World Coronavirus Deaths Pass One Million, U.S. Accounts for 20 Percent
The Johns Hopkins University tracker for worldwide coronavirus cases showed that the world passed a grim milestone early Tuesday morning, as more than 1 million have died from the virus and the infection it causes, COVID-19.
That's equivalent to almost the entire population of San Jose, California. It's a larger number than the population of Boston, Seattle, Portland and nearly twice the population of Atlanta. In comparison to diseases, COVID-19 in just nine months has killed more people than HIV and dysentery, as The New York Times reported. It has also killed more than cholera, flu, measles and malaria combined. It's reached every corner of the globe, affecting every country in the world.
"This is a very serious global event, and a lot of people were going to get sick and many of them were going to die, but it did not need to be nearly this bad," said Tom Inglesby, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, as The New York Times reported.
In addition to the 1 million global deaths, the virus has infected nearly 33.5 million people. Many of the survivors never fully recover and end up with lingering effects that affect their lungs, joints, muscles and mental acuity. Those continued symptoms hamper their ability to return to normal life, according to another report in The New York Times.
The U.S. accounts for 20 percent of the global deaths, by far the largest number of deaths, with more than 205,000 COVID-19 fatalities. The Johns Hopkins data shows that just four countries — the U.S., Brazil, India and Mexico — make up more than half the total of worldwide deaths, according to CNN.
India is quickly catching up to the U.S. as the virus's transmission is accelerating there. As for the U.S., the numbers are continuing to climb as only 19 states are holding steady. CNN reported that 21 states recorded a higher number of cases in the past week compared to the previous week.
"It's not only that the number of infections keeps on going up. It's also that the test positivity rates are trending in the wrong direction," said emergency medicine physician Dr. Leana Wen to CNN.
"We're seeing more than a dozen states with a test positivity ... over 10%. And there are two states — Idaho and South Dakota — where the test positivity is over 20 percent," she added. "That means that not only do we have increasing infections in these states, we also don't have nearly enough testing."
For context, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that an area that wants to reopen businesses should have the number of positive cases at 5 percent or lower for 14 consecutive days, according to Johns Hopkins.
Officials from the WHO believe the actual number of cases and deaths is underreported.
"If anything, the numbers currently reported probably represent an underestimate of those individuals who have either contracted COVID-19 or died as a cause of it," said Mike Ryan, the WHO's top emergencies expert, told a briefing in Geneva, as The Guardian reported.
"When you count anything, you can't count it perfectly but I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of COVID."
Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres called the 1 million deaths threshold agonizing and suggested the world learn from its mistakes.
"Responsible leadership matters," he said, as The Washington Post reported. "Science matters. Cooperation matters — and misinformation kills."
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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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