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The Coronavirus impact: Here’s how COVID-19 has affected the tech industry

The novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the global technology industry. Many companies have shut factories and banned business-related travel, and major industry events like Facebook’s F8, the Geneva Motor Show, Google I/O and Mobile World Congress continue to be called off because of the outbreak.

COVID-19 emerged in the Wuhan region of China’s Hubei province late last year and has symptoms similar to those of pneumonia. It was first reported to the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, with Chinese scientists linking the disease to a family of viruses that includes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). The disease has killed more than 3,200 people, and more than 94,000 people have been infected in more than 60 countries.

Here’s how the outbreak is affecting some of the biggest names in technology.

Facebook

  • Canceled its F8 developer conference, the company’s biggest event of the year at which CEO Mark Zuckerberg updates the world on Facebook’s developments and challenges; will hold local gatherings for developers and online events instead.
  • Curtailed employee travel to China.
  • Canceled a marketing summit scheduled for early March, which was expected to draw 4,000 people.
  • Is giving the WHO free ads in order to provide health information.
  • Expects delays in production of its Oculus VR headset.
  • Banned ads that promise a coronavirus cure.
  • Withdrew from the SXSW festival.
  • Announced that a contractor in its Seattle offices has tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Reportedly closed its Seattle office until March 9, with employees being encouraged to work from home at least until March 31.
  • Will continue to pay hourly workers who can’t do their jobs remotely.

Apple

  • Said it will miss its quarterly revenue guidance because of the effects of the coronavirus.
  • Temporarily shuttered all of its 42 stores in mainland China, one of its biggest and most important markets; closed its corporate offices and contact centers in China.
  • Forced to seek alternative sources for parts after suppliers in Wuhan closed because of the outbreak in that city.
  • Reportedly warned retail stores that replacements for badly damaged iPhones will be in short supply.
  • CEO Tim Cook has given most of his company’s global workforce permission to work from home. The company has also reportedly restricted travel to Italy, China and South Korea, and is deep cleaning offices and stores.
  • Reportedly confirmed that an employee of its Cork, Ireland campus has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation.
  • Reportedly pulled out of SXSW festival.
  • Many Apple retailers in New York City had reportedly run out of iPhone 11 devices as of March 6.

Google

  • Telling Seattle area employees to work remotely if they can.
  • Temporarily closing all its offices in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
  • Restricted business travel to China and Hong Kong.
  • Told employees with immediate family members returning from China to work from home for at least 14 days.
  • Kept European offices open even though an employee in Zurich had been diagnosed with coronavirus.
  • Canceled its Google News Initiative Summit scheduled for late April in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Changed annual its cloud conference, which drew 30,000 attendees last year, to a digital-only event.
  • Will continue to pay hourly workers who can’t do their jobs remotely.
  • Canceled its annual I/O developer conference, which was set to be take place on May 12-14 in Mountain View, California.
  • Google is restricting visitors to its offices in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, canceling all in-person job interviews and telling Korean and Japanese employees to work from home, Google confirmed March 9.
  • Google announced on March 10 a COVID-19 fund to cover paid sick leave for all temporary staff and vendors globally who have potential coronavirus symptoms or can’t come into work because they’re quarantined.
  • Google confirmed recommending March 10 that all North American employees work from home.
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