Mar 16, 2020 - Technology

The tech industry's efforts to help with the coronavirus crisis

Ina Fried, author of Login

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies from across the tech industry are trying to figure out not only how best to support their employees during the coronavirus crisis, but also how they can be a resource to their users.

Why it matters: There are a lot of unknowns about what the next few weeks and months hold, but there are some clear needs as the U.S. heads into uncharted territory.

Here are some of the ways tech companies and leaders are pitching in:

  • Home internet service providers and wireless carriers are lifting data caps and pledging not to terminate service to those who can't pay their bills, something requested by both the FCC and some on Capitol Hill.
  • The FCC granted temporary permission to T-Mobile on Sunday to use additional unused spectrum in the 600 MHz band (provided by Dish Network, Comcast and others) in order to meet increased demand and help support telecommuters, telehealth and online learning.
  • The makers of video conferencing software, including Zoom, Google (with its Hangouts Meet), Microsoft (with its Teams) and Cisco (which owns WebEx), have expanded their free offerings to help businesses and schools that need to rapidly increase their use of such products.
  • Many educational tech firms are making their products free while schools are closed.
  • Tech investor Sam Altman is leading a push to help fund work to rapidly increase the supply of ventilators and other technical efforts to aid in the COVID-19 response.
  • Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma pledged Friday to send the U.S. a million face masks and 500,000 coronavirus test kits. Sunday, he tweeted a photo of the first planeload departing from Shanghai.
  • Tech companies have been at the forefront of trying to ensure that hourly support workers get paid even as their services may not be needed as offices close and full-time employees telecommute.

The big picture: Behind the scenes, companies are also looking to see if they can do more to aid in the response, from helping support hospitals, researchers and doctors, to supporting workers without jobs and helping families in the community.

Go deeper: Coronavirus dents tech's supply chain

Go deeper

America's unfinished business

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The fury over George Floyd's killing is erupting as the U.S. faces a looming wave of business bankruptcies, likely home evictions and a virus pandemic that will all disproportionately hit African Americans.

Why it matters: What these seemingly disparate issues share in common is that they emanate from systemic abuses that calls to action and promised reforms have yet to meaningfully address.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,945,737— Total deaths: 365,368 — Total recoveries — 2,515,675Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,747,087 — Total deaths: 102,836 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Supreme Court: Chief Justice Roberts sides with liberals in denying challenge to California's pandemic worship rules.
  4. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March.
  5. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  6. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.

Deaths without consequences

Community organizations and activists demand police accountability at a rally in Grand Central Terminal to commemorate the 5-year anniversary of Mike Brown's death by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Photo: Erik McGregor/Getty Images

Seven years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officers to be charged in the deaths of African Americans — and even more rare for an officer to go to jail.

The big picture: The Minneapolis police officer who was captured on video kneeling on George Floyd's neck has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter — which is already a step beyond the consequences other police officers have faced. But it's no guarantee that he will face jail time.