August 4, 2020 News Summary
US Politics and Economics
As the current COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people to become hesitant of physically going to polls and voting in state elections, 35 states that had an election, responsively, organized mail-in ballots in order to elect state leaders and officials, and 24 of them had a majority of ballots cast absentee. Interestingly, turnout in many states increased from the same elections in 2016, especially elections held in June and July. Despite the large number of voters utilizing mail-in ballots, their reliability is yet to be determined, since ballots may be rejected if they are missing a signature or have a late arrival. Moreover, in 2016, CBS News analyzed the election data in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, finding an average rate of 1.5 percent returned absentee ballots. There are many potential outcomes of how mail-in voting could impact this years’ elections, and a specific route has yet to be chosen.
Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will be extending the flexibilities of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through October 23rd to ensure the safety and well-being of recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Abbott assures, "The flexibilities the state is providing will protect access to important care and resources that many Texans rely on for their health and safety.” Despite the extension, however, all face-to-face services have been replaced with telehealth, which is the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic communication technologies. As stated by State Medicaid Director Stephanie Stephens, these precautions will minimize in-person interactions, while continuing to help clients “have access to the services they need in the most effective and safe manner during the COVID-19 public health emergency."
As of August 3, 2020, 5:45 PM (CDT), there is a total of 4,649,102 cases recorded COVID-19 cases in the U.S. In order to combat the growing numbers, the Governors of Maryland, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Virginia, and Ohio announced an interstate agreement with the Rockefeller Foundation to expand rapid antigen testing. They resolve to detect outbreaks even quicker and expand long-term testing in congregational settings by scaling up the production of tests and purchasing 500,000 tests per each of the six states.
Studies of COVID-19, including one by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, have shown that patients who initially recover from the virus may still show symptoms, such as post-viral syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome. Due to mounting evidence of lasting complications even after recovering, health experts are starting to study the long-term effects of COVID-19. Bruce Lee, a professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York, estimated that if 20% of the U.S. population contracts the virus, post-hospitalization costs for a single year would be at least $50 billion-- before factoring in longer-term medical care for other health problems.
Science and Technology
In an interview by CNN, Pete Navarro, Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the national Defense Production Act policy coordinator, explains the issue with Microsoft buying TikTok, which is a short-form video app that Mr. Navarro claims, “surveils, tracks, and monitors you.” He claims that since Microsoft is one of the companies that helped build China’s firewall, “makes billions in China,” and “‘enables Chinese censorship through things like Bing! and Skype”, there is clearly “suspicious stuff” going on between Microsoft and China. Mr. Navarro adds that Microsoft is under the doctrine of Civil-Military Fusion and may, therefore, hand over information to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) demands.
As U.S. Army researchers worked alongside scientists from the University of Maryland to build the precursor to a hybrid quantum computing system, our society is another step closer to living with quantum computers. According to newscientist.com, quantum computers “are machines that use the properties of quantum physics to store data and perform computations,” which “can be extremely advantageous for certain tasks.” The team of researchers and scientists demonstrated that a two-photon interference between photons from a trapped ion system and a neutral atom system is possible, which may assist in speeding up the process towards quantum computers of the future.
The European Union (EU) announces that it is launching an in-depth antitrust investigation into Google's recent acquisition of Fitbit, a fitness tracking company. Per CNBC’s report, the EU “is concerned that Google could ‘further entrench’ its market position in the online advertising business if it uses Fitbit data to target ads.”
World Politics and Economics
As aggression grows towards President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in South Africa, for suspected corruption and economic mishandling, President Mnangagwa decisively promises to “flush out” his opponents. He also adds that attempts by “a few rogue Zimbabweans” in “league with foreign denigrators” that are attempting to destabilize the country would be thwarted by “security services [which] will carry out their duties with appropriate astuteness and resolve.” Subsequently, photos of President Mnangagwa’s security forces beating civilians during an anti-government protest have ignited global outrage over the brutality. Furthermore, #ZimbabweanLivesMatter has been trending on Twitter, with multiple celebrities, including rapper Kiernan Forbes, promoting the campaign. In addition to torrents of political upheaval, Zimbabwe’s economy implodes, as inflation rises above 700 percent and the World Food Programme declares that nearly two-thirds of the population will require food aid by the end of this year.
US Politics and Economics: Dylan, Miranda, and Yijia
Texas Politics: Stephanie and Vicki
Health: Matthew, Megan, Allison, and Owen
Science and Technology: Bryan, Andrew, and Yiqi
World Politics and Economics: Joseph, William, and Jake
(All writers and editors are in middle to high school)