“We’re doing a lot less coronavirus testing” – Axios, August 13, 2020 / Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

U.S. stock futures stabilized Thursday amid unemployment claims data, which fell below one million last week for the first time since March at 963,000 people – though layoffs remain exceptionally high by historical standards. Investors are concerned the expiration of the $600 weekly unemployment benefits is likely to leave less money in workers’ pockets and dent consumer spending. Discussion between congressional Democrats and the White House over a coronavirus aid package continues to remain stagnant. 

Kathy Kraninger of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is being called out for the failure to protect consumers during the pandemic. In separate House and Senate hearings, committee members “levied their sharpest criticisms against the agency’s plan to deregulate small-dollar lending by repealing key consumer protections on predatory products like payday and auto title loans.” Payday lenders are well known for taking advantage of “precarious conditions experienced by working-class and poor people.” Federal and state regulators are also cracking down on lenders targeting small businesses with high-cost loans and abusive collection tactics. 

Environmental pollution may be contributing to disparities among COVID-19 infections and outcomes. Communities of color face higher levels of pollution in their daily lives, which can lead to lung damage. These communities are often located next to landfills, oil fields, or areas with high road traffic as pollutant-producing industries have often found it easier to plant factories or drill oil wells near these neighborhoods since residents are less likely to have the resources to fight disputes. 

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) released sweeping environmental justice legislation just six days before Former Vice President Joe Biden tapped her to be his running mate in the presidential election. 

The topic of mail-in voting remains a lingering point of contention between Democrats and the Trump administration. President Donald Trump spent a majority of his daily briefing railing against additional funding to support the U.S. Postal Service and mail-in voting, using the accusation that voting by mail is ripe for fraud. Due to the pandemic, experts suggest that up to 70% of votes could be cast by mail this election cycle, necessitating costly equipment upgrades to handle the increase. The U.S. Postal Services said it lost $2.2 billion in the three months that ended in June amid difficulties stemming from the pandemic. The House Oversight and Reform Committee chair introduced a bill to freeze Postal Service changes Wednesday amid coronavirus, citing how the number of Americans voting by mail is expected to more than double from last year. “Congress must protect the right of all eligible citizens to have their vote counted,” chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) said. 

Grocery workers across the country say morale is at an all-time low as the pandemic wears on with no end in sight. Most retailers have gotten rid of hazard pay and employees are required to enforce mask requirements and deal with hostile customers. Some employees say they cannot afford to take unpaid time off, even if they feel unwell. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) signed a law last week that deems assaulting a worker who is enforcing face mask policies a felony. Several states have seen incidents of violence against workers enforcing these policies. 

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that stemmed from the Congress-authorized bailout for farms may have favored large, industrialized farms over smaller, diversified ones, preliminary data suggests. The top 10% got over 60% of the pot, while the bottom 10% got just 0.26%, marking a stark uneven distribution. Over a dozen bailouts also went to foreign-owned farms, including a Swiss-owned farm in Texas and a Korean-owned farm in South Dakota. These payments add up to $3.6 million. 

A pumpkin farmer in Michigan is attempting to make light of the pandemic that has hit the agricultural industry hard by spelling out “COVID GO AWAY” in his 13-acre corn maze

How coronavirus could revolutionize work opportunities for people with disabilities – Growth Quarters | The Next Web – 8/13/2020
Clearly allowing more home-based work does not excuse employers from creating more welcoming and accessible workplaces. But it could cause them to see what workers with disabilities are able to accomplish when given a telecommuting accommodation – rather than trying to pigeonhole them into a traditional workspace.

Why Sewage Is The Key To Early Detection Of Coronavirus Outbreaks – Forbes – 8/13/2020
So far, many nations (such as the US and the UK ) have failed to launch contact-tracing apps, which promise to alert people who’ve recently come into proximity with infected persons. This is why monitoring sewage and wastewater systems could be vital in keeping a lid on surges in coronavirus cases.

In Bolivia, a Model for Indigenous Groups Grappling With Covid-19 – Undark Magazine – 8/13/2020
Respiratory infections, gastrointestinal diseases, and parasites are common among such communities, potentially exacerbating the severity of any Covid-19 cases, explains Gurven. Isolated peoples like the Tsimane are often days from medical care with limited access to clean water, which, when coupled with a scant supply of soap, can cause infectious disease to spread with devastating consequences.

Pandemic Conspiracies And Rumours Have Killed Over 800 People, Study Shows – ScienceAlert – 8/13/2020
In India, a dozen people became ill after drinking alcohol made from toxic datura seeds, having watched a video on social media that claimed it would boost their immunity against COVID-19. Five of the imbibers were children.

What poker can teach you about living through a pandemic – Fast Company – 8/13/2020Too often, people focus on things they can’t control. It’s a natural response to uncertainty. Even if you have exceptional knowledge and skills, you can’t always control what happens. Chance is the cards that come to you that you can’t know.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Robert F. Kennedy Jr @RobertKennedyJr 12 Aug Concocting a #COVID-19 vaccine is not the same thing as proving a vaccine is safe and effective, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases tells National Geographic.

Konstantinos Lianos @LianosKostas 13 Aug “If there are problems with the prototype there is a risk it will undermine trust in treatments that have been properly tested.” #coronavirus

Yossi Gestetner @YossiGestetner 12 Aug Fauci says scientists hope the vaccine will be 75% effective but it may as low as 50%.This leaves 25% of the population unprotected.This is 82 million people in the US which is higher than the amount who have/had Coronavirus!So… Lockdowns forever?What’s the plan?

Bloomberg Australia @BloombergAU 13 Aug Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expects to be inoculated with Russia’s coronavirus vaccine by May, with the Southeast Asian nation set to join clinical trials in October

Lluís Bassets @lbassets 13 Aug “We speak often of the return of the Cold War mentality. Rarely is it demonstrated as clearly as in Putin’s announcement that Russia’s coronavirus vaccine will be called Sputnik V, evoking the 1957 Soviet satellite that kicked off the space race”.

CONTENT FACTS

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