Coronavirus Briefing: Unemployment, the sharing economy, security and A Lovely Day

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,292 words and will take you six minutes to read.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

After a week of bad news, we get even more this morning with the announcement of singer Bill Withers’ death. I’m going to let his haunting, soulful, songs score my day. Many tracks seem particularly affecting right now — "Ain’t No Sunshine," "Lean On Me" —but I think "Lovely Day" is the one we should focus on:

When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way
Then I look at you
And the world's alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it's gonna be
A lovely day...

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,292 words and will take you six minutes to read. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

Just the hits

  • Coronavirus cases surpass one million worldwide.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate for March increased 4.4% — the largest monthly increase since January 1975. The Congressional Budget Office expects unemployment to top 10% for the second quarter of 2020 and remain at 9% at the end of 2021.
  • A report revealed that China concealed the extent of its coronavirus outbreak.
  • From London, to Spain, to Italy, to the U.S., venues around the globe are being turned into field hospitals.

The Takeaway:

An inconceivable number of people are out of work, but there are likely more. Every day brings a new record high in death tolls around the world, turning areas created for professional sports and entertainment, into care centers and morgues.

There is hope

There are some lights at the end of this dismal tunnel.

  • Gavin McEwan notes in Horticulture Week that the crisis has been a boom for grocery retailers, citing market analyst Kantar’s reports. The company’s head of retail and consumer insight, Fraser McKevitt, predicts sales of long-life and non-perishable items will slow as households work their way through stocks, and that consumers will focus instead, on replenishing their supply of fresh foods.
  • The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act will permanently authorize physician assistants and nurse practitioners to order home healthcare services for Medicare patients. Previously, only physicians could order services such as respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. This authorization will help ease the burden of hospital systems facing the influx of patients with COVID-19.
  • Thomas Moore for PRWeek US reports that small agencies located in one of the five boroughs of New York may find relief from the city’s Department of Small Business Services’ two new initiatives — the Employee Retention Grant program and the Small Business Continuity Loan Fund.
  • Amy Novotney reports that smaller senior living and skilled nursing operators overwhelmed by financial fallout from coronavirus will soon be able to tap into the Paycheck Protection Program — a federal bailout fund to help operators pay bills and keep workers on the payroll.

The Takeaway:

Some sectors are benefitting from the pandemic, although it’s a devil’s bargain, and one they most would likely would not have chosen. Medical restrictions are being lifted in order to reach those in need at home. More relief funds, grants, loans and bailouts are being created in an attempt to keep small businesses alive.

There is sorrow

Even when “they” tell us to brace for the worst, it’s difficult to imagine things getting worse, but extra heartbreaking and more frustrating developments occur every day.

  • Three neonates born to mothers with COVID-19 identified as positive. “Therefore, it is crucial to screen pregnant women and implement strict infection control measures, quarantine of infected mothers, and close monitoring of neonates at risk of COVID-19,” urged doctors in a research letter published in Jama Pediatrics.
  • Millions of Americans are realizing they don’t qualify for a $1,200 coronavirus relief check, including high school seniors and college students — the bill offers nothing to families for their children older than 16. Also immigrant families without valid social security numbers will not find relief.
  • Sixteen companies selling products claiming to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure coronavirus have been sent cease and desist letters from the FDA.

The Takeaway:

Coronavirus is still so new that the full scope of its effects on us today, tomorrow and far into the future is unknown.

You can still share

From 2010-2019, the sharing economy was one of the fastest-growing business trends in history, with investors dumping more than $23 billion in venture capital funding into startups with share-based models. Coworking, ridesharing, home renting... what does it mean to share today?

  • Airbnb, the great hospitality industry disruptor, has partnered with the International Rescue Committee, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Medical Corps to connect hosts with healthcare providers, relief workers and first responders in need of clean places to stay that allow them to be close to their patients but safely distanced from their families.
  • Uber, Lyft, Car2Go, Revel... prior to the plague, ridesharing was one of the fastest-growing segments in the transportation market. According to this census, half the general population has stopped using rideshare services. It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to bounce back, and how their model might have to change to accommodate a new world.
  • Dating apps, the OG sharing experience, are reporting increased numbers of messaging, and ten of the top 100 apps on iTunes deal with dating. In a time of spatial distancing, flirting via text or video chat provide a much-needed form of connection. In fact, apps that hadn’t previously offered video functions introduced them last month.
  • There’s going to be a condom shortage.

The Takeaway:

Sharing has new connotations. You can help frontline workers by offering them your home; they could use it. If you thought dating was hard when you were single, be thankful you’re not single today. Unless you are. And then, apps!

Remember privacy?

Our cellphones are collecting, storing and distributing detailed information about where we are and what we’re doing. The people we live with see every move we make (and by move, I mean those 30 seconds of downward facing dog you believe constitute a workout.) Big Brother, your big brother... everyone’s watching now.

  • While data security and governance will continue to pose challenges, Oli Freestone, head of institute at Capita, suggests executing Plan B. As events are canceled and travel plans shelved, budgets must be re-evaluated and our approach to communication, work, learning and even our mundane everyday activities need to be re-thought. Technology is the key.
  • In People Management UK, Kelly Hagedorn considers steps employers can take to protect their businesses as more remote workers means more unique devices, providing cybercriminals with a larger number of potential targets. It’s vital that organizations implement appropriate technical and administrative safeguards as soon as possible.
  • Ellie Kahn in C&IT, reports on the video conferencing app Zoom, which has come under greater scrutiny over security and privacy concerns as its popularity rockets. The app has been keeping more and more people connected since the world-wide lockdowns, becoming the number two app in the UK, and number one in the US.
  • And speaking of privacy (or lack thereof), here’s a great resource for all the parents out there who have suddenly become teachers.

One more for the road

In keeping with yesterday’s musical coda, we leave you with this Friday-centric song list.

Happy “Friyay!” See you next week.

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