Broadcast networks may resort to reruns amid coronavirus quarantines

Television may start looking a bit too familiar.

Networks, hamstrung by the inability to shoot new TV shows, may turn to reruns to fill programming slots.

With no sense of when quarantine measures will lift amid the global coronavirus crisis, the big four networks, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, are mulling how to fill the holes in programming this summer and fall, according to a Wednesday report.

“Scheduling is about having all the pieces of a puzzle in front of you and how you put them together to generate the highest rating,” a top broadcast exec told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s impossible to do that when you don’t know what all the pieces are.”

With production frozen through at least the end of April, TV execs are mulling whether to broadcast shows this spring that are completed but are meant for the fall lineup, or to fill the holes with reruns of shows like “Dancing with The Stars” or specials that can be made on the fly.

Those shows include CBS’ special concert with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood on April 1 and iHeart’s Living Room Concert for America, which aired on Fox on March 29. More of those specials are in the works and are in high demand, but the production timeline still weighs on networks.

The notion of sacrificing fall shows for the summer lineup without knowledge of when quarantines will be lifted was likened to a “chicken and egg” scenario, by one broadcast veteran.

“There are so many chicken-and-egg scenarios that it’s frustrating for those who like having order and all the pieces in place for a larger strategy,” the exec said. “We’re all playing a game of chicken: How long can we tap-dance to get a little information about where this is headed?”

One temporary solution that ABC has found is launching a “Flashback Friday” of programming. The network has been broadcasting long-running soap “General Hospital” with new introductions to the show’s most iconic episodes. Expect more of that from the network, sources said.

TV networks are also looking to their streaming services for content. Talks have kicked off among ABC, CBS and NBC and their streaming counterparts to see if any originals from Disney+, Hulu, CBS All Access or soon-to-launch Peacock may be available to air on their networks, the report said.

That route could prove to be a messy one, however.

“It doesn’t make affiliates happy when you promote your competition,” an exec said.

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India’s GDP may plummet to multi-decade low of 1.6% in FY21: Goldman Sachs

Indian policymakers have not been aggressive enough in their response till now to the crisis, and will need to eventually intensify their efforts, economists at Goldman Sachs said.

Economic growth is likely to plummet to a multi-decade low of 1.6% in fiscal year 2020-21 due to COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing measures like lockdowns and social distancing, an American brokerage said on Wednesday in one of the bleakest forecasts on GDP yet.

Indian policymakers have not been aggressive enough in their response till now to the crisis, and will need to eventually intensify their efforts, economists at Goldman Sachs said.

It can be noted that growth was estimated to slide to a decadal low of 5% for FY20 even without the pandemic, and the virus outbreak has only worsened the woes.

Many analysts have been doing downward reviews of their forecasts amid coronavirus concerns with some estimating a contraction in the first quarter of the fiscal, but this is the lowest forecast for the year as a whole yet.

“Despite the policy support so far, and our expectations of more, we believe that the nationwide shutdown, and rising public anxiety about the virus are likely to lead to a sharp deterioration in economic activity in March, and in the next quarter,” it said.

The brokerage, which had forecasted the GDP to expand by 3.3% on a real basis in FY21 on March 22, said the 1.6% growth will be deeper than the commonly perceived recessions India has experienced in 1970s, 1980s and 2009.

The growth slowdown is different from previous recession episodes because there is fear in the minds of citizens which were not present earlier, it said.

“Our sense so far is of a less aggressive policy stimulus by Indian policymakers compared to, for example, 2009,” it said, adding it hopes more actions will follow both from the RBI and the government on top of the 0.75 per cent rate cut and the stimulus package of ₹1.75 lakh crore that they have initiated, respectively.

“The fiscal math will be dented by only 0.08%, if we were to include the ₹1.75 lakh crore package,” it said, adding that States will also jump in with their fiscal packages.

Fall in consumption

Consumption, which contributes 60% of the GDP, is set to be hit badly because of the lockdown, the brokerage said, upwardly reviewing the impacts on services consumption.

It now expects 95% hit to recreation and culture, and hotels and restaurants sectors (up from 70-80% earlier) and education down by 80% (up from 60%).

“These effects obviously appear very high; in our growth forecasts, we assume these effects to be partial, given that the enforcement of even the nationwide lockdown is not complete, and we assume a staggering exit from the lockdown,” it noted.

Apart from that, high frequency data is also not showing much hope, as auto sales were down sharply in March, besides, the fall in manufacturing purchasing managers index and muted global demands.

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The 10 richest billionaires in the world in 2020, despite coronavirus

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The coronavirus has hit the global economy hard — and that includes even the richest people in the world.

Forbes recently published its annual list of billionaires and found that the number of billionaires has dropped significantly because of the pandemic — and even among those still on the list, more than half saw their wealth decrease.

There were 2,095 billionaires on the list when it was finalized on March 18, according to the business website. That was 58 fewer billionaires than last year and 226 fewer than at the beginning of the month, Forbes reported.

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All 2,095 billionaires are worth about $8 trillion, which is $700 billion less than they did in 2019, according to Forbes.

Of course, with the markets in flux because of the coronavirus, each billionaire’s net worth also fluctuates depending on the day. To see how each of the 2,095 billionaires are faring each day, Forbes also created a real-time net worth tracker.

In its overall report, the website also found that the country with the most billionaires was the U.S., with 614. China (which includes Hong Kong and Macao) followed in second place, with 456 billionaires.

BILL GATES: UNTIL CORONAVIRUS VACCINE, WORLD WON’T BE ‘TRULY NORMAL’

It also reported that 267 people who were billionaires last year are no longer billionaires and 178 new people have reached billionaire status this year.

To see which individual billionaires were at the top of the list, here are the 10 richest people in the world and where they're from, according to Forbes' list of "The Richest in 2020."

10. Rob Walton – U.S.

Rob Walton, 75, was worth about $54.1 billion on March 18, according to Forbes. Walton is the eldest son of the founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, and served as the chairman of the company from 1992 until 2015.

9. Alice Walton – U.S.

Members of the Walton family are pictured in 2018. From left to right: Jim Walton, Alice Walton, Jim’s wife Lynne McNabb Walton, Rob Walton’s wife Melani Lowman Walton and Rob Walton. (Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

Alice Walton, 70, was worth $54.4 billion on March 18. She is Sam Walton's only daughter and is also the richest woman on Forbes' 2020 list.

8. Jim Walton – U.S.

Jim Walton, 71, was the richest Walton on March 18 with a net worth of $54.6 billion. According to Forbes, Jim Walton gave away $1.2 billion in Walmart in June last year, but kept his wealth because of a 44 percent stake in Arvest Bank.

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7. Mark Zuckerberg – U.S. 

Mark Zuckerberg, 35, was worth $54.7 billion on March 18. Zuckerberg founded social media site Facebook in 2004.

6. Amancio Ortega – Spain

Amancio Ortega, 84, was the wealthiest clothing retailer in the world on March 18, with a net worth of $55.1 billion, according to Forbes. In 1975 he and his ex-wife Rosalia Mera founded Inditex, which is best known for the fashion chain Zara, Forbes reported.

5. Larry Ellison – U.S.

Larry Ellison, 75, was worth $59 billion on March 18. In 1977, he founded Oracle, a software company and today he serves as the chairman of the board and the chief technology officer, according to Forbes.

4. Warren Buffett – U.S. 

Warren Buffett, 89, was worth $67.5 billion on March 18. Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time, according to Forbes. He also runs Berkshire Hathaway, which owns more than 60 companies.

Previously, Buffett was the third-wealthiest person in the world before Bernard Arnault took his spot this year.

3. Bernard Arnault & Family – France

Bernard Arnault was worth $76 billion on March 18, according to Forbes. (Photo by Michel SETBOUN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Bernard Arnault, 71, and his family were worth $76 billion on March 18. Arnault is the CEO of luxury goods company LVMH, which includes Louis Vuitton and Sephora brands. Last year, the company bought Tiffany & Co. for $16.2 billion, which could be the largest luxury brand acquisition, Forbes reported.

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2. Bill Gates – U.S.

Bill Gates is pictured in 2017. He was worth $98 billion on March 18, according to Forbes. (REUTERS/Pierre Albouy)

Bill Gates, 64, was worth $98 billion on March 18, according to Forbes. Gates and his wife Melinda chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest private charitable foundation in the world, Forbes reported.

1. Jeff Bezos – U.S.

CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos was worth $113 on March 18, according to Forbes. (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Jeff Bezos, 56, is the richest man in the world, despite transferring a quarter of his Amazon stake to his ex-wife MacKenzie last summer, according to Forbes. He was worth $113 billion on March 18.

Bezos founded ecommerce giant Amazon in 1994 and is still the CEO of the company.

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LVMUY LVMH MOËT HENNESSY LOUIS VUITTON SE 74.55 +0.28 +0.38%
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ORCL ORACLE CORPORATION 50.76 -0.73 -1.42%

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Singapore Announces S$5.1 Bln Additional Stimulus On Covid-19 Shock

Singapore announced an additional S$5.1 billion (US$3.6 billion) stimulus to save jobs and protect the livelihoods of people amid the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic.

This is the third stimulus package, which was unveiled by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday, and covers wage subsidies and cash payout.

With the latest announcement, the government’s response to COVID-19 will total S$59.9 billion or around 12 percent of GDP. The budget deficit is estimated to rise to 8.9 percent of GDP this year.

The government obtained President’s in-principle support for a draw of up to S$17 billion from past reserves to finance its second package.

The central bank had eased its monetary policy last week as the city-state is expected to enter a deep recession due to the interruptions to economic activity caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.

“The primary aim of this Solidarity Budget is to take further steps to save jobs and protect the livelihoods of our people during this temporary period of heightened measures,” Heng said.

“We will also help businesses preserve their capacity and capabilities, to resume activities when the circuit breaker is lifted,” he added.

The wage subsidy for all firms was raised to 75 percent of gross monthly wages. The government’s wage subsidy applies to 1.9 million local employees.

Further, foreign worker levy for the month of April is waived.

All adult Singaporeans will receive S$300 cash payout on the top of S$300 payment announced earlier.

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Mnuchin: Trump looking at how parts of US economy can be reopened

Mnuchin: Americans should receive paychecks within two weeks

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says money must be quickly given to small businesses in order to rescue them.

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that President Trump is looking at how to reopen parts of the U.S. economy as the coronavirus pandemic forces an unprecedented shutdown of business throughout the country.

"The president is very much looking at how we can reopen parts of the economy," Mnuchin told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo. "There are parts of the country, like New York, where obviously this is very, very concerning. There are other parts of the country where it’s not."

Restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms, beauty salons, entertainment venues and other businesses deemed nonessential have been ordered to close, while 41 states have enacted strict stay-at-home policies, bringing American life to a grinding halt.

The result has been an economic free-fall that experts warn will be worse than the 2008 financial crisis. In the final two weeks of March, a record-shattering 10 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, a stunning sign of the depth of the downturn.

LENDERS ALLOWED TO CHARGE MORE INTEREST IN SMALL BUSINESS LOAN PROGRAM

Estimates vary drastically for how high unemployment will climb, but economists broadly agree that it will be grim. An analysis published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis last week projected that unemployment could hit 32 percent in the second quarter as more than 47 million workers are laid off because of the pandemic. That would exceed the 24.9 percent peak during the Great Depression.

To prop up the economy, Congress, at the end of March, passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package that includes a one-time cash check of up to $1,200 for adults who earn less than $99,000; $350 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses to maintain their payrolls and a $500 billion fund for bigger companies.

Mnuchin said the direct payments are slated to be sent by the end of next week.

The $349 billion Payroll Protection Program, meanwhile, is designed to get cash in the hands of struggling small businesses and incentivize them to keep staff on payroll, or re-hire workers who have already been laid off. To receive the aid, businesses must have been operational by at least Feb. 15.

WHAT APPLICANTS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SMALL BUSINESS LOAN PROGRAM

At least 3,000 lenders backed by the Small Business Administration are participating in the program, Mnuchin said. As of Monday afternoon, more than 130,000 loans worth more than $40 billion had been paid, a senior administration official told FOX Business.

Companies may borrow up to 2.5 times their payroll, or up to $10 million, which can be used for payroll and other expenses, like insurance premiums, mortgages, rent or utilities through June 30. The loans, which are guaranteed by the federal government, will be fully forgiven if 75 percent of the money goes toward keeping workers employed, according to the SBA.

If the program runs out of money, Mnuchin said the Trump administration plans to ask Congress to replenish the fund.

"If you can't get the loan today or tomorrow, don’t worry," he said. "There will be money. And if we run out of money we’ll come back for more."

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Amazon faces another Staten Island warehouse strike as 25 have coronavirus

Amazon is facing its second labor strike at a Staten Island warehouse where workers fear more than two dozen people have come down with COVID-19, according to labor groups who issued an advisory about the noon action.

Workers at the Bloomfield distribution center, called JFK8, are walking off the job at 12 p.m. on Monday amid complaints that more than 25 warehouse staffers have tested positive for the virus, based on daily text messages they receive from Amazon. They are demanding the Seattle tech giant company close the facility for sanitization and provide full pay for employees during that time.

Amazon does not provide unpaid time off for hourly workers who feel symptoms or may have sick people at home.

It’s the second time the SI warehouse staffers have walked off the job in protest of Amazon’s handling of the coronavirus. On March 30, dozens of employees held a rally spearheaded by management assistant Christopher Smalls — who was later fired by Amazon.

At the time, fewer than 10 warehouse workers reportedly had the virus, but the number has since increased to more than 25, according to Jason Schwartz, a spokesman for Athena, one of the worker advocacy groups involved in the strike.

“Workers are asking for a cohesive plan that protects them and the health of the public,” according to the advisory.

Amazon warehouse workers in Chicago and Detroit also held rallies and work stoppages in recent weeks over COVID-19 safety concerns.

In NYC, some 40 elected officials, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, fired off a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on April 1, calling for Smalls’ rehiring and for Amazon to implement COVID-19 safety protocols and paid leave.

“We write in support of your own workers calling for you to CLOSE Amazon warehouses until you put into place real solutions — with independent monitors — to protect your workers and the public in this moment of public health crisis,” according to the letter.

“Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable,” Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said. “We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances.”

Amazon is taking employees’ temperature at its warehouses and sending home anyone with a temperature of 100F or more, it has said in a blog post.

The tech giant has previously said it fired Smalls because he violated social distancing guidelines after coming into contact with an employee who tested positive for the virus.
Smalls was the subject of a leaked Amazon memo last week, in which Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky wrote that the assistant manager is “not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position,” according to reports.

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JPMorgan CEO Says Might Suspend Dividend In Extremely Adverse Scenario

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said it expects the bank’s earnings to be “down meaningfully” in 2020 due to the disruptions created by coronavirus pandemic. He also noted that the U.S. was not adequately prepared for the pandemic.

In his annual letter to the company’s shareholders, Dimon said that the bank’s board may consider suspending the dividend in an extremely adverse scenario in order to preserve capital. The bank has already stopped buying back its shares.

“We don’t know exactly what the future will hold – but at a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008. Our bank cannot be immune to the effects of this kind of stress,” Dimon said.

However, Dimon added that the bank would have sufficient capital even in this extreme case scenario that projects a 35 percent contraction of U.S. gross domestic product in the second quarter and unemployment peaking at 14 percent in the fourth quarter.

Dimon noted that during the coronavirus crisis, JPMorgan has been utilizing its disaster recovery sites and implementing alternative work arrangements globally. The company now has more than 180,000 employees working from home.

To help its customers amid the pandemic, JPMorgan is providing a 90-day grace period for mortgage and auto loan/lease payments, removing minimum payment requirements on credit cards, and waiving associated late fees. The company is also waiving or refunding some fees, including early withdrawal fees on certificates of deposit.

JPMorgan has extended $950 million in new loans to small businesses in the past 60 days alone. The bank is also waiving and refunding fees for those businesses in need and servicing clients with additional credit through revolving facilities.

In addition, the bank is continuing to maintain undrawn revolving commitments in its wholesale businesses, which totaled approximately $295 billion as of the close of business on March 31, 2020.

Dimon noted that of the bank’s nearly 5,000 Chase branches, it has managed to keep three-quarters of them open for customers. Almost all of the bank’s 2,300 branches with drive-up windows have remained open for business, allowing people to maintain a safe distance.

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Coronavirus patients rush to join Gilead drug study

Congress lost sight of coronavirus in China: Home Depot co-founder

Home Depot co-founder and Job Creators Network founder Bernie Marcus argues Congress was too tied on up impeachment in the U.S. when they should have been investigating the coronavirus pandemic in China.

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The new coronavirus made Dr. Jag Singh a patient at his own hospital. His alarm grew as he saw an X-ray of his pneumonia-choked lungs and colleagues asked his wishes about life support while wheeling him into Massachusetts General's intensive care unit.

When they offered him a chance to help test remdesivir, an experimental drug that's shown promise against some other coronaviruses, "it did not even cross my mind once to say 'no,'" said Singh, a heart specialist.

GILEAD SCIENCES TO DONATE POSSIBLE CORONAVIRUS DRUG REMDESIVIR FOR EMERGENCY USE TESTING

Coronavirus patients around the world have been rushing to join remdesivir studies that opened in hospitals in the last few weeks.

Interest has been so great that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is expanding its study, which has nearly reached its initial goal of 440 patients. The drug's maker, California-based Gilead Sciences, is quickly ramping up its own studies, too.

In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, a vial of the investigational drug remdesivir is visually inspected at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. Given through an IV, the medication is designed to interfere with an enzyme

"I would enroll my family in a heartbeat" if the need arose, said Dr. Libby Hohmann, who placed Singh and nearly 30 others in the NIH one at Mass General. To have no approved medicines for COVID-19 now is "kind of terrifying," she said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but sometimes pneumonia requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

Remdesivir is given through an IV. It's designed to interfere with an enzyme that reproduces viral genetic material.

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In animal tests against SARS and MERS, diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, the drug helped prevent infection and reduced the severity of symptoms when given early enough in the course of illness. It's farther along in testing than many other potential therapies and the current studies could lead to regulatory approval.

Gilead has given remdesivir to more than 1,700 patients on a case-by-case emergency basis, but more people ultimately will be helped if the company does the needed studies to prove safety and effectiveness, chief executive Dan O'Day wrote in a recent letter to the public.

"Many people have reached out to Gilead to advocate for access to remdesivir on behalf of friends and loved ones. I can only imagine how it must feel to be in that situation," he wrote. "We are taking the ethical, responsible approach."

In this March 2020 photo provided by Gilead Sciences, rubber stoppers are placed onto filled vials of the investigational drug remdesivir at a Gilead manufacturing site in the United States. Given through an IV, the medication is designed to interfer

In another letter on Saturday, O'Day said the company has 1.5 million doses, which could mean more than 140,000 treatment courses, depending on how long treatment needs to last. The company is providing the drug for free for now and has set a goal of making 500,000 treatment courses by October and more than a million by the end of the year.

Gilead supplied remdesivir for two studies in China expected to give results by the end of the month. It also launched two studies for hospitalized patients in the U.S., Asia, Europe and elsewhere. One in severely ill patients tests five versus 10 days of treatment. Another in moderately sick patients compares those two options to standard care alone.

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"There's so much anxiety about the disease that the patients are quite interested" and no one offered the chance has refused, said Dr. Arun Sanyal, the study leader at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

The first patient he enrolled was a previously healthy middle-aged man who had an out-of-state visitor a few days before his symptoms began. What started as mild illness escalated to profound shortness of breath requiring supplemental oxygen.

At University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Dr. Grace McComsey has enrolled roughly half a dozen patients.
"We're seeing more and more younger people, like 30, really sick," she said.

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The NIH study is the most rigorous test. It compares remdesivir to placebo infusions, and neither patients nor doctors know who is getting what until the end of the study. Besides the U.S., it's open in Japan, Korea and Singapore.

In Chicago, an 89-year-old man was Northwestern Memorial Hospital's first participant and "the family was very excited" to have him included, said infectious diseases chief Dr. Babafemi Taiwo.

At the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Alpesh Amin has enrolled several patients. All are getting standard care even if they wind up getting a placebo rather than remdesivir, Amin said.

The Boston cardiologist, Singh, said he was willing to take that chance to advance science even if he personally winds up not benefiting. He's now recovering at home after spending a week in the hospital.

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"The word 'placebo' freaks some people out," but rigorous testing is needed to avoid giving false hope or using something unsafe. Still, it's tough to face patients with no proven therapy now, Hohmann said.

"The worst thing is seeing some really young people who are really, really sick," such as a 49-year-old man with three young children on life support, she said. "That's pretty awful."

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Who is ex-Amazon worker Chris Smalls?

Coronavirus delays Amazon deliveries

FOX Business’ Susan Li says coronavirus has caused a huge surge in Amazon orders and delivery delays.

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A five-year Amazon employee who was fired in March after staging a small walkout over conditions at a Staten Island warehouse has placed himself at the center of a debate about the treatment of workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Smalls quickly gained the media spotlight after calling for Amazon's JFK8 fulfillment center to be shut down for deep cleaning and accusing the corporation of lying about how many workers have tested positive for the virus.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE FIRED DURING CORONAVIRUS

"We weren't able to shut down the building per se, but people heard us," Smalls told FOX Business after he was terminated. "I got emails and texts and phone calls from all over the nation calling me a hero for speaking up because people are afraid … They did me a favor letting me go. I would have never returned to that building."

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An Amazon spokesperson said Smalls was terminated for "violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk," including by coming on site for the walkout on Monday. He came in contact with a coworker who tested positive for coronavirus last week and was asked to stay home, but Smalls said he had much less contact with that coworker than some of his fellow employees.

Amazon employees hold a protest and walkout over conditions at the company’s Staten Island distribution facility on March 30 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

AMAZON EMPLOYEES WORRY ABOUT CORONAVIRUS AS THEY KEEP WORKING

"I didn't violate any safety guidelines. When were these implemented?" Smalls said. "As far as the quarantine, what gives Amazon medical expertise? Who's making these decisions on who gets quarantined? What is their definition of close contact?"

Smalls, a father of three, said he had opened three Amazon facilities in the New York tri-state area. A coalition of unions including AFL-CIO called for his "swift reinstatement" in a letter last week.

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"These accusations are simply unfounded," an Amazon spokesperson said in response to the letter. "Nothing is more important than the safety of our teams."

The spokesperson added that Amazon has "implemented a broad suite of new benefits changes for employees in our operations and logistics network throughout this unprecedented pandemic" including an additional $2 for hourly pay, double overtime pay and two weeks of paid time-off for employees who self-quarantine.

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Walmart steps up coronavirus cleaning after two workers die

Trump talks to Walmart about PPE orders

President Trump says he gave Walmart a large order for gowns and other medical supplies that will be delivered to health care workers and others on the frontlines during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Retail giant Walmart will make changes including hiring a third-party company to keep its stores sanitized after the coronavirus deaths of two Illinois employees, 51-year-old Wando Evans and 48-year-old Phillip Thomas, USA Today reported.

"We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store, and we are mourning along with their families," Walmart said in a statement to USA TODAY.

A security guard directs customers to enter the Walmart Supercenter Sunday in Miami. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

WHO IS FIRED AMAZON EMPLOYEE CHRIS SMALLS?

The store where Evans and Thomas worked had recently passed a health department inspection, Walmart told USA Today. It's unknown whether they contracted the virus at work.

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Walmart announced Friday that it will limit the number of customers who can be inside the store at one time to roughly 20% of the store's capacity. Customers will be admitted one-by-one from a line formed at single-entry door. Additionally, Walmart is implementing a one-way movement policy in its aisles, which will be marked.

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