Seventy-seven thousand: More than 77,000 new coronavirus cases, another single-day record, were reported yesterday in the U.S., says CNN. It’s the 11th single-day record in a month’s time, according to The New York Times. Earlier this month, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned that daily new cases could reach 100,000 if outbreaks weren’t contained, and that certainly seems in the realm of possibility from here. Thirty-eight states have recorded more new cases this week than last. Ten states have also experienced record deaths from the virus over the past week: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
- Also: The number of U.S. cases has passed the 3.6 million mark, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker, with more than 138,000 deaths. Globally, more than 13.8 million people have been infected, and more than 592,000 have died.
In California: In a state that has recorded more than 364,000 coronavirus infections, Los Angeles County remains the hot spot. After the county hit a new daily record of cases on Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti remarked: “If we were an independent country, Los Angeles County would have the 20th most cases in the world. Put differently, we have more cases in Los Angeles County than all of Canada.” The death rate and rate of positive tests have been higher among Latino and Black residents than other groups, with Latinos testing positive at the highest rate of all, according to the Los Angeles Times. The New Year’s Day Rose Parade, last called off 75 years ago during World War II, has been canceled due to the coronavirus, the Times reports.
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Mask task: Walmart has joined Kroger and other major retailers in ordering that all customers wear masks, regardless of whether state or local rules require them, CNN reports. Retail industry groups and unions have called for such mandates, though masking rules have sometimes triggered angry standoffs between customers and store employees. More than half of U.S. states have enacted statewide mask requirements, The New York Times reports—but that means a significant number of states still don’t require them in public spaces. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a masking order by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. California Senator Dianne Feinstein has proposed withholding Covid-19 relief from states without mask mandates, John Bowden writes for The Hill. “Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. Period,” Feinstein said in a statement from her office.
- Also: Anti-mask protesters have taken to wearing fabric masks made of mesh, lace, or crocheted yarn that offer no protection from spreading or contracting the virus, Bob Segall reports for WTHR from Indianapolis. These rule-benders say requiring masks is “not about safety, it’s about compliance.”
Cloak and dagger: The U.S., Britain, and Canada have alleged that Russian hackers are trying to steal research information from institutions working to develop coronavirus vaccines, The Washington Post reports. Authorities said the hackers are part of a unit variously called APT29, “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”–one of the two Russian spy groups accused of penetrating the Democratic Party’s computers during the 2016 presidential election campaign. “It is completely unacceptable that the Russian intelligence services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” said British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. A Kremlin spokesperson denied that Russia had anything to do with the attacks, CNN reports.
Risk management: The New York Times’ Paula Span talks to older U.S. residents about how they’re managing their risk of exposure as parts of the country reopen (and in some cases, re-close) while the pandemic drags on. For those who can afford it, grocery delivery and take-out are easy steps to take, a no-brainer—but what about holding book clubs outside instead of on Zoom? Long-anticipated family gatherings and trips? Visiting with grandchildren? Individual risk management decisions are even harder for older adults, because their risk of dying after contracting coronavirus is greater. “The least risky thing is to stay home, lock the door and seal yourself in Saran Wrap,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. A group of M.I.T. economists have suggested as much, recommending that people over 65 isolate for an estimated 18 months, until a vaccine becomes available, while younger adults go back to work to keep the economy humming. But a happy, healthy economy isn’t everyone’s first priority. “We have to find a balance between preserving safety and living,” said Dr. Linda Fried, a geriatrician and the dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. “We all need to do some things to maintain our mental health and well-being.”
Borrowing while Black: As part of a study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., university researchers sent pairs of potential borrowers with almost identical credit and asset characteristics to multiple Washington-area banks to ask about coronavirus relief; the only significant difference between the borrowers was their race. As Emily Flitter reports for The New York Times, even though the researchers assigned slightly superior financial backgrounds to the Black borrowers, they were offered inferior products and treated worse than white borrowers in 43 percent of the tests. White participants were more like to be told they would qualify for a loan than Black participants, and men were more likely to be told they qualify than women; not a single Black woman was told she would qualify for a loan.
Sun protection: Six chemicals commonly used in sunscreen accumulate in the bloodstream at levels higher than the Food and Drug Administration’s threshold of 0.5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, Jo Craven McGinty reports for The Wall Street Journal. An FDA study found the six chemicals—avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate and octinoxate—in concentrations ranging from 3.3 to 258.1 nanograms per milliliter. Accumulation at those levels should trigger additional investigations into the safety of the chemicals, and indeed a proposed rule would require the industry to do additional tests, McGinty writes. But the rule was shelved when the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act into law, which overhauled the way over-the-counter drugs like sunscreens are regulated and upheld findings from 1999 that say current on-the-market sunscreens are safe.
Fly on: American Airlines is ramping up its flight schedules this summer, hoping to gain market share when demand for air travel eventually comes back to pre-pandemic levels, Alison Sider reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Let’s go fly, for God’s sake,” CEO Doug Parker said in an interview last week. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll pull it back.” American is also among the airlines that has done away with the empty middle seat or other restrictions on passenger capacity, flying planes as full as they can stuff them. But even with the added flights, the company has warned that when federal support dries up in the fall, the airline will be overstaffed by around 20,000 people, and employees have been notified of potential furloughs.
FairWarning contributor Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.
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