News roundup for Fri, Apr 22, 2022

The CDC issued a nationwide alert about a mysterious cluster of dangerous hepatitis and adenovirus infections in childrenThe alert does not concern the public at the moment, but it seems something to keep an eye on. The WHO had sounded the alarm just a few days ago:

In short:

  • All US confirmed cases are from within the past 6 months in Alabama. There’s another case in another state but officials have not released details yet.
  • All children were previously healthy. Suddenly, nine children were hospitalized, and two required liver transplants. No deaths so far.
  • None of the children were hospitalized because of Covid. But all of them tested positive for adenovirus (which can cause a range of respiratory and gastric illnesses, but not hepatitis).
  • The cause of this sudden cluster of cases is unknown, but officials are investigating a possible link between pediatric hepatitis (i.e. inflammation of the liver) and adenovirus.

If you have children under 10, it might be useful to know the symptoms of hepatitis and adenovirus. Mild symptoms should resolve on their own, but if they become more severe you’d need to take them to a doctor.

Adenovirus is spread by close personal contact, respiratory droplets, and fomites (infected objects that spread disease). Luckily, prevention overlaps with some stuff we already do to prevent Covid infections (i.e. stay away from sick people, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, etc).

Certain types of hepatitis are viral, but some can be caused by chemicals, drugs, or even an overactive immune system. Common viral hepatitis (like hepatitis A) is spread through contaminated water and unwashed food.

Adenovirus symptoms (can vary):

  • acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach or intestines causing diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain)
  • common cold or flu-like symptoms
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • acute bronchitis (inflammation of the airways of the lungs, sometimes called a “chest cold”)
  • pneumonia (infection of the lungs)
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • bladder inflammation or infection

Hepatitis symptoms (in children):

  • malaise
  • abdominal tenderness, especially in the upper right corner
  • fatigue
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the white portion of the eyes)
  • dark-colored urine
  • lightly colored stools
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea with or without vomiting
  • abdominal swelling due to fluid retention
Ukraine war

The Battle of Donbas has begun. This could likely be the biggest battle in Europe since World War II:

Battle of Donbas
via Kyiv Independent

Russia tested its new nuclear-capable, heavy intercontinental ballistic missile Sarmat, and Putin tried to scare off Ukraine’s allies by saying that the test would make Moskow’s enemies “think twice.” The Pentagon said that the test was routine and does not present a threat to the US or its allies, but some view the test as a sign of an increasingly-isolated Putin, who could do anything if backed into a corner. Just out of curiosity, this is what Russia’s chain of command would look like in the event of a nuclear weapon launch.

SpaceX stopped a Russian electromagnetic attack in Ukraine last month.

Live map of the conflict. And live updates.


Uber and Lyft dropped mask requirements for both drivers and passengers. Masks are now optional on Delta, American, United, and other airlines. Masks are still required in some international destinations so remember to pack up a mask if you travel.

The CDC filed an appeal against the overruling of the mask mandate saying that masks are still needed to protect the public. The more crowded people are, the more risk there is for transmission. The air on board a plane is filtrated at a higher rate than at the airport, but that is apparently true only while flying and not while boarding or taxing:

via Your Local Epidemiologist

The US extended vaccine requirements for non-US citizens and residents crossing land borders.

The FDA authorized the emergency use of the first breath test to detect Covid, the Inspectir COVID-19 Breathalyzer. The device is roughly the size of a suitcase and gives a result in three minutes.

Latest study: COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause heart inflammation in most people.

This is what it is like to get Covid and seek treatment:

Covid resources:

Climate crisis

Lake Powell’s Glan Canyon Dam will generate 47% less electricity in the next two years due to drought.

The megadrought in the West is expected to intensify and expand east. About 55% of the Continental US is currently under drought.

March 2022 was the fifth hottest March in 143 years:

via NOAA

Some of the world’s major cities are sinking faster than the sea levels around them are rising:

Ten fastest-sinking coastal cities
via Quartz

High-intensity agriculture and warmer temperatures have caused nearly 50% of insects and 27% of species to disappear from highly-impacted areas. “Insects” could mean pollinators, and without pollinators, we have no crops. We also still don’t understand when insect populations could reach a point of no return. So, do we still need to save the bees? Western honeybees are not dying anymore from colony collapse disorder, but wild bees are still in trouble.

Global warming in Australia is contributing to the spread of Japanese encephalitis. Although the disease mainly affects birds, horses, and especially pigs, it has already infected 34 people and killed three. There is no cure, so the government is rushing to provide high-risk farmers with a vaccine.

There are more than 121 gigawatts of solar energy capacity installed in the US, which is enough to power over 23 million homes. Honolulu is leading the way in solar capacity per person, followed by Las Vegas and San Diego. But the report shows that even cities not usually associated with sunshine, such as Portland or Buffalo, could create a good amount of power, too.

California recently ran on 97% renewable energy.

A nice roundup of ten recent US policies that show that addressing local and national policy change is possible. Some policies we’ve covered, like the federal funding to make homes more energy-efficient, and others we had not, like the repeal of a Trump-era rule that lifted the amount of water that could be used in a shower.

Galveston, Texas, wants to spend $29 billion to build massive flood gates and miles of sand dunes to keep the surge from hurricanes from flooding in.

The rest

The Biden administration will send an additional $385 million to states to help offset high energy costs, including cooling costs, this summer.

The FAA has made its “zero-tolerance” policy for unruly passengers permanent.

Explainer: What’s the impact if Europe cuts off Russian oil?

The Supreme Court ruled that some federal disability benefits are not available for Puerto Ricans.

Bald eagles are dying from bird flu.


    • Zachary

      “Latest study: COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause heart inflammation in most people.”

      Just like: Latest study: COVID-19 doesn’t kill most people.

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      • MainPugh Zachary

        A lot of people are still vaccine hesitant because they worried they would get a heart inflammation (even my husband did for a while). So this meta analysis of 22 studies showing that the Covid vaccine does not cause any more risks of heart inflammation than any other vaccine is pretty good news!

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      • Cia Zachary

        I agree. You always have to consider that you may be one of those who does have a very severe reaction. Also consider how common and dangerous the disease is in your area at that time. 

        0 |
    • UKSeb

      The numbers of children with hepatitis in the UK is actually one order of magitude bigger than the US for now (

      Bbc article here). If history is any indication, this could mean there are at least 500 or more potential cases in the US (a ratio of 5-6 is usually good when translating from UK to US). 

      6 |