“GDP crash” – Reuters Graphics, August 5, 2020 / Data: U.S. Commerce Department / Graphic: Travis Hartman, Reuters

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The global death toll for the coronavirus surpassed 700,000 on Wednesday, averaging one death in the world every 15 seconds. The United States, Brazil, India and Mexico continue to lead the rise in fatalities. Deaths are “piling up” on the Texas border, where tropical storms, the region’s high prevalence of diabetes, and low average income have complicated efforts to fight the virus. In California, the state’s top health official warned that a reported 20.1% decline in infections was likely inflated by technical issues in the state’s data system. Citing “severe” delays in receiving rapid testing kits for COVID-19, the governors of six states are banding together to buy coronavirus tests.

Lawmakers on either side of the aisle are about $2 trillion apart on a consensus for the next coronavirus stimulus bill. While most agree on another round of $1,200 checks, obstacles remain on the weekly unemployment stipend, hazard pay for frontline employees, and reducing liability for companies forced to lay off their employees.

Large gig companies including Uber and Lyft are facing backlogs in the court system, which the companies utilize for annual background checks on their drivers. Shutdowns in court houses across the country have stalled the checks and left many drivers without a means of income. 

The Walt Disney Company on Tuesday posted a loss of almost $5 billion for its third quarter, driven by a $3.5 billion loss to close its theme parks. Building on positive trends this quarter with 100 million streaming subscribers, Disney announced that it will unveil a new streaming service and that its live-action film “Mulan,” for which the opening was delayed numerous times due to the pandemic, will be available to subscribers of Disney+ beginning Sept. 4. Quarterly earnings for pharmacy healthcare provider CVS spiked 55%, boosted by delays in elective surgeries which reduced the cost of healthcare benefits offered by the company.

A sixfold increase for disinfecting wipes has moved Clorox to announce that the company will not fully replenish its stock until 2021, the company’s CEO said on Tuesday. Birkenstock shoe company has also emerged a winner amid the pandemic as more people seek out “comfort fashion” such as the company’s “ugly” sandal. The popularity of the shoe follows a digital fashion week in Europe featuring popular items such as hoodies and track pants.

Scientists are warning that even if a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, it may not be as effective in the U.S. population due to the nation’s high obesity rates. Doctors say they have long known that obesity interferes with immune response and reduces the effectiveness of existing vaccines, complicating the prospect of immunizations against the coronavirus. Drug companies are also facing a shortage of minority populations willing to partake in COVID-19 vaccine trials. While Blacks and Latinos are among those who most urgently need the vaccine, researchers say they are at risk of being underrepresented in the final product. Until a vaccine is approved, competition is heating up to create “designer antibodies” to protect frontline workers and lessen the severity of the disease in hospitalized patients. Clinical antibody trails could prove effective ahead of immunizations, bridging an important gap in protection, health experts say.

While the pandemic has forced consumers to tighten their purse strings and forgo some daily pleasures, many coffee spots and burrito joints say faithful customers have kept them afloat. Customers are seeking safe, familiar little luxuries to get them through, business leaders say. The benefactors are local watering holes and large chains alike.

There’s not much good news about kids and coronavirus – Axios – 8/5/2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week reported a large outbreak at a sleepaway camp in Georgia. Within a week of the camp’s orientation, one counselor went home, and the camp shut down a few days later. But by then, nearly half of the roughly 600 campers and counselors had already been infected.

Why Kodak is perfectly positioned to pivot to pharmaceuticals – Quartz – 8/5/2020
In its heyday, Kodak was a leader inspecialty chemical operations. The company produced many of the chemicals used in photographic processing, says Wood-Black. And while products used to develop film and print in color sound very different from pharmaceuticals, they’re oftenmade the same way: a process called batch manufacturing.

Southwest Airlines cuts back on COVID-19 cleaning to get planes back in the air quicker – The Verge – 8/5/2020
Reducing its cleaning schedules will allow Southwest to focus on turning its planes around as quickly as possible, a key metric when it comes to reducing costs. The longer a plane is on the ground, the fewer flights it can make and the less profitable it is.

Ultraviolet light is getting attention in fight against coronavirus – Oregon Live – 8/4/2020
Research already shows that germicidal UV can effectively inactivate airborne microbes that transmit measles, tuberculosis and SARS-CoV-1, a close relative of the novel coronavirus. […] some researchers and physicians hope the technology can be recruited yet again to help disinfect high-risk indoor settings.

So You Want to Volunteer in a Coronavirus Vaccine Trial – New York Times – 8/5/2020
There are three primary phases of a vaccine trial. A Phase 1 trial is focused on safety. If you participate, you are likely to be among the first human beings to try the vaccine. Researchers will want to track whether it affects you negatively, such as making you feverish or dizzy. 

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Tennessean @Tennessean 5 Aug Dems, White House optimistic stimulus deal could be reached this week after both sides make concessions

KOAA News5 @KOAA 5 Aug Areas of agreement already include another round of $1,200 direct payments and changes to the Paycheck Protection Program to permit especially hard-hit businesses to obtain another loan under generous forgiveness terms.

Roxanne L. Scott @WhosWorld 5 Aug $1,200 Coronavirus Stimulus Checks Mistakenly Sent to Foreign Workers Overseas

The Wall Street Journal @WSJ 5 Aug Why is a tax cut for high-income individuals part of the virus-relief talks in Congress? Advocates say it is crucial to state finances.

Journal Sentinel @journalsentinel 5 Aug About 59% of young Americans say the pandemic has upended their goal to become financially independent from family.

CONTENT FACTS

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