“Axios-Ipsos poll: New strains, not school spread, drive virus fears” – Axios / Data: Axios / Ipsos survey; Chart: Axios Visuals

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Global stock markets rose for a second day, driven by optimism about economic stimulus and global recovery. A group of Republican senators called yesterday’s stimulus meeting with President Joe Biden “a very productive exchange of views.” House and Senate Democrats filed a budget resolution to prepare to move forward alone on the stimulus should Republicans try to filibuster the package, though Democrats have yet to make the decision to use budget reconciliation in this case.

January marked the deadliest month of the pandemic thus far, though hope emerged as cases and hospitalizations fell from their peak in mid-January. COVID-19 deaths, a lagging indicator that reflects the impact of the virus, declined in every region in the U.S. Americans who have received one or both doses of current vaccines surpassed the number of Americans who have tested positive for the virus as the U.S. administered shots at a faster daily rate than any other country. 

The Biden administration made a $231.8 million deal with an Australian company to increase the availability of the first at-home rapid test that is available without a prescription. The test, which can be self-performed, is less invasive than standard coronavirus tests and allows asymptomatic people to screen easily to safely go to work or school.

A U.S. House subcommittee is investigating meatpacking companies and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in relation to outbreaks at meatpacking plants, citing the deaths of 250 employees nationwide and accusing OSHA of failing to enforce worker safety laws. Essential workers faced a greater risk of death than other workers during the pandemic, including food and agricultural workers who saw a 39% increase in mortalities compared to a 22% increase across all working-age adults.

The U.S. labor force is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, while the GDP should reach its previous peak in mid-2021. Vaccine rollout and legislation from 2020 boosted the outlook in a government forecast published Monday.

More than 2 million Australians went into lockdown over the weekend after one case of coronavirus emerged. Schools, most businesses, entertainment venues and places of worship in the Perth metropolitan area and the Peel and South West regions are all closed, and restaurants are limited to takeout only. The success of the lockdown could be impeded by raging wildfires in the area, as some residents were forced to flee their homes. Government officials acknowledged that it is not realistic for residents to comply with the stay-at-home orders in a deadly fire zone.

While many have compared the past year of repetitive days to the movie “Groundhog Day,” the official holiday has arrived. Neither snow nor a pandemic could stop Punxsutawney Phil from relegating the U.S. to six more weeks of winter. A handful of members of Phil’s “Inner Circle” were present as the groundhog saw his shadow, with the overall celebration moving online this year.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

A more dangerous virus which is more lethal for young people may be in our future, scientist says – Business Insider – 2/2/2021
“We are in one of the major peaks of the pandemic and we have to learn from this, produce changes in the government and in international institutions. One way of doing this is through drastic predictions, which are based on data,” the neurologist explained.

America can vaccinate 60 million more people each month. Here’s how – Fast Company – 2/2/2021
“I think having one more actor in the mix is not necessarily a good recipe right now,” says Hani Mahmassani, a professor at Northwestern who specializes in logistics, and who is currently working under a National Science Foundation grant to study COVID-19 vaccine implementation. And he says Amazon, while a global infrastructural juggernaut, is an unnecessary player.

US adults report highest stress level since early days of the COVID-19 pandemic – Medical Xpress – 2/2/2021
The survey found that the average reported stress level during the prior month was 5.6, (on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 means “little to no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress”). This is higher than stress levels reported in 2020 Stress in AmericaTM surveys since April. It is therefore no surprise that 84% of adults reported feeling at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress in the prior two weeks.

The iPhone’s Face ID Will Soon Work With a Mask—If You Have an Apple Watch – Wired – 2/2/2021
But the bigger question is why Apple is relying on the Apple Watch to unlock iPhones with face masks, instead of releasing software that simply recognizes the uncovered portion of a person’s face. At the time of publication, Apple hadn’t yet answered WIRED’s queries about this. Experts say there are plenty of ethical and technical considerations when deploying any facial recognition tech, but when it comes to performing facial recognition on faces that are partially covered, it’s particularly challenging.

How to help your children with maths you don’t understand – The Conversation – 2/2/2021
Once you and your child have learned a mathematical concept, try to make it more real and use it in everyday life. Make number bonds with biscuits or pieces of fruit. Add up prices of supermarket items. Be creative and make colourful number bond patterns with building blocks or objects such as sticks and leaves you find on a stroll.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

Candace Scalese @CandaceScalese 2 Feb At home #coronavirus testing kits are heading to US pharmacies. Some are calling the new kits a “game-changer”. The kit only costs $30 and you can get results in as little as 15 min. on your smartphone.

Fenit Nirappil @FenitN 1 Feb Biden administration is buying 8.5 million over-the-counter rapid coronavirus testing kits, but it’ll take some time to make a dent in the pandemic fight with a $30 initial pricetag and a U.S. manufacturing hub to be identified via @thewanreport

Rachel Lundberg @RachelLLundberg 2 Feb Should teachers be moved up to have access to the Covid-19 vaccines right now? According to the CDC, they should. Here in the Carolinas, they fall after those 65 and older. #WakeUpCLT

dave @scripting.com 2 Feb People vaccinated against coronavirus wonder what they can safely do.

Al Arabiya English @AlArabiya_Eng 2 Feb The #US government promises undocumented #migrants the same access to #COVID19 vaccines as other civilians and says inoculation centers would be immigration enforcement-free zones.

CONTENT FACTS

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