What does the economy need now? 4 suggestions for Biden’s coronavirus relief bill

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Biden got right to work after his inauguration, issuing several executive orders meant to address the economic crisis. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Editor’s note: The Biden administration has made it clear it wants to inject more money into the U.S. economy and provide more aid for priorities like vaccines, reopening schools and state governments. We asked four economists to share what’s on the top of their wish lists for Biden and Congress, and why.

A better way to save businesses while helping workers

Steven Pressman, Colorado State University

Since March, 20,000 U.S. businesses have failed every month, on average. Small companies, which employ nearly half of all workers, have been hit hardest. The U.S. economy will struggle to recover without significant support for small businesses and their workers.

One way Congress addressed these problems back in March is by offering small companies forgivable loans if they kept workers on their payroll for 10 weeks. While helpful, the Paycheck Protection Program came with major flaws, such as a design that led to lots of fraud. In addition, billions of dollars went to companies that didn’t need it, while some of those in greatest need couldn’t secure adequate funds.

The U.K. had a different solution. Its government created the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, a form of wage and job insurance for workers. The government pays up to 80% of usual wages – subject to an income cap – to furloughed workers that companies retain as employees. Companies cover another 20% of usual wages. Low-income workers also receive additional monthly payments of up to the equivalent of about US$500.

Workers can be partially furloughed, working three or four days per week rather than five. This solves the problem of what to do about workers whose hours get cut or who go from full-time to part-time status.

The plan has helped companies reduce their labor costs, while maintaining flexibility to bring workers back when conditions allow. Importantly, aid goes to workers – not companies – which has ensured workers and their incomes have been protected throughout the crisis. And aid goes only to workers whose companies experience problems due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment rates in the two countries tell part of the British success story. In the U.K., unemployment increased gradually last year from 4% pre-pandemic to 4.9% in October. U.S. unemployment, in contrast, almost doubled from 3.5% to 6.7% in the that same period, peaking at nearly 15% in April.

The U.K. program has provided support to workers throughout the pandemic’s ups and downs. The Paycheck Protection Program was meant to be temporary, although more funds were added in December.

In the U.K., fraud has been limited because companies don’t get the money. And the government has encouraged workers to become whistleblowers, while imposing large penalties on the officers of companies engaged in fraud.

Rather than continuing to fund the Paycheck Protection Program, Congress and the president should switch gears and enact a program like the U.K.‘s that will see America through the crisis, however long it lasts.

Protesters display placards during a demonstration to support for tenants and homeowners at risk of eviction in Boston on Oct. 11.
An eviction crisis looms for the Biden administration.
AP Photo/Steven Senne

Addressing the eviction crisis

Melanie Long, College of Wooster

The sharp rise in unemployment due to the pandemic has left many Americans struggling to pay the bills. Renters have been among the most vulnerable.

Compared with homeowners, renters are more likely to be poor, young and either Black or Hispanic – the exact same demographic of those who have suffered the most from the pandemic’s economic fallout.

The result has been a looming eviction crisis that has been staved off by a patchwork of federal, state and local moratoriums. Millions of renters could face homelessness once existing moratoriums expire and accumulated back rent comes due.

About 9 million households have fallen behind on rent payments, with over 1 million estimated to owe $5,000 or more. This could also worsen the public health situation and slow the economic recovery.

To address this crisis, I believe Congress needs to both provide short-term solutions and long-term fixes.

For starters, it’s vital that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium continue. On Jan. 20, Biden extended the moratorium – which was set to expire at the end of January – to March 31. But that will likely need to be extended further.

Another critical need is rental and housing assistance. Biden’s proposed stimulus package already includes $30 million to help renters and support struggling landlords. Adding even more assistance could have major economic benefits as low-income beneficiaries especially are likely to spend every extra penny on food and other goods, stimulating the economy.

Access to affordable housing has been worsening for years, especially in communities of color. The gap between black and white homeownership rates has widened since the 1960s. The fact that only 42% of Black Americans own their homes, compared with 72% of their white peers, means most of them are renters, making them more vulnerable to losing their homes. It’s also largely to blame for the stark racial wealth gap in the U.S., which in turn reduces economic growth.

Congress could begin to address these deeper problems by providing down payment assistance in historically redlined communities, which would help households that are not currently on the edge of a financial cliff take advantage of historically low interest rates as so many others have.

A woman tries to work on her computer while two young girls try to get her attention.
Women have borne the brunt of increased child care needs during the pandemic.
MoMo Productions/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Helping women get back to work

Veronika Dolar, SUNY Old Westbury

During the pandemic, unemployment has been felt most acutely by women.

Women in the U.S. lost a total of 156,000 jobs in December, even as men gained 14,000. There were nearly 2.1 million fewer women in the labor force at the end of 2020 than there were pre-pandemic.

One reason for this is that women are more heavily represented in sectors that saw the biggest job losses in December, such as hospitality and private education. But another important one is that women generally have been expected to increase their already disproportionate share of household child care duties after COVID-19 shut down schools.

All of this could lead to a significant decline in women’s total wages over time – one estimate puts it at $64.5 billion a year. This would result in a sharp drop in economic activity and billions in lost tax revenue for state and federal budgets.

But Congress could help offset this outcome in several ways.

One of the most critical is helping parents find affordable child care facilities. More than a quarter of child care centers in the U.S. remain closed because of the pandemic, and those that are open are often unaffordable. Child care costs have increased 47% during the pandemic.

Biden wants to address this by providing $25 billion to directly support child care providers and $15 billion to help low-income families afford care.

While this funding would go a long way to ensuring mothers have access to affordable child care, the lack of flexibility at most providers means women with uncertain work hours or who need other accommodations will still struggle. A more comprehensive plan should include some support to hire babysitters or even child support vouchers that could be spent as needed.

The other side of this issue is ensuring new mothers and fathers can take time off work to care for their children themselves. Biden’s proposal includes up to 14 weeks of paid family and medical leave, which will help ensure women don’t have to choose between a new baby and their career.

Unemployment insurance reform

R. Andrew Butters, Indiana University

Millions of Americans who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic have relied on the unemployment insurance system to pay for bills, rent and food.

But that system, in terms of staffing and technology, wasn’t designed to handle the unprecedented need seen today. About 5 million people made continuing claims for jobless benefits in January. That’s down from a record 25 million in May but still near the highest the figure had ever been previously.

Aid packages passed in March and December extended the benefits to people who don’t normally receive them – such as gig workers and part-time employees – and included a federal supplement. But these changes added strain to the system and made it more difficult to prevent fraud and process legitimate claims.

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Keeping unemployment benefits flowing to people out of work due to the pandemic is essential to the economic recovery, both so that the unemployed can afford to live and also for the broader economy, which depends on consumer spending.

But this requires ensuring the system is effective and reaches everyone who needs help. Lawmakers could begin to do this by making some temporary changes permanent.

For example, traditionally, independent contractors, part-time employees and some other categories have been ineligible for unemployment benefits. In March, Congress created two programs that specifically provide them with benefits. But those programs expire in March. Lawmakers shouldn’t simply extend them again but ensure these growing segments of the workforce always have access to benefits.

Lawmakers could also make sure extended benefits – that is, allowing the unemployed to receive up to 50 rather than only 26 weeks of insurance – don’t expire in the March.

And I believe the relief package should also consider investing to help state offices hire more workers, update their technology infrastructure and coordinate more effectively with other states. This should lead to timelier and more accurate payments and protect against the most sophisticated attempts at fraud.

The Conversation

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Grayscale Brings a Bunch of Altcoin Investment Products to Its Offerings, Continues BTC Buying

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Digital asset manager Grayscale is further expanding into its product offering as the crypto market continues to gain maturity with time. The company has reportedly incorporated six more trusts for some of the lesser-known yet interesting altcoin projects like Chainlink (LINK), Tezos (XTZ), Basic Attention Token (BAT), and Filecoin (Filecoin).

During his recent conversation on Twitter, Grayscale’s newly appointed CEO Michael Sonnenshein said that their institutional clients have started showing interest in altcoins. Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) have been the most preferred choices though.

Well, we don’t expect institutions to participate in the newly announced trusts off-the-bat. However, looking at the potential that these projects have, maybe in the long-term they can attract big players. Oracle service provider Chainlink (LINK) has been in massive demand for transferring data and money across different blockchains. The LINK cryptocurrency has climbed up the ranks to become the ninth most-valued digital asset with $8.8 billion in marketcap.

Grayscale Adds More BTC to its Bitcoin Trust

Grayscale is not leaving any opportunity to make the most of the Bitcoin dip. The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) bought another 3500 Bitcoins in the last 24-hours worth $118 million.

Grayscale kickstarted its Bitcoin buying spree for 2021 on January 14 last week. Since then, it has purchased nearly 40K BTC in nine days amounting to a massive $1.5 billion. At the same time, the company has reportedly raised $1.2 billion. However, the GBTC premium has dropped to its lowest since March 2017.

On Friday, business intelligence firm MicroStrategy also announced an additional purchase of 314 bitcoin worth $10 million. With this recent purchase, MicroStrategy ups its total BTC holding to 70,784 bitcoins. Speaking to CNBC’s Power Lunch, MicroStrategy CEO said that Bitcoin is not volatile to investors with a 4-year timeframe. “It’s volatile for traders, but traders like volatility,” he adds.

Speaking to CNBC, BlackRock Rick Rider also said that Bitcoin can replace Gold ‘to a large extent’ and crypto is ‘here to stay’. Rider’s comments come soon after BlackRock showing interest in BTC futures.

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LINK Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Establishing All Time High Again, Will Increasing Volume Boost Price Further?

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chainlinkChainlink’s recent expansion has breached swing high posting a new all-time high LINK price as the macro bull trend continues to be intact. Consecutive higher highs and higher low are still integral thus higher prices are probable until proven otherwise.

  • Weekly Bullish Order Block holding true. 
  • Increasing volume profile suggestive of a climatic node. 
  • RSI and Stochastics Bullish Control Zones intact. 

LINK Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly Price Action Chart

Link Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly Chart
Link Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly Chart

Observing the chart we can clearly see price action breaking the weekly S/R Zone with a strong impulsive break that led to an initial Bullish Volatility Expansion. This breakout established a weekly inside bar that contracted volatility for a total of three weeks. Evidently a consecutive expansion occurred where price action established a clear swing high.

The swing high led to a short term bearish volatility expansion as price action made its way down. A rounded retest was confirmed at the Bullish Order Block where price action wicked down and immediately got bought up. This is technically indicative of strength in the immediate short term which did come to fruition with an expansion.

The 21 Moving Average can be considered as a clear visual guide, price action has found clean support over the majority of the trend. As long as this holds true, higher prices are expected, breaking below will be a sign of weakness. 

Now observing both oscillators, momentum is still shifted bullish with key resistance yet to be tested, especially the stochastic momentum.

LINK Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly Stochastic Chart 

LINK Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly Stochastic Chart
LINK Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly Stochastic Chart

A few conditions to be valid here for LINKUSDT as the Stochastic’s have a clear oscillation that marks temporary tops and bottoms. As of most recent, there has been a Bull Cross with an expansion occurring. This expansion is likely to top out at Oscillators resistance, a reversion usually occurs at these regions before a diversion back to its mean – Bullish Control Zone Median.

LINK Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly RSI Chart

LINK Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly RSI Chart
LINK Price Analysis: LINKUSDT Weekly RSI Chart

The RSI is also trading in the upper regions of its Bullish Control Zone where acceleration is likely to occur. This indicator is highly useful in measuring the speed and velocity of price action, especially on impulsive coins such as LINKUSDT . Swing high being the immediate objection suggests that further upside is probable in respect to price action. This goes well with the current volume profile as there are no immediate climatic nodes suggestive of a temporary top being set.

What’s Next for LINK Price?

In conclusion, LINKUSDT remains its bullish market structure and continues to expand in a volatile manner, especially when breaking key levels. The volume profile analysis is indicative of further upside until a climatic node comes to fruition. This aligns very well with the Oscillators as they are yet to meet technical resistance, leading into a reversion.

Hope this article helps in making discretional management decisions.

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“Should I get paid in Bitcoin or Ethereum?”

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It is common knowledge that Bitcoin is the reigning champion in the crypto space, having been the first notable digital currency and impacting the world of finance as we know it. What is more commonly understood is that Ethereum takes second place, being just as popular but not as dominant. Both have a strong presence in Bitcoin exchange sites and other crypto trading platforms, as well as being sought after by many investors, beginners, and experts alike.

In a way, Bitcoin is the Coke, and Ethereum is the Pepsi of cryptocurrency. However, much like those brands of pop, some people will lean more towards one over the other. This leads to many asking which crypto is better to get paid with. The answer to this question is ultimately subjective but still requires research to gain proper perspective. The two have their similarities and differences, and most importantly, they serve different purposes.

The key differences

As is the case when selecting one option over another, one must analyze the qualities of each, both good and bad. The same idea applies to choosing between Bitcoin and Ethereum. In order to make this choice, the individual must understand the characteristics that set the cryptocurrencies apart from each other.

First and foremost, the launch of Bitcoin occurred in January of 2009. In doing so, it introduced a unique concept through a white paper written by the mysterious figure, Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin promises an online currency that is secured and lacking any central authority at the helm, contrasting government-issued currencies.

Ethereum is different from Bitcoin in that it is more than just a cryptocurrency. Technically speaking, Ethereum is not even a cryptocurrency; Ether (ETH) is. Ethereum itself is merely the platform that Ether is based on. Ethereum permits the deployment of smart contracts and the construction of decentralized applications (DApps) without any third parties controlling or interfering with the operation. Ethereum is accompanied by its own programming language that runs on a blockchain, thus enabling developers to develop and run distributed applications. 

Put simply, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, and Ethereum is a platform. However, there are other elements that make the two completely different.

Bitcoin transactions are predominantly monetary, whereas Ethereum transactions are more likely to be executable code. When it comes to the speed of transactions, the ones on the Ethereum network are considerably faster than the ones on Bitcoin. While Ethereum’s block time only takes seconds to complete, Bitcoin’s takes minutes.

Bitcoin functions as a store of value and provide a way for people to send money. Ethereum, while also being a way to send money, only does so when certain things transpire. Finally, Ethereum differs from Bitcoin by acting as a building platform for DApps and smart contracts, which is what allows it to send tokens representing values. These values can be a wide range of things beyond digital currencies, hence why it is a different entity from Bitcoin. 

The initial purpose of Ethereum’s creation was to make it a compliment to Bitcoin, but in an ironic twist, it became a rival.

Which is the better option?

Bitcoin is roughly ten times larger than Ether based on market cap, with one bitcoin being worth significantly more. Despite the difference in their respective prices, research conducted by the popular cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, illustrates that there is a correlation between the prices of the two.

Ultimately, there is a general consensus among the more experienced crypto investors, entrepreneurs, and connoisseurs of the subject. When taking everything into account, Bitcoin is a comparatively better choice for purchase and payment. With that said, examining Bitcoin and Ethereum will inevitably lead to further discussion centering on what blockchain technology can do to improve everyday life. There is no denying that Bitcoin and Ethereum will both have a big role in future endeavors, from financial matters to judiciaries to eventual development.

At their core, Bitcoin and Ethereum are different ideas. Ethereum is a decentralized platform for decentralized ideas, and Bitcoin is a store of value. ETH is the cryptocurrency running the platform that is Ethereum. While both are important, the blockchain that makes them possible is also an essential idea to acknowledge and understand. Nowadays, there is less dependency on revealing precious data to others in order to make transactions.

In the end, like with most choices, deciding on Bitcoin or Ethereum (technically ETH) is subjective. The popular opinion is that Bitcoin is the better of the two, but Ethereum has benefits that boost it up to Bitcoin’s level. 

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Germany might store vaccination data on IOTA (MIOTA) blockchain

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Nearly a year ago, back when the world first started becoming aware of coronavirus, many started thinking about how to use emerging technologies to track it, and possibly contain it. Tracking it via blockchain proved to be the most promising solution due to its immutability and ability to store large quantities of data.

Now, the German district of Altötting has the same idea when it comes to vaccination.

Germany turns to blockchain for digital vaccination certificates

According to recent information, the district allowed people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to verify their identity digitally via a solution of a Cologne-based company, UBIRCH.

The newly-developed system can work on a number of blockchains, allowing people to verify that they were vaccinated against coronavirus on the go. It is expected that the move will help contagion control, which is more important than ever, as the virus still continues to spread.

According to UBIRCH, the digital certificates will be issued only after the second part of the Pfizer’s vaccine has been administered. After that, the certificate will be safely stored within blockchain technology, and users will have to use their unique private key to access the certificate.

Right now, those who opted to vaccinate against COVID-19 only receive a printed code, which can later be read out via mobile. However, the plan is to save this kind of proof of vaccination into the mobile directly, going forward. That way, the proof of vaccination will be a lot more convenient and much safer.

The virus needs to be contained

As mentioned, the UBIRCH solution is compatible with various blockchains, including IOTA. However, it was not specified which chain they plan to use.

UBIRCH CTO, Matthias Jugel, did admit that the company originally attempted to use Ethereum and Bitcoin, but their high transaction fees and scalability issues eventually caused the firm to drop this idea.

IOTA (MIOTA) network would likely be a lot more suitable, as it is capable of handling data much better than the two top projects.

Using this type of technology for proof of vaccination can be extremely helpful, especially as health authorities claim that the virus continues to mutate. Containing it now is more important than ever, and once again, blockchain seems to be the right solution.

The post Germany might store vaccination data on IOTA (MIOTA) blockchain appeared first on Invezz.

Crypto.com (CRO) price falls to test support

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Crypto.com launches its exchange, celebrates by rewarding the community

Crypto.com (CRO) price has fallen about 20% in the past few days to revisit January lows.

Fundamental analysis: New offer available

Crypto.com has launched a new incentive program that offers users 0% card fees on all crypto purchases conducted within 30 days of registering.

The discount applies to all digital currencies available on the exchange, which users will be able to purchase with a credit or debit card. More than 80 cryptocurrencies are listed on the exchange, including the biggest ones like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Chainlink (LINK), Uniswap (UNI) and more.

Crypto.com’s new offer is a rare find as most cryptocurrency exchanges charge fees for credit and debit card purchases. As many leading crypto and DeFi assets are seeking new highs, new traders are now able to enter the market without paying additional fees.

All users who have passed the exchange’s KYC process from January 6 onwards are eligible for the program. After 30 days, Crypto.com will start charging regular card fees once again, which can range between 1.49% to 3.99%, depending on the country.

In addition, users will also be able to invite friends to the program using Crypto.com’s BG25 Referral Program, which refers to a payout system for users who refer to friends. Upon completing the sign-up steps using a referral link received from a friend, the exchange will award both users with $25 in CRO, its native token. These funds can be used when the user orders Crypto.com’s Visa Card.

Technical analysis: Downside risk exists

CRO/USD price is trading over 11% lower this week after failing to sustain gains above the $0.09 mark. Instead, the sellers regained short-term control of the price action to push it lower towards channel support at $0.065.

CRO/USD daily chart (TradingView)

The buyers are now facing resistance in the context of the 100-DMA at $0.074. A break of this line would open the door for a move back above the $0.09 mark. On the other hand, break of the channel’s support opens the door to $0.05.

Summary

Crypto.com has introduced a new incentive program that allows new users to make fee-free crypto purchases using a credit or debit card within 30 days of signing up.

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“We’ve Let the Worst Happen”: Reflecting on 400,000 Dead

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ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. This piece was originally published in The Weekly Dispatch, a newsletter that spotlights wrongdoing around the country. Sign up for it here.

In May of last year, ProPublica health care reporter Caroline Chen reflected on the first 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19 and posed an important question: “How do we stop the next 100,000?” Eight months later, with 300,000 additional American lives lost and the chaotic distribution of the vaccine underway, Chen shares her thoughts on where we are and what happens next.

In your 100,000 lives lost piece, you wrote about questions we needed to ask at that moment: “How do we prevent the next 100,000 deaths from happening? How do we better protect our most vulnerable in the coming months? Even while we mourn, how can we take action, so we do not repeat this horror all over again?” It’s been almost eight months since then. What are the biggest questions we need to be asking now?

I’m afraid that we did end up repeating this horror all over again — and again — and again. There’s no way of dancing around this: We’ve failed to protect our most vulnerable. We’ve let the virus spread out of control across America. We’ve let the worst happen.

So here’s the question on my mind now: How are we going to end the pandemic? We have a vaccine in hand, and I’m so grateful for it. It is, truly, a game changer. But there are different ways that this story can go from this moment in January. We can end the pandemic as quickly as possible, with rapid distribution and uptake of the vaccine, with everyone doing their best to maintain best practices (social distancing, etc.) while they wait their turn, prioritizing those who need the vaccine most, doing whatever we can to alleviate the pressure on exhausted health care workers and public health officials.

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Or we can drag it out, with a chaotic and sputtering vaccine rollout, exacerbating inequities in society by letting those who have connections, or money, or power get the vaccine first, and continue to ignore what science tells us, so we have so many more COVID-19 cases that we give the virus evermore chances to mutate away from our currently effective vaccine. We are the authors of the final chapters of this story. How are we going to determine its ending?

In November, parishioners of a church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, light candles in remembrance of members who have died of COVID-19.
Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via Getty Images

You also wrote about choices our nation’s leaders have had to make. What choices are the most pressing right now for the Biden administration?

Biden’s administration does not have the luxury of doing one thing at a time. I’ve watched America lurch from one pandemic theme du jour to another. For a while contact tracing was really hot. Then we all got into antibody testing. Now the hype is about vaccines. This virus is incredibly wily, it’s spreading out of control and front-line workers are exhausted. The administration really needs to be able to work on multiple fronts, bringing in funding, staffing and supplies to sustain public health officials who are trying to do testing while conducting contact tracing interviews while also setting up vaccine clinics.

We can’t rush to vaccinate then drop the testing ball. We still do not have a clear strategy for testing asymptomatic people. I’d love to see a nationwide sharing of sequencing data so we can track and evaluate variants more robustly. Every single health care staff — and hey, what about meatpacking workers and other front-line laborers — should have access to N95s. It’s insane to me that I am still told by some nurses that they have to reuse their masks for two weeks. Last but not least: Clear, consistent and transparent communication from the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and all branches of government would be desperately welcome.

We’re hearing a lot about mutations and new variants of the virus that spread more quickly. Should we be changing our behavior?

Viruses are constantly mutating; it’s just what viruses do. A lot of these mutations aren’t actually meaningful, and it’s only when they have some sort of functional difference that we consider them a new variant, like the B.1.1.7 variant (also known as the U.K. variant). When a new variant is detected, the question is always, what’s the significance? In the case of the B.1.1.7 variant, it’s pretty clear now that it’s more transmissible, but there isn’t enough data so far to say whether it causes more severe disease.

Still, a more transmissible variant will result in the virus spreading faster, meaning more cases, more overloaded hospitals, diminished therapeutic resources and thus probably a worse outcome if you do get sick — not because you got more severely ill in the first place, but because you didn’t get as good care as you would have otherwise if hospitals weren’t stretched so thin. So far, some B.1.1.7 cases have been found in the U.S., but it doesn’t appear to be dominant. And we need to make sure that doesn’t happen. Epidemiology Professor Andrew Lover at the University of Massachusetts Amherst told me he thinks we’re in a critical period right now — with hospitals still recovering from post-holiday surges, vaccine protection yet to kick in and pandemic fatigue at an all time high. “The vaccine is on the horizon, but it’s really challenging to message that it won’t have a major impact for months,” he said.

Epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has argued that contact tracers should prioritize any case that involves a B.1.1.7 variant, because those cases will spread faster. To be able to do that, testing resources — specifically the type of tests that can identify B.1.1.7 — need to be ramped up and widely distributed. As for individuals, however, there’s nothing you need to change about your behavior if you’re worried about variants. You already know what to do, you just have to fight the fatigue and do it. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Social distance. Seek the outdoors. Get your vaccine when it’s your turn. Do whatever you can to not be a case.

Of all of the great reporting you and other science reporters have done on the pandemic, most people experience only a swath of what the big picture of the pandemic is — the bigger picture that you as a reporter have. You’ve reported on some of these smaller swaths, individual stories and experiences, but also the larger systemic failures. What do we lose sight of with the big picture, and what do we lose sight of with the small picture?

Sometimes when I’m looking at the charts, I have to remind myself what the numbers mean. It’s become so easy after months and months of this to become numb. For example, even though the case count is finally starting to go down in Los Angeles County, and that is good news, it’s not just a trend line. Those are people. And even if I can be happy on one level that the tide seems to be turning in LA County, I should also keep in mind that that’s still 7,900 individuals who were diagnosed with COVID-19 yesterday, and close to 200 people who died. Each person — as my May essay said — was somebody’s everything. I have to remember that, so I don’t ever treat the numbers like just numbers in my reporting.

Maricela Arreguin Mejia and her brother Nestor Arreguin mourn the death of their father Gilberto Arreguin Camacho on Dec. 31, 2020 in Whittier, California. Camacho died from COVID-19.
Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

On the flip side, when I’m listening to people’s stories, I always keep in mind that one person’s experience may not speak for the whole. There are a lot of vaccine snafus happening across the country right now. Some of them are dysfunctions unique to that particular vaccine site, and as a national reporter, they’re not my story to tell. So I talk to a lot of people and gather as many stories as I can. And when I start to hear the same themes repeat over and over, that’s when I start to think, Hmmm, there’s something going on here. It’s not a good sign when clinics across the country are all canceling appointments on the same day. That’s when I swing into action to try and find out the Why. That’s a ProPublica story.

You wrote eight months ago: “I refuse to succumb to fatalism, to just accepting the ever higher death toll as inevitable. I want us to make it harder for this virus to take each precious life from us. And I believe we can.” What were you feeling then that fueled you to write about refusing to succumb to fatalism, and what are you feeling now?

What was I feeling? Oh, boy. I was leaking tears and writing at the same time because our brilliant visuals editor Andrea Wise was sending me her selections for that essay and I was looking at the images just thinking how awful it was for people to have to be going through this: not just to be sick and die, but in so many cases to have to die alone — or to have a loved one in the hospital and not be able to be by their side. There’s one image in there of a funeral home in New Jersey with the spaced out chairs that seemed so bleak to me. Even after your loved one’s death, you couldn’t lean close to a friend or relative for comfort.

I didn’t want people to just roll over and accept that more people would die. It angered me that some people were ignoring the guidance of public health officials and what science told us could help reduce cases. I wanted people to realize that there’s accountability at all levels: from federal policies all the way down to your own actions, every day.

And now? I’m tired. I miss my family so much (they’re mostly overseas). But I still haven’t given up. I remind myself that I can’t solve the world’s problems, but I can do my little bit as a health reporter and hope it helps, somehow. And now there’s a new administration. I don’t think it’ll be perfect by any means, but I am hopeful to see that President Biden
takes the pandemic seriously and I look forward to seeing what actions his administration takes in the coming weeks.

We know the vaccine distribution isn’t going well. But what reasons do we have to be hopeful?

Well for starters, we have a vaccine that works! Two, in fact, and potentially another on the way (Johnson & Johnson’s). As a former biotech reporter, I know that drug development is a slog, so the fact that we have two very efficacious vaccines that made it to market in under a year is truly amazing.

A healthcare worker and patient at a free COVID-19 test center in Los Angeles.
Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

But of course, shots in the vial are pointless if they don’t get to people’s arms. So where am I seeing hope? So far, production appears to be going OK. There obviously isn’t as much available vaccine as the demand, but there haven’t been any major manufacturing snafus, so I expect Pfizer and Moderna to continue to ramp up as planned.

I am also hoping that as more vaccines become available, this should (fingers crossed) coincide with federal, state and local entities sorting out the logistical issues that have plagued the rollout so far. Ideally, things will go more smoothly when the bulk of the supply becomes available. I’ll stay optimistic, while looking out for everything that may be going wrong, of course. That’s my job.


Polkadot(DOT) Price Establishing a key Weekly Range, Will DOT Price Swing High Past ATH?

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DOT price is  important weekly close coming up that will determine the momentum of the prevailing bullish trend. Price action is to close in resemblance to a bullish hammer which will indicate strong momentum to the upside.

  • Price Action Equilibrium Bull Break
  • Weekly S/R Established and respected
  • Strong Bullish Volatility Expansion

DOT Price Analysis: Weekly Chart

DOT Price Action Analysis
Chart by Tradingview

Observing the chart we can see price action forming equilibrium where supply and demand balances before an impulsive break. Evidently being the case this break was a bullish one that followed suite after a Doji Candle Close. The expansion was backed with increasing volume as reflected in the volume profile; this indicated a true break in nature. Follow through was evident that led to an initial bullish volatility expansion.

A Weekly S/R was established successfully as price action held a base for two consecutive candle closes, this base associated around the $9.50 region.

Holding this level was crucial for a bullish bias as volume indicated strength with follow-though being imminent, again evidently being the case. The providential fact that this level got respected was a tail sign of further upside.

A strong bullish volatility expansion followed suit as price action continued to rise with increasing volume. DOT price managed to put in a swing high at $19.40, marking the all-time high and the current objective for a continuation. A well-established weekly range has now come to fruition, with a weekly close in the coming days, will determine the likely-hood of taking out swing high. As of current there has been a strong buy back in price action resembling a bullish hammer. How this next weekly candle closes will determine the momentum of the prevailing bullish weekly volatility expansion.

Hope this article helps when making discretionary decisions.

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Crypto Companies Eye Public Debut As IPO Frenzy Heats Up

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Ripple XRP Brad Garlinghouse IPOCrypto companies seem to be eager to make their public debut this year as the crypto market crossed the trillion-dollar market cap this bull run. Coinbase was among the first crypto companies to announce their decision to go public with an IPO in the first quarter of 2021. Bakkt became the second prominent crypto firm to announce that it would go public by merging with a SPAC company followed by eToro.

A total of 8 crypto companies till now have announced their plans to get listed on publically traded exchange this year and many might follow a similar suit. The IPO market has proven to be a great game-changer for many startups and firms over the last decade as their valuation has more than doubled soon after listing the most recent example being Airbnb IPO.

The funding rate has also seen a significant rise over the years as the amount of capital raised has increased, suggesting the rising investor interest in these public offerings.

How Crypto Companies Would Fair in Traditional Market?

The IPO market is currently a hot cake as stocks surged nearly 70% since the last fall in March, thus the time could play in crypto companies’ favor. Coinbase was valued at $8 billion in 2018 and currently holds nearly $90 billion in assets on its platform with a 45 million user base, thus making it one of the most prominent IPOs in the crypto world.

The growing interest of institutions and wall street can also drive the crypto IPO frenzy further as more crypto companies decided to cash on the bulls Sentiment. Nice Carter, co-founder of Coin Metrics said that the world is looking at the crypto industry now as the traditional financial system shows signs of crumbling and he belive the world would bet their money on the fastest growing industry. He said,

“It’s a pure-play bet on the fastest growing industry in the world, crypto, and we’re in the loosest money regime in history,”

Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co believes the crypto IPO frenzy could also be signaling that the top companies in the space are trying to cash on the recent attention around bitcoin and crypto assets in general. He explained

“When a bunch of companies in the same sector goes public at the same time, it tells you that the people who run those companies realize that their valuations are very high. The smart guys are taking advantage of this parabolic move right now.”

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Bitcoin Mining Difficulty Rises to ATH amid Market Wide Shortage of Mining Chips

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Bitcoin mining difficulty has peaked to a new all-time-high almost for the first time in three months when the bitcoin bull run started towards the end of October 2020. The low bitcoin mining difficulty throughout the bull run suggests that there was less pressure on miners as the rising price compensated for them.

Another factor attributed to the low mining difficulty in the recent past is being owed to a mining chip shortage in the market. China accounts for more than 60% of the bitcoin mining and as per reports, there is a significant shortage of new mining chips due to the pandemic. This has also led to a rise in the prices of bitcoin mining rigs in the second-hand market.

Lei Tong, managing director of financial services at Babel Finance, which lends to miners, explained the current crisis and said,

“almost all major miners are scouring the market for rigs, and they are willing to pay high prices for second-hand machines.”

“Purchase volumes from North America have been huge, squeezing supply in China.”

As Mining Difficulty Peaks Would Bitcoin Price Follow?

Bitcoin mining difficulty is a prime indicator of competition among miners to mine the next block, in the wake of the third block reward halving many miners were worried that they might have to give up mining as the price of BTC was hovering around $13k making it difficult to generate profit. However, as the price shot up mining difficulty eased, and mining through old rigs also became profitable thus cooling off the competition.

Bitcoin over the past three weeks has seen a break in its three-month-long bullish momentum with a couple of price corrections over 10%, taking its price below $30,000 for a short period. The top cryptocurrency is currently trying to regain the $32,000 price level. With the mining difficulty reaching new ATH, bitcoin price which has not seen much price action over the past couple of weeks might be gearing up for another price rally.

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