3 at VW Chattanooga positive for COVID-19

A contractor for Volkswagen Chattanooga who was assigned to an isolated area of the factory, which is closed except for limited maintenance activities, was exposed to COVID-19 and has tested positive, the company said Thursday.

VW said the individual self-quarantined and did not return to the plant following exposure, and the contractor and all potentially exposed employees and other contractors were tested and quarantined with their badge access suspended.

"The exposed contractor's test came back positive, as did two individuals who carpool to work," said VW.

The individuals remain in quarantine for 14 days per CDC recommendation, and those who tested positive were all wearing personal protective equipment while in the plant, the company said.

"All CDC protocols were followed in rapid response to this event, and all areas that may have been exposed to the affected contractor received an additional deep cleaning and disinfecting," VW said. "Our employees and contractors were informed of this event (Wednesday) as part of our daily communications."

The automaker said the event does not impact the planned restart of plant production Sunday.


Mortgage rates stay near historic lows

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates were mostly steady this week, hovering near all-time lows.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan edged up to 3.28% from 3.26% last week. A year ago, the rate stood at 4.07%.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 2.72% from 2.73% last week.

Mortgage applications for home purchases reached a new low in April as the economy and housing market reeled from the shutdown spurred by the coronavirus pandemic. The normally busy spring homebuying season has been upended. At the same time, however, home prices have been rising.


Group claims TikTok violates child privacy

Privacy watchdogs say that the popular TikTok video app is violating a children's privacy law and putting kids at risk.

A coalition of 20 groups, including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy, filed a complaint Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission saying that TikTok is collecting personal information of kids under 13 without their parents' consent.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has exploded in popularity with young people thanks to its goofy, lighthearted feel and ease of use. At the same time, it's drawn scrutiny from U.S. officials concerned about national-security risks due to its Chinese ownership and its popularity with kids.

TikTok paid a $5.7 million fine to the FTC in 2019 over collecting personal information from kids under 13, a violation of the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. It revamped its app with a restricted mode for younger users.

But the privacy groups say it's easy for kids to use TikTok without parental consent. Kids can sign up with a fake birth date to use the full, adult version of the app, "putting them at risk for both TikTok's commercial data uses and inappropriate contact from adults," the groups said in a joint news release.

TikTok uses the data it collects from users, like their location, what's in their messages and what videos they watch, to figure out what new videos to show them and for targeted advertising.