Business Headlines

mrtom-uk/iStockBy CARENA LIPTAK, ABC News

(PIGEON FORGE, Tenn.) -- After postponing the opening date of its spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dolly Parton’s Tennessee theme park, Dollywood, will begin a phased reopening this month.

Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa is set to open on June 10. Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country will welcome guests beginning June 17, with the park opening exclusively for season passholders on June 15 and 16.

The facility will take a number of precautions to keep its guests as safe and socially distanced as possible. Daily capacity will be limited and parkgoers will be required to wear masks -- with some exceptions -- and get their temperatures checked at the entrance of the facility. For a full list of new health and safety procedures, visit Dollywood’s website.

As opening day nears, Dolly herself shared a special video message with park guests.

“Things have changed for all of us and that’s OK. Because now, we’re ready to see you happy and here with us again,” she says in the clip posted to the Dollywood homepage. “To share the beauty of our mountains, to just be together, safer and stronger than ever before.”

Dolly also recently shared another message of encouragement amid the pandemic, releasing a powerful new ballad titled “When Life Is Good Again.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


courtneyk/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, slightly below the April high of 14.7%, according to data released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. economy added 2.5 million jobs last month, according to the data, as economic activity slowly resumes following coronavirus pandemic shut downs.

In February, prior to the health crisis, the unemployment rate was at a historic low of 3.5%.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Traditional Haitian and Jamaican patties were selling like hotcakes in New York even amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the owners reported a major dip in sales when a new crisis slammed our country. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide unrest with protests and calls for justice, which prompted those same business owners to voice their support for their black community, even if it means putting food deliveries on a back burner.

Chef Sam Branch and his wife Lisa Lloyd-Branch have been an integral part of serving traditional Jamaican fare in New York since 2013, with a brick and mortar pop-up in Williamsburg that recently shifted to a delivery-only model due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think this is a time when community support is really at a high," Lloyd-Branch told ABC News of their support of other local, family-run and black-owned businesses that have been hit by the pandemic and protests. "I would just encourage other business owners to keep fighting and to reach out to their local community for support, because this is something where there's a lot of solidarity -- and encourage everyone to keep being compassionate."

"There's so many restaurants that have dealt with the hardship and those that started to reopen are now more affected," chef Branch said, explaining that with the new curfew this week that third-party delivery apps like DoorDash have stopped service after 8 p.m. in New York. "That hit me: Businesses are trying to survive through this and now that's taken away from them. We're gonna have to be patient and remember why we're fighting."

But Branch said they have already seen a silver lining.

"Staying locally in the community is going to be really important," he said. "I think we're gonna see a lot more support of black-owned businesses."

The business owners and parents of three young African American daughters told ABC News that they would gladly put the immediate success of their business on hold in the fight for racial justice and end to police brutality.

"When the pandemic happened we closed shop -- we weren't quite sure what we were going to do because all New York City restaurants had shut down," Branch explained. "Even though we're not a traditional restaurant, people were kind of disappointed because they weren't able to get our stuff anymore."

Branch Patty pivoted to operate out of their commercial kitchen in Industry City in order to "offer deliveries, continue to feed people and keep a presence throughout New York City," he said.

"It did better for us than the pop up actually," his wife added.

"This past weekend, things started changing," chef Branch said. "Things got a little rough, and I noticed how orders weren't coming in at all. I started to get a little worried."

"It wasn't concerning as much as it would've been at any other time," Lloyd-Branch said thinking back to operations before the pandemic. "Because of everything transpiring so quickly and things turning negative in some aspects, it wasn't our major concern. I think people not being focused on being consumers, I think was a rightful distraction. A worthy distraction. It's no problem for us to make that sacrifice, because for us this directly affects our community."

"And our family," the father of three added.

"It was important for us to stand in solidarity for those who are protesting for justice because this is also a fight that we would gladly take on," she continued.

The pair told ABC News they were unsure if any damage had been sustained by the protests to the pop-up at Artists and Fleas where they set up shop.

"We're determined to keep going. We want the fight to continue in a constructive, positive way," she said of their amplified cry for peaceful protesting and social change. "We don't want to see the violence and the looting, but we hope that the conversation continues and that it's fruitful and that at the end of this we have reaped some benefits for all of the stuff that people are going through."

"We're going to continue selling to those who want our product, but I think right now the focus is on trying to help our community however we can," she explained of Branch Patty's next steps.

In the wake of all that has transpired following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody, and now the larger Black Lives Matter movement, chef Branch said "awareness is going to continue -- especially in our diverse communities, because people want to learn more."

"We're sticking together right now, and I believe that we're going to get out of this," he added.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Airlines are adding flights to their summer schedules as the number of people flying continues to steadily increase -- the first signs that demand for air travel is beginning to recover after reaching historic lows amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

American Airlines announced Thursday that it is increasing domestic flights in July after seeing the number of average passengers per day jump from around 32,000 in April to 110,000 during the last week of May.

"April was a disaster for aviation as air travel almost entirely stopped," International Air Transport Association Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said. "But April may also represent the nadir of the crisis."

An American Airlines spokesperson told ABC News that the airline's current demand estimates for July exceed the estimates that they previously had at the "bottom of the curve."

Airline shares were up considerably on Thursday following American's announcement.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian on Wednesday said Delta is planning to fly twice as many domestic flights in July than it did in May.

United Airlines has said it is planning to resume a quarter of its flights in July.

This comes as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint travel numbers continue to slowly increase. Sunday marked the first time more than 350,000 people passed through U.S. airports since late March. However, compared with this time last year passenger volumes are still down 88% and airlines are expecting a long and sluggish road to recovery.

An American spokesperson said even if demand comes back this summer in a "meaningful way," the company is still expecting it to be "significantly lower than before the pandemic."

It took three years for passenger volumes to recover after 9/11 and over seven years to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, according to Airlines for America (A4A), an industry trade organization representing the major U.S. airlines.

"History has shown that air transport demand has never experienced a V-shaped recovery from a downturn," A4A said.

Carriers have implemented a wide range of policies aimed at reassuring travelers that flying is safe including mandatory masks, plexiglass barriers, touchless kiosks, high-tech aircraft cleaning and social distance friendly seating arrangements.

While Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a Politico interview Wednesday “I believe it is safe to travel," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still warns that "travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19."

Despite positive signs for the airline industry, all major U.S. airlines have announced that they are preparing for potential layoffs in the fall after they are no longer tied to the conditions set forth by Congress to receive federal assistance.

ABC News' Sam Sweeney and Amanda Maile contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Las Vegas is open for business, though it may not be business as usual.

Amid coronavirus and protests, the Las Vegas of today won't be exactly what millions of prior visitors remember from their days in Sin City.

"Good Morning America" outlined last week some of the changes visitors are likely to see Thursday and into the foreseeable future. Among them: fewer people at gaming tables, additional hand washing stations, temperature checks and more frequent cleaning of high-touch items, like dice.

Still, there seemed to be plenty to celebrate as casinos began opening just after midnight. According to ABC News affiliate KTNV reported "hundreds" waited to enter the D Las Vegas.

Many hotels and casinos have a 10 a,m. local time opening planned. But The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, both downtown, opened at 12:01 a.m. CEO Derek Stevens told "GMA" his employees are "excited to go back to work."

There were hundreds of people waiting to go inside @theDlasvegas when the doors opened for gaming at 12:01 a.m. @KTNV #ReVivaLasVegas

— Joyce Lupiani (@Joyce_Lupiani) June 4, 2020

Station Casinos LLC, a Las Vegas based company that caters primarily to locals, reopened the doors to its Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Santa Fe Station, Boulder Station, Palace Station and Sunset Station properties, as well as all of their Wildfire division properties just after midnight.

Properties are welcoming visitors back in a variety of ways. Sahara Las Vegas is waiving resort fees for the month of June. The D and Golden Gate -- which previously offered 2,000 free flights to Las Vegas -- offers a free bottle of Tito's vodka to anyone who missed a birthday celebration in Vegas. The promotion is good for guests who book a room throughout the month of June.

The famed Bellagio fountains commemorated the re-opening with a special water show that included, among other songs, "Viva Las Vegas."

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(NEW YORK) -- The Walt Disney Company has pledged $5 million to support nonprofit organizations that advance social justice, beginning with a $2 million donation to the NAACP.

That donation, the company said, would "further their longstanding work promoting social justice by eliminating disparities and racial discrimination through their advocacy and education programs."

Bob Chapek, chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company said, “The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated.

“This $5 million pledge will continue to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations such as the NAACP that have worked tirelessly to ensure equality and justice.”

The pledge is part of Disney’s "ongoing commitment to support organizations that advance social justice. "

For many years, Disney has worked closely with groups that advocate for and empower communities of color, including the NAACP, whose mission is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race, the company said. The company has also previously provided millions of dollars in grants to help students from under-represented groups make the dream of higher education a reality, including $2.5 million to the United Negro College Fund.

Through the Disney Employee Matching Gifts program, employees can increase their impact in their communities by donating to eligible organizations, with the company matching those gifts.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- For the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, last week's unemployment data indicated that people were returning to work. However, the trend did not continue according to this week's report -- leaving economists wary to say the U.S. job market has begun to recover.

Each weekly unemployment report continues to deliver a staggering number of initial claims — with an additional 1.87 million claims reported Thursday. There is, however, another important figure to examine in these reports: the number of continued jobless claims.

"Initial jobless claims are going to give you the flow of new people who are filing for claims," said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America. "But continuing jobless claims give you the total number of people who are still on unemployment benefits."

A drop in continued claims means more people are rolling off unemployment benefits, presumably because they've returned to work.

"And that's an important turning point for the labor market," said Meyer.

That turning point may have come last week, when the number of continuing claims fell for the first time since the pandemic started. The number of continued claims peaked mid-May at just over 25 million and has fallen to approximately 21 million -- meaning that presumably around four million people have returned to work.

Meyer warned that this isn't yet enough to conclusively say people will continue to roll off unemployment. Her caution rang true this week as the number of continued claims broke any hope of a trend and rose by over 600,000, holding steady at approximately 21 million.

"The middle of May might have marked the turning point — but before we declare victory, it would be encouraging to see another week of further turnover," added Meyer.

The drop in continued claims is likely attributed to reopening efforts in various states, according to Meyer.

"If you look specifically at last week, it was driven by a very big drop in California, New York, which are two of the largest states," said Meyer.

In addition to Meyer's cautious optimism, the speed in which continuing claims drop -- indicating how quickly people are returning to work -- remains to be seen.

Andrew Stettner, senior fellow at The Century Foundation, also noted California's drop in continued claims last week, but questions when the nation as a whole will see the same result.

"The real question is, what is the pace of that drop off?" he said.

Both Stettner and Meyer worry that the economy won't allow for the return of certain jobs for quite some time.

"There's lots of parts of our economy that depend on discretionary spending," added Stettner, noting that the job market would recover at different speeds across the country. "People are not traveling; they're not traveling to Orlando, and Las Vegas is open, but who's going to go?"

Approximately 42% of recent layoffs could result in permanent job loss, according to researchers at the Becker Friedman Institute at Chicago University.

"The reason that that research paper finds such a high degree of jobs not coming back is because of where the jobs were cut: so many of the jobs were in leisure and hospitality," said Meyer.

Nevada, home to a leading city in leisure and hospitality, has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Las Vegas sits at a 33.5% unemployment rate, compared to 4% this time last year.

"You have to consider how to retrain those workers to find jobs elsewhere, whether that's in distribution, warehousing or whatever it might be," Meyer said of hospitality workers. "It's going to require time and some work."

Currently, the light at the end of the tunnel is still dim, according to Meyer. Although the number of both initial and continuing claims should drop quite a bit by the end of June, Meyer says the numbers will resemble that of a "normal recession."

"We're going to get out of the pandemic recession and transition to a more ordinary recession in terms of the levels of economic activity," said Meyer. "By the end of the month, we should be seeing a more reasonable level of claims, but it's not going to be anywhere near expansion level."

Stettner, echoing Meyer, thinks there will be job gains compared to the previous three months, but without the security of a vaccine, effective treatment or improvements in testing it's going to be difficult to get the workforce back to where it was pre-pandemic.

"I think you'll start to see job gains in June," Stettner said. "I don't think the [speed of recovery] is what people hope until you have that assurance."

During an ordinary recessionary period, it would be typical for approximately 500,000 Americans to apply for unemployment in the span of a week -- a likely scenario in July, according to Meyer. The numbers are still grim, but improving.

"Initial jobless claims are still hovering around two million a week -- so, yes, there's been improvement," noted Meyer. "At the worst of it we were at 6.5 million claims per week, but still… it's hard to applaud 2 million initial jobless claims a week."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


courtneyk/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Another 1.9 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week, the Department of Labor said Thursday.

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed unemployment in the U.S. to its highest rate since the Great Depression. Nearly 42 million U.S. workers have filed jobless claims since mid-March.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Rekik Abaineh and Solomon HailieBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(ST. PAUL, Minn.) -- On the heels of an already tumultuous reopening timeline from the coronavirus pandemic, businesses across the country have had to board up windows, clean up graffiti and sweep away broken glass as a result of protests that turned into fiery, violent clashes this week. But many black-owned restaurants that sustained severe damage are just as focused on amplifying cries for racial justice as they are on rebuilding.

Rekik Abaineh and her husband Solomon Hailie, owners of Bolé Ethiopian Cuisine in St. Paul, Minnesota, told ABC News it was "overwhelming" to see their restaurant reduced to rubble after the first night of George Floyd protests in Minnesota's Twin Cities.

"My husband and I went Friday morning to see what was left of it -- and the whole neighborhood was out crying. It was so hard to see the building like that," Abaineh said.

"I've never felt this before, the mixed feelings that I have," Hailie said of the emotional toll of seeing his lifelong dream after 20 years in this country turned to ashes. "To come down to this, believe me, is just heartbreaking."

Protests initially broke out in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died in police custody on May 25, and within days, demonstrations against racial injustice spread across the world.

Although Abaineh and Hailie were devastated at the toll of the protests, they said they stand in solidarity with their black community and support the underlying message being echoed throughout the country.

"If it means burning our building and our business to get this justice for George [Floyd] and all of Black Lives Matter, we're OK with that," Hailie said. "But we can't bring back any soul – for us we stand by it 100%."

"We were very sad to see what happened that day. We totally understand the anger of the people who are out there for justice," said Abaineh. "If this is what it takes to bring justice to unfairly treated [people] all these years, then we're fine, we'll be OK. It's just the business that we lost and can rebuild in the future."

The pair that introduced zesty Ethiopian fare like Tibs and Kitfo to the local community eight years ago was mere days away from finally opening Bolé Express, a new sister restaurant with a focus on takeout orders and a plan to feed dozens of local health care workers for free.

Hailie, who did most of the design and handiwork at the restaurant himself, said he "couldn't wait for people to come back and see what we've done while the pandemic was happening."

"We were supposed to start on Saturday and we were planning to be busy. Then this happened on Friday. It's very sad," he said.

Hailie said Bolé "was more like a home than just a business," especially for their diverse neighbors, who have rallied to support the beloved restaurant.

"There's a big Somalian community in Minnesota and I've seen some of their businesses destroyed too, and I'm seeing the support of their own community to help them," Abaineh said. "Right now it's not about color, it's about humanity -- we're seeing a glimpse of solving the big issue that we have in this country and unity is what needs to be done. You see every corner, whether it's white or black, trying to work towards that and it's a beautiful thing that we're seeing right now."

The restaurant owners said they have asked other friends who've lost businesses what they can do to help, "because we're in this together."

"We were staying open during the pandemic because so many people needed our help," Abaineh said, adding that they gave discounts and even free meals to many local families. "We are more concerned for what's going on in the country right now. It's very sad to see all that chaos and businesses that lost a lot, but it's beyond us."

Lelna Desta, who has worked with Abaineh and Hailie for the last two years, organized a GoFundMe campaign that has already surpassed its $100,000 goal with donations from all around the world.

"My husband and I were very nervous to do it or put pressure because we know a lot of people don't have jobs because of COVID-19," Abaineh said. "Everyone said you have to do this and Lelna collaborated with the community who wanted to help us."

"It's amazing, I've seen people from Europe and Ethiopia donating. It means a lot to us," she said, adding that the currency exchange rate "is very high" and that she was touched that people from their home country rallied behind them.

While Hailie is hopeful that they will eventually rebuild Bolé, he said day-to-day operations are uncertain and expressed his concern for other black-owned restaurants that have been impacted by both COVID-19 closures and now the protests.

"I'm worried if they will ever come back again," he said. "It's going to hurt the business even worse."

Despite their burned-out building, the owners haven't let the protests dampen their spirit.

"I'm sure everyone in our community would place the same value on what's going on with the injustice," Hailie said. "In the meantime we've worked so hard, maybe three times more than the average American, to get here. There's a lot of ups and downs, and no amount of money can bring back that energy that I had put towards this business -- but I don't think I could get back to it with the same energy if it wasn't for this community."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mario Tama/Getty ImagesBy ANGELINE JANE BERNABE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- As protests continue to erupt across the country following the death of George Floyd, Jide James Zeitlin, the chairman and CEO of Tapestry Inc., the parent company of Kate Spade, Coach and Stuart Weitzman, is speaking up against racial inequality and emphasizing that black lives matter.

In a moving post on LinkedIn, Zeitlin penned a letter to the company to talk about his own experiences of spending a summer in apartheid South Africa and the lessons he learned that summer, which have remained with him until now.

 While he reported that all of Tapestry's teams were safe, he told Good Morning America that he still acknowledges the fear and put the incident in perspective.

"I focus on the cause. What is it that was the underlying issue that caused people to step out into the streets and protest, to take the steps that they took?" said Zeitlin. "The losses that we suffered are minimal, relative to, frankly, the broader losses that society is suffering from and from the loss of life that so many families are suffering from, and that's what's key."

"We can replace our windows and handbags, but we cannot bring back George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till and too many others. Each of these black lives matter," Zeitlin wrote in his statement.

In response to recent events, Zeitlin said that leaders across Tapestry's organization came together to think about how to contribute to change, and shared that they are currently working through a plan to "convene a number of social justice, legal and corporate entities to formulate a longer-term plan for addressing systemic inequality."

"The most important thing we can do right now is be human. I'm a human being, my 25,000 colleagues around the world are human beings and we've come through an extraordinary year. Two-and-a-half months locked into our homes, now watching, it seems as though every day another man, woman, getting shot or getting choked on the streets of our America," Zeitlin told George Stephanopoulos on GMA Wednesday. "This is the opportunity for us to be vulnerable, to connect with our employees, to connect more broadly with society."

"We understand that we are better together when different life experiences and perspectives allow us to develop ideas and products that none of us could have come up with on our own," wrote Zeitlin. "As brands whose core values are powerfully informed by the creative tension that cannot exist without diversity and inclusion, we cannot succeed if the ideal that is America does not succeed, including in different and diverse ways globally."

In response to Stephanopoulos' question on how to foster a culture that is actively anti-racist, Zeitlin said it's about honest conversation and celebrating people's differences.

"Part of it is having honest conversations, such as this conversation, such as the conversations that we have across Tapestry and that we're going to have more of going forward. But it's partly also, people talk about being anti-racist, from where I sit, you should see color, you should see differences, you should see lots of types of differences, and then you should celebrate those," said Zeitlin.

"At the end of the day we're stronger because of our diversity, because people with different perspectives and different insights are much better at solving problems [and] are much better at coming together, than if everybody had the same perspective," he added.

Across the fashion and beauty spaces, other companies have also spoken up about racial injustice. From brands such as Rag & Bone and Under Armour to Adidas and Nike, companies have used their social media platforms to create a discussion about racial injustices that are currently happening and are encouraging their followers to "be part of the change."

Over the weekend, Sephora president and CEO Jean-Andre Rougeot shared a blog post on their website vowing to support organizations that fight for equality and racial justice and also addressing the company's black employees.

"To our black employees: We see you," said Rougeot. "We know you're hurting. We are here to support wherever and however we can."

Even with an increasing number of companies taking vows to fight racial injustice and making diverse internal changes, the response to "how do we have hope in the face of a 400-year-old problem," Zeitlin told GMA is that you just have to believe in hope and the American Dream.

"You gotta have hope. From where I sit, I believe so fervently in the ideal that is America. That ideal, it's about equal opportunity and the social mobility that comes with that ideal. When I see the young, black man in the street protesting, I sit there and I say, 'That's me' ... he's crying out for opportunity … if he's able to achieve the American dream, it makes all of us better," said Zeitlin.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- In the last week, the economic woes stemming from the coronavirus pandemic were further exacerbated when a number of small businesses throughout the nation sustained damages due to the nationwide protests fueled by the death of George Floyd.

While some of the demonstrations were peaceful, others turned to looting and destruction, leaving many businesses wondering whether they will ever recover and reopen.

Asif Raza, a Pakistani immigrant and the owner of Star Sub in Chicago, was among the small business owners targeted by the looting frenzy.

"This looting has made it even harder for us. There was already very little business, so we are just trying to survive," Raza told ABC News.

Many of the small business owners interviewed by ABC News discussed the incredible hardships they experienced and the sacrifices they made to establish their businesses in the first place.

In general, minority-owned businesses have faced additional challenges, beginning with securing bank loans and capital. A 2016 study by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research determined that startups by people of color report, on average, substantially higher levels of loan denials than their white counterparts.

It is precisely because of such adversities and difficulties that Kareef Johnston, owner and manager of Shoe Mountain in Tampa, Florida, is particularly frustrated.

"We started our retail store from humble beginnings selling clothing and shoes in 2004 out of the flea market in Tampa," he told ABC News, adding that this continued until he was able to move to a store front plaza, and ultimately, to a new location in September 2019.

"On Saturday, there was a protest to bring about change to not only our community but the entire world as it relates to police brutality, racial injustice and systemic racism. But as the night fell, those protesters became overshadowed by opportunists. Around 50 individuals rushed our black-owned small business that has been around for about 15 plus years, destroying and taking over a few hundred thousand [dollars] in merchandise," Johnston said.

"We have to understand our black-owned business is exactly what we are protesting for: black ownership and black people creating institutions to provide and employ for our own, access to capital, elimination of redlining, desegregation, equality in all spaces and arenas," he said. "We are not here to tell anyone how to grieve, but we believe the moment we allow selfish desires for material goods trump our purposeful and warranted rage it only contributes to the detriment of black owned business, this cannot be considered anything but a loss."

From all accounts, the economic impact of the coronavirus on small businesses has been substantial, with many generating little or no income because of stay-at-home orders.

Although 74.9% of participants in a recent Census Bureau survey of small businesses said that they had applied for Small Business Administration emergency loans, funds which do not have to be repaid if they are utilized for rent, mortgage or payroll expenses, only 38.1% received aid.

At the same time, many businesses, particularly those owned by minorities and women, have experienced great challenges when applying for loans. Although, under the CARES Act, money was set aside for them, a new report by the SBA's inspector general determined that these businesses "may not have received the loans as intended," because there was "no evidence" that the SBA had issued guidance to lenders about prioritizing minority borrowers.

Hence, many were shut out given the overwhelming demand for the loans and the limits set by banks.

Raphael Kim, owner of Gomi, a Korean wine bar in New York City, is disheartened, and told ABC News, "I really don't know what the future of my business is." During the shutdown, he said, "We have been doing 10% to 20% of what we normally would do. It's just really, really even difficult to survive."

Between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on Monday, the entire facade of his store was destroyed, and money was stolen from the cash register.

Also in the early hours of Monday morning, Anna Barounis, a Greek immigrant, and the longtime owner of Giorgiana's, a small neighborhood market and deli in Boston's South End, saw on social media that her store was ransacked.

Throughout the pandemic, she worked alone, because her employees were fearful of getting sick. According to Barounis, approximately 50 teenagers, carrying baseball bats and sledgehammers, looted and damaged the property. She has been told by investigators that they were likely from out of state.

"I've never been so devastated," Barounis told ABC News. "We were never vandalized like this ever in over 49 years, so it was really shocking."

Barounis said that the damage and valuables lost may add up to a "couple hundred thousand dollars," and it will be several weeks until she can reopen her business.

The anguish and pain is also evident in the voice of Jeff Zeitler, who with wife Gita, owns Urban Forage Winery & Cider House, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

"This is devastating. We were just planning to reopen, then we got looted, and the blocks around us got burned down -- it is just terrible," he said.

The Zeitler family's store was vandalized, with much destroyed inside, and much of the merchandise gone. During the pandemic, he says, the sales were down between 60% and 70%, but despite the setback, he and his wife were feeling optimistic, anticipating a recovery.

Zeitler voiced his grief over the lack of a police presence in his area, feeling that from the onset of the demonstrations, "They have basically abandoned us. They left our area to be looted and burned."

He is now finding support within his neighborhood, as many residents and business owners have committed to guarding the buildings in the area to discourage more looting. Still, Zeitler feels quite vulnerable and unsure about the future. But, he told ABC News, "This is my dream. This is my dream. I desperately want to reopen."

Although the total number of businesses that were damaged during riots around the country remains uncounted, unofficial counts suggest that hundreds may have been impacted.

Most of the small business owners ABC News spoke to said they are not sure if insurance will cover the destruction caused by the looting. For now, many have organized GoFundMe fundraisers to help pay for some of the damages.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Twitter has disabled an account that appeared to represent a violent Antifa group after it was determined to be a bogus front for a white nationalist group.

The news comes amid mounting reports of disinformation being spread online amid the protests over the killing of George Floyd.

The account, with the handle @ANTIFA_US, was traced back to be a false facade for the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. It was specifically called out by U.S. law enforcement as an example of a left-wing radical group attempting to incite violence amid the unrest and nationwide protests.

"This account violated our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts. We took action after the account sent a Tweet inciting violence and broke the Twitter Rules," a Twitter spokesperson told ABC News.

Donald Trump Jr. even referenced the bogus account before it was taken down, calling it a "terrorist organization" and tweeting, "They're not even pretending anymore."

Twitter has taken action on other fake accounts linked to Identity Europa. The accounts were engaged in hateful conduct focused on issues of race, religion and sexual orientation.

Before the fake Antifa account was suspended, it drew significant media attention for a tweet that incited violence, according to Twitter.

Antifa -- short for "anti-fascists" -- is not a single organization but rather an umbrella term for far-left-leaning militant groups, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, as the protests over Floyd's death continue to roil the nation, social media has become ripe with disinformation.

"Time and time again we have seen public figures, media personalities and even government officials amplifying disinformation and extremist rhetoric intended to inspire violence," John Cohen, a former senior Department of Homeland Security official and current ABC News contributor, said. "A great step in deescalating the violence currently facing the Nation would be for this to end.”

Twitter said it is also actively investigating the hashtag #dcblackout and have suspended hundreds of "spammy accounts" that were using it on Monday.

The hashtag first started trending on Monday morning. Twitter users posted about an internet blackout in Washington, D.C., and a cover-up attempt to silence protesters via the hashtag.

Internet monitor NetBlocks said, however, there was no indication of mass-scale internet disruption in the nation's capital in the last 48 hours. As disinformation spread about the internet blackout, a counter-narrative was also apparently being boosted by bots alerting people that the #dcblackout was "misinformation."

It appears the goal of these efforts was to sow confusion and fear.

"Our teams have been taking action proactively on any coordinated attempts to disrupt the public conversation around this issue," a Twitter spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium issued an alert Monday, saying that in the last 24 hours unknown entities have been spreading disinformation in order to fuel violence amid the ongoing protests and unrest.   "Late Sunday night, May 31, 2020, social media reports began to surface claiming that protesters 'broke into' the White House, gun shots around the area were heard, and that President Trump and his family fled to Kansas," the alert stated.

The alerted added that the Twitter post featured a video with a large group of people running up steps toward a building with white columns.

"However, this video did not feature the White House, but appeared to be filmed in front of the steps of the State House in Columbus, Ohio," it added. "Multiple Twitter accounts, some of which appeared to behave in a bot-like manner and featured Arabic writing on their profiles, began to retweet this video, perpetuating the spread of disinformation. Some Twitter users recognized the building featured in the video and attempted to correct the narrative."

The analysts also wrote about the #dcblackout hashtag, saying a number of "legitimate and bot-controlled accounts retweeted this message."

The actors behind the social media campaign remain unknown, "but the intent of the messaging appears to be an attempt to instill fear and cause confusion among the populace," according to the alert.

A report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Washington field office analyzing the impact of the demonstrations in the D.C. area found online messages calling for attacks on places including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee headquarters in D.C. and Federal Reserve banks across the country.

Fake videos have also been distributed online that purportedly showed D.C. cops shooting black people and bogus messages willing to pay people to be "professional anarchists," according to the FBI report.

Even though President Donald Trump and other senior officials insist that law enforcement's concerns are confined to agitators on the political left, the FBI report states that "some militia members issued calls to travel to participate in the demonstrations, as part of their anti-law enforcement and anti-government agenda."

ABC News' James Meek, Daniel Linden and Lucien Bruggeman contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- With the coronavirus affecting the lives of so many, it’s also impacted working Americans who have been furloughed from their jobs.

But despite the unfortunate circumstances, people like Sarah Hlad, from Barnicoat, New Jersey, who turned to Instacart after being furloughed from her job at Equinox Sports Club in Manhattan in March, are getting creative and have found other ways to make money during these uncertain times.

“I pay for everything myself,” Hlad told ABC News' Good Morning America. “It was really scary for me because, like being furloughed, that’s a huge weight on my shoulders.”

Hlad wasted no time and found a job as an Instacart shopper in a matter of a few weeks, making deliveries to people who can’t leave their homes.

“My mom is a health care worker and I just felt like I should be helping people. So I thought that this would be a great way for me to help people in my community and to make some extra cash,” she said.

Each day, Hlad said that she tries to make between $100 to $120, which is easily attainable with two or three orders.

“I can Instacart whenever I want really. There’s no set schedule,” said Hlad. “I’ve been getting a lot of business on the weekends.”

Since the pandemic, Instacart has increased its workforce by 150% due to a rapidly growing customer demand and they are just one of many companies hiring thousands of new workers amid the pandemic.

“Some of the companies that are hiring -- Amazon, Instacart, Wal-Mart, CVS -- FedEx is another great example. Any kind of delivery jobs,” said Dan Roth, news editor-in-chief at LinkedIn. “Those are the companies and roles where we’ve seen large amounts of hiring just during the crisis.”

In an interview with GMA, Roth mentioned a rise in demand for remote jobs and socially, an acceptance of remote work.

“Companies are discovering that actually we can have people working from home and we could have them working from anywhere and still be able to get things done and to collaborate,” said Roth.

Currently, industries that are increasing their hiring demand include those in public health, with new jobs like contact tracing emerging.

Contact tracing, which is seen by experts as one of the keys to halting the spread of the novel coronavirus, is the ability to track down everyone with whom a coronavirus-positive person has significantly interacted. In April, a massive effort began by states across the country to recruit more manpower for the complex efforts.

“We’re looking for people who have experience interviewing people and that could come from a lot of different fields,” said Jessica Cobb, a community health officer for the Lexington Fayette County Health Department in Kentucky, about what she looks for when looking for contact tracer candidates. “There’s a broad range of people that we see looking for these jobs, but all of them have an interest in public health and an interest in helping with the response to make sure that we’re able to identify contacts and stop the spread of disease.”

“Unfortunately not everybody has a Masters in public health or even a bachelors in public health,” she added. “So we have to be more broad in who we’re looking for.”

“When you talk about new jobs that are emerging, the contact tracer is the one I think that is probably going to be a stepping stone to doing a lot of work and it will be the kind of thing that people rely on to be able to pay their rent and their mortgage,” said Roth, who also mentioned that other jobs that seem to be available during this time aside from contact tracing also include those in health education, technology and virtual education.

As for Hlad, despite unfavorable circumstances, she’s managed to get so much more than a paycheck with her new job.

“It’s not about the money,” she said. “It’s about helping people so we can all grow as a community.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


bernie_photo/iStockBy JOEL LYONS, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- If you've been weathering the storm of credit card debt for any period of time, you've probably tried the snowball method and the avalanche method.

But if you're really ready to rein in your liabilities, you may want to consider the "debt lasso method."

The tool was developed by David Auten and John Schneider, husbands who together run the Debt Free Guys blog and host the "Queer Money Podcast."

"The debt lasso method is basically lassoing all your debt into as few locations as possible from wherever they are, to the lowest interest rate possible," Schneider told ABC News' Good Morning America.

"It's the fastest, cheapest, easiest way to pay off credit card debt, and it will actually help improve your credit score," Auten added.

The pair credit the debt lasso method with helping them win their own battle.

"When David and I realized that we had $51,000 in credit card debt, we looked at the snowball method and we looked at the avalanche method, and we estimated that it was going to take about eight to 10 years with either method to pay it off," Schneider said. "We just didn't have the patience for that."

So the pair took a look at their entire financial situation and realized it was their credit card interest rates inhibiting them from paying off their debt.

Neither the snowball or avalanche method would directly address the hurdle of compounding interest, Schneider said. He added that maintaining high interest rates on the cards was also not in line with their goal to avoid adding to their balance or their goal of committing to paying a specific amount -- ideally more than the minimum monthly payment -- every single month.

"Some of those rates were as high as 20% or more," Schneider said. "So we thought, if we could remove that out of the equation, how fast could we pay off our debt? And we realized that we could actually do so within less than three years."

Below, they share the five steps they took toward becoming debt-free and how you can get started with the process (including requesting their Debt Lasso Calculator):

1. Commit

First, be ready to take two important steps.

"Commit to not acquiring any more credit card debt and also commit to paying at least a specific dollar amount on your credit card month after month," Schneider said.

2. Trim

If you can, Schneider recommends pursuing a quick win in the beginning of the process.

"The second tip is to trim," he said. "If there is any credit card debt that you can pay off within the first month or two, do so and get that quickly out of the way."

3. Lasso your debt

Now it's time to cowboy up.

"Lasso your debt," Auten said. "What we mean by that is take all of your credit cards and try to bring them to as few locations as possible."

For this step, Auten recommends finding a credit card with a low or no-interest rate, and then transferring balances from other cards to the new card. He adds that taking out a loan to pay off debts is another consideration.

"A lot of people have asked us, is [the debt lasso method] just debt consolidation or is it just refinancing? We like to remind people that anyone can do a debt consolidation or refinancing, but it doesn't set them up for the process of actually paying their debt off," Auten said, pointing out how he and Schneider have seen individuals who have jumped into this part of the process without giving consideration to the four other, equally important steps within the method.

"Then they give up because they think that paying off their debt isn't going to work for them. So it's more than just debt consolidation or refinancing," he added.

4. Automate

Instead of relying on memory to make you payments on time, Auten recommends delegating this task to your bank.

"Step No. 4 is to automate everything," he said. "This is so you don't miss a payment."

You'll also be able to avoid late charges that can increase your overall balance and can raise interest rates to sky-high levels.

5. Monitor

Finally, pay attention as you travel down the path toward being debt-free.

"When you monitor, you actually get to see your progress, which excites you and helps you move this whole process along even faster," Auten said.

Auten says this is also the time to assess if you need to re-lasso your debt. For example, if you have obtained a 0% or low-interest balance-transfer credit card offer, you may want to set a reminder two months prior to the offer's end date. That way, if your balance won't be paid before it expires, you have time to start looking for a new offer and can transfer the balance ahead of accruing additional interest.

Schneider says it might not make sense to implement the debt lasso method "if you can pay off your credit card debt in six months or so ... without having to do a drastic overhaul of your financial situation," but he and Auten say that no matter which process you pursue, it's important to have a strategy.

"If you're not using a strategy ... it gets very easy to not make that commitment, to skip a month or to send less each month," Auten said. "It's the commitment that really makes all of these methods work."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- In case you are looking for a little retail therapy, shopping at Sephora just got a whole lot sweeter for loyal fans of the beauty haven.

The company announced several upgrades to its beloved Beauty Insider loyalty program, which features access to a more robust selection of samples from top brands such as Briogeo, Milk Makeup and Sol De Janeiro.

Our goal is to create a multi-faceted and well-rounded program to cater to the changing needs of our clients," Stanley Krishnan, Sephora vice president and general manager of Loyalty at Sephora Allegra, said in a press release.

"We also know rewards that provide greater emotional and memorable experiences are the most meaningful for our clients, and we want to continue to deliver personalized experiences where our clients can choose what works best for their needs. The emotional component of loyalty is a vital driver of our loyalty program and what really matters most to our clients," Krishnan added.

Other huge perks of the renewed loyalty program include more ways to save on purchases made online or in-store.

Additionally, members will get to enjoy free shipping -- for Rogue members free shipping on all purchases, for VIB on purchases of $35 or more, and for Insiders on purchases of $50 or more.

There also will be access given to members for unique experiences such as meet and greets as well as trips. Rouge members will get first access to new product launches, too.

Last but not least, Sephora has launched a Rewards Bazaar which is an online platform where members can exchange points that can be used on new rewards that are released every Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. PST.

Points can also be redeemed through a Charity Reward in which Sephora will donate the corresponding amount to the Tides Foundation to benefit featured charities that are selected on a rotating basis. The organization is kicking off donations with the National Black Justice Coalition in June followed by Project Glimmer in July.

In May, Sephora released reopening plans for stores after being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic which included employee temperature checks, required face masks and discontinued in-store product testing services.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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