WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The number of Americans filing for new unemployment benefits declined last week, while still hitting a historic high of 900,000, hinting at further job cuts. The stock market closed at record highs Wednesday following President Joe Biden’s inauguration. While former President Donald Trump warned Biden’s win would cause a market crash, many on Wall Street expect Biden to strike legislative deals with Congress to push more stimulus spending.
President Biden signed 17 executive orders after arriving at the White House, including several measures to boost the national fight against COVID-19. Masks are now required to be worn by citizens and federal employees on federal property, and a “100-day masking challenge” urges Americans to wear masks to curb the spread of the virus. Biden is expected to mark his first full day in office with an additional 10 executive orders aimed at the coronavirus Thursday, including a mask mandate for plane and bus passengers, providing disaster funds to help reopen schools and extending the student loan payment freeze through September.
The U.S. will resume funding for the World Health Organization and rejoin a vaccine consortium to deploy coronavirus vaccines fairly around the world, Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed. International health leaders welcomed the news, noting the U.S.’s impact on the world’s ability to fight the pandemic.
Some state governments are failing to track the waste of vaccines as instances of health facilities throwing out unused or spoiled doses rise. A shortage in the U.S. has boosted vaccine tourism amid shortages, crashing appointment websites and confusing eligibility rules. There is hope that shortages could be quelled, as one of Amazon’s top executives offered to help President Biden in his effort to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.
Overseas families continue to face separation due to coronavirus travel and visa restrictions, despite President Biden’s reversal of former President Trump’s travel ban against a number of mostly-Muslim countries. The Trump administration stopped issuing most family-based green cards in April 2020 to protect American jobs, but Biden has yet to say whether he will rescind that proclamation.
A local organist at Salisbury Cathedral provided a soundtrack of classical compositions and modern pieces for people waiting in line for their vaccine jabs. The U.K. has turned to churches, football stadiums and convention centers to speed vaccine delivery as the country faced its deadliest day.
Despite the pandemic’s toll on tourism, entrepreneurs are securing funding to expand immersive for-profit museum exhibits. While many traditional museums are facing cuts and closures, for-profit museums continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars while waiting for their audiences to return.
With fewer resources, rural American tackles Covid-19 vaccine distribution – Quartz – 1/21/2021
Additionally, data show that rural residents are less likely to receive a flu shot than residents of metropolitan areas. This trend, combined with the reluctance of rural communities to embrace coronavirus mitigation measures, has some experts worried: “Think about a person who needs to drive one hour for a shot, then do the same 20 days later for a second shot,” said Diego Cuadros, a professor of health geography and disease modeling at the University of Cincinnati.
COVID Can Cause Forgetfulness, Psychosis, Mania or a Stutter – Scientific American – 1/21/2021
“I realized that some of the words didn’t feel right in my mouth, you know?” he says. They felt jumbled, stuck inside. Thornton had suddenly developed a severe stutter for the first time in his life. “I got my voice back, but it broke my mouth,” he says. After relaying the story over several minutes, Thornton sighs heavily with exhaustion. The thought of going back to teaching with his stutter, “that was terrifying,” he says.
The 10 Biden officials to watch on the Covid-19 response – STAT – 1/21/2021
Irwin Redlener, a Columbia University professor and pandemic-response expert, said he thinks highly competent individuals have been chosen for each position, but hasn’t yet seen how the various responsibilities of the Covid-19 task force and existing agency positions will fit together. “They have an orchestra of talented musicians, but without a conductor the outcome is not going to be what we are expecting,” Redlener said.
It’s time to fully embrace telehealth—for the COVID-19 crisis and beyond – Fast Company – 1/21/2021
Interestingly enough, COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders have led to a serious reduction in Emergency Room bed use, with a 42% reduction in ER visits last April compared to 2020. The CDC considers this a double-edged sword. It’s good that there are less non-critical emergency visits, but bad if people who really need the ER are avoiding it because of fear of the virus.
Coronavirus variants explained: ask the experts in a free online discussion – The Conversation – 1/21/2021
The South Africa and Brazil variants are particularly concerning because of a mutation they both share called E484K, which may make it harder for antibodies to neutralise the virus. Nothing is certain at the moment, but studies are underway to find out exactly what these new variants mean for vaccine effectiveness, ability to spread and disease severity. We should have some answers in the next few weeks.
WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING
Zach Haberman @ZHaberman 20 Jan On Inauguration Day, the U.S. saw a new single-day record of 4,131 Covid-related deaths, per an @NBCNews tally. This is immediate reality new administration is facing. Biden and Harris meet with their Covid team Thursday afternoon, per WH schedule.
Jake Whittenberg @jwhittenbergK5 21 Jan WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki just told @Morning_Joe that President Biden will sign ten executive orders today related to coronavirus. And Dr. Anthony Fauci will be in the press briefing room today.
Jennifer Edwards Baker @jbakerohio 21 Jan US to join global coronavirus vaccine program and resume full funding and staffing support for the World Health Organization, Fauci says. What do you think?
Nsikan Akpan, PhD @MoNscience 21 Jan Biden will order masks on planes and trains, increase disaster funds to fight coronavirus
Eric Feigl-Ding @DrEricDing 20 Jan 4) Leadership on mandating masks on federal property and public transit… And now Biden WH plans to resume regular coronavirus briefings with health officials in addition to daily WH press briefings. Public health science finally coming back. #COVID19 https://t.co/Fama3XfFOp
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