Today was one of the biggest COVID-19-related news days in quite a while, so let’s get right to the links:
• Reopening processes around the country—and in some parts of California—are coming to a halt or being reversed, due to increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. In Texas and Florida, bars are being closed, and other business are being restricted.
• San Francisco was planning on allowing hair salons, outdoor bars and other businesses to open on Monday. That move has been delayed indefinitely.
• And most worrisome locally: For the first time since the reopening process began, the state has told a county that it needs to re-impose a strict stay-at-home order—Imperial County, our neighbors to the southeast. And another neighboring county, San Bernardino, is close to running out of non-surge hospital beds.
• Riverside County is behind the curve at hiring contact tracers. The good news is that as of yesterday, the county was up to 220 of them, with 180 added in the last five weeks, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. However, the state says we need around 375 of them.
• Dr. Anthony Fauci said the federal government is considering a new way of testing for SARS-CoV-2—pool testing. “The approach works this way: Samples from, say, 20 people are combined into a single pool,” reports The Washington Post. “One coronavirus test is used on the entire pool. If the test comes back negative, researchers know they can move on to another pool of samples. If it comes back positive, only then would each individual be tested.”
• A Tucson emergency room doctor penned a column for The New York Times with this headline: “I’m a Health Care Worker. You Need to Know How Close We Are to Breaking.”
• While the state-by-state numbers here are probably too small to take too seriously … a recent Axios/Ipsos poll shows that 64 percent of Californians wear masks whenever they go out—the second highest percentage behind New York.
• A JPMorgan study shows a correlation between restaurant spending and the spread of the coronavirus, according to CNBC—and, conversely, “higher spending at supermarkets predicts a slower spread of the virus.” However, experts point out that this doesn’t necessarily mean restaurants are to blame for the spread.
• Also according to CNBC: The number of homeowners delaying their monthly mortgage payments is on the rise again, after falling for several weeks.
• Can you shop safely in a brick-and-mortar clothing store? Esquire talked to some experts to get answers. Key quote from Erin Bromage, associate professor of biology and immunology at the University of Massachusetts: “It comes down to how long you spend in the store and how many people are in the store. If you are only in there for a short period of time, and they’re restricting occupancy, then the risk is low.”
• From our partners at CalMatters, via the Independent: University of California campuses are telling students to prepare for a fall semester that will mostly—but not entirely—take place online.
• We’re now moving to our WTF?! portion of the digest, starting with the news that American Airlines is going to stop keeping middle seats open, and resume booking flights to capacity.
• It’s not often that I’ve wanted to tip my hat to Dick Cheney, but here we are: He says that real men wear face masks.
• Did you know North Carolina has an anti-mask law? It’s true—and it’s caused no small degree of confusion. It turns out the law is a decades-old measure meant to crack down on the KKK—but thankfully, it’s been temporarily suspended, at least through Aug. 1.
• Finally, this story is particularly devastating news to those of us here at Independent World Headquarters: Costco has stopped making half-sheet cakes. DAMN YOU ’RONA! DAMN YOU!!!
• No … we take back that “finally”; we can’t end the week on that awful note. So here’s some good news: San Francisco’s Transgender District was “the first legally recognized district in the world dedicated to a historically transgender community.” The economic downturn almost forced the nonprofit to close—but then came the Black Lives Matter protests. Now, the Transgender District is on firmer footing, as “the two movements have converged in a kind of intersectional synchronicity that is bringing renewed attention to the realities of transgender people of color,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Readers, these are scary times. Please, take care of yourself this weekend. Wear a mask when you go out. Check in on neighbors and loved ones. Live in the now and enjoy life, because these days still count against the total number you have on this planet. Right? Oh, and help out the Independent, if you’re able, by becoming a Supporter of the Independent. The Daily Digest will return Monday.