Hurricane Genevieve is seen from the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting Earth in an image taken by NASA astronaut Christopher J. Cassidy. NASA/Christopher J. Cassidy/via REUTERS

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Global shares rose on Friday following news from pharmaceutical group Pfizer Inc. that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate could be ready for regulatory review by October. Some researchers have confirmed the possibility that a vaccine could be ready for widespread use by the end of the year or early 2021, although they caution that safety precautions and unforeseen difficulties could extend that timeline at any point. Even if a vaccine does become quickly available, many Americans are wary of any more immunizations. More than half of the respondents in a poll released early this week said they were not planning to get a COVID-19 vaccine once one is available or are still unsure. 

The approach of regular flu season has prompted federal health officials to take action to expand access to the flu vaccine. A new directive will allow pharmacists in every U.S. state to administer vaccines to children, whose immunization rates dropped sharply during the pandemic. In Massachusetts, health officials have mandated most children over 6 months old who are in child care facilities or schools to get a flu shot.

Economies across the globe are experiencing anemic recoveries from the pandemic as fresh outbreaks continue to threaten their progress. Activity in Europe and Japan slowed to a lower pace in July amid weak demand and more disruptions in the international trade flow. Even so, officials with the World Health Organization say that countries are now better equipped to react to outbreaks with localized responses, which should protect their larger economies and prevent a repeat of the massive shutdowns seen earlier in the year.

Retailers in the U.S. are solidifying their earliest-ever holiday plans as they prepare for a glut in shipping. Target, Best Buy and Kohl’s have moved winter holiday promotions up to as early as October, while many have cancelled Black Friday door buster sales and instead announced closures for Thanksgiving day. 

Food trucks that would normally be at the height of their season are looking to the suburbs to keep business afloat. The small business owners say they have found some success in traveling to different neighborhoods, where remote workers and their neighbors rush to give their business to experience some semblance of normalcy. 

The pandemic is spurring a new wave of ecological research on what scientists are calling “anthropause,” the substantial slowdown in human activity forced by lockdowns and closures. Researchers are tracking how animals reacted to the absence of humans in their spaces, which they say could provide valuable insight into how to better preserve wildlife in the future.

Hospitals still suing patients in coronavirus hotspots – Axios – 8/21/2020
Almost all of the roughly two dozen Community Health Systems hospitals in Florida, Texas and Arizona have sued patients since the pandemic began. Many paused or slowed down in the spring, but then resumed business as usual over the summer — when these states were being hit hardest.

How likely are you to be infected by the coronavirus on a flight? – New Scientist – 8/21/2020
One case study, for instance, describes a 5-hour flight from Singapore to China on 23 January, where 11 of the 325 people on board were infected by one man. Passengers were screened before boarding, but the man developed a fever during the flight and was not wearing a mask. It is not clear how transmission occurred.

Singing ‘no riskier than talking’ for virus spread – BBC News – 8/20/2020
They found that the volume of the voice had the largest impact on the amount of aerosol produced. For example, there was some difference – albeit not very substantial – between speaking and singing at a similar level. Whereas singing or shouting at the loudest level could generate 30 times more aerosol.

Coronavirus pandemic delays Earth Overshoot Day by three weeks – DW – 8/21/2020
A key side effect of disaster-driven emission reductions is the fact that “the pain is going to be unevenly distributed,” according Wackernagel. Marginalised groups, especially people of color, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic’s “huge economic impacts,” said Sarah George, a senior reporter with Edie, a UK media company that promotes sustainable business practices.

Aquariums report wave of webcam visits amid Covid shutdown – The Guardian – 8/21/2020
“People watch them religiously,” said Dana Allen-Greil, Monterey Bay aquarium’s director of digital strategy. “They email us and say ‘I eat breakfast every morning with the sea otters’ – it becomes part of their daily life.”

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

The Denver Post @denverpost 21 Aug This Colorado mountain town was recovering from COVID-19 shutdown. Then came the Grizzly Creek fire and the closure of I-70.

Saba Hamedy @saba_h 20 Aug Smart story by @lydiaoconnor: What happens to coronavirus patients when their lungs are inundated with wildfire smoke? Doctors are bracing for potentially dangerous results.

WFLA NEWS @WFLA 20 Aug USF survey finds 71% of Floridians would not use hurricane shelter amid COVID-19 concerns | @WFLARyan reports

Jeffrey Burlew @JeffBurlew 21 Aug Uncertain forecast has two #hurricanes bearing down on the #Gulf Coast next week — an incredible #weather setup that happens to coincide with the #coronavirus pandemic via @tdonline

Mark Hachman @markhachman 20 Aug I’m comforted by the fact that eventually the coronavirus pandemic will fade, leaving plenty of N95 masks for the West Coasters who will have to breathe wildfire smoke for decades to come.

CONTENT FACTS

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