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Covid Virus

Coronavirus Could Have Been In The US Since December, According To New Research

Outbreaks of illness attributed to the coronavirus weren’t widely documented until the spring, however, new reports suggest that the virus could have been in the United States as early as December. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously reported that the virus first hit the country in late January, but researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, believe otherwise. 

The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, and found that there was a significant increase in clinic and hospital visits by patients who reported respiratory illnesses the week of December 22nd, 2019. These patients all went to the ER with respiratory complaints, and many others were hospitalized with acute respiratory failure between December 2019 and February 2020. It’s important to note that these hospitalizations could have all been flu related as well, however, the spike in visits is substantial when compared to previous years, so it’s not to be taken lightly. 

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Currently, universities and schools across the country are coping with the inevitable spikes in outbreaks that have already been occuring. So far 50,000 coronavirus cases have been reported at various colleges and universities in all 50 states. Many universities are opting for required 14-day quarantine periods for all infected students. 

The University of Arizona and the Colorado University of Boulder have both implemented these quarantine measures. Arizona specifically is urging all of its students to remain indoors and isolated until the end of the month based on how many new cases they’re seeing. They saw 261 new cases appear on campus this year alone. 

Many have also heard about the wedding in Maine that has now led to 176 new Covid-19 cases and seven deaths. The seven people who died weren’t even at the wedding itself, but contracted it through individuals who were in attendance. The story is now being widely used as an example of just how badly this virus can impact individuals who were doing everything right in their lockdown procedures, but it still wasn’t enough due to others irresponsibility. 

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While authorities and government officials have “strongly encouraged” the health and safety measures created to prevent situations like the Maine wedding from occurring, the fact is these measures are rarely enforced. This is why America has one of the highest infection/death rates in the world. CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah recently spoke with the media about this wedding and gatherings in general in the US. 

“The virus favors gatherings, it does not distinguish between happy events like a wedding celebration. That event is now linked to outbreaks more than 100 miles away from the venue, and among people who had only secondary or tertiary contact with an attendee.”

Some officials and industries have been adjusting and preparing for a coronavirus-altered way of life to return to some semblance of normalcy, while others are preparing for the worst; a second wave.

Coronavirus against the UK

UK Joins List Of European Countries Experiencing Rise In Covid-19 Cases 

The UK has joined the likes of France, Spain, and Germany this week as they continue to struggle with a slew of new coronavirus cases. Within a twenty-four hour period this past weekend over 3,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England after dozens of schools in the country reported outbreaks. 

Hospitalization rates are still low, however, past outbreaks have proven that it takes a few weeks after a major outbreak for hospital room occupancies to go up, so only time will tell if that remains as it is now. The UK is one of the countries that endured an intense and prolonged lockdown in the beginning of this pandemic, so any sort of new outbreak is very worrisome; especially one that impacts thousands. 

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Ministers are currently debating how to better control the situation, but have also received major backlash for their decision making regarding reopening schools and other educational establishments that are now directly leading to new cases. One thing is guaranteed, if the government doesn’t act soon infection, hospitalization, and death rates will be increasing in the coming weeks. 

States in the US and areas of Brazil have already begun closing schools that were previously reopened due to the same reasoning. Citizens are calling upon ministers to stop prioritizing the economy over human lives and close schools down. While the economy may take a massive hit due to these closings, it’s not worth it to have such large groups experiencing new outbreaks, simply to keep the economy in a relatively steady place. 

Other countries in Europe, and throughout the world, have implemented what’s generally referred to as a “zero Covid elimination strategy” that aims to stop community transmission and keep case numbers as low as possible, for as long as possible. In Scotland, for example, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has continuously given daily Covid media briefings to keep the public just as informed as the government is everyday; this has already led to a decline in case numbers in Scotland. 

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The testing and tracing systems in the UK are as greatly criticized as they are in the US as well. Testing sights aren’t as accessible and available as they should be, and results need to be made available within 24 hours to give citizens a better gage as to who needs to be quarantined. As of right now, citizens are travelling hundreds of miles in England to get tested. 

The reopening of schools and overall “relaxed” attitude the ministers are exhibiting by prioritizing the economy over health is also motivating the public to return to a life of normalcy. If world leaders are saying it’s okay for certain establishments to be open to make money, why wouldn’t citizens take advantage of that?

As of right now, it’s unlikely the UK will endure another nationwide lockdown as the ministers are expected to implement some major changes within the next week that will aim to slow down community transmission and keep everyone home. What’s most important is that the public listens to their healthcare professionals when it comes to case numbers and infection rates. Experts who are dealing with this virus head on everyday know first hand how bad the world still is in relation to this pandemic. So stay home as much as possible, wash your hands, wear facial coverings, and practice social distancing whenever it’s warranted.

Waving New Zealand Flag

New Zealand Prime Minister Praises Country For Covid Response After Trump Comments

Jacinda Ardern defended the country’s most recent outbreak after Trump attempted to undermine New Zealand’s immense success in containing the virus.

Covid Virus

Dr. Fauci Warns States That Are At Risk For Future Covid-19 Outbreaks 

One of the biggest conclusions that experts are gathering from the current coronavirus pandemic, is that human beings may be living in a world where Covid-19 continues to exist forever. The shift will be more about controlling the spread and managing outbreaks through vaccination efforts; much like the world did with the measles. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force recently spoke with the press about states at the most risk of new outbreaks currently, and what the future of America could look like in a post-pandemic world. He claimed that once the percentage of positive case numbers goes way down, that will signify a “win” over the virus for the US. 

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Currently New York, for example, has an infection rate of less than 1%, the lowest it’s ever been, which Fauci says he would like to see the rest of the country look like. However, many states aren’t even close to that number. In states such as Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, and Texas, infection rates are still between 15%-20%, which is “really high” according to Fauci. 

Fauci also believes that once a coronavirus vaccine is made available, the government may not enforce everyone to get it. The only exception will likely be for individuals working in the healthcare industry due to their heightened risk of exposure. A similar policy has already been in place for individuals working in hospitals in regards to being vaccinated for the flu. This procedure has always been in place for a lot of healthcare facilities, as it reduces the risk of transmission between all parties present at a given facility. 

One of the biggest concerns from citizens throughout the past month has been our potential break up with the World Health Organization (WHO)  after president Donald Trump claimed that the US would be leaving the organization. However, it’s not as simple as Trump has made it seem, and the US is still very much in communication with the WHO. 

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Fauci claims that he and his colleagues are on a weekly call list that is sponsored by the WHO, and brings together health authorities and scientists from every country in the world that’s battling Covid-19 currently. The purpose of this weekly call is to allow every country’s CDC to exchange information and containment efforts as a means of reducing infection rates. 

“We have scientific collaborations with our colleagues in Europe, Australia, Canada, Mexico. We have clinical trial networks in South Africa, and Brazil. So there’s an awful lot of international activity going on, you don’t hear about that very much in the press, but it really is going on rather intensively.”

Fauci also claimed that when it comes to school reopening throughout the country, there is “no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether schooling should be all virtual.” He went on to explain that America is a much larger country than most, so one universal policy for every state that is differently populated just wouldn’t make sense. 

He concluded his address to the media by reinforcing the ways in which we all can reduce the spread of this virus until a vaccine is readily available. Continue to wear a face mask, get tested if you’re exhibiting any symptoms or think you may have been exposed to someone who’s positive. Practice social distancing every time you go out and only leave the house for essential errands. Wash your hands regularly, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

Girl Remote Working

How Working Remotely Will Change The Future Of Commercial Real Estate 

Sanjay Rishi is America’s CEO for JLL commercial real estate. Rishi was recently interviewed to discuss the future for the industry in a post-pandemic world, and what most business leaders can expect in the coming years. 

Rishi claims that the commercial real estate market will likely be embracing a range of new hybrid models as the pandemic comes to an end; whenever that may be. Throughout the next few years industry leaders like Rishi will likely begin implementing hybrid models into their business deals. It’s likely that the specifics of these deals will be on more of a deal-by-deal basis, as this is uncharted territory for all parties involved. 

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CEOs, CFOs and other leadership positions will be responsible for how they want to rebuild their company culture post-pandemic, however, Rishi believes many are going to be basing their future office-hybrid needs on the ways they’ve already adjusted to working from home throughout the past six months. 

The main focus right now is transitioning a company from remote working, back to an office environment and maintaining a new level of morale. JLL has been doing their own research throughout the pandemic, surveying multiple corporate workers and their preferences for the future of office-working, and according to their most recent study, 58% of workers miss the office; the survey was taken by 3,000 individuals all of different job levels. 

Obviously, the biggest determining factor to making that transition will be when the pandemic ends/when a vaccine is able to be distributed. Of the workers surveyed who aren’t looking forward to returning to the office, many claimed the reason to be a fear of mass transit, crowded elevators/cubicle spaces, and other potential sources of infection. 

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“After the terror attacks of 9/11, no one really wanted to work in high-rise buildings, major urban centers shuddered with a lack of demand for commercial office space. Fast forward a year and people returned to crowded skyscrapers again, and real estate transaction valuations returned to where they had been earlier.”

It’s difficult to compare a terrorist attack to a worldwide health crisis, however, in terms of real estate the two actually do slightly equate. Many real estate agents working in major metropolitans aren’t worried about the complete lack of industry activity, because they’ve seen how the industry is able to bounce back from massive national/international tragedies. 

The biggest change, according to Rishi, will be the way offices re-shape their set-ups to better adhere to social-distancing requirements. This will be a step-by-step process that will also involve digitizing as much of the business as possible. As most corporations have learned from working at home, having everything in one, digital space for universal access is much easier than needing to go back and forth from the office in the middle of a pandemic to get some paperwork done. It’ll also make it easier for everyone to access what’s been worked on throughout the past six months while everyone’s been on lockdown. 

Companies will also need to take their workers with kids into account more. If office buildings begin reopening while the pandemic is still ongoing, many will need to figure out some sort of coverage for their kids. In a hybrid-office environment, this could involve staggering workplace teams so that certain groups of parents can alternate the days they need to be in the office and the days they can be home. 

Regardless of what the future of office-work looks like, it’s going to be a team effort for each specific group of workers to make a plan that’s the safest, and easiest for everyone. We’re all taking this pandemic day-by-day, and will continue to do so even as it begins to slow down and normal life resumes.

Covid Vaccination

US Rejects Russia’s Offer To Help With A Covid-19 Vaccine

Russia announced this week that they’ve developed the “world’s first” vaccine for Covid-19. Unlike the few other potential vaccine options that are being tested right now, the one that was developed in Moscow never entered a Phase 3 human trial to test its safety or effectiveness. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin claims one of his daughters received the vaccine and was able to recover from the virus. 

Russian officials recently spoke with the media and claimed that they offered the United States their “unprecedented corporation with Operation Warp Speed” if they needed it. Operation Warp Speed is the US multi-agency group created to help accelerate the development and distribution of a coronavirus vaccine/treatment. The US responded to Russia’s offer by claiming that the country was “currently not open,” according to authorities who spoke to the press

“There is a general sense of mistrust of Russia on the American side and we believe that technologies — including vaccine, testing and treatments — are not being adopted in the US because of that mistrust.” 

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Despite Russia’s opinion on why the US is refusing their help, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany stated recently that the vaccines being produced in America currently are already going through “rigorous Phase 3 testing” which involves administering the vaccine to tens of thousands of volunteers to ensure its safety. 

The vaccine developed in Russia barely went through any of that process before reaching approval, leading many world leaders to think that the country rushed through creating the vaccine in order to earn the billions in revenue that will likely come in through the distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine. 

There are currently more than 20 vaccine trials occurring around the world, but Russia is still determined to get the US to get on board with their vaccine while they still can. According to authorities at least 20 countries in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia have expressed their interest in the Moscow vaccine despite not knowing much about it. President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, claimed to have so much confidence in it that he would take it the second it arrives in his country. 

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As previously mentioned, the vaccine developed in Moscow never went through Phase 3 testing, which has been viewed as the most important phase of vaccine development, as it’s when the treatment is deemed safe enough to administer to thousands of people in order to closely monitor if it’s ready for worldwide distribution. 

Russia has still yet to release any scientific data on their vaccine and is unable to back up how safe and effective it really is. The country also passed a law back in April that eliminated the requirement of a Phase 3 trial as a means of fast-tracking the vaccine. Senior US officials recently spoke with the media about how America is focusing on finding a vaccine the safest way possible, and won’t be compromising. 

“There have been no trials of this vaccine, they’ve done too little work on humans to decide if it works on a larger scale. We’re talking totally inadequate safety data.”

Russia is planning on rolling out its vaccine to high-risk citizens within the coming weeks but will likely begin mass vaccinations in October. The World Health Organization and US officials, however, believe that China will end up being the country that actually wins the race on creating a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine that will be widely distributed based on the current trends in research and testing.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaii Reinstates Travel Quarantines And Other Restrictions As New Covid-19 Cases Appear

Hawaiian officials announced this week that they would be tightening up restrictions among inter-island travelers forcing them to quarantine for 14-days in response to a surge of new coronavirus hospitalizations. The Island of Oahu specifically is being hit the worst as it’s experienced 200 new cases and two deaths this past week according to Governor David Ige. 

“There is no question that the virus is surging. This is the last thing we wanted to do but as we reopen our community people let their guard down, it’s been very disappointing.” 

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Hawaii is among many other states in America that have had to reinstate lockdown procedures after citizens were acting irresponsibly as businesses began to reopen. Ige announced the two week inter-island travel quarantine rule will go into effect on August 11th to contain the spread. The Director of Hawaii’s Department of Health, Bruce Anderson, recently spoke with the media and claimed that 117 Covid patients are currently hospitalized in Hawaii; 115 of those patients are located on Oahu. 

He also stated that more than 50% of the ICU beds in Hawaii are currently occupied, leading many healthcare professionals to believe that they’ll be overwhelmed by the end of the month if this trend of new cases continues like it is in many other parts of America as well. Anderson claims that 10% of all individuals living in Hawaii who test positive for Covid-19 end up needing to be hospitalized. 

“We are approaching a healthcare crisis and bold measures are needed now. New cases are linked to community spread on all parts of the Island, across all socioeconomic groups and communities.”

Mayor of Honolulu Kirk Caldwell also announced this week that all beaches and parks in Oahu will be closed as a part of the lockdown measures being reinstated. Caldwell mainly blames the surge of new cases on large uncontrolled gatherings that authorities aren’t cracking down on hard enough. 

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While beaches and parks will be closed people will still be able to walk on the beach and get into the water for things like surfing, fishing, diving, etc., as long as it’s distanced from anyone else in the water. Parking lots that are being used to house drop off boxes for voting will also remain open. 

All group sports and gym classes are indefinitely banned but fitness centers in general will be allowed to remain open as long as they keep enforcing the proper health and safety procedures. Indoor attractions like bowling alleys, mini golf, or arcades will be closed down and mask requirements will remain for all restaurants. 

One of the biggest issues in America has been bars that are “posing as restaurants” so that they can reopen. Caldwell claims Hawaii police will be cracking down on these establishments specifically, they’ve even created a new Covid Enforcement Team that is specifically designed to respond to complaints against people/businesses actively ignoring these guidelines. 

160 new officers will be working seven days a week to ensure this new branch of law enforcement is running smoothly and able to educate citizens on proper procedures. The police chief spoke with the media and claimed to show that they’re serious, they likely will no longer be giving out warnings and instead will just begin to write out citations or even arrest individuals depending on how severely they’re ignoring these restrictions.

Kids in School with Face Mask

New Jersey Will Require Students To Wear Masks In School, New Guidelines State

New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, announced Monday that the state is still planning to reopen all of its schools come the fall. In-person classes will resume, and all students will be required to wear masks in school buildings at all times. 

The announcement came along with a new set of reopening guidelines that states all students are “required to wear face coverings at all times while inside a school building regardless of social distancing.” The only exception would be for students with any kind of medical conditions that would potentially prevent them from wearing a mask, however, those are more so going to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.  

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Previously the guidelines stated that students would only be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks and they would only be required to do so in crowded hallways and any other spots on the campus where it’s difficult to avoid crowds. All teachers, staff and visitors of the school will also be required to wear a mask at all times. 

“We know that face coverings work and we will now ensure that everyone in a school building will wear one.”

Governor Murphy continued on to discuss how the updates are safer than the previous recommendations, however, he didn’t discuss ways in which these policies would be enforced to ensure everyone is following the rules. The changes did state that students and teachers would be able to take “face covering breaks” throughout the day in specified areas of campus where social distancing can be maintained; mainly outside or in large classrooms with open windows. 

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All school bus riders and drivers will also be required to wear a mask. The Department of Education in Jersey also claims that they understand “enforcing the use of face coverings may be impractical for young children or individuals with disabilities,” which has raised a lot of red flags for parents and teachers as well. Many believe that if we aren’t able to enforce these policies that are meant to protect all students/staff health and safety, then why are we reopening the schools at all?

School leaders and advocates in Jersey specifically criticized the 104-page set of guidelines for the lack of clarity but abundance of “emphasis on safety,” without any means of execution. The guidelines also were unclear as to who would be paying for facial coverings and other technologies to be implemented into the schools; hand sanitizer/hand washing stations, temperature checks, etc. The updates do, however, state that families will be responsible for supplying the kids masks, but the districts “should strive to provide” additional PPE. 

New Jersey reported 264 new cases of the coronavirus this past Monday, bringing the state total to 182,614, and according to healthcare workers in the state, the virus is now spreading faster than its being contained. The state’s largest teachers union responded to these statistics by calling upon the government to go remote-only in the fall, however, Murphy and his administration are adamant about opening the schools. 

Murphy claims that the state’s Department of Education will be sharing a Frequently Asked Questions document shortly, as well as a checklist of items that state and county offices of education will be using to guarantee their specific districts are adhering to the new set of guidelines.

Vietnam Coronavirus

Vietnam Evacuating 80,000 Tourists From Da Nang After New Coronavirus Cases Appear

As the world continues to endure the coronavirus pandemic, many countries who were able to curve the spread and get their case numbers down after the initial wave of infections are now seeing a second wave of cases appear. These countries are not only immediately shutting down again to prevent an even worse rate of infection, but some are going as far as kicking out all outside visitors as well. 

Vietnam is currently set to evacuate more than 80,000 individuals from the central tourist region of Da Nang this week. Three local residents recently tested positive for Covid-19, prompting authorities to begin evacuations this past Monday (7/27). The Da Nang region of Vietnam is known for its beach resorts, and once the three cases were reported after an additional 11 cases appeared in a hospital in the region, the government began to take action. 

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The evacuations are ongoing but expected to be finished by the end of the week. Vietnamese airlines have been operating 100 flights out of Da Nang a day, all destinations are also located in Vietnam, and all travelers are required by authorities to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

Social distancing measures and facial covering procedures have been reintroduced in Da Nang and those living in any residential area near a hospital are required to stay home at all times. Things that promote mass gatherings such as festivals, bars, restaurants, discos, and salons all closed down on Tuesday and will remain like that indefinitely. 

Vietnam’s borders closed down to foreign tourists at the beginning of the pandemic, and will remain closed. Domestic tourism saw a massive spike once Vietnam began reopening, and since the country as a whole was shut down and able to reduce their case numbers, they assumed reopening within the country would be fine. 

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Vietnamese travelers began taking advantage of all the reduced hotel and public transportation rates to travel throughout their country. Concerns rose after the first case in Da Nang came from a 57-year-old man who had no history of international travel and had been living in the town for at least one month. 

The case was unexpected, especially considering it was an individual who had been remaining diligent with following health and safety measures. This caused massive concerns to rise within the Vietnamese government, leading Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to call on authorities to increase contact tracing and testing among all citizens. 

Genome testing of all the positive cases within Vietnam showed that a majority of the new cases were a strain of the coronavirus that had not been detected in Vietnam before this point. This strain has been found in Bangladesh, Britain and Ireland and has been proven to be even more contagious than the previous strains present in Vietnam; hence why the first case appeared in someone who wasn’t breaking any guidelines. 

Before this point Vietnam had gone 100 days without any new Covid-19 cases, hence the serious response to these 14 new cases. So far the country has experienced a total of 431 cases and zero deaths overall.

Infected Covid Patient

Texas And California Among States Reporting Single-Day Record Spikes In Covid-19 Cases, Again

Six states located in the Southern and Western parts of the US have reported one-day records for coronavirus deaths and new infections this past Tuesday. This is not the first time these states have beaten their own one-day records, as for the most part these states have been the ones reopening businesses and public gatherings, leading to a direct spike in cases. 

Texas recently passed 400,000 cases while California reported that Latinx individuals who are living in lower-income areas of the state are accounting for more than half of the cases. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and Oregon were the other four states that beat their own single-day records for new cases and deaths; again, this is not the first time any of these states have surpassed their own previous records or overall records in the US for new case numbers/death rates. 

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This past Tuesday, the US experienced 1,300 Covid-19 related deaths, which is the biggest one-day increase since May. California specifically reported that 56% of all Covid-19 infections are found in Latinx individuals; they also account for 46% of the deaths. This is mainly due to the areas of the state that these individuals are living in and a major lack in resource distribution among the country. 

Florida reported 191 deaths within 24 hours on Tuesday and Texas added more than 6,000 new cases to their official numbers this Monday. Texas’ total number of infections is now 401,477 and counting; California, Florida, and New York are the only other states that have surpassed 400,000 cases, which makes sense considering those are the four most populated states in America. 

The debate over reopening schools in the fall has been a heated topic of discussion as September gets closer and closer. President Trump and members of his administration have been pushing for schools to reopen, while a majority of teachers, local officials, students, and parents agree that until there’s a vaccine, reopening schools is a bad idea. 

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Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers and recently spoke at the union’s virtual convention this past Tuesday to discuss how they’ll handle schools reopening in the fall if the administration goes through with their decision. 

“We will fight on all fronts for the safety of students and their educators. It’s the 11th hour; we need the resources now.” 

In Texas, the Texas Education Agency recently stated that they would deny funding to any school that delays in-person classes; a threat that a lot of schools around the country are experiencing. A decision that was surprising for Texans considering how badly they’re being impacted from the virus at the moment. 

Republican members of the US Senate also recently pushed back on a $1 trillion coronavirus relief proposal while Democratic members rejected a $3 trillion relief plan. Both sides claim that they didn’t want to spend trillions of dollars on a public health crisis, a decision that’s been heavily criticized considering the government just gave the Pentagon $738 billion for their 2020 budget.

While we continue to wait for updates from our government and healthcare professionals, it’s imperative that we all continue to listen to the health and safety guidelines that have been imposed within the past few months until this virus is no longer an issue.