Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of March 30, 2020.
Make sure to check back as we update these stories.
We have a deal: Congressional leaders finalized a $2 trillion economic rescue package for the nation on March 27, 2020. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature. The package includes direct payments to Americans of up to $1,200—married couples could get up to $2,400—plus an additional $500 per child. Other items in the bill, which is double the size of the 2008 bailout bill, include $500 billion in loans to small businesses, $300 billion to extend unemployment insurance, more than $100 billion for hospitals and health care, $300 billion for large corporations, and $180 billion in aid to state and local governments. Washington Post.
Keep breathing. Invoking something called the Defense Production Act, an emergency power granted to the executive branch enabling it to direct industrial production, President Trump ordered car manufacturer General Motors to start making hospital ventilators to help fill a gap in the need for the breathing devices in the U.S. The nation currently has 160,000 ventilators, plus an additional 9,000 in stockpile, but it could need as many as 750,000 to combat coronavirus, which can cause severe breathing problems. GM says it could begin manufacturing as many as 10,000 ventilators a month by the end of April through a new production facility it is setting up in Indiana. Ford Motor Co., General Electric Co., and Toyota may also soon join the ventilator production effort. Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.
Rival to the rescue? Facebook pledged $100 million towards news sites that have experienced losses in ad spending due to the coronavirus. As Covid-19 spreads, forcing business shutdowns throughout the nation, their spending on media ads has also plummeted. Of the $100 million, $25 million will reportedly be given as grant money to smaller publishers, and $75 million go to larger publishers to help them make up for the shortfall in ad spending. As ad revenue has plummeted, readers have flocked online for information about the pandemic. Traffic on news sites has reportedly increased by 57% from last year. Readers are also spending 46% more time on those sites that they visit.
Facebook, like Google, is a rival of many publishers because its own ad platform has eaten up increasingly larger portions of ad spending that might otherwise go to traditional publishers. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNBC.
Strike on aisle four. Instacart shoppers, who buy and deliver many of the groceries that customers order online, announced they would go on strike over their alleged treatment during the coronavirus outbreak. The workers are demanding hazard pay of an extra $5 per order as well as protective equipment including hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. Hazard pay is additional compensation for work that causes physical distress that is not prevented by protective equipment, according to the Department of Labor. Currently, Instacart employees earn $7 to $10 per order, according to the company. Workers are also asking Instacart to change the default minimum tip amount in the app to be set to at least 10% to encourage users to tip more heavily during the outbreak.
Instacart employs 200,000 shoppers and expects to employ 300,000 additional shoppers over the next three months as demand for grocery delivery increases. New York Times.
Closing shop. Macy’s Inc. announced that it will furlough, or temporarily lay off, the majority of its 130,000 employees in the U.S. for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak. All of the retailers’ stores, which have been closed since March 18, 2020, will remain closed while the online store will continue to operate. The retailer says it will continue to provide health benefits for employees while they’re furloughed. These layoffs will add more unemployed Americans to the 3.28 million people who have already applied for unemployment during the outbreak. Wall Street Journal.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Weekly Scan.