Mayim Bialik will fill in as a ‘Jeopardy!’ guest host.

Daily Business Briefing

Aug. 25, 2021, 9:00 a.m. ET

Aug. 25, 2021, 9:00 a.m. ET

Mayim Bialik will host this week’s tapings of “Jeopardy!” in Culver City, Calif., 15 episodes in all.
Credit…Carol Kaelson/Jeopardy Productions, via Associated Press

The sitcom star Mayim Bialik will temporarily take over weeknight hosting duties at “Jeopardy!” as the venerable quiz show regroups in the wake of last week’s departure of its new host, Mike Richards.

Sony Pictures Entertainment named Mr. Richards, the executive producer of “Jeopardy!,” as the successor to Alex Trebek this month. But he stepped down on Friday amid a furor over sexist and offensive comments he made on a podcast several years ago.

For now, Mr. Richards remains the show’s executive producer.

Ms. Bialik, best known for her roles on “The Big Bang Theory” and “Blossom,” was selected by Sony to host “Jeopardy!” prime-time specials, although only one has been scheduled. She was one of several personalities who had competed against Mr. Richards to succeed Mr. Trebek, who died last year after 37 years as host.

Sony said on Monday that Ms. Bialik would host this week’s tapings of “Jeopardy!” in Culver City, Calif., 15 episodes in all. The company said it had resumed its search for a permanent replacement for Mr. Trebek, it but has not revealed a formal list of candidates.

“As we move forward with production on this season of ‘Jeopardy!,’ additional guest hosts will be announced,” Sony said in a statement on Monday.

The selection of Mr. Richards had proved controversial given that, as executive producer, he was involved in Sony’s search for a new host. Lawsuits also emerged from his last job at “The Price Is Right” that included accusations of sexist workplace behavior. (He disputes the claims.)

A report last week in The Ringer revealed Mr. Richards had made offensive comments on a podcast, calling women who wear one-piece swimsuits as “really frumpy and overweight” and referring to stereotypes about Jews and large noses. Mr. Richards, a stand-up comedian turned game show impresario, was serving as executive producer of “The Price Is Right” at the time he made the comments, which prompted a rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League.

Mr. Richards’s podcast remarks echoed claims made against him in the “Price Is Right” lawsuits. Mr. Richards said in a statement this month that the allegations did “not reflect the reality of who I am.”

The renewed search for a replacement for Mr. Trebek is welcome news for a parade of wannabe hosts and their fans.

Ken Jennings, a fan favorite who won a record 74 consecutive games, was seen by some “Jeopardy!” crew members as Mr. Trebek’s preferred heir. When Mr. Jennings arrived to guest host the show as part of the audition process, he found a pair of Mr. Trebek’s cuff links and a handwritten note from Mr. Trebek’s widow, Jean, waiting for him.

There has also been a prominent campaign in support of LeVar Burton, a star of “Reading Rainbow” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” “‘Jeopardy!’ is a cultural touchstone, and for a Black man to occupy that podium is significant,” Mr. Burton told The New York Times this year.

Anderson Cooper, Robin Roberts, Aaron Rodgers and even Dr. Mehmet Oz also guest hosted the show during the previous search for a new host.

Julia Jacobs contributed reporting.

Chevron is the second-largest oil and gas producer in the United States.
Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

CVS Health and the oil and gas giant Chevron said on Monday that they would mandate coronavirus vaccines for some employees, joining other large corporations that are making similar demands on office workers.

CVS pharmacists will have until Nov. 30 to be fully vaccinated, while other employees who interact with patients and all corporate staff have until Oct. 31 to comply. The mandate will affect about 100,000 employees, CVS said.

Chevron said its mandate applied to employees who travel internationally and expatriates, as well as the offshore work force in the Gulf of Mexico and some onshore support personnel, the company said on Monday. Chevron is the second-largest oil and gas producer in the United States after Exxon Mobil. It said employees in the Gulf of Mexico would need to be vaccinated by Nov. 1, but it did not share a timeline for other workers.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval for Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, a move that is expected to clear the way for many more mandates. New York City said on Monday it would require every employee of the city’s Department of Education — 148,000 people — to be vaccinated, and the Pentagon will demand that 1.3 million active-duty troops receive the shot “no later” than the middle of next month.

President Biden urged corporate leaders on Monday to consider vaccine mandates. “Require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements” such as frequent testing, he said.

United Airlines recently announced that its employees would be required to show proof of vaccination within five weeks of regulatory approval.

Chevron was the first major U.S. oil producer to announce a requirement. “As part of our fitness for duty safety standard, workers in certain jobs are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19,” a Chevron spokeswoman said in an email. “We will continue to carefully monitor the medical data and follow the guidance of health authorities in order to protect our work force.”

Exxon Mobil does not have a formal mandate on vaccines, but the company is strongly encouraging workers to get vaccinated. A company spokesman, Casey Norton, said in a statement that Exxon was monitoring public health guidance.

“Given the spread of the Delta variant and its impact on unvaccinated individuals, all unvaccinated individuals are expected to wear a face covering in all indoor locations when six feet of social distance cannot be maintained,” he said. That policy went into effect on Aug. 18.

Like Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell encourages vaccination among employees, but it is not mandatory. Employees must comply with local laws requiring vaccination for entering public places or to enter countries.

The news of Chevron’s mandate was reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal.

Stanley Reed contributed reporting.

U.S. stocks rose Monday, and oil prices moved higher after several days of declines, but the S&P 500 stopped just shy of a record.

The S&P gained 0.9 percent, recouping all of its losses from last week. The Nasdaq composite jumped 1.6 percent.

Pfizer’s stock rose 2.5 percent after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to its coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older. Shares of Moderna, which are up more than 250 percent this year, rose about 7.6 percent.

“The full regulatory approval of the Pfizer vaccine created hopes that it may spur additional gains in vaccination rates in the U.S., which would be an economic positive going forward,” said John Canavan, lead analyst at Oxford Economics.

Sales of existing homes rose 2 percent in July from June, a second month of gains, the National Association of Realtors said on Monday. Sales rose 1.5 percent from July 2020. The median price for homes sold in July was $359,900, up 17.8 percent from July 2020 but down slightly from June.

Bitcoin briefly rose above $50,000 for the first time since May, according to CoinDesk, but dropped to $49,200 near the end of the day. PayPal said on Monday that it will allow customers to buy, hold and sell four cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash — in the United Kingdom.

Oil prices surged higher on Monday, with West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, climbing 5.3 percent to $65.44 a barrel. Shares of energy companies climbed as well. Occidental Petroleum Corp., Diamondback Energy and Devon Energy all gained about 6 percent.

Investors are also bracing for an annual gathering of economists and central bankers later this week. Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve’s chair, will speak on Friday and may reveal details about how and when the bank plans to begin winding down its bond-buying program. The event, typically held in Jackson Hole in Wyoming, will again be held virtually this year.

A grocery store in Washington. Republicans say President Biden’s spending plans will keep inflation rising, but the White House says the proposals could help tame costs.
Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

With the White House under pressure to deal with rising prices on cars, food and gasoline, President Biden’s top economic advisers said on Monday that his plan to spend trillions of dollars on roads, bridges, child care, a transition to low-carbon energy and a variety of other economic initiatives would have “little, if any, effect” on inflation in the months to come and would help relieve price pressures in the long term.

A blog post on Monday from Jared Bernstein, a member of Mr. Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Ernie Tedeschi, a senior adviser to the council, amounts to the most economically detailed defense of Mr. Biden’s agenda against Republican warnings that the increased spending will exacerbate already-high inflation.

Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Tedeschi contend that Mr. Biden’s efforts will expand the capacity of the economy — and help hold down prices over the long term — by encouraging more Americans to work, through efforts like subsidized child care and increased federal spending on home health care for older and disabled Americans. They also say Mr. Biden’s agenda will improve productivity, and reduce price pressures, by raising education levels among workers by offering universal pre-K and through other spending plans like two years of free tuition for community college.

The economists see the end of pandemic stimulus spending as a counterbalance to any additional heat to the economy that the infrastructure and other new spending might create. They note that federal deficit spending will decline sharply over the next year as the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Mr. Biden signed in March fades out, creating a drag on economic growth and, they say, helping to keep prices in check. The infrastructure and other spending the president has proposed will only partly compensate for that drag, they wrote, which will dampen the effects of the new spending on inflation — as will the fact that Mr. Biden has called for all the spending to be offset by tax increases on businesses and high earners, along with other cost-saving efforts.

The economists write that this net fiscal drag was “a feature, not a bug,” of Mr. Biden’s stimulus bill, which was intended to deliver quick relief to people, businesses and local governments, and his longer-view efforts to increase the performance of the economy through spending programs meant to strengthen the supply and skills of workers.

Credit… Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“The Rescue Plan continues to provide essential resources to states and school systems dealing with the rise of the Delta variant,” they wrote. “But, this also means that those raising the possibility of overheating of the economy (which would generate inflation) must recognize that even with the new plans, fiscal policy will likely be a drag on growth next year.”

They also note that the infrastructure and other spending measures, which could total $4.5 trillion, are intended to be spent slowly over the course of a decade, blunting their effects on inflation in any circumstance.

Some conservative economists, like Michael R. Strain of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, have warned that parts of Mr. Biden’s plans — like the extension of an expanded tax credit that functions as a monthly payment to parents — could exacerbate inflation next year.

But other economists who have expressed concerns about the threat of inflation to the economic recovery have sided with the White House and have said Mr. Biden’s further spending plans are unlikely to add to the risk. Jason Furman, a former top economist for President Barack Obama, made such a case on Monday in a virtual event for the Center for American Progress.

People in Brazil waiting to get vaccinated. The International Monetary Fund’s distribution of emergency reserve funds was the largest such expansion of Special Drawing Rights in its history.
Credit…Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund distributed $650 billion in emergency reserve funds on Monday to help poor countries combat the coronavirus pandemic and pay down debt.

The distribution was the largest such expansion of currency reserves, known as Special Drawing Rights, in the I.M.F.’s history. The world is grappling with a two-track economic recovery, with poorer countries lagging behind in vaccinating their populations and experiencing slower growth, and the Delta variant of the virus is leading to a rise in cases.

“The allocation is a significant shot in the arm for the world and, if used wisely, a unique opportunity to combat this unprecedented crisis,” Kristalina Georgieva, the I.M.F.’s managing director, said in a statement.

A Special Drawing Right is essentially a line of credit that allows member countries of the I.M.F. to cash it in for hard currency. Its value is based on a basket of international currencies and is reset every five years. Each of the 190 I.M.F. countries gets an allotment of the currency reserves based on its shares in the fund, which tracks with the size of a country’s economy.

The currency reserves have been the subject of controversy within the United States in recent weeks, with Republican lawmakers accusing the Biden administration of enriching American adversaries such as China, Russia and Iran by backing the allocation. Other countries also expressed some concern last week after the Taliban toppled Afghanistan’s government and, under pressure from its members, the I.M.F. suspended the distribution of more than $400 million worth of S.D.R.s that Afghanistan was expected to receive.

The Treasury Department backed the allocation, and Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen had said the United States would not engage in S.D.R. transactions with adversaries such as Russia and Iran, making it unlikely that they would receive much of a benefit from the additional currency reserves.

Countries could exchange their S.D.R.s for other currencies, however, and there are no restrictions on how the money is used.

Through the allocation, Russia is receiving $17.6 billion of the reserve funds, Iran gets $4.8 billion and Syria gets $390 million, according to a tabulation by Jubilee USA, an organization that supports poverty reduction.

The fact that Afghanistan and Venezuela will not have access to the reserve funds because of doubts among I.M.F. members about the legitimacy of their governments raised new questions on Monday about whether the United States, the largest I.M.F. shareholder, should be pressuring the fund to block other countries from receiving billions of dollars’ worth of S.D.R.s.

Representative French Hill, an Arkansas Republican, said on Monday that the Treasury Department should have pressured the I.M.F. to suspend distribution of reserve funds to Belarus, Russia and Syria.

“They chose not to,” Mr. Hill said on Twitter, adding that the process needs to be reformed.

The I.M.F. said on Monday that as a result of the new distribution, $275 billion was going to emerging and developing countries. It is encouraging wealthy countries to voluntarily channel some of their reserve assets to those that are most in need.

Mindful of concerns, the I.M.F. said it would produce regular transaction reports on how the funds are being used.

Refugees from Afghanistan walked to a bus on Monday after being processed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington.
Credit…Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Commercial airlines have started evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from bases in the Middle East, fulfilling a commitment to aid the military in emergencies.

A United Airlines spokeswoman said the company started providing the assistance on Sunday but declined to give additional details. According to FlightRadar24, a tracking service, a United flight left Frankfurt and landed at a military base in Qatar on Sunday. That same plane was scheduled to return to Ramstein Air Base, a U.S. base in Germany, and then fly on to Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

American Airlines said it planned to have three wide-body planes available starting Monday to assist in the evacuations. United is contributing four Boeing 777 planes. Delta Air Lines and two charter-flight operators, Atlas Air and Omni Air, are providing three planes each, and Hawaiian Airlines is providing two.

“The images from Afghanistan are heartbreaking,” American Airlines said in a statement. “The airline is proud and grateful of our pilots and flight attendants, who will be operating these trips to be a part of this lifesaving effort.”

A voluntary program known as the Civil Reserve Air Fleet was established in 1951, after the Berlin airlift, during which the United States and Britain combated a Soviet blockade of West Berlin by delivering supplies over the course of 277,569 flights. The program is run by the Defense Department with help from the Transportation Department. Participation in the program gives airlines preference in carrying passengers and cargo for the Defense Department in peacetime — a lucrative business.

In discussions last week, government officials notified airlines that they might activate the fleet to help with evacuations in Afghanistan. Over the weekend, the union that represents flight attendants at United Airlines, the Association of Flight Attendants, allowed its members to sign up to staff the flights through a bidding system.

“As a global airline and flag carrier for our country, we embrace the responsibility to quickly respond to international challenges like this one,” Scott Kirby, the chief executive of United Airlines, said on social media. “It’s a duty we take with the utmost care and coordination.”

The flights are not expected to hurt participating airlines, which are carrying fewer passengers because of the coronavirus pandemic. Demand for tickets is especially weak for the international flights that use the kinds of larger planes that will be involved in the evacuations.

Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, right, and John Williams, president of the New York Fed, in Jackson Hole in 2019. The Fed’s annual economic gathering will begin virtually on Thursday.
Credit…Ann Saphir/Reuters
  • Home sales: The National Association of Realtors will publish data on sales of existing homes. Sales bounced back in June after a four-month decline, but higher prices and a shortage in inventory continue to threaten the market.

  • Best Buy earnings: The electronics retailer could see gains in its second quarter, which ran through the end of July, as the latest retail sales data showed an increase in electronics sales last month.

  • Nordstrom earnings: Investors will learn whether Nordstrom’s efforts to attract younger customers and lose its ties with malls helped increase revenue.

  • Jackson Hole symposium: Central bankers will meet virtually for an annual gathering traditionally held in Jackson Hole in Wyoming. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed’s chair, will speak on Friday and is expected to reveal details about how and when the bank plans to begin winding down its bond-buying program, one of several policies it created to reduce the economic impact of the pandemic.

  • Personal consumption expenditures: The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge will provide insight into how much and how quickly rising prices might fade. The Fed continues to say it believes the recent pop in inflation is transitory.

  • Consumer sentiment: The University of Michigan will report its final results for August for its consumer sentiment reading. Preliminary results showed consumer confidence tumbled more than 13 percent in early August from July, signaling a slowdown in the economic recovery.




Biden Praises Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Approval

President Biden lauded the final approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration and implored unvaccinated Americans not to wait any longer to be inoculated.

After a strict process, the F.D.A. has reaffirmed its findings that the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and the F.D.A. has given its full and final approval. So let me say this loudly and clearly: If you have, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who said that they will not get the shot when it’s — until it has full and final approval of the F.D.A., it has now happened. The moment you’ve been waiting for is here. It’s time for you to go get your vaccination, and get it today — today. It’s an important moment in our fight against the pandemic. Remember when we were trying to get? 70 percent of the people over 18, at least one shot? Well, we’ve not only gotten that done, we’ve gotten 71 percent of everyone aged 12 and older their first shot. And that’s over 200 million Americans. And over 170 million are now fully vaccinated. Third, states that have been lagging are seeing their vaccination rates grow faster. In fact, in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, more people got new vaccinations in the past month than in the prior two months combined. The progress we’re making on vaccinations now is going to produce results in the weeks ahead.

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President Biden lauded the final approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration and implored unvaccinated Americans not to wait any longer to be inoculated.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, making it the first to move beyond emergency-use status in the United States.

The decision is sure set off a cascade of vaccine requirements by hospitals, colleges, corporations and others. The Pentagon responded immediately, with Lloyd J. Austin III, the defense secretary, poised to send guidelines to the country’s 1.4 million active-duty service members requiring that they be vaccinated, the Biden administration said on Monday.

Oregon has adopted a vaccine requirement for all state workers, as have universities in Louisiana and Minnesota. And in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that all education department employees would have to be vaccinated by Sept. 27, without the option of submitting to coronavirus testing instead

The F.D.A. approval comes as the fight against the pandemic has intensified again in the United States, with the highly infectious Delta variant drastically slowing the progress the country had made in the first half of the year. There are now an average of around 150,000 new cases a day in the United States and more than 90,000 hospitalized Covid-19 patients.

In a brief speech on Monday, President Biden said he hoped the approval would prompt many of the roughly 85 million Americans who are unvaccinated and eligible for shots to get them.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, the drug administration’s acting commissioner said in a statement that “we recognize that for some, the F.D.A. approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated.”

A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been tracking public attitudes during the pandemic, found that three in 10 unvaccinated people said they would be more likely to get vaccinated with a shot that had been fully approved.

But pollsters and other experts warned that the percentage could be exaggerated. “I think that is a vanishingly small number of people in real life,” said Alison Buttenheim, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and expert on vaccine hesitancy.

Some experts have estimated that full approval might convince just 5 percent of those who are unvaccinated to get shots. If so, “that’s still a huge slice of people,” said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the chief health officer for Mississippi.

In his remarks, Mr. Biden acknowledged that the death rate, now averaging about 1,000 new deaths a day, had climbed, but he said the toll was still far lower than what it was last winter because most older people had been vaccinated. He also tried to reassure anxious parents about the growing numbers of children who had been infected with the Delta variant, saying that severe Covid cases among children were still “very, very rare.”

The vaccine will continue to be authorized for emergency use for children 12 to 15 while Pfizer collects the data required for full approval. A decision on whether to authorize the vaccine for children under 12 could be at least several months away, and Dr. Woodcock said such children should not get a Covid-19 vaccine in the meantime.

So far, more than 92 million Americans — 54 percent of those who are fully inoculated — have gotten Pfizer shots. Most of the rest received Moderna’s vaccine.

Pfizer said it had presented the F.D.A. with data from 44,000 participants from clinical trials in United States, the European Union, Turkey, South Africa and South America. The agency said the data showed the vaccine was 91 percent effective in preventing Covid disease, a slight drop from the 95 percent efficacy rate reported when the agency authorized the vaccine for emergency use in December.

Dr. Peter Marks, the F.D.A.’s top vaccine regulator, said the agency had finished its review 97 days after Pfizer filed the required data, or about two-fifths the normal time for such an evaluation.

He said that while the F.D.A. had approved the vaccine “expeditiously,” it had done so “fully in keeping with our existing high standards for vaccines in the U.S.”

Federal health agencies will continue to monitor the vaccine’s safety, Dr. Marks said, and the F.D.A. will require Pfizer to keep studying the risks of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart, including the long-term outcomes for recipients. In June, the F.D.A. attached warnings to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines noting a potential for increased risk of the conditions after a second dose.

Health experts and state officials welcomed the approval. Dr. Richard Besser, the president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said it “could not come at a more important time,”

Vaccination rates have already been rising lately, likely in part because of growing fears about the Delta variant’s spread. Mr. Biden said that more people in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi — all states being ravaged by the Delta variant — had gotten first shots in the past month than in the previous two months combined.

The next major vaccine decision looming for the F.D.A. involves whether to authorize booster shots, which federal officials have strongly discouraged people from seeking until regulators decide they are safe and effective.

The Biden administration said last week that starting Sept. 20, pending regulatory approval, it planned to offer third shots to adults who had gotten their second injection of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines eight months earlier. Third shots are already authorized for some people with immune deficiencies.

Regulators are still reviewing Moderna’s application for full approval of its vaccine. That decision could take several weeks. Johnson & Johnson is expected to apply soon for full approval.

Helene Cooper contributed reporting.


An earlier version of this item misstated the name of the organization led by Dr. Richard Besser. It is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, not the Robert Wood Foundation. 


An earlier version of this item misstated the name that the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is now free to be marketed under. It is Comirnaty, not Comiraty.

As companies put off bringing employees back to offices, service businesses that cater to office workers have suffered.
Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

New York has lagged behind the rest of the country in its economic recovery, with a 10.5 percent unemployment rate that is nearly twice the national average. Now, rather than seeing the fuller rebound it was counting on, the city is facing fresh challenges.

  • Overall employment remains more than half a million jobs below where it was before the pandemic, with steep losses persisting in the leisure and hospitality industries and in other blue-collar fields.

  • Many companies have scrapped plans to bring employees back to the office shortly. Boston Properties, which owns nearly 12 million square feet of space in the New York region, said about 40 percent of prepandemic occupants had returned to its buildings earlier in the summer, based on lobby badge swipes. In August, that figure had dipped to around 30 percent.

  • It is less clear whether some suburban workers will ever return to the city and to their sometimes-arduous commutes. Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm, reduced its planned Manhattan footprint and now plans to open two new offices on Long Island, where many of its lawyers and investor clients relocated to during the pandemic.

  • More than any other American city, New York counts on international tourists. But visitors from Europe continue to be barred. Domestic travelers have returned to New York in rising numbers, but they do not stay as long or spend as much as overseas tourists.

There are signs of hope. But even as the city sponsored an official Homecoming Week, cancellations of trade shows and other big events have mounted. READ THE ARTICLE →

Many states have their own Covid-tracking apps to keep local residents informed.
Credit…Google; COVID Alert NY

As some people head back to the office or classroom after more than 18 months of pandemic disruption, maintaining social distance remains a concern, especially with the highly contagious Delta variant spreading nationwide. J. D. Biersdorfer, The New York Times’s Tech Tip columnist, has a few simple suggestions for using your smartphone to help stay informed and safe if you’re returning to the office or school.

Stay informed: Regular checks of school, municipal and state websites can keep you up-to-date about mask mandates, vaccine requirements, quarantines and other Covid-related news.

Carry your card: Certain institutions, venues and employers now have a vaccine requirement, and many New York businesses require proof and will enforce it next month. Your paper vaccination card serves as proof, but you can keep it safe at home and go digital.

Modify your commute: Commuting is more of a challenge for people who use mass transit. Last year, both Apple and Google added coronavirus-related business information to their maps apps, and a more recent Google Maps update now shows busy areas so you can better avoid crowds.

Fuel up: When a drive-through window isn’t an option for picking up your breakfast or lunch from a distance, there are other ways to minimize your exposure, like phoning in a pickup order to your local diner or bodega.

Video to go: The mobile version of your company’s preferred videoconference app lets you ditch a conference room and take a meeting anywhere, even without your computer.




Hedge Fund Chief Defends His Firm’s Bet Against GameStop

In a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Gabriel Plotkin, founder and chief executive of the hedge fund Melvin Capital, defended his firm’s long-term strategy in betting that GameStop shares would fall.

Contrary to many reports, Melvin Capital was not bailed out in the midst of these events. Citadel proactively reached out to become a new investor, similar to the investments others make in our fund. It was an opportunity for Citadel to buy low and earn returns for its investors if and when our fund’s value went up. To be sure, Melvin was managing through a difficult time, but we always had margin access and we were not seeking a cash infusion. And absolutely none of Melvin’s short positions are part of any effort to artificially depress or manipulate downward the price of the stock. Nothing about our short position prevents a company from achieving its objectives. It is just Melvin’s view about whether it will. Specific to GameStop, we had a research-supported view well before the recent events. In fact, we’ve been short GameStop since Melvin’s inception six years earlier, because we believed and still believe that its business model, selling new and used video games in physical stores, is being overtaken by digital downloads through the internet. And that trend only accelerated in 2020 when, because of the pandemic, people were downloading video games at home. As a result, the gaming industry had its best year ever, but GameStop had significant losses. In January 2021, a group on Reddit began to make posts about Melvin’s specific investments. They took information contained in our S.E.C. filings and encouraged others to trade in the opposite direction. Many of these posts were laced with anti-Semitic slurs directed at me and others. Ordinary investors who were convinced by a misleading frenzy to buy GameStop at $100, $200, or even $483 have now lost significant amounts. When this frenzy began, Melvin started closing out its position at GameStop at a loss, not because our investment thesis had changed but because something unprecedented was happening. We also reduced many other Melvin positions at significant losses, both long and short, that were the subject of similar posts.

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In a House Financial Services Committee hearing, Gabriel Plotkin, founder and chief executive of the hedge fund Melvin Capital, defended his firm’s long-term strategy in betting that GameStop shares would fall.CreditCredit…Financial Services Committee

The hedge fund Citadel pumped billions of dollars into Melvin Capital after that fund’s bet against GameStop went bad, leading to huge losses. Now, Citadel is taking some of its money back.

Citadel has notified Melvin of its plans to retrieve $500 million of the $2 billion it injected in late January, according to two people briefed on the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly about it. Under the terms of Citadel’s investment, the money will be returned at the end of September, the people said, as the third quarter draws to a close.

Citadel’s plan was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The cash infusion came in late January as Melvin was grappling with a huge turnaround in its short bet of GameStop. GameStop’s shares flatlined in recent years as it struggled to refashion itself from a brick-and-mortar video-game retailer into a more modern e-commerce company. But the company’s stock skyrocketed in January, after new directors from, which sells pet products, were named and as small investors piled into the stock, goaded on by the WallStreetBets forum on Reddit.

Melvin took heavy losses as it scrambled to cover the costs of its wrong-way trade. Some of its other short positions, including its bet against the movie-theater company AMC Entertainment, were hurting it, too.

Citadel, which is based in Chicago, and Point72 Asset Management — a fund based in Stamford, Conn., that Melvin’s founder, Gabriel Plotkin, once worked at — stepped in with a combined $2.75 billion in cash on Jan. 25. The injections helped stabilize Melvin, which has generated double-digit-percentage returns since Feb. 1, according to one of the people, who was briefed on its performance.

Melvin is still down 41 percent for this year through July, according to an investor letter reviewed by The New York Times, because of its heavy losses from January.

As part of its investment, Citadel receives a cut of Melvin’s revenue, in addition to the returns it gets on its money, the two people said. Citadel was also given the right to pull out at least some of its cash as early as the third quarter of this year, these people added — a right it is now exercising. (Hedge fund investors are typically required to leave their capital invested for a longer period.) Citadel, which manages $38 billion in assets, is itself up about 9 percent through mid-August, according to one of the people, who had been briefed on the firm’s returns.

Mr. Plotkin declined to comment. Kenneth C. Griffin, Citadel’s founder, did not respond to requests for comment.

Point72 is staying put.

“I have the same deal as Ken,” said Point72’s chief executive, Steven Cohen, “and no plans to redeem.”

  • Rachel Maddow, the top-rated anchor at MSNBC, has renewed her contract with the cable news network, extending her 13-year run for several more years, according to a person briefed on the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    In addition to hosting her show, Ms. Maddow, 48, will develop new projects with the network’s parent company, NBCUniversal, the person said. Financial terms of the deal could not be learned. Ms. Maddow’s contract had been set to expire next year.

  • A California law that ensures many gig workers are considered independent contractors, while affording them some limited benefits, is unconstitutional and unenforceable, a California Superior Court judge ruled Friday evening.

    The decision is not likely to immediately affect the new law and is certain to face appeals from Uber and other so-called gig economy companies. It reopened the debate about whether drivers for ride-hailing services and delivery couriers are employees who deserve full benefits, or independent contractors who are responsible for their own businesses and benefits.

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered six commercial airlines to provide passenger jets to help with the growing U.S. military operation evacuating Americans and Afghan allies from Kabul, the Afghan capital, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

    The current activation is for 18 planes: four from United Airlines; three each from American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines and Omni Air; and two from Hawaiian Airlines. The Pentagon does not expect a major impact to commercial flights. Scott Kirby, the chief executive of United Airlines, said it was “a duty we take with the utmost care and coordination.”

  • General Motors said on Friday that it was expanding its recall of Chevrolet Bolt electric cars that have been found to be at risk of overheating and catching fire as a result of manufacturing defects.

    The company said it was recalling Bolts from the 2020 through 2022 model years and a few 2019 Bolts that were not covered under a previous recall. The move means all 141,000 Bolts that G.M. has produced — going back to the 2017 model — are under recall.

    G.M. said the move would cost the company $1 billion on top of the $800 million it had allocated for previous Bolt recalls. It also said it would seek reimbursement from its battery supplier, LG Chem.