Day: June 26, 2020

The Purpose Behind the LKS Foundation: A Blockchain-Inspired Organization

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LKS Foundation

The LKS Foundation is an Italian non-profit foundation that aims to promote initiatives that use the principle of sharing information through blockchain technology and spread the culture of fintech to innovate in sectors such as crowdfunding, ICO, and decentralized finance technologies.

The Foundation’s President, Federico Olivo, is chairman and co-founder at Vistra SRL, a company specialized in offering consult and training services on Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE). With over 20 years of experience, Federico has a background in entrepreneurship, management, process mapping, and optimization; offering a unique perspective to the LKS Foundation. All members of LKSCOIN offer years of experience in different industries. Their knowledge was applied in the development of the organization and the blockchain-based solution they are now offering to content creators.

The first project of LKS Foundation seeks to ensure the development of a cryptocurrency designed to have a significant impact on the web by offering the possibility to track and remunerate, through payments and donations, content creators within social networks. The LKSCOIN is already and will enhance its mission of being a means of payment for content creators, capable of protecting the copyright of their content.

In today’s world, digital content represents a $153 billion industry that will continue to grow in the years to come. Unfortunately, like many other industries, it has its flaws. The biggest issue with digital content is ensuring the traceability of the origin of the content, guaranteeing authors their rights over the content that they produce. The LKS Foundation has analyzed the industry and studied this specific problem, developing a blockchain-based solution capable of overcoming the difficulties that social media represents to copyright holders.

Additionally, the LKS Foundation comes with an already tested solution. The LKSCOIN has been successfully integrated with Cam.TV, a community of knowledge with more than 360,000 users who use the LKSCOIN to monetize likes. More than 20,000 LKSCOINS transactions are made daily on this platform.

To achieve its ultimate goal of guaranteeing ownership rights, the LKSCOIN is promoting a token sale to finance the development of a Non-Fungible Token aimed at providing content creators with a blockchain-based tool capable of protecting copyright without the hassle of developing a native smart contract or blockchain network. The LKSCOIN currently has more than 800 active nodes to guarantee the security and decentralization of the platform.

As part of its future strategy, the LKS Foundation plans to create a campus where they can host companies and brilliant minds to help improve and develop the platform, creating new business models in line with the times. Additionally, the future development of the NFT will help to counter fake news and allow copyright protection, satisfying a need in the market.

If you wish to learn more about the LKS Foundation and the LKSCOIN, please visit

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CityWatch: New York’s governor offers to help other states now in need

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As the country’s daily infection rate has hit an all-time high, New York is offering to lend a hand to other states dealing with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged on Friday.

“In our hour of need, we had volunteers from across the country who helped us go from the worst situation in the country to one of the best,” Cuomo said. “We will repay that help and that kindness in any way we can.”

Around 60,000 health-care workers volunteered to come to New York, primarily to New York City, to work in hospitals and makeshift facilities when the pandemic was at its peak in March and April — when nearly 19,000 people were hospitalized with the virus across the state. As of Friday, hospitalizations statewide total 915, the lowest point since mid-March. Daily deaths have plummeted from a peak of near 800 in early April to 14 on Thursday. 

See: What we do know — and don’t know — about the coronavirus at day 100 of the pandemic

The progress in the Empire State contrasts sharply with the overall U.S., where some states have had to freeze or walk back their reopenings this week amid a spike in cases. A record number of new cases were registered Thursday, with nearly 40,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in one day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

“It’s time this country understands the facts and responds to the facts and gets serious about dealing with this virus as a virus and not dealing with this virus as a political issue,” Cuomo said, calling out states like Texas and Florida for reopening too quickly. 

Still, his office planned to reach out to those states, as well as Arizona, on Friday to ask if there was anything New York could do to help. 

“That collegiality is very important, and New Yorkers were very grateful for the help we received,” he said. Besides 60,000 volunteers, states such as Massachusetts and Oregon lent vital medical equipment to New York at its viral peak.

The governor said his offer is open-ended and includes anything from ventilators, medical staff and technical assistance to the National Guard. 

“We will never forget that graciousness, and we will repay it any way we can,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Cuomo has doubled down on a quarantine order he announced earlier this week, which requires anyone coming from a viral hotspot — including Florida, Texas, Arizona and the Carolinas—to self-isolate for 14 days. The governor is discussing with airlines whether the state can gather information from incoming passengers, such as temperature checks. 

“What is our legal authority and how cooperative would the airlines be?” he said during his Friday news conference. “We’re in the middle of that now.”

Also see: Pressure builds on Senate Republicans to move in direction of $3 trillion coronavirus relief measure favored by Democrats

The governor also raised the possibility of updating air-conditioning systems in places like malls and theaters to mitigate the risk of them recirculating the virus in the air. 

New York’s more cautious approach to crowded indoor spaces comes as New Jersey announced Friday that public schools would reopen to students in the fall. New Jersey’s education department has released an extensive plan that will leave many decisions up to local school districts but requires at least some in-person instruction in September. Students will be asked to wear masks and social distance. 

Personal Finance Daily: Taxpayers who wait to file their taxes this year can get interest on top of their refund and California voters will weigh in on affirmative action in Nov

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TGIF, MarketWatchers! Here are today’s top top stories:

Personal Finance
5 critical mistakes that created the biggest public-health crisis in a generation

100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic: Don’t wear a mask! Everyone should wear masks!

Scientists estimate the speed and distance of coronavirus transmission when people cough, sneeze, speak — and run

A slew of studies examine the role of COVID-19’s contagiousness.

‘Being anti-racist is a verb, so it requires action’: Don’t stop demanding racial equality — how to become a lifelong ally

‘It’s really important for us to understand that we need to be always working for racial justice, whether there’s dramatic moments or not.’

‘They get a get-out-of-jail-free card’: How qualified immunity protects police and other government officials from civil lawsuits

‘Qualified immunity gives government officials a rubber stamp to violate your rights,’ said Robert McNamara, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice.

Taxpayers who wait to file their taxes this year can get interest on top of their refund — just don’t bank on getting much

‘These people will not be able to go on a vacation on this money. You might get a latte.’

Making sense of the new July 15 deadline for filing — and paying — your taxes

Warning: extending a return past July 15 does not extend the due date for paying any taxes due.

California voters will weigh in on affirmative action in November. Here’s what that means for the rest of the country

The state legislature advanced a measure that will put the state’s ban on affirmative action on the ballot.

Elsewhere on MarketWatch
No rubbing elbows on Wall Street for the ‘foreseeable future,’ even as firms start navigating back to office

Big banks this summer are testing out new safety protocols to slowly return staff to their Manhattan offices during the pandemic, but it will be a long road back to anything near ‘normal.’

Pressure builds on Senate Republicans to move in direction of $3 trillion coronavirus relief measure favored by Democrats

President Donald Trump’s weakness in the latest polls and other factors are seen as putting pressure on Senate Republicans to accept a larger coronavirus relief measure than they previously intended in the next package.

House approves bill that would make District of Columbia the 51st state

Washington, D.C., would become the 51st state in the Union under a bill passed by the House of Representatives Friday along a mostly party-line vote.

Peggy Noonan says Trump ‘cannot’ lead in a crisis — and calls on Biden to step up

The conservative columnist also writes that Trump ‘doesn’t understand his own base’

Key Words: ‘Maskne’ — yes, mask acne — is now a thing

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Remember when a face mask was something you used to help clear your complexion?

One frustrating side effect of mandated face mask wearing during the coronavirus outbreak is that it’s making many people break out. And that’s spawned the term “maskne” — or “mask” plus “acne,” referring to the blemishes that result from wearing a face covering.

Acne was already the most common skin affliction in America, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, plaguing up to 50 million people a year and costing more than $1.2 billion in treatments and lost productivity for those whose cases were so severe that they sought medical attention.

And the pandemic is exacerbating the problem — not just from the friction of masks, particularly unwashed masks, rubbing against people’s faces, but also due to the stress of the numerous crises hitting the country at once right now. And research has found a strong correlation between acne and stress.

The Tokyo Weekender, a popular English beauty magazine in Japan, has declared maskne “one of 2020’s most widespread skin care problems,” and sufferers have taken to Twitter TWTR, -7.39% and Instagram FB, -8.31% to gripe about their new crops of pimples popping up. And even if you’ve been spared so far, the summer’s sweat-inducing temperatures and increasing humidity are poised to make many complexions worse.

“We’re definitely seeing ‘maskne’ more,” Dr. Lucy Chen, a dermatologist practicing at Riverchase Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in south Florida, told MarketWatch. “We see it a lot more as the summer months are happening, with the extra humidity in the air and the extra heat actually increasing the amount of stress and oil production” in the skin.

She added that her practice has also been seeing a lot of health care workers suffering acne, bruising and rashes after wearing masks for 12-hour shifts or more.

So what’s causing it? The scientific term is “acne mechanica,” meaning the mechanical friction of the mask fabric rubbing against your skin is causing breakouts. “It’s creating a warm, moist environment for extra skin oils to proliferate, and for bacteria to become trapped, thus clogging pores,” Chen explained. “It’s similar to what we see in athletes wearing tight helmets or chin straps.”

Some zits and blackheads are a small price to pay to help slow the spread of COVID-19, of course, especially as the U.S. has reported record numbers of new cases this week, and more than 124,468 Americans have already died from the coronavirus.

But there are ways to help prevent “maskne,” as well as methods for treating the blemishes that appear. Here’s what you need to know.

Wash your face. Prevention is the best medicine, so washing your face in the morning and evening — and even any time that you take your mask off — is key. “After coming home, immediately wash the face and reduce the oil on the skin,” Chen suggested. You can even wipe your face with a clean wash cloth soaked in warm water.

But be gentle. It may be tempting to reach for the strongest acne cleanser or treatment that you can find, but Chen recommends selecting gentle products. Your skin is already irritated by the mask, and a too-powerful cleanser could worsen it. If you do select an acne-fighting wash, she recommends mild ones with salicylic acid to remove excess oils and unclog pores. And maybe only use that salicylic acid cleaner in the evening, and use a gentler treatment throughout the day.

Wash your mask. That reusable fabric mask has absorbed your sweat, maybe some of your saliva, any droplets from coughing and sneezing, your makeup and your moisturizer, let alone whatever else it has come into contact with when you’ve gone out or taken it off and put it down. It’s a breeding ground for all kinds of microbes, so you want to wash it regularly. “You need to wash your mask on a daily basis, or even rotating through a few different masks would be a good idea,” said Chen. Toss your masks in the washing machine, or hand wash with soap and hot water. Throw them in a hot dryer, if care directions allow. And store clean masks in new paper bags to keep them free from germs.

Read more:The best — and easiest — way to clean your face mask

Choose lightweight mask material. If you’re not a health care worker or a first responder working on the front lines, choose a lighter material that will let skin breathe more. “If you’re just making a trip to the grocery store or walking the dog … I would suggest a 100% cotton mask for breathability,” Chen said.

Do not squeeze or pop anything. A popped zit not only takes longer to heal than if you’d just left it alone, but popping it can also spread bacteria and make the flare-up bigger. “People are going to want to deal with their acne right away, but avoid squeezing, popping or overly scrubbing with loofahs, because your skin is already fragile from the friction of the mask,” said Chen. In short, it will just make things worse.

Practice spot treatments under your mask. If you’ve already got a breakout, or you feel one swelling under the skin’s surface, Chen recommends wearing acne patches (sometimes called pimple patches), which are small moisture-absorbing hydrocolloid bandages usually cut into small circles. They’re essentially tiny bandages for zits that can dry pimples out while preventing you from picking at them. You can wear them overnight, or Chen has another hack: “I apply them under my mask, where no one can see them,” she says. “I put one of those on during the day so I’m not touching it, and the mask is not rubbing it or making it worse.”

She also recommends over-the-counter spot treatments with a lower percentage of benzoyl peroxide, such as 2.5% to 5%. (Keep in mind that benzoyl peroxide can bleach fabrics like your mask, however, so you may want to save that as a nighttime treatment.)

Skip the makeup. Consider holding off on the concealer or foundation on your lower face, since it’s going to be covered by the mask anyway. Removing makeup removes one more thing that could clog your pores and create more breakouts. But Chen still recommends a light moisturizer a few minutes before you put your mask on in the morning, to help keep your skin’s protective moisture barrier intact — which in turn helps fend off unwanted bacteria.

De-stress and decompress. Stress can lead to more severe acne — not to mention disrupt your healthy diet and sleeping habits. So here are some expert tips to manage your mental health during the pandemic, such as meditation apps, teletherapy sessions or simple self-care practices to help you feel better during these trying times.

See a professional, especially if your mask gives you a rash. Masks can cause rashes such as perioral dermatitis or contact dermatitis. “The first is more related to skin sensitivity, and the other is related to a true allergy to maybe the processing chemicals on the mask itself, or what you use to wash the mask, or even the fabric of the mask,” Chen explained. “A dermatologist will be best suited to diagnose it and recommend treatment.”

Scientists estimate the speed and distance of coronavirus transmission when people cough, sneeze, speak — and run

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There’s a lot scientists know — and a lot they don’t.

In “Coughs and Sneezes: Their Role in Transmission of Respiratory Viral Infections, Including SARS-CoV-2,” released Tuesday, researchers describe the various types and sizes of virus-containing droplets present in sneezes and coughs, and how some medical procedures and devices may spread these droplets. “Coughs and sneezes create respiratory droplets of variable size that spread respiratory viral infections,” according to the article, which was published online in the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

‘While most respiratory droplets are filtered by the nose or deposit in the oropharynx, the smaller droplet nuclei become suspended in room air and individuals farther away from the patient may inhale them.’

“Because these droplets are forcefully expelled, they are dispersed in the environment and can be exhaled by a susceptible host. While most respiratory droplets are filtered by the nose or deposit in the oropharynx, the smaller droplet nuclei become suspended in room air and individuals farther away from the patient may inhale them,” said Rajiv Dhand, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine and associate dean of clinical affairs at University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, and co-author of the paper.

Among the researchers’ recommendations: “Health care providers should stay six feet away from infected patients, especially when the patient is coughing or sneezing. For spontaneously breathing patients, placing a surgical mask on the patient’s face or using tissue to cover his or her mouth, especially during coughing, sneezing or talking, may reduce the dispersion distance or viral load. While ideally, infected patients should be in single rooms to prevent droplet dispersion, it is acceptable for two patients with the same infection that is spread by respiratory droplets to be in the same room.”

The contagiousness of speech droplets

“Speech droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are increasingly considered to be a likely mode of disease transmission,” a separate study published in the latest edition of the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences, found. “Highly sensitive laser light scattering observations have revealed that loud speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second.”

In a closed, stagnant-air environment, droplets disappear from view after eight to 14 minutes, “which corresponds to droplet nuclei of ca. 4um diameter, or 12um to 21um droplets prior to dehydration,” the researchers wrote. One micrometer, um, is equivalent to one millionth of a meter. The coronavirus is 0.125 um. The scientists said that, while it’s long been recognized that respiratory viruses such as coronavirus can be transmitted via droplets generated by coughing or sneezing, it’s less widely known that normal speaking does too. High viral loads of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in oral fluids of COVID-19−positive patients, including asymptomatic ones.

Related:5 critical mistakes that created the biggest public-health crisis in a generation

How far coronavirus droplets can travel

Social distancing has been defined for people that are standing still. “It does not take into account the potential aerodynamic effects introduced by person movement, such as walking fast, running and cycling,” researchers wrote in another study titled, “Towards aerodynamically equivalent COVID-19, 1.5 meters social distancing for walking and running.” Bert Blocken, a professor of civil engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Flanders, Belgium, and his co-authors recommend that people avoid walking or running in the slipstream of a walker or runner in the park and street.

“In the absence of head wind, tail wind and cross-wind, for walking fast at 4 kilometers per hour, this distance is about 5 meters (16 feet) and for running at 14.4 kilometers per hour, this distance is about 10 meters (32 feet),” the study, which has not been peer reviewed, found. The smaller the distance between the runners, the larger the fraction of droplets to which the trailing runner is exposed.” If people wish to run behind and/or overtake other walkers and runners with regard for social distance, “they can do so by moving outside the slipstream into staggered formation,” it added.

Letter from New York:‘When I hear an ambulance, I wonder if there’s a coronavirus patient inside. Are there more 911 calls, or do I notice every distant siren?’

Factors indoor contributing to contagion

Factors affecting whether the virus remains “stable” and contributing to transmission: Humidity and temperature of the room, air-conditioning, whether or not there are open windows, general air quality, size of the room and, of course, how many people are present and how close they are to each other. “In contrast to SARS-CoV-1, most secondary cases of the new SARS-CoV-2 transmission appear to be occurring in community settings rather than health-care settings,” a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which was first identified in Wuhan, China in December, had infected 9,682,414 people globally and 2,446,706 in the U.S. as of Friday. It had claimed at least 491,113 lives worldwide, 124,749 of which were in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The Dow Jones Industrial Index US:DJIA and the S&P 500 US:SPX were lower Friday, amid reports of a surge of coronavirus in U.S. states that have loosened restrictions. Fauci has said he was hopeful that a coronavirus vaccine could be developed by early 2021.

How COVID-19 is transmitted

5 critical mistakes that created the biggest public-health crisis in a generation

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It’s been more than 100 days since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Several red flags were missed, so what can we learn from those mistakes?

The COVID-19 pandemic, which was first identified in Wuhan, China in December, had infected 9,682,414 people globally and 2,446,706 in the U.S. as of Friday. It had claimed at least 491,113 lives worldwide, 124,749 of which were in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

The Dow Jones Industrial Index US:DJIA and the S&P 500 US:SPX were lower Friday, amid reports of a surge of coronavirus in U.S. states that have loosened restrictions. Fauci has said he was hopeful that a coronavirus vaccine could be developed by early 2021.

“Imagine this scenario: It’s October,” he said. “The seasonal influenza epidemic occurs. COVID-19 comes back. We’re fussing with China. There’s been a glitch with the Moderna US:MRNA vaccine trials. There’s another incident with police, and now the riots are inflamed because, after all these years, nothing appears to be fixed, and we’re in the middle of a political campaign ahead of the presidential election in November. This does not have good optics to me.”

This is the first global pandemic since the AIDS crisis. So what key moments led to this point?

1. Coronavirus? It’s not that bad, really it’s not!

Earlier in the pandemic, there was confusion between influenza and the novel coronavirus.

MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

China did not appear to take early, preemptive actions. It was far more reluctant to tell its citizens about the suspected virus in those early days last December. The first known person was reported to have contracted the virus on Dec. 1 in China, according to an article in The Lancet. The early spread of the disease was likely helped by preparations for China’s Lunar New Year holiday, when people traveled to visit relatives. Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang said 5 million people had left the city before travel restrictions were imposed ahead of the Lunar New Year.

“COVID-19 rapidly spread from a single city to the entire country in just 30 days,” a Feb. 24 paper on the fatality rates of the disease in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA found. “The sheer speed of both the geographical expansion and the sudden increase in numbers of cases surprised and quickly overwhelmed health and public-health services in China.” Critics have said that the Chinese government could have done more in those early days to alert authorities to both the existence of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and confirm that human-to-human transmission was likely.

Also see: ‘Hundreds of people fled south, storming the night trains’: Italians struggle to adjust to the New Normal amid coronavirus lockdown

It may seem like a lifetime ago, given that the U.S. accounts for roughly a quarter of the worldwide fatalities from COVID-19, and there were delays in shutting down the economies of states across the country. But President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter US:TWTR on March 9, “Last year 37,000 Americans died” from the flu. “Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on,” Trump added. Just 10 days later, the president made a U-turn on that statement: “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory is won.” He said the virus will “go away” more than a dozen times.

The federal government has been criticized for not rolling out testing nationwide sooner. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while praised for preparing hospitals in the face of a lack of equipment, was also criticized for not taking action sooner to prevent the outbreak in New York City. The World Health Organization’s decision to declare COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic on March 11 only confirmed most infectious-disease doctors’ worst fears that this was now a matter of containment rather than prevention.

2. Don’t wear a mask! Everyone should wear masks!

Health officials recommend keeping at least six feet between you and the next person in a public space.

MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

After two months of obfuscation over the efficacy of face masks and New York City becoming the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., the Trump administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the WHO and Cuomo, a Democrat, finally agreed on one thing: All Americans should, after all, wear face coverings in public settings. That happened more than a month after the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The public was confused, and some people were upset over the lack of clear messaging.

After months of obfuscation over the efficacy of face masks, the Trump administration, the CDC, WHO and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo advised the public to start wearing face masks.

On Jan. 29, The New England Journal of Medicine said: “There’s evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December.”

Yet authorities prevaricated on the efficacy of masks. “The virus is not spreading in the general community,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on Jan. 30. “We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness. And we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus.”

Previous studies have concluded that face masks have helped reduce contagion by reducing droplets being sprayed into the air during flu season. It may be that they work in a small amount of cases and/or just wearing them helps to promote healthy behaviors.

President Trump has resisted the recommendation by public-health officials to wear a mask when he is in public. “You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it and that’s OK,” he said. The WHO currently estimates that 16% of people are asymptomatic and can transmit the coronavirus and, in a similar U-turn to the CDC, also now advises wearing masks.

3. This malaria drug hydroxychloroquine helps. Or does it?

WHO currently estimates that 16% of people are asymptomatic and can transmit the novel coronavirus.

Getty Images

Since the earliest days of the pandemic in the U.S., Trump promoted hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for coronavirus. It was aligned to some degree with research that aims to understand if the controversial drug can prevent coronavirus infections in high-risk frontline workers. Hydroxychloroquine, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, is not a proven treatment or prophylaxis for COVID-19, but it received emergency-use authorization (EUA) from the FDA in mid-March to be used in certain clinical settings for COVID-19.

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, Trump promoted hydroxychloroquine. This week, the FDA withdrew the emergency-use authorization granted to the drug during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some health experts say that was an unnecessary distraction that wasted valuable time. On Monday, the FDA said that it had withdrawn the EUA granted to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An EUA is not the same as a FDA approval but is a type of authorization that can be awarded during public health emergencies when there are no other available treatment options. The federal agency issued the EUA in March, allowing some patients with COVID-19 to be treated with the drugs when used from a federal stockpile. Since then, the drugs were increasingly politicized following promotion from Trump administration officials alongside questions about safety.

In April, Trump floated the idea of using ultraviolet light inside the human body or disinfectant as treatments for coronavirus, a suggestion doctors called dangerous. “I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that,” he said. The suggestion was widely panned, and the next day, the president said he was speaking “sarcastically.”

Trump announced a travel ban from hot spots around the world in February and subsequently acquiesced to pressure that states should effectively shut down their economies to prevent the spread of the disease. He repeatedly warned that efforts to stem the rapid spread of COVID-19 were spiraling the economy into another Great Recession. He said last month that it was possible people would die by reopening the economy. “Will some people be affected badly? Yes,” the president said. “But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon.”

4. It’s time to have fun and go to the beach, right? Wrong!

Some analysts say that Florida could be the next epicenter of the virus as New York continues to flatten the curve of new cases.

Getty Images

Florida, Alabama, Arizona, California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas have seen a surge in cases in recent weeks as businesses reopen and people relax their social-distancing policies, and don’t wear masks. “The potential for the virus to take off there is very, very nerve-racking and could have catastrophic consequences,” Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told the CNN.

Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program and a former epidemiologist specializing in infectious disease and public health, warned in May of complacency surrounding relaxation of social-distancing measures. Countries should “continue to put in place the public-health and social measures, the surveillance measures, the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we continue on a downwards trajectory, and we don’t have an immediate second peak,” he said.

5. COVID-19 doesn’t care who you will vote for in November

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (left), a Democrat from New York, invoked the words of Alexander Hamilton in his war of words with President Trump.

Getty Images/MarketWatch Photomontage

Wherever you lie on the political spectrum, you can count one thing: The virus does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re an independent, Republican or Democrat. From the seeming unwillingness of China to be more transparent about the seriousness of the disease to the arguments over ventilators between states and the federal government, the response to the virus has been politicized, observers say.

Trump said in April that he had “ultimate authority” on when to open the economy: “Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies.” Cuomo shot back, invoking the words of founding father Alexander Hamilton.

Regardless of where your political stance, the virus does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat or Independent. The pandemic has been politicized, observers say.

The U.S. cannot afford to have a resurgence of the virus either now or in the fall, health professionals say. For one, it’s harder to get people to practice social distancing and stay home again, especially after they’ve already abided by stay-at-home orders for more than 11 weeks. Second, the effect on the economy could push the U.S. into a prolonged recession, even greater than the one already predicted by some economists. Third, the flu season will already be upon us in the winter and those symptoms are easily confused with those of COVID-19. Fourth, only 10% to 20% of the U.S. population at the very most will be immune to COVID-19 next time around, Poland said.

But it’s not just politicians who have sparred. The American public has responded differently to the pandemic along political lines: 62% of Republicans and Republican leaners say the seriousness of COVID-19 is “generally exaggerated,” according to one survey, while just 31% of Democrats and Democrat leaners and 35% of independents say the same. “Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say that the coronavirus outbreak is a major threat to both their personal health and financial situation,” Bradley Jones, a research associate at Pew Research Center, wrote in a recent report.

Poland recommends a nonpartisan task force, akin to the National Academies of Science, to prepare for any possible second wave. “This would be the kitchen cabinet who would recommend what kind of studies we need to do now,” he said.

“I would not waste any of my time sniping politically at anybody else,” he added. “I would be a wartime king, focused on doing everything we can to protect our populace with best practices. I would fund and provide all of the nudges I can to encourage good behavior. I would advocate radical transparent honesty. It would be rocky in the beginning because the public is not used to that kind of transparency, but I think it would very quickly engender trust.”

On Thursday, Trump said he was confident the virus was dying out, despite a spike in nearly a dozen states. “If you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was, it’s dying out,” he said.

(Jaimy Lee and Meera Jagannathan contributed to this story.)

How COVID-19 is transmitted

Retirement Weekly: When can I take money out of my Roth IRA tax-free?

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Q.: A friend of mine says that if you withdraw money from a Roth IRA within five years of putting it in, you’ll pay tax and a penalty. I started my Roth in 2018 when I turned 30 and thought I could get the $11,500 I have put in over the last two years out at any time without tax because I didn’t get a tax break when I made my deposits. What gives?


Retirement Weekly: Retirement news: A single mom retires a millionaire, the Roth vs. regular IRA debate, and giving back your RMD

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From MarketWatch:

This single mother started with $20,000 and is now an early-retired millionaire — here’s one thing that helped her: Mentorship is a critical tool in meeting goals and achieving milestones — and this woman took all she knew to make herself a mentor to others.

I’ve got a budget of $3,300 a month and want to be near some ‘wild’ areas — where should I retire?: Property taxes, weather and proximity to family aren’t the only factors people need to consider when moving to a new place in retirement.


Retirement Weekly: Why you should consider today’s most unpopular investment

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Have you ever wondered what investment today is the most out of favor?

Most of us never even ask this question, since such investments by definition don’t even appear on our radar screens. But, as contrarians constantly remind us, we are vulnerable to making big mistakes by blindly following the consensus, as well as to missing some truly once-in-a-generation opportunities.


TaxWatch: Taxpayers who wait to file their taxes this year can get interest on top of their refund — just don’t bank on getting much

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In this unusual and prolonged tax season, good things come to those who wait — like 5% interest on top of a refund.

The Internal Revenue Service announced this week it will be paying interest to taxpayers on refunds for returns that are filed between April 15 and July 15.

This year, the deadline to file a return and pay taxes is July 15 instead of the traditional April 15. That’s a Treasury Department accommodation to help people with cash flow in the spring amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Normally, interest on any refund doesn’t accrue until a return is filed, explained Edward Zollars of Thomas, Zollars & Lynch, certified public accountants in Phoenix, Ariz. Likewise, the IRS usually doesn’t start paying interest on refunds until 45 days from the return’s due date.

But President Trump’s emergency declaration in mid-March enabled the Treasury Department to set new filing deadlines for the year and “put the interest rules out the window,” Zollars explained.

The special rules on interest are usually applied in the wake of natural disasters like a flood, he noted. People who received their refund before April 15 will not be getting any interest payments, he added.

Interest on refunds filed by July 15 “will generally be paid from April 15, 2020 until the date of the refund,” according to an IRS announcement.

The interest rate through June 30, the end of the second quarter, is 5%, compounded daily. It’s 3% during the third quarter, which ends September 30.

“Interest payments may be received separately from the refund,” the announcement said. The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on more clarification about how it will pay the interest to taxpayers.

As of June 19, the IRS has received 6.3 million fewer returns than it did at the same point last year. The tax collector has also processed 16.3 million fewer returns, which is a necessary step before it can issue a refund. The average refund was $2,763, according to IRS statistics.

People shouldn’t be expecting a windall in these interest payments, Zollars said.

Supposing a taxpayer received the average $2,763 refund on June 30, he or she would receive an extra $28.63, according to Zollars’ calculation. A taxpayer receiving that refund on July 15 would get $32, Zollars said.

“These people will not be able to go on a vacation on this money. You might get a latte,” he said. The IRS considers the money as taxable interest income, Zollars noted.

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