News roundup for Tue, May 25, 2021

Drought conditions in the Western US are still severe, more severe than they’ve been in quite a while, and we’re keeping ears to the rail on impacts on water sources—things aren’t sounding too good. The Western US can be quickly repleted by atmospheric rivers of rain, but there aren’t any on the immediate horizon:

Ammunition manufacturers are years behind in filling orders, and it will take years to catch up. Some companies are building new manufacturing plants, but those take years to make, too. As demand is still high, you can anticipate—you guessed it—higher prices.

There’s been a lot of hoopla about the 2022 Electric Ford F-150 Lightning. It’s gas-free and can double as a back-up power generator that can power a home for up to 3 days (or 10 days if rationing power).

Here’s a useful state-by-state guide for rainwater collection. Rainwater collection is legal in all 50 states now, but some states have some regulations on the practice.

Ambulance crews in rural areas are running short of staff. The funding model for EMS services is flawed—EMS providers are typically reimbursed when taking patients to hospitals or to a clinic. In rural areas, this funding mechanism falls flat. Many EMS providers in rural areas rely on volunteers. It’s a recipe for no EMS providers showing up when needed.

H5N8 Avian Flu is an emerging public health concern, and virologists warn it, too, could go global. Tens of millions of poultry animals have been culled during outbreaks, but few cases have been reported jumping to humans—though it’s not unheard of. What’s particularly scary about this kind of flu is that migratory birds that are susceptible to it can travel thousands of miles.

Fertility rates are dropping—the pandemic is the icing on a cake that’s been baking for a while. By the end of the century we’re likely to see significant population decline:

The world has nearly 167.9 million COVID cases.  The world has gained 3.7 million cases in a week. There have been nearly 3.5 million deaths in total. The US has nearly 34 million cases. Over 604,000 Americans have died. The US has gained almost 16,000 new cases since yesterday. There have been 239 deaths in the US in the last day. Deaths and new cases continue to decline. India continues to lead the world in deaths per day, with 3,500 in the last day. India gained nearly 200,000 cases in the last day. Cases and deaths are also on a downward trend in India.

COVID vaccine lotteries are becoming more popular in the US—this time NY. They’re popular because they work.

The variant from India seems to be taking off in the UK—it may have a selective advantage:

As variants abound I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for increased cases in children—this is what I would expect to see with a variant surge. This is concerning:

The WSJ claims there is intelligence that multiple staff from the infamous Wuhan virology lab were sick enough in late 2019 to need hospital care. If true, this could be actual evidence to support the lab leak hypothesis. The article does not provide any documents or primary sources to substantiate the claim, however.

There have been reports of transient myocarditis after COVID vaccination. The reports are true. A caveat: COVID also causes myocarditis, sometimes severe. Here’s what an epidemiologist has to say about it.

India is considering relaxing social distancing measures despite a paucity of vaccine delivery in the country. Although cases and deaths are currently on the decline after a significant peak, lifting these measures could reverse the trend again.

It’s a great time to buy hand sanitizer:

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