Aggregating and archiving news from both sides of the aisle.
Preview: The Chinese government's crackdown on after-school education companies has ripple effects across an economy in which parents prize education.
Preview: Etsy shares slid in extended trading Wednesday after the company gave third-quarter guidance that suggested a sales slowdown after the pandemic e-commerce bump.
Preview: Vera, founded in 2008, aims to improve outcomes for workers and reduce costs for companies by making primary care teams accountable for the health of employees.
Preview: Futures contracts tied to the major U.S. equity indexes were little changed at the start of the overnight session.
Preview: Data from payroll firms Homebase and UKG, similar to other recent studies, indicate state policies haven't pushed people back to work yet.
Preview: Shares of Fastly fell 19% on Wednesday after the content-delivery network provider reported lower revenue and predicted deeper losses than analysts expected.
Preview: Uber beat estimates on the top and bottom line and turned an unexpected one-time profit during the second quarter.
Preview: Pop-up drive-in movie theater Newark Moonlight Cinema has plans to stick around beyond the Covid pandemic, its co-founders told CNBC on Wednesday.
Preview: Biles withdrew from events last week, citing mental health concerns, but returned to capture a bronze medal in the women's balance beam on Tuesday.
Preview: Cathie Wood purchased 89,622 shares of HOOD on Tuesday in ARK Fintech Innovation ETF, a position worth roughly $4.2 million.
Preview: When Republican governors began prematurely lifting coronavirus restrictions in their states earlier this spring, President Joe Biden and his team largely kept their heads down, ramping up vaccine distribution while steering clear of rhetorical battles with political adversaries.
Preview: Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has a message for President Joe Biden: He's not getting out of the way even as his rejection of masking and public health guidance risks fueling his state's raging Covid-19 cases.
Preview: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is facing increased calls for him to take action to address the state's surging number of cases and hospitalizations from the coronavirus.
Preview: Countries across Asia are grappling with their worst coronavirus outbreaks of the pandemic, spurred by low vaccine rates and the highly-contagious Delta variant.
Preview: CNN's Martin Savidge speaks with Arkansas health care workers and administrators about the strain they're under as the state faces rising hospitalizations due to Covid-19.
Preview: The freedom coveted by some Americans to avoid vaccines and spurn masks is, increasingly, leading to a group of Americans that can't access vaccines getting Covid-19.
Preview: • Arkansas governor says he regrets ban on mask mandates
Preview: • Florida order on mask mandates does not ban them, experts say • Fauci: US planning to expand Covid testing • Defense Secretary expected to make Covid vaccine mandatory for active duty troops
Preview: Ten people were killed and 20 people were taken to area hospitals after a van crashed on Highway 281 near Encino, Texas, Wednesday afternoon, according to Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) spokesperson Sgt. Nathan Brandley.
Preview: CNN's Anderson Cooper talks to Bill Gates about his divorce from former wife Melinda French Gates after 27 years, and asks Gates about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein -- one Gates called a "huge mistake."
Preview: Aaron Rodgers is back with the Packers, but things are certainly not perfect between the franchise quarterback and the Green Bay organization. After an offseason filled with rumors of Rodgers’ unhappiness with the only team he’s ever known — and a declined contract extension — the three-time MVP made his return to training camp last […]
Preview: On Wednesday, the Mexican government announced that it is suing gun companies in the United States. As The New York Times reported, the complaint was filed in a federal court in Massachusetts and claims that gun companies are “designing, marketing, distributing, and selling guns ‘in ways they know routinely arm the drug cartels in Mexico.’” […]
Preview: Conservatives exulted after a fiery speech on Wednesday from Florida GOP Governor Ron DeSantis in which he blistered President Joe Biden after Biden had taunted DeSantis by telling him to “get out of the way” vis-à-vis dealing with COVID-19. DeSantis blasted: But let me tell you this, if you’re coming after the rights of parents […]
Preview: Elected city officials in Los Angeles introduced a motion on Wednesday that would mandate eligible individuals provide evidence of a COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter certain indoor businesses, including restaurants, health clubs, and retail establishments. The proposal was put forth by City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, both Democrats. The move […]
Preview: After her loss Tuesday night in the Democratic primary election race for an Ohio congressional seat, Nina Turner, Bernie Sanders’s former campaign co-chair, turned to railing against “evil money” arrayed against her in what was interpreted as her launching an anti-Semitic attack. Critics surmised Turner was referring to the $2 million Democratic Majority for Israel […]
Preview: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki faced backlash on Wednesday over her misleading attack on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ efforts to get his state vaccinated, with critics saying that her attack was nothing more than an attempt to deflect from President Joe Biden’s struggles to get the pandemic under control. The Daily Wire reported: Psaki […]
Preview: Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation, but its education bureaucrats are some of the highest paid, pulling in six figures to run F-rated schools. Mississippi’s superintendent of public education receives a $300,000 salary, higher than her counterparts in all 50 states, according to a new report from the Mississippi Center for Public Policy […]
Preview: On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on COVID-19 booster shots in an effort to get more people around the world vaccinated. As The New York Times reported, the organization called for the moratorium “until the end of September, so that vaccine supplies can be focused on helping all countries vaccinate […]
Preview: The Orange County Board of Education on Tuesday announced plans to sue California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom over the state’s indoor mask mandate for K-12 students attending public schools for the upcoming year. The Orange County Register reported, “The board voted 4-0 during closed session in favor of filing the suit, and then had an […]
Preview: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki used a selectively-edited clip from Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ remarks on Wednesday to falsely suggest that DeSantis has not been actively working to get Floridians vaccinated. Psaki commented on a clip posted by a leftist Twitter account that sought to portray DeSantis’ remarks in a negative light while […]
Preview: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... (Top headline, 1st story, link) Related stories: NYC launches its own health passport... BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead... FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING...
Preview: NYC launches its own health passport... (Top headline, 2nd story, link) Related stories: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead... FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING...
Preview: BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... (Top headline, 3rd story, link) Related stories: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... NYC launches its own health passport... LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead... FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING...
Preview: LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... (Top headline, 4th story, link) Related stories: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... NYC launches its own health passport... BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead... FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING...
Preview: Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... (Top headline, 5th story, link) Related stories: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... NYC launches its own health passport... BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead... FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING...
Preview: PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... (Top headline, 6th story, link) Related stories: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... NYC launches its own health passport... BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead... FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING...
Preview: WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... (Top headline, 7th story, link) Related stories: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... NYC launches its own health passport... BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead... FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING...
Preview: Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead... (Top headline, 8th story, link) Related stories: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... NYC launches its own health passport... BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING...
Preview: FAUCI: WORSE THAN DELTA COMING... (Top headline, 9th story, link) Related stories: Pentagon to announce vax requirement for active-duty forces... NYC launches its own health passport... BOSTON MAYOR COMPARES MANDATE TO SLAVERY... LA considers requiring proof at restaurants, gyms, indoor events... Arkansas Gov Admits Mistake on Masks... PFIZER linked to rare eye inflammation... WHO Calls for Halt to Booster Shots... Majority of Americans believe worst still ahead...
Preview: USA TO REQUIRE FOREIGNERS TO JAB (Main headline, 1st story, link) Drudge Report Feed needs your support! Become a Patron
Preview: Flags flew at half-staff at the Brooklyn Police Department in Illinois on Wednesday following the death of a police officer who authorities say was trying to stop a driver from eluding capture.
Preview: New Mexico’s Public Education Department suspended an entire school board Wednesday after members resisted Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s mask mandate for children in the classroom.
Preview: Chilling 911 audio released Wednesday by Nashville police provided frightening real-time descriptions of the drama taking place Tuesday morning at a Smile Direct Club warehouse where three people were wounded and the gunman, 22-year-old Antonio King, was ultimately killed.
Preview: Tennessee investigators again pushed back against social media rumors Wednesday in the case of missing Rogersville 5-year-old Summer Wells, who vanished from her home in mid-June.
Preview: A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed a Maryland beach town’s right to ban women from topless sunbathing.
Preview: A 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl suffered injuries after a suspected shark attack in Maryland that left her with 42 stitches for 20 cuts, family members said.
Preview: The suspect in the deadly attack outside the Pentagon Tuesday morning killed himself with the gun of the officer who he had wounded with a knife, the FBI has revealed.
Preview: A van full of undocumented immigrants crashed in South Texas, killing as many as 10 people and injuring 13, authorities said Wednesday.
Preview: D.C. police released surveillance footage of the attack in hopes that the public will help identify the culprits.
Preview: Police officers in Pennsylvania shot and killed a 22-year-old man shortly before midnight on Tuesday after he allegedly pointed a gun at cops who were responding to a report of a stabbing and found the man's mother with multiple wounds, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.
Preview: Andrew Cuomo's doubling down. His former aides are scratching their heads. POLITICO Andrew Cuomo's utterly disastrous response to the AG report findings CNN Time’s Up co-founders helped Gov Cuomo in drafting letter attacking accuser Lindsey Boylan: AG report Fox News Opinion | How Cuomo Got Away With It for So Long The New York Times Here's why Andrew Cuomo could still survive his sordid sexual harassment scandal New York Post View Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: Biden changes his tune by getting confrontational with GOP governors over Covid spike CNN Unvaccinated Americans not changing their behavior, report finds Yahoo News US plans to require COVID-19 shots for foreign travelers Associated Press Mask Mandates: Time for More Libertarian Response to Delta Bloomberg Joe Biden's Big Vaccine Push Looks Like a Win Bloomberg View Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: With eviction victory in hand, congressional Democrats turn attention to student loans The Washington Post
Preview: COVID Vaccine Booster Moratorium Proposed By WHO : Goats and Soda NPR WHO calls for global pause on COVID-19 vaccine boosters Global News WHO calls for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September CNN COVID-19 booster shots: Why wait? The Boston Globe WHO Calls for Halt to Covid-19 Booster Shots The Wall Street Journal View Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: Mexico sues U.S. gun companies, alleging 'massive damage' that is 'destabilizing' to society CNBC Mexico Sues Gun Companies in U.S., Accusing Them of Fueling Violence The New York Times Arms trafficking caused Mexican gov to sue U.S. gun manufacturers Fox News Mexico sues U.S.-based gunmakers over flow of arms across border The Washington Post Mexico sues gun makers over flow of arms from US to Mexico CNN View Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: Oregon health care workers must get COVID-19 shots or submit to weekly testing, governor says OregonLiveView Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: Ten people were killed and 20 were injured after a van crash near Encino, Texas CNN Texas authorities say multiple dead after van carrying suspected illegal immigrants crashes into pole Fox News 10 killed when packed van crashes in South Texas NBC News At least 10 dead after van believed to be carrying migrants tips over in Texas New York Post At least 10 dead as van carrying migrants crashes in Texas AL.com View Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: California's largest wildfire just exploded, fanned by high winds, heat | TheHill The Hill ‘A perfect storm’: Hawaii firefighters confront Big Island’s largest wildfire in history The Guardian Entire California ghost town wiped out by the Dixie Fire SFGate California's Dixie Fire explodes, forcing more evacuations CBS Evening News California’s largest wildfire explodes as hot weather threatens new blazes The Guardian View Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: Mississippi has only 6 open ICU beds, Arkansas only 25 as delta variant fuels Covid surge NBC NewsView Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: Judge sanctions lawyers for bringing 2020 election conspiracy lawsuit POLITICO Lawyers sanctioned for 'conspiracy theory' election fraud lawsuit CNN Lawyers sanctioned over 'fantastical' suit alleging 2020 U.S. election was stolen Yahoo News Federal judge sanctions Colorado lawyers challenging 2020 election Business Insider Colorado lawyers who filed election lawsuit must pay rivals’ fees The Denver Post View Full Coverage on Google News
Preview: A majority of Americans in a new poll think it would be bad for the country if former President Trump runs for office in 2024.The survey,...
Preview: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has slipped behind a Democratic gubernatorial rival in a new poll as he faces scrutiny over his handling of the pandemic amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations...
Preview: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday said her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney (R), is "deeply troubled" about the state of the Republican Party."My dad is deeply troubled about where our par...
Preview: The lambda variant likely composes the bulk of infections in South America.
Preview: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit back on Wednesday after President Biden criticized him and other GOP governors for banning mask mandates.
Preview: The same issue with government censorship exists with corporate censorship: If there is a line, who draws it?
Preview: Canadian border staff are set to begin a "work-to-rule" strike on Friday, three days before Canada is scheduled to allow fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents to ...
Preview: The White House is pushing back on a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would give state and local governments broad latitude to tap unspent federal COVID-19 relief money to use o...
Preview: The space station performed 1.5 backflips last week.
Preview: Hot, arid weather is expected to continue aiding the wildfire.
Preview: Hundreds of thousands of people are expected at the South Dakota rally as COVID-19 again surges around the country.
Preview: "We can’t predict why some children get so incredibly sick from COVID while others have mild disease," said Dr. Heather Haq.
Preview: In a rare move for a defendant, the New York real estate heir will stand at his Los Angeles County murder trial on Thursday.
Preview: The Biden administration is reportedly mulling the measure as part of its efforts to lift restrictions on travel to the U.S.
Preview: The FBI arrested Missouri's Isaac Yoder, who admitted to entering the U.S. Capitol during the deadly insurrection while wearing colonial attire.
Preview: President Joe Biden said last week that all federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated or face weekly testing.
Preview: “I don’t know that as a woman alone in a park that I had another option," said Amy Cooper, who definitely had other options.
Preview: The White House has defended existing travel restrictions due to rapidly spreading variants that are driven in part by unvaccinated Americans.
Preview: The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking protections under the Endangered Species Act. An independent study found that nearly all colonies could be wiped out by 2100.
Preview: Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, is now trying to get the state legislature to overturn a law banning mask mandates in schools.
Preview: Room rates have risen to record levels, but there are plenty of ways to save.
Preview: Grill maker Weber Inc. sold fewer shares at a lower price than expected in its initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said, the latest sign the new-issue market may be cooling after a torrid run this summer.
Preview: ‘I honestly don’t know what the fairest way is as each one has very different outcomes. We’re trying to be civil and do this without attorneys.’
Preview: ‘Who knows how much my quality of life could improve by getting rid of this debt?’
Preview: The winning tech companies include Enphase, AMD and Tesla.
Preview: Booking Holdings Inc. exceeded $2 billion in quarterly sales for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic in a Wednesday earnings report, but losses exceeded expectations as the company waits for a stronger bounceback for travel amid the global pandemic.
Preview: A lighter IAC/InterActiveCorp. began its latest chapter Wednesday with its first earnings report following the May spinoff of Vimeo.
Preview: Roku Inc. delivered better-than-expected earnings and revenue Wednesday but its shares slipped in the extended session after active-account growth came up lighter than anticipated.
Preview: Uber Technologies Inc. on Tuesday reported that it swung to a profit in the second quarter, and that gross bookings and revenue doubled year over year, but investors still drove its stock down in extended trading.
Preview: Etsy Inc. stock fell 14% in after-hours trading Wednesday after the online marketplace company reported quarterly sales and profit above Wall Street forecasts, but had fewer active buyers than investors expected.
Preview: Florida's COVID infections and hospitalizations are not a media creation; they're painfully real. The question is what DeSantis intends to do about it.
Preview: A Trump appointee at the Justice Department wanted to send Georgia Republicans a plan to overturn election results. It didn't work - but it could have.
Preview: Chris Hayes on Trump’s loyalist at DOJ, Jeffrey Clark: “He was willing to be the trigger man for Donald Trump in his attempt to kill off American democracy in its present form—and that is not hyperbole.”
Preview: Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s right-wing leader, has a fan in Carlson.
Preview: In a live interview, Alok Sharma, president of the United Nations climate change conference (COP26) speaks with NBC News’ Al Roker. The event is part of the Aspen Security Forum, a conference for global leaders to discuss national security issues.
Preview: Both Cuomo brothers have amassed massive power and influence, while betraying public trust. New Yorkers, and CNN viewers, deserve better.
Preview: Why Matt Damon — and many other famous men — need to stop looking to their daughters for models of good behavior.
Preview: His anti-gay rant at Rolling Loud has gotten him canceled in every sense of the term.
Preview: The only way to make Black people — with their partial, conditional, fractured citizenship — whole is to return their dispossessed wealth and opportunity.
Preview: If we can investigate the root causes of Jan. 6, we can also analyze the deaths by suicide that resulted from it.
Preview: A resolution that would require government spending related bills to provide impact statements, pushed by Florida Sen. Rick Scott, was blocked on Tuesday.
Preview: For a second consecutive night, CNN prime-time host Chris Cuomo avoided any mention of the sexual harassment scandal that could destroy his older brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Preview: Fertility treatments can seem overwhelming for couples trying to start or grow their family. New Hope Fertility Center offers convenient at-home IVF treatments
Preview: Rick James was a self-professed SuperFreak who got a second life in pop culture thanks to Dave Chappelle and his “I’m Rick James, bitch” sketches with Charlie Murphy. But he was also a nuanced man with a very unique journey who moved fluidly through genres to create his signature look and sound. My “Renaissance Man”...
Preview: Cole Hamels signed a one-year contract through the end of the season, adding more depth to a pitching staff racked with injuries.
Preview: COVID-19 cases in children are up 84 percent in the past week, a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] reported on Wednesday, with 72,000 new instances of the virus reported as of July 29, up from 39,000 cases reported the week prior. AAP said it had teamed up with Children’s Hospitals of...
Preview: Ryan Crouser of the United States won gold in the men's shot put at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. His compatriot Joe Kovacs took silver.
Preview: After her Tokyo Olympics journey came to an end, gymnast Simone Biles and her Team USA teammates took time to enjoy Times Square.
Preview: Embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s team misidentified the leader of the state Senate in a photo included in a lengthy rebuttal to the sexual harassment probe that has the Democrat fighting for his political life. A photo in the 85-page report authored by attorney Rita Glavin on Tuesday showed Cuomo locking hands with a woman wrongly...
Preview: Hansle Parchment of Jamaica has won gold in the 110-meter hurdles at the Olympics by overtaking American Grant Holloway right near the end. Holloway, the world champion, was in front through nine out of the 10 hurdles, but suddenly faded on the last. Parchment flew past him to add an Olympic gold to the bronze...
Preview: Maxwell Berry, 22, of Norwalk, Ohio, punched a Frontier Airlines flight attendant and groped two others on a flight from Philadelphia to Miami, the authorities said.
Preview: “You know, there were lots of others in that same situation, but I made a mistake,” Mr. Gates told Anderson Cooper of CNN.
Preview: Three new books about affliction — Fred D’Aguiar’s “Year of Plagues,” Jan Grue’s “I Live a Life Like Yours” and James Tate Hill’s “Blind Man’s Bluff” — have a lot to say about desire, pain, depression and many other topics.
Preview: The scenic vistas of this landscape art and the legacy of its creator, Harvey Fite, are being challenged by a persistent feud and a big fence.
Preview: She took the music seriously at a time when not many writers did. Among her books was a memoir of her life with one of its biggest stars, Jim Morrison.
Preview: The non-grabby Cuomo doesn’t look good, either.
Preview: The high country of southern Australia is “remote and beautiful and unpredictable,” a place where visitors can be swallowed up without a sound.
Preview: Tell me I’m wrong about what’s really going on.
Preview: It might make you blush. But it's useful.
Preview: Even his highest-profile allies are turning on him.
Preview: Rachel Yoder’s new novel sees the value in going wild.
Preview: A conversation with Rep. Jamie Raskin.
Preview: Only one event requires the footwork of a tap dancer, the swoop and strength of a swan, the aim of an archer, and the controlled-chaos energy of a fly.
Preview: We didn’t realize we were such an anomaly.
Preview: The company has become the very thing it helped unleash into the world.
Preview: Conservative attorneys who fought to overturn the 2020 election continue to face no professional consequences.
Preview: The hands-on science labs will have to wait.
Preview: A reader e-mailed me about the supposedly secretive "Long Fuse Report" discovered by Shiva Ayyadurai, who is suing alleging Massachusetts officials are responsible for his deplatforming by Twitter. A quick Google search points to various online chatter about it. I found the report in the court docket, where you can read in four parts (1,…
Preview: From a Justice Department press release: U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Paul E. Lubienecki, 63, of Hamburg, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to stalking…. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron J. Mango and Charles M. Kruly, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant harassed and intimidated…
Preview: Kevin Strickland, Christopher Dunn, and Lamar Johnson are still paying for crimes that government officials say they did not commit.
Preview: Forget Robin DiAngelo and White Fragility. Theory of Enchantment uses popular culture to make workplaces more inclusive and welcoming.
Preview: That conclusion is not justified by the CDC's Provincetown data, and it is inconsistent with a new study from Singapore.
Preview: After getting called out for a "manifestly inadequate" attempt at establishing probable cause for the seizure, the feds now say they will return Joseph Ruiz' money.
Preview: The bill would prohibit charitable organizations from paying bail for anyone who had committed "an offense involving violence" at any time in the past 10 years.
Preview: The lawsuit is filed by our own coblogger Todd Zywicki, a professor at the George Mason law school.
Preview: The new eviction moratorium applies to the 90 percent of counties in the U.S. where the spread of COVID-19 is "substantial" or "high."
Preview: De Blasio's dataless call to create a class of citizens barred from civic life is an intolerable imposition on New Yorkers' liberties.
Preview: Meet Team USA
Preview: When to wear a mask
Preview: Test your 💰 smarts
Preview: Sport climbing
Preview: Ryan Crouser sets Olympic record in shot put victory, Grant Holloway gets silver in 110m hurdles, U.S. men's relay team fails in semifinals.
Preview: The effort to revive the lawsuit came a day after the administration announced a new moratorium on evictions in counties hardest hit by COVID-19.
Preview: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn't just facing possible impeachment. He may also face charges and lawsuits in the wake of the sexual harassment report.
Preview: Nine-time gold medalist Carl Lewis ripped the U.S. men's 4x100-meter relay team after they finished sixth in their heat and failed to make the final.
Preview: At least 10 people are dead, including the driver, after a van carrying migrants crashed Wednesday on a remote Texas highway, authorities said.
Preview: Ryan Crouser broke the Olympic record three times in the shot put final and won the first gold medal for the U.S. men in track and field.
Preview: Civilian astronauts practice floating in microgravity. | John Kraus/Courtesy of Netflix You can’t afford space tourism. But you’ll be able to watch it on Netflix. When SpaceX launches its first all-civilian crew into space later this fall and takes a multi-day trip circling the Earth, humanity can follow along online thanks to an exclusive documentary deal Netflix sealed with Elon Musk’s private space company. The first two installments of the five-episode miniseries, Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space, will debut on the streaming platform September 6 and will be the closest Netflix has come yet to covering an event in “near-real time,” the company said on Tuesday. Over the course of September, a team of videographers will follow the civilian astronauts, including billionaire Jared Isaacman, who will be piloting the spacecraft, as they prepare for the journey and eventually launch into space. If all goes as planned, Netflix will release two more episodes September 13; it will film the actual launch on September 15 and then stream it as a “feature-length finale” at the end of the month. Netflix is making it clear that it wants us to think the mission, which will also raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is really for everyone. One promotional poster for the show declares, “This September, we’re all going to space.” The streaming platform is even releasing a live-action/animated show to explain the mission to kids and their families. This September, four civilians will launch into space for a three-day trip orbiting Earth. Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission To Space — the first Netflix documentary series to cover an event in near real-time — will premiere in five parts leading up to and following the mission. pic.twitter.com/8fLnxHCQNN — Netflix (@netflix) August 3, 2021 But SpaceX and Netflix are hardly the only companies hoping to capitalize on the historic shift to commercial space travel. The Inspiration4 mission and its streaming special mark a new era of live broadcasting from space. The rise of space tourism also seems ripe for the streaming age, a time when people can watch these events almost anywhere, and the entertainment industry has already started turning billionaires’ joyrides in zero gravity into massive media events. “Shooting something into space, that’s something that’s going to bring in subscribers globally,” Julia Alexander, a senior strategy analyst at Parrot Analytics, told Recode. Alexander added that growing demand and “the fact that they’re relatively cheap to produce compared to the high-profile prestigious dramas with the big Hollywood talent” means we’ll see many more space-bound reality shows in the future. The space-focused science series Nova was the eighth-most popular documentary series in the United States between June 2020 and July 2021; last year, the Cosmos: Possible Worlds featuring Neil deGrasse-Tyson saw 18 times the average demand for science and nature documentary content, according to Alexander. And let’s not forget that the data-driven nature of platforms can steer viewers to specific types of shows. “Netflix and other streaming platforms are able to create niche content like this because they are able to use their customer data to match the content to the interests of their consumers,” Michael Smith, an information technology and marketing professor at Carnegie Mellon University, told Recode in an email. Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are also acutely aware that their launches can act as advertising for their brands, affiliated companies, and commercial space tourism in general. Accordingly, they’ve invested heavily into incorporating expert commentators, live updates, and streaming coverage of launches. Virgin Galactic has even recruited a TikTok influencer for an upcoming flight. Millions tuned into Blue Origin’s YouTube channel for the July 20 launch that carried Jeff Bezos on a suborbital flight along with the oldest and youngest person to ever visit space, pilot Wally Funk and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen. “We also wanted to show this is a true rocket ride experience. There are fewer than 600 people who have ever been to space,” Linda Mills, Blue Origin’s vice president of communications, told PR Week of the event. “To demonstrate that specialness and uniqueness of the flight was something we were trying to get across to future customers.” Bezos’s flight was also the first — and for now, the only — rocket launch that Amazon customers could watch live on Prime Video. More reality shows filmed from space are planned for the near future. An American production company called Space Hero is working on a contest-based show that will have average people train and compete for the chance to win a very expensive trip to the International Space Station. Like Netflix, the company says it’s focusing on “opening space up to everyone” while offering the first-ever truly off-planet experience.” Space Hero even signed a contractor agreement with NASA in April. Of course, rocket launches as blockbuster media events predate the streaming era. From the early days of the space program, NASA missions were live demonstrations of national achievement, and humanity’s journey to the final frontier was the stuff of national news broadcasts. An estimated 600 million people watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. While enthusiasm for broadcasting space events in real time dwindled after the Challenger explosion in 1986, private space companies are once again trying to market launches as something everyone on Earth can watch live. That messaging has the convenient effect of distracting viewers from the fact that commercial space tourism, at least for now, is an environmentally questionable hobby for the ultrarich that won’t immediately accomplish much in terms of advancing our scientific understanding of space. But while criticism of billionaires’ space dreams surged following Bezos’s launch, that same narrative may not pop up with Netflix’s latest SpaceX show, says Alexander from Parrot Analytics. “I imagine SpaceX has some form of say in what is going on,” she told Recode. “Netflix just wants to carry it and make the best docu-series possible.”
Preview: President Joe Biden talks with Chief Justice John Roberts before Biden’s speech to Congress, April 28, 2021. | Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images He’s hoping the courts give it a little more time. On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced a new policy that even he appears to believe will be struck down by the Supreme Court. Biden spoke at a press conference Tuesday afternoon shortly before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new order imposing a moratorium on certain evictions. The CDC’s new order is substantially similar to a previous eviction moratorium that expired at the end of July, but with one exception. Both the old moratorium and the new one apply to people who are experiencing financial hardship and unable to pay their rent, and both orders are intended to prevent people from losing their homes and becoming more likely to spread Covid-19 as a result. But the new order only applies to individuals who live in a county “experiencing substantial or high rates of community transmission levels” of Covid-19. It’s a risky move. Although the Supreme Court rejected a request to halt the previous version of the eviction moratorium last June, four justices voted to grant this request immediately. And a fifth, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, indicated that he would strike down any attempt to extend the moratorium past July 31, unless Congress passed new legislation permitting such a moratorium. The CDC’s new order, in other words, is likely to run into a judicial buzz saw. And, at his Tuesday press conference, Biden didn’t hide this reality. Biden revealed that he’s “sought out constitutional scholars” to advise him on how to craft a new eviction moratorium that is “most likely to pass muster” in the courts, but the majority view among scholars, he said, is that any new moratorium pushed out by the CDC is likely to be doomed. The Justice Department’s lawyers will now face the thankless task of defending the CDC’s new order in court, after the sitting president suggested that this order is unlikely to survive contact with the judiciary. But Biden also revealed why he’s willing to risk the ire of a conservative judiciary that’s eager to diminish his ability to govern. The eviction moratorium is not supposed to exist in a vacuum. Congress appropriated $45 billion in rent relief that was supposed to help tenants who are struggling financially due to Covid-19. In theory, the moratorium was extended to to keep these people from being evicted until they received relief checks that would allow them to pay the rent — rescuing renters and landlords in the process. In practice, however, identifying the specific individuals who should receive rent relief is a logistical nightmare. Many states have enacted onerous documentation requirements that can be difficult for struggling renters to meet. For the most part, the state and local governments tasked with distributing these funds don’t know who they should be targeting for aid, because they don’t know who owns rental properties and who lives in them. And they often don’t have the staff to process relief requests quickly. As a result, only about 6.5 percent of the $45 billion has actually been paid out, as of the end of June. And so, Biden conceded in his Tuesday press conference that the courts very well may strike down the new CDC order. But he’s praying they won’t do so quickly. “By the time [the new moratorium] gets litigated,” Biden said, “it will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are, in fact, behind in the rent and don’t have the money.” It’s a dangerous play that could easily end in a vindictive Supreme Court stripping away even more of the federal government’s authority to fight pandemics. As a general rule, it’s a bad idea to take a particular action after five justices have already signaled that they think that action is illegal. But Biden appears to be betting that there’s enough humanity left in an increasingly right-wing judiciary that they will give him more time to save people’s homes. How we got to this point Biden faced both a political problem and a legal problem after the CDC’s previous moratorium expired at the end of July. The political problem is that Congress does not appear to have the votes to pass a new moratorium, as Kavanaugh said it must. Yet key members of Congress, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, blamed the Biden administration for allowing the eviction moratorium to expire — even after the Supreme Court warned the administration not to extend it. “Action is needed, and it must come from the Administration,” Pelosi and her fellow Democratic House leaders said in a statement released on Sunday. “That is why House leadership is calling on the Administration to immediately extend the moratorium.” Meanwhile, Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) held a three-day long vigil on the Capitol steps, literally sleeping outside in the rain, in order to pressure Congress and the administration into extending the moratorium. Yet, amid all of this pressure, the Biden administration correctly recognized that it had an even tougher legal problem: A new CDC order was unlikely to survive contact with the Supreme Court. “President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” the White House said in a statement last Thursday, but “unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.” Although the new moratorium differs from the old one in that it only applies in areas with a substantial amount of Covid-19 spread, that distinction is unlikely to convince any of the five justices who believe that the earlier version of the moratorium is illegal. Kavanaugh, least conservative among those five justices, wrote that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium,” and he added that “clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31.” One extra challenge facing Biden is that he doesn’t just have to convince the Supreme Court to stay its hand for a little while longer. He also has to worry about the lower courts. Landlords and other parties opposing the moratorium brought a raft of lawsuits challenging the CDC’s previous order, and at least some of these cases were heard by Trump judges who embraced truly bizarre legal attacks on the moratorium. If a landlord brings a challenge to the new CDC order, and if this case is heard by a similarly ideological federal judge, that judge could issue a nationwide order suspending the moratorium. Indeed, a sufficiently aggressive judge might do so as soon as today. Assuming that no judge issues such a nationwide order (or that any order blocking the moratorium is stayed by a higher court), there is some reason to hope that the Supreme Court may sit on its hands before it issues an order blocking the new CDC order. (The Court might also uphold the new order, although that outcome is very unlikely.) In Alabama Association of Realtors v. HHS, the challenge to the previous CDC order that reached the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs initially asked the justices to block the eviction moratorium on June 3. But the Supreme Court did not resolve the case until June 29. Maybe the Court will delay a similar ruling when it’s faced with a new challenge to the new CDC order. Kavanaugh’s opinion in Alabama Association of Realtors, also suggests that he may have some sympathy for tenants who are waiting for the government to process their rent relief money. Though his opinion was brief, he said that he’d allow the moratorium to continue until the end of July “because the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds.” That said, the Court’s conservative majority tends to be hostile toward federal agencies that impose obligations on businesses — including landlords. And that majority has already shrunk much of the government’s power to fight the pandemic, such as by granting expansive exemptions to churches and other places of worship that object to public health orders. The biggest risk arising from the new CDC order, in other words, is that the Court could lash out at Biden for taking an action that the president knew was unlikely to survive contact with the judiciary — and that the justices might punish the president by diminishing his ability to control Covid-19 even more than they already have.
Preview: Migrants are processed by the US Border Patrol after crossing the US-Mexico border into Texas on July 8, 2021. | Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images Migrants at the border are finding an unexpected adversary in Biden. When President Joe Biden took office, many immigrant advocates were cautiously optimistic that the tide would be changing for their cause. Unlike their predecessors, Biden and his officials don’t use language demonizing and dehumanizing migrants. They have vowed to address the root causes of migration in Central America, acknowledging that the problem doesn’t begin at the US-Mexico border. They have undone some of the Trump administration’s most anti-immigrant policies, from his travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries to the so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy that required asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while awaiting their immigration court dates in the US. And they have pushed legislation (albeit so far unsuccessfully) to legalize large swaths of the population of undocumented immigrants living in the US and reinvent a broken immigration system. But there is mounting frustration among immigrant advocates that too little has changed well into Biden’s first year in office. The administration has clung to pandemic-related border restrictions implemented by the Trump administration last year. And Biden has persisted in telling migrants “don’t come,” even though many of them are fleeing unlivable conditions ranging from gang violence to climate-related devastation. The latest blows have been the administration’s recent announcements that it will resume rapidly deporting families at the US-Mexico border and that it intends to indefinitely maintain the pandemic-related border restrictions under Title 42, a section of the Public Health Service Act that allows the US government to temporarily block noncitizens from entering the US “when doing so is required in the interest of public health.” Some advocates are now finding themselves in a more adversarial position than they had hoped to be. The American Civil Liberties Union has been in closed-door negotiations with the Biden administration for months over Title 42, temporarily putting its lawsuit challenging the policy in federal court on hold. While it has secured the entry of thousands of vulnerable migrants to the US as a result of those negotiations, the ACLU announced Monday that they had reached an impasse and that the lawsuit seeking to end the policy would continue. It was a signal that, to whatever extent advocates had given the Biden administration a grace period on immigration, it might be coming to an end. “The Biden administration is not the Trump administration,” said Lee Gelernt, the lead attorney on the ACLU case. “It would be wrong to say that the Biden administration has been equally bad. But ultimately, because Title 42 has not been repealed, it means that families and other asylum seekers are still being expelled. And so the danger is that, whatever good the Biden administration has done, it is overshadowed by all the harm being done by Title 42.” Biden has continued to turn away migrants at the border with questionable justification The US continues to turn away the majority of migrants arriving at the southern border under Title 42, though there are exceptions for unaccompanied minors, some families from Central America with young children, and people who were sent back to Mexico to wait for their court hearings in the US. The policy, implemented by then-President Donald Trump in March 2020, has allowed US immigration officials at the southern border to rapidly expel nearly 1 million migrants since the onset of the pandemic. Though scientists at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opposed the policy initially, arguing there was no legitimate public health rationale behind it, then-Vice President Mike Pence ordered the agency to follow through with it anyway. Immigrant advocates and humanitarian groups say that the policy prevents migrants from exercising their right under US and international law to seek asylum. What’s more, public health experts have repeatedly said that migrants can be processed and admitted to the US safely. Indeed, this is already occurring on a small scale as some migrants are being tested for Covid-19 with private funds before they are allowed to cross the border. “We are not cavalier about Covid or the new variants,” Gelernt said. “But it does not mean that with all the US government’s resources, it cannot safely process asylum seekers, as public health officials have been saying consistently for months. We allow many people to cross the border every day. But we are telling asylum seekers they cannot cross even with precautions.” Yet the CDC nevertheless issued an updated order on Monday saying that the policy would remain in effect until the agency’s director determines that migrants no longer pose a “serious danger to the public health” in terms of spreading Covid-19. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, have continued to insist that they are merely deferring to public health experts at the CDC in opting to continue enforcing the policy. “Title 42 is not an immigration authority, but a public health authority, and its continued use is dictated by CDC and governed by the CDC’s analysis of public health factors,” DHS said in a statement Monday. But keeping the order in place has serious humanitarian consequences for migrants trapped in Mexico. As of June 2021, the advocacy group Human Rights First had tracked over 3,250 cases of asylum seekers and migrants kidnapped, raped, or attacked after being blocked or expelled to Mexico since Biden took office. The Biden administration’s decision also plays into a damaging right-wing portrayal of migrants as carriers of disease. A recent Axios poll found that nearly 37 percent of unvaccinated Americans blame “foreign travelers in the US” for the rise in Covid-19 cases. But data hasn’t previously shown migrants on the border to be any more likely to test positive for Covid-19. In March, the acting head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told Congress that less than 6 percent of migrants at the border had tested positive for Covid-19, a lower percentage than the Texas positivity rate at that time. “The Biden administration and the CDC should be standing up for the truth, not helping to fuel that false, dangerous, and racist narrative,” Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First’s senior director for refugee protection, said in a statement. Biden is limiting migrant families’ access to full and fair hearings In addition to keeping Title 42 in place, the Biden administration also announced last week that it is reviving the use of what’s called “expedited removal” against certain Central American families “who recently arrived at the southern border, cannot be expelled under Title 42, and do not have a legal basis to stay in the United States.” Affected families can now be returned to their home countries in a matter of weeks, rather than the typical years it can take to resolve a full deportation case — and they don’t get a hearing before an immigration judge or the opportunity to consult a lawyer. In a statement on Friday, DHS defended the decision to use expedited removal against families as a means to “securely manage our border” and as a step “toward our broader aim to realize safe and orderly immigration processing.” “By placing into expedited removal families who cannot be expelled under Title 42, we are making clear that those who do not qualify to remain in the United States will be promptly removed,” it said. But most immigration attorneys say expedited removal doesn’t give migrants the chance to fully articulate why they might be entitled to humanitarian protection, leading them to be unfairly turned away, sent back to danger in their home countries and barred from reentering the US for five years or more. Here’s how it works: When a migrant shows up at the border without papers, a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will screen them to determine whether they might be eligible for humanitarian protection. They are looking for two things: 1) whether a migrant expresses an intention to apply for asylum, or 2) whether they fear potential persecution or torture if they return to their home country. If they meet either one of those criteria, then the migrant will be referred to an asylum officer for another interview before they are allowed to present their case in immigration court. They will be informed about their rights and what the process entails and are typically given time to retain a lawyer and prepare their case, which includes gathering documents attesting to experiences that might make them eligible to remain in the US. An immigration judge will ultimately decide their fate, often years later. But if a migrant doesn’t pass that initial screening by CBP, they will be detained and rapidly deported under expedited removal without any recourse. That means that if CBP fails to identify every migrant who might be eligible for humanitarian protection, some are bound to fall through the cracks and wrongfully be sent back home. “Anytime you are imposing an expedited process, you run the risk that people’s due process rights will be infringed upon,” said Nicole Ramos, who works with asylum seekers in Tijuana, Mexico, as part of the legal aid group Al Otro Lado’s Border Rights Project. Biden has been at odds with the immigrant advocacy community Biden’s border policies have led at times to strained relations with the immigrant advocacy community. Gelernt said that the ACLU has had a constructive relationship with the Biden administration in reuniting migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration and in ending the Remain in Mexico policy, among other issues. But on Title 42, they have clashed. “I’m not going to say that it’s completely adversarial,” he said. “I believe that the Biden administration is acting in good faith. But we don’t see eye to eye with them on all issues, and it will be adversarial on certain issues.” But others in the advocacy community feel that Biden has outright failed them. Ramos, for example, said she hasn’t seen any meaningful shift in rhetoric. “Maybe Joe Biden is not saying that Mexicans are drug dealers and rapists,” she said. “But the primary message to all migrants who are fleeing for their lives, are fleeing because of economic conditions that we largely created to make their homes uninhabitable, is ‘don’t come.’” What’s more, she says that the administration dragged their feet on helping separated families return to the US, even though her organization had been asking the administration to allow them to enter the US immediately after Biden was inaugurated. “Those families were ready to come into the US on day one, including someone who was in hiding in Mexico in active danger and another woman that had not seen her child in three years,” Ramos said. The news on Title 42 and expedited removal are the latest disappointments. But Ramos said she never expected the Biden administration to be a partner to organizations like hers. “I never believed the Biden administration on the campaign trail to begin with, though some of my colleagues did,” she said. “I think the Biden administration is a continuation of the Trump administration, is a continuation of the Obama administration. The only thing that changes on the Titanic is they’re just moving the chairs around on the deck. The whole system is based upon white supremacy.”
Preview: A type of marine algae in Florida has killed hundreds of tons of fish this summer. Here, dead fish float in the Boca Ciega Bay in Madeira Beach, Florida. | Octavio Jones/Getty Images A toxic “red tide” is killing fish, displacing sharks, and going viral on TikTok. Is it getting worse? This story is part of Down to Earth, a Vox reporting initiative on the science, politics, and economics of the biodiversity crisis. The scenes from western Florida are hard to stomach: fish carcasses dotting beaches for miles, a backhoe lifting a 400-pound goliath grouper out of the water, hundreds of sharks swimming through neighborhoods, and hordes of maggots wriggling along the shore. In the past three weeks, more than 1,700 tons of dead fish and other marine organisms and debris have washed ashore along beaches near Tampa Bay. They were killed by an overgrowth of toxic algae, known as red tide, that came inland earlier this summer. While algal blooms are a natural phenomenon in southwest Florida — and across much of the world — they’re typically not this severe. The algae have not only killed untold thousands of fish and more than a dozen manatees but also sickened some beachgoers, who can experience respiratory issues when the toxins become airborne. Now scientists are racing to determine what makes a year particularly bad for red tides — and whether they’re becoming more common. The last major red tide was just three years ago, when then-Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, as Vox’s Brian Resnick previously reported. The state’s current governor, Ron DeSantis, has rebuffed calls from environmental groups to declare a state of emergency for this year’s red tide. Red tides in Florida result from a complicated set of variables, from ocean currents to weather patterns, researchers have learned. And while these events are not necessarily becoming more common, as you might expect, climate change is making them much harder to forecast — and Florida’s booming population is making them far more visible. Octavio Jones/Getty Images Thousands of dead fish killed by red tide in Boca Ciega Bay in Madeira Beach, Florida. How a microscopic creature can kill so many fish Dead fish, ruined vacations, and other consequences of Florida’s red tide can be tied to just one tiny species: Karenia brevis. It’s a type of marine algae, or phytoplankton, native to the Gulf of Mexico. While they don’t always make national news, blooms of K. brevis typically occur every year. Starting in late summer, a deep-water current in the Gulf tends to move east toward Florida, causing an upwelling of nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen that feed the algae and push them toward the coast, where they find other sources of nutrients. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Karenia brevis, a type of marine algae responsible for Florida red tides. Normally, the blooms — which can be a rusty red in hue — last for only a few months and impact a relatively small area. But on occasion, they grow uncontrollably and start wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems. That’s because K. brevis produces brevetoxin, an odorless neurotoxin that can be fatal to fish and other marine animals. While scientists aren’t sure why the algae make toxins, one interesting theory is that it’s to kill fish by design. Rotting fish essentially fertilize the water, which in turn creates more algae. “The toxins have to have a purpose, and it might be killing fish to get the nutrients,” said Cynthia Heil, director of the Red Tide Institute at Florida’s Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. “This little one-cell plant may actually be farming.” In large numbers, these microscopic organisms also pose a threat to human health. Waves can break open the algae cells and release the toxin into the air. Inhaling it can cause respiratory issues and feel like “you’re starting to get a cold,” Heil said. Studies have linked severe red tides with a rise in hospital visits, especially among older adults. Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Where red tide is found in Florida, as of late July. The red dots show areas with high concentrations of Karenia brevis, the algae that cause red tide. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission The red tide bloom off the coast of northern Pinellas County, Florida. Why this year’s red tide has been so bad Although K. brevis is well-studied, it’s still not clear why it explodes in some years. Each major red tide event seems to have its own unique equation, experts say. This year, southerly winds helped keep the bloom close to shore, where it could feed off pollution spilling into the water. Meanwhile, months of drought ahead of Hurricane Elsa likely made estuaries around Tampa Bay saltier, allowing the marine algae to move farther inshore. Plus, more than 200 million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned phosphate mine known as Piney Point was pumped into Tampa Bay last spring. “There was this huge pulse of nutrients into the bay,” Heil said. While it didn’t outright cause the bloom, it may have made it worse, she added. “It’s been a very odd year.” Ultimately, the red tide killed more than 1,700 tons of sea life in Pinellas County, which hugs Tampa Bay, and that number could continue to grow. The bloom is also implicated in the death of 17 manatees in June and July, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Floridians also reported seeing hundreds of live sharks evading the red tide by swimming into human-made canals and waterways in the Tampa region. “You literally could have walked across the canal on the backs of sharks — that’s how many there were,” Janelle Branower, a resident of Longboat Key, told Allyson Henning, a reporter with a local NBC news channel. The toxic bloom is now beginning to dissipate, and hundreds of government workers have been working to clean up mountains of dead fish. (In Pinellas County, dead fish can be burned along with other trash to produce electricity, a county official told Vox.) But it’s only a matter of time before the next severe bloom strikes, experts say. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Researchers measure a dead goliath grouper that washed ashore at St. Pete Beach, Florida. Red tides aren’t becoming more common in Florida A cursory glance at state data showing the number of red tides over time suggests that these events are becoming more common in Florida. That’s in line with a handful of media reports that indicate climate change is fueling harmful algal blooms. But that frightening conclusion isn’t quite right, experts say. “I don’t think we’re in a position to say with any certainty that the frequency of the events has been increasing,” said Thomas Frazer, a professor in the college of marine science at the University of South Florida. A recently published review of the evidence came to the same conclusion for Florida’s red tides: “no significant trend over time is evident,” the review reads. So why do harmful blooms appear to be increasing? For one, scientists have ramped up sampling efforts over time, Frazer said. The more you sample, the more likely you’ll be able to detect a toxic algae bloom. Florida has also seen a massive influx of residents in the past decade, so there are simply more people affected by red tides. “Each new bloom is undoubtedly the worst for many residents, regardless of trends,” Heil said. Plus, social media platforms like TikTok have brought a new level of attention to algal blooms. (Several top recent red tide videos on TikTok have tens of thousands of views.) Octavio Jones/Getty Images A dumpster for sea life killed by the red tide in St. Petersburg, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty Images Dead fish killed by red tide piled up on beaches in the Tampa Bay region. “You should not underestimate that there is a very strong human behavior factor involved,” said Gustaaf Hallegraeff, a professor emeritus at the University of Tasmania who’s been studying harmful algal blooms for decades. “The more people there are on the coast, the more blooms they see.” Hallegraeff points out that records of red tides date back hundreds of years, and fish kills have been documented since at least the mid-1800s. The worst bloom in history — which spread from Sarasota down to the Florida Keys — was likely in 1947 and killed an estimated half a billion fish. Climate change is making blooms unpredictable, but forecasts are improving There’s some reassuring news in this history, Hallegraeff says. For one thing, “it’s not a new phenomenon. It’s always been there.” Other parts of the world are dealing with new outbreaks of harmful invasive species, he said, and this isn’t one of those. Still, red tides could get more severe or longer-lasting, he said, as coastal houses and factories contribute to algae-fueling pollution. (There’s not great data showing whether the severity or duration of blooms is increasing, and it’s still a matter of debate among scientists.) “Red tides are naturally occurring, but we have the capacity to make them worse,” Frazer said. “Increased nutrient delivery is a global problem and arguably the largest problem affecting water quality around the globe.” Nutrient-rich runoff is also fueling a massive “dead zone” farther east in the Gulf of Mexico, which is also caused by algal growth. Climate change is certain to have some effect, experts say. Rising temperatures can alter ocean currents, raise sea levels, heat the water, and increase the frequency and intensity of droughts and hurricanes. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide affects the acidity of water and the growth rate of photosynthetic organisms like algae. All these variables will likely impact red tide. “Climate change makes algal blooms less predictable,” Hallegraeff said. “That’s the real impact.” It’s a good thing, then, that researchers are getting better at forecasting blooms. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission can process hundreds of water samples a week, with the help of a sampling robot that measures levels of K. brevis and whether they’re growing. “The more we know about the ecology of the organism, the better we are able to model it under different conditions,” said Kate Hubbard, director of the Center for Red Tide Research at FWC. Researchers are also experimenting with tools that can fight the blooms directly, from clay (which is used to fight blooms in China) to brewer’s spent grain (a common byproduct in making beer). In the meantime, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science runs a respiratory forecast for red tide in beaches in western Florida, which is updated every three hours. “It’s really helpful to have these new forecasting tools and models that try to predict where it’s good to go, given that there’s an ongoing bloom,” Hubbard said. “It can change over the course of the day, or over the course of a few days — it’s a dynamic organism.”
Preview: Getty Images Here are the most important precautions your office should have in place if it wants you back. If you’ve spent most of the Covid-19 pandemic working from home, the idea of going back to the office might make you nervous — especially amid a surge in cases in some areas driven by the delta variant, which is highly contagious and may cause more severe illness. Anecdotal reports of breakthrough cases among vaccinated people — which can obscure the key fact that vaccines available in the US are really effective against the delta variant — are fueling anxiety. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendation that vaccinated people go back to wearing masks indoors in areas with substantial or high transmission may add to uncertainty. Some employers that had planned to return to in-person work at the end of the summer, like Apple, are now delaying their reopenings at least until October because of the variant. Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University, told me she believes companies such as Apple are right to delay reopening. (Some modeling suggests that infections due to delta will be decreasing by October.) “I really respect that they are doing that,” Popescu said. “Delta is more transmissible and only 50 percent of the US is fully vaccinated. And we know that people can work remotely and do it efficiently and effectively. I appreciate that they are prioritizing employee safety over this push to go back to the office.” But some bosses are calling their US employees back to the office anyway. If you’re one of these employees, you may be wondering: How do I know if it’s safe to go back? Before we dive in, there is one thing we all should be crystal clear about: The best way out of this pandemic is to put the vaccines in as many arms as possible. It’s safe to say that being vaccinated yourself and being in an environment where others are also vaccinated is the best way to lower your risk in a world where offices are opening back up and delta is raging. Beyond that, you may have other questions: If people in the office are vaccinated, do they also need masks? What if there’s good ventilation? What exactly counts as good ventilation? How important is spraying down surfaces? Evaluating the relative importance of different risk mitigation strategies is no easy task. Complicating matters is that we all calculate risk differently. Some see the excellent data on how much the vaccines protect against severe disease and hospitalization and are reassured enough after vaccination. Others, perhaps living with unvaccinated children or immunocompromised people, might lean toward the more cautious side. Wherever you are on that spectrum, what follows should help you organize your thoughts and figure out the best course of action based on your own risk calculations. Vaccinations, vaccinations, vaccinations Vaccines are, simply put, the most effective way to keep the Covid-19 pandemic under control. No, they’re not perfect — but the ones in wide distribution in the US are highly effective, including against delta (though J&J’s one-dose vaccine may be less effective against that variant than the mRNA vaccines are). According to the data scientists have so far, breakthrough infections are happening with greater frequency with delta than with the previous Covid-19 variants, though they are still uncommon (even if anecdotal reports might make them loom larger in the public consciousness). And when breakthroughs happen, they typically lead to no or mild symptoms. Severe disease and hospitalization among the vaccinated are exceedingly rare. Given all that, it makes sense for employers to require proof of vaccination — and for the most part, they are legally allowed to do that. “I think it’s very important. I think that’s the number one way to stay safe,” said Monica Gandhi, a physician and medical professor at the University of California San Francisco. “I’d encourage employers to do what we did in the state of California, which is to say we are requiring vaccination of our employees ... or if not, then you have to be tested.” New York followed suit, saying that city and state government employees must get vaccinated or face weekly testing. And the Biden administration announced on July 29 that every federal government employee will have to get vaccinated or will have to mask up on the job, physically distance from others, and get tested weekly or twice weekly. Popescu said a vaccination requirement is crucial to ensure office safety. Muge Cevik, a virologist and physician at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, agreed that it’s very important, but stopped short of saying it should be absolutely required. “Some people say, ‘No jab, no job.’ I don’t think that’s fair,” she said. “I think people should be able to show a negative test result or immunity certificate” (that is, proof that you’ve already had Covid-19 and are no longer infectious). Ventilation is still key If you and everyone else in your office are vaccinated, that’s already the biggest, most important battle won. That said, if you’re looking to minimize risk further, look to your office’s ventilation. Gandhi emphasized that “in light of the delta variant, it is very important to have good ventilation even if your office requires vaccines,” adding that ventilation is that much more important if your office does not require vaccines. Covid-19 travels through the air, so your office should have a plan in place for how it’s going to ventilate (which means regularly replacing indoor air with fresh outdoor air) or filter (which means cleaning the indoor air). The most obvious way to ventilate, especially during the summer and early fall, is to keep windows open and keep doors open to outside hallways. Most office buildings have central HVAC systems, and a really good one will provide four to six air exchanges per hour — meaning that every 10 or 15 minutes, the indoor air is being replaced by fresh air from outside. Not every building will be able to provide this. But there’s another alternative: filtering. If your office doesn’t have an adequate ventilation system in place, it should consider investing in a filter that can catch tiny particles in the air — ideally one with a MERV-13 designation or higher (the higher the MERV number, the better). Don’t be shy about asking your employer about their ventilation and filtration systems. “I recommend asking how many air exchanges occur per hour and if they’re using any additional filtration like a MERV-13 or if they’ve put HEPA filters in place,” Popescu said. Depending on the vaccination requirements in your office and your own risk assessment, you may also be considering getting a portable HEPA filter to place on or near your desk. Don’t bother with the filters that claim to kill viruses with ultraviolet or ionization; they’re unnecessary and sometimes ineffective, experts say. And bear in mind that although a HEPA can filter at least 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns in size, it’ll probably do a better job in a small conference room than in a big, open office space. In the latter case, Popescu said, “you having a small HEPA filter is helpful, but it’s not a risk eliminator.” What about masks? If your office doesn’t require vaccinations, then some people there may be unvaccinated. According to the CDC and the experts I consulted, that means everybody should be wearing a mask in regions with substantial or high transmission (which includes most US counties at this point). “In a situation where an entire office is fully vaccinated, that’s a much safer situation to remove masks,” Popescu told me. But she added that with delta raging, there’s still a small chance of breakthrough infections. So she said we should be respectful of the fact that different people will make different personal decisions about masking based on their unique circumstances. “I would encourage people to be mindful of community transmission and risk tolerance, so if they have vulnerable people at home and they want to wear a mask in that space, they feel comfortable doing so,” she said. In terms of the community transmission part of that calculation, you may be wondering: How do I know what counts as a low community transmission rate, versus what counts as substantial enough to warrant more precautions? A recent CDC report spells this out: A substantial transmission rate is anything above 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. (Note that 50 here is the cumulative total of new cases over seven days; it’s not the average daily number of cases.) “What that means is, say over the last seven days you had 10 cases per 100,000 people a day — then you’ve got 70, so you are at that substantial rate,” Gandhi explained. Another (potentially easier) metric to look at is your region’s test positivity rate: A rate of 8 percent or higher indicates substantial transmission, according to the CDC. You can easily check your county’s transmission and test positivity rates on the CDC’s data tracker. Note that if one metric is high and the other is low, the CDC says “the higher of the two should be used for decision-making.” One more thing to consider is spacing. Distancing from each other has been so drilled into our heads during the pandemic. But it’s somewhat less important in the office context than you think. To be clear, the number of people in a room (as well as the size of the room) does affect the level of risk; fewer people near you means fewer people who could potentially be infected and pass on the infection to you. “I think it’s somewhat important because we know from contact tracing studies that the closer you are to the infected person, the more likely you are to be infected,” Cevik said. However, she added that if employees are spending hours together in a workplace, proximity doesn’t matter as much. That’s because the virus travels, not just as large droplets, but also as tiny aerosols that can remain suspended in the air. As a result of that finding, “distancing now seems like it’s the least important of the three Covid-19 mitigation strategies of masking, ventilation, and distancing,” Gandhi said, citing a study that found it didn’t make much difference when schools spaced out students by 6 feet versus 3 feet. The end of hygiene theater Let’s be clear: Nobody’s saying that we shouldn’t bother to wash our hands or that offices shouldn’t bother to disinfect shared surfaces. But the experts I spoke to told me that this is about as important now as it was in a pre-Covid-19 world — when offices should have been disinfecting to prevent the spread of things like norovirus and the common cold. “That’s a helpful intervention strategy, but it’s not the main one. I view that as a regular office practice,” Popescu said. We’ve learned that surface transmission is not a primary way that Covid-19 spreads, so we shouldn’t obsess over “hygiene theater” — especially if it distracts us from paying attention to the more important mitigation strategies listed above. The same applies to physical barriers between workers. The experts were resoundingly clear on this one: Don’t bother. The virus’s ability to travel in aerosolized form means there’s pretty much no point. “If you’re spending a long time in an office space, you will be breathing in and out the air,” Cevik said. A barrier is, obviously, “not going to stop that.” Popescu added that the only time plexiglass barriers might be helpful is in scenarios when two people are briefly talking without masks on — when you’re buying something from a vendor, say — and the barrier provides a visual reminder to stay distant. But if you’re sitting amid your colleagues for hours at a stretch, is it worth putting up barriers? “I wouldn’t do that,” she said. She’d rather offices consider requiring vaccines, invest resources in improving ventilation, and create a process for notifying employees if there’s been an exposure at work and encouraging people to stay home if ever they test positive or have symptoms.
Preview: How work schedules wreck our biological clocks. If you’ve ever traveled between distant time zones, you know how badly jet lag can throw your body out of whack. But if you’re usually tired when your alarm goes off each morning, you might be putting your body through that same kind of stress every day. Sleep researchers call this phenomenon “social jetlag”: the mismatch between our daily schedules and the unique biological requirements of our internal clocks. The greater the gap between your “biological time” (the unique schedule when your body needs sleep) and your “social time” (the schedule you follow instead), the greater your risk for developing a slew of health problems. An estimated two-thirds of people experience an hour of social jetlag per week, and a third experience two or more — equivalent to flying from Los Angeles to Chicago every week. This misalignment is at the core of a public health crisis of sleep loss. Decades of research have linked insufficient sleep to higher rates of obesity, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s and dementia. In the US, a third of adults report not getting enough sleep every night; for teenagers, it’s almost 70 percent. In this episode of Glad You Asked, we explore how biological rhythms shape our sleep schedules, and how sleep contributes to broader social disparities in health. You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. Subscribe for more. Further reading A Demographic Profile of U.S. Workers Around the Clock, Population Reference Bureau “Sleep disparity, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic position,” Sleep Medicine “Aligning work and circadian time in shift workers improves sleep and reduces circadian disruption,” Current Biology “School Start Times, Sleep, Behavioral, Health, and Academic Outcomes: a Review of the Literature,” Journal of School Health Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker Circadian Rhythms, National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Preview: A participant holding a Rent Relief sign at a protest in Brooklyn, in July 2020. | Erik McGregor/Getty Images Millions of people are waiting for rent relief. It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t know enough to help. We don’t know how many people have received eviction notices since the moratorium expired over the weekend. We will never know how many people were informally evicted — people who left their homes quickly out of fear of being asked to pay what they do not have or people who faced lockouts or intimidation from their landlords. We don’t even really know how many renters were actually at risk of eviction or which landlords are on the brink of financial ruin over the last year. Congress set aside roughly $45 billion to make sure that a pandemic that wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of millions wouldn’t force families out of their homes through no fault of their own. This was no Band-Aid or short-term measure. Experts, renters’ advocates, even landlords agreed: This was the solution. Money itemized explicitly for the purpose of helping people make rent. More than half of it was allocated under the Trump administration and the rest under President Joe Biden. And yet, as of the end of June, the most recent data the Treasury Department has made available shows only around 6.5 percent of that money has gone out the door. It’s not for lack of trying. But we have allowed low-income tenants to exist at the peripheries of society and of our safety nets, to the point that reaching them, even when there is aid available, becomes a massive, expensive, and often impossible undertaking. “One of the things that this pandemic has made very clear is that there’s a lot that we don’t know about our housing market,” Vincent Reina, director of the Housing Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, told me in May. “The vast majority of cities don’t have full registries of every owner in their city. ... It shows we often don’t know who owns properties and what’s going on with these properties or which tenants are experiencing financial hardship.” When Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond published his book Evicted in 2016, it was a shocking portrayal of how the government has failed low-income renters. He launched the Eviction Lab two years later to create the first-ever national database of evictions in America, writing: Imagine if we didn’t know how many Americans were incarcerated each year or how many dropped out of high school, got divorced, or lost their job. If we don’t know how big a problem something is, where it is happening, or how many families are touched by it, then how can we begin the critical work of finding solutions? We’re watching in real time what happens when we don’t know enough about renters at risk of eviction. It’s time for a federal rental registry. What gets measured gets managed The failure for rent relief to reach tenants before the eviction moratorium expired came as no surprise to experts or tenant advocates. For the better half of the year, many of them have warned that rent relief dollars were failing to reach at-risk renters. There were many reasons for this, but two big ones were that a) many tenants didn’t even know that the aid was available to them and b) the hurdles to proving that you were in need are so burdensome that many are unable to provide the necessary documentation. Rental registries can help fix that. A rental registry requires landlords to register their property with a governmental body and submit key pieces of information like the address of the property and contact information for the landlord. But it wouldn’t be difficult to also require landlords to provide more detailed information like how many tenants they are leasing out to, how many units in each property, and how much they’re charging for rent. These registries could also be used to ensure direct communication with landlords about tenant rights and fair housing law as well as a line between low-income tenants and government services they may not be aware are there to help them. In other words, if we’d had a registry already, the state and local agencies administering rent relief could have used the information in it to contact all the renters within their borders and inform them of the available funds. As Shane Phillips, head of the Randall Lewis Housing Initiative at UCLA argued in Shelterforce, tenants should be allowed to “create their own account linked to their home ... and have access to the information provided by their landlords. ... Allowing tenant registration would provide a check on claims made by the landlord about rent, lease terms, etc., and it would give tenants a direct line to the local housing agency, and the housing agency a direct line to tenants.” Further, having all of this information in a registry would make it easy for the government to quickly verify that someone is a renter in need of aid instead of requiring tenants to provide documentation during an emergency. In many places, verifying that you are a tenant at a particular address as well as your current lease agreement is causing delays; a rental registry could have that information readily available. The case for a federal rent registry It would be a big undertaking for the federal government to begin collecting all of this information. And still, it’d be worth it. A handful of cities — Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Seattle, to name a few — currently have very simple forms of rental registries. While having local or state-level registries might be easier, and it’s much better than doing nothing, the patchwork of unemployment insurance systems the states have enacted shows the problems with fracturing these types of social safety nets along state lines. And in future crises, it is the federal government that will be able to pass big fiscal packages because of its ability to borrow. Having this information readily available at that level to provide direct support instead of having hundreds of different rent relief programs at the local level seems far superior. Localities, of course, should have access to this information to regularly stay in contact with tenants and landlords. But keeping this information standardized across the country is important. It allows states to compare across cities and allows the government to compare states and figure out where help is needed. “Cities have developed local owner registries, but even those are often incomplete and outdated ... we lack sufficient mechanisms and means to contact many owners, no less engage them in things like rent relief program,” Reina explained in an email. “There have been calls over time for some national effort around trying to create better national and local owner registry systems, and if there was ever a time this was clearly needed, it is now.” To be sure, some people would still fall through the cracks; our experiences with the stimulus checks taught us that. While stimulus checks reached the vast majority of Americans quickly (nearly 80 percent of the second round of checks was sent out in the first three days, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget) some of the poorest Americans who don’t file taxes or are homeless waited months to receive their stimulus check. Some may never receive their checks. Still, a system where we could reach 80 percent of people in need and then focus our resources on the remaining 20 percent is markedly better than one where getting even a billion or two out the door takes half a year. Some have raised privacy concerns with this type of registration, but most, if not all, of this information is already held by the government, it’s just not aggregated in one place. The federal government taxes rental income, meaning landlords already have to say how much rent they are bringing in on their properties. Localities and states charge property taxes, meaning who owns which property and how much it is valued is already recorded. And when you’re paying your taxes every year, you’re already telling the government where you live. Further, I don’t remember anyone complaining about privacy when we got our stimulus checks deposited in our bank accounts courtesy of Uncle Sam. This will not be the last time that targeted aid to renters will be necessary: The median renter is not well-situated to ride out the next recession. According to Brookings, “The median income of renters was $42,479 in 2019, which is roughly half that of homeowners. Over 40% of renter households earn less than $35,000 per year.” And census data from 2017 shows that “homeowners’ median wealth was nearly 89 times larger than the median wealth of renters and not entirely because of home equity.” It took six days from when Biden signed the $1.9 trillion relief package to when I received $1,400 deposited into my checking account. I wasn’t concerned about privacy and no one bothered me to verify that I “really needed the help.” That same package contained $25 billion for rent relief, but 146 days later, the vast majority of it is still waiting to be spent.
Preview: From Solo cups to Tide Pod packaging, TerraCycle offers plastic recycling for a litany of popular consumer products. | Getty Images TerraCycle recycles everything from Solo cups to Febreze canisters, but are they doing more harm than good? Two years ago, Leticia Socal’s cognitive dissonance became too much. She needed to face what her career was doing to the planet. Socal, who has a PhD in material science, had worked in the plastics industry for 15 years. She quit, started a sustainability blog, and began mentoring startups and students on how to reduce plastic waste. More than one part of her plan involved TerraCycle. TerraCycle calls itself a “social enterprise Eliminating the Idea of Waste®.” But it might be best understood as the company that will recycle the packaging and products created by large corporations. Specifically, the stuff that you can’t put in your curbside bin. It recycles wrappers for everything from Swedish Fish to Entenmann’s Little Bites, plus a grab bag of other plastic products. Socal tried signing up for some of the free, brand-specific recycling programs by TerraCycle, but they were full. “There is this huge waitlist. For some of them, I have been waiting for more than one year,” she says. Socal also bought a $218 TerraCycle box for food wrappers, encouraged her daughters’ schoolmates to fill it with their Halloween candy trash, and sent it in. She never heard more about what happened to it, and couldn’t find much information on TerraCycle’s site. Then she spoke to the woman who owns her local recycling center. “She was like, ‘I tried to work with them. It’s really hard. They’re not telling you what they are doing with your waste,’” Socal says. The recycling center has searched high and low for a facility that can process wrappers and hasn’t found one. Unlike a plastic water bottle or milk jug, a typical chip bag or candy wrapper is a very complicated thing, involving different types of laminated plastic. “You have several layers that you need to pull apart,” Socal explains. “This is super labor-intensive. It’s crazy to try.” Meanwhile, everything Socal’s local recycling center won’t accept has been piling up in her garage while she waits for TerraCycle’s programs to open back up … or for plastic recycling technology to catch up with plastic packaging technology. A new lawsuit filed against TerraCycle in March 2020 alleges that it and its biggest corporate partners — including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Late July Snacks, Gerber, L’Oreal, Tom’s of Maine, and Clorox — are not telling the whole truth when they say their packaging is recyclable. It says the recycling programs are not accessible or transparent, and the vast majority of packaging still winds up in the landfill or ocean despite conscious consumers’ best efforts. TerraCycle helps these conglomerates “reap the rewards of portraying their products as recyclable while offering no corresponding benefit to the environment or to consumers concerned about sustainability,” according to the suit. The suit also says that TerraCycle has provided no hard proof that it is recycling what it says it is. (The brands named in the suit declined to comment, citing pending litigation, except Gerber, which said it “stands behind all of our claims around recyclability.”) Environmental advocates believe TerraCycle’s core business is actually just providing greenwashing services to corporations that want to look like they are doing something about plastic waste. In fact, they believe these corporations are making and selling ever more disposable plastic products — and then making it your problem instead of theirs. TerraCycle will take your old cigarette butts. It will take your used Barilla Ready Pasta packets. It’ll take your Bausch + Lomb contact lens cases, beer-scented Solo cups, and L.O.L. Surprise! doll accessories. It says that it can recycle them all, and it will do it for free. TerraCycle claims to make the unrecyclable recyclable, and businesses (and consumers) love the company for it. It was included in Time’s 2021 list of the world’s 100 most influential companies. During the pandemic, the boxes it sells to consumers saw double-digit sales growth. Does anyone know how to recycle makeup packaging without having to go through each individual brand? I’ve been doing a ton of research and the only one I can find is Garnier’s TerraCycle program but they’re full and put me on a waitlist??? I just want to help save the planet damn pic.twitter.com/RRfRO7PS7t — Sarah McGonagall (@gothspiderbitch) November 14, 2019 TerraCycle’s Hungarian-born founder Tom Szaky looks like your typical hippie entrepreneur, with shaggy brown hair and a beard. We spoke over Zoom, him beaming in from a large office space lined with curtains made of empty plastic water bottles. He founded TerraCycle in 2001 while a first-year student at Princeton. At first, he collected food waste and sold the compost to local businesses. Later he pivoted to processing packaging, and in 2007 got his first brand partners — Honest Tea, Stonyfield Farm, and Clif Bar — which paid TerraCycle to set up collection points for their packaging. Since then, TerraCycle has expanded globally and has partnered with more than 500 brands for all sorts of stuff, including Teva for its sandals and both Hasbro and Mattel for their toys. The business world is ready for a solution to plastic waste. With factoids like “By 2050, our oceans will have more plastic than fish,” videos of marine life being strangled, and news stories about dead whales full of plastic zinging around the internet, companies have been under increasing pressure from consumers and governments to do something about the global plastic pollution problem. Szaky’s pitch is that our recycling system is broken. Because it’s increasingly labor intensive to recycle our complicated modern packaging, and because China stopped accepting most waste from the US in 2018, it has become less and less profitable to collect and recycle disposable products. Many municipalities are finding they can’t afford to do anything but throw it all in the landfill or incinerate it. Szaky’s solution is to get corporations and consumers to pay for it. Here’s how it works: Once corporations partner with TerraCycle and pay a fee (the cost of which neither TerraCycle nor its partners have revealed), they can tell consumers on their websites and on their packaging that it is recyclable through TerraCycle. Consumers, schools, and businesses are encouraged to sign up for each free recycling program separately at TerraCycle’s website. For each program they are approved for, they receive a shipping label or collection container. They fill it with the specified waste from the sponsoring brand and send it in for recycling. Some brands send a few cents per item to charity as an incentive. TerraCycle then pays plastic manufacturers in the US to recycle these products. Szaky says the wrappers, for example, are melted down and extruded into a copolymer that TerraCycle then sells to American manufacturers of products like garbage cans, Frisbees, benches, and shipping pallets — bulky things that don’t need precision-molded, high-quality virgin plastic. (Though many would consider this downcycling, not recycling.) It was in the negative by $1.1 million in 2020 on this part of its business. Participating in a TerraCycle recycling program is not that easy, though. To recycle your used Honest Kids drink pouches or K-Y Jelly tubes for free, you have to either find a local drop-off site (which might be too far away) or sign up to receive mailing materials at TerraCycle’s website (an option that often involves a months-long waitlist). If you can get a shipping label, you then need to save up, clean, and separate your spent packaging and take it to UPS to be shipped off to the company’s warehouse in New Jersey. TerraCycle encourages you to wait until you have a certain weight of trash to send off, to keep the emissions of shipping down. So, you need to either go through a lot of K-Y Jelly, for example, or find other people passionate enough about plastic waste to save their tubes and give them all to you. Szaky defends TerraCycle’s limits by saying that it gives access to recycling to all consumers who want to recycle items and make the effort to do so. But for some programs, like Gillette razor blades, there aren’t even public drop-off locations in Brooklyn, one of the most dense (and self-consciously sustainable) areas in the US — everything is registered at apartment addresses. Szaky says the lack of locations is because Gillette’s program is only a year old and that not enough people have signed up to set up collection points yet. But that again puts the onus on consumers instead of Gillette to set up and run collection points on their own time. Gillette’s program is really only “free” if you consider everyone’s time and labor worthless. If TerraCycle’s free, corporate-sponsored program isn’t available for a given product, TerraCycle will sell you a container that you can fill according to the box’s theme — toys, hair salon waste, and kitchen waste are a few of the dozens of categories — and ship to TerraCycle. If you want to keep going, you then need to buy another box. These boxes are not cheap. The bestselling small all-in-one box, which will take pretty much anything and measures 11 x 11 x 20 inches, costs $199 — prohibitively expensive for all but the most privileged and committed consumers. And yet, consumer boxes count for a not-insignificant part of TerraCycle’s revenue. In 2020, according to TerraCycle’s financial filing in preparation for a potential IPO, its US division generated $25 million in net sales, $7.5 million of which came from its boxes. $10.5 million came from the more than 45 partnering brands listed on TerraCycle’s site, which means each company is spending what amounts to less than a rounding error of their operations. TerraCycle has a similarly itsy-bitsy recycling volume. Szaky told Vox that TerraCycle, on average, collects 217 tons of waste per month through its mail-in program from the entire continental United States. The small town of Mamaroneck, New York, recycles more than that in a year. New York City alone produces 12,000 tons of waste per day. Even for specific categories, the waste collected is so vanishingly small as to be almost negligible. Szaky says TerraCycle has recycled 370,000 Bic pens this year. That’s a big number, but it amounts to recycling just 0.02 percent of the estimated 1.6 billion ballpoint pens thrown out in the US every year. Two-hundredths of a percent is not technically nothing. But it is close. This minuscule investment by corporations seems to be more of a marketing ploy than pointing to an actual shift in their operations. In other words, corporations seem to be paying TerraCycle to help them greenwash, whether Szaky knows it or not. A 2020 report by the Changing Markets Foundation claimed the largest conglomerates in the world, including Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and Colgate-Palmolive, make voluntary pledges and support small take-back schemes as a tactic to take the air out of anti-plastic movements. TerraCycle is frequently mentioned in the report as the tool corporations use to make it look like they’re moving toward reusable and recyclable containers, while at the same time they aggressively lobby against anti-plastic legislation. For example, the report says Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, and Tetra Pak spent between €300,000 and €1.2 million in 2018 lobbying against the European Union’s Single-Use Plastic Directive. (This lobbying effort failed; the SUP Directive became EU law just a few weeks ago.) Szaky has aligned himself with the interests of these big businesses. “It’s much better to focus on and empathize with their goals — whether you agree with them or not, frankly,” Szaky said in an interview this past May. “Even if it’s as uninspired as ‘I want to sell more stuff.’” He also has said that, because companies pay for TerraCycle’s recycling programs, they are “even more motivated” to improve the design so they can cut the cost of TerraCycle’s recycling program, and that TerraCycle often provides consulting services to brands that want to make their packaging more frequently recyclable. Gerber, with the help of TerraCycle’s feedback, made its squeeze pouches easier and less expensive for TerraCycle to process. These squeeze packs are not yet, however, curbside recyclable. The question remains: If corporations can set a low cut-off point for how much they will pay for each recycling program (the largest programs are in the seven figures, which is hilariously small for a global behemoth like Nestlé, which made $13.49 billion in profit in 2020, how are they incentivized to do anything more than the bare minimum? TerraCycle’s own employees have trouble with this business model. “Most people joining our company have to be trained ... because people are so mission-driven,” Szaky has said. “It’s almost like, ‘F**k you, you should be responsible’ — that emotion comes out.” I have been trying to stop buying plastic where possible but have you heard of @TerraCycle ?? You can recycle your Amazon packaging! Aussie & living proof are back in the basket bc I know I can recycle them! Huzzah! — Skylar Carlson (@skylarcarlson) February 4, 2021 Environmental advocates are fed up. “I am a very dedicated recycler. I have never mailed TerraCycle anything. And I don’t plan to,” says Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics at Bennington College in Vermont and former EPA regional administrator under Obama. “On one hand, I want to say it’s well intentioned. But on the other hand, I think it gives excuses for large corporations to keep using plastics.” Let’s zoom out from the small impact of TerraCycle’s recycling programs and look at the question of whether recycling should even be the goal here. “Pretty much anything is technically recyclable if you throw enough money, hours, and energy at it,” says John Hocevar, Greenpeace USA’s oceans campaign director. He has been working with corporations to get them to phase out single-use plastics, and increasingly sees them turn to TerraCycle instead. “That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or that it makes sense from an economic or environmental perspective.” A chemical engineer with more than 35 years of experience, Jan Dell has sat on the US Federal Climate Committee and consulted for companies like Nike, Gap, and Mattel on supply chain projects around water and labor. For those issues, she says corporations had been willing to make real and beneficial changes. But when she tried to talk to them about plastic waste, “they’d say recycling is the solution,” she says. “And I’d be like, no, that’s not possible. As a chemical engineer, I know. It defies the second law of thermodynamics. It’s greenwashing.” “Pretty much anything is technically recyclable if you throw enough money, hours, and energy at it” Plastic degrades every time you process it into another plastic product; it can’t be recycled back through the system endlessly. It’s always downcycled, or turned into a material that is less valuable, until that too ends up in the landfill. Or, it’s incinerated, which can pollute local communities with toxic emissions and release greenhouse gases. Some chemical companies are promoting a new type of recycling called chemical recycling, where plastic is broken down into its chemical components to be used as energy or reformed into new plastic, but environmental groups say this process is just as polluting and energy-intensive, if it is even scalable. For now, new plastic always has to be made, and old plastic will always end up in the environment. The only way to reduce the amount of plastic going into the oceans is to make less of it. Way less of it. But the opposite is happening. Oil companies, seeing the writing on the wall for cars, are moving into plastics. Three years ago, the company Dell worked for acquired another that specialized in building plastic manufacturing plants, and she was told her job, formerly focused on clean energy, was going to expand to include helping ExxonMobil build new polyethylene cracker plants. So she quit and founded a small nonprofit in California called The Last Beach Cleanup. Her goal was to stop plastic pollution. “To do that,” she says, “I had to expose that plastic recycling doesn’t work.” She started looking at the issue of what qualifies as “recyclable.” The Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guide says that to put an unqualified “recyclable” label on something, at least 60 percent of people in locations where it is sold need to have access to a place to recycle it. If not, the manufacturer has to clearly emphasize to consumers the limited availability of recycling. Dell partnered with Greenpeace to survey all of the country’s 367 materials recovery facilities (MRFs) that sort incoming waste to see what they accept. The study found that in the US, only #1 plastic (clear PET bottles) and #2 plastic (high-density polyethylene milk and detergent jugs) are reliably recycled. The rest of the plastic is landfilled or burned, or shipped abroad to less-developed countries, where it is also piled in landfills or burned. Take polypropylene (labeled as #5 and used in things like yogurt containers and coffee lids). There are only enough facilities in the US to process 5 percent of what is sold, yet polypropylene products are sold in California with a recycling symbol on them. The closest facility that can recycle these products is in Alabama, 2,000 miles away. Because of the industry’s expansive use of the chasing arrows symbol, as well as peppy recycling marketing campaigns, confused consumers now throw any and all plastic in their recycling bins. A 2020 report showed that some communities on the West Coast have plastics contamination rates of up to 46 percent. When recyclable plastic is contaminated by unrecyclable plastic, MRFs often have to throw the whole batch away. Only 30 percent of the most recyclable type of plastic, PET water bottles, are ultimately recycled (and are now the subject of a lawsuit from Sierra Club over the “recyclable” label). “It’s going to take laws and lawsuits to actually fix this because unfortunately, the FTC hasn’t ever enforced the Green Guides,” Dell says. While she was working on that project, Dell noticed TerraCycle labels popping up on store shelves, and she saw that the company claimed that it recycles 97 percent of the qualified materials sent in to them. She found that claim absurd. Dell tried to sign up for the Late July chip bag program (a company owned by Campbell’s), but it was closed to new participants, as were more than a dozen other corporate-sponsored recycling programs managed by TerraCycle. Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images Plastic waste washes ashore in Panama City. Szaky confirmed that the companies that partner with TerraCycle put a cap on the amount of money they are willing to spend on recycling. When enough people or locations sign up, the new participants are put on the waiting list until the brands decide whether or not they want to allocate more money. If she didn’t want to wait for the free program, Dell had the option of buying an $86 11 x 11 x 20-inch snack waste box from TerraCycle for her used chip bags. Dell filled a small box the size of the TerraCycle box with plastic packaging, and the contents weighed 3.5 pounds. That means its customers are paying more than $24 per pound ($48,000 per ton) to recycle food packaging waste. Recycling household waste costs the government up to $278 per ton, or just under 28 cents per pound. It’s a bum deal (even with the 10 percent discount TerraCycle sent out last month in honor of Amazon Prime Day). Dell waited nine months for the Late July program to open back up. “The FTC guidelines are all based on a ‘reasonable’ test. It’s not reasonable to expect that people are going to keep plastic trash all separated in their garage or whatever,” Dell says. The participation limits were the smoking gun Dell needed to go after TerraCycle. If TerraCycle and corporations are saying their packaging and products are recyclable through a free program in order to incentivize consumers to buy their stuff, but in practice only allow a few thousand (according to the location counters on TerraCycle’s website) to participate in their high-effort programs before encouraging them to plunk down their own cash, in her view, the label “recyclable through TerraCycle” is a lie. Luckily, Dell lives in California, where organizations can file “organizational harm” lawsuits. “Here I am, putting energy and resources into trying to fix these labels, spending my own money, instead of working on other stuff. And this group over there is doing the opposite, harming my efforts to be an environmental NGO,” she explains. California consumers can also ask for proof that a company is actually recycling what they say they are. In December, the public interest firm Lexington Law sent a letter to TerraCycle on behalf of The Last Beach Cleanup asking for receipts proving they were recycling. Szaky says that TerraCycle does recycle everything sent in that is qualified, minus a few percentage points for the little bits of labels and similar stuff burned away in recycling. The only thing TerraCycle incinerates, he claims, are noncompliant materials that people send in that they can’t find a way to recycle. He said they are updating the website to provide more information on how things are recycled. He has not, however, provided documentation. To several of Vox’s questions concerning overall numbers — like how much of each kind of material TerraCycle receives and processes, or what the average waitlist time is — he said that the data exists, but his team hasn’t calculated those numbers. Unsatisfied with TerraCycle’s response, the law firm filed the lawsuit in March in California. It seeks to force TerraCycle and its partners to stop using the TerraCycle recyclable symbol on products that it hasn’t proven are easily recyclable by at least 60 percent of consumers. If successful, the lawsuit could render the more profitable half of TerraCycle’s business model — getting paid by corporations to tell consumers that they can recycle pretty much anything — a fineable offense. That would leave only the part where TerraCycle charges consumers an exorbitant amount of money to process packaging that corporations created and sold to them. There was no press release, and the suit got little press coverage. Dell says she’s not doing it for publicity or money. “My greater goal is really to help companies truly make their products reusable, recyclable, and compostable,” she says. “The brands themselves know they could make simple changes to improve design.” Colgate, for one, has started switching all its tubes to curbside-recyclable #2 HDPE and is open-sourcing its packaging technology with other companies. But the overall trend has gone in the opposite direction. Where we used to buy simple glass and metal containers, now we get mixed plastic-and-paper Tetra Pak cartons, squeezy tubes and drink pouches, beer cans shrink-wrapped in plastic labels, single-use sachets, and coffee cans topped with plastic. Not long after the lawsuit was filed, around Earth Day this year, Taco Bell announced it was partnering with TerraCycle to recycle all its used hot sauce packets. Dell calculated that if 6.6 billion (60 percent) of Taco Bell’s hot sauce packets were sent to TerraCycle, it would produce 104,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, roughly equal to the annual carbon emissions of 23,000 cars. Of course, the idea of that many Taco Bell customers saving and sending back hot sauce packets boggles the mind. “It just is non-viable,” she says. “It’s not serious.” Szaky sent Vox a lifecycle analysis that showed that TerraCycle’s collection and recycling of multilayer wrappers have a lower carbon footprint than landfilling them and manufacturing new wrappers from virgin plastic. (Though, experts say that lifecycle analyses have been manipulated by corporations and the plastics industry to make plastic look more sustainable than it really is.) “You can’t keep making and handing out billions of hot sauce packets and convince people that it’s okay” Greenpeace’s Hocevar put out a press release asking why Taco Bell doesn’t just allow customers to specify they want hot sauce on their tacos or have bulk hot sauce pumps available. “These companies are looking for ways to make it appear that they are doing something about plastic without taking the actions that are really needed to address this,” he says. “You can’t keep making and handing out billions of hot sauce packets and convince people that it’s okay.” In a statement emailed to Vox, Taco Bell said, “Taco Bell is still collaborating with TerraCycle to determine collection mechanics, which will initially roll out as a pilot program. Taco Bell’s upcoming partnership with TerraCycle is an important step, but not the final step, in identifying viable solutions quickly and efficiently.” If TerraCycle isn’t the solution, what is? “I’m a strong supporter of deposits,” Beyond Plastics’ Enck says. Container deposit laws tack on a fee of a few cents on each bottle or can. If you bring the empty container to a collection point, you get that fee back. Deposits are pretty much the opposite of those pricey TerraCycle boxes, because corporations have to administer and pay for the collection points. And then consumers get paid when they turn bottles and cans back in. (In the states that have deposit laws, collecting these containers is the way some low-income people make ends meet.) More importantly, deposit legislation is effective — states with bottle bills have the highest recycling rates in the country. But brands, unsurprisingly, hate deposits. Szaky says it costs 4 cents to recycle each Gerber squeeze pouch, so why not just do a deposit system of 4 cents per pack? “Many people, big NGOs, organizations have been trying that and failed, so no, I couldn’t just do that,” he said. “That’s an absurd idea. I’m not the president of the country. Could you just go pass a bottle bill right now?” I started to explain that Maine had just passed an expanded deposit bill, but he cut me off. “What state are you in right now?” I tell him New York. “Okay, go pass a deposit law on pens tomorrow. Why don’t you just do that?” (We had been discussing those Bic pens.) I ask him if he’s suggesting that the only thing I can do as a US citizen to address plastic pollution is to buy a TerraCycle-labeled product. “No, no, I didn’t say that. Sorry. Not at all. I think, as a citizen, you should first buy less stuff. If you do choose to buy things that have been designed into local recyclability, you’re not benefiting me at all. I think those are way better answers. Then buy a reusable pen. Still has nothing to do with me.” (Side note: Zebra’s 100 percent metal refillable pen comes packaged in plastic.) “Then, if you have a voice and you’re willing to go do it, knock on your lawmaker’s door and ask them to pass taxes and all sorts of legislation to do exactly what you described.” As Szaky correctly pointed out, until last week, the United States was one of the only developed countries without an Extended Producer Responsibility law. Maine just passed America’s first EPR law last week, which will impose fees on consumer product companies based on the cost of collecting and recycling their products and packaging. (The industry group Ameripen, which counts Nestlé, Campbell’s, PepsiCo, and Tetra Pak among its members, came out against it, saying it gives the government too much authority.) Oregon is considering similar legislation. TerraCycle’s claims that they can and do recycle almost anything could stymie these efforts to rein in packaging. New York City’s 2015 ban on polystyrene products was delayed for four years because a judge accepted the chemical industry’s promise that it would create a viable recycling system for polystyrene. It was only when a team of experts produced a report showing that there was close to no polystyrene recycling in all of the US that a second judge let the ban go forward in 2019. “I wish we didn’t have to exist. I have a friend who runs a great nonprofit that focuses on battered women in Mexico. Do you think he wants to be in business?” “I’m not aware of any case where a company has used us to do such a form of lobbying,” Szaky said in response. “When we are asked or have the opportunity, we always say that EPR legislation is a wonderful thing, and deposit laws are a wonderful thing.” When asked why he would support legislation that would undercut his business, especially when he has been considering an IPO, he said, “There are many investors who rally behind that, who say, ‘Hey, here’s an investment. We really hope you achieve your mission. And if we make some money, great, and if we don’t, and the mission was achieved, that’s awesome.’” “I wish we didn’t have to exist,” he went on. “I have a friend who runs a great nonprofit that focuses on battered women in Mexico. Do you think he wants to be in business?” “Don’t you ever worry you’re being used?” I asked him. “Yeah, I absolutely think about that,” he says. “And then I’m thinking, they could spend a bunch of money on TV commercials that made you love their products. And if they’re going to use me to do the same effect as a commercial, I think it’s still better for the planet. And that’s fine.” It’s clear that Szaky believes TerraCycle is helping, in a small way, address global plastic pollution. But his belief that corporations will fulfill their pledges to go plastic-free feels like a holdover from the 2010s, when entrepreneurs thought they could do an end run around the government and disrupt their way into environmental responsibility. It would be better, however, if he wasn’t having consumers pay for this delusion.
Preview: Residents in Mumbai line up for Covid-19 vaccinations, which are still scarce in most of the world. | Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images The delta variant makes it clear: Vaccinating the world is in America’s best interests. The delta variant has changed the fight against Covid-19 in the United States. Before it became widespread, cases were on a pronounced downswing, especially in high-vaccination parts of the country. It was starting to look as though most vaccinated people might be able to forget all about Covid-19 and return to their lives. Now, cases have spiked even in highly vaccinated areas, the CDC has recommended a return to masking indoors even for vaccinated people, and the day when Americans can stop thinking about Covid-19 looks as distant as ever. That’s bad enough. America’s global health policy is setting the country up for worse. In low-income countries, only 1 percent of people have received a vaccine dose, and access to the mRNA vaccines that work best against delta is basically nonexistent. Covax, the international effort to provide vaccines to nations in need, has struggled because of funding and supply issues. The failure to vaccinate the world can shape up to be the foundation of an even worse turn in the pandemic: the emergence of a new variant that’s more infectious and possibly even deadlier. New variants of the coronavirus can arise whenever the virus has the chance to infect people and multiply in the human body. The reassuring news is that while viruses mutate constantly, most of those mutations are meaningless and not harmful. But if you roll the dice enough — if you give a virus enough chances — the virus could take on mutations that worsen Covid-19. With a global health policy that hasn’t prioritized vaccination enough, the world is rolling the dice repeatedly. It doesn’t need to be that way. Vaccinating the whole world is achievable and even affordable. One estimate puts the total cost at $50 billion to $70 billion — a pittance compared to the toll of a new surge. Such a global campaign would dramatically reduce the odds of new variants arriving. The US failure to take leadership on that front isn’t just a humanitarian and moral failure. As delta shows, it’s also incredibly short-sighted and terrible for America’s own health security. Variants, explained To understand why vaccinating as many people as possible is essential to preventing new and deadlier variants, it might be worth explaining briefly how variants come about. When a virus infects someone, it forces their cells to make billions of copies of the RNA that makes up its genetic code. For Covid-19, it’s estimated that an infected person’s body can ultimately produce between 1 billion and 100 billion copies of the coronavirus. Now, the copying process isn’t quite perfect, and almost all of those billions of copies will be different from their parent virus in a few small details. Most of the time, those differences — introduced by copying errors — will have no effect, or make the virus less effective at infecting people. A metaphor might help explain why: Imagine that you have a book. Most possible random letter transpositions will make the book worse. A letter transposition that makes the book better would be exceptionally rare. Most possible changes to Covid-19’s RNA are probably bad for the virus with the mutation, or simply irrelevant. Early in the pandemic, there was a lot of panic over variants that turned out to be relatively harmless — not particularly different from the original SARS-CoV-2. Eventually, though, an unlucky roll might produce some random changes to Covid-19’s genome that could make it more transmissible, more virulent, or more able to evade the immune protections offered by vaccines. “By keeping cases so high, you increase the chance that sooner or later, you’re going to hit that jackpot,” molecular epidemiologist Emma Hodcroft told my colleague Brian Resnick. “We keep rolling the die when we keep the cases up so high.” The unlucky “jackpot” so far is delta. It appears to be better at latching onto human cells, and it’s far more transmissible. There is also some preliminary evidence that delta is better at evading the immune response, so it can more easily infect people who’ve already experienced Covid-19. Once that random change happened, the viruses with that lucky advantage were able to out-reproduce the viruses that didn’t have it. The delta variant started out as just one random mutation in a single Covid-19 patient. Now, most new Covid-19 cases in the US are estimated to be delta, and it’s been detected in 98 countries. Delta’s bad. It could be worse. “The scary scenario is that this is not the last or the most harmful variant,” Maureen Miller, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Columbia University, told Vox. There are in fact a lot of ways things can get worse. First of all, future variants could get even more transmissible. “This virus has surprised us a lot,” Aris Katzourakis, a virologist at the University of Oxford, told the BBC. “The fact it has happened twice in 18 months, two lineages (alpha and then delta) each 50 percent more transmissible is a phenomenal amount of change.” And while he said it’s “foolish” to try to estimate how much more transmissible Covid-19 could get, he says we could see future large jumps in transmission. “There is still space for it to move higher,” Wendy Barclay, a virologist at Imperial College London, told the BBC. The R0 of the coronavirus — a measure of how many people a single infected case will infect in a population without immunity — was estimated at 2-3 for the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. Delta might have an R0 as high as 8. “Measles is between 14 and 30,” Barclay added. Measles, though, is an extraordinary outlier among diseases in infectiousness. But delta is starting to get into outlier territory itself, and it’s worth at least pausing to consider what future more transmissible variants might be like. What would it be like if a future variant of the coronavirus were as bad as measles? According to the CDC, measles is so infectious that the virus can live in an airspace, infecting new people, for up to two hours after an infected person leaves. If a person is infected, up to 90 percent of their close contacts will also become infected (assuming none of them are immune). And infected people can spread measles to others up to four days before symptoms appear, making contact tracing nearly impossible. There’s another thing that could get worse. Existing mRNA vaccines work quite well against delta. They’re not perfect, but they seem to dramatically reduce odds of transmitting Covid-19 onward (current estimates suggest an efficacy rate of 80-90 percent against infection), as well as the risk of hospitalization and death. Most of their benefits have held up against every variant so far, even as other vaccines have proven much less effective. Vaccination, then, is our best tool to fight the virus. But if rich countries dawdle too much, it is possible that eventually a variant could arise that blunts that tool. “The emergence of future variants that can escape vaccine-induced immunity” is a possibility, former CDC Director Tom Frieden has argued. The mRNA vaccines, in particular, seem to induce a very strong, robust immune response in multiple parts of the immune system. Many virologists have argued it’s unlikely a virus could escape that while remaining highly transmissible. But with trillions of rolls of the dice, it’s possible that the virus will stumble on a way to evade our immune response. “Continued uncontrolled spread around the world makes this scenario more likely,” Frieden says. How vaccinating the world can stop future variants from emerging In high-income countries, on average, 51 percent of people have been vaccinated. In low-income countries, only 1.36 percent have. The humanitarian case for vaccinating the world is very clear: Social distancing and masking appear to often be insufficient to contain the delta variant, so even countries that had successfully avoided Covid-19 up until this point are now getting slammed. New waves are crushing countries such as Indonesia, South Africa, and Malaysia. According to official estimates, 4 million people worldwide are known to be dead from Covid-19. But measurements of excess deaths tell a story of a toll that’s even worse. One recent estimate found that approximately 4 million to 5 million people have died of Covid-19 in India alone — most of them in the last month and a half as delta swept the country. Vaccines would save millions of lives, both directly, by protecting people from serious cases of Covid-19, and indirectly, by making it harder for the virus to spread. But the vaccines that work best against delta are the mRNA ones, which are more difficult to manufacture compared to other vaccines like AstraZeneca’s or Sinopharm’s, which are available outside the US. So far, the rich world has been reluctant to take even small steps to ensure universal access to vaccines. The Biden administration has pushed for waiving intellectual property rights to the vaccines, but other countries have pushed back, and experts say that even if rights are waived, it won’t change much. “Waiving vaccine patents is fine, but unless it’s tied to a process that actually increases the supply of vaccines, it’s little more than expressing thoughts and prayers after a tragedy,” sociologist and Covid-19 commentator Zeynep Tufekci wrote in May, urging governments to do much more to actually vaccinate the world. What’s really needed is funding, massive preorders for the doses needed to vaccinate the world, and a concerted effort to ensure those doses reach everyone in the world. Building the factories to pump out vaccines on that scale will help the world with the next pandemic, too. If saving millions of lives worldwide is insufficient motivation for the US to do that, maybe the case from self-interest will be stronger. Already, delta is delaying the return to normalcy that Americans long for — and killing thousands of people. The world cannot afford another variant that could be even worse. Compared to that, the $50 billion to $70 billion needed to vaccinate the world starts to look downright cheap. That’s a bargain just because of its benefits in saving human lives; it’s even more so because it will help prevent future variants from arising. The rise of delta after such a promising spring in the US underscores a fact many Americans may have forgotten amid the good vaccine news at home: This is still very much a global crisis that Americans are not exempt from. The US should act accordingly.
Preview: Jeanie Olinger drives with her son Chris in Norman, Oklahoma. Chris experienced a traumatic brain injury after a 2008 car crash. | Joseph Rushmore for Vox 48 million people provide unpaid care to their loved ones in the US. Here’s how to help them. This story is part of The Aftermath, a Vox series about the collateral health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in communities around the US. This series is supported in part by the NIHCM Foundation. One evening in 2016, Sabrina Nichelle Scott checked in on her aging grandmother in New York City. She found Lillian, then in her early 90s, trying to cook meat that was still in its plastic packaging. That was when Scott realized her grandmother’s advancing dementia required more care than visiting home health aides alone could provide. Scott left her job as a systems trainer for New York City Health + Hospitals and became her maternal grandmother’s primary caregiver. With help from multiple aides and other family members, Scott was able to ensure her grandmother was receiving the care she needed, while also carving out enough time to start her own consultancy. That system worked okay for Scott, now 56 — until the pandemic hit. Malcolm Jackson for Vox Sabrina Nichelle Scott became her grandmother’s round-the-clock caregiver when the pandemic arrived in New York City. Suddenly, much of the outside support became too risky, and Scott needed to provide round-the-clock care in her grandmother’s Harlem apartment. She helped Lillian with basic hygiene, prepared enticing meals to encourage her to continue eating (Scott herself subsisted mostly on oatmeal, grits, and sausages), and spent long, sleepless nights trying to ensure her grandmother didn’t leave the apartment and risk exposure to Covid-19. “From March through October of last year, I did not have a break,” Scott told Vox. Dementia had not robbed Lillian of her fiercely independent spirit, but it had made her verbally and sometimes physically aggressive, and she would fight back against caregivers other than Scott. Whenever Scott undertook essential errands, she depended on her mother or an aide to stay with her grandmother briefly, so she “only went out under extreme, extreme reasons: I had to go to the laundromat, I had to get food. That’s it.” She had to stop working and even postponed a surgery she needed. It was a “very precarious situation,” she said. An estimated 47.9 million adults in the United States — a staggering 19.3 percent — provide informal care to an adult with physical or mental health needs. This unpaid work, which includes everything from trips to the doctor to feeding, bathing, and toileting, has been valued at $470 billion per year, equivalent to three-quarters of the entire budget of Medicaid. Even in the best of times, the vast majority of this work is invisible and undersupported, leaving millions of caregivers struggling in silence. The Covid-19 pandemic pushed many caregivers into crisis. And while Covid-19 vaccination has helped some Americans experience a joyful summer, a large number of caregivers are still at home, struggling with the fallout from ongoing isolation, anxiety, and lack of support. Interviews with caregivers, researchers, and advocates, along with early data about the pandemic’s impact on this vast and diverse group, reveal widespread and alarming rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. They expose a national failure to support this vital part of our society — one that many of us will depend on at some point in life. Tim Ryan Williams/Vox Before the pandemic, Scott’s grandmother Lillian was social and stayed physically active, despite her advancing dementia. She played an important role in her church community and regularly exercised by walking the wide hallway in her apartment building. The shutdown took those activities away. Dementia left Lillian unable to keep her mask on, so venturing out of the one-bedroom apartment, even to the elevator, was too risky for anything but an urgent medical reason. Within Lillian’s apartment building, “death was all around,” Scott said, recalling people going in and out in protective suits to reach sick or dying neighbors. In the small apartment, Scott tried to replace her grandmother’s activities as best as she could: They sang gospel songs, and she moved the furniture so they could walk a little bit. But “the routine of ritual is so important,” Scott said, noting these disruptions to social connection and physical activity likely contributed to her grandmother’s decline. Because of Lillian’s difficulty with masking, she also missed important medical care during the pandemic. Many times they were stopped at the door of a health care facility and turned away, Scott said. “Yes, there are rules, but certain populations cannot follow the rules,” she said, frustrated. “They should not be denied access to health care. ... Access to medical resources is a human right.” Scott struggled to explain her experience even to people who were close to her. Non-caregiver friends talked about pandemic “wellness walks.” “That’s nice,” Scott said. “I did not have the leisure to go for a walk.” When her brother suggested that she take their grandmother outside, just to sit, Scott reminded him that Lillian could not keep her mask on for the elevator ride. So they stayed inside, riding the waves of Lillian’s advancing dementia as best they could. “Some days she could dress herself, some days she could not. It ended in me in an apartment not being able to get out to get any fresh air,” Scott said. She remembered thinking: “Mentally, how do I adjust to confinement?” Her rare breaks during those intense six months came in the middle of the night, sometimes at 2 am, when her grandmother was finally asleep. She used those moments, even during the hot Harlem summer, to take a bath with nice soaps she had splurged on before the pandemic. Scott said she felt additional pressure, as a Black woman, to be an intensive caregiver. She had previously provided years of live-in caregiving for her paternal grandmother, who had dementia as well. When Scott eventually recommended more skilled care for each of her grandmothers, she says her family resisted — telling her, in effect, “We don’t do that.” “We meaning Black people,” Scott told Vox. Malcolm Jackson for Vox A photograph of Sabrina Nichelle Scott with her maternal grandmother, Lillian, who died earlier this year at the age of 97. Despite the hardships, Scott says she is grateful to have had the opportunity to care for her grandmother. “My grandmother always opened her doors to people in the family,” she said. Lillian was the person who took people in when they needed a place to stay. “I have no regrets … it was an honor to serve her.” In March 2021, Lillian died at the age of 97. Scott has since moved back to Jacksonville, Florida, where she has a house to herself and is working again. Still, she is recovering from the grueling stretch of caregiving and processing the loss of her grandmother. “I could be on a webinar or on the phone, and people don’t even know that tears are coming down my face,” she said. “I know I’m still traumatized from it.” The Covid-19 pandemic undermined mental health on a massive scale, with anxiety or depression symptoms hitting one in three people in the US early in the outbreak. Emerging data shows that it’s been especially difficult for informal caregivers. Two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveys last winter found that 40 percent of caregivers for adults reported anxiety or depression symptoms, and a worrying number — about 10 percent — reported serious suicidal ideation. These numbers were even higher early in the pandemic. Among caregivers for adults who were also parents of young children, a staggering 50 percent said they had experienced serious suicidal thoughts. The authors warned of “an urgent need to tailor public health efforts for this population.” Nearly half of family caregivers reported psychological distress in a different 2020 survey, and more than a quarter reported fatigue. Another study found that early in the pandemic, “family caregivers reported higher anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbance ... and increased financial worries,” compared to non-caregivers. Caregivers said the pandemic “increased the effort involved in providing care” and made it “more physically, emotionally, and financially difficult.” “It’s scarring,” said Scott Beach, lead author of the study and director of survey research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research. Some caregivers may bounce back from mental health challenges as supports return, but others will likely continue to struggle with residual stress and worry, especially if the pandemic worsened the physical, cognitive, or emotional health of the person they were caring for. Tim Ryan Williams/Vox These early data points are only a glimpse of a worldwide problem affecting millions of people. “We’re going to see fallout from this for quite a long time,” said Amy Goyer, an AARP family caregiving expert who has also been a caregiver herself. Before the pandemic, roughly 60 percent of informal caregivers had some form of paid employment, and the majority of those were working at least 40 hours a week. The pandemic forced a large number to start working from home — which meant juggling job and caregiving responsibilities simultaneously. “For many of us, that’s our respite,” Goyer said of going to work. “That’s our break from caregiving. And now we’re at home constantly with our loved one.” Experts told Vox that, unlike the struggles of working parents, which were gradually acknowledged by the media, employers, and policymakers, the strain on adult caregivers was less widely recognized and supported. Others had to leave the workforce altogether. Jessica Mills, 30, who lives in Augusta, Georgia, cares with her father for her 61-year-old mother, who has advanced, early-onset dementia. “She’s very active, so she has a lot of needs,” Mills said, and “within the past couple of years has just needed 24/7 care.” About a decade before the pandemic, Mills dropped out of college and moved back home to help with her mother’s care. She worked part time at restaurants to bring in extra income. But when the pandemic started, Mills quickly stopped working, to limit her family’s exposure to the coronavirus. That safety-based decision came with a huge trade-off: “All of a sudden you’re stuck, without the resources,” she said. She told Vox that because her home state of Georgia hasn’t expanded Medicaid, she didn’t have health insurance and was unable to afford therapy. Caregivers who didn’t have the option to stop working outside the home often carried with them additional levels of anxiety. Many, disproportionately people of color, were already in jobs that put them on the front lines of the pandemic, such as in the service sector. People of color are also more likely to be in caregiving roles in the first place. Tim Ryan Williams/Vox Add to that the fact that many communities of color were hit the hardest by the coronavirus. Which meant, for many caregivers, “they’re dealing with higher rates of Covid-19 within their communities, still trying to juggle and balance caregiving, and often not having access to the same resources and supports,” said Christina Irving, the clinical services director at Family Caregiver Alliance in the Bay Area. Black Americans are still less likely than white or Latinx people to have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, leaving more people vulnerable to the virus. “So all these stressors coming at people from multiple angles has made it that much harder for them to manage,” Irving said. For caregivers, isolation and worry were often a way of life even before Covid-19. “The things everybody feared and had difficulties with during the pandemic, we live that way,” said Jeanie Olinger, 60, who lives in Oklahoma City. Olinger’s son Chris, who is 37, experienced a debilitating traumatic brain injury in a 2008 car crash. Since then, he has needed full care — from feeding to moving — around the clock. “He does nothing but look at me,” Olinger said. In 2010, Chris was able to relocate from a care facility to his mother’s home, and she began working remotely and enlisting home health aides for Chris’s extensive needs. She was getting by. But when the pandemic arrived last spring, “we didn’t let anybody in,” Olinger said. Like the majority of other people receiving care, her son — who has chronic asthma in addition to the brain injury — was at a higher risk of severe Covid-19 and death from the virus. That meant Olinger was on duty caring for her son, while also trying to work from home. “It was really difficult,” she said. For months, she stopped taking her usual stress-relieving runs and walks for fear of contracting Covid-19. Her one source of release was a punching bag in her garage. “When I was overwhelmed, I would go punch the snot out of that bag,” she said. Joseph Rushmore for Vox Jeanie Olinger’s son Chris, 37, needs full-time care after experiencing a traumatic brain injury in a 2008 car accident. Joseph Rushmore for Vox For months during the pandemic, Olinger had to stop letting health aide workers into her home for fear of exposing her high-risk son to Covid-19. Joseph Rushmore for Vox For months, Olinger says she stopped taking her usual stress-relieving runs and walks for fear of contracting Covid-19. Caregivers like Olinger stopped seeing family and friends outside their household, and lost other forms of support as well. “Before, you could get your cousin to come over for four hours on Saturday so you could go see a movie, just to escape it and recharge your batteries,” said John Schall, CEO of Caregiver Action Network, a support and education nonprofit, and a caregiver himself. During the pandemic, “that kind of respite, those breaks, haven’t existed.” Pandemic caregivers were additionally burdened with bearing witness as their loved ones slid precipitously toward poorer health. “The lack of social interaction and lack of physical activity really, really affected so many,” Goyer said. “Their loved ones got worse so much faster.” Care recipients got “less socialization, less stimulation, less exercise and ability to be out in the world,” Irving said. This leads to more cognitive decline as well as loss of mobility and physical health, she noted. “That’s a huge strain on caregivers.” The pandemic also prevented some caregivers from accompanying their loved ones — even those with severe cognitive, memory, or communication issues — into medical facilities. Megan Powell, 38, cares for her husband Jesse, 36, who has PTSD and traumatic brain injuries from four tours with the US Army in Afghanistan. She has long been his “caregiver slash advocate” at medical appointments, she told Vox, but she was shut out when the pandemic began. She tried to call in to appointments using speakerphone, worrying that because he has memory issues, important information was getting lost. Lizzie Chen for Vox Megan and Jesse Powell sit down for dinner with their young son. Lizzie Chen for Vox Powell cares for her husband Jesse, who has PTSD and traumatic brain injury from serving in Afghanistan. Terri Harvath, the founding director of the Family Caregiving Institute at the University of California Davis, said that her older partner was hospitalized in March 2020 for cancer-related complications. “She was delirious from surgery, she was frightened, she had a tracheostomy so she couldn’t talk, she couldn’t indicate what she needed,” Harvath said. Harvath was able to pull strings to be in the hospital, but for three weeks, she was only allowed to leave her partner’s room for one daily trip to the cafeteria. Caregivers have also struggled with doubt and distress about bringing their loved one to the ER or hospital in the first place, not just because of potential Covid-19 exposure but also the risk of separation due to pandemic restrictions. In her clinic, Harvath worked with one caregiver who thought her mom might be having a stroke but initially thought twice about taking her to the ER because she knew it would mean leaving her at the door. Informal caregivers are “the invisible member of the interdisciplinary health care team — they’re absolutely essential,” Harvath said. In August 2020, Olinger’s son, whose traumatic brain injury left him unable to communicate, became very ill and needed to be hospitalized. “It was just terrifying,” Olinger said. After her son received a positive pneumonia diagnosis and a negative Covid-19 test, Olinger was allowed to stay with him. But if he had tested positive for Covid-19 and needed isolation, she said, she would have brought him home — even to die — rather than leaving him alone at the hospital without a caregiver. Joseph Rushmore for Vox Caregivers like Olinger stopped seeing family and friends during the pandemic, losing vital forms of support. For those who could use them, telehealth appointments brought minor and routine care to a growing number of people. But these virtual consultations could not replace important medical interventions and procedures. And “for others who don’t have easy access to technology, or can’t afford the devices or the monthly internet and broadband costs, it just put one more barrier for them being able to access services and supports,” Irving said. Even as vaccines and lower Covid-19 rates have made it easier to access medical care in many places, missed care is likely to have lasting impacts. “For people who have chronic health conditions, for older adults, they may not bounce back in the same way that somebody who’s healthier would,” Irving added. “So we are going to see a bigger impact even as we start to come out of Covid-19.” It’s not only the health of care recipients that has been at stake: Caregivers have had a hard time getting health care, too. This is a challenge even during normal times, when, as Goyer put it, “the biggest challenge they have is taking care of themselves.” And regular health care is especially important for this group: More than 40 percent of informal caregivers reported having two or more chronic diseases. If the primary caregiver is unwell — or has a health crisis — that puts the care recipient at substantially higher risk for poorer health and death. These sorts of worries wracked Mills while she and her father took care of her mother in Georgia. Mills got very sick with Covid-19 last spring, leaving her then-65-year-old father, in the same house, as the sole caregiver to her mother for weeks on end. “If me and my dad had gotten sick [and] were in bed for weeks, she wouldn’t be able to take care of herself,” Mills said of her mom. “It’s just so scary to think about.” The mental health of caregivers can also have serious effects on the people they look after. Researchers have found over the years that conditions such as depression tend to lead to lower quality of care. A recent study in China, for example, discovered that stroke patients were more likely to die within six months of discharge from the hospital when their family caregivers experienced anxiety or depression. For caregiving families, the pandemic restrictions and isolation could make home a pressure cooker. Powell, the caregiver for her Army veteran husband, describes herself as more of an emotional caregiver, because Jesse can keep up with most daily tasks. But his injuries have led to emotional volatility and, after the pandemic shut down his treatment facility, suicidal thoughts. Which put the whole family, including their 4-year-old son, on alert. “Things got really bad,” said Powell, who also experiences anxiety and depression. Lizzie Chen for Vox Powell recalls a lot of anxiety running through their home during the pandemic. “There was a lot of anxiety throughout the entire house,” she said. “It’s not just the three of us. We have this thing in the house with us ... the PTSD monster,” she said. “You don’t know what role it’s going to take in the day, but it’s going to have a role.” Although she tried to shield their young son from the stress, it was often impossible. “There were a lot of days I would realize he was sucked into it,” she said. “We’re here, and we’re stuck, and we’re not going anywhere.” The vast majority of people will need care at some point in their lives — and almost anyone can find themselves in the role of caregiver. Of the adults who are not currently caregivers, about one in six expect to become one within the next two years. And an aging population will need more care, with fewer young people to provide it. “The numbers are such that we have to do something to help people,” Harvath said. An even greater share of this burden will likely be shouldered at home. After the alarming number of deaths from Covid-19 in long-term care institutions, “many families will be reluctant going forward to use those facilities, and we’ll bear an even greater brunt of care — even when it becomes really, really difficult to do so,” Harvath said. And much of this unpaid work will likely be done by people who have not been trained, supported, or adequately cared for themselves. Caregiving may be a labor of love, but it’s still labor Some experts and caregivers see the pandemic as an opportunity to increase awareness about these struggles. “My hope is that one of the things that happens is that we use this disruption to all of our lives to make change,” Harvath said. Before Covid-19, the US was lagging behind other countries in its support for informal, home-based care. Catching up would be a first step toward helping caregivers recover — for example, through tax credits, an expansion of federal family leave policies, and direct pay to informal caregivers. The Credit for Caring Act, introduced in Congress this spring, would give eligible family caregivers up to $5,000 per year to help pay for care costs. The Biden administration has proposed up to 12 weeks of annual paid family leave that would cover caregivers like the ones in this story, through the American Families Plan. But other plans have already fallen by the wayside. For example, Biden’s American Jobs Plan proposed $400 billion for additional Medicaid funds to help ease some caregiving burdens, but it was cut from the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently under discussion in Congress. Harvath also cautions that programs should reach not only low-income caregivers but all families that could use help with care. “Caregivers who are in those middle-income brackets have very few resources,” she said. “They don’t have the resources to pay for care, and they don’t have eligibility” for assistance. Some families choose to spend down their savings just to qualify for essential services they could not otherwise afford. A handful of states have invested more resources into support of this critical unpaid workforce. In 2018, Hawaii piloted a program making caregivers who also have paid jobs eligible for financial assistance for care expenses, with the aim of helping them stay in the workforce — and of saving the state and taxpayers money on outlays for otherwise more expensive care. The same year, Washington state also launched a pilot program to provide a monthly stipend for services to caregivers who don’t quite qualify for Medicaid benefits. This helps the caregivers and recipients, while saving the state money. Washington is set to evaluate the program at the end of this year, and if it’s deemed successful, it could be replicated in other states. But policymakers can’t help caregivers unless they can locate them in the first place — which can be more difficult than it sounds. “Most people don’t use that term to describe themselves,” said Jennifer Olsen, executive director of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers. “If you ask them, they would say, ‘I’m the sister,’ ‘I’m the daughter.’” And it’s not a status doctors typically discuss or screen for — despite the stakes — as they might for family medical histories. Irving advocates for a more comprehensive connection of services among health care, social service, and government systems. “It doesn’t mean they’re going to provide all the supports — just so that caregivers don’t fall through the cracks.” Joseph Rushmore for Vox Olinger helps her son Chris into his bed for an afternoon nap in their apartment in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Experts and caregivers see the pandemic as an opportunity to increase awareness about the struggles of at-home care. The US can’t afford to neglect caregivers. There is neither the budget nor the professional labor force to replace them. “If all of us family caregivers went on strike tomorrow — not that we would ever do that to our loved ones — but if we did, there’s no way the nation could ever fill this gap,” Schall said. Scott, who trained as a business anthropologist and who now works as a home care consultant, believes that caregivers should receive guaranteed coverage for physical and mental health care: “How can you take care of someone else if you’re not healthy?” Simply raising awareness is a first step, Scott added. “There will be more and more people who need caregivers,” she said, whether or not we like to think about it. “We’re all aging.” Scott sees financial support for informal caregivers as a huge opportunity to keep care recipients out of much more expensive, tax-funded care. She would like to see this on a national level, rather than a patchwork of state and local programs that provide uneven coverage. And now is the time for these changes, she said: “Why not be preventative, like preventative medicine, as opposed to waiting until later?” Caregiving may be a labor of love, but it’s still labor. We need to care for the caregivers, not least because helping them helps everyone else. “There’s an obligation,” Scott said. “Caregivers extend lives.” CREDITS Editors: Eliza Barclay, Daniel A. Gross, Julia Rubin Visuals editor: Kainaz Amaria Copy editors: Tanya Pai, Tim Williams Fact-checker: Becca Laurie
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