The impact of spreading virus on businesses and economy

Friday, February 28, 2020, Vol. 44, No. 9

NEW YORK (AP) — AID AVAILABLE: The World Bank announced Wednesday that it is making $12 billion available to provide immediate support to low-income countries dealing with the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus.

World Bank President David Malpass said the money will go to help developing nations strengthen their health systems that are fighting an epidemic that has already spread to more than 60 countries.

"The point is to move fast," Malpass told reporters. "Speed is needed to save lives."

Of the $12 billion in support, $8 billion represents new funds and $4 billion is being re-allocated from existing programs, Malpass said.

The World Bank funds are designed to help countries detect when the virus crosses their borders and purchase medical equipment to treat any outbreaks.

PUBLIC FORUMS: The 189-nation International Monetary Fund and its sister lending organization, the World Bank, announced Tuesday that they will replace their regular spring meetings in Washington with a "virtual format" in response to the coronavirus.

In a joint statement, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass said their decision was being made given "growing health concerns related to the virus."

The two global lending organizations normally hold an annual spring meeting in Washington, where they both have their headquarters. This year's meeting had been scheduled for the week of April 13.

The statement said that the agency would fully employ their Information Technology facilities "to the fullest" to allow member countries to hold essential policy consultations that would have taken place in person.

CORPORATE TRAVEL: Ford Motor Co. has banned all corporate air travel with few exceptions due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A person who read a message from CEO Jim Hackett says employees were told of the change Thursday.

The restrictions are among the most severe with regard to U.S. corporations. The decision was based on statements by government infectious disease specialists, the message says.

The message says exceptions would have to be approved by senior management. They have to be essential to company operations and be tasks that can only be done in if the traveler is physically present, the memo says, according to the person. Exceptions also cannot create an unacceptable health risk. They maybe granted for something like the start of vehicle manufacturing, the person says.

The person didn't want to be identified because the memo has not been publicly released.

On Sunday, Twitter tightened its guidance for employees on travel, but it was not an outright ban.

CONFERENCES GOING DARK: Adobe says it has canceled the in-person version of its eponymous Summit, scheduled for March 29 to April 2 in Las Vegas, due to concerns about COVID-19.

More than 20,000 people were expected to attend the conference, which will be held as an "online experience" this year, the company said. The move comes as trade events, conferences and other gatherings are being canceled — or moved online — around the world due to fears about the fast-spreading virus.

Google, meanwhile, said it is canceling its annual developers conference, Google I/O, that was to be held starting May 12 in Mountain View, California, due to concerns about coronavirus.

The company may consider "other ways to evolve Google I/O," a spokeswoman said, suggesting it could hold digital events. Google has also halted international travel for all employees.