Coronavirus News: July 17 – U.S. Sees New Daily Record, EU Continues Ban on Americans

Study: People Who Social Distance May Be More Intelligent

By Anna Breuer on 17 July 2020
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Drinks at 10 Corso Como in New York

As the number of coronavirus cases worldwide approached 14 million, and cases in the United States passed the 3.6 million mark, officials scrambled to add restrictions and require masks.

The United States on Wednesday reported over 75,600 new infections, according to data from the Worldometer, a service that aggregates and makes available such statistics, shattering the previous record for a single day.  India’s caseload hit one million and the country ranks third in the world in new cases as well as total cases.

The European Union extended the ban on American visitors for at least another two weeks. Currently, visitors from 14 countries are welcome including those from Australia, Canada, and South Korea.

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, along with other large concerns including Kroger’s, a grocery chain, and department store Kohl’s, announced that all customers would be required to wear masks in order to enter a store.  Apple, Best Buy, Costco, and Starbucks already require masks.

Even as governors, mayors, and local officials sought to stem the tide by requiring masks and limiting the size of public gatherings, Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, forbade local officials to require people to wear face coverings in public.  Kemp did, however, extend his executive order that limited the size of public gatherings to 50 through the end of the month. The order encourages people to wear masks but does not require it.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned to-go sales of alcohol at New York bars and restaurants. The practice had been allowed during the period when restaurants were only able to offer takeaway food.  Now that outdoor dining is permitted, the governor ended to-go beverage sales due to numerous complaints about the lack of social distancing by patrons making such purchases.

Several large school districts said they would continue to limit their offerings to distance learning for the time being, including the Houston Independent School District, the seventh largest in the country.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the president wants to see schools reopen and added that “science should not stand in the way of this.”

An op-ed piece in the newspaper USA Today that attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, claiming he had been “wrong about everything,” was walked back by the paper after the story created a schism within the Trump administration.  As the White House attempted to disavow the attack on the scientist who is considered to be one of the most trusted public figures of the day, Bill Sternberg, the paper’s editorial page editor, wrote in a comment that now precedes the story that several of Navarro’s attacks on Dr. Fauci “were misleading or lacked context.” He added that the story “did not meet USA Today’s fact-checking standards.”

Meanwhile, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Riverside and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that people who comply with social distancing guidelines have better working memory capacity, which is an indicator of intelligence. Working memory measures how much information can be retained in the brain for brief moments and is strongly correlated with smarts, comprehension, and problem solving.  They therefore have an increased awareness of benefits over costs of social distancing and, subsequently, showed greater compliance with recommended social distancing guidelines during the early stage of the Covid-19 outbreak. The researchers recommend that public awareness campaigns about social distancing should be “succinct, concise, and brief” to avoid Information Overload.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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