Daily deaths: The United States reported its largest single-day death toll since May on Wednesday, with 1,499 people dying because of Covid-19, CNN reports. The seven-day average of new deaths has been above 1,000 for 18 consecutive days. There are now more than 5.2 million cases in the U.S. with more than 167,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. A New York Times analysis found that there have been at least 200,000 more deaths in the U.S. than usual since March, probably a better measure of the true toll of the pandemic. Globally, nearly 21 million cases have been recorded, with more than 760,000 deaths.
- Also: California, which has recorded more than 600,000 coronavirus cases, saw the highest weekly death toll in August since the pandemic began, with 969 deaths reported in a seven-day period, Rong-Gong Lin II and Iris Lee report for the Los Angeles Times. The state’s vast Central Valley, where jobs in agriculture and food processing are concentrated, has been hit particularly hard. There have been major outbreaks at a poultry processing plant, a meatpacking facility and a frozen-food packager, and the low-wage workers who staff such businesses may not be able to afford to skip work and stay home, either because they could face eviction or other financial hardship if they don’t work, or because their employers have threatened that they could lose their jobs.
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School’s out: More than 2,000 students, teachers and school staff members across five states are in quarantine after over 200 coronavirus cases were reported shortly after restarting classes, Christina Walker, Annie Grayer, and Elizabeth Stuart write for CNN. In one Georgia school district that began in-person classes on August 3, more than 1,100 students, teachers and staff members are under quarantine and more than 50 positive cases have been reported. School districts in Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Indiana have had to do the same.
- Also: The Georgia high school depicted in the viral photo of a crowded school hallway where few students were wearing masks has switched over to virtual learning after nine positive cases of coronavirus were reported, Dakin Andone and Chuck Johnston report for CNN. Hannah Watters, the student who took and shared the photo, was initially suspended for it, but her mother told CNN that the suspension was later reversed. “My biggest concern is not only about me being safe,” Watters said. “It’s about everyone being safe because behind every teacher, student and staff member there is a family, there are friends, and I would just want to keep everyone safe.”
Green machine: There are few products marketed as “green, eco-friendly, nontoxic or natural” on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of products proven to kill the coronavirus, but that may simply mean that these products haven’t been tested, not that they don’t work, Cara Rosenbloom writes for The Washington Post. “Studies are needed on the efficacy of natural products from plants against coronavirus,” said Cassandra Quave, a medical ethnobotanist and an assistant professor at the Emory School of Medicine. Then again, this matters only if you need a disinfectant and not just a cleaning product—if someone in your household has tested positive for coronavirus, for example.
Don’t inhale: A new study shows teenagers and young adults who use e-cigarettes are five times more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19, and those who vape and smoke cigarettes are seven times more likely to test positive for the virus, Sara Harrison reports for Wired. The study, published in The Journal of Adolescent Health, surveyed young people ages 13 to 24 found on social media and gaming sites. “I knew there would be a relationship,” said coauthor Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor of pediatrics at Stanford University. “I did not expect it to be this strong of a relationship.” The researchers cited possible reasons for the association: smokers may have more lung damage, making them more vulnerable to the virus; they might be touching a hand to their mouth more often than other people, or might be sharing vapes, increasing their likelihood of being exposed.
Back to work: Weekly jobless claims fell below one million last week for the first time since March, The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Chaney reports. Still, the number of people collecting unemployment benefits is twice that of the peak of 6.6 million in 2009 during the Great Recession. The extra $600 a week that out-of-work Americans were receiving expired at the end of July. President Trump created a new program through an executive order that he said would add $400 to unemployment benefits—$300 from the federal government and $100 from states—but states have vocally protested, citing huge budget shortfalls. So the extra cash will likely be reduced to just $300 a week, Ben Casselman and Emily Cochrane write in The New York Times. More significantly, it could be weeks or months before the extra benefits start arriving.
Grim forecast: A new study published in the journal Nature shows that if the Earth warms as expected over the coming years, hotter soils could release 55 percent more carbon dioxide than they do currently, Gabriel Popkin reports for The New York Times. “The loss rate is huge,” said lead researcher Andrew Nottingham, an ecologist at the University of Edinburgh. “It’s a bad news story.” As part of the study, the authors heated soil underneath a tropical rainforest to mimic temperatures expected in the coming decades, and measured carbon release. If their findings hold true for all tropical soils, the researchers estimate 65 billion metric tons of carbon will be released by 2100, more than six times current annual emissions from human-related sources.
Guilty as charged: Andrea Burrows, 50, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for her role in a scheme that falsely promised elderly victims they could win a big prize if they paid a small fee. The scheme siphoned off more than $10 million from its victims. Three others previously pleaded guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud for their roles in the scheme, the Justice Department said, and five others are scheduled for trial next month. Burrows, of Las Vegas, and her co-conspirators “exploited the elderly and vulnerable by bombarding them repeatedly with false promises of wealth,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ethan P. Davis.
FairWarning contributor Jessica McKenzie is an independent journalist. Find more of her work at jessicastarmckenzie.com.
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