“Coronavirus tracker: the latest figures as countries fight the Covid-19 resurgence” Financial Times, January 26, 2021 / Image: FT analysis of data from WHO, Covid Tracking Project, Johns Hopkins CSSE, UK Government coronavirus dashboard, Swedish Public Health Agency

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The U.S. economy grew by 4% in 2020, marking its weakest performance in 74 years. The sluggish pace in fourth-quarter GDP reflects a slowdown in recovery after a record gain in the third quarter, although economists say recovery this year should amount to most, but not all, of last year’s losses. Boeing reported a record loss in 2020 in its fourth-quarter earnings, totaling $12 billion as the pandemic depressed demand for airlines. Earnings for McDonald’s were dented due to higher costs and tighter COVID-19 restrictions.

Shares of video game retailer GameStop surged on Thursday after a group of investors on a Reddit forum agreed to buy the flailing company’s stocks to save it from impending bankruptcy. The “meme stock” trend is expanding to other companies suffering from depressed sales during the pandemic. Shares of movie theater chain AMC catapulted 300% on Wednesday, offering the company an opportunity to survive through lockdowns. 

New jobless claims fell in the past week to 847,000, signaling that job cuts may be easing after a rise in December. The federal government increased spending on food stamps by nearly 50% in 2020, spurred by the addition of 8 million Americans to receive aid and the expansion of benefit levels in the coronavirus aid package. President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Thursday to expand affordable access to health insurance, opening a special enrollment period beginning Feb. 15. 

New Zealand and Vietnam were some of the most successful countries at responding to the pandemic, according to a new international ranking by the Lowry Institute. The U.S. and Britain ranked near the bottom of 98 evaluated countries. Africa’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has secured another 400 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as parts of the continent experience a strong resurgence in cases. In South Africa, a drug used to control parasites in humans and livestock has been approved to treat coronavirus patients.

A team of researchers with the World Health Organization will emerge from quarantine in Wuhan, China on Thursday to begin investigating the source of the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent similar pandemics in the future. Researchers hope to examine the genes of the earliest known cases to understand how it got from bats to people. 

Schizophrenia was found to be one of the highest risk factors of dying from the coronavirus, second only to age, in a new study. Researchers examined 7,000 adults who were COVID-19 positive, finding no association between risk and anxiety or mood disorders but that those with schizophrenia were 2.7 times more likely to die from the virus. 

The pandemic and vaccine rollout has spurred more efforts to ensure that people of color are included in vaccine trials. While the enrollment of Black people in clinical trials is a particular challenge, doctors say the mindset surrounding diversity is finally changing from being an afterthought to being a central part of successful trials. They cite more grassroots initiatives to end barriers that prevent minorities from participating, which they say could boost vaccination rates in the future.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Twitter thread offers window into chaotic search for Covid-19 shots – STAT – 1/28/2021
Dozens of people from across the country commented on her thread with similar experiences and frustrations. One person recounted how she tried to sign up her 87-year-old mother in Texas for appointments in three different counties, each to no avail. Another in Illinois lamented being unable to get any information on vaccinating their 86-year-old mother who is immunocompromised.

I went through a luxury hotel quarantine in Singapore to beat the coronavirus — and it works. But Americans just wouldn’t find it acceptable. – Business Insider – 1/28/2021
Singapore’s stringent COVID prevention rules and policies would likely outrage many Americans who believe that personal liberty is at the core of what it means to live in the US. The notion of liberty has been at the center of so many American protests about lockdowns over the last few months. But the reality is: Singapore’s lockdown is working, and the American approach to the coronavirus is not.

Navigating Pandemic Fatigue as a Working Parent – Harvard Business Review – 1/27/2021
Every family is different, and every one of us is shaped by our own families of origin and life trajectories, as well as the varying degrees of security and support we each have in our current situations. But it’s possible to make sound choices now — especially in light of all that’s different — if you dig in, and, with compassion and no small measure of courage, identify what matters.

The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship – The Atlantic – 1/27/2021
Pretty good friends with whom I had mostly done things that were no longer possible, such as trying new restaurants together. Co-workers I didn’t know well but chatted with in the communal kitchen. Workers at the local coffee or sandwich shops who could no longer dawdle to chat. The depth and intensity of these relationships varied greatly, but these people were all, in some capacity, my friends, and there was also no substitute for them during the pandemic.

‘Everything was done in stages’: How Covid-19 impacted DoorDash’s first Super Bowl spot – Digiday – 1/28/2021
DoorDash is rebranding itself from the app that delivers your favorite local food to the app that delivers your favorite local everything — and it’s using this year’s Super Bowl to do so. It’s the eight-year-old company’s first time throwing its hat in the Super Bowl ad arena, where a 30-second spot on CBS during the Big Game will reportedly run advertisers $5.5 million this year.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Emily Mullin @emilylmullin 27 Jan With the coronavirus evolving to be more contagious, it’s time to upgrade your mask.

Sarah McCammon @sarahmccammon 28 Jan On @MorningEdition, Dr. Anthony Fauci says he thinks double-masking makes sense, given the new strains of the coronavirus, and despite being vaccinated himself, he’s still being cautious about seeing family members.

Lauren Pelley @LaurenPelley 28 Jan The spread of virus variants in Canada amid already high levels of #COVID19 means it’s likely time to up our mask game. That could mean finding better quality masks, doubling up, or wearing them more often — including outdoors — @adamsmiller writes

Sarah Boxer @Sarah_Boxer 28 Jan At #CNNTownHall, @CDCDirector on why CDC’s not requiring N95s: “I have spent a reasonable amt of time in an N95 mask- they’re hard to tolerate all day every day… I worry that if we suggest or require that ppl wear N95s they won’t wear them all the time.”

Abraar Karan @AbraarKaran 27 Jan 1/ One point of resistance from some is that we don’t “need” #BetterMasks for the general public Yet we still have people saying they took “all precautions” & got infected (while wearing a cloth or surgical mask)- many have reached out to me w/ this story

CONTENT FACTS

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