“How the overlap of race and age helps explain the pandemic’s death toll” – Washington Post / Source: Census Bureau / CDC

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Stock futures edged  higher for a third day as economic stimulus seemed closer to reality. President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen declared the Republican virus aid offer insufficient and urged Democratic senators to act quickly to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan. The Senate voted along party lines to advance Biden’s plan through budget reconciliation, which would allow it to pass with a simple majority vote.

Europe’s economic downturn deepened in January as renewed restrictions hit the service industry. Fears of a double-dip recession loomed as vaccine rollout in the eurozone continued at a slow pace. The bloc saw a 6.8% annual decline in GDP in 2020, compared to the U.S. economy’s 3.5% decline.

World Health Organization investigators visited a virus research lab in Wuhan to investigate how the global pandemic began. The lab built an archive of genetic information about bat coronaviruses following the 2003 SARs outbreak, which led to allegations that the lab held a link to the original COVID-19 outbreak. The team did not discuss the investigation with journalists, though confirmation of the team’s findings will likely take years.

New data demonstrated evidence that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can prevent people from getting sick with the coronavirus, as well as significantly reduce the virus’ spread. The study is the first to cite evidence that a vaccine can reduce transmission. The data also showed that delaying a second shot was still effective and actually raised the efficacy rate with a longer interval between the first and second doses.

The Sputnik vaccine was 92% effective in a large clinical trial, moving the Russian vaccine to the top tier of vaccines developed in the U.S. and Europe. The Russian vaccine effort has been criticized for being too rushed, but outside experts said the data published Tuesday convincingly shows the vaccine works. While governments around the world are scrambling for effective vaccines, politics impedes some deals as countries refuse doses or outright ban rival countries’ vaccines. 

The number of U.S. homicides rose an unprecedented 30% in 2020, according to a study that suggests the pandemic and racial injustice played a significant role. Domestic violence increased in the early months of the pandemic but leveled off to a similar level in 2019, while car thefts, gun assaults and aggravated assaults also increased. The pandemic severely limited anti-crime strategies by police and social workers and reduced the focus on urban hotpots.

Captain Sir Tom Moore, a 100-year-old British war veteran who raised spirits and funds for the National Health Service in April 2020, has died. Moore was admitted to the hospital Sunday for pneumonia and tested positive for the coronavirus. Tributes poured in for “Captain Tom” from around the U.K., with the Queen sending her condolences privately to his family and the prime minister calling for a national clap to recognize Moore and the healthcare workers he raised money to support.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Personal Satisfaction Drops From 2020 Record U.S. High – Gallup – 2/3/2021
Employment seems to be an especially important factor in explaining the downturn in personal satisfaction this year. Among those who are working, satisfaction levels in 2021 are high and essentially unchanged from a year ago. By contrast, those who are not working — including unemployed individuals and those who are retired, disabled, homemakers or students — are significantly less satisfied with their personal life now than last year.

A vaccination race between nations can have no winners – World Economic Forum – 2/3/2021
The COVAX Facility and the United Nations are committed to making sure that vaccines are treated as global public goods, and making vaccine doses available for at least 20% of countries’ populations. The aim is to procure a diverse and actively managed portfolio of vaccines that can be delivered as soon as they are available, to hasten the end of the acute phase of the pandemic.

Has the Pandemic Changed the Experience of Encountering Art in Public? – Arch Daily – 2/3/2021
Whether 100 years or less than a month old, train stations and other transit hubs make ideal backdrops for permanent commissions that often graduate into local symbols. A more recent vision for the city’s transportation system is  Public Art Fund’s latest installation at the new SOM-designed Moynihan Train Hall. With a soaring iron and glass dome prompting passengers to look up, the ceilings of the former post office seem to be prime real estate.

The U.S. ‘Battles’ Coronavirus, But Is It Fair To Compare Pandemic To A War? – NPR – 2/3/2021
Should a politically-driven world war and a biologically-driven pandemic, more than seven decades apart, be put side by side at all? “This is comparing apples to oranges,” wrote NPR listener Kris Petron last month in response to a story  that made use of that comparison. “It is extremely disrespectful to our nation’s veterans, who write a blank check with their lives, to defend our Constitution.”

The pandemic changed college admissions. That’s a good thing. – The Boston Globe – 2/3/2021
The pandemic disruption, unwelcome as it may be for schools, creates the opportunity for colleges to run a natural experiment to learn how to make their admissions processes more fair and rigorous. They should carefully monitor how classes admitted without traditional testing do compared with other student cohorts, and use the results to inform decisions about their college admission practices in the future. 

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

AP Sports @AP_Sports 3 Feb Golf eyes ways to limit distance. One proposed change calls for a local rule that could limit the length of the club shaft to no more than 46 inches. The USGA and R&A also proposed slight changes to how balls are tested.by @dougferguson405

The National Sport @NatSportUAE 3 Feb Fans asked not to cheer athletes at #Tokyo2020 as organisers unveil #coronavirus safety measures

Joe Curley @vcsjoecurley 3 Feb COVID-19 reality clashes with Super Bowl in Tampa area: ‘It’s really awful everyday’

Sam Carchidi @BroadStBull 3 Feb Wells Fargo Center gets high health-safety rating, raising hopes fans can attend #Flyers, #Sixers games this season via @PhillyInquirer

Porter Anderson @Porter_Anderson 3 Feb Media: “@CityofTampa mayor @JaneCastor “issued an executive order making face coverings required outside in popular @SuperBowl event areas.” “Violators can be cited … a penalty up to a $500 fine.” @TB_Times

CONTENT FACTS

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