Author Archives: nataliajaramillo1

When will Disney World reopen?

Although Disney World has yet to announce park reopening dates in the United States or France customers can book tickets for June 1, while Disney Shanghai is set to open May 11.

Disneyland in Shanghai’s opening will set the precedent for how Disney could open in the US and France at a later date. Shanghai’s Disney Town and resort have been open since early March. 

Disney World website allows customers to purchase tickets starting in June through the rest of the year. Photo by: Natalia Jaramillo

Disney Shanghai is opening with limited capacity and all customers must wear approved face masks, purchase tickets prior to the day of opening, show their greenlight health QR code, social distance in queues for rides and restaurants as well as undergo temperature checks upon arrival. Some shows and attractions will not be open, no pictures with cast members will be allowed and there are increased sanitation measures that will take place throughout the day in Disney Shanghai once the park reopens. 

Disney in the United States is likely to follow similar guidelines placed in Shanghai after it determines how well the regulations work and although the Disney executives have yet to announce a specific date, customers can purchase tickets in the US to attend the park beginning in June. 

“An encouraging sign for Disney parks and retail locations all over the world,” said Pamela Hymel, the Disney parks chief medical officer about the Shanghai openings in a press release. 

Hymel stated that the parks are exploring a phased opening option where restaurants and retail, such as Disney Springs, open first before the parks similarly to Shanghai. Virtual queues and efforts to aid social distancing within the park utilising Disney park apps, increased disinfection, use of personal protective equipment and training cast members in health are some of the reopening plans. 

This is ongoing while Disney reported a ($1 billion dollar)  814,435,000 pound impact due to COVID-19 mainly due to lost revenue from park and resort closures. Disney has also decided to forgo the payment of their semi-annual cash dividend to investors, saving the company $1.6 billion US dollars(over 1.3 million pounds), according to a Disney press release. 

The company has had to adapt to the massive loss in park revenue by furloughing 43,000 workers while reducing capital spending and cutting salaries for senior management. 

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has had an appreciable financial impact on a number of our businesses, we are confident in our ability to withstand this disruption and emerge from it in a strong position,” said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer of Disney. “Disney has repeatedly shown that it is exceptionally resilient, which is evident in the extraordinary response to Disney+ since its launch last November.”

In a Florida tourism survey, where the Orlando based Disney World is located and brings in over 75 million domestic and international travelers in 2018 according to the Orlando Business Journal, tourism businesses in Florida had to reduce their staff by 73% due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

This impact on the Florida economy that is largely built around tourism will have negative effects for years to come. Not only will the Central Florida economy suffer due to a loss in tourism, but the families used to hold seasonal passes will likely not experience the full magic of Disney soon. 

“My daughter Emma turns 11 today. She’s been saving her money for a year to go to Disney World for her birthday. Not as a gift for herself, but so that her baby sister could enjoy Disney the way she did as a little kid. COVID had other plans,” Berny Belvedere father and Arc Digital editor in chief said on Twitter. 

(Feature image: Christian Wagner on Unsplash)

by Natalia Jaramillo

Coronavirus limits meat in grocery stores across the US

Meat across US grocery stores are suffering shortages after US President Donald Trump ordered manufacturers to stay open as COVID-19 spreads. 

President Trump issued an Executive Order on the 28th of April to keep meat manufacturing plants open and follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines after many plants had closed due to Coronavirus spreading among its workers in a tight processing factory.

The order states that due to many meat and poultry processors concentrated in close facilities the closure of any of these plants could detrimentally harm the food supply chain in the US and impact farmers. A single large beef manufacturing plant closure could impact just the American diet staple of beef by a loss of over 10 million servings in one day.

Many meat processing plants closed in early April. On the 12th of April, Smithfield Foods closed its factory in South Dakota, one of the largest facilities to produce pork in the US, after reporting 238 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19 of its total 3,700 workers, according to their press release.

Smithfield is not alone in closures. Tyson Foods, Cargill and JBS are just a few more large meat manufacturers that closed their processing plants due to the spread of COVID-19 and will now have to reopen and continue processing meat with enhanced safety precautions due to Trump’s executive order.

Grocery store in United States have empty poultry shelves like this one with household limits. Image: Natalia Jaramillo

Union representatives are speaking out on what the executive order means for the front line workers attempting to pack meat for grocery stores across America.

“With hundreds of thousands of Teamsters working as essential workers in the food supply chain, our members are on the front lines of national efforts to keep grocery stores supplied during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

“Our members are proud to keep America running but they shouldn’t be subjected to unsafe working conditions in order to do so.”

Teamsters, a workers union representing over 1.4 million employees across North America wants meatpacking workers to have the highest level of protective gear, ensuring daily testing for workers and their communities.

Social distancing, paid sick leave, emergency premium pay are all considered essential too.


Image by Pexels

Across the US grocery store customers can already see meat and poultry shortages on shelves, an impact from before the executive order went into effect and meat processing plants began to close.

“I got to Costco an hour after it opened and there was no more fresh chicken of any kind and all other meats were really low in stock,” Viviana Riveros said, a grocery store customer in Florida. “It was surprising to see how quickly the closing of plants impacted the availability of meat at grocery stores.”

Some agricultural experts predict that the meat shortages could improve by June while others believe that COVID-19 could impact supplies for over a year as meat plants learn to deal with the slower working process due to a decrease in staff infected by Coronavirus.

“I think the average purchaser’s going to notice it,” David Anderson, professor and extension economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University, told Time magazine. “I suspect that consumers will note that in the meat case in their store, there won’t be as much as normal, or as they used to see. You’ll see parts of the meat case where there’s less there, you’ll see parts of the meat case, probably, where they spread out the product — so it looks full.”

Experts believe that grocery store customers could also see a rise in price in meat, particularly popular American favourites such as ground beef and bacon. Price increase at a time when over 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits could mean grocery customers are looking for ways to reduce spending and ease shopping.

The plant-based meat market around the world is set to expand from 2.8 billion pounds ($3.6 billion USD) to 3.35 billion pounds ($4.2 USD) in 2021 with North America bringing in the biggest jump in consumption, according to a Reportlinker press release.

Now more than ever people are trying to stay as healthy as possible to avoid getting sick or infected with COVID-19 so a switch to plant protein instead of meat may be beneficial to Americans trying to cut down on the monetary and health expense of meat.

The difficulties of testing for COVID-19 in the United States

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt globally and as the number of cases keeps rising, people are wondering how testing is being counted. 

The United States became the country with the most cases of coronavirus worldwide on March 26 with over 100,000 positive cases of the virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control, which is based in the states says that there are 95 public health laboratories spread across all 50 states that are verified to test for COVID-19. The CDC also states that certified laboratories no longer need to get their tests verified by the Food and Drug Administration before putting tests into action but have 15 days after designing the test to communicate to the FDA, according to a CDC diagnostics policy document

Typically during a health crisis the CDC is the first to develop diagnostic tests in the U.S. however due to problems manufacturing their test the CDC and FDA have allowed commercial manufactures and certified public health labs to make the tests more readily available to the public, according the U.S. FDA. 

Due to public health labs making their own tests there are no FDA guidelines on recording the tests, whether positive or negative of coronavirus, this has led to some inaccuracies in numbers and ordinary people to take charge. 

Data Source: Our world Data Coronavirus Testing

As of April 1 there have been 1,149,960 tests taken in the United States, according to the COVID Tracking Project. 

The project comes after officials plead for more tests and numbers of testing are being questioned. 

The COVID Tracking project was started by journalists to attempt to gather correct testing numbers throughout the country from state and local governments, verified news sources and the federal government. It is made up of journalists who contribute by attending official press conferences and ask local, state and federal leaders how many cases there are and 100 volunteers who gather data.  

In comparison, in the UK the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England reports there have been 152,979 people tested, positive and negative, for coronavirus.

In the UK “the results of these tests are submitted to PHE through the Second Generation Surveillance System (SGSS). Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested as supplied by the laboratory information systems,” according to a PHE COVID-19 dashboard document.

Photo by: Brian McGowan on Unsplash

In order to be tested in the United States, you must exhibit symptoms call your local doctor and then be referred to a testing center near you, register for a spot on the list to get tested, attend and wait in line, then wait for test results days later.

“If we had all the resources in the world and could wave a magic wand, we would be happy to test these people, but they’re not there, so I’m afraid we’re having to prioritize,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN.

Why does toilet paper take so long to get to grocery stores?

Since the coronavirus ramped up and became a pandemic one essential hygiene product is flying off the shelves in grocery stores all over the world: toilet paper.  But why does it take so long to restock? 

Toilet paper can be made by recycled paper’s pulp or through tree pulp that is then dyed with chemicals to give it the white appearance.  The treated pulp is then sent to paper mills where it is converted into large sheets of paper and then cut into napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels in different sizes.  

Last year, the UK used around 1.25 million tonnes of hygiene paper of which over half were in the form of toilet paper, according to a statement by The Confederation of Paper Industries and The Paper Industry Technical Association.  

An unusually full stock of toilet paper sold 2 for 1 and limited to 4 single rolls per family. source: Natalia Jaramillo

Toilet paper mills, pre-pandemic, were already running 24 hours a day seven days a week and now with COVID-19 impacting worker’s schedules and increasing demand, the industry is having a tough time catching up. 

Kimberly Clarke, producer of popular toilet paper brands such as Andrex and Cottonelle said in a statement: 

“We have plans in place to address the increased demand for our products to the extent possible, including accelerating the production of essential products and reallocating inventory to help. Our teams continue to monitor demand and we will make adjustments to our plans accordingly.” 

Kimberly Clarke’s plans to ramp up production of essential products like toilet paper means slowing production of non essential products all meanwhile implementing worker safety protocols that may slow down production.  

“Some of the additional measures include regular cleaning of work areas, shift rotations, distancing reminders where people queue, and temperature scans at entry points. We’re also encouraging our employees to stay at home if they feel unwell,” read a Kimberly Clarke statement for the company’s COVID-19 response. 

In order to get toilet paper into grocery store shelves,  trucks have to be packed at paper mills driven to grocery stores and then unpacked and restocked onto the shelves. 

“I asked when the next shipment of toilet paper was coming and the cashier said to come early morning on Saturday,” said Viviana Riveros, a grocery store customer. 

When she arrived at 9 am, one hour after opening, the store was sold out of its supply of toilet paper.  

Grocery store shelves where there should be toilet paper are left empty due to COVID-1. Source: Natalia Jaramillo

Another popular toilet paper maker Essity, who makes Cushelle, already increased net sales in 2019 by 10.6% and is now further increasing due to the pandemic response to panic buy. 

“As a leading global hygiene and health company, we are currently also doing our utmost to continue to manufacture and deliver essential products such as hand paper towels, soap and sanitizers, toilet paper, handkerchiefs and diapers to consumers and customers around the world,” said Magnus Groth, CEO and President of Essity. 

The shortage of toilet paper comes after the UK government issues statements advising people not to panic buy. 

Tesla, Apple and Coca Cola are among companies not providing enough protection measures for employees during the coronavirus pandemic according to Teamsters union.

Many United-States-based companies are not increasing protections enough for their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the union giant Teamsters.

Tech giants Apple and Tesla are not reimbursing shuttle drivers like their competitors Facebook, Genentech, Electronic Arts, Linkedin, Twitter and Salesforce, who are offering shuttle drivers reimbursements, health care and ensures contracted drivers will receive paychecks throughout the pandemic, according to a statement by Teamsters union joint council 7. 

Great Lakes Coca Cola, a company controlled by another American giant corporation Coca Cola, is not offering its employees similar protections due to the coronavirus as their competitors. 

Great Lakes Coca Cola’s competitors, Pepsi Co. Beverages North America and the American Bottling Company, are offering their employees percentage-based increases to their essential workers in addition to their regular hourly pay, paid sick leave to those diagnosed with COVID-19 or forced to quarantine and paid sick leave for workers due to factory closures, according to a statement by Teamsters Local Union number 727 of Park Ridge, Illinois. 

Photo by: Maximilian Bruck on Unsplash

How Has Coca Cola Responded? 

Great Lakes Coca Cola proposed a $100 US dollar weekly stipend only to employees who complete all of their weekly shifts. 

Yet, popular union Teamster is not happy with this proposition.

“It’s absurd that any company during an international health crisis is essentially telling its members they must come to work, no matter what,” said John Coli Jr, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local Union 727 based in Chicago.  

Coca Cola has increased their sanitation efforts to thoroughly clean high touch surfaces, restricts visitors, encourages remote working and will implement isolation protocol if an employee becomes diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a statement. 

Photo by: Julian O’hayon on Unsplash

How Has Apple Responded? 

Apple reopened all of its greater China stores on March 13 while closing all stores outside of the greater China region but continues to take orders through their online stores and promises “fast and free delivery”, according to Apple’s official website. 

Apple is continuing to deep clean office spaces while asking employees who are able to work from home to do so, conducting health screenings and temperature checks, according to a statement on March 13. 

Hourly workers will also be receiving usual pay as with business as usual operations and Apple has extended their leave policy to include health COVID-19 related health circumstances such as recovering from coronavirus, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining or childcare challenges due to school closures, according to a statement. 

Photo by: Tesla

How Has Tesla Responded?

In a Feb. 4 newsletter Tesla explained they want to “become the world’s safest company by continuously integrating safety into the way we work and the products we build, which is why we rely on each of our employees, dedicated leaders and Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) professionals and service providers to promote a culture of safety,” wrote Laurie Shelby, Vice President of Environmental, Health & Safety at Tesla. 

Teamsters Local Union 853 represents over 1000 shuttle drivers some of which work for Tesla and Apple in the area. 

“I am shocked that Apple and Tesla would be so cold-hearted as to refuse to do even the minimum that the other companies are doing for the drivers,” said Stacy Murphy, Teamsters Local 853 Business Representative.