Coronavirus Briefing: Faces on screens, kitchen sinks as windows to our soul and the fierceness of flowers

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,201 words and will take you six minutes to read.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

This weekend is filled with holidays. Memorial Day in the U.S. honors the men and women who died while serving in the military. For Muslims, it’s Eid al-Fitr, aka the "Festival of Breaking the Fast," which marks the end of Ramadan and concludes with the gathering of friends and the giving of presents. In the U.K. it’s the Spring Bank holiday, which was created in 1967 to replace Whit Monday, or Pentecost Monday, which followed Whitsunday, which marks the end of the Easter cycle. If that was challenging to follow, all you need to know is that people, no matter their celebratory inclination, spend the long weekend with friends and family, eating and drinking and hanging out at the beach because it’s also the (unofficial) start to summer. Wherever you go, don’t forget your mask and SPF.

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,201 words and will take you six minutes to read. Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

Top news 

  • Experts warn of a second coronavirus wave in Dallas, Houston, Alabama and parts of Florida and several other places in the South that have rapidly reopened.
  • More than 80 people were killed by the powerful cyclone that slammed into India and Bangladesh on Wednesday, wiping out thousands of homes and drenching low-lying areas in torrential rain, officials said on Thursday.

The Takeaway:

It’s hard to remember there’s any news aside from coronavirus news, but the world, in all its erstwhile calamitousness, is still turning and will try to enjoy a holiday weekend.


Since day one, technology has been an experiment in what we’re willing to gain in convenience and what we’re willing to lose in privacy. That continues exponentially.

  • Telemedicine, grudgingly adopted when first introduced, has become a crucial support element during the current health crisis. Infectious Disease Advisor discusses a viewpoint recently published in JAMA Neurology stating that “governments, healthcare systems and payers should be encouraged to continue to embrace the new age of access from home, even after the pandemic passes,” according to Bastiaan Bloem, medical director of the Department of Neurology at Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
  • McKnight’s Senior Living reports that residents in seven Merrill Gardens Senior Living communities in Washington state are connecting with friends and family via a donation of 1,000 Google Nest Hub Max devices. The simplified interface allows un-savvy tech users to reach their loved ones using preloaded contacts, and “what can you do?” cards act as shortcuts for accessing weather reports, setting alarms or playing music. 
  • The facial recognition startup FaceFirst is promoting the idea of a “coronavirus-immunity registry” — a database that shows your virus immunity status when you point your smartphone app at your face. The app would effectively act as a “health or immunity passport,” offering employers, border patrol and literally anyone else ease of mind regarding people’s COVID-19 status.

The Takeaway:

Here’s hoping septuagenarian tech bros becomes a thing. 


Bit by bit we’re trying to make a go of things how they are right here, right now, instead of bemoaning the past and worrying about the future.

  • Finland introduced a new Working Hours Act in January, designed to take into account distance work and work from home. Following in Finland’s footsteps, Germany’s labor minister announced a plan last month to scale up working from home, allowing all employees the option to request WFH in the future. In People Management, Merrill April and Pooja Dasgupta question whether the U.K. may be next to follow suit. 
  • Comedy production company Gaggle has designed a new way of running productions that fit within current government guidelines but won’t adversely affect the quality of the work. From pre, to pro, to post, Campaign U.K. shares its plans.
  • Adam Gale for Management Today ponders how to have great ideas without the usual stimuli, such as hanging out in bars, having chance encounters on the street and enjoying long, winding conversations with people you’ve never met. Hint: Figure out where and when you feel most inspired, then engineer those conditions to the best of your abilities. 

The Takeaway:

How we’ve worked these past three months have changed the way we’ll work forever. Necessity is often the mother of invention.

Morning glories 

Parks as prescriptive medicine and a fierce fight for a spot in London’s Royal Botanic Gardens.

  • Matthew Appleby of Horticulture Week digs into the particulars of think tank Social Market Foundation’s belief that the U.K.’s National Health Service should have a role in supporting parks and green spaces. “If there is convincing evidence that more use of parks would yield significant [health] benefits,” said the foundation’s impact officer Linus Pardoe, “NHS England should be resourced to support the improvement and expansion of park provision directly." 
  • More than five million “victory gardens” were created in 1918 as part of the National War Garden Commission’s plan to ensure Americans would be able to feed their families and the military throughout World War I. Today’s “victory gardens” are similarly helping Americans get through a war, albeit a very different kind of war and some very different kind of weeds.

The Takeaway:

Fighting with flowers is better than fighting with guns.


A look at the global food supply chain and our own, personal consumption situation.

  • Last month in response to the pandemic, Time Out magazine, the sole mission of which is to get people out of their homes and explore, in particular acting as a bible for where to eat and drink, quickly rebranded itself Time Out In. Most recently, it teamed up with ROAR (Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants) in New York City to create the Love Local campaign, which advocates for the half million people who found themselves out of work when the government shut down the city's restaurants and bars.

The Takeaway:

It’s a holiday weekend — order every meal in, don’t do the dishes, eat your vegetables.

Thank you 

Three things that’ll put a smile on your face.

Music for the (unofficial) start of summer

Have a lovely long holiday weekend everyone. See you Tuesday.

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