COVID-19 Racial Disparities in U.S. Counties – The way COVID-19 is a perfect storm for the systemic issues that make it harder for black people to keep healthy is disturbing. A group of researchers who are in the process of publishing a paper looking at the impact of COVID-19 put out some frustrating data. They weren’t able to get granular data because the race of 78% of individuals with cases of COVID-19 are unknown, as of April 15. Is that normal? To get around that, the researchers looked at COVID-19 cases by county. Essentially, nearly 22 percent of the counties in the US are disproportionally black. Yet, nearly half of COVID-19 cases and 58% of deaths across the country are in these counties. There cannot be a return to normal as we emerge from this. We have to reimagine this society we live in.
U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services, March 2020 – The extent to which trade put on the brakes in March is pretty stark. Exports fell $20B and imports $15.4B. Around $20.7B of the total drop in exports and imports came from travel and transport slowing to a trickle. That’s over half of the decline in exports and imports. This brings more color to why Warren Buffett decided to shed all his airline holdings. It’s going to be really interesting to see what travel looks like coming out of this pandemic. People aren’t going to be traveling for quite some time, and when we do start moving around again, how much of these losses will be reversed?
A Message from Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky – This letter from Airbnb’s CEO to employees explaining the company’s pending layoffs is very thoughtful and one to file away in case you may have to layoff employees soon. Notable parts of the letter include his outlining the framework the company used to determine who to layoff, the explanation of the 14-week severance, and the elimination of the one-year to make everyone leaving the company a shareholder for whenever Airbnb goes public. These are hard times that are amplifying who people and what companies really are, sometimes in disappointing ways. It’s nice to see people and companies show what good leadership looks like.
One billion people will live in insufferable heat within 50 years – It was incredibly hot in Accra during the Christmas holiday, something I completed underestimated. Fortunately, my lady packed some extra handkerchiefs for me. According to a set of researchers, parts of the world are going to be experiencing increasingly Sahara-like weather over the next several decades. What impact will this have on migration? Will coastal cities like Lagos and Accra see big influxes of people from the northern parts of their countries? How will they ensure everyone has space to live and get along? Considering how dense these cities are and the rates at which they are already growing, urban planners and policymakers have their work cut out for them in finding new design technologies to create space for folks in such a way that keeps them as cool as possible.
Malaria ‘completely stopped’ by microbe – Researchers in Kenya and the UK have found a microbe that prevents mosquitoes from carrying malaria. This could be a real boon for malaria eradication across Africa if the researchers are able to understand the microbe better and figure out how to propagate it across other parts of the continent. They may find themselves in a race with Alphabet’s Verily which has found its own microbe that sterilizes male mosquitoes and causes pretty rapid mosquito population declines. I guess the question for both of these research teams is, what are we trading for eradicating malaria? It’s definitely exciting to be finding a path forward on ridding ourselves of malaria. We just don’t want to find another disease blocking the way.