This Week In Words: March 21–27, 2020

Most of the news these days relates in one way or another to the pandemic, and this list contains timely vocabulary from the week's top stories.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. cartel
    a consortium formed to limit commercial competition
    Joe Brown, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, led the group, which included Heather Rattan, an over-20-year veteran of the office who had spent much of her career prosecuting members of drug cartels.
    Salon (Mar 25, 2020)
    In 2018, the Justice Department was about to prosecute Walmart for violating the Controlled Substances Act related to its widespread sales of opioids to people bearing prescriptions from "pill mills," or doctors known to write large numbers of prescriptions for money. Shortly before bringing the case, high-level Trump Administration officials declined to continue with it.
  2. desiccate
    remove water from
    “We speculate due to the porous material, it desiccates rapidly and might be stuck to the fibres,” he says.
    BBC (Mar 17, 2020)
    While there are few if any known cases of COVID-19 being transmitted from contaminated surfaces, it's still essential to keep hands and surfaces clean. Studies are revealing how long the virus can stay active on different materials, ranging from a few hours on copper to 24 hours on cardboard to 2–3 days on plastic and stainless steel. Soap, alcohol, and bleach remain the most effective tools for killing the virus.
  3. embargo
    a government order imposing a trade barrier
    “The data from these reports is monitored closely by policy makers and financial markets to determine appropriate actions in light of fast-changing economic conditions. As such, the data must remain embargoed until the national claims report is released the following Thursday at 8.30am.”
    Guardian (Mar 26, 2020)
    3.3 million people filed for unemployment last week, breaking the previous record by 2.6 million. As companies around the country close, workers are being laid off indefinitely. Claims in New York State, currently hardest hit by the epidemic, increased by 1000 percent. Some states were ordered not to release their numbers ahead of the national weekly report. Embargo comes from Spanish, from the same Latin root as barricade.
  4. hobble
    walk impeded by some physical limitation or injury
    A series of missteps at the nation’s top public health agency caused a critical shortage of reliable laboratory tests for the coronavirus, hobbling the federal response as the pandemic spread across the country like wildfire, an Associated Press review found.
    AP (Mar 24, 2020)
    Two months after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S., there are still nowhere near as many tests as experts say we need to contain the spread effectively. The Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the Center for Disease Control, has launched an internal investigation to determine what went wrong. Hobble first appeared in English as a verb, referring to tying an animal's legs together loosely so that it could move enough to eat and drink but not escape.
  5. interim
    the time between one event, process, or period and another
    Washington backs opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who last year declared himself interim president.
    BBC (Mar 26, 2020)
    The U.S. Justice Department has charged Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and over a dozen other members of his government with crimes related to drug trafficking. In a statement, the State Department said that the Venezuelan government works with FARC rebels in Columbia to transport narcotics to the U.S., including using planes from a Venezuelan air base. The U.S. has been trying to remove Maduro from power since he stayed in power following a flawed election in 2018.
  6. municipal
    relating to a self-governing district
    Now, the National Guard has set up camp in Armstrong Park on the Quarter’s northern edge, but a traffic sign outside the Municipal Auditorium flashed at midday Tuesday “no more testing today.”
    Washington Times (Mar 25, 2020)
    Louisiana is seeing a serious surge in COVID-19 cases a month after Mardi Gras, and experts fear that huge party contributed to the spread. Most of the cases are in Orleans Parish, home to New Orleans, where most of the festivities that draw huge crowds of tourists and locals take place every year. Residents are comparing the disease to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city in 2005.
  7. negligent
    characterized by undue lack of attention or concern
    Now some who worked on the front lines of his campaign, including black staffers and surrogates, are speaking out about what they believe was a negligent strategy that underestimated the significance of the first primary with a majority-black electorate...
    Washington Post (Mar 25, 2020)
    As Bernie Sanders decides whether to end his campaign, political observers are analyzing how he fell from front-runner to a distant second behind Joe Biden. The short answer appears to be that African-American voters, whose presence at the polls in large numbers began with the South Carolina primary, preferred Biden by huge margins. Negligent is Latin for "careless" or "neglectful."
  8. reimbursement
    compensation paid for damages or money already spent
    Hospitals treating coronavirus patients would also get higher reimbursements form Medicare.
    USA Today (Mar 25, 2020)
    The Senate passed a huge, 2 trillion stimulus bill to inject money into the economy and provide funding for businesses and hospitals struggling to cope with the pandemic. It contains money for individual Americans, loans for businesses, funding for emergency medicine, aid for state and local governments, and much more. Reimburse comes from the same Latin root, bursa as purse, and it literally means "to put back in your purse."
  9. riddle
    pierce with many holes
    Between Mr. Trump’s history of firing people and the choice by many career officials and political appointees to leave, he now finds himself with a government riddled with vacancies, acting department chiefs and, in some cases, leaders whose professional backgrounds do not easily match up to the task of managing a pandemic.
    New York Times (Mar 26, 2020)
    An administration with many empty positions in crucial departments is struggling to respond effectively to the pandemic. The departments of Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, the National Security Council, and the Food and Drug Administration are all understaffed or run by acting personnel. Heads of some of these departments have no experience in relevant fields and have been unable to answer questions during Congressional hearings on the government's pandemic response.
  10. validation
    finding or testing the truth of something
    Mologic, which is based near Bedford, north of London, said that after assessment in Britain, the prototypes would be shipped to validation partners in China, the United States, Malaysia, Spain, Brazil and Senegal.
    Reuters (Mar 26, 2020)
    A British company is developing a test to show whether someone has previously had COVID-19. The test detects antibodies, cells our bodies generate to fight the virus, and their presence in someone's blood means that they are likely immune and could return to work and normal life out of quarantine. An effective test would be hugely useful to experts tracking the spread and trying to slow its progress.
Created on March 25, 2020 (updated March 26, 2020)

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