“Virus Alters Where People Open Their Wallets, Hinting at a Halting Recovery” – New York Times / August 19, 2020 / Data: Cuebiq / Chart: New York Times

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

U.S. stock futures inched higher on Wednesday following a record close for the S&P 500, marking the quickest turnaround from a bear market in history. The high finish indicates optimism from investors for an economic rebound even as Congress stalls on a second coronavirus relief package. While some analysts cite a stark disconnect between the stock market and the economy, others point to a handful of indicators in recent weeks, such as jobless claims below one million for the first time, as signs of a rebound. A government report released Tuesday shows that home construction starts in the U.S. jumped in July by 22.6%, the most since 2016. Building permits similarly topped estimates, pointing to sustained future construction. 

E-commerce sales at Target surged sevenfold and profits jumped 80% in an “eye-popping” second quarter earnings report on Wednesday. Lowe’s also blew past Wall Street forecasts with a 30% increase in revenue and a 135% increase in online sales. The strong earnings reflect an even higher-than-expected interest from consumers in digital sales, with Target reporting 10 million new customers on the company’s website.

The University of Notre Dame and Michigan State University suspended in-person classes on Tuesday, one day after the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did the same. Notre Dame was eight days into the semester when 146 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Hospitals are spending less on pharmaceuticals for their COVID-19 patients, due in part to a decline in patients’ length of stay and the number of medications used for treatment. Researchers warned that costs may again surge as hospitals start to pay for remdesivir,  which Gilead will begin charging for after donating early doses. 

Australia has secured the rights to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine under development by Oxford University if trials are successful. The government has signed on to manufacture enough to make vaccines free and mandatory for every Australian. In the U.K., the public health agency responsible for the country’s coronavirus response will be dissolved . National health officials said the country’s “disjointed and insufficient” response to the pandemic was due in large part to Public Health England, which will become part of a new government body. In New Zealand, a national court found that the country’s initial lockdown measures were “justified, but unlawful .” The court said that the first nine days of lockdown were not prescribed by law, even though necessary to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

One women’s’ reproductive agency expects to see 900,000 unintended pregnancies across the world as millions of women lose access to contraceptives and abortion services due to the pandemic. The agency estimates 1.5 million women will have unsafe abortions and more than 3,000 maternal deaths will occur.

Mink farms across the U.S. are getting hard-hit by COVID-19. Infections of the weasel-like mammals were widespread in Europe and have since appeared in Utah, where a rash of mink deaths were reported. Health officials worry that the virus can easily spread from the nation’s 245 mink farms to their larger communities.

Pressure mounts on many colleges to move classes online – Inside Higher Ed – 8/19/2020
After 135 coronavirus cases, a media frenzy and a foulmouthed editorial in the student newspaper, Chapel Hill decided to send students home Monday after nine days of class, a potential warning to any college leader hoping to resume in-person classes.

How this recession is different – Axios – 8/19/2020
Modern recessions, even the Great Recession of 2008-9, have tended to have little to no effect on how efficiently America produces goods and services. This recession is different. COVID-19 has hammered the potency of our companies and workers.

Surprising COVID-19 side effect: More companies adopt the 4-day workweek – Fast Company – 8/19/2020
Companies that had already shortened their working hours before the pandemic found that “the 4-day workweek made the transition to working from home full-time due to the pandemic a lot smoother,” as Robert Yuen, founder of San Francisco-based startup Monograph.io, observed.

Long-Haulers Are Redefining COVID-19 – The Atlantic – 8/19/2020
Our understanding of COVID-19 has accreted around the idea that it kills a few and is “mild” for the rest. That caricature was sketched before the new coronavirus even had a name; instead of shifting in the light of fresh data, it calcified. It affected the questions scientists sought to ask, the stories journalists sought to tell, and the patients doctors sought to treat. 

This New COVID-19 Treatment Could Also Bend Antitrust Norms – OZY – 8/19/2020
In a rare move, the DOJ late last month allowed six drug firms to share trade secrets to rush through a COVID-19 treatment that temporarily creates antibodies. Doctors say the treatment could serve as a vital Band-Aid while they wait for a vaccine. But experts caution that it could also set a precedent that could make antitrust action harder in the future.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

TRF Land, Property & Cities @TRF_Land 19 Aug The coronavirus outbreak gives city authorities an opportunity to implement congestion pricing to curb traffic and pollution. l @rinachandran reports

Bloomberg Law: Environment @environment 19 Aug Environmental groups are taking another legal swing against the EPA’s “enforcement discretion” policy during the coronavirus pandemic.

CBS 42 @CBS_42 19 Aug Pope Francis said that after the COVID-19 pandemic, the world can’t return back to normal if normal means social injustice and degradation of the environment.

WSMV News4 Nashville @WSMV 18 Aug Have you made changes with your recycling habits because of the COVID-19 pandemic? #Environment #Recycling #COVID19 #Coronavirus

Juliet Kinsman @JulietKinsman 19 Aug An upside of hard times: less food waste thrown away — food frugality is a climate boon via ⁦@Reuters⁩

CONTENT FACTS

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