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Standing Together


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CONTENTS

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2020 S PECI A L E D ITI O N

SUSTAINING AMERICA

EVERYDAY HEROES From masks to meals, volunteers deliver for their neighbors

KAREN DUCEY/GETTY IMAGES

Bus driver Treva White, front, and nutritionist Shaunté Fields, on bus, deliver meals to children and their families in Seattle. Because schools across the country were closed by the outbreak of COVID-19, officials have deployed different methods of feeding students in need.


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CONTENTS ABO

ABOVE AND BEYOND This is a product of

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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EVERYDAY HEROES Stepping up to help neighbors in need

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com

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FRONT-LINE HEROES First responders continue to answer the call

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com

MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington

Costco in Washington, D.C.

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STAR POWER

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HOW TO MAKE A MASK

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ROAD TO REOPENING

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DR. STRAIGHT TALK

JIM WATSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Celebrities lend a hand

Illustrated step-by-step guide

Will antibody testing pass the test?

Anthony Fauci is a trusted voice on COVID-19

THE ESSENTIALS

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PIVOTING PRODUCTION Manufacturers shift focus to meet PPE shortages

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MEMBER BENEFITS Warehouse clubs emphasize safety

mjwashington@usatoday.com

ISSUE EDITOR Harry Lister ISSUE DESIGNER Lisa M. Zilka EDITORS Amy Sinatra Ayres Tracy Scott Forson Megan Pannone Deirdre van Dyk Debbie Williams DESIGNERS Hayleigh Corkey David Hyde Debra Moore Gina Toole Saunders CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Matt Alderton, Brian Barth, Mary Helen Berg, Karina Bland, Veronica Bravo, Marco della Cava, Jessica Guynn, Gina Harkins, Grace Hauck, Patricia Kime, Jennifer E. Mabry, Adrianna Rodriguez, Adam Stone

ADVERTISING

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CHAINS THAT BIND COVID-19 bolsters supermarkets’ hub status

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BUYING ON A BUDGET Discount stores have large impact

VP, ADVERTISING Patrick Burke | (703) 854-5914 pburke@usatoday.com

ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Vanessa Salvo | (703) 854-6499 vsalvo@usatoday.com

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MAJOR UNDERTAKING Mass merchants use scale to serve communities

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ESSENTIAL SERVICE Mobile carriers keep us connected

FINANCE Billing Coordinator Julie Marco

ON THE COVER A nation addresses the effects of COVID-19 1. GEORGE WALKER IV/THE (NASHVILLE) TENNESSEAN; 2. SETH HARRISON/THE (WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) JOURNAL NEWS; 3. BARCROFT MEDIA/GETTY IMAGES; 4. AMY NEWMAN/NORTHJERSEY.COM; 5. BOB SELF/FLORIDA TIMES-UNION; 6. JULIO CORTEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS; 7. GREG LOVETT/THE PALM BEACH (FLA.) POST; 8. ROBERT HANASHIRO/ USA TODAY; 9. DAVID J. PHILLIP/ASSOCIATED PRESS; 10. JEENAH MOON/GETTY IMAGES; 11. ROBERT SCHEER/INDIANAPOLIS STAR; 12. PAUL RATJE/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES; 13. LM OTERO/ASSOCIATED PRESS; 14. GETTY IMAGES; 15. SETH HARRISON/THE (WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) JOURNAL NEWS; 16. MAX GERSH/THE (MEMPHIS) COMMERCIAL APPEAL; 17. OLIVIER DOULIERY/GETTY IMAGES; 18. JAY JANNER/ AUSTIN (TEXAS) AMERICAN-STATESMAN; 19. LIZ DUFOUR/CINCINNATI ENQUIRER; 20. JAY JANNER/AUSTIN (TEXAS) AMERICAN-STATESMAN; 21. JAY JANNER/AUSTIN (TEXAS) AMERICAN-STATESMAN; 22. ABIGAIL DOLLINS/SIOUX FALLS (S.D.) ARGUS LEADER; 23. JAY JANNER/AUSTIN (TEXAS) AMERICAN-STATESMAN; 24. LM OTERO/ASSOCIATED PRESS; 25. CARUCHA L. MEUSE/THE (WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) JOURNAL NEWS; 26. MANDI WRIGHT/DETROIT FREE PRESS; 27. ZORAN MIRCETIC/GETTY IMAGES; 28. STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS/THE ROANOKE (VA.) TIMES VIA AP

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PANDEMIC PRESCRIPTIONS Drugstores add staff, services during crisis

HOUSEBOUND NATION Home improvement, tech stores help customers adapt

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CONTACT TRACING Apps will warn of COVID-19 exposure

LAST NOTE Sometimes a smile is enough

ISSN#0734-7456 A USA TODAY Network publication, Gannett Co. Inc USA TODAY, its logo and associated graphics are the trademarks of Gannett Co. Inc. or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Copyright 2018, USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. Editorial and publication headquarters are at 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22108, and at (703) 854-3400. For accuracy questions, call or send an e-mail to accuracy@usatoday.com.

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

GETTY IMAGES

Buildings in downtown Dallas participated in “Light It Blue” April 9, a nationwide tribute to first responders and health care professionals battling the coronavirus.

There’s no denying that the last few months have been trying — particularly for the tens of thousands of Americans who have lost friends and family members and the millions who’ve lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationwide, the level of unemployment, at a historic low when the year began, is now the highest it’s been since the Great Depression. But as has happened during previous crises, the worst of times has a way of bringing out the best in us, and it’s those stories that Sustaining America endeavors to tell. You’ll meet first responders and medical personnel working long, exhausting hours to treat our family and friends, and you’ll learn about the contributions many celebrities are making to provide support and relief. You’ll read about everyday folks who are compelled to do something — anything — to provide a little comfort to those in need, as well as what major retailers are doing to keep their shelves stocked and their employees and customers safe. Kindness is a renewable resource, so be sure to thank your checkout clerk and postal carrier, tip your delivery drivers and support your local businesses when and how you can. We’re all in this together, and now more than ever, generosity of spirit matters.

Harry Lister Issue Editor


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| SUSTAINING AMERICA

ABOVE AND BEYOND VOLUNTEERS PITCH IN 14 | FRONT-LINE HEROES 23 | STAR-POWERED SUPPORT 30 | MAKE A MASK 36 | TESTING 36 | DR. STRAIGHT TALK 40

SAYING THANKS Staff of the AnMed Health Medical Center campus in Anderson, S.C., view a flyover of F-16 jets from the South Carolina Air National Guard — one of many military tributes to those “fighting the good fight” against COVID-19.

KEN RUINARD/ANDERSON (S.C.) INDEPENDENT MAIL


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EVERYDAY HEROES | NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS

Pitching In Volunteers across the country lend a hand to those in need

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HETHER IT’S MAKING MASKS or meals, untold

numbers of volunteers have stepped up to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a handful of stories about everyday heroes making a difference in their communities:

A volunteer sews new elastic into N95 masks. DAVID ZALAZNIK/PEORIA (ILL.) JOURNAL STAR

SNAPPING INTO ACTION Vicki Ghidina had recently retired from the hematology lab at Peoria, Ill.-based OSF HealthCare. When the pandemic hit, she, like so many others, wanted to find a way to contribute — and as a member of the Central Illinois Chapter of the American Sewing Guild, she was in the unique position of having connections with both the sewing and medical communities. As the pandemic was growing, workers at the OSF warehouse facility had made an important discovery — a couple of pallets of N95 masks, “the kind that medical personnel wear when

treating highly infectious diseases,” said Fernando Rinald, vice president of the supply chain collaborative at OSF. “They were sort of stored out of sight and out of mind.” The content of the boxes could supply 14 of the 15 hospitals in the OSF system with enough masks to last five weeks. The masks were old, but in good shape — except for the elastic bands that hold the masks in place. Ghidina and fellow sewing guild member Charlotte Cronin mobilized their troops, and the boxes were delivered and distributed with instructions to replace the old elastic with fresh material.

When the supply of elastic dried up — “Elastic is the toilet paper for people who sew right now. No one has any,” Cronin said — they switched to spools of nitrile, a stretchy, non-latex material used as tourniquets. The nitrile had to be cut into strips and 12-inch lengths and then sewn between the two layers of face mask material. Each mask took about 20 minutes to repair. Rinald expressed his sincere gratitude for the 22,600 masks that had been completed — then told the volunteers, “We found more. A lot more.” By the time they are done, the group will have refurbished more than 50,000 masks, he said.


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EVERYDAY HEROES | NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS STITCH IN TIME SAVES LIVES

Maxx Lorenz helps grandmother Nicki Vanderhovel. GREGG PACHKOWSKI/PENSACOLA (FLA.) NEWS JOURNAL

Crafters across the Florida Panhandle organized to sew handmade face masks for people who work directly with the sick and the elderly, as well as those with medical conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19. Jess Patton, who runs a marketing company, created a Facebook page called Pensacola Mask Sewers to help organize what she thought would be a few people with sewing machines who wanted to step up. “What it’s turned into is hundreds and hundreds of people saying, ‘What can I do?’” she said. In Navarre, a four-generation team comprised of Diana Austin, daughter Nicki Vanderhovel, granddaughter Paige Lorenz and 3-year-old great-grandson Maxx Lorenz have cranked out hundreds of face masks on a pair of old Singer sewing machines. They have an assembly line where they cut fabric, sew masks, iron on the elastic and then pleat the masks. Maxx Lorenz sometimes helps his grandmother by sitting in her lap and putting his foot on the pedal that operates the sewing machine. “I had a whole tub of materials that weren’t being used, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll help,’ and then we all jumped in and started doing it,” Vanderhovel said.

COOKING UP COMPASSION One of Detroit’s top restaurants was converted into a temporary relief center providing hot meals and essential items to restaurant employees negatively affected by COVID-19. Lady of the House chef-owner Kate Williams, a 2018 Food & Wine Best New Chef, had been feeding her own staff. But when The LEE Initiative, co-founded by Kentucky-based chef Edward Lee, reached out asking Williams to spearhead the Detroit chapter of the foundation’s multicity restaurant workers relief program, she bit at the chance to go bigger. On April 20, Lady of the House began offering free dinners and a few essential items on a first-come, first-served basis to hospitality workers who had been laid off, furloughed or had their hours slashed. The LEE Initiative is being supported nationally in part by distiller Maker’s Mark, and Williams said local companies Motor City Seafood, Fairway Packing and Cherry Capital Foods have donated food. “We’re here to cook for people and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” she said.

PANDEMIC FOOD DISTRIBUTION

COMMUNITY SPIRIT Tilesha McFee knows there are always families facing hardships, but the struggle has become even more apparent during the coronavirus pandemic. The paraprofessional for the Colonial School District in Delaware, her twin sister, Tameka Mays, and their friend, Jacque Steveson, created the Pandemic Food Distribution group to collect and distribute food to the needy. The group grew to 50 volunteers and partnered with The Blessing Place church in Wilmington, Del., where McFee and Mays are itinerant ministers, and Blessing of Hope food banks in Pennsylvania to deliver more than 20,000 pounds of food.

Kate Williams MARVIN SHAOUNI


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EVERYDAY HEROES | NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS GRAD SCHOOL GROCERY GETTERS Emma McKay, Audrey Snyder and Marya Skotte, MBA students in Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program, started a group to assist people who can’t or shouldn’t leave their homes during the pandemic. The Fort Collins Delivery Network will pick up groceries, prescriptions or other supplies for seniors and immunocompromised or ill residents in Fort Collins, Colo. Deliveries are dropped at the doorstep to maintain social distancing and protect the health of all involved. The Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program focuses on social impact and entrepreneurship, Skotte said. “We are taking everything we’ve learned and applying it to real life in a pandemic.” GETTY IMAGES

TIMESAVING TOOL

Cpl. Alice DiBiase-Deakins MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY

DUTY TO SERVE Officers in the Rockledge, Fla., Police Department volunteer off-duty hours to pick up and deliver prescriptions to residents 65 and older or with underlying health conditions. “We have a large population of senior citizens. A lot of them are panicked right now,” said Cpl. Alice DiBiase-Deakins. “They’re not quite sure what tomorrow brings.” Officers use gloves and masks when picking up prescriptions to ensure there is no contamination. After an officer signals her arrival, she steps 15 feet away from the door before making sure recipients get their prescriptions. “I’ve been a police officer for 17 years, and I’ve never seen the public come out as so gracious for such a small task,” DiBiase-Deakins said.

Joe Birdwell with his homemade jig JAKE CRANDALL/MONTGOMERY (ALA.) ADVERTISER

As a maker and organizer who likes to solve problems, Joe Birdwell wanted to participate in the homemade mask movement that was growing across the country. The problem was that his 3D printer can only make three masks a day. Birdwell, of Montgomery, Ala., consulted with mask makers and volunteer organizers and found the folds in fabric masks were one of the more difficult parts of the process, and many sewers use a tool called a bias tape jig to make the fold. The tool can reduce by half the time required to make a mask because it allows makers to fold fabric easier and quicker. He found a design and discovered he could 3D-print five jigs an hour. “Each time I print one they can help make a bunch of masks,” Birdwell said. “If I can make something that can be a multiplier for multiple people, that can be helpful.”

A CALL TO HELP

Gabriela Orta

After Gabriela Orta lost her job, she didn’t know how she’d be able to pay her bills. With a language barrier, she also wondered how she’d be able to help her son with homework and where she’d be able to find food if she needed it. Then she received a call from Stand for Children Indiana that helped put her mind at ease. “They were just checking on us and asked how I was doing,” Orta said. “They answered a lot of the questions I had, and it made me feel better to know someone was looking out for us and that we’d be OK.” Orta and her family are among hundreds, many of them Latinos in Indianapolis, who have received calls from the nonprofit education advocacy organization. Orta found the calls so genuine and helpful that she decided to aid others by making calls to families in Indianapolis, who, like her, speak only Spanish. Stand for Children Indiana director of marketing, communications and development Brieanna Quinn said the families the organization works with are most concerned about food access and home-learning for their children.

KELLY WILKINSON/INDIANAPOLIS STAR


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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION EVERYDAY HEROES | NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS NOT MERELY PLAYERS

Christine Loosely sews masks ALABAMA SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL

Their talented hands have outfitted thousands of on-stage characters with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF) in Montgomery. Now they’re being used to outfit hospital patients and health care workers to help save lives. Jeffrey Todhunter, the group’s director of costume production, researched what was needed to make simple cloth masks, and saw that ASF had materials on hand. “Some of the fabric was left over from previous projects,” he said. “There’s actually quite a bit of fabric that’s been donated to us from local people.” A group of 13 staffers and a volunteer has made hundreds of cloth face masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. “They’ll come in, get a bunch of kits and take them home, sew them and bring them back,” Todhunter said.

Clay Simpson COURTESY OF TYLER JURY

FROM CROWNS TO SHIELDS

Michael Roberts volunteers at the Grumpy Goat.

Dr. Tyler Jury canceled appointments at Jury Family Dentistry to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Even his side business, leather goods manufacturer and retailer Clayton & Crume, closed as he and business partner, Clay Simpson, sent their 25 employees home to practice social distancing. Jury had used a safety mask during dental school and thought they would be useful to medical professionals. He and Simpson developed a prototype and began making shields for doctors, nurses and others on the front lines of the pandemic in and around Louisville, Ky. After receiving thousands of requests, the men set up a maker space and summoned employees back to work making face shields instead of leather goods. They planned to charge just enough to cover production costs.

KELSEY KREMER/THE DES MOINES REGISTER

MEALS TO GO Steven McFadden, owner of McFadden Hospitality, wanted to help people struggling with food insecurity in Des Moines, Iowa. So he and a team of his restaurants’ employees began offering free pasta take-and-bake dishes daily at the Grumpy Goat Tavern in West Des Moines and Sambetti’s in Des Moines. “We’ve given away thousands of meals,” McFadden said, with up to 300 people a night at Sambetti’s. “But we’d like to help more.” Although not necessary, the group accepts free-will donations that go to the volunteers. The hospitality group has laid off nearly 300 people during the shutdown, but McFadden expects to bring them all back to work once the city resumes normal activities. “A lot of employees wanted a way to help,” he said.

— Marina Affo, (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal; Annie Blanks, Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal; Natalia E. Contreras, Indianapolis Star; Donnelle Eller, The Des Moines Register; Pat Ferrier, Fort Collins Coloradoan; Shannon Heupel, Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser; Scott Hilyard, Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star; Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press; Sara MacNeil, Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser; Tyler Vazquez, Florida Today; and Beth Warren, (Louisville, Ky.) Courier Journal, contributed to this story.


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FRONT-LINE HEROES | NURSES, DOCTORS, POLICE, EMTS

‘Truly God’s Work’ First responders answer the calls that just keep coming

JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

Staff members of Westchester Medical Center in New York acknowledge the appreciation shown by local firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians.

By Mary Helen Berg

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R. STEVE McGRAW KNEW

his emergency room staff faced a formidable foe in the coronavirus. So when the first COVID-19 patient

arrived at Ascension Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., he had a message for his staff: “Courage is doing what you’re trained to do, despite having fear,” McGraw, an emergency room physician, wrote in a March 10 letter.

As the deadly coronavirus swept the country, doctors and nurses, police officers and firefighters, paramedics and other first responders reported for duty. Despite personal sacrifice and lethal risk, CONTI NUED


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FRONT-LINE HEROES | NURSES, DOCTORS, POLICE, EMTS

Anthony Almojera

Team of FDNY EMS Station 40

ANTHONY ALMOJERA (2); STEVE MCGRAW

they confronted what McGraw labeled “a vicious disease.” They answered the call. They’ve been dubbed heroes by many, but it’s a label they don’t seek — or claim readily — for themselves. Jonathan Zimmerman, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said his wife, a physician who worked 18-hour shifts at a major hospital during the pandemic, would scoff at the title. “When this crisis has passed, there will be another, and then another,” Zimmerman wrote in a March 23 opinion piece for USA TODAY. “My wife will be there, working with quiet decency to protect the rest of us. This whole thing is not about heroism, for her. She’s just doing her job.”

THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE The level of personal risk for many first responders and medical professionals skyrocketed with the arrival of COVID-19. In early April, U.S. health care and emergency workers began to die from the coronavirus. In mid-April, the first national statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention found that of the first 315,531 U.S. cases, 49,370 (15.6 percent) were health care workers, including 9,282 (2.9 percent) who were identified more narrowly as health care personnel — doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Frank Gabrin, 60, of New York City, a doctor at East Orange General Hospital in New Jersey, on April 1 became the first U.S. emergency physician to die of likely coronavirus complications, the American College of Emergency Physicians said in a statement. Gabrin, a two-time cancer survivor, died just days after developing symptoms.

EMERGENCY WORKERS AT HIGH RISK At the height of the crisis in New York City, emergency medical service (EMS) calls surged more than 75 percent — from a typical average of 4,000 calls daily to a peak of 7,253 on March 30 — while as many as a quarter of emergency workers were out sick, says Vincent Variale, president of Uniformed EMS Officers Union of the Fire Depart-

ment of New York, Local 3621, who has recovered from a March bout with the coronavirus. Anthony Almojera, a 17-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department EMS and vice president of Local 3621, learned one Monday morning in April that two of his mentors died of COVID-19 overnight. By 10 a.m., early in the first of two consecutive 16-hour shifts, he had already logged three cardiac arrest calls. There’s no social distancing in the back of an ambulance, and personal protective equipment like masks were rationed during the first part of the crisis, putting emergency workers at heightened risk, Almojera said. Then there was the medic who, while out sick with COVID-19, called to say she felt guilty because she couldn’t help her overwhelmed colleagues. That dedication, Almojera said, captured the spirit of emergency workers. “There’s so much love,” he said. “To take care of strangers the way we do, CONTINUED

“We were meant to be together in this moment, at this time... I know that when the history of this is written, we’ll all look back with pride and know that we were up to the challenge.” — DR. STEVE McGRAW, Ascension Providence Hospital


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FRONT-LINE HEROES | NURSES, DOCTORS, POLICE, EMTS

Salute to first responders in Manchester, N.H. CHARLES KRUPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sarah Aldriedge, right, and colleague

Craig Marshall and colleague CRAIG MARSHALL

that’s truly God’s work, right?”

“I lost count of how many times I repeated aloud, ‘I signed up for this. I signed up to save lives. I signed up to do whatever it takes.’” — ALEX SEXTON, ICU nurse and respiratory specialist

FIGHTING FEAR Front-line workers know they can contract the virus every time they report to work, but for many, the greatest fear is accidentally contaminating someone else. When ambulances began to arrive so frequently that dozens of COVID-19 patients crowded Ascension Providence Hospital’s halls, McGraw worried about the threat to his staff or the possibility that he would infect his four children or wife of 27 years. “It would slay me if I got her sick, so that weighs on me,” McGraw said. That weight can be unbearable, said nurse practitioner Craig Marshall, a husband and father of two teen sons. “I’ve watched my friends break down and cry at work,” said Marshall, a former Air Force flight nurse who served in Afghanistan and now works for Southwest General Emergency Physicians in

SARAH ALDRIEDGE

San Antonio. “I’ve listened to them on the phone break down and cry, and I understand why.” To minimize exposure, first responders and medical professionals take extra precautions to protect their families and housemates. They strip before entering their homes and disinfect phones, keys and wallets, keeping them in hot spots designated for contaminated belongings. Some have their spouses trail them with disinfectant wipes, in case they touch a light switch before they have a chance to shower. They sleep in the basement, garage or even a closet. They don’t hug their children. They take their temperature multiple times a day. And if they sneeze even once, they wonder: “Do I have it?”

SELF-QUARANTINE IN A TRAILER Sarah Aldriedge, an intensive care nurse at Lake Granbury Medical Center in Granbury, Texas, called her husband after she treated her first COVID-19

patient because she knew she needed to self-isolate: Set up the family’s travel trailer in the driveway, she told him. But she didn’t anticipate the emotional toll of living alone for weeks during the most stressful time of her life. Aldriedge wore the same N95 mask for the first few days, storing it in a paper bag between shifts. She worried that the gown she’d been provided wouldn’t protect her; designed for the Ebola outbreak, its label indicated that the garment’s effectiveness expired in 2014. Trying to save multiple critically ill patients at once was more stressful than the mortar attacks she weathered during her time in Afghanistan, said Aldriedge, a former Air Force first lieutenant who served overseas in 2011. Making it worse: She’d return to the trailer after work and watch her two children walk past her window and down the driveway, just out of reach. CONTI NUED


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FRONT-LINE HEROES | NURSES, DOCTORS, POLICE, EMTS

CHASING A CURE Of the thousands of medical professionals working to combat the coronavirus epidemic, Kizzmekia Corbett, a 34-year-old research fellow for the National Institutes of Health, may ultimately touch the most lives. Corbett is scientific lead of the coronavirus vaccine program tasked with developing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. First-stage clinical trials — tests conducted with human volunteers — began in Seattle in March. “There was, and is, already a fair amount of pressure,” Corbett told NBC News. “A lot of people are banking on us or feel that we have a product that could, at least, be part of the answer this world needs.” The vaccine trials were launched in record time, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of

CHIA-CHI CHARLIE CHANG/NIH RECORD

Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement about the program. Several trials will be conducted to determine whether the drug is safe and effective, and a vaccine could be ready within 18 months. — Mary Helen Berg

FRAZER HARRISON/GETTY IMAGES

The JW Marriott hotel in Los Angeles shows its love to medical professionals and first responders caring for COVID-19 patients.

Her husband calls her his hero, she said, “and he’s so proud of me, but I just want a hug. I want to cry and have him hug me.”

PART OF THE JOB Like FDNY’s Variale, other front-line workers who’ve recovered from the coronavirus have returned to work. Officer Johnny Walker, a member of the Dallas Police Department’s motorcycle unit, hopes he’s now immune to the disease. Still, he takes precautions because he risks exposure with every traffic stop and doesn’t want to contaminate his 2-yearold daughter. “People are worried about it,” Walker said. “But in our profession, we’re usually the first in and the last out, so based on our job and what we signed up for, we still have to go out and do what we have to do.” It’s that same commitment to serving others that keeps Alex Sexton going. When the crisis passes and nonessential businesses reopen, his first errand will

be to pick up the engagement ring he designed for his girlfriend. Until then, the critical care nurse and respiratory specialist who works in the intensive care unit at Ascension Providence Hospital uses a mantra to prepare for tough days. “I lost count of how many times I repeated aloud, ‘I signed up for this. I signed up to save lives. I signed up to do whatever it takes,’” he wrote in a text. If there is a silver lining to the coronavirus crisis, front-line workers agree it is the camaraderie and support among colleagues. In his letter to staff, McGraw reminded them to continue being compassionate and kind to patients and to each other. “We were meant to be together in this moment, at this time …” McGraw told his staff. “I know that when the history of this is written, we’ll all look back with pride and know that we were up to the challenge.” Officer Johnny Walker

Alexis Shanes of NorthJersey.com contributed to this story.

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CELEBRITY HEROES | LENDING A HAND

Star Power From meals to millions, celebrities contribute to the cause

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ELEBRITIES HAVE PITCHED IN with more than their wallets to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. While some are donating funds to national and global organizations, others are supporting local efforts to provide aid to first responders, health care workers and vulnerable populations. Here is a snapshot of some of the stars who are aiding efforts to combat the coronavirus and its fallout:

Country music legend Dolly Parton pledged $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s research into developing a cure for COVID-19.

Contributing: Cydney Henderson, Hannah Yasharoff, Charles Trepany; Courtney Marbella, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press; Bob Mehr, Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal; Dave Paulson, The (Nashville) Tennessean; Associated Press.

RICH FURY/GETTY IMAGES


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CELEBRITY HEROES | LENDING A HAND

CONCERTS + EVENTS Celebrities pooled their talents to raise funds on multiple platforms:

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Chef/restaurateur Jose Andres’ humanitarian organization, World Central Kitchen, is coordinating with restaurants and relief groups to prepare and deliver more than 200,000 meals per day to the needy, health care workers and first responders nationwide.

CLIFF OWEN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Feeding America, a nonprofit that works with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 meal programs and food pantries nationwide, received a $100 million donation from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

WINSLOW TOWNSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons owner and Home Depot co-founder, said that the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation would give nearly $5.4 million to several organizations in Georgia and Montana.

One World: Together at Home, organized by Global Citizen and the World Health Organization and featuring in-home performances by such stars as Lady Gaga and The Rolling Stones, aired April 18 and raised nearly $128 million.

The digital fundraiser All-In Challenge has raised more than $10 million by offering experiences such as a flight on rapper Drake’s private plane and tickets to one of his concerts or a chance to see the taping of the Friends reunion.

GETTY IMAGES

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, are donating $5 million to a consortium of businesses and nonprofits that will deliver 10,000 meals a day to those in need throughout Louisiana.

GETTY IMAGES

In memory of his grandmother who died from the coronavirus, Saturday Night Live writer/ comedian Michael Che said he is paying one month’s rent for all 160 apartments in the New York City housing project building where his grandmother once lived.

AMY SUSSMAN/GETTY IMAGES

Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio teamed with Emerson Collective founder Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple and the Ford Foundation to launch America’s Food Fund, with a combined donation of $12 million.

Twitch Stream Aid 2020, a 12-hour live-streaming event that featured gaming competitions and musical performances, raised more than $2.7 million for the United Nations Foundation.

GETTY IMAGES FOR GLOBAL CITIZEN; REED SAXON/ASSOCIATED PRESS; TWITCH


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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION CELEBRITY HEROES | LENDING A HAND

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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated $2 million toward the acquisition of 1.7 million N95 masks for front-line workers in New York City and throughout New England — and sent the team’s jet to China to collect 1.2 million of them.

Unloading N95 masks from the New England Patriots’ team plane

MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES

GETTY IMAGES

In April, movie mogul Tyler Perry brightened the day for a lot of people when he picked up the tab for customers making use of senior and vulnerable population shopping hours at 44 Atlanta-area Kroger stores and 29 New Orleans-area Winn-Dixie stores.

GREGG DEGUIRE/GETTY IMAGES

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray announced plans to donate $4 million through her various charitable organizations, including The Rachael Ray Foundation and Yum-o! The funds will be split between animal welfare initiatives and such organizations as Feeding America, Share Our Strength and World Central Kitchen.

ROBIN L. MARSHALL/GETTY IMAGES FOR BET

Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation teamed with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey on a $4.2 million pledge to aid victims of domestic violence and with Jay-Z’s Sean Carter Foundation to donate $2 million toward day care, food and learning materials for the families of health care workers and first responders.

TONY AVELAR/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Oprah Winfrey is donating $10 million to help Americans across the country, with a particular focus on the areas where she grew up — Mississippi, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Of that total, $1 million is specifically dedicated to America’s Food Fund.


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ROAD TO REOPENING | PROTECTION 6

Full-size adult face mask pattern

Fold for pleat

inches

Sewing line

DIY Masks

Fold for pleat

Tuck

Tuck

Make your own face covering to impede the spread of COVID-19 Fold for pleat

Tuck

Place on Fold

SOURCE: JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores

By Karina Bland and Veronica Bravo

T

HE CENTERS FOR DISEASE Control and Prevention recommends wearing masks in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus — particularly in areas with high rates of community transmission. Officials are asking that healthy people refrain from purchasing medical-grade masks to prevent a shortage for health care workers. We have the answer: Make your own. Here are easy-to-follow directions for creating your own masks. Start by downloading this pattern from JoAnn.com. (Note: When printing the pattern, be sure your printer is set for “actual size.”)

JANET LOEHRKE

Masks don’t need to be professional-grade to help fight against COVID-19. It is important to note that covering your face with a piece of cloth won’t protect you, but it could help keep you from spreading the virus if you are asymptomatic. Angelica Jaramillo Harding, a diet technician in the Phoenix area, picks up donated masks from a JOANN Fabric and Craft store every Friday to distribute at hospitals, medical centers and clinics. Since March 23, JOANN stores nationwide have been providing supplies to make masks for free if you donate the finished products. As of early May, the company had donated more than 100 million volunteer-crafted masks. “We’re definitely touched by the community,” Harding said. “It helps us not to feel alone in this.”

6 inches


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ROAD TO REOPENING | PROTECTION

HOW TO MAKE A MASK WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

Cotton fabric

Lightweight fusible interfacing

Âź-inch elastic

(optional; used to stiffen cotton fabric)

Basic sewing supplies thread, needle, pins, scissors, ruler (sewing machine optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1

Cut material and (optional) interfacing to 12 by 9 inches.

4

Cut two pieces of elastic, each 7 inches long.

5

Pin and sew Âź-inch from edge leaving a 2-inch gap in the center.

7

Using the pattern, mark locations of pleat lines and add pins on both sides.

8

Fold three pleats. Sew around the entire perimeter of the mask. This holds the pleats in place and closes the 2-inch gap.

9

Remove pins. Your mask is complete. Feel free to get creative. Use fun, colorful materials for your mask.

Fold

2

Iron interfacing to material (adhesive side to back of material).

2-inch gap not sewn

6

Put elastic band on each corner inside the material and pin to keep in place, making sure the elastic is not twisted. Pin the center as well.

Elastic

3

Once ironed, fold fabric in half with interfacing on the outside. Gap

Sew along both edges, making sure to sew extra stitches in the elastic. Turn the fabric right-side out, by pinching material through the 2-inch gap. Iron mask, so seams lay flat.

SOURCE: JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores

JANET LOEHRKE


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GETTY IMAGES

Will Testing Pass the Test? Detection of COVID-19 antibodies is crucial to returning to normal

By Adrianna Rodriguez and Grace Hauck

C

ORONAVIRUS ANTIBODY TESTING IS starting to ramp up as

government officials discuss when they can reopen communities and health experts survey COVID-19 hot spots. The importance of these tests are not lost on Americans, who are itching to go back to work, see loved ones and learn if they have been infected. But months into the pandemic, many questions remain.

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“Nobody’s done what I would call a thorough head-to-head comparison with a validated gold standard. I’m actually surprised that some of these kits can be used clinically.” — DR. GREGORY POLAND, director, Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group

GETTY IMAGES: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY DEBRA MOORE

WHAT IS AN ANTIBODY TEST? An antibody test can determine if someone has been infected and recovered. Antibodies are the body’s way of remembering how it responded to an infection so it can attack again if exposed to the same pathogen. If a person has antibodies in her blood, that means she has immune cells available to fight the virus, which lowers the risk of getting sick. HOW DOES A COVID-19 ANTIBODY TEST WORK? Health care workers take a sample of a patient’s blood and isolate the parts containing the possible coronavirus antibodies into a serum. Some tests use a simple finger prick to draw a blood sample, which is collected with a thin straw and deposited in a small cartridge along with a special solution of liquids that will cause a reaction. Ten minutes later, the test promises to tell her whether she’s had COVID-19. WHY IS ANTIBODY TESTING IMPORTANT? In theory, antibody tests can reveal who is immune to a disease. They can also determine

how widely it has spread and how deadly it is. Broad testing of even a portion of the population in the coming months could give researchers a sense of how many Americans have been infected. They could use that to predict who might be immune if COVID-19 cases spike again this fall. Antibodies for similar coronaviruses can remain in the body for a couple of years, said Dr. Liise-anne Pirofski, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. However, scientists don’t know how long antibodies for the new coronavirus remain in the body, and how many are required to be immune. Antibody testing is also important because people with the antibodies may qualify to donate blood that can be used to manufacture convalescent plasma, an experimental treatment for people who are seriously ill from COVID-19.

WHEN WILL ANTIBODY TESTING BE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC? As of early May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued emergency use authoriza-

tion for serological tests developed by Cellex, Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics and Mount Sinai Laboratory. Emergency use authorization allows unapproved medical products to be used during a public health crisis, without the benefit of the validated testing that would normally take place. The FDA expects to authorize more in the coming weeks. In March, the FDA allowed companies to sell antibody tests if they conduct internal evaluations of the tests and notify the FDA. Under this updated policy, dozens of new antibody tests are being marketed without emergency use authorization. So while tests are becoming available to the public, they haven’t received much scrutiny.

HOW RELIABLE ARE ANTIBODY TESTS? Researchers have raised many questions about the accuracy of antibody tests. “Nobody’s done what I would call a thorough head-to-head comparison with a validated gold standard,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. “I’m actually surprised that

some of these kits can be used clinically.” Poland is concerned about the tests giving false positives — for instance, detecting antibodies developed from exposure to coronaviruses other than COVID-19. “One of the things I’m afraid of is that people are going to go to drive-thru testing who have not had (the) disease and are going to be told that they’re protected” because the test shows they have antibodies, he said. “And they’re going to act and react according to that misinformation. That’s a problem.” Another issue is that testing positive for the presence of antibodies doesn’t necessarily mean you have enough to be immune. Researchers don’t know how many antibodies would confer immunity, assuming it does. The World Health Organization has warned that antibody tests “need further validation to determine their accuracy and reliability” and that there “is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.” Contributing: Kevin McCoy


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Fauci addresses White House press corps CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES


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Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dr. Straight Talk Anthony Fauci is the nation’s most-trusted voice on the coronavirus By Marco della Cava

D

R. ANTHONY FAUCI DIDN’T

grow up wanting to be famous. Mostly he just wanted to make a difference. But now a lifetime of service has placed him in a searing spotlight. Fauci’s longtime official title is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But since becoming the face of the country’s COVID-19 pandemic, the career immunologist who has battled everything from AIDS to Ebola is increasingly referred to as America’s Doctor.

SO JUST WHO IS TONY FAUCI? Interviews with friends and colleagues offer overlapping descriptions of a man as dedicated to hard work — endless hours peppered with power walks — as he is to his wife, bioethicist Christine Grady, and three accomplished daughters. They describe a man who takes as much pride in his Bolognese pasta sauce (the key, one

friend says, is the long simmering time) as he does in enduring relationships. The 79-year-old Fauci is a burger-and-beerat-the-bar guy, but he’s also a public servant built for our trying times. “Tony’s capable of elevating his game to whatever is needed, and more has been demanded of him now than in any time in his career,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. “In the eyes of the American public, he’s the voice we need right now, one of credibility.” Steven Gabbe met Fauci when both were at Cornell University Medical College in New York City in the late 1960s, and “the person you see now on TV is the same guy I met back then, smart and humble.” Gabbe, CEO emeritus of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, lauds his friend’s sense of humor. “I’m sure he finds it entertaining that there are bobblehead dolls of him now,” he said. “But he’s so grounded I don’t think it would go to his head.”

In a recent survey of 1,900 registered U.S. voters, data technology company Morning Consult asked respondents whom they would trust “a lot” or “some” to end social distancing. Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention topped the list among all voters, with 71 percent trust ratings. Right-wing pundits have assailed how shelter-in-place guidelines he supported have affected the economy, leading conservative internet TV host Bill Mitchell to tweet “this Dr. Doom Fauci is the most depressing idiot I’ve ever listened to.” That harsh assessment has some grounding in a real issue, said Jonathan Engel, professor at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College, part of the City University of New York system. “Cost-benefit analysis is not the way Fauci thinks. He’s a physician and immunologist,” Engel said. “So that’s where the frustration in some red states comes from. You’re saving lives, but you’re also destroying lives. Someone else needs to be there to step back and think about the

whole picture, but that’s not Fauci’s role.” If anything, Fauci’s rise highlights the fact that no one person regardless of their stature — his laurels include almost every scientific accolade short of a Nobel Prize — should hold all the reins when it comes to national and global pandemics. “Tony’s taken on this big role in part because of the vacuum that exists,” said David Relman, a Fauci friend and professor of medicine at Stanford University. “But what if the next pandemic destroys our food? Or (there is) a bioterror attack?” he said. “We need a new leadership system that sits inside the White House, where people have the authority to tell the attorney general what to do, or the Federal Reserve or the secretary of defense, so you can move fast. Tony can’t do that. No one can. The system needs to change.” Fauci’s national stature appears unique in U.S. history, said historian Douglas Brinkley of Rice University in Houston. There have been moments, he said, CONTI NUED


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ROAD TO REOPENING | LEADERSHIP when doctors “have become the voice of the country, but nothing like this. The straight-talking Fauci is what you want to hear, much like if you go to a doctor you don’t want spin or blarney.” Brinkley said that after the coronavirus pandemic starts to recede, Fauci is likely to go down in history “as one of few scientists who are now household names.”

FAITH AND FOCUS Fauci grew up in Brooklyn, the grandson of Italian immigrants. His parents ran a pharmacy. He made deliveries on his bicycle, while his older sister, Denise, ran the register. He went to Regis High School in Manhattan, which required commuting for hours by bus and subway. Although a standout basketball player, his 5-foot-7 height prompted him to look for a career outside sports. For college, he attended Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., which like Regis is run by Jesuits, whose educational philosophy seeks to meld spirituality — Fauci is a lifelong Catholic — with social justice. The experience was formative, said Eric Goosby, a distinguished professor of medicine at the University of CaliforniaSan Francisco who met Fauci in the 1980s and has been a frequent guest at his friend’s pasta Bolognese dinners. “Tony was deeply affected by exposure to the Jesuit order, which fostered in him a self-expectation of service,” Goosby said. “This guy goes to sleep and wakes up asking, ‘Have I done everything I can do?’ It’s in his DNA.” As is a fierce work ethic. In summers during college, Fauci worked construction. As the story goes, one job found him helping on a new building at what is now Weill Cornell Medicine. Fauci vowed one day he would be an alum, and he made it happen. “That story says it all to me,” said Gabbe. “He just has this powerful drive that won’t be stopped. The same thing happened when he graduated and told people he was going to the NIH to study infectious diseases. People told him they were all conquered, this was a careerkiller move. Not long after, AIDS hit.” Fauci’s role in the AIDS epidemic changed him. At first, he tackled the growing crisis with a measured, data-driven approach to trying to find a treatment. But that methodical tack infuriated gay activists watching friends die daily. “Initially, Fauci was very rigid in his approach to AIDS, and people like (gay rights activist and playwright) Larry Kramer got in his face, calling him the worst things,” said Engel, who wrote The Epidemic: A

Fauci and President Trump

Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield

Fauci and wife, Christine Grady GETTY IMAGES; DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES; ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Tony’s capable of elevating his game to whatever is needed, and more has been demanded of him now than in any time in his career. In the eyes of the American public, he’s the voice we need right now, one of credibility.” — MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, director, University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

Global History of AIDS. “And to Fauci’s credit, he got it and he changed.” Goosby, who was running one of the nation’s first AIDS clinics in the late 1980s, recalled attending a meeting with Fauci in Washington, D.C. The gathering was attacked by activists with AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, who locked the meeting’s attendees (there to discuss new drugs to fight HIV) inside the hall with chains. “A lot of us were nervous and scared of possible violence,” Goosby said. “But Tony looked at us and said: ‘This is our chance to learn about the frustrations of the community. It’s an opportunity for us to learn and serve.’ I’ll never forget that.”

ADVERSARIES BECOME ALLIES That shift in attitude — away from the rigidity of scientific pursuits and toward an embrace of the human reality — soon

turned enemies into lifelong friends, said Matt Sharp, a San Francisco-based AIDS survivor and activist who was part of many ACT UP protests in the nation’s capital aimed at calling out Fauci. “What developed was a very interesting mutual respect, where you have a hero who once was an enemy,” Sharp said. “Once we got him to relate to us and our reality, trust was established. Today, the AIDS community is glad he’s the one leading this effort right now.” During his nearly 50-year career with the NIH, Fauci has worked for presidents as philosophically wide-ranging as Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, helping them through crises that included the post-9/11 anthrax scares, SARS in 2003, H1N1 in 2009 and Ebola in 2014. Those who know Fauci marvel at how

he keeps his political leanings private. “I honestly don’t know if he’s a Democrat or Republican,” said Sharp. “But I know he’s got an amazing grace and an ability to cut through the (bull). That’s his genius.” Fauci “has always had a knack for telling it like it is, and letting the political chips fall where they may,” Relman said. “Don’t forget, Tony Fauci is a proud card-carrying New Yorker. He has a blunt, endearing and no-nonsense New York attitude, and I think Trump kind of gets that.” Indeed, a brief #FireFauci firestorm that flared in the wake of Fauci appearing to show exasperation at the president’s coronavirus remarks ended with the White House saying Fauci wasn’t going anywhere. And friends insist he wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than in this hot seat. Added Osterholm: “I would go so far as to say Tony’s been the right man for the job for several decades now.”


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| SUSTAINING AMERICA

THE ESSENTIALS COMPANIES RETOOLING 49 | SUPERMARKETS 56 | MASS MERCHANTS 63 | DRUGSTORES 66 | WAREHOUSE CLUBS 75 | DISCOUNT STORES 78 | COMMUNICATIONS 82

HOME, TECH & OFFICE SUPPLIERS Lowe’s teamed with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania to distribute disinfectant supplies to 700 needy families.

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GETTY IMAGES: ALL PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS BY DEBRA MOORE

Pivoting Production Manufacturers shift focus to fill shortages of protective gear and equipment

A

T THE OUTSET OF

the coronavirus pandemic, governors across the country were sending distress calls for ventilators, and a number of companies — Ford, General Electric and General Motors chief among them — responded. More recently, hospital officials have been sounding the alarm about the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) — gloves, gowns, face masks and face shields — to safeguard their medical staff against COVID-19. Some states have literally raced to address critical shortages of medical supplies. In March, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza knew she had to act

quickly to clinch a deal for 1.5 million protective masks from China. The vendor required a $3 million check within hours, and Mendoza worried she might lose out to a Russian competitor offering cash. Mendoza’s aide Ellen Andres jumped in her car and sped down the expressway to meet the vendor in the parking lot of a McDonald’s in the city of Dwight — 126 miles from Springfield, the state capital. “You feel like you have a gun up against your head, and if you don’t get it done, you’re going to lose 1 and a half million masks,” Mendoza said. “You feel like you’re doing some kind of drug deal, but you’re really working hard to try to save people’s lives.” The challenges states have faced

in obtaining PPE, ventilators and COVID-19 test kits have led to tensions between federal and state and local governments. Governors J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Andrew Cuomo of New York, for instance, have urged the federal government to take the lead in ordering equipment, a request the Trump administration rejected. However, a diverse group of companies from a wide range of industries has stepped up to aid in the relief effort in a variety of ways. From manufacturing to fashion design houses to beverage producers, the companies have shifted their core businesses to produce essential products for the health care industry. CONTI NUED


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FACE MASKS AND SURGICAL GOWNS Dozens of retailers retooled to manufacture face masks, surgical gowns and scrubs to address shortages of critical equipment and to keep at least a portion of their business operating. High-end designers like Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Dior joined mall-staple brands L.L.Bean, Brooks Brothers, Eddie Bauer and Eileen Fisher in making masks, according to Medium business publication Marker. Retailers like Neiman Marcus and JOANN Fabric and Craft stores are partnering to produce masks, gowns and scrubs for front-line health care workers. Vera Bradley converted sewing operations in its distribution facility and leveraged supplier relationships to make and donate masks, scrubs and other items. Carolina Herrera is producing gowns and masks for sanitation personnel and food manufacturers supporting the health care industry. Minnesota-based MyPillow refocused 75 percent of its production to face masks for health care workers, with a goal of making 50,000 a day. Under Armour planned to make 500,000 fabric face masks and distributed 50,000 specially equipped fanny packs to support the 28,000 health care providers and staff that comprise the University of Maryland Medical System. Sports apparel company Fanatics makes uniforms for Major League Baseball and other sports leagues. With the season pushed back, however, the Florida-based company is using its materials and manufacturing facility to create single-use masks and gowns. Fanatics is hoping to make close to a million masks and gowns, which will be distributed for free to hospitals in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. CONTINUED

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP FOR GETTY IMAGES

Louis Vuitton seamstress prepares PPE for nurses


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FACE SHIELDS MatterHackers, a Californiabased 3D-printing retailer, saw an opportunity to link hospitals and other institutions in dire need of equipment with makers, engineers and print farms who can produce those items. The MatterHackers Maker Response Hub serves as the repository for requests and fulfillment for face shields, reusable straps for N95 masks (the masks can be sterilized for reuse but the straps wear out) — even an adapter that allows a door to be opened without touching the handle. Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer has shifted its focus to creating masks and shields for health care workers. CEO Ed Kinnaly told ESPN more than 100,000 units have been ordered in Canada and the company is ramping up production in the U.S. Nike converted portions of its factories to make face shields and air-purifying respirators. The sporting goods and apparel giant worked with Oregon Health & Science University to repurpose padding, cords and shoe soles into personal protective equipment that was donated to the university in April. SugarHouse Industries, which makes boat covers and awnings, retrofitted its manufacturing floor to make face shields. “We’re trying to use what we know — our processes and our materials — to make a product that is in high demand right now,” Mike Peterson, president of SugarHouse Industries, said in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. He said the company hopes to produce 1,000 or more shields daily. CONTINUED

RICK BOWMER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

SugarHouse Industries shield


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ESSENTIAL CHANGES | COMPANIES RETOOLING

HAND SANITIZER Craft distillers and fragrance manufacturers also stepped up during this crisis. With the raw materials needed already on hand, they switched to making alcohol-based sanitizers for first responders and the community. Pernod Ricard, the maker of Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey, converted facilities at all its U.S. distilleries to produce hand sanitizer. North Carolina-based Durham Distillery, a gin, vodka and liqueur producer, was making a 70 percent ethanol sanitizing spray for the hospitality industry but pivoted to making hand sanitizer to help meet the overwhelming demand from emergency management personnel. Frey Ranch Distillery in Fallon, Nev., began making hand sanitizer in addition to its regular whiskey production in response to a local hospital’s request. A handful of employees from the distilling team shifted their focus to producing hand sanitizer and will continue to do so as needed. KOVAL Distillery, Chicago’s first distillery since Prohibition, is now focusing its efforts on providing free hand sanitizers in bulk to the medical community, retirement homes and those on the front lines fighting COVID-19. Ponce, Puerto Rico-based Destilería Serrallés shifted its Don Q rum production and, for the time being, is focusing on manufacturing ethyl alcohol with a 70 percent concentration for free distribution to hospitals and health providers. The company distributed nearly 10,000 gallons to hospitals and primary care facilities islandwide. Chris Bumbaca, Amber Gibson, Samuel Stebbins, Courtney Subramanian and Grant Suneson contributed to this story.

FREY RANCH

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Chains that Bind Pandemic bolsters grocers’ role as community hub By Adam Stone

W

HEN MELANIE ROWLISON AND her

husband Dale ventured out seeking groceries in mid-March, she was pleasantly surprised. Despite all of the anxiety and complications surrounding

shopping amidst COVID-19, her local grocery store came through. “They had marked off the floor, ‘Please Wait Here,’ every 6 feet, and the woman who was checking us out sprayed down everything in between shoppers — the belt, the screen where you pay,” said Rowlison, who lives in Centennial, Colo., and shops at King Soopers, a part of the

Kroger family. Like many supermarket chains, Rowlison’s local King Soopers offers early shopping hours for seniors and other vulnerable people, in addition to extra safety precautions. Even as supply chain problems and high demand have caused CONTI NUED

Kroger in Newport, Ky. ALBERT CESARE/THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER


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“During this time of uncertainty, Kroger is committed to remaining a constant. We have a responsibility to our associates, customers and communities, and we will continue to be here … for any need.” — TIM MASSA, Kroger senior vice president of human resources and labor relations

Kroger in Newport, Ky. PHOTOS BY ALBERT CESARE/THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER

many items to be out of stock in recent weeks, grocery chains have been taking extraordinary steps to continue serving the public. In a March press release announcing a push to hire tens of thousands of new workers, Kroger Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations Tim Massa spelled out the company’s priorities. “During this time of uncertainty, Kroger is committed to remaining a constant. We have a responsibility to our associates, customers and communi-

ties, and we will continue to be here … for any need.” In addition to the hiring spree and modified shopping hours, Kroger announced a COVID-19 bonus for all employees: $300 for full-timers and $150 for part-timers. The company also said it would donate $3 million to hunger-relief resources in communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Albertsons Companies, which owns Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco and several other supermarket brands, also added

safety measures. The company installed plexiglass shields between checkers and customers in some 2,200 stores, and put in place protocols to support social distancing, using floor markers to designate waiting points throughout the store, especially at check-out lines and high-volume areas such as the deli, bakery and pharmacy. “We have seen our customers begin to implement social distancing on their own with our ‘two carts apart’ reminders as they shop our stores, so we think our

floor markers will increase awareness,” Vivek Sankaran, president and CEO of Albertsons Companies, said in a press release announcing the measures. “We know that with our customers’ help, along with other safety measures we have implemented in our stores, we can create safer environments and help our communities contain the spread of this contagious disease.” Albertsons and the Albertsons CONTI NUED


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | SUPERMARKETS Companies Foundation in March announced a $3 million gift to Help Feed Families During This Crisis, an extension of the company’s Nourishing Neighbors program. On the staffing side, Albertsons took steps in March to provide relief for individuals who had been furloughed in other industries, with a hiring initiative aimed at adding 30,000 new associates. “So many businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors are scaling back hours or temporarily closing as their customers remain home and adhere to shelter-in-place orders,” Sankaran said in announcing the move. “We are grateful to be a resource to help fill a critical need in our own business and take care of people who want to continue working during this time of national emergency.” Other supermarket chains have also taken steps in recent weeks to ensure customer and employee safety while continuing to fulfill their vital commercial function. Texas grocery giant H-E-B implemented more stringent practices to sanitize stores, while also providing hand sanitizer and wipes for customer use. With the supply chain unable to meet demand for certain items, the company put in place purchasing limits on products such as eggs, canned soup and paper towels. The company has also committed to delivering 75,000 fresh chef-inspired meals to health care professionals at hospitals across the state. Publix implemented senior shopping hours and also launched a hiring push. In addition, the company offered rent relief to closed businesses located in Publix-owned shopping centers and is waiving common-area maintenance fees and taxes for all its retail tenants affected by the pandemic. Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of the Food Lion, Giant and Stop & Shop chains, also stepped up. Giant Company modified its pharmacy policies with expanded hours and curbside delivery to make it safer for seniors to pick up prescriptions. The company also made multiple $250,000 donations in March to a range of COVID-19-related causes including the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Philabundance, Maryland Food Bank and Meals on Wheels Pennsylvania. Back in Colorado, Rowlison said she is grateful for all these efforts. She was happy to bag her groceries (using her own reusable bags), and she appreciated the plexiglass barrier at the checkout stand. “At least for our store, they were taking a lot of really wonderful precautions for their workers, as well as for the customers,” she said.

H-E-B meal donations MARK HUMPHRIES

“We are grateful to be a resource to help fill a critical need in our own business and take care of people who want to continue working during this time of national emergency.” Jewel-Osco in Mount Prospect, Ill. NAM Y. HUH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

— VIVEK SANKARAN, president and CEO, Albertsons Companies


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Major Undertaking Superstores use scale to support pandemic-stressed consumers, workers and communities By Matt Alderton

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OVID-19 REMINDS CRISIS MANAGEMENT expert

Edward Segal of the 1980 Broadway musical 42nd Street, which tells the backstage story of an ill-fated musical whose lead actress breaks her ankle in the middle of the show’s premiere. The doomed production is saved at the 11th hour when chorus girl Peggy Sawyer agrees to fill in. With just 36 hours to learn 25 pages, six songs and 10 dance numbers, she pulls off the performance of a lifetime. Like Peggy, mass merchants such as Walmart, Target and Amazon have become the pandemic’s unlikely breakout stars. “Mass merchants have shown that they know their lines, know all the dance steps and that the show must go on,” said Segal, author of Crisis Ahead: 101 Ways to Prepare for and Bounce Back from Disasters, Scandals and Other Emergencies. But mass merchants aren’t dancing. In a very real sense, they’re helping to save lives. “I consider mass merchant retailers and their employees to be the new first responders in this national public health emergency. In their own way, they are as important to the United States in helping us fight and survive COVID-19 as those who work in emergency rooms, hospitals and laboratories,” Segal continued. “Like other first responders, mass merchant retailers have run toward this danger, not away from it.” It’s an interesting turnabout for retail behemoths, whose size and power mean they’re often maligned in public discourse: Suddenly, Goliath is as heroic as David. “No one could have guessed we’d be in this situation only a few months ago. Yet these companies quickly adapted to the new reality, faced the challenge head-on and showed that you can, in fact, turn a supertanker on a dime,” said Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the

Social distancing reminder at a Walmart store WALMART

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which has been tracking the corporate response to COVID-19. “These large-scale companies are taking a close look at how their employees and communities are being impacted by this unprecedented time, and they’re actively trying to alleviate the ensuing hardship.” Their responses have been rapid and comprehensive. Walmart, for example, has limited the number of customers in its stores to promote social distancing, instituted

one-way movement through its aisles and has allowed seniors, first responders, customers with disabilities and anyone designated high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to receive contact-free pickup of online orders daily from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. It also plans to hire more than 150,000 new associates; has given cash bonuses to hourly associates; expanded its paid leave policies; closed its stores overnight for cleaning and restocking; given employees instant access to earned wages; implemented a

new shopping cart sanitizing solution; offered virus pay to employees who contract COVID-19; installed sneeze guards and social distance markers; conducted routine temperature checks on employees; and furnished gloves and masks to associates. And in March, it committed $25 million to coronavirus response and relief. “America needs Walmart right now — and we have been at our absolute best,” CONTI NUED


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | MASS MERCHANTS Walmart U.S. President and CEO John Furner wrote in a March memo to associates. Target has taken similar measures: It has reserved special shopping times for at-risk guests; limited the number of guests in stores; increased cleaning of carts, baskets and checkout lanes; and installed sneeze guards and social distance markers. It also is fast-tracking essential products through its supply chain and closing all stores by 9 p.m. to allow for restocking and deep cleaning. For hourly store and distribution center employees, Target has temporarily raised wages by $2 per hour; given bonuses to 20,000 hourly store leaders; provided disposable face masks and gloves; designated special employee-only shopping times; expanded their backup child care and elder care; instituted quarantine and confirmed illness pay; and extended 30 days of paid leave to associates who are elderly, pregnant or have underlying medical conditions. It also has donated anti-viral and N95 respirator masks to first responders and health care professionals at more than 50 organizations and has committed $10 million to COVID-19 relief efforts for their employees as well national and international efforts. “Families across the country are counting on Target in so many ways during this pandemic, and our team has been nothing short of remarkable,” Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. “The commitments we’re making … provide additional resources for our most valuable asset — our team — and … support the critical work of our partners in communities impacted by the coronavirus.” For its part, Amazon has made more than 150 updates or changes to workplace processes to protect employees; hired 175,000 new workers; increased hourly wages by $2; committed to pay doubletime for each hour of overtime worked by hourly employees; established a $25 million relief fund for delivery drivers and seasonal associates; created a $5 million grant fund to support small businesses; and donated $20 million to support COVID-19 research. “We are facing a crisis unlike any other, and we know the path to recovery will rest on how quickly our communities can bounce back,” DeCourcey said. “By hiring more people, raising their employees’ pay and making tremendous contributions to community relief efforts, mass merchants are filling a critical gap — making sure that their employees and communities stay afloat in this turbulent time and in the aftermath.”

Amazon delivery driver in Los Angeles

Target in Glenview, Ill. ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHRIS DELMAS/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

“These companies quickly adapted to the new reality ... and showed that you can, in fact, turn a supertanker on a dime.” Target store in Cambridge, Mass.

— MARC DeCOURCEY, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

GETTY IMAGES

Walmart in Jacksonville, Fla. BOB SELF/FLORIDA TIMES-UNION


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | DRUGSTORES

Pandemic Prescriptions CVS, Walgreens add jobs, test sites and deliveries By Gina Harkins

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S THE COVID-19 FALLOUT

sent millions to the unemployment lines, the nation’s largest drugstore chains weren’t just filling prescriptions — they were hiring tens of thousands of workers and establishing COVID-19 test sites, pop-up pharmacies and other new or enhanced services. CVS Health and Walgreens are on missions to fill nearly 60,000 temporary full- or part-time positions. The drugstore chains said they’re also working to meet their customers’ needs in new ways as Americans hunker down in their homes, avoiding unnecessary contact

that could lead to infection. The businesses have been labeled “essential” by government officials, and the companies aren’t just offering their regular services of filling prescriptions and providing urgent care. They’ve also ventured to the front lines of the pandemic fight. In April, CVS set up a temporary pharmacy in New Orleans’ Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. That was about two weeks after Walgreens began operating its first drive-up COVID-19 test site in the Chicago area. Outside of the metropolitan New York City epicenter, Illinois and Louisiana have been among NAM Y. HUH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

CO NTINUED

Plastic sheeting protects pharmacy employees at a Morton Grove, Ill., CVS store.

ELISE AMENDOLA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A technician prepares to administer a COVID-19 test to a customer at a drive-up CVS testing clinic in Lowell, Mass.


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | DRUGSTORES

NAM Y. HUH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Walgreens had pandemic procedures ready for implementation due to the advance work of its corporate emergency response team.

the states hardest hit by COVID-19. Fortunately, these companies have had prior planning regarding how they would respond to a pandemic. “Walgreens’ Corporate Emergency Response team prepares for major business disruptions such as pandemics and continually updates response plans on an ongoing basis,” said Megan Boyd, the company’s manager of health care communications. Here’s a look at how the country’s leading drugstore chains are working to meet customer needs amidst the COVID-19 outbreak: Increased staffing. CVS is adding 50,000 temporary, full- and part-time positions to its roughly 300,000-person

workforce. The jobs include store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees and customer service professionals. Walgreens is boosting its 230,000-person workforce by about 9,500, adding primarily customer service positions, pharmacy technicians and shift-leads. Some of the temporary positions could lead to full-time work, and as of early April, the company had hired approximately 7,500 new team members, Boyd said. Drive-up testing. Testing in the U.S. has trailed some other countries’ efforts, leaving many who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms unsure whether

“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our top priority.” — MEGAN BOYD, Walgreens manager of health care communications

they have the coronavirus. After launching its first drive-up test site in Illinois in March, Walgreens is expanding those services to 15 sites in seven states considered potential coronavirus hot spots based on rising case numbers. In addition to Illinois, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas were selected in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Boyd said. The company expects to test up to 3,000 people per day across all of its drive-up locations. CVS also has established rapid COVID-19 test sites in Georgia, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Meeting customer demands. As people adhere to calls for social distancing, pharmacies are rethinking ways to get customers’ medications delivered. For those being treated for the coronavirus, it might mean having CVS pharmacists preparing drugs at a pop-up location in a makeshift hospital. But for most other Americans, it means encouraging prescription delivery and drive-thru pharmacy use. CVS and Walgreens have adjusted store hours and are offering free prescription delivery, including through expanded partnerships with delivery companies such as Postmates. Restocking shelves. There has been media coverage of pandemic-related shortages of toilet paper and paper towels, but lesser-known products are also in short supply. These include drugs for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia, said Stephanie Cunha, a public relations manager for CVS Health. CVS is not only working with suppliers to restock those medications, but is encouraging customers to avoid hoarding drugs others may need. “Our goal is to limit stockpiling of medication that could result in future shortages and gaps in care,” Cunha said. Bonuses. In recognition of their employees’ vital work under trying conditions, CVS and Walgreens have given bonuses to every pharmacist and hourly employee. CVS awarded between $150 and $500 per person; Walgreens announced plans to pay eligible fulltime employees $300 and part-time hourly team members $150 in late April. The companies have equipped workers with protective gear and established flexible work schedules and leave policies for anyone contracting the coronavirus. “The health and safety of our employees and customers is our top priority,” Boyd said.


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | HOME, OFFICE & TECHNOLOGY

A Lowe’s in New York City MARK LENNIHAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bringing it Home Lowe’s, other retailers support a nation of the suddenly housebound By Brian Barth

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N MID-MARCH, AS COMMUNITIES

across America started to shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Lowe’s stores began to step up. Staff at the Lowe’s regional distribution center in Rockford, Ill., loaded trucks with respirator masks headed for hospitals in New York City, Atlanta

and Charlotte, N.C. A Marquette, Mich., Lowe’s store donated safety goggles, cleaning supplies and ventilators to a local home for veterans. Michael Green, the store manager at the Lowe’s in North Charlotte, N.C., organized area stores to collect more than 1,500 cardboard boxes, duct tape and other moving supplies and deliver them to students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who were

having to vacate dorms on short notice. In Seabrook, N.H., Lowe’s store employees collected more than 500 meals for local families in need. “The smallest act of kindness can make the biggest difference,” said Jeffrey Conrow, manager of the Seabrook store. “That’s really our rally cry right now.” CONTI NUED


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | HOME, OFFICE & TECHNOLOGY

DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Best Buy was among the first retailers to close stores and shift to curbside pickup only.

LOWE’S

A Lowe’s associate delivers a care package to an elderly resident of Pico Rivera, Calif.

The food banking effort extends to Lowe’s employees: All stores have been instructed to create food pantries in their break rooms where staff members can donate items for co-workers who need them. It’s all part of the company’s $170 million pledge to help soften the blow of the pandemic. Vital to this effort is an array of support for Lowe’s 300,000-plus workforce. Wages were increased by $2 per hour for every associate during the month of April, in addition to a bonus of

$300 for full-time associates and $150 for part-time associates in recognition of the extra effort they’re putting in at work — and in consideration of any unexpected expenses they may have at home. All Lowe’s associates are now entitled to 14 days of emergency paid leave, whether it’s because they are sick, caring for a family member or facing other hardships due to the crisis. Four weeks of emergency paid leave is available for employees at higher risk of severe complications from the virus. And all

associates and their families have access are being added in stores across the to telemedicine benefits, even if they’re country. not currently enrolled in Lowe’s health care plan. HOME OFFICE SUPPORT “We are a company built by our people, Office supply and technology retailers who consistently jump into action to are also essential to helping people work, serve our neighbors when disaster learn and relax at home. They are helping or crisis strikes,” said Joe McFarland, their employees and customers adjust to Lowe’s executive vice this new normal. president of stores. “We see Best Buy was one of heroes in red vests every “The smallest the first companies to day, providing the essential all its retail stores, act of kindness close products and services our shifting entirely to delivery customers need so they can and curbside pickup on can make the stay safely at home.” March 22. On April 19, the biggest differA focus on customer company announced it safety has led to a number furloughing 51,000 ence . . . That’s was of new protocols. Stores hourly store employees and are closing early in order to that corporate employees, really our rally thoroughly sanitize. “Social including CEO Corrie Barry, cry right now.” were taking voluntary pay distancing ambassadors” now roam the aisles to reductions or furloughs. If — JEFFREY CONROW, encourage space between employees are unable to Manager of Lowe’s in customers. Lowe’s has report to work, they will Seabrook, N.H. developed an app for asstill be paid for the regularly sociates’ devices that helps scheduled hours. limit the number of customers entering a Office Depot and OfficeMax stores are store and has also begun curbside order limiting occupancy to 25 people at a time, pickup. and the company has donated approxi“In addition to our enhanced cleaning mately $300,000 to fund hunger relief efforts across the store, we’ve taken and to provide supplies for teachers and increasing measures to ensure our castudents to support remote education. shiers and front-end teams are regularly Staples stores are making complicleaning their work areas and registers mentary print and marketing services after each customer interaction,” Lowe’s available to support individuals and president and CEO Marvin Ellison stated businesses, providing free delivery on all during the first weeks of the crisis. orders and offering curbside pickup at And Lowe’s is hiring: 30,000 positions most locations.


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | WAREHOUSE CLUBS

Shoppers line up to enter a Costco in Fairfax, Va. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY; GETTY IMAGES

Member Benefits Warehouse clubs make shopping safer for customers By Jennifer E. Mabry

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S AMERICANS ADJUST TO

life amid the COVID-19 pandemic, membership-only warehouse stores are adjusting the way they do business to provide essential items while keeping shoppers safe and protecting their employees, as well as offering philanthropic aid to benefit their communities.

COSTCO WHOLESALE CORPORATION In early April, Costco began restricting the number of members entering its stores to two shoppers per membership card (one shopper in Kentucky and Puerto Rico)

to help manage social distancing. As an additional precaution, Costco is limiting or not accepting returns on certain items. The company has also reduced hours of operation, and services in the hearing aid, optical, floral and jewelry departments have been paused on a store-by-store basis to minimize personal contact and create additional space for social distancing. SPECIAL HOURS: Costco has designated 8 a.m.-9 a.m., Tuesday through Thursday, as special shopping hours for members who are 60 and older, have physical disabilities or are part of a vulnerable population. In addition, club members who present ID as health care workers, hospital employees, EMTs, firefighters or

police can move to the front of the line to enter the store at any time. PHILANTHROPY: According to Costco’s community relations department, the company is donating to the COVID-19 response through its stores and corporate and regional offices: “We have contributed millions of dollars in cash and merchandise to nonprofit organizations which are feeding those in need (and) helping small businesses and individuals who are currently unable to work because of involuntary choices imposed upon them and their employers because of the stay-at-home orders.” CONTI NUED


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | WAREHOUSE CLUBS SAM’S CLUB Sam’s Club is limiting the number of members inside stores to two per membership and capping occupancy at 300 members at a time. Sam’s optical centers and hearing aid centers remain open, but visits are limited to essential services and hours of operation have been reduced. Sam’s Club is taking each employee’s temperature as they report to work, and employees who test positive for COVID-19 and are unable to return to work may receive compensation for up to 26 weeks, regardless of whether they’re part-time or full-time employees. SPECIAL HOURS: Sam’s has designated 7 a.m.-9 a.m., Tuesday and Thursday, as special shopping hours for seniors and people with health conditions and disabilities. It has also added “Hero Hours” on Sundays from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. for health care workers and first responders. PHILANTHROPY: Parent company Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have pledged $25 million in grants to support a number of organizations providing assistance for people financially affected by the pandemic.

BJ’S WHOLESALE CLUB BJ’s is limiting in-store traffic to no more than 20 percent of a club’s total capacity and requesting that only one person per household shop. In addition to signage, the chain is positioning stanchions to help promote social distancing in checkout lines. Employees are also monitoring the store to ensure shoppers are maintaining social distancing and broadcasting audio announcements to remind shoppers of the protocol. BJ’s temporarily boosted the pay of all hourly employees by $2 per hour, and managers and other key store and distribution center personnel received bonuses ranging from $500 to $1,000. BJ’s employees are encouraged to stay home if they do not feel well and will not lose their job due to absenteeism. Additionally, employees under mandated quarantine will receive standard pay for up to 14 days. Employees who test positive for the coronavirus may use accrued sick pay and will receive standard pay for additional time up to two weeks. Employees facing financial hardship may also apply for assistance through the company’s Aisle Help Fund, an emergency relief resource funded by company employees. SPECIAL HOURS: BJ’s stores have designated 8 a.m.-9 a.m., Monday through Saturday, for members age 60 and over. On Sundays, that same hour is reserved for first responders and health care workers. PHILANTHROPY: The BJ’s Charitable Foundation has donated $1 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts and hospitals in the communities BJ’s serves, and individual stores have donated numerous items to first responders, health care workers and nonprofits.

Orthopedic surgeon Schachar Kenan shops in a BJ’s store in Paramus, N.J. MAX GERSH/USA TODAY NETWORK; AMY NEWMAN/NORTHJERSEY.COM; GETTY IMAGES


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | DISCOUNT STORES

PATRICIA KIME

Small Footprint, Large Impact Discount stores help those hit hard by the coronavirus

By Patricia Kime

W

HEN THE DOLLAR GENERAL in Spring

Grove, Va., opens its doors at 8 a.m., only seniors and people with compromised immune systems are allowed in for the first hour, a safeguard to protect these vulnerable populations from contracting COVID-19. In the evening, the store closes an hour early for a thorough cleaning. These protocols, introduced across the entire company March 16, along with the Spring Grove store’s perpetual tidiness and friendly employees, have won fans across Surry, a rural county in the state’s Tidewater region. “It is the cleanest, friendliest Dollar General I have ever been in. Sharon is always willing to help,” wrote an admirer of store manager Sharon Faltz on a Surry County Facebook group. “Such wonderful folks working there! They do an absolute wonderful job of keeping the store clean! The cleanest

place to shop!” exclaimed another patron on the same page. In this era of COVID-19 and social distancing, some retailers are stepping up their game to make customers feel safe and employees appreciated. And across the country, companies like Dollar General and Dollar Tree/Family Dollar are working diligently to keep goods flowing, the economy going and their shoppers — and workers — healthy. “It’s the whole idea of our mission, Serving Others. Seventy-five percent of Americans are within 5 miles of a Dollar General. There’s a convenience perspective, but there’s also an economic perspective, to keep providing consistency (during the pandemic),” said the company’s director of public relations Crystal Ghassemi. Dollar General, headquartered in Goodlettsville, Tenn., was an early adopter of “seniors-only” shopping hours. Its stores provide hand sanitizer to customers and employees and enforce social distancCONTI NUED


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ESSENTIAL RETAILERS | DISCOUNT STORES

Family Dollar, Dallas

Dollar General store, Spring Grove, Va. TONY GUTIERREZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS; PATRICIA KIME

“Seventy-five percent of Americans are within 5 miles of a Dollar General. There’s a convenience perspective, but there’s also an economic perspective, to keep providing consistency (during the pandemic).” — CRYSTAL GHASSEMI, Dollar General PR director

ing measures. The company provides gloves to employees and is distributing face masks to those workers who want or are required to wear them. Beyond these basic precautions, the company also is supporting its communities by offering a 10 percent in-store discount to medical professionals, first responders and members of the National Guard during the pandemic. As of late April, it was hiring 50,000 temporary workers, many furloughed from their regular jobs. And it is providing bonuses to employees across the corporation to the tune of $35 million. “The company has a strong sense of community. The role we are playing — in the retail perspective, the financial perspective — there is a heavy sense of it. Everything goes back to the pressure test of ‘how are we serving our communities,’” said Ghassemi, who has fond childhood memories of shopping in a general store with her great-grandmother. Dollar General views itself “in that kind of fashion,” she said. “It’s 7,400 to 7,500 square feet of the things you need.” In Chesapeake, Va., executives at Dollar Tree and Family Dollar headquarters also have taken their role as an essential business to heart. From the onset of the pandemic, they began working the supply chain to ensure stores were stocked with in-demand items like soap, hand sanitizer

and paper products. Like Dollar General, they instituted measures to make sure stores remained clean and employees were safe. With more than 15,000 stores across North America that sell items for $1 at Dollar Tree and products that cost less than $10 at Family Dollar, company executives said they needed to stay open and well-stocked for customers living on a tight budget. “As we navigate through this together, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar stores are open, and we remain committed to delivering great values on the products your family needs at this time,” Dollar Tree CEO Gary Philbin wrote in a post on the company website. The company also pledged to provide employees up to two weeks of pay without using sick leave or vacation days if they contracted COVID-19 and increased hourly pay for store and distribution center associates other than managers by $2, at an estimated cost of $45 million. “Our associates are working hard to deliver the products (customers) need from our distribution centers to our stores,” Philbin said. When much of the country will reopen remains an open question, but the nation’s leading discount retailers say they are doing all they can to ensure their companies will be there for customers, now and in the uncertain future.


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ESSENTIAL SERVICES | COMMUNICATIONS

Keeping Us Connected Mobile carriers signal commitment to customers and communities

@

GETTY IMAGES

By Amy Sinatra Ayres

V

IDEO CALLS, TEXTS, EMAILS,

social media posts, breaking news alerts: In the upending of daily life caused by the coronavirus outbreak, many of us have become more reliant than ever on the technology that keeps us connected. Mobile carriers like Google Fi are stepping up to help their customers. “During this time, we recognize how important it is to stay connected, so we have implemented temporary policy changes to help Google Fi customers, including extending our grace period for late payments and adding more full-speed data to our phone plans,” said Marcia Jung, product manager for Google Fi. “And as always with Google Fi, you can join from the comfort of home, there are no activation fees or contracts and you can turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hot spot at no extra cost.” Some customers have been sharing their appreciation on Twitter. “Thanks a million @googlefi for changing your data speed policies during this time. Your service is a lifeline for me in keeping in touch with my students!” tweeted Joanna Phillips Melancon, a professor of marketing and social media at Western Kentucky University.

Google has also committed at least $800 million to support small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs), health organizations, governments and frontline health workers. That amount includes $340 million in Google Ads credits for SMBs with active accounts to help them keep in touch with customers; $250 million in ad grants for the World Health Organization and government agencies to help them disseminate COVID-19 information; and a $200 million investment fund to support nongovernmental organizations and financial institutions that provide small businesses with access to capital. The company is also working with longtime supplier and partner Magid Glove & Safety to ramp up the production capacity of personal protective equipment for the CDC Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Employees across Alphabet, Google’s parent company, are also using their expertise with supply chains, engineering and more to help facilitate increased production of ventilators. In April, Google partnered with Apple to create Blue-

tooth technology to help governments and health agencies do more contact tracing to aid in containing the spread of the coronavirus. In May, both companies were expected to release changes to their operating systems, making Bluetooth a tool for measuring proximity. That will allow iOS and Android devices to connect to a broader contact-tracing platform, using opt-in apps from public health authorities. The technology will track cellphone users you are in contact with for a sustained period of time (at less than 6 feet of distance). If you later test positive for COVID-19, you would upload your diagnosis to the app and those cell users would be sent an alert. Other mobile carriers have also taken steps to help their customers stay connected. Verizon waived late fees and overage charges from March 16 through May 13 for customers and small businesses who report a financial hardship due to COVID-19. Verizon also surprised its wireless and small-business customers with 15GB of additional high-speed data; it was automatically applied to plans on March 25 and runs through April 30. Verizon also has

provided free international calls to people in countries affected by COVID-19. For its FIOS TV customers, Verizon offered free access for limited times to premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax and Starz, and up to 60 days of access to learning resources including Quizlet, Bookful and Epix, starting April 1. AT&T also allows customers facing economic hardship to apply for a waiver of late fees and overage charges incurred between March 13 and May 13, and it increased data and expanded access to programming, too. AT&T worked with the Navy to arrange free phone calls from personnel on select ships to their families, and in April, the company announced on actor John Krasinski’s popular digital show Some Good News that it would provide three months of free wireless service to nurses and doctors on the front lines of the pandemic. They will use AT&T’s FirstNet service, its platform built for first responders. “Tonight’s Some Good News shined a light on our healthcare heroes,” Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications, said in a statement on April 12. “They are working around the clock, on the front lines to combat the COVID-19 health crisis. We want to be there to keep them connected. And that’s exactly what FirstNet delivers.”


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ROAD TO REOPENING | CONTACT TRACING

USA TODAY

Trace Elements Apps in the works will warn if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 By Jessica Guynn

A

PPLE AND GOOGLE HAVE offered a first

glimpse into how public health apps will alert you if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus. The tech giants have been working on new contact tracing tools for public health organizations that can tell you if you’ve crossed paths with someone who later tests positive for the deadly virus. The new COVID-19 tools on iPhones and Android devices will use Bluetooth to sense nearby smart-

phones. When you’ve tested positive, you enter the test result into the app. With your consent, anyone who was near you over the past 14 days will get a push notification that they have been potentially exposed: “You have recently come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Tap for more information.” Public health authorities have used contact tracing for years to interview people infected with highly contagious diseases and learn who they’ve been in contact with and advise them on what to do. The smartphone version could help authorities more quickly lift social

distancing constraints or respond to a new outbreak. Participation is voluntary, but the effectiveness of smartphone contact tracing hinges on how many people choose to use it. A release date for the apps hasn’t been announced. Privacy advocates warn the technology being developed is potentially invasive and raises important questions of how to safeguard people’s sensitive health information. Apple and Google said they’ve taken precautions to make sure tracking data is anonymous and that the apps will not be permitted to track your specific location.

In a May 5 blog post, cybersecurity firm FireEye said app developers should think through the privacy and security implications when tracking users to help halt the spread of COVID-19. The apps should explain what data they collect and outline under what conditions that data will be shared with third parties, and that data should be kept secure, possibly through the use of encryption. In certain jurisdictions, users have the right to request access to the data that has been collected and can request that it be deleted. Apps should be prepared to comply with those requests, FireEye said.


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LAST NOTE | APPRECIATION

VOICING GRATITUDE His statue may have been masked, but Tony Bennett’s voice could be heard coast to coast during the COVID-19 pandemic. The iconic 93-year-old crooner performed Smile on the April 22 Jersey 4 Jersey pandemic relief program, which raised $5.9 million for the needy of the Garden State. He then led a singalong of his classic, I Left My Heart in San Francisco on April 25 to celebrate that city’s front-line workers.

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Profile for STUDIO Gannett

SUSTAINING AMERICA 2020  

SUSTAINING AMERICA 2020