Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today?

When misinformation harms horses For more than a year, misinformation about ivermectin – a drug used to kill parasites in dogs, chicke...



For more than a year, misinformation about ivermectin – a drug used to kill parasites in dogs, chickens and other patients – has spread on social media, podcasts and radio. Proponents claim it is a treatment for the coronavirus, although the FDA has warned against its use.

The inaccuracies had consequences in the real world. Some people have overdosed on certain formulations of the medicine. Now, as my colleague Erin Woo reports, a drug race strains the supply of veterinarians, ranchers and farmers who depend on them to treat animals.

Jeffers, a national pet supplies retailer, recently increased the price of ivermectin paste to $ 6.99 a tube from $ 2.99. Overwhelmed with orders, a farm supply store in Las Vegas began selling the drug only to customers who could prove they had a horse. In California, a breeder learned that the backlog of orders was so large that she was 600th in line for the next batch.

These experiments highlight the concrete effects of disinformation and how far the fallout can spread, said Kolina Koltai, a University of Washington researcher who studies online conspiracy theories.

“It doesn’t just affect communities that believe in disinformation,” she said. “It’s something that affects even people who have no interest in the vaccine – it affects horses.”

Misinformation about ivermectin as a potential cure for Covid began to proliferate just weeks after the start of the pandemic, based on preliminary results from studies that found it could kill the virus. Other studies showed beneficial effects, but at least one of them was subsequently withdrawn.

Inaccurate information has since flourished on social media sites like Reddit and Facebook, which is a popular platform for people discussing how to acquire the drug and calculate dosages.

“Do you paste oral ivermectin paste or rub the skin?” »Read a recent article in a Facebook group. One reviewer replied, “Put it on a cracker with a little peanut butter.”

Facebook said it banned the sale of prescription products, including drugs and pharmaceuticals, on its platforms, including in advertisements. But the groups on the site also channel members to alternative platforms where content moderation policies are more lax.

Dr Karen Emerson, a veterinarian who owns Emerson Animal Hospital in West Point, Mississippi, has seen her drug supply dwindle.

“If I have another flock of chickens with leg mites, I won’t be able to help them,” she said. “And then I don’t know what we’re going to do.”


It’s a pivotal week in Washington as Congressional Democrats strive to advance President Biden’s national agenda, while scrambling to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. To understand how these political battles might affect the government’s response to the pandemic, I consulted with Abby Goodnough, the editor of home policies at The Times Washington office.

On the role of Democrats is an ambitious social policy bill, which would be the biggest expansion of the country’s safety net since the war on poverty in the 1960s.

Under just one element of the plan, some four million poor adults in about 12 states would have health insurance coverage. Most of these people are in the South, where political leaders have refused to extend Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. It’s another way to cover these people, through a federal program, Abby said.

Earlier in the pandemic, Congress provided temporary insurance subsidies to middle-class people, and the Democrats’ plan would extend those subsidies.

“As long as this pandemic lasts, it is important that people have health coverage in case they contract the coronavirus, or suffer from a long Covid, or any other ill effects of the virus,” Abby said. “Especially since more and more care linked to the virus is no longer free, as was the case at the start of the pandemic.”

As Democrats work on their social safety net bill (and an infrastructure plan due to be voted on Thursday), they are also locked in a budget battle with the Republicans.

Congress has until midnight Thursday to fund the government. If he does not meet that deadline, agencies will start firing federal workers or forcing others, like those at the TSA, to work without pay. So far, Republicans have blocked Democratic measures to fund the government because it would require raising the debt ceiling, which they say they don’t want to do.

When asked if a shutdown would affect the country’s response to the pandemic, White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that many public health officials would be exempt from the shutdown and continue to work.

Even so, said Abby, “the optics look worse than usual.”

“It’s never ideal to be in an emergency – running to keep the government from running out of money and fighting for it,” she said. “But it’s even less ideal for Congress to fight over these things at a time when we are still battling a pandemic that shows little sign of abating.”


As fall approaches, some of us fondly recall our “post-vaccination” summer as a time of going out with friends, family reunions or returning to dating in isolation from restrictions. Covid-19. But the past few months have been accompanied by an unexpected downside: social anxiety.

Going back to life’s old routines has been surprisingly unsettling for some, even for those who have never struggled in social settings. Previously, effortless friendships might seem strained. Small events or brief social interactions can stress or exhaust you. And then there might be some uneasiness about returning to the office.

If you’ve recently had trouble navigating certain social activities, especially when you may not have done so during the pre-pandemic days, we’d love to hear from you.

We would also like to know about the ways you might have found to deal with social anxiety.

If you want to share your experiences, you can fill out this form here. We can use your response in a future newsletter.



I live in Vermont and work at a popular restaurant. We have been adjusting to the pandemic since our reopening in June 2020. The most recent adaptation is to require Covid-19 vaccination cards at the door and require all our employees to be vaccinated. Needless to say, this has been a controversial policy. We were really beaten on social networks but especially applauded by the people who enter. We had a number of people who hadn’t been out for months but told us they felt safe enough in the restaurant to relax and enjoy themselves. While I don’t like being in the middle of controversy, I like that we can do it for people. Personally, I feel a lot safer at work and worry less about bringing the virus home to my young grandson.

– April Paulsen Curtis, Brattleboro, Vermont.

Let us know how you are dealing with the pandemic. Send us an answer here, and we could feature it in a future newsletter.

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Email your thoughts to briefing@nytimes.com.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today?
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