We know it began with bats in Wuhan, but how does the rampage of Covid-19 end? Historically, there have been a number of ways new viruses are brought to heel, but in many cases it takes years and can cost millions of lives. One method, containment, is no longer an option given the rapid growth of Covid-19 around the world. Another method, mutation, may be more helpful. The virus could mutate to a less lethal form. This is essentially what happened with the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, and for forty years following the initial deadly outbreak the Spanish flu existed as a less lethal seasonal flu. Of course, we’re all focused on vaccines right now, and an effective vaccine could do much to wipe out the spread of the disease. Given the mutability of the virus, it is likely that, at a minimum, annual booster shots will be needed to keep current with the virus’s rapidly evolving form. And, sometimes viruses are simply bumped off the map by other emerging viruses in a process that scientists don’t fully understand. For example, in 1957 the H2N2 virus extinguished the form of the Spanish flu that had been around for forty years. At any rate, it will probably be a combination of methods that finally put Covid-19 in check, and almost certainly that process will take years, not months.
Florida sees daily death toll record, state budget bleeds red.
It was a day of personal tragedy and fiscal turbulence for the Sunshine State. Within the past 24 hours tragically there were 191 Covid-19 deaths in Florida, a record for the state. On the fiscal front, state budgeteers rolled out another summary this week showing Covid-19’s impact on Florida’s coffers. State general revenue was $1.9 billion below expectations as of June. The full fiscal year’s picture will come into focus by August 14 when July data is added to the mix and representatives of the legislative and executive branches meet to officially update the state’s general revenue outlook. For the time being we do know sales tax losses represented the bulk of the revenue shortfall, down 6.1% from projections. But doc stamps, court fees and beverage taxes were also notably off and contributed to the fiscal hole. Senate President Bill Galvano captured the news and details of budget impacts at the federal level in his memo to fellow Legislative Members and staff.
Yet another unwelcome biological gift from China.
We get it. It’s 2020. Covid-19, murder hornets, and people who wear masks below their droplet-spewing nostrils. But, even so, nobody could have predicted the latest surprise from China: suspicious packages of seeds. More than 160 Floridians have reported receiving unsolicited seed packets mailed from China, and Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried is warning folks not to open or plant them but to report them to FDACS Division of Plant Industry. The introduction of plant seeds into the US is tightly regulated by the USDA, and FDACS is working closely with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the lead regulatory body on this issue. Seeds of unknown origin may constitute agricultural smuggling, be invasive, introduce pathogens or plant and animal diseases, pose a risk of foodborne illness, and pose a threat to human health. But, Florida isn’t the only state receiving unwanted gifts from China. The agriculture departments in 29 other states also have issued statements warning residents about the packages, which are marked with Chinese characters, may bear the name China Post, and may be labeled as jewelry. Florida residents can report any such packages to FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.gov.