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Friday, April 24, 2020

Governors' push to reopen states risks second wave of infection, experts warn | US news | The Guardian

A health advisory in Miami Beach in March. Certain beaches in Florida have already reopened to the public.

"US governors seeking to relax public health restrictions on the activity of people and businesses are acting prematurely and risk inciting a second, more damaging wave of infections from the coronavirus pandemic, public health experts have warned.

A wave of reopenings is set to spread across the south and midwest of the US, led by Republican governors.
Georgia has announced it will allow the resumption of some businesses, such as barbershops and nail salons on Friday and restaurants next week, while certain beaches in Florida have already reopened to the public. Oklahoma is also set to lift restrictions on some businesses, South Carolina beaches and retail stores will reopen next week with social distancing guidelines and Nebraska is set to allow dental work and scheduled surgeries within the next two weeks.
Brian Kemp, Georgia’s governor, has said that he believes “our citizens are ready for this” and will practice social distancing advice to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Donald Trump, who previously claimed to have complete authority over the reopening of states, is now largely leaving the issue to governors. Although the president has said he “strongly disagrees” with Kemp’s position, he has called on protesters to “liberate” other Democratic-controlled states from strict lockdown orders.
But infectious disease experts have warned that it is too early to scale down stay-at-home orders. A lack of testing is a critical issue – about 500,000 people a day need to be tested across the US in order to gradually restart the American economy, according to a Harvard estimate. But the actual testing rate lags far below that, at around 150,000 tests a day.
Experts say many Americans have quickly learned new codes of behavior by keeping their distance from others, washing their hands and, increasingly, wearing masks. But a lack of swabs and reagents needed for tests, as well as a lack of contact tracing to track infections, makes it difficult to safely resume normal life.
“I don’t think the US is ready, there are 50 states all at different points in their epidemic,” said Yanis Ben Amor, executive director of the Center for Sustainable Development in the Earth Institute. “We aren’t diagnosing enough people and if we don’t have a testing system in place it will flare up again badly. We just don’t have that testing system and as a human being I’m deeply concerned about the consequences for people who think their governor is saying it’s safe now.”
The push by some governors to reopen doesn’t come with much public support.
About eight in 10 Americans support measures to limit gatherings, polling has found, with a majority feeling it’s too soon to lift restrictions. This view is echoed by various mayors – Georgia’s reopening was criticized as “reckless, premature and dangerous” by Van Johnson, mayor of Savannah.
Countries such as Switzerland, Austria and France have tentatively outlined plans for the gradual restarting of business and social activities and the US government has provided advice to states on when to do likewise.
But Ben Amor said states like Georgia, which is still reporting significant numbers of infections, do not meet the criteria as yet.
“Why the hell is Georgia opening when it isn’t ticking the box of phase one?” he said. “It still has too many cases. There needs to be a strong, informed approach from the federal government rather than just let the states police themselves.”
While infections and hospitalizations are showing signs of plateauing, the US will probably, at some point, be hit with a second wave of Covid-19 infections and experts say the approach taken in reopening the economy and implementing mass testing will be crucial in determining the severity of this second peak.
Recent modeling done by researchers at MIT, based upon the experiences of China and Italy, has found that an early reopening will spell disaster. A draft paper by the researchers warns “relaxing or reversing quarantine measures right now will lead to an exponential explosion in the infected case count, thus nullifying the role played by all measures implemented in the US since mid March 2020.”
If restrictions are lifted now it may take a month before a surge in new infections is apparent, a window of time that may make states feel confident in further loosening lockdown conditions. This may well lead to an attritional bout of “whack a mole” where states loosen and then tighten restrictions as new cases crop up, said Andy Slavitt, a former healthcare official under Barack Obama.
Slavitt said in the absence of consistent federal leadership the public should listen to high-profile public health figures such as Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, and be prepared for long-term changes to the rhythm of everyday life.
“Until we have herd immunity and a safe vaccine that can be distributed to everyone in the country we will be in this altered state,” he said. “Neither will be a silver bullet, though, so maybe older and sicker people will have to socially distance for a certain time in the year on an ongoing basis. Maybe we don’t do handshaking any more. Maybe we wear masks a little more."
Governors' push to reopen states risks second wave of infection, experts warn | US news | The Guardian

Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro Review: Do you believe in Apple's Magic?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Why Apple’s iPad Is the Gadget of the Pandemic Shelter-in-place orders have transformed the tablet computer from a superfluous device into a must-have.

Shelter-in-place orders have transformed the tablet computer from a superfluous device into a must-have.

“In a flatlining economy, the $399 iPhone that Apple introduced last week might sound attractive. But there’s a better gadget deal in the pandemic: the iPad.

Remember the iPad? You would be forgiven if you had forgotten.

Apple unveiled a new entry-level model of the tablet computer last year for $329. Yet it barely got a mention at the company’s glitzy product event in September, when Apple highlighted new iPhones that cost $699 to $1,099. The iPad, which always seemed like an optional accessory sitting between your computer and smartphone, has long been treated as that “other” device.

Now it’s time for us to reconsider the iPad. Last week, I wrote about how the coronavirus had revealed our most essential tech and weeded out the excess. The tech we have turned to over and over boils down to a computing device, communication tools, entertainment and an internet connection. The iPad delivers on all of those needs even better than a smartphone.

With a bigger screen than an iPhone, the iPad excels at videoconferencing with apps like FaceTime and Zoom, and it’s great for watching movies and programs on Netflix and YouTube. When you attach it to a good keyboard, it becomes an excellent budget computer with a zippy internet connection for browsing the web, writing emails and composing documents. All for half the price of a regular iPhone.
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“It’s really in that sweet spot of being relatively affordable and having everything I think most people will need,” said Nick Guy, a writer for Wirecutter, a New York Times publication that tests products.

So even though Apple is releasing its new iPhone SE this week, with its sped-up internals and a better camera than its predecessor, now may not be the ideal time to buy one. After all, what good is an improved camera if you can’t leave the house?

It’s tough to recommend buying any tech in the coronavirus outbreak, actually. But if your gadgets are failing to fulfill your needs in any of the aforementioned areas and you have the money to spend, an iPad is one of the few products I can endorse for its practicality. (Apple declined to comment on this column.)”