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No vaccine, no carnival, Rio’s samba schools warn

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Some of Rio’s biggest samba schools say they will not participate in next year’s Carnival unless a coronavirus vaccine is widely available, Brazilian media reported Tuesday.

Five of the 12 top samba schools, including Mangueira and Beija Flor, told Brazil’s O Globo newspaper they would vote to postpone the parades at a meeting set for Tuesday.

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“It’s simple. If there’s no vaccine, there will be no samba,” said the head of the Sao Clemente school, Renatinho Gomes.

“How can you gather crowds without collective immunity?”

The mayor of the northwestern city of Salvador de Bahia, where festivities also attract thousands of tourists, has proposed postponing the carnival season nationwide until April or June.

However samba school directors remain doubtful about fixing a date without a vaccine.

“Without a vaccine, it is impossible to organize the carnival on any day, be it February or June,” said Fernando Fernandes, director of Vila Isabel school.

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He said schools could also find themselves exposed to a court ruling which could cancel festivities at the last minute.

“Once we’ve made heavy investments, the infections curve could rise again and the courts could step in to suspend” the parades, he said.

The sumptuous parades and monumental floats attract tens of thousands of tourists to Rio for the carnival every February.

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Each school parades with nearly 3,000 costumed members, dancing close together in the purpose-built Sambodrome.

But the close proximity of dancers and spectators in the tumult of the carnival poses a massive problem for organizers.

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“How are we going to do it? With a distance of two meters between the dancers? Everybody singing in masks?” asked Fernandes.

“How heavy would it weigh on a school director’s conscience if he saw about 50 members of his school die after the parade?” said Elias Riche, president of Mangueira.

Rio’s health ministry reported more than 132,000 infections and more than 11,400 deaths from COVID-19 by Tuesday.

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However, the daily death toll has been gradually tailing off over recent weeks, with 59 over the past 24 hours.

Shops and restaurants have gradually been reopening, though schools remain closed.

Two vaccines under development are currently being tested on thousands of volunteers in Brazil, one of the countries worst-hit by the pandemic.

Overall, Brazil has nearly 1.9 million cases and nearly 73,000 deaths.

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The most optimistic forecasts are for a vaccine to be developed and in distribution by early 2021.


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‘That’s not true’: CNN host disputes ex-Trump adviser who says ‘typical’ family won’t work because of $600 checks

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Former White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett claimed on Tuesday that a "typical median family" is being paid $90,000 to stay home during the pandemic if they are receiving the $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits.

In an interview on CNN, host Poppy Harlow challenged the former Trump adviser when he downplayed the urgency of extending the unemployment benefits.

"You and I don't rely on $600 a week to pay our rent or feed our family," Harlow explained. "That's not our situation. But for millions of Americans, it is. And they stopped getting those checks on Friday and that's why I don't think it's too far to say that it's a failure [of government]."

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The loneliness of social isolation can affect your brain and raise dementia risk in older adults

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Physical pain is unpleasant, yet it’s vital for survival because it’s a warning that your body is in danger. It tells you to take your hand off a hot burner or to see a doctor about discomfort in your chest. Pain reminds us all that we need to take care of ourselves.

Feeling lonely is the social equivalent to feeling physical pain. It even triggers the same pathways in the brain that are involved in processing emotional responses to physical pain.

Just like feeling physical pain, feeling lonely and disconnected from others is also a signal that we need to take care of ourselves by seeking the safety and comfort of companionship. But what happens when we are unable to find companionship and the loneliness persists?

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‘Would be comical if it didn’t involve real lives’: Trump interview spotlights deadly failure of his COVID-19 response

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"If you wrote this as grotesque farce" for a movie script, wrote actor and progressive activist John Cusack, "no one would believe it."

In an interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios that aired late Monday, President Donald Trump sputtered, declared "You can't do that," and continued trying to downplay the massive and rising coronavirus death toll when confronted with the fact the U.S. has a higher mortality rate by percentage of population than major countries like South Korea and Germany.

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