How are you doing? As we move into the second month of the US’ coronavirus crisis, it’s the question that’s peppered every email, text, and Slack message. Like most simple queries, the answer is often, “Well, it’s complicated.” Essential workers—like those who staff emergency rooms and grocery stores—feel fortunate to still have paychecks. But they must expose themselves to the possible infection, while Covid-19-related public transit service cuts make it harder for them to get to work. Many gig workers, like those working for Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart, are glad to not be sick. But many say companies they work for are not doing enough to protect them and society at large. The tinkerers at manufacturers like Ford and Virgin Orbit are excited to be part of the nationwide project to build more ventilators. But wouldn’t it be nice if their businesses weren’t also falling apart around them?
It’s been a week. Let’s get you caught up.
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Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week:
- Despite the pandemic, the Trump administration strikes its biggest blow yet to Obama-era climate change regulations and rolls back clean-car standards.
- Inside the high-stakes race among US auto- and satellite-makers to build ventilators.
- How much would the planet benefit if we just stopped flying?
- The startup trying to bring electric trucks to the masses.
- A new breed of government officials wonder: How might cities build streets for people, not cars?
- Uber, Instacart, and the pandemic have exposed deep fault lines in the gig economy—and now people are working with renewed urgency to fix them.
- How cuts to public transit have hurt the essential workers who need it most.
Question of the Week
Curbed published a thoughtful piece about the ethics of going outside in cities without much open space—and in cities where available open space has been closed to prevent the spread of the virus. We want to know: Are you getting outside these days? How are you doing it? Are you feeling weird or fearful about going outside? What could your city or town do to make it easier for you? Should they be making it easier for you? If you have thoughts, shoot them my way right here.
Stat of the Week: –12.5%
The drop in Ford’s US sales during the first three months of 2020 compared with last year, according to numbers the automaker released last week. Just a third of Ford’s 3,100 US dealerships are fully open during the nationwide Covid-19 crisis. All automakers are suffering: First-quarter sales were also way down at Toyota (9 percent), Fiat Chrysler (10 percent), General Motors (7 percent), Hyundai (11 percent), and Nissan (30 percent).
News from elsewhere on the internet:
- Tesla says year-over-year deliveries rose 40 percent in the first three months of year compared with 2019. And it didn’t adjust its annual sales projection—despite the pandemic.
- A federal judge says Lyft (and other “gig work” companies) not treating their drivers as employees are “really disregarding the rule of law.”
- App-based workers in New York struggle to get unemployment insurance.
- GM is working with Honda to build two new electric vehicles.
- Federal officials say airlines have to give passengers refunds for virus-related cancellations.
- Last month, former Waymo and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets. Now he’s hoping to force Uber to pay at least part of the $179 million judgment against him.
- A train engineer operating near the Port of Los Angeles ran a train off the tracks while reportedly trying to smash a Navy hospital ship, which he called “suspicious.”
- Where coronavirus is reshaping the streets.
- E-bikes get the official, legal OK in New York.
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s canon:
Feels like it’s time for a suspenseful and satisfying heist story, which is why you should read this classic 2010 joint: The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist.