Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for all 40 million residents of the country’s most populous state until further notice in an effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Workers in businesses providing "essential services" including grocery stores, gas stations and banks are exempt. Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also issued an executive order requiring workers in non-essential businesses to stay home as the state contends with 7,102 positive coronavirus cases, 2,950 of which are new. Additionally, the governor banned non-essential gatherings of any size.
Goldman Sachs released a grim outlook for the American workforce as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that has shuttered many businesses across the country. The investment firm estimates that as many as 2 million people could file for unemployment benefits this week alone. The state of California, where roughly 2,000 people apply for unemployment on a typical day, saw 190,000 applications in a three-day period. Illinois reported a tenfold increase from the year before and Connecticut saw 20 times as many claims over the week prior. Even more unsettling, these numbers may underestimate the extent of joblessness as non-working independent contractors (i.e., actors, rideshare drivers, fitness instructions, etc) are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
Reports estimate that 960,000 U.S. coronavirus patients may need to be put on ventilators over the course of the outbreak, but the nation only has about 200,000 of them available. Idled automakers could soon reopen their factories and call back workers to manufacture these lifesaving machines. Executives at General Motors and Ford have had discussions with U.S. government leaders about using their skills in plastics and electronics to help in alleviating the ventilator shortage. Elon Musk also tweeted that both Tesla and SpaceX are ready to lend a hand by leveraging their expertise in creating sophisticated HVAC and life support systems.
Quarantines are nothing new for NASA. Astronauts headed into space already undergo a two-week quarantine called “health stabilization” to ensure crew members aren’t incubating any illnesses before rocketing into space. Right now, the space agency is continuing with its plans of launching a crewed mission to the International Space Station on April 9th. The trip will be via Russian Soyuz rocket taking off out of Kazakhstan. There’s also the heavily-anticipated mission with SpaceX slated for May, which is set to be the first manned launch by a private American company. Operations are preceding as usual, although NASA continues to assess the ever-changing conditions in light of the pandemic.
If you're an engineer with brilliant ideas on designing sensors capable of withstanding the extreme conditions found on the surface of Venus, then NASA wants to hear from you right now. The agency is making plans to deploy a land rover to the Venusian surface where the vehicle will ride through, in their words, hell. This hellscape includes volcanic activity, lava flows, 840 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, and pressure so immense it can crush a nuclear submarine. The last mission to Venus was the Soviet Union's Vega 2, which, like all other landers, quickly succumbed to the extreme conditions. First place for the winning sensor idea will be awarded $15,000, with awards of $10,000 and $5,000 going to second and third place respectively. Submissions are due by May 29th. Winners will be announced in July.
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