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The virtual Seder must go on

The government’s lifeline for small businesses could get bigger. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday he wants to add an additional $250B to the $350B Paycheck Protection Program. But the rollout of the PPP was basically a dumpster fire, and many small-biz owners are worried any money they get will come too late -- or not at all. We’ll be updating our comprehensive guide to the coronavirus relief package as new info rolls in, so stay tuned.

April 8, 2020
The Hustle

The government’s lifeline for small businesses could get bigger. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday he wants to add an additional $250B to the $350B Paycheck Protection Program. But the rollout of the PPP was basically a dumpster fire, and many small-biz owners are worried any money they get will come too late — or not at all. We’ll be updating our comprehensive guide to the coronavirus relief package as new info rolls in, so stay tuned.


Holy days get the social distancing treatment

This pandemic might have convinced temples, churches, synagogues, and mosques to shut their doors, but it can’t get between you and your Zoom Seder. 

As people from multiple faiths gear up to celebrate the holy days this month — Passover begins at sundown today, Easter is Sunday, and Ramadan starts on April 23 — they are scrambling to recalibrate their traditions for the Quarantine Era.

But religious leaders are bringing the right energy to the holidays. As one Michigan reverend put it to the New York Times, people should get “down and dirty” with at-home rituals.

Salvation is just a delivery order away 

In New York, restaurants are delivering premade, 3-course Seder meals to cut down on grocery shopping. One rabbi in Buffalo is offering an all-purpose Seder in a Box — an innovation that must have Blue Apron quaking in its boots.

Disappointed that you can’t gather at your church for the annual Easter egg hunt? An Ithaca church famed for its pursuits — last year, it snagged 800 guests — is offering egg-hunt to-go bags

In the handoff, participants get premade Easter eggs stuffed with candy, plus detailed instructions on the best place around the house to hide them.

If you can’t beat it, stream it

Where in-person festivities fail, try going remote. New York’s Middle Collegiate Church has a fully online challenge, with eggs hidden across its website

To keep alive the hunt for the afikoman — a piece of matzo hidden during the Seder — at least one rabbi has committed to carrying his laptop from room to room and letting the kids direct him on Zoom.

The United Hebrew Congregation, meanwhile, is streaming its Seder celebration, as are many individual families. 

Even virtual worlds are getting in on the action: 

  • Animal Crossing is bringing you its own version of Easter — Bunny Day — and it is already flooding its world with party balloons in preparation. 
  • One Texas church has set up an Easter egg hunt in Minecraft.

The hajj, the pilgrimage taken every year by 2m+ Muslims, is canceled this year — so people are turning to VR apps like Experience Mecca to recreate it, sort of. 

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Chart of the Day

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is pledging $1B of his equity in Square — 28% of his wealth — to finance coronavirus relief and other charitable efforts. He’s keeping track of the money here

This is how his pledge compares to coronavirus donations from other big names in tech and business:

Corona Crime

It’s prime time for coronavirus swindlers

If a “relative” of some African royalty emails you and offers to “help” with that stimulus check, DO NOT hit reply.

Law-enforcement agencies around the country are warning consumers not to be taken in by a growing criminal underground that wants to make big bucks off the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Trade Commission said recently that corona-fraud complaints had doubled in the last few weeks. Consumers reported losing $4.7m+, with a median loss of ~$600.

The scammers are going HAM

It’s bad enough that some world leaders and celebrities are promoting corona-spiracies (wyd, Woody?!) and unproven DIY remedies. (Tea is NOT going to cut it, no matter what Venezuela’s president says.)

When misinformation spreads almost as fast as the virus itself, that gives enterprising evildoers more room to operate.

The New York Times reported that a fake corona-clinic was operating out of a convenience-store parking lot, offering “tests” for $240 a pop. 

But the fakers blew their cover when they misspelled the acronym for a medical privacy law as “HIPPA,” among other dead giveaways (it’s “HIPAA,” for you spelling-bee champs out there). Criminal masterminds they ain’t.

If you think that’s dumb, we’ve got a statue to sell ya

The police in India caught someone trying to offload the “Statue of Unity” — the world’s tallest, at almost 600 feet — for $4B, claiming the proceeds would go toward fighting the virus.

Vice reported that cybersquatting criminals are buying up corona-adjacent domains, trying to trick people into thinking their sites are legit.

Here’s a fun way to protect yourself

Gather ’round your isolated loved ones and settle in for a reassuring game of FTC Scam Bingo. Any offers that would win you a letter are probably frauds.

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It took a full decade, but tech finally cracked the code to weight loss

What’s the secret sauce? Restrictive diets? Endless hours on the elliptical? Only eating foods that are purple and shaped like eggplants? 

No, no, and no. In fact, it’s much simpler than that… 

You just need to slowly tweak your habits

And that starts with not eating 7 meals a day directly from your fridge while you work from home (trust us, you can do it).

Losing weight requires one thing: sustainable behavioral change. 

By helping people slowly shift their habits, rather than prescribing hard-to-follow diets and radical life changes, Noom has found a way to make weight loss sustainable and lasting.

The proof is in the (sugar-free) pudding: 78% of Noom users kept the weight off 9 months after they started their plan.   

And for some of us — like this copywriter — who have been sitting on our couches eating bagels with Nutella every hour we’re home, it’s the perfect way to get back to your healthy habits.

Want to see how Noom can help you make a change? Take their quiz:

Quiz time →
Very Good News

Delivery dogs to the rescue: the 4-legged friends of socially distant shopping

We give these good boys and girls a 12/10.

Some companies and super neighborly types are enlisting their pups to deliver groceries and other essentials while people are sheltered in place.

They make life in quarantine a little less ruff

A winery in Maryland turned to an 11-year-old boxer named Soda Pup (that’s Soda for short) to help deliver bottles to customers. 

The saddlebags that Soda wears on his back limit him to carrying 2 bottles at a time, but he’s gotten very good at the job — “as long as there are no bunnies, or geese, or other critters to distract him,” the winery noted.

  • In Colorado, a woman trained her golden retriever, Sundance, to deliver groceries to an elderly neighbor. 
  • In Maine, a musher who one day hopes to train for the Iditarod is doing the same, using her trusty team of sled dogs. They travel 50-75 miles per day to complete 4-6 orders.

There’s no need to fear your furry courier: Cats can be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 (remember the tiger at the Bronx Zoo), but household pets aren’t much of a danger. Just wash your hands after tipping/petting.

If you’re allergic, don’t despair. Driverless delivery pods could be for you.

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The Hustle Says

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Masked Crusaders

Demand for cloth masks is surging. Crafters say, sew what?

You’ve given up on wearing pants. But even if you’re not covering your ass, you might consider doing something with your face.

Um, rude

Last Friday, the White House announced new CDC guidelines recommending people wear non-medical cloth coverings in public spaces. The already high demand for homemade masks surged.

So Etsy sent a push notification to its crafters: “Calling all sellers. Start making face masks.”

And did they ever. 

  • Etsy averaged 1 mask-related search every 2 seconds in March.
  • 10k+ sellers sold at least 1 mask each last week.
  • Some crafters are working 18-hour days to meet demand.

Maskmaker, maskmaker, make me a mask…

… just don’t make any misleading claims. 

With medical-grade masks like the N95 in short supply for frontline hospital staff, it’s a major faux pas for civilians to wear them. Although cloth masks aren’t as effective at filtering virus-transmitting droplets, they’re better than nothing… and some are ludicrously chic

Still, the CDC sez we still have to practice social distancing whether or not we mask up.

To ensure everyone understands that a swath of cotton doesn’t make one bulletproof, Etsy issued guidelines preventing sellers from making medical claims about their masks. It even advises sellers to avoid using the words “COVID-19” or “coronavirus” on listing pages.

Meanwhile, maskfluencers have been serving up fresh DIY inspo — and sometimes social commentary — through tutorials posted to YouTube and TikTok.

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💰In non-corona news: SoFi is purchasing the payments company Galileo for $1.2B.

🇨🇦 Yeesh. A Canadian startup that offers tenant-screening services is taking fire for encouraging landlords to report on whether people paid their April rent.

💩 Researchers are using sewage surveillance to track how many people have been infected with the new coronavirus.

💵 Good news for owners of small, digitally oriented businesses: A new analysis found they make important contributions to local economies.

😲 The 😷 emoji’s use on Venmo has grown by 2,000% (!). Meanwhile, 🏀 and 🎉 are way down.

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Today’s email was brought to you by Matt Zoball (Soup Specialist), Nick “Needs to Confess” DeSantis, Michael Waters, Caroline Dohack, Bobby Durben, and Meg Furey-Marquess.

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