Making fun of anti-vaxxers who died of COVID-19 is a dark indication that we’ve all surrendered to the disease

anti-vaxx placard
An anti-vaxx placard.

  • Anti-vaccine figures are dying of COVID and their deaths are being made light of.
  • This is a distraction and represents an acceptance of COVID’s death toll.
  • We don’t have to be nice to anti-vaxxers, but we should counter them to control infections.
  • Abdullah Shihipar is a contributing opinion writer for Insider.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It has become a familiar narrative during this pandemic: a vocal anti mask and vaccine advocate ends up dying in the hospital with COVID-19. Most recently, it was 30-year-old Calleb Wallace of Texas who died after a month-long bout with the disease. Wallace, who organized anti-mask protests and founded the San Angelo Freedom Defenders, died after being placed on a ventilator. He left behind a pregnant wife and two children.

Other times, it is anti-vaccine social media posts that catch the ire of the headlines. Stephen Harmon, a man from Los Angeles, repeatedly mocked the vaccine, tweeting “Got 99 problems but a vax ain’t one,” in June, only to die of the virus in July.

This trend, becoming ever more frequent as the delta variant spreads rapidly across the country, has inspired a series of jokes and memes on social media. I myself have partaken in a few “how it’s started, how it’s going” jokes. But ultimately, no matter how vile the target of the memes are and no matter how tempting it is to participate in the schadenfreude, it is an unhelpful distraction that represents a dark reality: we’re okay with how many people are dying from COVID-19.

Making light of the dark

Before I go any further, let me say that this is not an argument for empathy for those who are fiercely anti-vaccine or an attempt to try to understand their perspective. Nor is this an argument to persuade anti-vaccine advocates. Some of them have unfortunately gone down a destructive rabbit hole that even their loved ones find it difficult to help them out of quickly. Being nicer won’t necessarily change that, but neither does making fun of them after they have died.

Eighteen months ago, when the virus first hit the shores of the United States, we were all terrified. People made runs on grocery stores as hospitals filled up with the dead, people spent time at home to “stop the spread” and flatten the curve. Every death was seen as a tragedy, a death we could prevent with collective action. After a few months, right wing governors and talking heads began promoting the idea that protecting oneself from a pandemic was an individual responsibility. If people wanted to go mask-less,, attend gatherings, or skip the vaccine – that’s on them, they thought, ignoring the fact that the virus spreads from person to person. Of course, one person’s behavior during a pandemic affects the health of others.

A year later, with the vaccines plentiful, some on the left have adopted the right’s framing. It’s now accepted that COVID deaths, predominantly amongst the unvaccinated, are a matter of individual fate. You could have chosen to get that vaccine, but you didn’t, and that’s not my problem, they are implying.

This framing effectively prevents us from taking broader action to control the spread of the virus through mask mandates, restrictions, and testings. The abandonment of a collective framing around COVID-19 puts children who are not vaccinated and the immunocompromised at risk. It’s also easy to forget that despite it all, there are still unvaccinated people who need to be reached; there are still people who need help getting a shot, still people who are deathly terrified of side effects, and still those who can’t take time off to get a shot.

The lines between the anti-vaccine crowd and the unvaccinated in general have become blurred, and we have seen that in headlines that highlight unvaccinated people who have died from the virus. Average folks who were too busy and didn’t get around to it, were scared of side effects, or wanted to wait and see its effects.

If we want to battle anti-vaccine sentiment, rather than adopting the individualist framing that Republicans proposed to begin with, we should counter them while they are alive. We should show up to outnumber them and state that we are in favor of mask mandates at school board and city council meetings. We should pressure and boycott advertisers that advertise on programs that promote misinformation,. We should push for accountability measures for Facebook, which has long tolerated anti-vaccine misinformation on its platforms.

And of course, we should push for measures that will stop the spread of the virus, including but not limited to: mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine sick leave, reducing prison populations and arrests (including immigration-related arrests), stopping evictions and getting real worker protections from OSHA. Instead, tangible actions have been abandoned for ridicule.

I have spoken to people who have lost family members to anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. These people are increasingly isolated and are shells of themselves, often being hostile and aggressive to their own kin. Families feel like they have been torn apart forever.

We must remember that there are family members who are feeling two waves of pain when they’re loved ones die: the physical loss, and the knowledge that their death could have been easily prevented.

It’s not easy to hear, but making fun of these deaths effectively means we have stopped resisting mass death and have accepted its reality. It’s tempting to think that there is some cosmic justice when an anti-vaxxer dies, but it’s just the reality of how a virus spreads. Yes, anti-vaxxers are dying, but so are scores of other people.I don’t write this just to lecture others, but rather to hold myself accountable. Using humor like this is an easy distraction and a façade from the shame we should feel that this is where our country is at during such a late stage in the pandemic.

There will be more anti-vaccine people who die of this illness in the months to come, and I’m going to try to resist the urge to make light of it. The real joke is on us all.

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Entitled consumers have terrorized service and retail workers throughout the pandemic, but it was a natural evolution in a culture that promises ‘the customer is always right’

Black Friday
Shoppers fight for TVs on Black Friday.

  • The mantra “The customer is always right” has been baked into the American retail experience.
  • While it originated over a century ago, it’s been perpetuated by companies like Amazon.
  • The pandemic has revealed just how much customers believe they should always get their way.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If there’s one unifying theory among American shoppers, it’s that they’re always right.

After all, that’s what we’ve been taught to believe for over a century: that the customer is never wrong, at least inside the four walls of a Starbucks or a Walmart. It’s an ethos that has guided everything from the rise of early department stores to post-World War II suburban malls – and, in more recent times, e-commerce behemoths like Amazon.

But now, 18 months into the pandemic, it’s clear that not only is that mantra indelibly baked into the American shopping experience, it’s also dangerous. It’s created a sense of entitlement among shoppers that has led to agression and even violence toward retail workers.

“We’ve gone past the point where the retailer was in charge to a point in society where the customer is in charge,” Mark Cohen, an adjunct professor and director of retail studies at Columbia University, told Insider.

‘The customer is never wrong’

amazon box boxes delivery deliveries

There’s some debate about where the phrase “The customer is always right” originated.

It’s most often attributed to Harry Gordon Selfridge, the Wisconsin-born retail magnate who got his start at one of the nation’s first department stores, Marshall Field’s, before building a department store empire of his own in London.

But before Selfridge, there was César Ritz, who built the first Ritz hotel in the late 1800s. According to A.E. Hotchner’s 2012 piece in Vanity Fair, Ritz created a code of conduct for hotel staff that stated, among other mandates, “If a diner complains about a dish or the wine, immediately remove it and replace it, no questions asked.”

Ritz reportedly used a slightly tweaked, though similarly definitive, turn of phrase: “Le client n’a jamais tort,” or, “The customer is never wrong.”

Regardless of the origin of the phrase, there’s no doubt that its ethos infiltrated the retail world, particularly in the US. But according to Cohen, it wasn’t until after World War II that things shifted in America. The interstate highway system allowed recently returned servicemen to move out of urban centers into suburbs, and the department stores followed, becoming anchor tenants at newly built shopping malls.

In order to lure this influx of middle-class customers, Cohen said, retailers started making promises.

“It was ‘satisfaction guaranteed,’ ‘returns permissible anytime, forever,'” he said. “There were an enormous array of promises, all intended to assure customers that they should have no fear in doing business with them.”

Fast-forward to the modern era and the rise of Amazon: The retail behemoth has made customer-focus the cornerstone of its business, so much so that one of its guiding principles is titled “Customer Obsession.”

“Leaders start with the customer and work backwards,” it reads. “They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust.”

But Amazon has often had to sacrifice its own workers in the process of pleasing the customer. And while obsessing over what the customer might want has led to groundbreaking new products like the Kindle e-reader or the ability for batteries to arrive on your doorstep in less than 24 hours, it’s also meant that, with 200 million Prime subscribers and counting, that ethos has pervaded consumer culture, creating a world where many believe getting anything you want, when you want it, should be the norm, not the exception.

Violence against retail workers has spiked during the pandemic

Mask sign

The pandemic has revealed just how much power has been ceded to American consumers – or, perhaps more accurately, how much power consumers believe they should have.

When the coronavirus struck last March, retail workers across the country were charged with enforcing government or store policies around masks. Employees told Insider’s Kate Taylor and Áine Cain at the time that they were afraid to ask shoppers to don a mask upon entry out of concern for their own safety. Customers who didn’t get their way, workers feared, would get violent.

Those fears were warranted: In May of last year, a security guard at a Family Dollar store in Michigan was shot and killed after he stopped a customer from coming into the store because her daughter wasn’t wearing a mask. One month later, a grocery store cashier in Atlanta was shot dead following a mask dispute, police said.

And, just this week, tourists were captured on video attacking a hostess at New York City restaurant Carmine’s after she asked for proof of their vaccination status. Last month, the city began requiring patrons to be at least partially vaccinated in order to dine indoors.

Reports of workers being attacked or customers becoming chaotic or aggressive have become commonplace over the last 18 months – in fact, 80% of workers said in a poll earlier this year that they’ve experienced hostile behavior from customers who didn’t want to follow safety protocols, and 39% said they were leaving their jobs because of it.

Some workers and employees are trying to bring attention to the issue. Last month, employees at a Los Angeles McDonald’s held a rally outside the restaurant to protest to what they described as a pattern of violence at the hands of customers. And Gap recently teamed up with competitors like H&M, American Eagle, and Ralph Lauren on a campaign to encourage shoppers to show support for workers who are being harassed by other customers.

But those measures won’t be enough to curb bad behavior from customers who believe they have the right to do as they please in stores and restaurants.

“We have to be careful about how much gas we put in the tank and what kind of license we give customers to do business with us,” Cohen said. “I think that retailers are going to be a lot more careful about portraying themselves as wide-open opportunities for customers.”

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Move over millennials, Gen Z is the new ‘it’ generation

gen z baggy jeans
Gen Z has taken the driver’s seat.

  • No longer cool, millennials have fallen as the ‘it’ generation. That title belongs to Gen Z.
  • As the oldest millennial turns 40, Gen Z has lambasted them for their side parts and skinny jeans.
  • On the surface, millennials feel outdated. But the real issue is that they’re reckoning with a new life stage.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

I was sipping a Moscow Mule in the corner of an East Village bar one night when a sense of déjà vu came over me.

The room was a sea of spaghetti straps, claw clips, baguette bags, and bright colors, catapulting me into my teenage past – more than a dozen years ago.

Confused about how these trends became cool again and when I aged out of my favorite bars, I looked down at my frayed skinny jeans and wondered if I should find new spots that attracted an … older crowd. My peers feel the same, taking to TikTok to cry about feeling old and outdated in their favorite NYC haunts.

At 29, I recognize my youth, but am also painfully aware of the cultural gap between a late 20-something and an early 20-something, especially when they’re divided into two generations: millennials and Gen Z.

I would know – I’ve been writing about millennials for the past two-and-a-half years, so I’ve been particularly attuned to how generational conversations changed during the pandemic.

I watched as the media pounced on Gen Z mocking millennials on TikTok for how they wear their hair and for their love of coffee and wine. I saw headlines pop up deeming millennials “ancient” or “officially old” when their cult-favorite brand Glossier launched an anti-aging retinol. And I noticed how the millennial narrative shifted to middle-aged experiences like having kids and buying houses, while new lifestyle trends and consumer behavior increasingly fell to Gen Z.

Between last spring’s lockdowns and this spring’s economic reopening, we’re all a year older than we once were. But the lost year of 2020 accentuated the starkness of the cultural shift as a new generation enters young adulthood.

Millennials, many of whom suddenly became known as “geriatric” or “cheugy,” are no longer cool. Gen Z has taken over as the ‘it’ generation.

The oldest millennial is now 40

Millennials began to lose ‘it’ status when the oldest turned 40 this year. While the youngest millennials are just 25, the vast majority of the generation are no longer in their 20s. A term even popped up to describe the oldest cohort, much to the internet’s chagrin: geriatric millennial.

This homeowning millennial isn’t the avocado toast-loving, Instagram-obsessed, living-with-their-parents millennial that the world has learned to love and hate. That title now goes to Gen Z, except they’ve swapped out avocado toast for oat lattes and Instagram for TikTok.

geriatric millennial
Millennials have entered middle age this year.

While millennials aged, so too did the generation behind them, the oldest of whom turn 24 this year. Much like millennials graduated into the Great Recession, Gen Z has their own tale of economic plight: graduating in the pandemic. And, as does every generation, they have certain hallmark traits: They’re activists, favor neon colors, and dress in 2000s clothes.

The world has noticed it all. After all, the fascination with young people is not about any particular generation, but about whoever is driving trends and influencing consumer spending. Now, it’s Gen Z’s turn to take over the economy as their collective income reaches $33 trillion. (It’s set to surpass that of millennials in 2031.)

It’s a natural evolution, Jason Dorsey, who runs the Center for Generational Kinetics, a research firm in Austin, Texas, told me. “At around this age and life stage, the next generation sort of takes the mantle as the ‘it’ generation, because they’re old enough to really start to exert their influence.”

Society feels like it finally understands millennials, he added, switching their focus to the generation that remains a mystery. That leaves Gen Z “shifting and driving much of the conversation,” which he predicts they’ll do for the next 15 years.

Awakening from the pandemic to a cultural shift

Pandemic or no pandemic, everyone turned another year older in 2020. But a year at home heightened the millennial-to-Gen-Z cultural transition.

Skinny jeans and side parts are out. So too are Hogwarts houses and the term “doggo.” The frowning face emoji now carries a more sexual meaning than a frustrated one, and “elite” no longer means excellence, but hitting the spot. Y2K fashion has re-entered the trend cycle, and a Chanel suit from 1995 is now considered vintage.

gen z
It’s all about Gen Z now.

Digital bonding helped many of these new trends take root. Gen Z, already digital natives, had ample time to scroll on their phones during quarantine. They connected with one another, Dorsey said, as many underwent the fortifying experience of moving back home during the pandemic at a similar life stage.

At the center of this cultural shift was TikTok, which blew up during the pandemic. By September 2020, the social media app grew by 75%, expanding into intergenerational use. It signals the growing influence of Gen Z in leading consumer behavior, much the same way millennials did with Instagram.

TikTok became the place not just for dance videos, but for Gen Z’s jests at millennials and exploration of fashion trends, from tie-dye loungewear to baggy jeans. They’ve made their way to the streets, explaining why I came out of the pandemic feeling the need to update my wardrobe.

It’s all part of growing up

The downfall of millennials as the ‘it’ generation is symptomatic of the inevitable – getting old. It’s the natural evolution of generations, with one always superseding another as everyone ages, much the same way millennials overtook Gen X as a hot topic around the time social media emerged.

Millennials are having a difficult time reckoning with getting older. As my 29-year-old roommate said when I mentioned I was writing this piece: “That’s so sad!” followed by a deadpanned, “I’m not into this article.”

I, too, lamented to my therapist about how my world is going to end when I turn 30 this year. Overly dramatic, sure, but my peers and I are grappling with a major life transition that we may not be ready for – not the fact that Gen Z is making fun of us.

“It reinforces to many millennials that they themselves are entering a new life stage, whether that’s marriage or kids or buying houses or seeing friends doing that,” Dorsey said, describing it as an uncomfortable adjustment. “There’s this real sense of getting older, heightened when the new generation who are now adults is telling you that you’re older and outdated.”

Millennials are grappling with entering a new life stage.

Aging comes with societal pressure to settle into major life events like buying a house or having kids. Many millennials feel stressed that we’re unable to do so because of all the economic pills we’ve had to swallow. We’re also confronting the fact that our parents are aging, too, as we worry about their health risks during the pandemic.

The pandemic has forced millennials to grow up. While still young by many measures, we’re old enough to ponder existential life questions while also questioning past choices – whether a financial regret, or our skinny jeans.

The ironic part of millennials’ newfound uncoolness at the hands of Gen Z is that the latter doesn’t really care about being cool at all. Gen Z may enjoy their time in the limelight for now – until Generation C takes over.

Read the original article on Business Insider

It’s never been more clear: companies should give up on back to office and let us all work remotely, permanently

Work from home
  • With the rise of the Delta Variant, companies should switch to all remote.
  • All-remote is better for workplace collaboration, the environment, and companies’ bottom lines.
  • Companies that switch to all-remote should be intentional about collaboration and technology.
  • Jeff Chow is SVP Product at InVision.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s time to go back to the office for good – the home office.

With the CDC’s recommendation that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission of COVID-19, employees across industries are wondering what the new future of work looks like. As the possibility of another shelter-in-place order looms, companies are deciding whether moving to a hybrid situation – simultaneously in-person and remote – is worth it.

It’s not. Simply put, the concept of “forever remote” makes sense for numerous companies and industries. For many, America’s “back to work” isn’t a simple light switch, but many organizations are better off to shut the lights off at the traditional office. The switch to all remote will broaden a company’s talent pool and increase employee happiness and retention, while limiting a lease and lowering its carbon footprint.

There are benefits to becoming a fully-remote organization. A top example is that the talent pool now goes national, or even international. Organizations are no longer limited to recruiting employees from a given radius to their offices. Asynchronous work helps to open the door for employees to work across time zones to get projects and deliverables completed in time.

InVision, where I work, has been all-remote since its inception. We have the luxury of hiring people living across the US and in 25 countries.

Additionally, without the need for a large physical office presence, companies can save hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, on leasing office space or building an expansive campus.

There is also evidence that eliminating an office for all employees to work remotely is better for the environment. Eliminating a daily commute, whether it’s driving a vehicle or taking mass transit, helps cut down on emissions. This was initially noticed back in the spring and summer of 2020, when a decline in transportation due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 6.4% decrease in global carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of 2.3 billion tons. The United States had the largest drop in carbon emissions at 12%, followed by the entirety of the European Union at 11%.

In a June 2021 McKinsey survey of over 1,600 employed people, researchers found about one in three workers back in an office said returning to in-person work negatively impacted their mental health. Those surveyed also reported “COVID-19 safety and flexible work arrangements could help alleviate stress” of returning to the office. Not everyone who works for the same company is going to get along. In an all-remote environment, it is far easier for people who are at odds to simply avoid each other. HR won’t have to spend nearly as much time mediating between (or terminating) office Hatfields and McCoys.

So, how exactly do you quickly pivot to remote again and stick with it? The key is intentionality. Teach managers to make a point of celebrating wins and good work on group calls. Build encouraging collaboration into managers’ Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s. Take advantage of face-to-face opportunities by holding in-person, all-company all-hands meetings as a time to build culture, not a time to just do more work.

Treat working groups to dinner (use some of the money you saved on your lease!) and let them get to know each other as people. To be intentional, invest in new ways of working that are oftentimes better ways of working: reducing necessary meetings and adjusting more feedback sessions to asynchronous collaboration. Meetings that remain on calendars should be reserved for the purpose of being highly engaging and energizing moments for teams to brainstorm and do generative sessions.

Second is technology. By now, we’re all familiar with the likes of Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, but there are other products that can actively improve collaboration (full disclosure: I work for InVision, which makes one such digital collaboration tool, namely Freehand).

Take a thorough look with your IT team (and talk to your employees) to see what they need on a day-to-day basis. What tools does your accounting team need? Do they differ from what the marketing team needs (spoiler alert: they do). And don’t force everyone to use the same tools. If your accounting team loves Microsoft Excel, that’s fine for them. I can guarantee, however, that your product design team is not going to use it.

Finally, invest in your employees’ ability to make the transition (again).

GreenGen, which provides green energy solutions for businesses and infrastructure projects, had one of the most pioneering ideas. “We had our employees do a two-day work-from-home resiliency test. This was to ensure that everyone’s home Wi-Fi was adequate so that all of our documents and materials were easily accessible online, and that we could troubleshoot any potential problems preemptively,” said Bradford H. Dockser, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of GreenGen. “Ensuring that our team members got monitors, mice, and keyboards at home made the transition seamless.” With that sort of intentional stress test, GreenGen didn’t skip a beat.

Above all, the main key to returning to the home office for good lies within communication. Technology and innovative products have helped to bring colleagues closer together virtually, as people work from anywhere at any time. Initial shelter-in-place orders taught many businesses across industries that remote work can be just as effective, if not more so, than the traditional office model. Businesses should make the call to go all-remote permanently. Their employees, their investors, and the environment will all thank you.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Geriatric millennials have the most power in the workforce right now

remote work geriatric millennial
Older millennials are driving the Great Resignation.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the Great Resignation.

Coined by psychologist Anthony Klotz, the trend involves millions of Americans dropping out of the workforce throughout the economy as it reopened more and more. Over 3.6 million people quit in April, May, June, and July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But a certain cohort is leading the way.

According to a recent analysis by the Harvard Business Review that looked at 9 million employee records from more than 4,000 companies, midcareer employees are driving the quits. Resignation rates are highest among 30- to 45-year-old employees, increasing on average by more than 20% over the past year.

That means its mainly older millennials and younger Gen Xers who are making the Great Resignation so, well, great. Other research backs this finding up.

In late July, a Bankrate survey found that more than half of Americans in the workforce – including a disproportionate number of millennials – planned to look for a new job in the coming year. In August, a study by Personal Capital and The Harris Poll found that two-thirds of Americans surveyed were keen to switch jobs. More than a quarter (78%) of millennials felt that way, as did 47% of Gen Xers. Two-thirds of millennials agreed that “Now would be a great time to make a career move.”

Former Insider reporter Tanza Loudenback recently spoke with several millennials who were quitting their jobs during the pandemic, and then Loudenback herself left Insider to freelance full-time.

The reasons for the resignations are plenty, per the HBR: Employers may be less inclined to hire less experienced workers, creating more demand for mid-level workers; this cohort may have postponed switching jobs until some of the dust settled from the pandemic’s economic effects; and the pandemic has caused some to reevaluate what they want in both their job and in life.

The geriatric millennial

Smack in the middle of this job-resigning cohort is the “geriatric millennial,” a term popularized by author and leadership Erica Dhawan to describe those turning ages 36 to 41 this year.

She said that geriatric millennials are unique because they straddle a digital divide between older and younger generations in the workplace, which enables them to serve as a hybrid role in the workplace by bridging communication styles – teaching traditional communication skills to younger employees and digital body language to older team members.

For example, she said, a geriatric millennial would know to send a Slack message to a Gen Z co-worker instead of calling them out of the blue, which they might find alarming. But they would also know to be mindful of an older co-worker’s video background and help walk them through such technology.

By straddling the generational divide, she said, “they can cater to the needs of different people and have different degrees of understanding of the digital world, but also they have a patience for the digital world that maybe future generations won’t because they don’t know a world without it.”

The geriatric millennial ultimately holds a lot of sway in the workplace right now. Being able to act as a generational bridge gives them a unique toolset, making them an asset to any employer seeking to create a cohesive and communicative environment. And with many quitting in droves, they have the power.

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Data suggests people are driving less and at different times than before the pandemic. Experts reveal what this means for the future of commuting.

Future of Mobility Session 2 (1)
  • The pandemic has impacted our driving habits, including shorter trips and more fatalities.
  • Arity’s driving data will affect a broad range of industries, from car manufacturers to advertisers.
  • This conversation was part of Insider’s virtual event “The Future of Mobility: Data Driving Innovation” presented by Arity on Tuesday, September 14.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the full event.

We can’t predict the future, but driving data tells us that some of the biggest behavioral changes in consumers are here to stay.

“We’ve collected over 600 billion miles of driving data,” Gary Hallgren, president of mobility analytics platform Arity, said at Insider’s recent virtual event, “The Future of Mobility: Data Driving Innovation,” presented by Arity. “You actually can see that in the urban areas, there are a lot less drivers. People are moving to the suburbs, and people are moving to rural areas.”

This conversation, titled “How driving data can predict consumer behavior,” featured Hallgren alongside Mark Coffey, EVP and GM at fuel price app GasBuddy.

Hallgren explained that Arity’s data had three major findings:

  • People are returning to driving more since the height of the pandemic, but they’re also driving differently. This will have a significant effect on many industries, including insurance and rideshare.
  • In spite of fewer miles being driven last year, fatalities increased. The movement of people to suburbs and to rural areas may account for driving faster, but there were more fatalities in 2020 than any time since 2007.
  • We used to drive most during morning rush hour, but that’s changed to around midday during the week. This will have an effect on companies designing apps and advertisers, who will need to rethink when and how they can capture their audiences.

Coffey said that Arity’s data tallies with what he’s seeing at GasBuddy in terms of gas consumption. “About 80% of all driving in the US is under 30 miles,” he said.

One silver lining Coffey sees is that, following a doubling in electric vehicle (EV) sales since the pandemic, the increase in short-haul trips is a factor that will see this number continue to grow. When it comes to pandemic driving trends that will continue into the future, he believes that when we’re driving will continue to move away from traditional rush hours.

Hallgren added that now many people view the morning rush-hour commute in the car as wasted time.

“[If people can] better optimize the roads and better optimize their time, it’s probably good for everybody. I think people will gravitate to what works for them,” he said.

Car companies should be looking to get a better understanding of how vehicles are being used, he said, such as shorter neighborhood trips running errands rather than long commutes.

“That probably bodes well for thinking about the future of mobility and when to use EVs,” he said.

American workers have traditionally needed to try to manage their personal life around their jobs, but work flexibility means that’s changing. Hallgren believes that there’s going to be significant changes for retailers and how urban centers are organized.

“Understanding where and how people are going and when they’re going – I think it changes dramatically,” he said, pointing to an example of Starbucks in highway off-ramps as opposed to being in an area around the town center.

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StubHub will pay out over $16 million in refunds to over 75,000 customers for events canceled at the start of the pandemic last year

  • 11 attorneys general were investigating StubHub after customers said they weren’t refunded for tickets that were canceled due to the pandemic.
  • The company said it had been “necessary” to adjust its written refund policy after scores of events were canceled last year.
  • Refunds total more than $16.7 million for customers in six states and Washington D.C.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

StubHub will pay at least $16.7 million to refund tickets purchased by thousands of customers who had events canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attorneys general in 10 states and the District of Columbia had filed civil suits against StubHub, the largest global secondary ticketing marketplace, saying the company had refused to honor its own FanProtect Guarantee. The policy promises consumers full refunds of the purchase price and fees customers paid for tickets if their events were canceled.

According to the civil suits, instead of issuing refunds to its customers after thousands of concerts, sporting events, and other events were canceled amid coronavirus lockdowns last year, StubHub decided to give credits equal to 120% of their purchases to be used for future events.

In a settlement announced Wednesday, StubHub has agreed to honor the FanProtect Guarantee, as well as disclose any future modification to its refund policies and promptly process refund requests it receives from consumers for events going forward.

StubHub notified its customers in May that it was reversing course for those who purchased tickets prior to March 25, 2020, and would issue full refunds of the amount paid. Customers also had the option to receive the refund in account credits.

“Adjusting our refund policy for canceled events during the pandemic was a difficult decision, but a necessary one at the time,” StubHub said in a statement. “As soon as circumstances allowed, StubHub achieved its goal of providing impacted customers the choice to keep the 120% credit they were issued when their event was canceled or receive a cash refund.”

Last year, as events were canceled, StubHub furloughed two-thirds of its North American workforce, leaving few full-time employees still working at the secondary ticket marketplace, Insider previously reported.

The states and territories involved in the settlement with the District of Columbia are Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Refunds among customers in Indiana, Arkansas, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are estimated at over $16.7 million, according to the states. StubHub did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on the total amount refunded to all customers living in the areas impacted by the settlement.

“Hoosiers have suffered enough from the pandemic without having to pay admission to events canceled due to circumstances quite outside their control,” Indiana Attorney General Rokita said in a statement. “They have every right to expect these refunds, and we will always work diligently to protect consumers.”

Last year, two lawmakers blasted Ticketmaster for appearing to drag its feet on refunds of events canceled because of the pandemic. The Live Nation subsidiary announced it would issue refunds for postponed events as well as those that are canceled.

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400,000 people are infected each year with coronaviruses carried by bats, an early study suggests. Researchers say the data could help prevent future pandemics.

bat cave thailand researchers
A team of researchers set up a net to catch bats at the Khao Chong Pran Cave on September 12, 2020 in Ratchaburi, Thailand during a mission to understand the coronavirus’s origins.

  • Coronaviruses from bats could infect 407,422 people each year, a study said.
  • The findings could help target areas for surveillance and stop human virus outbreaks, they said.
  • About 478 million people live in regions where the bats are, the researchers said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Viruses that are similar to the one that causes COVID-19 and are carried by bats infect hundreds of thousands of people each year, according to new research.

The study, led by scientists at US non-profit EcoAlliance, estimated an average of 407,422 people were infected annually with Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronaviruses (SARS-r-CoV) from bats.

The figure could even run into the millions, the study authors said in a paper posted Tuesday, but not all these viruses can cause illness or spread in people, they said.

The findings could be used to target areas for surveillance, which could help with earlier and more accurate identification of viruses that could cause the next human outbreak, they said.

Peter Daszak, president at EcoAlliance and lead author, said that “if you can stop this at the level of individual infections, you’ve got a much higher chance of stopping the next pandemic,” per Bloomberg.

About 478 million people live in regions where the bats are, mostly in southern China, eastern Myanmar, and northern Lao PDR, the study authors said.

“This is about finding communities within countries that are at risk and trying to block them from getting infected, helping people in those communities reduce public health threats,” Daszak said.

He was involved in the joint investigation into the pandemic’s origin between the World Health Organization and China.

Edward Holmes, professor of biology at the University of Sydney, who wasn’t involved in the research, told Bloomberg that this study was “probably the first attempt to estimate how often people are infected with SARS-related coronaviruses from bats.”

“Given the right set of circumstances, one of these could eventually lead to a disease outbreak,” he said.

The researchers first identified 23 bats species known to carry SARS-related viruses, and then mapped an area of 4.5 million kilometers where the bats lived. They then took into account the number of people living in the area, the likelihood of coming into contact with an infected bat, people’s behavior, and prior immunity.

The intermediate horseshoe bat, R. affinis, had the largest habitat, comprising about 1.9 million kilometers, an area where about 132 million people live, the researchers said.

The study’s methods haven’t been formally scrutinized by experts in a peer review.

Other animals carry viruses too

The study focused exclusively on SARS-related viruses in bats. But the viruses don’t always go directly from bat to human – there can be an animal in-between such as civets, raccoon dogs, or mink, which are commonly traded for food or bred for fur in the region, the researchers said.

Holmes said that the risk of infection with a SARS-related virus could be “even higher when you factor in all the possible ‘intermediate’ animal species.”

The researchers received funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the US National Institutes of Health, a federal body.

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An entrepreneur who built an automation giant is now the richest person in Japan – and his company is known to pay some of the highest salaries in the country

Takemitsu Takizaki generally keeps a low profile. His company Keyence was recently chosen to be included in Japan’s blue-chip stock index.

  • Takemitsu Takizaki, the founder of sensor-making manufacturer Keyence, is now Japan’s richest man.
  • Keyence, which Takizaki founded in 1974, was recently chosen to enter Japan’s blue-chip stock index.
  • His employees are some of the best-paid in Japan, earning an average $170,000 a year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The richest man in Japan is now Takemitsu Takizaki, the founder of automation sensor manufacturer Keyence, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

His fortune has grown to $38.2 billion, surpassing that of Uniqlo mogul Tadashi Yanai, who lost $9.7 billion this year so far and is now worth $35.5 billion, the index shows.

While Yanai’s fashion empire has taken a hit during the pandemic, Takizaki’s manufacturing company Keyence has seen its shares skyrocket by 93.6% since the start of 2020.

Takizaki, 76, keeps a low profile. He started his Osaka-based company in 1974 and never attended college, according to Bloomberg.

One of his successes was helping to invent precision sensors for assembly lines that produced cars for Toyota and chips for Toshiba. The sensors are a staple product for Keyence, which also makes barcode scanners and microscopes.

“He’s a very rare type in Japan,” Mitsushige Akino, an executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management Co. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg in 2015. “He valued profit margin over sales and grew the company steadily.”

Takizaki’s Keyence is so successful partly because it outsources production – sending raw materials to component suppliers, then taking those components and sending them to assemblers before performing final inspections, according to The Financial Times. By splitting up the production chain, the company lowers the risk of its suppliers learning from its operations and eventually becoming its competitors.

Keyence, which has offices in 46 countries, also has a reputation for paying its employees well, with monthly bonuses based on their profits. Its employees earn some of the highest salaries in Japan, at an average $170,000 a year, per The Times.

It’s a salary model that an expert called “one of the best examples of meritocracy in Japan,” according to The Times.

When Takizaki retired from his role as the company chairman in 2015, his fortune stood at $7.2 billion and he was the fourth-richest man in Japan, according to Bloomberg. But over the next six years, his wealth would see a more-than fivefold increase.

That growth has partly been fueled by a boom in demand for factory automation in Japan, as the pandemic forces companies to seek ways to keep production going without in-person contact.

To top that off, Keyence was also one of three companies to recently be chosen to enter the Nikkei 225, Japan’s blue-chip stock index, alongside video game maker Nintendo and electronic component manufacturer Murata.

As a result, Takizaki, who is now Keyence’s honorary chairman and owns 21% of Keyence according to Bloomberg, added $5.9 billion to his fortune this year.

Keyence did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment for comment for this story.

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More than 243,000 kids in the US got COVID-19 last week, the second-highest weekly total among kids since the pandemic started

Students walk to their classrooms at a public middle school in Los Angeles, California, September 10, 2021.
Students walk to their classrooms at a public middle school in Los Angeles, California, September 10, 2021.

More than 243,000 kids in the US were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week, the second-highest week for child cases since the start of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported.

In the week ending September 9, a total of 243,373 child COVID-19 cases were reported, per the AAP. At the beginning of July, roughly 72,000 weekly cases were reported among children.

“After declining in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially, with nearly 500,000 cases in the past 2 weeks,” the organization reported.

During the week ending September 9, kids accounted for 28.9% of the weekly caseload, while only making up 22.2% of the US population, the AAP reported.

As of September 9, almost 5.3 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the AAP said.

The statistics come as schools across the country are opening for in-person instruction. In an emailed statement, Burbio, a data service monitoring school closures, reported that as of September 12, there have been nearly 1,700 in-person school closures across 386 districts in 38 states.

Public health experts have said more mask mandates and more people getting vaccinated would help curb the spread of the virus. However, there is still no COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in kids under the age of 12.

Some parents have asked their pediatricians to vaccinate their kids under 12 despite the lack of approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Centers for Disease Control and the AAP have warned against vaccinating children under the age of 12.

On Sunday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA Commissioner, told CBS Pfizer’s vaccine could be approved for emergency use in kids ages 5 to 11 by the end of next month.

“The FDA says it will be a matter of weeks, not months, to make a determination if they’re going to authorize vaccines for kids between 5 to 11. I interpret that to be perhaps four weeks, maybe six weeks,” Gottlieb said.

The AAP said it’s not common for kids to develop severe illness from COVID-19, but that there is “an urgent need to collect more data” on the long-term impacts.

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