An Amazon employee, Chris Smalls, was fired Monday March 30, 2020 after he led employees protesting Amazon’s decision to keep their Staten Island facility open after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. New York Attorney General Letitia James is calling for an investigation into the termination of Smalls. On the next day, employees at the Bezos-owned Whole Foods participated in a nationwide “sick out” protest, demanding that the grocery stores give employees double their normal wages as “hazard pay” for working during a pandemic.
Ford joined General Electric and General Motors in committing to produce ventilators in light of its shortage across U.S. hospitals to treat the worst symptoms of COVID-19. Ford announced that it will manufacture ventilators for General Electric’s healthcare division, which has licensed a “simplified” design by a Florida-based ventilator company named Airon that does not require electricity. Ford is paying 500 union-represented volunteer employees to build the ventilators at one of its factories in Michigan, which has been shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company will start building ventilators starting April 20th. Ford expects to build 50,000 by July and eventually at a rate of 30,000 per month.
Nearly all medical and scientific research has ground to a halt--except those related to the coronavirus. Social distancing, lockdowns, and work-from-home restrictions have paused most laboratory research. As a practical matter, medical scientists have no choice but to study the coronavirus if they want to work. Normal imperatives about how academic research has been done have been cast aside. Researchers across the globe are sharing viral genome sequences, animal-testing results, and clinical trial results with the singular objective to develop a vaccine for covid-19. Some scientists compared the level of collaboration among the scientific community to that of the 1990s, during the height of the AIDS epidemic. The pace and expansiveness of information-sharing dwarfs that of three decades ago.
Zoom Video Communications Inc., an education-focused video-conferencing platform, had 200 million daily participants in March 2020, compared with the 10 million in December thanks to the covid-19 outbreak. But recent privacy and cybersecurity concerns about the platform has put a stop to its winning streak in share price since the end of January. The FBI’s Boston office advised consumers about so-called “Zoom-Bombing” incidents where hackers hijack a videoconference to post pornographic or hate images. A private plaintiff filed suit in California, alleging that Zoom gave users’ personal data to Facebook Inc. and other third-party companies without fully informing consumers. And New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a possible investigation into Zoom’s privacy and security practices. In response to these developments, Zoom Chief Executive Eric Yuan addressed some privacy criticisms in a blog post on Wednesday, announcing that Zoom will be shifting all engineering resources to focus on privacy issues; but the latest commentary has done little to help Zoom’s stock.