Ten Experts on What They’re Telling Their Clients and Students
What I’m telling clients
(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Brendan MacMillan, CIO, QP Global Family Offices in New York, which manages family offices and their wealth
We believe the market hasn’t discounted the full potential for an event as significant and symbolic as the temporary closure of the U.S. school system, or at least their statewide closures in California or New York. We don’t see a high probability that the effects of Covid-19 will lead to a credit crisis yet, but just in case we get that wrong, we will look to hedge our equity positions by shorting stuff like HYG, the high-yield bond exchange-traded fund. —As told to Joel Weber
What I’m telling investors
Karen Van Voorhis, director of financial planning, Daniel J. Galli & Associates, Norwell, Mass.
It’s human nature to live and react in the here and now. The challenge is complicated by the fact that the solution to most of people’s fears is to do nothing. It feels like an unsatisfying thing to tell people. People rarely remember that not everything they have is in the stock market. I’ll say, “You’re looking at what the Dow is doing, but you’re not only invested in the Dow. You have holdings in bonds and international equities. And you have cash—remember how we put that aside in a money market fund?” This is a double whammy, because it’s not only a market downturn but it’s also a health scare. It’s different than having a trade war. The stress level is higher because there are legitimate health concerns. —As told to Annie Massa
What I’m telling clients
Mark Haefele, CIO at UBS Wealth Management, Zurich
Taking a look at the overall coronavirus picture, we think it’s going to accelerate a lot of larger trends. One is genetic therapies. We’ve seen the rapid sequencing of the virus to see how it’s mutating. Another one is the digital consumer. The trend toward use of facial-recognition software—that trend is accelerating. And the future of food, not just moving to plant-based foods but also microfarming and the provenance of food.
While markets are good at pricing slowdowns in growth, they’re bad at pricing just how fast a recovery can take. People adapt. There are some pent-up sales. What makes this such an interesting period is if our baseline view holds that this gets settled in the first half of the year, we’re in a situation with low interest rates and high global stimulus applied. With a global economy that went into this in decent shape, that is a highly stimulative environment. We could see a very sharp recovery in the back of the year. —As told to Joanna Ossinger
What I’m telling my medical school students
Dr. Judith Aberg, the Dr. George Baehr professor of clinical medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York
For me, there’s no single sentence for the medical students, as they have so much to learn. They should learn all they can about SARS-CoV-2. The more you educate yourself, the more you’ll be able to educate and inform others. What is this virus? How is it similar or different than other respiratory viruses? Why is it spreading so fast? How do you protect yourself and others? How do you screen and diagnose people who may be at risk of Covid-19? What are the best infection prevention practices? How do we treat someone with Covid-19? What are the potential new therapies?
I think many would say wash your hands or stay calm, but in reality, [medical students] need to know so much more. —As told to Cynthia Koons
What I’m telling clients
Lee Jacobs, partner, Helbraun Levey, a New York law firm focused on the hospitality industry
One anxiety I’m advising clients on is what to do if an employee shows up sick. In the hospitality industry, you have to be aware that employees are hourly, and if they miss a day’s pay, that could have a serious effect on their finances. You have to assume a sick person will show up to work. So what to do? We isolate them, we ask them to exclude themselves, and we send them home. You don’t want to be known as “restaurant zero.”
Another question I’ve gotten: Can I take my employee’s temperature when they show up at work? No. Just think about that for a moment. If the restaurant owner does the thermometer wrong, or if the thermometer is miscalibrated, think of that slippery slope. Under the law, an employee’s health is private. This is a problem that’s happening in Washington state. Amazon and Facebook are telling people to telecommute, because if one person has been affected, you can’t say, “Jane Smith is the one who has coronavirus.” —As told to Kate Krader
What I’m telling zoo visitors
Benjamin Tan, deputy CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which runs the Singapore Zoo
It’s outdoors, and the crowds are light, so it’s actually pretty safe. We think it’s important to have commonsense measures. As much as we are open for business, the last thing we want is to have cases spreading here. We are telling colleagues, “If you aren’t feeling well, please stay home.” All surfaces are disinfected regularly. There’s temperature screening in every park, including back-of-house areas.
The coronavirus being linked to zoological disease has produced some anxiety. We are against the wildlife trade. Let’s not confuse that with animals that are well cared for. We’re also telling people it is safe to share spaces with animals—our animals are regularly assessed by caregivers and vets. —As told to Joanna Ossinger
What I’m telling staff and residents
Lucinda Baier, CEO, Brookdale Senior Living, Brentwood, Tenn.
The most questions I’m getting are “What are you doing?” We normally respond that we’ve created an emergency response command center, a cross-functional team of experts from around the country that’s looped in with the CDC, the local health agencies, and all the leading health institutions to provide the guidance and support that our associates and communities need.
We’re primarily focused on prevention and barriers. So we get a lot of questions about how you take appropriate personal protection, whether it’s hand-washing or using hand sanitizers, and how to clean an environment so the virus can’t spread, and we educate people on that. Flu is a significant issue we address every year, so we have protocols in place that are easy to apply to the current situation.
People are also asking about how to protect oneself in the office and at home. We ordered cleaning supplies for our associates, so they could learn how to clean things like cellphones and doorknobs. One of the most common questions was about reading the instructions on the back of the product. There are so many different sets of instructions for different uses, and people wanted to know which one to apply to this situation. —As told to Suzanne Woolley
What I’m telling my stuck-at-home students
Andrew Hancock, director of education at Cognita, which runs international schools in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong at the moment, the schools are not open to students, you’re not meant to go out in the community, and the apartments are notoriously tiny. One of the schools has been in an online-learning situation for quite some time. They’ve been talking a lot about routines. If they’re at home, kids can start sleeping in, not brushing teeth. So they are spending time communicating with kids about getting up in the morning, having breakfast, taking brain breaks. At the end of the day, the kids need routines—they need to have that structure and cadence to the day. The physical education group has also been communicating the importance of exercise—exercise that can be done in a small space. A regular routine allows them to deal with the ambiguity outside. —As told to Joanna Ossinger
What I’m telling my union members
Sal Rosselli, president, National Union of Healthcare Workers, Emeryville, Calif.
During the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, I was living in San Francisco and helping lead a large health-care workers’ union in California. We didn’t have all of the answers on how the disease was passed from one person to another and how best to contain it.
Once again I find myself dealing with a national health emergency which we don’t yet know how to fully contain. I tell our members the same thing about Covid-19 today as I did about AIDS back then—that we are going to get through this together with brutal honesty and transparency. Health-care workers don’t always know whether they can trust their employers. As a union we can help by monitoring health-care providers, determining which ones are best at protecting caregivers and holding the others to that standard. We don’t want to scare people, but the more honest and open we are about the illness, the faster we will learn how to limit infections.
Caring for the sick is a calling. Our members are committed to doing their jobs, but they want to know that their employers—and government—won’t take any shortcuts in protecting their safety or abandon them if they become infected or placed in quarantine. The last thing we want is for caregivers to be afraid to seek treatment themselves—and risk spreading the illness to patients—because they can’t afford to be sick. —As told to Cynthia Koons
What I’m telling everyone
David Ho, M.D., world-renowned pioneer in HIV research. Scientific director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and professor of medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York
I say act sensibly. An infected person should stay home. If you’re coughing or sneezing, wear a mask to contain the virus as much as possible. I usually advise a mask for a sick person and a health worker who has to be face-to-face with a sick person. I don’t recommend wearing masks as the Chinese wear them, everywhere on the street. To a large extent that’s useless, and most aren’t appropriate. If you use an N95 mask, it’s suffocating. It’s extremely uncomfortable.
I emphasize hand hygiene. We know from flu and SARS that most of the infection is acquired from touching contaminated surfaces and bringing the virus to your mouth or eyes. That’s the major route.
Here in my lab, we try to disinfect the common areas—doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons—on a frequent basis. Everyone should be on alert about hand hygiene and cleaning. —As told to Susan Berfield and Robert Langreth
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