Generally
General
1228
unread news
unread news
Diarrhea May Be First or Only Coronavirus Symptom in COVID-19 Patients Experience, Study Suggests
Common symptoms include a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC.
1m
newsweek.com
Victor Davis Hanson: US leads coronavirus fight — world looks to America now and for recovery
A current global myth alleges that America under the Trump administration is not leading the world fight against the coronavirus in its accustomed role as the postwar global leader.  
1m
foxnews.com
Goldman to aid small business
Brace for jobless claims — Fed loosens capital requirements
1m
politico.com
Is coronavirus God's will? Jewish, Christian and Muslims leaders debate tough questions amid pandemic
Faith leaders are fielding questions about whether coronavirus is God's will, if God created it and if it's some sort of punishment for sin.        
1m
usatoday.com
Jimmie Johnson sees 'opportunity' to delay retirement following NASCAR's coronavirus suspension
"One more time" again?
1m
foxnews.com
This day in sports: Angels beat Dodgers in walk-off in first meeting between teams
A look at what happened today in sport history.
1m
latimes.com
The best (virtual) things to do while quarantined at home in the D.C. area
Virtual trivia nights, poetry slams and theater performances offer an escape for everyone staying at home.
1m
washingtonpost.com
Editorial: School shutdowns threaten to worsen the achievement gap
It would be grossly unfair to allow disadvantaged students to languish during a long gap in schooling while students whose families have more resources forge ahead.
1m
latimes.com
The federal government should be the one to allocate ventilators. It’s failing.
On the brink of a critical shortage, the feds are flat-footed.
1m
washingtonpost.com
Social Distancing Is Hard When You Live With Roommates
Somewhere between two weeks and 1 million years ago, when it first became clear that the coronavirus pandemic would require a significant lifestyle change, the inhabitants of my four-person Washington, D.C., apartment convened a meeting. We would try to wash our hands more, we agreed, and make ample use of our nice-smelling disinfectant spray. But beyond that, we struggled to reach a consensus on how our household would stay safe. Two of us don’t own desks, and there isn’t enough space to work together at the dining-room table. Three of us wanted to take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines very seriously and begin social distancing right away. The other one didn’t. “I’m still going out this weekend,” this roommate insisted. “I’m not going to stop living!”How is this going to work? I thought, feeling a combined pang of frustration and dread. Living with roommates and navigating their schedules, personalities, and relationships is hard enough at the best of times. Living with roommates in the middle of a pandemic threatens to be excruciating: What people are being asked to do now—avoid others, keep things extremely clean, isolate if you’re sick—is a serious challenge when you live in a house teeming with people, without familial bonds to make the household feel like a united front. Now, as D.C. and other cities across America have instructed their citizens to stay home as much as possible, roommates nationwide are asking the same question I am: How, exactly, are we supposed to manage this?“A test of relationships,” said Amy Canevello, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, “is what we’re doing here.”[Read: How not to tank your relationship in quarantine]To stay safe in this pandemic requires being on the same page as everyone else in your household. As I have learned, this is very difficult when the adults living alongside you perceive the severity of the situation in different ways and at different speeds. In all things, but especially in effective pandemic response, communication is key. “There’s a lot of gray area there when you’re living in this roommate situation,” Elizabeth Carlton, an environmental epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health, said. In a time of great uncertainty, “having plans in place can help make people feel like they have some control.” The best place for roommates to start, experts told me, is to have a conversation about three things: cleanliness, illness preparedness, and social-circle size.In order to help prevent the spread of the virus, public-health experts advise Americans to keep frequently touched surfaces squeaky clean—and they’ve stressed that people should do their grocery shopping only when absolutely necessary, to avoid exposure. But work-from-home life in a shared apartment means that common spaces like kitchens and bathrooms will be getting much dirtier, much faster. And if every roommate shops for themselves, that can add up to multiple grocery-store trips per week.Experts say there are best practices to follow. Don’t share hand towels with roommates, and regularly disinfect often-used surfaces like counters, faucets, remotes, and refrigerator handles, Jessica Justman, an epidemiology professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, told me. When you’re moving from a communal space to another room, wash your hands. “Wash your hands more times than you think would be possible.” For anyone, but particularly for those living with roommates, experts recommend designating a landing spot in your apartment for shoes, coats, shopping bags, and other outside gear to help keep your living area clean. Take turns grocery shopping every week for the whole house, or implement a food-sharing system.[Read: Grocery stores are the coronavirus tipping point]If someone contracts the coronavirus—or even if they start to cough or run a temperature—the CDC advises that they self-isolate. Cordoning yourself off, though, is nearly impossible when you share a cooking, eating, and living space with other human beings. This is made more difficult if those human beings are not related to you, and may not be that invested in gently nursing you back to health. Housemates need to have a plan for if and when someone in the group becomes symptomatic. Ideally, the sick person would stay in their bedroom and have their own bathroom. If the bathroom is shared, they should clean it after each use. When they leave their room, they should wear a mask and gloves, if possible. “People can bring them food and take care of them,” Carlton said, but those people should also wear masks and gloves.The most crucial piece of the pandemic-response puzzle is implementing social distancing. All adults maintain a complex web of relationships, and more adults living in a household means more webs intersecting and more opportunities for the virus to spread. But it’s difficult to stop your roommate from seeing a friend or inviting his girlfriend over or stopping by a house party.[Read: The dos and don'ts of 'social distancing']This has been a frustrating issue for Amy, a 25-year-old physical therapist who lives in an apartment with two roommates in Oregon, a state that has confirmed at least 690 cases of the coronavirus and 18 related deaths as of this writing. A repairman was scheduled to visit their apartment two weeks ago to fix a broken drawer in the refrigerator. Amy, who asked to be identified by only her first name to protect her privacy, wanted to cancel the appointment, but her roommates had the repairman come anyway. The three of them fought about it. Amy told me that she said some things she didn’t mean. “But I don’t think they really see the scope of how this is impacting other people,” she said.It will help to lay down some ground rules, experts say, and roommates should do it before the health situation in their city gets worse. This starts with agreeing, as a household, to follow CDC guidelines and stay six feet apart—yes, even in your own house! It would be smart, in other words, to stagger your cooking times to avoid a scenario in which four people are crammed in the kitchen following different Alison Roman recipes. Then, roommates should “sit down and have a full discussion” about who’s coming and going and where, Keith Renshaw, the director of psychology at George Mason University, told me. “Ask: ‘How strict does everybody want to be about social distancing?’ Recognize that you’re probably going to need to work [toward] the strictest level.” Many people are now working completely from home, so their interactions with others are limited. But if someone in a shared house still has to go to the office every morning, experts recommend treating them as though they’ve been exposed to the virus. Constantly “monitor [them] for symptoms and do as much of the physical distancing as you can,” Justman said.Does one roommate have a boyfriend she keeps traveling across town to see? The couple should either agree not to see each other in person or stay together in one place for the time being, Justman said. Don’t go back and forth, because “if you have four or five people in each house, then, in effect, you’ve got 10 people who are all exposed to each other,” she told me.Obviously, this kind of distancing, while necessary to prevent the spread of the virus, has a major downside: People are going to get very tired of their housemates. I, for example, almost came unglued yesterday when my roommate turned the oven to 450 degrees to bake a single beet. And this will be especially bad for people who already dislike their roommates, or who are shacking up with a handful of strangers they found on Craigslist. Many Americans are already living in a heightened state of anxiety, and being sequestered with just a few people—likely not even your favorite people—is likely to make things worse.[Read: The strange, unique intimacy of the roommate relationship]Charlotte, a 23-year-old researcher living in D.C. with seven other roommates, told me that the new policy of social sequestration was already getting to her. “Different group houses develop different house cultures … Unfortunately, mine has trended toward the more passive-aggressive side of things,” she told me last week, also requesting that I use only her first name for privacy concerns. “It can be difficult if we’re all working from home not to drive each other nuts.”But there are ways to stay sane. “Do a lot of checking in: ‘How is everybody doing?’” Canevello said. Communicate your frustrations kindly. “Keep in mind there’s an internal struggle there that you don’t know about and have compassion for that when they’re starting to get on your nerves.” It might help, she said, to think about the situation in a different context. “Maybe [don’t] treat it as though you’re living with your roommate, but [as though] you are traveling,” Canevello said. On a trip, “there’s a lot of uncertainty and [you’re] navigating challenges together.”Retreating to a private place will help, too, said Nance Roy, a psychologist at the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit organization promoting emotional health among young people. Taking 20 or 30 minutes by yourself to do yoga or use a mindfulness app can relieve pent-up frustrations, she told me. Many colleges and universities are still offering remote mental-health services, and therapists across the country have gone virtual, too. Take a walk outside if you can. Relax with an art project, or binge-watch a Netflix show. It’s okay to veg out if you need to, Renshaw said: “We’re all just trying to muddle our way through.”Things will be difficult in the days and weeks to come. But one possible outcome of this harrowing period is that at the end of it all we might feel a lot closer—or, at the very least, we might surprise ourselves with our own resiliency. It might help, when things get especially tough, to remember Canevello’s mantra: We’re all on this trip together.
1m
theatlantic.com
Don’t Believe the COVID-19 Models
Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. The Trump administration has just released the model for the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in America. We can expect a lot of back-and-forth about whether its mortality estimates are too high or low. And its wide range of possible outcomes is certainly confusing: What’s the right number? The answer is both difficult and simple. Here’s the difficult part: There is no right answer. But here’s the simple part: Right answers are not what epidemiological models are for.Epidemiologists routinely turn to models to predict the progression of an infectious disease. Fighting public suspicion of these models is as old as modern epidemiology, which traces its origins back to John Snow’s famous cholera maps in 1854. Those maps proved, for the first time, that London’s terrible affliction was spreading through crystal-clear fresh water that came out of pumps, not the city’s foul-smelling air. Many people didn’t believe Snow, because they lived in a world without a clear understanding of germ theory and only the most rudimentary microscopes.In our time, however, the problem is sometimes that people believe epidemiologists, and then get mad when their models aren’t crystal balls. Take the United Kingdom’s drastic COVID-19 policy U-turn. A few weeks ago, the U.K. had almost no social-isolation measures in place, and according to some reports, the government planned to let the virus run its course through the population, with the exception of the elderly, who were to be kept indoors. The idea was to let enough people get sick and recover from the mild version of the disease, to create “herd immunity.”[Read: How the pandemic will end]Things changed swiftly after an epidemiological model from Imperial College London projected that without drastic interventions, more than half a million Britons would die from COVID-19. The report also projected more than 2 million deaths in the United States, again barring interventions. The stark numbers prompted British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who himself has tested positive for COVID-19, to change course, shutting down public life and ordering the population to stay at home.Here’s the tricky part: When an epidemiological model is believed and acted on, it can look like it was false. These models are not snapshots of the future. They always describe a range of possibilities—and those possibilities are highly sensitive to our actions. A few days after the U.K. changed its policies, Neil Ferguson, the scientist who led the Imperial College team, testified before Parliament that he expected deaths in the U.K. to top out at about 20,000. The drastically lower number caused shock waves: One former New York Times reporter described it as a “a remarkable turn,” and the British tabloid the Daily Mail ran a story about how the scientist had a “patchy” record in modeling. The conservative site The Federalist even declared, “The Scientist Whose Doomsday Pandemic Model Predicted Armageddon Just Walked Back the Apocalyptic Predictions.”But there was no turn, no walking back, not even a revision in the model. If you read the original paper, the model lays out a range of predictions—from tens of thousands to 500,000 dead—which all depend on how people react. That variety of potential outcomes coming from a single epidemiological model may seem extreme and even counterintuitive. But that’s an intrinsic part of how they operate, because epidemics are especially sensitive to initial inputs and timing, and because epidemics grow exponentially.[Peter Wehner: NIH director: ‘We’re on an exponential curve’]Modeling an exponential process necessarily produces a wide range of outcomes. In the case of COVID-19, that’s because the spread of the disease depends on exactly when you stop cases from doubling. Even a few days can make an enormous difference. In Italy, two similar regions, Lombardy and Veneto, took different approaches to the community spread of the epidemic. Both mandated social distancing, but only Veneto undertook massive contact tracing and testing early on. Despite starting from very similar points, Lombardy is now tragically overrun with the disease, having experienced roughly 7,000 deaths and counting, while Veneto has managed to mostly contain the epidemic to a few hundred fatalities. Similarly, South Korea and the United States had their first case diagnosed on the same day, but South Korea undertook massive tracing and testing, and the United States did not. Now South Korea has only 162 deaths, and an outbreak that seems to have leveled off, while the U.S. is approaching 4,000 deaths as the virus’s spread accelerates.Exponential growth isn’t the only tricky part of epidemiological models. These models also need to use parameters to plug into the variables in the equations. But where should those parameters come from? Model-makers have to work with the data they have, yet a novel virus, such as the one that causes COVID-19, has a lot of unknowns.For example, the Imperial College model uses numbers from Wuhan, China, along with some early data from Italy. This is a reasonable choice, as those are the pandemic’s largest epicenters. But many of these data are not yet settled, and many questions remain. What’s the attack rate—the number of people who get infected within an exposed group, like a household? Do people who recover have immunity? How widespread are asymptomatic cases, and how infectious are they? Are there super-spreaders—people who seemingly infect everyone they breathe near—as there were with SARS, and how prevalent are they? What are the false positive and false negative rates of our tests? And so on, and on and on.To make models work, epidemiologists also have to estimate the impact of interventions like social isolation. But here, too, the limited data we have are imperfect, perhaps censored, perhaps inapplicable. For example, China underwent a period in which the government yanked infected patients and even their healthy close contacts from their homes, and sent them into special quarantine wards. That seems to have dramatically cut down infections within a household and within the city. Relatively few infected people in the United States or the United Kingdom have been similarly quarantined. In general, the lockdown in China was much more severe. Planes are still taking off from New York, New Jersey, and everywhere else, even as we speak of “social isolation.” And more complications remain. We aren’t even sure we can trust China’s numbers. Italy’s health statistics are likely more trustworthy, but its culture of furbizia—or flouting the rules, part of the country’s charm as well as its dysfunction—increases the difficulty of knowing how applicable its outcomes are to our projections.A model’s robustness depends on how often it gets tried out and tweaked based on data and its performance. For example, many models predicting presidential elections are based on data from presidential elections since 1972. That’s all the elections we have polling data for, but it’s only 12 elections, and prior to 2016, only two happened in the era of Facebook. So when Donald Trump, the candidate that was projected to be less likely to win the presidency in 2016, won anyway, did that mean that our models with TV-era parameters don’t work anymore? Or is it merely that a less likely but possible outcome happened? (If you’re flipping a coin, you’ll get four heads in a row about one every 16 tries, meaning that you can’t know if the coin is loaded just because something seemingly unusual happens). With this novel coronavirus, there are a lot of things we don’t know because we’ve never tested our models, and we have no way to do so.So if epidemiological models don’t give us certainty—and asking them to do so would be a big mistake—what good are they? Epidemiology gives us something more important: agency to identify and calibrate our actions with the goal of shaping our future. We can do this by pruning catastrophic branches of a tree of possibilities that lies before us.Epidemiological models have “tails”—the extreme ends of the probability spectrum. They’re called tails because, visually, they are the parts of the graph that taper into the distance. Think of those tails as branches in a decision tree. In most scenarios, we end up somewhere in the middle of the tree—the big bulge of highly probable outcomes—but there are a few branches on the far right and the far left that represent fairly optimistic and fairly pessimistic, but less likely, outcomes. An optimistic tail projection for the COVID-19 pandemic is that a lot of people might have already been infected and recovered, and are now immune, meaning we are putting ourselves through a too-intense quarantine. Some people have floated that as a likely scenario, and they are not crazy: This is indeed a possibility, especially given that our testing isn’t widespread enough to know. The other tail includes the catastrophic possibilities, like tens of millions of people dying, as in the 1918 flu or HIV/AIDS pandemic. The most important function of epidemiological models is as a simulation, a way to see our potential futures ahead of time, and how that interacts with the choices we make today. With COVID-19 models, we have one simple, urgent goal: to ignore all the optimistic branches and that thick trunk in the middle representing the most likely outcomes. Instead, we need to focus on the branches representing the worst outcomes, and prune them with all our might. Social isolation reduces transmission, and slows the spread of the disease. In doing so, it chops off branches that represent some of the worst futures. Contact tracing catches people before they infect others, pruning more branches that represent unchecked catastrophes.At the beginning of a pandemic, we have the disadvantage of higher uncertainty, but the advantage of being early: The costs of our actions are lower because the disease is less widespread. As we prune the tree of the terrible, unthinkable branches, we are not just choosing a path; we are shaping the underlying parameters themselves, because the parameters themselves are not fixed. If our hospitals are not overrun, we will have fewer deaths and thus a lower fatality rate. That’s why we shouldn’t get bogged down in litigating a model’s numbers. Instead we should focus on the parameters we can change, and change them.Every time the White House releases a COVID-19 model, we will be tempted to drown ourselves in endless discussions about the error bars, the clarity around the parameters, the wide range of outcomes, and the applicability of the underlying data. And the media might be tempted to cover those discussions, as this fits their horse-race, he-said-she-said scripts. Let’s not. We should instead look at the calamitous branches of our decision tree and chop them all off, and then chop them off again.Sometimes, when we succeed in chopping off the end of the pessimistic tail, it looks like we overreacted. A near miss can make a model look false. But that’s not always what happened. It just means we won. And that’s why we model.
1m
theatlantic.com
11 questions about the coronavirus economic crisis, answered
Jennifer Wittlin prepares for dinner takeout orders in Providence, Rhode Island, on March 25, 2020. | David Goldman/AP From how to think about the stock market to what to do if you lose your job, here’s what you need to know about coronavirus and the economy. The American economy seems to have transformed in a matter of weeks as the coronavirus has brought activities across the country to a grinding halt. Not only did the US fail to anticipate the public health crisis caused by coronavirus, but it appears to be unprepared for the economic consequences of getting the pandemic under control. Most Americans already know they are in a very different economic reality than they were in February. Restaurants are closed or only doing takeout or delivery. Clothing boutiques are shuttering. Americans across the economy have lost their jobs. Even workers whose jobs might be more stable probably don’t want to look at their 401(k)s. Government officials have made a conscious decision to lock down parts of the economy and implement strict social distancing guidelines to try to better respond to the pandemic. President Donald Trump initially said he’d like to reopen the economy by Easter to avoid further damage — perhaps thinking it’s better to just keep the economy going and let the chips fall where they may — but people aren’t going to be falling over themselves to go to restaurants if there’s a deadly virus spreading. Trump ultimately backed off, and extended social distancing measures to the end of April. After all, the point of the economy is to serve people, not for people to serve it. “There seems to be a segment of society that’s lost track of the purpose of markets,” said Aaron Klein, the policy director at the Center on Regulation and Markets at the Brookings Institution. “Humanity created markets to efficiently distribute goods and services to serve humanity; markets did not create humanity to efficiently serve the will of the markets.” We’re stuck in dual crises for the foreseeable future — one that’s health-related, and one that’s economic. Eventually this will end, but there’s no telling when. It’s a confusing time, including when it comes to the money-related end of things. So here are some answers to questions about the economic crisis that you were perhaps too embarrassed — or too afraid — to ask. 1) What is an economic crisis? An economic crisis is a steep and sudden downturn of the economy. In terms of data, it shows up in a lot of places — GDP growth, unemployment numbers, productivity, and more. Data often lags behind real-time events, but what we already know paints a dire picture: an enormous spike in jobless claims and an economic contraction projection of disturbing proportions. The US is definitely in an economic crisis right now, albeit a distinct one from crises past, including the one in most recent memory: the financial crisis and Great Recession in the late 2000s. “The prior recession started in the financial markets and affected the real economy; this will start in the real economy and affect the financial markets,” said Klein. The problem right now isn’t subprime mortgages and banks and hedge funds making bets they shouldn’t — it’s that the US in the midst of a global health crisis and is taking extreme economic measures in an effort to protect the public’s well-being. Public officials have ordered shut wide swaths of the economy, including restaurants, travel, and hospitality, and it’s had a severe and immediate effect. Jobless claims hit 3.3 million during a single week in March; during the Great Recession, the highest week of losses was about 600,000, and 8.7 million total jobs were lost over the course of many months. Factories across the country have shut down, businesses are shuttered, and not only do people have less money to spend, but they have fewer ways to spend it. Christina Animashaun/Vox “Everything this time is happening bigger and faster,” Jason Furman, who served as an economic adviser to President Barack Obama, told Vox’s Li Zhou and Ella Nilsen recently in a piece laying out the differences between the 2008 crash and now. The question now is if and when the US is able to get the virus under control so that the economy can start to open back up. “What we need is for everybody to stay home and not go broke doing it,” said Cecilia Rouse, an economist at Princeton and former member of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “The faster we can get this pandemic under control, the faster we can snap back.” The longer the crisis goes on, the more challenging the recovery becomes, and the longer it will take. 2) What’s the difference between a recession and a depression? There’s a well-known line among economists that a recession is when your neighbor loses their job, but a depression is when you lose yours, which perhaps gets at the air of difference between the two: A recession feels bad, a depression feels very bad. But the line between recession and depression can be a little fuzzy. Traditionally, a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, but the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has a broader definition of a “significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy” that lasts for more than a few months and shows up in places like GDP, income, employment, production, and retail sales. In the US, a group within the NBER is officially charged with “calling” when a recession starts and ends — and it usually takes them some time after a recession begins for them to say it’s happening. A depression, on the other hand, is a more severe and prolonged version of a recession. The Great Depression that lasted from 1929 to the early 1940s included not one but two major economic downturns — one from 1929 to 1933, and another from 1937 to 1938. Output fell sharply. Bettmann Archive via Getty Images Striking miners and their families in 1931 in West Virginia, where 600 miners and their families faced eviction from company-owned homes. Hulton Archive/Getty Images The Brooklyn Daily Eagle front page on October 24, 1929. The coronavirus recession could indeed become a depression. The US is in uncharted territory in what’s going on in the economy — Americans have stopped working, stopped producing, and stopped consuming almost at the drop of a hat. The stock market is volatile, and business investment is slowing. Much of the country has been ground to a halt. Whether or not the US slips into a depression depends in large part how well Americans are able to weather the storm while the coronavirus portion of the crisis gets figured out. Officials don’t want the economy to become so broken that it can’t be fixed. “Ultimately, the economy will rebound when the pandemic is under control. The question is, how many businesses will be able to weather the storm, and how many workers will be able to?” Klein said. “The longer the shutdown goes on, the greater effects on the economy, particularly if businesses can’t reopen.” It’s also important to note that, whatever you call it, not everyone will experience the economic fallout in the same ways. For some people, it will be catastrophic. For others, it will be an inconvenience. Older, low-income, and homeless people and those in other vulnerable communities will also likely experience the economic crisis in more harmful ways, regardless of how the downturn is defined formally. 3) What does the stock market have to do with any of this? The stock market has been all over the place amid the coronavirus crisis. Major indexes plunged as the gravity of the situation began to take hold in February and March, and stocks have become pretty volatile. But does it matter what the stock market does? Well, yes and no. The stock market right now is signifying underlying turmoil in the economy. It can also be a leading indicator, albeit a noisy one, of where the economy might be headed, and amid coronavirus, its take appears to be ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. As stocks plunged at the takeoff of the crisis in the US, a lot of investors appear to have pulled out their money and parked it in cash, and uncertainty has created an enormous amount of volatility. The stock market will likely start to recover before the economy does — that’s what happened after the financial crisis, when it turned up in March 2009 and the recession ended three months later in June — but we won’t know if or when that will be. What happens in the stock market can have a “wealth effect” as well that is largely behavioral — consumers spend more in a bull market. A small majority of Americans own stocks, but the richest Americans own most of the stocks. Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images The New York Stock Exchange on March 25, 2020. But the average person shouldn’t focus too much on what’s going on in the markets, especially in the short term. There’s a saying from legendary investor Benjamin Graham that the market is a voting machine in the short run but a weighing machine in the long run. A stock’s particular price might be up or down on a given day, but ultimately, the underlying fundamentals of a business are what matters. “What we know about anything that is bought and sold is that price is dictated by price and demand. What helps determine stock prices over the long run, of course, is earnings, it’s fundamentals, but in the short run, panic can create very significant mispricing,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco. There have also been questions about whether the US could halt stock market trading altogether, beyond the temporary “circuit breaker” stops that are triggered when stocks drop too much. Greg Daco, an economist at Oxford Economics, told me that theoretically it could — after all, there are stock market holidays — but that wouldn’t necessarily solve the volatility problem. “The question is, what happens when it reopens?” he said. “You close the market, reopen it, and it falls by 30 percent, was it worth it?” 4) If I have investments, like a 401(k), what should I be doing? The best advice right now on what to do on your investments, per finance experts, might also be the hardest to follow: Do nothing. “Most people are horrible at making long-term investment decisions generally, and that’s exacerbated when they try to make decisions under emotionally intense circumstances,” said Zach Teutsch, a financial adviser at Values Added Financial. While it may be tempting to look at your 401(k) or stock portfolio right now, it might not paint a pretty picture and could prompt you to make decisions you might later regret. That’s part of what happened in 2008, Hooper said, when average Americans paid too much attention to the stock market, pulled their money out, and then missed out when stocks started to come back. “One of the biggest mistakes in the financial crisis was that the average American did focus on it, and many of them changed their asset allocations as a result,” she said. Remember, before the current crisis, Americans were in the midst of the longest economic expansion in US history and a multi-year bull market. To be sure, the advice around this changes with age — people who have years before they plan to retire can wait out the recovery, while those close to or in retirement might not be able to. The experts I spoke with said older people have hopefully shifted their investments toward less risky places — more bonds than stocks, for example — with age. (There’s a reason your 401(k) investment plan often has a target retirement date attached to it.) For younger people, or those with some money to spare, down markets can be a good time to get in. If you can afford tokick up your 401(k) contributions, consider it. Or if you have cash on hand, a lot of stocks might be trading at a discount. “If you needed to buy a new pair of shoes and all the shoes in the world were 40 percent off, you wouldn’t say, oh, no, there’s a terrible shoe crisis, you’d say, terrific, I can get the shoes I need for cheaper?” Teutsch said. “Young people make a fortune on stock market crashes, because they’re adding every couple of weeks in bad markets at lower prices; you just don’t get to see it or appreciate it until years down the line,” said David Bahnsen, a portfolio manager and financial commentator. It’s important to remember investing has inherent risks, there are no guarantees, things could get much worse before they get better, and the market is next to impossible to time — Warren Buffett once bet the S&P 500 would outperform a basket of hedge funds for a decade. And he won. 5) How does unemployment insurance work? The first thing to know about unemployment insurance is that it’s a state-federal program that provides cash benefits, but in terms of administration, it goes through the state. In other words, it’s pretty patchy. So to apply, you need to go through your state unemployment agency, and guidelines for who qualifies and what benefits are awarded vary. You can find information about your state’s requirements and processes here. First, we’ll go through the typical scenario for unemployment insurance, and then through the changes in the pandemic and how the stimulus package fortifies the program. If you have been laid off or fired by an employer and have a “substantial history” of working, then you can apply to collect unemployment insurance benefits on a weekly basis. Once you start the application process online or by phone, the unemployment insurance office contacts your employer to confirm that your explanation of why the job ended matches up. If the explanations for the separation are in agreement, then the claim generally moves forward quite quickly. If not, then there’s a dispute, and the state makes a judgment of what happened. It is worth noting that people who quit their jobs can also file for unemployment — for example, in cases of sexual harassment — but those workers are likelier to lose in the dispute. “When there are disputes over what happened, if people are laid off, they collect benefits 70 percent of the time. If there’s a dispute and they quit, they get benefits about 25 percent of the time,” said Wayne Vroman, a labor economist at the Urban Institute. The amount you’re eligible to receive is calculated based on what you were earning at your job, and maximum and minimum amounts vary by state. Many states allow you to collect benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks, but again, that varies. Vroman estimates that the average across the system is about $385 a week. Across 52 weeks, that would add up to about $20,000 under the pre-stimulus system — in other words, it’s not a replacement for a full-time job, plus you can’t use it for a full year anyway. Typically, there are limits on how much you can earn while you’re collecting benefits. In other words, no side gigs or freelancing. Unemployment insurance is funded through payroll taxes paid by employers, and when there are a lot of claims, states can run out of money to pay benefits out. During the last recession, three dozen states wound up having to borrow from the federal government to cover unemployment insurance. Because so many people are filing for unemployment amid coronavirus, doing so is extra challenging right now, and many state offices are overwhelmed. That may translate to delays for those filing. The late March stimulus package puts unemployment insurance on steroids. It includes a $600 per week increase in unemployment benefits on top of state benefits for four months. It also expands unemployment to people who aren’t usually covered — gig workers, freelancers, contractors, the self-employed, and workers who are furloughed or have reduced hours — and allows for 13 weeks to be tacked on to each state’s maximum. “If you lose your job, if your hours are cut, and even if it doesn’t feel like you’ve lost your job but you’ve been put on a zero-hour schedule, you can still apply for unemployment benefits even if your employer tells you you can’t,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. Vox’s Dylan Matthews has an explainer on how the stimulus bill changes unemployment insurance. 6) How do I pay for health care if I’m laid off? In the United States, health coverage is tied to employment. Now, large parts of the economy have been shut down in order to respond to a health crisis, resulting in millions of Americans losing their jobs in the middle of said health crisis and, therefore, many of them losing their health insurance. “The joy of picking — or keeping — your health insurance is really predicated on you having a job,” said Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Linda Blumberg, a health system expert at the Urban Institute, talked Vox through what to do if you are laid off and lose your employer-based insurance. The first step for people who can afford it is to look into the potential for getting COBRA coverage, which basically means you get to hold on to your insurance but pay for it yourself. But COBRA can be expensive and translate to thousands of dollars in premiums. For people whose incomes have fallen significantly, and especially for those who live in Medicaid expansion states, Medicaid is another place to look. You can see if you qualify for Medicaid in your state based on your income here. For children, you can look into CHIP as well. People who lose their jobs can also enroll in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces for a certain period, because losing your health insurance, as well as having a baby or getting married, is considered a “qualifying event.” And there, you may be eligible for subsidies, too. Blumberg cautioned people should be thorough in looking for options for enrollment, and they should presume their loss of income is going to persist when inputting information into the system. “If for some reason they get their job back or their hours come back up, they can then report that at the time and have the subsidy reduced,” she said. Even if you’re not eligible for a subsidy, it’s an especially critical time to have health insurance, given the coronavirus outbreak. Blumberg warned against nongovernment, non-marketplace plans and “short-term, limited-duration” plans allowed under the Trump administration. “Those other policies, it’s very difficult, often, to figure out what’s excluded from them,” she said. “Be very cautious of something that looks too good to be true.” For those who are uninsured already, it’s worth noting that some states have reopened their marketplaces in light of the crisis, so you may be able to get insurance now. “Debt is better than dead,” Blumberg said. Vox’s Dylan Scott has an explainer on health insurance amid coronavirus and the different mechanisms for coverage. He also notes that the CDC said in a statement to Vox that the agency believes it has the legal authority to cover Covid-19 testing and treatment, in collaboration with other federal and local agencies. In a separate statement, a CDC spokesperson told Vox that there are “provisions that allocate funding for testing and treatment of the uninsured, which will continue to be announced” and noted that federally qualified health centers are an important resource for those who lack insurance. 7) What other mechanisms are there to help me if I can’t pay my bills? Beyond unemployment and health insurance, there are other ways out there to help people make ends meet. For example, there are multiple options for food assistance, including SNAP benefits (more commonly known as food stamps) and specific services for pregnant or postpartum women and children and seniors. In the case of food stamps, they’re managed by the states, and you can find a directory here. Food stamps, like other assistance programs, are pegged to your income. “It’s possible that you have, even with unemployment insurance, an income that’s low enough that you would be eligible for SNAP,” Vroman said. You can also find an outline of government benefits here. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett Members of the Ohio National Guard help pack food and supplies for those in need on March 30. Stettner advised that people should start signing up for benefits and assistance programs as soon as they can. “Start the process, because it can take some time. Don’t wait around to the last minute to reach out for help,” he said. He added it’s also worth reaching out to utility companies in the case of hardships to see if they’ll work with you on a plan to pay your bills. (The same may apply for rent payments or mortgages, too.) Unfortunately, a lot of the safety net in the US has been whittled down over the years. “It’s for the most needy people in our society, so we don’t have a lot of room for people just getting by,” Rouse said. 8) How does the stimulus work, and what else is the government doing to help the economy? On March 27, the president signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, the CARES Act, to help stabilize and boost the American economy in the time of coronavirus. Vox’s Li Zhou and Ella Nilsen have a full explainer of what’s in the bill, and here’s a brief overview: A $500 billion loan program for businesses to be administered by the Treasury Department. Basically, a bailout fund for big business. Boosted unemployment insurance that increases benefits by $600 a week per four months and expands who can apply for and collect benefits Funds for hospitals, medical equipment, and protection for health care workers totaling $150 billion, $1 billion of which will go to hospitals, $1 billion to the Indiana Health Service, and the rest to increased medical equipment capacity Roughly $150 in aid to state and local governments, including $5 billion for tribal governments About $377 billion in small business loans The other plank of the stimulus, which has gotten perhaps the most attention is the direct payments to be sent to Americans across the country — in other words, those checks from the government you’ve probably been hearing about. (Vox’s Dylan Matthews has an explainer on the stimulus checks.) Single adults who make up to $75,000 annually will get a one-time $1,200 check, and married couples who make up to $150,000 will receive $2,400. The government will also distribute $500 per child. The payments decrease as incomes go up and phase out by $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples. The calculations will be made using 2019 taxes for those who have filed (the deadline is now July 15) and 2018 taxes for those who have not. There are several calculators online you can use to figure out how much you’ll receive. For those who don’t file taxes because they earned so little they weren’t required to, collecting the cash will be more complex. The IRS says people will need to file a “simple tax return” with basic information to collect money, and low-income taxpayers, older people, Social Security recipients, some veterans, and individuals who otherwise don’t need to file a tax return will not owe tax. Note that people in households with members who are unauthorized immigrants may be ineligible for the direct payments. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, flanked by Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Steny Hoyer, displays the signed $2 trillion stimulus bill on March 27. Beyond the stimulus bill, Congress has passed two other coronavirus-related pieces of legislation, and the Federal Reserve has taken steps to help stabilize markets and the economy. Democrats are pushing for a fourth coronavirus bill, but thus far, it’s not clear how much buy-in there is from Republicans. As for what else the government could be doing, the answer is plenty, if there’s political will. Americans are facing a health and economic crisis of staggering proportions, and the greater risk is doing too little than in doing too much. Vox’s Matt Yglesias recently laid out some possibilities: The US needs to take the analogy of wartime mobilization that’s been used by many leaders much more seriously and deliver trillions more in tax cuts and spending increases to stimulate demand. Much of that spending should be aimed at mobilizing workers and industry to provide the goods and services the US needs to continue coping with a virus that, even if successfully contained, is not going to vanish soon. To cope with the twin crises of economics and public health, the US will need substantial investment in the production of personal protective equipment for health care workers, but may also need production of masks and gloves for the public. It will need a huge infusion of funds to state and local governments so they can continue to provide — even expand — needed services. It will need medical research in spades, and we’ll need income support for households and businesses as they struggle to adapt to a new world of doing things in less efficient, more socially distant ways. And to support it all, the US needs a creative and flexible Federal Reserve willing to adopt a wartime mentality to finance. “Does anybody regret how much debt we went into to win World War II?” said Betsey Stevenson, an economist at the University of Michigan and former Obama administration official. “People rarely complain about how much Congress is spending to fight a war, and they need to be thinking about that right now as we fight this pandemic.” 9) Which industries are being hit hardest by this? Not every person — or every sector — is being impacted equally by the coronavirus crisis. “This recession is going to be, for some people, more devastating than the financial crisis, for some less,” Klein said. “This one is going to start further down on the income spectrum.” Restaurants, bars, stores, and nonessential businesses have been forced to close across much of the country. Airlines have seen an enormous decline in business, as has the travel and hospitality industry across the board. Schools have been shut down and live entertainment brought to a stop. The stimulus bill is meant to bring some relief to both small businesses and major corporations, which both got bailout funds as part of the $2.2 trillion package. But, again, it really depends how long this lasts to see how hard the economy to be hit. Ultimately, businesses and industries translate to people, as in, workers, and the workers who will be hardest hit by layoffs and shutdowns are those who can’t afford it. According to estimates from the US Private Sector Job Quality Index, more than 37 million jobs in the US are vulnerable to layoffs in the near term, 35 million of which are considered low-income. Christina Animashaun/Vox There will likely also be disparities by race and ethnicity. “We know that blacks, Latinx, and native people, in terms of race and ethnicity, they have lower levels of reserves, and we also know that their employment is more precarious than that of white people,” said Darrick Hamilton, the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. 10) How can I spend money to help? If you have extra cash on hand right now and aren’t concerned about parting ways with it, there are plenty of things to do with it to try to help — order delivery from local restaurants and grocery stores, or buy gift certificates for local businesses that you can use at a later date. Amazon is one company notworried about its business right now, so maybe get toilet paper from the market down the street instead. Tip the delivery person generously. Instead of ordering through a delivery app, try calling the restaurant instead. Lower-wage service workers are going to be the ones hurt the most the fastest. “A lot of small businesses that tend to work on fairly small margins to begin with are going to be very hard hit,” Rouse said. If you employ people, such as a child care provider or cleaning service, you can always keep paying them, even if you ask them not to come. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images San Francisco restaurant owner David Nichol carries a takeout order to the curb on March 27. There are plenty of charities willing to take your money, including GiveDirectly, which is providing cash assistance to families. You can also contact local food banks and other social service organizations to figure out how you can help. Another grim reality is that there are plenty of GoFundMe accounts set up to provide economic and medical aid. But the fact of the matter is, there is only so much that private individuals can do. “Fundamentally, this needs to be a government solution. Individual acts of charity or trying to keep the economy afloat are not sufficient at this moment,” Konczal said. “The recession is ultimately a collective problem, and the government will be the one who determines what happens to small business, self-employed people, and so on down the line.” 11) When will things get better? Is there a chance any of this brings about positive change to the economy? At the moment, the likeliest scenario is that the economy gets better when the coronavirus crisis gets better, and unfortunately, nobody knows when that will be. As Dartmouth College economist Bruce Sacerdote put it, “It’s all about getting the damn virus under control.” There has been some debate about whether the “cure” — as in the economic shutdown — is worse than the disease that is coronavirus. And some people have suggested government officials open the economy back up and start to ease restrictions on social distancing even before the health plank of this is under control. But is it really worth sacrificing tens of thousands of people so that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will go back up? And is it really likely that with a deadly virus spreading, people are going to be eager to go eat at the diner down the street? Billionaire Bill Gates recently weighed in: “It’s very tough to say to people, ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner. We want you to keep spending because there’s maybe a politician who thinks GDP growth is all that counts.’” Vox’s Ezra Klein also recently did a deep dive: You can suppress the virus now and deal with a terrible economy six months from now, or you can wait two more months to suppress the virus, find yourself forced into yet more extreme quarantine measures because the virus is pervasive and the death toll overwhelming, and find yourself in an even more horrendous economy on the other side. So for now Americans are in a waiting game with the virus, and once that’s under control, the recovery will depend on the mitigation measures the US has taken and will take. “The debate is if we end up in a V-shape or a U-shape recovery, and anyone who pretends to have the answer to that is wrong,” Bahnsen said. Noam Galai/Getty Images A temporary hospital in New York City’s Central Park set up to combat the coronavirus pandemic, on March 31. As to whether this will bring about positive change in the economy, it’s hard to tell. On the one hand, policies and government actions that would have seemed almost unimaginable just weeks or months ago — a check going out to nearly every American household, expanding unemployment insurance — are now a reality. And in such a scenario where so many Americans are losing health coverage in the time they need it most, it has to make some at least think about the value of Medicare-for-all, or at the very least, a public health insurance option. The Great Depression resulted in a dramatic expansion of the social safety net. “We’re considering this use of public power to address our calamity in ways that the public imagination didn’t consider in the past. The sobering reality is that it’s not enough,” Hamilton said. “You can’t tell people that this stuff is impossible, because it happened.” This could also foster a discussion about how Americans treat and think about the workers deemed “essential” during times of crisis, which includes not only doctors and nurses but also home health care workers, grocery store clerks, and service staff. On the other hand, there’s always a tendency to revert to the mean, and recessions and economic crises don’t usually make Americans more generous. “In general, recessions make people very zero-sum and very hesitant to want to collectively provide security. We saw that in the Great Recession,” Konczal said. “We should not understand this as an obviously political moment.”
1m
vox.com
Mobile showers for the homeless were created by a guy who was afraid of people on the streets
Paul Schmitz, creator of Nashville's ShowerUp, is busier than ever after the coronavirus pandemic shut down other options for people living on the street to get clean.        
1m
usatoday.com
People Think It's 'Wise to Get a Gun' During Pandemic, Says 2nd Amendment Attorney as Firearms Sales Soar
Gun stores say they are struggling to meet demand and FBI figures show that background checks were at an all-time high.
1m
newsweek.com
March blows past record for gun background checks amid coronavirus pandemic
Not all gun sales involve a background check, meaning that the NICS numbers are not a direct indicator of total gun sales. But the FBI numbers released Wednesday underscore how significant the rise in demand for guns has been since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
1m
foxnews.com
NYC doctor makes urgent plea for help: 'We're near the breaking point'
The response to coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York City has "absolutely" not been enough yet, NYU Langone's Dr. Stuart Ditchek urged Thursday. 
1m
foxnews.com
The Health 202: Age or illness makes one-quarter of Americans more vulnerable to coronavirus complications
Cases are spiking in places where people are older and sicker.
1m
washingtonpost.com
93% of world's population lives somewhere with a travel restriction amid coronavirus, research says
An overwhelming majority of the world's population lives in a country with travel restrictions as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, new research says.      
1m
usatoday.com
Over 95% of People Who Died of Coronavirus in Europe Were Over 60, Says WHO
(GENEVA) — The head of the World Health Organization’s office in Europe says figures show that more than 95% of people who have died of coronavirus on the continent have been aged over 60. But Dr. Hans Kluge said age is not the only risk factor for severe disease, adding: “The very notion that COVID-19…
1m
time.com
Shenzhen becomes first Chinese city to ban consumption of cats, dogs
The Chinese metropolis of Shenzhen has become the first city in the country to ban the sale and consumption of cat and dog meat amid the coronavirus pandemic.
1m
nypost.com
Cruise ships with mounting coronavirus cases stranded off Florida coast
Two cruise ships wait outside Port Everglades in South Florida, carrying passengers believed to be infected with the coronavirus. The cruise line says more than 200 people on the two ships have flu-like symptoms. On one ship, The Zaandam, nine people have tested positive for the coronavirus and two of them have died. Manuel Bojorquez speaks to one person who says her parents are on the ship, and her father has developed pneumonia.
1m
cbsnews.com
Democrats need to dump their in-person convention
It already was a relic of another time
1m
washingtonpost.com
NYC hospital chaplains detail emotional toll of new coronavirus reality
Armed with prayer books and face masks, New York City hospital chaplains are adapting to their new normal during the coronavirus crisis — “more death” than they have ever seen, and the grim realization that the worst is yet to come. Isolation units are taking over the normally bustling hospital lobbies and waiting rooms, turning...
1m
nypost.com
The Far Right Is Looking for Miracles and Scapegoats to Bail Us Out of the Coronavirus Crisis
Dr. Fauci is given a security detail in response to increased threats.
1m
slate.com
Memo to NYC paramedics shows grim reality of coronavirus crisis
Over 1,000 American residents died of the coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the U.S. death toll to over 5,100. In New York City, paramedics have been told to not transport patients in cardiac arrest to the hospital, reflecting the grim reality of how overwhelmed the epicenter of the virus outbreak is. David Begnaud reports from outside a field hospital in Central Park to show the toll the disease is taking on the city.
1m
cbsnews.com
Which NFL Teams Have the Best Odds of Signing the Top Remaining Free Agents?
Cam Newton, Jadeveon Clowney, and Jameis Winston are still looking for a team almost a month since free agency started.
1m
newsweek.com
Elections, Ties with China Shaped Iran's Coronavirus Response
Iranian authorities ignored warnings by doctors in late December and January of an increasing number of patients with high fevers and lung infections in the historic city of Qom, which turned out to be the epicentre of Iran’s coronavirus outbreak, said two health ministry officials, a former ministry official and three doctors.
1m
reuters.com
Coronavirus could derail Cadillac's plan for massive product rejuvenation
New-car sales are down amid coronavirus. Cadillac's plans for vehicle reveals in April were canceled. Now its plan for brand revival could stall.       
1m
usatoday.com
Man Jailed for Six Months After Stealing Masks and Hand Sanitizer From Ambulance
Mark Manley, 35, admitted to stealing equipment from a stationary ambulance and assaulting a security guard, police said.
1m
newsweek.com
New England Patriots’ jet will bring over a million N95 masks from China to US
The New England Patriots' team plane went to China to pick up more than a million N95 medical masks -- with at least 300,000 coming to New York's coronavirus-stricken hospitals
1m
nypost.com
The Cybersecurity 202: States plan to expand mobile voting amid coronavirus pandemic, despite security concerns
States weigh increasing access to voting during a crisis with cybersecurity risks.
1m
washingtonpost.com
In a pandemic, to baby or not to baby?
It seems like the rule about not making big decisions while hormonal and pregnant probably applies during the emotionally charged and mentally fraught time of coronavirus, writes SE Cupp. But she's been thinking...
1m
edition.cnn.com
Women Dominate Booker International Prize Shortlist
Yoko Ogawa of Japan, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld of the Netherlands and Fernanda Melchor of Mexico are among the authors in the running for the prestigious translated literature award.
1m
nytimes.com
How Two Artists Combined Thousands of NYC Listings Into an Ad for One Massive, $43.9 Billion Apartment
Hardwood floors, plenty of closet space, and 55,588 bathrooms.
1m
slate.com
Day 22 without sports
The NHL playoff picture should have crystallized this weekend. Here are some of the questions we wish we had answered before the sports shutdown.        
1m
usatoday.com
Chesapeake Bay Bridge work finished a year ahead of schedule
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says key repairs on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge have been completed more than a year ahead of schedule, thanks in part to light traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic
1m
washingtonpost.com
Khabib Nurmagomedov out of UFC 249, suggests he was pressured into unsafe choice
The UFC's lightweight champion says he will remain in quarantine in Russia, leaving the event, for which company president Dana White has yet to announce a site, in further turmoil.
1m
washingtonpost.com
Woman's Eye Bulging from Socket Was Caused by a Baby Tapeworm-filled Cyst
The 31-year-old had suffered from blurred vision for almost a month before she visited the E.R.
1m
newsweek.com
Eye Opener: U.S. medical supply stockpile at critical low
President Trump said the national stockpile of emergency medical supplies is nearly depleted. Also, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered all of his residents to stay at home in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a move that critics say should have happened earlier. All that and all that matters in today's Eye Opener. Your world in 90 seconds.
1m
cbsnews.com
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean your boss isn’t watching you
Your boss may be looking over your virtual shoulder right now. | Zac Freeland/Vox Software that monitors remote employees is seeing a sales boom. It’s a scenario that perhaps millions of employees across the US have experienced: Because of the coronavirus pandemic, your office closes up shop and your boss sends you home with a company laptop and the hope that you can get the same amount of work done remotely that you did when you were in the office. But some bosses don’t have to hope. They’ve installed tracking software on those computers to supervise their employees at home as well as — if not better than — they do in the office. Meanwhile, you may have no idea that your employer is virtually looking over your shoulder. Employee monitoring software comes in many forms. It could be something as simple as Slack giving your boss access to your private messages or as complex as dedicated programs that monitor how many minutes you spend using Slack (also Facebook, YouTube, and, of course, your actual job). Some programs allow the employee to self-report time spent on various tasks and others can record it for them. Some take screenshots of an employee’s monitor at random intervals, while others record every single key they press. Some employee monitoring features are so subtle you might not know they’re there. Videoconferencing software Zoom, for example, allows hosts using its paid service to turn on something called “attention tracking.” This feature lets them see if meeting attendees navigate away from the app for longer than 30 seconds during a meeting — a good indication that they’re looking at something else. It can’t see what they are looking at instead, and it can only be activated when the host is in screensharing mode. Zoom told Recode the feature is really meant for training purposes, when it’s important to know that people are actively watching a presentation. Because attention tracking can be turned on without attendees’ knowledge (and because many people didn’t know the option existed until it was widely publicized with a headline that may have made the feature seem more invasive that it is), many Zoom users felt like they were being spied on. Zoom’s mounting privacy issues haven’t helped matters. Employee tracking software has been around for years, but with so many more people working from home and many workplaces concerned that they won’t be as productive in their living rooms as they were in the office, some employers are turning to activity monitoring programs for the first time — as are their employees, whether they like it or not. Companies can pick and choose which monitoring features they want to enable. Some employers use these programs to prevent or detect theft — a valid and understandable concern, especially in certain industries. But others see them as a way to make sure employees are staying on task and not wasting time on Facebook, apparently not trusting their workers to do so unsupervised. For workers, it can feel like an invasion of privacy that breeds resentment. “My manager knows every single damn thing I do” Jane (who requested that neither she nor her employer be named for fear of retribution) is a contractor for a translation agency based in Australia. Her employer tracks remote workers using a program called TeamViewer, which mirrors everything from an employee’s laptop onto their desktop computer, which is still in the office. Jane’s manager is in the office, too, so he can see, in real time, everything his employees are doing by looking at their desktop monitors. “My manager knows every single damn thing I do,” Jane told Recode. “I barely get to stand up and stretch, as opposed to when I am physically in the office. I feel like I have to constantly be in front of the computer and work because if not, either the TeamViewer logs me out for being idle, or my manager randomly sends a check-in email that I must reply to promptly.” Jane’s office had this system in place for remote workers well before the pandemic, but the countless new members of the remote workforce might be encountering them for the first time, according to several activity monitoring software makers. ActivTrak, Time Doctor, Teramind, and Hubstaff all told Recode that they’ve seen significantly more interest in their product from new and returning customers during the coronavirus work-from-home boom. Time Doctor, which co-founder Liam Martin told Recode he likes to think of as a “Fitbit for work,” has had a “significant uptick” in business, with more leads in a week than the entire last quarter. Teramind reported a triple-digit percentage increase in new leads since the pandemic began. HubStaff said unique visits are up 72 percent in the last three weeks compared to the previous period, and it has added hundreds of trial customers and subscribers, along with adding hundreds of licenses for existing subscribers. ActivTrak has seen a threefold increase in sales requests and license increases from existing customers ranging from 50 to 800 in March, as companies scale up their remote workforce from some employees to all of them. “We’re hosting informational webinars, detailed product tutorials, and posting tons of educational content around the clock in response to an overwhelming increase in demand from companies,” Rita Selvaggi, CEO of ActivTrak, told Recode. The people behind these applications realize that workers may not be thrilled about being required to use tracking software, so they encourage employers to use them thoughtfully and transparently. “Time tracking is always something that people don’t like to do, but we’ve focused our feature set on what makes the individual employee more productive while still giving the employer the piece of mind as to what is being done inside of the company,” Martin said. “Our software focuses on active time tracking rather than something that runs subversively in the background, and all data we collect is given specifically to the employee to improve their productivity.” Teramind’s vice president of research and development, Isaac Kohen, says it’s important for employers to consider their employees’ privacy along with what they hope to get out of monitoring them. “If you ignore employees’ right to privacy, you will risk legal ramifications, not to mention cultural rifts, loss of trust, and many other issues that will outweigh any security benefits you can achieve,” Kohen told Recode. “It can cause employees to feel spied on or untrusted, two things that can erode a flourishing company culture. But it doesn’t have to be this way.” Giving employees control is best for everyone When the pandemic hit, “John’s” employer (John did not want to be named nor reveal his workplace for fear of retribution) was reluctant to let its employees work from home. It eventually did so under one condition: They had to log their hours in a time-tracking program. “They said you have to use it, and were pretty forceful about it,” John told Recode. After a week of accounting for every minute of his workday, John sees positives and negatives. A software developer, his job often involves switching between several different tasks in a short period of time. Logging his activities on such a granular scale can be a pain and take up time he could spend doing his actual job. John also doesn’t think the time logs give proper context for job-adjacent activities that are necessary to accomplish a task. “You’ve got to call it this person and talk to them and get ideas, or you need to browse the internet for a while to research a topic,” John said. “On paper, it looks like maybe you’re wasting time. But it’s critical to getting the job done well.” John also understands why management would want there to be some accountability for workers that it suddenly can’t directly oversee. He likes that his job had enough trust in him and his co-workers to let them manually log their activities — rather than installing a program that does so automatically. “If it wasn’t self-reported, I think I would feel weirder about it,” he said. “Especially since a lot of us use personal devices for our work. I’d be like, ‘I’m not gonna install your nanny cam.’” Mac Quartarone, an industrial/organizational psychologist, said employees’ response to monitoring programs often depends on the organizational trust their company has built up with them. “If you have a lot of trust, then you probably expect that the organization is just trying to do the right thing,” Quartarone told Recode. “If you don’t have a lot of trust, then you’re going to assume that they’re trying to fire you or trying to find people that they need to fire.” In the case of this pandemic, where employees are essentially forced to work from home, introducing tracking software to make sure they’re getting that work done might seem like a punishment for something they had no control over in the first place. Quartarone also warns that the long-term ramifications of using tracking software during this crisis “could be damaging the sense of organizational justice and trust among your employees. And that will live on.” Quartarone recommends that employers give workers as much autonomy as possible and be transparent about what they’re tracking and why — as John’s employer did. “If done right, it could really be a positive thing for employees that could outweigh the downside,” Quartarone said. “But I think if it’s done wrong, then the downside will vastly overshadow any positives.” In the end, while Jane resents being monitored so closely by her boss, she also acknowledges that she gets more work done because of it. “My employers realize I can be given more work now that they can monitor my screen directly,” she said. For some employers, that’s the only thing that matters. Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.
1m
vox.com
Anti-malaria drug helps speed up recovery of coronavirus patients: study
The antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine has shown promise in treating the coronavirus – helping to speed up the recovery of a small number of patients suffering a mild form of the illness, according to a report. In a study published online this week, Chinese researchers found that patients who were administered the drug saw their cough,...
1m
nypost.com
'Trolls World Tour' Streaming Release Date: When You Can Watch the Sequel Online
"Trolls World Tour" will be available to stream online in April after the release date of the sequel was changed a number of times in response to coronavirus.
1m
newsweek.com
New England Patriots send plane to China, get 1.2 million N95 masks for Massachusetts: reports
The New England Patriots appeared to answer the calls for help as Massachusetts became the latest state to struggle with supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has gripped the U.S.
1m
foxnews.com
Wife of coronavirus victim: They wouldn't let me say goodbye
In an emotional interview, Nicole and Skye Buchanan remember their husband and father, 39-year-old Conrad Buchanan, who passed away from coronavirus.
1m
edition.cnn.com
For years, brands have been pushing an at-home lifestyle. No one expected it to happen like this.
The homebody economy has been on the rise for years. Now, massive numbers of people are at home. | Getty Images The homebody economy has consumers right where it wanted them. But what happens next? Over the past few years, brands have wanted nothing more than for us to stay at home and buy stuff. The “homebody economy,” as Kaitlyn Tiffany named it in 2018, encompasses everything from mattress companies to CBD seltzers. What these companies all have in common is a promise to burnt-out workers that they can avoid the anxieties of daily life by filling their homes with soft clothes, soft lighting, soft bedding, and the right plants. Now more than two-thirds of Americans are under government orders to stay at home. Homebody brands finally have consumers — especially those with the privilege of working remotely during a pandemic — right where they’ve always wanted them. It’s seemingly fortuitous. But championing staying in as a lifestyle choice takes on an uncanny timbre during the age of coronavirus, when it’s not a choice at all. These millennial-friendly, often direct-to-consumer brands espouse a viewpoint in which the world outside is a scary place, one where hustle culture and social obligations demand that young people keep up an impossible pace. “Just 500 more minutes” reads a bus stop ad for Parachute, yet another luxury linen brand whose ads remind workers they’re not in bed. This hygge ethos — which has been embraced even by brands that have nothing to do with being inside — was developed when burnout was one of the biggest threats to millennials’ well-being. The idea seems almost quaint now, when most white-collar workers are fortunate enough to spend their entire days at home, where they’ll worry about whether they’ll contract Covid-19, or their loved ones will, and if they do, if they’ll be able to access tests or, god forbid, a ventilator. Then there’s loss of work and the crumbling economy. View this post on Instagram We asked and you answered! Since many of you are staying at/working from home, for the rest of this week we will be discounting our Loungewear collection by 25%. We wish you comfort during this time. @dashing_darlin A post shared by Brooklinen (@brooklinen) on Mar 19, 2020 at 3:00pm PDT How will brands that have spent recent years convincing consumers to stay home respond to this strange and endless moment where we’re all forced to be home? Now that consumers finally have the indoor lives they were told to dream of, do they actually feel the comfort they were promised? Or will quarantine cause the end of the homebody economy, and the brands that peddled it? It was only a few days after the coronavirus pandemic ushered white-collar Americans into a work-from-home existence when the cozy promotions started. The bedding company Brooklinen offered a 25 percent discount on its loungewear. The sustainable basics brand Everlane ran a “bundles of comfort” sale on leggings, sweats and fleece. Other retailers attempted to calm our anxieties. Cuup, a lingerie startup, sent a “Stay-At-Home Advice” email that offered shoppers a curated list of book recommendations, breathing tips, and cooking inspiration from influencers pictured wearing their bras. The furniture and decor company West Elm created Zoom backgrounds of beautiful interiors so remote workers could “start dialing in from your dream home.” The athleisure company Lou & Grey crafted a “suuuuper laid back” Spotify playlist designed to ease Covid-19-related stress spirals. These weren’t the only brands to reach out and run sales, but their cozycore messaging did give them a leg up. Even adventure-oriented retailers decided to pivot to homebody messaging. Outdoor outfitter Backcountry had a sock sale. Rugged outdoorsman brand Huckberry threw a Work From Home Sale offering discounts on items to help shoppers complete their “WFH Mullet” (“business up top, sweats on the bottom”). Ben O’Meara, Huckberry’s executive director of marketing, told me the unlikely pivot to cozy was born from the company employees’ new reality of working from home for the foreseeable future: “We wanted to make sure we acknowledged that we’re going through this as well.” Shockingly, it wasn’t the only retailer to suggest mullet-inspired outfits — Rent the Runway promoted a “party on top, sweatpants on bottom” approach to videoconferencing fashion. Within a week, email inboxes flooded with promotions ranging from the subtle — suggesting you stock up on cozy clothes — to the more overt: referencing “social distancing” and videoconferencing struggles. Few included the actual words “coronavirus” or “Covid-19” in their outreach, but they didn’t need to. Pandemic headlines loop through consumers’ minds constantly, as if a news chyron had been implanted directly into their brains. “We wanted to make sure we acknowledged that we’re going through this as well” The WFH sales speak to a privileged class during a crisis that has laid bare just how stratified our country is. While some American workers are afforded the luxury of having a salary and health care to help them through coronavirus, many are not. And the precarity of the US economic situation gets clearer with every headline: Employees being refused paid sick leave, recovering Covid-19 patients leaving the hospital burdened with massive medical bills, hospitals begging for donations of protective equipment for their workers — these are the horror stories that circulate the internet daily. The concern for those on the front lines means some consumers who are working from the comfort of their couch don’t feel justified in splurging. “I have been doing a lot of online ‘window shopping,’ but anytime I feel the urge to add to my cart, my guilty conscience reminds me of the warehouse worker that could potentially have to leave isolation in order to fill my order,” one shopper told me. Another echoed this sentiment: “I don’t want to stress out the package delivery system even more with unnecessary purchases. If I order something dumb, that’s just added work for them.” Then there’s the feeling that the disaster could easily happen to us. Renée Richardson Gosline, a senior lecturer and research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, says the prominent messaging consumers are receiving right now is one of scarcity. Many people are currently unable to access what they need, whether that’s basic household cleaning items, pantry staples, or coronavirus tests. Beyond the scarcity of the moment looms the scarcity to come — a recession or depression. Just a few weeks after the economic downturn first hit hospitality and travel, mass layoffs are now reaching industries like tech, media, and retail. The sense of scarcity that characterizes the current moment is a stark contrast to what came before it. Coronavirus descended upon the US when the economy was booming. Gosline believes that at the height of the stock market, before the virus hit, an “eat the rich” backlash to consumerism was already surfacing. Then the pandemic laid bare just how rich the rich were when celebrities began receiving immediate access to largely unavailable coronavirus tests and posting out-of-touch sentiments (see: Gwyneth Paltrow telling us to write the next Great American Novel in quarantine, or the chaotic and tone-deaf “Imagine” video). “I don’t want to stress out the package delivery system even more with unnecessary purchases” “You’re seeing a lot of backlash against individual celebrities in a culture that is very celebrity-oriented,” Gosline says. “Brands that are selling hedonistic products, like fashion or beauty, need to be particularly careful about further signaling this social stratification.” In the face of this uncertainty, and perhaps as a reaction to the consumerism that characterized the past decade, many consumers are choosing to hoard their cash and hunker down. Or, in the words of one consumer I spoke to, “I’m saving my money for the next Great Depression we’ll be having.” Relatedly, hobbies that offer a comforting sense of self-sufficiency, like baking or gardening, are now booming — yeast and flour have been flying off the shelves. One consumer told me she was investing in a Le Creuset Dutch oven so she could finally fulfill her sourdough dreams. Even if the economy’s going to hell, at least she’ll have her starter. Consumers who are deciding to shop might opt to use their splurges to support local small businesses that have a tangible place in their community, and are more impacted by closures. New luxury items from flashy DTC companies headquartered in Silicon Valley don’t feel as gratifying. For many DTC companies, however, things were already rocky before the coronavirus hit: Early in March, Maya Kosoff reported at the Markup that brands like Outdoor Voices, Casper, and Harry’s were imploding, unable to become close to profitable or meet investors’ expectations. Once coronavirus hit retail, news of layoffs and furloughs, along with aggressive sales promotions, came quickly. On March 27, Everlane, a modern basics retailer that built its brand on the tagline “Radical Transparency,” laid off nearly all members of its 65-person remote “customer experience” team. Those laid off say that they were targeted for forming and joining the Everlane Union, which was seeking recognition from the company. Everlane’s founder responded by saying the layoffs were a result of the coronavirus crisis and that the company is not profitable. A few days later, Everlane announced an unprecedented sale of 25% off site-wide. (“We’ve never done it before. But there are a lot of firsts right now” the email read.) Still, shoppers might be hesitant to purchase from a brand that isn’t taking care of its own employees amid a pandemic. View this post on Instagram To everyone working tirelessly to keep us safe: thank you. To everyone at home, keep doing what you’re doing. You can refer to our unofficial list of things to do from bed as needed: call a friend, write a thank you note, recommend someone on LinkedIn, follow @shedd_aquarium, touch your toes, meditate, knit a scarf, think about cleaning your bedroom, drink water, adopt an animal, power nap. A post shared by Casper (@casper) on Mar 24, 2020 at 9:05am PDT These aggressive promotions also risk making consumers feel like they’re being cornered while emotionally vulnerable and spending more time at home and online. “Decision-making under greater scarcity and greater uncertainty can make people less rational and more short-term focused,” Gosline says. “It’s a risky move [for brands] to say in this moment, ‘I know you’re at home, so why don’t you shop?’ These tone-deaf type of messages could really prove to lead to some backlash.” The line between checking in on and trying to be of service to consumers versus profiteering during a moment of panic can be a fine one, and today’s empowered consumers are savvy enough to tell the difference. One consumer I spoke with noted “the widespread and aggressive promotional strategy of retailers who had to close their brick-and-mortar shops.” Still, she admitted she’s interested. “I’m incredibly tempted to buy new cozy loungewear that I’ve always wanted but never was able to justify before.” Panic and uncertainty can also lead to impulsive decision-making. Another consumer I spoke to mentioned buying a new dress on sale one day and buyer’s remorse kicking in the next, as the economy began tanking: “Shit hit the fan, and I started regretting the decision to spend money on nonessential items.” In a stroke of luck, the dress had sold out and her order was canceled. For retailers attempting to navigate and respond to an increasingly dire news cycle, it takes a lot of diligence. O’Meara told me that to not make a misstep during this moment, he reads every single comment on Huckberry’s Instagram and every single email from subscribers. “I’m incredibly tempted to buy new cozy loungewear that I’ve always wanted but never was able to justify before” “We have a meeting every morning to recap the day before, the message that went out, and the customer feedback,” he says. Ultimately, staying home is the most service many white-collar workers can offer to the cultural moment. It doesn’t feel as engaged as protesting, though homebody brands will try to make consumers feel like heroes for not getting out of their pajamas all day — heroes who deserve to add a little something to their online carts for doing their part. This is nothing new: Makeup brands turned buying red lipstick into an act of service during World War II. Ads encouraged women to give the men fighting overseas something to dream about by wearing shades like Patriot Red, “in defense of glamour.” The deluge of quarantine homebody sales is likely to continue. For some, they provide a useful distraction, or hope for life beyond coronavirus: a bathing suit as passport to a future where Americans can go to the beach this summer. For others, like the woman I spoke to who is using the opportunity to test out a new expensive retinol, it’s helping them find the silver lining in their new homebound life. “If I peel massively, no one will know, and I could have nice baby skin on the other side of quarantine.” The other side of quarantine — it’s hard to imagine what it will be like. But one thing I know: Once the world does make it to the other side, no brand will be able to convince me that staying in is the new going out. Sign up for The Goods’ newsletter. Twice a week, we’ll send you the best Goods stories exploring what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.
5 m
vox.com
Anthony Fauci to get a security detail after facing threats, reports say
The 79-year-old doctor has been one of the most high-profile members of President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus.       
6 m
usatoday.com
24 hours inside the lives upended by coronavirus in the nation’s capital
In a city defined by power, a virus has seized control
6 m
washingtonpost.com
Andrew Yang Says Asian Americans Are 'Stepping Up' to Fight Coronavirus Amid Racist Attacks
The entrepreneur said he felt "self-conscious" of being an Asian American on a recent shopping trip for groceries.
8 m
newsweek.com