As cases of the COVID-19 pandemic skyrocket outside of China, Apple has issued a statement from CEO Tim Cook that outlines what Apple is doing. The company’s actions are all positive, and absolutely the sort of things that one of the wealthiest companies on the planet should be doing. They include:
- Closing Stores: All Apple retail stores outside of China are closing until 27 March 2020. Given that over 1 million people visit an Apple retail store every day normally, this unprecedented move will help slow the spread of COVID-19. Apple’s online stores remain open. It will be interesting to see if Apple extends the closure in parts of the world, depending on the local COVID-19 infection rate.
- Giving Back: Apple has committed financial donations of $15 million worldwide to help treat victims of COVID-19 and lessen the economic community impacts. Apple is also matching employee donations two-to-one to support COVID-19 responses around the world.
- Employee Programs: Outside of China, all Apple offices are moving to flexible work arrangements, with many employees working remotely. Employees who must work on-site will receive health screenings and temperature checks. Hourly workers will continue to be paid, and the company has expanded leave policies to accommodate personal or family health circumstances created by COVID-19. All Apple sites will undergo extensive deep cleaning.
- Apple News: In the News app, you’ll now find a special section in the sidebar for COVID-19 articles from trusted outlets. While I generally support this addition, I would caution against reading so much that it causes you to obsess about the situation.
- WWDC: As we noted in “Apple Moves WWDC Entirely Online” (13 March 2020), Apple has canceled the in-person aspect of its Worldwide Developer Conference and is creating a new, online format that will provide additional access for more of the 23 million Apple developers around the world.
- Apple Card COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program: For those hurt financially by the pandemic, contact Apple Card Support in Messages from Wallet (tap ••• and then the Messages button) and say “I would like to enroll in the Customer Assistance Program.” It allows you to skip your March payment without incurring interest charges.
Cook closed the statement with words both realistic and optimistic:
There is no mistaking the challenge of this moment. The entire Apple family is indebted to the heroic first responders, doctors, nurses, researchers, public health experts and public servants globally who have given every ounce of their spirit to help the world meet this moment. We do not yet know with certainty when the greatest risk will be behind us.
And yet I have been inspired by the humanity and determination I have seen from all corners of our global community. As President Lincoln said in a time of great adversity: “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”
Once again, stay safe out there, and remember to wash your hands regularly. The CDC notes that plain old soap is the best option and the temperature of the water doesn’t matter.