“COVID-19 Now Leading Cause of Death in the United States” – KFF / Source: KFF Analysis of 2020 CDC Mortality Data

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Global stocks rose to record highs Monday following comments from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that the U.S. could return to full employment levels by next year if Congress passes a robust stimulus package. Still, Yellen warned that prolonged stalls in the job market could result in more “permanent” damage for low-wage earners, minorities and women.

Reports of coronavirus cases continue to fall across the nation, though experts say the decline is most likely due to a natural drop after the holidays. Preliminary data forecast that the variant of the coronavirus that caused the recent shutdowns in Britain could become the dominant variant in the U.S. by as early as March. Health officials in the U.K. are planning for a booster immunization in the fall with expectations for an annual shot as they work to contain new variants.

South Africa has halted its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a study found that it did not protect from mild or moderate illness caused by the more contagious variant first seen there. Scientists say the variant now accounts for 90% of new cases in South Africa.

School leaders across the country are planning for the possibility of more distance learning this fall, saying they have “no illusions” that the pandemic will be eradicated by then or that all kids will have access to a vaccine. Some education leaders are calling for a massive reinvention of public education to help students recover the years of instruction they lost in the pandemic. Among their propositions are different versions of summer school, tutoring, and taking advantage of the time and resources to study and revamp the aspects of public education that were not working before the pandemic.

Tenants’ unions and anti-eviction activist groups are experiencing explosive growth across the country as tenants say they need more financial relief to stay afloat. In Kansas City, members of an activist group chained themselves to courthouse doors and staged sit-ins to prevent in-person hearings in an effort to bring light to what they said were unjust evictions. People who are evicted often face more barriers in finding a new place to live, facing a “modern-day scarlet letter,” that marrs their credit scores and scares away prospective landlords. As a result, many large cities have sprouted new homeless encampments, with affected communities demanding long-term solutions. In New York City, the homeless are faced with a brutal winter, kept away from shelter in subway stations and other public spaces due to coronavirus restrictions.

Florists are urging consumers to purchase their Valentine’s Day flowers early this year. At the same time that growers have been forced to cut back on their crops due to the pandemic, demand for flowers is soaring this month as funerals and the lovers’ holiday create an unlikely pair of factors putting florists into overdrive.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

The future of work: Coming sooner than you think – CIO – 2/8/2021
Prior the pandemic, you could ask a dozen people what “the future of work” meant and get 13 different answers. Some insisted it was about distributing discrete responsibilities among two-pizza teams, while others preached about robots eliminating jobs and the need for universal basic income as compensation.

The coronavirus vaccines have shattered expectations – Axios – 2/8/2021
No matter how hard you squint, or what angle you look at it from, the coronavirus vaccines are a triumph. They are saving lives today; they will help end this pandemic eventually; and they will pay scientific dividends for generations.

How Nurses Went From Saving Lives to Saving Health Care – The Nation – 2/8/2021
Tonia Bazel didn’t want to strike during a pandemic, taking time away from the patients on the infectious disease floor where she works. Nevertheless, she and the other nurses at Albany Medical Center in New York took to the picket line on December 1.

Inside the Worst-Hit County in the Worst-Hit State in the Worst-Hit Country – The New Yorker – 2/8/2021
Every day seems to bring another test of whether our democracy can succeed in managing the problems of a country as big, varied, and individualistic as ours. In Minot, a city of forty-eight thousand people in Ward County, North Dakota, the twice-monthly city-council meeting was into its fourth hour when an alderwoman named Carrie Evans put forward an unexpected motion: she wanted Minot to adopt a mandatory-mask policy. 

Airlines Are Ditching Business Hubs and Rerouting Flights to Florida – Bloomberg – 2/8/2021
There were 13,600 passenger flights around the globe on April 25, 2020—the lowest recorded number during the pandemic. It was an 86% drop in traffic compared to a few months earlier, according to travel analytics company Cirium. There was nowhere to go but up, up, and away.

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

WFLA NEWS @WFLA 7 Feb THANK YOU FRONTLINE WORKERS During Super Bowl LV, a fan held up a sign thanking frontline workers for all that they’ve done during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eliel Sepulchro @iElielSepulchro 7 Feb Coronavirus precautions for Super Bowl attendees looked good on paper but ‘the reality is sobering,’ says infectious disease expert (#followback) (#siguemeytesigo) (#business) (#news)

HuffPost Politics @HuffPostPol 8 Feb A virulent new strain of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Florida.

CNN @CNN 8 Feb The Super Bowl parties — which included celebrities, such as rapper 50 Cent as well as DJs Steve Aoki and Diplo — come as Florida is seeing a rise in cases of the new Covid-19 variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom.

Patrick LaForge @palafo 8 Feb A television reporter characterized the scene in Ybor City in Tampa as “one massive dance floor.”

CONTENT FACTS

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