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Here’s what you need to know
Facebook has arrived on the e-commerce scene. Taking advantage of the moment, the social media platform announced Shops, a virtual storefront for businesses to use on both Facebook and Instagram. Walmart decided to redefine its own lofty e-commerce goals and discontinue Jet.com, which it bought four years ago only to see it pale next to Walmart.com’s performance.
News on the medical front. Korean researchers now believe “re-positives”—those who test positive for the novel coronavirus after the illness has resolved—may not be able to infect others. Meanwhile, some scientists are pushing for the latest hope-filled vaccine news from Moderna to be taken with a grain of salt.
Microsoft announced help for healthcare workers and a lot more. At its (virtual) Build event for developers, Microsoft unveiled plans to provide new software to support telemedicine, said its Azure Quantum computer system would be ready soon for a partner preview, and dangled a nerdily appropriate mystery in front of its digital attendees.
Google cut some ties with Big Oil. The relationship between tech giants and the oil industry has prompted major backlash over the past year, leading to sweeping emissions reduction policies. A new Greenpeace report laid out the tech-oil contracts that remained, prompting new uproar and a promise from Google that it will drop development of certain artificial intelligence programs that would have helped with fossil fuel extraction.
Hong Kong may not be able to hold the Tiananmen vigil it had hoped for. An extension of social distancing measures through June 4 is throwing a wrench in the plans for the annual candlelight event to commemorate the victims of the 1989 massacre. The group that organizes the vigil expressed serious doubts that the rejection of the application to assemble is completely politics-free.
Luckin got its notice from Nasdaq. The Chinese coffee chain has been in hot water since it came out that numbers in the company’s annual report had been fabricated. Luckin disclosed yesterday that it got official notice from Nasdaq that it would be delisted from the index, and plans to request a hearing to make its case.
The department of awkward solutions
As businesses around the world begin to reopen, many workers can expect to encounter a host of half-baked design solutions in the name of stemming viral spread. Design and architecture reporter Anne Quito spoke with experts to help deliver the Dos and Don’ts of re-entering office life.
👍Do: Try new things. Last month, the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield introduced “The Six Feet Office,” a set of guidelines including unusual new practices like requiring everyone to only walk in a clockwise pattern.
👎Don’t: Skip steps. In the rush to produce solutions, designers could cut corners while testing prototypes. Paolo Cardini, associate professor of industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design, argues, “You are skipping safety prototyping and just hope that they’ll tell you what is wrong about the product. That’s dangerous.”
👍Do: Consult experts. The best solutions come from working with health experts. For example, the architecture firm MASS Design has been working with doctors to publish a useful set of guidelines (pdf) for designing healthier spaces.
👎Don’t: Make hasty decisions. Cardini says it’s not the time to implement any permanent infrastructure or to order products in bulk. “I think we need to wait a little bit more to have a good array of effective and validated solutions,” he says.
Charting quarantine cannabis cultivation
The quarantine gardening boom definitely extends to cannabis. For the last few years Scotts Miracle-Gro, the maker of home, lawn, and garden-care goods, has attributed a growing portion of its sales to its subsidiary Hawthorne Gardening, which specializes in hydroponic cannabis cultivation. In 2019, the segment accounted for over 20% of the company’s revenues, up from 5% in 2016. “We’re shipping more out the door at Hawthorne than we ever have before,” said Hawthorne head Chris Hagedorn on a recent earnings call.
For Quartz Members
We’ll need extraordinary measures to produce a Covid-19 vaccine. As countries around the globe mull over plans to reopen economies, they’re eyeing a key development in public health: vaccines. Public and private efforts have so far yielded more than 120 candidates making their way through various stages of testing. In order to identify, produce, and distribute what will become the most in-demand pharmaceutical product on Earth, manufacturers will need to explore every option.
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You asked about herd immunity
Is it possible to achieve herd immunization against COVID-19?
A few countries have tried. The UK initially proceeded with a frightening attempt, but ultimately reversed course to lockdowns and increased testing. The UK’s chief scientific officer has said that about 60% of a population needs to be infected to build herd immunity—the protection that emerges as a virus makes its way through a population.
The place to keep an eye on is likely Sweden, which took a very different approach. The country’s primary schools have remained open. Restaurants too, though tables are set farther apart. Work from home is encouraged but not enforced and even nightclubs can operate with a few changes.
✉️ Do you have a burning question about how coronavirus is changing the world?
You can have your mask and eat cake, too. Want to keep your respiratory system safe while you chow down? There’s a mask for that, but the jury’s out on how effective it is.
The blue bee made an appearance. The rarely seen blue calamintha is something of a white whale for scientists, who only discovered its existence fairly recently.
Tomato Jos wants to fix tomato waste. Farming and processing the crop is a notoriously inefficient practice in Nigeria, but one startup got $4.2 million in funding to make change.
Shakespeare’s Globe may be gone ere long. The detailed reconstruction of the Bard’s playhouse in London is facing its biggest threat since the Great Fire of 1666.
An Australian man rescued a whale and got fined for it. After authorities didn’t arrive to help the entangled whale, he took matters in his own hands—and broke the law, somehow.
Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, whales in need, and masks with mouths to email@example.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Anne Quito, Jenny Anderson, Susan Howson, and Max Lockie.