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Quick Takes

Air Pollution Is Still the World’s Biggest Killer

Source: European Society of Cardiology, March 2020

Air pollution remains the greatest killer of human beings on the planet, according to a new study by the European Society of Cardiology. Air pollution reduces global life expectancy by an average of 2.9 years — almost four times more than parasitic and vector-borne diseases. In fact, ambient air pollution kills more people on the planet than tobacco smoking and violence.

Poor air quality kills more people on average in East Asia (196 deaths/100,000 people per year), Europe (133 deaths/100,000 people per year) and South Asia (119 deaths/100,000 people per year) than anywhere else in the world.

The shortening of life expectancy can be reversed with a cut in greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, removing fossil fuel emissions would result in an increased life expectancy of 1.1 years, according to the study. Nowhere would that improvement be more felt than in East Asia, which could see a three-year increase in life expectancy should action be pursued to reduce air pollution.

More Than Half of the US Is Now a Millennial or Younger

Source: Brookings Institute

More than half — 50.7% — of the United States’s total population is now made up of the millennial and younger generations. 

Census data also shows that this age group is America’s most racially diverse generation in history — an estimated four of 10 Americans identify with a race or ethnic group other than white. As these generations continue to move into leadership roles in society, they have a growing impact on organizational and corporate culture, along with U.S. politics as voters and policymakers. 

These generations have been particularly vocal about environmentalism and social justice issues, especially the Black Lives Matter movement, and the topics are already factoring strongly into new corporate and political initiatives. A testament of the impact of these generations and their values will be seen in the extent to which climate and racial justice issues are likely to shape this year’s U.S. election conversation.

Public Trust in US Corporations Increased During the COVID-19 Crisis

Source: Harris Poll COVID19 Tracker Wave 20; Chart: Axios Visuals

The American public has been responding favorably toward corporations since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. According to a new Axios/Harris poll, 75% of respondents believe that companies were more reliable than the federal government during the lockdown. 

The health and grocery industries saw the highest approval rating among consumers — at 47% and 35% respectively — while both the media (-5%) and airlines (-7%) industries scored the lowest. Respondents rated the top 100 companies across seven qualities: affinity and trust, citizenship, ethics, culture, vision, growth and products and services. The poll weighted affinity as the highest compared to all other categories. 

Companies that focused on using their resources and platform to solve problems related to COVID-19, like pharmacies, streaming services and packaged goods, gained the most trust from consumers. The results also showed that consumers have higher trust in companies that address societal issues. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, this will most likely be a long-term trend beyond the pandemic.

COVID-19 Testing in the US Compared to Other Countries

Source: John Hopkins University of Medicine

Despite conducting the second-highest percentage of daily tests, the United States still has the highest number of COVID-19 cases of any country in the world. The size of the circles in the graph above display how large the epidemic is in each location — ideally countries should have small circles and a low percentage of positive tests. 

Research by Johns Hopkins recently found that the amount of COVID-19 testing needs to be based on the size of a country’s epidemic rather than the size of its population. Johns Hopkins recommended that governments should look at the country’s COVID-19 positivity rate to determine if they are testing enough. A poll conducted at the end of July by NPR/Ipsos shows that the majority of the American public believes that the U.S. is handling the crisis worse than any other country and want the federal government to take extreme actions to slow the spread. Testing will continue to ramp up as the U.S. debates whether to open schools and lift further restrictions.

Where Are Businesses Closing in the US?

Source: Yelp

The number of total business closures in the United States dropped in July 2020 — but the figure remains high, with more than 132,500 closures so far this year. Of that amount, 15,742 businesses permanently closed since mid-June. Data from Yelp shows that the restaurant industry had the highest number of closures in July, surpassing the retail industry. 

Most of these closures are occurring in large cities — Los Angeles and New York City had the largest amounts of business closures. Similarly, large U.S. states such as California (29,351 closed businesses), Texas (11,118 closed businesses) and New York (8,731 closed businesses) all experienced a large number of closures since the start of the pandemic. Many of these cities and states have been major hot spots during the pandemic.

As businesses start to reopen, and consumers test their comfort levels, recreational activity is expected to grow and help bounce back struggling industries. However, cases continue to rise in certain parts of the U.S., causing consumer interest and business closures to continue to move at an unpredictable pace.

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