Thursday CoronaBuzz, March 26, 2020: 40 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

If you don’t have time to read everything and you’re in the US, just look at the first item. It’s an index of relief programs across the US put together by Paul|Weiss. This newsletter now has its own Twitter account at @buzz_corona. I’m only doing one of these newsletters a day so they’re going to be enormous. Wash your hands. I love you.


Paul|Weiss: Paul, Weiss Launches Online Coronavirus Relief Center to Help Those Impacted Financially by Pandemic. “Hundreds of Paul, Weiss lawyers have logged thousands of hours pro bono over the past 10 days collecting, digesting, organizing and synthesizing hundreds of emergency relief programs made available by federal, state and local governments and the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. The resulting new website includes a repository of relief programs searchable by jurisdiction, explanations of eligibility requirements, guidance for accessing benefits, direct links and contact information for those responsible for administering the relief programs, and other resources.”

Startacus: WebARX creates COVID-19 cyber threats database to spread awareness. “WebARX, an Estonian web security company was inspired by the #hackthecrisis movement to do their part in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. On late Friday evening on 20th of March, WebARX released a special page to collect all the cyber attacks and online threats surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Governor Tom Wolf (Pennsylvania): Governor Wolf Announces Financial Assistance Available to Small Businesses. “The Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) recently authorized the transfer of $40 million to the Small Business First Fund for CWCA. PIDA authorized making $60 million available to provide loans of $100,000 or less to for-profit businesses with 100 or fewer full-time employees. Funds are expected to become available this week.”

Esquire Middle East: New tool lets you track coronavirus data in the UAE. “The new tool – that is updated daily – provides users with real-time data on the number of confirmed cases, critical cases, deaths and the number of people who have recovered. The website also provides more information on the coronavirus, as well as a self-assessment page for those worried they may have contracted the virus.”

University of Toronto: U of T researchers create interactive tool to help hospitals plan for COVID-19. “A group of researchers at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health have developed an interactive online tool that helps hospitals and other health-care providers estimate their capacity to manage new cases of COVID-19. By taking into account the number of acute and critical care resources available to a specific health-care provider, data on the age distribution and severity of COVID-19 cases and expected duration of patient stays, the online tool helps hospitals model their capacity to respond to the fast-moving pandemic.”

EHS Today: COVID Community Vulnerability Map Helps Allocate Resources. “The interactive map identifies populations down to the census block level that are at risk for severe outcomes upon contracting a virus like COVID. Severe outcomes include hospitalization, organ failure and mortality. Additionally, the map surfaces the socioeconomic and environmental factors, such as lack of access to transportation or nutritious food, that put patients at greater risk. The map is also overlaid with points of interest, such as hospitals, food sources and transportation, in relation to the at-risk communities.”

InsideHook: A New Website Is Helping NYC Restaurants Sell Off Their Wine Cellars. “Philip Thomas, a software developer with several successful startups living in Brooklyn, noticed that many of his favorite local spots had begun to open up their rather extensive wine and liquor cellars to help support themselves in this uncertain and unfortunate time. Seeing an opportunity to help them, Thomas set up Cellars.NYC, an interactive map that highlights NYC locations that are offering to-go booze.” The site is being expanded to other cities. San Francisco is now available and more cities are on the way.

NBC Boston: New List Shows Restaurants Still Open in Mass. Amid Coronavirus. “The Massachusetts Restaurant Association has launched a new centralized database of eateries offering takeout and delivery services during the coronavirus pandemic. CarryOutMA will tell the public about restaurants in the Bay State offering carryout, curbside and delivery. Businesses can click here to add their listings.”

RTE: Website launched to help hospitals source Covid-19 personal protective equipment. “A new website has been launched here in Ireland to connect companies or other organisations who may have excess stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) with hospitals and healthcare facilities around the world who need it.”

The National: DeliverDXB: new delivery website allows Dubai customers to directly connect with and support local restaurants. “There’s no doubt that the spread of Covid-19 has been a blow to the hospitality industry as a whole. With restaurants in the region having ceased all dine-in options, food delivery remains their only source of income. In light of this, anonymous Dubai food blogger Food Sheikh, and online ordering platform ChatFood have teamed up to create an online ordering platform that directly connects restaurants with customers, for a limited time only.”

Forbes: Coronavirus Social Distancing Shown On Interactive Maps From Unacast. “Unacast, a New York City startup that normally provides location data sourced from consumers’ smartphones to real estate and retail interests, is using that data to provide near-real-time information on how well states and counties are succeeding at social distancing while they fight the COVID-19 coronavirus. The data is presented as a series of interactive maps that allow anyone to drill down to the individual city or county and see how well their efforts to get people to stay at home are working.”


Ghost Cult: More Free Offers of Services for Bands Impacted by Coronavirus Cancellations. “The only way the music community is going to come out on the other side of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic is by pulling together and helping each other. A lot of experts as saying it’s not going to come back the way it did before, and they might be right. But in the meantime let’s uplift each other and help each other make it through.” Most of the resource listings I’m include are large institutions and companies, but this is a bunch of smaller companies and individuals. Way to go, y’all.

New York Times: The Dos and Don’ts of Online Video Meetings. “In the age of coronavirus, many of us have transformed overnight from office workers into telecommuters. And we are increasingly relying on videoconferencing apps like Zoom and FaceTime to correspond with our peers. But inevitably, with our homes and workplaces merging into one, the boundaries between our personal and professional lives are beginning to erode — and awkward situations have ensued.”

Digital Inspiration: Track Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases in India with Google Sheets. “The Government of India website has a live dashboard that provides, in near real-time, the number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in various states of India. This is the best resource to get updates around active COVID-19 cases in India. The official website provides the current data but if you were to check how the number of confirmed cases increased in India over time, there’s no historic data available. That’s one reason I built the COVID-19 Tracker with Google Sheets.”


National Institutes of Health: The National Library of Medicine expands access to coronavirus literature through PubMed Central. “Following on a statement issued by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and science policy leaders from almost a dozen other nations, [National Library of Medicine] has stepped up its collaboration with publishers and scholarly societies to increase the number of coronavirus-related journal articles in PMC, along with available data supporting them. Submitted publications will be made available in PMC as quickly as possible after publication, in formats and with needed permissions to support text mining.”

US Department of Education: Secretary DeVos Directs FSA to Stop Wage Garnishment, Collections Actions for Student Loan Borrowers, Will Refund More Than $1.8 Billion to Students, Families. “U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today that, due to the COVID-19 national emergency, the Department will halt collection actions and wage garnishments to provide additional assistance to borrowers. This flexibility will last for a period of at least 60 days from March 13, 2020.”

TechRadar: Zoom video calls get a new background tool courtesy of Canva. “With the world in a state of flux, many of us have now found ourselves with a new workplace – our homes. While it’s certainly cut down the commute, it’s also having some interesting results, namely, our co-workers are getting a rare glimpse into our living space through video chat. At least temporarily, connecting with our colleagues in this way is the new normal. To save you from the potential embarrassment of a messy room, and frankly just lighten the mood a little, graphic design platform Canva has launched a new background creator for Zoom video calls.”

BetaNews: Facebook is doing more to promote reliable information about coronavirus. “Facebook has been taking steps to counter misinformation about COVID-19, not only on the main Facebook platform, but also on Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Now the company is expanding its efforts to connect people with trustworthy information about coronavirus.”

Spotify: How Spotify Is Addressing COVID-19, On-Platform and Off. “We have several COVID-19 efforts already underway, and today we’re announcing a new initiative to support members of the music community with the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project. Via our website, Spotify will recommend verified organizations that offer financial relief to those in the music community most in need. Spotify will match dollar-for-dollar public donations, up to a total Spotify contribution of $10 million.”

Mashable: Businesses can now mark themselves as ‘temporarily closed’ on Google. “The number of businesses forced to close during the coronavirus outbreak is rising by the day. A number of these closures are temporary in nature, and now Google has stepped up by letting businesses mark themselves as ‘temporary closed’ in Search and on Maps.”


Variety: Facebook, Google Could Lose Over $44 Billion in Ad Revenue in 2020 Because of Coronavirus. “Ad spending is falling off a cliff amid the COVID-19 pandemic — and Facebook and Google, the two heavyweights in digital advertising, are expected to bear the brunt of the downturn in terms of sheer dollars lost. The two internet giants together could see more than $44 billion in worldwide ad revenue evaporate in 2020, Cowen & Co. analysts estimate. That said, both Google and Facebook will continue to be massively profitable even with double-digit revenue drops.”

The Star (Malaysia): Malaysian art scene not digitally savvy enough to adapt to Covid-19 crisis. “When visits to art galleries are out of the question, what happens next? Many local galleries in Malaysia are looking to engage with their audience online. Their doors might be closed to the public until April 14 (the last day of the Government’s movement control order to contain the Covid-19 outbreak), but they are trying to find new ways to reach out to people. Behind the scenes, it is business as usual – as much as they can get it to be anyway.”

BuzzFeed News: A Woman With Lupus Said Her Health Care Provider Is Stopping Her Chloroquine Prescription And Thanked Her For The “Sacrifice”. “A 45-year-old woman with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) said she received an online message from her health care provider stating it will no longer refill her vital hydroxychloroquine prescriptions because that drug is being used to treat the “critically ill with COVID-19,” the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The letter thanked her for her ‘sacrifice.’ Dale, who lives in the Los Angeles area and asked to only be identified by her first name, told BuzzFeed News she ‘started crying’ upon receiving the message from her doctor’s office on Tuesday.”

Mashable: Drone videos of quarantined cities around the world are both eerie and inspiring. “It’s like something out of a disaster film: deserted streets, empty sidewalks, boarded-up storefronts. But unlike all the zombie and alien-invasion movies that preceded them, the real photos and videos showing quarantined cities from around the world suggest the possibility of a hopeful future. Humanity is self-isolating, social distancing, and, yes, quarantining in an effort to beat back the coronavirus. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the drone videos are as surreal as the experience itself.”

SoraNews24: Japanese students hold graduation ceremony in Minecraft amid school cancellation. “Because the Japanese school year ends in March and begins in April, for many students this closing period means that they mill miss their graduation ceremonies. Whether they’re leaving elementary school, middle school, or high school, it’s a sad feeling for them to go out with a whimper instead of a bang. But some creative elementary school graduates in Japan came up with a great workaround. If they couldn’t have a graduation ceremony at school, then why not have one digitally in a place they all meet often anyway… in Minecraft!”

CNN: Instagram’s CEO is managing one of the world’s biggest social networks from his garage. “For years, Instagram has been synonymous with travel and experiences. Its users fill their feeds with carefully filtered and cropped photos of exotic locations and colorful venues. But now, from his plywood-lined garage, [Adam] Mosseri, Instagram’s CEO, is telling his users to do what he’s doing: stay at home.”

Mashable: Slack has seen a massive surge in users during coronavirus pandemic. “The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the working lives of people across the world. Some have taken pay cuts, some have lost their jobs, and many livelihoods are still at risk. But as more and more people work from home under government recommendation, there are also companies that have seen the opposite happen. Slack is one of them.”


CNET: Governments could track COVID-19 lockdowns through social media posts. “Your posts on social media have been harvested for advertising. They’ve been taken to build up a massive facial recognition database. Now that same data could be used by companies and governments to help maintain quarantines during the coronavirus outbreak.”

GovInsider Asia: Exclusive: How West Java uses QR codes to fight Coronavirus. “Indonesia now has the highest Covid-19 death toll in ASEAN, less than a month after it reported its first confirmed case. Hospitals risk being overwhelmed by the surge of confirmed cases, as well as panicked citizens rushing to get tested. West Java, one of the worst-hit areas in Indonesia, has registered 60 cases and 10 deaths as of 24 March. The province’s digital team, Jabar Digital Service, this week launched a service to help manage the strain on healthcare facilities.”

BetaNews: Microsoft, Facebook, Slack and others support #BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon. “There are numerous technology companies that have agreed to offer their services for free as the world tries to tackle the coronavirus crisis, and others who have taken steps to reduce their strain on the internet. [Today], #BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon kicks off, with many of the big names from the world of tech coming together to tackle some of the problems COVID-19 presents.”

CNET: Hospital uses VR to show how the coronavirus impacts the lungs. “Earlier this month, doctors at George Washington University Hospital encountered their first patient with COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Now they’re using VR technology to see into the patient’s lungs, the hospital demonstrated in a video posted to YouTube last week.”

CNN: James Dyson designed a new ventilator in 10 days. He’s making 15,000 for the pandemic fight. “Dyson has received an order from the UK government for 10,000 ventilators to support efforts by the country’s National Health Service to treat coronavirus patients. James Dyson, the company’s billionaire founder, confirmed the order in a letter to employees shared with CNN on Wednesday.”

Datamation: IBM Goes All In On Fight Against Covid-19: The Tech Industry Goes To War. “IBM had earlier announced they were pivoting the most potent Supercomputer in the world, Summit, to fight Covid-19. The result was that they have been able, with Oak Ridge Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, to screen 8,000 compounds to find out which ones were likely to mitigate Covid-19….This week IBM announced they were adding another 16 additional systems, that’s 330 petaflops, 775K CPU cores, 34,000 GPUS, in collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the US Department of Energy through a massive technology pool.”

EurekAlert: AI finds 9 potential COVID-19 drugs that can be used on humans immediately. “Gero, the leader in AI-driven drug discovery, has used its AI platform to identify the potential anti-COVID-19 drugs. Six of them have been approved, three were withdrawn, and the other nine have been already tested in clinical trials for other indications. The emergency of the situation, as well as the legal and regulatory status of these agents, make it possible to start immediate clinical trials for most of the suggested drugs.”


CNET: Coronavirus memes help an isolated world cope with ‘existential dread’. “As COVID-19 spreads to more cities and claims more lives, meme accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit have cranked out more content seeking light and humor amid the darkness and uncertainty. Memes poking fun at everything from hoarding toilet paper to going stir crazy while in quarantine have dominated social media feeds.”

Man of Many: NSW Police are Using a Smash Mouth Banger to Explain Social Distancing. “Mastering a new skill is never easy. Whether it’s taking on a second language, trying your hand at a musical instrument, or picking up the paintbrush for the first time, not everyone’s noggin is hardwired for learning. One of the easiest ways to circumnavigate the brain drain is by turning new instructions into a tune. Yep, just like Mary Poppins told us, the best way to remember something is to put it into song. So when the NSW Police Service wanted to warn us of the dire implications of not abiding by social distancing measures, they turned to a modern miracle of musical excellence. That’s right, All-Star by Smashmouth.”


Offaly Express: A new social media challenge sees youths coughing on unsuspecting victims to gain viral status. “A new social media challenge is rising in the ranks as teenagers cough on the public to spread Covid-19. TikTok, a fastly growing social media platform sees young adults post challenge videos, alongside dance routines, make-up routines and baking videos. Once posted, this videos soar in popularity and afford the person a heroic status with their peers.”

CNET: 77-year-old fined for playing Pokemon Go amid Spain’s coronavirus lockdown. “The coronavirus pandemic is most lethal to the elderly and the virus’ spread throughout Spain is the second most deadly in the world. So it’s not surprising that police in Madrid, enforcing the city’s lockdown measures, arrested a 77-year-old on Sunday for being out and about in the city, reports TeleMadrid. The septuagenarian’s reason leaving his home? Having to catch ’em all, obviously.”

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. slashed CDC staff inside China prior to coronavirus outbreak. “The Trump administration cut staff by more than two-thirds at a key U.S. public health agency operating inside China, as part of a larger rollback of U.S.-funded health and science experts on the ground there leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters has learned.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Man planning to bomb Missouri hospital killed, FBI says. “A man suspected of planning to attack a hospital treating coronavirus cases in the US state of Missouri died after a shootout with the FBI, officials say. The confrontation happened as agents tried to arrest the 36-year-old in the city of Belton as part of a domestic terrorism investigation, the FBI said.”

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