June 2020: News Briefs

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Texas Border Business

Costco’s free samples will be back by June, but they may not be the same after the coronavirus

Photo by Ryan Plomp on Unsplash

The coronavirus pandemic has effectively put a halt to a quintessential Costco experience: snagging free food samples. But Costco CFO Richard Galanti told analysts on a Thursday earnings call that the chain’s food sampling stations will begin returning in some capacity in June. In response to a question from Barclays managing director Karen Short, Galanti said the chain will instate new sanitary rules regarding samples. “We’re going to start doing some things in mid-June on a slow rollout basis in sampling,” he told analysts. “I can’t tell you any more, but it’s — needless to say — not going to be where you go and just pick up an open sample with your fingers.” The coronavirus has proved catastrophic for sample servers working in the warehouse chain. Many Costco sample servers work for Club Demonstration Services, a third-party product demonstration company. The company temporarily shuttered on April 6, resulting in layoffs affecting thousands of sample servers working at Costco. Source: Business Insider

Coronavirus sinks U.S. consumer spending; savings hit record high

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U.S. consumers cut spending by the most on record for the second straight month in April while boosting savings to an all-time high, and the growing frugality reinforced expectations the economy could take years to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report from the Commerce Department on Friday also showed an economy highly reliant on the government, with financial aid checks from a historic fiscal package worth nearly $3 trillion driving a record surge in personal income. Together with news that monthly exports collapsed, the report left economists anticipating the largest contraction in gross domestic product in the second quarter since the Great Depression. Data has also been dismal this month on the labor market, manufacturing production and homebuilding. Source: Reuters

Led by Tesla, electric vehicle sales are predicted to surge in 2021

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A new report by Cairn Energy Research Advisors, a research firm focused on the battery and EV industries, predicts a surge in electric vehicle sales in 2021 as countries around the world push new programs to encourage consumers to buy battery powered vehicles.  Cairn estimates global sales of EVs in 2021 will jump 36% and top 3 million vehicles for the first time ever. “There’s pent-up demand for electric vehicles,” said Sam Jaffe, managing director of Cairn Energy Research Advisors. “We will see a combination of factors make 2021 an inflection point for the sale of electric vehicles.” Source: CNBC

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J.C. Penney Goes Bankrupt with no Recovery for Shareholders

Photo by Phillip Pessar on Flickr

J.C. Penney is aiming to close around 30% of its stores and go forward with approximately 600 stores. The substantial cash burn it is expected to incur in 2020 and its potentially weaker sales recovery (compared to other department stores) may derail that plan and force it into liquidation. J.C. Penney’s restructuring support agreement provides no recovery for shareholders. Other than that, there are still significant details that need to be worked out. The plan is currently to split J. C. Penney into a REIT and an operating retail company. Up to 35% of the REIT may be sold to a third-party investor, while the first-lien lenders are to receive a combination of take-back debt in the operating retail company and an unknown percentage of equity in the REIT. Source: Seeking Alpha

SpaceX’s 1st Crew Dragon with Astronauts Docks at Space Station in Historic Rendezvous

Image: NASA TV

SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon spaceship to carry astronauts slid into a dock at the International Space Station Sunday (May 31), concluding a historic 19-hour voyage to for its veteran NASA crew. The arrival marked a major feat: the first docking of a crewed U.S. spacecraft at the station since NASA’s shuttle fleet retired in 2011. It’s also the first docking of a commercial spacecraft carrying humans, in this case astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. “It’s been a real honor to be just a small part of this nine-year year endeavor since the last time United States spaceship has docked with the International Space Station,” said Hurley, commander of the Dragon capsule, as he thanked the SpaceX and NASA teams. Source: Space.com

NYU Langone Among First to Enroll Patients in Clinical Trial for COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Image credit NASA TV

The first patients were treated as part of a clinical trial testing whether an antibody therapy can safely reduce COVID-19 disease severity. The experimental treatment consists of identical copies of an antibody, a blood protein related to those that occur naturally as part of the human immune system, researchers say. Eli Lilly and Company announced the trial’s start today, with NYU Grossman School of Medicine among the first centers to enroll patients nationally. The phase 1 clinical trial is designed primarily to measure the safety and side effects of the treatment, called LY-CoV555, in patients hospitalized due to infection with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). “We are committed to working with our industry partners to generate scientific evidence from randomized, controlled trials to meet the urgent need for treatments that reduce the severity of COVID-19 disease,” says Mark J. Mulligan, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and director of the Vaccine Center at NYU Langone Health. Source: Newswise


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