Good morning. It's Friday, May 14, and we're covering new guidance from US health officials, a ransom paid in the recent gas pipeline cyberattack, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
US health officials yesterday loosened COVID-19 guidance, saying those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. Masks are recommended in certain situations—for example, while flying—and state-, local-, and establishment-specific requirements must be followed.
The move comes as new COVID-19 cases in the US fell to their lowest levels in almost eight months, with just over 35,000 new infections being reported daily. That figure represents a 50% decline over the past month and an 85% drop since the peak of the pandemic in the country in January.
Daily deaths are hovering near 600 per day, the lowest in almost 10 months. Most states reported single-digit deaths on multiple days, with many reporting zero deaths. See how your state is doing here.
In related news, researchers say they may have found the link ($$, WSJ) between some COVID-19 vaccines and rare blood clots. Studies suggest stray proteins and a common preservative found in the AstraZeneca shot may cause an immune system response that induces the symptoms. The Johnson & Johnson shot, which uses similar technology, is under study. Health officials have identified 28 cases and three deaths potentially linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the US, out of more than 9
million shots given (AstraZeneca's vaccine is not yet approved in the US).
Almost 59% of US adults have received at least one vaccine shot, with 45% having been fully vaccinated. See a breakdown here.
Overall, Americans are feeling optimistic—worry about contracting the virus is at its lowest point since
the pandemic began.
Colonial Pays Up
Colonial Pipeline, owner of an extensive pipeline network that supplies almost half of the East Coast's gas, paid $5M to a hacker group that had forced the company to shut down its primary line. The news contradicts previous reports the company would not consider negotiating with the group, with some worrying the move sets a dangerous precedent that will increase the frequency of similar ransomware attacks.
Company officials halted service as a proactive measure after
the self-described Robin Hood-style hacker collective known as DarkSide gained access and locked parts of Colonial's IT system. The stoppage sparked panic buying among consumers in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, with gas prices jumping by 40% week-over-week in some locations. By Wednesday, the group claimed to have hacked three new victims.
Despite the pipeline returning to full capacity, analysts expect gas prices to stay
high as demand surges in the wake of economic reopenings.
Delay in Minneapolis
The trial of three former Minneapolis police officers involved in the May 2020 murder of George Floyd will have their trial delayed until March of next year, a judge ruled yesterday. The proceedings, originally scheduled for Aug. 23, were pushed back to allow for a federal civil rights case to proceed beforehand.
The three officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, were on the scene when Floyd was killed by their former colleague Derek Chauvin. Each was
charged with the same crimes—aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin was found guilty of murdering Floyd by a jury in April. Many legal experts say it will be more challenging to prove charges in the case of Chauvin's colleagues, all of which will be tried together.
Chauvin, who has appealed his conviction, is scheduled for sentencing June 25.
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A SLICE OF THE PIZZA MARKET
There's a lot of dough in the pizza industry. In fact, the US pizza market will be worth an estimated $54B by 2023 (up from $46B today). Read on for an exciting investment opportunity and more cheesy pizza puns.
Because of labor and real estate costs, traditional pizzerias have low profit margins (estimated at 22% on average). But Piestro is changing the game. They've designed a robotic pizzeria that makes pizza at a fraction of the cost of traditional pizzerias and boasts an impressive 48% projected profit margin. Topping it all off, Piestro machines are lightning fast (three-minute cook time) and open 24 hours a day.
> “Friends” reunion sets May 27 release on HBO Max; see teaser trailer for the special that each star was reportedly paid $2.5M for participating in (More)
>Eight fully vaccinated New York Yankees players and staff test positive for COVID-19 (More) | Five-time world champion gymnast Simone Biles to compete for first time in 18 months in prep for June’s US Olympic Trials (More)
>Banksy’s “Love is in the Air” painting sells for $12.9M, becomes first piece of physical art sold for cryptocurrency at Sotheby’s auction house (More)
Science & Technology
>NASA's Voyager 1 detects a faint hum in interstellar space, likely from ionized plasma; launched in 1977, the spacecraft is the most distant human-made object in space, at more than 14 billion miles from Earth (More)
>Study finds skin cancer can alter the metabolism of healthy tissue elsewhere in the body; results may allow for an indirect
way to treat tumors (More)
>Brain circuitry for cognition in songbirds mirrors that of mammals, study finds; study sheds light on the evolution of avian brains (More)
>US stock markets up (S&P 500 +1.2%, Dow +1.3%, Nasdaq +0.7%) after three consecutive days of losses (More)
>An estimated 473,000 Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, a new pandemic-era low (More) | McDonald’s, Chipotle, and many other US restaurants raise wages in effort to source hourly workers (More)
>Disney misses earnings expectations on lower Disney+ subscriber figure of 103 million paid subscribers (More)
| Cryptocurrency trading giant Coinbase sees revenues and profits soar; reports $1.8B in Q1 revenues, $771M in net profit (More)
>Israeli military bombards Gaza Strip in attempt to destroy underground tunnels used by Hamas militants, preps for possible ground invasion (More) | Violence intensifies in Jewish-Arab neighborhoods inside Israel (More)
>First US service member charged in the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol; Maj. Christopher Warnagiris of the US Marine Corps arrested for assaulting a police officer (More) | Separately, new body camera footage captures the moment a police officer was assaulted during the raid (More)
>Rep. Chip Roy (R, TX-21) to challenge Rep. Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) for vacant House GOP conference chair post following Rep. Liz Cheney's (R, WY-At large) ouster (More) | Former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R, FL-1) expected to plead guilty in sex trafficking case (More)
The Chaos Machine
Invisibilia | Kia Miakka Natisse, Yowei Shaw. (Podcast) The story of the 209 Times, a conspiracy and troll-fueled website that became the main source of news for many in Stockton, California. (Listen)
TED | Angela Duckworth. (From 2013) How the characteristic of grit—a mix of patience, passion, and perseverance for long-term goals—can be one of the greatest predictors of success. (Watch)
*From the archive of 1440 staff favorites. Check for another next Friday!
The Longest Lifer
BBC | Swaminathan Natarajan, Lauren Potts. After almost seven decades, Joe Ligon, charged with an overturned life sentence at age 15, is preparing to be released. (Read)
What is Disgusting?
New Yorker | Jiayang Fan. A look at the operations behind Sweden's Disgusting Food Museum, and who gets to decide what qualifies for inclusion. (Read, $$)
Piestro's incredible robotic pizzeria can make the pizza of your dreams on-site in just three minutes. Imagine how much preparation and delivery time that could save you at the mall, university, or workplace.
Historybook: Jamestown is settled as first successful permanent English colony in the Americas (1607); Lewis and Clark begin their western expedition (1804); HBD actress Cate Blanchett (1969); First US space station, Skylab, is launched (1973); RIP Frank Sinatra (1998).
"Don't hide your scars. They make you who you are."
- Frank Sinatra
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