Bloomberg Businessweek October 12, 2020

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2 min
in brief

By Benedikt Kammel Global coronavirus cases have passed 36m and deaths now exceed 1.05 million. At the White House, President Trump, his wife, Melania, spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany, and other key aides all tested positive. Trump has been given a powerful cocktail of experimental drugs and steroids. 8 “The safety profile of a vaccine that’s going to be used in millions of people has to be incredibly clean.” Peter Marks, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine division, defended his agency’s policy of a two-month safety follow-up in trial patients. The White House wants to accelerate the introduction of a coronavirus vaccine. In China, about 425 million people traveled domestically in the first four days of the Golden Week holiday. It’s a sign that the country where the pandemic originated is eager to…

3 min
online schooling isn’t ideal, but it needn’t be a disaster

The shift to remote learning during the pandemic has seriously harmed America’s schoolchildren. The end of in-person instruction last spring reduced expected learning gains by an estimated 50% in math and almost one-third in reading, according to NWEA, an educational research group. With the vast majority of schools in urban districts still closed, low-income students are losing ground they might never make up. This underscores the need to reopen schools as quickly as possible. That, in turn, will require new funds to pay for safety measures and careful limits on activities that might spread the virus. Even if reopening moves as quickly as prudence allows, however, schools will need to rely for a while yet on some degree of remote learning. It’s vital to ensure that this kind of instruction is…

1 min
a profitable crisis

The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary opens its confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 12, seeking to seat her before the election. The Milken Institute Global Conference, starting on Oct. 12, is being held virtually for the first time; it brings together leaders from politics, finance, and academia. In her annual policy address on Oct. 14, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will discuss the economy and public health. The speech will likely draw pro-democracy protests. Bank Indonesia unveils its interest rate decision on Oct. 13. The central bank has been one of the more aggressive in Asia, cutting rates four times so far this year. The second of three U.S. presidential debates is slated for Oct. 15 in Miami. The first Trump-Biden encounter was criticized as overly…

9 min
how the virus trumped the white house

SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t pay attention to party affiliation. Nor does it listen to spin that the nation is turning a corner in the pandemic or promises that a vaccine to solve everything is imminent. All it does is spread, silently and efficiently, wherever and whenever it can, taking advantage of people who let their guard down to find more throats and noses to infect. The coronavirus apparently found plenty of throats to colonize at the White House. At least 12 people who attended a Rose Garden ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Sept. 26, or other indoor events associated with it, have now tested positive, including the president and the first lady, two Republican senators, the president of the University of Notre Dame, former aide Kellyanne Conway, and press…

8 min
disney’s not the happiest place on earth these days

Caitlin Busscher, a nearly 10-year Walt Disney Co. employee, had been looking forward to returning to work after maternity leave. Busscher, who started out taking customer surveys on Main Street of the Magic Kingdom Park, worked her way up to designing custom tours for families coming to Orlando. Last week was supposed to be her first back. It didn’t turn out that way. Busscher was notified on Oct. 1 that her job was being eliminated—along with about 28,000 others at Disney’s pandemic-slammed U.S. resorts and consumer products division. “I think people understand it’s a business decision, it’s not personal,” says Busscher, 34, who’s looking for another job, possibly one that isn’t travel-related. “I don’t know what’s around the corner.” Theme parks, purveyors of family fun and good times, are looking like anything…

6 min
why black friday could be blue

Most years, Cassandra Davis wakes up at the crack of dawn on Black Friday armed with a battle plan formed with circled newspaper ads and some online research. She warms up her car in the Minneapolis winter for half an hour before driving to Target, Walmart, or J.C. Penney to cash in on the deals they’re offering. Her biggest prize in the past decade: a large flatscreen TV she scored for $700. In 2020 she’s not sure her tradition will survive. “I have to think about all of the what-ifs,” 50-year-old Davis says. “I’m really just watching the dollar even if things are inexpensive. We still have to be careful, because we don’t know what happens day to day with this pandemic.” Shoppers like Davis may be wary, but American malls and…