Friday CoronaBuzz, March 27, 2020: 45 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

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.


CSUN Today: CSUN Prof Creates Maps to Track COVID-19’s Progress Neighborhood By Neighborhood in L.A. County and County by County Across the U.S.. “Hoping to get a better grasp on how COVID-19 is impacting people at the local level, California State University, Northridge geography professor Steven Graves has created interactive maps that track the virus’ progress county by county on the national level, and neighborhood by neighborhood in Los Angeles County.”

NoCamels: New Start-Up Nation Central Directory Lists Israeli Firms With Solutions For COVID-19. “Startup Nation Central (SNC), the Israeli non-profit organization that tracks the local innovation ecosystem, has launched a comprehensive, updated directory with over 70 Israeli high-tech companies that offer medical technology solutions in the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.”

BusinessWire: COVID-19 Data Exchange to Curb the Virus’ Propagation and Limit Its Economic Impact (PRESS RELEASE). “Under the impulsion of the World Health Organization and the European Union stressing the importance of data sharing, Dawex, the leading data exchange technology company, today announced launching a COVID-19 Data Exchange initiative. The platform will be available pro bono to a large community of companies and organizations looking to contribute to the resolution of this crisis. The technology enables the exchange of vital non-personal data to hinder COVID-19’s dissemination and restrain its economic impact.”

USC Viterbi School of Engineering: USC Researchers Release Public Coronavirus Twitter Set for Academics. “Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Information Sciences Institute (ISI) and the Department of Computer Science have released a public coronavirus twitter dataset for scholars. Emilio Ferrara and Kristina Lerman, the principal researchers on this project, have a history of studying social media and bots to understand how misinformation, fear and influence spread online.”

NBC San Diego: California Department of Corrections Unveils New Tool to Track COVID-19 Cases. “The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) have unveiled a new tool to track COVID-19 cases among California’s incarcerated population. On Wednesday, CDCR and CCHCS unveiled a patient testing tracker, which displays the number of incarcerated patients who have been tested for COVID-19, have tested negative, tested positive, have recovered, or have died, all by the institution.”


CNET: Sling TV live streaming service is now totally free for two weeks. “In response to coronavirus stay-at-home orders nationwide, Sling TV has extended its Stay In and Sling campaign to let anyone in the US get 14 days of its Sling Blue live TV streaming service for free.”

NiemanLab: Coronavirus got you housebound? Here’s how Splice quickly pulled together an online streaming event. ” Back in January, our friends at Splice became one of the first news outlets financially hurt by the coronavirus when it was forced to postpone its Splice Beta conference on media innovation in Asia as the virus began its spread. (It’s since been rescheduled for September.) With all the restraints on travel, Splice decided to experiment with a free online-only event.”

Jewish News Syndicate: Museum of Jewish Heritage offers free online educational resources for those at home. “New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage–A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is offering several online resources for parents, teachers and students as the museum remains temporarily closed in accordance with COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions.”

CNET: Nine Inch Nails releases two new albums for free. “If you’re running out of good working-from-home music, here’s what to load up next. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, aka Nine Inch Nails, have gifted us two new albums, available now on Spotify — for free.”

Mashable: Apple makes video and music software free amid coronavirus pandemic. “Apple has made its professional-grade software for video editing and music making – Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X – free with a 90-day trial. Normally, Final Cut Pro X has a 30-day trial, which has now been extended to 90 days, and works even if you’re already on a 30-day trial. And Logic Pro X, which didn’t have any sort of free trial so far, now gets the 90-day trial option as well.”

TechCrunch: Duolingo’s new app teaches children how to read and write. “Until now, Duolingo‘s focus was always squarely on teaching languages, but today, the company launched Duolingo ABC, a free English literacy app for children ages 3 to 6. Originally, the company had planned on unveiling this app later in the year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it decided to launch it early to help parents who are now suddenly finding themselves homeschooling their children.”

The Verge: Here are a bunch of free music apps and sample packs while we’re all stuck inside. “Life looks very different right now as the novel coronavirus has millions around the world stuck indoors. Festivals, clubs, and even house parties are banned in many cities, leaving musicians (and music lovers) housebound and searching for creative outlets. Over the past few weeks, several music companies have responded by offering freebies in order to, as Korg said, provide ‘a musical way to occupy your mind.'”


The Register: Drones, apps and packed lunches: The latest on big tech’s COVID-19 response. “Welcome to another round-up of bandwagon-hopping and genuine altruism from big tech as the industry continues its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

NAU News: Empty shelves don’t indicate a broken supply chain: NAU’s FEWSION project maps out critical U.S. supply chains amid COVID-19 pandemic . “For the millions of Americans concerned about shortages of vital supplies like toilet paper, food basics and other items vital to getting us through an unprecedented global health crisis, there is some encouraging news, according to researchers at Northern Arizona University. In fact, the U.S. supply chains are proving resilient in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, though there are points of concern that decision-makers, emergency managers and the public should consider, said Benjamin Ruddell, director of the National Science Foundation-funded FEWSION Project led out of Northern Arizona University.”

Neowin: Facebook Messenger launches coronavirus community hub to offer resources and tips. “Facebook launched today a new coronavirus (COVID-19) community hub designed to help people stay connected with friends and family members as part of social distancing. The new hub also aims to help fight the spread of misinformation on the messaging platform.”

The Register: Google warns against disabling websites during Coronavirus pandemic. “As companies shut their doors against the coronavirus outbreak, Google has released a set of guidelines to website owners on how to minimise the long-terms effects on their business’s search ranking.”

Tubefilter: Twitch Holding Celebrity-Studded, 12-Hour Livestream March 28 To Benefit WHO. “On March 28, Twitch will host Stream Aid, a 12-hour, celebrity-studded charity livestream to raise money for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.”

The Verge: Google to resume regular Chrome updates after brief pause. “Google says it’s now ready to resume work on Chrome, after briefly halting upcoming releases of the browser in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Daily canary builds of the browser, dev, and beta versions ‘have or will resume this week,’ according to Google.”


Phys .org: ‘Women’s work’: How coronavirus may forever change the way we care within families. “Women, through their unpaid housework, childcare and elder care, have kept families functioning. However, COVID-19 is putting a strain on women’s abilities to keep the cogs of daily life turning. We are now starting to see the impact of what happens when women are unable to do it all.”

Phys .org: The community-led movement creating hope in the time of coronavirus. “COVID-19 represents a major rupture in the status quo and calls for new forms of response. Perhaps this is why thousands of new ‘mutual aid’ groups have sprung up internationally. Many of these groups have swelled to several thousand members within a few days….But the rapid growth of this movement creates a steep learning curve for group organizers. Just as in wider society, mutual aid groups must grapple with political differences and structural inequality.”

NiemanLab: “Total annihilation”: Coronavirus may just be the end for many alt-weeklies . “COVID-19 is ‘a nearly perfect weapon against alternative weeklies.’ In dozens of cities, papers are asking for donations, laying off staff, or abandoning print as social distancing dries up their revenue streams.”

New York Times: Surging Traffic Is Slowing Down Our Internet. “… last week, as a wave of stay-at-home orders rolled out across the United States, the average time it took to download videos, emails and documents increased as broadband speeds declined 4.9 percent from the previous week, according to Ookla, a broadband speed testing service. Median download speeds dropped 38 percent in San Jose, Calif., and 24 percent in New York, according to Broadband Now, a consumer broadband research site.”

New York Times: GoFundMe Confronts Coronavirus Demand. “Between March 20 and March 24, the number of coronavirus-related campaigns on GoFundMe shot up by 60 percent, from 22,000 to 35,000. The stories told on those fund-raising pages convey the breadth of destruction that the new coronavirus has wreaked — grieving families facing costs for funerals that few will be able to attend, food pantries stretched thin, and unemployed artists, bartenders, substitute teachers and manicurists simply trying to survive.”

BBC: Designer brand Ralph Lauren to make masks and gowns. “The fashioner designer announced the shift in production through its charitable arm on Thursday. The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation will start making 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns in the US.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Can one woman make kindness catch on in India?. “With India under lockdown and social distancing being advised to deal with the threat of the coronavirus, an online collective of ‘Caremongers’ is reaching out to help the elderly and other vulnerable groups.”

New York Times: Nonprofits Built Themselves on a Dream. Their New Mission: Survival.. “Crucial spring fund-raisers and conferences have been canceled or moved to less lucrative online venues. Donors are stretched in many directions, preoccupied with their own problems, and much less flush than they were two months ago. Nonprofits that are paid by local governments said new rules against large gatherings were making their services impossible to deliver, placing their existence at risk.”

Poynter: Here’s what online migration during the COVID-19 pandemic really looks like for professors. “As a journalist and technologist, I usually am ahead of the learning curve when it comes to online content. But this entire experience has been nerve-wracking. It is one thing going digital in an office, and another doing the same at home on short notice.”

Search Engine Journal: Google Trends is Useful During Coronavirus. “Coronavirus is creating extreme change. The search community is heading toward Google Trends for insights. Google Trends is becoming more useful now in this moment than at any other time. Google Trends offers a peek into search trends as the world goes through massive upheavals due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

TechCrunch: How child care startups in the U.S. are helping families cope with the COVID-19 crisis. “The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of billions of people around the world. For many parents with young children in the United States, shelter in place orders implemented in different areas over the past few weeks mean they now spend each day balancing work with taking care of their families. For child care providers, a vital but often underappreciated part of the American economy, the crisis means dealing with economic uncertainty, but also adapting to serve new roles, including providing care for essential workers.”

Techdirt: During The Outbreak: All Sports Are eSports Now. “Professional and college sports have basically taken an unwanted holiday, shutting down in an effort to partake in killing this virus off. It’s been strange for fans like me, who wake up on Saturdays and have to find legit ways to watch sporting events that took place years and years ago as a substitute for live broadcasts. And if you think there aren’t a great many people who are starved for live sporting content, you need only look to what is going on in the autoracing world, where it’s basically all become eSports now.”

Ubergizmo: COVID-19 Forced Couple To Cancel Their Wedding, So They Held It In Animal Crossing. “Now, with the COVID-19 virus spreading around the world, naturally events like weddings where there would be large gatherings will have to be postponed. However, one couple decided not to let the pandemic rain on their parade. Instead, they chose to go ahead with their wedding, except that they decided to hold it inside of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”


Caltech: The Tip of the Iceberg: Virologist David Ho (BS ’74) Speaks About COVID-19. “As of March 20, more than 8,700 people worldwide had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Caltech trustee David Ho (BS ’74) of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, Columbia University, says that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Ho, an expert on viral epidemics, has spent decades researching HIV/AIDS, having begun his career in Los Angeles, “ground zero” of the first outbreak, in the early 1980s. On March 18, Ho sat down with members of the Caltech community to discuss the novel coronavirus and the future of our society in the light of this global pandemic.”

University of Arkansas: Participants Needed for Online Study on Social Distancing and Mental Health. “Study Description: A research study is recruiting participants who are willing to take part in a 2-week study on the effects of social distancing on mental health. The study will be completed online and will consist of a 30-minute baseline survey, followed by twice-daily brief surveys (less than 15 minutes) in the morning and evening for two weeks. As part of these surveys, you will answer questions about your current social distancing practices, mood, sleep, and physical activity.” You’ve got to be at least 18 and have access to Internet.

NiemanLab: People are getting a lot of coronavirus news from traditional media, but they trust information from their employers more. “The coronavirus pandemic continues to throw salt in the wound we journalists have about the public’s trust in news. The communications firm Edelman published a special edition of its annual Trust Barometer Report that highlights the role that the private sector must play in informing people about the coronavirus crisis. Unfortunately, the study also underscores the public’s conflicting views of the news media.”

NoCamels: Virtual Conference To Showcase Best Of Israeli Biotech, Medtech Solutions For COVID-19. “COVID-19 Innovation Conference, a new virtual business conference set for early April, will match investors with global medtech and biotech companies – including Israeli firms – fighting the novel coronavirus.”

The Register: Singapore to open-source national Coronavirus encounter-tracing app and the Bluetooth research behind it. “The app, named TraceTogether and its government is urging citizens to run so that if they encounter a Coronavirus carrier, it’s easier to trace who else may have been exposed to the virus. With that info in hand, health authorities are better-informed about who needs to go into quarantine and can focus their resources on those who most need assistance.”

South China Morning Post: Hangzhou park security uses AI-powered smart glasses to detect people with fever. “Roving security staff at Hongyuan Park, part of the Xixi Wetland preserve in Hangzhou in eastern China, now have the power to quickly detect the body temperature of all park visitors from a distance of up to 1 metre, thanks to ‘non-contact thermal augmented reality’ smart glasses supplied by AI start-up Rokid Corp.”

Mashable: Inside a Verily coronavirus testing site: How it works, from screening to diagnosis. “Verily, the medical company owned by Google parent Alphabet, has been ramping up its capacity to test people for coronavirus. The company is now offering a video look inside the process.”

TechCrunch: Coronavirus pushes Folding@Home’s crowdsourced molecular science to exaflop levels. “The long-running Folding@Home program to crowdsource the enormously complex task of solving molecular interactions has hit a major milestone as thousands of new users sign up to put their computers to work. The network now comprises an ‘exaflop’ of computing power: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 operations per second.”


Man of Many: 99+ Funny Zoom Virtual Backgrounds to Download. “Who cares if you’re crammed into the corner of the kitchenette in your studio apartment? With Zoom backgrounds, you can make it seem like you’re chilling in your Bel Air mansion. Taking a Zoom video meeting in your Daewoo Lanos? Forget it, now you’re in The Bahamas. With Zoom backgrounds, the world is your oyster and we want you to embrace it.”


Poynter: Will COVID-19 change the way we vote come November?. ” The coronavirus pandemic has forced more than a half dozen states to delay their Democratic primaries, with more states likely to follow. This has raised an urgent question: Could the pandemic still be dangerous enough in November that the general election will have to be held mostly or entirely by mail?”

CNET: Put a stop to coronavirus price gouging, state AGs tell Amazon, Facebook and others. “Thirty-four state attorneys general are calling on companies like Amazon, Craigslist, Facebook, eBay and Walmart to take a harder stance of price gouging in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The letters to each company cite specific examples, like a Craigslist ad for a 2-liter bottle of Purell Advanced hand sanitizer with a $250 price tag. While the attorneys general acknowledge that these companies have taken steps toward curtailing price gouging, the latter calls for further action.”

CNET: FBI issues warning about COVID-19 stimulus-package scams. “Hackers and scammers online have ramped up attacks to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, and that could mean targeting the US’ COVID-19 relief effort next, the FBI has warned.”

The Register: Instagram, YouTube ‘iron man’ marketer first to be nabbed by Feds cracking down on fake coronavirus web cures. “A social-media marketer is understood to be the first person to be hit with a federal fraud charge in the US for allegedly trying to trick people into investing in a bogus COVID-19 cure.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Support for Hong Kong protesters’ demands rises even as coronavirus halts rallies: poll. “Support for the demands of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong has grown even as rallies have paused due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey conducted for Reuters that also showed a widespread lack of confidence in the government’s ability to manage the COVID-19 crisis.”

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