Coronavirus Special Coverage

A collection of news posted throughout the week for those that want signal, not noise.

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Key developments for Thursday, August 6, 2020

Welcome to the newly revamped Key Developments, now twice weekly and with non-COVID news. Right now, it’s actually still just COVID news, but we’ll be slowly morphing it into something broader as we go.

The world has over 19.2 million cases.  The world is adding more than a quarter million cases per day. There have been over 716,000 deaths. The US has over 5 million cases and has had over 162,000 deaths. The US has gained over 53,000 new cases since yesterday. Brazil remains second in daily case growth, followed by India and Russia. Brazil’s case growth a daily death count are now surpassing the US.

Spain is having a resurgence:

Forget “follow the money.” Now it’s “follow the tech companies.” If tech companies are keeping workers home well into next year, that really tells you something.

More evidence that this thing is frequently airborne, and that the aerosolized particles are contagious:

It’s not just asymptomatic kids that harbor tons of the pandemic virus in their noses and throats, it’s adults, too. And this research from South Korea suggests that these folks can, in fact, spread the virus.

Embryos express ACE2 genes as early as the second week of their development. It’s not clear yet if they have prominent ACE2 receptors on the surface of their cells, but if they do, the embryos could be at risk of infection if the mother get sick with COVID-19. It’s possible that ACE2 receptors and other implicated proteins are not present in great enough numbers for infection to be possible—we don’t yet have the data. Joint work from researchers at Cambridge and Cal Tech are calling for more research which will help elucidate the possible risks of infection and its impact on the development and viability of embryos.

Some predict that many schools opening in the fall will be closing again in October due to ramped up cases.

More on the NIH phase 3 trials of antibody cocktails.

Moderna’s vaccine, if found to be a success, will probably cost less than the flu shot offered at the big-box drug stores. It will be even less expensive if purchased by institutions in bulk, but bulk means many millions of doses.

Mayor of Los Angeles says he’ll cut water and power to houses hosting exceedingly large parties:

Immunology is really, really complicated. An interesting tidbit here is that SARS-CoV-2 seems to really confuse our immune system and send it into overdrive in severe cases. This article is an excellent breakdown of what know and don’t know so far when it comes to immunity and COVID-19.

School has started in Georgia, and kids are already testing positive and being sent home. To make matters worse some Georgia schools have threatened to suspend students who comment negatively on social media about crowded hallways or who stay home to avoid infection. Two students have already been suspended.

More sports cancellations:

Americans are in need of direct stimulus aid and rent and mortgage relief during this time of pandemic-induced economic destruction, but the government is paralyzed by partisan bickering. Evictions bans are expiring. Millions of Americans are about to be at risk of getting pushed onto the streets. President Trump says he’ll write an executive order to cut pay roll taxes if a stimulus package isn’t agreed upon.

  • 1 Comment

    • Karl Winterling

      Trump signed executive orders that haven’t been released yet. Apparently, the measures are:

      • Payroll taxes for workers earning under $100,000 per year are deferred for the rest of 2020. I really doubt Congress won’t forgive those deferred taxes. Trump said he will support making the cuts permanent if he gets reelected, which would complicate existing fiscal problems with Social Security and Medicare unless they’re reformed.
      • A $400 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit, states must cover 25%. Presumably, the active national emergency and emergency declarations in every state let him do this as disaster relief.
      • Extending the ban on evictions from properties with federally backed mortgages that expired on July 24. About a third of all rental units have federally backed mortgages.
      • Longer suspension of student loan payments. IIRC, he can do whatever he wants as far as saying people don’t have to pay student loans or setting the interest rate at 0%.
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