WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
President Donald Trump signed a government funding and COVID-19 relief bill late Sunday night, days after he threatened not to sign the bill unless larger, $2,000 stimulus checks were provided to Americans. The bill includes $1.4 trillion to fund government agencies through September, in addition to the $900 billion allocated to pandemic-related financial relief. Jobless benefits for unemployed Americans lapsed and a government shutdown grew imminent as lawmakers waited for the president to sign off on the legislation.
The U.K. is expected to approve the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as soon as Monday as the country’s regulatory agency prepares to review its efficacy. The head of AstraZeneca said Sunday that researchers believe the shot will be effective against the new strain of coronavirus driving a surge of infections in the U.K. In Switzerland, hundreds of British skiers on holiday quickly fled the country after Swiss authorities backdated a mandatory 10-day quarantine to prevent the new strain from spreading.
The European Union has begun its vaccine rollout with 200 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech shots, which were approved by regulators last week. Spokespeople for both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines have said scientists must now wait to understand how effective they are at preventing the spread of the virus, which could be an issue if natural immunity is short-lived.
A citizen journalist in China has been sentenced to four years in prison for reporting on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan earlier this year. Zhang Zhan was accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in her reporting on the initial outbreak, which exposed the chaos of Wuhan’s response. Chinese authorities have so far punished eight whistle-blowers who criticized the government’s response to the outbreak.
The coronavirus in the U.S. is killing young Latinos at higher rates than other groups, underscoring a disparity in existing data that show Latinos are dying at rates more than three times as high as the white population. Overrepresented in essential jobs such as service industries, farm work, and meatpacking plants, Latinos have the greatest share of deaths in age groups under 54.
Experts are forecasting that a loss of skills, tenure and income among women of color who are mothers will make it more difficult for them to re-enter the workforce and earn the same wages as their white counterparts. Women of color have stopped working at higher rates than white women, both voluntarily to address childcare needs and due to a heightened vulnerability to layoffs.
Sales of Corona-branded beer have held up this year, despite initial worries that consumer sentiment would dip due to confusion between the beer brand and the coronavirus that drove the pandemic. Experts say Corona products experienced almost no negative impact, in part because consumers turned to widely-known, trusted brands that would get them through lockdowns
Scientists fought coronavirus, now they face a battle against disinformation | Jim Al-Khalili – the Guardian – 12/28/2020
The public’s appetite for science in 2020 has been insatiable as we have all looked to it for certainty in uncertain times; in fact, we have witnessed a major shift in the way the public views the role in society. The media and the wider public have wanted to know how scientific research is carried out and how its claims are tested, and there has been a scrutiny of how scientists conduct themselves and communicate their work like never before.
The year our personal lives took center stage at work – Protocol – 12/28/2020
In 2020, the personal and the professional became inextricable at work. Remote work might be the most sexy 2020 trend, but for the CEOs and leaders I spoke with, the de-professionalization of work could be the most important effect on a personal level.
In 2020, we reached peak Internet. Here’s what worked — and what flopped. – Washington Post – 12/28/2020
Ten months into the pandemic, hundreds of millions of Americans now rely on this tech to work from home, attend virtual school, see the doctor, go to the movies and just get our hands on some toilet paper. Not long ago, most of those were tech pipe dreams — businesses with limited reach beyond bubbles like San Francisco.
How these 3 Asian countries have kept a lid on COVID-19 outbreaks – Fortune – 12/28/2020
Many of the Asian countries with the most admirable COVID-19 responses share borders with and receive frequent travelers from China, the original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.A combination of early travel restrictions, mass testing, contact tracing, and strict quarantine measures helped Taiwan, Mongolia, and Vietnam avoid mass outbreaks and keep coronavirus deaths low.
Vaccines are the latest battleground for doctors on social media – MIT Technology Review – 12/28/2020
“I posted it because I wanted to do the right thing,” Fitzhugh says. “I thought it was important. ‘Cause there was a lot out there about ‘it’s too fast, it’s rushed.’ And I just wanted people to understand that the process occurred as it normally would. Yes, it was faster because they threw $10 billion at it to get this vaccine going.”
WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING
The Economist @TheEconomist 28 Dec The memories of others, and their imaginations, proved useful to millions of readers dealing in something as deadly, disorientating and unfamiliar as covid
James Hirsen @thejimjams 28 Dec How cancel culture keeps COVID-19 lockdown-doubters silent
Eric Feigl-Ding @DrEricDing 28 Dec New—Southern California is at 0% ICU bed capacity and will likely extend #COVID19 health restrictions for several more weeks—hospitals at the “breaking point” amid holiday surge of cases. Earlier, rationing of hospital care has begun.
Leo Beletsky @LeoBeletsky 28 Dec And yet, we’re again placing false hopes on travel restrictions to stop the spread of the new covid variant
Travel + Leisure @TravelLeisure 28 Dec How to Plan a Safari in the Time of COVID-19, According to an Expert
Turbine Labs has tracked 17,526 media articles and blogs over the last 24 hours and 370,980social media posts over the last 24 hours.C