News roundup for Fri, Mar 12, 2021

Seas have risen over 8 inches since the 19th century, and nuisance floods (AKA abnormally high tides) are increasing in incidence in coastal cities. Some coastal cities are having nuisance flooding for a third of the year—this kind of flooding is costly if not dangerous, and likely to increase in intensity as time goes on.

There’s been a massive gasoline pipeline spill in North Carolina, first discovered in August. 1.2 million gallons have leaked from the cracked pipeline–It’s unclear how accurate this estimate is.

Bank of America expects oil prices to rise.

US infrastructure (like dams and levees) needs upwards of 115 billion dollars in repair and maintenance investment. This sounds like a lot, but it’s not much compared to our defense budget…

We’re running out of rubber trees because of leaf blight. Natural rubber is a critical raw material, and global demand for rubber is only going to increase. There are a number of proposed solutions, but none of them are without problems.

Hawaii is having serious torrential rain and flooding.

Colorado and Wyoming are about to get hit by a MASSIVE snowstorm.

It’s time for the annual Texas Prepper Sales Tax Holiday! This is a real thing.

Expanded background checks for gun purchases passes House:

The world has nearly 119.1 million COVID cases.  The world has gained nearly 2.9 million cases in a week. There have been over 2.6 million deaths in total. The US has nearly 30 million cases. Over 543,000 Americans have died. 10,000 Americans have died in the last week. There have been over 1,400 deaths in the last 24 hours in the US. The US gained nearly 60,000 new cases in the last day. Brazil is leading the globe in daily deaths, with over 2,200 in the last day. Deaths are down in the US:

An export crisis driven by pandemic shopping is causing huge backlogs at shipping ports. Increased demand for imported goods along with worker shortages from illnesses means very congested ports. Ports are hoping for some relief by summer.

We know more transmissible variants are spreading in the US. Florida is an excellent gauge for what to expect—so far it’s not looking too bad. We still need to watch this closely, because it’s looking like the UK variant is more deadly:

Alaska is widening vaccine eligibility:

Multiple states have decided to relax social distancing and mask rules. Public health experts are wringing their hands. If you’d like to know where your state stands, here’s a useful tool:

The Eli Lilly antibody combo is the best performing therapeutic so far—the combo reduces hospitalization and death by 87% versus treatment with placebo.

If you have people in your life who are hesitant to get a COVID vaccine, here’s some useful information to share.

The Feds have made some terrible, horrible, no good, very bad recommendations for visiting people in old folks homes. Some of the recs (with mitigating circumstances) stipulate that neither party needs to be vaccinated, and that visitation can occur even during a facility outbreak. Do not follow these recommendations—in my opinion the mitigating circumstances do not do enough to mitigate much of anything. If you’re going to visit a friend or loved one who lives in any kind of communal living facility (especially facilities for elderly persons), it would be best if both parties are fully vaccinated. At minimum you should be vaccinated, so you don’t unwittingly start an outbreak in that facility or bring COVID infection home with you. Do not visit a facility that has a known COVID outbreak.

Pfizer says its vaccine is very likely to prevent asymptomatic infection, therefore decreasing transmission.

Parents may be eligible for advance payments of the newly expanded 2021 Child Tax Credit.

COVID stimulus checks are coming as soon as this weekend.