Spending on video games in the US jumped to a new April record as locked-down consumers sought refuge in play, industry figures released Friday showed. A total of $1.5 billion was spent on video game hardware, software, accessories and game cards, eclipsing a previous April high of $1.2 billion spent in the US in 2008, according to NPD analyst Mat Piscatella. April was the first full month of tight restrictions on people's movements in the US to prevent the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus. Sales of video game software alone climbed 55 percent to $662 million, a new record high for the month, according to NPD. "Final Fantasy VII: Remake" was the top-selling game during the month, setting a new sales record for the blockbuster vide game franchise, Piscatella's analysis showed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" continued to be a hot seller, being the second most purchased title during April, followed by "Animal Crossing: New Horizons."
Uber's firing of thousands more of its employees this week, starting Monday, will bring the number of people it has dismissed from responsibility over the past year to more than 10,000, according to some estimates. Uber's previous round of job cuts saw it remove 3,700 people, or 14% of its total global workforce, in the first week of this month. Sources inside Uber, cited by Business Insider, said surviving employees are bracing for the latest round of mass layoffs, which will definitely run into thousands. Ahead of the layoffs, Uber last week told employees to be fired that they'd received 10 weeks' salary plus paid healthcare until the end of 2020. Employees to be fired this week will come from freight and the self-driving car unit and Advanced Technologies Group.
Last week, mayors representing over 750 million people, across the world's leading cities, published a statement of principles, warning against a return to "business as usual" as the world recovers from COVID-19. This advice is as relevant for enterprises as it is for society as a whole. COVID-19 has exposed a lack of resilience, severely impacting operational continuity. Indeed, Eurozone business activity fell to an all-time low in April. With the pandemic impacting every part of society, there are human considerations to every decision we make.
According to experts, there is very little chance a vaccine for COVID-19 will be perfected and ready for use this year. This eagerly sought goal might take place by 2021 at the earliest -- but only if things proceed smoothly with the 60 vaccine trials currently taking place. The latest expert source to attest to this impossibility used its experience in quantitative financial investment to analyze the progress being made by the 60 vaccine candidates. Boston-based PanAgora Asset Management analyzed vast quantities of medical research data to calculate which of the 60 will succeed in producing a successful vaccine within the year. The quick answer is "zero."
On April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended "wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission" of COVID-19. Despite a plethora of health experts telling it to do so since then, the White House only complied with this health guidance Monday. It sent an email to staffers ordering all of them to wear face masks inside the building. White House staffers can take-off their masks while they're seated at their desks and are able to maintain six feet of distance from others. Incredibly, President Donald Trump is exempted from this order, aides told The Washington Post.
In its first use of emergency authorization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday approved the production of a new coronavirus antigen test category. These tests will be able to track antigen proteins using naval cavity samples collected with swabs. With these tests, medical professionals can detect the presence of COVID-19 antigens in a matter of minutes. They are also much cheaper to produce than the tests currently in use. While much quicker, these new tests are unable to track as many infections as the standard polymerase chain reaction tests and are more likely to deliver false negatives.
Republican senators are saying out loud the extent of mass testing for COVID-19 in the United States isn't where it should be -- not by a long shot -- and contradict president Donald Trump's oft repeated claims the U.S. has so much testing available. "We have so much testing," claimed Trump Thursday. Mass testing is one of the only few known ways to end the COVID-19 pandemic in this country. The U.S. has conducted only 8.1 million tests since February. The White House says its goal is two million tests per week per state by the end of May.
A Harvard University-NPR analysis indicated Thursday only nine, relatively small U.S. states are doing enough coronavirus testing to safely reopen their economies even though about half are planning to lift restrictions in coming days. The analysis identified Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming as having adequate testing programs in place but warned contact tracing and isolation of positive cases still would be necessary. For New York to safely open, it would need to run at least 100,000 tests a day. As of Wednesday, the state was running nearly 34,000 tests a day. Georgia, Texas and Colorado, which are relaxing their social distancing restrictions, are far from meeting minimum testing targets, the analysis indicated.
A blood antibody (or serology) test that determines with incredible accuracy if someone has ever been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus has received quick emergency-use approval (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It was developed by Swiss multinational healthcare giant, F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2, or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The Roche antibody test, "Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2," is 100% accurate at detecting antibodies in the blood and 99.8% accurate at ruling out the presence of antibodies (otherwise called the specificity rate). This means it provides no false negatives and very few false-positive tests. These rates help determine if a person has been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.
BERLIN - U.S. tariffs on imported cars could lead BMW to reduce investment and cut jobs in the United States due to the large number of cars it exports from its South Carolina plant, the German carmaker has warned. President Trump's administration last month launched an investigation into whether auto imports posed a national security threat and Trump has threatened to impose a 20 percent tariff on all imports of EU-assembled cars. "The domestic manufacture of automobiles has no apparent correlation with U.S. national security," BMW wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross this week, adding that imposing duties would not increase U.S. growth and competitiveness. The BMW plant in South Carolina is its largest globally and ships more than 70 percent of its annual production to other export markets, the company said. The massive factory employs more than 20,000 workers in Trey Gowdy's fourth district, a Republican stronghold, in the north of the state.