many crew have worked several months beyond their contracts, exceeding regulatory limits, and ship owners, unions and captains have sounded the alarm over safety.
  • Many seafarers are also struggling to obtain entry or exit visas, while the suspension of commercial flights increase the difficulties in moving crew around.
Same old Vegas? Here’s what coronavirus has and hasn’t changed about Sin City (USA Today) Published on: June 7, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The Las Vegas Strip is slowly awakening after a nearly 80-day slumber due to the coronavirus crisis.
  • There’s a giant hand-washing station on the casino floor at the luxe Bellagio.
  • What happens if you have a fever? You’ll be given time to cool down before being tested again. Those with a fever will be evaluated by a medical professional and may not be able to check in.
‘I have never felt so helpless’: Front-line workers confront loss (Washington Post) Published on: June 7, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Doctors, nurses and first responders grapple with the enormity of what they’ve witnessed during the pandemic’s first wave.
  • They second-guess their decisions, experience panic attacks, worry constantly about their patients, their families and themselves, and feel tremendous anxiety about how and when this might end.
  • Worried that the coronavirus might leave a whole generation of health-care workers with post-traumatic stress disorder, many hospitals and ambulance companies have brought in grief counselors via Zoom and started weekly mediation sessions, prayer circles and other support services.
US to Allow Chinese Passenger Carriers 2 Flights per Week as Beijing Announces Easing of Covid-19 Curbs (News18) Published on: June 6, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The United States will permit Chinese passenger air carriers to operate two flights per week after Beijing said it would ease coronavirus-related restrictions to allow in more foreign carriers, the US Transportation Department said on Friday.
  • The notice added that the department is “troubled by China’s continued unilateral dictation of the terms of the US-China scheduled passenger air transportation market without respect for the rights of US carriers.”
WHO advises public to wear face masks when unable to distance (Guardian) Published on: June 5, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Over-60s should use medical-grade masks and all others three-layer fabric ones, health body says.
  • All others should wear a three-layer fabric mask: absorbent cotton closest to the face, followed by a polypropylene layer and then a synthetic layer that is fluid-resistant, the WHO said.
  • The WHO said people should be advised to wear masks not only on buses and trains but also wherever physical distancing may be hard – in grocery stores, at work, at social gatherings, at mass gatherings and in closed settings, including schools, churches, mosques and other places of worship.
Singapore plans wearable virus-tracing device for all (Reuters) Published on: June 5, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Singapore plans to give a wearable device that will identify people who had interacted with carriers of coronavirus to each of its 5.7 million residents, in what could become one of the most comprehensive contact-tracing efforts globally.
  • Testing of the small devices, which can be worn on the end of a lanyard or carried in a handbag, follows limited take-up of an earlier smartphone-based system and has further fuelled privacy concerns about contact tracing technology.
  • The government did not specify whether carrying the device would be mandatory.
Federal government rules out adoption of Mila Institute’s COVID-19 contact-tracing app (The Logic) Published on: June 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The federal government has ruled out an endorsement of one of the highest-profile Canadian efforts to develop a COVID-19 contact-tracing smartphone app, The Logic has learned.
  • The decision against adopting Mila’s app, which is based on the protocols developed by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), strongly suggests the federal government will instead endorse an app based on Apple and Google exposure notification application programming interface.
  • Ottawa-based Shopify, which has developed an app based on the two companies’ technology, is arguably the country’s most prominent remaining contender.
The pandemic is still gathering pace in most of the world (The Economist) Published on: June 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • All told, poorer countries account for some three-quarters of the 100,000 or so new cases detected around the world each day.
  • These numbers are alarming, especially because they are grave underestimates. Poorer countries tend to conduct fewer tests than richer ones, so even more infections and deaths are going uncounted in them.
  • Their governments tend not to have much money, either. That has prompted the authorities to relax the restrictions they put in place to slow the spread of the disease, to save their citizens from ruin.
The quest for a vaccine could restore faith in big pharma (The Economist) Published on: June 4, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Until the coronavirus, the company barely dabbled in the $60bn-a-year vaccine business. Yet now he is leading the effort not just to create a vaccine, but also to bring big pharma back in from the cold.
  • Yet it is in the quest for the vaccine that Mr Soriot’s faith in innovation could be most consequential. In April AstraZeneca struck a landmark deal with Oxford University to distribute a potential jab.
  • Within three weeks it had secured manufacturing capacity for 1bn doses, with the aim of beginning deliveries in September.
The C.D.C. Waited ‘Its Entire Existence for This Moment.’ What Went Wrong? (NY Times) Published on: June 3, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Americans returning from China landed at U.S. airports by the thousands in early February, potential carriers of a deadly virus who had been diverted to a handful of cities for screening by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • But the effort was frustrated as the C.D.C.’s decades-old notification system delivered information collected at the airports that was riddled with duplicative records, bad phone numbers and incomplete addresses.
  • When the system went offline in mid-February, briefly halting the flow of passenger data, local officials listened in disbelief on a conference call as the C.D.C. responded to the possibility that infected travelers might slip away.
  • “Just let them go,” two of the health officials recall being told.
Swedish expert admits country should have had tighter coronavirus controls (FT) Published on: June 3, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • “If we would encounter the same disease, with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did,” said Mr Tegnell in the interview broadcast on Wednesday morning.
  • The public mood in Sweden appears to have shifted somewhat since neighbouring Norway and Denmark last week opened their borders to each other but not their close neighbour.
  • Sweden kept its schools for under 16s open, a policy that health authorities in Norway and Denmark now think wise.
US surgeon general: “Every reason to expect” new Covid-19 clusters following protests (CNN) Published on: June 2, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • As protests over the death of George Floyd continue across the United States, there is concern that coronavirus could spread among demonstrators, US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams told Politico on Monday.
  • “Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward,” Adams said.
Coronavirus: 15 emerging themes for boards and executive teams (McKinsey) Published on: June 2, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • We are seeing some faint signs of progress in the struggle to contain the pandemic. But the risk of resurgence is real, and if the virus does prove to be seasonal, the effect will probably be muted.
  • Boards must strike the right balance between hope for the future and the realism that organizations need to hear.
  • Certain industries and sectors are truly struggling and require support. Several disrupted industries and many organizations in higher education, the arts, and sports are severely struggling and require support to safeguard their survival.
The new era of quarantine: a muddled set of travel rules (FT) Published on: June 2, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Many governments have decided to isolate arrivals because of coronavirus despite little agreement about how to go about it.
  • “The windows didn’t open and there was no fresh air. They posted two guards on each floor and if you opened your door they would stare at you and tell you to close it,” said Hope Ailsa.
  • With little obvious debate and consultation, or even agreement among scientists about when to apply it, governments around the world have decided that isolating arrivals from other countries is an essential response to coronavirus — and, in some cases, could remain so for quite some time.
Hesitancy to resume activities marks reopening challenges: POLL (ABC News) Published on: June 1, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • With two-thirds of Americans worried about a second wave of the coronavirus, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds nearly 6 in 10 people are unready to resume their pre-pandemic activities, underscoring continued public unease as the nation seeks a return to normalcy.
  • 59 per cent report severe economic impacts in their community — up from 43 per cent two months ago. Among those employed before the pandemic began, 24 per cent have been laid off or furloughed.
  • Further demonstrating the extent of the pandemic, 42 per cent of Americans now know someone personally who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, up nearly fourfold from 11 per cent in late March.
As pandemic persists, courts could see permanent changes some consider positive (National Post) Published on: May 31, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • One of the most dramatic impacts may be happening in courthouses, where hearings that have always occurred in person, are instead being adjudicated through online video or even over the telephone.
  • But the pandemic is also forcing lawyers and judges into a debate about the merits of technology and access to justice.
  • The judge wrote that the videoconferencing system he used allowed all the participants to see each other, and one member of the press even witnessed the proceeding.
Four ways Ontario has made it harder to know how COVID-19 is hitting the province (Toronto Star) Published on: May 31, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • In Ontario, the primary public sources of information on the spread of the virus have been the province’s 34 local public health units and Public Health Ontario, a government agency created to protect and promote health.
  • “In this case, it’s even more critical for us to know of the people who are being tested, what per cent of them are actually coming back positive, what per cent are coming back negative, because that can help at least give us some idea of how to extrapolate those numbers to the wider community,” said Aleman, a professor of industrial engineering at the University of Toronto .
  • The caveat is that such an extrapolation would be imperfect because of a biased selection scenario where the province has only been testing people strongly suspected of having the virus.
  • Before that date, Ontario’s data included some cases of COVID-19 that had been confirmed by the fact a patient had symptoms and was living in a facility that was experiencing an outbreak, but not a test — the logic being that if a resident got sick where the virus was present, there was no need to conduct a test to confirm the obvious.
New York governor signs bill that provides death benefits to families of frontline workers (CNN) Published on: May 30, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that gives death benefits to families of frontline workers who died battling the coronavirus pandemic.
  • “It is the least we can do to say thank you, and we honor you, and we remember you. You gave your lives for us. We will be there to support your families going forward,” Cuomo said at a news conference on Saturday.
Small signs of life return to US economy (FT) Published on: May 30, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • An increase in traffic and a fall in panic purchases at the supermarket are among the signs that Americans are taking their first cautious steps back to normality after coronavirus flatlined the economy.
  • There is still a long way to go after months of lockdown. But the low for the “two-month recession” probably occurred in April, says Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Financial Group.
  • Purchases of toilet paper and disinfectants have declined 63 and 83 per cent, respectively, according to data from Nielsen.
Sweden snubbed as Norway and Denmark open borders (FT) Published on: May 29, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Norwegian, German and Icelandic tourists coming to Denmark will have to show they have booked at least six nights in the country and will not be able to stay overnight in Copenhagen.
  • Finland’s ministers and health authorities have suggested that Sweden’s high death rate makes a common Nordic travel area impossible and have instead looked at trying to join the Baltic travel bubble between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  • But there was better economic news for Sweden on Friday as GDP figures for the first quarter showed it was one of the few countries in Europe to enjoy growth in the first three months of the year.
  • The country’s GDP increased by 0.1 per cent compared with the fourth quarter.
New York Stores Can Ban Customers For Not Wearing Masks (Hudson Valley Post) Published on: May 28, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new order that gives store owners the right to ban any customer that enters without wearing a mask.
  • Cuomo says New York has received $23,840 of federal COVID-19 funding per positive case as opposed to Alaska which received $3,395,739 per COVID-19 case.
  • The New York Stock Exchange reopened after two months but Cuomo doesn’t think it will “bounce back.” He doesn’t think the U.S. economy will bounce back on its own after the pandemic because too many small businesses have closed.
‘They didn’t get to die with dignity’: Canada reexamines care for seniors (Christian Science Monitor) Published on: May 28, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • In Quebec, which has seen the highest coronavirus infection and mortality rates in Canada, 63% of COVID-19 fatalities have occurred in long-term care facilities, known as CHSLDs.
  • But although both countries have suffered outbreaks in nursing homes, that problem has been much more severe in Canada: More than 80% of COVID-19 fatalities in the country are linked to them, according to Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
  • This week the Canadian Armed Forces shook the nation with a damning report on the unsafe state of five long-term care facilities in Greater Toronto.
  • Advocates and victims’ families are calling for public inquiries as to what went wrong and for new national standards for long-term care to be established.
The Health 202: Americans are not expecting a quick return to normal. Or a vaccine next year. (Washington Post) Published on: May 28, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • A spate of recent polls reveals Americans’ attitudes toward the novel coronavirus, which has taken the lives of 100,000 people in the United States. Here’s what we learned.
  • Nearly half of Americans say they or someone in their household skipped or delayed medical care because of the outbreak.
  • A third of Americans are showing signs of clinical anxiety or depression, Census Bureau data shows, the most definitive and alarming sign yet of the psychological toll exacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Researchers Applaud Spanish COVID-19 Serological Survey (The Scientist) Published on: May 28, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • After initial setbacks, the country’s recent antibody screen estimates that 5 per cent of the population has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.
  • Unfortunately, this means almost all of the population is still at risk.
  • “There is no herd immunity in Spain.”
The case for mandatory masks (The Economist) Published on: May 28, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • In places where covid-19 is still rife, governments should require people to wear face coverings in crowded public spaces.
  • Since May 11th Parisians have been required to wear masks on public transport or face a penalty of €135 ($150), so it is rare to see anybody on the Métro without one.
  • In much of the rich world, governments now require people to wear masks when they are in crowded public spaces. Britain and America are among the few hold-outs.
Many Americans say the pandemic changed their spending habits for the better, but experts are skeptical it will last (Business Insider) Published on: May 27, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Surveys show that Americans redirected their discretionary income after restaurants and stores closed and social events were canceled because of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • A majority of Americans say they’re going to stick with their newfound spending habits, like cooking at home and supporting local businesses.
  • While people are decidedly more mindful about spending during the crisis, some experts are skeptical their behaviors will outlast the pandemic.
Ontario extends all emergency orders for another 10 days (CTV News) Published on: May 27, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • “We are extending these emergency orders to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families as we begin to gradually and safely reopen our province,” Premier Doug Ford said in a news release issued on Wednesday morning.
  • The orders will now be in effect until June 9.
  • On May 19, the province entered the first stage of its recovery phase, which allowed retail stores with a street-front entrance to begin operating again and permitted some outdoor recreational amenities, including sports facilities, to reopen.
Disney World sets reopening date (CNN) Published on: May 27, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Disney World will reopen its gates, ending a multi-month closure of the park that left the Walt Disney Company reeling.
  • The Disney theme park, which employs some 70,000 people, plans to begin a phased reopening on July 11 for its Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks and July 15 for EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, the company said on Wednesday.
  • Disney is implementing several measures to reopen safely and prevent the spread of the coronavirus at its parks.
As Starbucks locations reopen nationwide, workers question why they should risk their life ‘for a frappuccino’ (NBC) Published on: May 27, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • “We’re not forcing anyone to come back, but it is a managed risk,” said one manager. “We have no idea which customers have been following procedures or who has been in hospitals.”
  • “It seems to be bad to reopen when you have an ongoing worsening pandemic,” said one barista in Chicago who is currently on quarantine after his manager came down with a fever.
  • But even with these precautions, workers are terrified of going to work and say it is difficult to stay safe among eager customers, some of whom do not follow health protocols.
Experts Predict How Coronavirus May Change Hotel Stays (Huffington Post) Published on: May 26, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • One area undergoing massive changes ― and preparing for more ― is the hotel business.
  • “Travelers will certainly hear hotels talk about their sanitization and cleaning protocols, and certain properties or brands may seek cleanliness certifications,” noted Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor at The Points Guy. “The key here will be communicating their cleanliness standards to guests.”
  • “Marriott, for example, said it’s going to use electrostatic sprayers and hospital-grade disinfectants,” Lieberman said.
  • “There will be an acceleration of self-service tech solutions in hotels,” said Konrad Waliszewski, co-founder and CEO of the travel app TripScout. “Services that would have happened anyway over the next decade ― such as self-service and contactless check-ins, mobile keys, mobile check-ins, and mobile SMS/chat for requests ― will become the norm for hotels.”
Merck chief casts doubt on coronavirus vaccine timeframe (FT) Published on: May 26, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Merck chief executive Ken Frazier has cast doubt on the 12 to 18-month timeframe to develop an effective coronavirus vaccine, describing the widely mooted schedule as “very aggressive”.
  • “It is not something I would put out there that I would want to hold Merck to,” the US pharmaceutical group’s chief told the Financial Times, adding that vaccines should be tested in “very large” clinical trials that take several months if not years to complete.
  • Mr Frazier’s comments came as Merck announced it was acquiring Themis Bioscience, a privately held biotech company based in Vienna that has been developing a coronavirus vaccine.
Our Economy Was Just Blasted Years Into the Future (Medium) Published on: May 26, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • As a catastrophe, Covid-19 itself appears so far to be a hybrid in impact — vastly speeding up some potent trends while quickly dispelling others that people thought were happening but actually weren’t.
  • “There is pressure on all trends, and only the strongest, most vibrant continue to be underway,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group. “Only the fittest survive. You have a Darwinian moment for trends.”
  • Ford has outright postponed the 2021 debut of robotaxis and driverless delivery vehicles, saying that the virus could have an unknown, long-term effect on consumer behavior.
  • According to a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 42% of those laid off won’t get their jobs back.
Wuhan Tests Nine Million People for Coronavirus in 10 Days (WSJ) Published on: May 25, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The central Chinese city of Wuhan said early Monday that it had collected coronavirus swab tests from more than nine million of its 11 million people over the past 10 days, an ambitious response to the re-emergence of a handful of fresh cases this month at the initial center of the pandemic.
  • Most of those nine million samples have already been processed, according to a daily record of nucleic-acid tests by Wuhan health authorities.
  • On Friday alone, the city said it tested 1.47 million people—more than three times the number on the busiest day of testing in the U.S., according to data from the Atlantic’s Covid Tracking Project.
Don’t blame those who gather in parks – blame the city (The Globe and Mail) Published on: May 24, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The sight of thousands of people gathered in a downtown Toronto park as the city and Ontario are still struggling to get the COVID-19 outbreak under control was disconcerting to say the least.
  • One of the many truisms this pandemic has exposed is that the cities we have are not the cities we need.
  • Public health is all about harm reduction – keeping people as safe as possible, while respecting their circumstances. Calling out people’s perceived moral failings doesn’t fit that philosophy.
Drive-in shows, films, meals and even worship help ease lockdowns (The Economist) Published on: May 24, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Just a handful of churches in Northern Ireland carried out drive-in services this weekend, but more are planning to do so in the coming weeks.
  • In Denmark, people have much more than just movies available to enjoy from behind the wheel. P Scenen, a drive-in venue on the outskirts of Aarhus, hosts live stand-up comedy, music and TED-style presentations.
  • Does this mean that more live events will become drive-in, even after covid-19 has subsided?
Cybercrime against healthcare groups ‘worldwide’ is on the rise during coronavirus pandemic, top UN official warns (Business Insider) Published on: May 23, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Izumi Nakamitsu said at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday that there has been a 600% increase in malicious emails during the pandemic, in addition to “worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide.”
  • Cybersecurity has emerged as a major concern amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced most of the world to move interactions online.
  • In the US, official activities like unemployment claims filed online with outdated state systems and presidential primary voting have been identified as high-risk operations for fraud.
COVID-19: The week in review with epidemiologist David Fisman (May 17-22) (TVO) Published on: May 23, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • TVO.org speaks with the University of Toronto professor about the testing, the numbers, and the outlook for Ontario.
  • To reopen the economy, we need to be doing better on surveillance and on testing.
  • You have places that are hundreds of kilometres and sometimes thousands of kilometres apart, and the provincial hotspot is here in Toronto, and you’d never know it from the messaging coming out of the province, which treats the rest of the province as if it’s the GTA.
Poll: Most say they won’t go to gym, restaurants despite reopening (The Hill) Published on: May 22, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • A majority of Americans say they won’t go to the gym or restaurants despite states’ new efforts to reopen the economy, a new national poll shows.
  • Before the pandemic, 50 per cent of respondents said that they attended a gym or fitness center monthly, according to a new AP-NORC poll, but only 24 per cent of respondents surveyed said that they would return to exercise at a gym or fitness studio if these activities were allowed in the next few weeks.
  • According to the poll, 67 per cent of participants said that they attended religious services monthly before the coronavirus outbreak. Only 38 per cent said that they were likely to attend services after restrictions were lifted.
Scientists vs politicians: the reality check for ‘warp speed’ vaccine research (FT) Published on: May 22, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Hollywood-style messages from politicians about beating the pandemic downplay the technical complexity.
  • Hope that a coronavirus vaccine might be ready “prior to the end of the year” was even quicker than the optimistic — but often repeated — timeline for a vaccine to be ready in 12 to 18 months.
  • But many scientists feel a duty to dampen the enthusiasm. They say a vaccine could take much longer because little is known about the disease and how bodies will react to attempts at immunisation.
  • In fact, some warn we may never create a vaccine for Covid-19.
Will antibody tests be our passport to normality? (FT) Published on: May 21, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • In March, the UK government announced it would make millions of at-home antibody tests available via Amazon and in high-street pharmacies.
  • Those who tested positive would be given “immunity passports”, enabling them to re-enter the workforce and everyday life.
  • Underpinning the initial fanfare was a misguided hope that a large chunk of the population had contracted coronavirus but experienced only mild-to-moderate symptoms or none at all.
Americans Give Higher Ratings to South Korea and Germany Than U.S. for Dealing With Coronavirus (Pew Research Center) Published on: May 21, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • In contrast, most believe China – where the pandemic is believed to have originated – has done an only fair or poor job.
  • Overall, 47% of adults say the United States has done a good or excellent job of handling the outbreak, but just 27% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents hold that view, compared with 71% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.
  • Americans largely agree the U.S. should look beyond its borders for ideas to combat the coronavirus.
All 50 States Are Now Reopening. But at What Cost? (NY Times) Published on: May 20, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The United States has crossed an uneasy threshold with all 50 states beginning to reopen in some way, two months after the coronavirus thrust the country into lockdown.
  • The White House has said that states should have a “downward trajectory” of cases over a 14-day period before reopening, but many states reopened well short of meeting those benchmarks.
  • Mississippi saw its largest single-day increase in reported cases and deaths only after the state began to reopen.
  • Researchers expect that reopening the United States could cause thousands of additional deaths, while also saving several million jobs, a balancing act that has swung more toward the economy in recent weeks.
Iceland plans to welcome back tourists by June 15 (Washington Post) Published on: May 20, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The country will welcome travelers from all over the world, including the United States, but will subject visitors to either testing or quarantine.
  • In addition, the government will not allow visitors to venture into wider Europe without permission from the other countries.
  • Upon arrival at Keflavik International Airport, visitors will be tested for the coronavirus at no cost during a two-week trial period.
The Mnuchin/Powell show (Axios) Published on: May 19, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve both think the worst could be yet to come for America’s economy.
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated his belief that a full recovery may not come until there’s a vaccine, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there’s the risk of “permanent damage” if states delay reopening.
U.S. workers hit McDonald’s with class action over COVID-19 safety (Reuters) Published on: May 19, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Five McDonald’s workers in Chicago filed a class action lawsuit against the chain on Tuesday, accusing it of failing to adopt government safety guidance on COVID-19 and endangering employees and their families.
  • McDonald’s failed to provide adequate hand sanitizer, gloves and masks and has not notified its staff when an employee has become infected with the new coronavirus, according to a copy of the lawsuit provided by a spokesman for the workers.
  • The workers requested the Illinois state court issue an injunction, which would make McDonald’s stop requiring workers to reuse masks, mandate face coverings for customers and require the company to inform employees if a coworker becomes infected.
Companies more worried about recession than new virus outbreak (Irish Times) Published on: May 19, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • A prolonged global recession brought about by the impact of Covid-19 is considered a greater threat to the world over the next 18 months than a fresh outbreak of the disease, according to a study by the World Economic Forum.
  • The Geneva-based organisation has also suggested that “there is an opportunity to embed greater societal equality and sustainability into the recovery, which would unleash a new era of prosperity”.
  • The remarks are contained in the WEF’s Covid-19 Risks Outlook report, which surveyed 350 corporate risk professionals about the biggest threats they perceive over the next year and a half for their company and the world.
Coronavirus: Antibodies testing coming to Canada (CityNews) Published on: May 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • A highly anticipated new test is coming to Canada to detect COVID-19 antibodies through blood samples.
  • Health Canada has just approved the very first serological test to detect those antibodies – meaning testing may begin in Canada in a matter of weeks.
  • Based on daily case counts, researchers have established there is likely a significant portion of asymptomatic carriers in the population. The new test will help them get a more precise infection rate and that could be the key to moving forward.
The key tool to a safe opening is not social distancing (Washington Post) Published on: May 18, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Many places, including South Korea and Hong Kong, have avoided lockdowns entirely and are now returning to something like normal conditions. Even when Hong Kong, where I live, got a second wave, we never went into lockdown, and now new cases are at nearly zero.
  • Contact isolation is more effective than lockdowns and also less economically disruptive.
  • The person with the positive test result and all of those contacts are then required to move temporarily into a government-run, hygienic, isolated environment — probably in a hotel or similar setting — until they can be ruled out as infectious.
COVID-19: 3 years jail for not wearing masks in Qatar (Gulf News) Published on: May 17, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Qatar on Sunday began enforcing the world’s toughest penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment for failing to wear masks in public, as it battles one of the world’s highest coronavirus infection rates.
  • More than 30,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the tiny Gulf country – 1.1 per cent of the 2.75 million population – although just 15 people have died.
  • Authorities in Chad have made it an offence to be unmasked in public, on pain of 15 days in prison. In Morocco similar rules can see violators jailed for three months and fined up to 1,300 dirhams ($130).
As new coronavirus cases remain low, China reopens schools, domestic flights (Global News) Published on: May 17, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • China on Sunday reported five new cases of the novel coronavirus, as the commercial hub of Shanghai announced the restart of some schools and domestic flights.
  • In Shanghai, students retain the option of continuing to follow classes online rather than facing virus testing and social distancing measures at schools.
  • China now has the capacity to perform 1.5 million nucleic acid tests per day, National Health Commission Guo Yanhong told reporters Saturday.
Coronavirus Vaccine Front-Runners Emerge, Rollouts Weighed (WSJ) Published on: May 17, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Of more than 100 vaccines in development globally, at least eight have started testing in humans, including candidates from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc.
  • At the same time, pharmaceutical giants like Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca PLC and Sanofi are building capacity to make hundreds of millions of doses of their own or their partners’ vaccines.
  • Some, like vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, are based on relatively new technologies that haven’t been approved previously.
China hits back after Jason Kenney says the country is due for a ‘great reckoning’ (CBC) Published on: May 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The Chinese consulate in Calgary is hitting back against recent criticisms levied by Premier Jason Kenney, suggesting Alberta’s premier is fighting with “slander and stigma.”
  • On Wednesday, Kenney sharply criticized China’s handling of the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak, warning the country would soon face a “great reckoning” for how it handled the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
  • Canada’s initial response to the outbreak seemed to begin to thaw those relations, and Canada’s ambassador to China Dominic Barton said in February that his top priority was seeking a reset between the two nations.
Italy announces plans to ease travel restrictions starting June 3 (Washington Post) Published on: May 16, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Italy on Saturday moved to significantly unwind coronavirus-related movement restrictions, announcing plans to allow travel across the country as well as to and from abroad beginning June 3.
  • Such changes would restore many of the freedoms that were in place before Italy became the epicenter for the virus’s spread in Europe.
  • Italy is under intense economic pressure to reopen its doors and revive its tourism sector, which normally accounts for 13 per cent of its GDP.
Amazon planning to reopen its French warehouses from May 19 (Financial Post) Published on: May 15, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Amazon said on Friday it aims to gradually reopen its French warehouses from May 19 as it finalizes an agreement with unions and work councils to end a dispute over coronavirus protection steps that closed the sites for more than one month.
  • The U.S. e-commerce giant’s six French warehouses, which employ about 10,000 people on permanent and interim contracts, have been closed since April 16 following court rulings that ordered it to restrict deliveries during the COVID-19 pandemic or face hefty fines.
Coronavirus: Lufthansa to resume some flights to Toronto in June (Global News) Published on: May 15, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Lufthansa plans to resume flights to destinations including Los Angeles, Toronto and Mumbai next month as it begins to restore some of the capacity grounded by the coronavirus crisis, the German airline group said on Thursday.
  • Group airlines that had brought operations to a near halt will operate about 1,800 weekly flights to 130 destinations by the end of June, Lufthansa said in a statement.
  • “People want to and can travel again, whether on holiday or for business reasons,” Lufthansa sales chief Harry Hohmeister said in the group statement.
Coronavirus: Can China test all of Wuhan in only 10 days? (BBC) Published on: May 15, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • China is drawing up ambitious plans to test the entire population of Wuhan, the city where the Covid-19 pandemic began.
  • There are more than 60 testing centres across the city, according to the official Hubei Daily newspaper.
  • The authorities say they have now tested more than three million people in the city.
Banking: the great return to the office (FT) Published on: May 14, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Top executives are also concerned about the public relations pitfalls if they are seen to be competing for testing resources with hospitals.
  • Barclays chief executive Jes Staley warned last month that “putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past”, as social distancing efforts limit the numbers in elevators at the same time and force desks to be more spread out.
  • Drawing on the experiences of Hong Kong, where temperature checks and thermal body scanners have been the norm in office buildings for months, financial institutions have been composing their own reopening checklists.
Global report: WHO says Covid-19 ‘may never go away’ and warns of mental health crisis (Guardian) Published on: May 14, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The World Health Organisation has warned that coronavirus “may never go away” as its experts predicted that a global mental health crisis caused by the pandemic was looming.
  • The global health body on Wednesday cautioned against trying to predict how long coronavirus would keep circulating, and called for a “massive effort” to overcome it.
  • “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” said Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief.
Could travel bubbles offer a route to economic recovery? (The Economist) Published on: May 14, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • It may be a painful fact to contemplate during these locked-down days, but last year the world was more mobile than ever, with people taking 4.6bn flights.
  • In April this year, though, planes carried just 47m passengers; that level of mobility, annualised, would set the clocks back to 1978.
  • An idea gaining favour is the creation of travel “bubbles”, binding together countries that have fared well against the coronavirus.
Fed Chair warns of long, painful downturn if Congress does not provide more economic relief (Washington Post) Published on: May 13, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Almost 40 percent of U.S. households making less than $40,000 a year lost a job in March, citing results from a Fed survey coming out later this week.
  • They found more than 2 per cent of U.S. small businesses have closed permanently already.
  • “A lot firms had half a month to two months worth of cash on hand. They can stretch it by cutting costs or taking a government loan, but we are now getting several months into the crisis, and we’re getting to the point where firms are going beyond the cash on hand to weather the crisis,” said Alex Bartik, an economics professor at the University of Illinois.
  • Several Fed officials said this week they think the U.S. economy will soon hit its low point and then start to rebound, but they have warned a recovery is likely to be slow.
Crushing coronavirus uncertainty: The big ‘unlock’ for our economies (McKinsey) Published on: May 13, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • We have seen most governments and central banks rapidly move to implement stimulus and liquidity measures to cushion the economic impact.
  • Unfortunately, we have also confirmed that lockdowns cause deep economic shocks: peak to trough, developed economies are likely to see GDPs decline by between 8 and 13 percent in the second quarter of 2020.
  • When we asked global executives how long they believe their economies will take to return to precrisis levels, their scenario choices indicated estimates ranging between three quarters and more than five years.
  • The objective now must be to crush uncertainty as soon as possible. As we have seen in previous crises, when uncertainty subsides, confidence returns and economic recovery unlocks—and the COVID-19 crisis has created the highest level of uncertainty in 35 years.
Twitter Will Allow Employees To Work At Home Forever (BuzzFeed) Published on: May 12, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey emailed employees on Tuesday telling them that they’d be allowed to work from home permanently, even after the coronavirus pandemic lockdown passes.
  • “People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way,” said Jennifer Christie, Twitter’s human resources head.
  • Dorsey had announced the company’s intent to work in a “distributed” way before the virus, but the pandemic forced the company to move the timeline up.
New coronavirus testing, contact tracing key to fending off second wave, experts say (CTV News) Published on: May 11, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has said reopening schools and businesses relies on testing and the ability of public health departments to trace the contacts of positive cases.
  • As public health restrictions are eased, Phillips said the provinces and territories must maintain a low threshold for testing in order to detect and isolate COVID-19 cases quickly and avoid large outbreaks and exponential growth in cases during a second wave.
  • “The contacts should be tested because that may identify other people, which will then trigger more contact tracing on those people who are testing positive,” said Dr. Peter Phillips, a clinical professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia.
China’s Wuhan reports first coronavirus cluster since lifting lockdown (Reuters) Published on: May 11, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, reported on Monday its first cluster of infections since a lockdown on the city was lifted a month ago, stoking concerns of a wider resurgence of the disease.
  • The new infections sounded a note of caution amid efforts to ease coronavirus-related restrictions across China as businesses restart and individuals get back to work.
  • Wuhan reported five new confirmed cases, all from the same residential compound.
Factories Close for Good as Coronavirus Cuts Demand (WSJ) Published on: May 11, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Factory furloughs across the U.S. are becoming permanent closings, a sign of the heavy damage the coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns are exerting on the industrial economy.
  • Those factory shutdowns will further erode an industrial workforce that has been shrinking as a share of the overall U.S. economy for decades.
  • The closures suggest that a growing share of the record job losses in recent weeks won’t be temporary, said Gabriel Ehrlich, an economic forecaster at the University of Michigan.
Rise in German virus infections spurs concern (France24) Published on: May 10, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Germany’s coronavirus spread appears to be picking up speed again, official data showed Sunday, just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country could gradually return to normal.
  • The latest data raised alarm after Merkel only on Wednesday declared that Germany had left the “first phase” of the pandemic behind it and federal states announced relaxations of social restrictions.
  • German local authorities have however agreed to pull an “emergency brake” and reimpose social curbs if the infection rate rises above 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a week.
Seoul frets about new Covid wave (Bangkok Post) Published on: May 9, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • A potential second wave of coronavirus infections could be possible in South Korea after confirmed cases suddenly increased after a lull, with a surge tied to nightclubs in Seoul.
  • South Korea, which in early March had the second highest number of cases globally after China, has been able to control the virus spread without having to take severe measures such as imposing a lockdown or banning overseas travel.
  • As worldwide cases passed 3.9 million and deaths topped 275,000 on Saturday, a top Chinese official admitted the coronavirus outbreak had exposed “shortcomings” in the public healthcare system.
IMF warns of further drop in global growth due to Covid-19 (Guardian) Published on: May 9, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has signalled a possible downward revision of global economic forecasts, and warned the United States and China against rekindling a trade war that could weaken a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The IMF’s April projection for a 3% contraction the global economy would mark the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
  • Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, said the IMF had already provided emergency funding to 50 of the 103 countries that had requested aid.
  • The IMF’s chief economist, Gita Gopinath, said that the situation had worsened since March when the IMF projected that emerging markets and developing countries would need $2.5tr in external financing to manage the health and economic crisis.
The return of the cubicle? Companies rethink office life post lockdown (Reuters) Published on: May 8, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Can creative sparks fly through plexiglass? Is the water cooler chat a thing of the past?
  • Some firms are considering remodelling their offices to minimise the risk of a second wave of infections. Long rows of desks may be out, work stations sheathed with glass sneeze guards may be in.
  • For the world’s biggest advertising company WPP, staff will return gradually and on a voluntary basis, Chief Executive Mark Read told Reuters.
With Red Tape Lifted, Dr. Zoom Will See You Now (NY Times) Published on: May 8, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The transition to telemedicine initially proved a bit rocky. Ms. Sturgis could see her doctor on Zoom. “But I couldn’t hear her,” Ms. Sturgis said. “And she couldn’t see or hear me.”
  • For years, advocates and researchers have urged greater use of telemedicine — delivered by video or phone, through online patient portals or remote monitoring devices — particularly for older adults.
  • The Government Accountability Office reported in 2017 that just one percent of beneficiaries, most in rural areas, received care through telemedicine (a term used interchangeably with telehealth).
Millions of Americans will refuse to get a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, polls say (Seattle Times) Published on: May 6, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • But there’s no guarantee these vaccine efforts will succeed — and millions of Americans seem to be fine with that.
  • The results from a new set of surveys by Morning Consult found that 14 percent of American adults would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if one were available and 22 percent aren’t sure if they would.
  • By a wide margin in the Morning Consult surveys, Republicans (20%) are more likely than Democrats (7%) to insist they would not get vaccinated against COVID-19.
As US, other nations open for business, health officials wonder how bad the second COVID-19 outbreak will be (Chicago Tribune) Published on: May 6, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • From Italy to Kansas, health authorities are increasingly warning that the question isn’t whether a second wave of coronavirus infections and deaths will hit, but when — and how badly.
  • In India, which partly eased its virus lockdown this week, health authorities scrambled Wednesday to contain an outbreak at a massive market.
  • Germany warned of a second and even third wave, and threatened to re-impose virus restrictions if new cases can’t be contained.
A return to 1970s stagflation is only a broken supply chain away (FT) Published on: May 6, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Central bankers insist that inflation expectations are anchored.
  • Consumer retrenchment will persist only until a Covid-19 vaccine arrives. If this takes another 12 to 18 months, as scientists believe, pent-up demand will build as never before.
  • Therein lies the inflationary risk for the post-coronavirus world. As part of a growing backlash against globalisation in general, and China in particular, nations are threatening to bring their offshore platforms back home.
Capital One’s North American, UK offices to stay closed until September (National Post) Published on: May 5, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Capital One Financial Corp told staff on Tuesday the bank’s offices in the United States, Canada and the UK will remain closed to all non-essential staff due to the coronavirus outbreak through at least Sept. 7.
  • As other banks are developing plans to gradually return workers to offices, Capital One has adopted one of the toughest stances by a financial services firm to curb the spread of coronavirus and limit staff interaction at its corporate locations.
  • “We have been able to operate effectively,” Fairbank said. “Given current health conditions and uncertainties in our major markets, we feel this decision supports the health and safety of our associates and communities.”
New Zealand PM: No open borders for ‘a long time’ (BBC) Published on: May 5, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the country will not have open borders with the rest of the world for “a long time to come”.
  • Ms Ardern said New Zealand and Australia were discussing a “bubble of sorts between us, a safe zone of travel”.
54 percent of Americans want to work remote regularly after coronavirus pandemic ends, new poll shows (Newsweek) Published on: May 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • An IBM survey released on Friday found that 54 per cent of the 25,000 adults polled would like to be able to primarily work from home and 75 percent would like the option to do it occasionally.
  • Once businesses can reopen, 40 per cent of people responded that they feel strongly their employer should offer opt-in remote work options.
COVID-Plagued California Nursing Homes Often Had Problems In Past (Kaiser Health News) Published on: May 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • California nursing homes with one or more patients infected with the coronavirus have generally worse quality on average compared with those without cases of COVID-19.
  • “With low RN staffing, it is not surprising that these facilities have had previous violations for infection control and poorer overall quality as measured by having more deficiencies,” said Charlene Harrington, a professor emerita of the School of Nursing at the University of California-San Francisco.
  • “It is a classic situation that reaffirms what researchers have found previously, only the situation with the COVID-19 virus is far more serious than anything the nursing homes have experienced before” said Harrington.
Profile of a killer: the complex biology powering the coronavirus pandemic (Nature) Published on: May 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • In 1912, German veterinarians puzzled over the case of a feverish cat with an enormously swollen belly. That is now thought to be the first reported example of the debilitating power of a coronavirus.
  • It was a family of dynamic killers: dog coronaviruses could harm cats, the cat coronavirus could ravage pig intestines.
  • Coronaviruses are also one of the few RNA viruses with a genomic proofreading mechanism — which keeps the virus from accumulating mutations that could weaken it.
  • SARS-CoV-2 can shed viral particles from the throat into saliva even before symptoms start, and these can then pass easily from person to person. SARS-CoV was much less effective at making that jump, passing only when symptoms were full-blown, making it easier to contain.
Low-Quality Masks Infiltrate U.S. Coronavirus Supply (WSJ) Published on: May 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • U.S. regulators and state officials are finding a significant number of imported N95-style masks fall short of certification standards, complicating the response to the coronavirus crisis and potentially putting some front-line workers at greater risk.
  • Recent tests by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that about 60% of 67 different types of imported masks tested allowed in more tiny particles in at least one sample than U.S. standards normally permit.
  • With domestic production and stockpiles falling far short of demand, the tests suggest a high risk that hospitals, local authorities and companies are in many cases paying steep prices for substandard medical gear of uncertain provenance.
SARS-COV-2 was already spreading in France in late December 2019 (International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) Published on: May 3, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Covid-19 was already spreading in France in late December 2019, a month before the official first cases in the country.
  • Early community spreading changes our knowledge of covid-19 epidemic.
  • This new case changes our understanding of the epidemic and modeling studies should adjust to this new data.
Profits and Pride at Stake, the Race for a Vaccine Intensifies (NY Times) Published on: May 3, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Governments, companies and academic labs are accelerating their efforts amid geopolitical crosscurrents, questions about safety and the challenges of producing enough doses for billions of people.
  • Seven of the roughly 90 projects being pursued by governments, pharmaceutical makers, biotech innovators and academic laboratories have reached the stage of clinical trials.
  • The intensity of the global research effort is such that governments and companies are building production lines before they have anything to produce.
Life after lockdown: welcome to the empty-chair economy (FT) Published on: May 2, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Spain will be open for business on Monday. But, by appointment only.
  • “It’s as if we are doctors or dentists,” says Maximino Sordo, who runs a shop in central Madrid with no bookings yet for next week. “But we are a hardware store.”
  • Instead, the next few months are going to feel like an empty-chair economy, with new shift patterns at factories, half-full buses and trains, staggered opening hours and unusually roomy restaurants.
More than 120 Atlanta restaurants refuse to open despite Georgia Gov Kemp lifting stay-at-home orders (The Hill) Published on: May 1, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • More than 120 restaurants in Atlanta are refusing to open their dining rooms to patrons until they believe it’s safe, despite Georgia’s decision to allow restaurants and other businesses to start reopening this week amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Chefs and restaurant owners have come together to pushback against the state law allowing restaurant dining rooms to reopen with some restrictions, forming the “#GAHospitalityTogether” initiative.
Two Medical Systems, Two Pandemic Responses (NY Times) Published on: May 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • A health economist who has taught on both sides of the border examines the difference between Canada and the United States.
  • “The kind of system we have in Canada — and I think in British Columbia we have a pretty well-run version of it — allows the public health authorities to essentially commandeer the hospital system. It’s a command and control thing, it’s not a coordination thing,” said Bermand, professor of global health systems and economics at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
  • Few American hospital administrators got together to do things like moving medical supplies and patients around between their institutions, Professor Berman said.
U.S. officials crafting retaliatory actions against China over coronavirus as President Trump fumes (Washington Post) Published on: May 1, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Senior U.S. officials are beginning to explore proposals for punishing or demanding financial compensation from China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to four senior administration officials with knowledge of internal planning.
  • President Trump has fumed to aides and others in recent days about China, blaming the country for withholding information about the virus, and has discussed enacting dramatic measures that would probably lead to retaliation by Beijing, these people said.
  • In private, Trump and aides have discussed stripping China of its “sovereign immunity,” aiming to enable the U.S. government or victims to sue China for damages.
Canada’s early COVID-19 cases came from the U.S. not China, provincial data shows (National Post) Published on: April 30, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The global COVID-19 pandemic began in Wuhan, China, but data from Canada’s largest provinces show it was American travellers, not Chinese, who brought the deadly virus to our shores.
  • Air Canada suspended flights from China in February and the government encouraged people not to travel to China as early as January, but did not ban travellers until March 18 when it imposed sweeping global restrictions.
  • Of those cases, just five related to travel from China.
How consumer companies in China are preparing for the next normal: A virtual roundtable (McKinsey) Published on: April 30, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Members of McKinsey’s Greater China Consumer and Retail Practice in April conducted a virtual roundtable discussion to tap the knowledge and experience of China-based executives tasked with leading their companies out of lockdown.
  • The executives share views on how the crisis accelerated efforts to digitize their businesses, and discuss the measures they took to first sustain demand during the crisis, and then revive it during the recovery.
  • They also detail the fundamental impacts the crisis has had on the way their companies work, as well as how they listen to and interact with consumers.
How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take? (NY Times) Published on: April 30, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The grim truth behind this rosy forecast is that a vaccine probably won’t arrive any time soon.
  • Our record for developing an entirely new vaccine is at least four years — more time than the public or the economy can tolerate social-distancing orders.
  • So Times Opinion asked vaccine experts how we could condense the timeline and get a vaccine in the next few months instead of years.
The 90% economy that lockdowns will leave behind (The Economist) Published on: April 30, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Data from Womply, a firm which processes transactions on behalf of 450,000 small businesses across America, show that businesses in all sectors have lost substantial revenue.
  • The “90% economy” thus created will be, by definition, smaller than that which came before. But its strangeness will be more than a matter of size.
  • Some indication that the spending effects of a lockdown will persist even after it is over comes from Sweden.
  • Discretionary spending by Chinese consumers—the sort that goes on things economists do not see as essentials—is 40% off its level a year ago.
US GDP falls 4.8% in worst economic decline since 2008 (FT) Published on: April 29, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The blow to the American consumer, the biggest driver of US economic growth, was evident in a 7.6 per cent drop in personal consumption, which marked the biggest decline since 1980.
  • Counter-intuitively, healthcare was one of the sectors that provided the biggest drag on the economy, as hospitals stopped performing lucrative elective procedures in order to focus on dealing with coronavirus patients.
  • Some economists forecast the economy could shrink between 30 per cent and 40 per cent in the current quarter.
Donald Trump orders meat processing plants to stay open (FT) Published on: April 29, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Donald Trump has issued an executive order to force meat-processing factories to remain open, as concerns mount about the US food supply chain after the closure of several big plants because of Covid-19 outbreaks.
  • The US president invoked the Defense Production Act — a Korean war-era law that permits the government to compel companies to take action for national security reasons — after a spate of recent outbreaks of the virus at processing facilities raised concerns about serious food shortages.
  • Earlier on Tuesday, Trump suggested that the executive order would help shield companies from any legal liability that could arise from remaining open while they deal with coronavirus outbreaks in their plants.
Ford unveils roadmap for ‘re-opening’ Ontario as number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs drops (CBC) Published on: April 27, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Ontario will reopen its economy through a three-stage process in the coming weeks and months, the government says, though it offered no firm date and few details about when that effort will begin.
  • Each stage will last at least two to four weeks, at which point Ontario chief medical officer of health will be able to tighten certain restrictions, extend the stage or advise that the province can move into the next phase.
  • Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer health, said last week that the province would need to see fewer than 200 new cases daily for an extended stretch before relaxing COVID-19 emergency measures would be feasible.
The Federal Reserve Is Changing What It Means to Be a Central Bank (WSJ) Published on: April 27, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • By lending widely to businesses, states and cities in its effort to insulate the U.S. economy from the coronavirus pandemic, it is breaking century-old taboos about who gets money from the central bank in a crisis, on what terms, and what risks it will take about getting that money back.
  • And with large-scale purchases of U.S. Treasury securities, the Federal Reserve is stretching the boundaries for what a central bank will do to finance soaring federal debt—actions that move it deeper into political decisions it usually tries to avoid.
  • Economists project the central bank’s portfolio of bonds, loans and new programs will swell to between $8 trillion and $11 trillion from less than $4 trillion last year.
N.Y.C. Deaths Reach 6 Times the Normal Level, Far More Than Coronavirus Count Suggests (NY Times) Published on: April 27, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • More than 27,000 New Yorkers have died since the start of the novel coronavirus outbreak in March — 20,900 more than would be expected over this period and thousands more than have been captured by official coronavirus death statistics.
  • But there remains a large gap between this number and the total deaths above typical levels in the last six and a half weeks: more than 4,200 people whose deaths are not captured by the official coronavirus toll.
  • Even with these high totals, the recent numbers in our charts are most likely an undercount of all deaths in the city.
How Fed Intervention Saved Carnival (WSJ) Published on: April 26, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • That all changed on March 23 when the Federal Reserve defibrillated bond markets with an unprecedented lending program.
  • By April 1, the company had raised almost $6 billion in bond markets, paying rates far below those executives had discussed just days earlier.
  • Carnival may still founder if tourists shun cruises over the long term, and its new debt carries a far heftier price tag than previous offerings.
  • But the immediate survival of the company, which employs about 150,000 people, is no longer in question.
A pandemic of corruption: $40 masks, questionable contracts, rice-stealing bureaucrats mar coronavirus response (Washington Post) Published on: April 26, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Countries large and small are shelling out trillions of dollars to combat both the coronavirus outbreak and its brutal economic fallout in what analysts are calling the largest financial response ever to a single global crisis.
  • As governments race to source everything from food aid to face masks, they are prioritizing speed over transparency, dropping competitive bidding and other safeguards to keep pace with the pandemic.
  • Food aid for struggling workers locked out of their jobs is proving to be a particularly juicy target.
Reopening Has Begun. No One Is Sure What Happens Next. (NY Times) Published on: April 26, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • But even under the most optimistic estimates, it will be months, and possibly years, before Americans again crowd into bars and squeeze onto subway cars the way they did before the pandemic struck.
  • And it isn’t clear what, exactly, it means to gradually restart a system with as many interlocking pieces as the U.S. economy. How can one factory reopen when its suppliers remain shuttered?
  • The White House released a plan this month for a phased reopening of the economy, with restrictions easing as states meet public health benchmarks.
Race for coronavirus vaccine draws billions of dollars worldwide, with focus on speed (Global News) Published on: April 25, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • But the traditional rules of drug and vaccine development are being tossed aside in the face of a virus that has infected 2.7 million people, killed more than 192,000 and devastated the global economy.
  • The overriding consensus among more than 30 drug company executives, government health officials and pandemic-response experts interviewed by Reuters is that the risks are necessary to ensure not only that a vaccine for the new coronavirus is developed quickly, but that it is ready to distribute as soon as it’s approved.
  • In the United States, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a federal agency that funds disease-fighting technology, has announced investments of nearly $1 billion to support coronavirus vaccine development and the scale-up of manufacturing for promising candidates.
Investors baffled by soaring stocks in ‘monster’ depression (FT) Published on: April 25, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The divergence between the flying stock market and the dying economy is so extreme it is leaving many analysts scrambling for explanations.
  • What was once dismissed as a mere “bear market rally” — often strong but ultimately doomed bounces that can occur in the middle of severe downturns — has now turned into a 23 per cent jump for global stocks.
  • Analysts and investors say that global efforts by central banks to soothe the financial system have been the trigger.
  • Throw in various other liquidity injections and a series of government spending packages aimed at ameliorating the effects of measures taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and the overall stimulus bill comes to $14tn, according to the IMF.
Congress Shovels Trillions at Virus, With No Endgame in Sight (NY Times) Published on: April 25, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • There is a growing list of detailed plans for how the federal government can bring the United States economy safely out of lockdown and back on a path to normalcy amid the coronavirus pandemic. Congress isn’t following any of them.
  • Instead, lawmakers who have spent the past two months rushing to respond to a public health and economic emergency with a series of ever-larger, taxpayer-financed spending packages appear to be locked in a reactive cycle, as the toll and financial costs of the virus mount.
  • The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that it expects economic pain from the crisis to persist for years to come, even though it believes activity will begin to rebound in the second half of the year.
Coronavirus: This is where all 50 states stand on reopening (The Mercury News) Published on: April 24, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • More than 97% of the US population is currently under a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order as the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend life as we know it. But worries for the economy — and people’s mental health — are raising the question: When will things go back to normal?
  • This article has the latest on where states stand in their plans to reopen.
  • Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey says the existing stay at home order will remain in effect until April 30th.
The risk of a US double-dip depression is real (FT) Published on: April 23, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • If you think one lockdown is painful enough, imagine a second.
  • Economists point out that the US is not even in a recession, which is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth.
  • Yet JPMorgan forecasts that the US economy will shrink by 40 per cent in the second quarter.
AP-NORC poll: Few Americans support easing virus protections (AP) Published on: April 23, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Only 12% of Americans say the measures where they live go too far.
  • About twice as many people, 26%, believe the limits don’t go far enough.
  • The majority of Americans — 61% — feel the steps taken by government officials to prevent infections of COVID-19 in their area are about right.
  • Just 36% of Republicans now say they strongly favor requiring Americans to stay home during the outbreak, compared with 51% who said so in late March.
US Congress strikes $484bn deal to fund small business (FT) Published on: April 21, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The White House and congressional leaders have reached a deal on a $484bn stimulus package that includes more than $300bn to replenish the depleted small business rescue fund.
  • In addition to $320bn for replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program — the loan programme to help US small businesses during the crisis — the bill will also include $75bn for hospitals and $25bn for expanded coronavirus testing.
  • Of the new funds to replenish PPP, $60bn will be allocated to small lenders and community-based financial institutions — a key demand from Democrats.
To Get Back to Work, Companies Seek Coronavirus Tests for Workers (WSJ) Published on: April 20, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Companies from Amazon.com Inc. to General Motors Co. are exploring ways to test their employees for Covid-19 before they come in to work.
  • Some executives on the call indicated they were looking into providing tests for workers and, potentially, customers, according to people familiar with the matter.
  • With the arrival of virus tests that deliver results in minutes, rather than days, employees could report to those sites for virus tests before heading into work, he said.
The coronavirus effect on global economic sentiment (McKinsey) Published on: April 20, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • In our latest survey, global executives report a gloomier outlook than one month ago.
  • Two-thirds expect a sizable contraction in the world economy, and a record share predict declining company profits.
  • At least six in ten believe that conditions in their home economies and in the global economy will worsen in the coming months.
Denmark and Poland are refusing to bail out companies registered in offshore tax havens (Business Insider) Published on: April 20, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Denmark and Poland won’t give financial aid to companies registered in offshore tax havens.
  • “Companies that seek to dodge their obligations to broader society by cutting their tax bills shouldn’t expect to get bailed out when things go wrong,” Robert Palmer, the executive director of Tax Justice UK, told Business Insider.
Disney stops paying 100,000 workers to save $500m a month (FT) Published on: April 19, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Walt Disney will stop paying more than 100,000 employees this week, nearly half of its workforce, as the world’s biggest entertainment company tries to weather the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Suspending pay for thousands of so-called cast members will save Disney up to $500m a month across its theme parks and hotels, which have been shut in Europe and the US for almost five weeks.
  • The decision leaves Disney staff reliant on state benefits — public support that could run to hundreds of millions of dollars over coming months — even as the company protects executive bonus schemes and a $1.5bn dividend payment due in July.
Why countries can’t meet the demand for gear against covid-19 (The Economist) Published on: April 19, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Demand for PPE has risen not merely at the giddy pace of infections (of which nearly 2.4m had been confirmed worldwide by April 19th), but faster still, because of the risk of transferring the virus to colleagues and others.
  • Estimates of the increase in demand run up to 20 times the normal level.
  • Worse, the world economy’s sudden halt has caused bottlenecks. Flexport, a freight forwarder, says that normally half of all air freight cargo (on some routes, up to 80%) travels in the holds of passenger planes that are no longer flying; shipping lines, meanwhile, have cancelled sailings or dropped ports from their itineraries.
Red Cross to organize training for volunteers in Montreal, Canada’s COVID-19 epicentre (CityNews) Published on: April 18, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The regional health authority for Montreal’s West Island says it is partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to organize training for volunteers at nursing homes ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The health agency says the Red Cross will train 40 people each day to help residents of the area’s long-term care facilities as the virus rages through Quebec, which counts the most confirmed cases of any province at about 16,800.
  • The Red Cross announcement Saturday comes as Canadian Armed Forces members with medical expertise begin to fan out to nursing homes across Quebec after Premier Francois Legault took the unusual step of asking the federal government for military assistance.
Watch Out For China Buying Spree, NATO Warns (Forbes) Published on: April 18, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Watch out for Chinese companies swooping in with buckets of cash to buy strategic stakes, or majority control in U.S. and European companies as asset prices fall due to the pandemic.
  • “The geopolitical effects of the pandemic could be significant,” said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in web conference of defense ministers on Wednesday.
  • “Some allies (are) more vulnerable for situations where critical infrastructure can be sold out,” he said.
US banks brace for surge in loan losses (FT) Published on: April 18, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Big US banks made one thing clear this week: they are battening down the hatches to deal with an expected surge in loan losses as the pandemic casts serious doubts over the capacity of consumers and companies to pay their debt.
  • Loan loss charges at six big American banks reached a total of $25.4bn in the first quarter.
  • This marks a 350 per cent surge in collective provisions across Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley versus a year earlier, as charges soared to levels not seen since the financial crisis.
Seoul’s Full Cafes, Apple Store Lines Show Mass Testing Success (Bloomberg) Published on: April 18, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • While both the U.S. and South Korea confirmed their first virus cases around the same time in late January, the number of infections in the U.S. has swelled to more than 700,000 while Korea “flattened the curve” last month and cases have slowed to just over 10,000.
  • Moon’s popularity had soared in recent weeks, thanks in part to South Korea gaining global attention for its handling of the virus outbreak.
  • “We did pretty well in prevention — that’s finding the patients and taking quarantine measures — thanks to our prior experience with MERS outbreak,” said Kim Yoon, professor of health policy and management at Seoul National University’s College of Medicine, referring to the 2015 outbreak that killed 38 Koreans.
China’s economy: the risk of a second coronavirus wave (FT) Published on: April 17, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • On the same day that Chinese authorities began to relax a 77-day quarantine on Wuhan, the city that exported coronavirus across China and ultimately to every corner of the world, a small town on the country’s border with Russia was locked down for the second time in three months.
  • But now Suifenhe faces a real crisis, after Chinese nationals returning home from Russia triggered a much-feared “second wave” of infections. The city has more than 320 confirmed cases and almost 1,500 people in centralised quarantine facilities.
  • US sportswear company Nike said this week that 80 per cent of its China stores were open in cities such as Shanghai, which shows few visible signs of the pandemic.
  • Car factories in Chengdu, capital of southwestern Sichuan province, have restored operations with little disruption, other than the use of face masks and other protective gear and social distancing in the canteen.
U.S. now has 22 million unemployed, wiping out a decade of job gains (Washington Post) Published on: April 17, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid since President Trump declared a national emergency, a staggering loss of jobs that has wiped out a decade of employment gains and pushed families to line up at food banks as they await government help.
  • Layoffs are mounting in nearly every sector as businesses have been forced to close in an effort to stem the spread of covid-19.
  • The Small Business Administration stopped accepting loan applications on Thursday after it ran out of funds for a key program that is supposed to help businesses stay afloat and retain workers.
Starbucks CEO lays out plan for ‘next phase’ as coffee giant looks to reopen U.S. stores (GeekWire) Published on: April 16, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Starbucks is entering a “monitor and adapt” stage as it aims to reopen stores in the U.S.
  • Starbucks will follow a similar playbook to its China strategy, where more than 95% of its stores are now open again.
  • Johnson said the reopening strategy is “not a light switch; it’s more of a dial.” Starbucks will make decisions on a community-by-community basis.
The pandemic seems to be giving Canadians warm feelings about government. Can it last? (CBC) Published on: April 16, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • A lot has changed in the last month — possibly even our views about the role and value of government.
  • The result was effectively a toss-up: 52 per cent sided with the pro-government statement, while 48 per cent took the dimmer view.
  • Public support has increased for elected leaders across the western world in the initial stages of this crisis. A new sense of belief in the value of government could be connected to that same phenomenon.
Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries (The Economist) Published on: April 16, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • In many places, official daily figures exclude anybody who did not die in hospital or who did not test positive.
  • The best way to measure the full damage caused by such a medical crisis is to look at “excess mortality”: the gap between the total number of people who died from any cause during a given period, and the historical average for the same place and time of year.
  • This suggests that the true toll was about 120% higher.
Leaked CDC and FEMA plan warns of ‘significant risk of resurgence of the virus’ with phased reopening (Washington Post) Published on: April 15, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response, Leadership
  • A draft national strategy to reopen the country in phases, developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emphasizes that even a cautious and phased approach “will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus.”
  • The framework lays out criteria that should be in place before a region can responsibly ease guidelines related to public gatherings: a “genuinely low” number of cases; a “well functioning” monitoring system capable of “promptly detecting” spikes of infections; a public health system able to react robustly to new cases and local health systems that have enough inpatient beds to rapidly scale up in the event of a surge in cases.
  • Reading the 10-page executive summary of the proposed public health response offers a window into the discussions happening inside the government about how to practically and responsibly ease toward reopening.
  • For example, the document says the first priority should be reopening places where children are cared for – including K-12 schools, day cares and summer camps – so parents can return to work.
True Toll Of COVID-19 On U.S. Health Care Workers Unknown (Kaiser Health News) Published on: April 15, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Doctors, nurses, home health aides and hospital cleaners have lost their lives during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The number of health care workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus is likely far higher than the reported tally of 9,200, and U.S. officials say they have no comprehensive way to count those who lose their lives trying to save others.
  • CDC officials said data provided by the states most closely tracking the occupations of people with the virus suggests that health care workers account for about 11% of COVID-19 infections.
Open Innovation in Medical Technology Will Save Lives (EFF) Published on: April 15, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Experts from the world’s top engineering programs have come together to share knowledge about medical technology, hoping to make life-saving treatments more widely available.
  • Importantly, they’re ensuring that patents, copyrights, and other legal restrictions don’t get between that knowledge and the people who need it most.
  • All of this collaboration is enabled by open licensing such as Creative Commons and free or “libre” software licenses, which provide for the easy sharing and modification of the source material.
  • The Open COVID Pledge is a simple pledge an IP owner can take not to assert its patents or copyrights against a company or organization fighting COVID-19.
WHO issues guidelines for lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Is Canada ready? (CityNews) Published on: April 15, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Federal and provincial officials are starting to discuss how and when to start reopening schools and businesses but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Tuesday the full-scale lockdowns most Canadians are living with right now will remain in place for at least several more weeks.
  • The World Health Organization is trying to inject some co-ordination into these decisions, releasing new guidelines Tuesday for what should be in place before easing restrictions.
  • The WHO guidelines outline six areas officials must consider if they are to look at resuming activities.
Markets and economists are still too upbeat on coronavirus (FT) Published on: April 14, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The gap between the relatively quick V-shaped recovery that some economists and many market participants predict, and grim coronavirus-driven realities on the ground has narrowed.
  • Economists initially — and over-optimistically — embraced the idea of a quick second-quarter recovery after a sharp contraction in the first quarter.
  • Big companies lack visibility on what lies ahead, and are suspending guidance on earnings — a phenomenon that will increase during the first-quarter reporting season.
The future is not what it used to be: Thoughts on the shape of the next normal (McKinsey) Published on: April 14, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response, Leadership
  • For some organizations, near-term survival is the only agenda item. Others are peering through the fog of uncertainty, thinking about how to position themselves once the crisis has passed and things return to normal.
  • Even before COVID-19 hit, there were signs of unease, expressed in calls for protectionism and more restrictive immigration and visa policies.
  • McKinsey research on the 2008 financial crisis found that a small group of companies in each sector outperformed their peers.
COVID-19: Briefing note, April 13, 2020 (McKinsey) Published on: April 13, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • In this note, we offer some of our latest insights on the COVID-19 pandemic, starting with a survey of the current epidemiology and the five dynamics leaders need to watch: the efficacy of the surge in critical care, the expansion of testing and other traditional approaches, the development of antibody testing, the unknown nature of immunity, and a wave of innovation that might produce treatments and vaccines.
  • The months ahead will probably be quite volatile and dynamic. It now appears likely that some places will experience a local resurgence as restrictions are lifted and economies reopen.
  • The threat of COVID-19 to lives and livelihoods will fully resolve only when enough people are immune to the disease to blunt transmission, either from a vaccine or direct exposure. Until then, governments that want to restart their economies must have public-health systems that are strong enough to detect and respond to cases.
Canada building its own PPE network in China (CBC) Published on: April 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Diplomats, consultants create a made-for-Canada solution to get critical supplies from China.
  • With the global market for medical supplies overwhelmed by chaos and acts of piracy, Canada needed to take some of the risk out of securing everything from badly needed medical masks to gowns to gloves.
  • The federal government has secured an arrangement with Air Canada and Cargojet to run more supply flights from China once Bolloré Logistics has enough supplies in the warehouse ready to go.
Reopening U.S. economy by May 1 may be unrealistic, say experts, including some within Trump administration (Washington Post) Published on: April 13, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Public health experts on Sunday debated the question of when to reopen portions of the U.S. economy, shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic, with several Trump administration officials cautioning that a target date of May 1 — floated by President Trump, among others — may not be realistic.
  • “It is not going to be a light switch,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It is going to be depending where you are in the country, the nature of the outbreak you’ve already experienced, and the threat of an outbreak that you may not have experienced.” The transition could “probably start, at least in some ways, maybe next month,” Fauci said.
  • Because the virus has a 14-day incubation period, experts also say that states should refrain from moving toward relaxing their restrictions until they have seen a sustained reduction in new cases for at least that long.
‘It feels like a war zone’: As more of them die, grocery workers increasingly fear showing up at work (Washington Post) Published on: April 13, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • At least 41 grocery workers have died of the coronavirus and thousands more have tested positive in recent weeks.
  • Next to health-care providers, no workforce has proved more essential during the novel coronavirus pandemic than the 3 million U.S. grocery store employees who restock shelves and freezers, fill online orders and keep checkout lines moving.
  • Now workers across the country are staying home or quitting altogether, according to interviews with more than a dozen employees, leaving many markets short-staffed and ill-prepared to deal with demand.
Spain eases lockdown as rate of coronavirus infections hits new low (Guardian) Published on: April 12, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The number of new coronavirus infections in Spain have fallen to a record low since the outbreak began, as Europe’s worst-hit country braced for the reopening of some sectors of its economy this week.
  • The World Health Organization has said there could be a “deadly resurgence” of the coronavirus if countermeasures are lifted too soon, while one of the Spanish government’s own experts has said he thought it would have been sensible to keep non-essential workers at home for longer.
  • Infection rates continued to decelerate elsewhere in Europe including the Netherlands, where coronavirus cases topped 25,000 on Sunday with more than 2,700 deaths.
Alberta to send personal protective equipment to Ontario, Quebec, B.C. (CBC) Published on: April 12, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Premier Jason Kenney announced Saturday the province would be sending personal protective equipment or PPE to other provinces battling COVID-19.
  • Kenney said the numbers supported the belief that Alberta would have beds and medical equipment beyond its need.
Canada looking to prepare ‘surge’ force, use cellphone data to contain COVID-19 (National Post) Published on: April 10, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Federal and provincial health officials are recruiting small armies of staff and examining technology options such as cell phone location data as they ramp up Canada’s capacity to do contact tracing.
  • Canada is still in its ‘first wave’ of infections, and officials have said the best course of action for now is to have everyone stay home.
  • But once the first wave fully subsides — likely sometime in the summer — extensive testing and contact tracing should allow Canada to start re-opening its economy and lift some of the physical-distancing restrictions.
Dr. Fauci says mass antibody testing could be path to reopening U.S. (MSNBC) Published on: April 10, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci told MSNBC’s Brian Williams that mass antibody testing could be a key component to reopening the U.S.
  • This method would provide data to determine how many people would likely be protected from COVID-19.
Do you speak corona? A guide to covid-19 slang (The Economist) Published on: April 10, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Around the world, coronavirus is changing how we speak. Don’t be a “covidiot”—make sure your pandemic parlance is up to scratch.
  • So until recently the verb mostly had jolly connotations: annual supermarket promotional events (“de hamsterweken”) rewarded star hamsters who were stocking up on supplies. Germans use a similar word, “Hamsterkauf”.
  • March 11th was an odd milestone for German football: it was the first ever Geisterspiel, or ghost game in the Bundesliga, German football’s top-flight division.
Japan to Fund Firms to Shift Production Out of China (Bloomberg) Published on: April 9, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Japan has earmarked $2.2 billion of its record economic stimulus package to help its manufacturers shift production out of China as the coronavirus disrupts supply chains between the major trading partners.
  • China is Japan’s biggest trading partner under normal circumstances, but imports from China slumped by almost half in February as the disease shuttered factories, in turn starving Japanese manufacturers of necessary components.
  • The government’s panel on future investment last month discussed the need for manufacturing of high-added value products to be shifted back to Japan, and for production of other goods to be diversified across Southeast Asia.
Airports rush to create health and safety guidelines for travel rebound (FT) Published on: April 9, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • European airports are drawing up industry-wide guidelines on issues such as passenger health screening to ensure a co-ordinated response when travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic are eased.
  • The airport has called for a global standard in passenger health screening for coronavirus as the industry currently takes different approaches based on guidance from their national public health authorities.
  • ACI Europe, the trade body for airport operators, said it had this week started convening task forces to come up with a set of guidelines looking at addressing health and hygiene issues for when air transport restarts around the world to ensure there was ‘harmonisation’ among airports.
Healthcare, like banking, needs buffers to survive a shock (FT) Published on: April 7, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Apply the lessons of the global financial crisis to make our health systems resilient.
  • Effective risk management requires an understanding of where the risk in the system resides so that the appropriate action can be taken to mitigate the risk and reduce collateral damage.
  • We are learning much the same about the inadequacy of buffers in the healthcare systems in many countries.
NBA coaches prepare for possible intriguing playoff matchups (Seattle Times) Published on: April 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • With NBA games indefinitely on hold, there has been a lot of discussion about postseason possibilities — including by coaches around the league.
  • They’re preparing for what a resumption of the season that was shut down March 11 could look like in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The ideas are many, from a shortened version of the remaining schedule played without fans to the very real possibility of jumping straight into the playoffs to ensure a season is completed before the end of summer.
Cities with strong social distancing see stronger economic recoveries (MIT Sloan Management Review) Published on: April 6, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Critics fear social distancing edicts hurt the economy, but research on the 1918 flu pandemic reveals an aggressive response can help spur economic recovery.
  • Somewhat surprisingly perhaps, we find that areas that acted early and aggressively with non- pharmaceutical interventions do not perform worse economically, at least in the medium term — if anything, they actually come out of the pandemic stronger.
  • Lifting restrictions too early could make the economy worse by leading to a resurgence of the virus in an even more destructive pandemic.
Bill Gates is funding new factories for potential coronavirus vaccines (World Economic Forum) Published on: April 6, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates says his foundation is funding the construction of factories for seven coronavirus vaccine candidates.
  • Gates said the foundation would end up picking only one or two of the seven, meaning billions of dollars spent on manufacturing would be abandoned.
  • He said that in a situation where the world faces the loss of trillions of dollars to the economy, wasting a few billion to help is worth it.
Swiss lead way with crisis loans to small businesses (FT) Published on: April 6, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • It took Matthias Knaur only a minute or two to complete and scan the single-page form for a liquidity lifeline from the Swiss government.
  • About 30 minutes after sending it, the money was in his company’s account.
  • Switzerland unveiled its SFr20bn ($20bn) package of emergency loans to support small businesses on March 25. In its first week of operating, it disbursed more than SFr15bn to 76,034 businesses.
Health experts call for Roosevelt-style programs to kill virus, revive economy (The Hill) Published on: April 6, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • A first-of-its-kind program that will deploy almost a thousand people across Massachusetts may be a small-scale test of what public health experts hope could eventually stamp out the coronavirus even before a vaccine becomes widely available.
  • Increasingly, those who have warned for months about the virus’s potential spread now say a mass-scale national program aimed at suppressing the virus at a community level through that sort of robust contact tracing is crucial to stopping its spread.
  • That, public health experts said, would be money well-spent to both get a handle on a virus that has infected more than 332,000 people and killed almost 9,500 as of Sunday afternoon.
Facebook’s Road to Redemption Runs Straight Down Main Street (WSJ) Published on: April 5, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response, Leadership
  • COO Sheryl Sandberg says past mistakes prepared social network for coronavirus response; company offers cash, tools to help mom-and-pops.
  • One-third of small businesses in America don’t have a formal web presence at all, according to Ms. Sandberg, but many of those businesses have long had a Facebook page.
  • The $100 million grant pales in comparison to a government stimulus plan, but dwarfs some of the relief efforts set up by other tech companies and many cities. Facebook will spend $40 million of that in the U.S., focused on small businesses located near 34 cities where it has operations.
Europe prepares to ease coronavirus lockdowns (FT) Published on: April 5, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Governments across Europe have begun preparations to ease the lockdowns imposed across much of the continent to contain the coronavirus pandemic, even if restrictions that have paralysed the economy are expected to remain in force for several more weeks.
  • Angelo Borrelli, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency which is in charge of co-ordinating the national response to the outbreak, suggested a “phase two” of the country’s lockdown could begin next month.
  • “I don’t want to give dates, but between now and May 16 we may have further positive data that suggests we can resume activities and then start phase two,” he said.
Inside the Javits Center: New York’s militarized, makeshift hospital (Washington Post) Published on: April 5, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Soldiers in camouflage and civilians in polo shirts lined up for a life-or-death battle: Keeping a potentially deadly virus from overrunning this makeshift hospital inside a 2.1-million-square-foot convention center within the densest, most populous city in America.
  • A drone with an infrared sensor perched on the entry desk like a robotic raven taking people’s temperatures. In Nanjing, China, the government sent a similar drone flying apartment to apartment to ferret out the sick.
  • More than 15 city, state and federal agencies — ranging from military engineers to Javits Center carpenters — built the initial 1,000-bed hospital from scratch inside of a week.
In Italy, Going Back to Work May Depend on Having the Right Antibodies (NY Times) Published on: April 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Having the right antibodies to the virus in one’s blood — a potential marker of immunity — may soon determine who gets to work and who does not, who is locked down and who is free.
  • Researchers are uncertain, if hopeful, that antibodies in fact indicate immunity.
  • The conservative president of the northeastern Veneto region has proposed a special “license” for Italians who possess antibodies that show they have had, and beaten, the virus.
Zoom banned from New York City schools due to privacy and security flaws (Fast Company) Published on: April 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • A few weeks ago, New York City’s 75,000 teachers scrambled to learn how to use videoconferencing services like Zoom as novel coronavirus cases began to rise and schools prepared to close their doors and institute remote learning.
  • Businesses using Zoom may be able to shrug off such concerns, or hope that government oversight will eventually resolve them. But educators are subject to a more stringent set of rules and parental expectations.
European leaders warn coronavirus could lead to the breakup of their union (Washington Post) Published on: April 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The coronavirus pandemic, with its simultaneous health and economic crises, is deepening fault lines within Europe in a way some leaders fear could prove to be a final reckoning.
  • The cohesion of the European Union had been battered by Brexit, bruised by the political fallout from the 2015 migration surge and the 2008 financial crisis, and challenged by rising autocracy in the east that runs contrary to the professed ideals of the European project.
  • In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the response among European Union member states showed that national interests trump more-altruistic European ideals.
  • Border restrictions were reimposed haphazardly, and Germany and France threw up export bans on medical equipment such as masks and ventilators, even as Italy clamored for assistance.
China Enters The Next Phase of Its COVID-19 Outbreak: Suppression (NPR) Published on: April 4, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • China has driven coronavirus transmission down to nearly zero (although there’s some question among international academics about China’s case reporting and whether some cases are being overlooked, it’s generally agreed that they’ve suppressed transmission to a very low level).
  • Numbers have dropped dramatically in many parts of China, including Hubei and Chongqing provinces – although newly reported COVID-19 cases are increasing in Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai and Fujian, largely due to imported cases from travelers.
  • “Areas where the outbreak was less had movement restrictions removed sooner,” said Kylie Ainslie, a research associate at the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London. “But that didn’t mean completely. It meant first they started major factories and started letting those people who work there go back to work so that they could restart their industries.”
Food security experts warn of supply shortages, higher prices due to global pandemic (CBC) Published on: April 3, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Food security experts are warning the global pandemic could lead to supply shortages, higher prices and a growing nutrition gap between rich and poor.
  • Elaine Power, a food security expert at Queen’s University, said various problems caused by the pandemic — border closures restricting the movement of foreign farm workers, transportation and import bottlenecks, panic hoarding at grocery stores — can all contribute “massively” to higher prices or food shortages.
  • Even the honeybees normally imported from other countries to pollinate Canadian crops could become harder to source, she said.
The Countries That Are Succeeding at Flattening the Curve (Foreign Policy) Published on: April 2, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Lessons from Taiwan, Canada, South Korea, Georgia, and Iceland show that the coronavirus can be stopped.
  • Amid the pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump and other world leaders have faced criticism for their slow and ineffective response since it became clear that the coronavirus would not be contained to China, where it originated.
  • Taiwan recorded its first case of the coronavirus on Jan. 21, but it has managed to keep its number of confirmed cases to just 329 with five deaths as of April 1.
  • Given that Taiwan has faced everything from its giant neighbor—the spreading of fake news, military threats, the withholding of vital medical information during the SARS outbreak in 2003—the country knows it must be on its fullest guard whenever any major problem emerges in China.
The early days of a global pandemic: A timeline of COVID-19 spread and government interventions (Brookings) Published on: April 2, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • It started with a few deaths in Wuhan, China, with the earliest reported case on November 17, 2019.
  • From the outbreak in Wuhan, the virus took different times to reach the borders of different countries, depending on various factors such as connectivity and proximity to the Chinese city.
  • When tackling a virulent virus like COVID-19, early interventions are crucial to stay ahead of the disease and we restrict our analysis to the first few hundred cases.
Social Distancing Might Stop. And Start. And Stop. And Start. Until We Have A Vaccine. (BuzzFeed) Published on: April 1, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • “Putting people through that process will be extremely difficult.” A recent spate of think tank reports and scientific presentations expand the Imperial College scientists’ vision, suggesting that cities, counties, and towns will need to enact public health lockdowns of varying lengths, with stops and starts based on if and when coronavirus cases hint at rising again.
  • “If you pull the trigger off too early, not only will the circulating virus do what it naturally does, but all the economic and social disruptions are for nothing” said University of Michigan pandemic historian Howard Markel. The US is just at the start of its first social distancing cycle, with upward of 186,000 coronavirus cases and at least 3,600 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon.
  • Wuhan, China, which started a severe travel lockdown in late January, is why social distancing is happening in the US now, Harvard pandemic modeler Marc Lipsitch said.
China is using digital coupons to entice people to get shopping again (Quartz) Published on: April 1, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • One of the key ways China is incentivizing people is through the use of digital coupons, which are issued by some local governments and delivered to users via third-party platforms such as payment app Alipay and WeChat pay.
  • Residents log in to the apps to redeem the coupons, which can be used for dining, shopping, and travel within a short period of time.
  • In February, China’s car sales plunged 79% from a year earlier, the biggest-ever monthly decline. A gauge of factory activity in March unexpectedly rebounded into positive territory after an abysmal performance the previous month, but officials warned that the data should not be seen as a sign of economic stabilization.
‘Everybody is susceptible’: Why younger Canadians may be helping fuel the spread of COVID-19 (CBC) Published on: April 1, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Younger Canadians represent one in three of all reported COVID-19 cases, and experts say they could be unknowingly accelerating the spread of the virus in Canada and around the world.
  • Of the 4,186 COVID-19 cases for which the Public Health Agency of Canada has provided epidemiological data, 29 per cent are aged 20 to 39 and four per cent are under 19 — meaning one-third of cases in Canada involve people who are younger than 40.
  • Dr. Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, said it’s important for younger people to remember we’ve never encountered this new coronavirus, so we’ve built up no immunity to it.
Cuomo could be the leader the Democratic Party and nation desperately need (Washington Post) Published on: March 31, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • The pandemic is Cuomo’s Great Depression.
  • In his daily news conferences, Cuomo doesn’t deflect responsibility, but rather accepts it: “If someone is unhappy, blame me.” Instead of making sweeping, silly statements, he’s hyper-specific on everything from the number of ventilators the state needs to the number of tests administered.
  • He’s a transactional leader who seems to enjoy the absurdity and the fights, and doesn’t mind the tedium if it leads to results. He prides himself on being a doer.
China zeroes in on coronavirus patients with no symptoms as new infections rise (Reuters) Published on: March 31, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • As local infections peter out and new cases surface among travelers returning home, the existence of virus carriers with no symptoms is fuelling public concern that people could be spreading it without knowing they are ill.
  • Fearing a second wave of infections sparked by such inbound travelers, China will delay its college entrance exam by a month, until July 7 and 8, China Central Television said, although Hubei province, where the virus emerged late last year, and Beijing, the capital, will get more leeway in scheduling it.
  • Last week, a study in British medical journal the Lancet Public Health recommended that China extend school and workplace closures, since an earlier relaxation of curbs could bring a second peak in the outbreak by August.
After pandemic ends, U.S. needs Recovery Authority to speed economic rebound (USA Today) Published on: March 30, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Cutting red tape in health care has unleashed waves of energy and ingenuity to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Once the crisis is under control, the same kind of energy and resourcefulness will be needed to get America’s schools, businesses, government agencies and nonprofits up and running again.
  • What’s needed is a temporary Recovery Authority with a broad mandate to identify and waive unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles to recovery.
Leaked memo from Delta reveals plans to cut worker hours and pay, despite protections in the coronavirus stimulus package. United and other airlines are doing the same. (Business Insider) Published on: March 30, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Despite the payroll grants offered to airlines in the coronavirus stimulus package, airline workers at Delta, American, United, Southwest, and others will, in practice, take home less money than they had before.
  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or “CARES” Act – offered $58 billion in aid to airlines, split into two parts. Up to $29 billion in loans for air carriers is available, and an additional $29 billion in payroll grants.
  • Both the loans and the grants mandate that companies accepting them not reduce workforces until after September 30, 2020 – in effect, the mandate prohibits involuntary job cuts.
How Much Should the Public Know About Who Has the Coronavirus? (NY Times) Published on: March 29, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Medical experts say that how much the public should know has become a critical question that will help determine how the United States confronts this outbreak and future ones.
  • American researchers are starved for data, unlike their colleagues in other countries who are harnessing rivers of information from their more centralized medical systems.
  • Health departments in the Bay Area make the case that releasing more granular data could heighten discrimination against certain communities where there might be clusters.
  • Public health depends a lot on public trust. If the public feels as though they are being misled or misinformed their willingness to make sacrifices — in this case social distancing — is reduced.
Fauci predicts millions of coronavirus cases in US, and more than 100,000 deaths (Boston Globe) Published on: March 29, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The coronavirus outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, the US government’s top infectious-disease expert warned on Sunday, as smoldering hotspots in nursing homes and a growing list of stricken cities heightened the sense of dread across the country.
  • But spikes in infections were recorded around the country, not only in metropolitan areas but in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.
  • “This is not going to get better soon,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Big companies raise record sums from bond market in dash for cash (FT) Published on: March 29, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Global corporate bond issuance by “investment grade” companies has surged to $244bn so far in March, the highest monthly total since a record $252bn was sold in September, according to Dealogic.
  • Adding in a raft of new bank bond sales from the likes of Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs takes the global tally to $408bn this month, separate data from Refinitiv showed.
  • Analysts warn that despite higher-rated companies bolstering their cash piles, rising corporate defaults could still ricochet through the economy. Around $9tn of outstanding corporate debt has built up over the past decade while borrowing costs have been low.
Trump invokes federal law to force GM to make ventilators (FT) Published on: March 27, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • President Donald Trump deployed the government’s powers to compel General Motors to make ventilators needed to help healthcare providers treat patients that contract coronavirus, as the number of US cases continues to grow.
  • “Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course,” the White House said in a statement. “GM was wasting time.”
  • Although GM has closed all its plants in North America, 1,000 UAW members will return to work to make the ventilators. The company also plans to make surgical masks at a Warren, Michigan, plant reaching 50,000 per day in two weeks.
China Shuts Down All Cinemas, Again (Hollywood Reporter) Published on: March 27, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Over 600 movie theaters across China were given the green light to reopen their doors over the past week, but Beijing’s Film Bureau put out a notice late Friday ordering all theaters to go back into shutdown.
  • “This second closure will not be a one- or two-week issue,” an executive at a major exhibition company told The Hollywood Reporter, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of commenting on government policy related to the coronavirus.
  • On Thursday, China halted most incoming flights and imposed a blanket ban on the entry of all foreigners, even those with work permits.
Some U.S. Cities Could Have Coronavirus Outbreaks Worse Than Wuhan’s (NY Times) Published on: March 27, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • If its rate of growth in coronavirus cases continues, the New York City metropolitan area will suffer a more severe outbreak than those experienced in Wuhan, China, or the Lombardy region of Italy.
  • But as an epidemic progresses, the number of cases per capita can provide a good measure of the prevalence of coronavirus in a community.
  • By this measure, the situation in New York does not appear promising. The rate of increase in cases is far higher than it was in Wuhan or Lombardy, once they had reached similar numbers of cases.
  • Other metropolitan areas, like Detroit and New Orleans, stand out as places where a coronavirus outbreak might escalate quickly without preventive measures.
New Rochelle, Once a Coronavirus Hot Spot, May Now Offer Hope (NY Times) Published on: March 27, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • “Everybody talks about flattening the curve, and I think that’s exactly what we were able to do,” a health official said.
  • The state took drastic measures that stirred a backlash, including creating a containment zone. But now, the latest data indicates that the measures may be starting to work.
  • Over the last four days, only 38 new cases were reported to the county.
Lessons from Asian banks on their coronavirus response (McKinsey) Published on: March 26, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Financial institutions in countries initially affected by the pandemic moved quickly to safeguard their employees, transform their operations, and serve customers in new ways.
  • To guide the pandemic response, many financial institutions formed a response-management unit composed of executive-level, cross-functional teams.
  • In defining remote and work-from-home setups, bank executives considered both the level of human interaction required for certain tasks and the degree to which work can be segmented and individualized.
China goes back to work (The Economist) Published on: March 26, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Measures aimed at preventing another surge of covid-19 have added to the complexities of manufacturing in China. The German manager of an optical-wire factory in Jiangsu province has divided his workers into ten separate units to minimise the risk of cross-infections. The units are kept apart from each other in the factory, the canteen and their dormitories.
  • Nevertheless, on the supply side, the overall picture is encouraging. Large companies report that they are fully operational.
  • Resuscitating demand is proving more difficult. It involves two things that are harder for the government to manage: global growth and public anxiety about the disease.
  • State-owned firms account for about three-quarters of corporate debt in China. The government need not spell out that it stands behind them. Investors know that.
The Coronavirus War Economy Will Change the World (Foreign Policy) Published on: March 26, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • There are models less reliant on the private sector than the DPA; one important peacetime predecessor is the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration. This sort of public scheme would be able to put to work the large numbers of workers who are facing unemployment in the coming weeks and months.
  • As one financial analyst pointed out, “lockdown economics” is in many ways the exact opposite of the wartime economics of total mobilization.
  • But this is not a problem of prioritizing expenditures or limited resources. The issue is sustaining circulation. In the short run, the demands of disease prevention (quarantine measures) and care (hospitalization) will put the livelihood of those dependent on other forms of capitalist production at risk. Only massive government intervention to protect the channels of economic circulation can resolve this tension in a way that does not sacrifice the former for the latter.
  • Despite being framed as exceptional wartime or postwar measures, many provisions rapidly became entrenched.
  • There is no precedent for the asymmetric mix of mobilization and demobilization of labor that we are witnessing right now.
Cohen: Why Canada’s response to COVID-19 is so different from that of the U.S. (Ottawa Citizen) Published on: March 26, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • The prime minister appears in public every day, alone, outside his residence. He speaks sensibly, with authority, without hyperbole. This has been his finest hour.
  • Nor do we question the competence of his ministers who are the other faces of the crisis – Chrystia Freeland, Marc Garneau, Patty Hajdu, Bill Blair. All are calm, competent and professional. This is what we want.
  • Canadians accept big government, which is how we built the social welfare state. Two-thirds of us voted for progressives last year. We defer to authority.
Coronavirus’ low mutation rate suggests yearly vaccine unnecessary (Becker's Hospital Review) Published on: March 25, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The number of mutations suggests that a vaccine developed to prevent the virus would be a single vaccine with a long-lasting effect, as opposed to the flu vaccine, which needs to be developed every year.
  • The race to create a vaccine is on, but it will take at least a year or 18 months for one to be developed and available for use.
The West Is Misinterpreting Wuhan’s Coronavirus Progress—and Drawing the Wrong Lessons (WSJ) Published on: March 24, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The cordon sanitaire that began around Wuhan and two nearby cities on Jan. 23 helped slow the virus’s transmission to other parts of China, but didn’t really stop it in Wuhan itself, experts say.
  • What really turned the tide in Wuhan was a shift after Feb. 2 to a more aggressive and systematic quarantine regime whereby suspected or mild cases—and even healthy close contacts of confirmed cases—were sent to makeshift hospitals and temporary quarantine centers.
  • The tactics required turning hundreds of hotels, schools and other places into quarantine centers, as well as building two new hospitals and creating 14 temporary ones in public buildings.
  • It also underscored the importance of coronavirus testing capacity, which local authorities say was expanded from 200 tests a day in late January to 7,000 daily by mid-February.
Private hospitals will be made public for duration of coronavirus pandemic (TheJournal.ie) Published on: March 24, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Some 2,000 beds, nine laboratories and thousands of staff have been drafted into the public system, Leo Varadkar said at a press conference today.
  • We must of course have equality of treatment, patients with this virus will be treated for free, and they’ll be treated as part of a single, national hospital service.
‘Your NHS Needs You’ – NHS Call For Volunteer Army (NHS) Published on: March 24, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • NHS England has posted a call for up to 250,000 volunteers to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.
  • NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS.
U.S. Domestic Passenger Flights Could Virtually Shut Down, Voluntarily or by Government Order (WSJ) Published on: March 24, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Major U.S. airlines are drafting plans for a potential voluntary shutdown of virtually all passenger flights across the U.S., according to industry and federal officials.
  • Government agencies also consider ordering such a move as the nation’s air-traffic control system continues to be ravaged by the coronavirus contagion.
  • Airlines are preparing for the possibility that contagion-driven staffing emergencies at air-traffic control facilities could force the issue, making it impossible to continue operating in parts of the country.
  • Another option to keep cargo shipments flowing would be a White House decision to call up portions of what is called the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, essentially commercial jets designated to help the Pentagon with logistics and other needs during national emergencies.
Trump Considers Reopening Economy, Over Health Experts’ Objections (NY Times) Published on: March 24, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Officials have said the federal government’s initial 15-day period for social distancing is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, which has already infected more than 40,000 people in the United States.
  • Any push to loosen the new limits on commerce and movement would contradict the consensus advice of public health officials, risking a surge in infections and deaths from the virus.
  • The recent rise of cases in Hong Kong, after there had been an easing of the spread of the virus, is something of an object lesson about how ending strict measures too soon can have dangerous consequences.
U.S. axed CDC expert job in China months before coronavirus outbreak (Japan Times) Published on: March 23, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned.
  • The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases exploded, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping U.S. experts from entering the country to help.
  • As an American CDC employee, Dr. Linda Quick was in an ideal position to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the United States and other countries on the coronavirus outbreak, and might have alerted them to the growing threat weeks earlier.
Virus rebels from France to Florida flout lockdown practices (AP) Published on: March 22, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The defiance of lockdown mandates and scientific advice to fight the coronavirus pandemic has prompted crackdowns by authorities on people trying to escape cabin fever brought on by virus restrictions.
  • In some cases, the virus rebels resist — threatening police as officials express outrage over public gatherings that could spread the virus.
  • Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that people from 18-to-49 account for more than half of the state’s coronavirus cases, warning them “you’re not Superman, and you’re not Superwoman.” Many people were not complying with social distancing recommendations to stay away from each other in New York City’s vast city park network ahead of a ban on congregating in groups that goes into effect Sunday night, Cuomo said.
China scrambles to curb rise in imported coronavirus cases, Wuhan eases lockdown (Reuters) Published on: March 22, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • China reported 46 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, while the city of Wuhan, the pandemic’s ground zero, announced it would be loosening a two-month lockdown by gradually resuming public transportation and allowing healthy people to resume work.
  • But in a sign of easing lockdown measures, residents living in and outside Wuhan will be allowed to travel into the city to resume work if they have a green health code issued by the government and normal body temperature, state-media CCTV News reported on Sunday.
  • Non-local people stranded in Wuhan can also apply to leave the city after taking an RNA test and receiving a health certificate from the government, the channel said.
New York City health department moves to curtail testing as pandemic overwhelms hospitals. (NY Times) Published on: March 22, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • By late Friday, the city’s health department seemed to reverse course: It moved to curtail widespread testing, saying it was undermining the broader strategy to stop the virus’s spread.
  • Mark Levine, a City Council member who leads the health committee, said he understood the desire to make testing widely available, but that it was too late for that.
  • “Now testing mildly sick people poses an enormous threat. They should be at home resting, not waiting in line at a testing site.”
Denmark’s Idea Could Help the World Avoid a Great Depression (The Atlantic) Published on: March 21, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • This week, the Danish government told private companies hit by the effects of the pandemic that it would pay 75 percent of their employees’ salaries to avoid mass layoffs.
  • The plan could require the government to spend as much as 13 percent of the national economy in three months.
  • The philosophy here is that the government wants companies to preserve their relationship with their workers. It’s going to be harder to have a strong recovery if companies have to spend time hiring back workers that have been fired.
Yuval Noah Harari: the world after coronavirus (FT) Published on: March 21, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • This storm will pass. But the choices we make now could change our lives for years to come.
  • Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes.
  • In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.
Prepare for multiple waves of COVID-19 over 12 months: military chief to troops (CBC) Published on: March 20, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Gen. Jonathan Vance says the Canadian Armed Forces is planning for the ‘worst-case scenario’.
  • The notion that the virus caseload could recede and then return is a feature of federal government planning.
  • A truly worst-case scenario would involve public disturbances, he added.
U.S. power industry may ask key employees to live at work if coronavirus worsens (Reuters) Published on: March 20, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • The U.S. electric industry may ask essential staff to live on site at power plants and control centers to keep operations running if the coronavirus outbreak worsens, and has been stockpiling beds, blankets, and food for them, according to industry trade groups and electric cooperatives.
  • Scott Aaronson, vice president of security and preparedness at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) said that some “companies are already either sequestering a healthy group of their essential employees or are considering doing that and are identifying appropriate protocols to do that.”
  • “When continuous remote work is not possible, businesses should enlist strategies to reduce the likelihood of spreading the disease,” the guidance stated.
Volvo back to ‘normal’ in China as it shuts EU and US car plants (FT) Published on: March 20, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Volvo Cars said its Chinese business had returned to “normal”, offering a ray of hope to European and US carmakers that have shuttered operations in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.
  • Carmakers have in the past week announced the closures of every large European plant and more than 100 facilities across North and South America in a wave of measures to impede the spread of the virus.
  • “We need to plan for normality after Easter, to give people a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mr Samuelsson. “Let’s hope that will be the case. Continuing to Christmas would be a disaster.”
To solve the economic crisis, we will have to solve the health-care crisis (Washington Post) Published on: March 20, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • This is not an economic crisis; it is a health-care crisis.
  • In an economic crisis, you could imagine a situation in which people lose their jobs and are unable to spend money.
  • In these conditions, cash to consumers cannot jump-start consumption. Relief to producers will not jump-start production.
  • The federal government should announce a Manhattan Project-style public-private partnership to find and produce a vaccine.
Nvidia makes its GPU-powered genome sequencing tool available free to those studying COVID-19 (TechCrunch) Published on: March 19, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Nvidia is making its Parabricks tool available for free for 90 days (with the possibility of extension, depending on needs) to any researcher currently working on any effort to combat the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and spread of COVID-19.
  • Speed is of the essence when it comes to every aspect of the continued effort to fight the spread of the virus, and the severe respiratory illness that it can cause.
  • The more sequencing that can be done to understand, identify and verify characteristics of the genetic makeup of both the virus itself and patients who contract it (both during and post-infection), the quicker everyone will be able to move on to potential treatments and immunotherapies.
How One Particular Coronavirus Myth Went Viral (Wired) Published on: March 19, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • From an obscure Indian site to ZeroHedge to, well, everyone, here’s the trajectory of a fake story about Covid-19.
  • The article claimed that two Chinese spies smuggled the virus from a lab in Winnipeg to a military lab in Wuhan, where the virus “leaked” out and began infecting people.
  • The falsehood had gone viral before Canadian authorities became aware of it and were able to disprove it.
  • While two Chinese scientists were in fact escorted from the Winnipeg lab last July, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada later told the CBC that they were asked to leave due to an “administrative manner,” described by Canadian police as a “policy breach” that posed no danger to public safety.
Which Country Has Flattened the Curve for the Coronavirus? (NY Times) Published on: March 19, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • These charts track the number of new confirmed cases each day. Each red line is the seven-day moving average, which smooths out day-to-day anomalies in how the data are reported by authorities.
  • In the United States and five other countries, the number of known coronavirus cases is still growing rapidly. They have all reported more than 4,000 new cases in the past week.
ECB to launch €750bn bond-buying programme (FT) Published on: March 19, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme will cover sovereign and corporate debt.
  • The ECB also decided to expand the range of assets eligible for purchase to non-financial commercial paper and to ease its collateral standards to allow banks to raise money against more of their assets, including corporate finance claims.
  • Another option for the ECB to repair market confidence would be to lift its self-imposed limits to not buy more than a third of the eligible sovereign bonds of any single country and to purchase sovereign bonds in proportion to the weight of each country’s investment in its capital.
  • The latest €750bn package comes on top of last week’s €120bn extra purchases and means the ECB will buy more than €1tn of bonds in the next nine months — its highest ever pace of purchases.
GM, Ford and FCA shutter all North American factories over coronavirus fears (TechCrunch) Published on: March 18, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Detroit’s big three automakers are to shut down all factories due to fears over the coronavirus.
  • Over the last few days, United Auto Workers has been pushing the automakers to shut down their factories over concerns of worker safety.
  • Early today, Honda announced it was pausing all operations at its 12 North American factories, including transmission and engine plants in Ohio, Indiana, Alabama, Canada and Mexico. Ford and GM followed several hours later. Now, in the afternoon, FCA also decided to close its factories.
Plight of Retail Workers: ‘I’m Scared to Go to Work’ (NY Times) Published on: March 18, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response, Leadership
  • Dozens of employees staffed the cash registers, cosmetics counter and shoe department. Many were frightened. Three days before, the company said that a worker at the store had tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • The retail industry has endured a recent raft of bankruptcies and closures, as well as the pressure of new tariffs in the past year. It makes the prospect of losing weeks of business to the coronavirus even more chilling for many stores.
  • The Retail Industry Leaders Association, an industry trade group, has been urging state and local officials to not unilaterally declare most of retail, outside of grocery stores and pharmacies, as nonessential. The group said officials should first consult with retailers before ordering stores to close.
More lifesaving ventilators are available. Hospitals can’t afford them. (Washington Post) Published on: March 18, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Hospitals are holding back from ordering more medical ventilators because of the high cost for what may be only a short-term spike in demand from the coronavirus epidemic, supply chain experts and health researchers say, intensifying an anticipated shortage of lifesaving equipment for patients who become critically ill.
  • “The risk is that they’ll never be used, and hospitals can’t eat the cost,” she said. “Most hospitals in this country are not profitable.”
  • Other governments have rushed to stock up on ventilators. The United Kingdom has asked Rolls-Royce Holdings, which makes jet engines, and other heavy manufacturers to make ventilators. Germany ordered 10,000 ventilators with Dragerwerk AG, which Dow Jones said was the company’s largest order ever.
How Washington Failed to Build a Robust Coronavirus Testing System (WSJ) Published on: March 18, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • CDC officials botched an initial test kit developed in an agency lab, retracting many tests.
  • When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also involved in the response, finally opened testing to more outside labs, a run on limited stocks of some supplies needed for the CDC-developed test quickly depleted stores.
  • Health-care officials say the current state of testing reflects both technical and planning failures, as well as a broader failure of imagination.
Coronavirus: US hospital uses five months’ worth of supplies in six days as shortages hit (The Independent) Published on: March 17, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • That comes amid growing concerns of equipment shortages in healthcare facilities across the US.
  • “We might have thought we were overprepared,” said Mr Putney. “But you just can’t believe what we went through from a supply standpoint.”
  • The healthcare provider has now turned to volunteers and donations, according to The AJC. That includes bleach supplied by chicken factories, and cardboard boxes provided by restaurants.
France ready to nationalise virus-stricken companies (FT) Published on: March 17, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • France has rolled out an emergency €45bn rescue package for its coronavirus-stricken economy and pledged an array of possible measures, including nationalisation and an extended ban on short selling, if it needs to save important companies.
  • In addition the French state will guarantee €300bn of bank loans to businesses to ensure they do not collapse for want of liquidity, while eurozone members had collectively offered €1tn in such national guarantees.
  • France has also joined Spain, Italy and Belgium in banning the short selling of stocks to calm investors rattled by heavy price falls.
Flattening the Coronavirus Curve Is Not Enough (The MIT Press Reader) Published on: March 17, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Two big challenges await: (1) we need to minimize the short-term (this year’s) cost of the pandemic and (2) we need to minimize the medium-term (after this year’s) cost of the pandemic.
  • Flattening the curve assumes that you actually don’t go too far and that much of the population actually becomes infected and then immune.
  • If you reduce the infection rate too far, then most of the population does not become infected and that means that once you stop policies such as social distancing the virus can emerge once more and we all have to do this again.
  • When China constructed new hospitals in Wuhan in just over a week, this is what they were doing. They did this a month ago and given their stronger infection rate suppression maybe even overdid it.
3 charts that helped change coronavirus policy in the UK and US (World Economic Forum) Published on: March 17, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Suppression involves a combination of four interventions: social distancing of the entire population, case isolation, household quarantine and school and university closure.
  • But when these measures are relaxed, the modelling predicted cases would rise again, so interventions may need to be in place until a vaccine is developed – 18 months or longer.
  • Around three weeks after the combined interventions are introduced, the scientists predict there would be a reduction in the peak need for intensive care beds – and this would continue to decline while the policies stay in place.
  • However, once the interventions are relaxed (around September in the above chart), the infections would begin to rise again, leading to a predicted peak epidemic later in the year.
The economic policy response to COVID-19: What comes next? (Brookings) Published on: March 16, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The federal policy response thus far has focused on public health.
  • In addition, send $1000 checks per adult to households (with an income cap that can be applied later as part of 2020 taxes) (~$200 billion) with checks for dependents of $500, which may take longer to mail (~$50 billion) due to the necessity to match dependents to households.
  • The Families First Act expands access to paid sick leave and unemployment insurance, but far more people are losing income, tips, commissions, and hours than are helped through this legislation.
  • It is increasingly clear, though, that there will be substantial economic fallout.
Experimental COVID-19 Vaccine Test Begins as U.S. Volunteer Receives First Shot (TIME) Published on: March 16, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Monday’s milestone marked just the beginning of a series of studies in people needed to prove whether the shots are safe and could work.
  • Even if the research goes well, a vaccine wouldn’t be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months, said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
  • Another candidate, made by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, is expected to begin its own safety study — in the U.S., China and South Korea — next month.
Fed Takes Emergency Steps as Virus Pushes Economy Toward Recession (WSJ) Published on: March 16, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The Fed, in a series of statements, said it would cut the federal-funds rate to a range between 0% and 0.25%, down 1 percentage point, and would buy $700 billion in Treasury and mortgage-backed securities, among other actions.
  • The Fed said it was activating with five other central banks, including the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, swap lines to smooth out disruptions in overseas dollar-funding markets, effectively encouraging foreign central banks to use existing facilities to supply dollars to their own financial systems.
  • But they say Congress will have to provide a much bigger package—perhaps on the order of $400 billion—to prevent the world’s largest economy from spiraling into a much bigger crisis.
  • Also on the table: suspension of student-loan payments, infrastructure projects and aid to state and local governments.
Fauci: ‘If it looks like you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing’ (The Hill) Published on: March 15, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • “If you just leave the virus to its own devices, it will go way up like we’ve seen in Italy.”
  • “One is preventing new infections from coming in, and the other is containment and mitigation within the country, and it is correct that infections are going to go up. Our job is to make sure it doesn’t do the maximum peak and actually blunts,” he said.
Trump Administration Expands Europe Travel Ban to U.K. and Ireland as Spain Goes Under Lockdown (WSJ) Published on: March 14, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • The emergency unit of a hospital in Belgium, where only people with serious symptoms are being tested, was stormed on Friday by about 100 people seeking to get tested.
  • Canada’s Parliament agreed to shut down for five weeks and the government decided to redirect incoming international flights to a small number of airports as part of enhanced screening measures.
  • U.S. prisons suspended visits to inmates for at least 30 days, the Bureau of Prisons said. Lawyers won’t be able to visit prisoners during that time, though exceptions will be made in some instances, according to a statement from the bureau.
Testing Shortages Force Extreme Shift In Strategy By Local Health Officials (Kaiser Health News) Published on: March 14, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • It was a grim recognition of the virus’ infiltration — and is yet another sign of the detrimental effects of a lack of capability in the U.S. to test people for the deadly coronavirus as it continues to spread.
  • The U.S. has not made that shift as a whole, but experts say it’s concerning that some areas of the country have had to move away from the basic public health protocols of contact tracing and quarantine in response to the federal government’s botched rollout of coronavirus test kits.
  • It’s a very big challenge ahead, but I feel like we are starting to make progress as a country, and if we do an all-of-the-above strategy, there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to get through this without too much harm to our population.” King County in Washington state, which has been an early epicenter for the virus in the U.S., shifted from contact tracing as well, but still requires a 14-day quarantine for people who were exposed to someone with the virus.
The World Has a Plan to Fight Coronavirus. Most Countries Are Not Using it. (NY Times) Published on: March 12, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Global solidarity has been noticeably absent in the fight to stop an outbreak that has already killed more than 4,300 people and spread to more than 110 countries.
  • The basic idea was that the W.H.O. would serve as a central coordinating body.
  • But dozens of countries are flouting the international regulations and snubbing their obligations. Some have failed to report outbreaks to the organization, as required.
  • Others have instituted international travel restrictions, against the advice of the W.H.O., and without notifying global health officials.
U.S. suspends travel from Europe as coronavirus forces Italy to tighten lockdown (Reuters) Published on: March 12, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • U.S. President Donald Trump said the United States will suspend all passenger travel from continental Europe on Friday to limit the spread of the coronavirus after the outbreak was formally declared a pandemic, sending global markets into a tailspin.
  • Trump’s announcement came after Italy, the worst-affected country in Europe, enacted the most severe controls on a Western nation since World War Two, shutting bars, hairdressers and restaurants along with other restrictions already in place.
  • The U.S. travel restrictions on Europe would apply from midnight on Friday, Trump said, adding that similar restrictions on travelers from China and South Korea had helped limit the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus fallout: Bank of England launches 4 key measures (FT) Published on: March 11, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • The Monetary Policy Committee voted unanimously to reduce its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 0.25 per cent, equalling its lowest levelsince the second world war.
  • The Term Funding scheme for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (TFSME) offers funding at interest rates at, or very close to, the benchmark rate. It is expected to last one year and to provide in excess of £100bn in funding.
  • The last measure came from the BoE’s Prudential Regulation Authority, which laid out an expectation that banks should not use any funds freed up by the other measures to increase dividends or bonuses.
New trade barriers could hamper the supply of masks and medicines (The Economist) Published on: March 11, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Some governments are erecting trade barriers to safeguard their supplies.
  • On March 3rd France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, announced that the state would seize all masks, restricting sales abroad.
  • Despite calls from the WHO for countries to work together to ease the problem, this is proving difficult even within a close-knit trading bloc like the EU.
Coronavirus updates: New York sets up containment zone, Australia bans travel to Italy (CNET) Published on: March 11, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • An area of New York state has been designated a containment zone, Australia bans travel to Italy and the EU wants to set up a fund to address the outbreak.
  • The zone falls within “a 1 mile radius around the site of the most cases in New Rochelle,” Cuomo said on Twitter, adding that the city has the “biggest cluster of coronavirus cases in the state.”
  • King County, home to Seattle, has confirmed 33 new cases of coronavirus and three more deaths, bringing total deaths in the county to 20 and in the state of Washington to 22.
Announcing the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator (Gates Foundation) Published on: March 11, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Today, we are joining forces with Wellcome and Mastercard to beef up our response—backed by $125 million in both new funding and money already earmarked to tackle this epidemic.
  • As Bill Gates points out in his article for the New England Journal of Medicine, primary health care systems, which can monitor disease patterns and act as an early warning system, also need to be strengthened.
  • And the world should invest in disease surveillance, including a case database that is instantly accessible to relevant organizations.
Trump to Propose Steps to Ease Economic Fallout From Coronavirus (WSJ) Published on: March 10, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Measures may include payroll-tax cut, relief for hourly wage earners, president says.
  • He said he would hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon to lay out the proposals in more detail.
  • On Friday, Mr. Kudlow said possible fiscal measures included deferring taxes for the industries hardest hit by the virus—primarily hospitality and travel, an administration official said.
Italy extends coronavirus quarantine to entire country (FT) Published on: March 10, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Italy has announced that the entire country will be placed under quarantine in its government’s most dramatic step yet to contain the second-largest outbreak of coronavirus outside China.
  • All citizens will have to sign a self-declared document to present to the police and the military to explain their movements.
  • On Monday six inmates were killed in a riot at an Italian prison, and in another jail guards were taken hostage, as unrest spread among inmates over measures approved by the government to contain the virus, including limiting visits from families and friends.
How Chinese Companies Have Responded to Coronavirus (HBR) Published on: March 10, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Rapid, coordinated responses require top-down leadership. But adapting to unpredictable change, with distinct dynamics in different communities, also requires decentralized initiative-taking.
  • Person-to-person and bricks-and-mortar retail were severely restricted in affected regions. Agile Chinese enterprises rapidly redeployed sales efforts to new channels both in B2C and B2B enterprises.
  • With remote working and a new set of complex coordination challenges, many Chinese companies took to social media platforms, such as WeChat, to coordinate employees and partners.
COVID-19: Implications for business (McKinsey) Published on: March 9, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Those infected often display only mild symptoms (or no symptoms at all), so it is easy for public-health systems to miss such cases.
  • For example, 55 percent of the cases on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship did not exhibit significant symptoms.
  • We believe that the prevalent pessimistic narrative (which both markets and policy makers seem to favor as they respond to the virus) underweights the possibility of a more optimistic outcome to COVID-19 evolution.
Canada’s top doctor says country ready with co-ordinated response to COVID-19 (CTV News) Published on: March 7, 2020 | Category: Canadian Business, Global Response
  • Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said most of the cases in Canada so far have been mild, and the patients are self isolating at home.
  • Health officials in Ontario, British Columbia and across Canada have said the risk posed by COVID-19 in this country remains low.
  • Forty-seven research teams will now get backing from the federal government for work to “inform clinical and public health responses, develop and evaluate diagnostic tools and vaccines, as well as create strategies to tackle misinformation, stigma, and fear.”
Foreign Investment Set to Fall on Coronavirus Outbreak (WSJ) Published on: March 6, 2020 | Category: Economic Impact, Global Response
  • Businesses will likely cut their overseas investments by between 5% and 15% this year in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but there may also be a longer-lasting movement of production back to their home countries, the United Nations said Friday.
  • It added that a majority of the largest 5,000 companies by revenues had revised their earnings expectations over the past month, and lowered their projections by 9% on average.
South Korea is watching quarantined citizens with a smartphone app (MIT Technology Review) Published on: March 6, 2020 | Category: Global Response, Leadership
  • Thousands in coronavirus lockdown will be monitored for symptoms—and tracked to make sure they stay at home and don’t become “super spreaders.”
  • Now those in quarantine can use the app to report their symptoms and provide status updates to officials.
  • The app joins a repertoire of other measures launched to combat the surge of new cases in South Korea, such as drive-through coronavirus testing stations, which contribute to the country’s roughly 15,000-a-day testing capacity.
What the world has learned about facing covid-19 (The Economist) Published on: March 5, 2020 | Category: Global Response
  • Many countries are ill prepared.
  • Test kits made available by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc) were faulty; restrictions were limiting tests in other settings. By March 1st, when South Korea had run 100,000 tests for the virus, America—which saw its first case on January 23rd—had run fewer than 500.
  • In a population without measures in place to control such chains, a single undiagnosed case can, in principle, give rise to more than 3,000 cases six weeks later.
  • Asked in a survey how serious a crime or misdemeanour they thought breaking quarantine was, half of Canadians ranked it as similar to manslaughter.