Fauci warns of virus explosion


Greetings, QuickTake readers! In this edition: Chinese swine flu strain raises fears of a new pandemic, EU reopens borders—but not to Americans, and Mississippi drops its Confederate-themed flag.

U.S. risks 100,000 daily cases

The U.S. is "going in the wrong direction" as many Americans flout social distancing and mask guidelines amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and daily cases could hit 100,000 a day if behaviors don't change, Anthony Fauci warned Congress on Tuesday.

Alongside him, CDC Director Robert Redfield said hospitalizations were rising in 12 states and 130 counties are now considered "hot spots." On Tuesday, Texas reported a record in new cases and ICUs hit 97% capacity in Houston; California had its second-biggest daily jump; and Florida's Miami-Dade County reported its highest totals of hospitalizations, ICU patients and ventilator use in at least two months.

"The numbers speak for themselves. I'm very concerned," Fauci told the panel. "Clearly, we are not in total control right now." He wouldn't estimate the number of potential virus deaths but said, "It is going to be very disturbing, I guarantee you that."

To rein in the surge, at least 17 states have postponed reopening plans. California started requiring masks, Texas closed bars, Arizona shut gyms and movie theaters, and Florida ordered bars to stop serving alcohol. Meanwhile, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut expanded self-quarantine orders to visitors from 16 states.

And in the strongest push yet by the Trump administration in favor of using masks to contain the virus, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, told the panel: "Please, please, please wear a face covering" when going out.

Fauci said he's "aspirationally hopeful" that a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready in 2021 but stressed there's no guarantee. Instead, he said, "We need to emphasize the responsibility we have as individuals and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic, and we all have to play a part in that."

$ignificant figures

15. The European Union will reopen its borders to citizens from that many non-EU countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Canada, but not the U.S., Brazil, Russia, or India, as virus cases rise.

60%. An analysis of 749 mass shootings over the past six years found that a majority of the deadliest attacks were either an act of domestic violence or involved an aggressor with a history of abuse.

59. India banned that many Chinese-made apps, including TikTok and WeChat, saying the software threatens the country's "sovereignty and integrity," as well as citizens' privacy.

Highly quotable

"Pandemic potential." A strain of swine flu in China, similar to the one responsible for the 2009 outbreak, has infected humans, researchers said, indicating it poses "a serious threat to human health."

"The stakes are too high." GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander called on Trump to start wearing a mask, saying "this political debate about pro-Trump, anti-Trump masks" is impeding efforts to protect Americans from Covid-19.

"It's worse than I feared." China's national security law, which aims to crush Hong Kong dissent but risks its future as a financial hub, gives life sentences for some of the actions of pro-democracy protesters last year.

This is not normal

Choked. As climate change boosts the frequency of wildfires, researchers say the increasing amounts of harmful smoke are taking a huge toll on Americans' lungs and may be just as damaging as rising temperatures.

The future is now

Upgraded. SpaceX launched into orbit a 3.7-ton GPS III satellite for the U.S. Space Force that offers improved accuracy and a more powerful signal that lets billions of people connect with more satellites in space.

What's good

Historic. The last state flag in the U.S. with the Confederate symbol was retired in Mississippi after the governor signed a bill erasing the 126-year-old banner's official status that's been a source of division for generations.

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BTW: A 32-foot-long sperm whale, tangled in a big, illegal fishing net, was freed by the Italian coast guard in the Mediterranean. Watch the rescue.

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Thanks for reading!
-Andrew Mach


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