COVID-19 Updates


Today is Cinco de Mayo. Also called Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. It’s a holiday celebrated in Mexico in honor of a military victory in 1862 over the French forces of Napoleon III, and in parts of the U.S. as a broader appreciation of Mexican culture. This year, the streets won’t be lined with dancers wearing the bright colors of the Mexican flag, marching musicians playing mariachi music or carts wafting the scent of lengua tacos over the air. But we can still celebrate. This Cinco de Mayo, let’s support our local Mexican restaurants by ordering too much food, tune into a live happy hour concert courtesy of the Mariachi Heritage Foundation and salsa maker Chi-Chi, and cheer each other from afar with a well-salted margarita.

Today’s Coronavirus Briefing is 1,291 words and will take you six minutes to read.

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The Takeaway:
A number of politicians seem comfortable reopening economies on the basis that the cure is going to be worse than the disease if we remain in lockdown. But if people do congregate and start dying, the economy will remain a bust or get worst. It’s something of a Hobson’s choice.

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We used to think it was the final frontier. Now we just want both more and less of it.

  • Siobhan Palmer of People Management breaks down the U.K. government’s guidance for reopening workplaces including social distancing, hyper hygiene procedures, curtailed hot desking (multiple workers using a single work station), limiting workers in elevators and encouraging those who can to work from home.
  • As businesses count down the days until they can reopen, the key question will be, “How essential is it for employees to come into the office?” The answer, to some extent, will be at the employer’s discretion. Adam Gale of Management Today ponders the ethical weight of having to choose between an increased ROI and a bump in coronavirus transmissions.
  • People Management spoke to a number of business leaders who are seeking clear guidance from the U.K. government on how to execute successful phased openings of the economy.
  • Amol Sarva, CEO of office interior design firm Knotel, told National Geographic that getting back to work isn’t just about floor plans, but also a dramatic shift in office life as we know it.
  • Sneeze guards are the new office must-haves.

The Takeaway:
Open work spaces? Gone. Mad Men-era corner offices and dividers? Back in style! Which, looking at it favorably means more privacy except…

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…everyone is spying on us.

  • Kimberly Bonvissuto reports in McKnight’s Senior Living that robots and drones are being called into service at senior living communities to keep residents engaged and connected. In Connecticut, Temi personal robots were recently introduced to Maplewood Senior Living and come with preconfigured tablets, Alexa-enabled skills, a TV channel with programming designed for seniors and a smartphone app. In Florida, UPS and CVS are about to launch a residential drone delivery service for retirement communities.
  • Mark Taylor, CEO of The QEII Centre in London, spoke to Conference & Incentive Travel about the introduction of coronavirus contact tracing apps for future events. “While there will undoubtedly be privacy concerns, one would hope that the preservation of health, life and economic prosperity will outweigh,” said Taylor.
  • And at least 27 countries are using data from cellphone companies to observe the health, habits and movements of citizens, often without their consent. This massive effort is in direct violation of an individual’s privacy, but may help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Takeaway:
This would all be scary stuff except that our smart phones, computers, tablets and every other gadget packed with adaptive AI-algorithms have probably been tracking us for years. It’s a data vs. privacy conundrum.

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On that note, trust is going to have a whole new set of connotations when we dip our toes back into the proverbial human work soup.

  • A new emphasis on trustworthiness and the common good will prevail after the COVID-19 crisis passes, writes PR veteran Robert Phillips in Management Today. Phillips opines about two major shifts he envisions as the world recovers: a shift from an abstract notion of trust to a more concrete understanding of trustworthiness, and the shape of trust from a vertical, imposed model (entirely top-down) to a peer-to-peer, networked one that flows horizontally.
  • In an effort to understand why companies in the medical marketing space are driven to perform acts of charity, Steve Madden, editor-in-chief of Medical Marketing & Media, called up Jim Weiss, founder and CEO of healthcare and tech agency W2O. The answer he received was the clearest, most succinct of his career.
  • Avoid becoming a covidiot — someone acting insensitively about COVID-19 — by following a few simple rules. PRWeek US’ Chris Daniels describes how PR agencies and their clients have established a checklist for evaluating influencers’ behavior in an effort to help them pivot from filtered selfies of their swag-filled lives, to leveraging their platform to give back and help their communities.
  • John O’Connor, editorial director of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, returns to 1940 in order to illustrate the importance of being indispensable.

The Takeaway:
It is said we’re all in this together, but everyone’s idea of responsibility differs. It’s going to take time until everyone is used to looking out for more than #1.

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Summer: School’s out. Beaches are in. Flip flops. New friends. Ball games. Fireworks. That’s what the photo albums of yesteryear show. This one’s going to look a little different.

  • “It’s galling” say U.K. garden center bosses, upon hearing that April was the sunniest on record. Matthew Appleby of Horticulture Week reports on temperature and rainfall stats and chats with a number of nurseries about the effects.
  • ITV has cancelled this summer’s Love Island because it is “logistically” not possible amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gurjit Degun for Campaign U.K. takes a look at the fallout from what would have been the British reality TV show’s seventh season.
  • On March 16, President Trump claimed the outbreak of COVID-19 would “wash away” this summer, thanks to warmer weather. Since then, everyone has wondered if there is any validity to the statement. A panel convened by the National Academies of Sciences reported to the White House recently that the novel coronavirus is unlikely to wane substantially with the arrival of summer.
  • Speaking of summer, what’s a day at the beach without scavenging seagulls? In a bit of good news (for humans), Rome’s seagulls, forced to find their own meals instead of snacking on food scraps left behind by humans, are returning to their predator state and hunting down rats.