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The Week in Business: A Sick Twist for the Economy – The New York Times

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Just when it seemed like the country’s pandemic recovery — and the upcoming elections — couldn’t get any more surreal, here we are. Read on for the business and tech news you need to know for the week ahead, and be safe out there. — Charlotte Cowles

Credit…Giacomo Bagnara

And you thought the week’s biggest story would be that train wreck of a presidential debate. Instead, as you’ve surely heard by now, President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus late on Thursday, hours after assuring Americans that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.” Global markets faltered as he began isolating at the White House for an unspecified period, throwing his re-election campaign into uncertainty.

Back to last Tuesday’s debate: Somewhere in its smoldering ashes was a brief exchange about the economic recession. Mr. Trump assured viewers that “our country is coming back incredibly well.” But Joe Biden reiterated (presciently) that the economy can’t be fixed until the coronavirus is brought to heel. They also discussed — or yelled about — the recent revelation that Mr. Trump paid a mere $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017. He claimed he paid “millions,” but has refused to release his tax returns to prove it, blaming an ongoing audit. (The Internal Revenue Service has said he’s free to share his taxes anytime.) Next: Kamala Harris and Mike Pence are to face off in the vice-presidential debate this Tuesday.

Airlines began furloughing more than 32,000 workers on Thursday as the industry’s efforts to secure more federal aid funding remained stuck in Congress. (This comes after tens of thousands more airline employees took voluntary layoffs over the past few months.) The industry received $25 billion in federal aid through the CARES Act back in March, on the condition that they refrained from broad job cuts until Oct. 1. Now that deadline has blown past and air travel is still down about 70 percent from last year. Several airlines said they would hire back workers if lawmakers provided the funding they need to pay them, and the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, pledged her support. But it may not be enough to get the votes she needs.

Credit…Giacomo Bagnara

The airline industry isn’t the only one holding its breath for Congress to pass another pandemic aid package. But Republicans and Democrats still can’t agree on what it should cover. On Thursday, House Democrats pushed through a $2.2 trillion stimulus plan that would provide aid to families, schools, restaurants, businesses and yes, airline workers. But it stands little more than a snowball’s chance in hell in the Senate, where Republicans have already pronounced it too expensive. Still, both sides are running out of moves, and with the election coming up, they’re feeling the pressure to do something.

It’s a telling sign of our times that there’s big money to be made in defrauding the unemployment system. A thriving black market for jobless benefits has cost states millions of dollars and become so pervasive in California that state officials have suspended processing unemployment claims to put new controls in place (which will, of course, affect people who genuinely need the money). The Labor Department dedicated $100 million to impose new cybersecurity measures.

Remember those horror stories of coronavirus-ridden cruise ships floating around at sea because no port would take them? Perhaps with that in mind, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its no-sail policy for cruises to mid-February from Oct. 31. As a result, Carnival Cruise Line announced that it would cancel voyages from all of its United States ports except Miami and Port Canaveral for November and December. But then the White House blocked the C.D.C. order, overruling medical professionals who warned that outbreaks on cruise ships could become a public health disaster. I’ll stay home, thanks.

Ireland’s Supreme Court has ruled that Subway’s sandwich bread contains too much sugar to be legally defined as, well, bread. Instead, it’s a “confectionery,” which is subject to higher taxes. Google is planning to spend more than $1 billion on its News Showcase, a product that will license content from international news organizations to produce snippets of stories that readers can browse on their phones. And you’d think that fast fashion would be hurting in the pandemic, but it turns out people still need outfits for Zoom meetings and TikTok videos. H&M’s online sales are up 7 percent, and it announced plans to capitalize on the trend by closing physical stores and doubling down on e-commerce.

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Poll: Virginia voters say virus, not economy, most important – 570 News

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Enacting restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is more important than removing them to get the economy going, according to a majority of Virginia voters polled this month.

The poll conducted by Hampton University and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 62% think the biggest priority for their community is to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, even if it hurts the economy, while 35% said removing restrictions to help the economy, even if more people get the virus, is the bigger priority.

John Bordeaux, 61, of Lorton, is among those who said controlling the virus is a greater priority. He said he’s worried that younger people are willing to risk prolonged potential exposure at bars and other indoor gathering places, just because statistics show that older people are more vulnerable.

“I don’t think we know enough to make that assessment,” particularly when it comes to how the virus is transmitted, said Bordeaux, a policy researcher.

Paul Gilbert said he’d rather see restrictions removed, if he had to choose, but that those two opposing choices don’t really reflect his thinking. More than anything, he said, he just wants the choices to be guided by science rather than politics, wherever that leads.

“If we don’t get out of this thing, there’s not going to be an economy to worry about,” said Gilbert, 42, a disabled veteran from Suffolk.

Like other states, Virginia has debated the degree to which the economy and society should be open as the pandemic stretches on, and the coronavirus response has been a key issue in the presidential campaign. In Virginia, the politics of that debate have featured frequent barbs from President Donald Trump directed at Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.

In April, during some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions, Trump tweeted “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” an apparent reference to both gun control measures and COVID-19 restrictions. While both Trump and Northam, a physician, contracted the coronavirus, Trump has pushed for a “return to normal” and mocked the use of masks to prevent the virus’s spread, while Northam has advocated masks and other measures to keep the virus in check.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, respondents’ views on the coronavirus reflect a partisan divide. About 9 in 10 Democrats emphasized the importance of using restrictions to stop the virus from spreading. About 7 in 10 Republicans emphasized the importance of removing virus restrictions to help the economy.

The poll shows that between September and October, the standing of Northam and other Democrats improved somewhat. Northam’s favourability rating is now 49%, up slightly from 42% of those responding to a Hampton University/AP-NORC poll last month.

The Democratic presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris showed similar improvements. Biden’s favourability rating ticked up slightly, from 47% to 52%, while positive ratings of Harris increased somewhat from 42% to 50%.

Positive views of Trump, meanwhile, remained roughly the same: 39% say they have a favourable opinion of the president, similar to 37% last month.

The poll also shows a significant shift in voting plans, with more people saying they plan to cast their ballot in person before Election Day. Voters have seen long lines at early polling places across the state in recent weeks.

In September, 54% said they would vote in person on Election Day, and 13% said they planned to vote early in person. The October poll showed just 39% planning to vote on Election Day, with another 31% planning to vote early in person.

Roughly 3 in 10 Virginia voters in both polls indicated plans to vote by mail.

The poll shows a deep divide between Republicans and Democrats about how they plan to vote, which might influence how returns come in on election night.

About 8 in 10 Democrats say they’re voting in advance of the election, including about 4 in 10 by mail and about another 4 in 10 early in person. By contrast, about two-thirds of Republicans say they will vote in person on Election Day.

About two-thirds of those who say they plan to vote on Election Day cite concerns over the counting of mail-in ballots as a major factor. Those planning to vote early in person cite a mix of factors, including concerns about counting mail-in ballots, the coronavirus and long lines on Election Day.

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The AP-NORC/Hampton University poll of 887 registered voters in Virginia was conducted Oct. 6-12 by mail, with the option for respondents to take the survey online or by phone. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

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Online:

AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org/.

Matthew Barakat, The Associated Press

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Economy

China’s New Growth Plan May Push Economy Past U.S. Within Decade – BloombergQuint

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Bloomberg

Bloomberg | Quint is a multiplatform, Indian business and financial news company. We combine Bloomberg’s global leadership in business and financial news and data, with Quintillion Media’s deep expertise in the Indian market and digital news delivery, to provide high quality business news, insights and trends for India’s sophisticated audiences.

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An innovative economy requires an innovative government – The Hill Times

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Government’s job is to empower rapid innovation in the private sector, not control it. Promote a new wave of digital-first ADMs and DMs across departments and prioritize candidates who have worked in high growth SMEs, and who value competition and competitiveness in everything they do, writes ISG Senator Colin Deacon. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

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