Apple postpones employee return-to-office date until October

Apple postpones employee return-to-office until October amid huge surge in Indian Delta variant – even as financial giants like Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo vow to keep on schedule for staff return

  • It is a departure from the Silicon Valley giant’s initial plans announced last month for workers to return to its offices in early September
  • It comes as the Indian delta variant has sent Covid-19 positivity rates surging across the country
  • It would be the first of the major US tech companies to postpone its return-to-office plans
  • Facebook still plans to return to full office capacity in October, but with remote work options
  • Google also still plans to have its workers return to the office in September 
  • Other major companies like top investment bank Morgan Stanley are staying the course and expects its New York City workers to return to office in September
  • Yet others such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have already called the majority of their workforce back to the office  
  • The delta variant now accounts for 83% of new Covid-19 cases as the country has recorded a 224% increase in infections  

 Last month Apple CEO Tim Cook had called on its workforce to return to the office by early September citing declining infection rates, Apple is now saying its full workforce will return to the company’s offices across the country in October by the earliest

Apple is now saying its full workforce will return to the company’s offices across the country in October by the earliest as more contagious variants of the coronavirus spread across the country, even as the country’s financial giants have vowed to stay the course. 

Originally the Silicon Valley giant had set early September as its deadline for employees to return to in-person work, with Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook announcing to workers last month that they would be spending at least three days a week in the office.   

Cook had cited declining infection rates and the widespread availability of vaccines, but the spread of the highly contagious Indian delta variant, however, appears to have prompted a reconsideration of those plans, Bloomberg reported. 

The decision would make the Cupertino, California-based Apple the first of the major US tech companies to delay return-to-office plans as driven by the delta variant, Covid-19 cases have skyrocketed nationwide, prompting a reconsideration of mask wearing guidelines in California. 

Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. The company’s decision comes as the delta variant has prompted a reconsideration of mask wearing mandates and guidelines in the state 

Infection rates have begun to surge in recent weeks, driven primarily by the more contagious delta variant 

Other Silicon Valley giants have also been testing out remote work configurations, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing last year that he expected much of its workforce to remain working remotely even after the pandemic.

The company plans to reopen its offices to full capacity by October, but is offering workers the option to work remotely for up to half of the year. 

Google, on the other hand, has yet to release firm remote work plans except that it expects its workers to return to in-person work three days a week in September. 

Other major firms such as top investment bank Morgan Stanley have been adamant about staying the course, with CEO James Gorman telling investors late last month that he expects all of his New York City workers to return to the office in September. 

Wells Fargo, too has called for a full return to office after Labor Day, according to a July 16 memo, Barron’s reported. 

‘We believe our success depends on our employees becoming increasingly collaborative and innovative, and that we all benefit from seeing our colleagues on a regular basis,’ Chief Operating Officer Scott Powell wrote in the memo. 

And yet others have already called the majority of their workforce back to the office, with Goldman Sachs workers having returned on June 14, and JPMorgan on July 6.  

Already the variant makes up 83% of new infections in the country 

Facing a 700% positivity rate increase over the past month, LA County on Sunday became the first in the nation to reinstate indoor mask wearing mandates, even amongst the vaccinated.

Additionally, on Friday officials in eight Bay Area counties announced new indoor mask wearing guidelines, ‘out of an abundance of caution,’ they said, to protect their unvaccinated populations. 

In testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee last Wednesday, Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said the variant accounts for 83 percent of COVID-19 cases.

The figure is a considerable increase from the 50 percent of infections that were linked to the Delta variant two weeks ago.

Nearly every state – aside from Montana and Iowa – and the District of Columbia have seen infections rise in the last week

The new infections come as the vaccine effort has flagged in the US

It comes as the U.S. recorded 52,111 new cases on Monday with a seven-day rolling average of 34,682, which is a 224 percent increase from the 10,678 average recorded three weeks ago.

Nearly every state – aside from Montana and Iowa – and the District of Columbia have seen infections rise in the last week, according to a analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

However, Covid-19 deaths haven’t shot dramatically higher in the wake of the rising number of cases tied to the Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, and are currently averaging around 277 fatalities per day.

Health officials say this is because people now are protected by vaccines, though in states that have less vaccine uptake – such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri – hospitals are starting to fill up. 

Average COVID-19 cases in Missouri have risen by 60% from 1,107 per day to 1,782 per day in the last two weeks

In Arkansas, cases have jumped from an average of 602 per day two weeks ago to 974 per day on Monday, an increase of 61 %

Louisiana has seen average cases soar 115% from 650 per to 1,398 per day over the last 14 days

Deaths, too, should tick higher, but not to the rates seen during the deadly winter surge because of vaccines.  

Meanwhile, as cases increase, daily COVID-19 vaccinations continue to decline, with the seven-day rolling average falling below 500,000 per day from a high of 3.5 million in April.  

Apple had initially been resistant to remote work, and in June employees criticized the September return-to-office deadline as too early, with staff penning a letter to Cook saying they felt their concerns about in-person work had gone unheard. 

Some Apple employees had been working in its offices on certain days throughout the pandemic, Bloomberg also reported.  

Indian ‘Delta’ variant that has ravaged the UK could make up ALL new COVID cases in NYC by August 14 

By Rachel Sharp for

The U.S. is at risk of slipping backwards in its fight against COVID-19 as the Indian ‘Delta’ variant has become the dominant strain and appears to be on track to make up every new case in New York City by next month.

The spread of the highly contagious strain, which originated in India, has already pushed new infections up to 26,306 nationwide, an increase of 69.3 percent on a seven-day moving average compared to one week earlier.

Nearly every state witnessed a rise in infections in the last week and CDC data shows the Delta variant is responsible for about 60 percent of these cases.

CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky warned that the current outbreak is becoming ‘a pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as most cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among people yet to take the shot while the nation’s vaccination rollout has stalled.

Fears are now mounting that the worst is yet to come as America looks to the United Kingdom, which is several weeks ahead in its battle against the Delta variant and is grappling with daily infections doubling within the space of a week.

Based on the rate with which the strain became dominant in the UK, then made up 100 percent of cases and set off a dramatic spike in cases and deaths, the US may well be just weeks away from reaching a similar crisis point.

New York City, which last year was the virus epicenter of the world, could see cases accelerate six-fold and deaths multiply by seven between now and the end of August if the spread of the variant mirrors that on the other side of the pond.

As the Indian Delta variant has taken over the U.K., its COVID cases have spiked. In New York, the Delta variant now has taken over, too. If the city follows the same path as the U.K., this chart shows the projected growth in the number of cases as of Aug. 14, when the strain looks set to comprise 100 percent of COVID cases in the city

Delta spread quickly throughout the UK and had become the dominant strain by May 21, when 60.6 percent of all new cases in the two weeks preceding it were identified as the B1.617.2 variant.

Just six weeks later, on the week ending July 2, 100 percent of all UK cases were the Delta variant.  

New York City has a lag on the UK when it comes to the prevalence of the strain. 

It became dominant by the week ending July 3, accounting for 69 percent of all new cases just as people jetted in and out of the city for the July 4 weekend. 

This means if New York City follows the same pattern as the UK, the Big Apple is on track for the Delta strain to make up 100 percent of all new cases by August 14.   

And this threatens to set off a new wave of the virus, just one month after New York state lifted all remaining coronavirus restrictions in June. 

The spread of the Delta variant sent cases and deaths surging once again in the UK and plunged the country into yet another lockdown. 

In the six weeks between May 21 – when it became the dominant strain – and July 2 – when it accounted for 100 percent of new cases, COVID-19 infections surged a staggering 1,124 percent from 2,290 to 25,750.  

As the number of U.K. cases shoots higher with the Indian Delta COVID variant taking hold, New York City cases also are beginning to move higher – and they threaten to spike just as the U.K.’s numbers have as the Delta variant becomes an increasing share of the city’s infections

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