“Retail sales sink 1.1% in November as COVID-19 buffets restaurants and economy” – Market Watch / Source: U.S. Census Bureau via St. Louis Fed


A key panel will review Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday to recommend whether the Food and Drug Administration should authorize it for emergency use, which would clear the way for a second vaccine to be approved for use in the U.S. as early as Friday. White House officials said they expect 20 million Americans to get their first shot of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s vaccine this month. Two health workers in Alaska reacted severely to Pfizer’s vaccine when they received it last week, prompting emergency room visits that echoed the reactions of two health workers in Britain. Health officials said they have shared the information for the sake of transparency but that the reactions were not a reason to disrupt rollout plans in the U.S. 

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to publicly receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday and President-elect Joe Biden is expected to get a shot as soon as next week in efforts to promote the vaccine’s efficacy and safety. French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, two days after the country exited another coronavirus lockdown. 

Jobless claims in the past week rose to 885,000, sustaining elevated numbers as recovery slowed. Even so, the Federal Reserve slightly improved its economic expectations for the end of the year and 2021, reducing its forecast for unemployment this year to 6.7% from 7.6% while changing its forecast for the U.S. GDP to fall 2.4% instead of 3.7%. 

About half of the coronavirus vaccine doses around the world are expected to be transported by plane, prompting airlines to repurpose planes and add cold-storage capacity to effectively transport the shots. Companies that monitor shipments for their temperatures through digital tracking technology report booming business as the Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold storage temperatures. The Moderna vaccine, however, can be kept in a regular refrigerator for up to one month. 

Suicide rates among teen athletes are on the rise, according to a University of Wisconsin survey. The survey found that 68% of teens reported feelings of anxiety and depression at levels that typically require medical intervention, which was 40% higher than past studies. At the same time, they said physical activity levels were 50% lower. 

While some state and local agencies report no rise in suicides this year, Johns Hopkins researchers found evidence of a rise in suicides across Maryland in the early phases of the pandemic. The findings showed a doubling of suicides among Black residents from the state’s first lockdown to the time public spaces were reopened, while white suicides were cut in half. Researchers attributed the difference to inequities in resources to weather the pandemic.

High schoolers face an unprecedented challenge this year as they enter the season of college applications. With no extracurriculars, canceled standardized tests and no campus tours, students must find other ways to highlight their accomplishments while turning to virtual school tours.


What are COVID archivists keeping for tomorrow’s historians? – Nature – 12/17/2020
Museum curators are on the lookout for discarded ventilators and failed prototype COVID-19 tests — but they must choose the moment they ask with care. “We can’t just say to busy people, ‘Would you stop developing the vaccine and talk to me about collecting stuff?’” says Natasha McEnroe, keeper of medicine at the Science Museum in London. “We have to tread very, very carefully.”

Reliable COVID-19 test could reduce virus spread – Medical Xpress – 12/17/2020
The test detects three viral targets, making it more reliable than other current tests to identify the virus which target one or two, and was 100% accurate in almost 30 patient samples taken. The test also has the potential to detect viral load, which is the amount of the virus present in each patient.

At the conclusion of the fall semester, some colleges say their COVID containment strategies worked – Inside Higher Ed – 12/17/2020
“We are a residential liberal arts college on top of a mountain plateau in a rural setting,” said David Shipps, Sewanee’s vice president for risk management. “You can’t ask for a better set of circumstances to attempt to create a bubble, which was essentially intended to reduce the risk of introducing the virus on campus. That’s where we focused our efforts over the course of the semester.”

4 surprising things you might actually miss about lockdown – Mic – 12/16/2020
Being confronted with harsh realities when we had time to process them more thoroughly than in the past has changed us, and some experts say we’re more aligned with our values now than ever. “2020 has allowed us to consider the things we most value and ways in which our behaviors and decisions can be more aligned with them,” Romanoff says.

Zoom is lifting its 40-minute meeting limit for several upcoming holidays – The Verge – 12/16/2020
Normally, meetings with three or more people hosted on Zoom’s free tier can’t last longer than 40 minutes. If you wanted to talk longer, you’d have to go through the hassle of starting another meeting and getting everyone to join again. By removing the limit for these holidays, hopefully virtual meetups with friends and family can be less focused on the clock and more on catching up with loved ones.


Business Insider @businessinsider 17 Dec The coronavirus crisis has pushed New York City property prices to record lows, with Manhattan rents dropping more than during the Great Recession of 2008 to 2010. Here’s how long they’ll stay low, and when they might bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

Joel Siegel @joelmsiegel 16 Dec Who knew? Carving avodaco pits is a thing. It’s helping a NYC ice sculptor pay the rent, after his business dried up because of the pandemic by @StephSimonTV @NY1

Abraham Gutman  @abgutman 16 Dec In 17 days, 2 *million* households could face imminent eviction.The CDC can single handedly prevent an avalanche of eviction, homelessness, and coronavirus infection.The @PhillyInquirer’s editorial board has a simple message: extend the eviction ban.

Kyle Swenson @kyletalking 16 Dec D.C.’s eviction filing moratorium doesn’t pass ‘constitutional muster,’ judge rules

Mark Horvath @hardlynormal 16 Dec Lashenee and her fiance live in a tent. Before this, she lived in a homeless shelter, but she contracted coronavirus from one of the staff members. Lashenee told staff she felt sick, but it took the shelter another week before sending her into quarantine.


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