Citizen candidates stand socially distanced and wearing protective face masks during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony in New York City. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

U.S. stock futures dipped lower Friday morning as tensions with China climbed following Bejing’s order for the U.S. to close its consulate in the Chinese city Chengdu. The order is an exact retaliation for a mandated closure of China’s consulate in Houston earlier this week and came hours after a harsh speech delivered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that pointed to an imminent shift in U.S.-China relations.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday announced that the country will offer a $1 billion loan to Latin America and the Caribbean for access to its COVID-19 vaccine. In areas where few people can afford medical care, many have turned to questionable alternative treatments that are often exploited by those looking to profit. 

Florida hospitals are stretched to capacity as the state approaches 400,000 COVID-19 cases, the benchmark reached by New York as the former epicenter of the virus. Emergency room doctors describe “back-to-back” ambulances and full intensive care units, while cases across the country have surpassed 4 million. U.S. President Donald Trump has canceled Republican convention events in Jacksonville, Fla. due to the rising numbers and a desire to “set an example” for U.S. residents to socially distance. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has released guidelines for reopening schools that heavily emphasize a physical return to the classroom. The recommendations highlight the social, emotional and mental risks of keeping students at home and outline essential COVID-19 safety practices such as hygiene, social distancing and regularly disinfecting surfaces.

Walt Disney has again delayed the release of three summer blockbuster films, dealing a fresh blow to the theater industry. The new Avatar and Star Wars movies, as well as Mulan, will be delayed by a year. In Boston, an insurance broker will begin to offer policies for commercial risks associated with the pandemic. Dubbed Pandemic Protector, the policy can offer up to $100 million in total limits for large Fortune 500 companies but is also suitable for small- to mid-sized companies. 

Statisticians with the CDC say they expect that the coronavirus will be one of the country’s top 10 leading causes of death by the year’s end. A new study from the agency reveals that half of Americans under 65 who died from COVID-19 had diabetes. Researchers say the virus’s effect on vital organs worsens existing vulnerabilities caused by diabetes. 

As the debate continues over who should first receive a COVID-19 vaccine once it is available, some doctors suggest using a weighted lottery, a new method that some have employed to distribute the drug Remdesivir for treatment. In Pittsburg, doctors have allocated a weighted lottery for the drug with preference given to health care and emergency medical workers, then in favor of people from economically disadvantaged areas.

The Earth is vibrating less due to the pandemic, scientists say. The regular hum of high-frequency seismic noise caused by human activity has been hushed due to lockdowns and a reduction in movement, a “scientific gift” that seismologists say will allow them to characterize both human and seismic noise more accurately.   

Does your homemade mask work? – The Conversation – 7/24/2020
Perhaps the easiest way, as demonstrated by several increasingly shared pictures or videos on social media, is to find someone who “vapes” and film them breathing out the vapour while wearing a face covering. One glance at such a picture dispels any suggestion that these face coverings stop your breath escaping.

Cambridge researchers create a touchscreen you don’t have to touch – SlashGear – 7/24/2020
Researchers believe that it could have widespread applications in the post-COVID-19 world thanks to its ability to reduce the risk pathogen transmission from the surface of devices. The patent behind the technology is known as “predictive touch” and was developed as part of research collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover.

Is It Too Soon for Covid-19 TV Shows? – Wired – 7/24/2020
It was bound to happen. Earlier this week, Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Krista Vernoff was on a (virtual) panel for the Television Academy and revealed that, yes, her show would be tackling Covid-19. “There’s no way,” she said, “to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes.”

Zoom doesn’t need to be so awful. What the future of video chat could learn from the past – Fast Company – 7/24/2020
If you ask Zoom, adding emoticons is a huge step forward in our ability to express ourselves without interrupting each other. Emoticons date back to the early ’70s (at least in ASCII). 

With Covid-19, a Seismic Quiet Like No Other – New York Times – 7/23/2020“The length and quiescence of this period represents the longest and most coherent global seismic noise reduction in recorded history,” the scientists reported on Thursday in the journal Science. The quieting, they added, resulted from social distancing, industrial shutdowns and drops in travel and tourism.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Rep. Ted Deutch @RepTedDeutch 24 Jul Projections show the COVID-19 death toll in FL could double by Labor Day. One thing we have learned through this crisis is that the projections can change. We can save lives by:• avoiding gatherings. • keeping distance. • wearing a mask.

Science Insider @SciInsider 24 Jul Miami’s mayor asks people to wear face masks in their own homes to reduce the spread of coronavirus within families

knoxnews @knoxnews 24 Jul Tennesseans are largely failing to wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus across large swaths of the state, despite a compelling scientific consensus in their favor.

Zaneta Lowe @wregzaneta 24 Jul Gov. Bill Lee says he is not considering state-wide mask mandate

Gia Vang @Gia_Vang 24 Jul Show us your mask #sunrisers! @GovTimWalz issued an order mandating mask use for indoor public spaces. It goes into effect at midnight. Thanks to these viewers for sharing with me just how creative they are with their masks. More on the order:

CONTENT FACTS

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