Welcome to the first edition of Haymarket Media’s Coronavirus Briefing, a daily newsletter that keeps business leaders fully informed of developments in the global spread of coronavirus and the disease it is currently causing, COVID-19. The pandemic’s effects have spread across the globe in ways no one could have anticipated, into corners of society and the economy few could imagine, with a speed that’s hard to grasp.
The newsletter aggregates the best, most recent information on COVID-19 taken from the 39 brands of global business information company Haymarket Media, on topics ranging from medicine to supply chains, marcomms to personnel management, finance to agriculture, management to HR.
Our in-depth daily roundup of top-notch writing and thinking analyzes the full scope of the outbreak while offering solutions and perspectives on COVID-19. We’ll also flag up the best external content our editors discover as they scour the web.
And because we know you’re busy, each newsletter tells you how long it will take to read – it will never be more than eight minutes.
Today’s Coronavirus briefing checks in at 1,750 words and will take six minutes to read.
COVID-19 is changing the world. Forever.
This was the week America realized the true extent of the coronavirus health crisis that is sweeping the globe, impacting everybody’s lives.
- The World Health Organization last Wednesday declared COVID-19 a pandemic, a watershed moment that elevates the disease beyond an epidemic after it appeared on every continent except Antarctica, with secondary disease hotspots now in Italy, Iran and South Korea.
- United States President Donald Trump’s car-crash, confusing and in parts factually incorrect statement from the White House Wednesday night sent already freefalling financial markets further on their downward spiral.
- Trump suspended travel to 26 European countries, adding the U.K. and Ireland to the list on Friday. U.S. airports were chaotic this weekend as immigration officers checked returning travelers for COVID-19 as well as the usual documentation.
- On Friday, a slightly more coherent Trump instituted a state of emergency that will free up $50 billion in federal resources to combat the effects of the disease. He called out the Fed for failing to do more to respond to the crisis, which responded Sunday by cutting rates to near zero.
- Supply Management noted that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said the pandemic posed the biggest threat to the global economy since the 2008 financial crisis, taking predicted growth down by 0.5% for this year.
- Coronavirus could cost China $103 billion and the rest of Asia $22 billion, according to the Asian Development Bank, due to supply chain disruption, declining domestic demand, production shortfalls and reduced tourism.
- The NBA temporarily suspended the rest of the basketball season. March Madness and Big East basketball, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer followed suit.
- Sports fans were reduced to watching old repeats, listening to endless verbiage from talking heads or firing up Netflix. Sports junkies may be reduced to watching the FIDE Candidates Tournament chess world title elimination event, which starts tomorrow in Russia.
- Broadway went dark on Thursday.
- States and cities are shuttering schools, venues, nightlife, restaurants and bars.
- Companies are asking their employees to work from home for the foreseeable future.
- In New York, Governor Cuomo temporarily banned gatherings of more than 500 people in the state – there’ll be no St Patrick’s Day parade this week for the first time in 258 years.
The world is never going to be the same again. Populations around the globe are hunkering down the best they can and wondering how long this hiatus is going to last. Truth is no-one yet knows. Spare a thought for people on hourly contracts who don’t earn if they don’t go to work. Or those employed in the hospitality, travel, tourism, airline, retail and restaurant industries.
Combating misinformation about the pandemic.
At a time when there are so many myths about coronavirus circulating in the public domain it’s important to counter such misinformation. PRWeek U.S. editorial director Steve Barrett noted that clear and calm communication is required in these unprecedented times.
The misconceptions being peddled range from President Trump blaming the “Fake News Media” and the Democrats for exaggerating the threat posed by the disease to a survey from a PR firm that claimed 38% of beer-drinking Americans would not buy Corona under any circumstances due to coronavirus fears. PRWeek debunked the flawed research.
In the cause of helping everyone understand how to stay safe and healthy, the editor of Haymarket Media’s Infectious Disease Advisor, which caters for healthcare professionals of all types operating in this space, set the record straight.
Natasha Priya Dyal’s “10 myths about COVID-19” piece was an excellent non-partisan primer that bears close attention. Dyal guested on The PR Week podcast last Thursday to expound on her article and predict how the pandemic is going to play out.
- Dyal questioned why the U.S. doesn’t have widespread drive-through testing like many other countries, noting that these are the type of initiatives that have helped stem the outbreak in China and South Korea.
- We know what the ‘flu is. We don’t know much about COVID-19. And we don’t have a vaccine for the latter.
- When will this end? Dyal references other pandemics and suggests, with necessary intervention, due diligence and government resources, three months is a possibility.
- If you catch an infection early in its global course, self-quarantining and social distancing for at least 10 days is vital. Check your temperature. Stay home.
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.
Testing. Testing. Testing.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday, New York Times science and health reporter Donald McNeil painted a stark picture of the difference between the testing, quarantine and prevention regimes being practiced in China versus what is happening in the U.S.
Medical Marketing & Media editor Marc Iskowitz provided a very personal account of current procedures as he described the process of getting his son tested after he came into contact with someone who had the virus. An ad hoc drive-through test ensued and turnaround was promised within 72, possibly 48 hours. Everyone is doing their best, but it didn’t inspire confidence that quick and efficient testing on a mass scale would be happening anytime soon.
There’s no doubt testing needs to be prioritized immediately in the U.S. if the COVID-19 pandemic is to be fought successfully. And McKnight’s Long Term Care News reported that coronavirus may live in patients up to 37 days.
Haymarket’s Medical Prescribing Reference (MPR) wrote that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will not object to the New York State Department of Health authorizing certain laboratories in New York to start testing patients for COVID-19 once the tests have been validated.
Rather than pursuing an Emergency Use Authorization with the FDA, the labs will need to provide validation data to the health department. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its guidance for evaluating and testing for COVID-19.
MPR also reported that the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission are clamping down on fraudulent COVID-19 products claiming to treat or prevent the coronavirus.
Life sciences agency Klick Health has deployed its digital innovation group to work with outside organizations including Boston Children’s Hospital, Dock Health and Harvard University researchers to develop digital tools to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Efforts are being made to eliminate the snake-oil salesmen, ramp up testing and make the process more efficient – let’s hope it’s not too little too late, as the U.S. is definitely in catchup mode.
Supply chains will never be the same again.
The outbreak of coronavirus is likely to see many companies move away from the extremely integrated supply chains that have become commonplace, in order to mitigate risk in future, according to the Haymarket Media-produced official media outlet of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) in the U.K.
In the PR sector, PRWeek obtained a memo sent out by agency industry body the PR Council to its members advising what they should do if a client suspends a contract due to the coronavirus crisis.
Once the dust settles on the initial stages of the COVID-19 crisis, you can be sure procurement teams around the world will be reassessing every element of the supply chain and implementing more flexible strategies that don’t rely purely on just-in-time production models.
HR departments must lead on keeping the workplace healthy
HR departments are at the cutting edge of responses to the coronavirus pandemic and have had to move swiftly to keep up with events and react accordingly.
The tipping point seems to have been reached in persuading companies that they need to implement widespread working-from-home arrangements from now on, with Campaign U.S. reporting that Omnicom is implementing a global WFH policy from today.
Over the weekend, the ad industry bible’s associate editor Oliver McAteer broke the news that rival marketing services company WPP asked all staff to work from home wherever possible. Havas North America tested remote working with all its people last week to prepare for future eventualities.
All but essential travel has been banned in many companies and the avoidance of gatherings of more than 25 people are also becoming the norm.
Haymarket’s title for human resources professionals, People Management, identified the essential items HR people need to know about coronavirus.
But it was concerning that, in a follow-up survey the brand carried out in partnership with the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, it was concerning that almost 40% of organizations had no business contingency plan in place to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
The pandemic is likely to usher in a flexible working revolution, as employees who haven’t worked from home before get used to the concept and parents forced to stay at home to look after their children when schools are closed realize the benefits of the flexibility remote working can provide.
However, certain industries such as hospitality and construction demand that people who are in jobs need to be present in person and can’t work from home. They have legitimate concerns about how long schools are going to be closed and whether they will have to self-isolate, which is typically all unpaid.
HR departments are crucial in times of crisis and it is concerning to find that one in three companies had no specific plan for what to do if an employee tested positive and 10% had yet to send out any communication to staffers as yet. Government must step in to mitigate hardship for those who simply aren’t able to work from home.
That’s it for this briefing. Go safely out there and remember to wash those hands.