News roundup for Tue, Oct 19, 2021

Tennessee gets hit by billion-dollar natural disasters multiple times per year and repeatedly racks up some of the largest disaster bills in the country. Tennessee is northerly enough to get severe winter weather and southerly enough to get hit by tropical storms, too.

Speaking of severe winter weather—this winter will cost us. Gas bills are getting hefty, and households in the US are projected to spend more than usual this year. Gas will cost about 30% more than usual, and up to 50% more than usual if winter is colder than it was last year.

School lunch programs are still getting slammed by food shortages. Some schools are asking parents to send their kids in with food, and some schools are shutting back down and moving back to online school as a stop-gap measure.

Some argue that despite gains in GDP and rises in inflation, we might be headed into another recession. Consumer expectation indices are lower than expected, and these indices are often predictive of recessions.

The drought conditions in California don’t bode well for the farms that feed the nation:

Iraq’s water shortage means 50% less arable planting ground this winter.

The White House aims to regulate exposure to PFAS—this is a good thing:

In good news, a group of Sikh hikers saved a man who had fallen in the Lower Falls of Golden Ears Park in British Columbia. They used their turbans to fashion a rope to pull the man to safety:

The world has over 241.8 million COVID cases. The world has gained 2.8 million cases in the last week. There have been over 4.9 million deaths in total. The US has a cumulative 45.9 million cases. The US gained over 600,000 cases in the last seven days. Over 745,000 Americans have died during the pandemic. The US gained over 33,000 new cases on Sunday, and over 31,000 by late afternoon Monday. 1,200 people are dying per day in the US based on a 7-day average. The US, UK, Russia, and Turkey have had the largest case gains over the last week.

The FDA is giving the green light to the J&J second dose. The decision is broad and applies to all aged 18 and over who had the first dose. The FDA has also given the green light for a third Moderna dose, but only in selected populations: those 65 and older, people aged 18 to 64 with risk factors, and those whose jobs put them at high risk for exposure to COVID. The FDA will also allow a “mix and match” approach.

Colin Powell has died of COVID. Although he was vaccinated, he was 84 and had a blood cancer that left him less able to fight the virus. His case is an argument for a higher vaccination rate. Herd immunity from vaccination could have protected him. That’s the entire point of broad vaccination programs-to protect those who are less protected by vaccines (like the elderly, the immunocompromised, newborns, etc.):