The Weekly Wrap: October 24-30


Ben Schanzer

Assistant Sports Editor Ben Schanzer’s weekly take on the news.

Ben Schanzer, Assistant Sports Editor

Welcome back to the Weekly Wrap. The election is less than two days away, the race is tight and a lot has happened this week. As for my weekly disclaimer, remember every news story is constantly evolving, so it is possible that more update-to-date information exists elsewhere. For this reason, I will link to many of my sources so you can learn more. With that out of the way, let’s jump right in.

Senate confirms Barrett

On Monday, Oct. 26, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. All but one senator voted along party lines, with Democrats opposed and Republicans for. Maine senator Susan Collins was the only Republican to vote against the confirmation. It would be safe to presume that Collins voted this way to help her chances in a close senate race.

Barrett’s confirmation enraged many due to her extremely conservative views and due to the hypocrisy from Senate Republicans after they refused to confirm an Obama nominee during an election year.

Now that Barrett’s confirmation is final, conservative justices have a six to three majority on the Supreme Court.

Sewage testing reveals potential COVID-19 outbreaks

Boston, along with many other U.S. cities, has been conducting regular sewage testing to catch COVID-19 hotspots before regular testing can.

While cities cannot trace the presence of virus to specific people, CNN reports that the data can alert health officials of an outbreak in a neighborhood prior to patients becoming symptomatic and receiving a direct COVID-19 test.

The implications of this type of testing could be extremely helpful to colleges. They could test the waste coming out of every building and intervene if they detect traces of the virus. 

MIT professor Richard Larson developed an algorithm that can trace positive sewage tests to a specific neighborhood block, or even a set of households.

If a dorm or neighborhood had traces of COVID-19, health officials could administer tests to residents and isolate anyone prior to them becoming symptomatic.

Extremely high turnout for early voting

Nationally, early voting has been utilized more than ever this year. According to the Elections Project at the University of Florida, 58% of the total votes in 2016 have already been cast. 

According to state election officials in Texas, the total number of ballots cast “early” this year is greater than the total ballots cast throughout the state in 2016. Similarly, high numbers exist in Georgia and North Carolina

While none of these states release which party is casting more early ballots, many believe it is primarily Democrats who are voting early.

Due to this increase of early voting, and state laws requiring early ballots not be counted until Election Day, it is unlikely that a clear winner will be known on election night.

Cruises to set sail amid CDC restrictions

On Friday, Oct. 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance for cruise lines to return to operation. While the “No Sail Order” expires Oct. 31, there is no clear date for when cruises will be allowed to resume operation.

In order to comply with the guidance, cruise lines must meet several criteria. First, they must build laboratories large enough to test their crew and passengers. Once these laboratories are functional, cruise lines will have to run “simulated voyages” to prove they have the ability to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Cruise lines’ stock crashed in March when the CDC originally created the No Sail Order. Carnival Corp, one of the largest cruise lines in the U.S., has had its stock decrease over 75% since January.

It is unclear how long this will take cruise companies to comply with, though many are selling tickets for as early as December while they work to stay afloat.

Utah utilizes emergency alert system to warn citizen of rising COVID-19 cases

Most modern phones have a feature allowing government emergency alerts to be sent to residents. Typically, states use this for AMBER Alerts or severe weather alerts, though CNN reports that local authorities have been using them to warn residents about the seriousness of COVID-19.

Utah’s alert read “COVID-19 is spreading rapidly. Record cases. Almost every county is a high transmission area. Hospitals are nearly overwhelmed.”

This is the first case of the system being used for a statewide COVID-19 warning.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said Utah has “one of the worst outbreaks in the country” during a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 29.

Utah, and many other states, are nearing hospital capacity. If this occurs, care for COVID-19 patients will deteriorate quickly and many thousand will die. 

In Massachusetts, as of Oct. 29, hospitals are at 69% capacity, though most of the capacity is not being used by COVID-19 patients.