No matter where you turn, everyone is talking (or worrying) about coronavirus. Our Washington-based, Director of Content has been sick all week, and we admit we’ve all been on tenterhooks waiting to see if it’s anything to worry about. Of course, we’re a fully distributed company, so we’re safe in the event of an outbreak. For other companies, it has been a much more difficult few weeks.
This week saw a flood drop-outs as companies scrambled to contain or combat a possible outbreak. On Wednesday, Amazon dropped out of SXSW due to concerns over the virus, and earlier in the week Facebook and Twitter bowed out as well.
Yesterday Sony, Universal, and Warner Music advised its employees to not attend the festival. SXSW for its part is proceeding with the event and is working with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure a safe. But it’s unclear if the hemorrhage of attendees will leave any event at all.
And other conferences are suffering, too. In the wake of the wholesale cancelation of the Mobile World Congress scheduled in Barcelona, Facebook has entirely canceled its F8 developers’ conference, saying:
“Celebrating our global developer community at F8 each year is incredibly important to us at Facebook, but we won’t sacrifice the health and safety of our community to do so. Out of concerns around COVID-19, we’re canceling the in-person component of F8, but we look forward to connecting with our developer partners through local events, video and live streamed content.”
But we’re not done. Or, rather, COVID isn’t done.
After Blizzard, Unity, Epic Games, EA, Microsoft, Sony, and Facebook/Oculus all canceled their attendance at the Game Developers Conference, it was canceled, too.
This viral domino effect shows no signs of slowing as the virus spreads.
In hard-hit King County, Washington, businesses are shuttering to deal with the outbreak. Salesforce, Tableau, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have all told employees to work from home until at least the end of March.
Starbucks has suspended the use of personal cups. Schools are closed across Western Washington.
South in California, the city of San Francisco has declared a state of emergency and instituted a handshake ban. Lyft, Thursday, was forced to send its San Francisco employees home when one of its drivers came into contact with someone infected with COVID-19. It’s hard to quantify exactly the revenue lost or the business disrupted, but in San Francisco, a city with low car ownership and high disposable income, 14% of all vehicle miles traveled are by ride-hailing companies.
It’s not an insignificant chunk.
None of this is insignificant. And because we’re a tech company we talk about it in tech terms but the human cost is incomprehensible.
If you aren’t privileged enough to be able to sequester yourself for the duration, here’s how to keep yourself as safe as you can:
- Wash your hands multiple times a day.
- Wash with warm water and antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Use anti-bacterial wipes for your workspace, common surfaces at home and other places, like the shopping carts at the grocery store.
- Touch your face with your hands as little as possible. Especially not your eyes or mouth.
- This is not the time to shake hands.
- When you sneeze and cough, do it away from others.
Update: Just an hour after writing this, the city of Austin decided to cancel SXSW.