Coronavirus Briefing: A tobacco vaccine, who needs masks, uplifting stories

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,285 words and will take you five minutes to read.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Oh Thursday, you almost-Friday. You used to be the best night of the week to go out. This Thursday, we’ll all stay in and obsessively watch the news. Or obsessively do anything but. There are books to read. Conversations to be had. Outside clothes to be worn for a virtual happy hour. For now though, the news. And not to startle you, but we’ve included an entire section dedicated to good stuff only. 

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,285 words and will take you five minutes to read. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.


 

Just the hits

  • Another 6.6 million joined the U.S. unemployment rolls last week, bringing the latest claims total to nearly 10 million.

  • Wimbledon has canceled The Championships 2020 due to public health concerns. It follows another Grand Slam tournament, the French Open, which announced last month (somewhat controversially) that its dates would be postponed from May to late September.  

  • There’s a growing movement in Brazil to impeach President Jair Bolsonaro — the only major world leader still questioning the merits of lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

  • This morning, a deal was reached regarding the fate of two cruise ships anchored off the Florida coast carrying hundreds of sick passengers and crew members, plus four dead from coronavirus. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine had previously denied letting the ships dock in Fort Lauderdale.

The Takeaway:

A love letter to watching a tennis champion play will not be written this year. Politicking is affecting the magnitude of this disease. Cruises have turned terrifying.


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Keeping the lights on with grace

  • Firms are facing tough operational decisions made in short periods of time on how best to preserve staff wellbeing and livelihoods. In People Management U.K., Melanie Taylor, a freelance HR manager, urges everyone to be a little less judgmental when considering businesses’ responses and actions.

  • This engaging editorial from Adam Gale in the U.K.’s Management Today starts with the age-old question, “Why do you exist?” before going on to suggest that the coronavirus crisis is the ideal time, as business leaders, to show there’s a limit to profit motives.

  • In McKnight’s Senior Living, Amy Novotney reports that Ventas, the healthcare real estate investment trust, announced it was offering a 25% deferred rent payment for April for its operators in triple-net leases — about 20% of its portfolio by net operating income.

  • British American Tobacco, the maker of brands including Lucky Strike, Dunhill, Rothmans and Benson & Hedges, is testing a potential coronavirus vaccine using tobacco plants. If it works, it would certainly be a game-changer for an industry typically beleaguered by criticism.

  • Scientists across the world have put aside drivers like academic credit, and are identifying, and sharing, hundreds of viral genome sequences to help find a vaccine. “I never hear scientists — true scientists, good quality scientists — speak in terms of nationality,” said Dr. Francesco Perrone, who is leading a coronavirus clinical trial in Italy. “My nation, your nation. My language, your language. My geographic location, your geographic location. This is something that is really distant from true top-level scientists.”

The Takeaway:

Most people are putting aside their differences to help bring this pandemic to an end. If you think someone is only looking out for #1, give them the benefit of the doubt until you have all the information. Don’t smoke cigarettes.


Facts and figures

With so many intense changes taking place across our personal and professional landscapes, surveys and transparent, detailed communications are more important than ever. Knowing the foremost issues to tackle will help everyone, everywhere, stay calm, healthy and informed. 

  • A poll from People Management U.K. and the CIPD (a U.K.-based professional body for HR people) showed a growing number of employers are concerned about how to support employees taking on childcare responsibilities during the coronavirus outbreak. The survey polled more than 300 employers, finding that nearly two-thirds (65%) were concerned about staff’s ability to balance working from home and parenting.

  • The Harris Poll COVID-19 Wave 5 Topline Summary released its findings from March 28-30, 2020. Top findings included both President Trump and Governor Cuomo’s ratings are on the rise; Americans are willing to be tracked to help stop the spread of COVID-19; and almost 40% of small businesses could be out of business within a month.

  • The suggestions for who, when, and where we should wear masks, what kind they should be, and whether effective ones can be made at home changes by the minute. The World Health Organization has its most recent advice here. Lifehacker has a super helpful, super extensive drilldown on the subject here. And since we’re on the topic of masks, Maker Mask, a nonprofit organized by leaders in tech, industry and government, announced its medically approved, 3-D printed respirator-style masks will soon be made available, free of charge, to the public. And they look badass.

The Takeaway:

Having the facts is better than guessing, and much better than an ineffectual palliative. 


(Not so random) acts of kindness

Need some unabashedly heartening news? We’ve got it! 

  • Steve Madden, MM&M’s editor-in-chief, sits on his couch wearing a t-shirt that proclaims No One is Coming It’s Up to Us. His three teenagers study online upstairs. His wife is on a client call. Cats sleep in the window. Despite the bucolic-sounding but un-ideal work surroundings, Madden penned this message of solidarity.

  • Kim Davis reports for PRWeek U.S. that Zignal Labs has partnered with The Public Good Projects, to parse the mass of conflicting information out there about coronavirus in order to provide communicators with reliable messaging to pass on to consumers. The joint venture is called Project RCAID (Rapid Collection Analysis Interpretation Dissemination) and is aggregated by five analysts with master’s degrees in public health.

  • Theresa Sullivan, a hairdresser in Huntington, New York, out of work with her salon closed during the coronavirus business shutdown, was looking for a way to support local restaurants and healthcare workers on the frontlines. So she created Huntington Hospital Meals — a group that could deliver meals to the busy staff at Huntington Hospital, and concurrently support restaurants. She posted her idea on Facebook last Tuesday, and less than a week later, had raised $35,000 for the local initiative.

  • Inspired by Theresa Sullivan’s story, Liz Bernich of Chatham, New Jersey, an executive recruiter, started FLAG — First Line Appreciation Group of Chatham and Madison. As of Tuesday, she had raised $78,000, all of which goes toward buying meals for medical workers during the pandemic.

  • Does your dog just lie around all day wondering why nobody’s taking him/her to the park? Read this story to them about Sunny the golden retriever, who’s busy making deliveries to his quarantined neighbor.

The Takeaway:

People are thinking globally and acting locally. Dogs rule. Don’t play with magnets. I need a haircut.


Songs about Thursday

You know how when you exercise you can change your entire mood? Music does that too. And you don’t have to get off the couch. 

(Thursday) Here's Why I Did Not Go to Work Today, Harry Nilsson

Thursday’s Child, David Bowie

Thursday Morning, Giles, Giles & Fripp

If there’s one message to take away from it all, it’s this bit from Dr. Francesco Perrone, the Italian oncologist leading a coronavirus clinical trial: “My nation, your nation. My language, your language. My geographic location, your geographic location.”

See you Friday.


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