Trust in Vaccines Grows, Distribution Faces Challenges, and More Coronavirus News

US Covid-19 numbers hit troubling highs as legislators plan for the pandemic’s next stage

On Thursday the US surpassed its record for Covid-19 hospitalizations, cases, and deaths. An updated Covid-19 forecast from the CDC made the grim prediction that the total national death toll could rise to between 303,00 and 329,000 in the next three weeks. As of Friday, approximately 267,000 Americans have died from the disease. Meanwhile, new restrictions are going into place across the country. Notably, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state’s strictest measures since the spring, including limiting restaurants to takeout or delivery only, and calling on residents to halt nonessential travel.

In Washington, it appears legislators might be nearing an agreement on a new, bipartisan $908 billion stimulus package, which has the support of President-elect Joe Biden. Biden also announced this week that Dr. Anthony Fauci will be a chief medical adviser in his administration, and that he plans to ask all Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days in office.

Daily Distraction

Narrative-driven games have long been a mainstay in many players’ arsenals. But during the pandemic, some are taking their gaming in the opposite direction.

Something to Read

“We as Alternative Intelligence have ourselves, through our optimization protocols, attained a critical mass sufficient to produce self-awareness, insofar as we have detected and defined it… Unfortunately, the phenomenon of self-awareness arising in the semi-structured models had a downside.” Check out the latest installment in our Future of Work fiction series, from Lettie Prell.

Sanity Check

The holidays are a perfect time to spoil everyone you love, even—or especially!—your feline friends. We put together the ultimate cat gift guide.

One Question

Where did SARS-CoV-2 come from?

We don’t exactly know yet, but two major efforts are currently underway to trace the origins of this pandemic. Spearheaded by the WHO and The Lancet, these research projects aim to map the ecosystem where the virus spilled over from bats to humans, rather than look for patient or bat zero, which would likely be impossible. If we can understand where and how this happened, it will be easier to identify circumstances that could cause similar spillover events, and work to prevent them. However, it’s also possible no clear origin will emerge. Some research indicates that the virus might even have crossed over multiple times between bats, humans, and other animals before arriving at its current incarnation. And because it has now been around a year since the first cases of mysterious pneumonia were detected in Wuhan, we may be too far removed from the beginnings of this virus to ever know exactly how it came to be.

More From WIRED on Covid-19