Activists stand with American flags at sunrise to memorialize victims of the coronavirus outbreak, near the Washington Monument in Washington. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

A new wave of coronavirus infections slowed consumer spending, which grew 1.9% in July. This marks a slower pace than the prior two months and economists predict future consumer spending will be clouded by the expiration of the $600 weekly supplement to unemployment benefits, which provided a key economic lifeline for many. Buoyed by a speech from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell yesterday that signaled looser monetary policy for longer, stock futures still point to a higher open. 

Emergency management already facing unprecedented demand due to wildfires and ongoing disaster and recovery efforts amid the pandemic are now also bracing for Hurricane Laura. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) stated it is being “stretched to the maximum levels.” The pandemic has complicated evacuation and shelter plans for the hurricane, which devastated a narrow path north from the Louisiana coast on Thursday. 

One study found under the worst-case scenario, if people followed historic evacuation patterns and virus transmission rates increased by 20%, there would be roughly 61,000 additional cases in the origin and destination counties combined. Under the best-case scenario, there could be as few as 9,100 additional cases resulting from evacuation. The impact Hurricane Laura inflicts on the affected areas will likely not be known for at least a week as counties suspend much of their community-based testing. 

President Donald Trump characterized America as “lawless and chaotic” at the Republican National Convention as major cities see a rise in murder rates. There is not enough data to yet support whether this is a nationwide phenomenon or if it’s isolated to urban centers, but experts attribute the spike to a wide range of possibilities. These include protests, the bad economy, a huge increase in gun purchases, boredom, and social displacement. In Illinois’s Cook County, the medical examiner’s office has handled a total of more than 10,000 deaths in 2020 and nearly 43% of people who died have been Black. A new analysis found that U.S. racial inequality transcends COVID-19 deaths. Even during the pandemic, mortality rates and life expectancy are far better for white Americans than they are for Black people – an additional 1 million white Americans would have to die in order for their life expectancy to fall to the best-ever levels recorded for Black Americans. 

Money to stop evictions in the form of government relief funding could help curb the rising crime rates in America’s cities. Currently, millions of Americans are at risk of being evicted and in New York, the court system was not prepared for the onslaught of cases the pandemic brought on. Whether an individual can be evicted now depends on their ZIP code in the absence of any sweeping national ban during the pandemic. Advocates say leaving tenants to the mercy of local laws can lead to confusion and illegal evictions. For certain federally-backed mortgages, the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and evictions have been extended through the end of the year. 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving premier, announced his resignation due to poor health. The resignation will trigger a leadership race in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, though whoever wins the party poll is likely to keep Abe’s reflationary “Abenomics” policies as Japan continues to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus. In Japan, about 55% say their country has done a good job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, and less than half say their country is now more unified than before the outbreak. 

Public health officials are optimistic the U.S. and other northern countries will face a mild flu season after the Southern Hemisphere saw a “weirdly mild” season. This was likely due to the public health measures put in place to fight COVID-19. Officials still warn against complacency and say people should get vaccinated against the flu.

COVID-19: The effect of lockdown on teenagers’ mental health isn’t all bad – World Economic Forum – 8/28/2020
Our findings suggest that the period of lockdown when students were not attending school may have protected them from some of the usual factors which can lead to poor mental health. These are likely to include the pressures of schoolwork and bullying, but also more subtle challenges in negotiating relationships with peers and with teachers.

Some Teachers Are Being Required to Come to School — to Teach Virtually – The Intercept – 8/28/2020
“The reasons have been ridiculous. One is so that students will be able to see their classrooms, so that when they come back face-to-face they’ll feel more comfortable,” said Rokakis. “Another is they say so we’ll have anything that we need accessible to us, and they keep using the scenario of if we have to do a science experiment.

This interactive tool lets you experiment with different COVID-19 reopening strategies – Fast Company – 8/28/2020
A new model developed by Stanford researchers tries to account for all those aspects, and show how different reopening policies—whether alternating schedules for workers and students or keeping everyone but essential workers home; whether mask usage is widespread and required, or rare and voluntary—affects both the employment and health outcomes in a city.

How WeChat Censored the Coronavirus Pandemic – Wired – 8/27/2020
“The blunt range of censored content goes beyond what we expected, including general health information such as the fact [that] the virus spreads from human contact,” says Masashi Crete-Nishihata, the associate director of Citizen Lab, a research group that focuses on technology and human rights.

Coronavirus loss of smell: ‘Meat tastes like petrol’ – BBC News – 8/28/2020
After falling mildly ill in March with suspected coronavirus, the 37-year-old, from Widnes in Cheshire, was unable to smell anything at all for four weeks before the sense slowly returned. But by mid-June things “started to taste really weird” with odours being replaced by a “horrible, chemical” stench.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Science News @ScienceNews 27 Aug Even as rituals are being disrupted and diluted, people are turning to whatever, or whomever, is on offer for solace. #longreads

cprnews @CPRNews 27 Aug New COVID-19 outbreaks this week include the Colorado Springs Police Department, the Focus on the Family Christian ministry, schools, a farm, a social gathering and more.

Alastair Reid @ajreid 27 Aug Another great piece in our #TrackingTheInfodemic series: From toxic “cures” to apocalyptic conspiracy theories, Latin American Christian communities have a serious misinformation problem

Haaretz.com @haaretzcom 28 Aug Ultra-Orthodox minister threatens to withdraw his party from coalition if coronavirus lockdown imposed on Jewish High Holy Days | Live Updates

Alex Leff @alexleff 27 Aug Indians are moving mountains to celebrate the Hindu remover of obstacles Ganesh

CONTENT FACTS

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