“Coronavirus cases fell by 15% this week” – Axios / Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise / Axios

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell unveiled  a major policy shift at the annual Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium. The Federal Reserve is willing to allow inflation to run hotter than normal in order to support the labor market and the broader economy. Jobless claims totaled at 1.01 million for the week ending August 22, in line with estimates from Dow Jones. This number was a decline from the previous week’s 1.104 million initial jobless claims. Stock futures edged lower a day after the S&P 500 continued its advance to set its fourth-straight record close.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of a coronavirus test that costs $5 and can produce results in 15 minutes without the use of lab equipment. Test-maker Abbott says it could soon manufacture 50 million of the rapid antigen tests per month, which would ease the country’s testing bottleneck. This development intersects with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines that state asymptomatic people no longer need to get tested. The federal agency quietly made the change to its online guidelines Monday. Health officials have expressed confusion over the change, saying the country needs more testing, not less. 

The Trump administration threatened hospitals with revoking their Medicare and Medicaid funding if they did not report coronavirus patient data and test results to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This move marks a “dramatic acceleration” to track and control the spread of COVID-19, according to the centers’ administrator. The new rules generated backlash from the American Hospital Association, which said the penalities, if enforced, would effectively put hospitals out of business. The head of the HHS reports directly to the president and has been up to a week behind in reporting data. 

The executive director for the American Public Health Association has said the $10 million spent on the HHS’s system might have been put to better use improving public health data management at the CDC, which has an outdated system that buckled under the country’s millions of COVID-19 cases. 

Workers on a seasonal agricultural H-2A visa are being hard hit by COVID-19 as their nature of work often means congregating in large groups and living in remote camps. These workers who often come on temporary visas from Mexico are especially vulnerable to the virus as they typically know little about their rights in the U.S. and are cut off from outside resources. Heatwaves and fires have exacerbated farmworker’s conditions in recent years. California and Washington both have heat standards for outdoor workers, but the law doesn’t require a halt at any given temperature threshold. 

Following the Trump administration’s move to suspend work visa programs in a touted effort to save American jobs amid the pandemic, public records requests show Republicans are privately helping business interests lobby for greater access to a pool of low-wage foreign workers. These efforts come despite rhetoric from leading Republicans about the downward impact on wages posed by some forms of immigration. The H-2B program has repeatedly come under fire for rampant human rights violations. 

As many U.S. schools transition to online learning, Black and rural students are often left behind as the pandemic sheds light on the technology gap that has existed for decades. Data shows 30% of all U.S. public school students either lack internet connection or a device at home for adequate distance learning. One in three Black, Latinx, and Native American students lack a broadband connection, compared to one in five white students. Rural communities, often in the South, are also particularly overrepresented. In Mississippi and Arkansas, about 40% of students lack high-speed internet.  Worldwide, a report revealed that nearly 500 million children were unable to gain access to remote learning opportunities when their schools closed. 

Social distancing has become common for humans during the pandemic, but some animals have long shown similar tactics in an effort to reduce the transmission of disease. Lobsters and honey bees are among the animals who have evolved complex cues to induce social distancing.

When Students Study Remotely, Who Feeds Them? – Next City – 8/27/2020
“I have been in our schools, and I have looked in the eyes of our kids, and when you look in their eyes, you can tell they’re hungry,” she says. It’s her goal to make sure those kids don’t go hungry this fall. And part of her plan involves continued use of the USDA’s Community Eligibility Provision.

COVID-19 makes medical students feel they’re falling behind – Los Angeles Times – 8/27/2020
In March, students at the Pikeville, Ky., school were abruptly pulled out of the hospitals and medical offices where they normally learn how to treat patients. Over the space of less than two weeks, Berg said, medical students in “pretty much the entire country” transitioned from seeing patients in person to learning online.

Meet “Rona,” the $5M ad campaign aimed at reducing Michigan’s coronavirus spread – mlive – 8/26/2020
Michigan residents will soon begin seeing components of a $5-million advertising campaign aimed at reducing the spread of coronavirus, especially by individuals in their 20s and 30s. […] “Once you see Rona, you can’t unsee it,” said Fran Westbrooks, managing partner for BLVD Content, a Detroit-based marketing agency.

Women say working from home is hurting their careers. Men believe they are thriving – Fast Company – 8/27/2020
The report also revealed a stark difference between races when it came to productivity. “White workers are 62% more likely than Black workers to say they’ve been more productive during the pandemic,” according to the authors of a  blog post that accompanied the report.

Coronavirus: The pictures that create more empathy than words – BBC News – 8/27/2020
Maria says: “I prefer the idea of being ‘cocooned’, where other people’s kindness and support contributes to the protection of the most vulnerable. “Cocooning feels far less lonely and becomes a positive image of care.”

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Post Sports @PostSports 27 Aug For all its stealthy might, the novel coronavirus didn’t burst the NBA bubble. Police brutality did. Racism did. Heartless disregard for Black lives did. This is not a game; this is our reality. And so there can be no games.Read @JerryBrewer

Patrick Wyman @Patrick_Wyman 26 Aug It says a great deal about the United States at this moment that its sports leagues are the institutions healthy enough – with well-paid, well-organized workers – to attempt to drive social change. The NBA and NBAPA funded a rapid coronavirus test! Athletes are striking!

Ryan Kartje @Ryan_Kartje 26 Aug For the past month, USC athletics had largely mitigated COVID-19 on campus. Then, an outbreak off-campus sparked a sudden shutdown of workouts for football and men’s water polo

BBC Radio Lincolnshire @BBCRadioLincs 27 Aug With just three weeks to go, this year’s Boston Marathon is cancelled over “significant” coronavirus fears

Omaha World-Herald @OWHnews 27 Aug The coronavirus has created big headaches for this year’s Nebraska State Fair, but give fair leaders and supporters credit. They have the right priorities for the 2020 event in Grand Island.

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