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The Verge

Many states aren’t reporting rapid COVID-19 test results

Over 20 states aren’t including results from a type of rapid COVID-19 test in their overall case numbers, according to a survey by Kaiser Health News (KHN). The federal government is sending millions of these types of tests all around the country in an effort to keep up with the pandemic. If states don’t release the results from those tests through their public health departments, it creates a blind spot in the overall data. The tests, called antigen tests, work by detecting a small protein on the surface of the coronavirus. They tend work much faster than the tests that look for the virus itself, called PCR tests, although they can be less accurate. According to the KHN survey, 21 states and the District of Columbia don’t report all of their antigen test results. Fifteen states and DC don’t count positive antigen test results as confirmed cases, and nearly half of the 48 states that responded to the survey said that their antigen test results are probably underreported. At the start of the pandemic, the majority of testing done in the United States was PCR testing. Then, the Food and Drug Administration started authorizing antigen tests in May, and over the past few months, others have started to enter the market. Still, it took until August for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to say that a patient with a positive antigen test should be considered a probable COVID-19 case, even without checking for symptoms. Even now, the agency’s…Continue readingMany states aren’t reporting rapid COVID-19 test results

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The Verge

Google is trying to test a secret 6GHz network in 17 different states

Google is trying to secretly test a 6GHz network in 17 different states, according to a batch of FCC filings spotted by Business Insider. But exactly what Google is trying to test is unclear. Here’s a few things we do know. Google wants to experiment with 6GHz spectrum to “produce technical information relevant to the utility of these frequencies for providing reliable broadband connections.” The company also says it expects the experiments to take place over 24 months, and has asked permission to do the tests in 26 cities and towns across 17 states — including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. There’s a lot of possibilities for what Google could want to be testing with that spectrum Beyond that, there’s not a lot we can tell from these documents — and there are a lot of possibilities for what Google might want with that 6GHz spectrum. The “providing reliable broadband connections” language could suggest that Google wants to experiment with some kind of home internet service — perhaps a potential future offering under the Google Fiber Webpass banner. But Google could have other uses for that 6GHz spectrum as well. Only recently did the FCC approve a plot of unlicensed 6GHz spectrum, and any number of things could take advantage of that. Wi-Fi 6E routers might run at 6GHz, as could vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and the latest 5G specifications suggest unlicensed 6GHz spectrum could even be…Continue readingGoogle is trying to test a secret 6GHz network in 17 different states

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TechCrunch

Attorneys general from twenty states call on Facebook to do more to fight discrimination, disinformation and harrassment – TechCrunch

In an open letter to Facebook’s leadership posted earlier today, the attorneys general from twenty states called on the company to do more to fight intimidation, discrimination, disinformation, harassment and hate speech on the platform. “Although Facebook has made some progress in counteracting the use of its platform to dehumanize and demean, that is just the beginning of what is necessary,” the attorneys general wrote. “Private parties, organized groups, and public officials continue to use Facebook to spread misinformation and project messages of hate against different groups of Americans. In many cases, these messages lead to intimidation and harassment of particular individuals online.” Roughly 40 percent of Americans have experienced online harassment, according to study by the Anti-Defamation League and around 70 percent of those reporting harassment said it came on Facebook or its associated platforms, according to the report. So the attorneys general asked Facebook to take more steps to protect users and provide redress for those platform participants who are victims of intimidation and harassment. Their letter joins a chorus of consternation that has arisen to chastise the platform and its chief executive for doing too little, too late to stem the hate speech and misinformation that has come to define the platform’s experience for many users. Over the summer, some of the biggest brands in the US pulled advertising from social media platforms in response to a campaign from civil rights organizations. That boycott includes huge mainstream brands including Coca-Cola, Best Buy, Ford and Verizon. Other brands…Continue readingAttorneys general from twenty states call on Facebook to do more to fight discrimination, disinformation and harrassment – TechCrunch

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The Verge

Amazon expands its robot delivery trials to more states

Amazon unveiled its six-wheel delivery robot, Scout, in January 2019, but has only been slowly expanding its field tests. After launching in a single neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington and then adding a larger site in Irvine, California last August, Scout is now undergoing trials in Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee, Amazon announced today. It’s unclear how many robots are on the road and how many customers Scout is serving. But it seems the bots are very much still prototypes, and are being treated with the caution appropriate for a company that’s built its reputation on speedy and reliable delivery. Amazon says it has a “small number of Amazon Scout devices” operating in both Atlanta and Franklin, which will be delivering “Monday through Friday, during daylight hours.” The devices navigate autonomously but are accompanied by a human minder at all times (an “Amazon Scout Ambassador” in the retailer’s corporate jargon). Amazon’s Scout robots navigate autonomously, but are accompanied by human minders at all times.Image: Amazon Delivery robots have become a fast-moving arena in recent years, with a number of startups fielding their own devices. Some robots are the size of hampers, like Amazon’s Scout, while others are more like small cars. With the advent of coronavirus, interest in the technology has increased yet again as companies look for ways to minimize human contact and demand for home deliveries booms. Amazon says its trials of Scout have continued during the pandemic, helping the company to “meet increased customer demand by supplementing…Continue readingAmazon expands its robot delivery trials to more states

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TechCrunch

Clover Health expands its coverage to eight states and triples its footprint – TechCrunch

Clover Health, the medicare advantage health insurance provider for older Americans, said it will triple its geographic coverage through an expansion to eight states. The company is adding Mississippi to its roster of states covered under its insurance plans and will expand its footprint in a number of states it already operates within. The company said it would be adding 74 new counties in Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Clover touts its ability to offer care recommendations to physicians and ensure that primary care providers are receiving the latest evidence-based protocols, the company said. “We knew that if we wanted to successfully bring great healthcare to every senior, including those in traditionally underserved communities, it was essential for us to actively provide value to the system, and we couldn’t play the same games as other insurers who shuffle risk and exploit flaws in the MA program,” says Andrew Toy, president and chief technology officer of Clover Health, in a statement. “Through our unique ability to power two-way conversations with clinicians at the point of care, Clover Assistant gathers and shares the most accurate data on a member’s disease burden, which is critical to developing and validating care plans.” Clover focuses on rural communities where insurance coverage is sparse. Individuals eligible for Medicare in these new counties can sign up for Clover’s plans during the Annual Election Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7, with coverage starting on January 1, 2021, the company…Continue readingClover Health expands its coverage to eight states and triples its footprint – TechCrunch

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Engadget

National COVID-19 exposure server could alert people across states

COVID-19 contact tracing apps will only be effective across borders if states and countries can readily share data, and a collaboration could soon make that happen in the US. iMore reports that Apple, Google, and Microsoft are working with the Association of Public Health Laboratories to launch a national server to store keys and help exposure notifications reach people across states. It would be based around Apple and Google’s exposure alert framework, while Microsoft and APHL would host the server. The move could harmonize apps across the country and help people who travel across state lines. It could also help “eliminate duplication” and save states the cost and time involved with setting up their own servers, the APHL said. Source linkContinue readingNational COVID-19 exposure server could alert people across states

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The Verge

15 states will follow California’s push to electrify trucks and buses

Fifteen states and Washington, DC have announced that they will follow California’s lead in switching all heavy-duty trucks, vans, and buses over to running on electricity, in what could be one of the most significant efforts to reduce harmful diesel engine pollution in the United States. It could also be a big development in the fight for environmental justice because emissions from diesel-powered commercial vehicles disproportionately harm Black, Asian, and Latinx communities. The states that signed the agreement along with Washington, DC are: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) announced in late June that all commercial trucks and vans must be zero-emission by 2045, with milestones along the way. The state previously announced a rule in 2018 that says transit agencies must purchase all-electric buses starting in 2029. The phalanx of states and the District of Columbia are agreeing to similar goals, making it so that “100 percent of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales be zero emission vehicles by 2050, with an interim target of 30 percent zero-emission vehicle sales in these categories of vehicles by 2030,” according to the New York Governor’s Office. The agreement is not legally binding. But California has long been a leader in pushing clean energy vehicles, dating back to the passenger vehicle initiative it spearheaded in the 1990s that helped bring electric cars to bear in the United States. More than a dozen…Continue reading15 states will follow California’s push to electrify trucks and buses

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The Verge

Seventeen states sue Trump administration over new student visa guidelines

Seventeen states and Washington, DC have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s policy that would prevent international students who are taking online courses from remaining in the US. ICE’s guidelines, announced on July 6th, stated that in order to remain in the country for the fall 2020 semester, international students must be enrolled in in-person classes at their schools or be subject to “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal procedures.” Meanwhile, students who remain in their own countries would only be permitted to take remote classes and maintain their “Active status” if their school will only be offering remote classes. Under the previous policy, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) allowed international students to take online classes without risking their visa status due to the unusual circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the July 6th announcement, there was no indication that the fall 2020 semester would not be subject to the same policy. “The Directive was arbitrary and capricious,” the lawsuit reads, “because it failed to offer a reason for its reversal of prior policy … failed to consider the substantial reliance interests of universities and foreign students and the harm this abrupt reversal will cause.” The plaintiff states — which include Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin — claim that they will suffer “irreparable harm” if the court doesn’t vacate the rule. “The Directive…Continue readingSeventeen states sue Trump administration over new student visa guidelines

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Engadget

EARN IT Act amendments transfer the fight over Section 230 to the states

The other major concern opponents of the EARN IT Act raise has to do with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says that companies are not liable for much of the content that users post. Originally, the EARN IT Act proposed requiring that companies “earn” Section 230 protections by following recommended practices outlined by a Department of Justice (DoJ) commission. Without those protections, companies like Twitter or Facebook might be compelled to remove anything that might prompt a legal challenge, which could threaten freedom of speech. The amendments passed today strip the DoJ commission of any legal authority and will not require companies to earn Section 230 protections by following recommended practices. But the amended bill would change Section 230 to allow lawsuits from states, and state legislatures could restrict or outlaw encryption technologies. Plus, that could lead to inconsistent laws that vary state-by-state. “The drafters of this bill obviously want to address real harms from abusive materials, but the amended bill creates an enormous opening for state-level liability,” said Gaurav Laroia, Free Press Action senior policy counsel, in a statement. “Even as amended today, it invites states to begin passing all sorts of laws under the guise of protecting against abuse, but replicating the problems with the original EARN IT Act’s text.” The ACLU, which says the bill does little to “meaningfully address” the issue of child abuse,” also opposes the new amendments. “While there are significant changes made in the amended version, these changes do not…Continue readingEARN IT Act amendments transfer the fight over Section 230 to the states

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TechCrunch

After reopening, Apple is closing stores in four states as COVID-19 numbers climb – TechCrunch

Apple today confirmed earlier rumors that it plans to shut down re-opened stores in four states.  Impacted locations include six stores in Arizona, two in Florida, another two in North Carolina and one in South Carolina. “Due to current COVID-19 conditions in some of the communities we serve, we are temporarily closing stores in these areas. We take this step with an abundance of caution as we closely monitor the situation and we look forward to having our teams and customers back as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement to TechCrunch. It’s been just over a month since the company began to reopen a handful of locations, as states began wider reopening efforts. The company implemented several safeguards, including mask requirements, temperature checks and enforced social distancing, as well as extended cleaning efforts. “These are not decisions we rush into,” Retail SVP Deirdre O’Brien wrote at the time, “and a store opening in no way means that we won’t take the preventative step of closing it again should local conditions warrant.” One imagines the company will approach re-re-opening the same way. However, several states have posted increases in COVID-19 cases since government began the process of reopening. Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Nevada, Oregon and Texas have all posted record high infection rates in the past week. Given the uncertain nature of the virus’s spread, it seems likely this won’t be the last time Apple and other retailers have to reverse course.    The following locations will be closed, beginning…Continue readingAfter reopening, Apple is closing stores in four states as COVID-19 numbers climb – TechCrunch