April 6, 2020

COVID-19 Social Media Guidelines: First, Do No Harm

Having a social media plan is more essential than ever during a time of societal disruption. It’s a good idea to scale back regular posts to not appear tone deaf to the coronavirus crisis and to review all previously scheduled content to ensure it has an appropriate tone. It does no harm to momentarily pause social media efforts while conducting audits and market analysis. But if your organization is attacked on social media, should you respond? Consider whether you risk inflaming an issue or could be revealing sensitive information better delivered privately. Are you telegraphing your priorities by responding to certain issues and not others? And, most importantly, are you being genuinely helpful? We recommend creating a Response Matrix to determine precedents and methods for responding, such as:

  • Tier 1 – Reactively correct misinformation or rumors incorrectly published by influential or credible sources that would cause potential harm.
  • Tier 2 – Proactively engage detractors with a large public following, such as industry leaders, customers and media, but consider whether it’s best to engage publicly on social media or directly via a pre-existing relationship.
  • Tier 3 – Constructive response doesn’t apply to “the noise” – everything else.

Coronavirus and Race Could Be An Emerging Issue

Race and socioeconomic status have not been a big part of the national discussion around coronavirus yet, but some of the trends beginning to be emerge suggest the topic is likely to become more difficult to ignore. Axios finds low-income families and communities of color are being hit the hardest by the outbreak. Pre-disposition to underlying health conditions and disparities in access to adequate healthcare have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. Many individuals who were working in low-paying service industry jobs have been laid off and have lost access to healthcare coverage. Additionally, the achievement gap threatens to widen as schools move to online courses. Time notes students in rural and low-income households with less access to computers and internet could be left behind if the government or private companies do not bridge the digital divide through broadband subsidies or lifting data caps.

COVID-19 by the Numbers


The United States hit a grim marker today with more than 10,000 deaths due to COVID-19

Outbreak Could Spark Surprise Billing Legislation

Surprise billing, when patients get large unexpected medical bills even if they are insured, was a hot topic among lawmakers before the COVID-19 pandemic but could be getting new congressional attention amid the pandemic. Patients are receiving unexpected bills for getting coronavirus testing, and there are reports the White House tried to get surprise billing into the third coronavirus relief package. The administration announced Friday that under the recent stimulus bill, hospitals will be paid to treat uninsured COVID-19 patients but won’t be allowed to send those patients any additional bills. Insured patients, however, could still receive unexpected bills. This raises the question of whether surprise billing could make a comeback and be included in the next legislative package. Before the outbreak, numerous congressional committees had been working on varying solutions, some favoring hospitals, physicians and other providers and some favoring insurers, employers and consumer groups. Many policy questions that existed before still remain, especially how insurers pay out-of-network providers and whether arbitration will be allowed. While those issues haven’t yet been resolved, COVID-19 could push Congress to finally act on this long-debated measure.

Life Down Under Turned Upside Down

The global nature of the coronavirus outbreak will give us a range of government policy responses to watch to see what’s most affective to contain the damage. For example, Australia is taking an aggressive approach to both prevent the coronavirus spread and rein in unemployment. The $79 billion Wage Subsidy ‘JobKeeper’ package provides a $900 payment every two weeks to any full- or part-time employee, regardless of their income, who works for any company that has lost at least 30% of revenue. It’s expected to provide for almost half the country’s workforce of 13 million and is designed to maintain a connection between employers and employees during what is being called a six-month national economic “deep freeze.” Economists predict this will significantly lower the forecast unemployment rate of 17% caused by COVID-19 down to 9% in June. Australia has paired the aid with a forceful national lockdown that restricts entry to citizens who are also required to stay in quarantined hotels for two weeks. Social distancing laws outlaw gatherings of more than two people from outside the primary household, and major beaches like the tourist friendly Bondi Beach are closed.

Field of Streams

Americans’ eagerness for more sources of socially distant entertainment has suddenly transformed streaming from a disruptive and experimental business model into a necessary offering for the film industry’s success. While domestic box office hit zero for the first time in the industry’s century-long history, Nielsen reported an 85 percent increase in streaming with Americans taking in more than 400 billion minutes during the first three weeks of March. With theaters closed indefinitely, studios have been forced to delay many blockbuster theatrical releases, among them Top Gun: MaverickWonder Woman 1984In the Heights and the live-action remake of Mulan. Companies like NBCUniversal and Disney have prematurely pushed new releases, including The Hunt, Emma, Frozen 2 and The Invisible Man, to video on demand, a trend that may continue with some of the summer and fall’s most anticipated releases. In the next two months, three highly anticipated services are scheduled to launch – NBCUniversal’s Peacock, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and Quibi, a short-form, “on-the-go” mobile video platform. We’ll be watching closely to see whether the hunger for content translates into subscriptions.

April 30, 2020

Data to the People

Johns Hopkins University–whose World Map of coronavirus cases has been viewed more than 333 million times–just launched its COVID-19 Testing Insights Initiative.

The informational hub pairs the latest testing data with expert analysis and guidance and will be continuously updated with new information about COVID-19 testing.

As states begin to consider when and how to reopen, increasing testing has come into focus as one of the most critical needs. Governments, businesses and families need the most up-to-date data on testing to make important decisions around a path forward. But local testing data is not currently publicly available, and a comprehensive set of these data does not exist in one place.

The Testing Insights Initiative was created to fill that gap. There, you can find:

  • Answers to the most pressing questions about testing
  • Charts and graphs updated daily and enhanced with analysis
  • News about the development and availability of serology tests

For even more insights from the experts about our current understanding of the virus, check out the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Big Gains for Virtual Fitness

Google searches for exercise equipment have increased dramatically as many of us seek workout workarounds.

With many gyms and fitness studios closed, searches for Peloton exercise bikes, yoga mats, “where to buy weights” and “home gym” have increased five, two, eight and four times respectively from their pre-pandemic averages.

And fitness companies are answering our call for at-home experiences.

Some gyms are renting out gear (weights, yoga mats, etc.) as stores run out. Many fitness instructors and studios are offering free or donation-based online classes.

A few boutique brands, like Peloton, whose high-end spin bikes and treadmills allow subscribers to join virtual fitness classes, are even enjoying a sales and shares spike.

Last month, when the company extended the free trial of its app from 30 to 90 days, downloads increased fivefold.

The boost is much needed across the connected cycling industry, which has suffered from several obstacles: pricey products, a limited potential consumer pool and market saturation. (And, in Peloton’s case, an infamous holiday ad that caused its December search spike–though some on social media have since changed their tune).

We’ll see if these trends continue as warmer weather brings more runners and cyclists outdoors. (After all, it’s gonna be May).

COVID-19 By The Numbers

Art Imitates Life

Art museums exist at a carefully calibrated intersection of exclusivity and community.

Their primary mission is to make art accessible, yet these institutions are frequently targeted as elitist. 

Could the pandemic finally turn this perception on its head?

In early March, like most non-essential businesses, museums around the world were forced to close their gilded doors.

Many of these institutions responded with incredible entrepreneurial spirit and began to do what was once unimaginable for many of them– share their vast collection of treasures online.

Now, you can #MuseumFromHome by:

These online experiences have also become a resource for newly-minted teachers (ie: parents).

Digital assets can never replicate seeing art in-person, but so far the digitization of museums has been a resounding success. The Musée du Louvre, The National Gallery of Art and the Met have all seen huge spikes in web traffic.

Know Thyself

Tucked away in the confines of studio apartments and home with parents since universities closed, young people in particular are taking the opportunity for self-reflection.

Enter internet personality tests. If streaming services are the big winner of staying home, the runner-up might be the Enneagram Personality Test–to the tune of a 179% year over year increase.

The popular system assigns you one of nine personality types defined by emotions, fears and beliefs. The 105-question test takes about 10 minutes to complete and gives you that “Aha!” feeling of recognition that you’re not alone. You can figure out your type here

Uncertainty about the future may also be driving a spike in conversation about horoscopes, up 52% since last year.

We may not know what’s written in the stars. But whether you’re a Reformer, Helper, Achiever, or even a Challenger, we’re all in this together.