Testing early, testing late: four countries’ approaches to COVID-19 testing compared – The Guardian, May 19, 2020 / Data: Our World in Data, Published by European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)


The World Health Assembly’s meeting on Monday was overshadowed by calls for investigation into China’s initial handling of the outbreak. Chinese President Xi Jinping said the country will pledge $2 billion to help developing countries fight the virus and that his country supports an investigation, but that it should wait until the virus has been contained. 

President Donald Trump in a letter threatened to permanently eliminate the funding he had temporarily withdrawn from the World Health Organization if the agency does not “commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

Trump also revealed at a White House meeting on Monday that he is taking the malaria medication hydroxychloroquine to protect himself from the coronavirus. The FDA has warned the public against the consumption of the drug without approval from a physician, noting that it could have serious side effects.

Surging sales for Walmart show the retailer is well positioned for a pandemic, with consumers continuing to stockpile and take advantage of e-commerce options. Southwest Airlines has also reported that bookings outpace cancellations for the month of June. In an effort to stay afloat, restaurant chains Chuck E. Cheese and Applebees have rebranded themselves with new names for home delivery. 

Uber announced the company will lay off an additional 3,000 employees and shutter more offices globally, with layoffs now totaling about a quarter of its workforce. 

The Navajo Nation, located across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, has reported an infection rate that surpasses that in New York. An analysis by The New York Times revealed a number of regions in the U.S. that could still be hard hit in an outbreak due to underlying health conditions, putting those populations at a high risk of severe illness. 

Nicaraguan authorities have closed their border to neighboring Costa Rica to protest the testing of incoming truck drivers, who are turned away if they test positive. Following weeks of severe lockdown restrictions, Italian authorities announced they will open their borders to European tourists beginning June 3. In India, densely populated cities and a lack of space in facilities to prevent crowding pose risky challenges to social distancing. 

States across the nation have seen a significant surge in recreational and medical marijuana sales. In April, sales were up by 45 percent in Oregon and had increased by $4 million in Ohio. In Massachusetts, marijuana shops are closed but state officials last week said they will work towards a system that allows marijuana delivery . 

Coronavirus patients who seem to catch COVID-19 twice aren’t infectious 2nd time – Fortune – 5/19/2020
Patients who test positive for the coronavirus weeks after recovering from Covid-19 probably aren’t capable of transmitting the infection, research from South Korea shows. Scientists from the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 285 Covid-19 survivors who had tested positive for the coronavirus after their illness had apparently resolved, as indicated by a previous negative test result. 

Metaphors Matter in a Time of Pandemic – Wired – 5/19/2020
“We have another set of metaphors at hand,” Knowles told me by email. “They’re tailor-made for our moment: the metaphors of science and medicine. Doctors, nurses, and support staff work with urgency, but their goal is life, not death. […] ” The language of instruction, practice, and the “do no harm” principle could have more explanatory and even predictive power than those drawn from war.

Here’s What Arkansas’ “Socially Distant” Concert Looked Like – Pitchfork – 5/19/2020
The concert took place tonight, and as planned, fans in attendance were made to “socially distance” from each other inside individual “fan pods.” […] The venue’s 1,100-person maximum capacity was reduced to 229 seats, keep fans six feet apart, and take all attendees’ temperatures. Fans were required to wear face masks, and bathrooms were limited to 10 people at a time. 

Before epidemiologists began modelling disease, it was the job of astrologers – The Conversation – 5/19/2020
Astrology provided physicians with a naturalistic explanation for the onset and course of disease. They believed the movements of the celestial bodies, in relation to each other and the signs of the Zodiac, governed events on earth. […] The impact of astrology on the history of medicine can still be seen today. The term “influenza” was derived from the idea that respiratory disease was a product of the influence of the stars.

The indoor farming revolution begins now – Mashable – 5/19/2020
Another one of our cyclical “back to the land” movements seems to be underway, just like during the 1960s and the Great Depression before that. Only this time, we don’t need land. […] Thanks to giant leaps forward in the science of hydroponics and LED lighting, even people in windowless, gardenless apartments can participate in the revolution.


To view each social media post, click on the date link within the post. 

Karl Lester M. Yap @karllesteryap 18 May An experimental vaccine from the U.S. biotechnology company Moderna showed signs that it can create an immune-system response to fend off the new coronavirus

UoM News @UoMNews 19 May Your immune system may already be primed to attack #coronavirus, even if the closest you came to getting the disease was a common cold, writes @whippletom in @thetimes. The piece includes comment from our own @dandavis101.

Kyle Knight @knightktm 19 May Read this @ACLU analysis of #COVID_19 antibodies testing and its potential consequences — “immunity passports” are *not* the answer

Alfons López Tena @alfonslopeztena 18 May Infected people harbor T cells that target the coronavirus. Although unknown whether people who clear an infection can ward off the virus in the future, strong T cell responses to it bode well for development of long-term protective immunity and vaccines

Xinhua North America @XHNorthAmerica 18 May The immune system’s T cells play a pivotal role in attacking the coronavirus. B cells make antibodies that block the virus, while T cells provide an additional line of attack


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