Showing posts with label Iran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iran. Show all posts

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Notations From the Grid (Special Thursday Edition ): On #Iran


As we noted historic developments earlier with the signing of the Abraham Accords, there has been a lot going on in Iran.

Iran executed a championship wrestler, Navid Afkari, in spite of pleadings for mercy from throughout the World.   This is as the leading Iranian Civil Rights Lawyer, Nasrin Soutodeh, continues her hunger strike and another one of the leading activists, Mohammad Nourizad, is in poor health based on the report we received from his wife.    Our team is continuing to assess it all as we leave all with a sense of the true realities in Iran right now:

Reza Pahlavi, the Son of the Late Shah of Iran, released an editorial for the Wall Street Journal regarding Navid Afkari:


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Notations On Our World (Special Mid-Week Edition): On Our World

 COVID-19 rages on--we in the United States are one of the major epicenters in the World.      We had featured a Virtual PSA throughout our properties to provide guidance courtesy the Centers for Disease Control here in the United States that we will continue to maintain throughout our Visions, Education, Esparanza and Ordinary Faces Platforms--as we hope all our valued community visitors and partners are uplifted by this.   This was written by Kelmti Horra and her iconic scenes when she stood up during the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 that saw Tunisia be Free--the only success of the Arab Spring.   Although Tunisia has been the victim of terrorism, it has enjoyed a sense of Freedom unseen in other parts of the Arab World.    This is as Libya is in chaos, Egypt is ruled by a dictator while grappling with massive unemployement and a raging insurgency in the Sinai, Yemen is a continued human tragedy and Lebanon is in the midst of the worst economic crisis it has seen since the end of the Civil War.    There is, of course, Syria.      

We must note the only success story which is the United Arab Emirates as it is a island of stability as it is now planning on a mission to Mars as it also has been at the forefront of the struggle against COVID-19.     We have also been assessing Bahrain as well--that continues to be sustained through the support of Saudi Arabia.     Saudi Arabia has also been quite busy along with Iraq--as the New Prime Minister of Iraq has profound challenges trying to right the ship in Iran.  This is a snapshot of what the UAE has been up to : 

We have also been assessing the situation in Iran as the controversy over the 25 year proposed agreement with China, the raging COVID-19 pandemic that has led to a shutdown in the Capital along with the economic collapse.  We have also been assessing the on-going US Election Scene for which Notations will be released.   This Thought Resonated with us: 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Notations On Our World (Weekly Edition): #RandomThoughts on #Iran

We have been assessing profound developments out of Iran as COVID-19 rages on, Rouhani's Government is in trouble during its' last year in Office and as a number of fires and explosions has rocked Iran--including a major explosion at the Natanz Facility which has been allegedly attributed to Israel.    The Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, was jeered in Iran's Majlis--Deputies called him a liar as he was defending his policies--and acknowledged that all foreign affairs were under the direct control of the Supreme Guide (Supreme Leader).  

As we went to press, we received reports of an estimated 2.5 Million People with COVID-19 and an estimated 150,000 who have died.  This is as Ventilators are not available and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp has grasped the imports of vital equipment.   Iran has refrained from any official explanation on it.  

As we continue to assess it all, we present an interview with the daughter of the Former Iranian President, Hashemi Rafsanjani hosted by Stanford University: 

She has been one of the internal voices of dissent as she has warned that the Islamic Republic is having its' last days.    She was dismissed from her job as a Professor at Azad University and has been subject to a number of restrictions--including having spent six months in prison during the Green Movement of 2009.

We also wanted to share this on the Women's Right Movement in Iran:

As we went to press, we reviewed reports that members of the current Majlis talked about how women's place was only in the home--and this is as Majlis Deputies received their salaries and housing allowance as hundreds of thousands have not been paid for months and the Government is dealing with a 50% expected deficit.    The only entity that seems to be growing is the Stock Market with no justifiable economic reasons as the Government has been trying to bridge its' deficit while printing money--increasing the money supply.

On a lighter note, we were  also were witness to Iran issuing an arrest warrant against President Trump and also claiming it produced the following new Fighter Jets that was proven to be a "revamp" of the F5 Fleet that was acquired before the revolution of 1979: 

Two interesting depictions reflected the true state of affairs in the extent of corruption and mismanagement that has befallen Iran over the past 40 years:

Our team will continue to assess it all.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Notations On Our World (Quarter-End Edition): Out & About in Our World


As we went to press, the United States Political Scene continues to be in a state of flux.   Our team chose two key messages for us on our World and the need to embrace a sense of purpose.
As we bid farewell to the Quarter, we were quite amused when reporting came out that Judicial Officials in Iran issued arrest warrants for the killing of the Iranian General, Qassem Suleminai.   On the list of 26 people, the name of the President of the United States was mentioned and they referred the warrant to Interpol--Interpol swiftly rejected it and we here at the Daily Outsider got a laugh out of it.   We also understand that Sulemaini's Daughter, Zenab, married the nephew of the Leader of Hizballah.  What is important to note is that Hizballah is at the forefront of the illicit drug trade in close collaboration with the Supreme Guide of Iran (referred to as the Supreme Leader in Western Media )'s Office in Tehran.     This is as Iran is grappling with runaway inflation, a raging COVID-19 along with soaring rents.     
Beyond Iran, there is the on-going challenges with Israel.  Israel wants to annex key areas  We have also been assessing the on-going challenges in Libya and Yemen.    This is as Egypt and Ethiopia have been at loggerheads over the Nile and the new dam Ethiopia is bringing on line which will have profound impacts on Egypt.  We have also been continuing to assess the situation in the Sahel as the Islamic State Affiliates in that part of Africa continue to wreck havoc.   We have also been seeing the alarming rate of COVID-19 in Brazil--and the view from Brazil's Former Health Minister who was fired by the Brazilian President.    
In the United States, The Conservative Media Circle was up in arms against Twitter as Twitter launched warnings against the President's Tweets and other Conservative luminaries either received warnings or were banned.   A new site, Parler, was being pushed as an alternative and the conservative commentator, Dan Boningo, was pushing for it--and we understand he holds a stake in it:

Our team curated a snapshot of all the coverage over the past number of weeks courtesy the Washington Examiner, The Atlantic, the Washington Post along with an sampling of the updates from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to reflect the challenging state of affairs before us.     Campaigns were also very much on the fundraising path to try and raise money--what struck out was the Democratic Challenger to the US House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy on her efforts as the US Senate Primary in Kentucky was yet to be settled.      There were also two very critical decisions by the US Supreme Court which was of profound concern to the Conservative Legal Community--a sampling of it is noted here for reference.      Our team also attended a conversation regarding Iran sponsored by Stanford University that we have also included here as our team will be releasing a Notation On Iran this week which should be available late this week.
We implore all to make sure that the CDC & WHO guidelines are followed as our World continues to be ravaged by the spike in COVID-19 and underscored by State and Local Health Officials.   For the latest as States hit a major pause in light of the spike, Al Jazeera (one of our partners), provides updates that is available by clicking here.   
We have a very challenging summer before us but we remain hopeful.    We look forward to our engagements throughout our properties during the Quarter.  As we implored all during our PSA next week in all our properties, Please don't forget to #WearAMask2SaveaLife 

The Daily

Trump’s role as chief executive is inextricable from his status as an incumbent facing tough reelection prospectsA new uptick in U.S. coronavirus cases raises more questions about his ability to guide the country in this moment.
Below, four writers analyze the state of the coronavirus response, the state of the campaign, and the places where those efforts intersect:
If the National Transportation Safety Board investigated it like a plane crash, they’d find that “this was a journey straight into a mountainside, with countless missed opportunities to turn away,” James Fallows, a longtime aviator and Atlantic writer, concludes, having spoken with 30 experts for this piece.  
The recent spike is “his own doing,” David Frum argues, citing the president’s recent rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, among other missteps.
“This week, a friendly interviewer asked in the gentlest of terms what Trump has in mind for America if he wins,” our White House correspondent, Peter Nicholas, reports. “He gave no real answer.”
“For the past few months, Trump and the conservative propaganda apparatus have struggled to make the old race-and-gender-baiting rhetoric stick to Biden,” Adam Serwer argues.


The global coronavirus death toll passed the 500,000 mark hours after confirmed cases topped 10 million.
The world hit the grim milestones on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, after India and Russia reported a slew of new cases. The United States remains the nation with the highest number of both reported cases and deaths followed by Brazil, where cases are still on the rise.
John Bolton

Former national security adviser John Bolton said he has serious concerns about a new report alleging Russian bounties are on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and President Trump's denial that he was briefed on the matter.
On Sunday, Bolton called a recent New York Times report that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. troops, one of the most serious issues to arise within the Trump administration. Hours earlier, Trump said he hadn't been briefed about the alleged bounties and demanded that the paper reveal the anonymous intelligence officials sourced in the story.
"I’ve been puzzled over the tweet of the president saying, 'I don’t know anything about this,'" Bolton said on CNN's State of the Union.
Alex Azar

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar warned that the United States is running out of time to combat the spread of the coronavirus as the country sees cases spiking in some regions.
On Sunday, Azar credited the progress made in two months since lockdowns began to protect the public from the virus but expressed concern about increased hospitalizations related to the illness, particularly as cases surge in the South.
"Things are very different from two months ago," he told CNN's State of the Union. "We now have three therapeutics. We have hospital capacity. We have reserves of personal protective equipment. We're speeding our way toward having vaccines. So, it is a very different situation, but this is a very, very serious situation, and the window is closing for us to take action and get this under control."
John Bolton

Former national security adviser John Bolton said it's a typical occurrence for President Trump to promote content, including racist or offensive language, without realizing the full context.
Bolton addressed his former boss's retweet of a controversial video on Sunday that showed a man driving a golf cart with Trump 2020 signs and shouting, "White power!" at anti-Trump protesters in Florida.
"He doesn't pay attention to a lot of things. It's entirely possible that he tweeted this video because he saw the [campaign] sign," Bolton said on CNN's State of the Union.
Trump sway over base in question as three favored GOP candidates go down

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged people to wear masks out in public in order to navigate the “middle ground” of reopening the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We must have no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday. “Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting other people. It’s about protecting everyone we encounter.”
Read the full story here.

After a string of successful endorsements in Republican primaries and special elections, President Trump has hit a rough patch. Two candidates Trump opposed in GOP primaries won on Tuesday night, not long after an incumbent the president endorsed was ousted at a Virginia state party convention.
The results have some questioning whether Trump’s anemic national poll numbers — he now trails presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 10.1 points in the RealClearPolitics average — have finally taken a toll on his stranglehold over the party, or at least his sway with rank-and-file Republican voters.

Trump Pence Make America Great Again

We're almost there! Donate now to help us crush our goal

Did I make a mistake in trusting you?

Our End-of-Quarter Deadline is TOMORROW, and I set a MASSIVE goal of raising another $18 MILLION. This is our BIGGEST goal yet, so why haven’t you stepped up?

Not crushing our goal is NOT an option. I really need you to contribute, which is why I’m going to do something I’ve never done before in the hopes that you’ll join me in making history...

For the NEXT HOUR, all contributions made to our critical $18,000,000 End-of-Quarter Goal will be not 300, not 400, not 500, but 600%-MATCHED!

This exclusive 600%-MATCH is only available to you for the next hour,  Don’t wait.

Please contribute ANY AMOUNT in the NEXT HOUR to our End-of-Quarter Goal and your gift will automatically be 600%-MATCHED. >>

All Gifts 600%-Matched

Have you seen the latest demands coming from the Radical Left?

Shaun King Tweet "Yes, I think the statues of the white european they claim is Jesus should also come down."

They’ve gone INSANE. They are totally and completely UNHINGED.

We can’t believe that Democrats are calling for the removal of statues of Jesus Christ... That’s NOT going to happen. Not as long as President Trump is OUR President.

That’s why keeping our lead over Sleepy Joe is paramount. We have a critical End-of-Quarter Deadline coming up and President Trump wants to send the Left a message by absolutely CRUSHING our $18,000,000 goal.

This is so important that he’s activated a short-term 400%-MATCH on ALL contributions until 11:59 PM TONIGHT.

Please contribute ANY AMOUNT by 11:59 PM TONIGHT and your gift will instantly be 400%-MATCHED. >>

Kim Mangone For Congress
  We did not plan on emailing you again tonight, but today has been truly awful.

We're facing a major setback now to beat Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy because donations to help Kim Mangone plummeted this afternoon. We're still $1,920 short!

If we miss this goal, that'll mean we can't hire more staff on the ground.

If we don't hire more staff, we won't be able to reach crucial voters.

And if we don't reach more voters, we'll be stuck with TWO more years of Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy doing Trump's bidding.

This really can't wait --  will you pitch just one donation of ANY amount to help Democrat Kim Mangone recover? >>  

The Washington Post
The Daily 202
Intelligence for leaders.

Daily updates on the emerging novel coronavirus pandemic from the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The Center for Health Security is analyzing and providing updateon the emerging novel coronavirus. If you would like to receive these daily updates, please subscribe below and select COVID-19. Additional resources are also available on our website.

June 26, 2020

EPI UPDATE The WHO COVID-19 Situation Report for June 25 reports 9.30 million cases (167,056 new) and 479,133 deaths (5,336 new). This is the third highest global daily incidence to date, continuing on pace to reach 10 million cumulative cases by the middle of next week. The global deaths could reach 500,000 by the middle of next week as well. The global daily incidence continues to increase, and the pandemic is again growing exponentially.

India reported 17,296 new cases, setting a new high daily incidence for the third consecutive day. India’s daily incidence has increased by more than 70% since June 11, and its epidemic continues to accelerate. India is currently #3 in terms of daily incidencePakistan appears to have passed its first peak—6,825 new cases on June 13—and its daily incidence has decreased by nearly 60% since then, down to 2,775 new cases yesterday (its lowest daily total since May 29). Pakistan fell to #10 globally in terms of daily incidence. Following several days of slightly lower daily incidence, Bangladesh reported its second and third highest daily totals over the past 2 days, 3,946 and 3,868 new cases, respectively. Notably, Bangladesh’s test positivity continues to hold steady at slightly greater than 20%, which is considerably higher than the WHO’s 5% benchmark for relaxing social distancing measures. Bangladesh remains at #9 globally in terms of daily incidence.

Brazil reported 39,483 new cases. Brazil has reported its second, third, and fourth highest daily totals over the past 3 days. The only higher daily incidence was reported on June 19, which was elevated due to reporting delays from the previous day. It appears that Brazil’s epidemic continues to accelerate. Brazil is currently #1 globally in terms of daily incidence, but the US daily COVID-19 incidence is increasing rapidly as well. Mexico reported 5,943 new cases, recording its highest daily incidence for the third consecutive day. Mexico continues to report increasing daily incidence and remains #5 globally. Broadly, the Central and South American regions are still a major COVID-19 hotspot. Including Brazil and Mexico, the region represents 6 of the top 14 countries globally in terms of daily incidence—including Peru (#7) Chile (#8), Colombia (#12), and Argentina (#14)—and 5 of the top 15 in terms of per capita daily incidence—Chile (#5), Brazil (#7), Panama (#8), Peru (#10), and Bolivia (#15).

Iran reported 2,628 new cases, holding relatively consistent with other recent reports. Since its second peak on June 5, Iran has reported approximately 2,300-2,500 new cases per day. Iran remains #13 globally in terms of daily incidence. Overall, the Eastern Mediterranean Region remains a global hotspot, representing 5 of the top 13 countries in terms of per capita incidenceQatar (#1), Bahrain (#2), Oman (#4), Kuwait (#6), and Saudi Arabia (#13). Additionally, nearby Armenia is #3. The region also includes several notable countries in terms of total daily incidence. In addition to Iran and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia is #11, and several other countries in the region are reporting more than 1,000 new cases per day.

A number of countries in Africa are reporting substantial increases in COVID-19 incidence as well. In terms of biweekly growth rate—the relative change between the number of cases reported over the past 2 weeks and the 2 weeks prior to that—at least 21 countries are reporting a 50% or more increase, including 14 countries reporting more than a 100% increase. Many of these countries are currently reporting relatively low incidence, so even small absolute changes in daily incidence can be large proportionate changes. A number of the countries discussed above—including multiple countries in the Eastern Europe, Eastern European, and Central and South American regions—are reporting large relative increases as well. Additionally, Africa’s relative contribution to the daily global incidence continues to increase. Africa now represents approximately 6-7% of the global daily total, nearly equal to Europe (8-10%). South Africa is among the top countries globally in terms of both per capita (#12) and total daily incidence (#6).

The US CDC reported 2.37 million total cases (37,667 new) and 121,809 deaths (692 new). This is the United States’ second highest daily incidence to date. The US record was reported on April 7 (43,438 new cases), which may have been elevated as a result of reporting delays over the Easter holiday weekend. The CDC has reported more than 25,000 new cases for 7 consecutive days, and 8 out of the last 9 days. Prior to that, the national daily incidence exceeded 25,000 cases only 3 times between June 1 and June 15. In total, 18 states (no change) and New York City reported more than 40,000 total cases, including New York City with more than 200,000; California and New York state with more than 175,000; New Jersey with more than 150,000; and Illinois and Texas more than 125,000. Following an overall decrease in daily incidence from mid-April through the end of May, the United States’ national COVID-19 incidence is clearly increasing.

The New York Times reported that the national daily incidence (weekly average; based on state-level reporting) set a new record this week, surpassing the first peak in April with no sign of slowing. As testing increases in the United States, and elsewhere, we expect to detect more cases; however, it does not appear that the increased testing in the United States wholly accounts for increased incidence. While the test positivity in the United States decreased from mid-April through mid-June, the decrease reached an inflection point in mid-May and has been increasing since early June. This indicates that community transmission is outpacing testing capacity. The COVID Tracking Project published an excellent overview of the relationship between testing and reported incidence in the context of the current surge in US COVID-19 incidence. Notably, 3 states—Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina—reported increased COVID-19 incidence compared to the previous week while also reporting decreased testing. Additionally, the COVID Exit Strategy dashboard, which analyzes state-level conditions based on the White House strategy gating criteria, finds that 33 states are “trending poorly,” based on trends in COVID-19 incidence, hospitalizations, and testing.

Notably, Arizona is currently reporting higher per capita incidence than Brazil or any European country at the height of its epidemic. Additionally, Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, is reporting higher incidence than New York City boroughs, “even on their worst days.” In addition to COVID-19 incidence, Arizona reported a record high on June 24 for both hospitalized COVID-19 patients (2,453) and COVID-19 patients on mechanical ventilators (415). Arizona is also currently reporting test positivity of 20%, which has steadily increased from 5% for the week of May 10.

New Jersey reported probable COVID-19 deaths for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, following a retrospective review of death certificates and other clinical information. The state reported a total of 1,854 probable deaths, and it will continue to report probable deaths weekly moving forward. These deaths are not yet included in the CDC data, but they should be soon.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard reported 2.43 million US cases and 124,544 deaths as of 1:00pm on June 26.

EUROPE TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS The current EU COVID-19 travel policy is set to expire on June 30, and efforts are ongoing to determine how European countries will permit travelers from outside the continent. Multiple media outlets are reporting that the new plan may permit international travelers from some countries but restrict those from countries that are exhibiting concerning COVID-19 trends. Reportedly, multiple draft lists of countries facing restrictions include Brazil, Russia, and the United States, among others. Earlier in the pandemic, the United States imposed travel restrictions for European countries, but the recent surge in US COVID-19 incidence may be giving EU countries pause with respect to welcoming American travelers. It is unclear when the new policy will be made public; however, it is likely that an announcement will be made in the coming days, considering that the current policy expires next week.

MEXICO While Mexico has not received the same level of attention as other countries in the Americas, including Brazil and the United States, its recent increased incidence is a major cause for concern, particularly considering Mexico’s role as a travel and trade partner. While the epicenter of Mexico’s epidemic is its capital, Mexico City, every state has experienced increased incidence, ranging from 23% and 63% higher incidence from June 6 to June 21. Mexico’s healthcare system, hindered by resource shortages and an aging infrastructure, has struggled to support a large population with underlying health conditions that elevate individuals’ risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death, such as diabetes and hypertension. Mexico initially resisted implementing large-scale social distancing restrictions or recommending widespread use of face masks. 

Additionally, broad mistrust in the government drove many to ignore recommended protective measures when they were eventually implemented. At one of the region’s largest food markets, the Central de Abasto market in Mexico City, a major COVID-19 outbreak spread among vendors and customers before the government sent in health workers to check temperatures and offer testing. The market provides the city with approximately 80% of its produce and is also vital for the food supply chain to other Mexican states. Reportedly many vendors did not view COVID-19 as a major threat until cases and deaths began to be reported at the market. Mexican health authorities deployed more than 400 personnel to conduct epidemiological investigations, screen and test vendors and patrons, and promote improved sanitation and hygiene, including the use of hand sanitizer. It is unclear exactly how many cases and deaths are linked to the market outbreak, but one report indicates that more than 500 cases have tested positive and dozens have died. Unlike some affected markets in other countries, the market remained operational during the outbreak. Despite many workers visibly falling ill or dying, others kept working, with many citing financial stress as a major factor in their decision.

US STATE & LOCAL RESPONSE As we noted in the Epi Update section above, and in previous COVID-19 briefings, a number of US states are exhibiting concerning trends in terms of COVID-19 incidence, hospitalizations, and testing. In light of increased transmission, some state and local governments are strengthening social distancing policies and slowing plans to relax existing measures.

In Palm Beach County, Florida, local elected officials voted unanimously to implement mandatory mask use, but a number of local residents expressed opposition to the policy. Notably, the decision follows several weeks of concerning increases in COVID-19 incidence, with daily incidence nearly tripling since the end of May and the cumulative incidence doubling over that same period. A number of local governments in South Carolina have also implemented mandatory mask policies. This week, South Carolina’s Attorney General weighed in on these orders, confirming that they are valid under the state’s constitution.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order pausing the state’s recovery plan in Phase 2 for at least 3 more weeks. The order also institutes statewide mandatory mask use in public where appropriate physical distancing (eg, 6-foot separation) is not possible. The order applies for customers and employees of some businesses as well, including retail stores, restaurants, child care facilities, some government agencies, public transportation, healthcare settings, and agricultural and meat processing facilities. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak also issued an executive order to mandate mask use, following 4 weeks of increasing COVID-19 incidence. The order applies to adults and adolescents aged 9 years and older while in any public space. Notably, the order does not appear to be limited to situations in which it is difficult to maintain physical distancing, with the exception of outdoor activities such as swimming and exercising.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott issued an executive order directing hospitals in several counties to postpone elective services and procedures in order to ensure available hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients. Texas is currently exhibiting significant increases in COVID-19 incidence, as well as increasing numbers of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and increasing test positivity, following efforts to relax social distancing measures across the state. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has more than doubled since June 15. The previous executive order issued by Governor Abbott (June 3) moved Texas into Phase 3 of its recovery plan, including increasing the permissible capacity at many restaurants and other businesses from 25% to 50%. Governor Abbott announced yesterday that Texas will suspend further efforts to relax social distancing and remain in Phase 3 while it attempts to contain the current level of community transmission. Furthermore, Governor Abbott issued another executive order earlier today that re-imposed some social distancing restrictions that were recently relaxed. In particular, the order prohibits dine-in service at bars and requires that any outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people receive approval by local governments. This represents a major shift in Texas' approach to COVID-19, particularly considering that it was one of the earliest and most aggressive states in easing statewide social distancing measures

Analysis published by The Philadelphia Inquirer identifies an association between state-level COVID-19 incidence and mandatory mask policies. States that mandate mask use in public reported a 25% decrease in incidence over the past 2 weeks, and states that require mask use by employees and patrons of businesses exhibited a 12% decrease. In contrast, states that only require mask use by employees (but not patrons) reported a 70% increase in COVID-19 incidence, and states with no mandatory mask policy at the state level reported an 84% increase. There are a broad scope of factors beyond mask use that influence COVID-19 incidence, so this is likely not a direct causal relationship. Mandatory mask use could be associated with other state-level social distancing and response policies, however, which could be driving the success of states’ containment and mitigation efforts.

US DOMESTIC TRAVEL ADVISORY The governors of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York announced a joint travel advisory that will require travelers from states with high SARS-CoV-2 transmission to quarantine upon their arrival. The policy will mandate a 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in the tri-state area who has recently been in any state with a test positivity greater than 10% or with COVID-19 incidence greater than 10 new cases per 100,000 population—both based on a rolling 7-day average. At the time of the announcement, the policy would apply to 8 states—Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Texas. The 14-day period will be measured from the last date the individual was in any of the affected states. These 3 states were among those hit the hardest early in the US COVID-19 epidemic, but they were able to bring their respective epidemics under control and maintain relatively low levels of transmission. They are concerned that travel from areas of high transmission could ignite local outbreaks. Previously, several states imposed restrictions on travelers from the tri-state area, including Florida and neighboring Rhode Island .

SCALE OF US EPIDEMIC During yesterday’s US CDC COVID-19 telebriefing, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield commented that the United States has likely only detected about 10% of the total SARS-CoV-2 infections nationally. Based on recent serological studies, CDC officials believe that testing capacity and strategies are only detecting 1 out of every 10 infections and that 5-8% of the US population
has been infected already. If this is the case, the national cumulative incidence would be closer to 23 million cases, instead of the current 2.3 million. Considering the potential volume of unidentified cases in the community, social distancing becomes that much more critical to mitigating transmission risk, as the vast majority of affected individuals would not be aware they are infected and potentially able to transmit the infection to others.

The New York Times published an interactive multimedia feature on the evolution of the US COVID-19 epidemic. It includes information about key points in the epidemic’s trajectory and the US response, from the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 through this week, illustrating how the epidemic gained a foothold, even before the earliest cases were detected and reported, and grew to a major epidemic affecting millions of people. The text is accompanied by a variety of visualizations that illustrate local-, regional-, and national-level spread.

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently updated its global economic projections, now predicting that the global economy could contract by 4.9% this year. In April, the IMF predicted a 3% global economic contraction. No country has escaped from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, but global pandemic control measures to mitigate a large second wave could lead to a quicker rebound. The IMF also predicted that the US GDP would decrease by 8% in 2020. The US GDP already fell 5% in the first quarter of this year.

As the United States continues to battle to contain COVID-19, unemployment claims have decreased weekly since the major spike in March but still remain at record highs. More than 47.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits over the past 14 weeks. Last week, 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, even as states continue to ease social distancing measures and resume economic activity. As the labor market shows signs of improvement, consumer spending is also beginning to increase. In May, consumer spending increased by 8.2% from March and April. While some economists take this as a sign that the US economy will experience a rapid rebound by the end of the year, others are not so optimistic in the face of the continued struggle to control the spread of COVID-19.

VACCINE LOGISTICS In addition to the technical challenges of developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, vaccine developers also have to contend with challenges of rapidly manufacturing the vaccine and ensuring it is logistically feasible to use. The global race to develop and scale up production for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine has called attention to challenges associated with a fragile vaccine supply chain. In addition to bolstering vaccine development and manufacturing, government efforts, such as the United States’ <a href="