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Polaris Week of 11/16/2020

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, the coronavirus shows no signs of abating.

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S:

  • The U.S. is experiencing a deadly fall surge. Many states have implemented mask mandates, and New Mexico and the territory of Puerto Rico have implemented a stay-at-home order. California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Kentucky have issued stay-at-home advisories.
  • In Illinois, total deaths reached 11,000 on Wednesday. Because of this, Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced new restrictions, including limiting capacity at shops and closing casinos and other indoor venues. Pritzker has also advised avoiding unnecessary gatherings, especially as Thanksgiving approaches. Chicago Public Schools announced that they would remain remote until after the new year, returning to a hybrid model on Jan. 11. The IHSA announced on Nov. 17 that Pritzker will pause the winter sports season.
  • Because of the overwhelming amount of COVID-19 cases, hospitals nationwide have started converting cafeterias, parking garages and waiting rooms into treatment areas.

On a related note, the search for a vaccine takes an unexpected turn.

The cost of a COVID-19 vaccine is moving beyond our species.

  • The liver oil found in sharks, known as squalene, can augment the effectiveness of vaccines by boosting the immune system. As biotech companies around the world race to develop a covid vaccine, at least 5 of the 202 candidates utilize squalene sourced from wild caught sharks.
  • Of the tens of millions of sharks caught and traded each year, legally and illegally, around three million are harvested for their squalene. A potential increase in the demand for squalene as a COVID-19 necessity could be catastrophic for the vulnerable shark populations that supply it.
  • In order to survive under thousands of atmospheres of pressure, deep water shark species contain the most squalene and thus are the most targeted; many are also considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, like the whale shark, longfin mako and the scalloped hammerhead. Because of their slow maturation and reproductive cycles, these deep water species are more susceptible to rapid population decline due to overfishing.
  • Some companies have started exploring more sustainable sources of squalene. Plants like sugarcane, olives, amaranth seeds and rice bran all contain the substance, but are still undergoing clinical trials and pending approval from agencies like the FDA for final use in vaccines

Finally, NASA's SpaceX flight.

This week in Naperville North news....

Next week starts Thanksgiving break. Don't forget to sign in for asynchronous Monday, and enjoy the time off.

There won't be a newsletter next week, but we look forward to bringing you more news when we come back.

This week's news was written by Randy, Zayna, Peter and Ellen.

And after all that news...

Take a break with this week's mini crossword puzzle from our graphics editor, Faith. One of the clues? The "C" in AOC.

Want to know more?

Check out the North Star website for more in-depth stories, and Heads Up Huskies on Instagram for your Naperville North updates.

Thank you for joining us here at Polaris, and I look forward to bringing you more news soon.

- Ellen