“Young people see covid-19 as a bigger threat than their elders do” The Economist, July 21, 2020 / Image: “Older people are less pessimistic about the health risks of covid-19” by Pedro Bordalo et al.; The Economist

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose again last week to 1.4 million as extra financial help from the federal government comes to an end. U.S. stock futures are down amid the second-quarter GDP report. The economy contracted at an annual rate of 32.9%, which the Commerce Department labeled the “sharpest economic contraction in modern American history.” The oil giant Royal Dutch Shell reported a sharp drop in net profit for its second quarter, with a loss totaling $18.4 billion. 

More than 150,000 recorded COVID-19 deaths were tallied Wednesday, marking a grim milestone for the U.S.. The number comes as the country’s daily number of coronavirus deaths is the highest it’s been since spring. Though eye protection is not currently included in formal guidance on coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci recently advised in an Instagram live discussion to wear goggles or an eye shield if one possesses those items. 

Recently released data shows Latinx communities in Texas are facing higher rates of infection but also suffering worse outcomes – Hispanic Texans make up 40% of the state’s population, but 48% of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 deaths. Hispanic pregnant women are also five times more likely to be exposed to coronavirus. A professor that helped lead the study said that this reinforces the idea socio-economic equity is “inextricably linked” with health. California and Minnesota are also seeing disproportionately high rates of coronavirus in their Hispanic populations. 

Data points to Black and Latinx people being more likely to get sick and die from COVID-19, but these groups are also least likely to be included in vaccine trials, as the Food and Drug Administration will still accept trial data that lacks diverse people. Two companies starting vaccine trials said they are making an effort to have a diverse demographic and may enroll up to 30,000 people each. 

The Senate GOP coronavirus package omits additional election funding after House Democrats proposed in May sending $3.6 billion to state and local officials to aid holding elections during the pandemic. More than half of voters under the age of 35 say they don’t have the resources or knowledge they need to vote by mail in November, a new poll found. In Wisconsin, voter registration dipped 20% in 2020 compared to the 2016 presidential election. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced it has reached an agreement to lend up to $10 billion to the U.S. Postal Service under a provision of the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in March. Critics of President Donald Trump have expressed concern that a politicized Postal Service could create election chaos when more mail-in ballots will be in use – a practice that President Trump has derided. 

Though the U.S.-Mexico border is closed to all nonessential travel, those legally allowed to cross have been doing so to seek healthcare in the U.S. One dual resident who resides in Tijuana traveled to the U.S. to get care for her husband when he was diagnosed with COVID-19, stating that the public health system in Tijuana is broken. Mexican health officials have increased the country’s projected number of deaths between mid-March and late June by 55%, largely attributing the increase to the pandemic. In that time period, the country totaled more than 200,000 deaths. 

A history museum in St. Louis is collecting photos and other artifacts to document life during the pandemic. When the museum shut down in March, curators began examining items collected from the 1840s cholera outbreak and the 1918 Spanish flu. The curators plan to collect toilet paper rolls, gloves, masks, and other items in demand during the current pandemic. 

Uptick in COVID-19 cases makes it difficult to bring back jobs. ‘Some people may be put out of the job market for a long time.’ – Chicago Tribune – 7/30/2020
Illinois employers added 142,000 jobs in June, but there are still 600,000 fewer jobs in the state than there were a year ago. Most of the gains were driven by a 17% rebound in leisure and hospitality, the sector hardest hit by the pandemic, but that industry, a huge employer, is still down 223,000 jobs compared with February. Some professions, like finance and real estate, continued to lose jobs in June.

Study: Pandemic spurred a wave of relocations – The Washington Post – 7/30/2020
While stay-at-home guidelines kept most Americans locked down since the novel coronavirus began to impact the United States, a new survey by the Pew Research Center found that 22 percent (about 1 in 5 U.S. adults) either moved because of the pandemic or know someone who did.

Covid-19 Data in the US Is an ‘Information Catastrophe’ – Wired – 7/30/2020
A quickly written protest letter addressed to Vice President Mike Pence, HHS secretary Alex Azar, and Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, garnered signatures from more than 100 health associations and research groups. The reactions made visible the groups’ concerns that data could be lost or duplicated, and underlined their continual worry that the CDC is being undercut and sidelined. But it had no other effect. The new HHS portal, called HHS Protect, is up and running.

How big a factor should racial equity be in deciding how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine? – Fast Company – 7/30/2020
As Oxford University’s vaccine entered its final trial phase, and experts noted that the vaccine could appear before the end of the year, the chair of the U.K.’s COVID-19 task force, Kate Bingham, appeared on a national morning show last week to announce preliminary recommendations from the country’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. She announced that the independent group had recommended to the government to prioritize four groups for a vaccine: people over 50, people with additional health conditions, front-line workers—and ethnic minorities.

Phoenix Weaving Together New Local Food System Amid a Pandemic – Next City – 7/30/2020
It may be too late to save the melons, but as for the rest, the Local First Arizona Foundation is gearing up to put a new plan in motion. Using federal funding from the CARES Act, the city will distribute healthy meals for pandemic response efforts produced by local growers, local restaurants and local caterers. While it was no heavy lift to find local growers and others to move produce, prepare and deliver meals, it required some extra work inside city hall to minimize the red tape typically associated with federal dollars.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

ABC News @ABC 30 Jul Severely limited number of pilgrims begin hajj rituals with COVID-19 control measures in place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Megan Specia @meganspecia 30 Jul The annual pilgrimage, which normally sees nearly 2 million worshippers crowd Mecca, looks very different amid the pandemic, with a few thousand visitors wearing masks and social distancing

Middle East Eye @MiddleEastEye 30 Jul Pilgrims selected to attend the pilgrimage were chosen via an online portal and required to be between the ages of 20 and 50. Anyone who is immunocompromised, suffering from a terminal illness or exhibiting coronavirus symptoms was barred from attending

Bloomberg @business 30 Jul Holy water will be consumed from single-use bottles. Pilgrims will get sterilized pebbles to throw at pillars symbolizing the devil. And instead of jostling shoulder to shoulder, worshipers will circle Mecca’s mosque with 1.5 meters space between them

Al Jazeera English @AJEnglish 30 Jul “I’m honestly so happy to have this chance out of millions of pilgrims.” Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, has begun – but under dramatically different circumstances due to the #coronavirus pandemic. Read more

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