Tents fit for a wedding reception and artfully constructed wooden bandstands: Welcome to outdoor classrooms during a pandemic — and now for the bad news


It didn’t take a pandemic for Sharon Danks to recognize the benefits of outdoor learning.

In fact, she started researching the environmental, physical and mental-health benefits of outdoor learning more than two decades before founding the nonprofit Green Schoolyards America seven years ago.

Before the pandemic, Danks partnered primarily with individual schools in districts near Berkeley, Calif., where the organization is based.

The pandemic, she said, has only strengthened the case for outdoor learning nationwide, especially given the amount of scientific research suggesting that the outdoors is less hospitable to the coronavirus than indoors where air circulation is significantly more limited.

See:Two teachers face a difficult choice: One welcomes ‘normalcy,’ while another feels ‘rage,’ and COVID-19 has radically altered feelings about school for both

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that schools “consider using outdoor space, weather-permitting, to enable social distancing.” The agency specifically recommends having lunch outside in place of in a communal cafeteria or otherwise eating within classrooms.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has also urged schools to find ways to offer as many outdoor activities as possible. “Get as much outdoors as you can,” he said in a Facebook
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live event in August. “If you look at the superspreader events that have occurred, they’re almost always inside.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics echoes Fauci’s views also urging schools to “utilize outdoor spaces when possible.”

Some schools have even built wood bandstand-like structures in the grounds to provide children with outdoor spaces.

Weather permitting, others have opted for tents that look more like they’re going to welcome wedding guests instead of children and teachers. Another school simply uses a circle of tree stumps.

“Nature is something that has been proven to decrease stress levels, and, during this pandemic, there has so much stress and trauma,” Danks said. What’s more, not all school buildings have enough space for children to maintain the recommended six feet of social distance.

“Outside not only do you have air that isn’t recirculating, but kids don’t have to stay in assigned seats all day and can actually move around,” she said.

Many schools recognized that back in March when they shifted to virtual instruction and reached out to Danks inquiring about how they, too, could create outdoor learning environments in preparation for the fall.

The overwhelming amount of inquiries she received led her to partner with three other nonprofits to form a National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative that provides schools with templates for how to construct an outdoor classroom, lesson plans and other tools with the support of more than 400 landscaping, design and educational volunteers.

One problem she noticed: “The bigger the institution, the longer it takes to change direction. Smaller schools such as single-district public schools and independent nonprofit private schools are doing this much more quickly because they don’t need to ask for permission.”

Not all schools have parent-teacher associations

But school size isn’t the only thing holding back schools from building outdoor classrooms in parts of the country where in-person learning is allowed to take place.

For children with special needs, for example, an outdoor learning environment poses a slew of problems, said Mindy Rosier-Rayburn, an elementary special-education science teacher at the Mickey Mantle School in New York City.

As of Friday nearly 800 schools in the city were approved to offer outdoor learning.

The New York City Department of Education did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment regarding efforts to level the playing field for lower-income schools that would like to offer outdoor learning, but can’t because they lack the funds to do so.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio gave city public schools the go-ahead in late August to offer outdoor learning in streets and parks near schools, Rosier-Rayburn recognized that there would be a “glaring equity issue” for schools in higher-income neighborhoods versus lower-income ones like the school district she teaches at, in Harlem.

“The comments I heard early on were that PTAs can help pay for these things,” she said, “but my school doesn’t even have a PTA, and there are so many others that don’t.”

“We are a Title 1 school,” she said. This type of school typically has a high concentration of children from low-income families and receives federal grants. All students attending Mickey Mantle School qualify for free lunch, she said.

When Rosier-Rayburn started teaching science remotely in the spring, she said, “I didn’t even feel comfortable asking parents to get supplies to do science experiments. If the experiment involves something I think they had at home, I tried to do that.”

Even if Rosier-Rayburn’s school had access to funds to purchase tents and other outdoor items, it would be a nightmare for her and her fellow teachers.

“We have several children who are runners, and that terrifies us. In a building you can control the situation, but outside you can’t,” Rosier-Rayburn, who has been a special-education teacher for nearly 24 years, told MarketWatch.

“We’re always on guard — just like when people enter a room they look for the exit and nearest bathroom, we constantly have to think: What could a student possibly hurt themselves with? That’s why outside learning is the worst idea.”

Additionally, she said several autistic students “could have sensitivity to sounds like honking horns.” Another concern: Some children “tend to put everything in their mouths.”

Plans are still up in the air for the upcoming school year, which in New York City is slated to begin on Sept. 21 after the school date was pushed back when the United Federation Teachers, a labor union composed primarily of public school teachers, threatened to strike over safety concerns relating to in-person learning.

For all of the above reasons, Rosier-Rayburn said she’ll continue teaching remotely, since she has received a medical accommodation to do so.

(The UFT did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for a comment.)


Cara Sclafani, a parent of two children who attend P.S. 185, a New York City Title 1 public elementary school, also located in Harlem, has health-related reservations about even sending them back for partial in-person learning certain days each week during an ongoing public health crisis.

As co-chair of the District 3 Green Schools Group, a coalition of parent volunteers who represent Manhattan’s Upper West Side and parts of central Harlem, advocating for outdoor education, Sclafani has advocated outdoor learning as much as possible.

Over a year ago, she successfully received two grants from New York City nonprofits to transform a deserted lot on school grounds that was “pretty much overrun with weeds,” she said, into a school garden and outdoor learning area.

Pictured is one of the outdoor learning areas at P.S. 185 which was previously a vacant and overgrown lot.


Cara Sclafani

Last year, she said, it was always a challenge to get teachers to wander outside of the classroom, “even though we set up this nice area for them with a tree canopy, benches and a reading library.”


And now? “The teachers are going to bring their students outside at least once a day,” Sclafani told MarketWatch. “Whether it’s just to read a book, paint or have physical education outside.”

She considers these types of activities “easy wins” to accomplish. Ultimately, however, she and other members of D3GSG are working on a “long-term vision” of having a “full-blown outdoor learning program” by the spring of 2021.

Sclafani said she was directly inspired by a Green Schoolyards America workshop she attended in June about constructing an outdoor learning environment. The organization, she said, has helped redesign P.S. 185’s outdoor learning space. She is on the infrastructure team at Green Schoolyards and is helping advise other schools across the county.

”Having outdoor learning at P.S.185 is a key factor for my family in determining whether or not my kids will attend in-person learning. We don’t have the school schedule yet, but I am hopeful my kids will be getting outside for at least a couple hours every day.”




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A reminder as schools reopen — federal law now gives some parents paid time off to help their kids with remote learning


Last month, a recently-reopened school district near Atlanta, Ga. told more than 1,000 students and staffers they had to quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this month, approximately 450 students and employees in a central Florida school system needed to isolate after positive COVID-19 cases. Almost 2,000 miles away, around 100 teenagers and staff in a Denver-area school had to do the same because of cases in their school.

Rocky school reopenings are already upending educators’ plans this fall — and they’re likely doing the same thing to the work schedules of many parents who, if they aren’t already working from home, may suddenly need to be there with their quarantined student.

The good news is there’s a range of employee leave laws that could conceivably kick in to protect parents in this situation, separate and apart from an employer’s own paid time off policies. The tricky part, however, is that there’s a complicated mix of rules. And the worrying note, some say, is that the laws don’t do enough to help parents who are trying to make it all work right now.

New federal laws temporarily expanded paid family leave

During the early days of the pandemic, federal lawmakers passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Though America is the only highly industrialized country without a federal paid family leave law, the FFCRA temporarily enabled paid leave for families pulled from work to quarantine, care for others with COVID-19, or care for children who are at home because of closed day cares and schools.

The FFCRA has two important parts: one portion addressing emergency paid sick leave and another portion for expanded family and medical leave.

When it comes to school and child care, the U.S. Department of Labor says covered workers can access up to two weeks (80 hours) of emergency paid sick leave at two-thirds pay. The cap on pay in this time period is $200 daily and $2,000 total, according to the Center for WorkLife Law within the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

A covered worker (they have to have been on the payroll for at least 30 days) can also tap the law’s expanded family and medical leave for an additional 10 weeks of pay at two-thirds their compensation. In that 10-week period, an employer pays a maximum of $200 a day and up to $10,000 total, the Center for WorkLife Law. Employers ultimately receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit that covers them for paying the leave.

The law applies to employers with fewer than 500 workers. A small business with fewer than 50 workers can apply for an exemption if it can show the absence of employees would jeopardize its operations and bottom line.

The paid leave provisions are in effect from April 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020.

If a school closes for half a day, parents can get paid time off

The Labor Department weighed in late last month on how the FFCRA fit in with the fall school year.


If a student attends school some days but has distance learning on other days, parents can receive paid leave on the days their child is home.

If a student physically attends school some days, but has distance learning on other days, the department said a parent can get paid leave on the days their child is home. That’s because the school is essentially “closed” to the student for the day in eyes of the law. (If a child is home under a quarantine order, that can justify the parent’s paid leave.)

On the other hand, if a parent chooses all remote learning instead of in-person instruction, they cannot access paid leave under the federal law. The school is not “closed” in that context, the Labor Department said.

If school administrators start the year remotely and say they’ll make a reopening decision at a later date, the school is still closed and the paid leave is still available.

Likewise, a school might be open, albeit for a half day. The FFCRA allows workers to apply for paid leave in bite-sized pieces, like from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“You may take intermittent leave in any increment, provided that you and your employer agree,” a Labor Department questionnaire said. “The Department encourages employers and employees to collaborate to achieve flexibility and meet mutual needs.”

State and local laws can support working parents too

Now consider the fact that FFCRA isn’t the only paid leave law out there.

As the pandemic continued, various states and cities have expanded their paid leave laws to incorporate things like school closures. Is it possible to stack the time off, so that a parent could pull paid leave from one law and then turn around and pull from another?

“It depends what law you talking about and what the context is,” said Liz Morris, deputy director of the Center for WorkLife Law. “The bottom line is, it’s extremely complicated the way these laws all interact.”

The center launched a helpline in April to assist workers navigating all the rules out there. “Anybody who has COVID-19 caregiving issue in workplace can call,” Morris said.

The center’s helpline is (415) 851-3308 and its email is: covid19helpline@worklifelaw.org.

Morris’ team has talked to people trying to figure out the leave laws, pregnant women and new mothers who are concerned about being at work and others with health conditions who are worried about returning to work.

There’s a range of federal and state laws, but Morris said they may not be good enough for everyone — especially if they’ve already used up their paid leave under the FFCRA.


‘We’re trying to rely on this patchwork… What we really need is a single comprehensive law that protects everyone.’


— Liz Morris, deputy director of the Center for WorkLife Law at University of California, Hastings College of the Law

“We’re trying to rely on this patchwork of laws to bring together a set of legal rights for people so that they just have a job to return to when this is all over and need income … What we really need is a single comprehensive law that protects everyone.”

Paid time off is important for parents juggling work and school right now, but it’s not everything, said Rich Fuerstenberg, senior partner in the Life, Absence and Disability practice at Mercer, a human resources consulting firm.

For one thing, leave under the FFCRA “is a one-shot deal. Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” he noted.

Going into the fall, Fuerstenberg said the companies he’s been working with have been thinking hard about their work schedule flexibility policies, how they can assist with child care costs and also looking at how much paid time off they are giving staff.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of companies said they were allowing parents to change their work schedules so employees could manage their child’s new school routine this fall, according to a July-August Mercer survey of more than 800 employers.



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NYC restaurants can reopen indoor dining on Sept. 30, Gov. Cuomo says


Just one day after referring to indoor dining in New York City as a “reckless” proposition, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that such service will return to the city at the end of the month.

As of Sept. 30, restaurants will be allowed to serve guests indoors at 25% of their usual capacity, the governor said. The reopening plan includes a series of new safety measures and restrictions. Diners will be required to wear face coverings when not seated; at least one member of each party must provide information for contact tracing; temperature checks will be given at the door; no bar seating will be permitted; and restaurants will close at midnight. Businesses will also be required to operate with enhanced air filtration systems, a requirement similar to one of the stipulations used for gym reopenings.

The positivity rate in New York state — or the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus — has remained below 1% for 33 days as of Tuesday. In New York City, that rate was 0.7%, down from a peak of more than 60% at the height of the crisis in March and April, when the city was the nation’s viral epicenter. 

Don’t miss: I went to the Met, and here’s what I saw

The governor previously cited concerns about the city’s failure to come up with a plan to enforce safety compliance for indoor dining, suggesting at one point that several thousand police officers be deployed to ensure good behavior in restaurants. It appears a mixture of improving compliance on outdoor dining rules and a promise of additional enforcement from the city cleared the way for Wednesday’s decision. 

“Because compliance is better, we can now take the next step,” Cuomo said.

The city will provide 400 enforcement personnel to monitor indoor dining in addition to compliance officers with the State Liquor Authority, Cuomo said. It wasn’t immediately clear which city agencies would be staffing that beefed-up enforcement. 

The governor also called for New Yorkers themselves to aid in enforcement at the 10,000 restaurants that are expected to require inspection. Restaurants will be required to publicly post capacity limits and phone numbers for patrons to report violations: 833-208-4160, or text ‘VIOLATION’ to 855-904-5036.

“I trust that if they have the right information, they will do the right thing,” he said, warning that if the infection rate in New York City spikes, the state can always close indoor dining again. 

If the infection rate has not increased by Nov. 1, indoor dining may be allowed to expand to 50% capacity, Cuomo said.

Also see: Welcome to New York! Don’t you dare go outside!

Pressure to reopen also came from the restaurant industry itself; in August, a group of more than 300 restaurants filed a class-action lawsuit against the state for the ongoing closure mandates, seeking more than $2 billion in damages.

James Mermigis, the attorney representing the restaurants in the suit, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

“The New York City restaurant industry has been financially devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and a safe return to indoor dining is critical to help save these vital small businesses and jobs,” NYC Hospitality Alliance executive director Andrew Rigie said in a statement emailed to MarketWatch. “We’re thankful to Gov. Cuomo for announcing a return to indoor dining with a blueprint for future expansion. Restaurants are essential to New York’s economic and social fabric, and indoor dining is a key component to the industry’s recovery.”

Read next: There are seven coronavirus vaccine candidates being tested in the U.S. — here’s where they stand



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Welcome to New York! Don’t you dare go outside!


“Nobody asked me to fill out anything.”

Roberto Gonzalvo, 33, had just stepped off Peter Pan 8733, the afternoon nonstop from Baltimore. He was still adjusting his eyes to the harsh fluorescent glare of New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal and about to ride the A train to his cousin’s apartment in Washington Heights. “I gave the man my ticket and that was it.”

He might have gotten in just under the wire.

This was a few hours after Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced — separately, of course — their latest efforts to shore up New York’s defenses against the coronavirus. Though the state’s infection rate has remained below 1% for a month and counting, things aren’t going nearly so well in many other places. And that has New York officials glancing warily across the map.

On Tuesday, Cuomo said that Maryland and three other eastern states — Delaware, Ohio and West Virginia — were being added to the quarantine list, meaning that anyone arriving from any of those places is supposed to remain isolated for 14 days before stepping outside in New York.

Gonzalvo sounded surprised when he heard that. “It includes Maryland? Are you sure?”

It does now. It’s 34 states in all, including a lot of places that traveling New Yorkers used to like to go. Sure puts a damper on those spontaneous jaunts to Miami or Vegas or New Orleans, the current legal requirement to self-isolate for two weeks after returning to New York. Meanwhile, three former COVID-19 hot spots — Washington, Oregon and Arizona — have managed to earn their way off the bad list. So feel free to book a flight to Portland, Oregon, for some peace and quiet.

Or maybe not.

But give the Oregon city this much credit: After more than 100 days of protests and street violence over policing practices, the positivity rate is 4.8%, well below the 10% quarantine threshold.

Coronavirus update: Global death toll edges toward 900,000 as AstraZeneca halts vaccine trial after patient struck by illness

The whole point is to keep New York’s infection rate where it is or send it even lower, and the test data rules. “The infection rate is a pure function of what New Yorkers are doing,” Cuomo told reporters at his office in Manhattan on Tuesday, a refrain he’s been sounding for months.

So can all this quarantining possibly be enforced? Can’t people just come and fade into the New York crowd? The massive numbers seem to say, “Well, duh!”

Travel is still down because of the virus, but just by way of comparison: The Port Authority terminal counted 8,000 buses on an average weekday last year. To that total, add the 290,000 vehicles that crossed from New Jersey into New York City per day, on the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, Goethals Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing and Bayonne Bridge. And then there are the airports, Amtrak, the commuter rail lines, the ferries and — well, it’s a lot of people to notify on their way into New York.

And some of them may not even know the latest wrinkles in the rules, as at least one Port Authority arrivee seemed not to on Tuesday.

For his part, de Blasio said that he was expecting universal voluntary compliance. But just in case, he was sending New York City sheriff’s deputies to provide “educational” presentations on interstate buses and remind everyone of the potential $2,000 fines. Riders on those buses, he said, will be asked to fill out forms detailing where they’ve been, as well as their contact information and quarantine plans while in New York.

“This is so important to keeping us safe,” de Blasio has emphasized.

The efforts don’t stop there. Last month, the city ordered hotels and short-term rentals to require visitors to complete quarantine forms at check-in. Again, universal voluntary compliance is the hoped-for result with fines — and even potential arrest — for those who loudly refuse to comply or whose noncompliance causes harm. One Brooklyn couple was hauled off an NYC Ferry in handcuffs over the weekend at Brooklyn Bridge Park when they refused the captain’s request to wear face masks.

Also see: Why an approved coronavirus vaccine may not end the pandemic quickly

But when the numbers are this large, city and state officials really have no choice but to lean on moral persuasion. In fact, most people seem inclined to cooperate, even if a few never will. At the Port Authority’s north terminal, most people were wearing face masks. Though the crowds at the terminal are noticeably larger than even a week or two ago, they are still down from a normal early September.

“What exactly am I supposed to do?” Roberto Gonzalvo asked before he headed off to the subway. “Stay in the apartment for two weeks?”

He didn’t say one way or another whether he’d be meeting that requirement. But he did keep his black face mask across his mouth and his nose as he walked toward the Eighth Avenue trains.



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Coronavirus update: Global death toll edges toward 900,000 as AstraZeneca halts vaccine trial after patient struck by illness


The number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 worldwide edged closer to 900,000 on Wednesday, and the U.S. death toll moved close to 190,000, as AstraZeneca halted trials of its vaccine candidate after one participant was struck by an unexplained illness.

The news sent AstraZeneca shares
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-1.13%

AZN,
-0.53%

lower, while the stocks of other drug makers developing vaccines, including Pfizer Inc., BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc.
MRNA,
+4.17%

rallied.

In an emailed statement, AstraZeneca said: “As part of the ongoing randomized, controlled global trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, our standard review process was triggered and we voluntarily paused vaccination to allow review of safety data by an independent committee.”

It added that it is working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. “We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”

See:Vaccinating children against the flu is ‘more important than ever’ this year: pediatricians

A report in the New York Times said that the volunteer in the U.K. trial received a diagnosis of transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord. “However, the timing of this diagnosis, and whether it was directly linked to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, is still unknown,” the NY Times said. The British drugmaker declined to the comment.

For more, read:AstraZeneca stock falls as drugmaker pauses vaccine trial after volunteer’s ‘unexplained illness’

The news comes a day after AstraZeneca and eight other drug makers working on vaccines made a joint pledge to “stand with science” on coronavirus vaccines, making clear that they would not move forward with such products before demonstrating their safety and efficacy. The unusual pledge comes amid concerns the Trump administration may try to rush out a vaccine before the November presidential election.

Don’t miss: There are seven coronavirus vaccine candidates being tested in the U.S. — here’s where they stand

The World Health Organization reiterated Wednesday that safety has to come first with vaccine development. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the WHO, said at a news briefing that regardless of the speed with which drug makers are working, “it doesn’t mean that we start compromising or cutting corners on what would normally be assessed.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Task Force created to manage the pandemic, agreed.

In an interview with CBS, Fauci said it’s routine for a late-stage trial of a vaccine to be put on hold because of side effects, describing it as a safety valve, as the AP reported.

Fauci said a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine may be ready in early 2021.

“The more likely scenario is that we will know by the end of this calendar year and hopefully we’ll be able to start vaccinations in earnest as we begin early 2021,” he said.

In other news:

• French Prime Minister Jean Castex tested negative for the coronavirus in an initial test. Castex was tested after he spent part of the weekend with the head of the Tour de France cycling race, Christian Prudhomme, who tested positive, according to Reuters. France’s cabinet is holding its weekly meeting remotely for the first time since the end of the virus lockdown, AFP reported, and Castex is self-isolating at his official Paris Matignon residence for seven days.

• The British government is banning gatherings of more than six people in England, as officials try to keep a lid on daily new coronavirus infections after a sharp spike across the U.K. that has been largely blamed on party-going young adults disregarding social distancing rules, the AP reported. The law in England will change from next week to reduce the number of people who can gather socially from 30 to six, with some exemptions.

The number of confirmed cases of the virus rose to almost 3,000 on Sunday, before dipping to 2,460 on Tuesday. Failure to comply could result in a 100-pound ($130) fine. The U.K. has the fifth highest death toll from COVID-19 in the world at 41,675, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. On a per capita basis, it has the fourth highest mortality rate in the world with 61 deaths per 100,000 people, after Peru, Belgium and Spain, according to AFP data.

• Greece’s largest migrant camp on the island of Lesbos was destroyed in a fire that has left more than 13,000 asylum seekers homeless, the BBC reported. The Greek government has declared a four-day state of emergency. It’s unclear how the blaze began with some locals blaming migrants and others blaming locals.

The UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said it was aware of “tensions” between nearby townsfolk and the migrants. “We urge all to exercise restraint,” it said, and asked anyone who had been at the camp “to restrict their movements and stay near [the site], as a temporary solution is being found to shelter them.”

• Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is in hospital in Milan after testing positive for COVID-19 last week, said doctors treating him have told him he has was “No. 1” for the severity of his viral load, the Guardian reported. Berlusconi, 83, said that of the thousands of coronavirus tests carried out at San Raffaele hospital, doctors told him that he had the worst viral load. “[The virus] is very bad,” he said. “I’m giving it my all, I hope to make it and to get back on track,” he said in a phone call to a candidate from his Forza Italia party, the paper reported.

Read now: How Black doctors are answering the call to reform medical education — and bringing COVID-19 vaccine trials to communities of color

Latest tallies

There are now 27.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, the Johns Hopkins data shows, and 898,426 people have died. At least 18.6 million people have recovered.

The U.S. has 6.3 million cases and 189,718 deaths. The U.S. added 28,550 new cases on Tuesday and 462 deaths, according to a New York Times tracker. That was down from an average of 36,704 over the past week, which was down 13% from the average two weeks earlier, the paper said. There are concerns those numbers could start to tick up if infections were spread by people gathering in large numbers over the Labor Day weekend, according to the Washington Post.

Brazil has the second-highest death toll at 127,464 and 4.16 million cases. India is third with 73,890 deaths and 4.37 million cases.

Mexico has fourth-highest death toll at 68,484 and 652,860 cases.

China, where the illness was first reported last year, has 90,087 cases and 4,733 deaths, according to its official numbers.

Is there other medical news?

Pfizer Inc.
PFE,
+0.83%

and BioNTech SE
BNTX,
+3.62%

plan to pursue regulatory review for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT162b2 in October, depending on the success of the vaccine in late-stage clinical trials, MarketWatch’s Jaimy Lee reported.

However, the companies did not say what countries they plan to seek review in.

“When the [Phase 3] study reads out will depend on multiple variables but right now, our model, our best case, predicts that we will have an answer by the end of October,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday on the Today show, later noting that he means a clinical answer, not a regulatory one.

See also:To defeat COVID-19, ‘we need a unified national strategy,’ says public health expert Dr. Howard Koh

The companies also announced findings from the preclinical study of BNT162b2, which were published as a preprint, showing that when the vaccine was tested in macaques it prevented infection with the virus.

The companies also concluded exploratory talks with the European Commission (EU) for a proposed deal to supply 200 million doses of their vaccine candidate to the EU. The deal would include an option for an additional 100 million doses. T

he deliveries would start by the end of 2020, subject to regulatory authorization. Financial terms under discussion were not disclosed.

“We have activated our supply chain, most importantly our site in Belgium, and are starting to manufacture so that our vaccine would be available as soon as possible, if our clinical trials prove successful and regulatory approval is granted,” said Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla.

What are companies saying?

• Alaska Air Group Inc.
ALK,
-4.18%

expects third-quarter capacity to be down about 55% from the year-earlier period as the pandemic continues to weigh. The airline expects September revenue to be down 70% to 75%, after a 72% decline in August. It expects its passenger load factor to come to 40% to 45%, after 46% in August. It expects available seat miles to be down about 50% after being down 51% in September. The company’s cash burn is expected to total about $150 million in September, after $80 million in August. The carrier had about $3.6 billion in cash as of Sept. 8.

• G-III Apparel Group Ltd.
GIII,
+0.69%

swung to a loss in the second quarter from a profit a year ago and posted sales that fell short of expectations, as the pandemic weighed. Second-quarter losses include a 53-cents-per-share loss due to the liquidation of 110 Wilsons Leather and 89 G.H. Bass stores. Other G-III brands include Donna Karan and Andrew Marc, and licenses for brands like Guess, Cole Haan and Calvin Klein. “We have reset our order book for the balance of the year and shifted our product assortment to athleisure, jeans, casual sportswear and coats,” said G-III Chief Executive Morris Goldfarb in a statement. For the second half of the fiscal year, G-III forecasts a sales decline in the range of 28% to 33%. The company did not provide additional guidance due to uncertainty from the pandemic.

• Hawaiian Airlines parent Hawaiian Holdings Inc.
HA,
-5.65%

provided an update on recent developments, including a modified reinstatement of a 14-day quarantine requirement imposed on passengers traveling from the Island of Oahu to the counties of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii, given an increase in COVID-19 case counts on Oahu. The requirement is effective Aug. 11. Separately, the air carrier expects capacity for the third quarter to be down 87% from the same period a year ago, which is slightly lower than previous forecasts, as a result of reduced travel demand resulting from government actions. Regarding demand, the company said flow passengers for the third quarter through Aug. 31 were down 87% and revenue passenger miles were 96% below last year’s levels. Hawaiian said it received confirmation that its allocation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds increased to $420 million from $364 million. The company has until Sept. 30 to determine whether it will draw any portion of those funds.

• HD Supply Holdings Inc.
HDS,
+3.56%

reported fiscal second-quarter profit that beat expectations while sales fell in line with forecasts. The industrial distributor company’s facilities maintenance sales fell 8.3% to $761 million, but topped the FactSet consensus of $752.2 million, while construction and industrial sales slipped 0.3% to $793 million to miss expectations of $802.3 million. The company said it was not providing a financial outlook for the third quarter or the full year, given uncertainties over the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but said August sales were $518 million, representing an average daily decline of 0.7%.

• LVMH Moet Hennessy
MC,
-0.11%

will not be able to complete the previously announced takeover of U.S. luxury goods retailer Tiffany
TIF,
-10.12%

“as it stands.” LVMH cited both a letter from the French government asking for a delay in light of the threat of tariffs on French products by the U.S., as well as Tiffany’s request to extend the deadline from Nov. 24 to Dec. 31. Tiffany for its part filed a lawsuit in Delaware to enforce the acquisition. “The lawsuit not only makes clear that LVMH is in breach of its obligations relating to obtaining antitrust clearance, but also refutes LVMH’s suggestions that it can avoid completing the acquisition by claiming Tiffany has undergone a Material Adverse Effect (”MAE”) or breached its obligations under the Merger Agreement, or that the transaction is in some way inconsistent with its patriotic duties as a French corporation,” said the Tiffany release.

• MasterCraft Boat Holdings Inc.
MCFT,
-19.98%
,
the recreational powerboat maker, reported a narrower-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter loss and provided an upbeat sales outlook. Sales for the quarter, which is historically the lowest of the year, dropped 58% to $51.1 million, due primarily to lost production as a result of COVID-19-related shutdowns, but was above the FactSet consensus of $36.8 million. Dealer inventories at the end of the fiscal year were 40% to 50% lower than a year ago. For the first quarter, the company expects sales to be down in the low-to-mid teens percentage range, while the current FactSet consensus of $86.2 million implies a 21.5% decline.

• Rocket Companies Inc.’s
RKT,
+4.63%

Quicken Loans subsidiaries are planning to offer $1.25 billion in senior notes due 2029 and 2031. The mortgage and financial services company, which went public last month, said it expects to use the proceeds from the debt offerings to pay down all of the $1.25 billion of 5.75% senior notes due 2025. Rocket joins the many companies issuing record levels of debt during the pandemic.

• United Airlines Holdings Inc.
UAL,
-4.03%

lowered its outlook for third-quarter capacity and passenger revenue, and but said it has witnessed “a moderate improvement” in travel demand over the past couple of weeks. United now expects third-quarter capacity to be down 70% from a year ago, compared with previous guidance for a 65% decline. Passenger revenue is now expected to be down 85%, versus previous guidance for an 83% decline. “The company does not currently expect the recovery from COVID-19 to follow a linear path. As such, the company’s actual flown capacity may differ materially from its currently scheduled capacity,” United said. The company affirmed its Q3 average daily cash burn rate of $25 million, and said it still expects total available liquidity to be over $18 billion at the end of the quarter.

• United Parcel Service Inc.
UPS,
+2.15%

expects to hire more than 100,000 employees for the holiday season, which is the same as last year despite expectations of record seasonal volume. . The seasonal hires will support expected increase in package volume that is expected to begin in October and continue through January. “We’re preparing for a record peak holiday season. The COVID-19 pandemic has made our services more important than ever,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Charlene Thomas. The package delivery giant said that over the past three years, about 35% of seasonal hires were later hired for permanent positions. About one-third of UPS’s current 123,000 employees started in seasonal positions.



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