COVID-19

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson: “The impact to people’s lives will be profound.”

Kai Ryssdal and Sean McHenry Mar 26, 2020
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Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson announced thousands of employees would be furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
COVID-19

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson: “The impact to people’s lives will be profound.”

Kai Ryssdal and Sean McHenry Mar 26, 2020
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson announced thousands of employees would be furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
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Update, 2/16/2021: Marriott International has announced that company President and CEO Arne Sorenson unexpectedly passed away on Feb. 15, 2021.


The hotel industry has been decimated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, and Marriott chief executive Arne Sorenson has been on the front lines. The COVID-19 pandemic is said to have hurt Marriott International’s business worse than 9/11 and the Great Recession combined.

In an emotional video address released last week, the CEO of the world’s largest hotel company announced that tens of thousands of corporate employees would be furloughed and that he would not take a salary for the rest of the year.

“The impact to people’s lives will be profound,” Sorenson said in an interview with “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal. “We’ve got to find a way to get through this together. We will, ultimately.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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