Polaris Week of 5/3/2021

I’m Ellen, your newsletter writer, here to provide you with a weekly line to The North Star and the news. Here, we’ll break down big events worldwide and keep you updated on what’s going on right here in Naperville.

First up, coronavirus updates.

More people in the U.S. are getting vaccinated and the FDA is expected to expand the Pfizer vaccine to new age groups.

  • The FDA is expected next week to expand emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to adolescents 12-15 years old after the vaccine was found to be effective and safe for this age group. Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents 12-15 on Wednesday.
  • The number of doses administered has fallen slightly in the U.S. to a daily average of 2.13 million doses. 148.6 million people have gotten at least one dose and 107.3 million people fully vaccinated. This accounts for 56% of adults vaccinated with at least one dose.
  • Pfizer is also expected to ask for emergency use authorization for children 2-11 years old in September.
  • President Biden also announced that he wants people to be able to walk into pharmacies for vaccinations as opposed to having to make an appointment. He also wants more pop-up and rural clinics to target under-vaccinated populations.
  • Internationally, India is still struggling with a Covid surge, with total cases in the country above 20 million on Tuesday and deaths passing 220,000. On Tuesday, there were 382,146 new cases and 3,780 deaths. India’s foreign minister could not attend an in-person G-7 meeting on Wednesday after some members of India’s delegation were Covid positive.
  • Elsewhere, the number of people requiring urgent food aid in 55 countries reached 155 million in 2020, which is a five year high. This number includes 28 million people who are one step away from starvation and 133,000 who are at the “Catastrophe” level of food insecurity and with widespread death and loss of livelihoods likely should immediate action not be taken. Conflict is the highest driver of acute food insecurity, but economic stresses, many due to Covid, was the second leading cause.
  • Covid has also exacerbated a shortage of 900,000 midwives, disrupting midwifery services and diverting midwives to other health services. Full midwife care could stop 67% of maternal deaths and over 64% of newborn and stillbirth deaths, saving 4.3 million lives per year.

Next, what an unexpected divorce means for the Gates Foundation.

On May 3, world-renowned philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced that he and his wife, Melinda Gates, would be carrying out their divorce after a marriage of 27 years. The unexpected statement to the public has since sparked concerns over what would become of the nonprofit Gates Foundation and the couple’s vast fortune.

  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, first established in 2000, stands as one of the biggest philanthropies in the world, with a $50 billion net worth and donations of $5 billion each year to global public health and child education.
  • Currently, the Foundation has no plans to discontinue its work following the split of the former couple bearing its name. Chief Executive Mark Suzman released an email to the staff on Monday to affirm that both Bill and Melinda will remain in their roles as co-chairs and trustees.
  • On the flipside of those scrambling to find out what the divorce means for the philanthropy, finance, technology and global health industries, others are wondering what will become Xanadu 2.0, the Gates’ $131 million Seattle suburban estate. Mrs. Gates is known to have expressed her desires for a smaller home, and this could be the chance for Mr. Gates to revamping the current estate into the smart home of the future he’s been advocating for since 1994.
  • Melinda Gates could still stand as a major philanthropic force after going through the divorce, having already made donations of $1 billion to the women’s economic empowerment movement in 2019 via her investment office, Pivotal Ventures.
  • The Gates are reported to already have a separation contract in place to stipulate how assets will be divided -- a process already predicted to be complicated, as the couple’s divorce settlement could potentially yield even more than Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s divorce with former wife Mackenzie Scott. According to predictions from Forbes, Melinda Gates could walk out with a net worth of $65.25 billion.
  • Overall, the divorce is looking to be relatively civil and drama-free. The issued separation contract promotes “the amicable settlement of disputes,” and with the sheer amount of assets and wealth on the table, it is unlikely that the couple will be leaving on antagonistic terms. Note that it is unlikely for the details of the contract or terms of the divorce to be publicly revealed.

Finally, a new way to get rid of those pesky mosquitoes.

Finally, all your updates on the Oscars.

After a decade of seeking legal approval and battling public outcry, British biotech firm Oxitec has released the first genetically modified mosquitoes in the US in an effort to suppress populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in the Florida Keys.

  • The invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito can carry diseases like Zika, dengue and yellow fever, and predominantly breed on shallow water surfaces in urban areas. Consequently, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control dedicates more than $1 million per year, a tenth of its budget, to fighting Aedes aegypti, which represents 1% of the mosquito population.
  • Oxitec’s OX5034 mosquito is designed to spread a gene that selectively kills females, the only ones that bite humans and have potential to spread viruses. The gene triggers a kill switch during the larval stages of female growth while remaining dormant in males, who spread the gene to their offspring.
  • Field trials of OX513A, Oxitec’s initial gender-neutral genetic genocider, in the Cayman Islands, Panama, Malaysia, and Brazil have returned significant success rates. One suburb in Brazil, for example, saw a 95% suppression of the local Aedes aegypti population.
  • The result of this test in the Keys has the potential to reshape the American approach to insect control by presenting an alternative to harmful chemical insecticides in environments in which genetic engineering is viable.

Take a look at the North Star's latest edition of The NOW, the first one in over a year.

This week, Polaris Recipes presents: Three Recipes to Spice Up Your Oatmeal:

Oatmeal makes for the perfect, complete breakfast before school. These three recipes take it to the next level and will surely brighten up your morning. Pick your favorite and get cooking!

Berry Blast:

  • one cup frozen mixed berries
  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • top with fresh and frozen fruit

Directions: Heat berries in a pan on medium heat until they are slightly mushy. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Add ½ cup oats and heat until desired consistency, about 5 minutes. Remove from stove and place in a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon brown sugar and top with a mix of fresh and frozen berries.

Apple Cinnamon:

  • 1 apple diced
  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions: Combine diced apple and maple syrup in a pan and heat on medium until apples are soft. Remove from the pan and save for later. Bring 1 cup water to a boil then add the ½ cup oats and cook on medium for 5 minutes. Remove and place in a bowl. Stir in cooked apple and cinnamon and enjoy.

Chocolate Banana Peanut butter:

  • 1 banana mashed
  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips

Directions: Bring 1 cup water to a boil and then add ½ oats and cook on medium for five minutes. Lower heat and add in mashed banana. Cook for two minutes then remove from heat and place in a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and mix well. Top with peanut butter and chocolate chips.

This week in Naperville North news....

For movie reviews, sports news, and all the latest updates, take a closer look at The North Star website.

This week's news was written by Zea, Jeanine, Randy, and Ellen

And after all that news...

Take a break with this week's mini crossword puzzle from our Graphic's editor, Faith. One of the clues? A hat, or covering.

Want to know more?

Check out the North Star website for more in-depth stories, and Heads Up Huskies.

One last thing: Polaris is taking the next two weeks off as we restructure and switch over to a new editor. I've really enjoyed writing, and I can't wait to see what the new team does when we come back the week of May 24.

Thank you for joining us here at Polaris, and we look forward to bringing you more news after the break.

- Ellen