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Illustration: Alex Kiesling

Gyms, long heralded as the “final frontier of the IRL economy,” were among the first businesses to shut down due to the pandemic, wrote Natalia Mehlman Petrzela in Marker. Now, with a third surge of Covid-19 infections, the survival of the brick-and-mortar fitness industry hangs in the balance, despite trying everything from outdoor classes to plexiglass-encased treadmills.

According to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association, roughly 1 in 4 of the nation’s 40,000 to 50,000 gyms will close their doors for good — “a sobering and sudden reversal of decades of uninterrupted, inevitable growth in brick-and-mortar fitness, valued at more than $30 billion earlier this year.” …

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Photo Illustration: Dora Godfrey | Photos: Drew Anthony Smith

Not even $3.6 billion worth of committed capital will keep top VCs in Silicon Valley anymore. Founding partner of 8VC, co-founder of Palantir, and lifelong Californian Joe Lonsdale wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal explaining his decision to move to Texas, “the new land of opportunity.” He joins a growing diaspora of disenchanted tech entrepreneurs fed up with San Francisco’s crumbling infrastructure and bureaucratic policies. …

‘Stay home and celebrate at home with the people you live with’

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

With more than 1 million Covid-19 cases reported in the past seven days and cases continuing to increase rapidly across the country, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued today’s briefing, the agency’s first since August, on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving while minimizing the possibility of transmission. The guidance comes a day after the country saw more than 170,100 new cases — the second-highest one-day spike reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

At the top of CDC’s safety recommendations was a message clearly advising against travel altogether and encouraging people to carefully consider the risks involved by going through a mental…

“The first generation of ‘future of work’ software products were largely IQ-tools — utilities that moved information efficiently. We’re starting on a next set of FoW software which I’d call EQ-tools, and these are more attuned to ‘HOW’ we all work together.”

VC Hunter Walk recently blogged about how the great work-from-home experiment translates to different aspects of work. Turns out Slack, Asana, and other SaaS collaboration tools can only get us so far. Walk believes remote work is optimized for solo creative work and execution sprints. Not so great for WFH: Collaboration around new ideas, team building, and bursts of execution involving cross-functional participants. His observations as a seed stage VC further validate Steve LeVine’s thesis that much of Silicon Valley’s success is attributable to moments of IRL serendipity, which is a lot harder to manufacture over Zoom.

After years of criticism about Jeff Bezos’ lack of philanthropy, the Amazon founder and the world’s wealthiest man revealed yesterday that he would be donating $791 million in grants as part of his $10 billion Earth Fund to fight climate change. This comes several months after his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott announced in July that she would be giving away $1.7 billion to nonprofits. “The gift was stunning in scale and in approach,” wrote Stephanie Clifford in her Marker profile of one of America’s most mysterious and richest women. However, some remain skeptical of Bezos’s motives, noting that he donated to some of the very groups that have criticized Amazon’s growing environmental impact. In June, Amazon’s carbon footprint grew by 15% despite the retail behemoth’s green pledges.

94% of California’s population to move back to most restrictive reopening guidelines

Amid an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced yesterday that he would be “pulling an emergency brake” to slow the rate of infections and classified 41 of the state’s 58 counties, or roughly 94% of California’s 40 million population, as purple in its color-coded reopening guide.

The purple tier, which indicates that Covid-19 is widespread in a county, translates to closures of nonessential indoor business operations, including restaurants, gyms, and places of worship. Nearly all of the Bay Area counties, with the exception of San Mateo County, have already moved forward with rolling back indoor dining. …

One of America’s largest turkey producers is scrambling to prepare for an unpredictable Covid Thanksgiving. As David H. Freedman writes for Marker, Butterball — which sells a third of the holiday birds — surveyed 1,000 adults and found that 20% said they had “no idea” what their Thanksgiving plans were (25% expected smaller gatherings and 30% said they would keep it to immediate family). Butterball is cranking out more turkey breasts and gearing up to “handle a larger-than-normal flood of first-time Thanksgiving cooks,” writes Freedman, “as a raging pandemic could drive families to stick to smaller gatherings, leaving more rookies tackling the bird and fixings.”

First comes the vaccine. Then comes the gargantuan task of vaccine distribution.

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

The first batch of Covid-19 vaccines could potentially be getting closer to being shipped as Pfizer and BioNTech’s 90% effective vaccine candidate awaits to clear key safety hurdles and FDA approval. If authorized, the drugmakers would pass the metaphorical vaccine baton onto state governments to facilitate the final point-of-delivery and administer vaccinations to millions of Americans across the country in what could arguably be described as the highest stakes supply chain relay race in human history.

But state governments are currently ill-equipped for the momentous vaccine baton handoff, as it were, and not successfully set up to execute the next phase of wide scale vaccine distribution due to lack of federal funding and a shortage in staffing resources. In late September, the CDC announced $200 million in grants to help states with vaccine planning and preparedness, but as Bloomberg News reports, that’s nowhere close to enough for nationwide implementation: “Organizations representing state health officials and immunization managers say $8.4 …

Could a daily spritz of nasal spray be the next defensive tool, alongside vaccines, in the public health arsenal against Covid-19? An international team of scientists made promising steps to answer that question, according to a small study published last Thursday. Scientists from Columbia University Medical Center, Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, and Cornell University developed a nasal spray treatment that was effective in completely blocking the coronavirus in the nose and lungs of a small group of ferrets. The implications for a daily nasal spray, if it’s possible to scale production, would be significant, reports the New York Times. …

How effective and reliable are they?

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Credit: Circle Creative Studio / Getty Images

Costco recently announced it is selling direct-to-consumer Covid-19 testing kits (currently available online only) that allow users to take the diagnostic test from the comfort of their home. Consumers can choose between two options: a basic saliva testing kit for $129.99 or the same kit plus additional video support instructions for $139.99.

The wholesale discount giant now joins a growing list of supermarket retailers, including Vons, Albertson’s, and Safeway, that are selling at-home Covid-19 saliva testing kits — a trend that may continue as companies race to bring more rapid home tests to the marketplace. …


Gloria Oh

Senior Editor, Ideas for Marker at @Medium. Previously, @TheAtlantic.

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