The Daily Dose: 64% of Americans say their right not to be inconvenienced with face masks trumps keeping neighbors safe.

It has been interesting to see how different nations and cultures have approached the implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing and wearing face masks. In the United States, unfettered individualism and the primacy of the individual’s rights are considered central tenets of American exceptionalism. A new survey conducted by the Brookings Institute captures how this view has dictated America’s piecemeal approach to the pandemic. According to the organization, “In an effort to understand why some Americans are resisting this nearly universally recognized infection reduction approach, we asked respondents in this wave why they choose to not wear a mask. As reflected in the figure below, we find that 40% of Americans who do not wear a mask say this is because it is ‘their right as an American to not wear a mask.’ This modal response was followed by Americans who say they do not wear a mask ‘because it is uncomfortable’ at 24%. The data reveals that a combined 64% of Americans believe that their right to not have to be inconvenienced by wearing a mask or scarf over their face is more important than reducing the probability of getting sick or infecting others.” Seems about right. Kinda says it all, doesn’t it?

The prospect of a wave of COVID-19 reinfections is worrisome. It’s implications range from whether herd immunity can ever be possible to whether protective vaccines are possible. According to Nature, “Duelling anecdotes are common in the see-saw world of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Iwasaki knows that she cannot draw firm conclusions about long-term immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 from just a few cases. But in the coming weeks and months, Iwasaki and others expect to see more reports of reinfection, and, in time, a picture could emerge of whether the world can rely on the immune system to end the pandemic.” As the scientific community grapples with mounting evidence that reinfections are possible, though nobody can tell how likely it is, some very basic questions are rising to the top of the list. The Nature article deals with the three most pressing.

Testing has been touted as a magical cure for stifling COVID-19 restrictions that have been implemented. Unfortunately, the technology hasn’t caught up to the promise. Now, two major public health organizations in the United States are attempting to temper expectations. Per the Associated Press, “For now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association explicitly warn that antibody tests should not be used to make decisions about returning workers to the office or students to school, though some labs still promote them for those uses. The CDC recommends everyone — even those who were sick and recovered — take precautions to prevent getting and spreading the virus.” The “wall-back” appears to be more the norm than exception during this historic pandemic.

The COVID-19 situation in Europe continues to signal that things may be deteriorating. According to the Guardian, “A leading epidemiologist in France has warned that if the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise at the current rate, the country could face a “critical situation” in several regions in December, writes Kim Willsher, the Guardian’s Paris correspondent.” This last weekend has also seen a significant uptick in cases in the United Kingdom.

A few years ago, scientists discovered a distant mass they believed to be an exoplanet they named Fomalhaut b. However, even then something seemed amiss. It did not have certain characteristics exoplanets tend to possess and had others exoplanets never had. As a result, scientists didn’t go all-in on the exoplanet theory. Now, more definitive evidence has emerged. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Fomalhaut b appears to be a directly imaged catastrophic collision between two large planetesimals in an extrasolar planetary system. Similar events should be very rare in quiescent planetary systems of the age of Fomalhaut, suggesting that we are possibly witnessing the effects of gravitational stirring due to the orbital evolution of hypothetical planet(s) around the star.” A simple case of the exoplanet that never was.

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

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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