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COVID-19 Crisis: A Patchwork of Reopenings

4 MINUTE READ | May 4, 2020

COVID-19 Crisis: A Patchwork of Reopenings

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Abby Long

Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.

Allow me to be the 2341958th person to tell you Happy Star Wars Day. Let’s have a great Monday. 

In this briefing, we’re covering: 

  • Weekend in review

  • Consumer privacy and Big Tech antitrust

  • The week ahead

Many states reopened this week despite concern from public health officials. At a glance, the U.S. currently sits (roughly) half-open/half-closed, along with many countries around the world

Source: The New York Times

The current situation has caused a patchwork of challenges (and headaches) across industries, including food services and restaurants, gambling, health care services, manufacturing, retail, supply chain logistics, and transportation and travel.

Many experts agree that the decision to open or remain sheltering in place falls along partisan lines across the country (and really, throughout the rest of the world as well). 

The big question heading into the weekend was if stores reopened, would consumers venture out? According to Apple Maps mobility data, it looks like people were indeed on the move

Source: The Morning Brew with Apple Mobility Data

Two significant events made headlines over the weekend. 

On Saturday, Berkshire Hathaway held its annual shareholder meeting, with Warren Buffet presenting to an empty arena. During the 4½ hour presentation, “Buffett said his conglomerate had taken many steps responding to the pandemic, including providing cash to struggling operating units.” In summary, from NBC News, “Berkshire lost $49.7B in Q1, down from last year’s profit of $21.66B; it has sold its entire stake in all four major American airlines; it hasn’t made a major investment since the downturn.” 

On Sunday, President Trump held a town hall meeting at the Lincoln Memorial, sharing new estimates for America’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis

Other news of note,

  • Roche’s antibody test has been cleared by the FDA for emergency use.

  • The Call to Unite livestream began this weekend and featured appearances by Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Michael Stipe, and more. 

  • Uber will soon be requiring passengers and drivers to wear masks.

  • Quibi faces headwinds with reports of Paul Singer, the activist investor who tried to force leadership changes at AT&T and Twitter, now backing a patent lawsuit filed by Eko (an interactive video company) against Quibi. 

  • In retail, J.Crew filed for bankruptcy protection, J.Jill is restructuring, Modell’s bankruptcy case has been suspended to the end of May. 

U.S. lawmakers will be introducing the COVID-19 Consumer Data Protection Act this week, “a bill that seeks to put guardrails on the data that companies can collect in the name of virus-tracking, and punish companies that break the rule.” 

Two takeaways: This legislation is reserved for data being used to contact trace the coronavirus. As we know, there is still no federal privacy bill. Additionally, there’s still no consensus for contact tracing, and similar conversations are happening worldwide, so it will be interesting to see how lawmakers proceed. We’ll keep you updated on what you need to know as this bill winds its way through the Capitol. 

Over the weekend, the House Judiciary Committee called on Jeff Bezos to testify before the House antitrust panel about Amazon’s “alleged practice of gleaning financial information from third-party sellers to bolster its own private label business.” 

Today, the Senate is heading back to the Hill to hammer out the shortcomings of the $670B federal program to aid small businesses. More corporate earnings will be announced this week, including Disney, Hilton Worldwide, Yelp, Peloton, Pinterest, and Tyson Foods, to name a few. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear cases over a public teleconference call, the first time in its over 230-year history to do so. 

Monday: Star Wars Day, Pulitzer Prize winners announced

Tuesday: Trade balance report, Cinco de Mayo

Thursday: Jobless claims

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