Coronavirus crisis: UK researchers training dogs to

sniff out COVID-19 virus in humans ….

LONDON — Canines have been used for decades to sniff out drugs, bombs, corpses and even cancer.

Now, a team of British researches are hoping dogs’ keen sense of smell can help detect COVID-19, CNN reports.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is working with specially trained dogs to develop a new kind of coronavirus test, one that doesn’t require a swab, but just a sniff.

The organization recently discovered canines can detect Malaria infections in humans and they are investigating whether the same is true for COVID-19.

The training began in March and researchers are eyeing six weeks as enough to determine if the dogs are up to snuff.


If the tests go well, these “super sniffers” could be deployed to screen up to 250 people per hour for the virus.

According to researchers, the dog tests won’t replace traditional coronavirus testing but will be used as a supplement since COVID-19 tests are in short supply and results can take hours, if not days to come back.

Researchers said the dogs could be used at airports and other public areas in the future to help prevent another outbreak once the current pandemic declines.

When are stimulus checks being sent out?

Here’s how to track your $1,200 payment with a new IRS tool ….

The IRS has launched a ‘Get My Payment’ tracking tool for the $1,200 stimulus checks that it’s sending to most Americans

Checks for millions of Americans, a key part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, started to roll out this week.

That money can’t come soon enough for the more than 16 million people who are suddenly out of a job, and everyone else who’s worried about how to pay their bills, rent and withstand the coronavirus’ economic onslaught.

The Internal Revenue Service will send $1,200 paments to individuals with adjusted gross income below $75,000 and $2,400 to married couples filing taxes jointly who earn under $150,000. The government will also pay $500 per qualifying child.

The payouts — formally dubbed “economic impact payments” — decline above the $75,000/$150,000 threshold and end at $99,000 for indviduals and $198,000 for married couples.

The money will appear automatically in your bank account if the IRS has your account information on file from previous years’ tax returns. If the IRS doesn’t already have your account information, or if you didn’t file taxes in 2018 or 2019, you can submit your information on this website.

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Dispatches from a pandemic: Letter from New York: ‘New Yorkers wear colorful homemade masks, while nurses wear garbage bags. ‘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?’

Economic Impact Payments will be distributed automatically to most people by this week, the IRS said. Approximately 80 million Americans will get their payments this week, according to the Treasury Department.

On Wednesday, the IRS launched a tracking tool called “Get My Payment.” The tool will give people an idea on when they can expect a deposit or a check in the mail, the IRS said. It will also tell users if the IRS needs more information, such as bank account information.

The “Get My Payment” tool went live on April 15. That date, up until last month, was the deadline for taxpayers to file their federal income taxes and pay any taxes owed. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pushed the filing and payment deadline back to July 15 as one way to help taxpayers keep money on hand now.

Though 80 million Americans are expected to get their payments this week, others will be getting their checks later in the month and even further into the year. Here’s an estimated timetable, according to federal lawmakers, as of early April.

The IRS plans to send the first wave of payments in the week starting April 13, according to an expected timeline from the House Ways and Means Committee.

The tax authority will transmit the payments via direct deposit, using the banking information it has on file for taxpayers’ 2018 or 2019 tax returns, the timetable said.

That first wave will include Social Security recipients who filed tax returns and included direct deposit information on their returns, according to the House Ways and Means’ estimated timeline.

• The second wave will go to Social Security recipients who did not file 2018 or 2019 returns and receive their benefits through direct deposit.

• In early May, the IRS will start mailing paper checks to households, at a rate of 5 million per week. The paper checks will first go to the households with the lowest adjusted gross incomes, and continue upwards.

It could take up to 20 weeks to mail out all those checks, according to the House Ways and Means’ timetable.

The process could be delayed for several days because President Donald Trump wants his signature to appear on those paper checks, according to a Washington Post report. The Treasury Department told the Washington Post there wouldn’t be any delay as a result of adding Trump’s signature.

The CARES Act stimulus bill devotes $290 billion to the direct payments. The average payment will be $1,523 per household, according to calculations from the Tax Foundation, a right-leaning think tank.

It’s important the remember people are still eligible to receive a stimulus check even if they haven’t filed taxes. Someone might not file federal taxes if they make too little money to report to the IRS. For example, single filers earning below $12,200 last year, and married couples earning $24,400.

The stimulus payments will go to anyone who is a U.S. citizen or resident alien who has a valid Social Security number, could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer, and meets the income requirements.

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This 3-D Simulation Shows Why Social Distancing Is So Important

Public health experts and elected officials have emphasized again and again that social distancing is the best tool we have to slow the coronavirus outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages people to stay home. If you must venture out, you should stay at least six feet away from others. The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of three feet of separation.

Scientists are learning about the novel coronavirus in real time, and those who study similar respiratory illnesses say that until it is better understood, no guideline is likely to offer perfect safety. Instead, understanding the possible transmission routes for the virus can help us see why keeping our distance is so important.

Scientists who study the transmission of respiratory illnesses like influenza say that infections typically happen when a healthy person comes into contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough, sneeze or breath.

This simulation, created using research data from the Kyoto Institute of Technology, offers one view of what can happen when someone coughs indoors. A cough produces respiratory droplets of varying sizes. Larger droplets fall to the floor, or break up into smaller droplets.

The C.D.C. says keeping at least six feet away from others can help you avoid contact with these respiratory droplets and lower the risk of infection. That guidance is based on the assumption that transmission mainly occurs through large droplets that fall in close proximity.

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Tesla (TSLA) stock surges 10%: Here’s what we think is happening

Tesla’s (TSLA) stock surged by as much as 10% this morning despite a broader market pullback amid the developing coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what we think is happening.

The market saw a broad correction over the last month as the coronavirus pandemic has been worsening in several countries, especially in the US.

The S&P 500 crashed more than 30% since February before erasing some of the losses over the last 2 weeks.

Tesla also took a big dive, which was accentuated by the fact that the automaker’s stock was on a several month run that pushed its value to twice as much as its previous all-time high right before the coronavirus crisis.

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However, the stock has been recovering at an impressive pace and it’s now up more than 30% since the low of last month:

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This morning, Tesla’s stock surged by as much as 10% while the rest of the market was down by more than 1%.

It isn’t clear what prompted such movement in Tesla’s stock, but with the market being closed for a few days, there was a series of news that came out in the last few days that could have helped the stock:

Electrek’s Take

But what I think is really happening is that the market and analysts are starting to look at what the auto market is going to look like post-pandemic and many are starting to see that Tesla might be in a much better situation than other automakers.

In the short term, some automakers who are stuck in longer product cycles appear to be considering delaying some of their EV market launches while Tesla, which is seen as more nimble, seems to be moving forward with its plans.

There’s also the potential for the crisis to benefit Tesla even more in the long-term, which is nice for the company but scary for the pace of electric vehicle adoption.


Apple iPhone Sales Surged in China, but Competition From 5G Phones Is Rising

Apple iPhone sales in China staged a dramatic rebound in March, new data show, as the market begins to recover from the supply and demand shocks caused by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, according to new data from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, total handset sales were up 241% from February to 21.8 million units, though still down 23% from a year earlier. The total included 6.2 million 5G phones, up 161% from February, and accounting for 27% of all phones shipped, down from 37% a month earlier.

Barclays analyst Tim Long says this reflects a 416% surge in iPhone sales in March from February, to about 2.5 million units, shifting the balance back to 4G phones. Apple (ticker: AAPL) is expected to announce its first 5G iPhones later this year.

Android phones were 88% of the China smartphone market in March, down from 92% in February.

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Long notes that Apple has started running promotions in China to boost volume in competition against new 5G phones from Huawei and others, with iPhone discounts ranging from 7% to 18% on the e-commerce sites (JD) and (002024.China).

He also concludes that the Apple supply chain “has largely returned to normal,” and that the anticipated debut of a new iPhone SE is likely soon. But he also cautions that Apple’s 4G phones will face growing competition in China from rivals’ 5G phones, as well as economic pressures in other markets, leading to intensified competition for market share in China. He says the new data suggest iPhone sales in China for the quarter ended in March were down 4.4% year over year, slightly better than he had expected, but that the real test will be the 5G iPhone debut later this year.

Long is keeping his Equal Weight rating and $268 target on Apple shares.



Coronavirus In Greater Houston:

City Expands Testing To Anyone Who Wants It, Regardless Of Symptoms……

All city-run coronavirus testing sites in Houston will now be open to everyone, regardless of symptoms, as health officials try to get ahead of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, now entering its sixth week in the region.

The city is running two drive-through testing sites, both previously reserved for first responders and people with multiple symptoms of COVID-19.

But easing qualifications to receive a test is crucial, because asymptomatic carriers are just as likely to pass on the virus as symptomatic carriers, Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department.

“We’ve learned unfortunately that this virus is different in that aspect,” Persse said Monday, at the opening of a new testing site. “Sites like these who are taking asymptomatic, or without any symptoms, have given us incites that several weeks ago we did not anticipate.”

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The new testing site opened at Cullen Middle School in Southeast Houston, an area that health officials consider a “hot spot” for the virus.

The process of receiving testing remains the same, and people looking to get tests were asked to call 832-393-4220 for a unique identification number, and directions to a testing site.

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities is working on accommodating those with disabilities in getting to the sites.

Mayor Sylvester Turner also responded to suggestions from President Donald Trump and Gov. Greg Abbott to potentially lift orders limiting travel and business in Texas and other states, saying the city was listening to the advice of medical professionals, and working to further increase testing.


The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Foot Traffic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has brought massive, rapid, and ongoing changes to how people interact with their surroundings.

SafeGraph data provides unique and valuable insights into these changes, particularly foot-traffic to businesses and consumer points-of-interest. At SafeGraph, we are committed to open access to information, so we built this dashboard to share SafeGraph data insights faster (updated daily).

Here we show data from recent months on commercial activity (foot traffic trends) compared to the same time period from previous years to share insights into how the ongoing pandemic is impacting the US economy and disrupting daily life.

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About the Data

This dashboard is powered by SafeGraph Places Patterns data, an aggregated, anonymized, privacy-safe summary of foot traffic to 6 million points-of-interest (POI) in North America. Here, we aggregate the data by categories (like Airports or Supermarkets) or by brands (like Costco or McDonald’s). The population sample is a panel of opt-in, anonymized smartphone devices, and is well balanced across USA demographics and geographies. We show data from both 2019 and 2020 to help contextualize 2020 data. Many categories have week-to-week seasonal variability that is apparent in both 2019 and 2020. In general, the 2020 data shows large deviations from 2019 during the same time period.

How You Can Get This Data

For academics, non-profits, and governments, we are actively donating SafeGraph data. Hundreds of these collaborators are actively working with SafeGraph data in the COVID-19 Data Consortium; if you are working for the public good, please visit our sign-up page to get involved and get access to free data. Previous researchers have used SafeGraph data to understand coronavirus spread and Starbucks’s open-bathroom policy.

You can also preview and download SafeGraph Patterns data from recent months for free from the SafeGraph Data Bar, using the coupon ScienceNeedsData. If you are a business and need more recent data, longer historical data, or larger data please get in touch.


Who To Follow: Investing With ETFs And Asset Allocation

Ploutos is an institutional investment manager with a CFA and an MBA from Chicago. I’ve been a loyal follower since he wrote an article showing that the S&P SmallCap 600 index consistently outperforms the Russell 2000 smallcap index, and explaining why. His articles are enjoyable and extraordinarily valuable.

Steven M. Williams addresses questions like: Which are the best bond ETFs? The best smallcap ETFs? The best value ETFs? The best hedges against a US market decline? His articles are focused and thoughtful.

Victor Haghani is a professional money manager who allocates assets to ETFs based on a value and momentum algorithm. He has excellent coverage of investment strategy, addressing issues like “Should you focus on fees or performance?” and “How best to get started – dive in all at once, average in over time, or to simply wait for a market correction?”

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Scott’s Investments writes about a handful of investment and asset allocation strategies, which can be implemented with ETFs, including Momentum, Dual Momentum, Dividend Champions, and the Ivy League Portfolio. If you haven’t read about these strategies, you should.

varan doesn’t write articles, but comments frequently, and his comments are often more valuable than articles. He focuses on asset allocation, and has excellent insights into tactical allocation, such as the dual momentum approach.

Gil Weinreich writes the Financial Advisor’s Daily Digest. I’m not a financial advisor, but that doesn’t seem to matter: Gil covers issues like saving, asset allocation and investment strategy by quoting from interesting articles on Seeking Alpha. He points to interesting articles I often missed, and offers his own perspective, often injecting broader insights about life.

Russ Koesterich is a portfolio manager for BlackRock’s Global Allocation Fund, and a member of BlackRock’s Global Allocation team. As you can guess, he writes about asset classes and asset allocation strategies. His articles are rigorous and succinct, and often contain great charts.


Active COVID-19 Cases Treated With Antibodies Of Recovered People Are Making 100% Recovery

As scientists struggle to find the cure against the novel Coronavirus, an ongoing study seems to have a positive result in limited cases. Ten COVID 19 patients are on their path to recovery, thanks to a dose of COVID-19 antibodies taken from those who have already recovered from the disease.

For the 10 patients, as the research suggests, a single dose of antibodies taken from the blood of those who had recovered from COVID-19 appeared to be a life saver. The antibodies were able to shorten the duration of symptoms, improve oxygen levels as well as speed up viral clearance.


The “pilot study” was conducted at three hospitals in China, as its preliminary findings were published in the journal PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

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For those unaware, such a practice of using immune antibodies from recovered people to treat active patients is called convalescent plasma therapy. In the past, the therapy has  been used as a cure for polio, measles, mumps and even flu. In fact, the method proves to be much more effective than other forms of treatment as patients getting convalescent plasma appeared to recover more quickly and completely than patients who did not.

Citing the lack of a vaccine, the treatment has now been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an experimental treatment in clinical trials and more importantly, for critical patients without other options.

Findings of the study

Some interesting findings have been highlighted in the new study. Quoting the example of a 46-year-old male patient, the study notices a complete elimination of the COVID-19 virus from the host’s body by a single dose of the aforementioned convalescent plasma within one day. The patient also recorded much rapid decline in symptoms within four days of the infusion

Similar observations were recorded for 10 different patients. The list included a 49-year-old woman with no underlying illness but undergoing an acute case of COVID-19 as well as a 50-year-old male tested negative for infection 25 days after his first symptoms appeared.

Interestingly, none of the ten patients died through the convalescent plasma treatment. Only one unexpected side effect was detected on one patient’s face in the form of a red bruise. Other than that, all the major symptoms that had driven these patients to seek emergency help were gone in some days.

The author of the study, however, suggest that more detailed studies should be carried out on the treatment and only then can we determine its optimum dosage and the conditions in which it has to be administered.


17 Pictures That Show Just How Well “Social Distancing” Has Been Working In Texas

1. Texas — my beloved home state — we need to talk..
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2. …because I know that March is a time for spring break. For festivals! For FUN. But y’all, the coronavirus is no joke.
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3. Texans, if you don’t already know, the CDC says the virus is spread between people who are in close contact with one another.
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4. This is not 6 feet apart! This is not social distancing!
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