April 28, 2020

Are Any States Really Ready to Reopen?

Zero states have met President Trump’s criteria for governors to begin relaxing their stay-at-home orders and allowing businesses to re-open, despite planning to do so this week. These guidelines are based on the rate of increase of new cases and the capacity of health care facilities within each state. 

The guidance suggests states exhibit 14 consecutive days of decline in new COVID-19 cases before relaxing the stay-at-home orders. 

GPG examined daily COVID-19 case data to see which states, if any, are approaching that 14-day criteria. The answer? None

New York, the state with 17,000 COVID-19 deaths, has seen the most consecutive days of declining new cases at six. But Governor Andrew Cuomo won’t reopen any part of the state before May 15.

Georgia, a state that began relaxing stay-at-home orders on Friday, saw five consecutive days of declining cases that ended on April 15

Texas–which has not seen more than two consecutive days of case declinesis set to relax restrictions by the end of the month.

And data out of the University of Washington has suggested no state will be in a position to relax social distancing until at least May 6.


COVID-19’s Cashless Revolution?

The World Health Organization’s warning that cash could potentially spread coronavirus prompted some to destroy, disinfect, or quarantine banknotes that had circulated in virus-ravaged regions.

As a result, cashless transactions have spiked globally. Singapore’s largest bank reported the volume of cashless transactions nearly doubled in the first three months of 2020 year over year. And the volume of cash withdrawals and deposits dropped a staggering 11 percent in the same period.

But critics of cashless societies worry about the impact on the unbanked, who continue to rely on cash as their primary currency for day-to-day transactions.

There’s also been movement towards digital currencies. But the pandemic has created something of a paradox. Any move to digital currency would require significant bank liquidity in order to maintain consumer confidence, and the pandemic has squeezed it globally. 

China’s central bank has already begun a digital currency pilot, seeking to change how central banks manage both liquidity and physical cash. And other central banks are not far behind in seeking to develop central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

How these pilots play out will be an important indicator of what cashless transactions and digital currencies may look like in a post-COVID world.


COVID-19 By The Numbers

Retail Politics

The retail industry’s top Washington trade groups are out this week with a new plan to reopen America’s stores to the public. 

The Retail Industry Leaders Association and National Retail Federation envision three phases – with the first beginning now – that rely on stringent and consistent sanitization practices to help relax government prohibitions against retail operations. Here’s how they’d do it:

  • Phase 1: Facilitate e-commerce, curbside pickup and home delivery by allowing the complete reopening of distribution centers and warehouses, as long as distancing and sanitization guidelines are followed. In addition, all storefronts would be allowed limited operations if they can follow the significant restrictions and contactless operations under which many restaurants are currently running.
  • Phase 2: Open stores to the public with a hefty batch of distancing and hygiene protocols for both employees and customers. The groups recommend smaller stores, for example, limit occupancy to between 20 and 50 percent of regular capacity.
  • Phase 3: Allow companies to lift remaining operational restrictions – including social distancing – as long as sanitization practices remain in place.

The full list of recommended protocols is here, but no crystal ball’s included. The groups suggest states rely on public health officials to determine when to progress.

Women Still Laughing Alone With Salad

Stock image suppliers have been busy producing new content to address growing demand for photos that accurately reflect our pandemic reality.

It’s no longer responsible to populate branded digital touchpoints – especially those directly addressing COVID-19 – with images of crowded streets and firm handshakes.

So as companies pivot to address changing consumer needs and concerns in real time, they are also rethinking the visual language of their owned properties

  • Shutterstock’s The Shot List, a monthly guide to the most in-demand content, highlighted a few key subjects for photographers to focus on in May. They include unique home décor, remote work, quality time with loved ones and food.
  • iStock Photo is now prominently featuring its COVID-19 image collection on its homepage to make it easier for users to find the specific images they need.
  • Shutterstock now has 42,322 artful 3D medical illustrations of the coronavirus available for download.
  • &Walsh created a set of relatable new emoji icons inspired by the unique experience of living under the stress of social distancing guidelines.

From self-isolation to elbow bumps to humorous emojis, it’s become much easier to find the right images to demonstrate your company’s response to the crisis.

Major Pharmacies, Laboratories Double Down to Expand Testing

Major retailers and diagnostic companies like CVS Health, Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger, Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp and Abbott Laboratories have announced an expansion of their COVID-19 testing capabilities.  

These companies will expand the availability of tests over the next month, relying in part on new developments in test technology as well as lessons learned from early deployments at select sites nationwide.

This recent announcement reflects the Administration’s strategy to make public-private partnerships a key part of its COVID-19 response and its ability to reach Americans where they are. 

In particular, it highlights the nimbleness and ability to innovate these companies offer in times of unprecedented challenges.

With governors across the country rolling out plans to reopen their states in May, as noted above, COVID-19 testing will play a significant role in working to contain the outbreak and slow its spread. 

The United States has so far lagged in testing rates, far outpaced by countries such as Germany, Italy and Canada. This could cause serious consequences as Americans start to leave their homes.