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Why This Matters: Years of discriminatory policies and growing income inequality have created a perfect storm for COVID-19 to inflict maximum damage. Though we’ve heard that the coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, it actually does. New research links air pollution to higher coronavirus death rates and communities of color as well as low-income ones are exposed to toxic air at far higher rates than their whiter and wealthier counterparts.
The Big Picture: As the Washington Post reported, the daily death toll from coronavirus in the United States surpassed 1,800 on Tuesday, marking a new global high for the number of deaths linked to the virus in one country in a single day.
The Good News: Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 is thought to have originated finally lifted its lockdown after 11 weeks. Nonetheless, the city’s liberation was greeted with anger and anxiety about the manner in which officials first handled the outbreak.
There are about 1.7 million viruses that afflict mammals and birds, and about half of them could potentially infect humans, just like COVID-19, SARS, HIV, and Ebola. But a team of researchers at UC Davis are attempting to help prevent another pandemic from disrupting the world, by creating an app called SpillOver.
Why this Matters: The scientists creating the app believe that by creating a prioritized watchlist of viruses, we can better have improved detection and thus reduce the risk of disease transmission and maybe even preemptively develop vaccines, therapeutics, and public education campaigns for the viruses that pose the greatest risk.
Why This Matters: We’ve been relying on old data about farmworkers’ exposure to pesticides for the past 30 years, and thus the full picture of the harmful impact of these products on people has been underappreciated.
A coalition of 63 health, wildlife, and environmental organizations has written a letter urging the Biden administration to adopt policies to combat the increased threat of zoonotic disease spillover into human populations. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say that human population expansion and increased interactions with wildlife, present increased chances for future pandemics as well.
Why This Matters: According to the World Health Organization, there are over 200 known zoonoses, diseases that have jumped from non-human animals to humans.
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