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Big tech’s coronavirus responses are getting serious

Plus, our election coverage has kicked off

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Google I/O 2019 Photo by Dieter Bohn / The Verge

The story that truly mattered in tech yesterday was, of course, the coronavirus. Another big conference got canceled, Google I/O in May. That means the big, uncanceled tech events include Apple’s WWDC and its rumored spring event, Microsoft’s Build, and of course SXSW. SXSW starts next week and despite the fact that yet more companies pulled out of it (including longtime SXSW stalwart Mashable), the conference itself hasn’t come around to canceling. We’ll see.

Since the big cancellation came from Google, I’m going to steal one of Google’s favorite cliches: it’s still “early days” for this virus. Yet more cases are being discovered in the US and that pace will likely increase as testing does. What the effects on big tech will ultimately be is still unclear.

Don’t shed a tear for media who can’t go to these events, but do feel bad for developers who won’t get one-on-one time with engineers. Mostly, though, please just have empathy for the human cost and do your part to help ensure the spread is limited.

Nicole Wetsman continues to keep our main article on what you need to know about the coronavirus continually updated, please give it a read.

The other big story that mattered yesterday, of course, was the Super Tuesday primary election. We kicked off our election coverage in an official way with a series of explainers on the tech policy that’s going to matter this year. They’ll be updated on a regular basis and the whole project is something I’m proud to be associated with — but all the credit for the work goes to our policy team.

Last note: for those who have been asking if I am going to review the regular Samsung Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus, the answer is that I finally got them yesterday. I’ve got a pretty good idea what to focus on, but if you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Okay actual last note: I will say that I haven’t come around to a clear line of thinking about the latest Apple rumors about the MacBook beyond the obvious: hurry the hell up and get those bad keyboards replaced with something new as soon as possible.

Coronavirus and big tech

Google cancels I/O 2020, its biggest event of the year.

Amazon confirms Seattle employee is in quarantine with coronavirus.

Twitter is strongly encouraging all employees to work from home to prevent spreading coronavirus.

Ford bans business travel after two employees test positive for COVID-19.

Google and Microsoft are giving away enterprise conferencing tools due to coronavirus.

Pinterest now showing custom search results for coronavirus to combat misinformation.

More on the coronavirus

How emergency declarations are helping governments respond to COVID-19.

The earliest known deaths from COVID-19 in the US went undetected for a week.

Panic buying of masks puts health care workers’ ‘lives at risk,’ WHO says.

WeChat has been censoring keywords about coronavirus, study finds.

The Verge covers the 2020 election

Why we’re covering the 2020 election. Nilay Patel:

If you need help sorting through data privacy bills or keeping the Justice Department rumors straight, we’ll have a single place where you can see everything laid out as clearly as possible. We’ll be refreshing these guides through the election — so whatever happens between now and November, they’ll stay up to date.

┏ Our landing page for all the guides are here: The Verge guide to the 2020 election, and here are the guides we’ve published yesterday: