- Athletes and teams in the U.S. are donating thousands to pay arena employees who are being financially impacted by the NBA, MLB, and other sport season suspensions.
- Meanwhile, Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma and Dell Technologies billionaire Michael Dell offered the U.S. medical supplies and technical infrastructure support.
- As cases of COVID-19 surge across the globe, China is beginning to recover and is easing up on drastic restrictions.
- Viral video shows Wuhan doctors celebrating the closure of the city’s last temporary hospital.
Amid all of the panic surrounding the spreading coronavirus, many big names are offering financial support to those in need.
The suspension of the NBA season, for instance, isn’t just affecting million dollar players and fans. It’s having a huge impact on thousands of employees in basketball arenas across the nation.
Last week, Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love committed to giving $100,000 through his non-profit to help support the Cavaliers’ arena and staff. Soon after, other players followed his lead, like Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokoump.
Antetokoumpo tweeted, “It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammates lives easier. Me and my family pledge to donate $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff. We can get through this together!”
Zion Williamson, a forward for the New Orleans Pelicans, said on Instagram that he was paying the salaries of Smoothie King Center employees for the next 30 days.“This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people who have been so great to me and my teammates and hopefully we can all join together to relieve some of the stress and hardship caused by this national health crisis,” he wrote.
View this post on Instagram
The people of New Orleans have been incredibly welcoming and supportive since I was Drafted by the Pels last June, and some of the most special people I have met are those who work at smoothie King Center. These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization. Unfortunately, many of them are still recovering from long term challenges created by Katrina, and now face the economic impact of the postponement of games because of the virus. My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have, and so today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days. This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people who have been so great to me and my teammates and hopefully we can all join together to relieve some of the stress and hardship caused by this national health crisis. This is an incredibly resilient city full of some of the most resilient people, but sometimes providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who first brought up pay issues right as the season was suspended, said the Mavericks would pay event staff during the hiatus. The Golden State Warriors took it a step further, with franchise owners, players, and coaches promising to contribute $1 million for Chase Center employees. After all of these generous announcements, more teams made commitments to help arena staff, including the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, LA Lakers and Clippers.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert even promised assistance of his own after apologizing for not taking the virus seriously. Gobert prompted the NBA shut down when he tested positive for the virus after joking touching microphones at a press conference and reportedly acting “careless” around other players.
In an effort to make things right, he encouraged people to use his story as a lesson and is donating $200,000 to the employee relief fund at Vivint Smart Home Arena. On top of that, he’s giving $100,000 each to assist families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Utah and Oklahoma City, plus 100,000 euros for his native country of France.
And this isn’t just happening in the NBA, Major League Baseball stars have been donating funds for their workers, including Astros players George Springer and Alex Bregman. A few National Hockey League teams have also reportedly been working on plans to reimburse workers for lost wages.
Medical and Technological Support
The donations have eased some employees, allowing them to find comfort in knowing that they will still have an income during this stressful time. But it’s not just employee’s impacted by closures who are seeing support.
Others are focusing on medical necessities, like Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma. Ma is donating 500,000 coronavirus testing kits and one million protective face masks to the U.S., saying that from his own country’s experience, “speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus.”
The Chinese billionaire has already offered similar supplies for areas like Japan, Korea, Italy, Iran, and Spain, and others. According to tweets from the Jack Ma Foundation, the first U.S. shipment is already on its way.
Tech billionaire Michael Dell also explained how Dell Technologies was helping fight the coronavirus worldwide. Dell said the company has made a donation of two million yuan ($284,000 USD) to fund needed materials in China including surgical masks, protective clothing and eye protectors for local hospitals.
Along with technical infrastructure support for the CDC in China, the company also set aside $3 million USD in funds and in-kind technology to help meet the needs of organizations working to treat and contain COVID-19.
Dell has also agreed to match employee donations to the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund up to $10,000 per employee.
Many are celebrating all of these moves, which show a stark contrast in leadership in comparison to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who reportedly recommended that employees ‘donate’ PTO to one another amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Cases Ease Up in China
In an effort to remind people that this outbreak will pass, many internet users have been celebrating the progress being made in Wuhan China, where the virus first broke out.
While people across the globe have been forced to stay inside, healthcare professionals have been working tirelessly to help thousands of people who have fallen ill, putting themselves at risk.
In a viral video, medical workers in Wuhan took their face masks off to reveal smiles as they celebrated the closing of the last temporary hospital. Last month, China quickly built more than a dozen temporary medical facilities last month, including two in Wuhan that proved more than 2,000 more beds to accommodate the overflow of patients in the city.
As of Monday, China has reported nearly 81,000 cases, with more than 67,000 patients who have recovered and about 3,000 who have died. But the country’s quarantine measures and have drastically reduced their number of daily cases and China has now begun easing local travel restrictions in an effort to get thousands of people back to work.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (Business Insider) (Independent)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”