Covid control standouts: Estonia has reported only 12 new coronavirus infections in the past two weeks; Iceland, 40; Norway, 187; Ireland, 148. Like the nations of New Zealand, Vietnam, and Taiwan, these European countries have reduced community spread of coronavirus down to nearly nil, Jason Douglas writes for The Wall Street Journal. These countries have subsequently begun safely reopening their economies. Meanwhile, new cases are currently increasing in 40 U.S. states and territories, according to The New York Times, and decreasing in just two (D.C. and New Hampshire). Per Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker, California recorded more than 11,700 new cases on Sunday, although the state disputed that figure, self-reporting just 5,699, Alexa Lardieri writes for U.S. News and World Report. It’s not clear what caused that discrepancy, but if the Johns Hopkins tracker is correct, it would be the highest single-day total of new cases of any state. Case numbers are also spiking in Texas, Florida and Arizona.

  • Also: There have been more than 11.6 million confirmed cases of coronavirus globally, and almost 539,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. One of those most recently infected is Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has prominently downplayed the seriousness of the virus, even with Covid case counts and deaths in Brazil soaring.

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Disparate impacts: The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to obtain data that shows stark racial disparities in coronavirus cases: Black and Latino residents are three times more likely to contract the virus than their white neighbors, and nearly twice as likely to die. Experts have sought to explain these disparities: Many frontline workers are Black or Latino, and consequently more likely to contract the virus while at work or commuting to work via public transportation. Their living conditions might also make it harder to keep a safe distance at home; Latino people are twice as likely to live in crowded quarters—less than 500 square feet per person—as white people. Regardless of the factors at work, the problem is pervasive. Quinton Lucas is the mayor of Kansas City, in a state, Missouri, where 40 percent of those infected are Black or Latino even though those groups make up just 16 percent of the population. “Systemic racism doesn’t just evidence itself in the criminal justice system,” Lucas told The Times. “It’s something that we’re seeing taking lives in not just urban America, but rural America, and all types of parts where, frankly, people deserve an equal opportunity to live—to get health care, to get testing, to get tracing.”

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Up in the air: More than 200 scientists from over 30 countries have signed a letter urging the World Health Organization to heed the mounting evidence that coronavirus can spread indoors through aerosols that linger in the air and can be infectious in smaller quantities than previously thought, James McAuley and Emily Rauhala report for The Washington Post. The scientists write that the virus spreads through aerosols, tiny respiratory droplets that infected people release into the air when they cough, speak, sing, or shout. This is a particular problem in crowded or poorly ventilated indoor settings, and could explain a number of “superspreading” incidents. “There is no reason for fear. It is not like the virus has changed. We think it has been transmitted this way all along,” Jose Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado who signed the letter, told The Post. “Knowing about it helps target the measures to control the pandemic more accurately.”

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Cashing in: On Monday, the Treasury Department released the names of everyone who received a loan greater than $150,000 through the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program. As the Daily Beast reports, that includes: an advocacy organization run by anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, a consulting firm run by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the nonprofit headed by former Trump campaign official David Bossie, and businesses with ties to the president’s son-in-law and members of Congress.

  • Also: The state of Texas is seeking to claw back tens of millions of dollars that it mistakenly sent to unemployed residents, Erin Douglas reports for the Houston Chronicle, many of whom spent the money believing it was rightfully theirs.

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Violence amidst the virus: In Chicago, there’s the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s also a recent spike of gun violence, Neil MacFarquhar and Robert Chiarito report for The New York Times. Nine children under the age of 18 have been killed since June 20; as of July 2, at least 336 people have been murdered in Chicago this year. At that rate, the city is on track to match or surpass the record set in 2016, of 778 murders. “I have never seen the despair, hopelessness and anger all mixed together at the level it is right now,” said the Rev. Michael L. Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church. Experts say the stress of the pandemic and of sky-high unemployment is exacerbating the situation; a deep mistrust of the police could also be leading Chicagoans to take matters of revenge and punishment into their own hands.

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Let it fly: The Department of Transportation has proposed changing the rules governing consumer complaint enforcement to further favor the airline industry, Amy Martyn reports for FairWarning. Specifically, the agency has suggested changing the definition of “unfair and deceptive practices” to be more narrow and rigid; they also propose allowing airlines to call for additional hearings when defending themselves against complaints or when facing new regulations. The department acknowledges this change could result in less enforcement, even though it only issued eight enforcement orders against airlines in 2019, a record low and half as many as the previous year.

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Down with the pipelines: The energy companies behind the controversial, 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline announced Sunday that they were abandoning the project, citing too-steep costs and an unfriendly regulatory environment, The Washington Post reports. The following day, a federal judge ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline must be shut down by August 5 because there was never a complete analysis of its environmental impacts. Taken with the April decision by a federal judge in Montana to revoke a permit necessary for the Keystone XL Pipeline, effectively halting construction until further environmental reviews take place, it’s a trifecta of challenges to President Trump’s three-and-a-half year effort to expand oil and gas development in the United States, and a huge win for environmentalists and tribal and community activists.

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An “anthropause”: While cities, states and countries went into varying degrees of lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, animals began venturing into spaces where they aren’t normally seen. This has led researchers to coin the term “anthropause” to describe the slowing of normal human activity, especially travel. It’s given them the opportunity to study how wildlife and humans interact in an unprecedented way, Matt Simon reports for Wired. Specifically, they’re using tracking devices to monitor how different animals are responding to changes in human behavior. “There is an amazing research opportunity, which has come about through really tragic circumstances,” says Christian Rutz, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of St. Andrews and Harvard University and lead author of a recent paper published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.

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