“Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker” – The New York Times / Source:The New York Times

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

U.S. stock futures rose on Monday, pointing to gains for major indexes at the start of the week. Morgan Stanley announced that in the three months from July to September, it reaped $2.7 billion in profits, a rise of 25% compared to a year ago and its principal rival, Goldman Sachs, is doing even better. Investors are assessing the potential for fresh stimulus packages and China’s economic recovery. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the Trump administration to navigate the remaining disputes on coronavirus stimulus legislation within 48 hours as lawmakers attempt to meet the goal of passing a bill before the 2020 election.  

During the pandemic, Wall Street profits have surged while poverty has risen. The Walt Disney Company, Regal Cinemas and other large companies have announced thousands of new layoffs following last Thursday’s news that applications for unemployment benefits rose to their highest level in a month and a half. Currently, about ten million fewer Americans are employed than were in January and the number of Americans living in poverty has risen by about six million. 

Last week, voters in Georgia waited for as long as 10 hours to cast their ballots on the state’s first day of early voting. The clogged polling locations in metro Atlanta illustrates the pruning of voting locations statewide. The move primarily causes long lines in nonwhite neighborhoods where voter registration has surged. Georgia is considered a battleground state for control of the White House and U.S. Senate, and the difficulty of voting in Black communities could possibly tip the results on Nov. 3. A new study shows that about two-thirds of Latino registered voters say they are somewhat or very confident in Joe Biden, while confidence in President Donald Trump remains low. Hispanic eligible voters in the 2020 presidential battleground states like Florida and Arizona make up more than 20% of the population, though Biden tends to hold a narrower lead over Trump in the nine battleground states.

As the election nears, COVID-19 cases are increasing in at least 30 states, and hospitalizations are also up. While the risk of contracting coronavirus while voting in person is about the same as when ordering takeout, individuals can lower the risk further by taking precautions like bringing sanitizing equipment and voting when lines are shorter. 

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are increasingly finding themselves in a Catch-22, between those who accuse them of stifling free speech and others who say the companies need to do more to stamp out online misinformation and conspiracy theories. TikTok is toughening its stance against the QAnon conspiracy theory, expanding its ban to all content or accounts that promote videos advancing baseless ideas from the far-right online movement. Twitter recently removed a tweet from top White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas for questioning the effectiveness of masks in combating COVID-19 for being violations of the platform’s COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy. 

While the pandemic has thrown nearly all Mideast nations into the throes of an economic recession this year, some rebound is expected. Lebanon and Oman are anticipating  some level of economic growth according to a new report. Lebanon – which experienced a devastating explosion at Beirut’s main port in August – has seen protests, a drop in currency, and thousands of people facing poverty. Grassroots efforts have emerged from the blast, accelerating the development of a “women-led civil society.” One woman describes the momentum of the last year as “unprecedented” but notes the “dim track record “ for grassroots in Lebanon where police suppression is growing more violent over time. 

As time has warped and distorted across months of quarantine, memes have served as chronological markers that have helped define a chaotic year for many across social media. From the obsessions over Netflix’s “Tiger King” and July’s “everything is cake” memes, the images and videos have become a crucial aspect of 2020 as more people take to the internet for discussion and socializing.

Covid-19 indirectly killed far more older adults than we thought – Quartz – 10/19/2020
According to a recent letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Covid-19 caused just two thirds of the excess deaths in the US during the first five months of the pandemic. The rest were due to indirect effects of the outbreak—and many were in older Americans suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

For Trump, Covid-19 therapeutics are the new vaccines – STAT – 10/19/2020
In North Carolina last week, President Trump told voters at a campaign rally not to fear Covid-19 because they’d soon have access to a coronavirus “cure.” The experimental treatment, he told supporters the next day in Iowa, made him feel “like Superman.” In Florida, he told seniors they’d soon have access, for free, to the antibody therapy he’d received during his own bout with the virus two weeks before.

Without an office, what defines a workplace? – World Economic Forum – 10/19/2020
You can usually learn a lot about an organization just by sitting in its reception area for a few minutes. A decade ago, Kursty Groves wrote a stimulating book called I Wish I Worked There, which looks at “how the working environment fosters the flow of ideas from both practical and emotional perspectives—with business results.” It underlines the role of the physical environment in making companies successful and distinctive over the long term.

I visited a COVID-19-themed boutique selling high-priced ‘essentials’ to wealthy shoppers in high-end malls alongside Hermes and Louis Vuitton stores – see inside – Business Insider – 10/19/2020COVID-19 Essentials is one of the newest additions to The Mall at Short Hills, a high-end shopping mall near Morristown, New Jersey. […] The high price tags that some of the items wear would probably turn the average shopper away at a mall in Middle America but its popularity in Short Hills and elsewhere shows that the rich are living through the pandemic a little differently.

The streaming startups trying to save the music industry mid-pandemic – the Guardian – 10/19/2020
Two decades ago, digital technology pulled the record business inside out, a shock from which it has only recently recovered. But in 2020 it is helping, at least partially, to remedy a live business obliterated by coronavirus cancellations.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Los Angeles Times @latimes 18 Oct With the election over in 16 days and voting underway in all 50 states, the country is entering “the most difficult phase of this epidemic.”

Rebecca Skloot @RebeccaSkloot 18 Oct “As more Americans turn to voting by mail due to the coronavirus, some election officials are already seeing the kinds of mistakes that could lead to large volumes of ballots being disqualified.” #VoteLikeYourLifeDependsOnIt

Reuters @Reuters 19 Oct After scrambling to replace an aging force of poll workers most at risk from the coronavirus, #Election2020 officials face the challenge of running the voting with untested volunteers tasked with following strict health protocols

Jim Roberts @nycjim 19 Oct By election day, the US is likely to have 230,000 #coronavirus deaths, according to latest @IHME_UW model.

CBS News @CBSNews 19 Oct The coronavirus outbreak continues to shape the election in Arizona and Wisconsin

CONTENT FACTS

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