The Atlantic Daily: 3 Things to Know About COVID-19

A little more than a week is left in the year that became defined by the coronavirus.

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A little more than a week is left in the year that became defined by COVID-19. Here are three important things to know about the coronavirus right now.

1. Sleep could be a key to ending the pandemic.

“Several mysteries of how COVID-19 works converge on the question of how the disease affects our sleep, and how our sleep affects the disease,” our health staff writer, and resident doctor, James Hamblin writes.

2. This virus is showing Black people what they knew all along.

“More than 50,000 Black Americans are now dead from COVID-19, according to data from the COVID Racial Data Tracker,” Patrice Peck, the founder of the newsletter Coronavirus for Black Folks, writes. “The virus has exposed and targeted all of the disparities that come along with being Black in America.”

3. California has lost control.

“It’s a shocking turn of events for ... a huge state that, not long ago, had better control of—or luck with—the virus than much of the country,” Whet Moser reports.


One question, answered: What do the COVID-19 vaccine’s side effects feel like? Sarah Zhang explains:

For a fraction of people, getting these first COVID-19 vaccines could be unpleasant—more than the usual unpleasantness of getting a shot. They might make you feel sick for a day or two, even though they contain no whole viruses to actually infect you. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are quite “reactogenic”—meaning they stimulate a strong immune response that can cause temporary but uncomfortable sore arms, fevers, chills, and headaches. In other words, getting them might suck a little, but it’s nowhere near as bad as COVID-19 itself.

Reactogenicity happens to some degree with all vaccines and is not in itself a safety concern.

Continue reading.

What to read if … you’re looking to better understand the current state of the outbreak:

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved isolation activity:

Take a nap. “If you have space for oblivion in your day, a sleep pocket, jump into it, by God; seize the nap. Mix yourself recklessly with insensibility.” In times like these, James Parker writes, what a joy it is to sleep.

Today’s break from the news:

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is an August Wilson work onscreen in its truest form, Hannah Giorgis writes.

It’s one of two Netflix films that honor the late playwright’s rejection of white commercial restrictions, the English professor Daniel Pollack-Pelzner notes.

Thanks for reading. This email was written by Caroline Mimbs Nyce, with help from Haley Weiss.

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