The US marks the pandemic’s toll as questions persist about the origins and future of the Covid-19

Earlier this week the US hit a grim pandemic milestone: 19 months after Covid-19 first sent the US into lockdown, 1 in 500 Americans have died from the disease. Older and non-white Americans make up a disproportionate share of the deaths. On the National Mall in Washington, a new temporary art installation of more than 600,000 white flags bearing personalized messages symbolizes the impact of the pandemic.

But for all the devastation the pandemic has wrought, there’s still so much we don’t know about how the disease emerged or where it’s heading. Recently, a faulty theory that Sars-CoV-2 was present in Italy long before it was detected in Wuhan has taken hold, despite the deeply flawed nature of the evidence. And because human behaviors and public health measures have evolved alongside the virus, it’s proving hard for disease modelers to reliably predict what will happen next beyond the short term.

Daily Distraction

Rather than use their new albums as opportunities for reinvention, Drake and Kanye have settled into the versions of themselves the internet is already familiar with. It’s Lil Nas X, a newer star, who has proven he can adapt online, argues WIRED’s Jason Parham.

Something to Read

Science fiction isn’t a genre known for being warm and fuzzy. But writer Becky Chambers aims to change that. “In a world numbed by cynicisms and divisions,” WIRED’s Jason Kehe writes, “Chambers’ stories are intended to repair—to warm up our insides and restore feeling.”

Sanity Check

A good backpack can transform how you go about your day. Here are a few of our favorites.

One Question

How is technology shaping the course of this pandemic and future ones?

From mRNA vaccines to contact tracing, every major development of this pandemic so far has used technology in innovative ways. At RE:WIRED, a virtual global event on November 9 and 10, WIRED will host a series of conversations with people across the world and from various disciplines who are thinking about the consequences of technology for all aspects of our future, public health chief among them. Learn more and sign up to tune in here.

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