Bank ATMs And Teller Counters Need Covid-19 Scrubbing: Survey

Money laundering is a legal no-no for banks, but secret inspections at U.S. locations suggest their ATMs and teller counters could use a good scrubbing with Purell.

Despite most retailers’ near-obsessive attention to details that send a Covid-19 wellness message, America’s financial institutions are communicating relative indifference. Secret shoppers sent to bank branches saw just 7% of ATMs being cleaned. Greeters at branch doors wore masks 44% of the time, and only 19% of teller areas were cleaned between customers.

Dalbar, which audits and rates practices by financial firms, released the results of its nationwide study Friday. The company sent mystery shoppers to 500 branches in the U.S. and 200 branches in Canada, auditing 14 major bank brands during the three-week period that ended August 10.

ATMs were the biggest points of weakness in the U.S. Although 91% of Canadian banks deployed additional safety measures at ATMs to protect customers—separators between machines, signs to indicate where to wait, or hand sanitizer at the ATMs—fully half of U.S. branch ATMs had no such additional safety measures at all.

Bank of America, Chase and Citibank had the only branches where tellers wore masks 100% of the time. The other U.S. brands in the survey were Capital One, Fifth Third, PNC, SunTrust, TD Bank, US Bank and Wells Fargo. Canadian banks in the survey were BMO, CIBC, RBC and Scotiabank.

U.S. bank branch tellers were seen wearing masks on average 94% of the time. The average in Canada was 80%. In both countries, about 1 out of 5 branches lacked markings or signage to reinforce social distancing at or near teller windows.

“I was a little surprised and wasn’t surprised,” Michelle Slute, vice president of research for Dalbar, told Zenger News. “It wasn’t a surprise because you’re hitting the human factor and bumping up against different cultures across the country.” Since it was running a mystery shopper study, Dalbar did not contact any of the banks in advance about the study, so it had no access to what corporate directives might have been in place.

Zenger contacted all the U.S.-based banks mentioned in the study. Of the four that responded—Bank of America, SunTrust (merged with BB&T to form Truist), US Bank and Wells Fargo—none had previously received copies of Dalbar’s data.

A statement from Truist, formed by a merger of SunTrust and BB&T, noted: “We have not seen or read the study you referenced, so we are unable to provide comments on its findings. However, … client and teammate safety are our top priorities and are at the forefront of all our decisions.”

The data that Dalbar released showed SunTrust performing about average among banks in the United States.

US-HEALTH-VIRUS-BANK
A security guard wearing mask and gloves looks into a branch of the Wells Fargo bank, amid the novel … [+] AFP via Getty Images

“While we haven’t had the opportunity to review the data and study, the well-being of our customers, colleagues and communities continues to be our top priority. We have processes and protocols in place around the use of PPE, and we encourage customers to reach out if they have concerns about their use at their local branch,” a statement from US Bank read, referring to personal protective equipment.

Dalbar’s data showed US Bank performing below average on measures at ATMs and lowest overall rankings at the teller.

Wells Fargo provided Zenger with a list of steps it has taken, including temporarily closing one-fifth of its branches, offering some services by appointment only, requiring employees to use face coverings, and employing enhanced cleaning. The bank also pointed to a study from the market research firm Ipsos, which rated it as the top financial services brand in signage and cleanliness measures.

The Ipsos rankings, also compiled from mystery-shopper reports, showed 96% of the Wells Fargo locations had signs telling customer to wear masks, versus a nationwide average of 87%. Shoppers observed surfaces being wiped down after a customer visit 32% of the time.

Dalbar noted roughly the same level of post-visit cleaning at Wells Fargo branches, compared to an overall average of 19%, but had the company tied for third place on the average of teller safety measures.

“Health and safety of our employees and clients is our top priority,” said Bank of America, responding to Zenger, and also noted that and listed steps it has taken, like requiring all its employees to wear masks, and disinfecting its branch ATMs daily.

TD Bank street decal, Stand Together by Standing Apart, Manhattan, NY
TD Bank street decal, Stand Together by Standing Apart, Manhattan, NY. (Photo by: Joan … [+] Education Images

While Dalbar found all Bank of America tellers wore masks, just under 80% of employees managing traffic flow and making first customer contact could say the same. Hand sanitizer was available at slightly more than 20% of Bank of America ATMs, and fewer than one-fifth had dividers installed between machines.

Bank of America’s rating for teller safety measures in the Dalbar survey came out on top, but was well under 80%. Other domestic banks, in order of ranking, were Citibank, Capital One, Wells Fargo, SunTrust, PNC, Fifth Third, TD, Chase, and US Bank, ranging from just over 75% to under 65%.

The survey’s results “surprised us,” said Dalbar’s Slute. “Especially at the ATMs, like with Citibank and Bank of America not having hand sanitizer [at every machine].”

“There was no clear winner overall. We were expecting a Bank of America or Citibank to have it locked and loaded all the way across,” she said of the big banks’ strategies. “If there are holes in it, you’re only as strong as your weakest link.”

(Edited by David Martosko and Allison Elyse Gualtieri.) Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

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 Zenger News

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COVID-19 is also forcing new methods to be use at the ATM. Randy Mac reported on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. http://4.nbcla.com/KcMEiSX ——— Don’t miss an NBCLA video, subscribe here: https://bit.ly/2NnofFF For more, visit NBCLA.COM here: https://bit.ly/2uB6niE On Facebook: https://bit.ly/2uFU1px On Twitter: https://bit.ly/2JsBm5Y About NBCLA The West Coast flagship station of the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, serving the vast region since 1949.

NBC4 produces 43 hours each week of local news and weather, and the station features the largest award-winning investigative unit in Southern California. NBC4’s news operation has received nearly every industry award bestowed on local news, including numerous Los Angeles Emmy and Golden Mike Awards, two national and two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, and a Peabody Award. NBC4 news is delivered across the main broadcast on channel4, at http://www.nbcla.com, and through multiple interactive social media platforms 24/7. The NBC Owned Television Stations, a division of NBCUniversal, also operates COZI TV (www.cozitv.com), a national network that brings viewers some of America’s most beloved and iconic television shows and movies. #NBC#NBCLA

The Global Shortage of Medical Masks Won’t Be Easing Soon

This photo taken on February 18, 2020 shows a worker sorting face masks being produced to satisfy increased demand during China’s COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, at a factory in Nanjing, in China’s Jiangsu province. – The medical equipment factory switched surgical instruments and dental equipment production lines to a mask production line to meet the increased demand. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

f you’re worried about the coronavirus and are having trouble getting hold of medical masks, these numbers will explain why: China is the world’s largest producer of them, with a reported daily capacity of 20 million pieces, but by the estimate of its manufacturers domestic demand alone is around 50 to 60 million per day.

No wonder you can’t find medical masks at your local pharmacy.

Some experts doubt the effectiveness of such masks for stopping transmission of the virus, officially named COVID-19. U.S. health officials say the bug spreads mostly between people who are in close contact with each other, and from respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs.

“A surgical mask might provide some protection, but it’s going to be very modest,” William Shaffner, a professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University says.

But that hasn’t put a damper on demand. The scale of the epidemic in China—where the virus originated and where almost 78,500 people are now infected—and the continued spread of the coronavirus globally has driven shortages across the globe.

Retailers on multiple continents are running out of masks, and prices for a box of masks on online retailers like Amazon have surged to hundreds of dollars. On Monday, aerial footage captured a line hundreds of people long in the city of Daegu, South Korea, where an outbreak is growing, waiting to buy them. On the same day, an industrial equipment store in Italy, where more than 370 people are confirmed to be infected, sold more than 500 masks—of the kind used in factories and on building sites—in the first 30 minutes it was open.

Chinese demand is outpacing supply

Chinese mask makers were only operating at 76 per cent capacity in mid-Feb. according to Chinese officials, which puts daily production at around five million pieces fewer than the 20 million maximum. The country’s output of N95 respirators, which are often worn by medical workers for additional protection, is even lower, at 200,000 a day, given the more complex technology and materials required to make them.

Demand in China could even be higher that what its mask makers estimate. Chaun Powell, vice president of strategic supplier engagement at North Carolina-based healthcare company Premier Inc., tells TIME that China’s need might exceed 400 million medical masks every day, if each workplace provides multiple masks per employee per shift.

To meet the shortfall, some Chinese companies in unrelated industries have started making masks. Foxconn, which manufactures Apple’s iPhones in China, has switched some of its production to masks; the company aims to produce two million units a day by the end of the month. Others, like an auto-maker in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, are making masks too.

Unable to produce enough of the protective gear to meet its own demand, Beijing has also been sourcing medical masks from overseas. Indonesian officials said at the beginning of February that China had placed “large orders” for Indonesian-made masks, equating to as much as three months of production, and Vietnam has exported huge quantities of masks to China. There are reports that Chinese traders have started sourcing supplies in markets as far away as Kenya and Tanzania.

Shortages are being felt across the world

Meanwhile, pharmacies from Germany to Canada to Italy and the U.K. are all low on medical mask supplies, according to posts circulating on social media.In a post on Twitter, a journalist for Agence France-Presse said that the only pharmacy in central London she could find stocking face masks was selling them for approximately $3.25 a piece.

Stores in the U.S., from Knoxville, Tennessee to New York City are also facing a dearth of the product. One medical supply company in Dublin, Ireland said it was struggling to find a supply of masks at a reasonable cost. And dentists in the U.K. and Australia say that with so much of their supply originally sourced from China, they now are facing a desperate shortage.

Withers Dental in Toowoomba, a city of 137,000 in Australia’s Queensland state, about 80 miles outside of Brisbane, tells TIME that they are among those affected.

“It’s extremely difficult, a lot of our regular suppliers have now put limits on the number of boxes we can buy,” says Anna Yarrow, the practice manager. “We’re limited to about two to three boxes a week, which is nowhere near enough to get us through our normal day of patients.”

Yarrow says that the practice has a back up supply of masks, which they’re relying on now.

“We’re trying every day single day with our suppliers and new suppliers to see what we can manage to get,” she says. “We’re just really hoping everything settles down and gets back to normal.”

Mike Bowen, an executive vice president and partner at the Texas-based mask maker Prestige Ameritech, says that he’s now receiving calls from people across the world who want to buy medical masks from his company, even though American-made masks tend to be more expensive than those produced elsewhere.

“I’m getting hundreds of calls every single day from people wanting to buy products from me because they can’t get them anywhere else,” he says. “You name a country, I’ve heard from them.”

Bowen, who is also the spokesman of the Secure Mask Supply Association, an organization that aims to ensure a sufficient supply of masks in a health crisis, tells TIME that he’s been trying to raise awareness of China’s global dominance in the supply chain for years.

“I’ve been very public about a prediction that one day China is going to have a pandemic and we’re not going to have masks over here,” he says. “And now it’s kind of happening.”

He says that about half of the U.S. supply of face masks comes from China, with Mexico another big supplier, but he’s seen less product available from China in recent weeks as the country grapples with the outbreak at home.

Powell, of Premier Inc., says that although China has not formally announced any embargoes on exports of personal protective equipment, he believes that no such gear has shipped out of China since mid-January. Other places, like Thailand, Taiwan and India have also restricted exports of masks to protect their domestic supply.

In Hong Kong, some have taken matters into their own hands. One film director imported a machine from India with which he hopes to begin manufacturing masks to sell online, and a Hong Kong property developer has announced plans to set up a factory capable of producing 200,000 masks a day.

Medical workers are facing supply shortages

Most seriously, the shortages are hitting medical workers—even those directly treating coronavirus patients.

In early February, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the fight against coronavirus was being hampered by “widespread inappropriate use” of protective gear by those who are not front line medical staff, and he cautioned against stockpiling masks.

“Demand is up to 100 times higher than normal, and prices are up to 20 times higher,” he said. “Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient to meet the needs of WHO and our partners.”

U.S. hospitals are closely watching their mask supplies. According to the initial findings of a survey of more than 4,000 hospitals Premier Inc. ran in conjunction with the U.S. CDC and FDA, most hospitals have more than a week of inventory, but are managing and rationing mask usage to prevent shortages. Powell says that the demand for N95 masks by the U.S. healthcare system is estimated to be somewhere between 25 million and 40 million each year.

“I’m getting calls from large hospitals that used to not even answer my phone calls,” Prestige Ameritech’s Bowen says.

On Tuesday, U.S. health officials said that Americans should prepare for the the coronavirus to begin spreading locally. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reportedly told Congress Tuesday that the U.S. has far fewer medical masks than it would need in the case of a major outbreak in the country. The country has a stockpile of about 30 million N95 masks, but might need as many as 300 million during the outbreak, he said.

Bowen says that he hopes the crisis is a wake up call for U.S. hospitals who have been purchasing masks from overseas suppliers.

“What’s the difference between a Chinese mask and an American-made mask?” he asks. “Well, the main difference is [American-made masks are] here, and they’ll be available when China has a pandemic.”

By Amy Gunia / Hong Kong February 27, 2020 1:42 AM EST

Source: The Global Shortage of Medical Masks Won’t Be Easing Soon

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for free here: https://sc.mp/subscribe-youtube The demand for face masks has continued to surge in many places around the world including Hong Kong, Japan and Australia as the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has spread. Follow us on: Website: https://scmp.com Facebook: https://facebook.com/scmp Twitter: https://twitter.com/scmpnews Instagram: https://instagram.com/scmpnews Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sout…

How Bill Gates Aims to Save $233 Billion By Reinventing the Toilet – Jason Gale

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Bill Gates thinks toilets are a serious business, and he’s betting big that a reinvention of this most essential of conveniences can save a half million lives and deliver $200 billion-plus in savings. The billionaire philanthropist, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spent $200 million over seven years funding sanitation research, showcased some 20 novel toilet and sludge-processing designs that eliminate harmful pathogens and convert bodily waste into clean water and fertilizer. The technologies you’ll see here are the most significant advances in sanitation in nearly 200 years,” Gates, 63, told the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing on Tuesday………..

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-06/bill-gates-aims-to-save-233-billion-by-reinventing-the-toilet

 

 

 

 

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