News roundup for Tue, Mar 23, 2021

A recent US intelligence report paints domestic extremists as a looming threat. Extremism from both sides of the political spectrum is unlikely to die down in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, disrupted economy, and recent civil and political unrest.

Homelessness is still rising in the States.

Iceland has had its anticipated eruption. So far it’s not been too huge:

Australia is experiencing horrible flooding.

The world has over 124.3 million COVID cases.  The world has gained 3.3 million cases in a week. There have been over 2.7 million deaths in total. The US has nearly 30.6 million cases. Over 555,000 Americans have died. The US gained 45,000 cases yesterday—the 7-day moving average of new cases is plateauing. There have been 548 deaths in the US since yesterday. The number of new deaths per day is still declining in the US. New cases and deaths are still on the rise in Brazil.

If you have a strong reaction to your first COVID vaccine, it could indicate previous infection. But people also report all kinds of symptoms even with placebo, so it’s probably not useful to read into it too much.

There’s a virtual monopoly on COVID swabs, and the stakeholders are cousins who won’t talk to each other. This Hatfield/McCoy nonsense is literally detrimental to the global public health effort right now.

One of the reasons the US is plateauing is because variants gain a foothold really quickly:

It stands to reason that the more packed the classroom, the more cases you’re likely to see in students. Hopefully most teachers are vaccinated by now—but we’ve got to remember that most people in the community are not:

B.1.1.7 is also infecting cats and dogs. We don’t really know what this means for the health of the animal. Similarly, we don’t really know if infected animals are impacting human transmission. The knowledge gap is due to the simple fact that nobody is testing animals or tracking human transmission in households with infected animals.

Hundreds of thousands of excess deaths in Russia point to a vast undercount of COVID impact.

Infections are rising in 21 states. We’re relaxing just before we’ve reached the finish line. Spring Breakers in Miami Beach certainly aren’t helping. Variants could blow through the case decline driven by the vaccine buffer:

Foreigners will not be allowed to spectate at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Europe and South America are seeing significant variant-driven case rise:

The possibility of a COVID lab leak in China has been summarily dismissed by the WHO, but with little evidence to support the dismissal. Unfortunately, the specter of a lab leak is virtually unprovable—no outside agency is likely to get the access, records, or transparency needed to investigate properly. Speculation continues nonetheless:

Germany opened up its schools. Then cases began to rise. Only 11% of Germany’s population is vaccinated. The EU is struggling to secure the number of doses it needs and it’s struggling to administer the doses it has. Germans are pretty unhappy with their public health leaders.

Governor Lee says folks 16 and older will be eligible for vaccines in Tennessee in early April.

You guys. Krispy Kreme is giving away donuts to folks who show their vaccine card. Potentially multiple times (although they might have to walk that back because I’ve heard about this). All my misgivings about vaccine passports have suddenly evaporated:

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