The long haul: Emphasizing the severity of Covid-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate panel about the plight of so-called “long haulers” who continue to suffer headaches, muscle weakness, fatigue and cognitive difficulties, such as an inability to concentrate, weeks or even months after appearing to be virus-free, ABC News reports. In testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Fauci also said that imaging tests, such as MRIs, have revealed heart inflammation in some coronavirus patients who appear recovered and asymptomatic. Research about long haulers from JAMA found that 125 of 143 Italian patients, ranging in age from 19 to 84, still experienced physician-confirmed Covid-19 symptoms an average of 2 months after their first symptom emerged. In France, physicians at a Paris hospital reported that they saw an average of 30 long haulers every week between mid-May and late July. “These are the kinds of things that tell us we must be humbled that we do not completely understand the nature of this illness,” Dr. Fauci told the Senate.
- Also: Coronavirus cases have been undercounted because many people with mild or no symptoms were never tested. Even so, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Senate committee that preliminary results of a CDC study show that more than 90 percent of the U.S. population has not yet been infected and “remains susceptible” to the virus, CNN reports.
On the rise: More than 20 states are reporting a rise in new Covid-19 cases, including many in the Midwest and Great Plains, according to a CNN report. At least 885 new coronavirus deaths and 45,176 new cases were recorded yesterday in the U.S., reports The New York Times. With some seven million confirmed U.S. cases since the start of the pandemic, more than one in every 50 Americans has been infected. California, the most populous state, has the most confirmed cases–more than 800,000–but ranks 26th among the states in cases per capita, according to The Times. U.S. deaths due to Covid-19 have passed 203,000. Speaking at The Atlantic Festival, Fauci warned that U.S. case numbers are alarming as we approach the colder months and the flu season. “Going into that situation, I would like to have seen the baseline of where we are — the daily number of infections — come way, way down and not be stuck at around 30- to 40,000 per day,” he said. The number of cases around the world has topped 32.3 million, with a death toll of more than 984,000.
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“Epicenter of the epicenter”: The 10 countries with the highest Covid-19 death tolls per capita are all in Latin America or the Caribbean, according to The New York Times. Unlike the U.S. and Europe, where the outbreak has ebbed and flowed, the spread of Covid-19 in Latin America has not let up since the spring, a result of inadequate health systems, severe inequality and in some cases government indifference. In Mexico, more than 70,000 people have died from Covid-19. The surge in infections originated in Iztapalapa, a densely populated neighborhood in Mexico City that is home to the world’s largest produce market. “There is this moment when you start to see people dying, and the stress begins to destroy you,” Christopher Arriaga, a vendor at the market, told The Times. “It made me realize what a trapped animal feels like.”
On fire: Seventy four large fires are burning in 9 Western states, scorching over 3.7 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. California alone is home to 20 large fires, with Idaho counting 15, Oregon 12 and Montana 11. In California, five of the state’s six largest wildfires on record have erupted in the last month and a half, The Sacramento Bee reports, exposing millions to choking air pollution. The August Complex fire, charring 847,000 acres in Northern California, is now the largest fire in modern California history and responsible for one death. Over the past 4 years, California wildfires have caused almost 180 deaths, destroyed more than 41,000 structures and burned nearly 7 million acres. Twenty six people have died in this year’s fires, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Fleeing the heat: A sobering report co-published by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine tells how severe storms, record heat, flooding, water shortages, megafires and reduced crop yields—all caused or worsened by climate change—are likely to propel a northward migration of millions of Americans, leaving behind those who cannot afford to move. “Once you accept that climate change is fast making large parts of the United States nearly uninhabitable, the future looks like this: With time, the bottom half of the country grows inhospitable, dangerous and hot. Something like a tenth of the people who live in the South and the Southwest — from South Carolina to Alabama to Texas to Southern California — decide to move north in search of a better economy and a more temperate environment. Those who stay behind are disproportionately poor and elderly,” writes reporter Abrahm Lustgarten.
Deadly norms: A grand jury in Kentucky’s Jefferson Country indicted Brett Hankison, a former Louisville police detective, on three charges of wanton endangerment for firing into a neighboring apartment during the raid that killed Breonna Taylor, while the grand jury declined to charge the two officers who shot Taylor. Two Louisville police officers were shot as protests erupted over the decision. According to The Washington Post, police have shot and killed 1,010 people nationwide in the last year—about the same number as in each year since The Post began to log these fatal shootings in 2015, or more than 5,000 in all. While half of all people shot and killed by police are white, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. Accounting for less than 13 percent of the population, they are killed by police at more than double the rate of whites. Police also kill Latinos at a disproportionate rate.
Pellet plague: Tiny plastic resin pellets, the building blocks of virtually all things plastic, pour into waterways by the countless billions each year, eventually reaching the ocean where seabirds and other marine animals often mistake them for food. “The plastic pollution crisis rears its ugly head at every step of the plastic supply chain, starting with small plastic manufacturing pellets infiltrating our waterways, parks and oceans,” according to a press release from Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), who announced new legislation that would prohibit the discharge of pellets into waterways. As reported last week by FairWarning, the Environmental Protection Agency has long had legal authority to crack down on pellet pollution of waterways but has largely left the problem to voluntary industry efforts. With the November election approaching and time running out on the 116th Congress, the Udall bill appears to have almost no chance of passing this fall, but may resurface in the next Congress.
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