August 16: UF in the News, 8/13/21 - 8/16/21

The future of Covid looks bleak if we don't act now — Men's Health, 8/13/21

Illness and fatalities from coronavirus are worse today than at any other point in the pandemic for many places. The three main factors of the surge are the new delta variant, a large unvaccinated population and inconsistent mask policies.

“Things are really bad,” said Kartik Cherabuddi, an infectious diseases doctor at the University of Florida. “The hospital and the emergency rooms are bursting at the seams. People are in hallways. We are struggling with the number of nurses available.”

People may have difficulty stopping Pegasus spyware — The Washington Examiner, 8/13/21

Some governments are using Pegasus, a military-grade surveillance tool, to spy on human rights activists, journalists, and politicians. Andrew Selepak, a social media professor at UF, said Congress has "virtually abdicated" its role to protect citizens from data collection by Big Tech firms. 

"What the Pegasus story has shown is that even Congress cannot protect Americans from Big Tech and spyware, just as they cannot protect American businesses from Russian, Chinese, Iranian, and North Korean hackers." 

In U.S. redistricting fight, citizens come armed with a new weapon: their own maps — Reuters, 8/13/21

Redistricting affects communities in how resources are distributed and politicians are chosen. Armed with historical maps and data of recent gerrymandering and the consequences of the redistricting, citizens are trying to take back their home districts. One of these mapping tools, DistrictBuilder, was founded by researchers at UF.  

The feds just ok'd booster shots. This could get ugly fast. —The Daily Beast, 8/13/21

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently authorized vaccine-eligible Americans with immune problems to receive a third dose of the safe and effective two-dose COVID-19 vaccines. “Herd immunity to completely eradicate the virus is proving very challenging in large part due to the high number of unvaccinated individuals around the world,” Elias Sayour, director of UF's Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Initiative.

Delta COVID surge in Iceland is very bad news for the U.S. — The Daily Beast, 8/15/21

Experts who spoke to The Daily Beast said that Iceland’s recent surge in infections—fueled by the new delta variant of the novel coronavirus—is probably a sign that herd immunity is within reach over there.

What’s happening in Iceland right now might be one of the final stages in the long, often painful process by which a country achieves some form of population-level herd immunity against a dangerous virus.

“By allowing the virus to test a myriad of new variants in unvaccinated individuals, we may be naturally selecting the worst strains putting us all at risk—both in the U.S. and abroad,” said Elias Sayour, the UF director of the school’s Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Initiative.

U.S. investors lean on blank-check firms in search for energy transition targets — Reuters, 8/16/21

Oil investors have formed more than 20 listed blank-check Special Purpose Acquisition Companies to take renewable energy companies public. Jay Ritter, a UF professor who specializes in IPOs, provided historical context to the pricing of the SPAC IPOs in the past year.

Got questions about the contagious delta variant? Here’s some answers. — The Tampa Bay Times, 8/16/21

The delta variant is infecting more people with the coronavirus than ever before and changing the guidelines for staying safe during the pandemic. Masks and vaccines have been touted as the best way to protect one another from the delta variant. 

 “Vaccines work in several different ways,” said UF epidemiologist Thomas Hladish. The biggest benefit of being vaccinated is that while vaccinated people may still become infected with COVID-19 — what’s called a breakthrough case — they are far less likely to fall seriously ill, he said.

Petco Love will provide 1 million vaccines to animal welfare partners for distribution to pets in need — Yahoo! Finance, 8/16/21

Petco Love will allocate 1 million free pet vaccines to its existing community-based animal welfare partners to distribute to family pets in need.  A UF study tested dogs and cats upon intake into one Florida shelter and found a majority of the pets had insufficient levels of protection for viruses, suggesting they had not received proper vaccinations. Julie Levy, the Fran Marino Professor of Shelter Medicine Education at UF, said, "This study clearly revealed that a significant population of the community's most vulnerable pets, those more likely to find themselves at an animal shelter, are not receiving needed preventative vaccines, which makes them susceptible to these deadly diseases."

How to complain about a company and get results — U.S. News and World Reports, 8/16/21

Experts weighed in on how to have success when using social media to complain about poor service. Andrew Selepak, a social media professor at UF, said Twitter is probably the social media network that will net the most results.