News roundup for Tue, Jun 1, 2021

Russian hackers exploited the USAID Microsoft email system—the same folks behind the recent SolarWinds hack. Welcome to the new world of near constant hacking exploits.

Speaking of… a major global meat supplier has been hacked.  Factories have been shuttered in multiple locations around the globe, and some facilities and worker shifts in US plants may be impacted as well. 20% or more of the beef supply could be hit. Interestingly, the company’s stock price hasn’t (yet) plummeted:

Texas says the state suffered only 151 deaths from the Great Freeze. Excess death mortality data from the CDC says the toll could be 3x-6x worse than that. It’s unclear to me, personally, how well the journalists separated potential COVID deaths from other excess mortality deaths in their methodology, if they did at all. In any case, it’s likely the state is vastly underestimating the toll of the power and gas failures.

150,000 people have been displaced in India and Bangladesh after Cyclone Yaas devastated the region. This region of the world is at high risk from climate-change-fueled storms, and it is one of the most densely populated areas of the world.

US dam infrastructure is aging and scores of locations are in need of repair and maintenance. The risk of dam failures is increasing over time—and these risks are significant. It’s not just flooding and loss of life that is concerning, but the potential for spread of toxic industrial contamination to wide areas as well. Half of all dams in the US are more than 50 years old.

Amazon plans to help with recovery efforts after natural disasters by shipping disaster relief supplies. Amazon plans to work in tandem with the Red Cross.

The world has nearly 171.9 million COVID cases. The world has gained 4 million cases in a week. There have been nearly 3.6 million deaths in total. The US has nearly 34.1 million cases. Over 610,000 Americans have died. The US has gained only 9,500 new cases since yesterday, although counts after a holiday weekend may not be accurate. There have been 231 deaths in the US in the last day. Deaths and new cases continue to decline. India has had over 3,200 deaths in the last day and brazil has had over 2,200. India gained nearly 133,000 cases in the last day.

The UK variant is the dominant strain in the US right now, but our vaccine rate seems to be keeping us relatively safe:

Pharma scientists are working apace to make COVID vaccines safer, broader in application against other variants and coronaviruses, and more available around the globe. Other improvements could include future vaccines that don’t require cold storage and more single-dose options.

The WHO is going to start using Greek letters to represent the numerous variants. I’m not sure if this is going to make this easier or more complicated:

A novel bird flu (novel to humans, anyway) has infected a person in China, but luckily it’s mild and there’s no evidence of person-to-person spread at this time:

The variant from India is growing in the US, accounting for about 7% of all cases. It is likely to eclipse the variant from the UK soon. It is more transmissible than other variants, and seems to spawn generations of disease faster than other strains.

Peru doubles its COVID death count, citing undercounting and undertesting obstacles. Peru has one of the highest per-capita deaths tolls in the world.

New Yorkers are using digital vaccine passports by the million—1.1 million, to be exact. Over 10 million have been vaccinated, though. Hawaii also uses digital COID passports. Most people are still skeptical of digital vaccine passports in the US.

Vietnam is concerned enough with a COVID variant identified there that it is cutting off some international travel. The variant is a hybrid of the UK and Indian strains.

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