The Daily Dose: Congressional Democrats voice displeasure with appointment of racist to NIST position.

Hospitals in the United States are heading toward dangerous and unchartered territory. With nationwide outbreaks occurring simultaneously, doctors and nurses are turning into yet another COVID-19 induced shortage. During the first wave which occurred regionally, healthcare workers from non-outbreak regions often helped in infected areas. That is no longer a possibility and the effects are already starting to be seen. Per STAT, “The American Hospital Association’s vice president of quality and patient safety, Nancy Foster, said she’s heard from two dozen hospital leaders over the past two weeks, warning her of staffing shortages in states including Texas, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Health care providers in Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, and Utah said they’re facing the same problem, as do local reports from New Mexico, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Montana, California, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.” Holes in America’s healthcare infrastructure are exacerbating the problem. Covid-19 is now prevalent in rural areas that have been struggling with a shortage of health professionals for years. On top of that, the hospitals in more remote regions don’t have equipment such as ventilators. As a result, they have no choice but to transfer severely ill patients to already-overwhelmed urban health care systems. Things are expected to get worse as winter approaches.

If you’re in the mood for more optimistic COVID-19 mood, Reuters has assembled a vaccine tracker that consolidates information about the strongest vaccine R&D candidates currently in clinical trials. It demonstrates that there is a lot of reason to feel optimistic for 2021. The important part is making it to Spring/Summer in one piece.

In 2017, researchers discovered that the thalamus also has a key role in short-term memory — specifically, it helps maintain recurrent patterns of cortical activity that underlie memory. A recent study builds on those findings, reinforcing the role the brain region plays in memory formation and recollection. Per Nature, “Their findings also indicate that coordinated thalamocortical activity patterns depend on the version of Smart1 present: the more Gpr12 is expressed from this region, the more thalamocortical coordination occurs and the better the performance of spatial working memory.”

When Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross appointed Jason Richwine to second highest position in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), there was considerable pushback due to his unsavory stance regarding the role of race on IQ. Democratic members of Congress have written a scathing letter demanding accountability for the installation of someone with decidedly anti-science beliefs. Per Science, “The science committee’s opposition to the appointment is based on what it describes as his ‘anachronistic IQ-based ranking of races in order to support his anti-immigration beliefs, leaning on debunked pseudoscience that has been used for centuries to justify colonialism, slavery, and segregation.’” As they say, you can put lipstick on a pig. In this case, it’s name is Jason Richwine. There’s no wiggle room here.

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