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California Governor In Hot Water For Attending Dinner Party Amid COVID-19 Surge

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has found himself in the same hot water that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was in after her hair salon trip this summer, in his case for a dinner at Napa County’s ultra-exclusive French Laundry restaurant that bucked the tenor of his own COVID-19 safety advice.

Newsom apologized Monday for setting a bad example, admitting that the dozen-person birthday dinner he attended for a friend and political adviser on Nov. 6 violated the greater caution he’s been preaching.

“I made a bad mistake. Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up and walked back out to my car,” the governor said at a press conference, noting that he didn’t realize how many people would be there until he arrived. “You can quibble about the guidelines, but the spirit of what I’m preaching all the time was contradicted. I’ve got to own that. So I want to apologize to you.”

It’s true that Newsom appears to have acted in accordance with official state rules, which are slightly more relaxed than what he’s been urging people to do as cases have skyrocketed in California. While the party had people from more than three households in attendance ― which California’s guidelines forbid at private gatherings ― the rules don’t specify any household limits for restaurant dining. 

Newsom also emphasized that they were seated outside, but here’s where things get murky. On Wednesday, Fox 11 Los Angeles published photos it had obtained of the governor and his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, at the dinner, and it looks like an indoors affair. 

The partygoers appear to be gathered in this room pictured on the French Laundry’s website. While the room does open to the outside, potentially allowing for better air circulation, it’s a stretch to call this outdoor dining. Politico deemed it “a fancy garage.” A source also told Fox 11 that the large sliding door to the outside was closed for part of the dinner. 

Indoor dining was allowed in Napa County at the time of the dinner, but Newsom appears to have exaggerated the COVID-19 safety measures in place. His office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s question as to whether Newsom stands by his characterization of the dinner as being outdoors.

Other Wednesday morning revelations have kept the heat on the event. Even as health officials nationwide urged people not to give in to “pandemic fatigue,” two California Medical Association officials, CEO Dustin Corcoran and top lobbyist Janus Norman, went to the party. The CMA, which is a powerful lobbying presence in the state Capitol, represents around 50,000 physicians in California.

The scandal will probably blow past Newsom, given his otherwise robust pandemic response, but it comes at a time when the state can’t afford for people to start bending the rules around group gatherings. Like most of the country, California has seen a massive surge in new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, forcing many counties to close down sectors of the economy again as hospitals brace for a further uptick in cases linked to holiday travel. 

Newsom and Pelosi aren’t the only California state lawmakers to come under scrutiny for their personal pandemic choices. Despite travel warnings from the state’s health officials, several legislators from California (and other states) just flew to Hawaii for a policy conference.

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  • Therapists predict how this year will shape our mental health.

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IATSE Claims Golf Channel’s Inadequate COVID-19 Protections Have Led To “Multiple Infections” Among Broadcast Crews

IATSE is accusing Golf Channel of not providing adequate COVID-19 protections for crew members working on broadcasts of PGA and LPGA tour events.

“While players and caddies have received rapid COVID tests prior to events, Golf Channel’s behind-the-scenes workforce is not afforded this same benefit,” the union said today. “This has led to multiple infections among broadcast crews whose work requires substantial travel between locations and whose craft does not always allow for social distancing.”

A spokesperson for Golf Channel said that its tournament productions “are following all recommended guidelines to keep employees safe with protocols in concert with partner-specific and local governance rules at each event’s location.”

Said Justin Conway, the IATSE international rep who represents workers at the NBCUniversal-affiliated Golf Channel: “At least 10 crew members have reported contracting the virus, and as of this morning, there may be a few more. You don’t know until people are tested. Testing is our goal. With crews constantly traveling and coming into contact with players, other crew members, and event volunteers, we’re concerned that without proper testing protocols it’s a matter of time before a Golf Channel show turns into a spreader event.”

Noting that other major television networks covering golf and sports events have instituted testing for crews, the union says that the Golf Channel’s management “has been uncooperative in response to calls for tests to be made widely available for broadcast crewmembers.”

“These techs bounce between networks and tournaments frequently — in some cases more often than workers who produce scripted motion pictures and television shows under the NBCUniversal umbrella,” Conway said. “We believe it’s resulted in a situation where Golf Channel broadcast technicians are being treated as second-class citizens.”

IATSE Adopts “Zero Tolerance” Policy For Members Who Don’t Follow COVID-19 Prevention Protocols

Films and TV shows produced by NBCUniversal are covered by strict COVID-19 testing protocols that were negotiated by Hollywood’s unions and management’s AMPTP, which IATSE believes should apply to workers at Golf Channel as well.

“The level of exposure that Golf Channel technicians encounter is greater than – or at least equal to – that of their NBC entertainment counterparts,” Conway told Deadline. “It is only reasonable to expect similar treatment.”

This isn’t the first time that the union has butted heads with the channel’s management. In January 2018, more than 300 broadcast technicians represented by the IATSE went on strike for 11 days to win a fair contract. That contract was up for renewal in January 2020 — before the pandemic shut down the industry for months — and according to the union, safety provisions were a key issue.

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7 unanswered questions about the coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna

  • There are now two vaccine trials with promising results, but there are plenty of caveats to the good news.
  • We still don't know whether the vaccine protects against asymptomatic cases or if it even lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • The two companies behind the vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, have yet to publish their vaccine data in medical journals, and both are pending approval by the FDA.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Two companies have now released promising results from coronavirus vaccine trials, but many questions remain unanswered.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced their trial results last week, with the finding that their vaccine to be more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.    

On Monday, upstart biotech company Moderna announced its vaccine was 94.5% effective.

Experts have lauded the efficiency of the vaccines' development, with the World Health Organization's director general calling it an encouraging "unprecedented scientific innovation" and infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci saying efficacy rates are "remarkable."

But scientists are also cautioning that the news comes with plenty of caveats. While Moderna has released more detailed information about its vaccine than Pfizer, neither company has yet published the results of the trials, which are ongoing. 

Here are seven questions that need to be answered before the vaccines go to market.

Do the vaccines protect against both severe and mild illness?

Pfizer:

To test their vaccine, Pfizer gave 43,538 volunteers either two doses of the vaccine or two salt-water placebo injections. 

While Pfizer hasn't yet released the details on the 94 COVID-19 cases in its trial, an independent board of experts found that those who did end up contracting COVID-19 were far more likely to have received the sham shots.

It's unknown whether the vaccine protects against asymptomatic infections. Participants were only tested for COVID-19 if they experienced symptoms.

Moderna:

Moderna conducted a similar trial with 30,000 volunteers.

In the trial, 95 participants became ill with COVID-19. Only 5 of those had received the vaccine. 

Those success rates, at 94.5% and more than 90%, are far higher than the 50% effectiveness required for approval, and the 70% effective experts were hoping for. 

As with the Pfizer trial,  it's unclear whether the Moderna vaccine protects against asymptomatic infections. Participants were only tested for COVID-19 if they experienced symptoms.

It's also not clear whether the vaccine reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, or death, Maria Elena Bottazzi, a co-director of Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, told Business Insider. 

However, in Moderna's trial results, none of the participants who received the vaccine had severe illness. In contrast, among people who received the placebo, 11 out of the 90 cases were severe. 

Can the vaccines stop virus transmission?

Pfizer:

While Pfizer's seem to lower the risk of contracting symptomatic COVID-19, we don't yet know if it lowers the risk of spreading the disease. 

If, for instance, it keeps the person taking it from feeling sick or testing positive, but doesn't eliminate the contagious particles from their spit, they could be walking around unknowingly transmitting the illness to vulnerable people. 

"The moment you get a vaccine doesn't mean you're going to put your mask in the trash," Bottazzi told Business Insider. "That is not going to happen. I hope people don't think that is going to be the magic solution for all.

Moderna:

The same is true of Moderna's vaccine trial. Without specific data on asymptomatic cases and on transmission rates among people who've received the vaccine, it's hard to know whether the vaccine can prevent people from passing on the virus. 

How long will the vaccines be protective? 

Pfizer:

Pfizer's trial found the vaccine became effective 28 days after the initial dose, but only looked at how effective it remained a week after getting the second dose. 

While the company may continue following trial participants if and when emergency authorization is granted, we won't know if the vaccine confers long-term immunity for years. 

"What will be the protective efficacy over time?" Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's vaccine-research group, said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Is this going to be a handful of months, like the flu vaccine? Is it going to be like measles or smallpox where it's lifelong immunity?"

Moderna:

Moderna tested its vaccine's effectiveness two weeks after the second dose. But again, whether it retains its effectiveness months or years later has yet to be determined. 

What does this mean for other vaccines?

All of the vaccine candidates are designed to target the same part of the coronavirus: the spike protein that allows it to attach to and invade host cells.

Other clinical trials by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are still underway, but these preliminary successes bode well for results to come.

Read more: 'Crazy hours, short nights': The inside story of how a buzzy biotech upstart developed a potential coronavirus vaccine in record time

More vaccine options could also help fast-track the availability of the vaccine to the general public. Pfizer has said it hopes to produce 50 million doses by the end of the year, and Moderna 20 million doses. 

Is it possible to say which vaccine is best? 

Pfizer: 

Pfizer did not release detailed data from its trial, so it's too early to say which, if either, vaccine is more effective or safer. The specific results that have shown the vaccine to be more than 90% effective are among the data as yet unpublished. 

An initial limitation of the Pfizer vaccine, though, is that it needs to be kept at negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit, presenting a challenge for storage and distribution.  

Moderna:

Moderna released more details than Pfizer about its vaccine trial, including the number of COVID-19 cases among vaccine recipients compared to those who got a placebo, leading to their assessment of the vaccine as 94.5% effective. 

But it would be "naïve to compare the 90% to 94.5%," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel previously told Business Insider. 

The one advantage Moderna does seem to have is that its vaccine does not need to be kept at extremely low temperatures. It can be kept for up to a month in a standard refrigerator, at temperatures between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When will Americans be able to get vaccinated?

Pfizer has said it hopes to produce 50 million doses by the end of the year and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021. Moderna expects to have 20 million doses by the end of 2020, and projects 500 million to 1 billion in 2021. 

But when people will get them is the million-dollar question, Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University, told Business Insider. He and other experts have said that they're waiting to see more data before jumping to conclusions about when life will return to normal.

High-risk healthcare workers and first responders should be the first in line to receive the vaccine when it's available, according to a recommendation from the National Academies of Sciences. The first phase of the plan includes vaccinating 15% of the population, also prioritizing those with two or more preexisting conditions and elderly people living in congregate care settings.

Phases 2, 3, and 4 of the plan involve rolling out the vaccine to Americans in public-facing essential jobs, such as those working in schools and grocery stores, and to older adults with risk factors who didn't make the first group.

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar last week said the Pfizer vaccine would be available to "all Americans" by April. On Monday's news briefing about Moderna's vaccine, Fauci said roll-out for Americans with pre-existing conditions will start in April.

"Even if no other vaccines were going to make it, as a worst-case scenario, I think by Memorial Day, end of June, any Americans who want a vaccine will have their hands on a vaccine," Bancel said in a video interview with Business Insider.

How safe are the vaccines, really?

Pfizer:

Pfizer did not report any serious safety concerns in their recent press release, but the company is still in the process of gathering two months of safety data to submit to the FDA. After the data are under review, information about common, short-term side effects will be public knowledge. 

However, no one will know the potential long-term side effects for a while.

Moderna:

Moderna has already reported some initial data on the side effects of its vaccine, which are significant but not life-threatening. Most were mild. The most common complaints were fatigue, experienced by nearly one in ten participants (9.7%) who received the vaccine, and muscle pain, which occurred in 8.9% of participants. In some cases, these side effects were severe enough to interfere with daily life. Other common side effects included joint pain, headaches, and pain or swelling at the injection site. 

Moderna has said the symptoms were "short-lived," but specific data has yet to be released and will be important to understanding the severity and duration of possible side effects.  

As with Pfizer, the possible long-term side effects are unknown, and it will take time to gather the data necessary to assess whether they might be an issue. 

Salmon said there's a chance that the eventual widespread vaccine rollout could result in some rare but severe reactions, so there needs to be a plan for addressing misinformation surrounding the vaccine's safety.

"There's a larger potential that if you vaccinate a lot of people quickly, a lot of bad things will happen to those people just by chance alone," he said. "If you vaccinate 30 million people over 65, you're going to have heart attacks and strokes within a day after vaccination. You need a system in place to separate coincidence from causal."

Do you have a personal experience with the coronavirus you’d like to share? Or a tip on how your town or community is handling the pandemic? Please email [email protected] and tell us your story.

Get the latest coronavirus business & economic impact analysis from Business Insider Intelligence on how COVID-19 is affecting industries.

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Moderna Says Its COVID Vaccine Is 94.5% Effective; Fauci Calls Results ‘Truly Striking’

Another experimental COVID-19 vaccine is proving highly effective in trials, according to its manufacturer, offering the best hope yet that a large portion of the U.S. population will be getting immunized sometime in the coming year.

The company, Moderna, said on Monday that its vaccine is 94.5% effective, based on a study of people who got either the actual vaccine or a placebo as part of a large-scale test that has been underway since the summer.

Of the 95 people in the experiment who developed COVID-19 symptoms, 90 were in the placebo group, with several getting the most severe form of the disease. Of the five in the vaccine group who developed COVID-19 symptoms, none got its severe form.

“The results in this trial are truly striking,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a telephone press conference convened by the National Institutes of Health. “I’d said I would be satisfied with a 70, 75% efficacy, that something like 95% was really aspirational … Well, our aspirations have been met, and that is really very good news.”

Last week, Pfizer announced that its own vaccine was more than 90% effective, based on similar findings. 

Both manufacturers have indicated they intend to seek emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and that if they get approval, they stand ready to start mass production. Moderna says it could produce enough to vaccinate 10 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2020, and Pfizer has said it could produce even more.

Fauci and other experts were quick to issue the same cautionary notes they did last week ― that this is still based on interim data, and that approval will, and should, depend on more information about safety. The vaccine’s long-term effectiveness is also an open question. It’s not clear how long immunity would last, assuming the preliminary data holds up.

Still, the Moderna news is especially encouraging, because its vaccine works in the same way that Pfizer’s does. Both use “messenger RNA,” which the human body uses as code to manufacture proteins. 

The vaccines have an artificially engineered version of mRNA that contains the instructions to create part of the COVID-19 virus ― in particular, the now widely recognizable spiky protein on the virus surface. When people get the vaccine, their cells start to produce the protein and the immune system reacts to it, developing a response that can then prevent the disease when people come into contact with the real virus.

Or, at least, that’s always been the hope. Although mRNA vaccines have been in development for many years, nobody has produced and deployed one successfully, as both Pfizer and Moderna now seem to be on the verge of doing.

The Moderna news increases confidence in COVID-19 vaccines for another reason. Although other manufacturers have tried approaches other than mRNA, they are similarly focusing on the spiky protein. If both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have indeed succeeded in generating an immune response, that’s more reason to think those other vaccines will too.

“One of the things that we find is potentially good news for the future… is the consistency across different platforms,” Fauci said. “All of them use the spike protein as the target … Although you never want to get ahead of yourself and make predictions before the results of the trials are in, conceptually this looks good.”

Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at Boston University, told HuffPost that the announcement is “good news for sure” and bodes well for other vaccines, although she cautioned that the data still needs more review. Also, she said, “there are still questions regarding whether these vaccines protect from disease alone or also asymptomatic infection ― which could allow the vaccinated to continue transmitting ― and longevity.”

The sort of rapid vaccine development associated with the coronavirus is unprecedented in human history. Experts said it was a product of decades of research, including into the development of the mRNA technique, as well as federal efforts through the Trump administration’s “Warp Speed” operation.

Pfizer did not use Warp Speed money to underwrite its research, but Moderna did. Both have secured advance purchases and both expect to profit from sales, though the Trump administration has said the goal is to make sure all Americans get the vaccine for free.

“The progress here, I think, does reflect this all-hands-on-deck approach, which has been taken since January by the entire scientific community ― that being NIH, academic centers and industry all working together in an unprecedented and seamless way,” NIH Director Francis Collins said. “Operation Warp Speed came along to make sure that all parts of the government were working together, moving swiftly.”

The news from Pfizer and Moderna comes just as the U.S. is setting new daily records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, with deaths rising as well. The situation looks more dire than it has at any point since the pandemic’s early phases, when the virus was brand-new to scientists and providers were still figuring out how to treat it.

Medicine has now developed much better therapeutics, which has helped to reduce fatality rates. But rising caseloads are overwhelming providers in hot spots like the Dakotas and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas ― and even if the early returns from Pfizer and Moderna hold up, it will be many months before most of the population can get vaccinations, given production timetables.

Distribution will be a huge challenge of its own, especially since the mRNA vaccines require cold storage, although Moderna’s does not appear to require the same sub-freezing temperatures as Pfizer’s.

For those reasons, even experts enthusiastic about the vaccine trials say it’s critical that Americans, and their political leaders, not become complacent.

“It’s more promising evidence that science will help us end this pandemic, and more reason for everyone to be especially vigilant now to stop this wave of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths,” Joshua Sharfstein, a former FDA deputy commissioner who is now a vice dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told HuffPost.

“We should not let the accomplishment of an effective vaccine have us feel we can let our guard down,” Fauci said on the NIH phone call. “In fact, it should be an incentive to double down.”

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US BANKING TECH SPEND FORECAST: What's driving IT spend growth in the US, how it will be impacted by COVID-19, and what the new normal could look like

  • Insider Intelligence publishes thousands of research reports, charts, and forecasts on the Banking industry. You can learn more about becoming a client here.
  • The following is a preview of one Banking report, The US Banking Tech Spend Forecast. You can purchase this report here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically reshaped the global economic landscape in a matter of months — and US banks' IT budgets haven't been spared. The US, home to many of the world's biggest banks, is also currently home to the among the highest case numbers and infection rates globally, and its economy shrank by 4.8% in Q1 due to the pandemic. This turmoil is having a direct effect on the US banking industry's digitization plans, and in this report we explore the extent of that impact.

This report is based on eMarketer's US Banking IT/Technology Expenses forecast, compiled in May 2020. In it, we focus on nine of the largest consumer-facing US banks by asset size as of Q1 2020, and how their spending on IT/tech is being affected by the pandemic both in the shorter term and the longer term. In this report, we divide the pandemic's course into three expected phases: Lockdown (early 2020-late 2021); Partial Reopening (late 2021-early 2022); and The New Normal (early 2022-2024 and beyond). In the first half of the report, we give an overview of what each phase will look like and how it will affect US banks as a whole; while in the second half of the report, we look at how each of these nine banks could be affected individually by the pandemic. 

In the US Banking Tech Spend Forecast report, Insider Intelligence explores underlying factors we expect to impact on US banks' IT/tech spending through the entire forecast period, including cybersecurity spending, IT infrastructure maintenance, and economic slowdown; factors specific to each expected phase of the pandemic; and finally factors unique to each of the nine banks included in this forecast. Together, these factors give an overview of how one of the largest banking industries in the world will ride out the biggest economic crisis since 2008. 

The companies mentioned in this report include: Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, KeyBank, PNC, Regions Bank, Truist, US Bank, and Wells Fargo. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • In the first phase of the pandemic, we expect US banks' IT/tech expenses to dip before reaccelerating. 
  • In the second phase of the pandemic, we expect banks' expenses to continue on an upward trajectory, albeit a slower one. The YoY growth of banks' tech and IT spend will be essentially flat.
  • In the third phase of the pandemic, we expect the coronavirus itself to be eradicated, leaving behind its social and economic aftermath — i.e., the new normal. During this period, banks' IT/tech expenses will increase at a slower pace than in previous years.
  • Truist's IT/tech spend will increase most during the forecast period of 2020 to 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.42%. KeyBank will have the lowest CAGR at 0.34%.
  • KeyBank will spend the most on IT/tech as a percent of total assets: Its 2020 spend will amount to 1.8% of total assets as of Q1 2020. Citi's 2020 spend will represent the smallest percent of total assets as of Q1 2020, at 0.2%.
  • Wells Fargo will have the largest annual IT/tech spend by the end of 2020 at $9.61 billion. It'll be followed by Bank of America with $9.14 billion and JPMorgan Chase with $8.91 billion.

 

In full, the report:

  • Gives an overview of underlying factors that will affect US banks' tech spending through the forecast period.
  • Highlights spend growth drivers and inhibitors specific to each of the pandemic's three phases.
  • Examines the spend growth drivers and inhibitors unique to each of the nine banks in the forecast, breaking these down into short-term (2019-2020) and the longer term (2021-2024 and beyond).

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Sharp declines across UK traditional media will cut its total ad spend by 7.5% this year

  • Insider Intelligence publishes thousands of research reports, charts, and forecasts on the Media, Advertising, and Marketing industry. You can learn more about becoming a client here.
  • The following is a preview of one Media, Advertising, and Marketing report, the UK Digital Ad Spending Update Q2 2020. You can purchase this report here.

The depth and lasting impact of the global recession, along with the sharp economic downturn in the UK, signal a long and challenging road to recovery. This year in the UK, total media ad spending will be £21.03 billion ($26.84 billion), down 7.5% from 2019. This steep decline in expenditures can be attributed to the lack of spending on traditional media.

"Traditional advertising has suffered hugely during the pandemic, due to stay-at-home orders and the cancellation of large sporting events," said Bill Fisher, eMarketer senior analyst at Insider Intelligence. "Digital, meanwhile, has offered the biggest captive audience and an easy and cost-effective route to consumers. Spend on traditional media will rebound once some semblance of normalcy returns next year, but it's unlikely to reach pre-pandemic levels."

After making very significant downward revisions across traditional media channels due to the effects of COVID-19, we expect traditional media ad spending to fall 22.6% in 2020. This estimate is based upon the assumption that the UK will not experience a significant second wave of infections.

As a result of the coronavirus, out-of-home (OOH) advertising was the most negatively affected medium, with growth revised down from our previous forecast by 26.3 percentage points. That was followed closely by radio, revised down by 22.0 percentage points.

.

Digital ad spending will remain relatively flat this year, growing 0.3% to reach £15.08 billion ($19.25 billion). However, it is the only major medium that will see growth in advertiser spending in 2020, accelerating its share of the total UK ad market. Although digital will gain 5.6 percentage points in market share this year, that trend will pause next year as traditional media bounces back. Digital will account for 71.7% of total ad spend in 2020, and that proportion will reach 75.6% by 2024.

Within digital, video ad spending will be the fastest-growing format this year, at 15.0%. Video will also account for more than half of all digital display ad spending for the first time. While display outlays will rise 7.2%, search spending will decrease by 3.2%. (Nonvideo display will decrease as well.) This year, and the subsequent recovery period, will be tough on sectors that spend heavily on search, such as travel and hospitality.

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Trump’s COVID-19 Adviser Tells Michigan To ‘Rise Up’ Over Whitmer’s New Restrictions

Dr. Scott Atlas, the White House’s controversial coronavirus adviser, encouraged an insurrection on Sunday against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) over Michigan’s new COVID-19 safety protocols meant to curb the state’s skyrocketing infection rates.

The remarks by Atlas, who is a neuroradiologist with no formal training in treating infectious diseases, came in response to the Democratic governor announcing an epidemic order starting Wednesday for at least three weeks. The new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services regulations halt in-person learning for high schools and colleges, indoor dining, theaters, stadiums, organized sports, casinos and group exercise classes.

“The only way this stops is if people rise up,” the Trump adviser tweeted in response to the new regulations. “You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp”

The tweet is in line with Atlas’ past comments about the pandemic. The Trump adviser, who was appointed in August, had alleged that stay-at-home orders “kill people,” when in fact the orders help protect Americans from the virus, which kills people. He has promoted herd immunity ― the idea that the virus will only be manageable once more people contract it and develop antibodies ― as a solution to the pandemic. That plan has been widely debunked by the American Public Health Association, the World Health Organization and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s widely respected top infectious disease expert.

Last month, Twitter removed a tweet from Atlas that falsely said masks don’t help stop the spread of COVID-19. Earlier this month, Atlas called Fauci a “political animal” for saying in October that the country “could not be positioned more poorly” heading into the winter, and then more recently praising Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine ― which was not researched and developed using federal funding from President Donald Trump.

“Well, we know that the White House likes to single us out here in Michigan, me out in particular,” Whitmer told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in response to Atlas’ tweet. “I’m not going to be bullied into not following reputable scientists and medical professionals. … I listen to people who have actually studied and are well-respected worldwide on these issues, not the individual that is doing the president’s bidding on this one.”

Michigan saw its worst seven-day stretch of infections so far last week, with more than 44,000 new COVID-19 cases and 416 deaths. About 85% of Michigan’s adult intensive care unit beds were in use as of Friday, and hospitalizations and ICU admissions lag well behind the skyrocketing new cases, according to state data.

Atlas’ comments against the governor are especially alarming given Whitmer’s history facing attacks from the right for her swift pandemic response that likely saved thousands of lives. Michigan was the site of one the first anti-lockdown protests earlier this year, where armed far-right demonstrators stormed the state Capitol building.

Whitmer at the time had implemented a stay-at-home order, which led angry right-wing Michiganders to go on social media and promise violence and “bloodshed” in the near future and threaten to assassinate Whitmer. Trump himself has constantly gone after Whitmer on Twitter ― at one point tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” ― and during campaign rallies, encouraging his supporters to not be silenced by her safety protocols that are informed by science and public health experts.

Nearly a dozen Trump supporters heard the president loud and clear, creating an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer for implementing COVID-19 restrictions. Six men involved with a far-right paramilitary group called Wolverine Watchmen face federal charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and an additional seven people face state charges in connection with the alleged scheme. Whitmer said Oct. 8 that the suspects wanted to “possibly kill” her, and she linked the plot to Trump’s rhetoric encouraging hate groups to take action.

The new regulations announced Sunday also come less than two months after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 the law Whitmer used to issue pandemic-related emergency orders in the summer and fall after the GOP-controlled state Legislature refused to extend existing declarations. The governor has since relied on the state’s Public Health Code to continue implementing pandemic-related safety protocols and restrictions.

“In the spring, we listened to public health experts, stomped the curve, and saved thousands of lives together,” Whitmer said in a statement. “Now, we must channel that same energy and join forces again to protect our families, front-line workers and small businesses.”

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These are the key commercial real-estate deals and trends to watch

The pandemic threw the real-estate world into disarray, as people emptied out of offices, hotels, and malls and worked from their homes. That disruption has transformed how people and companies finance, operate, and occupy real estate. 

Some big firms like WarnerMedia and Uber have been rethinking office space needs — and some commercial real-estate deals were put on ice as financing dries up. Coworking and flex-office firms are struggling under big rent obligations after years of rapid growth.

Still, some companies like IBM and Facebook have been pushing ahead with plans for big office spaces, showing that it may be too soon to call and end to the office. Apple has been in talks to grow a Manhattan office that it leased earlier this year. And Amazon Music has signed on for 40,000 square feet in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to use as production and recording space. 

A surge in e-commerce, meanwhile, is fueling demand for warehouse and cold storage space as companies look for new ways to reach customers. Life-sciences companies are fueling a big boom in demand for lab space. A surge in streaming content consumption and cloud data needs has made studio spaces and data centers red-hot real estate plays.

And with the pandemic increasing the amount of food delivery and hurting restaurants' bottom lines, ghost kitchens have been seeing a rush of venture funding. 

Here's the latest news on how real-estate markets are being upended, and how experts think these markets will play out in the long run. 

  • How Uber founder Travis Kalanick's real-estate buying frenzy could turn ghost kitchens into a new speciality asset class
  • Rents in top NYC shopping districts are crashing and dark storefronts are multiplying. A firesale sublease by Ralph Lauren on Fifth Avenue highlights the carnage.
  • Knotel plans to scale back its global portfolio by 60% over the next 6 months as the pandemic and financial problems have quashed its once grand ambitions to dominate the flex workspace sector
  • Elite litigation firm Boies Schiller is looking to sublet its glitzy NYC office after a firm-wide restructuring and attorney exits
  • Uber is looking to dump a big chunk of a huge new NYC office it recently signed. It's an abrupt turnaround for the ride-hailing giant.
  • Flex-workspace firm Breather has hired bankers to explore options including a sale, and it's a sign of a bigger consolidation push as office demand tanks
  • Flex-workspace firm Industrious is eyeing a big expansion in Asia and just inked its first deal outside the US
  • Knotel just slashed headcount again, with the flex-space provider's CEO telling staff he expected more of a bounceback in office demand by now
  • WeWork is demanding overdue rent from hundreds of small businesses and threatening to send them to collections agencies if they don't pay up
  • Studio space is a red-hot real estate play as demand for streaming content surges, and insiders say Brookfield could be the next big investor to pile in
  • Booming demand for lab space is a rare bright spot for real-estate developers. But a steep learning curve means some 'stupid money' investors could get burned.
  • ByteDance quietly leased 'massive' data centers in 2020, a sign it may have planned to shift TikTok operations to the US
  • Goldman Sachs, KKR, and Blackstone are pouring billions into data centers, a hot real-estate play that's chasing a boom in cloud storage and streaming content
  • Demand for lab space is booming, and real-estate giant JLL just hired a new life-sciences expert to lean into the opportunity
  • Citi's CFO says the bank is shrinking its office footprint and moving people to lower-cost locations to help keep expenses in check
  • 5 commercial real-estate investors who are raising billions laid out the red-hot opportunities and strategies they're leaning into after a major market upheaval
  • Blackstone's co-head of real-estate explains why the giant investor is still betting on office properties — and lays out the industries where demand for in-person workspaces are the strongest
  • Commercial real-estate hiring is heating back up. From strategy-focused exec jobs to the red-hot industrial space, 4 recruiters lay out roles they're trying to fill.
  • Meet the 4 dealmakers driving Blackstone's $325 billion commercial real estate portfolio. They walked us through how they're thinking about opportunities in the downturn.
  • The CEO of real estate heavy-hitter Eastdil explains the types of deals that are must-do right now — and warns that a 'de-retailing' trend is set to accelerate
  • Advertising and PR giant Dentsu is the latest corporate tenant to cast off glitzy NYC offices as more companies rethink their footprints
  • AT&T is putting WarnerMedia's huge NYC headquarters under review and could decide to cut hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space
  • IBM is hunting for a 500,000 square foot NYC office as tech tenants continue to double down on deeply-discounted workspaces
  • Amazon just leased a new space in Brooklyn to house recording studios for its music-streaming service, as Big Tech keeps gobbling up space while the office market flounders
  • Facebook scored a $100 million break on its blockbuster NYC office deal, and it could mark the start of a wave of discounts as vacancies soar
  • The Big Tech office isn't dead. Here's why giants like Facebook and Amazon keep gobbling up space while telling workers they can stay home.
  • Facebook thinks in-person collaboration can't be fully replicated remotely and is betting on physical office hubs in big cities as key recruitment tools
  • Apple is in talks to potentially expand its NYC footprint. It shows how tech is becoming a lone bright spot for a battered commercial real-estate market.
  • Facebook just reached a blockbuster deal to lease the massive Farley Building in NYC as a tech and engineering hub. Here's why it's a huge win for a shaken office market.
  • Facial-recognition experts say the pandemic is a huge tipping point for office landlords embracing the tech. Here's how they're pitching the idea.
  • SL Green is looking to sell a $1.1 billion Amazon-anchored building to buy back its shares. Here's a look at its strategy to defend its share price as the office market tanks.
  • IBM is on the hunt for a massive Manhattan space, showing that worries about the death of the big-city office may be overblown
  • Companies from banks to tech giants are looking to shed huge chunks of office space. Here's a look at 8 key sublease offers — and what they mean for rents in big-city markets.
  • Facebook is eyeing offices in cities like Dallas, Atlanta, and Denver to act as 'hubs' to support 50% of its workers staying remote — and it's a move that could upend Silicon Valley and NYC real estate
  • A blockbuster Facebook office deal is a make-or-break moment for the future of commercial real estate. 3 leasing experts lay out the stakes.
  • IBM is ditching a big WeWork office it has been renting in NYC — showing risks for the flex-space model as the pandemic prompts big companies to rethink real-estate needs
  • Ghost kitchens are pitching themselves as the future of restaurants. These are the 14 companies — and the money backing them — that you need to know.
  • Hotel lenders are racing to dump risky loans as the hospitality industry nears a breaking point, with defaults stacking up and high-profile properties starting to shutter
  • Here's the pitch deck that Koala, a startup bringing an Airbnb-style marketplace to the wonky timeshare industry, used to raise $3.4 million
  • Investments in risky hotel debt could get wiped out as travel gets slammed — and one group of lenders may see an outsized hit
  • A growing group of lenders are looking to unload hundreds of millions of dollars of souring hotel loans. Teams hired to sell the portfolios say it's just the beginning of a surge in activity.
  • Billions of dollars of Las Vegas development hang in the balance right now, but the owner of Caesars Palace sees the city's crisis as an opportunity to imagine its next mega-project.
  • The lender to a trendy Brooklyn hotel is looking to offload an $80 million mortgage as the hospitality sector craters — and it's the type of deal distressed-debt investors have been waiting for
  • Blackstone bet big on 4 huge Las Vegas casinos. Then the coronavirus brought Sin City to a halt, right as the PE giant was trying to unload one of its multi-billion-dollar jewels.
  • Hospitality startup Sonder is pushing ahead with plans to open its largest NYC apartment hotel yet as coronavirus cripples the travel industry
  • A student housing developer is facing congressional scrutiny after it pressured colleges to bring kids back to campus in order to keep dorms full
  • A student-housing developer is facing backlash after pressuring schools to bring college kids back to campus so it could keep its revenues up
  • Big investors poured billions into student housing — thinking it was a recession-proof bet. Then the pandemic emptied campuses and turned that thesis on its head.
  • Neighbor, an Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup that wants to be the Airbnb of self-storage, has started partnering with landlords to turn empty offices into spaces for people's stuff
  • Cold storage is 2020's red-hot real estate play. Here's how the private-equity backed industry leader is spending $500 million to tighten its grip on the market.
  • Real estate developers are building costly cold storage space before they even have tenants. They're betting the risky move could be a winning investment as grocery delivery booms.
  • Logistics startup Bond has teamed up with SoftBank-backed REEF Technology to bring nano-warehouses to parking lots across the US. Here's how they're building the distribution hubs of the future.
  • Amazon just signed its largest-ever warehouse lease in NYC. Here's how it's been making deals left and right to grow its massive storage and distribution network.
  • Amazon just signed a lease on a huge NYC warehouse used by one-time rival Jet.com. The e-commerce giant has been gobbling up industrial space as demand for deliveries surges.
  • Warehouses are the new darling of commercial real-estate thanks to a surge in e-commerce, with firms like Macy's and Boeing selling while Amazon snaps space up
  • A surge in grocery deliveries is creating a huge opportunity for industrial real-estate developers. Here's how the coronavirus is transforming retail and warehousing.
  • Bond, which has raised $15 million from investors including Lightspeed, wants to become the Shopify of logistics by turning vacant retail space into warehouses
  • Inside the rise of real-estate titan David Simon, the country's top mall-owner facing a make-or-break moment with a $2 billion bet on troubled JCPenney
  • Giant mall owner Brookfield Properties is ditching its worst locations and redeveloping what's left into 'mini cities' that blend shopping with residential space
  • Markets for retail and office space are under enormous pressure. A foreclosure in the works for a building on NYC's glitzy Fifth Avenue shopping corridor shows just how bad it's getting.
  • Real-estate developers are betting on a risky strategy to reimagine retail space in hopes of rescuing struggling shopping centers
  • JCPenney has hired brokers to sell off 163 locations across the US as the department-store chain slashes its footprint and tries to emerge from bankruptcy
  • Neiman Marcus' shocking exit from glitzy Hudson Yards strikes a huge blow to the $25 billion project. The departure could unravel one of the most expensive mega-malls in US history.
  • Brookfield CEO Bruce Flatt lays out how retail and office space can still thrive and why private infrastructure is the next big opportunity
  • Bankrupt Neiman Marcus's $80 million flagship store in the glitzy Hudson Yards mega-mall is now being marketed as office space. It's another black eye for the city's retail market.
  • Inside a 'big short' bet against malls: Investors are claiming wins, and a research analyst who said the wagers were misguided is out
  • Lease obligations are 'suffocating' retailers — and a potential court fight over a Victoria's Secret flagship NYC store highlights a wider battle between tenants and landlords
  • Neiman Marcus just filed for bankruptcy, and it could mark a major blow to NYC's glitzy Hudson Yards — one of the most expensive mega-malls in US history. Here's why.
  • A top Americas exec at commercial real-estate giant Cushman & Wakefield is out
  • Lenders are balking at financing mega commercial real-estate deals — and that's leaving buyers for buildings like the Transamerica Pyramid in limbo
  • Global firms are cutting down on their real-estate footprint as CEOs across industries are considering a permanent switch to remote work
  • Inside the drama over control of the iconic Chrysler Building: A real-estate tycoon and a prestigious college are renegotiating a critical $150 million deal
  • Real-estate tycoon Aby Rosen is abandoning $600 million worth of acquisitions as the coronavirus slams New York City's multibillion-dollar sales market
  • Major tenants are delaying big leases in NYC as they re-think their office space needs for the post-coronavirus world
  • 7 charts show how the coronavirus could clobber real estate, from retail vacancies of nearly 15% to plunging office rents in Texas cities
  • WeWork rival Knotel just told staff it's looking to raise $100 million as it faces a turbulent office market and a host of unpaid bills
  • WeWork is turning to big brokerages like CBRE and JLL to help it find customers. It's a huge strategy shift that shows how hard office space is to fill right now.
  • Wells Fargo is ditching a 750-person WeWork space, while Citi inked a deal with the flex-office giant far from a big city. Here's a look at how financial firms are retooling their real estate.
  • WeWork is looking to fill 2 million square feet of vacancies in New York City, its biggest market. Here's what's sitting empty.
  • The short-term rental market is consolidating in big cities as demand surges in rural areas. Here's how startups like Sonder are taking advantage of the shakeout.
  • Office-rental startup Knotel bragged it was a nearly profitable anti-WeWork. Now lawsuits are stacking up. 12 insiders reveal what happened to the $400 million Knotel said it raised last year.
  • WeWork is leasing a big new office in Jersey City to house the headquarters of a planned spin-off from pharma giant Merck. Here's how the deal will work, and why it's a big win for the struggling coworking giant.
  • Women-focused coworking startup The Wing is almost $270,000 behind on rent and other charges at its Bryant Park location in New York, according to lawsuit
  • Co-living is the real-estate industry's big bet on dorm-like housing for young professionals. Here's why players like Nuveen and Cushman & Wakefield remain bullish even during the pandemic.
  • WeWork is ditching a major Manhattan office it hasn't even moved into yet — and it's the first big step in a turnaround that's put its entire real-estate portfolio under review
  • Vacancy rates are soaring above 15% in Washington DC's normally recession-proof office market. Here's how industry players think this downturn will shape up — and why some are still optimistic.
  • Leaked financials from WeWork rival Knotel show huge pre-pandemic losses and a shrinking cash pile. It's a grim sign for the flex-office space.
  • After 2 layoff rounds, a valuation nosedive, and chaotic landlord negotiations, Airbnb-backed Zeus Living is shifting its business model. Here's how the corporate-housing startup is moving forward.
  • WeWork's US head of real estate is leaving the coworking giant as the firm works through a major turnaround attempt
  • WeWork is rolling out global layoffs over Zoom and has kicked off talks to slash jobs in the UK as the coworking giant struggles to cope with coronavirus fallout
  • Knotel and insurance startup Rhino didn't disclose its CEOs were brothers when it struck a complex financial deal. Now a key partner could be on the hook as Knotel scrambles to pay bills, slashes staff, and plans to shed portions of its portfolio.
  • WeWork's revenue growth rate was cut in half in Q1
  • As WeWork and flex-space rivals stumble, 18 million square feet of space in NYC is at risk. Here's what that means for the real-estate market.
  • Airbnb and RXR Realty are scrapping a partnership at Rockefeller Center that the home-sharing giant had touted as a '21st-century hospitality model'
  • Airbnb-backed corporate housing startup Zeus Living is asking landlords to renegotiate their leases and withholding April and May rent until they sign
  • Knotel is scrambling to pay millions in bills that started stacking up before the coronavirus hit, and hasn't paid April rent at some locations
  • Leaked documents from Knotel show the WeWork competitor struggled to hit financial targets well before the coronavirus hit
  • 'This is the day of reckoning' for companies like WeWork. 10 real-estate insiders lay out the future of flex-offices, and how employers are preparing now.

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Economy

Politics and Surging COVID-19 Cases Are Hurting Consumer Sentiment

The University of Michigan has released its preliminary reading on consumer sentiment for November. The results were far weaker than expected, and that appears to be tied to what was happening around the election and as COVID-19 cases have continued to surge.

The headline reading showed that sentiment dipped down to 77.0 in November, after showing a reading of 81.8 in October. This dip was small on the monthly report, but this is still down sharply from the 96.8 reading seen back in November of 2019.

Econoday had its consensus at 82.0 for the headline sentiment reading. Dow Jones had published its consensus estimate at 81.5, and Reuters had an 82.0 consensus.

The drop was much larger in expectations rather than in current conditions. The index for current economic conditions ticked down to 85.8 in November from 85.9 in October, and that is down from 111.6 a year ago. The index for consumer expectations dropped to 71.3 in November from 79.2 in October, and that compared to 87.3 a year ago.

The University of Michigan’s report on consumer sentiment noted that outcome of the presidential election and the recent rapid rise in COVID-19 infections and deaths were attributed in November decline.

There was a political angle as well. Interviews after the election pointed toward a substantial negative shift in the expectations ahead from Republicans, while the expectations from Democrats were shown to have recorded no gain.

The University of Michigan has noted that fears among Democrats about the resurgence or coronavirus cases likely offset gains in economic expectations. Friday’s report indicated that 59% of Democrats reported that their normal life had changed to a great extent due to the coronavirus, compared with just 34% among Republicans.

The gap in expectations was shown to have closed somewhat due to the coronavirus and the partisan shift in expectations. That was in place long before the election.

As for the coming months, the University of Michigan expects that the partisan gap is likely to enlarge. It sees those gains being limited until a potential vaccine is approved and widely distributed.

Friday’s report was definitely weaker than expected, but it failed to create any major moves in the markets. The Dow Jones industrials were last seen up 210 points at 29,290, and the S&P 500 was up almost 25 points at 3,561.61.

ALSO READ: 5 Stocks Set to Score From MSCI Index Rebalancing


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Business

COVID-19: This Is the Deadliest County in America

The rates of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in America have risen in the past few days, taking daily case counts to record levels. For several days in the past two weeks, the number jumped above 100,000. Yesterday, cases rose by 136,000. The winter will be worse. Fatal case rates have not been as bad as when the nation was hardest hit by this measure from early April to mid-May, when the counts rose above 2,000 nationwide on some days. However, the number of coronavirus fatalities has begun to reach 1,000 a day recently.

Rates of both confirmed and fatal cases are highly uneven across the nation. The county with the worst rate of fatal cases per 1,000 people is Jerauld County, South Dakota. It has a five-year average population of 2,029. Deaths per 1,000 stand at 6.41, many multiples of the national average.

Jerauld County is in the center of the state. It has been steadily losing population since 1930, according to information from the U.S. Census. Over 98% of the population is white. Almost 20% of the population lives below the poverty line, which is well above the national average.

According to The New York Times, South Dakota currently is one of the hardest-hit states in America and one where the rates of “new deaths are increasing.”

The next hardest-hit county is Hancock County, Georgia, which has a death rate of 5.27 per 1,000 people. This county sits east of Atlanta, and its average population over the past five years was 8,535. Next is Emporia, Virginia, with 5.20 deaths per 1,000 people on November 11. The county has a five-year average population of 5,381. It is in the southern part of the state, near the North Carolina border.

Galax County, Virginia, also near the North Carolina border, ranks fourth by the same measure at 4.52. Its population is 6,638. Next on the list based on deaths per 1,000 is Randolph County, Georgia, near the Alabama border. Its rate was 4.23 on November 11, and it has a five-year average population of 7,087.

Another measure of how hard a county has been hit is confirmed cases per 1,000. On November 11, this figure was highest in Trousdale, Tennessee, where the number was 192.21. The county has a five-year average population of 9,573. Chattahoochee, Georgia, ranked second for confirmed cases per 1,000 at 172.10. Its population is 10,767.

Bon Homme County, South Dakota ranks, next with 169.32 confirmed cases per 1,000. Its five-year population average stands at 169.32. It is followed by Norton County, Kansas, at 167.70 confirmed cases per 1,000 people. Its five-year average population is 5,486.

Except for Jerauld, Bon Homme and Norton, each hard-hit county, based on both confirmed death rates and confirmed case rates, is in the South and in relatively rural areas. However, based on its population and size, Jerauld County is also nearly as rural as a county gets.

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