Coronavirus Briefing: Tracking the virus, justified outrage and creating magic

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,227 words and will take you six minutes to read.

Statue of William Shakespeare outside the Carnegie. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Statue of William Shakespeare outside the Carnegie. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Today we celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, even though the exact date of his birth is unknown. Another bit of ambiguous Bard history is whether or not he wrote during the three bubonic plagues he lived through in 1592, 1603 and 1606. Three bubonic plagues! It seems likely he crafted at least one of his 38 plays and 154 sonnets during his time in isolation.

So, if we’re to take anything away from the past, perhaps it’s that creating is key to survival. And so, let us weather this plague together by telling tales of mistaken identities and wedding crashing fairies, let’s dress up as the opposite sex and cavort about the house, let’s act out our wild mishaps in a game of pantomime while drinking out of goblets and laughing until we cry.

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,227 words and will take you six minutes to read. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

Top news

  • Another 4.427 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this week, bringing the five-week total to more than 26 million.
  • Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that a second wave of coronavirus will be far more acute when it coincides with flu season this fall. Afterward, he worked to modulate the severity of his warning.
  • Angela Merkel said the coronavirus pandemic is “still at the beginning” as EU leaders try to agree to a Europe-wide recovery fund.
  • Africa saw a 43% spike in COVID-19 cases over the last week, highlighting a warning from the World Health Organization that the continent could become the next epicenter of the outbreak.
  • The first pets in the U.S., all feline, tested positive for coronavirus.

The Takeaway:

“Now is the winter of our discontent.”

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Every aspect of this pandemic is being tracked, in every way possible.

  • On April 8, we wrote that recent investigations found black Americans disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Seema Verma, administrator at The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, says it will release coronavirus data regarding race and ethnicity and outcomes in early May. Experts have speculated the reason for the disparity, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, saying the pandemic sheds light on racial disparities in healthcare.
  • Fitbit is collaborating with The Scripps Research Institute and Stanford Medicine to find out if wearable data can help detect, track and contain COVID-19. Fitbit users now have the option to share their health data to determine if tracking changes in heart rate, activity and sleep can provide an early indication of viral illnesses before actual symptoms start.
  • Speaking of data, according to one survey, Popeyes’ fans are more likely than Chick-fil-A’s to remain quarantined when lockdowns lift.

The Takeaway:

All data points are not created equal.


Herewith, some incredible innovations and pivotal motivations from the auto industry and comms.

  • Autocar Professional reports that the Mahindra Group, one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in India, has added an intubation aspiration/aerosol box made from the windshields to its list of coronavirus-combating innovations. The company has been using its factories and equipment to make face shields, masks, low-cost ventilators and hand sanitizer. The new aspiration boxes act as a shield for medical staff during the intubation process, helping protect them when removing a patient's tubes.
  • Jeremy Lee, consulting editor at Campaign U.K., looks at some of the agencies and individuals mobilizing to do what they can to help. Many people are exchanging their feelings of powerlessness for a sense of purpose and leveraging their skills and tools to get frontline workers the PPE they need.
  • PlantSavers website was created by three friends determined to help British nurseries by purchasing plants at risk of going to waste and offering them to households via a zero-contact delivery service. PlantSavers also donates plants to good causes, including ambulance drivers, schools and those supporting the homeless.

The Takeaway:

Creating something meaningful with your friends is a great way to battle feelings of powerlessness.


Making stuff in isolation is hard. Feeling confined isn’t the ideal territory for letting our imaginations run wild. But we’re trying.

  • Cream, the annual competition showcasing breakthrough creative talent in advertising, is launching an initiative to ensure young creatives get support and exposure despite the coronavirus crisis. Brittaney Kiefer of Campaign U.K. has all the details of The Cream Collective — a collaboration between The Talent Business, which oversees the competition, Campaign and ad agency Creature.
  • Ben Middleton, co-chief creative officer at Creature, reveals the perils of being separated from a creative partner in lockdown. The piece should perhaps come with a warning sticker saying something like: “The following memorandum includes kicking, prodding, pulling, interrogating, arguing, wonky veg boxes and running in slow motion."
  • PRWeek U.K. spoke to creative comms experts to learn how their practices have changed. While many have been “playing it safe,” focusing on actions to help with the crisis, the question of whether it’s time to be bold and take risks is cautiously being considered.

The Takeaway:

Nostalgia for our creative partners weighs heavy on the mind but new nimble ways of executing creative campaigns are emerging during this lockdown.


How’s everyone else feeling?

  • Simon Gwynn of Campaign takes a look at the latest IPA Bellwether Report that shows marketers confident of speedy recovery, with a significant number forecasting budget growth this year. The data was collected March 2–27, ending just a few days after the U.K. government announced the lockdown, which raises the possibility the figures would be significantly worse, were the research repeated today.
  • Surekha Ragavan for PRWeek Asia, notes that speed, agility and low overheads are aiding independent PR agencies through the crisis. In conversation with three PR managing directors and one CEO, Ragavan finds that without shareholders to answer to, decision-making has become faster and more responsive for some, while others are relying on thinking creatively and making necessary organizational adjustments.
  • Liza Berger, senior editor at McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, has an incredibly affecting piece about the way nursing homes have emerged as the whipping boy for the nation’s poor response to COVID-19. “Outrage,” Berger writes. “That is the only word that comes to mind to adequately explain the devolving situation that has occurred for nursing home providers as a result of the novel coronavirus.”
  • People Management has heard from readers struggling with bosses not taking the threat of worker wellbeing seriously. Martin Tiplady, CEO of Chameleon People Solutions and former HR director, offers advice.
  • "Disdain toward our nursing homes and their residents is without a doubt the most blatant display of ageism this country has ever witnessed,” writes Bill McGinley, president and CEO of the American College of Health Care Administrators. His op-ed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News is a painfully laid-bare look at the injustice of nursing centers being last on the list to receive protective supplies, testing and support and their vilification in the media and punishment by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The Takeaway:

Emotions related to the workplace now run the gamut but outrage should not have to be one of them.

Chorus and verse

“If music be the food of love, play on.” Here are some Bard-centric poetic songs.

See you tomorrow to close out another week of quarantine.

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