Day: May 1, 2020

Their Stories: Born without toes on his right foot, kicker Tom Dempsey cemented a legacy in the NFL

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The National Football League has seen its fair share of extraordinary individual acts. But Tom Dempsey stood out.

His name was seared into the minds of generations of football lovers in 1970 due to his own personal triumph, when he kicked a 63-yard-field goal to set a new NFL record. Not only did Dempsey give fans of the struggling New Orleans Saints something to boast about, he captured the imagination of the nation due to the fact that he was born without toes on the right foot that he used to propel the record-setting kick. 

“Stumpy,” as he was called by many of his teammates, enjoyed a long career, spending 11 seasons in the NFL, during which he kicked 159 field goals. 

“Tom’s life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations,” said Saints’ owner Gayle Benson in a statement. “He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family.”

Dempsey died on April 4 at the age of 73 due to complications from the coronavirus, which he contracted during an outbreak at New Orleans’ Lambeth House retirement home, where he resided in assisted living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Dempsey was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 25, according to his daughter, Ashley Dempsey. He was one of at least 18 residents to die after contracting the virus, making Lambeth House the first and deadliest coronavirus cluster in the state of Louisiana.

Dempsey’s death shook his adopted hometown’s fiercely loyal Saints fans at a time when they were reeling at COVID-19’s impact on their beloved team. Current head coach Sean Payton tested positive earlier in March (and has since recovered), while Bobby Hebert Sr., the father of former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert, died on March 28 at the age of 81 after testing positive.

Thomas John Dempsey was born on Jan. 12, 1947, in Milwaukee, and grew up near San Diego. His father, Huey, was a mechanic for a public utility company, and his mother, LaVerne (Sorce) Dempsey, ran a jewelry store in Encinitas, where Dempsey attended high school and was a defensive lineman and kicker on the football team. After graduating, he played nearby at Palomar College before a clash with a coach ended his time with the team. Dempsey went to Massachusetts to play in a semiprofessional league, and after multiple failed NFL tryouts, signed with the Saints as an undrafted player.  

Upon making it as a pro, Dempsey captured the imagination of onlookers due to his being born without fingers on his right hand or toes on his right foot. His custom-made right shoe, with a flattened and enlarged toe surface, is displayed in an exhibit chronicling the first century of professional football at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. (The exact shoe he was wearing for his record-setting kick belongs to the Saints’ Hall of Fame.)

As the ultimate underdog, Dempsey became a fan favorite during his short tenure with the club (1969-70). He enjoyed immediate success in 1969 as a rookie, having connected on 22 field goals in 41 attempts, and was voted to the Pro Bowl. 

But nothing could prepare fans for what happened at Tulane Stadium on Nov. 8, 1970, when his thunderous kick on the last play of the game not only resulted in the Saints beating the Detroit Lions 19-17, but also set a record that would stand for more than four decades. Dempsey later recalled the Lions’ defenders laughing at what they believed to be an impossible attempt from the Saints’ own 37-yard-line. (Prior to 1974, the NFL goal posts were placed on the goal lines instead of the end lines, where they sit today.)

Dempsey arrived in the league as something of an anomaly. At 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, the imposing Dempsey was larger than most kickers, with a strong leg at a time when long-distance kicking was not a key facet of the sport, as it is today. 

Dempsey’s direct, straight-on approach to kicking stood out at a time when the soccer-style technique was becoming the standard across the league. Some opposing players and coaches said Dempsey’s special shoe gave him an unfair advantage, to which he later told reporters: “Unfair, eh? How about you try kicking a 63-yard field goal to win it with two seconds left and you’re wearing a square shoe, oh yeah, and no toes either.”

After retiring from football, Dempsey returned to New Orleans, where he remained a popular figure. He was inducted into the Saints’ Hall of Fame in 1989. He raised a family with his wife, Carlene, worked as a salesman in the oil industry until the late 1980s, and ran a car dealership owned by the Saints’ owner, Tom Benson.

Dempsey’s home in the suburb of Metairie was severely damaged in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. The first floor was flooded, with memorabilia from Dempsey’s playing days washed away. As word spread of the loss, fans mailed him items to replace the ones that had been destroyed. “It was really nice,” Dempsey told the New York Times in a 2010 interview. “It really made me feel good…The hurricane flooded me out of a lot of memorabilia, but it can’t flood out the memories.”

See: Their Stories — A series about lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic

In 2012, Dempsey publicly disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and detailed the treatment he was receiving. He spent the final years of his life at Lambeth House.

Dempsey is survived by his wife, Carlene; their children Ashley, Toby, and Meghan; three grandchildren; and his sister, Janice Dempsey.

CityWatch: New York schools will be closed through the academic year

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Schools across New York state will stay closed for the remainder of the academic year while students continue to learn remotely, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

The state is home to 4.2 million students whose schools and colleges have been shuttered since March 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor said that it’s not currently possible for schools to open safely.

“How do you operate a school that socially distances with masks, without gatherings, with a public transportation system that has a lower number of students on it? How would you get that plan up and running?” Cuomo said. “We do not think it is possible to do that in a way that would keep our children, students, and educators safe. So, we are going to have the schools remain closed for the rest of the year.”

The directive comes a matter of weeks after the governor pushed back against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who on April 11 announced that New York City public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Cuomo overruled the mayor’s ruling within hours, noting that the decision was his “legal authority in this situation.” The mayor “didn’t close them and he can’t open them,” he added. 

On Friday, Cuomo directed schools and colleges to begin developing arrangements for their eventual, and as yet unspecified, reopening date, that incorporate “everything that we are now doing in society and everything that we learned.” Just as businesses have been asked to plan to safeguard employees when they reopen, schools must “bring those precautions into the school room,” he said. 

In New York, 308,314 people have tested positive for coronavirus and 18,610 have died as a result, according to the state’s department of health. On Thursday alone, 289 people died, the lowest recorded for a single day statewide since March 30.

Though schools will remain shut, meal programs will continue as will childcare services for essential workers. Decisions on summer school programming will be made by the end of May, the governor said. 

Related: Students in limbo: The educational future for New York City kids is steeped in uncertainty

Ensuring that students and families remain safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic is “paramount,” Ian Rosenblum, executive director of The Education Trust–New York, an education policy and advocacy organization, said in a statement. “We understand the need to therefore keep school buildings closed for the remainder of the school year.”

“We also know that school closures do the most harm to vulnerable students, including students of color, students from low-income backgrounds and other students who were too often underserved by our education system in so-called ‘normal’ times,” Rosenblum added. 

Schools, therefore, must “maximize the remainder of this school year,” he said, while also preparing “for extended learning time and other intensive academic and social-emotional support for the summer months — if possible due to the pandemic — and for next school year.”

“The state has a vital role in ensuring that educational equity drives how schools and school districts respond to this crisis, and that they have the resources and capacity to support all students through these difficult times,” Rosenblum said. 

In New York City, online learning will remain available for students who need it through July and August, Mayor Bill de Blasio stressed during his Friday briefing, adding that he believes “fundamentally” that New York City’s public schools cannot be reopened until September.

Don’t miss: Pandemics affect everyone: What’s this one doing to the kids?

“Maybe some kids at the end of June have gotten everything they needed out of the school year,” he said. “Some kids have engaged distance learning very deeply because they haven’t had anything else to do. Other kids that need more help, it’s going to be there for them on an unprecedented scale during July and August.”

Other New York coronavirus developments Friday:

PAUSE: Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered no new advisory regarding the state’s PAUSE order on Friday, noting that a decision on the measure would come before the current deadline of May 15.

July 4: New York City will see the Fourth of July “honored and celebrated’’ with fireworks “in some form or fashion,” de Blasio said Friday. “We have to decide about how to do that safely. Safety first, social distancing first, a long time to work it out,” the mayor said. 

Deep Dive: Here are Friday’s biggest stock-market losers, driven lower by disappointing earnings and a shrinking manufacturing sector

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U.S. stocks posted broad declines to start the new month, as disappointing earnings reports and a set of economic numbers soured investors’ mood.

• The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -2.55% sank 622 points, or 2.6%, to close at 23,723.69. The index is now down 19.7% from its closing high Feb. 12, but up 27.6% from its 2020 closing low set March 23. (All figures in this article exclude dividends.)

• The S&P 500 Index SPX, -2.80% was down 2.8% and ended 16.4% below its record closing level set Feb. 19, and was 26.5% above its 2020 closing low set March 23.

• The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -3.20% was worst of the three Friday with a 3.2% slide, ending 12.3% below its record closing high Feb. 19, but up 25.4% from its 2020 closing low set March 23.

The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index fell during April to 41.5% from 49.1% in March. The April level was the lowest since April 2009. Any reading below 50% indicates contraction of the manufacturing sector. AMZN, -7.59% had been a market leader during the COVID-19 lockdown, but its shares fell 8% after CEO Jeff Bezos told shareholders Thursday after the market closed that they “may want to take a seat” because of plans to spend its entire second-quarter operating profit.

Investors were also disappointed with Apple’s AAPL, -1.61% earnings report released Thursday after the market close because of a decision by the company not to provide forecasts. The iPhone maker boosted its stock buyback program by $50 billion.

Shares of Tesla fell 10% on Friday after CEO Elon Musk said during market hours Friday that the electric-car maker’s share price was too high.

Boeing’s BA, -5.42% stock was down 5% on Friday after the company announced $25 billion in new debt offerings.


All but one of the components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell Friday:

Company Ticker Price change – May 1 Price change – 2020 Price change – 2019
Dow Inc. DOW, -7.52% -7.5% -38.0% N/A
Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM, -7.16% -7.2% -38.2% 2.3%
United Technologies Corp. UTX, +2.36% -5.7% -30.8% 40.6%
Boeing Co. BA, -5.42% -5.4% -59.1% 1.0%
Travelers Companies Inc. TRV, -5.09% -5.1% -29.9% 14.4%
Caterpillar Inc. CAT, -4.72% -4.7% -24.9% 16.2%
Intel Corp. INTC, -4.18% -4.2% -4.0% 27.5%
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. WBA, -3.76% -3.8% -29.3% -13.7%
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, -3.44% -3.4% -23.0% 37.6%
Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO, -3.44% -3.4% -14.7% 10.7%
American Express Co. AXP, -3.21% -3.2% -29.1% 30.6%
International Business Machines Corp. IBM, -2.93% -2.9% -9.1% 17.9%
Chevron Corp. CVX, -2.78% -2.8% -25.8% 10.8%
UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH, -2.72% -2.7% -3.2% 18.0%
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM, -2.62% -2.6% -33.1% 42.8%
McDonald’s Corp. MCD, -2.61% -2.6% -7.6% 11.3%
Microsoft Corp. MSFT, -2.58% -2.6% 10.7% 55.3%
Walt Disney Co. DIS, -2.45% -2.5% -27.1% 31.9%
3M Co. MMM, -2.18% -2.2% -15.8% -7.4%
Merck & Co. Inc. MRK, -2.10% -2.1% -14.6% 19.0%
Nike Inc. Class B NKE, -1.88% -1.9% -15.6% 36.6%
Pfizer Inc. PFE, -1.87% -1.9% -3.9% -10.2%
Visa Inc. Class A V, -1.76% -1.8% -6.6% 42.4%
Apple Inc. AAPL, -1.61% -1.6% -1.6% 86.2%
Johnson & Johnson JNJ, -1.16% -1.2% 1.7% 13.0%
Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, -1.07% -1.1% -7.4% 9.2%
Procter & Gamble Co. PG, -0.89% -0.9% -6.5% 35.9%
Coca-Cola Co. KO, -0.63% -0.6% -17.6% 16.9%
Home Depot Inc. HD, -0.57% -0.6% 0.1% 27.1%
Walmart Inc. WMT, +1.12% 1.1% 3.4% 27.6%
Source: FactSet

Click on the tickers for more about each company. Scroll the table to see all the data.

Dow Inc. DOW, -7.52% was the worst performer in the Dow, even though the company met analysts’ expectations for first-quarter net income and beat sales estimates.

S&P 500

Among the S&P 500, 471 stocks declined Friday. Here are the day’s 10 worst performers:

Company Ticker Price change – May 1 Price change – 2020 Price change – 2019
Weyerhaeuser Co. WY, -17.83% -17.8% -40.5% 38.2%
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. NCLH, -15.61% -15.6% -76.3% 37.8%
Helmerich & Payne Inc. HP, -14.97% -15.0% -63.0% -5.2%
Apache Corp. APA, -13.76% -13.8% -55.9% -2.5%
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCL, -12.82% -12.8% -69.5% 36.5%
Carnival Corp. CCL, -12.39% -12.4% -72.6% 3.1%
Western Digital Corp. WDC, -12.15% -12.2% -36.2% 71.7%
Newell Brands Inc NWL, -11.52% -11.5% -36.1% 3.4%
American Airlines Group Inc. AAL, -11.40% -11.4% -62.9% -10.7%
MGM Resorts International MGM, -10.81% -10.8% -54.9% 37.1%
Source: FactSet

Here are Friday’s worst 10 performers among components of the Nasdaq-100 Index NDX, -3.13% :

Company Ticker Price change – May 1 Price change – 2020 Price change – 2019
Western Digital Corp. WDC, -12.15% -12.2% -36.2% 71.7%
Tesla Inc. TSLA, -10.30% -10.3% 67.6% 25.7%
United Airlines Holdings Inc. UAL, -10.00% -10.0% -69.8% 5.2%
KLA Corp. KLAC, -8.42% -8.4% -15.7% 99.1%
Lam Research Corp. LRCX, -7.93% -7.9% -19.6% 114.7% Inc. AMZN, -7.59% -7.6% 23.7% 23.0%
Microchip Technology Inc. MCHP, -7.07% -7.1% -22.2% 45.6%
Marriott International Inc. Class A MAR, -6.80% -6.8% -44.0% 39.5%
Autodesk Inc. ADSK, -6.53% -6.5% -4.7% 42.6%
Cadence Design Systems Inc. CDNS, -6.52% -6.5% 9.3% 59.5%
Source: FactSet

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CityWatch: Anxiety about prejudice during coronavirus remains for Asian-American leaders in New York City

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One woman in Brooklyn was hit over the head with an umbrella. A man waiting for the subway was spat on, as a stranger threatened to shoot him.

For months, Asian-American community leaders in New York City have been worried about anti-Asian prejudice during the coronavirus epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives. As the city’s lockdown heads into its eighth week, fears of street harassment and violence persist, along with new ones about the underreporting of crime statistics, and what will happen when the city begins to reopen in the future.

In Queens, on April 26, a man allegedly saying racist things broke the phone of an Asian-American woman who tried to maneuver away from him, the New York Daily News reported. According to police, the man allegedly shouted, “You stupid —– —-. You’re the ones that brought the virus here!” In the West Village of Manhattan earlier in the month, racist graffiti was written on the wall of the winter vestibule of Jeju Noodle Bar, a Korean restaurant, Eater reported.

In December of 2019, China reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in the city of Wuhan, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Over the next few months, the virus spread to the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. 

One-third of Americans have witnessed someone blaming Asian people for the coronavirus, according to a poll conducted in mid-April by the Center for Public Integrity and Ipsos. A group of U.S. senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, signed onto a letter on April 10 requesting that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issue guidance to federal agencies on “preventing and addressing anti-Asian racism and xenophobia related to the coronavirus disease.”

As of April 26, there have been 12 victims involved in anti-Asian corona-related crime incidents this year, according to the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force. 

However, there have also been 115 recorded incidents in New York City of harassment and discrimination against Asian-Americans related to COVID-19 since Feb. 1, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Commission on Human Rights. The commission formed a COVID-19 Response Team in the end of March compromised of 24 people, including eight attorneys, to handle an influx of calls about harassment and discrimination related to the outbreak. As of April 19, there were 26 active investigations related to COVID-19, including those involving housing and employment discrimination. 

Read: How New York is battling a second crisis alongside COVID-19: Mental health

“As far as Asian Americans are concerned, a lot of it is harassment on the street,” said Sapna Raj, deputy commissioner of the Human Rights Commission’s Law Enforcement Bureau. “But it can also be that someone is not allowed to come back into the house because a landlord is afraid that they are of a particular national origin, and they don’t want them to come back into that house if they have traveled to China and are coming back in.” 

Flora Ferng is the Human Rights Commission’s East Asian Communities Liaison. At the beginning of the pandemic, she helped run workshops about health issues and xenophobia surrounding the virus in Flushing, Queens, Manhattan’s Chinatown, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn. She is now involved in online town halls, conference calls with community leaders, and making anti-discrimination videos for social media.

Ferng said she’s getting phone calls on evenings and weekends from worried New Yorkers who have never experienced this level of discrimination before. One of Ferng’s neighbors lives alone, and recently experienced street harassment. She’s now afraid to go out and run essential errands. 

“That’s the kind of thing we worry about,” Ferng said.

Leaders in the Asian-American community who spoke with MarketWatch at the end of March said their anxieties are unchanged.

Also see: Pandemics affect everyone: What’s this one doing to the kids?

Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Asian American Federation, has stopped taking walks in her Greenpoint neighborhood at night because of the things that people have said to her on the street. 

“This is a regular thing these days,” said Yoo. “Everybody’s experiencing this and it’s really normal and it’s scary.”

Mae Lee, executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association, based in Manhattan, said people are taking precautions for their own safety during the pandemic they never would have otherwise. Before the pandemic hit, fear of riding the subway might center around crimes like robbery. Now, people worry about racial harassment and violence. 

“They are a lot more cautious about public transportation. Some have even taken to carpooling to work,” Lee said. “They’re spending on gas and driving to work specifically because of this.”

Community leaders are also concerned that incidents of bias, harassment and violence are underreported, and therefore undercounted by government agencies. 

“I’m on a lot of calls with different law enforcement agencies. And the stories that we are hearing is that people are afraid to report. They don’t want to report,” Yoo said. 

There are official channels through which to report incidents of bias. New York state Attorney General Letitia James launched a hotline for people to report discrimination related to COVID-19, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights, which handles civil bias and discrimination incidents, encourages anyone who has been targeted to call 311. But not everyone is comfortable going to the police or calling a city agency. 

Yoo’s organization, the Asian American Federation, launched a website in early April, where people in the tri-state area can report their experience.

“Now the city is talking to people, now they’re having webinars. And I’m grateful for that,” said Yoo. “But the other side of that, as an advocate, is to say, ‘Why didn’t this happen much faster?’”

Personal Finance Daily: Why Americans are willing to share their personal information in drug trials but not for coronavirus contact tracing efforts and 4 things you can do to help kids cope with upheaval from coronavirus quarantines

This post was originally published on this site

TGIF! Don’t miss today’s top stories:

Personal Finance
Pence wore face mask at ventilator plant, but health-care workers say Mayo Clinic now has some serious soul-searching to do

‘The institution has an obligation first and foremost to make sure that all visitors are following their guidelines for safety for both patients and their staff.’

‘I have a mortgage to pay’: Sex workers banned from small-business loans under CARES Act due to ‘prurient sexual nature’

Andre Shakti majored in deaf studies and psychology at college, helps to support her father, and works as a stripper, dominatrix and sex educator.

Most major health insurers aren’t charging patients for coronavirus treatment — but there’s one big catch

Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and other insurers are ‘waiving cost-sharing.’

Why Americans are willing to share their personal information in drug trials but not for coronavirus contact tracing efforts

58% of U.S. adults said they would be at least somewhat willing to participate in clinical studies, according to research by PwC’s Health Care Institute.

The Education Department is falling short on a promise to help student loan borrowers during the coronavirus crisis, lawsuit alleges

The department says it’s taken ‘immediate action’ to protect borrowers who are behind on their loans.

Thinking about a new job after coronavirus? Don’t make this giant mistake

How to properly vet your prospective employer before you say yes.

4 things you can do to help kids cope with upheaval from coronavirus quarantines

Focus on the 4 R’s: routines, rules, relationships and rituals.

Elsewhere on MarketWatch
Businesses don’t need special immunity from coronavirus liability — Mitch McConnell is wrong about a coming ‘avalanche’ of ‘frivilous’ lawsuits

‘Reasonable care’ sets a clear standard that protects business owners.

States start to reopen, ending coronavirus lockdowns: Texas leads slew of states on Friday, more to follow on Monday

States all have their own definition of “reopening”.

Warren Buffett is handling the coronavirus crisis like he mastered the Great Recession

Berkshire Hathaway chairman is about to tell us what he really thinks about stocks, investing and the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Lawrence Cunningham.

Dispatches from a Pandemic: ‘I have a mortgage to pay’: Sex workers banned from small-business loans under CARES Act due to ‘prurient sexual nature’

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Like many self-employed Americans, Andre Shakti has lost most of her income over the past few weeks.

Most of the clients who used to see her in person have stopped calling, the business where she worked as an independent contractor is closed, and a conference she co-organizes has been canceled.

But unlike most sole proprietors and independent contractors, Shakti says she’s not eligible for federal assistance under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

It’s one of the few categories of businesses that are banned from receiving federal aid under the CARES Act. Others include cannabis firms and businesses deriving over 50% of their revenue from gambling.

That’s because she’s a sex worker.

Shakti, who works as a stripper, dominatrix and sex educator, says Small Business Administration programs aimed at helping small businesses, including independent contractors and sole proprietorships, survive the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t available to her because businesses that provide services or live performances of a “prurient sexual nature” are banned from receiving SBA loans under federal regulations.

Shakti, who graduated from college in 2011, says she still has student-loan debt and also contributes to supporting her father, who lives in an assisted-living facility. In college, Shakti majored in deaf studies and psychology with a minor in LGBTQ studies. At one point, she says, she thought about becoming an American Sign Language interpreter.

“My sister and I share his monthly rent, which is $2,300 a month,” she says. “I had to have a really serious conversation with my family about what my financial situation was going to be in the future, and I had to dock the amount of money that I was able to give my father, and my mother had to step in. She’s pretty low-income, and that honestly concerns me a lot.”

At least two strip clubs are suing the SBA after being denied Paycheck Protection Program loans, and at least one sex-toy manufacturer was denied an SBA loan in the past because of the “prurient sexual nature” clause.

The CARES Act’s ban on businesses of a “prurient sexual nature” isn’t limited to the new SBA loans that were introduced in the CARES Act; it applies to the SBA’s existing business-loan programs, as well.

Market research firm IBISWorld estimates that strip clubs in the U.S. generated $8 billion in revenue in 2019 and, before the coronavirus, expected the industry to grow at an annualized rate of 4.2%. “Proprietors within the strip clubs industry distanced themselves from the seedy past image associated with clubs,” it said. “Instead, they marketed their establishments as high-class gentlemen’s clubs and cocktail lounges that offer adult entertainment.”

SBA’s standard operating procedure for business loans states that a business is not eligible if “it presents live or recorded performances of a prurient sexual nature” or “derives more than 5% of its gross revenue, directly or indirectly, through the sale of products, services or the presentation of any depictions or displays of a prurient sexual nature.”

The SBA did not respond to a request for comment on the definition it uses for “prurient sexual nature.”

Andre Shakti says she’s lost around two-thirds of her income since the end of February, when her dominatrix clients started canceling and customers stopped going to the strip club.

It’s one of the few categories of businesses banned from receiving federal aid under the CARES Act. Others include businesses that derive more than 50% of their revenue from gambling, or had more than $1 million in gambling revenue in 2019 (which includes many casinos), as well as businesses that sell products that are illegal at the federal level, like cannabis.

Unemployment benefits have been extended to self-employed workers by the CARES Act, but most states — including Maryland, where Shakti lives — were delayed in accepting applications from self-employed workers. Maryland said it would start accepting those applications on April 24.

Much of Shakti’s income requires travel, she says. She regularly speaks at conferences across the country about sexual health and pleasure-related topics, she says. While traveling, she works as a dominatrix, seeing local clients at her hotel, and performs at strip clubs.

Shakti, who works as an independent contractor for strip clubs and as sole proprietor of her dominatrix business, makes between $40,000 and $50,000 in an average year and says she pays her taxes.

In total, Shakti says she’s lost around two-thirds of her income since the end of February, when her dominatrix clients started canceling and customers stopped going to the strip club.

“The week and a half [or] two weeks before we closed, it was dead in there,” she says. “I was gradually making less and less and less until everything shut down.”

Compared with some of her colleagues, Shakti says she’s well-positioned to move some of her business online. She’s built an online fan base through her work as a adult film performer and some less explicit aspects of her businesses, like providing intimacy consulting to individuals, couples and people in nonmonogamous relationships.

Shakti says she still has student-loan debt nearly a decade after graduation and also contributes to supporting her father in an assisted-living facility.

She says she addresses topics including “sexual confidence, intimacy after trauma, exploring kink and BDSM, opening up a pre-existing monogamous relationship and transitioning into or out of the sex industry.” That, she adds, can also be done remotely.

“I do consider myself to be in a very privileged space, but, at the same time, I saw an in-person client two days ago,” she says. “It was the first time I’ve seen a client since I’ve been quarantined for four weeks, but I have a mortgage to pay and I was scared about not being able to pay for it.”

Shakti says she believes that banning businesses that offer services of a “prurient sexual nature” from receiving federal assistance is a “targeted attack” on sex workers.

“It’s basically putting a financial death date on all these workers,” she says.

International organizations, including projects funded by the U.S. government, have warned that restrictions designed to stem the spread of COVID-19 could disproportionately affect sex workers.

Workers from marginalized communities and single mothers will be particularly affected, she says.

International organizations, as well as projects funded by the U.S. government, have warned that COVID-19 — and the physical distancing efforts intended to stop its spread — could disproportionately affect sex workers.

“Many will have fewer clients, increasing the risk of homelessness and the need to accept riskier clients. The closing of bars and other hot spots may also cause sex workers to move from a more protected environment to street-based activities,” according to a report published by Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control, an AIDS relief project funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Organizations that work with sex workers in Canada have warned that physical-distancing measures are also making it difficult for sex workers to work out of their homes, and made it more likely that those who work on the street will be arrested by the police.

“Sex workers are heavily affected by measures such as social distancing and business shutdowns because they simply cannot go to their workplaces anymore, and are seeing a sharp decrease in their clients. Unlike employees from ‘mainstream’ businesses, many sex workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits,” says Lynn Liu, the development and communications associate at the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City.

“Transgender sex workers and migrant sex workers of color are especially vulnerable to this because many are already job- or housing-insecure,” she says, with a third of sex workers identified as African American or black, 17% identified as Caucasian, 11% as Latino or Latina, and 8% as multiracial; 30% did not identify a race or ethnicity. Some 78% identified as women, 3% as men and 19% as transgender women.

“In New York, sex workers come from very diverse backgrounds. There are transgender sex workers, migrant sex workers, sex workers of color, as well as cisgender white sex workers who are in a more privileged position,” says Liu.

Liu says she thinks it’s “deeply problematic” that sex workers are ineligible for financial support from the government.

“Sex workers’ rights are human rights. In a global pandemic like this, the government should implement policies that take everyone’s well-being into account,” she says. “Especially the well-being of marginalized groups.”

‘The way that I heal that is through education and then creating a safe space for people to enter, either physically or remotely, where they know that within this space they are going to be loved and accepted.’

— Andre Shakti

Shakti says she doesn’t just miss her regular income; she also misses her work. “I love the work that I do. I love every single part of it,” she says.

Shakti, who says she started going to strip clubs when she was 18, says she misses the environment and her colleagues. “I know that people have all kinds of different desires, including ones that are considered alternatives from our mainstream, like kink, BDSM, and that they grow up with so much shame around it,” she says.

“What I want to do is to help heal that, and the way that I heal that is through education and then creating a safe space for people to enter, either physically or remotely, where they know that within this space they are going to be loved and accepted and encouraged, not [just] tolerated or demeaned,” she added.

Not every sex-related business believes its products or services are of a “prurient sexual nature.”

Mike Stabile, the communications director for the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association that represents the pornography and adult entertainment industry, says his group takes a more narrow reading of the ban. “Historically and legally, prurient is a very, very narrow term and is not something that necessarily applies to run-of-the-mill adult content,” he says. “Traditionally, [the word] prurient describes a shameful or morbid interest in sex or sexuality. For most of our members, and for most people who enjoy adult content, that’s not how we would describe it. I think we look at what we do, in general, as natural and healthy.”

Evy Cowan and Jeneen Doumitt, the owners of She Bop, a sex-toy store with two locations in Portland, Ore., say they’ve applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA.

But, he says, his group can’t advise any individual company about what they should tell the SBA.

“We don’t necessarily know what every business does nor whether or not, if a case went to court, their content would be found prurient or obscene — that’s something that no organization can determine,” he says.

Still, some businesses are trying their chances.

Evy Cowan and Jeneen Doumitt, the owners of She Bop, a sex-toy store with two locations in Portland, Ore., say they’ve applied for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA. They’ve had to shutter their storefronts and lay off seven employees because of the pandemic, Doumitt says.

She Bop has been in business for more than a decade, but Cowan says several banks have refused to do business with the store because of the products it sells. Securing financing has been almost impossible.

While the word prurient gave Cowan and Doumitt pause, the pair decided to apply for the loan after they looked the word up and saw it defined as “having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters.”

“We laughed about it and tried to figure out how to say it properly and rationalized that we didn’t feel we were encouraging ‘excessive interest in sexual matters’ — we were encouraging just the right amount of interest in sexual matters,” Cowan says.

They haven’t heard back.

The Moneyist: Our boss quarantined for 14 days after being exposed to coronavirus, yet factory-floor workers are strong-armed to return

This post was originally published on this site

Dear Moneyist,

I work in a ship-building factory, and a member of senior management was exposed to COVID-19.

He quarantined for 14 days, but when workers on the factory floor are exposed to the coronavirus, they are told to return to work only after a few days.

Despite the public-health guidelines, people are pushed to work in order to make our bosses happy, and people do go back because they’re afraid for their jobs.


Dispatches from a pandemic:Letter from New York: ‘When I hear an ambulance, I wonder if there’s a coronavirus patient inside. Are there more 911 calls, or do I notice every distant siren? I love my adopted city, and I’m not going anywhere. I will ride this out’

Dear Thomas,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has very clear guidance on safety procedures for employers. Alas, not every employer is following them. I have lost count of the number of letters I’ve received in recent weeks from workers who are aghast at how their company is ignoring official public-health policy.

”Upon learning of a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus affecting an employee or other individual who has been in recent close contact with the workplace, employers should be prepared to communicate with its workforce in a timely manner about the situation,” according to Proskauer, an international law firm based in the U.S.

“In making such communications, however, employers must remain mindful of confidentiality requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act — and any applicable state and/or local laws — that limit employers from revealing an employee’s medical information,” the law firm adds. What’s more, the CDC recommends employers disinfect surfaces.

The Moneyist: ‘Coronavirus has ruined everything.’ My husband refuses to work. Is it too much to ask him to find a job when millions of people are now out of work? I’ve suggested jobs with car services and food-delivery services, but to no avail

The government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “general duty” clause states that an employer should provide a safe environment and “shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

It does not apply to public-sector workers in some states, but it will likely apply to you. Inform your labor union of how people are being pushed to return to work early. If more people come down with coronavirus and die, or have other serious health complications, your company could face lawsuits and serious legal repercussions.

Executive Order 107 states: “All businesses or non-profits in the state, whether closed or open to the public, must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements.” Disregarding the rules on quarantine could have repercussions for your boss that go beyond temporary closure.

The Moneyist: ‘All they care about is making money.’ Can my supermarket manager force me to remove my face mask at work?

In the meantime, please follow all safety procedures. Wear a mask, and gloves, wash your hands and try to remember not to touch your face. I write this and say this out loud because it helps to remind me too. Awareness about this New Normal, and taking the right actions will help see us through this public-health crisis. And thank you for working yesterday, today and tomorrow.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at

Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here

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