Skimm'd while listening to our podcast "Skimm This"

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Skimm'd while listening to our podcast "Skimm This"

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Quote of the Day

"Major loved running around on the South Lawn" – The first lady's office on how the FDOTUS is enjoying the White House. And they call it puppy love.

Feeling Strained

The Story

New coronavirus variants are setting off alarms around the world.

Not again.

First, know that it's normal for viruses to mutate. As the virus spreads, it's making copies of itself and sometimes not all of the same instructions make it into the new copy. So, it becomes a different version (aka a new strain or variant of the virus). Typically, mutations aren't cause for concern because they don't always change how a virus behaves. But there are three new COVID-19 variants stirring things up:

B117 (the UK variant): First detected in the UK in September, the WHO says it has now spread to at least 60 countries. In the US, nearly 300 cases have been reported across 24 states. Scientists believe it is up to 70% more contagious and could be up to 40% more deadly.

B1351 (the South Africa variant): First detected in South Africa in October, it's now spread to about 20 countries. So far, there haven't been any reports of it in the US. Scientists think it is 50% more contagious, but are still gathering data to determine if it's more deadly.

P1 (the Brazil variant): First detected in four travelers from Brazil in Japan earlier this month. But researchers reportedly came across the variant in their data last year. Aside from Japan and Brazil, this variant has also been reported in Peru, Germany, and South Korea. Yesterday, Minnesota health officials reported the first case of P1 in the US from someone who'd recently traveled to Brazil. Scientists think it could be more contagious, but are still looking into it.

These sound like secret codes.

Health experts are still trying to crack them. Vaccine makers, too. Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have said their vaccines should be effective against new strains (including B117). But scientists worry that mutations in South Africa and Brazil variants could allow the virus to say 'not interested' to antibodies. Meaning: if you've had COVID-19 before or if you've gotten the vaccine, there's a possibility you could still get infected with B1351 or P1. Moderna's developing two booster shots: one to combat B1351 and one to fight against future mutations. And Pfizer-BioNTech says it could adjust its vaccine, but it would take weeks. Meanwhile, the US isn't taking any chances.

Go on...

Yesterday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order extending travel restrictions because of the coronavirus. They affect most of Europe, Brazil, and South Africa. And as of today, all other international air travelers will have to show a negative COVID-19 test to enter the US. This comes as the US continues to face hiccups in its largest vaccine campaign ever. Over the weekend, the CDC director said the fed gov didn't know how many doses the US has in its stockpile. And Merck (a pharma co) said it was dropping its two new potential vaccines because of poor immune response.


Vaccines are critical to ending this pandemic, helping the economy recover, and getting people closer to 'normal.' But even with the vaccines, the virus appears to be throwing in more curveballs that the world will have to overcome.

And Also...This

What's saying 'reverse, reverse'...

The Biden admin. Yesterday, President Biden signed an executive order repealing a Trump admin policy that banned transgender people from serving in the military. In 2016, the Obama admin announced transgender individuals would be allowed to serve openly in the armed forces. But a year later, then-President Trump reversed the move, saying trans people would "burden" the military with medical costs and "disruption." After legal battles, the Supremes gave the ban the go-ahead in 2019. The move reportedly affected up to 15,000 service members. Now, Biden's delivered on his campaign promise to do away with the ban. And is allowing "all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform."

  • Standing together: An LGBTQ+ advocacy group commended the move saying it values "qualifications over discrimination." And The Trevor Project said it sent a message to all transgender people that they had "the right to serve with honor."

...Oh, and speaking of EOs, Biden signed one that encourages the fed gov to buy more American-made products, similarly to what Trump did.

Who's saying 'econo-missed me?'…

Janet Yellen. Yesterday, the Senate confirmed her as the first female Treasury secretary in the country's 232-year history. Yellen has the kind of résumé recruiters dream of: she was chair of the Council of Economic Advisers in the '90s and the first female Fed chair during the Obama admin. Throughout her decades-long career, she's focused on how economics can impact underprivileged and minority communities. And as Fed chair, she was credited with bringing unemployment down while keeping inflation in check. Now, Yellen's taking her expertise to the Treasury, where she'll manage the US's money, oversee the IRS, and serve as the admin's rep to Wall Street.

  • First on her list: tackling the economic recovery. Yellen will be responsible for rallying congressional support for President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. But some Republicans are worried the price tag, coming after two other packages, is too high.
  • Also on the to-do list: create money incentives for clean energy. Decide whether to keep going with Trump admin tariffs on China. Push for the Biden admin's proposed tax raises on the wealthy. Among other things.

What's pressing on…

Trump's impeachment no. 2. Yesterday, House impeachment managers delivered the article of impeachment against the former president to the Senate. Nearly two weeks ago, the House voted to impeach former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" just days before he was scheduled to leave office. Now, it's up to the Senate to decide whether he's guilty (think: a two-thirds majority will convict him). The Senate could also vote to bar him from holding political office again. That vote would only require a simple majority (think: 51 senators).

A DOJ investigation. Yesterday, the Justice Dept's inspector general announced an investigation into whether dept officials (past or present) tried to overturn the 2020 election. The move comes after news outlets reported that then-President Trump considered replacing his AG with someone (hi, Jeffrey Clark) who'd be more willing to try to overturn the election results. Clark has rejected the claims. But the DOJ wants to take a closer look at what was going on.

What's saying 'let's try this again'...

California. Yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) lifted the regional stay-at-home orders that had been in place since last month. Newsom – who's been under pressure to reopen – cited a projected decline in hospitalizations as the reason to bring outdoor dining back and end the nightly curfew. But the news also comes as ICU availability is still at 0% in Southern California.

What's the Patronus we didn't expecto ...

A "Harry Potter" series.

Thing to Know

1 in 3

That's how many Americans said they felt lonely in early April, according to a survey about the impacts of COVID-19. Which is a lot more than the 1 in 5 who reported feeling lonely before anyone had heard of social distancing.

But the Nextdoor app conducted their own study recently. And they found that knowing just six neighbors can reduce the likelihood of feeling lonely. So they launched the KIND (Kindness Is Nextdoor) Challenge to help neighbors get to know each other better. Psst...their app can also help you get local updates, discover nearby businesses, and more. Get the deets here. It's the neighborly thing, after all.

How to Skimm Your Life Challenge

Networking in the Before Times involved coffee or drinks. Now it involves screens...aka the thing we all want to get away from. But, silver lining: It's easier than ever to network. No excuses.

Your challenge today: Reach out to three people you want to get back in touch with. It's too easy to put this off, but you have nothing to lose. For tips on how to network virtually, check out our guide. And take a look at our past challenges here.


Here are our favorite picks to help you take a break today…

1. 14 clever products that'll quickly organize your home. This list has a battery bin, a magnetic rack that'll attach to your fridge, and drawer dividers to keep your clothes neatly folded. Less mess, less stress.

2. A meal kit company that does the hard work for you. They deliver fresh, pre-proportioned ingredients to your door. So you can easily make home-cooked meals in 30ish minutes. Seriously. Aaand Skimm'rs get $90 off. Get in on it.*

3. Underwear that's on a mission. To fit you perfectly...and help give back. This brand just launched undies in seven inclusive sizes and six nude shades. For every pair you buy, they donate a pair to someone in need. Get 20% off your first order.*

PS: Want more? Sign up to get weekly recs in your inbox.

*PS: This is a sponsored post.


For when you want to invest, but not all by yourself...

This free app's got you. It makes the stock market social, so you can collaborate with other investors instead of competing with them. And build a portfolio that feels right for you. Get started.*†

*PS: This is a sponsored post.

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We like to celebrate the wins, big and small. Let us know how your friends, neighbors, coworkers (and yes, even you) are making career moves, checking off goals, or making an impact in the community.

Brownie points for...Anya G (MD). She and her friend co-run "Food for the Flock" at Salisbury University. It provides quality and nutritious foods for students experiencing food insecurity. And with the help of volunteers, the pantry has been able to stay open during the pandemic.

Full of wonder...Charlotte M (CO). She's written and illustrated a girl-empowering children's story called "Wonder Up! How to Run Like a Girl." It's a semi-true story about how a young girl prepares for her first race, learning grit, determination, and more. Bookmark it.

(Some) Birthdays...Chelsea Wheeler (NY), Whitney Yount (MD), Mille Davis Alderman (AR), Maridee Charlton (CA), Kera Recce (PA), Cristina Ramos (NY), Ely Cabrera (NY), Chris Fretz (NJ), Alex Melton (CA), Miral Gothi (NJ), Niccole Wilson (IL), Donna Grosser (FL), Niccole Wilson (IL), Kayla Holley (TX), Isabel Ramirez (PA)

*Paging all members of theSkimm. Reach out here for a chance to be featured.

Skimm’d by Maria del Carmen Corpus, Mariza Smajlaj, Clem Robineau, and Julie Shain