A US-China breakup, Apple buys VR, ketchup puzzles

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Here’s what you need to know

Donald Trump is considering a full breakup with China. The US president said in an interview that he’s mulling over the option of “cutting off the whole relationship” with one of his country’s biggest trade partners.

Another three million Americans filed for unemployment. Some 36.5 million have now filed applications for unemployment insurance since mid-March—costing the US $48 billion last month alone. Goldman Sachs predicts that US unemployment will peak at around 25% before falling later this year.

The world’s largest silicon chip manufacturer is putting down US roots. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing announced plans to establish a plant in Arizona, right when concerns are growing about the reliance of US tech companies on Asia’s chipmakers.

More than 300,000 across the globe have died due to the coronavirus. It’s a sobering milestone, and the actual number is likely higher, as countries report and track deaths differently. More than a quarter of those deaths have occurred in the US.

Apple bought a VR company. The tech giant is making forays into the world of virtual reality. NextVR, the California-based startup it just acquired, specializes in broadcasting and events. Apple didn’t disclose the amount of the sale, nor did it announce plans for any new hardware.

Gilead is allocating a portion of remdesivir to Japan. The drug will be used to treat the country’s Covid-19 patients, but the US-based manufacturer would not comment on the rest of its global allocation. The US will receive 40% of the total 1.5 million doses up for grabs—enough to treat 140,000 patients. Japan’s state of emergency has been lifted in many areas, but not Tokyo or Osaka.

A retail reckoning

Covid-19 has accelerated the transition to ecommerce, creating winners and losers more quickly than some players can adapt.

🔒 Many of Covid-19’s temporary store closures will, in fact, be permanent. Whether they never reopen or reopen only to close immediately, Investment firm UBS thinks that up to 100,000 stores could close in the US by 2025.

🛍 America’s malls aren’t expected to fare any better. With up to 90% of some malls’ tenants missing rent payments in April, many shopping centers are rushing to reopen with medically questionable guidelines.

👠 It’s also a nightmare for independent fashion designers. Smaller brands operate on tight budgets, often using one season’s profits to fund the next. For many, survival is far from certain.

🌍 Sometimes even boosting sales isn’t enough. Jumia—Africa’s largest ecommerce platform—reported a 7% decline in revenue despite seeing a four-fold increase in grocery orders.

Charting pet adoption

A lot of people in the US had the same thought once pandemic lockdowns began in March: “Now that I’m home a lot more often, maybe it’s time to get that rescue kitten or puppy I’ve always wanted.” But despite the increased interest in adoption, some data suggest that overall adoption trends have leveled out over the past two months—there simply aren’t enough animals available to adopt.


For Quartz members: The virtual conference reboot

This week’s membership field guide will help you make the transition from muted observer to meeting organizer in a few easy steps:

  1. Master the science of attention. Perceptive organizers are looking to neuroscience for clues on how to better engage audiences.
  2. Experiment radically, even when the stakes are high. For its first pandemic-era event, organizers at TED scrambled to design an eight-week-long virtual conference.
  3. Check in with a pro. Love him or hate him, NSA whistleblower and fugitive Edward Snowden gives good video conference.
  4. Set the stage. From learning the lingo to building your home set, putting on a show can pay off for the audience and make you feel better at the same time.

✦ Get access to these articles and a lot more when you become a Quartz member (try a seven-day free trial). ✦

We’re obsessed with graduation

It’s a brave new world. This class of 2020 may attend a virtual ceremony, take part in a drive-through graduation, or even listen to Barack Obama or Lil Nas X deliver televised commencement speeches. How graduation ceremonies continue to evolve remains to be seen, but for now they’re certain to be marked less by pomp and more by the circumstances. Toss that tassel with today’s Quartz Daily Obsession.

You asked about anti-vaxxers

How are the “anti-vaxxers” reacting to Covid 19 issues and are they changing their minds about vaccines? – Lezlie

The coronavirus has not killed the anti-vax movement. Quartz senior reporter Olivia Goldhill writes that some anti-vaxxers use the same arguments opposing mandatory vaccines to push back against the ongoing mandatory lockdowns. Celebrities can also amplify this cause. The world number one men’s tennis player, Novak Djokovic, said, “Personally I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.”

Other anti-vaxxers, however, are reconsidering their stance on vaccines. One longtime anti-vaxxer told Reuters she would consider taking a Covid-19 vaccine, and expressed skepticism at the conspiracy theories surrounding the disease. “We’re all being affected by this virus, schools closing, young people in hospital, and they still say it’s a hoax,” she said.

✉️ Do you have a burning question about how coronavirus is changing the world?

Surprising discoveries

Animal Crossing is a job now. Are you an Animal Crossing fanatic who has demonstrated great design skills on your island, and is now looking to take those skills to the real world?

US military dominance is over. A new book claims that during the last decade of war games between the US and China, the Americans have lost almost every single time.

Celebrities are flocking to a subscription-based 18+ content site. After getting name-checked by Beyoncé, it’s safe to say OnlyFans has gone mainstream.

This ketchup puzzle might last through quarantine. Heinz is giving away 57 editions of its 570-piece monochrome jigsaw puzzle for those with the right condiment-ality.

Jonah Hill doesn’t f*** around. Actually, he does. He’s overtaken Samuel L. Jackson as the actor who has sworn the most in movies.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, mustard mazes, and salsa sudokus to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Olivia Goldhill, Susan Howson, and Max Lockie.