The Google logo outside if its New York City offices, which were closed on May 19, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images
Google is once again allowing financial web site Zero Hedge to make money using Google’s ad platform.
In mid-June, Google told CNBC it had banned Zero Hedge from using its ad platform because of the comments section of the site, which Google said consistently violated its policy against dangerous and derogatory material. Zero Hedge removed the content and implemented moderation on the comments section, then appealed Google’s move.
On Tuesday, Google said its team had re-reviewed the site, confirmed the material had been removed and began allowing it to begin running ads again on June 21. CNBC verified ads were running through Google on the site as of Tuesday.
“We work with publishers to keep them aware of our monetization policies, which cover user comments on sites, and offer guidance on how to address policy violations if they wish to be reinstated,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “We have policies like these for many reasons, including to ensure companies advertising with us have confidence their ads aren’t running against dangerous, derogatory or hateful content.”
In mid-June, NBC News reported Google had also warned conservative publication The Federalist about the content in its comments section and gave it an opportunity to address the issues to prevent removal from its ads platform. The Federalist said last month it had deleted its comments section. At the time, Federalist co-founder Sean Davis called the matter a “pretty terrifying example of the power that you have of the unholy union of corrupt media and monopolistic tech oligarchs.”
Zero Hedge didn’t immediately return an emailed request for comment
Earlier this year, Twitter banned the Zero Hedge account from the social media platform after it published an article linking a Chinese scientist to the outbreak of the fast-spreading coronavirus last week, saying the account had violated “platform manipulation policy.” The account was reinstated in June, with Twitter calling the removal a mistake.
Israel took strong early steps against Covid-19, but now the virus is resurging and some say the country reopened too soon
People walk in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit on July 8, 2020, after authorities reimposed lockdown restrictions to fight a spike in coronavirus infections.
Menahem Kahana | AFP | Getty Images
CNBC is looking at how countries around the world have tackled Covid-19. By talking to a wide range of experts, as well as everyday citizens, we’re taking stock of what’s gone well — and what hasn’t. So far, there have been more than 10 million cases worldwide of Covid-19 and more than 500,000 people have died. The United States has reported more than 3 million cases and more than 130,000 deaths, the most of any country. Israel, the second country in our series, has confirmed more than 33,000 cases and more than 300 deaths.
What has been going well
“The first wave”
Many of experts have separated Israel’s response into two buckets: February to May, and May to now. Some are calling it the first and second wave of the virus.
By mid-April, the country of 8.8 million was ready to declare that it had succeeded in the fight against Covid-19, and had begun reopening schools, bars and restaurants. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted in press conferences at the time that the country had done an admirable job “in safeguarding life and blocking the outbreak of the pandemic” with its aggressive response. The mood in Israel was highly optimistic.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. The country is now seeing a fiftyfold increase in new cases and is starting to shut down pubs, pools and gyms once again. The government is now wondering whether Israel reopened too soon.
Still, a lot went right in Israel in the first phase of the pandemic that other countries can learn from. One of the major reasons that Israel was largely able to fend off Covid-19 over the spring and early summer, they say, is that politicians deferred to public health experts to formulate a plan — and they stuck to it. There were early lockdowns across the country, and a decision to bar all flights from China in late January.
“A month ago, I remember jokingly saying to a friend in another country ‘warm regards from the other side of the curve,” said Yonatan Adiri, founder and CEO of Healthy.io, an Israel-based health-tech company. “But it didn’t last.”
Israel’s health system provides universal coverage to citizens and permanent residents. And Israelis choose from four competing nonprofit health insurers that provide a benefits package. The country also collects medical information in a centralized manner, and the four insurers use the same technology. That made it easier for Israel’s public health officials to conduct bio-surveillance and contact those at risk than it was in some other countries, like the U.S., where medical information is scattered across health systems.
“We created a predictive model for those likely to suffer from the virus and in early March, we sent SMS messages and followed up with personal phone calls from physicians to everyone at risk for the higher tier of Covid-19 complications,” said Dr. Ran Balicer, a public health physician and director of health policy planning at Clalit, the largest of the HMOs. “We told them that if they felt ill, they should call us and we would sort them out through telemedicine and home care as best we could.”
Balicer said that his company also sent daily questionnaires to members to collect responses about symptoms, which helped them create a “geographic early warning sign.” This kind of information is also relevant to help public health departments direct more testing and other resources where it’s needed most. When it comes to bio-informatics and data science, most of the experts agreed that Israel is among the best in the world.
What’s been pretty good so far
Culture of experimentation
Israel is often referred to as a “start-up nation” for a reason. The country is known for its entrepreneurial ethos, and that same culture of experimentation has shone through during the Covid-19 crisis, experts say.
“This is the start-up nation so it’s a lot of trial and error,” said Dr. Yair Schindel, a managing partner for the Israeli health and life sciences venture fund aMoon and a member of the health ministry task force on the virus.
Professor Yair Ein-Eli takes part in a demonstration of a reusable face mask that his research team says can disinfect itself and kill the coronavirus, Haifa, northern Israel, June 10, 2020.
Amir Cohen | Reuters
“We are trying things on a weekly basis,” he said. “And figuring out a way to live with this virus without shutting down the economy completely.”
Schindel said that the government is recommending that people in certain regions quarantine — “sometimes it’s a city, sometimes a neighborhood” — and there’s also a theory about using “capsules” to separate people into groups that can more closely congregate together at work and at schools. As it faces rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, he notes that there’s been a willingness to try out various strategies to keep cases under control and curb rising levels of unemployment.
Schindel said that 100,000 citizens are taking a serological test, which is a blood test that looks for signs of a previous Covid-19 infection, to help officials better understand how the virus has spread across the population.
This will help Israel figure out how to manage the next phase of the pandemic and determine if it has sufficient capacity within the health care system to treat an influx of Covid-19 cases. Still, there are many unknowns, including whether a positive result for Covid-19 confers immunity down the line when the person recovers.
What’s been disappointing so far
Victim of its own early success?
When the economy shut down at the start of the pandemic, many business owners suffered. One of them was Matthew Krieger, who runs a public relations firm called GKPR. Despite taking a hit, Krieger supported the measures to restrict access to public spaces because he felt that it was more important that the country take steps to save lives.
A customer has his temperature taken at the entrance to a Tel Aviv restaurant in early June 2020 after some Israeli businesses reopened following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
Amir Cohen | Reuters
But he notes that some of his fellow residents now feel the response was too harsh, because there were so few cases of Covid-19 — until recently.
“It was an aggressive response, but it was the right response,” said Krieger, who notes that he’s been disappointed to see such a rapid reopening of the economy — and subsequent outbreak. Now, he said, he’s nervous to go out in public and especially into large crowds. He feels that the public health measures should have been more thoughtfully rolled back to keep people safe.
Israel was early to adopt contact tracing, a method to inform people who may have been in close contact with a Covid-19 carrier, to self-isolate. But the system has had its kinks. In recent weeks, thousands of Israelis got alerts on their cellphones that they must quarantine after an exposure. But as NPR reports, many people who received the message were at home, rather than in a place they could have bumped into someone with the virus. Needless to say, health officials got flooded with confused phone calls.
Now, the country is evaluating whether it needs to hire more people to conduct the epidemiological investigations.
There have also been privacy concerns with the country’s approach to contact tracing. The Shin Bet security agency was given emergency powers in March to trace Covid-19 cases using the phone locations of those infected. But Israel’s Supreme Court expressed concerns in late April that this kind of move could lead to a “slippery slope” of using “extraordinary and harmful tools against citizens.” Experts across public health largely believe that digital contact tracing, which involves using smartphones, is yet to be proven as a method to contain viruses. So for now, many civil rights groups are wondering whether the trade-off to citizens’ privacy was worth it.
In recent weeks, Israel has seen a reemergence of the virus — and experts have a range of theories for that.
One factor, according to Adiri, is politics. When the pandemic hit, Israel was dealing with the fallout of inconclusive elections that resulted in no majority in the country’s parliament, making it impossible for a government to be formed. After a third election on May 17, the country finally appointed Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to share power, with Netanyahu serving as prime minister for 18 months, then followed by Gantz. The two rivals announced they would set aside their differences to help the country through the Covid-19 crisis, but critics note that the government has swelled with new appointees at a time of record unemployment.
“This time around, we have a government in place so the civil servants and public health experts now have to interact with a lot of political incentives around them,” said Adiri.
Other experts suggest the country reopened too quickly, and did not heed the advice of public health experts. One top official, Siegal Sadetzki, resigned earlier this month in response, and posted a multipage letter on Facebook explaining her reasons. Many believe, including Sadetzki, that Israel moved too quickly from a total lockdown to removing restrictions, without a carefully constructed plan of phases.
Now the country has moved to reimpose some of the restrictions that were lifted in May, but it may be too late, some experts believe. The country is now reporting around 1,100 daily infections, nearly double the peak in the spring.
“The tough part in the initial crisis we did really well,” said Adiri. “But the routine part when it comes to managing it and living with it, we’re still not there.”
Everyone agreed, however, that it’s too soon to determine how Israel is managing this current outbreak and whether it will rise to the challenge. “It’s difficult to talk about the events right now because they are still underway,” said Balicer. “I think the jury is still out, but overall I’d say that there has been a good amount of solidarity and all segments of society have come together to fight this.”
How Israel scores overall: 7.5/10
We asked every expert we spoke to for their score out of 10 (1 is the extremely poor and 10 is ideal). It’s an extremely subjective measurement, but the average across all of them is 7.5. Most of the experts would give a far higher score when considering the response from February to May. But the recent outbreak, in their opinion, suggests some flaws with the response.
“I would have given us a 10 out of 10, but the way we are responding now is more like a 5,” said Adiri. “So overall, it’s somewhere in the middle.”
The first clinics, which are rolling out as a pilot program, will be located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Phoenix, Louisville, Detroit and San Bernardino, California. Amazon expects to open 20 health centers across those five cities and, if the pilot is successful, it will establish additional centers in other cities and states in 2021, the company said.
While the clinics will serve Amazon employees, they’ll be operated and staffed by Crossover Health, a start-up that works with self-insured employers to provide health care services. The health centers will be located near Amazon’s fulfillment centers, sort centers and delivery stations. With Amazon warehouses open around the clock, the centers will also have extended hours to “accommodate various employee work schedules.”
Darcie Henry, Amazon’s vice president of human resources, said the clinics are designed to provide a range of preventative care resources for warehouse workers, in the place of emergency or urgent care options, which are not only more expensive for patients but also limited in the types of care they can provide.
“We want to solve that for our employees, and the launch of these new neighborhood health centers will provide a range of quality primary care services for employees across the country,” Henry said.
The clinics will offer acute, chronic and preventative primary care, prescription medications, vaccinations, behavioral health services, physical therapy and chiropractic care, among other services.
The clinics are launching at a crucial time, as coronavirus outbreaks continue to pop up across the country. Many warehouse employees have pushed Amazon to protect them better from the virus while they’re on the job. Amazon facilities across the U.S. continue to report new cases and at least nine workers have died from Covid-19.
Amazon has added to its suite of benefits for warehouse employees in recent months. In June, Amazon said it would start providing 10 days of subsidized emergency backup child or adult care for all of its U.S. employees until Oct. 2.
Last September, Amazon launched a virtual health clinic with in-home follow-ups for employees in Seattle, referred to as Amazon Care. In May, Amazon expanded the service beyond Seattle-area corporate employees to warehouse workers near the company’s headquarters. Using an app, employees can connect with medical professionals for a video consultation and then request an in-home visit if necessary.
Seattle Children’s Hospital plans to close its daycare center, highlighting a growing problem for health care workers
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Photo: Sigrid Olsson | PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections | Getty Images
Seattle Children’s Hospital has announced in an email to staff that it is shutting down its daycare center in a cost-cutting move, as the coronavirus pandemic has reduced demand for lucrative elective medical services. The center will be closed effective June 30, 2021.
Hospitals across the country have taken major hits to their bottom line during the Covid-19 pandemic. In many states, health systems have delayed or cancelled non-essential elective procedures to make space for a potential flood of Covid-19 patients.
Childcare for essential medical workers has been a big challenge during the crisis. These workers are needed for long shifts at the hospital, but their young children are not able to attend school. Making matters worse, many daycare centers have closed down because of the virus, and the ones that remain open can have waiting lists of eighteen months or longer.
The email states that the decision was made in part to avoid future layoffs.
“With the financial impacts we have experienced from the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot sustain our current spending and maintain the growth and financial stability we need to fulfill our mission,” the email reads. “We have decided to take action now to ensure we remain affordable for our patients and families and protect our most valuable asset: our team members, by avoiding future layoffs.”
The email expressed “deep sadness” for the move and suggested alternatives, including a childcare subsidy program.
A hospital spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Two parents impacted by the decision say they have been thrown for a loop and lack alternatives. Finding availability at a different daycare is a challenge for them at this stage — and even if that were possible, most traditional day care facilities don’t have sufficiently long hours in place to accommodate the schedule of a health care worker. It’s also more challenging to find a nanny given the competition, or an au pair that’s willing and able to fly to the U.S. during a pandemic.
Both the people declined to be named, because they are not authorized to speak to the press.
They noted that it’s a big problem for highly paid doctors, but will present even greater hurdles for environmental services workers, nurses and respiratory therapists. One parent is now considering two nannies on back-to-back shifts, but is deeply concerned they won’t be able to afford it.
In the Seattle area, other hospital executives have broadly expressed concerns about their health care workers with children at home.
“We’re worried about our workforce,” said Providence CEO Rod Hochman by phone back in March.
Providence currently offers a daycare benefit and looked to increase capacity during the Covid-19 crisis. UW Medicine, another local health system, confirmed that the hospital network is looking into potentially matching university students with an interest in childcare development with its staff-members in need of an extra pair of hands.
An employee looks for items in one of the corridors at an Amazon warehouse.
Carlos Jasso | Reuters
Amazon is putting in place new inventory restrictions at its warehouses to prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping rush.
In a note to sellers on Monday, the company said it’s instituting stricter quantity limits for all third-party merchants that store goods in its U.S. warehouses.
All product categories are impacted by the change, with quantities differing on a product-by-product basis. The new policy, which was first reported by CNET, takes effect today.
“Given the unprecedented challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has placed on all of us, we are preparing early to deliver a great holiday season for our customers and selling partners — building out capacity as quickly as we can so we can deliver products customers need and want directly to their doorsteps and help you continue to grow your business,” the note states.
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that the quantity limits will “help ensure all sellers using Fulfillment by Amazon have space for their products.” FBA is Amazon’s program that lets individual sellers ship their products to an Amazon warehouse, and Amazon ships the product to customers for a cut of each sale.
Even with the new limits, most products will have enough space available for over three months of sales. If merchants sell all of their stock, they can send in new inventory any time, Amazon said.
Amazon is also waiving inventory removal fees at its warehouses starting July 14, the note states. Amazon typically charges sellers a storage fee for products that aren’t selling in its warehouses. By waiving the fee, it will allow sellers to more easily remove stagnant inventory and free up space at FBA facilities.
The changes show how Amazon is preparing for this year’s holiday shopping season, which is likely to be more challenging than before given the Covid-19 pandemic.
Between March and May, Amazon weathered a series of supply chain constraints and delivery delays at its warehouses as a result of a surge in online shopping orders. The company prioritized shipments of essential goods to make sure shoppers could access in-demand items like hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
Since then, delivery speeds have largely returned to normal, but as Covid-19 outbreaks continue to pop up in some parts of the U.S., Amazon has taken steps to prepare for the possibility of new demand constraints, including pushing back its annual Prime Day shopping event. Prime Day is now expected to take place in the fall, with a target of the first week of October.
How Canada is fighting Covid-19: ramping up PPE production, travel ban from the U.S. and Bonnie Henry
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 situation in Canada from his residence March 17, 2020 in Ottawa, Canada.
Dave Chan | AFP | Getty Images
CNBC is looking at how countries around the world have tackled Covid-19. By talking to a wide range of experts, as well as everyday citizens, we’re taking stock of what’s gone well — and what hasn’t. So far, there have been more than 10 million cases worldwide of Covid-19 and more than 500,000 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The United States has reported more than 3 million of those cases and more than 130,000 deaths, the most of any country in the world. Canada, the first country in our series, has confirmed more than 105,000 cases with more than 8,000 deaths.
What has been going well
Many of Canada’s leading hospitals were generally prepared for an influx of Covid-19. There were initial concerns about a lack of personal protective equipment back in April, but the country quickly ramped up production. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that Canadian companies are producing so much PPE to fight Covid-19 that the country is almost at the point of being self-sufficient.
“We did really quickly retool our manufacturing supply chain,” said Zayna Khayat, a health strategist at Toronto-based SE Health and an adjunct professor of health sector strategy at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. “We never had domestic capacity for things like masks, gowns and vents, so it’s been good to see us get there.”
A man waves a Canadian flag as first responders parade down hospital row in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in a salute to healthcare workers on April 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cole Burston | AFP | Getty Images
“Covid-19 is ongoing, but so far the hospitals have never gotten that saturated,” added Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor at McMaster University and an infectious disease physician. Even in cities with the most Covid-19 cases, like Toronto, doctors are reporting that the situation doesn’t mirror Italy, where hospitals were overwhelmed and couldn’t maintain the standard of care.
The cult of Bonnie Henry
Dr. Bonnie Henry, a physician and the provincial health officer of British Columbia, has become a kind of folk hero in Canada during the crisis. “She stands out for really clear messaging and her empathy. When she announced the first death in Canada, she was overcome with emotion,” said Andre Picard, a health columnist for The Globe and Mail.
British Columbia Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, speak to the media on the novel coronavirus in Vancouver, British Columbia, January 31, 2020.
Don Mackinnon | AFP | Getty Images
Henry has become such a figurehead that when a Vancouver-based shoe company learned that she was a fan, they put out a limited-edition release of shoes to honor her.
Public health experts note that it’s important to have a spokesperson who can regularly speak to people about the pandemic in a consistent way. Henry, at least so far, has all the qualities that public health departments typically look for in a public face. Many people find her soft voice to be comforting, and she’s taken time to remind Canadians to be good to each other and to come together in the face of a unified threat. She typically ends her calls and presentations with a trademark line: “This is our time to be kind, to be calm and to be safe.”
Most important, her communication style seems to be working. British Columbia could have experienced a major outbreak, given that a large chunk of its population travels back and forth to China. But public health experts note that it’s been manageable. Thus far, there have been a little more than 3,000 reported Covid-19 cases and less than 200 deaths in the province. “If you look at British Columbia, with its population of millions of people, the fact that they came out relatively unscathed from Covid-19 is a huge testament to her leadership,” said Chagla.
The bravery of Canada’s providers
Healthcare workers cheer as Toronto first responders parade down hospital row in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in a salute to healthcare workers on April 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cole Burston | AFP | Getty Images
Similarly to other countries, Canada has seen hundreds of its medical providers get sick with Covid-19. Ontario, in particular, is reporting rising cases among heath-care workers. Doctors and nurses have spoken out to the local press referring to the situation as scary and alarming, but many are continuing to treat patients despite the risks. Some workers in long-term care facilities have died from the virus.
“It’s the job, we go in,” said Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist and professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, when asked about the contribution of the country’s health-care workers.
“There are so many stories of courage and kindness on the front lines,” added Dr. Andrew Boozary, an assistant professor of public health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
What’s been pretty good
People enjoy drinks and food at Amsterdam Brewhouse’s patio, as the provincial phase 2 of reopening from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions begins in Toronto, Ontario, Canada June 24, 2020.
Carlos Osorio | Reuters
Experts say that Canada’s economic relief package — and its safety net in general — is more robust than what the U.S. has offered.
Canadian residents may apply for up to $2,000 in direct monthly payments for a four-month period. That program was open to those who had lost their job or couldn’t work because of Covid-19, but has now been expanded to those who earn up to $1,000 per month.
Similarly to the U.S., there were delays with the system, at least initially, but most of the experts agreed that the program has done a lot to support those impacted by the pandemic.
“I am not an economist but the federal transfer program seems to have kept our economy going along OK,” said Fisman, the Toronto epidemiologist . “As provinces have controlled their epidemics they have started making new jobs (and) I do think there is a renewed sense of needing to onshore some manufacturing.”
“We did a good job ensuring that people had enough financial means to live through lockdowns,” added Tazim Virani, an assistant clinical professor at McMaster University. All in, the relief will provide $27 billion in direct support to Canada’s citizens and its businesses.
“I think we’re a culture of followers,” said Picard, “but we need clear rules to follow, at least in public spaces.”
The messaging has been “wishy-washy” added Picard. Some blame the fact that Canada’s health system functions at a provincial level, rather than at a national level, so guidelines differ across the country.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removes his face mask as he visits the Big Rig Brewery, which utilizes the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy given to businesses affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Kanata, Ontario, Canada June 26, 2020.
Patrick Doyle | Reuters
Yoni Freedhoff, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, said that regions are setting their own guidelines on wearing masks. In certain areas, these are mandatory where social distancing can’t be maintained, and in others mask wearing is advised but not enforced. Some public health experts feels this policy makes sense, because there aren’t active Covid-19 outbreaks across the country, but others say there should be consistent rules everywhere.
Canada issued a travel ban on March 20 for visitors from the U.S. Since then, thousands have been turned away at the border, particularly those traveling for nonessential reasons. That ban is set to continue until July 21, but it isn’t a total ban. Health-care workers are still able to move between the two countries, as well as foreign workers and people with immediate family in Canada visiting for nondiscretionary reasons.
The government has been stricter in recent months about travel, and is now advising against any nonessential trips, but some Canadians feel that the restrictions should have come sooner than mid-March. “We didn’t close borders quickly enough,” noted Freedhoff, the family medicine physician.
Trucks traverse the Ambassador Bridge, a main trade route linking Canada and the United States, as coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions remain in place, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada July 5, 2020.
Carlos Osorio | Reuters
Fisman, the epidemiologist, agrees that the federal government could get tougher on enforcing the border. But he notes that it’s very difficult to restrict movement from the U.S., as people usually find ways to get places when they want to. In addition, the economies of Canada and the U.S. are extremely intertwined. All in, he believes the travel restrictions came at about the right time, given what was known at that stage.
What’s been disappointing so far
Canada’s health-care system is publicly funded, so care is covered by tax dollars. But the long-term care system relies on a mix of public and private payments, and some people are paying out of pocket. The Commonwealth Fund, a global health research nonprofit, reports that out-of-pocket payments still represent about 15% of overall health spending, and much of that was spent on nonhospital institutions including long-term care homes.
50 crosses have appeared on the side lawn of the Camilla Care Community nursing home on Hurontario at the Queensway. 50 of their residents have died there due to a COVID outbreak.
Richard Lautens | Toronto Star | Getty Images
“It exposed a longstanding problem in that sector,” said Picard, the columnist. “It’s not a system and it’s not properly funded, and there’s both poor pay and chronic staffing problems.”
Many of the deaths in Canada have been residents of nursing homes. By mid-April, that population alone represented more than half of the overall fatalities, and horrifying reports circulated about abandoned, desperately ill patients. Most of the experts agreed that this is an opportunity for Canadians to reevaluate how they take care of their aging residents.
“It’s been damning,” said Boozary. “We have come out of this as a country knowing that we have failed the residents of our long-term care homes.” Boozary said that he hopes that Canada emerges from the epidemic with a much better strategy for how to fund care for elderly residents, as well as how to staff facilities.
Migrant workers and inmates
Similarly to the U.S., the pandemic has disproportionately affected Canada’s most vulnerable residents.
Some provinces reported outbreaks in prisons, and about 600 migrant workers tested positive on a farm in Canada after arriving in the country in the spring. The government has restricted travel, but it did allow foreign workers to come into the country before picking and growing season. Some workers told CNN earlier this month that the quarantine was poorly handled, and employers put them in risky situations.
“The most recent blowup here has been around miserable treatment of migrant farm workers, who are housed in dormitories and have had big Covid outbreaks,” said Fisman. According to Fisman, government health officials could be doing a lot more to protect these workers, including to separate them and stop them working if they start experiencing symptoms.
Masks and testing in Ontario
Women get their nails done, as the provincial phase 2 of reopening from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions begins in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on June 24, 2020.
Carlos Osorio | Reuters
Ontario, a province in Canada, reported a drop in daily tests throughout April, despite seeing an uptick in deaths. That proved to be a worrying trend. In May, news broke that more than 55 million N95 masks stockpiled by Ontario had expired, which raised yet more questions about the readiness to tackle the pandemic.
“There were clearly organizational and political issues,” said Fisman.
Overall in Canada, just two provinces — Ontario and Quebec — have accounted for more than 90% of the country’s Covid-19 cases.
How Canada scores overall: 6.5/10
We asked every expert we spoke to for their score out of 10 (1 is the extremely poor and 10 is ideal). It’s an extremely subjective measurement, but the average across all of them is 6.5. Some provinces, like British Columbia, scored far higher than others, including Quebec and Ontario.
As Picard put it, many Canadians took heart that the response was better than the U.S. across a variety of fronts, but they recognized that the country was “no Australia.”
Employees of the online review site Yelp at the East Coast headquarters of the tech company on October 26, 2011 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Yelp is bringing back “nearly all” of its 1,100 furloughed employees and restoring employee pay and work hours starting in August, the company announced Monday.
The company will also extend its office closures into 2021, resulting in the layoff of 63 more employees.
Yelp in April laid off 1,000 employees and furloughed roughly 1,100 more, as the coronavirus pandemic dramatically decreased consumer interest in going out due to social distancing mandates.
“As local economies begin their recovery, we remain cautious but optimistic in the face of continued uncertainty,” Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote in an email to employees that was shared with CNBC.
“We expect to see a continued fluctuation in business openings and closures during the course of the pandemic as communities respond to local outbreaks. While the pacing and duration of the recovery are still unknown, the executive team and board feel confident in our ability to withstand the challenges and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead,” he added.
Workers across the nation are slowly returning to their jobs, though Covid-19 cases are still rising. Weekly jobless claims for the week that ended July 4 totaled 1.314 million, while continuing claims came in at 18.06 million, according to the Labor Department.
These doctors and nurses volunteered to battle Covid-19 in the Navajo Nation, and came back with a warning
A group of medical providers gathering at the Gallup Indian Medical Center
Source: Nate Teismann
Dr. Jeanne Noble has worked all over the world as an emergency medicine physician. So when the hospital where she works, UC San Francisco, asked if anyone was willing to fly out to the Navajo Nation and help with an escalating Covid-19 outbreak, she eagerly volunteered.
The Navajo Nation, which reported its first Covid-19 case in mid-March, has seen infection rates per capita among the highest in the country. Thus far, there have been 8,000 cases and more than 300 deaths. The reservation, which is home to more than 170,000 people, is spread out across the varied desert landscape of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The people refer to themselves as the Diné.
Noble went to work at the Navajo Nation’s hospital — Gallup Indian Medical Center in New Mexico — as part of the second group that made the trip out from UCSF. The first group arrived in April after responding to a call from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez for health worker reinforcements. Around that same time, a similarly-sized cohort of medical providers from UCSF made their way to New York.
Noble’s group arrived in May. She was immediately impressed with the steps taken to ensure that more patients could get seen on-site. “They had put up plastic sheets and barriers to double the capacity in the emergency room, and then taken over an old pediatric clinic,” she recalled. “There were also tents outside for the less sick patients.”
Still, many of the Covid-19 patients had to be transferred to larger facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, or Flagstaff, Arizona, if their health deteriorated. Often, Noble would have to call up three to four different hospitals in these regions to find space for her sick patient. Now, with a spike of cases in Arizona, Noble is concerned it’ll become even more challenging for patients to get the intensive care they need.
Noble and her colleagues have been back in San Francisco for a few weeks, but she says their experiences were a constant reminder that Covid-19 is a “terrible illness,” as she treated dozens of patients who were suffering.
But she also stressed that it’s a disease that has disproportionately impacted certain populations over others, including low-income groups and communities of color.
Social and economic inequities
The Navajo Nation, which has experienced social and economic inequities for decades, has been particularly vulnerable.
Large swathes of the population at high risk for serious complications from Covid-19: More than a third suffer from chronic medical conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. According to the CDC, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest prevalence of diabetes in the United States, more than twice that of non-Hispanic whites.
A group of providers wearing masks at the Gallup Indian Medical Center
Source: Dr. Nate Teismann
But lack of basic services that many U.S. residents take for granted are another more pressing problem.
Noble recalled how one of her patients, a man near the age of 70, had been sick with Covid-19 and discharged from the hospital after making a recovery. His home was 30 miles away, and he had no way to contact his family. So he started walking home in the blazing heat, eventually collapsing from dehydration.
After being picked up by paramedics, the patient was checked back into the hospital, where he had just recently been discharged.
“He didn’t have a car or a phone and he was also diabetic and out of insulin,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is a relatively familiar story.” Noble pointed out that there is a service available that provides transportation to Navajo patients, but it’s not perfect. Sometimes there isn’t a ride available, or patients aren’t given a number to call.
Many of the Navajo live in overcrowded households with their families, where the virus can spread quickly, and more than a third lack access to running water at a time when it’s critical to wash their hands. Moreover, hauling water can often mean breaking social distancing guidelines. There are only about a dozen grocery stores, and stocking up with basic food supplies can mean a three-hour drive.
“Everything is exacerbated by the fact that in this community, a high percentage of homes don’t have electricity and running water,” said Dr. Nathan Teismann, an emergency care physician at UCSF.
“There’s also a relatively sizable homeless population, high rates of chronic disease, and behavioral health challenges – and that is fanning the flames of Covid-19.”
All of the doctors and nurses agreed that the government needs to do far more to protect this population. Noble continues to be concerned about donations running out. She felt that at the very least, there needs to be funding for mobile health units so providers could visit patients at their homes, as well as better access to clean water. She is urging policymakers to consider solutions around housing, so there are more options available for people with Covid-19 to safely isolate.
“These might be expensive propositions, but we’re talking about a basic human right for things like access to drinking water,” she said.
Dr. Tara Sood, an emergency medicine specialist, recalled how one of her patients tested positive but was told to return home to recover.
After speaking with him, she learned he lived in a small one-bedroom unit with his wife and two others, making it near-impossible for him to isolate himself.
“Thankfully, we got him a hotel room,” she said. But Dr. Sood noted that “socio-economic status” plays a huge role in both Covid-19 exposure and recovery. “There were so many patients living in homes with eight other people with nowhere else to go,” she said.
Gallup Indian Medical Center emergency entrance
Source: Dr. Nate Teismann
The hospitals that serve Navajo patients were doing a “heroic job,” according to Noble, of making the most of what they had. At the Gallup Indian Medical Center, there were plastic sheets used to increase emergency department space, and a reuse program with face shields. There were also creative solutions for devising gowns.
But the need to improvise revealed the underlying lack of supplies.
“We were always on the cusp of outstripping supplies,” said Teismann, who was working at the hospital in mid-June. “I constantly wondered while I was there, ‘will today be the day that there aren’t any more ICU beds’?”
Noble believes there needs to be a long-term solution to ensure that hospitals in the poorest and most rural areas have adequate access to protective equipment. Donations can dry up, particularly as America’s larger hospitals scramble for supplies.
A sense of isolation
One of the hallmarks of Covid-19, say the doctors and nurses, is the isolation that many patients experience. In their time with the Navajo Nation, they met with older, sick patients who didn’t speak English well. And it was difficult to communicate with them if a translator wasn’t available.
Many were isolated from their family-members and didn’t have cellphones. Some patients were flown out to unfamiliar places, including to larger hospitals in other states, which only increased their sense of loneliness. Some of these patients ended up on ventilators, and no one could visit them in person without adequate protective gear.
“It’s horrible and it’s not how we expect someone’s life to end,” said Sood.
“It’s an incredibly resilient and strong-willed population and they have fended for themselves for decades,” said Noble. “And there’s a strong sense of community,” she noted, adding that it made it only more challenging for people to be separated from close friends and family-members.
All the doctors and nurses said they had patients who were in their twenties, thirties and forties who needed to be hospitalized, but the majority were older. Very few people died at the hospital, as the sickest were transferred off to other places. But in one particularly harrowing case, a patient of Noble’s in his late sixties lost consciousness and died in the car on the way to the hospital.
‘This pandemic won’t be dictated by human preference’
The doctors and nurses returning from Navajo Nation have a message to share for their fellow Americans. As of this month, officials are reporting record cases of Covid-19 and a smattering of states have been hit particularly hard by the virus. At the same time, people are itching to resume life as normal — and some researchers have called it “pandemic fatigue.” In some parts of the country, there’s a widespread reluctance to wear a mask or follow social distancing guidelines.
“If you’re in young, you’re not immune from getting critically ill,” said Noble. “Wearing a face mask needs to be taken seriously, and social distancing needs to be taken seriously.”
“Just because you’re not experiencing it (Covid-19) personally, it doesn’t mean that massive chunks of the population aren’t,” said Sara Kaiser, a nurse practitioner. Kaiser said that she observed the Navajo people following the public health guidelines as best they could, and many were highly concerned for the health and safety of family members.
“People are getting tired, but unfortunately the course of this pandemic won’t be dictated by human preference,” added Teisman. “Instead, it will follow the biology of a contagious respiratory virus.”
‘Shark Tank’ star Daymond John on the pivot to the experience model: ‘Retail is changing by the day’
Retail is going through what can be considered a “golden age” as businesses adapt to a new landscape of connecting with consumers, “Shark Tank” star and serial entrepreneur Daymond John said Friday.
Companies such as Home Depot are using the internet to their advantage to thrive, while others that lack the necessary technology are dying, the FUBU clothing line founder and CEO told CNBC.
“Retail is changing by the day,” he said of successful retailers in a “Closing Bell” interview. “[Retailers] are either dying or they’re striving,” and successful retailers are “just finding a new way to get to their new consumer online.”
The necessity for experiential shopping, he said, can be illustrated by the surging stock prices of online-based commerce firms Amazon and Shopify, the latter of whose stock price recently climbed into the four-digit club.
Shares of Amazon, the e-retail conglomerate, are up more than 73% year to date and closed Friday’s session at a fresh high of $3,200. Shares of Shopify, which outfits businesses with e-commerce tools, are up nearly 160% in that same period, closing the session at 1,031.86, which is within $30 of its peak trade earlier this month.
The comments come amid a wave of retail bankruptcies during a coronavirus pandemic response that had left store operations limited or closed and consumers locked down at home for months. Some of the most noteworthy bankruptcy protections in retail came from Nieman Marcus, J.C. Penney, Pier 1 Imports and J. Crew, among others.
“They’re going to close, they’re going to have smaller imprints, and they’re going to have to change around their model,” John said of companies looking to survive the tech-driven disruption. “Their model is going to need to be more of an experience.”
The experiential retail model involves more than marketing products and customers buying goods. Traditional retailing is all about acquiring new shoppers, upselling current consumers and making recurrent customers buy more frequently, John said.
Home Depot pivoted to the new retail environment starting in 2018 by investing $11 billion into its technology infrastructure to fend off brick-and-mortar competition from Lowe’s and establish a web presence to stave off others such as Amazon.
The goal is to find customers online, John said, explaining how a company such as Sephora must train salespeople to track a customer’s buying habits and consult them on future purchases. He contrasted it to FUBU’s heyday, when the product was simply shipped to a department store, such as Macy’s, and the apparel company was unable to document their customers’ interests.
“If your salespeople now are not in the transactional mode of making a quick sale, and they’re in the mode of making a content and a conversion play and following you home and knowing your buying habits, you’re going to be in good shape,” John said. “But if you’re only thinking of your store as a place of transactions, you’re not going to be in good shape.”
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to ″Shark Tank,” on which Daymond John is a co-host.