Nike is converting popular sneakers into face shields for health care workers

code6d/iStock(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- In addition to donating millions of dollars to coronavirus relief, Nike is now also turning efforts towards creating personal protective equipment for health care workers.

On Tuesday, the athletic apparel brand announced that its innovation, manufacturing and product teams are collaborating to start creating full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to protect against COVID-19.

Working alongside health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University, Nike is finding a way to reproduce face shields using Nike-owned materials at the brand's manufacturing facilities.

"Without proper facial protection, healthcare workers are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, which could place substantial strain on the healthcare workforce in the months ahead," Dr. Miko Enomoto, associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at OHSU School of Medicine, said in a statement on Nike's website. "The full-face shields help protect healthcare workers' faces and also help to prolong the length we can safely use a surgical or N95 mask."

Produced through a nine-step process, Nike's full-face shield includes three parts manufactured from elements of the brand's popular footwear. "Collar padding once destined for shoes is repurposed; cords originally earmarked for apparel reconsidered; and, most important, the TPU component of a Nike signature — the Nike Air soles — reimagined," the brand wrote in the statement.

The first shipment of full-face shields and PAPR lenses went to OHSU on April 3 and will be provided to health systems in Nike’s World Headquarters region, including Providence, Legacy Health Systems and Kaiser Permanente, and others across the state of Oregon, the company said.

"OHSU’s mission is to support the health and well-being of all Oregonians, and we can’t do that without adequate supplies of personal protective equipment," Dr. Danny Jacobs, president of Oregon Health & Science University, said in the Nike statement. "I've been so inspired by how our community has united to meet this health crisis. We are forever grateful to the commitment of our colleagues at Nike, as their dedication to our united effort will help save lives."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus economic updates: Markets edge upwards

Kameleon007/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending entire industries and sending financial markets reeling.  

Here's the latest news on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the economy. For more on financial resources available during the pandemic, click here.

Here's how the day is unfolding. Please refresh for updates.

US financial markets see early gains

U.S. financial markets ticked up slightly at the start of Wednesday's trading session.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all saw gains of just over 1%.

Investors are welcoming some signs that the pandemic could be nearing its peak globally. China lifted the lockdown on Wuhan, the city where the first cases of the novel coronavirus emerged. Spain announced plans to gradually ease lockdown measures, with the country's finance minister, Maria Jesus Montero, saying at a press conference Tuesday night that "citizens will be able to get back to their normal life" starting April 26.

The U.S. remains among the worst affected countries, with nearly 400,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data compiled by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Earlier in the week, authorities expressed hope that the rate of infections was possibly plateauing in some of the hardest-hit areas. In New York, the state most impacted by the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there was a "possible flattening of the curve" on Monday after the total number of hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and daily intubations were down.

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Could a simple blood test for COVID-19 antibodies help reopen the economy?

anyaivanova/iStock(NEW YORK) -- With a White House increasingly anxious to get the economy in gear and an approved vaccine for the novel coronavirus still months away at best, public health officials are hoping that tens of millions of Americans will have access to a simple blood test that can identify recovered patients who've developed some kind of immune response to the virus.

The idea behind the push is that people who have been exposed to the virus form antibodies in their bloodstream that may help them to fight off another infection. The hope is that the body's antibodies against COVID-19 can diminish the chances of re-infection. Theoretically, those found to have immunized antibodies could then return to work and help reignite the economy.

Commercial labs are scrambling to develop and distribute serologic tests, as they are known, in large quantities -- and the federal government is doing its best to expedite an approval process that is, under normal circumstances, lengthy and cumbersome.

Adm. Brett Giroir, tapped by President Donald Trump to lead testing efforts, said he is "very optimistic" that tens of millions of the tests will be available by May. And he says it could dramatically change what we know about the scope of infection inside the United States.

"That's really important as we think about re-opening the country and the economy because if you've had the virus and you've had an immune response to it, in all probability you are immune and safe from the virus," Giroir said on ABC's Good Morning America on Monday.

Others remain skeptical. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of U.S. Food and Drug Administration under President Trump, told ABC News he does not view the antibody test as a game-changer in the effort to reopen the economy. In reality, he said, relatively few people have been exposed to the virus.

"I think there's a perception that when we test the larger, general population that there's a lot of people out there who were exposed and have immunity," Gottlieb said. "But I think when we do these tests, we'll see it's actually much smaller."

Others on the White House coronavirus task force have put faith in antibodies as a way to reverse course in quick order. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, has said he is "willing to bet anything that people who recover are really protected against reinfection," and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House task force coordinator, said she has "called on every university and every state to develop [antibody test capabilities]."

Testing troubles from the start

The U.S. has struggled in determining who is infected by the novel coronavirus. The country's ability to track outbreaks of flu virus is done largely by public health labs that don't have the resources to conduct widespread diagnostic tests.

The federal government eventually brought in the private sector as part of a coordinated response. But by then, the virus was spreading rapidly and the complicated diagnostic tests that required specialized equipment wasn't widespread enough to figure out who had the virus -- prompting the need for "social distancing" rather than containment.

Now, health officials are urging Americans to reserve diagnostic tests for the active virus -- a nasal swab -- for health care workers and patients in hospitals.

The approach raises urgent questions though about how long social distancing can be maintained, especially considering the blow to the economy and families struggling to get back to work.

"There's tremendous light at the end of the tunnel," Trump promised late Monday, citing new developments in research.

Antibodies as treatment

Multiple healthcare institutions around the country are using blood antibody tests to identify potential donors for a therapy called convalescent plasma. The experimental treatment pulls blood plasma from recovered patients and injects those antibodies into the sickest patients, with the goal of staving off the disease.

"We believe it can be disease-modifying and reduce duration and severity in some patients," said Dr. Michael Joyner, a physiologist and anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic, one of the institutions who has started the collection process for COVID patients who may qualify.

While researchers move forward with convalescent plasma treatments as a stop-gap measure, the simple blood test that can tell a person if they have the antibodies is being strongly considered as a public health tool to understand how many people may already have had the disease.

On Tuesday, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said antibody testing can help identify individuals who have overcome an infection and that "may potentially be used to help determine, together with other clinical data, that such individual are no longer susceptible to infection and can return to work."

Those found to have sufficient antibody immunities could begin trickling back to work and eventually start getting the country -- and economy -- back to normal. Experts say the antibody test could be an invaluable marker to identify those recovered patients.

"The antibody test will tell us what happened in the past and will also help us in the future as a potential therapy," Dr. Arturo Casadevall, the chair of molecular biology and immunology at Johns Hopkins, told ABC News' Diane Sawyer. "So I do think that we need to redouble our efforts to deploy rapid antibody tests to know who has been infected and who has overcome the virus."
Federal regulators say they won't stand in the way

In March, the FDA allowed developers of the antibody test to market their antibody tests without FDA review as long as certain conditions were met.

"The important thing is for the people who have this test -- and I stress that some companies are developing them, and they're also being found in academic centers -- to work with the FDA so that this test can be done very rapidly," Casadevall said.

The FDA has said it doesn't intend to object to the development and distribution of these serology tests either. At least one company -- Cellex -- has gone so far as to receive "emergency authorization."

A spokesperson for Cellex told ABC News that the company "is optimistic that 100,000 test kits will be shipped very soon from China to New York City."

Industry, academia stepping up

The result is that several commercial labs have entered the race for a workable, scalable test.

New York-based United Biomedical partnered with San Miguel County, Colorado, with a goal of testing all 8,000 county residents for antibodies. As of Tuesday, over 1,600 tests were processed and only eight people so far have tested positive for antibodies. Full test results are expected in the coming days and the company said it already has plans to test other communities around the country.

BioMedomics, a North Carolina-based firm, is also developing a so-called rapid test -- with results available within 15 minutes. The company is working with BD, a medical tech company, and Henry Schein Inc. to distribute the tests.

The FDA said Monday it had received requests from more than 100 companies for emergency authorizations for antibody tests. United Biomedical also told ABC News it was seeking authorization.

As of Wednesday, 70 commercial labs had notified the FDA that they have antibody tests available for use but without proceeding with an emergency use authorization. BioMedomics is on that list.

Researchers at academic centers like Stanford have also experimented with mass serologic testing. Over the weekend, the university's health policy arm collaborated with the Santa Clara County Department of Health to administer serologic tests to 3,200 people in the area.

With all the private companies and researchers racing to develop and deploy tests -- and the FDA scrambling to cut out bureaucratic red tape -- risks with faulty products persist.

"It's a balance for the FDA to get things out quickly, and there has been a lot of pressure and lot of push to get tests out," said Dr. Angela Caliendo, an infectious disease expert at the Brown University medical school, describing the FDA's use of emergency authorizations for serologic tests.

"To get [tests] out quickly means you don't have a clinical study," Dr. Caliendo continued. "So the upside is we have the tests. The downside is we don't exactly know how well they're going to perform."

Adm. Giroir echoed that sentiment, noting that the volume of labs rolling out their own tests made it increasingly likely that some won't work.

"'Approved' is not a word we talk about," Giroir told reporters. "There is a test or two that has received emergency use authorization and many, many, many others out there that have not gone that way yet, and I want to take this opportunity to caution."

The FDA on Tuesday warned that some firms are "falsely claiming that their serological tests are FDA approved or authorized."

But will they work?

As for millions of faulty tests already on the market, Giroir said "we're not going to get in that situation."

Scott Becker, the CEO of the Association for Public Health Laboratories, said he has raised the concern of faulty tests with the federal officials -- including Giroir. To their credit, Becker said, the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health have responded well and indicated that they plan to roll out a government validation panel to review tests in the coming weeks.

"The last thing we need right now is bad tests on the market," Becker said. "You do not want to provide a bad result. We need to ensure that whatever tests Americans are going to get have a high degree of accuracy."

The other question is who gets access to the tests. Giroir said he wants health care workers and the elderly to have first dibs. But with the private sector running the show, it's unclear how the government would enforce that -- possibly authorizing a specific company to test high-risk populations.

Meanwhile, another race is on within the biomedical community that will eventually nullify the need for antibody tests and treatments: a vaccine.

But with a possible vaccine still far beyond the horizon, the serologic testing could be fastest way for Americans to regain some sense of normalcy before the fall respiratory infection flu season begins again.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

MAC celebrates legacy of Selena Quintanilla with second makeup collection

mericsso/iStock(NEW YORK) -- After a successful initial launch, MAC Cosmetics is back with a second makeup collection that pays homage to the late, great pop star Selena Quintanilla.

On Monday, the popular makeup brand announced the launch of the new Selena La Reina collection, which was created alongside the late singer's family.

This new collection is inspired by Selena's unique musical style as well as her distinctive global influence.

"I am forever grateful to MAC for allowing me to bring my creative vision to life for this collection and being able to share what I felt would celebrate my sister's 25th Anniversary," Selena's sister, Suzette Quintanilla, said in a statement.

One standout in the limited-edition collection is the Bidi Bidi Bom Bom Lipglass, which has a pearlescent pink tone. It was part of the original "MAC Selena" collection that was launched in 2016.

The updated MAC Selena La Reina collection also includes a range of other lip products, a finishing face powder, an eyeshadow palette, and a makeup bag that looks reminiscent of the signature bedazzled bra Quintanilla used to wear when she performed.

"The true inspiration behind the packaging is Selena's iconic rhinestone bra and really led to the holographic feel for the rest of the collection so it pulled everything together," Suzette said in a statement.

Senior national artist Gisel Calvillo also spoke to the vibrant hues through the collection.

“The colours in the eye palette range from warm nudes that compliment every skin tone, to some rich-toned earthy browns," she said in a statement. "For lips, we have included an assortment of nudes, rose-toned and red shades that give the perfect pout. The textures run from both matte to shimmery metallic shades to play up your look from day to night."

The first collection was birthed after fans created an online petition in 2015 calling for MAC to create a makeup line inspired by the singer.
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Stop & Shop offers half-price Uber rides for seniors to go grocery shopping

SDI Productions/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Grocery store chain Stop & Shop is teaming up with Uber Technologies to offer seniors half-price rides to store locations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Customers age 60 and over can access the discount by entering the promo code “STOPSHOPUBER” in their Uber app beginning April 8. Friends, family and neighbors of costumers can also order a ride on behalf of the shopper if they don’t have access to the app.

“We hope this commitment will provide a helpful option for customers who wish to shop during special hours,” Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid said.

The discounted rates are available between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. only. The discount is capped at $20 per ride, and there's a limit of two trips per week.

The deal is available at more than 400 Stop & Shop stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island, and the deal lasts through April 29.

“Now more than ever we have to do whatever it takes to ensure that transportation is not a barrier to food security,” Uber Global Operations Senior Vice President Andrew Macdonald said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidelines state that older adults are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the CDC recommends that seniors “stay at home as much as possible.”

Many grocery stores like Stop & Shop have set up exclusive shopping hours for the elderly in an effort to limit potential COVID-19 exposure.

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As flights are canceled amid coronavirus, officer sues United Airlines for refund

iStock/aapsky(MINNEAPOLIS) -- As airlines continue to slash flights amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, a police officer from Minnesota is suing United Airlines over a rejected ticket refund claim.

Passenger Jacob Rudolph filed the lawsuit in Chicago federal court on Monday after he claims the airline refused to refund three tickets he purchased in January totaling $1,521.45. Rudolph says the airline cancelled his April 4 flight between Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He then requested a refund several times, "but like so many other passengers, United denied that request," the lawsuit said. According to Rudolph, United offered to rebook his flight or issue him a ticket credit for travel within one year of the issue date. Over the weekend, United announced they were extending voucher expirations for up to two years.

The class action suit was filed just three days after the Department of Transportation (DOT) told the airlines that they remain obligated to provide a “prompt refund” to passengers whose flights were affected by COVID-19.

"The Department is receiving an increasing number of complaints and inquiries from ticketed passengers, including many with non-refundable tickets, who describe having been denied refunds for flights that were canceled or significantly delayed,” DOT said in a statement. "In many of these cases, the passengers stated that the carrier informed them that they would receive vouchers or credits for future travel."

United said in a statement to ABC News that they have not been served with the complaint and therefore cannot comment on it. United said that "eligible travelers on domestic flights -- and customers with international tickets" can request a refund online or may call United's contact centers if their flight has been "severely adjusted" or "service to their destination" was suspended either due to government mandates or the airline's schedule reductions.

"The need for monetary refunds over travel vouchers is pressing now," the lawsuit says. "Travel vouchers provide little security in this public crisis, particularly where many individual Americans need money now to pay for basics like food and rent, not restrictive, temporary credits towards future travel."

A little over a week ago, nine Democratic senators sent letters to all the major U.S. airline CEOs urging them to issue customers full cash refunds.

U.S. airlines secured almost $60 billion in the stimulus package comprised of both cash grants and loans. The airlines agreed to refrain from laying off employees through September, place limits on executive compensation for two years, and eliminate stock buybacks for at least a year.

"It would be unacceptable to us for your company to hold onto travelers’ payments for canceled flights instead of refunding them, especially in light of the $25 billion bailout that the airline industry just received from Congress," the senators wrote to airline CEOs.

Senators asked the airlines to respond by April 7.

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'Hot mess': Small businesses besieged by problems getting coronavirus loans

iStock/nathaphat(WASHINGTON) -- Michael Shemtov is struggling to keep his small cafe in Charleston, SC, afloat. He has already shuttered nine of his restaurants in that state and Tennessee amid the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, with a total of 300 staff now out of work through no fault of their own.

For Shemtov, who is now down to a skeleton crew of 10 employees at The Daily and is struggling to hold on, getting a loan from the federal government’s new $350 billion government-backed, low-interest loan program, known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), means the difference between life and death for his business, a sentiment echoed by scores of small businesses across the country whose owners spoke with ABC News.

So far, the program’s rapid rollout has been plagued by problems, leaving cash-strapped small businesses in the lurch. And the industry estimates that half of small businesses could be out of business in two months and another third in three to six months, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).

“I got an email from one bank saying that there's 42,000 people who have signed up to be notified when those applications will be opened,” Shemtov told ABC News. “So basically, what we have is a hot mess, which is not shocking, given the players involved. I think this is all very well-intentioned, but I think trying to put through a 350 billion dollar loan package in a week by nature is going to be very complicated.”

 Out of five banks in Shemtov’s area, including SunTrust Pinnacle and Wells Fargo, he said only one of them was able to accept and process his application, which is especially remarkable given that he has filed 10 applications for each of his 10 restaurants.

The massive emergency loan program is designed to help small businesses with fewer than 500 employees rehire staff, make payroll up to $100,000 per year per person and pay operating expenses. And if the borrower adheres to the program, the entirety of the loan is forgiven. Others will have two years to repay the loan -- which amounts to eight weeks of a business' prior average payroll with a max loan of $10 million -- at a lower interest rate.

But even that interest rate has gone up since the PPP was created under the $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus legislation.

In response to complaints from banks regarding loan disbursement, the Treasury Department upped the interest rate from 0.5% to 1% and is now giving borrowers 2 years to pay back those loans as opposed to the originally proposed 10 years.

“We've heard from some smaller community banks that their deposit costs -- even though the government is borrowing at three or four basis points," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a White House Coronavirus Taskforce meeting on April 2. “To make this attractive for community banks, we've agreed to raise the interest rate.”

There were also reports that the SBA’s online loan application process, known as E-Tran, was down for much of Monday, according to a senior banking industry source, who said one banker recounted to his group on Monday how the site was inoperable the entire morning.

A spokesperson for the SBA told ABC News Monday the system was "up and running” without addressing whether the site had been down for the better part of the day. "The system is up and running. We continue to process, approve, and guarantee billions of dollars of loans per hour," said SBA spokeswoman Carol Wilkerson.

Amazon Web Services was brought on over the weekend to create a new online portal through which more applications can be submitted, but it was unclear when that service would be operational, though many were hopeful it would relieve the increasing bottleneck in the system.

Substantial hurdles remain across the vast program, from general to technical, and experts say the sheer volume of the demand is sure to exhaust the current funding which would necessitate the need for another federal infusion.

A senior administration official confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday that the Treasury Department is poised to ask Congress for another cash infusion -- more than $200 billion -- to keep the program from running out of money. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was preparing to have the chamber approve the funding on Thursday, the next time the Senate is scheduled to hold a brief session with one member present to conduct any procedural business. If no member objects, the emergency legislation could pass quickly. The action would still need to clear the House.

Nearly 8,700 chefs, restaurateurs and workers from across the country joined leaders of the Independent Restaurant Coalition to call on Congress to take urgent new actions to help ensure their survival, including extending the program for three months after businesses reopen, creating a stabilization fund to help owners pay their vendors, and increasing the loan repayment period from two years to 10. Without these changes, the coalition warned, “the systemic impact will be unprecedented and gravely consequential.”

And while more people could apply for assistance as of Monday, many small business owners desperate for cash were unable to find a lender who would accept them because he or she did not have an existing relationship with the bank, even though the legislation that created the program did not include this requirement.

“The hurdles have not been removed,” said Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB, which represents 300,000 businesses, many of them with fewer than 10 employees. “I only know of one of our members whose loan has been approved. We’ve not spoken to anyone who has actually received money.”

“The good news is, I feel like at least they’re getting on the radar of their banker, but I’m super worried about those who are not able to get a loan. I just wish more banks would participate,” said Harned.

The treasury secretary tweeted on Sunday that "over $1,800,000,000 #PPPloan now processed by @SBAgov mostly all from community banks. Big banks taking in large amounts but not yet submitted in these numbers!"

Many retail banks were accepting applications as of Monday, but Citibank was among the few large financial institutions that was not yet up and running. It’s PPP website still read, “While we are working as quickly as we can, Citi is not yet able to accept the loan applications for the new Paycheck Protection Program. We appreciate your patience.”

Wells Fargo opened its application site on Saturday, but the bank announced a day later that it had reached capacity.

“Given the exceptionally high volume of requests we have already received, we will not be able to accept any additional requests for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program.”

The institution was limited in how much it could lend after a 2016 fraudulent account scandal.

For Joe Field, the owner of Flying Color Comics and other Cool Stuff in Concord, Calif., the Wells Fargo announcement was a blow.

“Last week I filled out the application, took it to Wells Fargo, and the Wells Fargo employees said that it would not be available on their site until sometime this week,” said Field, but by Monday, he said he was turned away by the bank.

“Kind of what you'd expect from a government program,” Field added. "I understand that everybody's going through this, but it would be nice if there was some clarity that would allow us to be able to do this in a way that, I don't know, makes good business sense ... Let's hope.”

Small business owners have also told ABC News that the application process, while simple at first, can quickly become bewildering.

“The confusing part of this process really breaks down to this: The SBA is saying things will work one way, and the banks want things done their way,” said Field, adding, “The forms are relatively easy, but getting to the finish line is proving to be a real challenge.”

Larry Shulman, who owns a home audio/visual technology company in Massachusetts that employs 13, said the Bank of America application asked him to report his payroll, but he was never asked how much he needed for rent or utilities, which are also meant to be covered under PPP loans.

"They don't even give you a loan number when it accepts. They don't give you an email. It’s as if we did nothing. So you don’t know where it is or when it went in," Shulman said.

For Jeffery Norwood, owner of a camera shop in Long Island, New York, the application process with Chase Bank was “very simple,” but it's a little deceptive, because in reading other information...the hard work is afterwards, I found out. You have to file quite a few informational forms from the SBA and from the IRS, and you have to have all your ducks in a row, but you have time to do it.”

Despite this widespread confusion and exasperation, President Trump on Monday said the program was working well.

"Couple of little glitches, minor glitches that have already been taken care of," Trump said, adding inaccurately that Wells Fargo was now taking applications.

When a reporter said that Wells Fargo has stopped taking applications, Trump replied inaccurately, "Not anymore they haven't.”

But it was not all bad news for the infant program, begun on Friday. There were some signs of improvement in PPP after the weekend. More banks were accepting loan applications and some had funded those loans.

“The majority of CBA members are now taking applications and some are already funding loans,” said Nick Simpson, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Consumer Banking Association. We expect both those numbers to go up in the coming days as banks continue working around the clock to get this new program firing on all cylinders for small businesses and as we continue to work with SBA on receiving additional necessary implementation guidance.”

Simpson said CBA, which represents scores of retail banks, still estimates that the PPP should be fully operational by mid-week.

One of the first banks to stand up its program, Bank of America, was walloped by criticism, at first, that its narrow prioritization process of existing customers left out many of its own small business clientele.

As a result, the bank announced over the weekend in a tweet that while it had “helped 122K Small Business clients apply and taken in more than $27 billion in applications,” it would make a change, tweeting, “We have expanded the process to address the needs of a larger group of Small Business clients.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus economic updates: Markets see opening spike, building off Monday's steep rally

Sushiman/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending entire industries and sending financial markets reeling.

Here's the latest news on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the economy. For more on financial resources available during the pandemic, click here.

Twitter co-founder pledges $1 billion from his equity in Square to combat COVID-19

Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey announced he is giving $1 billion from his equity in the mobile-payment platform he founded, Square, to help "fund global COVID-19 relief."

The $1 billion of his equity in Square represents approximately 28% of his wealth, Dorsey said. After the pandemic is over, the focus of the donation will shift "to girl's health and education, and UBI," he wrote, referring to a universal basic income.

"Why now? The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime," Dorsey wrote in a tweet. "I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let's do everything we can today to help people now."

He set aside the funds in an LLC that he formed, called "Start Small," and is allowing all money movements through the new foundation to be tracked publicly online.

US financial markets closed relatively flat after Monday's steep rally

U.S. financial markets ended Tuesday's session slightly lower after a steep rally on Monday.

All three major indices closed down by a fraction of a percentage point, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.1%. The S&P 500 was down 0.2% and the Nasdaq slipped 0.3%.

Optimism that the number of U.S. cases has flattened spurred a steep rally on Wall Street to kick off the week. On Monday, the Dow closed up 1,627 points or 7.7%. The S&P 500 spiked 7% and the Nasdaq was up 7.3%.

On Tuesday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told "Good Morning America" that the pandemic has already begun to plateau in some places.

"The good news is that when you look at Italy, when you look at Spain, when you look at Washington and California, and even New York and New Jersey, they have truly started to flatten their curves," he noted. "They've seen cases level off and start to come down, and that's what I want people to understand -- that it's going to be a hard and tough week, but the American people have the power to change the trajectory of this epidemic if we come together like we have after past tragedies in this country."

'Pharma-bro' Martin Shkreli seeks temporary release from prison to 'assist in research work on COVID-19'

Martin Shkreli, the disgraced former pharmaceutical industry executive who gained notoriety for hiking up the price of a life-saving drug, is seeking a temporary release from prison to assist in COVID-19 research.

Shkreli did not make a formal application to federal court in Brooklyn where he was convicted of securities fraud, but wrote about seeking a three-month "furlough" from prison in a scientific paper posted by Prospero Pharmaceuticals Tuesday.

"I am asking for a brief furlough (3 months) to assist in research work on COVID-19. Being released to the post-COVID world is no solace to even the incarcerated," Shkreli wrote.

He added that he believes he is "one of the few executives experienced in ALL aspects of drug development" and will do the work unpaid.

TSA screening levels at the 'lowest since the days after 9/11'

In another signal that the outbreak has clobbered the air travel industry, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said Monday a record low number of travelers were screened at checkpoints nationwide.

The agency screened only 108,310 travelers on Monday, compared to 2,384,091 on the same day last year.

A TSA spokesperson told ABC News, "It's safe to say it's the lowest since the days after 9/11."

Delta announces plans to give away 200,000 pounds of food

As demand for air travel plummeted amid the pandemic, Delta announced Tuesday it plans to donate more than 200,000 pounds of food to hospitals, food banks and other organizations.

The airline announced it had cut back its service offerings on board and at Delta Sky Clubs in an effort "to reduce touchpoints between customers and employees."

"As a result, Delta has been left with food that would have expired before it could be served to customers," the company said in a statement.

It added that its employee teams are engaging with organizations that can immediately use the food, and "efforts to identify and support organizations globally will be ongoing as we maneuver through these unprecedented times."

In Georgia, food has been donated to the Georgia Food & Resource Center and in Missouri to the state's Carthage Crisis Center. ​

In Nice, France, Delta said it donated prepackaged snacks to hospitals and health care workers.

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Auto insurance companies returning $800M in premiums during COVID-19

123ducu/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Two auto insurance giants announced they are returning a total of $800 million in premiums to customers during the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying people are driving less and they are experiencing fewer claims.

Allstate pledged to return $600 million to its customers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and American Family Insurance said it would return $200 million.

Allstate called it a "Shelter-in-Place Payback" program, saying most customers will receive 15% of their monthly premium in April and May. They can opt to receive the money through a credit to their bank account, credit card or in their Allstate account.

Tom Wilson, the president and CEO of Allstate, called the move "fair" as less people are driving amid government-mandated stay-at-home orders.

"This crisis is pervasive. Given an unprecedented decline in driving, customers will receive a Shelter-in-Place Payback of more than $600 million over the next two months," Wilson said in a statement. "This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents."

American Family Insurance said they will give customers a one-time payment of $50 per vehicle that is covered by an American Family personal auto policy, and expects to print and distribute 2.3 million checks within the next two months.

"American Family Insurance is doing this out of responsibility to our customers. They are driving less and experiencing fewer claims. Because of these results, they deserve premium relief," Telisa Yancy, the company's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The financial relief announcements from both companies also comes as the U.S. economy faces an unprecedented crisis as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Nonessential businesses across the country have shuttered to help prevent the spread of the disease, leaving millions without work.

Some 10 million people filed for unemployment insurance in recent weeks, smashing previous records.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Earl G. Graves, Black Enterprise magazine founder and black publishing pioneer, dies at age 85

Jemal Countess/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Earl G. Graves Sr., the founder and publisher of the first black-owned magazine that focused on black entrepreneurs, died Monday at the age of 85.

"It is with profound sadness that we share news of the passing of Black Enterprise Founder Earl G. Graves Sr.," Black Enterprise said Tuesday in a tweet. "We will evermore celebrate his life and legacy."

Graves launched Black Enterprise in 1970, building it "from a single-magazine publishing company 50 years ago, to a diversified multimedia business spreading the message of financial empowerment to more than 6 million African Americans through print, digital, broadcast and live-event platforms," according to Black Enterprise senior vice president and chief content officer Derek T. Dingle.

An Army veteran and HBCU graduate of Morgan State University, Graves also served as the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s administrative assistant for three years.

The Brooklyn native in 1999 went on to receive the 84th NAACP Spingarn Medal, the highest distinction awarded by the storied civil rights organization and one of a number of prizes that recognized his success. He was inducted into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame, was named by Fortune as one of the 50 most powerful and influential African Americans in corporate America and won a U.S. Army Commendation Award as a former member of the Green Berets.

He also wrote The New York Times best-seller, "How to Succeed in Business Without Being White."

Graves explained in his book why he decided to start Black Enterprise magazine.

"The time was ripe for a magazine devoted to economic development in the African American community," he wrote. "The publication was committed to the task of educating, inspiring and uplifting its readers. My goal was to show them how to thrive professionally, economically and as proactive, empowered citizens."

Besides his success with Black Enterprise, Graves was also a successful businessman in other arenas including CEO and owner of Pepsi-Cola of Washington D.C., the largest minority-controlled Pepsi franchise in the United States at the time.

In his later years, Graves often wrote editorials for Black Enterprise on issues ranging from the need for black representation in corporate boardrooms to health care access as a fundamental right. He pushed others in the African American community to be entrepreneurs.

"We must focus more attention on building scalable, black-owned businesses in industries that are most likely to create jobs for people who are disproportionately unemployed, such as African Americans, particularly in urban areas," he wrote in one of his opinion pieces.

Black Enterprise reported that Graves’ death came "after a long battle with Alzheimer’s." Graves is survived by his three sons he had with his wife, Barbara Kydd Graves, who died in 2012 after decades of playing a significant role in Black Enterprise’s success. They were married for 37 years.

Earl Graves Jr., who is the CEO of Black Enterprise, tweeted a tribute to his father’s life early Tuesday morning honoring the "giant of a man."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus exposes vulnerability of NYC museums and museum workers

iStock(NEW YORK) -- It seems no industry has been immune to the interruptions caused by coronavirus and in the city that never sleeps, some of the biggest cultural institutions have had to dream up new ways to engage beyond the walls of a museum.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), The Met, The Guggenheim, The Whitney Museum of American Art and more are home to some of the most famous works and house an array of impressive galleries, but have all been forced to temporarily close their doors in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

What happens to museum educators?

These institutions are typically staffed with art educators who present a depth of knowledge for visitors, but the recent, sudden closures have cost those contract employees their jobs.

UAW Local 2110, a local labor union that represents nearly 270 professional and administrative staff at MoMa, told ABC News that the museum's educators "were unceremoniously dumped."

"Many were treated as independent contractors," Maida Rosenstein, President of UAW Local 2110 said of the employees that "these institutions really depend on."

"The whole coronavirus [situation] has really shown ... that the gig economy is not working very well for workers," Rosenstein added. "Even if the institutions are in a terrible position this is a bad economic structure for people -- This has been devastating for workers at cultural institutions."

One New York City-based arts educator, who asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News that after over two years working for the MoMa, she and the rest of her colleagues found out abruptly via email that their services were -- as the educator put it -- "no longer required."

"I was shocked to read the content of the email and even more disappointed by the tone and manner of its delivery," she said. "I hadn't heard from my bosses at MoMA for weeks and to receive a form email from an unknown administrative account that went to my spam folder was particularly impersonal and shocking.

"Being treated as people who can be fired via an automated form email devalues the work we do to make the Museum an accessible, inclusive, human space," the former MoMa employee said.

Amanda Hicks, MoMa's director of communications, responded to the employees' concerns, telling ABC News in a statement: "With the open-ended closure of the Museum, we’ve faced the painful reality that there will be no new contract assignments to offer to a group of excellent freelance educators who work on an as-needed basis at museums across the city, including MoMA. We are deeply grateful for their past contributions to the Museum. We wish them and their loved ones safety and health in this difficult time.”

In the email from MoMa sent to its education employees obtained by ABC News, the museum said: "Because of the unprecedented economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Museum’s closure, we must terminate our current contracts with all of our educators. As promised, those of you who were scheduled to perform work at the Museum over the last two weeks will receive a final payment for work through March 30. All other future engagements are cancelled and no further payments will be made."

As of Friday evening, the arts educator from MoMa says she received "a kind note" from her supervisor's personal email, but says she has yet to hear from the museum directly since they sent out the email on March 30, but said she has communicated with her team of about 15 other educators "who are all deeply saddened and shocked at how this transpired."

"These are clearly unprecedented times financially for these institutions. They're really struggling and that's evident across the board. However, every single other institution I work for -- six major NYC museums -- has reached out to communicate transparently where there are coming from and how much they value the work we do," she explained of the juxtaposition of how the news was delivered. "I was laid off from another museum last week with a personal note from my supervisor, her supervisor, and the head of HR."

Rosenstein highlighted the value of those jobless educators has always been "vital" to the museum's involvement with its community.

"They give tours of exhibits they explain art to people who come in, they run community programs, they go to the schools and bring school-groups around," she said. "They make that vital connection between kids and communities and art and these institutions."

The former MoMa contract employee explained that some of New York City's other top museums have reached out to partner with other art educators "to come up with new strategies to engage our audiences in this new landscape or to continue programming online."

Many museums have turned to online exhibits, virtual tours, e-books and more to inspire the art community, leaning heavily on social media to present art in new ways as Americans adjust to a "new normal" staying at home, going out only for essentials and practicing social distancing as mandated by the CDC.

The hashtag #MuseumFromHome has garnered additional attention on Twitter so that people can consume more art right from their devices.

What does this mean for smaller museums?

While larger institutions have endowments, grants and other financial means to potentially help weather the revenue impacts of COVID-19, smaller institutions don't.

The Tenement Museum on Manhattan's Lower East Side, represents evolving stories of immigration in America through exhibits, programs and curriculum and is now asking the public for support amid the "extraordinary crisis."

"We've had to shut our doors -- foregoing the earned revenue on which our work depends -- and we’ve canceled the gala that is the heart of our fundraising," the museum said in a statement. We need your help -- now more than ever -- to get us through this financial crisis."

"This is absolutely devastating and crushing for them and some may not survive without some kind of bailout," Rosenstein, whose union represents a handful of museum workers, said. "These people are potentially out of jobs or in very insecure situations -- it’s very difficult and nobody knows how long this will last."

Sadly, since there does not seem to be a solid timeline of when activities like going to museums will resume in the U.S., it is impossible to predict what the world will look like in the coming days, weeks or months, which means the fate of these employees and institutions is up in the air.

"Even when you reopen it’s not like you can immediately go full speed," Rosenstein said. "Tourists are not going to be rushing from Europe to the Museums."

The art educator told ABC News that while the creative online learning experiences and collections have created a new space that was once housed on the museum's walls, she believes it will be difficult to ever function long term without those workers expertise.

"That magic is difficult to replicate entirely, there are ways of creating community and sustaining an audience through programs and different online offerings. What is deeply unnerving is how long MoMA says they might be going without educators for," she said, adding that the email explained MoMa may not need them "for years."

"We expect the Museum to remain closed to the public for the near future. When it is safe and feasible to reopen the Museum, it will be months, if not years, before we anticipate returning to budget and operations levels to require educator services," the email stated.

"Institutions like MoMA do so much to make New York, New York, and crises like these expose how fragile they are," she explained. "If we value these spaces we need to demonstrate that we also value the thousands of low-wage employees who make MoMA work."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

What to do if you can't pay rent and more coronavirus pandemic real estate questions answered

CentralITAlliance/iStock(NEW YORK) --  The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating to the U.S. economy, with at least 10 million claims for unemployment filed in the last two weeks.

That economic reality is making it hard for people to pay their bills, including rent and mortgage payments.

Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran appeared on Good Morning America Monday to answer viewers' questions on real estate and money.

Here are tips from Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group real estate company, on everything from what to do if you can't pay rent to whether now is the time to buy a home.

Tips for renters

"Renters are in a tough spot right now and hopefully there is more help coming."

1. Check if your state has a moratorium on evictions. "Already in most of the states we have moratoriums so renters cannot be evicted. That’s through May and there’s a very good chance they’ll extend that month by month."

2. Contact your landlord about a deferment. "If someone has lost their job because of the illness or the pandemic, they should be calling their landlord right away and simply telling them that they’re struggling. Chances are very good that landlords today will defer some of their rent. Defer simply means not that you get off scot-free, but that you pay less now and you make up for it when you’re back on your feet."

Tips for people looking to buy a home

"You should be moving forward despite your concerns and your fears. Interest rates are at an all-time low. If you wait, you’re just going to pay more for that house once the market is flooded by buyers."

1. Use this time to prepare. "Now is really the time to get ready, to get pre-qualified for your mortgage so you know what you can borrow and to get out shopping so that you really know values and you know to move early and you’ll be there first once the market resumes."

2. Keep an eye out for a 'sweetheart deal.'
"Once the market resumes, this real estate market across the board is going to explode. There’s one thing to always remember, in uncertain times, there’s always deals to be had. So if you’re brave of heart and you’re out there actually being aware of what values are and watching what’s going around, you’re going to recognize a sweetheart deal when you see it and everybody gets a sweetheart deal in a tough market if they’re brave enough to keep out there."

Tips for landlords

"I would get in touch with my two biggest people that are giving me the biggest bills, which are the mortgage company and your taxes."

1. Talk to your bank about waiving interest and fees. "You should reach out to your lender to see what they’re willing to do. Commercial lenders right now are either waiving interest rates and late fees, they’re converting loans to interest only or they’re even in some instances offering to defer payments until this epidemic is over. You won’t know until you reach out to them and see what they’re willing to do."

2. Contact authorities. "Next, you should contact your tax authority and stay in touch with what their position is. It’s always changing. Everybody is making deals right now. Every town makes their own deals and you should know what that is."

3. Don’t panic. You have time. "Last of all, you should not be desperate and sell units. Once this whole thing is over they’re going to jump up in value. The last thing you want to do is think about unloading those homes."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Coronavirus economic updates: Dow spikes more than 1,600 points

narvikk/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The coronavirus pandemic has quickly evolved from a health crisis to a financial one, shuttering businesses, upending entire industries and sending financial markets reeling.

Here's the latest news on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the economy. For more on financial resources available during the pandemic, click here.

Here's how the day is unfolding:

Dow spikes more than 1,600 points as markets rebound Monday

U.S. financial markets spiked Monday, likely on hopes that the COVID-19 outbreak was nearing its peak in certain parts of the U.S.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up by 1,627 points or 7.7%. The S&P 500 spiked 7% and the NASDAQ was up 7.3%.

In New York -- the state hit hardest by the pandemic -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that the rate of death has been "effectively flat for two days."

Cuomo said the total number of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and daily intubations are down, which "suggest a possible flattening of the curve."

While New York may have reached the apex of coronavirus infections, what happens next "still depends on what we do," Cuomo added.

One of the best performers for the Dow Monday was Boeing, which saw double-digit gains.

Monday's rally comes after weeks of steep losses as the coronavirus-induced sell-off continues on Wall Street.

Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles plans to restart U.S. manufacturing operations on May 4

The automaker announced Monday it intends to "progressively restart its U.S. and Canadian manufacturing facilities beginning May 4."

"During this current production pause, we are working with government officials and our unions to implement new procedures to certify the daily wellness of our workforce while also redesigning work stations to maintain proper social distancing and expanding the already extensive cleaning protocols at all locations," FCA said in a statement.

It emphasized that it will only restart operations with "safe, secure and sanitized workplaces to protect all of our employees."

FCA is one of the first automakers to announce plans to re-open manufacturing facilities in the U.S. that have been shuttered as a result of the pandemic.

CVS announces free, rapid COVID-19 tests for all in Rhode Island

The state of Rhode Island partnered with CVS Health to make "free, rapid COVID-19 tests available to all Rhode Islanders," CVS announced Monday.

The tests will be available by appointment at a new drive-through testing site at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Approximately 1,000 tests can be done per day.

"Today marks a giant leap forward in our efforts to combat this virus," Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a statement. "Thanks to the partnership and generosity of CVS Health, we will be able to double our testing capacity and provide on-the-spot results to thousands of Rhode Islanders each day. Making testing rapid and readily available is the key to slowly reopening our economy, and today we are one step closer to that goal."

JPMorgan Chase CEO predicts a 'bad recession' at 'minimum'

In a letter to stakeholders published Monday, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said the pandemic could lead to a "bad recession."

“We don't know exactly what the future will hold -- but at a minimum, we assume that it will include a bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008,” Dimon wrote.

He also detailed an "extremely adverse scenario," which assumes "an even deeper contraction of gross domestic product, down as much as 35% in the second quarter and lasting through the end of the year."

In that scenario, U.S. unemployment levels could continue to climb, possibly even "peaking at 14% in the fourth quarter," he predicted. He warned investors that the bank's earnings "will be down meaningfully in 2020" even though JPMorgan entered the crisis "in a position of strength."

He concluded that his "fervent" hope for the country is that Americans will come together to tackle these new problems.

"We have the resources to emerge from this crisis as a stronger country," he said.

Apple to make face shields for health care workers

CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple will manufacture face shields for health care workers amid the pandemic.

"We’ve launched a company-wide effort, bringing together product designers, engineering, operations and packaging teams, and our suppliers, to design, produce and ship face shields for health workers," Cook said in a Twitter announcement Sunday.

He said the first shipment was sent to the Kaiser Hospital facilities in California's Santa Clara Valley and "the feedback from doctors was very positive."

"We plan to ship over one million by the end of this week, and over one million per week after that," Cook added.

 Cook said employees have also been able to source over 20 million face masks from their supply chains around the world, "and we’re working continuously and closely with governments at all levels to ensure these are donated to places of greatest need."

"For Apple, this is a labor of love and gratitude," he said of the company's efforts amid COVID-19.

Finally, Cook urged everyone to do their part to help stop the spread of the virus by staying home and practicing social distancing.

US financial markets spike early Monday

U.S. financial markets started the week off by rallying sharply on Monday morning, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average opening up more than 850 points, or approximately 4%.

The S&P 500 spiked 3.8% and the NASDAQ was up 3.7%.

The rally comes as investors welcomed some signs over the weekend that the COVID-19 outbreak was nearing its peak in certain parts of the U.S.

In New York, the number of deaths in the state dropped from the previous day and Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested the state could be "near the apex" of the crisis.

"We’re looking at this seriously now because by the data we could be very near the apex or the apex could be a plateau and we could be beyond that plateau right now," Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday. "We won't know until we see the next few days, does it go up or does go down, that’s what the statisticians will tell you today."

Cuomo also said the total number of hospitalizations in the past 24 hours fell to 574 from a high of 1,412 just five days ago.

He said the downward trend was "partially a function of more people being discharged," and that 75% of the people who have gone into the hospital system have recovered and have been discharged.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Four tips to extend the life of groceries during coronavirus pandemic

artisteer/iStock(NEW YORK) -- With many people stocking up on food and staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to get confused by the dates listed on the label of certain food products with terms like “sell by” or “use by.”

But Amy Keating, a registered dietitian with Consumer Reports, is urging consumers not to be discouraged by those dates.

“All the different dates are all related to the food’s quality and not safety,” Keating told ABC News' Good Morning America.

Now she’s encouraging people to stock up and maximize the freshness and quality of items by storing them in the freezer.

Here are four of her tips to extend the life of your groceries:

1. Keep an eye on eggs past expiration date

Keating says eggs can last in the fridge for 3-5 weeks after they are purchased.

“The date on the egg carton is not a live and die date,” she said. “You don’t need to throw the eggs out."

She says they can even be kept in the freezer for about a year if they won’t be consumed during that time frame. To store, simply crack the eggs and beat them, then freeze them in an air tight container.

2. Blanch veggies

Leafy greens like kale or spinach can be kept frozen in the freezer by first dropping the leaves in boiling water for a short period then transferring them to ice water to stop the cooking. Keating says blanching them this way deactivates the enzymes.

After they’re in the ice water, they can be kept in a container in the freezer for up to 10 months.

3. Freeze bread

If you’re stocking up on pre-sliced bread, you can save the loaves in the freezer until you’re ready to eat. Keating says bread can be stored for up to three months in the freezer.

“You want to make sure that it’s pre-sliced so that you’re not thawing and refreezing it,” she said. “You’re taking out exactly what you need.”

For more information on other foods and how to extend the life of groceries, a good tool is the USDA FoodKeeper App, which offers specific storage timelines for your fridge, freezer and pantry for various products.

4. Wash berries as you eat them

Keating recommends removing the stems from berries when you get home from the market and placing the berries in a paper towel-lined container. This will help prevent the berries from getting moldy, she says.

"Just prior to eating them, wash them," Keating said. "Don't wash the whole batch and store them in the refrigerator. They're only going to spoil that much quicker."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Photographer offers free virtual photo shoots amid COVID-19 crisis

scyther5/iStock(NEW YORK) -- To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, businesses not deemed essential have been ordered to close, leaving millions of Americans without work. One South Florida photographer, however, has an innovative way of keeping his photography business running while still practicing social distancing.

Kareem Virgo is unable to meet with his clients in-person due to current stay-at-home orders. With the help of his wife, they came up with the idea to capture photos during FaceTime calls, then later edit the images and send clients the finished work.

"Of course this isn't the normal photography gear that I use, but the experience itself outweighs the shoot," Virgo told ABC News' Good Morning America.

During the 5- to 10-minute video calls, Virgo guides people on where to stand, how to hold their iPhones and which ways to pose. With thousands of closed barber shops and beauty salons, he even offers to touch up the hair and add makeup during the editing process.

Just a week after starting these virtual photoshoots, he has received hundreds of requests from people all across the country.

"I'm still in shock," he said. "Knowing that we've touched so many people in a special way has been one of the most humbling experiences."

Although his photography business, Reem Photography, is his main source of income, Virgo ultimately made the decision not to charge for the sessions, noting the intent was merely to spread positivity. His wife, Sandy Virgo, who handles the management side of the business, says it's great to see spirits lifted during this time of global uncertainty and stress.

"We couldn't put a price tag on this," Sandy Virgo told GMA. "It's bringing joy to a lot of people even through this tragedy."

Within the next few weeks, Virgo has nearly 500 bookings lined up from people spanning across the nation. Faith Thomas, who recently had her virtual photos taken with her boyfriend, Wadly, understands that it's more than just a picture.

"Having this photoshoot is the glimpse of hope that we need during this time," Thomas said. "It's a reminder that there's still beauty in all of the chaos going on."

Other clients, like Jamar Germain of Miami, were left speechless after seeing the finished product.

"He did such a great job capturing the essence of the picture. My girlfriend and I can't stop looking at it," Germain said.

Virgo plans to continue the virtual photo shoots even after the global health crisis, making it easier for those unable to attend in-person shoots.

With his newfound success, he now has hopeful advice to other business owners who have been impacted by the coronavirus: "Try to make the most out of the situation, be a little fearless, and try something new because you don't know who you might inspire."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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