It’s time once again for news and views that you can peruse. It’s time once again for your regularly scheduled Weekly Reader! Got some hot links, blog posts, or articles from a local paper you’d like to share? Head over to the comments and let us know.
The Pandemic’s Final Surge Will Be Brutal (from the Atlantic): “Another foreboding sign is how bad conditions are across the country. From the beginning of November through yesterday (December 6), there were more than 100 COVID-19 deaths per 1 million people in the Northeast, the South, and the Midwest (which, at 267 deaths per million, had the highest rate in that period), according to COVID Tracking Project data. The West had 94 deaths per million people. In April, during the first surge, only two regions, the Northeast (602 deaths per million) and the Midwest (138 deaths per million), were above that 100-deaths-per-million line; the West was at just 50 deaths per million. In July, only the South exceeded 100 deaths per million.”
Pfizer’s Vaccine Offers Strong Protection After First Dose (from the New York Times): “What’s more, the vaccine worked well regardless of a volunteer’s race, weight or age. While the trial did not find any serious adverse events caused by the vaccine, many participants did experience aches, fevers and other side effects.
“This is what an A+ report card looks like for a vaccine,” said Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University.”
Find Your Place in the Vaccine Line (from the New York Times): “A vaccine may be around the corner, but how long will it be until you get the shot? Health officials are considering vaccine timelines that give some Americans priority over others. If you’re a healthy American, you may wait many months for your turn.”
Face masks: what the data say (from Nature): “To be clear, the science supports using masks, with recent studies suggesting that they could save lives in different ways: research shows that they cut down the chances of both transmitting and catching the coronavirus, and some studies hint that masks might reduce the severity of infection if people do contract the disease.”
Coronavirus traces found in March 2019 sewage sample, Spanish study shows (from Reuters): “The University of Barcelona team, who had been testing waste water since mid-April this year to identify potential new outbreaks, decided to also run tests on older samples.
They first found the virus was present in Barcelona on Jan. 15, 2020, 41 days before the first case was officially reported there.
Then they ran tests on samples taken between January 2018 and December 2019 and found the presence of the virus genome in one of them, collected on March 12, 2019.”
Delivery riders are dying in a system that never should have been allowed to thrive (from The Guardian): “In just the past two months, five delivery drivers have been killed in Australia – the ones we know of since they are not recorded as workplace deaths.
The deaths represent the total failure of a system which never should have been allowed to thrive. It’s a system that denies its workers sick leave, the right to challenge unfair sackings, training, protective gear and insurance. It stands as a blatant contradiction of the working conditions generations of Australians fought for.”
How plague reshaped colonial New England before the Mayflower even arrived (from The Conversation): “Over the 17th century, additional plagues swept through different Algonquian regions at different times. These waves of disease upset indigenous power relations and contributed to the Pequot War of 1636–38 – a conflict between the English and their Mohegan allies and the Pequot which resulted in the massacre and enslavement of the Pequot.”
Wear Masks To Protect Yourself From The Coronavirus, Not Only Others, CDC Stresses (from NPR): “When the CDC first recommended that Americans wear cloth face coverings back in April, it cited evidence that the coronavirus could be transmitted by asymptomatic people who might not be aware of their infectiousness – a group estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions. The agency said masks were intended to block virus-laden particles that might be emitted by an infected person.
In a report updated Tuesday, the CDC says that is still the primary intention of wearing masks. But it also cites growing evidence that even cloth masks can also reduce the amount of infectious droplets inhaled by the wearer.”
Using Wolves as First Responders Against a Deadly Brain Disease (from the New York Times): “The disease is part of a group called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, the most famous of which is bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease. Mad cow in humans causes a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and there was an outbreak among people in the 1990s in Britain from eating tainted meat.
Cooking does not kill the prions, and experts fear that chronic wasting disease could spread to humans who hunt and consume deer or other animals that are infected with it.”
Plantations: The Dark History Behind the South’s Most Famous Architectural Style (from House Beautiful): “In the early 17th century, when the British colonized what would later become the United States of America, the crown offered large plots of land to settlers as an incentive for them to make the grueling journey to a strange and harsh new world. Many of the settlers who took the deal combined their properties into larger settlements—in the South, these eventually became plantations, given their focus on agriculture—with the wealthiest and most powerful men governing these microcosms. As these landowners needed immense manpower to maintain their plantations, they turned to slavery, importing captured peoples from Africa as forced laborers.”
That’s all for this week. But I’ll be back next time with more stories you might find interesting. Until then, have a great rest of your week, stay safe and happy reading!