News roundup for Fri, Mar 5, 2021

Food prices are rising precipitously. Commodities like metal and grains are also getting more expensive. This is being felt the most in developing countries, but just like the pandemic, this problem will quickly spread to the West.

Semiconductors and other electronics supplies are in serious bottlenecks. This is something to pay attention to because it’s going to hit US companies and consumers:

Solar storms could be catastrophic—we know another Carrington event could cause absolute and rapid devastation on a global scale. US agencies are paying more attention to the threat of solar storms.

Hundreds of thousands in the South are still struggling to get clean drinking water after the winter storm.

The world has over 116.2 million COVID cases.  The world has gained 2.7 million cases in a week. There have been nearly 2.6 million deaths in total. The US has nearly 30 million cases. Over 533,000 Americans have died. There have been over 1,900 deaths in the last 24 hours in the US. The US gained 68,000 new cases yesterday—case growth is plateauing. The US, Brazil, and Mexico lead the world in daily deaths from COVID.

Senior citizens who are not tech savvy are having trouble signing up for their vaccine appointments. Tech savvy isn’t necessarily the only problem–I’ve seen a few very opaque sign-up websites myself and have resorted to sharing sign-up phone numbers instead with folks who needed it. The blind are also having significant sign-up problems as well, as many of the vaccine appointment websites have no accessibility features.

Every frightening COVID variant imaginable has been circulating in Houston for weeks. Now that the state has opened up and the mask mandates have come down this is worrisome, indeed:

 

Mississippi is following suit:

The B.1.1.7 variant now accounts for 10% of US cases. If it is as transmissible as we think it is, it’ll be ~80% of cases in 2-3 months. It is most definitely not the time to be relaxing measures.

Airport waits in Britain can exceed 7 hours due to health screenings. Fun times.

Israel is using a vaccine passport. We don’t yet know how successful the program is, but I can’t say I’m eager to hear the details. It seems incredibly dystopian to me to be forced to advertise one’s private health history to the world to get some freedom of movement and activity. I’m not sure America will go this route. I suppose the US does this to some degree with international travel vaccine requirements…

Temperature scanners and symptom checkers used in schools and universities seem to be more of a calming placebo than a useful detection system. If we had a test-trace-isolate program in place, the symptom checking websites/apps might actually be useful. But we don’t, so they’re not.

Biden’s going to use the DPA to produce more vaccines for the US:

And this will help us get enough vaccines to vaccinate any American adult who wants one within a few months (hopefully):

South America is still facing a raging pandemic burden:

 

 

 

 

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