WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
U.S. stock futures wavered Wednesday, pointing toward a lower open ahead of a vote by lawmakers on impeaching President Trump during his final week in office. The Trump administration is shaking up how coronavirus vaccines are allocated to states, a decision announced Tuesday. Rather than relying on population, the administration will instead allocate doses based on how quickly they can administer the shots, as well as the size of the population over 65. Advisers to President-elect Joe Biden said they see risks in the decision, saying it will create “unrealistic expectations” and worsen the strain on states.
Biden publicly received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine Monday in an effort to bolster public confidence in the vaccine. As of December, about 60% of Americans polled say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Federal officials will require all international travelers flying to the U.S. to show proof they have tested negative for the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials announced. The order is set to go into effect Jan. 26. Germany plans to tighten controls on people entering the country as part of an effort to control a surge in coronavirus cases. The proposal will require people arriving from countries with high caseloads to be tested. England plans to require a negative COVID-19 test for travel by boat, plane or train.
For the first time in eight months, the economy saw a dip in job growth with 140,000 jobs lost in December. All of the jobs belonged to women, with women losing a total of 156,000 jobs, while men gained 16,000 jobs. Black women also made up a large portion of these numbers, marking the largest one-month drop in their labor force size since March and April 2020, when the pandemic first hit. Black and Latina women working in retail, restaurants and other “essential” service-sector industries have been disproportionately laid off amid lockdowns and business closures stemming from the pandemic.
Rural Americans have proven especially hesitant to receive a coronavirus vaccine compared to urban Americans. Many people in rural America are part of President Trump’s base, but partisanship alone does not fully explain their vaccine hesitancy. More than half of rural residents see getting vaccinated as a personal choice, compared to the 36% who see it as part of their responsibility to protect the health of others in the community. When it comes to reaching rural residents, a large majority (86%) say they trust their own doctor or health care provider to provide reliable information.
More than two dozen hospitals in rural Texas are still waiting on doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to distribute to front-line workers and community members. These are the same communities that have been disproportionately ravaged by the coronavirus. Advocates say the reasons for the lapse range from approval delays to providers’ inability to store the Pfizer vaccine, which can only be shipped in orders of 975 doses.
One of the biggest challenges in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine from companies Pfizer and BioNTech is keeping it cold, but in the subzero temperatures of Southwest Alaska, that isn’t an issue. Once thought of as an obstacle, Alaska’s vaccine rollout has been aided by a massive effort that’s delivering thousands of doses to remote parts of the state. A fleet of chartered planes airlifted vials to villages, a water taxi drove doses through choppy waters and some clinicians were shuttled around villages on sleds – all contributing to Alaska having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country with rural and Indigenous residents getting access to shots at levels that meet or even exceed those in Alaska’s cities.
Variant coronavirus in the US – MIT Technology Review – 1/13/2021
“If the strain become common in the US,” Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, said on Twitter, it’s “close to [a] worst-case scenario.” He says political turmoil, overtaxed hospitals, and an unrelenting new form of the virus could create a “perfect storm.”
What we know about the spread of Covid among children — and whether shutting schools reduces the risk – CNBC – 1/13/2021
“Studies from interventions across hundreds of countries across the globe have consistently shown that school closures are associated with a reduction in R, and openings with an increase,” Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, clinical epidemiologist at Queen Mary University of London, told CNBC via email. The so-called “R” rate, or reproduction rate, refers to the average number of secondary Covid infections produced by a single infected person.
I spoke to 99 big thinkers about what our world after coronavirus might look like: This is what I learned – Fast Company – 1/13/2021
For example, Phil Baty from Times Higher Education warns that universities will change “profoundly [and] forever,” but mostly because the higher education sector was already screaming for change. Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Ann Marie Lipinski arrives at the same prognosis for journalism, and Princeton economist Atif Mian worries similarly for structural global debt.
COVID ended her job, like so many others. Now she collects stories about the pandemic. – Raleigh News & Observer – 1/13/2021
At first, Fishburne was looking at her travels as a way to build a portfolio so that, once COVID-19 is under control and she can meet potential employers face to face, she would have some fresh work to show. But after a few months on the road she realized her work had documentary value, and she began presenting it online as an oral history project she calls, “Who We Are Now.”
How The Pandemic Set In Motion The Messenger RNA Revolution – Forbes – 1/12/2021
In the case of Covid-19, the chosen protein is located in the characteristic spikes that the virus uses to anchor itself in our cells. If we generate the corresponding mRNA, which is unstable and rapidly degraded, we can encapsulate it so that it reaches the interior of the cells, inject it, and make our cells, from that chain, generate the characteristic protein of the virus.
WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING
WebMD @WebMD 12 Jan Last fall, health experts said it was possible the United States could experience an easy 2020-21 flu season because health measures to fight COVID-19 would also thwart the spread of influenza. It looks like that happened — and then some. Learn more
Craig Spencer MD MPH @Craig_A_Spencer 12 Jan There were 22,000 flu deaths in 2019-2020. There were 22,000 #COVID19 deaths last week.
Eric R Olson @EricROlson 12 Jan Does the fact that COVID-19 is able to infect so many different mammal species make it more likely to mutate? More than the flu virus, for example?
abc730 @abc730 13 Jan “If we had a vaccine that was 90% effective, we only would need to vaccinate about 66% of the population to achieve herd immunity and that’s really feasible.” – Prof Raina MacIntyre, epidemiologist, @KirbyInstitute #abc730
Pat Kiernan @patkiernan 12 Jan If we could just stop interacting with each other look what we can accomplish:Look beyond coronavirus and you see a record low year for things like influenza
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