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'It's a scary thing,' says Booking CEO after getting coronavirus

Sibile Marcellus
·Reporter
·2-min read

Booking Holdings (BKNG) CEO and President Glenn Fogel contracted the coronavirus in March, experiencing a 101-degree fever and headaches. “It’s a very scary thing,” Fogel told Yahoo Finance in an interview for the All Markets Summit on Oct. 26.

Fogel oversees travel giant Booking.com, which also owns Priceline.com, OpenTable, and Kayak. When the U.S. economy shut down in March, Booking Holdings got a severe financial shock just as its CEO got infected.

In the first quarter, the company experienced a net loss of $699 million, compared with net income of $765 million during the same period in 2019.

“It was at the very early part of the infection in the U.S. This was in March and I live in the New York area, where it was the hotspot that started off the infections in the U.S,” he said.

Fogel’s entire family got sick. “I was concerned but fortunately it was a very, very mild thing for me and my family. My entire family, my wife, my children, we all became infected,” he said. “But fortunately, it was relatively mild for us, and I was feeling better in just a couple of days.”

People wear mask as they leave at Indian Trails Public Library after voting in Wheeling, Ill., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
People wear mask as they leave at Indian Trails Public Library after voting in Wheeling, Ill., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

While mask wearing has become a point of contention among some parts of the country – particularly when President Trump has been ambiguous about mask-wearing as a preventive measure – Fogel is unequivocal.

“When I see people without masks, when I see people not being socially distant...I’m saying why are you doing that? What’s the downside? How bad is it if you wear a mask, right?” he said. “Just even if you don’t believe that it’s helpful, there’s no downside. There’s only potential upside.”

The U.S. has over 8 million coronavirus cases and 225,156 deaths as of Oct. 26. “Think about it. Something as simple as wearing masks, maintaining social distance, how many people would be alive right now?” said Fogel.

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