DAILY DOSE: Covid-19’s heavy toll on Southern African-American communities; Unvaccinated Brazilian president forced to eat pizza on an NYC sidewalk.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed nearly a million Americans over the past year and a half. It has affected African-American communities worse than other ethnic groups in the United States. A special report in STAT takes a look at how Black communities in the South have suffered as a result of socio-economic and healthcare inequities. It’s really well conceived and presented. A powerful bit of journalism well worth the time.  https://www.statnews.com/distanced/

After being the original epicenter of the pandemic, China has kept the coronavirus in check. They’ve clamped down quickly and decisively any time a small outbreak has occurred, adopting a so-called zero tolerance approach. While it’s been pretty successful so far from a public health standpoint, it has done some serious damage to businesses trying to navigate the choppy Covid-19 waters. Per the Associated Press, “Most of China is virus-free, but the abrupt, severe response to outbreaks has left would-be tourists jittery about traveling to places they might be barred from leaving. That has hit consumer spending, hindering efforts to keep the economic recovery on track. China’s “zero tolerance” strategy of trying to isolate every case and stop transmission has helped keep the country where the virus first was detected in late 2019 largely free of disease. But the public and businesses are paying a steep price.” The upcoming Winter Olympics in March 2022 complicates Beijing’s calculus. They have not clarified whether foreigners will be allowed into the country as spectators or even whether Chinese citizens from other regions will be in attendance. https://bit.ly/3lJEIXi

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With the United Nations General Assembly kicking into gear, world leaders from across the globe are descending on New York City. While they may have diplomatic immunity, they don’t have any protection from the city’s strict Covid-19 vaccine dining policies. If they aren’t vaccinated, they won’t be eating in a restaurant. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro learned that the hard way. Per Reuters, “The far-right populist is a vaccine skeptic who has bragged about not being vaccinated, saying before he left for New York that his immune system is strong enough to fend off the coronavirus. Two Cabinet ministers on his delegation posted a photo of Bolsonaro and aides munching on slices of pizza on a New York sidewalk on Sunday night. Bolsonaro’s supporters praised the casual ‘simplicity’ of their leader happy to eat pizza on the street near the Manhattan hotel where he is staying.” Let it be said, eating a slice of pizza on the sidewalk is a quintessential New York experience, so it’s not all that bad for Bolsonaro. https://reut.rs/2XIUOIE

Researchers need to nimble sometimes and go with what serendipity gives them. That was the case when geologists stumbled upon a trove of magma while digging inIceland. Per Science, “Now, researchers are returning to penetrate the molten rock on purpose, using hardier equipment, to create the world’s only long-term magma observatory. ‘We’ve been to Mars. We’ve been to Venus,’ says Paolo Papale, research director at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. ‘But we have never observed magma below the Earth’s surface.’ Results could help explain how magma moves through the crust, while improving eruption forecasts. They could also shed light on how the continents formed and grew.” Tapping geothermal energy may be the next big thing in sustainability. https://bit.ly/3nUmSDC

The need to find food has always been a driver of both technology and migration. A recent study has shown how dairy, especially in the form of milk, facilitated ancient human bigration across Europe. Per Science, “Prior to 3300 B.C.E., calculus from the teeth of people living in settlements along the Volga and Don rivers contained virtually no milk proteins. Instead, these pre-Yamnaya groups likely consumed lots of freshwater fish, wild game, and the occasional meal of domesticated cow, sheep, or goat meat, as suggested by previous analysis of isotopes in their skeletons and animal bones at the sites. Then, around 3300 B.C.E., something changed. Samples scraped from the teeth of people living after that date were full of cow, sheep, and goat milk proteins—direct evidence they were eating dairy products. A few even had trace amounts of preserved horse milk. ‘There’s a cultural switch,’ says lead author Shevan Wilkin, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Zurich Institute of Evolutionary Medicine. ‘It’s a huge change of perspective from ‘we eat these animals sometimes’ to ‘we milk them all the time.’’” https://bit.ly/2XAPQgC

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

IMAGE: Gilson Machado Neto via Instagram.

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