April 15, 2020

A New “Immunity” Passport?

As American leaders begin to talk about getting back to work, earlier-hit nations are trying to cautiously reopen–with uneven results. Many of these countries have seen a worrying uptick in new cases as travelers return home. China, for instance, reported a 6-week high in daily cases on Monday. Enter the immunity passport, a proposed certificate for individuals who are immune to COVID-19. The method relies on testing for antibodies to help determine if a person has been exposed to the virus, potentially indicating immunity. Test development is accelerating, as researchers race to better understand if the antibodies guarantee protection from reinfection, and if they do, how long that immunity lasts. One thing to watch for, as we wrote yesterday: This type of health data collection in the U.S. could pose HIPAA or employment discrimination challenges.

Medical and Economic Concerns Metastasize

Americans’ concerns over coronavirus infection are increasing in lockstep with concerns over the economy, both trending upward since January. According to the latest polling from FOX News, three-quarters of Americans (76%) are concerned they will personally catch coronavirus, up from 69% measured in mid-March. Since the end of January, concern over coronavirus infection has grown 35 points among American adults. Perhaps unexpectedly, that number has only continued to grow even as talk of curves flattening and businesses reopening gets louder, with implications for whether Americans go out again once they’re allowed to. Americans are just as concerned about the economy, with concerns growing 26 points from the end of January. The most recent polling from FOX also shows three-quarters of Americans (73%) currently rate the economy as fair or poor. And just 8% of Americans say the economy is excellent now compared to 20% who said the same in January.

COVID-19 by the Numbers

How We’re Consuming News Keeps Changing

COVID-19 is changing how we report, support and consume news. Last week we looked at the deeply troubled local news industry as traditional ad revenue streams continue to plummet. This week, members of Congress from both parties are preparing to ask the White House for special stimulus support for local newsrooms, which many states and the federal government consider essential businesses. At the same time, traditional local and national news organizations are seeing huge traffic while more partisan outlets’ audience growth is stagnating.

Are We Bored or Just Boring?

Twitter has always been a place to scream into the void, and the pandemic is no exception. As daily life is upended and movement is limited to the square footage of one’s home, Americans are…bored. Very bored. As stay-at-home orders swept the country, people were quick to let their followers know just how little they have to do. Between March 1st and March 21st, use of the word ‘bored’ on Twitter increased 672%. Since peak boredom on the 21st, though, we’ve seen volume decline and ultimately be cut in half through April 14th. It seems people are becoming a little more comfortable at home and finding plenty of ways to keep themselves busy. Encouragingly, this isn’t the only curve we’re beginning to see flatten; states like New York appear to be turning the corner. Staying home and being bored is saving lives, which is not something couch potatoes can always say.