Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The impact of Sport Events On Workers

Thousands of workers would have staffed the 450 NBA and NHL games that will not be played over the next month in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. And then there are the more than 300 spring training and regular-season baseball games, 130 NCAA Division I men’s and women’s tournament games, 50 or so Major League Soccer matches, all international golf and tennis tournaments, and who-knows-how-many high school, small college and other entertainment events canceled or postponed because of the global health crisis. The total economic impact of the loss of sports and other events because of the pandemic (assuming only a month shutdown) is impossible to calculate but will reach the billions, easily. Tickets aren’t being sold, so teams and leagues and organizing bodies lose money. Fans aren’t going to events that aren’t happening, so taxi drivers and ride-share operators have no one to ferry to and from those places. Hotel rooms will be empty. Beers and hot dogs aren’t being sold, so concessionaires and vendors lose money. Wait staff and bartenders aren’t getting tips. Without those tips, their babysitters aren’t getting paid. The trickle-down effect sprawls in countless directions. However, some teams and top players are trying to help:

  • Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had his plan: “We will pay them as if the games happened”.
  • The Golden State Warriors’ ownership, players and coaches have pledged to donate $1 million to provide assistance to employees who work games at Chase Center.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers, have made commitments to workers at not just NBA events but also the building’s minor-league hockey games.
  • The Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks were among the earliest NBA franchises to reveal they’re working on how they’ll take care of arena staffs.
  • NHL’s Washington Capitals, among others, and the ownership group for Detroit’s Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers said they were setting up a $1 million fund “to cover one month’s wages for our part-time staff for games, concerts and events that they would have otherwise worked.” (WJLA)


Virus cases spread across Africa, nations prepare for more

Africa is seeing a steady spread of the coronavirus across the continent, with four new countries confirming cases on Saturday, so that 23 of Africa’s 54 countries have COVID-19 patients. Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini and Mauritania reported their first cases recently. All were brought to the continent by travelers from overseas, as with almost all the other cases reported in Africa, according to health authorities. African governments and health officials are racing to try to contain the spread of the new virus on the continent of 1.3 billion people. If the disease spreads locally within the continent, health officials warn that several countries with fragile health systems could see higher mortality rates. Namibia, which confirmed two cases of people who arrived from Spain, canceled its independence celebrations planned for March 21st. The funds that were to have been spent on the independence festivities will now be used to fight the further spread of the coronavirus, said officials. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. Africa’s hospitals may not be adequately prepared to care for large numbers of people who may need intensive care and ventilators, say health experts. (News Max)


U.S. internet well-equipped to handle work from home surge

The U.S. internet won’t get overloaded by spikes in traffic from the millions of Americans now working from home to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus, experts say. Some may have to settle for audio, which is much less demanding of bandwidth. Many officials are applauding the announcements by several major U.S. internet providers for taking measures, including the temporary suspension of data caps and free broadband for 60 days for households with children who lack it, designed to better accommodate remote access for students, workers and public health officials. Several officals had called for such measures in a letter to CEOs of AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Verizon, CenturyLink, Sprint and T-Mobile. The sudden, unanticipated surge in millions of remote workers has forced companies to scramble to boost their capacity for secure connections through virtual private networks. The surge is creating some temporary bottlenecks. But because so much of computing has moved to cloud services, the shift doesn’t pose much of an on-site burden for companies with bottlenecks typically cleared in minutes or hours. But some conference calling and chat services have been overwhelmed. (ABC News)


US travel ban extends to UK and Ireland

The United States has broadened its European travel ban, adding the United Kingdom and Ireland to its list, and was considering imposing restrictions on travel within the U.S. to areas hit hard by the coronavirus (Covide-19) spread. Under the restrictions on European travel, American citizens, green card holders and others are still allowed to return home to the U.S., but will be funneled to 13 airports and be subjected to health screenings and quarantine orders. “If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” President Trump said in the announcement. The previous terms was a 30-day ban on flights covered only by the 26-nation Schengen area, the European Union’s border-free travel zone, that does not include Britain or Ireland. (Depart Abroad)


International developments in the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) said that Europe is now the world’s COVID-19 pandemic epicenter.
  • The U.S. extended the travel ban to Ireland and the UK.
  • Spain declared a state of emergency and lockdown after a sharp rise in coronavirus cases there.
  • France is closing all restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and non-essential retail stores.
  • Italy saw a 20% spike in cases this weekend and now has the highest number of coronavirus deaths outside of China. At the same time, it is seeing a drop in pollution attributed to empty streets and businesses.
  • El Salvador and Honduras have set up temporary hospitals to deal with the influx of patients.

(Center For Infectious Disease Researcher And Policy)


A new way to track, and treat, cancer

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have developed a new kind of imaging agent that reveals cancer cells in tumors and the surrounding cells that protect them, which might otherwise go unnoticed. Such neighboring cells help cancer cells resist treatments like chemotherapy and radiation, and they can even conceal cancer cells. The imaging agent throws a spotlight on a protein called annexin A2, which shows up in several different forms of cancer cells but not in healthy tissue. This could help doctors eliminate malignant tumors and the cells that aid and abet their spread. (Futurity)


The reign of King Coal is ending

As renewable energy operations grow cheaper and more efficient, the case for sticking with coal power is becoming weaker by the day. In fact, by 2030, it will be more cost-effective to build new renewable energy plants than to continue operating existing coal plants in every energy market in the world, according to research from Carbon Tracker. This is already the case today in some 60% of energy markets. Investors in new coal energy projects stand to lose over $600 billion, as the economic case for these projects wither in the coming years. (Vox)


The search for space during COVID-19

The U.S. health system has a numbers problem. American hospitals have an estimated 45,000 intensive care unit beds and another 45,000 that can be converted in a pinch. But even in a moderate outbreak scenario, we will likely need 200,000 intensive care unit beds, according to a report from Johns Hopkins. So, local, state and federal officials are getting creative, reports CityLab. In King County, Washington, officials have purchased an 85-room Econolodge for $4.5 million that they’ll retrofit into a treatment center. And San Francisco is looking to convert RVs into shelters to prevent an outbreak among the city’s homeless population. What won’t work in this situation? Repurposing large open areas like stadiums or churches, as keeping the virus contained requires distance between patients. (Center for Health Security)


Marriage is boosting inequality

More and more, wealthy Americans are marrying each other, driving up inequality in the process. In 2018, 7.4% of married couples had both partners earning in the top 20% of their age group, compared to 0.4% in 1960. Much of this comes down to what economists refer to as “assortative matching,” when partners choose each other based on their shared characteristics. In this case, college-educated people are pairing up with each other in greater numbers than in previous decades. Such patterns may perpetuate inequality, as children of wealthy parents are more likely to earn more themselves. (Quartz)


Supercomputer joins virus fight

The world’s most powerful supercomputer at IBM has been enlisted in the fight against COVID-19. Summit, which is based at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, has identified 77 potential molecules that may prove useful in the treatment against the novel coronavirus. IBM’s supercomputer, which packs more power than a million high-end laptops, ran simulations for 8,000 different molecules to reach these results over the course of a couple days. Such work would take months for typical computers. Up next: Drug trials. (CNBC)


Astronomers have identified an exoplanet that is being pelted by iron rain

Wasp-76b, which is 640 light-years away in the constellation of Pisces, is an ultra-hot gas giant that orbits its host star at a very close distance. It’s tidally locked to its star, meaning that one of its sides is constantly facing the star, while the other side is in perpetual darkness. According to a new study, the extremely high temperatures of the dayside (4352 Fahrenheit) vaporize iron molecules, creating metallic clouds that drop iron rain when they reach the night side of the planet. The researchers studied Wasp-76b using a new “planet-hunting” instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile. (The Guardian)


The coronavirus outbreak has now spread to 49 states

The virus has been reported in more than 2,700 people, and at least 58 patients have died. The only state not reporting cases is West Virginia. The House passed a sweeping relief package to assist people affected by the outbreak, and it now goes to the Senate. Free coronavirus testing for all is among the provisions, as well as two weeks of paid sick leave, though millions could be left uncovered. For centuries, the U.S. has resisted a centralized public health policy. This week, as protective measures against the coronavirus varied county to county, Americans saw the cost. A lack of investment in public health has left local and state health departments particularly ill-equipped to face the swelling crisis ahead. (The New York Times)


Tuesday Comes With A Side Order of:

  • Campfire Day
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • World Social Work Day

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