Covid-19 🦠 Newsbites
Billionaires have never been richer despite the pandemic
The wealth of the world's billionaires reached a new record high in the middle of the pandemic as a rebound in tech stocks boosted the fortunes of the global elite.

Billionaire wealth increased to $10.2 trillion at the end of July, up from a previous peak of $8.9 trillion in 2017, according to a report from Swiss bank UBS and PwC. The total number of billionaires has increased by 31 to 2,189 since 2017.

Some billionaires are getting richer much faster than others, however. The pandemic has accelerated a growing divergence in wealth between innovators in technology, healthcare and industry, and entrepreneurs in areas such as entertainment, financial services and real estate, the report said.

That contrasts with most of the past decade "when steady growth and buoyant asset prices lifted billionaire wealth in all sectors," it added. Now, billionaires "on the wrong side" of technological and social trends are becoming relatively less wealthy.

This polarization between "innovator billionaires" and the rest comes at the end of a decade in which the number of billionaires has doubled and total wealth almost tripled. "In the last two years those using technology to change their business models, products and services have pulled ahead. The Covid-19 crisis just accentuated this divergence," the report said.

All that time in the kitchen during this pandemic has led to a nationwide shortage of Mason jars
The increase in the number of people cooking and trying recipes during the pandemic has led to a surge in canning -- because experienced canners are doing it more and novices want to give it a try.

And that surge has led to a shortage in Mason jars and lids.

... Most of the demand is for the two-part lids necessary for canning, because they are single-use, whereas the glass jars can be used over and over. The lids have a disc that sits on the mouth of the jar with a ring that screws on around it, but after one use, the seal around the disc breaks down and can't safely be used again.

Cruise ships torn apart after coronavirus sell off
End of the line: When a cruise company retires a ship and the vessel can't be sold to another company, it'll be sold for scrap. Some cruise ships may sail the globe for decades, but most will eventually end up in ship breaking yards such as Alang, India or Aliaga, Turkey.

... Hundreds of cruise ships that were sailing around the world earlier this year are largely now laid up at sea, with no passengers on board.

... In the past, ships could expect to sail for decades before ending up as scrap -- sailing under multiple names for a succession of cruise lines.

Worrying sign for the movies: Next 'Jurassic World' film delayed until 2022
The pandemic had already ruined the movies this year -- and now it's affecting 2021's slate of films, too.

"Jurassic World: Dominion," the next film in the blockbuster franchise, has been pushed back from June 11, 2021, to June 10, 2022, Universal announced on Tuesday.

... "Dominion" is just one of many films that have been delayed in recent weeks. Movies like "Black Widow" and "No Time to Die," the next James Bond film, and now slated to open next year.

Studios like Universal and Warner Bros., which like CNN is owned by WarnerMedia, are now adjusting their schedules for next year's films too.

Warner Bros. announced on Monday that the highly anticipated "The Batman," in which Robert Pattinson plays Gotham's caped crusader, will move from October 10, 2021, to March 4, 2022. Production on the film was temporarily paused earlier this month after Pattinson tested positive for Covid-19.

It's just one of the films for which Warner Bros. has changed release dates. The "Matrix" sequel, the franchise's fourth installment, is being moved up to December 22, 2021 from April 1, 2022.

Green Bay Packers putting indefinite hold on fans at Lambeau Field after Covid cases increase
The Green Bay Packers announced Tuesday that they are putting an "indefinite hold" on having fans at Lambeau Field this season due to the "concerning increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations" around Green Bay and across Wisconsin.

That will put an end to zone celebrations in which Packers players leap into throngs of fans.

Wisconsin recently reported its highest daily case count, highest death toll and record-high hospitalizations. The state has a 19.98% 7-day positivity rate, which is currently the third-highest in the nation behind only South Dakota and Idaho.

Marine Corps assistant commandant tests positive for Covid-19
Gen. Gary L. Thomas, the assistant commandant of the US Marine Corps, has tested positive for Covid-19, the Marine Corps said in a statement Wednesday.

As CNN previously reported, Thomas had been in self-quarantine since Tuesday, after being notified he had been in close contact with a person who later tested positive for the virus.

"In accordance with established Marine Corps COVID policies, General Thomas will continue to quarantine at home. He is experiencing mild symptoms, but otherwise is feeling well," the statement said. "Since April, the Marine Corps has been following CDC and DoD guidelines for temperature testing, social distancing to the greatest extent possible, and the wearing of masks when social distancing is not possible. The Marine Corps remains operationally ready to answer the Nation's call."

The top US general, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, and several members of the Pentagon's senior leadership, including Thomas, have been quarantining after a top Coast Guard official tested positive for coronavirus.

As President Donald Trump's top military adviser, Milley maintains a full classified communications suite in his house. The Chief of Staff of the US Air Force Charles Brown, the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and the Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond are also working from home, according to several officials.

As of Wednesday evening, no one in that group had tested positive aside from Thomas.

... Already, experts have said that Trump's bout with the virus could pose a national security threat. The President, who left Walter Reed medical center on Monday after receiving treatment for the virus, is among more than a dozen Republicans close to his administration or his reelection campaign who have tested positive in recent days.

The list of those in Trump's close circle who have tested positive includes his senior adviser, press secretary, campaign manager, former counselor, personal assistant, four press aides, three Republican senators, first lady Melania Trump and, over the weekend, a member of the military who directly serves the President.

Additional military officials who were also working from alternate locations or from home include:

Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army; Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard; Gen. Paul Nakasone, US Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.

Trump's erratic actions put US at risk
Donald Trump's abrupt decision to end talks on providing economic aid to Americans hit hard by the pandemic may have been prompted by a side effect of the medication he has been prescribed to fight his Covid-19 infection.

How the White House Flouted Basic Coronavirus Rules
The coronavirus outbreak at the White House has now grown to more than 20 people, and evidence is mounting that the administration did little to prevent or contain the virus’s spread.

For months, President Trump minimized the threat of the virus and eschewed basic safety precautions like wearing a mask or maintaining six feet of distance from other people. And at several events last week, White House staff members defied recommendations — from scientists, local authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — on curbing infection, even after the president tested positive.
How the White House Flouted Basic Coronavirus Rules
  • The White House relied too heavily on rapid tests alone.
  • Members of the administration did not wear masks, held meetings indoors and failed to maintain recommended social distance.
  • The White House and Trump campaign hosted large gatherings that flouted state and local restrictions.
  • The president and his aides did not quarantine after people near them showed symptoms and tested positive.
  • The president failed to isolate after testing positive.
  • The White House is not tracing contacts of those at a potential ‘super-spreader’ event.

The treatment that Trump touted as a ‘cure’ for Covid-19 was developed using cells derived from fetal tissue.
The antibody cocktail for Covid-19 that President Trump touted on Wednesday afternoon was developed with cells originally derived from fetal tissue, a practice that his administration has moved to restrict.

In June 2019, the Trump administration suspended federal funding for most new scientific research involving fetal tissue derived from abortions.

“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement in 2019, around the time of the ban.

“Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted,” the statement added.

... To develop the antibodies, Regeneron relied on 293T, a cell line derived from the kidney tissue of an aborted fetus in the 1970s. At least two companies racing to produce vaccines against the coronavirus, Moderna and AstraZeneca, also are using the cell line.

Remdesivir, an antiviral drug Mr. Trump received, also was tested using these cells.

Masks made compulsory outside in Poland as coronavirus cases surge
Wearing masks outside will be compulsory across the whole of Poland from Oct. 10 and restrictions for schools may have to be tightened, the prime minister said on Thursday, after the country saw another record daily spike in new coronavirus cases.

Poland does not rule out introducing a state of emergency if cases continue to grow, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.

Daily coronavirus cases jumped more than 40% on Thursday compared to the previous day. While authorities have sought to reassure the public that hospitals can cope doctors have warned the system could soon face serious difficulties.