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Local businesses feel impact of national coin shortage



GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – The United States Federal Reserve releases information about a national coin shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coin machines at Premier Financial Credit Union locations used virtually every day before coronavirus hit did not see as much traffic during the pandemic.

“People weren’t coming in on a regular basis bringing in that coin,” said Brad Grant, president and CEO of Premier Financial Credit Union.

The Federal Reserve cites that interruption of circulation patterns locally and across the country as one of the reasons for a temporary national coin shortage.

“For us, it affects mostly our business customers, because they are the ones that utilize more change. Now, with everybody ramping up and getting back to normal in their business settings, they’re going to need more coin, and we can’t order more coin from the Fed,” said Grant. “We do not get enough in on a daily basis to supply those businesses.”

Kwik Trip is one store reporting an impact in day-to-day business operations caused by the coin shortage. An email to Kwik Rewards members asks customers to to pay for purchases with exact change when using cash or by using an alternative method of payment altogether.

“We’re seeing an acceleration towards digital currencies, and I think this will probably help cause people to think a little bit more and maybe accelerate that kind of change,” said John Stoll, Economics professor at UW-Green Bay.

So what can you do right now? Experts agree it is time to cash in your change.

“We put a post out last week on Facebook just asking our members to bring in their coins,” said Sonny Schaar, marketing manager of Premier Financial Credit Union. “So, they can come through the drive-thru with smaller amounts or if they have larger amounts, they can make an appointment using our Facebook page or just call. We’ll meet them at the door, so they don’t even have to come in.”

“I wouldn’t want people to fear that we’re not going to have enough coins. As an economist, I think markets do work,” said Stoll. “Not always the way we would like to have, but they do work, and they respond. When there’s a shortage of coins out there, there’s going to be a lot of people looking for ways to solve that shortage.”

Action 2 News also reached out to Meijer to see how the grocery chain is being affected. Company officials sent us this statement early Tuesday evening:

“As a result of the national coin shortage caused by the pandemic, Meijer is temporarily converting the self-scan checkout lanes at most of our supercenters to credit/debit use only (they’ll also still accept Meijer gift cards and SNAP/EBT cards). Our staffed checkout lanes will continue to accept cash payments. While we understand this effort may be frustrating to some customers, it’s necessary to manage the impact of the coin shortage on our stores. We appreciate our customers’ understanding and patience.”

Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.

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Schumpeter – Elon, Masa and Boris in low-Earth orbit | Business




SCHUMPETER IS ONLY an amateur stargazer. His equipment is no fancier than a pair of eyes and a place in the countryside, away from London’s light pollution. That is enough to make out Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn—and, occasionally, the International Space Station crossing the firmament. In the past few years a new spectacle has appeared, in the form of the Starlink satellites. Launched in batches by SpaceX, an American rocketry firm founded by Elon Musk, the tech billionaire behind Tesla’s electric cars, they resemble nothing else in the heavens, floating like a train of white dots in tight formation. Bad weather delayed the launch of the latest batch on July 8th. When they do go up, they will total nearly 600, making SpaceX the world’s biggest satellite operator.

SpaceX is a remarkable firm. It was founded in 2002, to further Mr Musk’s dream of colonising Mars. It is a case study in disruption—a startup with no track record has humbled incumbents like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Its rockets cost half as much as its rivals’ do, thanks in part to their ability to land their first stages for reuse rather than dumping them in the sea in line with standard industry practice. The firm was last valued at $36bn, more than better-known tech darlings such as Airbnb, DoorDash or Palantir.

SpaceX’s rocket business alone does not justify this rich valuation. The market for launches is small and stagnant. Mr Musk himself has said that the most his firm could hope to earn from them is around $3bn in revenue a year. If he is to make it to Mars—and if his investors are to see big returns—he needs another plan. This is where Starlink comes in. Those satellites visible from Schumpeter’s garden are the vanguard of a planned constellation of over 1,000, designed to beam the internet to every corner of the globe.

Satellite broadband is not a new idea. But existing options are expensive and slow. Starlink’s cheap, mass-produced, low-flying satellites would, SpaceX claims, offer a service comparable to earthly broadband at competitive prices. It could serve poorly connected villages in rural Africa (or rural America for that matter), as well as oil rigs or cargo ships at sea. Mr Musk has noted that the global telecoms market is worth roughly $1trn. If SpaceX captured even a fraction of that, Morgan Stanley, a bank, recently opined, it could be worth anywhere from $50bn to $120bn or more, making its present valuation look like a bargain.

The world has been here before. Iridium announced similar plans in the late 1990s with gales of hype: the first call on its network was between Al Gore, then America’s vice-president, and a distant descendant of Alexander Graham Bell. Nine months later the firm went bust, swamped by the upfront capital costs of launching satellites. LeoSat, a firm based in Luxembourg, was founded in 2013. It shut down last year for lack of investor interest.

Starlink’s chief competitor is OneWeb, with 74 satellites in orbit and hundreds more planned. It, too, went bust in March, after failing to persuade even Son Masayoshi (also known as Masa), a Japanese tech billionaire with a stake and a well-documented affection for risky startups, to pony up more cash. But it has new backers. On July 3rd Boris Johnson, Britain’s shaggy-dog prime minister, announced that his government had stumped up $500m for a 45% stake in OneWeb, and a golden share giving it control over its future. Bharti Global, an Indian telecoms firm, also put in $500m.

Mr Johnson’s decision drew general bafflement—and an instant flurry of speculation about its rationale. Could he be trying to safeguard a domestic high-tech gem? Britain has long tried to nurture its small but sophisticated space sector and OneWeb is notionally a British firm; its parent company is based in Jersey, an island in the English Channel. But many of its operations, including satellite manufacturing, are in America. Perhaps the reasons were strategic? China was circling, claims one person close to the deal, and Britain pounced to frustrate its ambitions. Except that the American court administering the bankruptcy may be reluctant to hand OneWeb over to a Chinese firm. Politics almost certainly played a part. Britain’s exit from the European Union has limited its access to Galileo, the EU’s alternative to America’s GPS satellites. A bombastic promise to build an all-British replacement, at a cost of £5bn ($6.3bn) or more, looks dubious. Bolting a less capable navigation service onto OneWeb’s satellites may offer Mr Johnson a face-saving way to back down, while pushing back against the perception that Brexit has made the country parochial.

Yet there are also hopes, according to insiders, that the bizarre acquisition may work on purely commercial grounds. OneWeb has priority over SpaceX for the bits of the electromagnetic spectrum needed to beam the internet from the heavens. Those satellite companies that survived bankruptcy—such as Iridium—have come out on the other side as viable, if somewhat dull businesses. Like railways in the 19th century and subsequent infrastructure projects, globe-spanning satellite broadband may become a viable proposition once the initial investors, who often overpay exuberantly, have been wiped out.

And Mr Musk could use a rival in low-Earth orbit. Jeff Bezos, the biggest tech tycoon of all, is working on a similar project, but has yet to put any satellites into space. In the meantime, competition from OneWeb would spur innovation and prevent SpaceX from settling into a celestial monopoly.

A giant leap of faith

Can the British government be a source of competitive pressure? The politest description of its entrepreneurial record is “spotty”—just ask owners of clunkers such as an Austin Allegro or Morris Marina, produced after the partial nationalisation in 1968 of British Leyland. OneWeb may need a further injection of cash if it is to complete its constellation. British taxpayers may never see a financial return on their investment. But if OneWeb keeps Mr Musk on his toes even for a little while, their loss may turn out to be global consumers’ gain. Stranger things have happened in space.

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “The battle for low-Earth orbit”

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San Diego’s Elite Private Schools Take Millions in Small Business Loans – NBC 7 San Diego




Some of San Diego County’s elite private schools received as much as $23.5 million in federal coronavirus relief loans aimed at helping small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tuition at the schools range from $16,500 to as much as $37,130 in yearly tuition. 

On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration released data on all businesses that took out Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

Introduced as a relief fund for small businesses to keep employees on the payroll during the shutdown order, the size and scope of the PPP loan program grew. 

Since May 30, the federal government has issued more than 4.4 million loans to businesses throughout the country. In San Diego County, more than 44,000 businesses applied for and were granted PPP loans, ranging from as little as $100 to $10 million. 

Recipients, as first reported by NBC 7 Investigates, included some of San Diego’s most popular brewers and chain restaurants such as Karl Strauss, Modern Times, and San Diego chain restaurants Rubio’s and Claim Jumper.   

In addition, NBC 7 Investigates found that numerous charter schools claimed more than $15.8 million in PPP loans.

But among the 47,000 companies were some of San Diego County’s elite private schools where tuition is just under the mean income as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau. The federal PPP data gives a dollar range of loans over $150,000.

The loans are in contrast to statements given by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in March when he took to Twitter and demanded that elite schools with endowments return any PPP money they received.

Despite the treasury secretary’s warning, elite private schools across the nation applied for and received the funds. San Diego County schools were no different. 

At La Jolla Country Day School, tuition or daycare costs $20,690 a year while tuition for high school students starts at $37,130 for a year. Federal data shows La Jolla Country Day received a $2-$5 million check in the form of a PPP loan.

A few miles away in Linda Vista, tuition at Francis Parker School is $33,740 for high school students while grade schoolers pay $20,860 a year. As was the case with La Jolla Country Day, Francis Parker received a $2-$5 million small business loan. 

North on Interstate 5 on Del Mar Heights Road is home to Cathedral Catholic High School. Administrators there, where tuition costs $19,368 annually, also took out a $2-$5 million PPP loan.

As for other elite schools to large PPP loans; San Diego Jewish Academy where annual tuition is $29,480 took out a $1-$2 million loan;  Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP) where tuition is listed at $20,200 received a $1-$2 million loan as well, Mater Dei High School where students pay $17,680 in tuition received $1-$2 million, and Saint Augustine’s School which costs $20,346 per school year also took the same amount.  

Other elite private schools to get an economic boost include Cathedral Catholic.

Ed Hearn has served as President of Saint Augustine High School since 2006. Hearn tells NBC 7 that COVID-19 didn’t discriminate when it came to economics and his school, like so many other institutions, suffered since the shutdown. 

“Our school’s tradition goes back 98 years, said Hearn. “We have a lot of families, 52 percent of which are on financial assistance.”

Hearn said Saint Augustine received $1.24 million in PPP money.

“We thought we were going to lose a lot of students,” said Hearn. “Turns out we are starting to gain those students back for a lot of reasons. We have been able to pay our teachers. We did some fundraising with the alumni and the alumni were very generous in helping families pay their back tuition so they could register for classes.” 

Hearn said that the school will return the money if after the pandemic, it is not needed. 

“We have tremendous alumni out there in the community doing great things all the time in San Diego. I feel that it’s an investment for a better day in San Diego. There are going to be a hundred catholic schools that will close their doors across the country because of this pandemic.” 

Mater Dei High School in Chula Vista is one of those Catholic schools that took millions in coronavirus relief. Federal data shows school administrators received a $1-$2 million PPP loan last April.

A spokesperson for the diocese says the PPP loans for Cathedral Catholic and Mater Dei, both of which operate under the authority of the Diocese, “helped with the payroll of 216 employees and the loan Mater Dei received helped with the payroll of 112 employees.”

Meanwhile, public advocacy groups say those loans could potentially come at a cost for small businesses. 

Sean Moulton is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a non-partisan watchdog group based in Washington DC.

“I think there are valid questions to be asked of recipients,” said Moulton in an interview with NBC 7 Investigates. “This was a program that was meant to go to small businesses that did not have forms of other capital during this crisis.”

Moulton says that while he didn’t want to comment specifically on private schools and whether or not elite schools should have received PPP loans, he did say the public has the right to ask. 

“This is taxpayer’s money and they have the right to ask questions,” he said. “And, that is why it’s so important for this information to come out, so that we can evaluate whether the money went to the right places or not.” 

NBC 7 INvestigates also reached out to Francis Parker School, San Diego Jewish Academy, La Jolla Country Day. Click on the links above to see their full comments. Our Lady of Peace declined to comment.

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WHO: Coronavirus may be airborne, could float beyond 6 feet indoors




  • The World Health Organization on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that it’s possible the coronavirus may be transmitted through aerosols, which can linger in the air over several feet.
  • This kind of airborne transmission had previously only been acknowledged by the WHO in hospitals, where aerosol-generating procedures like intubation and resuscitation occur. 
  • Previously, the WHO maintained that the virus is generally spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, which are heavy, and fall to the ground within a few feet.
  • But there is lots of new evidence that major coronavirus outbreaks have spread at churches, in bars, restaurants, offices, nightclubs, and other closed, stuffy settings.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Thursday the World Health Organization acknowledged for the first time that the coronavirus may be passed around in the air across a poorly-ventilated room, even between people who may be spaced more than 6 feet apart. 

Until now, the WHO had maintained that this virus is generally spread by contaminated droplets — which are a fraction of the width of a human hair but much larger and heavier than aerosols, which float in the air. Droplets typically drop to the ground soon after they leave the mouth or nose of an infected person.

As such, the agency said that, outside of hospital settings, there was no evidence the virus can stay aloft in the air for very long or travel very far, meaning that we are relatively safe if we maintain a few feet of distance from others.

But after hundreds of scientists and engineers drafted an open letter targeted at the WHO earlier this week, begging the agency to reconsider its stance, the WHO issued a new scientific brief on coronavirus transmission.

dive bar

ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

“There have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 reported in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing,” the WHO said in new guidance issued Thursday, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out.”

The WHO still stressed that more research is needed to better understand how coronavirus transmission could work over such long distances in closed spaces, because the transmission route “has not been demonstrated,” yet, in any published study. 

“These are fields of research that are really growing and for which there is some evidence emerging, but it is not definitive,” Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s infection prevention lead, said during a press briefing on the subject on Tuesday.

The new guidance pressed that certain high-transmission indoor settings — “during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes” — have all shared some common features: they’re crowded, poorly ventilated places where people have spent a “prolonged period of time” with infected individuals.

The WHO says airborne transmission might be possible in bars, offices, casinos, and churches, especially if the airflow is bad

las vegas customers no masks

Guests play blackjack at a table with plexiglass safety shield dividers and only three seats, for social distancing, as the Bellagio Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip reopened on June 4, 2020.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The WHO is still cautious about declaring, for certain, that airborne transmission is at work in such scenarios.

“Detailed investigations of these clusters suggest that droplet and fomite [surface] transmission could also explain human-to-human transmission within these clusters,” the agency said, stressing that bad hand hygiene, a lack of adequate social distancing, and forgoing face masks could also all play a role in the spread. 

From a layperson’s viewpoint, it may not seem so critical to know whether the virus spreads through droplets or aerosols, as both contain tiny little doses of virus.

But the distinction subtly changes your risk perception of everyday actions and may change how close people decide to get to others when indoors during the pandemic.

“It’s increasingly clear that these big outbreaks where lots of people get infected are one of the most important ways in which this pandemic keeps going,” University of Maryland virologist Don Milton, who co-authored the open letter to the WHO previously told Business Insider. “We need to stop those superspreading events, and the way to stop those superspreading events is to pay attention to airborne transmission.”

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