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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

A technical officer at the World Health Organization warned that consuming alcohol was an “unhelpful coping strategy” for cabin fever.

The United States became the country with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the number of deaths more than doubled, from 1,000 to 2,300, between Thursday and Sunday.1 A day after the Department of Labor announced that 3.3 million Americans had filed for unemployment benefits—an all-time high that does not reflect the employment status of gig workers, independent contractors, and the self-employed—President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion economic package that includes a freeze on federal student-debt repayment; grants to many industries, but specifically excluding companies owned by the Trump family or members of Congress; $370 billion for loans to small businesses; $150 billion for hospitals; $400 million for states to prepare for the 2020 general election; and $25 million for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.2 3 4 5 “Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life,” wrote Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who urged the reopening of the U.S. economy, with an exception for businesses that “pose a risk for coronavirus spread.”6 The Senate, which had not discontinued the use of its communal candy bowl, passed the relief bill unanimously and began a three-week recess; the House went on indefinite leave.7 Crisis plans in Alabama and Washington State dictated that people with intellectual disabilities would be lower-priority candidates for receiving life-saving care; 89 inmates and 12 staff at Illinois’s Cook County jail have tested positive for COVID-19; at Rikers Island, where the virus is estimated to be spreading 85 times faster than the average rate of infection in the United States, inmates were forced to use watered-down soap and shampoo to sanitize their surroundings; and a judge ruled that Amish bishop Sam Mullet Sr., who was imprisoned for countenancing beard-cutting attacks to shame members who had defied him, was at high risk for contracting the disease and could serve the rest of his sentence at home.8 9 10 11 Colorado abolished the death penalty.12 Merriam-Webster added an entry for “COVID-19” to its dictionary, which set the record for the fastest word given an entry after it was coined, a distinction previously held by “AIDS.”13

Chinese officials reopened public transportation in Wuhan for the first time in two months, and medical staff who had come from Shanghai to treat the sick in Wuhan were quarantined in an upscale hotel and given a free 14-day prix fixe menu and snacks.14 15 Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban was granted sweeping powers by parliament, including an indefinite term, no elections, and rule by decree, in response to the pandemic.16 In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro flouted the government’s recommendation to stay indoors, and gangs in Rio de Janeiro enforced their own lockdown.17 18 “If the government won’t do the right thing, organized crime will,” their official statement read. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi gave a four-hour notice before instituting a 21-day lockdown, which left millions of migrant workers homeless, and Israeli employers were forced to give their Palestinian workers health care during the pandemic.19 20 U.K. prime minister Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who said at a press conference four weeks ago that he had shaken the hands of people hospitalized for the coronavirus and whose government had promoted a policy of herd immunity, announced that he had tested positive for the virus.21 22 The president of Belarus criticized other nations’ responses to the coronavirus as “just another psychosis” and recommended as treatments 40 to 50 grams of vodka daily, going to a Russian-style sauna two to three times a week, and working on a farm.23 A technical officer at the World Health Organization warned that consuming alcohol was an “unhelpful coping strategy” for cabin fever.24

In Leeds, England, archaeologists unearthed 600 bottles of 19th-century beer that also contained lead.25 Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility, agreed to plead guilty after regulators determined that its equipment had sparked the 2018 wildfire that burned Paradise and killed 85 people.27 The EPA relaxed oversight on polluters.28 English police officers pulled over a man who had put his wife in the trunk because the £15 windows he had purchased on eBay took up too much space in his car.29 Five million South Koreans signed a petition demanding that law enforcement release the name of a 24-year-old accused of leading a revenge-porn ring that threatened at least 74 women and 16 underage girls.30 The king of Thailand booked an entire hotel in the German Alps for his entourage, which includes a harem of 20 women, to quarantine.31 Fearing that “the end of the world is near” and looking to clear his conscience, a man in Jerusalem returned a 2,000-year-old ballista stone he had stolen as a teenager from Jerusalem Walls National Park.32 “Meanwhile, he married and raised a family, and told me that for the past 15 years the stone is weighing heavily on his heart,” wrote the person who helped him anonymously return the projectile. A new study revealed that, during Earth’s greatest mass extinction, in the Permian Period, land animals died long before aquatic life.33Cameron French

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