School's out


  • Markets: Each sell-off seems more gruesome than the last. The Dow and S&P had their worst day since 1987 and the Dow had its third-worst day ever. Wall Street's fear gauge, the VIX, closed higher than its peak during the financial crisis.
  • Energy: As demand socially distances itself from fuel, oil's getting clobbered. Many analysts think prices will continue to drop as global travel grinds to a halt and Saudi Arabia floods the market with crude.

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The Spring Break That Never Ends

As of Monday, 26 states plus the District of Columbia closed schools to curb the spread of COVID-19. The shutdowns, which already affect almost 30 million schoolchildren, are about to supercharge TikTok creativity. They're also upending a critical support system for working parents.

Netflix and study

Seattle's superintendent said school closings would "effectively economically cripple the city because of how it will impact people who have to stay home to watch their kids."

  • Millions of parents may need to stay home. But in 2017–2018, under 30% of U.S. adults could work at home, according to the Labor Department.
  • The burden falls especially hard on parents of children with disabilities who rely on school-provided services.

On Sunday evening, New York City said it would shut down its school system-the country's largest.

  • NYC will provide supervision for children of medical workers, first responders, and transit workers starting next week, as well as care for children who are homeless or below the poverty line.
  • That's no small feat: 750,000 of NYC's public school students are low-income, 114,000 are homeless, and ~20% have special needs.

It's more than the hours

Many students depend on schools for a warm meal. Everyday, the National School Lunch Program serves 30 million students across the U.S.

And as instruction moves online, districts are tapping the private sector to get tech into the hands of kids that need it. NYC's reportedly working with Apple to purchase up to 300,000 iPads for students.

But online learning could exacerbate the divide between disadvantaged students and their better-resourced peers.

  • The homework gap (when children lack internet connectivity at home) disproportionately affects black, Hispanic, and lower-income families.
  • 35% of U.S. households with students ages 6–17 and an annual income of

Bottom line: Closures will disproportionately affect the parents and children who rely on school-provided services.


Amazon Is Hiring South Bend, Indiana

On Monday, the company said it is looking to hire a mind-boggling 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the U.S. to help keep up with surging demand for e-commerce. It will also boost hourly pay for fulfillment and grocery employees by $2 in the U.S., 2 euros in the EU, and 2 pounds in the U.K.

  • Amazon's minimum wage in the U.S. is currently $15/hour.

Big picture: Raise your hand if you ordered from Amazon last week. Okay, that's all 2 million of you. With the coronavirus keeping people indoors and many brick-and-mortar stores forced to close, millions are turning to online delivery for basic items like toilet paper and more toilet paper.

  • It hasn't been the smoothest ride. Inventory for basic items has been running low, and some deliveries are taking longer than expected.

Looking ahead...other major U.S. grocers like Kroger and Albertson's are also ramping up hiring to meet demand.

The Brew wants to send our gratitude to all those on the front lines who can't WFH: cashiers, public officials, delivery workers, medical professionals, election volunteers, police/fire departments, and so many more.


Airlines Look for Emergency Exit

Things are getting really dire for the aviation industry. The very thing it's designed to do-bring people from one place to another in close quarters-is the very thing public health officials are telling us to avoid at all costs.

On Sunday, the Centre for Aviation wrote that "by the end of May 2020, most airlines in the world will be bankrupt."

But U.S. carriers aren't waiting that long. The trade group representing them, Airlines for America, requested more than $50 billion in financial assistance from the government yesterday.

  • That infusion would likely include federal grants, tax relief, and low-interest loans.

Internationally, things are bad, if not worse. Just a sampling of the horror stories:

  • Finnair cut 90% of its capacity.
  • Air France-KLM reported a "sharply deteriorated financial trajectory" as it plans to cut capacity by 70%–90%.
  • Austrian Airlines has stopped flying altogether.

Bottom line: "It is a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known," British Airways CEO Alex Cruz wrote in an internal memo.


Universal Wants to Quarantine With You

Everyone's a couch potato these days.

With that in mind, Universal Studios will make its movies available to watch at home the same day they open in theaters. First up? DreamWorks's Trolls World Tour on April 10. Wasn't planning on watching that, but…also wasn't planning on writing this newsletter from the bathtub.

  • Universal also said it'll make its movies currently in theaters, including The Invisible Man and Emma, available on-demand as soon as Friday.
  • The 48-hour rentals will have a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S.

The reason for the drastic change in policy, of course, is the coronavirus taking a battering ram to cinemas across the world. The North American box office just had its worst weekend since 2000. Know what came out then? Bring It On.

We could use some of that pep right now. Highly anticipated releases like the new James Bond, the new Fast and Furious, and the new A Quiet Place were pushed back because of the pandemic. Maybe we're just being punished for only making sequels…


We'll Always Have José Andrés

If there's one thing you can count on during an international crisis, it's the unwavering backbone of Chef José Andrés. The celebrity chef is closing his D.C.-area restaurants because of coronavirus...but converting many into "Community Kitchens" offering lunches to people in need.

Andrés plans to scale the project across the U.S. through his disaster relief nonprofit, World Central Kitchen. Andrés and WCK already helped serve 3,400 people stuck on the quarantined Grand Princess cruise ship.

Andrés and his wife Patricia created WCK in 2010 to help feed people in Haiti after a major earthquake. Every year, the nonprofit serves millions of meals around the world to people recovering from disasters, and they're pros at spinning up a kitchen quickly and working under difficult conditions.

  • WCK served almost 4 million meals in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, and it's still working in PR to improve food security.

Big picture: There's a lot of people doing good things right now. If you know of any, hit reply and let us know.


  • Ohio's health director invoked a health emergency late last night to close the state's primary polls today. Voting in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois will proceed as normal.
  • Apple received a $1.2 billion fine from French regulators yesterday over a deal with resellers to keep the cost of its products high.
  • Scientists tested the first experimental coronavirus vaccine on four volunteers in Seattle yesterday.
  • States across the country enacted strict measures, like closing movie theaters and gyms, to keep people away from one another.
  • San Francisco enacted a shelter-in-place lockdown.
  • The Met Gala is postponed indefinitely.


Who doesn't love a good Irish proverb on St. Patrick's Day?

Here's the quiz: We'll write the first part of a popular Irish saying, and you have to complete it. Ready? Here we go.
1. The older the fiddle...
2. May your home always be too small to hold...
3. You'll never plow a field by...
4. May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, and...
5. If you're enough lucky to be Irish…

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1. The older the fiddle the sweeter the tune.
2. May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.
3. You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.
4. May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, and never catch up.
5. If you're enough lucky to be Irish, you're lucky enough!

Comments (1)

Mar 17, 2020 - 8:14am
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