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For the past 30 years, Carol Anniuk has provided accommodation and guides for recreational fishing trips in northwestern Ontario. In normal times, 99% of her clients are American. But more than 15 months after Canada's restrictions on nonessential travel went into effect to slow the spread of COVID-19, Anniuk, the owner of Young's Wilderness Camp, doesn't know when her U.S. clients will be able to cross the border.

"I'm just frustrated," she sighs. Anniuk has taken on a lot of debt since the coronavirus pandemic began in her tourism-dependent area, a six-hour drive from Minneapolis. She bemoans "the lack of communication and the lack of a plan" from the Canadian government on when to begin admitting most visitors from the United States.

Canadians can fly to the U.S. but can't cross by land, and most non-Canadians cannot enter Canada either by land or by air. The two countries continue to extend their travel measures — which are not the same in both directions — month by month.

In the latest step, which began July 5, the Canadian government lifted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents returning to Canada. However, federal ministers have resisted providing a timeline or clear benchmarks for next steps in admitting more visitors.

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One of the Big Questions about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has for a while been about its origins. Most viruses that cause disease in humans have long, fascinating origin stories, with jumps from animal to animal until they finally make it into people and start killing them.

But COVID-19, goes the theory, must be lab-grown - either from an intentional lab leak or a mistake of epic proportions - there's simply too much circumstantial evidence to ignore! This idea doesn't really make sense. There's no special reason to believe that COVID-19 must have been grown in a lab.

Sure, there's political reasons that we might think the Chinese government is untrustworthy, but that's a slim basis for a theory. As humans, when we are given two possibilities, we assume that they are somewhat equivalent in likelihood, so when you hear "lab leak or natural origin" it's not unreasonable to assume that those two things are about as likely as one another, even though that makes no sense whatsoever.

We know from decades of evidence that new diseases jump from animals to humans all the time. There are literally dozens of cases in the last few decades alone where an entirely new disease has transferred from a non-human host to people.

This has even happened twice in recent memory with coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2, which gives you some idea of just how unsurprising it is when a novel pathogen of likely animal origin is identified.

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One of the last times I stepped outside my Brooklyn apartment without a mask on was in early spring 2020, just before the state issued a mask mandate. I remember because as my dog peed on a tree, a neighbor asked me pointedly where my mask was. Where I live, almost everyone wears a mask when they go outside. If a person sipping from an iced coffee with their mask pulled down approaches someone else on the sidewalk coming the other way, they will usually yank the mask back up, as if they’ve been caught partially dressed. The other day I noticed a woman sitting on a hill in the middle of a field with her face covered. There was no one near her.

For a while now, this has felt a little unnecessary, if understandable, given that we were still learning things about the virus and were trying to be as careful as possible. But now, as we’ve come to know more about the virus, as vaccinations are ramping up, and as we’re trying to figure out how to live with some level of COVID in a sustainable way, masking up outside when you’re at most briefly crossing paths with people is starting to feel barely understandable. Look: I believe masks (and even shaming) are indispensable in controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Despite early waffling, public health experts are virtually unanimously in support of them and have remained so even as our early dedication to scrubbing surfaces and Cloroxing veggies wound down.

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The coronavirus pandemic has had the world fixated on viruses like no time in living memory, but new evidence reveals humans never even notice the vast extent of viral existence – even when it's inside us.

A new database project compiled by scientists has identified over 140,000 viral species that dwell in the human gut – a giant catalogue that's all the more stunning given over half of these viruses were previously unknown to science.

If tens of thousands of newly discovered viruses sounds like an alarming development, that's completely understandable. But we shouldn't misinterpret what these viruses within us actually represent, researchers say.

"It's important to remember that not all viruses are harmful, but represent an integral component of the gut ecosystem," explains biochemist Alexandre Almeida from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

"These samples came mainly from healthy individuals who didn't share any specific diseases."

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