Papal Letter of Pope Francis Sparks Conversation

By Clare Kelly

On Sept. 5, The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will release his new encyclical on Oct. 4 of this year, reported the Catholic News Agency. The subject-matter of this papal letter was released days later with discussions emerging around the world about the nature of the papal letter.  As the Catholic News Agency says, “The Holy See press office said Sept. 16 that the encyclical “Fratelli tutti,” on fraternity and social friendship, would be issued at noon Rome time on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.” Earlier this month, The Vatican released information that Pope Francis would sign “the third encyclical of his pontificate during a visit to Assisi on Oct. 3” detailed by the Catholic New Agency. As explained by Andrea Tornielli’s Article, “An Encyclical for all brothers and sisters,” “Fratelli tutti” comes from Saint Francis of Assis, whose name Pope Francis chose upon his election to the pontificate. The title comes from St. Francis’s Admonitions, which, according to the Irish Franciscans of Mission is one of the nine writings St. Francis wrote in his lifetime. 

Tornielli brings to light the debate that’s emerged around the “circular letter” (the meaning of encyclical). St. Francis’s writing addresses the brothers, which brought speculation about Pope Francis’s usage of the word. But, as stated by “America,” The Jesuit Review, the Vatican and editorial clarifies that the encyclical “addresses all his sisters and brothers, all men and women of goodwill who populate the earth: everyone, inclusively, and no way exclusively.” According to America, this editorial, written by Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of Vatican News,  responds to “the discussion and contestation of the title by a number of people in the Anglophone world, and especially in the United States, where the title “Fratelli tutti” was perceived as referring only to men, with some decrying it as misogynist.” Tornielli emphasizes that the Pope has no intention of changing the title, but that the title has no intentions of excluding women. 

Andrea Tornielli says Pope Francis, “chose the words of the Saint of Assisi to initiate a reflection on something he cares about very deeply: namely, fraternity and social friendship.” Tornielli explains that the subtitles, fraternity and social friendship, show that there’s a “necessary affection established between people even if it does not close blood relatives. The relationship must be expressed through kind deeds, forms of assistance, works of justice and generous action in times of need—a disinterested affection towards other human beings, regardless of any difference or affiliation.” 

According to the National Catholic Agency, Pope Francis has focused much attention to the theme of human fraternity. In recent years, “the pope signed, ‘A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together’ during a trip to Abu Dhabi in Feb. 2019,” and “Pope Francis’ message for his first World Day of Peace as pope in 2014 was ‘Fraternity, foundation and pathway for peace.’” 

Pope Francis plans to hold Mass at St. Francis’s tomb in Assisi on October 3 and sign the encyclical letter.

Congress Returns From August Recess

Written By: Hannah Yale

Congress returned from its month-long recess on September 8 with a packed agenda. The House and the Senate only have several weeks left before the November election to tackle topics like COVID-19 financial relief, legalization of marijuana and the U.S. Postal Service. 

Since the first round of stimulus checks went out in April, congressional leaders have been unable to reach a bipartisan compromise on providing further relief to Americans financially affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Many lawmakers and members of the public are skeptical that another deal will be reached anytime soon.

The House of Representatives plans to vote on the MORE Act for the federal legalization of marijuana during the week of September 21. Marijuana is currently listed on the federal list of controlled substances as a Schedule-One drug. The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the controlled substances list and expunge some marijuana-related criminal records, however, individual states would still be in charge of passing their own regulations regarding the sale of marijuana. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told USA TODAY earlier this month that it is likely that the MORE Act will pass in the House, but it is doubtful that it will make progress in the Senate.

U.S. Senators, Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey, recently released the results of their investigation into the changes to the Postal Service, implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Their investigation shows that his policies have caused “significant delays” in the delivery of mail-order prescriptions. These delays pose severe health risks to millions of Americans and put seniors and those with pre-existing conditions in serious danger. The delays in USPS delivery also pose a potential threat to the upcoming election, as a significantly higher number of voters will be mailing their ballots because of COVID-19.

Congress must pass a continuing resolution to fund the government and have it signed by the President by September 30 to avoid a government shutdown. If a continuing resolution does not pass by the deadline, the U.S. could sink even deeper into financial crisis and societal chaos as the coronavirus remains uncontrolled.

Belarus Protesters Demand Presidential Resignation; Putin and EU Butt Heads

Written By: Charlotte MacKay 

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered throughout Belarus in September, continuing the string of over a month’s long protests calling for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. The mass protests object to the allegedly rigged reelection of Lukashenko to the nation’s presidency and have garnered both regional and international support.

Lukashenko first rose to power in Belarus in 1994 where he served five consecutive terms (26 years) until August 9, when protests arose over his reelection to a sixth term. According to the AP News and World Report, Lukashenko claimed to gain 80% support in a free election. The claim sparked nationwide protests as people alleged that the election was rigged and called for a removal of Lukashenko from office. The resulting protests began in August and continued through September, with a record number of protesters marching in city streets all throughout the country.

Much of the action has been centered around the Belarus capital of Minsk, where over 7,000 have been arrested and the area around the presidential palace is blocked off, according to the AP News and World Report. Despite blockades guarded by security guards wielding water guns, protests show no sign of abating. “This sea of ​​people cannot be stopped by military equipment, water cannons, propaganda and arrests. Most Belarusians want a peaceful change of power and we will not get tired of demanding this,” Maria Kolesnikova, a leader of the protestor’s newly formed representative council, told the Associated Press. Kolesnikova has since been caught and arrested by Belarusian  authorities and charged with “actions aimed at undermining Belarusian national security.”

Tensions between the protestors and presidential supporters escalated in early September when Lukashenko met with President Putin, from the neighboring country of Russia. Moscow openly backs Lukashenko’s claim to the presidency and has accused the US of intentionally sparking protests in Belarus. The meeting between Putin and Lukashenko resulted in a $1.5 billion loan of support to the displaced president, according to Reuters news.

In response to Moscow’s open support and the continuing protests, the European Union (EU) called for economic sanctions to be placed on Lukashenko and announced their rejection of his presidency.  “Once the term of office for the incumbent authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko expires on 5 November, parliament will no longer recognize him as the president of the country,” the EU parliament said in a statement. The vote against Lukashenko shows a strong rejection of his presidency, with 574 EU parliament votes in favor of sanctions, 37 against, and 82 abstentions.
While the EU Parliament vote is not binding and does not yet carry any direct consequences for Lukashenko, it comes with the potential for future economic and political support and sanctions. The most concrete of this potential support is a Polish bill proposing that at least $1 billion of EU funds be invested in the “stabilization of Belarus.” The plan, which is already endorsed by several EU members, will be formally proposed around September 24-25, according to Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki. Meanwhile, protests continue to swarm cities in Belarus as opposition leaders are arrested at high rates and the country faces governmental internet shutdowns in response to the protests.

What’s Going on in Portland?

Written By: Hannah Yale

Since the police-instigated murder of George Floyd took place in Minneapolis at the end of May, protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement have been consistently taking place in locations all around the country. In Portland, Oregon, protests have occurred every night for over 100 days consecutively and have resulted in several dozens of injuries and arrests, as well as one death. 

A graphic from the City of Portland shows that between May 29 and September 3, the Portland Police Bureau declared 25 riots. According to NPR, Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Chris Davis defines a riot as “when six or more persons engage in tumultuous and violent conduct.” The graphic from the Portland Police Bureau also records location, number of arrests, and whether protestors lit fires or fireworks, threw projectiles, or vandalized property during each protest. The graphic does not specify at which protests police fired tear gas or rubber bullets.

NPR news conducted an independent review of the arrests made at or connected with the protests in Portland and found that more than 70% of the total charged cases are not for felonies. Of the 74 cases charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon as of August 28, 11 are for citations, 42 are for misdemeanors, and 21 are for felonies. The federal felony charges are primarily for arson or assault of a federal officer. After President Trump sent masses of federal law enforcement to Portland in July, the downtown area surrounding the city’s federal buildings became the primary location of the protests. It is at these demonstrations that federal officers used unmarked vehicles to detain protesters. 

Several personal accounts and videos posted online show demonstrators being approached by unmarked vehicles and detained by armed federal officers wearing camouflage fatigues. Some of the individuals arrested in this manner have spoken out to the press. Evelyn Bassi, Mark Pettibone, John Hacker, and Tawasi (a Native American Portland resident with no last name) gave detailed accounts of their experiences in an interview with the Washington Post. In each of these four instances, the individuals involved were taken into custody based on inaccurate or insufficient information to charge them with a crime. 

On July 15, at approximately 1:55 a.m., Bassi was taken into a vehicle and interrogated for roughly 10 minutes before being dropped off in a different part of town. The same night, about 30 minutes later, Mark Pettibone was picked up by federal agents and put into custody in a vehicle that appeared from security camera footage to be the same make and model as the van that took Bassi. Pettibone claims that he was taken to a garage and led to a wall, where the agents “took [his] picture several times with a phone.” They then searched Pettibone’s backpack and placed him in a cell in the building connected to the garage. Pettibone stated that the officers read him his rights but abstained from telling him why he was being arrested and did not remember them telling him explicitly, “You are under arrest.” He was held in the cell for two hours and released without explanation. After Pettibone spoke out publicly about his arrest, the Oregon Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that federal officers who arrested protesters without a warrant violated both the individual protestors’ rights and the sovereignty of the state of Oregon. However, a federal judge denied the request, ruling that the state did not have a strong enough interest to sue on behalf of protestors. 

On August 29, one person was shot and killed in Portland during a series of confrontations between a 600-vehicle caravan of people participating in what the organizers titled the Trump 2020 Cruise Rally and groups of counter-protesters gathered in downtown Portland. Multiple videos posted to Twitter show members of the Trump Cruise Rally firing paintballs and pepper spray at the surrounding protesters. The shooting victim, Aaron Danielson, was a participant in the caravan and a member of the alt-right group Patriot Prayer. A Facebook Livestream video filmed by an independent journalist, Justin Dunlap, shows a man dressed in white approaching Danielson at a confrontation between groups. Dunlap’s video shows Danielson raising his arm and spraying a pepper spray-like substance, and gunshots are fired immediately after. Danielson died at the scene.

Five days after the deadly confrontation, Portland Police issued an arrest warrant for Michael Reinoehl for the murder of  Danielson. Reinoehl, a self-described anti-fascist, told Vice News in an exclusive interview that he shot at someone during the Trump caravan protests on August 29. Just hours after the interview appeared online, Reinoehl was killed by law enforcement during an attempted arrest in Olympia, Washington. The U.S. Marshall released a statement about the incident claiming that the officers “attempted to peacefully arrest  [Reinoehl]” but that “the suspect produced a firearm” and subsequently, the officers involved “responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.” A conflicting eyewitness account, first reported by The Oregonian, contradicts the official police narrative. Nate Dinguss says that Reinoehl was walking to his car holding a cell phone and eating a gummy worm when federal authorities opened fire without announcing their presence or attempting to arrest Reinoehl. Two other witnesses told the Olympian that they saw Reinoehl pull out a gun before the police began shooting, but Dinguss asserts that he never saw Reinoehl with a weapon. The investigation into Reinoehl’s death is ongoing. 

The incidents of fatality and arrest that have occurred at the Portland demonstrations have not discouraged people from continuing to protest. The civil unrest continues with no end in sight.

The 2020 Presidential Election: Where We Stand

Written By: Emma Carroll

As November draws closer, both Democratic and Republican campaigns have begun the final stretch of campaigning before voting officially starts. The recent GOP convention and the release of Bob Woodward’s book “Rage” have done little to raise or lower Donald Trump’s favorability. By contrast, Joe Biden is heavily favored to win on Election Day according to polling aggregation website, FiveThirtyEight.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states are encouraging voters to request mail-in ballots. According to state election authorities, Democrats have a 3-to-1 lead over Republicans in mail-in vote requests. In addition, Democrats who did not vote in 2016 are requesting mail-in ballots for 2020. This information is particularly concerning to Republicans, who are relying on their voters showing up in-person on Election Day. President Trump has lambasted mail-in voting, claiming that the mail-in ballots will allow for widespread voter fraud. Trump’s claims about mail-in voting during his rallies have been riddled with inaccuracies. In North Carolina, he urged voters to vote once using the mail-in system, and once in person to test the system. Woodward’s “Rage”  has claimed that Trump knew that COVID-19 was much more deadly than the flu, and is an airborne virus. Trump has previously dismissed the seriousness of the coronavirus and treated mask-wearing with disdain. As of the writing of this article, roughly 194,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. 

Both of these recent events have led to polls reflecting the drop in approval for President Trump. After both Republican and Democratic National Conventions, both candidates got a small boost. Only Joe Biden, however, has gotten more popular. The polls conducted for Biden after the conventions gave him a 48% favorable rating and a 46% unfavorable rating. There is a 4-point increase in net favorability in the same polls before the conventions were held. While the uptick in point margins is small, it demonstrates an upward trend. While Biden left the conventions a bit more popular, Trump’s rating did not change from before the conventions. In past elections, favorability ratings have fluctuated by as much as 6.4% between post-convention polls and final polls. This means that there is plenty of time for ratings to change; however, the fact that neither candidate got a large or lasting boost from the conventions suggests that Americans are set in their choices for the election. The latest polls, as shown by FiveThirtyEight, project Biden with an average 7 to 8 point lead.

The 2020 election forecast, from FiveThirtyEight, shows Biden as favored to win the election. As a result of the 2016 elections, some swing states have turned very sharply. For some states, this was a significant departure from how they had voted in the past. While not all of these states are known as swing states, they indicate a swift change in how residents are voting. Based on the 2016 electoral map, the expectation by political analysts is that most states will shift again in 2020 although less drastically. This election is also expected to demonstrate further changes in future elections, potentially changing the electoral map in a way that has not been seen before. States to keep an eye on in the 2020 Presidential Election will be Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. All of these states collectively represent 127 electoral votes. 

The most important message for voters to remember is that every vote counts. Of course, that is always the case, but we have never faced a political situation the likes of which we are currently facing. Every American should take a deep look at their desires for the future, and think seriously about which candidate is best suited to not only lead our country but lead us into a future in which we can be proud of our accomplishments.

Possibility of Life Detected on Venus

Written By: Kristina Norgard

Venus, one of our closest neighbors–in the solar system, that is. On Monday, Sept. 14, researchers from Cardiff University, UK, did not actually discover life, but merely a sign that draws on the possibility of life on the planet, Venus. This sign is the discovery of a gas called phosphine. Reuters reports “that on Earth phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments,” which means that if phosphine is on Venus, there might be living bacteria on Venus producing it. 

BBC reports the gas is found on Earth in places “with microbes living in the guts of animals like penguins, or in oxygen-poor environments such as swamps ”; it’s  “a molecule made up of one phosphorus atom and three hydrogen atoms.”

One of the co-authors of the study, Clara Sousa-Silva, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology molecular astrophysicist, noted to Reuters that “I should emphasize that life, as an explanation for our discovery, should be, as always, the last resort,” Sousa-Silva added. “This is important because, if it is phosphine, and if it is life, it means that we are not alone. It also means that life itself must be very common, and there must be many other inhabited planets throughout our galaxy.” However, the BBC did report that there still is a strong possibility for the source of phosphine on Venus to be some kind of life. “Given everything we know about Venus and the conditions that exist there, no-one has yet been able to describe an abiotic pathway to phosphine, not in the quantities that have been detected. This means a life source deserves consideration.”

Professor Jane Greaves, from Cardiff University, told BBC News, “Through my whole career I have been interested in the search for life elsewhere in the Universe, so I’m just blown away that this is even possible.” Greaves added, . ” [b]ut, yes, we are genuinely encouraging other people to tell us what we might have missed. Our paper and data are open access; this is how science works.” The paper was published in the journal Nature Astronomy on September 14. The team of researchers, however, is not at all claiming that they discovered life on Venus. They are actually encouraging more researchers to join them and help them understand what they found and where it comes from. 

However, there are some in the field who remain wary to make claims about the actuality of life on Venus and are more confident in finding life on other planets, such as Professor Lewis Dartnell, an astrobiologist from the University of Westminster, who told the BBC that, “He thinks Mars or the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are a better bet to find life.”

Either way, these are surely exciting advances happening in the various fields of science pertaining to outer space and extraterrestrial life. Regardless of whether or not life is confirmed to be found outside of Earth, it will be surely interesting to see what the future holds for the outcomes of more research for these teams and scientists.

Gender Reveal Party in California Causes Over 19,000 Acre Wildfire

Written By: Hannah Yale

On Saturday, Sept. 5, an expecting couple in Southern California readied the pyrotechnics to reveal to their friends and family the sex of their future child. At approximately 10:23 a.m. the “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” ignited the four-foot-tall grasses at El Dorado Ranch Park about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, according to a statement released by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. More than a week later, what has been titled the El Dorado fire has burnt over 19,000 acres and is only at 66% containment. As of Thursday, September 17, the El Dorado fire has destroyed four homes and six other structures and damaged two homes and four other structures. Almost 3,500 residents in the surrounding community have been evacuated from their homes and more evacuation orders have been released. Twelve people have sustained fire-related injuries; there have been no deaths. 

This is not the first time “Gender reveal parties” have been the cause of wildfires. In 2017, a gender-reveal involving a rifle filled with colored powder and Tannerite, a highly explosive substance, sparked a fire near Green Valley, Arizona. The fire spread to the Colorado National Forest and ultimately consumed over 45,000 acres of land. Humans are responsible for the majority of wildfire ignitions, and according to a study done by the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America, human-prompted climate change caused over half of the documented increases in fuel aridity –the drying out of forests and other burnable ecosystems– since the 1970s and doubled the cumulative forest fire area since 1984. Science has incontrovertibly shown that rapid climate change over the past few decades is the cause of larger, more frequently occurring wildfires in the American West.

As more than a dozen fires rage across the West Coast, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) lists several counties in Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada to have “hazardous air quality” with AQIs between 301 and 500. In the past month, more than 5 million acres total have burned and 33 people have died from fire-related injuries. As wildfire season continues, it is unclear whether these fires will soon be contained or continue to spread.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies at 87

Written By: Devin Garner

On Friday, Sept. 19, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died from complications of cancer. Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement, “Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature.” He goes on to say, “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Ginsburg has served as the associate justice of the Supreme Court since 1993. As only the second woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court and the first Jewish-American female Justice of the Supreme Court, she was a feminist activist who fought for equality. Ginsburg also served as a volunteer attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. She was known for her fiery personality and a willingness to stick up for her beliefs.

While her death leaves an open seat on the Supreme Court, it is important that individuals sit back and appreciate the legacy that she has left throughout the United States. According to NPR, her dying wish was spoken to her granddaughter Clara Spera in which she urged, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Commitment March Takes Place in D.C. 57 Years After Civil Rights March on Washington

By Hannah Yale

On Friday, August 28, thousands of protesters gathered peacefully at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to demand racial justice and lasting reforms within American institutions with a track record of racial discrimination and profiling. Fifty-seven years after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream of racial equality and Black prosperity at the 1963 March on Washington, Americans must still march against police brutality and the violent attacks on people of color that occur in the U.S. every day. 

Friday’s event formally titled the Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks, referred to the police-killing of George Floyd on May 25. The protest mentioned and honored other recent victims of police-instigated murders, including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Jacob Blake,  Wisconsin police shot Blake, a 29-year old Black man, seven times in the back  on August 23. He suffered paralysis from his injuries.  The police officer who fired on Blake, Rusten Sheskey, has not been charged nor removed from the force. 

Several family members of those being honored at the Commitment March participated as guest speakers along with Reverend Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King, III. Sharpton, the founder of the National Action Network, spoke about the importance of following protests with direct legislative action. “Demonstration without legislation will not lead to change,” he said. Rev. Sharpton specifically touched on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R.7120) which has already been passed by the House of Representatives but has yet to be voted on in the Senate. If signed into law, H.R.7120 would implement a wide range of reforms in the American policing system, including requiring police officers to receive training on implicit bias and racial profiling, creating the National Police Misconduct Registry to compile data on police complaints and misconduct across the nation, and limiting qualified immunity as a defense to liability in instances of excessive force. Rev. Sharpton also stressed the cruciality of voting in the upcoming election, declaring passionately “If we gotta march every day, if we gotta vote every day, we will get your knee off our neck. Enough is enough.”

Martin Luther King III, who also spoke about the urgency of voting and the continuing struggle of voter suppression, gave the microphone over to his daughter to briefly address the crowd. Twelve-year-old Yolanda Renee King, who made her own emergence into activism with the March for Our Lives in 2018, spoke about the power of the young generation. “We are going to be the generation that dismantles systemic racism once and for all, now and forever. We are going to be the generation that calls a halt to police brutality and gun violence, once and for all, now and forever. We are going to be the generation that reserves climate change and saves our planet, once and for all, now and forever. And we are going to be the generation that ends poverty here in America, the wealthiest nation on earth, once and for all, now and forever,” she said. “We are the great gems of our grandparents, great-grandparents and all our ancestors. We stand and march for love, and we will fulfill my grandfather’s dream.”

Natural Disasters Ravage the US From West to East Coast

By Charlotte Mac Kay

The U.S. suffered a summer of massive storm damage, with natural disasters roaming across the country from West to East coast. From wind storms and wildfires to hurricanes, the damage caused by natural disasters over the summer was substantial.

On the East Coast, two hurricanes touched down in the same month. Hurricane Isias struck the U.S. after passing through the Bahamas on August 1, where it followed the coast up through the Northeast. According to the National Hurricane Center, it touched down in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, moving with sustained winds up to 85 miles per hour. The hurricane put thousands of homes out of power and resulted in flooding damage throughout the East Coast, killing at least six from correlated wind and water damage according to the AP News and World Report.

It was closely followed by the stronger Category 4  Hurricane Laura, which landed on the border of Louisiana and Texas in late August, with 150 mph winds churning up waves up to 15 feet high, according to AP News and World report. AIR Worldwide, a disaster modeling firm, estimated that the property damage caused by the storm may exceed $8 billion.

Laura wiped out power infrastructure, utility access and water systems for over 260,000 homes, resulting in approximately 11 thousand people requesting shelter from the state after damage to property and water supplies. The storm killed upwards of 20 people and was compared to the devastating 2005 Hurricane Rita by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. He called it  “the strongest storm to ever hit Louisiana,” saying that the state has a “long road” forward to recovery as they set about rebuilding damaged homes and returning utilities and power to their full capacity.

As Laura wrecked the Southeast, wildfires roared through Northern California. The fires were sparked mid-August from a series of lightning strikes that set dry forest ablaze, according to the Californian Fire Commission. Two of the blazes, the Santa Clara Unit (SCU) and Lake-Napa Unit (LNU) Lightning Complexes, are the second and third largest fires in California history. The SCU Complex continues to burn across 391,578 acres of land and the LNU Lightning Complex covers 375,209 acres. As of early September, around 80% of both fires are contained. The Californian Fire Company continues to battle with the fires in “extreme conditions,” according to a press conference held by Californian Governor Newsom. The wildfires displaced tens of thousands of residents, destroyed 2,500 buildings, and took a confirmed seven lives, according to a report from Reuters.

Though the frequency and extent of natural disasters this year is so far record-breaking, forecasts predict that more is to come. For the second time in history, AccuWeather predicts that named storms will exceed the number of letters in the alphabet. The National Hurricane Center says they are “still monitoring four systems,” two of which have significant “chances of development.”
As states across the country work to rebuild and recover from their relative natural disasters, the displacement of thousands is complicated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Governors of Louisiana and California both expressed concern about the potential increased spread of the novel coronavirus. “We know that every time people are moving around, coming into contact with one another, the transmission of the virus increases. So we’re really concerned about that,” Governor Edwards said in an interview in which he expressed concerns of a future Covid-19 spike, despite the state’s lowering Covid-19 case numbers.