A medical worker in a protective suit works inside an intensive care unit for coronavirus patients, at the San Filippo Neri hospital, ahead of Christmas, in Rome, Italy, December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Stock futures continued to rise in early trading, despite President Donald Trump’s warning he might not sign the new relief bill unless Congress adds an amendment to increase the money included in stimulus checks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., responded to the president’s calls for higher payments, saying Democrats are ready to move forward with approval for $2,000 checks this week. 

Calling the recent stimulus checks a “down payment,” President-elect Joe Biden promised to ask Congress to continue negotiating once he enters office to bring more funding for frontline workers and an additional round of stimulus checks.

U.S. unemployment claims fell to 803,000, down from an expected 875,000 claims, the week of December 19 following a three-month high as the economic recovery continues to lag. The Commerce Department’s latest economic report expected Wednesday will likely show a drop in household income and spending in November.

The virus has compounded issues around homelessness; the homeless are some of the most susceptible to contracting the virus. While millions of jobs have disappeared, a new wave of evictions could lead to catastrophic housing displacement, leaving more people on the streets. More than 50 million Americans will experience food insecurity by the end of 2020, an increase of 13 million from 2018.

Public health officials are using California as an example of the dangers of holiday travel, as a surge in infections threatens to overwhelm hospitals across the state. The rise in new cases and hospitalizations forced the state to open field hospitals to handle the demand. The state was successful in curbing infections early on in the pandemic but is now the second-worst epicenter in the country behind Tennessee. Ahead of the holidays, many states and metropolitan areas in the U.S. imposed the most rigid restrictions on businesses and social gatherings since the beginning of the pandemic.

The U.S. reached an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to receive an additional 100 million doses. Roughly 70% of the doses will be available by the end of June 2021, with the remaining 30 million doses guaranteed to be delivered by the end of July. The contract doubles the previous amount Pfizer agreed to provide to the U.S.

Demand for bus travel has plummeted by more than 80% as people seek private transportation to steer clear of the virus. Busing services in response have made deep cuts to their services and now operate at about 10% capacity. Operating on thinner margins with less financial cushion, further paring down of busing services could end an alternative transport option for millions of lower-income Americans. While the pandemic relief bill passed by Congress allocates $14 billion to help public transit agencies, experts say that will hardly be enough to stave off cuts for the immediate future.

COVID-19 has spread into Antarctica, the only continent in the world previously untouched by the virus. Government officials in Chile confirmed that 36 civilians and army personnel at a Chilean research station on the continent tested positive for the virus. Thirty countries have research programs in Antarctica, although only about 1,000 people will stay on the continent in the winter.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

For people with terminal illnesses, time lost to Covid-19 can’t be made up – STAT – 12/23/2020
“When you get that diagnosis, you just get the feeling of wanting to do as much as you can,” said Hoover, 42, who lives in Boston. “It injects this urgency into your life. And then the pandemic came along, and it’s like throwing a wet blanket on this smoldering fire. You have this intensity, but everything is shut down around you, so you can’t act on it.”

It’s Zoom’s world now – Protocol – 12/23/2020
So Zoom is now both a business and a consumer product. Which feels appropriate, really, given the way the pandemic has blurred the lines between work and life for everyone. “Nine months ago, if Zoom wasn’t working, that was IT’s problem,” said Phil Libin, the CEO of video app Mmhmm. “And now it’s not. It’s your problem. That’s a big change.”

Shoot Out Sanitizer Like You’re Spider-Man With This Virus-Fighting Wristband – DesignTAXI – 12/23/2020
The SprayCare band, designed to be strapped around your wrist, gets to work at the press of a touch-sensitive button. It consists of a small vial, an atomizer nozzle, and an electronic pump that sprays the mist once it has been activated.

9 tweets that defined 2020 – AdAge – 12/23/2020
In August, Publicis Groupe’s head of futures and insight Tom Goodwin took to Twitter to craft what may be 2020’s most unfortunate tweetstorm , indiscriminately criticizing what he viewed as “the total obsession with Covid deaths over all other deaths” and claiming that while 7,500 Americans die every day, “only the ones with this precise new Virus matter.”

The World’s Most Loathed Industry Gave Us a Vaccine in Record Time – Bloomberg – 12/23/2020
The government’s backing let smaller players get in the game and take some riskier technologies forward. Smaller companies such as Moderna “don’t have the resources to do this on their own,” Joffe says of large-scale clinical trials. Pfizer, despite its corporate reputation as a rival-consuming shark, said it would offer up any excess manufacturing capacity it might have—potentially producing competitors’ vaccines.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Herb Scribner @HerbScribner 23 Dec The Virus That Stole Most of 2020 Now Steals Christmas, Too

Globalnews.ca @globalnews 23 Dec Some couples separated by the U.S.-Canada border since the closure in March, are planning an online Christmas dinner.

Artie Ojeda @ArtieNBCSD 22 Dec Xmas Dinner With Grandpa? Many Use Negative Test Results to Justify Extended Family Gatherings

Tyska @Tyska 23 Dec Holiday travel continues, despite pleas for the Bay Area to stay home via @eastbaytimes @OakTribNews #coronavirus #HolidaySeason

Goodluck Haule 真正的豪爾 @RealHauleGluck 23 Dec #CoronaVirusUK: During this festive period, many will have to make difficult decisions about visiting family based on coronavirus restrictions.But for some, not being able to go home for Christmas might be a welcome relief.

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