Coronavirus Briefing: XX vs. XY, north stars, inexplicable messaging

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,580 words and will take you six minutes to read.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

This week has been predicted to feel like a combination of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 — an ominous forecast that all the foil-covered eggs and schmaltz-filled matzoh ball soup may not be able to cure. Passover is Wednesday; Easter, Sunday. There’ll be a lot of news to wade through in-between.

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,580 words and will take you six minutes to read. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

Just the hits

The Takeaway:

The small gains being made are great news, but may not indicate a crested curve. The virus continues moving across the globe, like a fog. Here’s hoping the countries it’s just now reaching can learn from our experiences.

XX vs. XY + hydroxychloroquine

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Or so goes the pithy title of a best-selling book, which “provides a practical and proven way for men and women to improve their communication by acknowledging the differences between their needs, desires and behaviors.” If only as much time and energy was spent studying the differences between men’s and women’s chromosomes, we might have a cure for COVID-19.

  • Data reported by more than a dozen states suggests men are more susceptible to coronavirus than women. An emerging body of research indicates the disparity is related to the different genes on men’s and women’s chromosomes.
  • Dr. Moalem, scientist and physician, goes one step further, calling women “The Better Half” in his forthcoming book The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women. He, too, believes the cure lies in better understating our chromosomes. His theory: X chromosomes are good for building and maintaining the human brain and the immune system, women, who have two X chromosomes (while men have one X and one Y) are able to swap in support when one of their X’s gets attacked.
  • Infectious Disease Advisor dug into a study in The Lancet that found older men with comorbid diseases (one or more diseases or conditions that occur along with another condition in the same person at the same time) are more likely to contract COVID-19.
  • For weeks now, President Trump has been baffling his top medical advisors and the public, insisting that hydroxychloroquine — a drug used to treat lupus and malaria — may be a cure for coronavirus. The drug can potentially block coronavirus entering cells, but it is not a cure. And despite Trump’s claims that it “can’t hurt to try it,” it can cause violent side effects. At last night’s White House briefing, a journalist attempted to ask Dr. Anthony Fauci about the efficacy of the drug, but was silenced by the president.

The Takeaway:

The weekend, once a time for rest and relaxation, is now a quagmire of unclear messaging. It is natural for people to cling on to any sign of hope, but the mixed narrative around hydroxychloroquine is confusing an anxious public desperate for clear, concise answers.

Brand news

True leadership is revealed in challenging times. These are challenging times, and we have some true leaders.

  • The most recent PRWeek US podcast features Yulu PR CEO and chief impact strategist Melissa Orozco about what it's like to operate a PR agency as a Certified B Corporation and the importance of truth and transparency, especially in today’s complicated climate.
  • Elaine Underwood in Campaign UK reviews a series of PSAs (public service announcements) from Hilary Smith and director Rick Darge, aka Pretty Gross, set to the theme “It’s better to be six feet apart than six feet under." The spot leverages humor to reveal the loneliness of social distancing, while showing we are not alone in our feelings.
  • In Third Sector, Rebecca Cooney takes a look at purpose-led corporate partnerships in the time of coronavirus. This is “the moment of truth for the whole purpose-led agenda,” said Manny Amadi, chief executive of the business consultancy C&E Advisory. A clear picture will soon emerge — companies who act on their mission to serve society, vs. those that were merely “woke-washing.”
  • Auto Car Pro’s Nilesh Wadhwa interviews Warren Harris, Tata Technologies’ CEO and MD. The expansive talk reveals Harris’ thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive industry, and how it will need to reconsider its legacy practices.

The Takeaway:

It seems like the more convoluted government messaging becomes, the more companies are finding ways to get theirs straight. Let’s hope that, when the virus disappears, so, too, does “woke.”

Thank you

And now, some uplifting news!

  • In PRWeek US, Steve Barrett, editorial director of the brand, looks around the empty metropolis streets and envisions our return. Agencies, healthcare, the environment and the future of celebrities are all given consideration. In the end, the piece is an open letter of gratitude to “the ordinary women and men who go to work every day to put their lives on the line for us and don’t have the luxury of working from home or first-world problems such as sitting on the sofa for hours watching Netflix.”
  • Last Monday, Emily Phillips, a mother of three from Celina, Texas, posted on Facebook her need for an RV her family could borrow. Her husband, Dr. Jason Phillips, an ER doctor treating patients with coronavirus, was terrified of inadvertently passing on the disease to his family. Within a week, Phillips’ post had turned into a national volunteer organization called RVs 4 MDs To Fight the Coronavirus, matching up healthcare workers with RVs, trailers and campers in their area.
  • Ashley Lawrence, a 21-year-old senior at Eastern Kentucky University is making masks for the deaf and hard-of-hearing population, replacing the cloth area over the mouth with transparent plastic. For anyone who uses speech reading, lip reading or American Sign Language as their primary mode of communication, facial expressions are a major part of their grammar.
  • A firefighter in isolation in Florida was visited by his peers, who arrived outside his fourth-floor hospital window on the fire truck's ladder holding up "Get Well Soon" cards.

The Takeaway:

If there’s one good thing coming out of this mess, it’s that people are taking it upon themselves to make a difference, following their own north stars to help and support those in need.


Professional sports are benched, but teams are finding new ways to stay active. Gyms are seeking alternate ways to stay afloat, and famous choreographers are teaching thousands of people at home their eclectic moves.

  • Public health leaders indicate that sports fans and leagues should prepare for games to remain absent not just for the coming months, but all the way through to the end of the year.
  • New S&P survey of COVID-19’s effects on consumer media consumption reveals what sports fans will watch without live games.
  • Choreographer Ryan Heffington — the artist behind some of the most dynamic ads made in recent years — is offering donation-only Instagram dance classes, with all the money going to the currently out-of-work dancers at his L.A. studio, the Sweat Spot.
  • Fitness studios and gyms forced to close during the pandemic have found a novel way to make some money and support their clients by renting out their equipment.
  • The New England Patriots' private Boeing 767 plane took a nearly non-stop journey from Ohio, to Alaska to Shenzhen, China, where it was loaded up with 1.2 million N95 face masks on the plane, before reversing its flight path, from China, to Anchorage, to Boston Logan International to shore up supplies in Massachusetts and New York.
  • Former New Orleans Saints placekicker Tom Dempsey died yesterday after his battle with coronavirus.

The Takeaway:

These days suck for everyone, but for sports fans, and the kind of people who exercise daily, the lack of action is very challenging. Here again though, people are stepping up to help, in new, and unusual ways.

Panic in pictures pt. II

Our March 27 Coronavirus Briefing included a selection of coronavirus info graphs. We’ve found some more. All of them are updated regularly.

The Takeaway:

These info graphs are not only incredibly informational but also tell the story of what’s happening in our world in a concise and hauntingly beautiful way.

Monday Medley

We continue our tradition of ending the briefing with day-of-the-week inspired songs. Here’s a trio of upbeat, throwback, feel-good ones.

It’s gonna be a long week. We’re here for you.

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