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Trump Overstates W.H.O. Position on Lockdowns

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This week, President Trump exaggerated a position taken by the World Health Organization, saying that the agency had vindicated his derision of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The World Health Organization just admitted that I was right,” the president tweeted. “Lockdowns are killing countries all over the world. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

Mr. Trump’s message was rapidly shared by thousands online, including the commentator Lou Dobbs and Representative Andy Biggs, Republican of Arizona, who echoed the president’s rallying cry to “open up” and described the closings as “pseudoscientific” and “tyrannical.”

Since the early days of the pandemic, the president has dismissed lockdowns as unnecessary and harmful, even while the virus continued to blaze across the nation.

Mr. Trump did not say which W.H.O. statement he was referring to. But one of the few published recent comments from a W.H.O. official about lockdowns came from David Nabarro, one of several envoys to the organization on Covid-19.

“We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr. Nabarro said earlier this month to the British magazine The Spectator. “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted. But by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

“We really do appeal to all world leaders, stop using lockdown as your primary method of control,” Dr. Nabarro said.

Dr. Nabarro described several potential tolls of widespread lockdowns, which have set off economic declines and higher unemployment rates, and have widened disparities in many parts of the world, including the United States.

Dr. Nabarro has also noted that lockdowns may be necessary under some circumstances. In addition, he has advocated for a multifaceted approach to curbing the spread of the coronavirus — a strategy he recently outlined in a written reflection that highlighted the importance of physical distancing, mask-wearing, accessible testing and contact tracing, among other measures, to pinpoint and suppress outbreaks.

In a statement, Hedinn Halldorsson, a spokesman for the W.H.O., reaffirmed that the pandemic needed to be addressed with such a “package” of protective tactics.

“W.H.O. has never advocated for national lockdowns as a primary means for controlling the virus,” he said. “Dr. Nabarro was repeating our advice to governments to ‘do it all.’”

Some countries, like New Zealand, used lockdowns to great success to tame their outbreaks. Others, like South Korea, were able to circumvent them by pushing hard on testing. All success stories, however, have one thing in common: swift action to acknowledge and beat back the virus.

Lockdowns are extreme, and inevitably come with costs, said Syra Madad, a public health expert and epidemiologist based in New York. But they can afford communities much-needed time to ready other methods of containment.

“Had the U.S. been better prepared and responded faster,” Dr. Madad said, perhaps “lockdowns could have been avoided.”

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Intel Casts Off More Memory Chip Business in $9 Billion Deal

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ImageThe deal announced on Monday with SK Hynix, a South Korean company, involves NAND flash memory chips, which store data in a variety of devices.
Credit…Jung Yeon-Je/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Intel moved to further distance itself from its original business, reaching a deal to sell a remaining memory chip unit to SK Hynix of South Korea for $9 billion.

The transaction, announced on Monday, includes Intel’s most important factory in China. But it excludes a proprietary memory technology that the company has been promoting as an important tool for accelerating speeds in cloud data centers.

Intel for decades has been known for supplying the microprocessors that serve as calculating engines in most computers. But Intel was founded in 1968 mainly to make memory chips, which store data in all kinds of electronic devices.

Those components are largely interchangeable and come from multiple suppliers, which compete fiercely on price and subject the market to boom and bust periods. So Intel, starting in the 1980s, began retreating from segments of the memory business to focus efforts on more profitable microprocessor sales.

The deal with SK Hynix focuses on chips known as NAND flash memory, which store data in smartphones, computers and many other products. Intel’s flash memory business has been doing well lately, with revenue up 76 percent in the second quarter owing to factors like pandemic-related spending on personal computers.

Credit…Mike Blake/Reuters

But Intel, which has recently suffered from manufacturing problems, has at other times been hurt by drops in flash memory pricing. Robert Swan, Intel’s chief executive, previously signaled that it might seek a partner or acquirer for the unit.

“Memory is never a great business,” said Jim Handy, a market researcher with Objective Analysis. The deal with SK Hynix is “a very natural step” for Intel, he added.

Intel primarily makes flash memory chips at a factory in Dalian, China, though the company also conducts related development work in New Mexico.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Monday that the companies were close to a deal. A news release issued in the evening by SK Hynix said it would make an initial $7 billion payment to acquire both the Dalian factory and NAND flash business as well as a related business selling storage drives that use the chips.

Until a final closing of the deal, not expected until March 2025, Intel will continue to make chips at the Dalian factory, the companies said. After the close, SK Hynix will make a final $2 billion payment and receive other assets, including intellectual property needed to make the chips.

The deal does not include rights to a memory technology called 3D XPoint, developed in a joint venture with Micron Technology, which offers higher data transfer speeds than conventional NAND flash. That technology, which Intel markets under the brand name Optane, “is Intel’s crown jewel in the memory sphere,” said Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

Intel has spent billions of dollars perfecting the technology, Mr. Handy said, but the latest quarterly results suggest it may no longer be selling the chips at a loss.

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CVS Health will hire 15,000 more workers ahead of flu season.

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CVS Health announced on Monday that it planned to hire 15,000 workers to prepare for expected increases in coronavirus and flu cases in the United States during the fall and winter months.

More than 10,000 of the new roles will be full-time and part-time licensed pharmacy technicians at CVS Pharmacy locations to help administer Covid-19 tests, process prescriptions and dispense medications.

“Additional team members typically are needed every flu season,” Lisa Bisaccia, chief human resources officer of CVS Health, said in a statement. “However, we’re estimating a much greater need for trained pharmacy technicians this year given the continued presence of Covid-19 in our communities.”

The additional hires may also help the company distribute a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available, if federal officials permit pharmacy technicians to administer it.

In March, CVS Health announced plans to fill 50,000 jobs across the country, the “most ambitious hiring drive in the company’s history,” it said at the time. The company has more than 4,000 drive-through coronavirus testing sites across the United States.

Separately, Target said on Monday that it would pay a fourth bonus to its employees who work in stores, distribution centers and staff and employee contact centers, as the pandemic continues and the retailer’s sales have soared this year.

More than 350,000 workers will receive $200 by early November, Target said.

Sapna Maheshwari contributed reporting.

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Airports screened more than one million travelers for the first time since mid-March.

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More than a million people passed through airport checkpoints on Sunday, the first time the Transportation Security Administration has screened that many people since mid-March.

While that represents a symbolic milestone for the travel industry, U.S. airlines are still losing billions of dollars a month as they brace for much weaker demand for tickets this winter. The number of people screened by the T.S.A. on Sunday was down about 60 percent compared with the same day a year ago.

Last week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both said that operating revenue in the three months through September had fallen nearly 80 percent compared with last year. That period spanned much of the summer, which is typically the busiest season for airlines. Corporate travel typically sustains them in the fall, but many large businesses have been cautious about returning to normal operations and have told their employees to work from home until next July.

The steep decline in travel has forced airlines to cut to the bone, tweaking every part of the business as they hope to capitalize on what little demand remains. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are expected to release similarly dismal third-quarter financial results this week.

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