Robot chicken butchers, brought to you by COVID-19
The trend toward robots and computers taking jobs people have held is getting a big push from COVID-19.A human face behind the counter is traditionally a welcome sight, but now people are warier of close contact with strangers. That opens the door to robots taking orders, flipping burgers, even delivering room service meals.“This was an issue for germaphobes, and now everybody is going to be a germaphobe. The future started in March,” said Johannes Moenius, a University of Redlands business professor.Adding some robots can help factories keep up production when they must limit the number of hu...
As universities reopen, no one has more uncertainty than this year's freshman class
There’s the adventure of going off to college for the first time, that big, nerve-wracking step toward adulthood that some students have been preparing for their entire high school careers. And then there’s going off to college for the first time in 2020.That is, if this year’s freshman class of students are even going off somewhere at all.As universities in the Chicago area and around the country scramble to resume classes during the COVID-19 pandemic — be that with online coursework, students in class or a hybrid of both — they acknowledge they must plan in particular for this year’s freshma...
A coronavirus vaccine is on the horizon, thanks to a key discovery by these researchers
AUSTIN, Texas — When the latest coronavirus emerged, Jason McLellan and his team were ready to take action.McLellan, an associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas, has been studying respiratory diseases for years. In 2017, McLellan’s postdoctoral researcher Nianshuang Wang identified genetic mutations necessary to stabilize a key component of diseases like MERS, also a coronavirus.So when Chinese researchers shared the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus on Jan. 10, UT researchers were able to quickly map the virus and inject it with previously-discovered mutat...
Death of funeral home matriarch points to COVID-19's reach
AUSTIN, Texas — For decades, Lois Villaseñor had helped Latino families coping with the death of loved ones.Recently, the East Austin funeral home she and her late husband founded in the late 1950s has been busier, as the coronavirus pandemic swept over the community it serves. The business has adopted funeral rites — limited, masked services with burials often viewed through car windows.In late July, at age 87, Villaseñor herself died of COVID-related complications, one of scores of coronavirus deaths last month in Travis County at the height — thus far — of the pandemic in Texas. Her service...
Coronavirus school reopening complicates life for students with special needs
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Everything Denise Jolly is struggling from, thousands of other South Carolinians have been struggling with amid the coronavirus pandemic.But very few of them are struggling with it all at once.Jolly is a cancer patient and the mother of two boys, one of whom is in gifted classes, and the other is on the autism spectrum.“Our situation is more extreme than most are facing, but I know there are a lot of special needs parents in Columbia,” Jolly told The State.Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the disadvantages special needs students face on a normal basis have been magnified, ...
The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Gov. Abbott: Texas health officials investigating high coronavirus positivity rate
AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott said state health officials are investigating why the percentage of Texans testing positive for COVID-19 has increased so much in recent weeks.In a Lubbock news conference Thursday, Abbott noted that COVID-19 testing has decreased in the state while the positivity rate of the virus has increased.The governor said some of the testing decline can be attributed to temporary “surge testing” in certain hard-hit regions, nursing homes, prisons and other facilities, which increased statewide testing numbers in July.The seven-day average positivity rate had continued t...
Nation and world news briefs
CDC chief sees urgency to cut COVID rate to avoid flu collisionNEW YORK — The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that many regions in the U.S. need to drive the rate of COVID-19 cases sharply lower to avert a dangerous convergence of the pandemic with flu season.CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview Thursday that he’s optimistic they’ll do so, because newly recorded cases have declined from their recent peak in July and most areas of the U.S. are in a “downward trajectory.”Even so, there’s a great distance for most of the country to go to reduce the burde...
Tribune News Service
Google adding new coronavirus-related details to travel search results
Google announced plans to add new content to its travel search results in the coming days.Officials revealed Google would soon display the percentage of open hotels with availability, as well as the percentage of flights operating at the city or county level. The changes will include trendlines for both categories.The data necessary to facilitate the chances will be supplied by Google Flights and Hotels data from the previous week. Travelers will also be able to find advisories and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in an area through links on the website.Google also announced it would ...
White House warns of 'widespread and expanding' COVID-19 spread in Georgia
ATLANTA — President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force warns that Georgia continues to see “widespread and expanding community viral spread” and that the state’s current policies aren’t enough to curtail COVID-19.The task force “strongly recommends” Georgia adopt a statewide mandate that citizens wear masks, joining a chorus of public health officials, Democrats and others who have warned that Gov. Brian Kemp’s refusal to order face coverings has plunged the state into deeper crisis and will prolong recovery.“Current mitigation efforts are not having a sufficient impact,” the report said.Bu...
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
'Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gave a damn': Pelosi slams GOP for stalled talks on virus relief
WASHINGTON — Frankly, they don’t give a damn, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday of President Donald Trump and Republicans in the Senate.Asked about meeting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the White House in the middle in talks for a new coronavirus relief package — and perhaps getting half a loaf — the House speaker ripped the Republicans not even coming close, or caring about the impacts of delayed federal aid.“This is not half a loaf. This is not even being in the same room,” Pelosi told the reporter who inquired. “Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gave a ...
New York Daily News