U.S. Breaks World Record With More Than 55,000 New Coronavirus Cases in a Day
The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.
Thursday's tally of 55,274 new cases was both more than the country has reported on any single day so far and more than any other country has reported over 24 hours, according to Reuters figures. The previous record was held by Brazil, which reported 54,771 cases on June 19.
Thursday's high caseload is not an isolated incident. The U.S. has reported more than 40,000 new cases each day for seven days in a row and has broken records for new cases three days running, according to Reuters data. Thursday was also the second consecutive day that the daily tally topped 50,000, The Financial Times reported.
"What we've seen is a very disturbing week," National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a livestream with the American Medical Association, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
It also doesn't look like the surge in cases is down to increased testing, as some Trump administration officials have suggested in recent weeks.
"There is no question that the more testing you get the more you will uncover, but we do believe this is a real increase in cases because the percent positivities are going up," Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Brett Giroir told Congress Thursday, as The New York Times reported. "So this is real increases in cases."
In fact, Thursday's total represents a more than 85 percent increase in new cases compared to two weeks ago, when states began to reopen following an extended lockdown. Cases have risen in 40 out of 50 states in the past 14 days, according to COVID Tracking Project data reported by The Associated Press, and the number of tests coming back positive has risen in 36 states.
Eight states set individual records for their highest case tally Thursday, The New York Times reported. They were Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Montana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida, which reported more than 10,000 cases for the first time.
The rise in cases has led states and counties to impose new restrictions.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced a 10 p.m. curfew starting Friday and continuing indefinitely, The Washington Post reported.
"Too many people were crowding into restaurants late at night, turning these establishments into breeding grounds for this deadly virus," Gimenez said, as CBS News reported.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was closing bars, indoor restaurants and movie theaters in most of the state.
"The bottom line is the spread of this virus continues at a rate that is particularly concerning," Newsom said.
And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that anyone in a county with 20 or more cases would have to wear a mask in public, The Washington Post reported. This is a reversal for Abbott, who had previously prohibited local governments from mandating similar policies, The Associated Press pointed out.
"We are now at a point where the virus is spreading so fast, there is little margin for error," Abbott said, as The Associated Press reported. "I know that wearing a face covering is not the convenient thing to do, but I also know that wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business. And it will help Texans earn the paycheck they need."
Public health experts are worried the surge could get even worse following the Fourth of July weekend."It's set up a perfect storm: the combination of travel, the combination of reopening — perhaps in some cases, too early — and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines," Boston Medical Center infectious disease physician Dr. Joshua Barocas said during an Infectious Diseases Society of America briefing reported by CNN.
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By Peter A. Kloess
Picture Antarctica today and what comes to mind? Large ice floes bobbing in the Southern Ocean? Maybe a remote outpost populated with scientists from around the world? Or perhaps colonies of penguins puttering amid vast open tracts of snow?
Giants of the Sky<p>As their name suggests, these ancient birds had sharp, bony spikes protruding from sawlike jaws. Resembling teeth, these spikes would have helped them catch squid or fish. We also studied another remarkable feature of the pelagornithids – their imposing size.</p><p>The largest flying bird alive today is the <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/group/albatrosses/" target="_blank">wandering albatross</a>, which has a wingspan that reaches 11 ½ feet. The Antarctic pelagornithids fossils we studied have a wingspan nearly double that – about 21 feet across. If you tipped a two-story building on its side, that's about 20 feet.</p><p>Across Earth's history, very few groups of vertebrates have achieved powered flight – and only two reached truly giant sizes: birds and a group of <a href="https://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/pterosaurs-flight-in-the-age-of-dinosaurs/what-is-a-pterosaur" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reptiles called pterosaurs</a>.</p>
Full-size model of a Quetzalcoatlus on display at JuraPark in Baltow, Poland. Aneta Leszkiewicz / Wikimedia<p>Pterosaurs ruled the skies during the Mesozoic Era (252 million to 66 million years ago), the same period that dinosaurs roamed the planet, and they reached hard-to-believe dimensions. <a href="https://www.wired.com/2013/11/absurd-creature-of-the-week-quetz/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Quetzalcoatlus</a> stood 16 feet tall and had a colossal 33-foot wingspan.</p>
Birds Get Their Opportunity<p>Birds originated while dinosaurs and pterosaurs were still roaming the planet. But when an <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur-killing-asteroid-impact-chicxulub-crater-timeline-destruction-180973075/" target="_blank">asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago</a>, dinosaurs and pterosaurs both perished. Some <a href="https://www.audubon.org/news/how-birds-survived-asteroid-impact-wiped-out-dinosaurs" target="_blank">select birds survived</a>, though. These survivors diversified into the thousands of bird species alive today. Pelagornithids evolved in the period right after dinosaur and pterosaur extinction, when competition for food was lessened.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/spp2.1284" target="_blank">The earliest pelagornithid remains</a>, recovered from 62-million-year-old sediments in New Zealand, were about the size of modern gulls. The first giant pelagornithids, the ones in our study, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-75248-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">took flight over Antarctica about 10 million years later</a>, in a period called the Eocene Epoch (56 million to 33.9 million years ago). In addition to these specimens, fossilized remains from other pelagornithids have been found on every continent.</p><p>Pelagornithids lasted for about 60 million years before going extinct just before the Pleistocene Epoch (2.5 million to 11,700 years ago). No one knows exactly why, though, because few fossil records have been recovered from the period at the end of their reign. Some paleontologists cite <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2011.562268" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">climate change as a possible factor</a>.</p>
Piecing it Together<p>The fossils we studied are fragments of whole bones collected by paleontologists from the University of California at Riverside in the 1980s. In 2003, the specimens were transferred to Berkeley, where they now reside in the <a href="https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">University of California Museum of Paleontology</a>.</p><p>There isn't enough material from Antarctica to rebuild an entire skeleton, but by comparing the fossil fragments with similar elements from more complete individuals, we were able to assess their size.</p>
In life, the pelagornithid would have had numerous 'teeth,' making it a formidable predator. Peter Kloess, CC BY-NC-SA
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of products containing the weedkiller dicamba for use on cotton and soybeans Tuesday. The EPA announcement means that two products that contain the herbicide found to cause cancer can be registered for five years. It also extended the use of a third product that also has dicamba in it, according to The Hill.
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As U.S. Election Nears, Polling Shows 82 Percent of Voters Support 100 Percent Clean Energy Transition
By Jessica Corbett
With an estimated 66 million ballots already cast and only a week to go until Election Day, new polling released Tuesday shows the vast majority of U.S. voters believe the nation should be prioritizing a transition to 100% clean energy and support legislation to decarbonize the economy over the next few decades.
<div id="5206f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="584d1641628f692ff103aee7ed74b45e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1321080152328208384" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Biden should get "uncontrolled climate change would cost $486 trillion" tattooed on his forehead imo https://t.co/nTbVdHa9gD</div> — Emily Atkin (@Emily Atkin)<a href="https://twitter.com/emorwee/statuses/1321080152328208384">1603805027.0</a></blockquote></div>
Arctic Ocean sediments are full of frozen gases known as hydrates, and scientists have long been concerned about what will happen when and if the climate crisis induces them to thaw. That is because one of them is methane, a greenhouse gas that has 80 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. In fact, the U.S. Geological Survey has listed Arctic hydrate destabilization as one of the four most serious triggers for even more rapid climate change.