CORONAVIRUS

Apple goes online, Delta slashes flights as businesses react to coronavirus spread

Medical personnel discuss patients who have been admitted for testing for the coronavirus at the entrance Central Maine
Medical personnel discuss patients who have been admitted for testing for the coronavirus at the entrance Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, on Friday. A number of hospitals are setting up circuslike triage tents, calling doctors out of retirement, guarding their supplies of face masks and making plans to cancel elective surgery as they brace for an expected onslaught of coronavirus patients. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
/

Apple said its annual developers conference would take place entirely online this year, joining a growing list of companies that are canceling big, in-person events as the coronavirus spreads.

Thousands of engineers and customers attend the Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, which is in its 31st year.

Apple said it would give $1 million to organizations in San Jose, Calif., to help with the money they would lose from Apple canceling the in-person event. The event had been held in San Jose for the past few years.

Google and Facebook also called off their flagship developers conferences in the face of coronavirus health concerns.

Meanwhile, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett told shareholders Friday they won’t be allowed to physically attend the company’s May 2 annual meeting in Omaha, Neb., because of the coronavirus threat.

Among other ways the virus is impacting businesses:

Flying low

Delta is slashing its flying by 40 percent to handle an unprecedented nose dive in air travel demand. It’s the largest cut in Delta’s history.

CEO Ed Bastian said the downturn in demand is unlike anything the company has ever seen, not even after the Sept. 11 attacks. He said he’s optimistic about getting help from the White House and Congress.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

But he said Delta can’t wait for Washington, D.C., to act, so it is preserving cash and cutting costs.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington will consider aid for the airline industry.

“Just as after Sept. 11, we are very committed to make sure that our U.S. airlines have the ability and have the liquidity to get through this,” Mnuchin told CNBC.

The federal government provided aid including loan guarantees to U.S. airlines after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when the number of people flying also dropped sharply.

Getting online

U.S. phone and cable companies say that they won’t cut off home internet and cellphone service for people and small businesses who are unable to pay because of the coronavirus pandemic, which is causing workplace shutdowns and layoffs.

They’ll also waive late fees and make their networks of Wi-Fi hot spots available to the public.

The companies acted at the request of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who also is encouraging — but not requiring — them to take further steps to make sure people can stay connected to each other, their schools, jobs and doctors as the country increasingly shuts down.

He suggested that the internet service providers increase and improve their low-cost internet offerings for low-income people, relax their data caps and try to help schools and libraries with remote learning, for example.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has called on the FCC to do more to help families whose children’s schools have shut down, such as beefing up a program that helps schools loan Wi-Fi hot spots to children stuck at home.

The AP has found that 3 million students have no internet access at home.

Some companies are taking additional steps such as those Pai suggested. Cable companies Comcast and Cox are boosting internet speeds on their low-cost plans and offering one or two months of free service for new low-income customers.

AT&T is waiving fees if people go over home-internet data caps.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The development comes as Ford and General Motors are asking white-collar employees to work from home if possible, starting Monday. Factory workers for both companies still must report.

Fiat Chrysler says it’s accelerating deployment of remote working.

At the movies

AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas, the country’s two largest movie theater chains, plan to fill their theaters no more than 50 percent.

AMC said it would begin the policy Saturday and keep it until the end of April to help facilitate social distancing.

In larger auditoriums, the chain no longer will sell more than 250 tickets for a showing.

Meanwhile, Walt Disney said it’s shutting down many of its live-action productions, including “The Little Mermaid” and Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel,” due to the coronavirus. It has delayed the releases of several upcoming films, including “Mulan.”

IMF staffers sent home

The International Monetary Fund said Friday that a staff member had tested positive for the coronavirus. As a result, all staffers at the IMF’s Washington, D.C., headquarters have been advised to work from home until further notice.

Even with headquarters staff working from home, the IMF said the agency remained fully operational in terms of helping its member countries.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.