1. Home
  2. News
  3. 2020
  4. June

News in June 2020

Browse by year

2020

Browse by month

Get trending consumer news and recalls

    By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

    Common food additive could lead to colon inflammation

    Researchers worry about the effects this ingredient could have on consumers’ health

    Recent studies have found how frequently utilized food additives can affect everything from kids’ health to the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, and now another new study has explored how consumers’ gut health could be impacted by these commonly used ingredients. 

    Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted a study on mice which suggests that titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2 NPs) -- a food additive commonly found in candy, gum, and desserts -- can inflame the colon and disrupt the natural function of the gut. 

    “I think our results have a lot of implications in the food industry and on human health and nutrition,” said researcher Hang Xiao. “The study confirmed a strong linkage between foodborne titanium dioxide nanoparticles and adverse health effects.” 

    The risk to gut health 

    For the study, the researchers gave two groups of mice different diets to determine how the food additives affected their gut health. Half of the mice followed healthier diets while the other half had meals higher in fat content. While those on the higher fat diet were more likely to experience gut-related issues, both groups of mice reacted negatively to titanium dioxide exposure. 

    The researchers found that consuming TiO2 NPs increased the number of cells in the colon linked to inflammation and affected overall colon health. Moreover, those on the higher fat TiO2 NPs diets came out of the study either obese or overweight and at a higher risk of all associated side effects. 

    Though the researchers are curious to see how long-term exposure to titanium dioxide can affect consumers, the researchers say the findings from this study present enough cause for concern. 

    “The results support our hypothesis that including TiO2 NPs in the diet disrupts the homeostasis of the gut microbiota, which in turn leads to colonic inflammation in the mice,” said Xiao. 

    Being mindful of ingredients

    Though titanium dioxide was recently banned in France because of side effects like the ones discovered in this study, the ingredient continues to be used in the U.S. and other countries around the world. 

    The researchers explained that TiO2 NPs are used to make the food additive E171, which can lighten the color of popular food or drink items. The particles used in food and drink production range in size, which could be problematic for consumers. 

    “The bigger particles won’t be absorbed easily, but the smaller ones could get into the tissues and accumulate somewhere,” said Xiao. 

    Recent studies have found how frequently utilized food additives can affect everything from kids’ health to the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, and now a...
    Read lessRead more

    Starbucks pauses all social media advertising over hate speech concerns

    The coffee chain is joining other advertisers in the push to create ‘inclusive online communities’

    Starbucks is halting all social media advertising amid concerns over the ineffective policing of online hate speech. 

    Last week, major advertisers including Verizon, Coca-Cola, and Ben & Jerry’s announced that they would be pulling ads from Facebook because of the company’s refusal to make policy changes to keep out hateful content. 

    Starbucks says it will pull ads from Facebook and all other social networking platforms while having internal discussions with civil rights groups and media partners to figure out how best to contribute to the effort to stop the spread of hate speech.

    Starbucks said the bottom line is that “more must be done” to facilitate the creation of inclusive online spaces. Companies and politicians each play a role in the effort, the chain added. 

    “We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online, and we stand against hate speech,” Starbucks said in a statement. “We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policymakers need to come together to affect real change.” 

    Pausing ads

    Starbucks didn’t say how long it plans to pause ads, but many of the companies participating in the advertising boycott are pulling ads through the end of July. The company said it will still write social media posts that aren’t paid promotions. 

    Last week, Facebook said it wouldn’t enact policy changes in response to financial pressure. The company later reversed course, announcing late Friday that it would begin hiding or blocking content considered hateful or content that could harm voting ahead of the 2020 election. Politicians won’t be exempted from the new policy. 

    “We believe there is a public interest in allowing a wider range of free expression in people's posts than in paid ads,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote. “We already restrict certain types of content in ads that we allow in regular posts, but we want to do more to prohibit the kind of divisive and inflammatory language that has been used to sow discord.” 

    “So today we're prohibiting a wider category of hateful content in ads. Specifically, we're expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health, or survival of others,” Zuckerberg said. 

    Starbucks is halting all social media advertising amid concerns over the ineffective policing of online hate speech. Last week, major advertisers inclu...
    Read lessRead more

    Get trending consumer news and recalls

      By entering your email, you agree to sign up for consumer news, tips and giveaways from ConsumerAffairs. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Thank you, you have successfully subscribed to our newsletter! Enjoy reading our tips and recommendations.

      BMW recalls vehicles with possible steering issue

      The steering gear tie rods may become damaged

      BMW of North America is recalling 2,779 model year 2019 Z4 sDrive30i, 2019-2020 330i xDrive, M340i & M340i xDrive, model year 2020 X3M & X4M, and Toyota Supra vehicles.

      Under certain driving conditions, such as high temperatures and rough road surfaces, a steering gear tie rod may become damaged, possibly resulting in a fractured tie rod.

      A damaged or fractured tie rod may affect vehicle handling and control, increasing the risk of a crash.

      What to do

      BMW and Toyota will notify owners, and dealers will replace the steering gear tie rods, free of charge.

      This recall is expected to begin August 7, 2020.

      Owners may contact BMW customer service at (800) 525-7417 or Toyota customer service at (888) 270-9371.

      BMW of North America is recalling 2,779 model year 2019 Z4 sDrive30i, 2019-2020 330i xDrive, M340i & M340i xDrive, model year 2020 X3M & X4M, and Toyota Su...
      Read lessRead more

      Beyond Better Foods recalls Chocolate Peanut Butter Pints

      The product may contain milk, an allergen not declared on the label

      Beyond Better Foods is recalling select pints from a single production run of Enlightened brand Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream pints.

      The product may have been packaged in Dairy-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter containers, but may contain milk, an allergen not declared on the label.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The recalled product is in a base container labeled “Dairy-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter” and a lid labeled “Chocolate Peanut Butter” without a “Dairy-Free” callout, and s “best by” date of November 5, 2021, printed on the bottom of the container.

      It was sold in grocery stores nationwide.

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled product and are allergic to milk should not consume it, but return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

      Consumers with questions may contact the firm at (800) 819-2998 Monday – Friday between 9AM and 5PM (ET), or by email at recallhotline@beyondbetterfoods.com.

      Beyond Better Foods is recalling select pints from a single production run of Enlightened brand Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream pints. The product may...
      Read lessRead more

      Coronavirus update: The worst may be yet to come, doubt cast on vaccine effectiveness

      Texas is reclosing bars as cases skyrocket

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,425,814 (2,382,702)

      Total U.S. deaths: 124,509 (122,020)

      Total global cases: 9,643,999 (9,478,266)

      Total global deaths: 490,055 (483,461)

      Health experts say it’s only going to get worse

      The surge in cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) -- there were 40,000 reported on Thursday -- will only get worse in the months ahead, health experts warn. 

      "Every epidemiologist was telling, screaming as loud as we could, that three weeks after Memorial Day, we'd have a peak in the cases, and five weeks after Memorial Day we'd begin to see a peak in hospitalizations and deaths," epidemiologist Larry Brilliant told CNN

      Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s very likely that millions of people have had the virus without knowing it or having the illness diagnosed.

      A vaccine might not help that much

      The race is on among pharmaceutical companies to develop an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, but at least one virus specialist is voicing doubt that a vaccine based on antibodies will stop people from being infected.

      In an interview with CNBC, Robert Lambkin-Williams, a virologist at Virology Consult Ltd, said he has yet to find evidence that antibodies in patients who have recovered from the virus provide any protection against being reinfected with COVID-19.

      “The vaccine is not going to be a cure-all,” he said. “We have not had a successful vaccine against this type of virus ever.” 

      Texas bars closed again

      Florida and Texas were among the states that reopened their economies fairly early in the pandemic. Arizona didn’t have that many cases at the beginning of the outbreak.

      All three are now among states in the South and Southwest that have experienced a sharp increase in cases that threaten to overwhelm hospitals and have caused state officials to rethink reopening plans.

      Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has now ordered bars to close once again and has placed tighter occupancy limits on restaurants. 

      “At this time, it is clear that the rise in cases is largely driven by certain types of activities, including Texans congregating in bars," Abbott said. "The actions in this executive order are essential to our mission to swiftly contain this virus and protect public health."

      Carnival faces suit over virus exposure

      Plaintiffs seeking class-action status have sued Carnival Cruise Lines, claiming the company exposed over 1,000 people to COVID-19 on a Holland American ship that sailed out of South America in March.

      Leonard Lindsay and Carl Zehner, two passengers on the cruise, allege in their complaint that the company did not use proper screening or other precautionary measures prior to boarding the ship on March 7, even though company executives were aware of outbreaks on other company-owned ships.

      Holland America said it does not comment on pending litigation. But in a statement to the media, company officials said they have always placed the safety of passengers and crew as a top priority and operated within World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

      Biden would require masks in public

      As president, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would seek a national policy requiring all Americans to wear masks in public. 

      In a taped interview with KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, the former vice president said the U.S. government should support all efforts to reduce the number of cases of the virus. Biden actually wore a mask during the interview.

      “The one thing we do know is these masks make a gigantic difference,” he said. “I would insist that everybody out in public be wearing that mask.” 

      Around the nation

      • Maryland: Maryland’s death toll from COVID-19 has gone over 3,000, but the state has not suffered a serious outbreak like some southern and western states. Health officials credit Maryland’s slower, more cautious approach to reopening. 

      • Indiana: Housing advocates in Indianapolis are expressing concern that unemployed renters could be facing eviction in the months ahead. They’re asking for an extension of Indiana’s coronavirus eviction moratorium put in place March 19.

      • New Mexico: New Mexico is one of the latest states to put its reopening plans on hold amid an outbreak of the coronavirus in the Southwest. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took the action, citing a spike in the COVID-19 transmission rate and a record number of cases reported by neighboring states.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,425,814 (2,382,70...
      Read lessRead more

      CDC says millions may have had coronavirus in the past without ever knowing it

      Officials say people are getting lackadaisical, so stricter actions may be needed

      The COVID-19 infection numbers continue to rise in the U.S. -- 2,422,312 confirmed cases as of Friday morning. If you break that down, the big culprits are some 30 U.S. states which have produced a 54 percent hike in the last 14 days. 

      But federal health officials caution that those numbers are likely to underestimate the total number of people who’ve been infected with the coronavirus -- possibly as much as 10 times over.

      Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says that total comes from antibody tests showing more than 20 million people have been infected with the coronavirus, most of them without ever knowing it.

      Antibody tests -- which may detect active infections and whether a person had been infected in the past -- have become a nationwide focus for health officials in the last month. Redfield says his rough estimate is now 10 to 1. 

      The numbers vary on exactly how many Americans have been infected, but most experts agree that number is somewhere between 5 and 8 percent, with higher numbers in some regions such as New York. 

      For Redfield, that 5-8 percent number means that 90 percent or more have not been infected but are vulnerable to the virus, and the U.S. needs to pick up its pace in trying to keep that number from growing further. 

      People are getting lax

      The sudden surge in confirmed cases comes as no surprise to at least one health expert.

      "Every epidemiologist was telling, screaming as loud as we could, that three weeks after Memorial Day, we'd have a peak in the cases, and five weeks after Memorial Day we'd begin to see a peak in hospitalizations and deaths," epidemiologist Larry Brilliant told CNN late Thursday.

      "If you let everybody out without face masks and without social distancing in the middle of a pandemic, this is what was predicted."

      Brilliant has plenty of company for his opinion. In New Mexico -- one of nine new states hesitating over its plans to reopen -- the state’s governor, Lujan Grisham, also took her citizens to task for failing to wear face coverings and maintaining social-distancing measures. “New Mexicans have actually gotten really lax about wearing masks and taking this seriously,” she said.

      Stricter actions needed

      Calling off concerts, parades, or baseball games helps, but officials say it’s going to take more than that to curb new cases of COVID-19.

      The new developments mark a "heartbreaking situation" that calls for stricter actions ASAP, Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told CNN. "We have to save lives at this point,” he said.

      Down the road in Austin, mayor Steve Adler said hospital beds keep filling up with virus patients. If the rate keeps up, he says local hospitals will be at maximum capacity in the middle of July.

      "Pausing will not make things better," Adler told CNN. "We need to do something that's different than that. The status quo will not protect us."

      The COVID-19 infection numbers continue to rise in the U.S. -- 2,422,312 confirmed cases as of Friday morning. If you break that down, the big culprits are...
      Read lessRead more

      American Airlines to begin fully booking flights starting July 1

      The airline said it has increased health and safety measures

      American Airlines announced Friday that it will sell tickets for every seat on its planes beginning July 1. Previously, the airline was filling its aircraft up to 85 percent capacity in an effort to promote social distancing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

      "As more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1," American Airlines said in a press release. 

      The airline said it has enhanced its cleaning procedures and will require passengers to wear face coverings while on board. The company previously said it would deny boarding to customers who don’t comply with the rule. 

      American will be asking travelers whether they have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past two weeks. Online and airport check-in kiosks will include a symptom checklist. The company said it will notify customers if their flight will be full and allow them to switch to less crowded flights at no extra cost through September 30. 

      “Our customers trust us to make every aspect of their journey safe. We won’t let them down,” said Alison Taylor, American’s chief customer officer, in a statement. “We will continue to refine and update our practices based on the latest information from health authorities and our own Travel Health Advisory Panel.”

      Other airlines are taking a more cautious approach to resuming normal operations. Southwest, Alaska, Delta, and JetBlue still have restrictions on passenger capacity. Many airlines are also suspending alcoholic beverage service in response to the pandemic. 

      American Airlines announced Friday that it will sell tickets for every seat on its planes beginning July 1. Previously, the airline was filling its aircraf...
      Read lessRead more

      Stronger boundaries between work and personal life can reduce stress

      Researchers say having time to unplug from work can be beneficial for consumers’ personal lives

      The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many consumers to work from home, making it much harder to truly unplug from their jobs at the end of the day. However, even pre-pandemic, it was difficult for consumers to separate their work lives from their personal lives. 

      Now, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that boundaries are key. Employees who have strong boundaries around work and personal time were less likely to be stressed out at the end of the work day -- regardless of work-related notifications. 

      “Most people simply can’t work without a smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer,” said researcher YoungAh Park. “These technologies are so ubiquitous and convenient that it can lead some people to think that employees have to always be on or always available. Clearly, this kind of after-hours intrusion into the home or personal life domain is unhealthy, and our research shows that an always-on mentality has a big downside in the form of increased job stress.” 

      More boundaries, less stress

      The researchers interviewed 500 elementary school teachers, a group that researchers have previously found to struggle with having a strong work-life balance. 

      Park explained that the survey questions focused on how the teachers handled after-work notifications. How often were they receiving texts or emails after school ended? Did they feel compelled to answer such messages immediately? 

      The researchers learned that boundaries are crucial in lowering stress levels after work for several reasons. When the teachers were able to put work to rest at the end of the day, they were less likely to ruminate on stressful events or worry about what’s coming the next day. 

      Moreover, having supportive managers or supervisors can help employees keep stronger boundaries at the end of the work day. The researchers found that teachers were more likely to hold onto their personal boundaries when they felt supported in this way. 

      “When you have supportive leaders who model behaviors for work-life balance and work effectively with employees to creatively solve work-life conflicts, that translates into less stress for teachers through boundary control,” said Park. 

      Unplugging from work

      The researchers recommend turning off notifications for work-related emails so that consumers can have some separation at the end of the day -- for teachers or employees in any field. This helped the teachers in the study not only be more productive, but it enacted a chain reaction that helped co-workers stick to their own personal boundaries. 

      “Managing your work-life balance through boundary control is not only helpful for you and your family, it also could be a benefit for your co-workers, because they also have to potentially read and respond to the back-and-forth messages that people are sending after the workday is done,” said researcher Yihao Liu. 

      “Setting a good boundary between work and regular life is going to help more people and more stakeholders. Overall, it’s critical that individuals manage their work-life boundaries for their own health and well-being, but also for their own productivity and their colleagues’ productivity.”  

      The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many consumers to work from home, making it much harder to truly unplug from their jobs at the end of the day. However, ev...
      Read lessRead more

      Chuck E. Cheese files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

      The children’s birthday venue is the latest victim of the coronavirus

      The parent company of Chuck E. Cheese, which has entertained children for decades, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, another victim of the pandemic. The company says it was struggling even before the virus hit, but the nationwide shutdown was the final blow.

      The chain is a favorite among young children who like its arcade games, rides, ball pits, sounds, and bright lights. Animal puppets perform on a stage, making it seem like a children’s version of a Las Vegas casino. For the last four decades, it has been a popular birthday party venue.

      Though popular with children, adults posting recent reviews on ConsumerAffairs have not been that impressed, complaining about everything from the service to the cost.

      In the past, Chuck E. Cheese locations operated at near capacity. When the coronavirus (COVID-19) forced it to close its U.S. locations, it suffered a major financial setback along with every other restaurant, retailer, and attraction.

      As it has slowly begun to reopen some locations, it has been forced to limit the number of children and adults who can be inside at any particular time, as well as enforce social distancing rules -- two big obstacles to its business model.

      Not really much of a surprise

      The Wall Street Journal reports that the bankruptcy filing does not come as a surprise because parent company CEC Entertainment Inc. was on record as exploring all options and had hired restructuring advisers.

      The turnaround could turn out to be difficult. The company reportedly has $1 billion in debt and hasn’t been paying rent at many of its locations, primarily in suburban shopping centers. It closed all of its locations in March, furloughing all hourly workers and a majority of its support staff.

      While the company seeks time to reorganize, The Journal reports there are a number of potential suitors, including Dave & Buster’s Entertainment and one or more key bondholders. 

      The chain currently operates 741 Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza locations around the world.

      The parent company of Chuck E. Cheese, which has entertained children for decades, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, another victim of the pa...
      Read lessRead more

      California becomes first state to mandate shift to zero-emission trucks

      A landmark regulation will increase sales of these vehicles starting in 2024

      California has become the first state to require truck manufacturers to ramp up their zero-emission truck sales. Starting in 2024, the state’s auto manufacturers will be required to gradually increase the percentage of zero-emissions truck sales.

      The “Advanced Clean Trucks” regulation, first introduced in 2016 under former Gov. Jerry Brown, received unanimous approval from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on Thursday.

      Under the rule, the percentage of light- and medium-duty trucks sales will be increased to 55 percent. The percentage of heavier duty electric trucks sold will be increased to 75 percent by 2035. By 2045, every new truck sold in the state will be zero-emission.

      The regulation will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve quality in a state with particularly poor air quality. However, the impact of the regulation is expected to extend beyond state lines. Experts have noted that zero-emissions trucks sold in California engage in commercial travel across the nation, so emissions in other states will likely drop as well. 

      A racial justice issue

      Toxic air pollution is tied to the nation’s current push to achieve racial justice, since pollution from heavy-duty vehicles has been shown to disproportionately impact communities of color. CARB noted that trucks are responsible for 70 percent of smog-causing pollution. 

      In an interview with Gizmodo, Costa Samaras, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, called the regulation a “huge deal” with the potential to promote air quality equity in the state.

      “The reduction and eventual elimination of diesel emissions near where people live is an equity issue. It’s an environmental justice issue,” Samaras said. “These pollutants, they cause real health damages. And lots of times, it has been communities of color who have borne the brunt of these types of emissions. Electrifying all segments of transportation and having a very clear electric grid are two issues that we can’t wait on any longer.”

      CARB said its goal is to facilitate the creation of “a self-sustaining zero-emission truck market,” similar to the one it has for passenger vehicles. The estimated emissions reduction from the new rule will help the state reach its emissions goals of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050. 

      “For decades, while the automobile has grown cleaner and more efficient, the other half of our transportation system has barely moved the needle on clean air,” CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said in a statement. “Diesel vehicles are the workhorses of the economy, and we need them to be part of the solution to persistent pockets of dirty air in some of our most disadvantaged communities. Now is the time – the technology is here and so is the need for investment.”

      California has become the first state to require truck manufacturers to ramp up their zero-emission truck sales. Starting in 2024, the state’s auto manufac...
      Read lessRead more

      Gasoline prices continued to creep higher this week

      Most states see gradually rising prices in spite of falling demand

      Gas prices are still rising, partly a result of consumers leaving the house more and partly the result of prices returning to their normal seasonal pattern.

      The AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the national average price of regular gas is $2.17 a gallon, about six cents higher than last Friday. But that’s still 50 cents a gallon less than at this time in 2019. The average price of premium gas is $2.77 a gallon, five cents more than a week ago. The average price of diesel fuel is $2.44 a gallon, two cents more than last week.

      Prices are still rising even though gasoline demand isn’t anywhere near its normal summertime levels. GasBuddy reported at midweek that demand was down 0.2 percent from the previous Wednesday but 13.3 percent higher than a month ago. Measured year-over-year, however, demand is down 18.2 percent.

      “Demand levels are likely to ebb and flow in the coming weeks as people continue to be cautious about travel,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “As a result, pump prices will likely continue to increase, but at a slower rate through the end of the month.”

      Prices at the pump were slightly higher in just about every state over the last week, with few states seeing a spike. Colorado saw one of the biggest weekly increases, with the average price rising 10 cents a gallon.

      The states with the most expensive gas

      These states currently have the highest prices for regular gas, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey:

      • Hawaii ($3.19)

      • California ($3.06)

      • Washington ($2.71)

      • Nevada ($2.60)

      • Oregon ($2.59) 

      • Alaska ($2.48)

      • Colorado ($2.44)

      •  Pennsylvania ($2.42)

      • Illinois ($2.37)

      • Idaho ($2.33)

      The states with the cheapest regular gas

      The survey found these states currently have the lowest prices for regular gas:

      • Mississippi ($1.81)

      • Louisiana ($1.83)

      • Arkansas ($1.87)

      • Alabama ($1.87)

      • Missouri ($1.87)

      • Texas ($1.88)

      • Oklahoma ($1.90)

      • South Carolina ($1.93)

      • Kansas ($1.94)

      • Tennessee ($1.94)

      Gas prices are still rising, partly a result of consumers leaving the house more and partly the result of prices returning to their normal seasonal pattern...
      Read lessRead more

      Model year 2020 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators recalled

      The middle row seat headrest may be not be welded properly

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,620 model year 2020 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators.

      The attachment bracket for the driver's side second-row seat headrest may not have been sufficiently welded to the seat frame.

      An improperly welded headrest bracket may have reduced strength and may not adequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the seat structure and replace it -- as needed -- free of charge.

      This recall is expected to begin July 6, 2020.

      Owners may contact Ford customer service at (866) 436-7332. Ford's number for this recall is 20C12.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 2,620 model year 2020 Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators. The attachment bracket for the driver's side second-row s...
      Read lessRead more

      How to make your home more comfortable after quarantine

      6 items for a more pleasant space

      Quarantine has taught us a lot about how meaningful our own spaces can be. With a few additional products, your time at home can be just as exciting as going out — and much comfier. Here are some of our top picks for sprucing up your daily home lives.

      A houseplant (or two)

      Indoor plants come with several health benefits, including carbon dioxide and pollutant reduction. Plus, they look amazing and may even brighten your mood. Find one that fits your space, character and skill level — try starting with a succulent and work up from there!

      • Online houseplant decor and care tips
      • Succulents available

      Shop on 1-800 Flowers

      A neck massager

      A neck massager might not make your space cozier, but it can help you relax. No need to visit a masseuse when you feel stressed; instead, pop this handy massager onto your neck and enjoy.

      • Ergonomic and compact
      • 1-year exchange policy

      Buy on Amazon

      Furry seat cushions

      Being at home more has made some of us realize exactly how uncomfortable our chairs are. Add a touch of fancy with faux-fur seat cushions! Your back (and future guests, eventually… ) will appreciate it.

      • Select from 8 different colors
      • Available in 2 sizes

      Buy on Amazon

      Blackout curtains

      Blackout curtains have many functions. They help limit outside light, insulate your home and keep noise from entering through the windows. Use them to put an end to screen glare or take the perfect mid-afternoon nap.

      • Blocks 85% - 99% of UV light
      • Multiple colors to choose

      Buy on Amazon

      A colorful tapestry

      Artless walls were fine when you rarely stopped to sit down in your living room. These days, though, all that white space can leave you feeling empty on the inside. A tapestry is a cost-effective way to fill the colorless void in any room.

      • 60” x 40”
      • Suitable for indoors and outdoors

      Buy on Amazon

      At-home movie projector

      As studios premiere more films on streaming services, why not elevate your movie-watching experience at home? You can have your own little theater outside or in your living room with a mini-projector. Stay in, pop some popcorn and enjoy!

      • Optional protection plan
      • Compatible with TV Stick, PS4, HDMI, TF, AV, USB

      Buy on Amazon

      Some businesses are starting to open their doors, but many consumers are still avoiding crowds and staying at home. With these products, we hope to help you keep your home comfortable, functional and fresh. And if you want a more significant upgrade for your home, check out our smart home automation guide.

      6 items to make your life more comfortable during lockdown...
      Read lessRead more

      Coronavirus update: U.S. sets record for single-day infections, unemployment claims higher than expected

      Some states may backtrack on their plans to reopen

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,382,702 (2,348,956)

      Total U.S. deaths: 122,020 (121,279)

      Total global cases: 9,478,266 (9,295,365)

      Total global deaths: 483,461 (478,289)

      U.S. sets record for one-day case total

      The U.S. set a one-day record for new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases Wednesday as doctors confirmed 45,557 new infections. The previous record was set on April 26, when it was believed the virus had hit a peak.

      Health officials have said many of the latest cases can be traced to Memorial Day weekend, when states began to loosen restrictions on gatherings. Others have suggested the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd have contributed to the surge in new cases.

      Tight restrictions on activity don’t seem to play a role in the new outbreak. California recorded its biggest single-day tally of new cases Wednesday with more than 7,000 new cases. 

      Unemployment benefit claims are still troubling

      Unemployment claims caused by the coronavirus are still stubbornly higher than expected. The Labor Department reports 1.48 million people filed for benefits in the previous week. Economists had predicted 1.35 million.

      The number is a decrease of 60,000 from the previous week's revised level, so at least the number is falling. The previous week's level was revised up by 32,000 from 1,508,000 to 1,540,000. 

      There was another bright spot. Continuing claims for benefits fell last week by 767,000, suggesting more people are finding work. Some analysts point to that number as evidence that the labor market is beginning to recover.

      States reconsider reopening as cases rise

      New outbreaks of the virus in some states are causing officials to reconsider plans for reopening businesses. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suspended plans to reopen shopping centers, gyms, and movie theaters over heightened concerns about the ease in which the virus spreads indoors.

      Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the surge in new cases there is heavily weighted among people age 18 to 34. He also notes that the increase has come at the same time testing in that age group has risen. The Walt Disney Company said it would indefinitely delay the reopening of its Walt Disney Resort that had been set for mid-July.

      In Texas, where cases have skyrocketed, Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to stay home. "Because the spread is so rampant right now, there's never a reason for you to have to leave your home," Abbott told a TV station.

      Gyms take extra precautions as some are allowed to reopen

      Most gyms and fitness centers across the U.S. were forced to close in March as the coronavirus swept across the country. Now that some are being allowed to reopen, these facilities are taking extra steps to keep patrons safe.

      Jason Reinhardt, owner of five Go M.A.D. fitness centers in two states, says clubs will be ready and able to provide a great exercise experience in a safe, clean, and thoughtful manner when gym-goers are ready to return.

      "Those of us who chose the fitness industry as a career believe in the health benefits of exercise and want to deliver a healthy option to our communities," said Reinhardt. "Therefore, the health and safety of our members, staff, and community is our top priority."

      Kentucky Derby will run with fans in the stands

      The Kentucky Derby, ordinarily the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, has been postponed from its traditional first Saturday in May to September 5. Unlike other major sporting events scheduled to resume later this year, there will be spectators in the stands -- just not as many as usual.

      Churchill Downs, after consulting with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, announced that the 146th run for the roses will take place with a reduced number of spectators who will be operating under strict social distancing guidelines.

      “Our team is deeply committed to holding the very best Kentucky Derby ever, and we will take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all who attend and participate in the Derby,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery.

      Around the nation

      • Louisiana: Officials in New Orleans are cracking down on businesses that don’t comply with coronavirus safety rules as the state sees a spike in new cases. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has appointed a task force to help enforce the guidelines. 

      • Ohio: Ohio is one of the states that has not experienced a surge in new cases since reopening, but the state health department reports that there were 20 deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours. At the same time, 68 hospitalizations were reported, with 11 admissions to intensive care units.

      • Kansas: A Kansas couple decided how to spend their $1,200 coronavirus stimulus checks. They divided up the money and gave it to their favorite restaurants, hard hit by the shutdown. “It was really nice to know that there were nice people out there that cared about us reopening,” said Twin Cities Tavern owner Kim Moffitt, who received $200 from the couple.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 2,382,702 (2,348,95...
      Read lessRead more

      U.S. economy won’t rebound anytime soon, economist says

      The recession is closer to a ‘depression-like’ crisis

      The economic devastation brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) can’t be underestimated, according to an economist at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, and the impact of March’s economic shutdown may be felt for years to come.

      Wall Street is near all-time highs on the belief that the economy will experience a so-called “V-shaped” recovery. The latest forecast from UCLA Anderson says that’s unlikely to happen. In a revised economic forecast, they say the country is in a “depression-like crisis.”

      "To call this crisis a recession is a misnomer,” said Anderson Forecast senior economist David Shulman. “We are forecasting a 42 percent annual rate of decline in real GDP for the current quarter, followed by a 'Nike swoosh' recovery that won't return the level of output to the prior fourth quarter of 2019 peak until early 2023." 

      That means many of the jobs that were quickly eliminated when the pandemic struck won’t be coming back anytime soon. The UCLA economists say the economy simply can’t support it.

      "On a fourth-quarter-to-fourth-quarter basis, real GDP will decline by 8.6 percent in 2020 and then increase by 5.3 percent and 4.9 percent in 2021 and 2022, respectively," Shulman said.

      More damage to come

      The prevailing narrative has been that the virus is waning and local economies across the country are opening back up. While that’s true to some extent, it is also true that cases of the virus have spiked, leading some states to consider slowing things down again.

      The UCLA economists say that could add to the economic damage that has already been done. Shulman goes on to write that U.S. employment will not recover until "well past 2022" and that the unemployment rate, forecast to be about 10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, will still exceed 6 percent in the fourth quarter two years later. 

      "For too many workers, the recession will linger on well past the official end date," Shulman writes.

      More stimulus may be needed

      Shulman said the $1.8 trillion in funds Congress injected into the economy through the CARES Act was needed, but he says more help for consumers -- especially those out of work -- is going to be necessary this summer.

      A recovery may be in the works, but Shulman says its effects may be moderate and it may not be that long-lasting. He worries that a huge number of small businesses will fail, eliminating millions of jobs.

      Even if pharmaceutical companies come up with an effective vaccine over the next few months, Shulman says it may take a long time for consumers to return to their old shopping habits.

      The economic devastation brought on by the coronavirus (COVID-19) can’t be underestimated, according to an economist at UCLA’s Anderson School of Managemen...
      Read lessRead more