Coronavirus Briefing: U.S. relief package signed into law

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 949 words and will take you four minutes to read.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Welcome to the fourth edition of Haymarket Media’s Coronavirus Briefing. Today we spotlight the relief package passed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday afternoon and signed by President Trump on Wednesday night. We take a look at the intensified fears of massive coronavirus-spurred job losses across a range of professional industries and highlight some brands that have risen to the occasion. And we find relief in the cottage industry of coronavirus podcasts and solace in the pockets of decency and generosity that are there, if you’re looking for them.

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 949 words and will take you four minutes to read. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.


A relief package was passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Trump

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act extends sick-leave benefits for some workers, expands access to free virus testing and offers $1 billion in food aid for vulnerable populations. While opinions were split on the bill’s merits, it will provide a degree of relief at a time when many people need it.

  • This is just the beginning of the U.S. government’s response to the financial crisis prompted by the coronavirus. The next phase could include direct cash payments to taxpayers set to arrive on April 6 and May 18, at a combined price of $500 billion. It could also include a range of financial support for small businesses and the airlines.

  • Writing in PRWeek UK, BCW Global exec and former Tony Blair adviser John McTernan wonders if British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is up to the communications challenge presented by coronavirus.

  • In Infectious Disease Advisor, Benjamin Williams questions whether governments are paying adequate attention to the mental-health concerns that have arisen amid the pandemic.

  • Amid concerns that continued coronavirus fallout could effectively disenfranchise much of the U.S. electorate, two Democrat senators are pushing to make voting by mail an option for everyone.

The Takeaway:

Governments are taking action. Whether or not you believe some of that action should have been taken sooner is beside the point; around most of the world, officials are responding with the urgency that a crisis of this magnitude demands.


Job losses pile up

The numbers aren’t good: On Thursday morning, it was reported that weekly unemployment claims surged by 70,000, to 281,000, between March 8 and March 14. Some brands pushed back against the tide of bad news, offering optimism and empathy during a week when such emotions were in short supply.

  • Campaign US’ Michael Heusner reports on a survey from professional network Fishbowl, which suggests advertising professionals in particular expect extensive layoffs in the virus’ wake.

The Takeaway:

The trendlines are troubling, no doubt - and it’s not as though most people don’t have enough to worry about, even before employment status enters the picture. Things will likely get worse before they get better.


Podcasts have emerged as timely sources of up-to-date coronavirus information.

Yes, there are quite a few podcasts nowadays and yes, its DIY spirit keeps the bar to entry ankle-high. But in the muddled media landscape around the coronavirus, podcasts have done a fine job of distilling essential information from the myriad voices and sources holding themselves out as experts.

  • On The MM&M Podcast, executive editor Marc Iskowitz details his harrowing experience as a parent of a sick child who’d been exposed to the virus. Iskowitz further expounded on his family’s experience here.

  • Pardon My Take doesn’t generally venture into serious terrain, but it did its millions of younger listeners a great service by sitting down with Dr. Anthony Fauci for a long and sobering conversation.

  • Ride Home Media’s name has become sadly ironic, given that many of its listeners no longer have a commute ride home during which to check out its recap-py podcasts. That said, its Coronavirus Daily Briefing offers a smart, quick-hit take on the day’s CV headlines.

The Takeaway:

If you’re only listening to the people with whom you’re quarantined, boredom could set in before too long. Besides, who among us can’t find a few minutes for some snappy and essential conversation?


We’ve got each other’s backs.

We do. Really. You just need to look for it, or have a friend who’s super-engaged on social media forward it your way.

  • With its #LetsFlattenTheCurve initiative, MM&M has called on medical marketing pros to show why social distancing is crucial to fighting the spread of coronavirus.

  • A distillery in Duluth, Minnesota, has put its alcohol to good use, creating sanitizer and giving it away to members of the local community.

The Takeaway:

We’re all in this thing together.


Happy first day of spring, everybody. Here’s hoping that with the change of season comes a change in our collective fortunes

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