“2020 in 20 charts” – Recode / Source: IDC

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

U.S. tech-stock futures fell on Wednesday as Democrats took the lead in the pair of Georgia runoff elections for two seats in the Senate. Democrat Raphael Warnock has been declared the winner of one of the elections, making history as the first Black senator in his state. Ballot counting will continue as Congress prepares to certify Electoral College votes from the general election, a normally routine process expected to stretch late into the night due to objections from a band of Republican lawmakers. The group is not expected to change the outcome of the election results, which were already certified by both parties in every state. Nonetheless, the U.S. capitol is preparing for thousands of protesters to gather in support of President Donald Trump, who promoted a rally near the White House at the same time to amplify false claims of election fraud.

Scientists are growing more concerned that the new variant of coronavirus found to be more contagious could become globally dominant and drive an even more severe wave. Some U.S. states have called on the National Guard to help administer vaccines more swiftly, while states such as California are taking alternative actions such as a waiver that allows dentists to inoculate patients. 

The nation’s local-control approach to immunizations is under fire following news at a high-end nursing home in West Palm Beach, Fla., where the facility made its vaccine available to donors and board members in addition to its residents. While the arrangement may have violated national immunization guidelines, critics say unclear and patchwork local rules created opportunities to provide vaccine access to well-connected people over those most in need. 

The World Health Organization has been denied entry to China in its efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan. The visit by WHO officials has been under negotiation for months, but Chinese authorities denied entry to two members en route to the country due to a lack of visa clearances. The WHO took the rare step of criticizing China at a press conference on Tuesday, expressing disappointment with Beijing.  

An analysis of safety complaints concerning COVID-19 found that U.S. regulators dismissed concerns at more than 100 workplaces last year. Dozens of reports to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration identifying lax pandemic safety practices were disregarded, according to an investigation. The agency never inspected 70 of those workplaces, where at least 4,500 workers were infected by the coronavirus and 26 died after contracting COVID-19. Complaints for workplace safety surged during the pandemic in numerous firms such as UPS, Tesla and Tyson Foods. 

The Grammys have postponed the 2021 awards ceremony due to coronavirus concerns, setting a new date for March 14. Organizers said the “deteriorating” situation in Los Angeles with overcrowded ICUs prompted the decision to delay the show, which will not have a live audience and allow only presenters and performers on-site

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Why the coronavirus vaccine rollout is behind schedule – Axios – 1/6/2021
Poor timing, poor planning and a lack of resources have all led to a coronavirus vaccine rollout that is going much slower than anticipated.The spread of the virus is vastly outpacing the U.S.’ efforts to inoculate people against it.

We’re botching the vaccine rollout. Here’s how to get it back on track – Fast Company – 1/6/2021
The Biden administration can help by giving clear guidance to states about how many vaccines they’re getting and how long they can be stored, providing training materials for staff, and setting targets for vaccinating a certain number of people by a certain date, says the University of Washington’s Baseman. 

Covid pandemic could bring ‘a lost decade’ of economic growth, World Bank says – CNBC – 1/6/2021
The bank said there are measures that policymakers can take to mitigate or reverse the economic damage from the pandemic. Possible measures include spending in infrastructure, support to boost female employment and diversifying the economy so that it’s not overly reliant on particular sectors, said the World Bank.

The pandemic has turned us into “farm-to-fork” fans – Quartz – 1/6/2021
Around 35% of respondents to the survey said that they had begun buying more local produce since the Covid-19 pandemic began, with 87% indicating that they would continue to buy food locally, even once the pandemic ends.

How to stop the next pandemic – WIRED UK – 1/6/2021
“The beauty of the T cell response is that it tends to have benefits in the elderly where their antibody responses and antibody immune memory isn’t as strong,” explains Memoli. “We want to use as many aspects of immunity as we can, so there are lots of ways the virus could be attacked to reduce disease.”

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

NBCLX @NBCLX 5 Jan The #GeorgiaElection will impact the country for years to come.@NoahPransky breaks down how this election will affect policy on climate change, coronavirus relief, student debt and a range of other important issues.

Andrey Ostrovsky, MD @AndreyOstrovsky 6 Jan If Georgia holds and dems get senate, a 5th #COVID19 package could happen quickly. My recommendations from June 2020 would be applicable in Jan 2021

Steven Portnoy @stevenportnoy 5 Jan MORE FROM GEORGIA RUNOFF EXIT POLL (early data) Which is more important? Containing the coronavirus now, even if it hurts the economy 52% Rebuilding the economy now, even if it hurts efforts to contain the coronavirus 42%

Emily Guskin @EmGusk 5 Jan Most Georgia voters worried family might catch the coronavirus

Edward-Isaac Dovere @IsaacDovere 6 Jan The reporting of the Electoral College vote, which should be ceremonial, now is not just democracy-undermining performance art but also another potential vector for coronavirus transmission:

CONTENT FACTS

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