The Daily Dose: COVID-19 is sending families into a poverty hole; Updating playgrounds increases kids’ activity

Diseases like COVID-19 exist not only on a medical/biological level, but also a social and economic one. From a pretty early point in the pandemic, public health officials and economists warned that the effects of shutting down economies, while deemed a necessity, would threaten the wellbeing of people existing on the fringes of the poverty line. According to an article in the Associated Press, the devastation is becoming clear in developing countries. “With the virus and its restrictions, up to 100 million more people globally could fall into the bitter existence of living on just $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank. That’s ‘well below any reasonable conception of a life with dignity,’ the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty wrote this year. And it comes on top of the 736 million people already there, half of them in just five countries: Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Congo and Bangladesh.” The devastation isn’t limited to developing countries. Even people in richer countries continue to suffer from the loss of work or the closure of businesses. Put that on top of the loss of life and a grim picture gets grimmer.

In all likelihood, COVID-19 is here to stay. Its unprecedented spread and penetration into communities near and far suggests that it will linger among the world’s populations. The question is how will different communities address the problem. Per Nature, “Around the world, epidemiologists are constructing short- and long-term projections as a way to prepare for, and potentially mitigate, the spread and impact of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Although their forecasts and timelines vary, modellers agree on two things: COVID-19 is here to stay, and the future depends on a lot of unknowns, including whether people develop lasting immunity to the virus, whether seasonality affects its spread, and — perhaps most importantly — the choices made by governments and individuals.” The acceptance of long term, endemic COVID-19 is the real first step into the new, post-COVID-19 world.

One thing that separates scientists (most) from political pundits and religious zealots is the willingness to follow the data and change their thesis accordingly. The latest example comes from the wildlife conservation community. Per the Scientist, “Contrary to the established idea that large predators are particularly at risk of extinction, a study of more than 24,000 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles reveals that herbivores, especially the big-bodied varieties, live a more perilous existence.” The team used data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on species extinction risk.

Swings. Slides. Spinny things. Fun right? Turns out, not all playgrounds are created equal. When a rundown basketball court and playground in Leadville, Colorado was granted a 21st century makeover, it came with some stunning results. According to an article in The Scientist, “The overhaul did more than improve how the playground looked; it turbocharged the kids’ recess activity. When researchers observed the playground that November, they found that the share of children participating in vigorous physical activity had tripled. And the changes appeared to last — a year after the overhaul, the students were still more active than they’d been before, the researchers reported in 2018 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.” The renovation included a spider web–like climbing net, twisting slides, colorful swings, and a new basketball court.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

Sign up for Scientific Inquirer’s Steady State Newsletter for the week’s top stories, exclusive interviews, and weekly giveaways. Plenty of value added but without the tax.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: