Goya Foods, whose products are a staple of American households, became the target of a boycott and considerable backlash on Friday after its leader praised President Trump during a visit to the White House.
Bob Unanue, the president of Goya Foods, was at the White House on Thursday to announce that the company would donate one million cans of chickpeas and another one million pounds of food to food banks in the United States as part of the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, an executive order from Mr. Trump that was created to improve access to educational and economic opportunities.
During the appearance, Mr. Unanue said the United States was “blessed” to have Mr. Trump as its leader.
“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” he said. “And so we have an incredible builder. And we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country, that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”
Mr. Unanue’s comments drew swift condemnation on social media from people who were upset that a company whose products are popular among Latinos and others would so openly support a president who has vilified immigrants, especially those from Latin America, and whose harsh policies have targeted them. The hashtags #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya quickly formed to share criticism from many, including those who routinely buy Goya products.
Among those angered by Mr. Unanue’s comments were Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the democratic socialist from the Bronx, who on Thursday retweeted an image of the news conference from the White House, adding, “Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo.’”
Julian Castro, the former housing secretary and Democratic former presidential candidate, noted that Goya Foods had been a staple of Latino households for generations. “Now their CEO, Bob Unanue, is praising a president who villainizes and maliciously attacks Latinos for political gain. Americans should think twice before buying their products. #Goyaway.”
The actor and activist Lin-Manuel Miranda on Friday added, “We learned to bake bread in this pandemic, we can learn to make our own adobo con pimienta. Bye.”
Goya Foods on Friday issued a news release about the company’s donation, but did not address the controversy around Mr. Unanue’s comments.
In an appearance on Fox News on Friday, Mr. Unanue defended his comments and the company, which was founded in 1936 by two immigrants from Spain and is the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States.
“It’s suppression of speech,” he said, noting that in 2012 he was called to work with the first lady, Michelle Obama, on a different initiative that focused on helping families make healthy meal choices.
“So you’re allowed to talk good or to praise one president, but you’re not allowed,” Mr. Unanue said, “when I was called to be part of this commission to aid in economic and education prosperity, and you make positive comment, all of the sudden that’s not acceptable.”
He added, “So I’m not apologizing for saying — and especially when you’re called by the president of the United States, you’re going to say, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m busy. No thank you.’ I didn’t say that to the Obamas, and I didn’t say that to President Trump.”
ImageCredit…Evan Vucci/Associated Press
While there were calls to back away from Goya products, a counter hashtag, #BuyGoya, also began spreading on Twitter and was widely shared among conservatives and Trump supporters.
Despite citing the surge in coronavirus cases and economic fallout from the pandemic in California, Sutter Health failed to persuade a state judge on Thursday to delay the $575 million settlement it reached last December over accusations of price gouging and monopolistic practices.
Sutter, which has already received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus aid, argued it needed three more months to decide whether it should try to abandon the settlement terms. The sprawling health system in Northern California warned that the costs of the pandemic might force it to raise rates for patient care beyond caps set by the proposed settlement.
But Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo was not swayed. While sympathetic to concerns over the rising number of infections in California, the judge refused to give Sutter more time, scheduling a hearing next month on the preliminary agreement. Sutter Health could still try to block final approval of the settlement, which also prevents it from forcing insurers to include all of its health facilities in insurance policies rather than coverage for some.
“Adjusting our entire integrated network to respond to Covid-19 has been an incredibly costly and difficult endeavor that will significantly impact us for years to come,” Sutter said in a statement after the hearing.
“Over the last few weeks, like the rest of the state, we’ve seen an uptick in cases of Covid-19, including hospitalizations that have pushed us to our highest surge levels,” it added. “This surge requires ongoing emergency response efforts across our integrated network as we continue to provide high quality care during these uncertain times.”
The agreement is the result of a lawsuit filed by California’s state attorney general, Xavier Becerra, who argued that Sutter had essentially cornered much of its market, corralling insurers and patients so they were unable to go somewhere else for less expensive or better treatment. Employers and patients paid much higher prices for care, Mr. Becerra contended.
While Sutter did not admit any wrongdoing, the case represented an important victory for state regulators seeking to curb the power of large hospital groups, which through consolidation in recent years now dominate much of the country. Leemore Dafny, a Harvard health economist and former regulator, said, “What the California attorney general has succeeded in doing ought to inspire forward-looking attorneys general.”
The settlement should be viewed separately from the economic impact of the virus on the hospitals, she said.
The Sutter case could also have a significant impact on how the pandemic reshapes the health care landscape. Hospitals have clearly sustained a financial blow from the pandemic, with losses expected to exceed $320 billion by the end of the year, according to one estimate.
Many of these large systems have already received a major portion of the $175 billion in federal funds allocated by Congress to help hospitals during the crisis.
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That federal aid has offset roughly a quarter of the loss of net patient revenues of the biggest hospitals in the state, according to a new analysis by researchers at the Petris Center at the University of California at Berkeley. Mr. Becerra’s office had requested the report, which was released on Thursday after the judge’s decision.
Sutter has received $317 million in those federal funds as well as other government money because of the crisis, according to the report.
The big hospitals that have the largest portion of revenues from private insurers and that operate in highly concentrated markets, including Sutter, received the most money, the researchers found. The calculation was adjusted to take into account individual hospital patient populations.
The hospitals’ “market power is giving them more reimbursement,” said Richard Scheffler, the director of the Petris Center.
Weaker facilities and physician practices are struggling to keep their doors open, and many are expected to be scooped up by the largest systems, which would increase their leverage even more.
“This is the moment where strong antitrust enforcement is more important than ever,” said Jaime King, a senior scholar at the U.C. Hastings College of Law.
“The healthy systems are looking forward to the opportunity to make strong acquisitions,” she said. “Regulators should be matching them toe to toe.”
As a way of preventing even further consolidation, which could lead to higher prices and lower quality care, Mr. Becerra is seeking greater authority to review the deals under a proposed state law.
“This pandemic can’t be an excuse for ‘big fish’ hospital systems to swallow up their smaller but able competitors,” he said. “Increased market consolidation comes at a cost to consumers.
“As our nation confronts today’s health and economic crisis, we urgently need the tools to hold health care giants accountable to consumers and competition.”
But some combinations in which a larger system keeps a struggling hospital open to meet community needs are not likely to meet much resistance, said Torrey McClary, a health care lawyer with King & Spalding.
While the number of deals fell after the pandemic hit, health systems are likely to begin considering mergers and acquisitions in the coming months, she said. “Those conversations are continuing,” Ms. McClary said.
In making its argument for a delay, Sutter described the current crisis as having “completely upended the health care system in Northern California,” according to its recent legal filings. It cited a $1 billion loss in the first three months of the year.
Sutter contended that it might not be able to abide by the settlement terms, and raised the possibility that it would have to charge higher prices beyond the limits in the agreement because of surges in Covid-19 patients.
In their report, however, the Petris Center researchers also pointed to the substantial financial cushion many of these hospitals have. They calculated that Sutter alone had more than $5 billion in financial investments and cash.
Sutter responded by saying that the demands of the pandemic are forcing it to look beyond those assets.
“While we are fortunate to have this ability based on our reserves, we believe we cannot solely support Covid-19 efforts today without responsibly balancing our future community and patient needs,” the health system said in an emailed response.
Mark Miller, a former federal official who is now an executive at Arnold Ventures, a philanthropy that has been a sharp critic of high hospital costs, argued the big systems should be using their reserves rather than seeking to raise their prices. “We might expect them to draw on their own resources,” he said, noting that they are also getting federal funds to help with their losses.
“There is a legitimate fear they will use those funds to engage in further consolidation and further price increases,” he said.
Employers, which joined with unions and the attorney general to bring the case against Sutter, argued that it should not be allowed to use its market power to raise prices, despite the pandemic. “What Sutter seems to have overlooked is the people paying these bills,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, the chief executive of the Pacific Business Group on Health, which represents employers that purchase coverage for their workers.
The crisis has made it much more difficult for employers, including state governments, and individuals to afford care, she said. “We do not believe price gouging and continued inflation of prices beyond what is necessary is sustainable,” she said. “Families and business can’t absorb those costs.”
As tax revenues shrink and emergency spending to address the pandemic increases, governments are facing tough budget decisions.
Social programs that alleviate poverty and enrich the lives of millions of people are coming under pressure. But a new study suggests that even if fiscal prudence were the only consideration, officials taking a long view should think twice before cutting social programs, because many them ultimately turn a profit for taxpayers.
The study, by two Harvard economists, found that many programs — especially those focused on children and young adults — made money for taxpayers, when all costs and benefits were factored in.
That’s because they improved the health and education of enrollees and their families, who eventually earned more income, paid more taxes and needed less government assistance over all.
The study, by Nathaniel Hendren, an economics professor, and Ben Sprung-Keyser, a graduate student, was published in the August edition of The Quarterly Journal of Economics and analyzed 101 government programs begun since the 1960s. Like standard cost-benefit analyses, it quantified the benefit for each one, like higher take-home pay and lower out-of-pocket medical spending, as well as the government’s direct costs.
The researchers took an extra step, though, and accounted for the “fiscal externalities”: the indirect ways that a program affected the government’s budget. These effects arose because the programs changed the choices that participants made. For this part of their research, Mr. Hendren and Mr. Sprung-Keyser drew on previous studies that quantified many of these ripple effects.
Consider one program: health insurance for pregnant women. In the mid-1980s, the federal government allowed states to expand Medicaid eligibility to more low-income pregnant women. Some, but not all, states took up the offer. Increased Medicaid coverage enabled women to receive prenatal care and better obstetric care, and to save on personal medical spending.
For the federal government, the most straightforward fiscal impact of this expanded coverage was increased spending on health insurance. The indirect fiscal effects were more complex, and could easily be overlooked, but they have been enormous.
First, newly eligible women had fewer uninsured medical costs. The federal government picks up part of the tab for the uninsured because it reimburses hospitals for “uncompensated care,” or unpaid bills. Thus, this saved the government some money. On the other hand, some of the women stopped working, probably because they no longer needed employer-provided private health insurance, and this cost the government money.
But the biggest indirect effects were not apparent until children born to the Medicaid-covered women became adults. As shown in a study by Sarah Miller at the University of Michigan and Laura Wherry at the University of California, Los Angeles, those second-generation beneficiaries were healthier in adulthood, with fewer hospitalizations. The government saved money because it would have paid for part of those hospital bills. The now-adult beneficiaries had more education and earned more money than people in similar situations whose mothers did not get Medicaid benefits. That meant higher tax revenue.
It’s not surprising that the children of women who had better health care grew up to be healthier adults and higher earners. It just required a few decades before researchers could measure how big those effects were.
When Mr. Hendren and Mr. Sprung-Keyser added up all of the numbers, they calculated that Medicaid expansion more than paid for itself, even after accounting for the fact that benefits that come in the future are worth less today.
This means that even from the narrowest perspective — one that simply measures financial costs and returns to taxpayers — the program is a good deal, aside from how much it changed the lives of its beneficiaries.
But of course it is crucially important that the program helped them quite a bit. The gains were especially large for Black people, who, as a group, are poorer and less healthy than white people in the United States.
Mr. Hendren and Mr. Sprung-Keyser found similar net financial gains for the government in other ventures, including the Head Start prekindergarten program and federally funded increases in government spending on pre-college education. Over all, 16 social policies that Mr. Hendren and Mr. Sprung-Keyser examined broke even or did even better. Almost all of them focused on children and young adults.
Young people have more years to pay into the tax system, and government safety net programs generally seem to do a better job at raising the earning ability of children and young adults than they do for older people.
Some programs that did not break even were shown to be more cost effective than was evident previously, after fiscal externalities were taken into account. For example, adult job training programs recouped some, if not all, of their costs through participants’ higher tax payments in subsequent years.
The Harvard study didn’t provide good fiscal news in all cases. Sometimes, including fiscal externalities made a program costlier. For example, people who received disability benefits didn’t work, which reduced the government’s tax revenue.
To be clear, that does not imply that disability insurance is a bad way to spend tax dollars. The purpose of building a social safety is to help people in need, not to save money. If people with disabilities are especially needy, it is entirely reasonable for the government to provide extra funds to help them. Sometimes, spending money is simply the right thing to do.
We would be setting the bar far too high if we expected all social programs to pay for themselves. The food stamp program has not turned a net profit, but it has lifted many children from poverty, giving them lifelong advantages.
That is a great use of tax dollars. Thanks to the new study, we know that some of those dollars come indirectly from social programs that have funneled revenue into government coffers.
Seema Jayachandran is an economics professor at Northwestern University. Follow her on Twitter: @seema_econ
Send questions about the office, money, careers and work-life balance to [email protected]. Include your name and location, or a request to remain anonymous. Letters may be edited.
Making Social Media Amends
My social media presence from high school and college includes everything from photos of theme parties and Halloween costumes I now understand as cultural appropriation, to banter with friends in which we casually invoked racist or sexist stereotypes.
While I could dismiss this as youthful ignorance, it doesn’t change the fact that my behavior a decade ago was harmful. Would it be selfish to remove the evidence of my mistakes? Or would it be worse to have processed the toxic nature of these posts and allowed them to stay up? I am not seeking credit or absolution, but I want to do the right thing.
When a public figure is taken to task for their social media history, I wonder why they did not do themselves the favor of cleaning up their online presence as their public profile grew. I am never sure if they are so comfortable with their past behavior that they don’t think it should be erased or if they are so clueless about how fame functions that they don’t consider the ways in which their past will come to light.
That said, you ask an important question. The short answer is: Clean up your social media. If there are people to whom you need to make amends, do so. You’re an adult now, so act like one. We have all made mistakes, and sometimes there is glaring evidence of those mistakes. You are doing the necessary work of interrogating your past and I commend you for taking responsibility and not merely dismissing your actions as “youthful ignorance.” You were young and ignorant, yes, but that doesn’t make the behavior less toxic.
You aren’t making some noble gesture by leaving your checkered past in plain sight for anyone to stumble upon. You aren’t hiding anything by deleting social media posts from a decade or more ago. By cleaning up your online presence, you are demonstrating an awareness that social norms change and that you, like nearly everyone, harbor or once harbored prejudices.
What’s important is taking stock of who you are and how you behave both on and offline, now. Do you hold yourself accountable for what you say and do? Do you hold the people around you accountable when they say racist or misogynist or other bigoted things? Do you advocate for marginalized people as much as you advocate for yourself? Flagellating yourself over your social media history doesn’t accomplish anything. Actions speak far louder than words. Do the work, every day, of being actively anti-racist and feminist. Forgive yourself for your past and honor a promise to yourself that you will never be that person again.
Helping Men Help Themselves
I manage two men who are younger than me. They have a lot of potential and a genuine passion for the work we do. But they won’t ask me for help. From their work product, it’s obvious that they struggle. They hide any problems from me until the last minute, and then turn in work that is far below my expectations. To work around this, I generally tell them that the deadline is a week before it actually is, and when they turn in a terrible first draft, I work through it with them. Or I just redo it.
Am I doing the right thing? How do I give them the confidence to ask me for help?
— Anonymous, San Mateo, Calif.
Your employees are grown-ass men in a professional environment. Stop babying them! It is not your job to do their job in addition to yours. Potential and passion are well and good, but competence is just as important. Mentorship is not synonymous with mothering. You are enabling their refusal to ask for help.
Be honest about what they are doing well but also how their work product is falling short. Establish a timeline for them to improve and identify consequences you follow through on if they don’t learn how to collaborate with you and produce better work. Make it clear (even though you already have) that you are not only their leader, you are also a knowledgeable and willing resource to help them become stronger and more effective employees. That is all you can do. If their masculinity is so fragile that they cannot ask for help and improve their work, I assure you there are other people on the job market who will not need to be work-parented. I do not say this lightly but if they cannot rise to the occasion, find employees who will.
Mandatory (White) Fun
I’m employed at a consulting organization. The founders are three middle-aged white men who come from family money. Employees are nearly entirely women, many of color, single and in their late 20s-early 30s. There are a handful of other employees, people of color, in their late 30s-early 40s with young kids.
Everyone’s salaries and bonuses are transparent. Performance reviews are done with care. The founders provide benefits linked to their values. But there is one major aggression — the founders LOVE white people activities like skiing, sailing, etc., and team building is centered around such activities. Lots of people don’t want to do them. It is seemingly impossible to move into middle management if one does not engage in these team building days.
What would be a good way to change this aspect of the culture?
I cannot stand mandatory fun — any sort of activity or potluck or other gathering with co-workers that demands your presence either implicitly or explicitly. The expectation that you should work a rigorous schedule and also spend your free time with your colleagues instead of your friends and family is exhausting and ridiculous.
That your founders, who seem like decent guys, don’t understand that not everyone enjoys their very expensive, very white pastimes is willful. They choose not to understand why their employees may not know how or want to alpine ski or sail free solo or whatever because they can cosset themselves in that way.
I don’t know if you can change the culture at your organization — the founders are who they are. But you can be honest about the bias inherent in pairing team building and professional advancement with exclusionary activities that employees may not be familiar with or interested in for any number of reasons including race, class, gender and ability. Even if someone has already raised this, do so again, and suggest more inclusive team building activities. You might also mention how women, for example, struggled to advance in certain industries because of all the business meetings and networking that took place on golf courses and in strip clubs and bars after work when they were taking care of their families. (This is, in fact, still a problem in certain sectors.)
Your founders see themselves as good guys but there is room for improvement. If they are as aligned with their values as you suggest, hold them to that by demanding this very reasonable accommodation.
Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at [email protected].
James Murdoch, the son of the billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, is set to take a significant stake in the M.C.H. Group, the Swiss owners of the Art Basel fairs.
Investment from Mr. Murdoch’s company, Lupa Systems, will help transform the company from a traditional events business into one focused on “future-oriented platforms and communities,” M.C.H. said in a statement on Friday.
If the move is approved at a meeting on Aug. 3, Mr. Murdoch’s company will own about one-third of M.C.H.’s shares, rising to a possible 44 percent controlling stake later, the statement added.
Founded in 1970 by three gallerists in the Swiss city, Art Basel has grown into the world’s biggest and most prestigious international art fair business. Its flagship event in Basel in June, which last year attracted 93,000 visitors, has become the centerpiece of Europe’s summer art market calendar. Art Basel Hong Kong, typically held in March, has enabled Western dealers to significantly expand the market for international contemporary art in Asia. And Art Basel Miami Beach has gained a reputation for attracting the hippest American collectors and works by the hottest new artists.
But M.C.H. has faced a challenging year. The 2020 and 2021 editions of its Baselworld watch fair — for years the company’s highest-grossing event — were canceled because of an exodus of key exhibitors. The coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of the Hong Kong and Swiss editions of Art Basel, though they continued as online-only events. An in-person gathering for Art Basel Miami Beach, scheduled for December, remains in doubt.
Sales losses in the region of about $138 million to $180 million were predicted for this year in the company’s 2019 annual report, which was released in March.
The statement on Friday added that M.C.H. will propose to shareholders a “comprehensive set of measures” to restructure its debt, including an injection of about $111 million, mostly from Mr. Murdoch’s company.
The Canton of Basel-Stadt, the administrative region that is home to the city of Basel, is currently M.C.H.’s largest shareholder, at 33.5 percent, and other Swiss regions own smaller percentages. But those public-sector shareholders have agreed to step back and allow Mr. Murdoch’s privately held Lupa Systems to become the largest, the statement added.
Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s global director, said in a statement that approval of the proposed measures would “put the group on firm financial footing for the foreseeable future.”
He also praised Lupa Systems’ “valuable expertise and networks in technology, digitalization and the broader cultural sphere.”
Mr. Murdoch’s private investment company was founded in 2019 after his family’s $71.3 billion sale of 21st Century Fox, where he was chief executive. With offices in New York and in Mumbai, India, Lupa has bought stakes in a range of tech-savvy media companies, including Vice, the news platform aimed at millennials, and Morning Consult, a data intelligence company.
Mr. Murdoch is also a director of the Dia Art Foundation in New York and a former director of Sotheby’s.
Lupa’s commitment to M.C.H. is the latest significant investment by a global media business in international art fairs. In 2016, the Hollywood-based William Morris Endeavor Entertainment acquired a major stake in the Frieze Art Fair, which has editions in London, New York and Los Angeles.
“It will certainly give some certainty to M.C.H. after a very difficult year,” said Robert Read, the head of art and private clients at Hiscox, a leading specialist in art insurance, based in London.
“The most fascinating part will be seeing what they mean by ‘future-orientated platforms and communities,’” he said. “That is the crux of the issue.”
OAKLAND, Calif. — When California shut down its economy in March, it became a model for painful but aggressive action to counter the new coronavirus. The implicit trade-off was that a lot of upfront pain would help slow the spread, allowing the state to reopen sooner and more triumphantly than places that failed to act as decisively.
But the virus had other plans, and now the state’s economy is in retrenchment mode again. For the nation, this means that an important center of its output — a magnet of summer tourism and home to the technology and entertainment industries along with the world’s busiest port operation — is unlikely to regain momentum soon when growth is needed most.
For the state, it means a progressive agenda predicated on the continuation of good times will be hampered as governments move from expansion to cuts. Voters had mostly been open to paying for expanding services and priorities like affordable housing, but they seem to be turning wary of new taxes.
CALIFORNIA’S SHARE OF NATIONAL G.D.P.
CALIFORNIA’S SHARE OF NATIONAL G.D.P.
By The New York Times | Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
California has always been a boom-and-bust economy, so while nobody was predicting a global pandemic that would tear through the service sector, the prospect of struggle was not unforeseen. Jerry Brown, the four-term governor, left office in 2018 with a multibillion-dollar state surplus and unemployment headed to a record low. But instead of departing on a triumphant high note, he said after his final budget presentation, “What’s out there is darkness, uncertainty, decline and recession.”
His more upbeat successor, Gov. Gavin Newsom, came in promising to expand health care and tackle the state’s homeless problem. Yet in his inaugural speech, Mr. Newsom warned, “Even in a booming economy, there is a sense that things are not as predictable as they once were.”
WEEKLY UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS
WEEKLY UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS
Not seasonally adjusted
By The New York Times | Source: Department of Labor
Indeed. Unemployment, which was 3.9 percent in February, the lowest on record, shot up to 16.3 percent by May, compared with 13.3 percent nationwide. Container traffic at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is down about a third from a year ago, while many beaches and attractions like Disneyland were closed on July Fourth and are delaying their reopening plans. Most dispiriting is the sense that even after politicians made tough calls that Californians largely supported, the economy seems no better off.
Andrew Snow was supposed to be ramping up by now. Mr. Snow, who owns the Golden Squirrel, a restaurant and bar in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, cut his staff of 28 people to two after the pandemic hit. But thanks to takeout orders, a new line of business selling groceries and the resumption of outdoor service, he recently brought two back, and was set to bump that figure to six or eight by the July Fourth weekend.
ImageCredit…Jason Henry for The New York Times
A few weeks ago, those plans seemed sound. Back then, on the sunny Friday afternoon when bars in Alameda County were allowed to reopen, the Golden Squirrel’s patio tables, spaced about eight feet apart, were full of patrons enjoying their first trips to a bar since shelter-in-place orders took effect. That weekend the surrounding College Avenue retail strip was busy with masked, distanced, Purell-doused dining that to many felt borderline decadent after months of being cooped up.
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Now business is slowing again, as California is averaging about 8,000 new cases a day, about triple the level a month ago. Mr. Snow’s plans to bring back workers over the holiday weekend didn’t come to pass, and he has put further hiring on hold.
“People are scared,” he said in an interview. “The math for having more people doesn’t work out anymore.”
Exactly how and how quickly the state should have reopened, and who is to blame for the backslide, are unlikely to ever be resolved. What the result means for the economy is more time in the dark, more need among the poorest citizens and more drain on the taxes required to support them.
The U.C.L.A. Anderson Forecast, which has been prognosticating California’s economic trajectory since 1952, expects that the state and national economies won’t fully recover until “well past 2022.” In the state as in the nation, the worst declines will be in the leisure and hospitality industries, while higher-wage areas like technology will be better off, a dynamic that will make financial inequality worse.
Even if the country avoids a second wave of infections in the fall, and a vaccine is made and distributed relatively quickly, that won’t keep many businesses from failing. Others will shift from investing in new equipment and employees to paying debt and shoring reserves. State and local budgets could take years to recover their pre-coronavirus levels of spending, even with federal help.
“The impacts will disproportionately affect lower-income Californians, while the more rapid growth will be happening in technology and construction, which are higher income,” said Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the U.C.L.A. Anderson Forecast.
The longer the pandemic’s disruption, the more likely it is that some jobs will never come back. For instance, a number of restaurants had already switched to counter service, even for fairly high-end meals, to avoid the need for servers who have a hard time affording housing in big cities. Now virtually every restaurant in California is operating around counter service or delivery, and some may not change back.
ImageCredit…Jason Henry for The New York TimesImageCredit…Jason Henry for The New York Times
Mr. Snow, for example, envisions a restaurant where people order at the bar, eat far from other patrons, then leave with a bag of groceries. The Golden Squirrel would have fewer employees, compensating for a less-full restaurant with expanded takeout orders.
“Some of the changes will make us a better business in the future,” Mr. Snow said. “The challenge is getting to that future.”
The Coronavirus Outbreak
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 7, 2020
Is the coronavirus airborne?
The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
What’s the best material for a mask?
Scientists around the country have tried to identify everyday materials that do a good job of filtering microscopic particles. In recent tests, HEPA furnace filters scored high, as did vacuum cleaner bags, fabric similar to flannel pajamas and those of 600-count pillowcases. Other materials tested included layered coffee filters and scarves and bandannas. These scored lower, but still captured a small percentage of particles.
Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?
A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?
The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.
What is pandemic paid leave?
The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?
Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.
How does blood type influence coronavirus?
A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
How can I protect myself while flying?
If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
The economic outlook is filled with caveats. Typically a forecast is based on past patterns and trends from similar recessions, but in this case there is no clear precedent. That means the outcome could be much more positive than some fear.
“Will there be some damage? Sure,” said Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, a consulting firm. “But there’s no reason to think people won’t go back to normal spending once the virus has subsided, at which point we will come out of this like a rocket ship because of all the pent-up demand and massive savings that is being built up.”
YEAR-OVER-YEAR CHANGE IN EMPLOYMENT
YEAR-OVER-YEAR CHANGE IN EMPLOYMENT
p id=”interactive-credit”>By The New York Times | Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Historically, California has been hit hard by national recessions, with the aerospace downturn of the early 1990s, the 2000 dot-com bubble and the Great Recession affecting the state and its finances much harder than the rest of the country.
This time, California’s economic plunge has been more or less in line with the nation, with resilience in tech and other professional jobs helping to balance out the steep losses in areas like trade and tourism. And while the state and its cities are already facing budget troubles, the austere Governor Brown pushed through several forward-looking fiscal measures — including a constitutional amendment for a state rainy-day fund — and Governor Newsom added to the fund last year.
“California is one of the states that more or less learned the lessons of the Great Recession so is in better shape than many other states,” said Lucy Dadayan, a researcher at the Urban Institute who studies state and local budgets.
Even the most optimistic outcome, however, seems almost certain to hamper many of Governor Newsom’s most ambitious plans. Before the pandemic, the November elections were being positioned as a moment to raise taxes further and expand government services.
Several cities, including San Francisco, have tax measures lined up for the ballot (they can still be removed), while state voters face an epic battle over the future of Proposition 13, the 1978 law that capped property taxes statewide. Proposition 15, which has qualified for the November ballot, would repeal the local tax cap for commercial properties like office buildings, generating an estimated $12 billion a year for schools.
A few months ago, these measures were talked about as ways to help pay for expanding things like education and affordable housing by taxing businesses and wealthier taxpayers. Now they are likely to be reframed, at least in part, as a backstop to battered state finances.
There is data to suggest that the state’s relentless housing and homeless problems, combined with fears about the long-term impact of coronavirus, have made voters wary of new taxes. In the March primary, several state and local bond measures were rejected, and exit polls showed voters had “tax fatigue,” according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
While Californians are concerned about declining state revenues, 60 percent oppose tax increases to fund the governor’s most recent budget, according to a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute.
“Taxes are a tough sell in this environment,” said Mark Baldassare, the institute’s chief executive.
Good morning. Our DealBook Debrief conference calls are back, starting next week. On Thursday at 11 a.m. Eastern, we will be joined by the White House correspondent Maggie Haberman to discuss how the Trump administration is addressing election-year concerns amid the risk of a renewed wave of infections. R.S.V.P. here for the call. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.)
No ‘absolute immunity’ for Trump
The U.S. Supreme Court saved the most politically explosive cases of its current term for last. Yesterday, the court ruled on requests for access to President Trump’s financial records. The president had claimed that he could block the subpoenas on the grounds that he is immune from criminal proceedings while in office.
It was a split decision: New York won, Congress lost (for now). Both elements of the matter were decided by 7-to-2 majorities:
• Mr. Trump cannot block a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney, served to his accounting firm, Mazars USA. New York prosecutors are seeking Mr. Trump’s business and personal tax records in an investigation into hush-money payments made during his election campaign.
• Congressional committees cannot access similar records from Capital One, Deutsche Bank and Mazars USA as part of investigations into the hush-money payments and possible conflicts of interest. They must narrow the parameters of their requests, the justices ruled, and heed the competing needs of government branches.
The fights will continue in lower courts. Mr. Trump will have to devise a new argument to keep his records secret in the New York case, while Congress will need to do the same in its case. The companies served with subpoenas say they will comply with whatever the courts decide.
• Neither case is likely to be resolved before November’s presidential election, according to Martin Lederman, a professor at Georgetown University’s law school. And because the New York case is part of a grand jury investigation, even if the records were released they would be shielded from public view.
“The justices are certainly not ignorant of practical outcomes,” Professor Lederman said. The court seemed more concerned with constitutional matters “than whether decisions help or hurt Donald Trump in November.”
• The justices appointed by Mr. Trump — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — ruled against him in the New York case, joining the four left-leaning justices and Chief Justice John Roberts in rejecting his claim of “absolute immunity.” As The Times’s Peter Baker put it:
The forceful decisions represented a declaration of independence not only by Mr. Trump’s own justices but by the Supreme Court as an institution, asserting itself as an equal branch of government in the Trump era.
An intriguing question: If Mr. Trump loses the election, will Congress continue to pursue its investigations into his finances? If not, and the New York grand jury evidence stays sealed, the contents of those long-sought-after tax returns may remain a mystery — forever.
🎧 For more on the backstory to these cases, and what the decisions mean for the future, listen to today’s edition of The Daily podcast.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in Connecticut and Michael J. de la Merced and Jason Karaian in London.
Here’s what is happening
The former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan testified about his firing. Geoffrey Berman, whom President Trump dismissed last month, told House investigators about efforts by Attorney General Bill Barr to pressure him into resigning, which he resisted.
Starbucks will require masks in its U.S. stores. Customers at the coffee giant’s 9,000 American locations will have to abide by the rule starting July 15. In locations where local rules don’t require mask-wearing, customers without face coverings can use drive-throughs or curbside pickup.
Ford’s C.E.O. rebuffed employee calls to stop making police vehicles. Jim Hackett, the automaker’s chief, wrote in a letter to senior executives that while he supports the Black Lives Matter movement, first responders “play an extraordinarily important role in the vitality and safety of our society.”
First-round offers for the New York Mets are in. Bidders for New York’s second-best Major League Baseball franchise reportedly include the hedge fund mogul Steve Cohen; a group backed by Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez; and the Wall Street executives David Blitzer and Josh Harris, who own the N.B.A.’s Philadelphia 76ers and N.H.L.’s New Jersey Devils.
Chelsea Clinton reportedly may start a venture capital firm. The former first daughter and hedge fund executive is said to be considering a company called Metrodora Partners, which would focus on health and learning start-ups, according to Axios.
ImageCredit…Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times
Biden’s moderate twist on economic populism
Joe Biden is leading President Trump in polls on virtually every issue except the economy. Yesterday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee unveiled an economic platform wrapped up in populism, in an effort to close that gap.
“Build Back Better” is Mr. Biden’s slogan, with an emphasis on shoring up American manufacturing via huge investments in areas like 5G wireless technology and electric vehicles. He said it would be a level of spending “not seen since the Great Depression and World War II.”
He attacked Wall Street and big companies, saying that it was “way past time to put an end to shareholder capitalism” and criticizing Mr. Trump for focusing on the stock market as a barometer of America’s economic health. “The days of Amazon paying nothing in federal income tax will be over,” Mr. Biden added.
How would he pay for all this? Mr. Biden is proposing nearly $4 trillion in tax increases — largely by reversing Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and for companies — and deficit spending that builds on the $3 trillion in borrowing that Washington has approved in coronavirus economic aid.
Is Mr. Biden really shifting significantly to the left? Some thoughts:
• Attacking “shareholder capitalism” isn’t particularly radical. Since last year, the Business Roundtable, the trade group for blue-chip corporate America, has called for companies to focus on more than just their shareholders.
• The financial advisory firm Signum told clients yesterday that Mr. Biden’s platform excludes the most progressive ideas touted by Democrats, including “Medicare for all” and the Green New Deal. By Signum’s reckoning, Mr. Biden’s announcement makes “just enough concessions to the progressive wing to avoid an open rift in the party.”
• What’s more, many on Wall Street say they’ll put up with higher taxes if it means a change of administration. “The majority of people I talk to on Wall Street think it’s worth taking the hit to get Trump out of office,” an unnamed senior banker told Vanity Fair’s Bill Cohan.
An ugly quarter awaits U.S. banks
The biggest American banks will report their second-quarter earnings next week, and it could be rough.
Loss provisions will rise, but so will fees. Lenders were quick to add billions to their loan-loss provisions at the end of the first quarter, and analysts expect at least as much to be added in the latest quarter, too. For the full year, S&P expects that credit losses will account for around three-quarters of the world’s largest banks’ pre-provision earnings, more than double the share last year.
• The good news is that companies have taken on cheap debt and eagerly issued new shares into climbing stock markets, increasing banks’ fee income. That means that despite the drain on earnings from fresh provisions, banks with strong underwriting businesses, like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, could see a quarter-on-quarter rise in profit. All banks, however, are expected to announce huge drops in earnings versus the same quarter last year.
Global banks face $1.3 trillion — with a “T” — in credit losses this year. That’s more than double last year’s $600 billion, according to S&P. Losses will remain high next year, when the strength of banks’ provisions will be tested by a surge in charge-offs as payment holidays and government support measures expire. “From a bank credit risk perspective, perhaps the greater danger at this time is the reduction of such support too early, resulting in a longer and deeper economic contraction, further impairing banks’ asset quality and increasing credit losses,” according to S&P’s analysts.
ImageCredit…Olivier Douliery/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
TikTok weighs steps for survival
The social network’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, is under pressure to devise ways to shield the service from potentially damaging actions by governments uneasy with the company’s perceived ties with Beijing.
The White House may ban TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this week. The Verge’s Adi Robertson runs through how that might work: One option is for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., the regulatory panel focused on national security, to force ByteDance to divest U.S.-based assets.
• India recently banned TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps like WeChat, saying they pose a “threat to sovereignty and integrity.”
ByteDance is reportedly considering a new headquarters for TikTok outside China and a new management board, according to The Wall Street Journal. And it has pulled TikTok out of Hong Kong, following a new security law that binds the territory closer to China.
• In May, TikTok hired a well-known Disney executive, Kevin Mayer, as C.E.O., in part to help the social network navigate Washington. And it has long stressed that it doesn’t share user data with Beijing, and argues it wouldn’t do so if asked.
Users are scared anyway. High-profile users like Casey Neistat warned their followers about the possibility of a TikTok shutdown, while the widely followed gamer Ninja said he had deleted his account because of concerns over the app’s perceived connections to Beijing.
The speed read
• Sony agreed to invest $250 million in Epic, the gamemaker behind “Fortnite.” (Business Insider)
• Coinbase, the big cryptocurrency exchange, is reportedly considering going public this year through a direct listing of its shares. (Reuters)
Politics and policy
• Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the White House was working with the Senate on another round of pandemic aid, which is likely to be smaller than what House Democrats want. (WSJ)
• Google could reportedly avoid an E.U. antitrust inquiry into its takeover of Fitbit if it pledges to forgo using the fitness device’s data for ad-targeting purposes. (
MANILA — Philippine lawmakers on Friday formally shut down the country’s largest broadcast network, the latest major blow against the news media as President Rodrigo Duterte cracks down on outlets that have been critical of his leadership.
After 13 hearings, a committee of the House of Representatives — most of whose members are allied with Mr. Duterte — voted by an overwhelming majority to deny ABS-CBN’s application for renewal of its broadcast franchise. The network had been forced off the air in May, after the franchise expired.
“We remain committed to public service, and we hope to find other ways to achieve our mission,” said Carlo Katigbak, ABS-CBN’s president and chief executive, in a statement on Friday. He said the network was “deeply hurt.”
The president’s spokesman, Harry Roque, sought to distance Mr. Duterte from the decision.
“The palace has maintained a neutral stance on the issue as it respects the separation of powers between the two coequal branches of government,” he said. “Much as we want to work with the aforesaid media network, we have to abide by the resolution of the House committee.”
Mr. Duterte has accused ABS-CBN of bias, including favoring a political opponent in the 2016 election, and had earlier warned that he would not allow the renewal of its franchise.
The president’s critics say he has gone after media outlets that closely documented his drug war, which has left thousands of people dead since he took office in 2016.
ABS-CBN ceased operations of its free TV and radio channels by government order after its 25-year franchise expired in May. ABS-CBN still operates a cable channel and internet sites, but the company has told its 11,000 employees that they could be let go by August if its broadcast franchise was not renewed.
After the network went off the air, there was a backlash from millions of Filipinos who rely on it for news, forcing the lower house of Congress to rush hearings on the franchise renewal.
ImageCredit…Simeon Celi Jr./Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, via Associated Press
The government has accused ABS-CBN of illegally operating a cable channel, as well as hiding behind what it called a “corporate veil” that allowed foreign investors to own part of the firm. ABS-CBN has denied the allegations.
Fourteen lawmakers who sponsored bills backing the network argued that the hearings had not proven that ABS-CBN broke any regulations that warranted its closure.
“Seventy million Filipinos tune to its programs weekly,” they said in a joint statement. “Now more than ever, in the time of a pandemic, we need a vibrant and independent source of information and news to tell the people what is going on.”
Nonoy Espina, who heads the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, said that lawmakers who were seeking to block the franchise renewal had “gripes” to settle. By voting to shut down ABS-CBN, Mr. Espina said, the House “has lost all claim to represent the people and our interests.”
The congressional hearings did shine a light on some shortcomings of big media networks, including unfair labor practices and a lack of self-regulation, analysts said.
ImageCredit…Ezra Acayan/Getty Images
“But legislators have no business to say how media should operate,” said Danilo Arao, a journalism professor at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. ABS-CBN, he said, “is being singled out.”
Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, called the decision a “grievous assault on press freedom,” adding, “This move solidifies the tyranny of President Rodrigo Duterte.” The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines said it was a “profoundly dark day for journalists.”
As the leading broadcaster in the country, ABS-CBN was known for its prime time flagship news program, “TV Patrol,” as well as soap operas and afternoon variety TV shows.
Along with the online news site Rappler, ABS-CBN has been at the forefront of coverage of Mr. Duterte’s violent drug war.
ImageCredit…Jes Aznar for The New York Times
Recently, a Manila court convicted Rappler’s chief executive, Maria Ressa, and a former staff writer of cyberlibel. Ms. Ressa, an award-winning former CNN journalist, is out on bail while the case is on appeal, but she could face up to six years in prison.
Mr. Duterte has often gone after members of the press that he dislikes. He has called journalists “sons of bitches” and warned that they were not exempt from the possibility of physical attacks.
He has accused Rappler of being funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, though he has never offered evidence for that. This week, he accused Ms. Ressa of being a “fraud” and said a new case could be filed against her. He did not elaborate.
Helen O’Hagan, who nurtured a generation of fashion designers as the publicity director of Saks Fifth Avenue, died on June 13 at her home in Charleston, S.C. She was 89.
Her niece Helaine Christy, who confirmed the death, said she had been in declining health since she broke a hip in May.
Before Instagram and even before Fashion Week, before designers were mega-brands owned by global conglomerates, American women were introduced to the season’s new styles through the department-store trunk show, for which designers would travel the country to present their collections, meet their customers and take their orders. It was old-school retailing — intimate, hands-on hard work.
Starting in the 1960s, as the head of publicity for Saks, Ms. O’Hagan organized this mobile theater, all the while overseeing Saks’s expansion into cities like St. Louis, Tulsa and San Francisco and accompanying designers like Bill Blass, Geoffrey Beene, Adolfo, Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera as they crisscrossed the country.
When she retired in 1994, after 39 years, she had directed the openings of 47 Saks stores. And while carving out a career at Saks, she was also living a glamorous life as the best friend and companion of the actress Claudette Colbert, after Ms. Colbert’s second husband died in 1968. Though Ms. Colbert was nearly 30 years older, the pair traveled together, entertained together at Ms. Colbert’s Barbados estate and shared an apartment at 945 Park Avenue.
Yet despite what many assumed, Ms. Christy said, their relationship was not a romance. “Helen was definite about that. But they loved each other and made each other laugh. Helen was like the daughter Claudette never had.”
With her round red glasses and short silver hair, Ms. O’Hagan was a striking figure. She never lost her Southern accent or her manners, which made her even more distinctive in her field, said Jaqui Lividini, who succeeded Ms. O’Hagan at Saks.
“Women of her generation at her level tended to be polarizing,” Ms. Lividini said. “But everybody loved Helen.”
For designers like Mr. Blass and Mr. Beene, she was a fixer, a cheerleader and a confidante. “I don’t think Mr. Beene made a move without calling Helen first,” Ms. Lividini said.
Ellin Saltzman, the store’s longtime fashion director, said Ms. O’Hagan “stood for Saks.” She certainly played all the parts. Ms. Saltzman recalled how Ms. O’Hagan would regularly photograph the European collections, muscling through the runway scrum in khakis and a fisherman’s vest, and then come back and show them in her Adolfo suit.
“I was known as the mother of the photographers’ mafia at the shows in Europe,” Ms. O’Hagan told Women’s Wear Daily when she retired.
ImageCredit…Bill Cunningham/The New York Times
Helen Wilken O’Hagan was born on Feb. 7, 1931, in Charleston. Her father, John J. O’Hagan, was an antiques dealer and insurance salesman. Her mother, Helen (Wilken) O’Hagan, was a homemaker who worked part time at a real estate office.
Ms. O’Hagan is survived by her sister, Kathleen Blanchard, who is Ms. Christy’s mother. Her brother, John Jr., died this year.
As a teenager, Helen worked summers for a photographer known as One Shot Riley. After high school, she took acting classes at the local theater and, after discovering she was, in her own words, “lousy at it,” became the theater’s business manager.
She moved to New York in 1955 hoping to find work as a photographer — and perhaps as a model, but she was rejected by Eileen Ford because, at 5 foot 3, she wasn’t considered tall enough. On a tip from a family friend, she was introduced to the publicity director of Saks at the time, Countess Grace de Mun, Southern born and originally Grace Cuyler, who hired her as a press assistant.
The countess was fired three years later, and Sophie and Adam Gimbel, the store’s in-house designer and its president, took Ms. O’Hagan under their wing. (Mrs. Gimbel was renowned for her aversion to fads and body-baring clothing — “I don’t show the bosom, the stomach or the fanny,” she once declared. Nonetheless, she is credited with having invented culottes.)
“I was a girl who hated fashion,” Ms. O’Hagan later said. “I grew to love clothes because of Sophie.”
ImageCredit…via Helaine Christy
It was through Mrs. Gimbel that Ms. O’Hagan met Ms. Colbert, whom Mrs. Gimbel dressed, along with other society figures of the day like Estée Lauder, Mary Benny (the wife of the comedian Jack Benny) and assorted Duponts, Dukes, Huttons and Phippses. The pair struck up what would become a two-decades-long friendship.
By all accounts, Ms. Colbert was not a woman who liked to be alone. When there were no guests at Bellerive, her Barbados estate, her maid slept in the bedroom next to hers. And when Ms. Colbert was in her first apartment in Manhattan, a one-bedroom rental at 945 Fifth Avenue, Ms. O’Hagan bunked on the sofa in the living room. In 1984, Ms. Colbert switched to a two-bedroom, and Ms. O’Hagan moved in, as Amy Fine Collins reported in a 2010 Vanity Fair article about the star.
“I was working at Saks and had to be in bed much earlier than Claudette,” Ms. O’Hagan told Ms. Fine Collins. “But if she saw that I had fallen asleep, she’d wake me up in order to talk. She needed somebody with her all the time. There was a 27-year age difference between us. So I was like her daughter. We were very lucky to find each other at that time in our lives.”
Ms. Fine Collins recalled Ms. O’Hagan as a dedicated keeper of Ms. Colbert’s legacy. “She knew Claudette’s story chapter and verse, year by year, film by film, wardrobe element by wardrobe element,” she said in an interview. “She idolized her and loved her dearly.”
In 1993, Ms. Colbert had a paralyzing stroke; the next year, Ms. O’Hagan took early retirement to care for her. When Ms. Colbert died in 1996, she left the bulk of her estate to her friend.
But their relationship was not “what gave Helen cachet or a persona in the world,” Ms. Fine Collins said. “What did that was her very important role at Saks. She was a dynamo, one of those women fashion executives or journalists who were sometimes called fashion nuns because they were not married, had no children and devoted themselves to their work.”
Ms. O’Hagan was not exactly a fashion nun, Ms. Saltzman said. “She was a Saks nun. Clothes were not that important to her, but Saks was.”
The sea lions may get an audience soon enough, but they shouldn’t expect sold-out shows.
After more than four months of coronavirus lockdown, four city zoos and the New York Aquarium are preparing to open to the public on July 24 at limited capacity.
The Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the five facilities, announced on Thursday that they are planning to open the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium to members on July 20, then to the broader public four days later.
July 20 is the first possible date that the zoos could welcome visitors under the state’s phased reopening plan. Zoos fall in the fourth and final phase, along with museums and theaters. New York City only entered the third stage on Monday, but the conservation society is anticipating being allowed to open on that date because officials have generally allowed regions to move into a new phase every two weeks.
Zoos have been in an unusual predicament since the pandemic shut down the city in mid-March. Unlike Broadway theaters or museums, they cannot go dark because there are thousands of animals that need to be taken care of.
Since they closed to the public on March 16, the zoos have had a portion of their employees on site to feed the animals, keep them on their daily routines and provide medical attention. (There were several coronavirus scares to deal with at the Bronx Zoo after a tiger tested positive and other tigers and lions were found to have similar symptoms.)
When the zoos and aquarium reopen, New York State will require that those facilities limit their employees and visitors to no more than one-third of their maximum occupancy.
The zoos will use timed ticketing as a strategy to control the number of people present at once, according to a news release from the conservation society, and visitors will only be allowed to purchase tickets online. All visitors will be required to wear face masks unless they are 3-years-old or younger. Health care workers can visit for free.
Both outdoor and indoor exhibits will open to visitors, although some exhibits that pose a heightened risk will remain closed, including the 4-D theater at the Central Park Zoo and the camel rides at the Bronx Zoo.