New Vaccine Mandates Cover More Workers — and Customers

The latest corporate vaccine mandates cover more types of workers — and customers.

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President Biden is pushing companies to require that all workers get vaccinated.Credit…Susan Walsh/Associated Press

‘I know this isn’t easy’

The federal government continues to pressure private companies to introduce coronavirus vaccine mandates to help the U.S. raise its inoculation rates. To make it easier, the F.D.A. is accelerating its timetable to fully approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, aiming to complete the process early next month.

And yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said the city would require proof of vaccination for people to eat indoors, exercise at gyms and go to shows. President Biden said other cities should follow New York’s lead. “You have to give proof that you’ve been vaccinated or you can’t come in,” he said.

These recent moves address the growing class divide in vaccinations that DealBook pointed out on Monday. Some of the latest mandates cover frontline, blue-collar workers who are often more exposed to the virus, but have lower vaccination rates, in addition to office-based, white-collar workers who have been the focus thus far, despite high rates of inoculation.

“The folks who want to come back to the office are all vaccinated,” said Kathryn Wylde, the president of Partnership for New York City, an influential trade group. “What they’re worried about is all the people on the subways and in the streets who aren’t.” She agreed with the mayor’s move, but is worried about its potential effect on the city’s economy.

“Look, I know this isn’t easy, but I will have their backs,” Biden said yesterday, thanking Walmart, Google, Netflix, Disney and Tyson Foods for mandating vaccines for their workforces despite, in some cases, pushback by unions. (Tyson’s mandate on Tuesday was notable for covering all of its 120,000 workers in the United States, including those in slaughterhouses and poultry plants.) Other companies “have declined to step up,” Biden said. “I find it disappointing.”

As for mandates on customers, like the one announced in New York City, some businesses like Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, which runs Blue Smoke and Gramercy Tavern, have already made the move. Others are less sure. “I don’t want the government mandating anything to me,” Tilman Fertitta, the C.E.O. of Landry’s, the parent of Del Frisco’s, Bubba Gump Shrimp and other chains, told CNBC. “I don’t know that I’m quite there yet, telling you you can’t come into my restaurant unless you’re vaccinated.”

It’s not like asking for ID for a drink. Vaccine mandates for restaurants could make an establishment more appealing for some, but also create the potential for strife, as with mask requirements. (The logistics of monitoring New York’s 25,000 restaurants and bars will also be challenging, to say the least.) “Checking vaccination status isn’t like ID-ing a customer before serving them a drink,” a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association told DealBook. In France, a similar mandate prompted protests.

The country is deeply divided on the issue of mandates, making matters difficult for companies with national footprints to set consistent policies. Ten states have passed legislation to prohibit schools, businesses and state governments from mandating the vaccine, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Fourteen have passed legislation to prohibit vaccine passports or proof of vaccination in general. “If you aren’t going to help,” Biden said, addressing the governors of these states, “at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing.”

Do you know if your co-workers are vaccinated? Would you take a vaccine mandate into consideration when taking a job? The Times wants to hear your thoughts: Please share your experiences here.

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HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING

An inquiry finds that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed several women. The report by the New York State attorney general said that the governor had violated both federal and state laws, and the Albany County district attorney said that Cuomo was under criminal investigation. Biden and other Democrats called on Cuomo to resign. Cuomo disputed the report, calling it biased.

Gary Gensler questions the “Wild West” nature of the cryptocurrency industry. The S.E.C. chair has been increasingly vocal about protecting investors in the nascent sector, saying in a speech yesterday that “if this innovation has any chance of surviving” into the 2030s, “it can’t stay astride of the public policy.”

A top video game executive departs after 1,500 employees walk out. Employees protested Activision Blizzard’s dismissive response to a lawsuit that accused it of fostering a “frat boy workplace culture.” J. Allen Brack, the president of its Blizzard Entertainment studio, stepped down yesterday after being accused of failing to take “effective remedial measures” in response to harassment and discrimination complaints.

Biden issues a new eviction moratorium. The Biden administration announced a 60-day federal moratorium in areas hit hardest by the coronavirus, a targeted approach intended to sidestep a potential Supreme Court challenge. It followed a sleep-in on the Capitol steps, led by Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, pressuring Biden to act after a nationwide eviction ban expired over the weekend.

Spirit and American Airlines cancel hundreds of flights. Bad weather combined with pandemic-related staffing shortages to create days of disruption, leaving frustrated travelers stranded around the United States.

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Why are CFA exam pass rates plunging?

Passing the CFA exam, at the best of times, is tough. The test, which confers chartered financial analyst status, has three levels, and study times average 300 hours per level.

Last week, the CFA Institute reported that the Level I pass rate dropped to 25 percent for exams taken in May, the lowest since testing began in the 1960s. Yesterday, the institute revealed that the latest Level II success rate fell to 40 percent, the third-lowest rate on record.

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What happened? Theories abound:

A popular prep website had technical issues.

It was the first time some tests were administered via computer.

Covid protocols delayed some from starting the test on time.

The CFA Institute denies all of those. Instead, it said pandemic test delays had disrupted study plans.

Here’s another theory: CFA status, a resume booster that can open doors and fetch a higher salary, may not seem as essential right now, given the complications of Covid restrictions and the desperation of financial firms to hire workers with deal flow so high and morale so low. This week, Goldman Sachs joined its Wall Street rivals in increasing pay for junior bankers across the board. That could have factored into why fewer people recently sat for the CFA exams and, when they did, may not have put in their best performance.

Understand the State of Vaccine Mandates in the U.S.

College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force. In N.Y.C., workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics will be required to get vaccinated or else get tested on a weekly basis.Federal employees. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel. State workers in New York will face similar restrictions.Can your employer require a vaccine? Companies can require workers entering the workplace to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to recent U.S. government guidance.

“Those of you before us today embody the public backing of our banking system. Yet most people, frankly, don’t know these agencies even exist — let alone know what they do.”

— Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the chairman of the chamber’s banking committee, addressing the heads of the National Credit Union Association, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at a hearing on financial oversight.

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Thinking of Bitcoin as a battery

Bitcoin mining is energy intensive. In order to receive newly minted Bitcoins, powerful computers solve math problems that get harder as the cryptocurrency’s value rises, demanding more electricity. This energy use gives Bitcoin a bad reputation, environmentally speaking. But some crypto entrepreneurs propose that mining, of all things, can play a role in the transition to emission-free renewable energy.

Bitcoin miners use as much energy annually as a small country, like Chile or Belgium, per Cambridge University’s Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. China is cracking down on the crypto mining industry, and Elon Musk recently announced that Tesla was halting Bitcoin payments shortly after initiating them, calling attention to the environmental issue.

Energy industry veterans at TeraWulf, a new Bitcoin mining venture with plans to go public via merger with a listed technology firm, spotted an opportunity while considering their own transition from fossil fuels to renewables at BeoWulf Energy, an energy infrastructure holding company. After the crypto mining company Marathon Digital Holdings hired BeoWulf to convert a power plant, they dove into this business. “We discovered that Bitcoin mining at its core is energy infrastructure,” Paul Prager, TeraWulf’s C.E.O., told DealBook.

Green energy goes to waste if it can’t be used when it’s generated. Batteries that can store renewable power for when the sun isn’t shining or wind isn’t blowing are the holy grail of the industry. For now, these don’t exist at the necessary scale. Meanwhile, Bitcoin is a global commodity traded 24 hours a day. It is not a battery, but a store of value. So if you think of Bitcoin as a store of the value generated by renewable energy — converting intermittently available solar and wind power into an asset with unlimited shelf life — then the cryptocurrency serves as a sort of battery, said Nazar Khan, TeraWulf’s chief operating officer.

Bitcoin mining facilities could operate “in a symbiotic relationship with the grid,” Khan said, with mining machines ramping up or down depending on conditions, balancing out the supply and demand for renewable energy on the local grid. And that, he argues, makes crypto mining more environmentally friendly.

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THE SPEED READ

Deals

SoftBank has reportedly built a stake worth $5 billion in the Swiss pharma giant Roche. (Bloomberg)

Spain’s top soccer league has sold a 10 percent stake in its business to the private equity firm CVC for about $3 billion. (NYT)

The British government may block the $40 billion takeover by Nvidia of the chipmaker Arm on national security grounds. (FT)

SPACs run by investment funds are under scrutiny for how they share the proceeds they get as sponsors of blank-check vehicles with investors in their funds. (WSJ)

After a muted debut last week, Robinhood’s shares jumped 24 percent on Tuesday and now trade well above their I.P.O. price. (CNBC)

Policy

As chip shortages persist, countries are scrambling to manufacture their own semiconductors. (CNBC)

The plan to raise taxes on crypto transactions to help pay for infrastructure spending has started a feud among Republican senators. (Washington Post)

Congress should pass “clean slate” laws to remove the barriers that prevent ex-convicts from getting jobs, writes Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase. (Times Opinion)

Best of the rest

Amazon faces a wider fight over its labor practices, with unions trying new tactics. (NYT)

A fire at one of Tesla’s utility-scale batteries in Australia took four days to put out. (Bloomberg)

The Delta variant of the coronavirus may be making younger adults “sicker, quicker.” (NYT)

Lyft posted a profit (on an adjusted basis) for the first time. (WSJ)

Are “unscrupulous, boundary-pushing executives” an inescapable part of innovation in tech? (NYT)

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