News roundup for Fri, Oct 1, 2021

Taxis in Thailand have been repurposed as giant planter boxes in our weird, post-COVID world. Hey, when life gives you [no use for taxis because tourism plummeted], you make [gardens].

An almost $6 million ransomware attack on an Iowa-based farming cooperative could badly impact grain production and feed needed for over 11 million farm animals.

Google maps will help you track fires and tree canopy coverage. These new layers are helping to track and visualize the impact of global warming. And they’re useful in a practical way, too.

Supply chain workers warn of logistics system collapse. If you’d like an in-depth breakdown of the factors involved in the scarcity we’re seeing, see Josh Center’s new post on supply chain disruption.

Dollar Tree is raising prices above $1. This is not good news. Like the Big Mac Index, the price of goods at stores like Dollar Tree are informative economic gauges.

USPS says snail mail will be even more snaily starting this Friday. Small packages will take longer to deliver over the holidays as “time in transit” windows are lengthened.

African Swine Fever is a serious threat to the US pork industry. The USDA is acting to try to prevent contagion in US pigs after Haiti and the Dominican Republic confirm outbreaks in pigs.

Natural gas prices are rising and could be costly for folks who rely on it to warm their houses this winter.

Factory activity in China has declined as electricity woes continue.

The world has 234.5 million COVID cases. The world has gained 3.2 million cases in the last seven days. There have been nearly 4.8 million deaths in total. The US has had a cumulative 44.3 million cases—over 780,000 cases were added in the last seven days. Over 716,000 Americans have died—over 11,800 in the last week. The US added over 123,000 new cases on Wednesday and over 2,200 deaths that day as well. The US is still leading global daily case gain.

COVID is causing the biggest drop in life expectancy in Americans we’ve seen since WWII. American men have suffered the greatest losses of those in any developed nation. American men in the US have lost 2.2 years of life expectancy relative to pre-COVID times.

Pfizer has submitted its data to the FDA on COVID vaccines for children aged 5-11. It’s possible children in this age group could receive the vaccine before Halloween—EUA is still pending. Children in this age group are given a smaller dose of vaccine than those aged 12 and up.

Anti-COVID mitigation measure protests are still happening all over the world—this particular set in Barcelona started as 40,000 people engaged in various street parties–local cultural celebrations. The parties turned violent when officers tried to stop the sale of alcohol past 11pm. Folks are arguing for the lifting of restrictions on nightlife to avoid future clashes like these:

Flu is starting to pick back up again:

Most countries are experiencing a significant decline in Delta-driven COVID cases. Let’s hope this is the last significant wave, and let’s help under-vaccinated countries get vaccinated so we don’t have to go through this again:

As far as the US goes, Alaska is now feeling the COVID burn:


    • Bed

      I’ve got an insanely bad feeling about Winter 2021-22, especially because I think the US government and other governments won’t intervene and try to fix things since it seems like, as an apolitical person, they really don’t care. (maybe?)
      That said though, in regards to limiting your time at supermarkets and grocery stores, even only having to go once a month is better than nothing.

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      • Greg P Bed

        I agree with you, given that this is a global pandemic & not nearly enough people will have access to vaccination anytime soon enough to prevent yet another mutation from taking off.  Here in the States, since we can’t seem to get nearly enough people to do the basics – vax, masking, distancing – I believe it’s a matter of when, not if, another variant takes off.  While we are currently starting to see the number of cases drop off locally, flu season is just getting started (oh boy).  As for me, I am giving serious consideration to heading for the exits ( as so many of my coworkers have already done) and retiring from healthcare.  I would suggest that anyone get any semi-elective stuff done now – don’t forget about dental & vision needs!  Good luck!

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    • más picante

      Why do we continue to ignore the seasonality/regionality of Covid?  In 2020, waves lined up with the weather conditions based on region.   Keeping in mind that the virus is most often transmitted indoors, it stands to reason that you would see waves peak in warm climates when people go inside where it’s air conditioned.  Conversely, in cooler climates, waves peak in the winter when people go inside where it’s heated.  Thus far 2021 has been the same – cases peaked this summer in the southern US, and are now declining as things cool down and people go back outside, while cases in the north went down as more people were outside.  If the 2020 pattern repeats – and it should – cases will climb again in the north as the days get colder.  

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor más picante

        We do expect some seasonality with SARS-CoV-2. Seasonality is milder with this virus than expected, making R the biggest factor in case drive by far. The pandemic had no trouble spreading during very hot, humid months in SE Asia (contrary to expected seasonality), and the pandemic will still decline in colder, drier climes when R is less than 1 (despite seasonality). Vaccination rates will impact R profoundly and potentially overcome the influence of seasonality trends. Winter in the US in low-vaccine-uptake areas will be rough.

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Stephanie Arnold

        Some literature on the subject. “Although seasonal variability may have played an important role in the evolution of the outbreaks, its actual effect is limited. In the simulations of the non-seasonality scenario, none of the outbreaks is completely restrained in the SH countries, and actual pandemic data in the NH reveals no significant downward trend during the summer months.”

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    • Bill Masen

      I think Will Shakespeares words ” Now is the winter of our discontent” is coming to pass this year. And in the 41 years I have been prepping I dont not think i have ever felt so unsettled.

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    • Karl Winterling

      In an emergency (like a pandemic or severe supply chain problems or a financial crisis), the President could militarize the economy and force certain able-bodied people to go to work in essential jobs like healthcare or trucking, effectively nationalizing those industries. Neither Trump nor Biden nor George W. Bush did anything like that because the situation hadn’t gotten dire enough and the government decided to wait and see if things got very bad first.

      It’s questionable whether the US Constitution allows this, but unlikely that any court would question it if the situation was very bad. The downside of taking those types of measures is that it’s difficult to go back to normal.

      So I am a little worried when I see stuff like the military enforcing lockdowns in Australia. It’s important that people and communities are resilient so that they’re ready to mitigate a crisis and we don’t end up with the government taking more and more extreme measures.

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      • Bill Masen Karl Winterling

        Morning Karl,   Knowing the american people as I do as an outsider I would suggest that if the government cannot even persuade the public to put the COMMON GOOD first and get vaccinated, I very much doubt anyone would comply to a forced national service, and the response would be violent.

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      • Bed Bill Masen

        Considering how so many Americans refuse to even do something as simple as masking up, I have to agree on there being a violent response if a national service were to be implemented. Which basically means most of them don’t know about the Enlightenment-era concept of the social contract.

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      • Karl Winterling Bed

        Well then, a violent response to national service would probably make a bad situation even worse. More reason you’d want more people ready for a crisis.

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      • Sbesch Karl Winterling

        Even if the US workforce returned to full strength tomorrow (either voluntarily or through conscription), with such a heavy dependency on international resources and trade, there’s a limited degree to which we could improve our own situation if the rest of the world hasn’t also returned to the same pre-covid levels of activity.  At some point, the cure becomes worse than the disease, and it sure sounds like we’re on a path to realize the full implications of that old saying.

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    • Momof6

      Thank you for the news round ups!

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