Welcome to Wednesday.Trending yesterday: 1) Elliot Page, 2) Spotify Wrapped 2020, and 3) Fortnite.
🚀⏰ Ready, Set, Go: Today’s newsletter is a ~5.5 minute read. (1,402 words)
“If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.”
– David Allen
COVID-19 Present in U.S. Last December
The novel coronavirus reportedly infected some Americans as early as mid-December 2019 – weeks before it was officially identified in China and about one month before health officials identified the first U.S. case on Jan. 20, according to a U.S. government study published Monday.
A deeper dive…
Scientists at the CDC analyzed a selection of 7,389 blood donations collected by the American Red Cross across nine states (CA, CT, IA, MA, MI, OR, RI, WA, & WI) between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17.
They discovered COVID-19 antibodies in 106 samples, 39 of which were collected from the U.S. West Coast (CA, OR, & WA) between Dec. 13 and Dec. 16.
The scientists said they ruled out the possibility that the antibodies they discovered had been developed to fight off other coronaviruses, which cause the common cold, by singling out antibodies specific to COVID-19.
Previously at the CDC…
Last week, CDC researchers released a modeling estimate that found some 53M Americans had likely contracted the virus by the end of September compared to ~6.9M confirmed infections (a roughly 8:1 ratio).
A CDC study published Nov. 24 found that the number of Americans with COVID-19 antibodies ranged from fewer than 1% to 23%, depending on the state.
So… what are people saying?
To stop the next pandemic, we need to unravel the origins of COVID-19
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☑️ Election Updates
In an interview with The Associated Press, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said federal agents have been working to follow up specific complaints of voter fraud in November’s election, but “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities.
More: President Trump filed a lawsuit against WI Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday seeking to revoke the governor’s certification of WI election results that showed a more than 21k vote Biden victory.
Also… In the same interview, Barr revealed to the AP that in October he appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel (under the same regulations that governed Robert Mueller). Barr previously appointed Durham to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe.
📝 Coronavirus Relief Bills in Congress
Congressional lawmakers unveiled two competing coronavirus relief bills on Tuesday. A bipartisan group from the House and Senate publicized a ~$900B proposal, representing a scaled-down version of a $2.4T relief bill passed by the House in October. Separately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) circulated a new framework for Senate Republicans’ recent $650B proposal.
More: House Speaker Pelosi (D) and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin – the White House representative in stimulus talks – held their first phone conversation regarding relief measures since the election.
One of the world’s largest radio telescopes – housed at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico – collapsed due to structural failure on Tuesday. The telescope, which was closed in August due to cable failures, had been in operation for 57 years and served as an important tool in the search for extraterrestrial life (SETI).
More: The telescope served as a key set piece in the climax of the James Bond film GoldenEye. Relive the scene. (+ The required Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen the movie)
🗳 A U.S. government advisory panelvoted 13-1 on Tuesday to recommend healthcare workers and nursing home residents receive priority in the first days of any approved COVID-19 vaccination program.
🚨Breaking: The UK authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for emergency use, the first Western country to do so. Mass inoculations are expected to begin next week. Dig deeper.
📈 Records, Schmeckords
S&P 500: Rose 1.1% yesterday to close at an all-time high (3,662.45).
Nasdaq: Rose 1.3% yesterday to close at an all-time high (12,355.11).
Dow: Crossed 30,000 for the first time ever last week; closed yesterday at 29,823.92 (+0.6%).
Bitcoin: Hit all-time high of over $19,892 on Monday morning (per Coinbase data); breaks previous record set in Dec. 2017 ($19,783.21).
Cyber Monday: Spending hit $10.8 billion, setting a record for the largest U.S. internet shopping day ever (per Adobe Analytics data); Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday also set records for online shopping (~$5B and ~$9B, respectively).
1️⃣ One More Market Move: The Nasdaq filed a proposal with the SEC on Tuesday that would require listed companies to have at least one woman on their boards, in addition to a director who is a racial minority or one who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Companies that don’t meet the standard would be required to justify their decision in order to remain listed. (Listen to Nasdaq exec Jeff Thomas dive into the rules)
Salesforce announced the acquisition of Slack in a cash-and-stock deal worth $27.7B. Should the deal receive shareholder and regulatory approval, it would be the largest acquisition in Salesforce history and the second-largest ever in the software industry, trailing IBM’s 2018 acquisition of Red Hat for $34B.
🚀 China Shoots the Moon
China’s National Space Administration successfully landed its unmanned Chang’e-5 probe on the moon yesterday. The spacecraft launched on Nov. 24th with a primary mission to collect and return lunar samples to Earth – the first such expedition in over four decades. The probe is expected to touch back down in China in mid-December.
More: If successful, China would become the third country ever to demonstrate the technical capacity to pull off such a mission (joining the U.S. & Soviet Union).
🚚 Benevolent Business Bureau
Business partners Omar Soliman and Nick Friedman first began the College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving company when they were in college, using a shabby cargo van to transport furniture for people near the University of Miami.
After establishing the company headquarters in Tampa, FL, in 2007, the business grew into a nationally franchised operation, with the HUNKS becoming an acronym for “Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable, Service.” Now, the full-service moving company is focusing on yet another value: compassion.
This month, recognizing pandemic lockdowns have made it increasingly difficult for people in dangerous situations at home to seek help, College HUNKS announced it would begin providing free moves to victims of domestic violence throughout its 131 locations.
🦌 On the Hunt
Pania Tepaiho Marsh of Tokomaru, New Zealand, was a young mother of two when she decided to leave a toxic relationship with her partner. As a single mother, Pania, a member of the Māori (the indigenous people of mainland New Zealand), felt utterly helpless, entirely dependent on her former partner and aid from the state to support her family.
That was, until she learned how to hunt.
After entering a healthy relationship with her husband, Haaka, the now 38-year-old Pania decided to learn how to use a .308-calibre hunting rifle to bring home goats and deer for her children from the New Zealand bush.
The mother ultimately began hosting weekend hunting trips to teach single mothers how to hunt. The trips, which have a waiting list of 3,500 women, are called Wahine Toa Hunting – which means “strong, brave women” in the Māori language.
🐃 Art in the Park
Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is considered a poaching hotspot, where poachers from nearby communities – some of the poorest in the country – set wire traps to catch antelopes, buffalo, and warthogs for meat.
Despite the region’s reliance on the illegal hunting for food, National Geographic Explorer and wildlife ecologist Tutilo Mudumbu was surprised to learn during a research expedition that many villagers living near the park did not know what the animals looked like.
So Tutilo started the Snares to Wares initiative, a program through which people living near Murchison Falls weave wire from confiscated poachers’ snares into sculptures of the park’s wildlife. The project, which to date includes 620 artisans and produces ~800 sculptures a month, also allows participants to embark on field trips into the park to study the wildlife in person.
📣 Calling All Dog Lovers
Town & Trail delivers all natural, human-grade treats — perfect for any dog.
Taking a less is more approach, Town & Trail treats are made from USDA beef and contain only five human-grade ingredients. These naturally shelf-stable treats are rooted in South African tradition and are air-dried, keeping healthy protein and nutrients in — and gross chemicals out.
📷 Picture This… The Associated Press published its top photos of 2020, capturing “a world in distress.” View them here.
🎁 Wrap It Up… Spotify unveiled its annual Wrapped data, publishing the top artists, albums, songs, and podcasts of the year.
🦠 The Disaster Artists… worried about COVID-19 at your next indoor gathering? A website created by MIT professors offers customized occupancy levels based on room dimensions, ventilation setup, and more.