“Hiring Frenzy for Pharmacists as Covid-19 Vaccines Roll Out” – Wall Street Journal / Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

U.S. stock futures edged higher following Congress’s passage of a nearly $900 billion coronavirus relief bill after months of deliberation. The bill restarts the Paycheck Protection Program to assist small businesses through March 2021 and provides protections to PPP lenders if borrowers break the rules, so long as the bank acts in good faith. Lawmakers attached legislation to provide billions to renewable energy efforts and struggling cultural institutions.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., criticized the timeframe representatives had to read the bill, which gave lawmakers just hours to read over 5,500 pages, the longest bill in history. A small number of Republican representatives voted against the bill, including Rep. Rand Paul, whose opposition speech went viral for claiming the bill supported socialism.

President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on live television Monday morning, telling Americans that there is “nothing to worry about.” A small but growing number of U.S. lawmakers are declining early access to a COVID-19 vaccine, even as some Republican lawmakers who initially downplayed the severity of the virus or ignored public health guidelines now face backlash for being among the first to receive a vaccine.

As parts of the U.K. face tighter restrictions with the emergence of a new, highly transmissible COVID strain, scientists reiterated that while there is a continued need for caution, there is no need for alarm. Britain is working with France to lift a ban on British freight to get trucks moving again following panic buying. The government said there was enough food for Christmas, though local grocery markets acknowledged the supply chain would be affected if the disruption continued. The end of the Brexit transition period has only complicated negotiations.

The cost of the Tokyo Olympics has grown to $15.4 billion, 22% more than previously budgeted resulting from the costs of postponing and then rescheduling events due to COVID-19. The increase comes even after organizers announced cost reductions in October and despite the fact that Japan has controlled the virus better than most countries.

In Taiwan, officials reported the first locally transmitted case of COVID-19 in 255 days. The island has been seen as a global leader for its success in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, free of local cases since April 12.

Mexican destinations such as Tulum have been marketing themselves as a desirable alternative to European destinations, which remain blocked to most Americans. The onslaught of tourism has brought to the forefront of Mexico’s economic recovery the question of how much public health risk is acceptable to aid an economy stuck with a 50% unemployment rate in the pandemic.

A wave of vaccine bond deals will seek to provide billions of dollars to roll out vaccines in developing countries, offering some hope for inoculation despite impressively high costs. International organizations estimate that vaccinating a fifth of Latin America and the Caribbean could cost more than $2 billion while rolling out vaccines to priority populations in Africa could come to nearly $6 billion.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

When Should Kids Be Part of Covid-19 Vaccine Trials? – Undark Magazine – 12/22/2020
Studies thus far show that 1 to 2 percent of children infected with the virus end up requiring intensive care, Dr. Stanley Plotkin, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, told a federal panel. That’s in line with the percentage who become gravely ill as result of infections like Haemophilus influenza type B, or Hib, for which doctors have vaccinated children since the 1980s, he pointed out.

COVID-19 Is a Chance to Reframe How We Use and Abuse Public Land – Sierra Club – 12/22/2020
That problematic overuse hasn’t only been happening in Utah, where trail counters recorded as much as 400 percent more use than average in the Wasatch last summer. Along the Appalachian Trail, scenic peaks like Max Patch have been covered in trash after busy weekends. In central Oregon, the US Forest Service will start instituting a permit system in popular areas like the Three Sisters, which have been degraded by heavy use.

How the COVID-19 relief bill could change the future of game livestreaming in the U.S. – GeekWire – 12/21/2020
U.S. livestreamers may see major changes to their business model as a result of legislation in Congress’s latest COVID-19 relief bill. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which passed late Monday, contains several measures that are meant to serve as relief to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as issuing a second stimulus check.

Does Covid mean you’re spending your first Christmas alone? Let me guide you – The Guardian – 12/22/2020
Don’t try to work more as a way to pass the time. We’re all trained at this point to believe we essentially do not exist outside of the neoliberal frameworks of job and family, but it’s no good trying to catch up on emails.

Startups battled to survive 2020. Here’s what they must do next – WIRED UK – 12/22/2020
What comes next will be determined by the lessons learned in 2020. Bell thinks that the momentum gathered by Black Lives Matter will propel Black entrepreneurs like never before. “It feels like people are thinking differently, and I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Tom Lasseter @TomLasseter 22 Dec The 5,593-page bill poised to pass the U.S. Congress on Monday provides plenty of coronavirus aid. It also ensures that you will not go to prison for transporting water chestnut plants across state lines.

Daniel McFadin @danielmcfadin 21 Dec The COVID relief bill “also extends a hodgepodge of tax breaks for #NASCAR auto-racing tracks, craft distillers and other interests that would have otherwise expired at the end of the year.”

David Schatsky @dschatsky 22 Dec Reading what is in this bill if you are not a lawmaker is, I imagine, like watching surgery if you’re not a doctor or, indeed, watching sausage being made. It’s gross. Congress Rushes to Pass Huge Coronavirus Relief Bill

Senator John Cornyn @JohnCornyn 22 Dec Live music venues get a lifeline in federal coronavirus relief package via @statesman

Washington Examiner @dcexaminer 22 Dec What do COVID Aid and the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama have in common?They’re both in the coronavirus spending bill.

CONTENT FACTS

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