May 4, 2021

Bulletin: Bill and Melinda Gates' Divorce Likely to Send Shock Waves Through Worlds of Philanthropy, Public Health and Business (New York Times)

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage" the couple said in a statement that was posted to Twitter.

Adding "...we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

Read more: $146 Billion at Stake in Gates Divorce (Bloomberg)

The Return to 'Normal.'

BreakingGoldman Sachs Readies Its U.S. Workforce for Return to Offices in June (Bloomberg)

Breaking II
: Boris Johnson Predicts Lockdown Ending June 21 as He Seeks Votes (Bloomberg)

New York Tri-State Area to End Capacity Restrictions, Resume 24 Hour-a-Day Subway Service (Bloomberg)

Most capacity restrictions will be lifted across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on May 19 for restaurants, offices, theaters, stores and museums as lower virus rates and higher vaccinations help move the region toward normalcy.

Round-the-clock subway service will resume in New York City on May 17, providing an essential service to restaurant and hospital staff and others who commute outside the traditional workday. It will also help transport more people as the MTA anticipates ridership will increase alongside an uptick in business activity and cultural events.

Businesses "won’t need to abide by the six-foot rule if they require that all individuals present proof of full vaccination or a negative coronavirus test result," according to the New York Times.

On Sunday, New York City reported 1,200 new cases - a dramatic 63% decrease from the case level one month ago when nearly 4,000 cases were reported. Hospitalizations and deaths have also decreased, while nearly a third of city residents are now fully vaccinated.

Across New York state, case levels have fallen 57% in the past month and New Jersey case levels have followed suit, falling 58% in the past month.

Just last Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would be 'fully reopened' by July 1 but Gov. Cuomo has the ultimate reopening authority, and announced the accelerated timeline Monday.

As the city reopens, it will need to hire a lot of people very quickly, said Danny Meyer, chair the city’s Economic Development board. At least 400,000 jobs will return in the city this year as it reopens.
Customers sit in the outdoor dining area of a restaurant in New York City on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Photo by: Amir Hamja/Bloomberg

Google's Office Retrofit.

Future of Work: How Google Plans Revamp of Offices for Workers Post-Pandemic (New York Times)

The plans build on work that began before the pandemic and aims for a mix of Ikea meets Lego. Over the next year or so, the company will try out new office designs in millions of square feet of space, or about 10% of its global work spaces.

Google said it was building outdoor work spaces in London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York and Sydney, Australia, and possibly more locations, to respond to concerns that coronavirus easily spreads in traditional offices.

The tech company will encourage employees to get vaccinated before they start returning to the office in September.

Click here to get the latest on the Return to 'Normal.'

Hawkfish Takes a Bow.

After an election cycle unlike any other, Hawkfish, a Democratic firm designed to give the Party the digital tools it needed to defeat Donald Trump, has ended its work.  

The firm coined the term "Red Mirage" and arguably helped save the integrity of the U.S. election, underscoring the power of its accomplishments.

Hawkfish created and trafficked nearly 200,000 ad variations, and generated more than 9 billion impressions, according to the More Data newsletter by James Owens. 

In the 2020 election cycle, Hawkfish bought more than $150 million in media on behalf of clients.  

And here are more of the innovations and successes Hawkfish helped deliver:

Using state-of-the-art computer vision and machine learning technologies to create more effective ads with the Hawkfish 'Ad Analyzer' tool.

Innovating a new way to measure the impact of digital media, and saving 32% on ad spend using machine learning.

Partnering with a leading public health institution on a social media strategy to inform the public and enrich discussions about Covid.

Creating one of the largest micro-influencer campaigns in Georgia political history.

Proving the effectiveness of digital Get Out The Vote efforts with award-winning new tactics.

And finally, Hawkfish helped inform the public and media about the "Red Mirage" which ultimately came true. 

The firm's models showed how Donald Trump might appear to be close to victory on election night but ultimately lose to Joe Biden as all the votes were counted (including absentee, military and overseas ballots).  

My never-ending thanks to the people interrupted their lives, careers, and time with their families to get off the sidelines of what was the most consequential election of my lifetime.  The world would be a very different place without you. 

Read more: How The "Red Mirage" Shaped the 2020 Election Narrative (Medium) 

What I'm Reading.

Vaccines to the World: White House Backs Pfizer's Move to Begin U.S. Vaccine Exports (Bloomberg)

Vaccine HopeF.D.A. Set to Authorize Pfizer Vaccine for 12-15 Year Olds by Early Next Week (New York Times)

Helping Those Who Need It: Biden Raises Refugee Cap to 62,500 (Bloomberg)

The U.S. has for decades allowed in tens of thousands of refugees each year who are fleeing persecution or war in foreign countries.  The cap was lowered last year to 15,000, the lowest since the Refugee Act of 1980 became law.

Vax Freedom Arrives in Germany: Legislation to Fully Exempt Vaccinated Individuals from Covid Rules Expected to Pass This Week (Bloomberg)

The German government will also present draft legislation this week that would remove the requirement for fully vaccinated travelers to present a negative test and go into quarantine when coming to Germany.

Experts: U.S. Unlikely to Achieve Herd Immunity, but Vaccinations, Natural Immunity After Infection to Help Return to Normalcy (New York Times)

Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged the shift in thinking, saying that regardless of a mystical number to reach herd immunity that if you vaccinate enough people, the infections are going to go down.

Crackdown on DissentBig Brother Is Watching in Moscow and Recognizing Protesters with Facial Recognition Technology (Bloomberg)

Tax Hike Fallout: Colombian Finance Chief Quits After Days of Violent Protests (Bloomberg)

Climate News: E.P.A. to Announce Sharp Limits on Powerful Greenhouse Gases (New York Times)

The proposed regulation focuses on hydrofluorocarbons, a class of man-made chemicals that is thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the planet, and commonly used in refrigeration and air-conditioning.

Good News for Gun Safety: Supreme Court Won't Hear Challenge to Maryland Ban on Bump Stocks (Associated Press)

The Supreme Court is declining to take up a challenge to Maryland’s ban on bump stocks and other devices that make guns fire faster.

Maryland's ban preceded a nationwide ban on the sale and possession of bump stocks that followed the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. The gunman attached bump stocks to assault-style rifles to shoot concertgoers from his hotel room killing fifty-eight people and injuring hundreds.  

What Max is ReadingFor Biden, 44 Confirmations Down, Only 1,156 to Go (Washington Post - Fred Hiatt)

Why in the world do we require 1,200 government officials to go through the time-consuming, often unilluminating and even counterproductive Senate confirmation process? 

"It's just a broken system," says Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.

Stier notes the average tenure of confirmed appointees ends up being only about two years. The natural inclination for a confirmed appointee, arriving late and feeling pressed for time, is to burn through talent, not build a workforce for the long haul.

Please Come to Work: Washington, DC Data Firm Launches Daily Raffle for Employees Returning to Work (Wall Street Journal)

Prizes include trips to Barbados, a Tesla SUV and $10,000 cash.

Marking Pan Asian Heritage Month in the U.S.: 11 Moments From Asian American History That You Should Know (Time)

Hitting the Skies: More than 1.6 Million People Flew in the U.S. Sunday, Highest Number Since Last March (Associated Press)

Mickey and Minnie Are Back: Disneyland Reopens in California After Year Long Closure (New York Times)

Tune In Saturday: Prince Harry and J-Lo Lead 'Vax Live' Concert in Los Angeles (France 24)

Britain's Prince Harry joined pop royalty including Jennifer Lopez at a star-studded concert in Los Angeles Sunday to urge faster and more even global vaccinations

The show will air on television and YouTube this upcoming Saturday, after being pre-taped in front of thousands of fully vaccinated spectators at a vast California stadium.


Best of Late Night.

Don't miss John Oliver's monologue from Sunday, aimed at Fox News personality Tucker Carlson for irresponsibly spreading stories that lead to vaccine hesitancy, calling him the number one Covid 'superspreader.'

On news that some Americans are hesitant to get the vaccine, despite it being proven safe and effective:

“I mean, just a few weeks ago we were scrambling for appointments — refresh, refresh, refresh. Now you can pick up Moderna shots in the two-for-one bin at Walmart.”
-- Trevor Noah

“One interesting group of people refusing to get the vaccine: people who have gotten the vaccine. Because millions of people are skipping their second doses of Covid vaccines. I can’t believe it — Americans are saying no to seconds?”
-- Stephen Colbert

On the CDC releasing new guidelines and a chart explaining when fully vaccinated people can take off their masks: 

“The chart ranks activities from safest to less safe to least safe. It’s the same chart people use when deciding between Delta, United and Spirit Airlines.”
-- Jimmy Fallon

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