Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of October 5, 2020.
Make sure to check back as we update these stories.
Trump tests positive for Covid-19. On Friday, October 2, President Trump announced he and First Lady Melania Trump had contracted the novel coronavirus. The president spent the weekend in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment. News reports said Trump had minor symptoms, and had seemed lethargic at his Bedminister, N.J. golf club during a fundraiser on Thursday. Presidential aide Hope Hicks, who had been in close contact with both the president and the first lady, announced she too had contracted the virus the day before both the first lady and president.
- The takeaway. The president’s illness upends the final four-week stretch prior to the general election on November 3. It may give greater urgency to a multi-trillion dollar stimulus package that has stalled in Congress, which would give aid to millions of workers who have been furloughed or laid off due to Covid-19, and could also stimulate markets. It could also reframe the debate about national health measures in response to the pandemic. More than 200,000 people in the U.S. have died from Covid-19.
Disney into the unknown. Disney said last week that it will lay off 28,000 employees, mostly from its theme parks, but also from retail stores and Disney’s Cruise line. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S., forcing businesses to temporarily shut down, Disney furloughed tens of thousands of employees, though with full health-care benefits. Before the pandemic, Disneyland in California employed 32,000 people. California has not allowed Disneyland to reopen yet due to the virus. Disney World in Florida employed 77,000 people. Florida’s governor allowed Disney World to reopen in July with restrictions, which brought 20,000 employees back to work at the park.
- The takeaway: Covid-19 has taken a toll on the hospitality and tourism industries. Even though Disney World has reopened in Florida, fear of travel and restrictions at the parks have reportedly deterred visitors. Disney’s theme park division brought in $1 billion in revenue in the latest quarter of 2020, a 85% decrease from the same quarter in 2019. Orange County, Florida, which is home to Disney World reported an unemployment rate of 11.6% in August, 2020. Anaheim, California, where Disneyland is located, reported a jobless rate of 15% in July.
Airlines change course. Two major airlines—American Airlines and United Airlines—furloughed 32,000 workers last week, following the expiration of an agreement in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES), which prevented airlines from cutting workers until October 1, 2020. The relief bill gave airlines $50 billion in stimulus funding. United and American furloughed 13,000 and 19,000 employees, respectively. American and United have reportedly said they might reverse the cuts if Congress provides them with more stimulus money. Two other major airlines—Delta and Southwest—have avoided layoffs in part because of voluntary pay cuts, early retirements, and buyouts.
- The takeaway: Congress has been unable to come to an agreement on another economic stimulus package, which would include aid for airlines and for unemployed Americans. A bipartisan group from the House of Representatives and a group of Republican senators came to an agreement on aid for airlines, which hasn’t been passed due to disagreements on the overall second stimulus package. Travel is still down as a result of the pandemic, with traffic through airports down 70% from a year earlier, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.