“Covid-19 pandemic: Tracking the global coronavirus outbreak” – BBC / Source: Johns Hopkins University / Data Updated Dec. 7, 2020

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The pace of weekly jobless claims jumped last week after filings caught up with a decline due in part to the Thanksgiving holiday. First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 853,000, from 716,000 a week before. Stock futures edged lower amid the fresh data, despite hopes of a swift COVID-19 vaccine rollout. A panel of medical experts are due to meet later in the day to decide on a recommendation for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to receive emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Officials said vaccinations could begin as soon as this weekend. 

Dry ice sales are booming as hospitals prepare to store Pfizer’s vaccine at minus 94 degrees. Dry ice emerged as the go-to option given that large-scale freezer units are expensive and hospital budgets have been strained by the pandemic. One dry ice business owner said the average order from hospitals is 170 pounds, but he’s also receiving orders from pharmacies and shipping giants like FedEx. South Africa’s Renergen has patented cryogenic cases that can keep vaccines at ultra-cold temperatures for 30 days – a potential way to get some of the first coronavirus shots approved to remote areas. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that it is inaccurate that the Trump administration turned down the opportunity to secure more of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, saying the company never made a formal offer or provided the necessary information to sign an additional deal. The administration noted that the U.S. is at the front of the line for the Moderna vaccine, which is expected to be approved in the coming weeks. 

New studies suggest there is no innate vulnerability to the virus among Black and Hispanic Americans, who have been disproportionately affected compared to white people, but rather they are more often exposed because of social and environmental factors. These communities tend to work jobs requiring frequent contact and rely on public transportation. Access to healthcare is also poorer and rates of underlying conditions are much higher. 

Fewer than half of Black Americans say they would get a coronavirus vaccine, compared with 63% of Hispanic people and 61% of white people. Many Black people say they do not trust the medical establishment due to inequities in modern-day care and historical examples of mistreatment.

Health insurance has managed to thrive but the boost will likely reverse next year as patients catch up on deferred care. The pandemic initially resulted in a boost to short-term profitability in the spring as elective procedures – which translate to expensive insurance claims – were postponed. 

A new study finds limited evidence that life insurance companies increased premiums or decreased policy offerings due to COVID-19, despite an uptick in case counts, hospitalization rates and deaths. Experts attribute this to stiff competition in the industry and that those facing the highest risk of dying from COVID-19, like an elderly nursing home resident, wouldn’t be obtaining a life insurance policy to begin with. 

Google released its list of the top trending searches in the U.S. for 2020, which included terms like “coronavirus,” “election results,” and “Zoom.” Other top trending searches included “stimulus checks” and “unemployment.” Among the top results was a creature that some dubbed the mascot for this year: the “murder hornet.”

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

To Prevent the Next Covid-19, We Must Prioritize Biodiversity – Undark Magazine – 12/10/2020
Thriving ecosystems provide the foundation for life, health, and wellbeing on our planet. The decline of species and the degradation of ecosystems, coupled with the increased encroachment of people and commercial activities into the planet’s remaining wild places, has provided more opportunities for disease to spill over from animals to humans on a global scale.

How one of the best elder care companies has found opportunity in the COVID crisis – Fortune – 12/10/2020
The pandemic—which ravaged many nursing homes and killed many older Americans—may have given the aging services industry a black eye. But it also opened eyes to the heroic, caring, meaningful work people in the field do day in and day out.

How kids’ immune systems can evade COVID – Nature – 12/10/2020
Their immune system sees the virus “and it just mounts this really quick and effective immune response that shuts it down, before it has a chance to replicate to the point that it comes up positive on the swab diagnostic test”, says Melanie Neeland, an immunologist who studied the family, at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia.

Flight attendants are being asked to wear diapers and avoid bathrooms to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in China – Business Insider – 12/10/2020
“It is recommended that cabin crew members wear disposable diapers and avoid using the lavatories, barring special circumstances to avoid infection risks,” according to a CNN report that translated parts of the original guidelines. 

How to make this winter not totally suck, according to psychologists – Vox – 12/9/2020
During our pandemic winter, you can socialize in person by, yes, gathering around a fire pit or maybe doubling your bubble. But there are other ways to make you feel you’re connected to others in a wider web. A great option is to perform an act of kindness — like donating to charity, or volunteering to read to a child or an older person online.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Eric Feigl-Ding @DrEricDing 10 Dec 2) Congress does not pass new relief, about 12 million people could lose unemployment benefits and millions could face the threat of eviction.

Valeria Ricciulli @ValeRicciulli 9 Dec “It’s just been really frustrating because we would have happily stayed in that apartment had they been willing to cut us some slack or negotiate in good faith,” writer @Knibbs says. “I just saw the $2,500 and was … very mad.”

Council of DC @councilofdc 9 Dec So many in DC are struggling to pay their rent & unsure what they’ll do when the eviction moratorium ends 60 days after the COVID emergency does. Small landlords worry they’ll miss their mortgage payments.Here’s a list of all DC $ programs that could help

Jackie Fielder @JackieFielder_ 9 Dec A recent report from UCLA researchers estimated that lifting eviction moratoriums led to an average of 10,700 additional coronavirus deaths in states that allowed those restrictions to end. Cancel. Rent.

Kim Velsey @kvelsey 9 Dec Definitely one of the silver linings of the pandemic. I spite watch recreationally by looking at StreetEasy listings price history.

CONTENT FACTS

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