Oregon distillery making and giving away hand sanitizer

(CNN)Hand sanitizer is a hot commodity right now.

We all know the advice: Wash your hands often with soap and water to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. When you can’t, use hand sanitizer.
But actually finding hand sanitizer anywhere is another story. Bottles of Purell and other sanitizers are few and far between on store shelves, and if you do manage to come across a solution with at least 60% alcohol, chances are it has a hefty price tag.

    Why we can't find hand sanitizer
    Enter liquor distilleries.
    Distilleries are stepping in to help combat the hand sanitizer shortage by using the alcohol in their facilities to create their own alcohol-based solutions. Some are packaging it in small bottles while others are encouraging people to bring in their own containers for refills.

    Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta started making hand sanitizer and distributing it for free on Thursday.
    “Due to the recent reports of outages and low supply in our community, We have decided to provide hand sanitizer free of charge to anyone in need. Made with aloe vera gel and 95% ethanol,” the business wrote in an Instagram post last week.
    “This is no substitute for washing your hands but in a pinch it will get the job done. Available at the Distillery starting March 12th at 5pm. If you have a container please bring it and we will be happy to fill it!”

    View this post on Instagram

    Thank you to the community for its overwhelming support! Because of the large turnout we received, we are currently out of hand sanitizer at the moment. We are waiting on a shipment of ingredients to arrive Monday, at which time we will resume production. We will be making a post next week to keep you updated once we have more available. Thank you for your understanding and we’ll see you next week! If you would like to donate to help us make more for our community (not necessary at all) we now have a link in our bio available.

    A post shared by Old Fourth Distillery (@oldfourthdistillery) on

    But even that has run out.
    Old Fourth Distillery’s solution has been so popular that by Saturday, its supply of homemade sanitizer had been cleared out. The business said in another Instagram post that it was expecting another shipment of ingredients on Monday and would resume production after.
    Moonrise Distillery in Clayton, Georgia, is making hand sanitizer using botanical gin infused with natural aloe vera.
    “We are a community of huggers and hand shakers and we want to do our part to keep that warmth around but in as safe a manner as possible,” the business wrote in a Facebook post over the weekend. “While washing hands with soap and water remains the best solution we hope the sanitizer will help when that is not possible.”
    Don't try to make your own hand sanitizer just because there's a shortage from coronavirus
    Both Old Fourth Distillery and Moonrise Distillery said they were accepting donations to offset the costs of making the hand sanitizers.

      Durham Distillery in Durham, North Carolina, is helping out its colleagues in the hospitality industry who are in need of sanitizing solution. The distillery developed a sanitizing solution of about 70% ethanol and distilled water and is donating it to hospitality workers so that they can wipe down high-touch surfaces like door handles and sink faucets, it said in a statement.
      Shine Distillery in Oregon said last week that it was handing out free hand sanitizer while supplies last.
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      Pandemic Shutdowns Actually Helped Economic Growth in 1918 Flu

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      Coronavirus containment measures that force economies to slow down or halt may ultimately be better for economic growth than laxer efforts, according to Federal Reserve researchers who analyzed the 1918 influenza pandemic in the U.S.

      The research was presented in a paper released in preliminary form Thursday, as the U.S. economy grinds to a halt to stop the aggressive spread of the novel coronavirus. Authors include the Federal Reserve Board’s Sergio Correia, the New York Fed’s Stephan Luck, and Emil Verner of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

      President Donald Trump has called for the economy to ramp back up soon, saying he would like it to be “just raring to go by Easter.” Some economists have cautioned that if such a move caused the virus to surge, it would ultimately take a heavier toll than the current crisis.

      The paper said the influenza — which killed between 550,000 to 675,000 Americans, or 0.66% of the population — caused a “sharp and persistent fall in real economic activity.” A U.S. state at the average level of exposure suffered an 18% reduction in manufacturing output in 1918. Those effects lingered for years and depressed economies, especially in regions with higher levels of infection.

      But steps taken to halt the coronavirus’s spread like social distancing — identified by the researchers as “non-pharmaceutical interventions,” or NPIs — didn’t have the same negative effects.

      “Cities that implemented more rapid and forceful non-pharmaceutical health interventions do not experience worse downturns,” the researchers wrote. “In contrast, evidence on manufacturing activity and bank assets suggests that the economy performed better in areas with more aggressive NPIs after the pandemic.”

      The paper drew clear distinctions between Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and influenza. The latter seems to have a higher mortality rate, for one thing.

      But there are potential similarities between the two pandemics, with the authors citing places such as Taiwan and Singapore that implemented early measures, have limited infection growth and have “mitigated the worst economic disruption caused by the pandemic.”

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      Overwhelmed by the Virus, the Golden Age of Restaurants Is Over

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      On March 20 the streams of customers grabbing takeout bags and cocktails made the spare, warehouse-style space of Barbuto feel more vibrant than anywhere else in locked-down New York City. Chef-owner Jonathan Waxman surveyed what should have been the resurrection of his sit-down restaurant, which closed in 2019 to reopen in early February in the Meatpacking District. When New York restaurants were ordered to stop table service on March 15, Waxman pivoted to a takeout-only model with a staff of about eight people and a menu including signature dishes such as roast chicken with salsa verde and crispy smashed potatoes with pecorino, along with a handful of wines and cocktails.

      “I saw the 1987 Black Friday crash, the AIDS epidemic, the Silicon Valley crash, then 9/11, then Hurricane Sandy. This feels more protracted than anything I’ve seen,” he said on that Friday in New York. “I’ve always said opening a restaurant is like going to war. I was wrong. This is war.” Waxman would lose the battle just five days later, when he chose to give up the take-away service. A spokesman said, “It’s the best decision for him and the team to stay safe and healthy, as well as for the guests.”

      Across the Atlantic, Emma Reynolds—the co-owner of the Tonkotsu Group of 12 ramen shops—was also feeling besieged. Like New York, London is a town where the average citizen eats out several times a week. On March 16, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, everyone should “stop nonessential contact” and avoid pubs, restaurants, and other public places. Immediately, business and income dropped.

      Reynolds decided she’d keep her staff even as other restaurants laid off their employees. It took four days before the government announced a generous aid package to help with wages—paying 80% of worker salaries up to £2,500 ($3,000) a month. “We were all crying when we heard the news,” says Reynolds. “It was a huge relief after a most painful week.”

      It’s nowhere near over: Johnson ordered the entire country—including restaurants—locked down for three weeks, and no one knows what the eating scene is going to be like when the pandemic ends. Reynolds herself hasn’t been well. One day, amid the worrying, she recalls, “I couldn’t breathe, and my hands and feet went cold. I had a bad headache, fever, and breathlessness.” She’s feeling better, but she hasn’t been tested.

       

      The coronavirus pandemic is an apocalypse for the world’s restaurants. For London and New York, the anti-social effects of Covid-19 have virtually ended a golden age of chefs and restaurateurs, who’ve for the past three decades transformed fine dining—or simply eating out—into a supreme form of urbanity and a measure of social status: You are where you eat.

      Between the two cities, New York and London have almost 50,000 restaurants, ranging from hard-to-land reservations such as Momofuku Ko in Manhattan’s East Village and Core by Clare Smyth in London’s Notting Hill, to small but popular favorites like Wildair in Lower East Side and Black Axe Mangal in the London borough of Islington. Now almost every one of them has closed.

      Union Square Hospitality Group, perhaps the most revered restaurant empire in the U.S., led by Chief Executive Officer Danny Meyer—who also runs Shake Shack—was forced to lay off 80% of its workforce, or 2,000 people. The future is unlikely to resemble the past of just a month ago. In a note about the crisis to his staff posted on Instagram, Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill, quoted an unnamed cook in his kitchen who said, “This is the worst hard time.”

      As they try to divine what the future holds, chefs and restaurateurs are addressing the emergency and supporting themselves and their employees in assorted ways, including GoFundMe accounts, takeout services, and filing lawsuits. In New York, Jeff Katz, owner and general manager of Crown Shy—a new restaurant that was one of the best reviewed in the last year—is part of a suit being filed in New Orleans that will try to force insurance companies to pay restaurant’s claims currently being denied because of a “virus exemption.”

      Katz says he’s doing this for more than Crown Shy—because there is an immense supply chain that depends on restaurants. “It’s distributors, producers, farmers, cleaning services, branding, marketing,” he says. “The list is endless. If the restaurant industry falters it brings so much down with them.” The scope of the claims stemming from restaurant failures will be too big for the insurance companies to handle. “If we win, the government is going to have to bail out the insurance companies. Because there are billions and billions in losses to recover.”

      Katz has been joined in his lawsuit by some of the country’s most famous chefs, including Thomas Keller of The French Laundry in Napa Valley, Daniel Boulud of Restaurant Daniel in New York, and Wolfgang Puck of Chinois on Main in Santa Monica.

      While government bailouts will certainly be welcomed, the red tape that accompanies them, especially in the U.S., may further stymie any return to normalcy. President Trump has not been particularly encouraging. “I know the business very well,” he said on March 26. “It’s a very delicate business.” He continued, “They will all come back. It may not be the same restaurant or ownership but they will all be back.” Meanwhile, restaurateurs in both New York and London are turning to temporary measures to make money from their existing kitchens and inventory—and thinking about how to run a food business once the pandemic ebbs.

      Jyotin Sethi, CEO of JKS, which has 16 London restaurants including the acclaimed Lyle’s in Shoreditch and Flor in Borough Market, is examining the conditions that will make people want to go back out to eat. “You need resolution from a health perspective,” he says. “Most people eat out three or four times a week in London, but that will change for a period of time—and that will have a massive impact on the U.K. restaurant business. If there isn’t a vaccine, will people be happy to go out? The challenge we are all facing is that the number of unknowns is huge.”

      JKS had a home-delivery service called Motu but has shut it down. “When a national lockdown was announced the chefs were very nervous,” says Sethi. “We gave them the choice and listened to them. It’s a fine line between providing a service to the community and doing the right thing for people who are working for you. It is a question of safety.”

      Amanda Cohen isn’t doing takeout and delivery either. She opened Dirt Candy, her vegetable-focused restaurant, on Oct. 29, 2008, during the financial crash. And Cohen stayed open despite the vicissitudes of New York business—moving from a well-reviewed hole-in-the-wall to a larger, shinier space on the Bowery befitting the gorgeous nature of her food—until March 14. “We’re not set up for takeout; we might revisit that,” she says.

      She wanted her 30-person staff to stay home and didn’t see the benefit to selling food from a place whose specialty is tasting menus including the five-course Vegetable Patch. “I couldn’t figure out how to make it make sense.” The takeout business, so far, she says, is unpredictable for her friends in the business who are doing it. A place might make $1,200 a night, but nothing the next.

      Cohen’s major concern is Dirt Candy’s monthly rent. She hopes that a government bailout will address that. “Will there be a rent abatement or just a deferment?” she asks. “If I cover the rent past April, that will seriously deplete my bank account.” Utilities, insurance premiums, and other expenses add up to thousands more dollars a month. “I don’t make that much money,” she says. “Our margins are already so thin.”

      In London, chef Jeremy Chan of Ikoyi is taking a wait-and-see approach, too. The West African-inspired fine-dining restaurant in St. James’s Market near Piccadilly Circus shut down on March 21. He kept everyone on regular salary and planned to until April 3, when they would all go into “emergency” pay—everyone being paid the same amount in order to pay rents and live.

      He’s heartened by the government’s decision to help with wages—which takes a huge burden off his and his business partner’s shoulders. Chan isn’t doing takeout or delivery. But he is trying to see if those services will be part of a post-pandemic Ikoyi. “A zero-contact delivery-and-takeaway system,” he says. “Thoroughly sanitized boxes, with our signature sauces ready to go, and a recipe card to help you put the dishes together. You show up at the door with a code and pick it up. No contact.”

      Chan admits that’s all idle thinking for the moment. “I used to dream of a limitless holiday because I was in this high stress job,” he says. “Now that I have it and I’m disturbed by it, it’s not a holiday to celebrate. You’re not resting. You’re in limbo, with no end in sight.”

      There are those who dream big, even amid the pandemic. Chef Jose Andrés, the indomitable do-gooder and President Trump nemesis who’s fed hurricane and earthquake victims all over, has proposed mobilizing all the newly unemployed restaurant workers—he calls them “food first responders”—to feed vulnerable Americans. Andrés recommends allocating about $54 billion—the estimated amount of an airline bailout—for the effort he calls America Eats Now. The money would go toward feeding people employed in industries linked to restaurants—from farm workers to delivery people.

      It would be wrong to underestimate Andrés. Vaughn Tan, an assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at University College London, says the Spanish-born chef’s organization has responded to chaos and catastrophe with innovative thinking and flexible organization.

      “Most people and organizations see the world and act through a risk mindset—an attempt to precisely calculate risks and thus achieve optimal outcomes, which is likely fatal under conditions of uncertainty,” says Tan, author of a book titled The Uncertainty Mindset: Innovation Insights From the Frontiers of Food, to be published this spring. “Acknowledging—instead of denying—uncertainty is what gives Andrés’s group the ability to create highly effective, rapidly scaling food relief operations under conditions that would defeat other relief organizations.”

      For most other restaurateurs, the future is day to day—and most of the daily work is trying to cater to the people who would have been eating at restaurants but are cooking their own food now. Chan of Ikoyi has Instagram cooking classes for his followers as do many other major chefs, including Massimo Bottura of Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana, who’s called his show Kitchen Quarantine. Even Ferran Adrià, whose el Bulli in Catalonia (which closed in 2011) likely started the golden age of restaurants we’ve just lost, is teaching the homebound how to make vichyssoise via his Twitter feed.

      Pam Yung, the head chef of Flor in London, notes hopefully that home cooks are taking an interest in breadmaking with local grains. “It’s great to see friends around the world making bread & pizza at home,” she wrote on Instagram Stories. “Attempting sourdough, buying quality grain. What if this became the new norm? A chance for a flourishing local grain economy? A deeper appreciation for where food comes from and how it’s made?”

      Most industry people are holding out hope that a semblance of what was lost can be revived once people can leave their homes again. “When you are being locked down, there is no way people are going to say, ‘Wow, I don’t want to get out of the house,’” says Des Gunewardena, chairman and CEO of D&D London, which operates 43 bars and restaurants, mainly in London but also in New York and Paris. “We are all going to want to see our friends when this is over. We are all social animals.”

      Rekindling that desire can still happen, as Emma Reynolds of Tonkotsu Group puts it, “as long as people can remember the joy of restaurants.”

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      Ralph Lauren Donates $10 Mln To Combat COVID-19; To Make Face Masks And Gowns

      Luxury fashion house Ralph Lauren will donate $10 million to help fight the coronavirus pandemic and manufacture face masks as well as medical gowns in the U.S.

      The company’s charity arm, the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, said in a statement that it is committing $10 million towards the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The charity arm was formerly known as the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation.

      Ralph Lauren will start the production of 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns with its U.S. manufacturing partners.

      Ralph Lauren noted that the $10 million commitment will provide financial grants through the Emergency Assistance Foundation for its colleagues facing special circumstances like medical, eldercare or childcare needs.

      The company will also contribute to the World Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and also commit an inaugural gift to the Council of Fashion Designers of America or CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund to support the American fashion community impacted by the pandemic.

      Other luxury brands too are contributing money or resources to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

      Luxury apparel maker Canada Goose said on Wednesday that it would leverage its manufacturing facilities to begin production of necessary medical gear for frontline healthcare workers and patients across Canada in the fight against COVID-19.

      The Canada-based company will make scrubs for healthcare workers and patient gowns, which are in short supply across the country, and will begin distributing them to hospitals next week.

      French luxury products maker LVMH Group said last week that it has retooled its Perfumes & Cosmetics production units to manufacture and distribute large quantities of hydroalcoholic gel to be delivered free of charge to French health authorities.

      To help address the surgical mask shortage in France, LVMH said it secured an order with a Chinese industrial supplier for a delivery of seven million surgical masks and three million FFP2 masks in France in the coming days, with repeat orders for at least four weeks.

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      New York nightlife shut down. Now its workers need help

      New York (CNN Business)On a typical Saturday night at 2 am, thousands of people are dancing inside the Brooklyn nightclub Elsewhere — all while scores of bartenders, barbacks, bouncers, cleaners, lighting and sound designers are working to keep it running. But last Saturday night, and for the next unknown number of Saturday nights, Elsewhere was empty.

      The club’s bills are still coming due. So are the rents of the nearly 100 people on staff, some of whom make most of their income in tips.
      And many others are in the same position as Elsewhere. The businesses immediately affected by coronavirus — hotels, arts, food, nightlife — employ many people who cannot work from home. If they don’t show up, they don’t get paid.

        When New York City banned gatherings of 500 or more people earlier this month, it was the first step in several to where we are now: 100% of non-essential workers have been mandated to stay home by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to slow the spread of coronavirus.
        “That was really like Friday the 13th — Day One of the very immediate crisis that nightlife is facing,” said Dhruv Chopra, co-owner of Elsewhere. “In terms of lost revenue, we’re looking at easily two, three months just completely wiped out.”

        CNN spoke to several people who work across New York City nightlife, an ecosystem that supports jobs for almost 300,000 people and generates about $35 billion in economic activity annually.
        They all acknowledged the closing of bars and restaurants is necessary to slow the pandemic. But they say they’re waiting for what they see as the second half of that policy: for the government to step in and support its workers while cashflow is at zero.

        ‘Our industry collapse[d] in the space of 24 hours’

        Kip Davis, a freelance lighting designer, said he watched as the virus crushed the nightlife industry in Asia, then in Europe, knowing it would inevitably come to the United States.
        In early March, his colleagues started checking in with each other. They talked about their fears of unemployment, canceled gigs and “when was going to be our last opportunity to make a few bucks before all this was going to come crashing down on us.”
        Not only have Davis’ event jobs evaporated, but so have his gigs creating permanent installations for bars — because owners are now worried they won’t be able to pay rent. It’s part of a chain reaction that’s touched everyone from bouncers to club owners.
        “I feel like we watched our industry collapse in the space of 24 hours. So panic ensued,” said Frankie Decaiza Hutchinson, a booker at Bossa Nova Civic Club in Brooklyn. Hutchinson is also the founder of Discwoman, an agency representing DJs who are mostly black and women of color. Both streams of income have stopped, and she’s living off savings.
        “I mean, there’s just no cash flow, between venues, promoters, artists,” she said. “It’s really hard to know how to pick up after this, honestly. What is going to be left?”
        Some bars are paying workers a stipend or sick leave, or raising money for them online through GoFundMe and Patreon.
        “If they’re employed somewhere, maybe that business might be looking out for them,” Davis said. “But if they’re self-employed, there’s nobody who has their backs.”
        Seva Granik, an independent event planner and party promoter in Brooklyn, said he and his peers are “all entirely out of any way of creating income.” He immediately lost $15,000 he’d invested in events that are now canceled.
        For John Barclay, it’s 2008 all over again. Until that financial crisis, he was mostly working in journalism and publishing. “Then the recession hit, and I had a part-time bartending gig and I just completely moved over to bartending and bar management because it seemed a lot more recession-proof.”
        He opened Bossa Nova Civic Club, a small dance club, seven years ago. “Of course, I at the time was not considering pandemics at all,” he said.
        Barclay said he laid off the dozen people on his staff so they could quickly apply for unemployment insurance.

        Soaring unemployment claims

        A lot of people are in the same position as Barclay’s workers. Almost 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance the week ended March 21. That’s the highest number since the Department of Labor started tracking it in 1967.
        New governmental assistance programs are meant to help. But the math doesn’t work in a city like New York, where one in four people spends 50% or more of their income on rent.
        On the local level, New York state has suspended eviction proceedings, and New York City announced small business loans with zero interest and grants for businesses with less than five employees to keep paying them at 40% of wages.
        Nationally, the White House and Congress are working on a $2 trillion stimulus package that includes $1,200 direct payments to individuals who make up to $75,000, and $2,400 to married couples making up to $150,000, plus $500 per child. The payments decrease for people making more and stop for people making over $99,000 and couples making over $198,000.
        But in a city with high housing costs, $1,200 won’t go far. “That thousand dollars disappears in a matter of hours because my rent is more than a thousand dollars,” said Granik, the party promoter. “What am I going to do for food for the next few months? What am I going to do for utilities for the next few months?”
        The package also provides for unemployment benefits for four months and extends it to the self-employed, like Davis. But Davis said he still has many questions, like how the overwhelmed state labor department would handle all the claims. And he still wants a rent freeze — he’s able to delay paying his rent, but not indefinitely.
        Davis said his landlord told him to go work for Amazon.
        But warehouse temp work and online fundraisers can’t make up for the systemic problems made more obvious by the pandemic and the proposed aid package when it comes to nightlife workers.
        “Wealth is not spread out evenly in the city or in the world in general,” Hutchinson said. “We’re really going to see the results of that income inequality come to light during a crisis like this. Who’s going to be left behind? Who’s going to slip through the cracks?”

          Beyond the economic issues, she added, there’s a cultural aspect at risk.
          “These spaces are the community grounds for people to connect and bond and feel safe with one another,” Hutchinson said.
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          Housebuilder shares plunge after people urged to delay moves

          Shares in housebuilding companies plunged when the market opened on Friday after the government put the brakes on the housing market, telling people to delay their home moves if possible and to stop new viewings.

          The government, which announced the new guidance on Thursday night, urged buyers and sellers to put plans on hold until the coronavirus restrictions are no longer in place.

          The move prompted a sell-off of shares in some of the UK’s largest housebuilding firms. Persimmon, Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey were among the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 on Friday morning, all down 7%.

          Number of homes sold in UK expected to plunge by 60% in next three months

          Redrow shares fell 6% after the housebuilder issued a Covid-19 update to investors. The company said it had stopped building new homes, wasputting a significant number of employees on temporary leave and was in talks with banks to shore up its finances as the coronavirus hammers the construction industry.

          The company, which has already moved most office-based staff to homeworking and shut sales centres, had been operating with reduced construction staff to try to finish projects that are close to completion. The housebuilder said it will shut down all work immediately.

          “It has become increasingly impracticable as our supply chain has been significantly impacted in recent days,” the company said. “As a result, the board has now decided to go further and commence, with immediate effect, an orderly and safe closure of all of our sites and offices.”

          Callout

          callout-coronavirus

          The north Wales-based company said that as a result it has put a “significant number” of employees on furlough – unpaid leave, save for the £2,500 a month available as part of the government’s bailout.

          Redrow said it had a strong balance sheet with assets of £1.6bn but, given the company was facing a “prolonged period of inactivity”, it had started talks with its six banks.

          The company is seeking to increase its £250m revolving credit facility and double an additional facility to £100m. The company has also applied to the government’s Covid-19 corporate financing facility.

          “These are unprecedented times,” said John Tutte, the executive chairman of Redrow. “The actions we have announced today will give us the flexibility to manage the business through this turbulent period to ensure we are ready to resume production when it is safe to do so.”

          The company said it has an order book of projects worth £1.4bn, with £900m of that already contracted to complete.

          Rightmove said it was cancelling its final dividend for 2019, which was due to give £38m to shareholders, because of the uncertainties arising from the coronavirus crisis.

          The property website also scrapped its financial guidance for 2020 but added that the board was confident the company had the “financial capacity to withstand this challenging period”.

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          GM To Cut Executive Pay, Extends Shutdown Indefinitely Amid Covid-19

          General Motors Co. is delaying work on new vehicle models and is cutting pay for its executives as part of efforts to conserve cash amid the coronavirus or Covid-19 pandemic. The automotive giant also extended the shutdown of North American plants indefinitely.

          Multiple reports cited an internal memo that salaried workforce will have 20 percent of pay deferred starting April 1. GM’s senior management team will take pay cuts of as much as 10 percent and defer 20 percent of their cash compensation. The deferred money would be repaid through the fourth quarter of this year or first quarter of 2021.

          The company will also put 6,500 employees on leave with 75 percent of their pay until production resumes. They are in manufacturing or engineers, who are not able to work remotely due to the plant closures.

          GM will delay some vehicles under development, while certain models that are close to launch will go on sale later this year as planned. These include Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade large SUVs.

          The company reportedly said, “GM’s business and its balance sheet was very strong before the Covid-19 outbreak and the steps we are taking now will help ensure that we can regain our momentum as quickly as possible after this crisis is over.”

          GM on Tuesday said it intends to draw down about $16 billion from its revolving credit facilities as a proactive measure to increase its cash position and preserve financial flexibility due to the current market uncertainty.

          Citing the ongoing troubled market situation, the company also had suspended its fiscal 2020 outlook.

          Last week, the Big 3 Detroit automakers,GM, Ford Motor, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, had decided to shut down all North American plants for the two weeks until March 30.

          Ford Motor now plans to restart production at select plants in North America as early as April 6. The company also announced various actions to save cash, including temporary cut in the salaries of hundreds of executives.

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          California Issues Stay-At-Home Order Over Coronavirus Fears

          California Governor has issued a stay-at-home order to protect the health of all Californians and to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the most populous U.S. state.

          “We need to bend the curve in the state of California, and in order to do that, we need to recognize the reality, the fact is, the experience we’re having on the ground throughout the state of California… require us to adjust our thinking and to adjust our activities,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at a news conference Thursday.

          The order is in place until further notice.

          Essential services such as gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants, banks and laundry services will remain open.

          Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

          Dine-in restaurants, bars and nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms and fitness studios, public events and gatherings, and convention centers will remain closed.

          The California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health said exception for stay- at-home order is given to those who are needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, critical government services, schools, childcare, and construction.

          Currently, there are 675 positive coronavirus cases and 24 deaths in California. The figures exclude U.S. citizens who landed in Californian airports on repatriation flights from abroad.

          More than half of the state’s population is at risk of contracting the deadly virus in the coming weeks, according to a letter that the Governor sent to President Donald Trump.

          He requested the immediate deployment of the US naval hospital ship Mercy to the Port of Los Angeles through September to “help decompress the state’s health care delivery system in Los Angeles in response to COVID-19.”

          The Governor also sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy requesting federal assistance to support California’s efforts to combat COVID-19.

          Governor Newsom had declared a State of Emergency in California on March 4.

          COVID-19 death toll in the United States has crossed 200, while the number of infected cases increased to more than 14,000.

          A 40 percent increase in coronavirus cases was reported in the country in the last 24 hours.

          California, New York and Washington are the worst hit states.

          New York’s governor announced a 90-day mortgage relief in the wake of the pandemic.

          Meanwhile, the State Department issued the top-tier Level 4 travel advisory calling on Americans to avoid foreign travel.

          Source: Read Full Article

          SpaceX Plans May Launch Of First Manned Flight To International Space Station

          SpaceX, owned by Tesla founder Elon Musk, will conduct its first-ever manned flight to the International Space Station in mid-to-late May, NASA announced in a statement.

          Citing the ongoing coronavirus or COVID-19 situation, NASA said it will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for mission planning.

          SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard.

          The Falcon 9 rocket will be launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

          The upcoming flight test, known as Demonstration Mission 2 or Demo-2, will be the first American crew launch aboard an American rocket and spacecraft since its 2011 space shuttle mission.

          The Crew Dragon capsule already made a round trip to the ISS with a mannequin on board, and returned after six days in space.

          NASA said this second demonstration mission of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is another end-to-end flight test of SpaceX’s human spaceflight system. It will include launch, docking, splashdown and recovery operations. Following the final flight test of the system, SpaceX will be certified to carry out operational crew flights to and from the space station for NASA.

          SpaceX currently supplies cargo to ISS, and has made 15 trips since 2012.

          Meanwhile, NASA and SpaceX invited media for the flight test Demo-2. International media without U.S. citizenship can apply till April 17, while U.S. media can apply till April 24.

          In early March, SpaceX signed a deal with Texas-based startup Axiom Space to fly private astronauts to ISS in 2021. The company also signed a deal with Space Adventures to fly up to four passengers on a five-day trip to orbit Earth in late 2021.

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          Farmers’ Markets Are Providing Lifelines to Both Growers and Shoppers

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          California farmers are well versed in extreme conditions. In recent years, they’ve been forced to navigate everything from droughts to wildfires. But Covid-19 is something very different.

          This month, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered first the Bay Area, and then the entire state of California to “shelter in place.” But he agreed with both the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and county health officials that farmers’ markets, which small growers rely on to supplement their restaurant sales, were an “essential business.” And it seems consumers agreed.

          Fearful of close-quarters in packed supermarkets marked by empty shelves, many shoppers have descended on farmers’ markets they rarely visited in the past. For the growers who supply the markets, this new-found popularity comes just in time, since Newsom also ordered the statewide closure of most restaurants, often the biggest customers for local growers.

          “I was really worried for a minute that they were going to shut us down,” says Adriana Silva, co-owner of Tomatero Organic Farm, a 200-acre operation in Watsonville, some 85 miles south of San Francisco. She sells almost exclusively at 12 farmers’ markets across the Bay Area. “There should be no question that farmers’ markets are part of the food system.”

          But the markets aren’t enough to make up for their sudden shortfall in revenue. So farmers are racing to embrace online sales, too—updating their websites to accept online orders and assembling farm boxes for delivery. Andy Naja-Riese, whose Agricultural Institute of Marin operates eight markets in the Bay Area, is working with app-maker What’sGood to help his farmers ramp up mobile transactions. And at the San Francisco ferry plaza farmers’ market, farm boxes are being set up for curbside pick-up.

          As with so many other parts of the economy, the pandemic may remake how Californians get their food—perhaps for the better.

          Secretary Karen Ross of the CDFA, which certifies farmers’ markets, said guaranteeing robust access to healthy food sources was a critical consideration in Newsom’s declaration. Across the country, however, state policy on farmers’ markets is a patchwork. Some cities have deemed them non-essential, while others have yet to make a decision. In Seattle, they’re all closed. Ditto Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Durham, North Carolina.

          But in Beaverton, Oregon, a farmers’ market there is offering a drive-thru option. In New York, most markets are open except for a few commuter locations that no longer have foot traffic. For Michael Hurwitz, GrowNYC’s director of food access and agriculture, this week’s to-do list included how to improve social distancing at each of the 26 markets his organization operates across the city’s five boroughs.

          In 2018, food spending in the U.S. totaled $1.71 trillion, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than one-third of that was spent on eating out. Newsom’s decision to close California restaurants was a body blow to the state’s hospitality business, and a challenge for farmers who are now relying on “eaters,” as some growers call consumers, to tide them over.

          “Our business has significantly dropped,” said Silva, “but the people have come out.”

          Read More: Restaurant Suppliers Are Stuck With Tons of Unsold Food

          Some chefs who have resorted to delivery or take-out are still coming, too—though buying less. “Instead of two cases of kale, they’ll get 12 bunches,” Silva said. Luckily for her, only about 30% of her business was restaurant-related.

          Chef David Nayfeld of Che Fico in San Francisco said he used to spend up to $7,000 a week on farmer produce from four Bay Area markets. Nate Norris, chef de cuisine of Zuni Café, said he used to spend $2,500. But no more. Norris said he briefly sold meals for take-out via his restaurant’s Instagram account, but decided the infection risk to customers and staff was too great to justify it.

          “We are very worried that, without strong, direct government intervention at the state and federal level, immense harm will be done to these small businesses,” said Norris. “Farms operate on fragile economics, frequently running on debt during their slow seasons and making up for it during peak periods.”

          Even with a new group of customers, U.S. farmers’ markets will take a big hit from the coronavirus. In a report by Local Food Economics using data from the USDA, losses at regional markets could range from 10% to 25% in annual sales, or more than $500 million.

          As the U.S. leader in agricultural production, California farmers are arguably too big to fail. Over one-third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruit and nuts are grown in the Golden State. In 2018, California’s crops accounted for $50 billion in sales, according to the CDFA. While smaller in scale, farmers’ markets bring in about $2.4 billion nationally. In California, that number is helped along by roughly 2,700 producers who sell at about 750 locations across the state.

          “People prefer to buy from farmers’ markets,” said Ben Feldman, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition, a national organization with a membership of 12,000 operators. These days that may be especially true, since it’s easier to keep six-feet apart in a parking lot than in a supermarket produce aisle.

          Read More: Labor and Trucking Woes Stand in Way of Ample Global Food Supply

          But even with an uptick in customers, it may not be enough.

          Jesse Kuhn, co-owner of Marin Roots Farms, grows specialty greens 35 miles north of San Francisco. “All of our restaurant accounts closed,” Kuhn said. “We went from two to three dozen [accounts] to zero. It’s kind of shocking.”

          Kuhn is already rethinking his spring planting so that he can grow varieties for big chains like Whole Foods. Instead of chef-focused niche items like edible flowers or microgreens, which have a very short shelf-life, he may shift to easier grown items like dandelion greens.

          Moreover, the crisis—even if it recedes in the coming weeks or months—could have a long tail for both growers and consumers.

          “The thing we’re all concerned with is how will the lack of customers now affect the planting of summer and fall harvest?” said Christine Farren, interim director of the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, (CUESA), which operates the San Francisco ferry plaza farmers’ market. Farren said the longer restaurants aren’t buying, the worse it will be: fewer profits mean farmers won’t be able to afford as much hiring for planting, which means less crops to sell and higher prices for consumers.

          Right now, farmers who are unable to sell all of their produce are putting some in cold storage, or making canned goods that will keep, like sauces and pickles. Others are donating their unsold harvest to food pantries.

          Producers of meat and fish are having a somewhat easier time of it. Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales, California, which sells beef and lamb, has seen demand double at the two weekly markets it sells at, while online sales have tripled. Restaurant sales that were 11% of its business, however, are now zero. “We hope and pray that our restaurants bounce back,” said Loren Poncia, who owns Stemple Creek with his wife Lisa.

          “There are restaurants that are suffering, there are people that are getting laid off,” said Gary Root of StoneRoot Field & Sea, a seller of both meat and fish in Fairfield, about 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. Root said that while his business has also doubled in the last two weeks, future restaurant demand is uncertain.

          Meanwhile, Kitty Dolcini of Dolcini Red Hill Ranch in Petaluma said her biggest problem is keeping up with demand. She raises chickens and sells their eggs at two farmers markets and several local stores in the Bay Area.

          “We sold out Thursday at noon, and we’ll probably sell out shortly here,” she said last Sunday at the Marin Civic Center farmer’s market. “The market is such a huge benefit,” she said. “I sell directly to customers and my profit is way more than selling to the stores.”

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