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Huge numbers of low-income children are going without crucial medical care during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Child vaccinations were down more than 20 percent, and dental visits fell by nearly 70 percent, among other worrying trends. “This decline may have significant impacts on long-term-health outcomes for children,” CMS officials said in a statement accompanying the release.

Here are some significant developments:
September 24, 2020 at 11:30 PM EDT
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Perspective: Grieving alone during the pandemic is hard. RBG’s memorial might be helping us cope.

By Petula Dvorak

It’s something America is missing, a proper grieving.

The Ave Maria, the gospel choir, the smell of chrysanthemums in a church, the shiva basket, the repast, the wake, the stories, songs, tears and the hugs that smother kids in Auntie’s organza dress and magnolia perfume. The pandemic took just about all of it from us.

And maybe that’s why this ongoing and sprawling outpouring for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — this massive, public, American funeral — is so important to our country right now.

September 24, 2020 at 10:45 PM EDT
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As pandemic winter looms, leaders in Europe and Canada issue stark warnings

By Emily Rauhala

Brace yourselves. That’s the message coming from leaders in Europe, Britain and Canada as autumn arrives, bringing with it crisp air and predictions of a dark pandemic winter.

Europe faces a “decisive moment.” Britain is at a “perilous turning point.” Canadians probably shouldn’t gather for Thanksgiving next month.

Leaders are emphasizing the risks ahead for countries heading into cooler months with case counts now growing again, not shrinking, and populations already fed up with pandemic restrictions.

September 24, 2020 at 10:00 PM EDT
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Coronavirus may just sink the world’s video game museums

By Steven Wright

When Alex Handy first founded the Museum of Arts and Digital Entertainment (or the MADE) in Oakland, Calif. in 2011, he imagined the institution as a bucket placed underneath an industry that was constantly leaking and dripping out vital artifacts of its own history.

Over the museum’s near-decade of existence, it has weathered rising rents, flooding, and even robberies to deliver a playable library of more than 10,000 games to its visitors.

However, more than six months after the ongoing coronavirus crisis forced its closure, it’s not at all clear if the MADE — or its fellow video game museums across the globe — will be able to survive the economic fallout wrought by the virus.

And given the interactive nature of video games, it’s clear that these museums will have an even tougher time mitigating the risk of transmission once they open back up.

September 24, 2020 at 9:15 PM EDT
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Airline executives discuss future of passenger safety

By Hannah Denham

A drastic redesign of flights as we knew them to be pre-pandemic isn’t likely, a group of aviation leaders said Thursday, but airlines are working to create more visible indicators of safety for passengers.

Kate Schaefer, Boeing’s vice president of specialty products and services, said during the Aviation Week Network‘s MRO Asia-Pacific virtual conference Thursday that the company has received a lot of questions from airlines and passengers about safety concerns related to single-aisle aircraft. She said she expects, especially for business-class seating, to shift toward a pod-style design with doors for passengers to have more privacy.

Other airlines have received requests from passengers for plastic shields between seating, which Embraer Asia Pacific business development and contracts manager Lais Port Antunes said will need to be easy to clean, environmentally friendly and adaptable in the case of emergency evacuation.

Airlines may also pivot to more touchless devices: downloadable in-flight entertainment for passengers on their personal devices, rather than using those attached to the backs of seating; and touchless faucets, toilet handles and soap dispensers.

But it’s ultimately up to the airlines themselves to decide how they will pack in passengers, and Hean Seng Tan, vice president of commercial business for ST Engineering, said he didn’t expect the industry to reduce cabin density after such a difficult financial hit from the pandemic.

“I think that the airlines are seeing that perhaps the passengers are not going to return back as fast, and they are looking for ways to utilize their passenger aircraft on the longer term,” Tan said. “From the terms of spending, I don’t think most of the airlines are going to move toward refurbishing or buying new seats and changing the way they travel. In fact, I think their key, primary purpose and goal is going to be bringing the passengers back.”

September 24, 2020 at 8:48 PM EDT
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Trump’s planned Virginia rally poses coronavirus risk, health officials say

By Laura Vozzella

RICHMOND — State and local health officials are raising alarms about President Trump's plans for a "gargantuan" rally at a Virginia airport Friday night, saying it could pose a "severe public health threat" if it violates the state's 250-person limit on public gatherings.

In a letter to the company that operates the hangar at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport where the rally is planned, the director of the local health district asked that the crowd be limited to 250.

“With an estimated attendance of up to 4,000 people, the rally poses a concerning public health risk,” Natasha Dwamena, the director of the Hampton and Peninsula Health District, wrote to Richard Martinez, the general manager of Atlantic Aviation.

September 24, 2020 at 8:45 PM EDT
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Working across time zones can mean being up at 3 a.m. It’s worth it for some travelers.

By Shannon McMahon

Tiffany Shan works as a production assistant for a filmmaker who is based in her home state of California. But she wakes up in Sydney around 4 a.m. most Saturdays, when it’s 11 a.m. and still Friday in Pacific time, to do her job.

In Belgrade, Serbia, travel blogger Philip Weiss logs on to his laptop in the late afternoon to check in with his team members as they’re waking up in Oregon.

Both Shan and Weiss have been working abroad in far-off time zones since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, when they decided to stay in the regions they were visiting rather than return to the United States.

They’re both part of a movement of working remotely abroad that shows people are willing to take on the logistical hurdles of working sometimes completely opposite schedules from their teams for the privilege of traveling.

September 24, 2020 at 8:00 PM EDT
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Internal USPS documents link changes behind mail slowdowns to top executives

By Jacob Bogage

A senior executive at the U.S. Postal Service delivered a PowerPoint presentation in July that pressed officials across the organization to make the operational changes that led to mail backups across the country, seemingly counter to months of official statements about the origin of the plans, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post.

David E. Williams, the agency’s chief of logistics and processing operations, listed the elimination of late and extra mail trips by postal workers as a primary agency goal during the July 10 teleconference. He also told the group that he wanted daily counts on such trips, which had become common practice to ensure the timely delivery of mail. Several top-tier executives sat in.

The presentation stands in contrast with agency accounts that lower-tier leaders outside USPS headquarters were mainly responsible for the controversial protocols, which tightened dispatch schedules on transport trucks and forced postal workers to leave mail behind.

September 24, 2020 at 7:46 PM EDT
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Pac-12 announces return of fall football season for first week in November

By Emily Giambalvo, Matt Bonesteel and Des Bieler

The Pacific-12 Conference announced Thursday that it will begin its football season on Nov. 6, after initially postponing it in August because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. All five of college football’s major conferences now plan to play this fall, despite the Pac-12 and Big Ten’s previous decisions against holding a fall season.

The Pac-12 will play a seven-game schedule, including a conference title game scheduled for Dec. 18. The conference also announced Thursday that its basketball season will start on Nov. 25, with other winter sports commencing around their usual dates.

The seven-game schedule could set up some heated debates about the potential worthiness of an undefeated Pac-12 team making it into the College Football Playoff, given that other major conferences are planning longer seasons.

September 24, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT
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Pelosi abruptly shifts course, restarts economic relief push amid signs economy is straining

By Erica Werner and Rachael Bade

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) abruptly shifted course Thursday and moved to assemble a new and smaller coronavirus relief bill to form the basis for renewed talks with the White House, amid mounting pressure from moderates in her caucus and increasingly alarming economic news.

The new legislation would be significantly narrower in scope than the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act the House passed in May. Pelosi has more recently focused on the need for $2.2 trillion in aid -- a figure Republicans say is still too high -- but in a meeting with House Democratic leaders Thursday she said the new bill would be around $2.4 trillion, because of urgent needs arising from restaurants and airlines. Details were provided by a person familiar with the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was private.

Pelosi asked key committee chairmen to get to work on putting together the bill.

“We are still striving for an agreement,” Pelosi said inside the leadership meeting. She suggested the legislation could come to a vote on the House floor even if no bipartisan deal is reached.

September 24, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT
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How genetic science helped expose a secret coronavirus outbreak

By Sarah Kaplan, Desmond Butler, Juliet Eilperin, Chris Mooney, Luis Velarde and Joe Fox

The coronavirus mutates as it moves through its victims. Infectious particles swabbed from a patient’s nose carry small but distinctive differences in its genome that can be used, like a molecular bar code, to track where the virus came from and how it had been transmitted.

By reading the virus’s RNA, Paraic Kenny, a tumor geneticist turned disease detective, could unveil how cases were connected to one another, exposing the secret spread of the disease.

The truth of what happened at Agri Star Meat and Poultry — and across America — is written in that code.

Small, stealthy and skilled at exploiting human vulnerabilities, the novel coronavirus seems tailor-made to wreak havoc on humanity. Its surface spikes fit as neatly as keys into the receptors that unlock our cells. It turns our organs into factories for its own reproduction, putting our molecular machinery to work building its proteins and transcribing its genome. In 24 hours it can fill a human’s respiratory tract with a trillion copies of itself.

And, with the cunning that comes from millennia of evolution, the virus exploits all of our most human habits. Traveling invisibly on the breath of its victims, it spreads most efficiently wherever we gather to work, to eat, to pray.

“It’s an amazing evolutionary machine dedicated to making more copies of itself,” Kenny said. “And it’s sadly very good at doing just that.”

September 24, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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Italian couple ‘Romeo and Juliet’ met from their balconies during lockdown. Now they’re engaged.

By Sydney Page

An Italian couple has become known as the “Romeo and Juliet” of the coronavirus lockdown.

In true Shakespearean style, their romantic story began on their respective balconies this year while Italians were forced to sequester in their homes because of the pandemic. It was in Verona — the same city where “Romeo and Juliet” took place.

But the love story of this pandemic couple does not have a tragic ending like Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers. In fact, six months after they met from afar, the covid-19 sweethearts are engaged to be married.

Michele D’Alpaos, 38, first laid eyes on Paola Agnelli, 40, in mid-March when she walked out on her balcony. Agnelli spotted D’Alpaos that night on his terrace, and said it was love at first sight.

September 24, 2020 at 5:15 PM EDT
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What if all covid‑19 deaths in the United States had happened in your neighborhood?

By Washington Post Staff, Agência Lupa and Google News Initiative

At least 201,688 people have died of covid-19 in the United States.

It can be difficult to comprehend the loss of all these lives in a country so large. The pandemic’s heaviest tolls have occurred in clusters, and many Americans don’t know anyone who has died. But the disease has killed people in all 50 states, the District and most of the territories.

What if all those deaths had happened near you?

To better understand these losses, this simulation shows what would happen if all reported covid‑19 deaths in the country happened around your address.

September 24, 2020 at 4:36 PM EDT
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New York will conduct its own vaccine review, Cuomo says

By Paulina Villegas

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday that New York state will conduct its own review of any vaccines for the coronavirus that are approved by the federal government, citing concerns that the Trump administration has overly politicized and threatened the integrity of the vaccine approval process.

“Frankly, I am not going to trust the federal government’s opinion, and I wouldn’t recommend to New Yorkers, based on the federal government’s opinion,” Cuomo (D) said at a news briefing, the New York Times reported.

A panel of scientists, health officials and experts led by the state Department of Health would review the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine after it is approved by the federal government, Cuomo said, “so that I can look at the camera and I can say to New Yorkers that it’s safe to take.”

State officials will not play a role in the approval process for the vaccine but would help decide its distribution throughout the state, where more than 32,000 people have succumbed to covid-19, and delay the process if they found the vaccine was not safe, the governor added.

Cuomo said his concerns grew after President Trump warned Wednesday that the White House might reject a plan by the Food and Drug Administration to issue new, tougher standards for emergency approval of the vaccine, dismissing them as “a political move.”

Trump suggested companies, not federal regulators, should decide when the vaccine should be made available for the public, adding that he saw no reason it should be delayed further. The president has repeatedly said that the vaccine would be available before Election Day. But top health officials have contradicted those claims and said it won’t be available to most Americans until late spring or summer 2021.

Cuomo’s announcement came after he and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) called for a congressional investigation of the Trump administration’s “politization of the pandemic response,” the Times reported.

September 24, 2020 at 3:25 PM EDT
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Additional 870,000 workers filed for jobless benefits last week

By Eli Rosenberg

About 870,000 new applications for unemployment insurance were processed last week, a slight increase from the week before, as unemployment claims remain stubbornly high six months into the pandemic.

That figure is up slightly from the 866,000 applications processed the week before, according to the Labor Department.

An additional 630,000 people had new claims processed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for self-employed and gig workers, down from 675,000 the week before.

“There’s nothing surprising in this,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “It’s just an ongoing crisis in the labor market.”