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 Tuesday, July 14, 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.

There are over 13.4 million global cases.  The rate of global case growth is increasing. There have been over 580,000 deaths around the globe. There are over 3.5 million cases in the US–up half a million since last week. There have been almost 140,000 deaths in the US. The US, Brazil, and India continue to lead global case growth.

Deaths are rising sharply in the US:

Immunity to the pandemic virus may not be long-lasting. Antibodies tend to taper off after a few months, and more than 80% of people in a longitudinal study lost their neutralizing antibodies by the three-month mark. There have been case reports of reinfection as well. There’s still T and B-cell mediated immune responses that may be more stable, so we don’t know exactly what this means, but hopes for herd immunity and robust vaccine responses could definitely be impacted by the antibody problem. Epidemiologists warn that we’ll most likely have vaccines that only work partially.

A reminder that achieving herd immunity in the absence of a vaccine is a bad policy stance:

California is releasing 8,000 inmates by the end of August in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in that population. Meanwhile, police departments in the state are taking huge budget cuts and reducing staffing to much lower levels. The combination of these two policies is… concerning. I’m also left wondering where these former inmates will be housed. Homelessness in California is already at crisis levels, and homelessness puts people at risk for COVID-19 as well.

Long-term effects of infection from the pandemic virus can be serious. This is not like catching and recovering from a cold. This virus is a systemic, multi-organ attacker. Even those who initially had mild symptoms can walk away with problems they didn’t have before—like kidney damage or clotting abnormalities. We’re finding heart damage in a huge percentage of COVID-19 patients.

There are multiple stressors hitting the US at the same time, and there’s no clear plan to help the nation or its people get through it. A deadly pandemic, mass unemployment, mass evictions, widespread bankruptcies, crippling budget setbacks, protests and civil unrest, and supply chain shocks are all coalescing into an American storm. The Federal Government is failing miserably to prevent the patently obvious fallout. Belay the partisanship of the article, but don’t let the feds off the hook for this.

Supply chain problems with canned goods? Just what we need.

Tennessee is not looking great:

The Midwest is getting slammed:

Smokers seemed to be underrepresented in COVID-19 hospitalizations, and some hypothesized that smoking may actually elicit some protective mechanism to help prevent serious infection. A study in France is even looking at the effect of nicotine patches on COVID-19 patients (it may not be nicotine that elicits a protective response, however, so who knows if that study will bear fruit). In any case, no matter where I have looked, I have only found evidence of smoking causing harm. It certainly seems harmful to young people during this pandemic.

Singapore is experiencing a gigantic decline in GDP.

If unemployed young people or the folks facing upcoming evictions are forced to move in with their aged parents or family members, those aged parents or family members are more likely to get infected and die. Evictions could a driver of further pandemic spread and mortality.

California has walked back its reopening in many counties:

Large CA school districts are also refusing to start the school year in person:

Bodies are being disinterred in Mexico to make way for new ones:


    • Karl Winterling

      I think most of the 8,000 inmates being released in CA are people who are closer to a release date and aren’t at risk for committing a violent offense based on actuarial instruments. The main problem is that a criminal record is going to really hurt you in a bad job market and social services are getting overwhelmed with new applications for cash aid, food stamps, and public housing (if people plan to vote in November, keep in mind that we’ll probably need more federal aid for these programs to get more people through this). Homelessness and crime are probably going to go up once the $600 per week supplemental unemployment and eviction bans expire. Probably there will be similar problems in other rich countries as they pull back from the huge level of spending from March-April, though the problems won’t be as severe as in the US.

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      • Mike Hill Karl Winterling

        Good point about the criminal record. I don’t see unemployment numbers getting better at all this year.

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