“Reddit Is America’s Unofficial Unemployment Hotline” – The New York Times / Note: Continuing claims are not seasonally adjusted. Claims made by people newly applying for benefits (initial claims) are not included. Some retroactive claims were reported on the date they were paid, rather than the original week claimed.·Source: Labor Department

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Stock futures edged higher Monday, signaling an extension of last week’s muted gains. Markets in the U.S. are closed for Presidents Day holiday. Democrats are slated to proceed this week with work related to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid plan. Biden will join fellow G7 leaders for a virtual meeting later in the week to discuss the pandemic response, economic recovery, China and the climate crisis.  

Vaccine hesitancy emerged as a crucial test for the Biden White House as the administration is set to promote a sweeping campaign aimed toward minorities. Still, resistance to the vaccine is not limited to minorities – a hard-line anti-vaccine movement based on misinformation uses emotional appeals on social media to win over Americans of various political backgrounds. Texas recently launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy, but the state is still holding back a large media blitz until more vaccines arrive. Some critics say the rollout of more vaccines will test the major pharmacy chains like CVS Health and Walgreens’ commitment to expanding health-care access in Black and Hispanic communities. 

An immunologist involved in developing one of the COVID-19 vaccines is attempting to temper vaccine hesitancy by talking about coronavirus with communities of color – in churches and on Twitter. Researchers say it’s necessary to make scientific knowledge accessible in places like public forums, to ease health disparities. 

Researchers discovered seven variants of the coronavirus in the U.S., with a mutation in the same genetic letter, according to a new study that has yet to be peer-reviewed. It’s not yet clear whether the strains are more contagious, but scientists remain wary.  

About 40% of the nation’s coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if the U.S.’s average death rate matched other industrialized nations, a new report found. The report showed U.S. life expectancy began trailing other industrialized nations four decades ago. The U.S. is being compared to other Group of Seven nations, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. 

With more than 38 million Americans now at least partially vaccinated, experts say it’s not just the vaccines that have driven down cases in the U.S., but staying apart, wearing masks, not traveling and not mixing with others indoors. The country’s seven-day average of new coronavirus cases is below 100,000. It is noted the U.S.’s numbers are still higher than they were during the spring and summer virus waves. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed sympathy for the single people on Valentine’s Day, saying it would be “stressful and frustrating” to date while social distancing and trying to stay safe. A new term in the American dating lexicon emerged: “Fauci-ing” someone, which means to cut off a relationship because the other person doesn’t take coronavirus precautions seriously.

NAVIGATING THE PANDEMIC

Most Adults Will Continue Public Health Safety Measures After Pandemic – Physician’s Weekly – 2/15/2021
After surveying 2,065 U.S. adults between Jan. 12 and 14, the researchers found that nearly three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) plan to continue to wear masks in public, while four out of five (80 percent) will still avoid crowds. Just over three-quarters (76 percent) report they will avoid shaking hands and embracing others, while the vast majority (90 percent) plan to keep up frequent handwashing and sanitizer use after COVID-19.

The search for new Covid drugs — and a researcher’s reason for optimism – STAT – 2/15/2021
“I’m actually quite optimistic about where we’ll be looking at in five months. As I look to the future, I can’t help but think to myself, how can we learn from this Covid experience? I mean, over 400 drugs have been repurposed. We’ve proven that we can repurpose and we’ve proven that we can also systematically track it in a very short period of time.”

Covid ‘forced us to be creative’: How AI is being used to recruit and onboard talent – Digiday – 2/15/2021
According to a recent study from The Sage Group, 24% of businesses have started using AI for acquiring talent, with 56% of managers planning to adopt automated technology over the next year. GlobalData forecasts that the market for AI platforms in general will reach $52 billion by 2024, up from $29 billion in 2019.

COVID-19: what happens if some countries don’t vaccinate? – The Conversation – 2/15/2021
They can also evade immunity induced by previous infection for similar reasons – immunity was designed towards the structure of that original virus. The altered virus wouldn’t be easily recognisable by antibodies from the previous infection. Therefore the mutated strains could infect those already vaccinated, causing re-infection.

Pfizer Herd Immunity Study Stymied by Iceland’s Wins Over Covid – Bloomberg – 2/15/2021
Their pitch: If Iceland could quickly get 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech SE vaccine, the country could inoculate about 70% of its population by the end of March, creating the basis of a real-life study on whether herd immunity can be achieved as a result. But it wasn’t to be, according to the two men. As new infections declined, Pfizer came to the conclusion that there were too few cases in Iceland to support such a study, they said. 

WHAT INFLUENCERS ARE SAYING

TiffanyDCross @TiffanyDCross 15 Feb “the coronavirus has added a dangerous new complication as cities & community groups wrestle with how to shelter members of a vulnerable population from the elements while not exposing them to an airborne virus that spreads most easily indoors.”

Diana Zoga @DianaNBC5 14 Feb North Texas COVID-19 Vaccination Sites Reschedule Appointments Due to Winter Weather

philip lewis @Phil_Lewis_ 15 Feb More than 2 million people are without power in Texas due to a winter storm

Tony Atkins @TonyAtkinsTV 15 Feb HEADS UP: It’s -2 degrees right now in Milwaukee. Due to the dangerous cold, local #COVID19 testing sites will not be open Monday.

Steve Strunsky @stevestrunsky 14 Feb Year-round Jersey Shore residents say more traffic, longer lines and busier boardwalks are symptoms of the coronavirus-driven influx of shore inhabitants this winter. Read all about it on (Or subscribe, then read all about it.)

CONTENT FACTS

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