Contact Tracing Scams, Faux Meat, and a Scientist Fired in Florida
A roundup of Covid-19 stories we’re reading today
- One of the best methods for tracking the spread of the coronavirus is called contact tracing, a labor-intensive process that involves cold-calling people to determine who’s been in contact with a person that has tested positive. While this process is thought to be more effective than app-based methods, a big downside, warns the Federal Trade Commission, is that it’s opened the door to scammers who pose as contact tracers to obtain sensitive personal information.
- The spread of Covid-19 among workers at meat processing plants has led to a worrisome U.S. meat shortage that’s even affected national burger joints like Wendy’s. But there remains a glimmer of hope for your socially distanced barbecue plans this Memorial Day weekend, and it’s greener to boot: The pandemic has cleared the way for alternative meat companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, reports Wired, and they are stepping up in a big way.
- The first outbreak of Covid-19 is thought to have occurred in a wet market in Wuhan, China, and though the virus’s exact origins have yet to be confirmed (and may never be), the World Health Organization has been pressured to enforce an international ban on wet markets. But as the editors of Nature Food, a scientific journal in the prestigious Nature family of journals, argue in a new editorial, wet markets are a critical source of food and business in many countries. Rather than ban them outright, scientists must be “specific and explicit” about targeting the activities in wet markets that spread zoonotic disease.
- Last week Rebekah Jones, a scientist at Florida’s Department of Health who built the state’s highly praised dashboards for Covid-19 data, emailed public health researchers to announce she had been removed from her project. Yesterday she revealed why: As NPR reports, Jones said in a statement to a local news station that her dismissal came after she refused to “manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.” Florida reopened its doors on Monday, amid warnings from public health experts that it was too early.