WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
U.S. stock futures edged higher ahead of fresh guidance from the Federal Reserve coming Wednesday afternoon. Top congressional leaders signaled they were approaching a deal after days of meeting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was optimistic, fueling hopes that lawmakers will have a new aid package before the holidays and the expiration of several key aid provisions.
Public transit systems have taken a hit as ridership plummets because of fear of infection and a shift to remote work. Officials at some of the largest public transit systems in the U.S. say that sweeping cuts to service and staffing are expected if a federal pandemic relief package does not arrive soon, and even then, the proposals currently being considered may not be enough to prevent drastic changes. Transit officials in New York have partnered with the Department of Homeland Security and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study how to reduce the spread of coronavirus on buses and trains. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority carried about 8 million riders daily before the pandemic.
City dwellers have taken to riding bikes instead of taking public transportation – global bicycle sales have surged to the point where the world’s largest bike maker, Giant, has struggled to fill orders.
Intensive Care Unit nurses are quitting due to the stress caused by the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County. California has purchased thousands of body bags and has dozens of refrigerated storage units on standby as it prepares to deal with a growing death toll. The arrival of a vaccine has brought some hope to the battered ICU – California expects to have 2.1 million doses by the end of December.
The majority of COVID-19 antibody drugs that were sent to states have not been used, according to the head of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s coronavirus vaccine effort. Doses have largely gone unused because administering them is complicated and many states don’t have the resources to sort through those logistics.
The World Health Organization is working on an e-vaccination certificate that would prove immunity to coronavirus, but there are still issues to sort out, including different countries having a variety of vaccines, some of which may not be approved in other countries. The airline industry, which could see $157 billion in losses through next year, is leading the way with trials of competing digital apps.
Bioethicists have warned about the dangers of immunity passports, saying it could lead employers and others to discriminate against people who lack them. Until a vaccine is fully approved and widely available, it is unlikely that participation in society would depend upon immunity status.
As governments in Europe announce new shutdowns amid surging coronavirus cases, the hopes for a normal Christmas began to fade. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “Easter can be the new Christmas for some people,” encouraging families to postpone gatherings until spring. Feeling the effects of isolation, Americans are sending more holiday cards to stay in touch this season. Hallmark Cards said their top-selling card this year expresses a popular sentiment – “wish we were together.”
Coronavirus and public holidays: what the data say – Nature – 12/16/2020
According to a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February, the virus was largely transmitted within households in China, with up to 85% of the infection clusters in two provinces occurring in families.
How remote life has accelerated connected technology and work style – TechRadar – 12/16/2020
COVID-19 has made the case for automation clear, and undoubtedly sparked a new wave of adoption. When global supply chains are bottlenecked, autonomous technology helps to ease the burden. When social distancing is required, robots can take over tasks that put workers in danger.
Newest Pandemic Shortage and Price Spike: Christmas Trees – New York Times – 12/16/2020
There are fewer sidewalk stands in the city, with some vendors citing public health concerns as the reason they are staying away, while others have noted an unmistakable spike in demand from pent-up New Yorkers desperate for holiday cheer.
A year of erased progress in the workplace – Axios – 12/16/2020
Front-line workers represent around 80% of the workforce, but they’ve received just 1% of the tech investment since the onset of the pandemic, per Levit’s research. While companies dove into providing mental health resources and Zoom happy hours to keep their white-collar workers sane and happy, little attention was paid to burnout among essential workers.
COVID-19 immunity and reinfection: why it’s still essential to take precautions – The Conversation – 12/16/2020
With some viruses, once you have been infected and have developed antibodies, you will be immune to that virus for life. Past infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, does not, as far as is known at this stage, guarantee protection against future infections. It’s not absolutely clear whether this virus may become dormant and, upon reactivation, cause a recurrence of infection.
WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING
Michel Boyer @BoyerMichel 16 Dec Holiday blues: How to cope when you’re feeling alone during the pandemic
The Virginian-Pilot @virginianpilot 16 Dec Largely unable to mingle with friends and family because of the coronavirus, residents of a Nags Head nursing home have had little to do but look out windows. So a team of volunteers helped last weekend by painting holiday pictures on the glass.
Dr Diahanne Rhiney BCAe @DiahanneUK 15 Dec Sadly Christmas this year wont be the same and with coronavirus it means victims of domestic abuse will be isolated. Support is available and all charities and contacts have been listed at the bottom.#domesticabuse #domesticviolence
Brady Dennis @brady_dennis 16 Dec Dr. Fauci won’t be celebrating the holiday – or his 80th birthday on Christmas Eve – with his kids during coronavirus. A post-Thanksgiving surge has left U.S. with “a big problem,” he said. @jaxalemany w/@brentgriffiths in Power Up
Vox @voxdotcom 15 Dec Social distancing is emotionally brutal. Full stop.Human beings have evolved to take comfort in another’s presence, and isolation now can be very painful.But here’s the good news: Being alone is a skill. Here’s how to get better at it with practice
Turbine Labs has tracked 31,232 media articles and blogs over the last 24 hours and 425,730 social media posts over the last 24 hours.