Companies Face Big Challenges Testing Workers for the Coronavirus
I'm jack how hosted the new Barron Streetwise podcast. I'm business and investing each week. We hear from company chiefs and analysts about profound changes facing investors. We've heard from Disney's Bob Eiger about the future of movies and theme parks. Cvs Is Larry Merlo about stores providing more health services. And Ford's Jim Hackett about how the pandemic might change the car business. Subscribe to Baron Streetwise on Apple podcasts. Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Companies WanNA test workers before they open up offices and factories. Getting test. Kits IS ONE PROBLEM. Another is it gets real personal. There's a lot of information about employees health personalized. That comes into this conversation. Plus how to understand the bizarre behavior in the oil market right now and finally the quiet angels saving your office plants from certain doom. It is Tuesday April twenty. First I'm Mark Garrison with the Wall Street Journal. This is what's news. President trump says he'll sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the US. He cited the need to protect jobs during the corona virus pandemic. This was announced in a tweet. Which did not contain policy details administration officials say? The order won't make major changes. Currently most forms of immigration are halted because of the CORONA VIRUS. States are burning through cash to pay unemployment claims raising concern. They'll need help from the federal government. New York already asked for a four billion dollar. No interest loan. Nearly half of states are seeing their unemployment trust funds dropped by double digits. Congress and the trump administration are getting closer to potential four hundred and fifty billion dollar deal that would extend these small business relief program among other things Senate Majority Leader Mitch. Mcconnell took to the floor last night to express disappointment. It wasn't ready sooner. Regretfully will not be able to pass more funding for Americans paychecks. Today however since it's so urgent I've asked that the Senate meet again tomorrow in a new session that was not previously scheduled and the Democratic leader has agreed to our request. Lawmakers are generally mystic. Deal will get done soon. We are reporting Fannie and Freddie may be allowed to by home loans that are in forbearance the regulator of the mortgage giants is considering this as a way to reduce the strain on mortgage companies while many Americans can't make their monthly payments right after this just what it means when the price of oil becomes a negative number Global stocks followed. Us indexes lower overnight with Asian shares closing lower and European stocks opening down. The drop comes after a historic day. Oil Markets Win some US futures plunged below zero markets columnist. Mike Byrd explains what exactly negative oil prices mean. What that means is that an investor who was looking to take a barrel of oil in cushing Oklahoma in May could actually be paid money to do so and the reason that's happened is that the corona virus impacts on the global economy has meant the supply of oil is very very high relative to the demand for oil. What's done over the last month or so? Fill up the physical storage space for oil where it would usually be stalled. That means it storing is now very very expensive and essentially it's not worth paying a positive prideful to a buyer now. That's a little bit more of an anomaly. You see the further out. You get on the futures futures venturing in June further into the year. That's still in positive territory. People don't expect oil to be priced negatively forever. But it's going to depend a lot on what happens the global economy if demands as very very low fro. You might see oil prices continuing to full. I think for the time being still best to see the actual negative prices more of an anomaly and low and falling prices further out as more of the rule. What's happening with oil today? Netflix Coke Lockheed Martin and snap among companies reporting earnings in just a moment the remarkably tricky business of on the job corona virus testing. I'm Jack how host of the new baron streetwise podcast. I'm business an investing each week. We hear from company chiefs and analysts about profound changes facing investors. We've heard from Disney's Bob Eiger about the future of movies and theme parks. Cvs Is Larry Merlo about stores providing more health services. And Ford's Jim Hackett about how the pandemic might change the car business. Subscribe to Baron Streetwise on Apple. Podcast spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Someday people will go back to work in actual workplaces but before companies and employees can feel safe about reopening offices stores and factories. Some managers want to be able to test workers for the Corona Virus. But doing that requires navigating some daunting minefields from just getting test kits to replace. Privacy Issues Journal. Reporter Sara Crouse has the story. She spoke with our Charlie Turner. Sarah what are some of the hurdles that companies would likely face in testing their workers for cove? Nineteen so the biggest overarching challenge right. Now is the sheer availability of tests. There is a shortage of test for the General Public. Not to mention some of the front line workers in certain communities there's been supply shortages and backlogs in labs. So you actually being able to conduct. The testing itself is the biggest hurdle. But once you move from there. It's where do you do it? How frequently do you do it? Do you require it as a condition of coming back to work etc. There's it's sort of fraught with both logistical and work our privacy issues so what plans are companies. Considering as far as testing their employees. You give some examples in your story including Amazon.com sure so. Jeff bezos Amazon. Ceo told shareholders in a letter that they had started to gather the equipment to build cove in nineteen testing lab for Amazon employees. You know obviously that's a well resource company. That has the ability to do that. What other countries are considering our diagnostic tests to make sure that people don't actively have the virus before allowing them to come back to work. Those tests could be done either on an onsite health clinic or a doctor's office nearby the office And yet another option that companies are considering his antibody testing I e looking for evidence that someone has had it and may therefore be immune to it but I will say that even with antibody testing. It's unclear if one can be immune from this and if so for how long so there's still a lot of unresolved medical questions to in the meantime. There's a lot of stopgap measures in terms of asking employees to wear masks distancing desks spreading out shifts. There's a lot of sort of incremental measures that they're taking as a as a first step. Sir What privacy issues could pop up regarding companies testing their employees so if companies are getting the results of their workers tests you know. That's a lot of very private medical information. Someone's current health condition and that you know. Another factor in determining who is at high risk for the disease is do people have underlying pre existing conditions. And that's not something that an employer could previously have asked an employee about so this virus sort of opens the door to a new conversation between employees and employers about the staff's health conditions and family life. What if you're married to a nurse or a Doctor? Who's on the front lines of this? And then you're you yourself may not have at one day but you're going home and sharing personal space with somebody who you know is exposed to it all day. So there's a lot of information about employees health and personalized that comes into this conversation that is journal reporter. Sara Kraus's speaking with our Charlie Turner finally. Can you still remember what it was like in your office while these weeks ago with the chair felt like who was nearby? What was on your desk? If your mind's eye is providing images of your office plants you may have a little anxiety over. What's become of them? As days of work from home became weeks and that a month and then not talk about it if you did not manage to exfiltrated your beloved leafy colleagues before the lockdown. You can only hope that your office has agreed angel. We've got a story wsj.com right now about these caretakers often security or cleaning staff who are taking on additional botanical duties at the moment watering plants and doing their best to ensure that. Whenever we're back in the office it won't be a hideous horticultural graveyard check out our story and if there's green angel in your office don't forget to say thanks for all this rather lonely gardening and then is what's news for this morning. If you like our show please rate and review. Us wherever you get your podcast. We are back with another updated episode this evening and there's always more on wsj.com and our APP I'm Mark Garrison with the Wall Street Journal. Thank you for listening.