1. Tens of thousands of airline jobs are at risk as travel plunges
HOUSTON – Airline passenger traffic is plunging around the world because of coronavirus. That means tens of thousands of airline workers are worried about their jobs, at least temporarily.
Airlines are already adjusting their staffing by asking employees to take vacation at reduced pay or unpaid leaves of absence. So far, airlines’ job cuts have not been permanent. But some companies have frozen hiring, which could hurt airlines’ abilities to fill jobs they will need to be filled once the crisis passes.
"Every airline will have to look at doing something like this," said airline consultant Michael Boyd. "It's just good, solid planning."
Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific is the most extreme example so far: It temporarily cut flights by 40%, and it asked all 33,000 of its employees to voluntarily sign up for three-week unpaid leave sometime before the end of June. Cathay had already been struggling before the virus surfaced because of the Hong Kong protests last year.
"Preserving cash is the key to protecting our business," Cathay said in a statement last month. "We have already been taking multiple measures to achieve this."
Cathay would not say how many employees had signed up for the leave that it says is voluntary.
2. A touching photo shows an elderly woman talking through a window to her quarantined husband
Dorothy Campbell, 88, stood and waited in front of a window at a Washington state nursing home. On the other side of the glass sat her 89-year-old husband, Gene, speaking to her from a phone.
He's a patient at Life Care Center in Kirkland, a long-term care facility, and it's the only way they can communicate while Gene remains quarantined at the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the US.
The photo is emblematic of the divide between those still inside the facility and their concerned family members waiting just outside, separated by walls and glass.
At least eight of the state's 70 cases have been linked to the center. And of the 13 deaths reported in the state so far, seven of them were Life Care Center residents. More than 50 of the center's residents and staff are being tested for the novel coronavirus, while family and friends of the 108 patients there have been barred from visiting.
Dorothy spoke to Gene through his room window, held up by her son Charlie, a retired nurse.
3. In light of coronavirus, here’s what you should do with your 401(k)
Stocks have rollercoastered in the last week, giving investors motion sickness with gut-wrenching ups and downs. But if you’re a long-term investor, what should you do with a 401(k), IRA or 529 savings plan for your kids’ college tuition?
Stay the course.
CNN Business spoke with five top money managers to get advice about how to navigate these increasingly stormy market seas and find out how investors are managing during these choppy times.
All of them said now is a good time to reassess your goals and investing strategy — but not to panic and rush into bonds or cash. For most investors, especially younger ones, stocks will give you the best chance of solid returns over the long haul.
“Many people are saving for 30 years or more before they reach retirement age, and will see all kinds of market swings in that period — so it’s important not to make any changes based on short-term market events,” said Fidelity spokesman Mike Shamrell in an email to CNN Business.
Shamrell added that the two most important things for investors to do now is making sure they have the right mix of stocks, bonds and other assets, and consider so-called target-date funds that automatically rebalance your portfolios to shift to more conservative investments as you get closer to retirement age.
4. Satellite images show empty airports, tourist attractions due to coronavirus
People in many parts of the world are being asked to avoid crowds, limit travel and even work from home to help limit the spread of novel coronavirus, and satellite images suggest they're heeding that advice.
The World Health Organization says almost 100,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported and it has spread to at least 90 countries and territories. More than 3,300 people have died.
Recent satellite images from Maxar Technologies show just how much the coronavirus is affecting people's behavior.
5. You can get your food, groceries delivered to your door without any human contact
Amid fears of the coronavirus, a growing number of food and grocery delivery services in the US are giving customers the option to have their orders left at their doorstep to avoid human interaction.
Instacart, the grocery delivery startup, rolled out a new feature call "Leave at My Door Delivery," which gives customers the option to have an order left by their door during a designated time frame instead of having an in-person hand-off.
The company said Thursday it had been testing the opt-in feature in recent months and decided to add the option for all customers now because of "increased demand" for it in recent days.
On-demand food delivery startup Postmates introduced a similar option on Friday. Meanwhile, grocery delivery service FreshDirect has a service alert on its website noting that its "delivery personnel will bring your order up to your door, but cannot enter your home at this time." (FreshDirect did not immediately respond to a request for comment on when this alert was added.)
As cases of coronavirus continue to rack up in the US, the workers who give rides and deliver groceries or restaurant orders for gig economy companies could be on the frontlines of the outbreak as people avoid public transportation and rely on home deliveries instead of frequenting restaurants and stores.
6. Starbucks predicts a 50% sales drop in China due to the coronavirus
Starbucks is expecting significantly lower sales in its Chinese stores in the current quarter because of the deadly coronavirus.
In February, sales at stores open at least 13 months in China dropped 78% compared to the prior year because of temporary store closures, reduced hours of operation and a sharp decline in customer traffic, CEO Kevin Johnson and CFO Patrick Grismer noted in a letter to stakeholders Thursday.
The disruption means that Starbucks has had to significantly adjust its outlook for the quarter through March in China.
Before the outbreak, the company expected sales at stores open at least 13 months to jump by 3%. Now, it estimates a 50% decline, and a hit of between $400 million to $430 million to its revenue in the country compared to earlier expectations. And it may delay opening some stores in the country.
The coffee chain closed about 80% of its Chinese locations in February.
Since then, it has reopened most of its locations. Today, more than 90% of Starbucks stores in China are open for business. But things aren’t back to normal at those locations. The open stores still have reduced hours and are limiting seating to keep customers at a distance from one another. Some cafes are just offering delivery. The company expects 95% of stores to be open by the end of the second quarter, but with this type of limited service.
7. Mike Pompeo is 'confident that US will handle coronavirus ‘better than any nation in the world’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that he was "confident" that the United States would handle the novel coronavirus "better than any nation in the world" as the Trump administration has been under scrutiny for its initial handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Pompeo voiced optimism during an interview with CNBC, in response to a question about whether the US could have as successful a response as China without imposing on people’s civil liberties. China imposed severe restrictions on travel in an effort to contain the virus.
"I'm confident we can handle it here. I'm confident we'll handle it better than any nation in the world," Pompeo said.
Pompeo seemed to blame the Chinese government for the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which was discovered in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, and putting the US “behind the curve.”
8. Cruise lines offering full credit on some sailings
As passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco wait for coronavirus test results after the death of a former passenger, it's hard for some travelers to go ahead with their cruise plans.
Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line and Viking are offering travelers new flexible rebooking policies.
They're among several major cruise lines now offering full credit for any cruises booked from now through this spring that wary travelers decide to reschedule. The credit can be used for future trips. For some cruise lines, the new trip needs to be booked within 12 months after cancellation, while others will allow you to book within 24 months.
"Legally, cruise lines aren't mandated to provide a refund for payments paid in full for cruises canceled by the guest, as covered by the cruise contract signed at the time of booking," said Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic.
"But a number of cruise lines have recently rolled out temporary adjustments to their cancellation policies, allowing for penalty-free adjustments to bookings closer to the sail date, providing travelers with even greater flexibility," she continued. However, "not all lines are extending this offer, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the cancellation policy of your cruise line of choice."
“For cruise vacations — that are often booked many months in advance — these adjustments are a way for cruisers to feel a bit more confident in their investment, knowing they have some additional levels of protection if needed,” she said.