Saturday CoronaBuzz, April 11, 2020: 34 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. Please be careful. I love you.


Multiple Sclerosis News Today: New Database to Compile COVID-19 Data About People with MS and Related Diseases. “The database, called COViMS (COVID-19 Infections in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Diseases), will record information on people in North America with MS and other demyelinating diseases of the central nervous system — namely neuromyelitis optica and MOG antibody disease — and who develop COVID-19. There has hitherto been no such database for this purpose.”

Daily Mail: Software developer creates a simplified website of coronavirus statistics to make them accessible for the blind or visually impaired. “Tyler Littlefield, a software developer based in Boston, has created a database of COVID-19 statistics meant to be accessible to the visually impaired. …the site organizes up-to-date COVID-19 data in simple charts specifically designed to be legible to a range of aid devices the visually impaired use to access websites.”

UCLA School of Engineering: UCLA Web App Enlists Public Support to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19. “UCLA has launched Stop COVID-19 Together to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The web-based app is a simple 5-minute survey that will enable the public to share real-time information about their exposure to the virus and specific symptoms.”

Medmastery: The 1 Million Ventilator Staffing Challenge. “Our goal is to train 1 million medical professionals to confidently use ventilators in an ICU so they can save lives—possibly yours. This is where the toughest battles against COVID-19 are being fought. is a series of online courses on how to use a ventilator (powered by Medmastery). In under 24 hours, these courses take medical professionals, unfamiliar with the ICU environment, and cross train them to save a life with a ventilator. These courses are free and can be completed from home on any device.”


Jam Bands: Grateful Dead Announce ‘Shakedown Stream’ YouTube Concert Series. “Grateful Dead have announced a new, weekly YouTube concert series, dubbed ‘Shakedown Stream.’ The series debuts this Friday, Apr. 10 at 8 p.m. ET…. Prior to the screening, Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux and Dead historian Gary Lambert will host a live pre-show.”

SyFy Wire: The Pull List: Comic Shop Database Arises With New Comics On Hold. Also Hugo Picks!. “Last week, a group known as the Comics Industry Collective launched its new website 28 Pages Later, a guide for comics fans and customers looking for local stores around the country. The site has its roots in efforts that began some time ago, as comics writer Leah Williams (Gwenpool Strikes Back) stepped up and began compiling information on which local stores were still open and could still offer some kind of service even as shelter-in-place orders meant many non-essential businesses were closing up shop for the time being.”

The Bookseller: CUP provides free resources to support students during coronavirus outbreak. “CUP’s Academic division has made more than 700 higher education and reference works available to view online in HTML format to students, available through their university libraries. Coronavirus research has also been placed onto a free online collection, with the editorial process adapted to ensure the information is online with 24 hours of the receipt of a manuscript.”

Beyond the Joke: News: Slapstick Festival Releases Archive Online Including Unseen Harry Hill. “Bristol’s annual Slapstick festival of silent, visual and classic screen comedy is hoping to help lift the nation’s spirits from this week by sharing previously unreleased footage captured during a selection of the unique events it has staged over the past decade featuring top UK entertainers…. Other shows lined up for sharing include Harry Hill (pictured with Chris Daniels) talking about his favourite comedy moments; highlights from when Sir Ken Dodd and French & Saunders received their Aardman/ Slapstick Comedy Legend awards; a stand-up comedy set from John Cleese as part of a mixed music and mirth show and the first stage reunion in decades of Little & Large, the double act best described as the Ant & Dec of their day and whose reminiscences now seem even more bittersweet following the death this month of Eddie Large (Hugh McGinnis).”

Denver Post: Colorado photography center puts its entire 180-artist collection online. “It’s impossible to tout the valiant efforts of one Denver cultural organization to keep art thriving during the great coronavirus shutdown of 2020 without mentioning a few others for context…. The Colorado Photographic Arts Center adds mightily to the mix, using the pandemic as an incentive to put its entire in-house collection online. CPAC’s just-released digital gallery is an easily accessible assemblage of images featuring some of the world’s most-respected photographers past and present, including Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Berenice Abbott and Philippe Halsman.”

ABC News Australia: Coronavirus pandemic sees zoos, wildlife parks and museums go online during shutdowns. “Zoos, wildlife parks, museums and aquariums are among those offering tours, talks and live streams that allow people to holiday at home — quite literally.”

Engadget: Radiohead is uploading concert films to YouTube for isolated fans. “Radiohead has made a career for themselves writing songs about personal and social alienation. And so it should come as no surprise that the band is now trying to help its fans get through recent tough times by posting weekly concert videos to its YouTube channel.”

Electronics Weekly: Google sets free a Flutter introductory video course. “The search giant says it wants to help people develop new skills during the home lockdown period, and so has partnered with the London-based App Brewery to provide the new course. It will be free as long as you activate it within the next three months. These courses can cost hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, so it’s well worth investigating if you have any inclination to learn more about Flutter, which works with Android, iOS and desktops.”


Technical .ly: Maryland businesses: Use this web tool to determine whether you’re eligible for COVID-19 relief programs. “The Maryland Business Relief Wizard launched on Wednesday. It’s a web tool where users can get a look at which programs are still accepting applications, which will change as announcements are made about funds running out (such as the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan and Grant Fund filling up this week) or gaining new resources (like if Congress passes more funding for the PPP).”

KSBY: ‘Onward California’ website helps Californians find jobs. “The website … will help employees access emergency resources, training for a new career and connections to employers seeking people with their current skill set. Several private industries are running Onward CA in collaboration with the state, Mastercard, the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges and technology companies, including LinkedIn and Salesforce.”


Make Tech Easier: 6 Great Sites to Play Online Board Games with Friends. “Board games have traditionally been a tabletop activity, but in the age of the Internet, there’s no reason every player needs to share the same table. Online board games are quickly becoming a popular way to spend time with friends and family who might not share your geographical location, and it’s not just online chess anymore. Here are some great sites for you to play online board games with friends.”

France Today: Go for a Museum Hop in France from the Comfort of Your Home. “In a remarkable effort in support of the #culturecheznous initiative by the French Ministry of Culture, museums have prepared virtual visits to invite us through their doors, in anticipation of a future visit #IRL. You can enjoy special exhibitions, browse the permanent collections and even attend concerts. So make yourself a cup of your favourite drink, put your feet up and join us on this virtual tour de force of France’s most precious cultural treasures… and some of its lesser known jewels.”

Lifestyle Asia: 9 best online resources to learn how to make bread. “We’re all spending way more time at home these days. Chances are, you’re picking up a few newfound hobbies, whether it’s playing the ukulele or learning Spanish. Yet, for something that will really yield into a life skill far beyond these days of lockdown, you’ll want to try your hand at making bread. As everybody’s Instagram feeds flourish with the ubiquitous homemade sourdough starter flex, perhaps it’s also time for you to learn the art of turning three simple ingredients into the universe’s greatest gift.”

Mashable: How to use Twitter during the coronavirus pandemic without falling into a black hole of anxiety. “You can get the news faster than ever before by relentlessly refreshing your Twitter timeline, which can be a blessing and a curse during the coronavirus pandemic. We all probably know someone who is stressing themselves out right now by anxiously scrolling Twitter all day. If you find yourself doing this, please know that there are ways to stop. Whether it’s asking friends for help or using a time management app, it’s totally possible to cut down on your Twitter time.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Teachers in Singapore stop using Zoom after ‘lewd’ incidents. “Singapore has suspended the use of video-conferencing tool Zoom by its teachers, after a ‘very serious incident’ during a home-based lesson. Singapore closed its schools on Wednesday in response to a rising number of coronavirus cases. But one mother told local media that, during her daughter’s geography lesson, obscene images appeared on screen, before two men asked girls to ‘flash’.”

Mashable: ‘Saturday Night Live’ to return with remote broadcast. “Saturday night will be (sort of) live again. After a three-week hiatus in response to preventative coronavirus measures, SNL will return with new content on April 11. While individual sketches may not necessarily be live (we’ve all faced technical difficulties with video streams of late), but the show will include a “Weekend Update” and other segments filmed remotely by the cast.”

BBC: Coronavirus: India to extend nationwide lockdown, state minister says. “India has decided to extend a strict nationwide lockdown imposed last month to stop the spread of the coronavirus, a top official says. On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video conference with state ministers, and many of them urged the government to prolong the measure.”

TechCrunch: Google starts highlighting virtual care options in Search and Maps. “The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on virtual care options as both doctors and patients try to reduce in-person visits for routine care as much as possible. Patients aren’t always aware of what’s available to them, though, so over the course of the next two weeks, Google will roll out new features in Search and Maps that will highlight telehealth options.”

CNET: Singapore had the coronavirus under control. Now it’s locking down the country. “As the world scrambles to contain the coronavirus, Singapore has been held up as a role model for its early and decisive response to the threat. The city-state drew international praise for its ability to blunt the spread of COVID-19 while avoiding some of the drastic containment measures seen in countries like China, Italy and Spain. But Singapore’s lauded response has come into question. This week, it enforced a partial lockdown as it struggles to contain a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.”


BBC: Coronavirus: The people fighting fakes from their sofas. “Social media companies are struggling to contain a wave of coronavirus misinformation. Into the breach have stepped volunteers who are fighting to stop rumours, bad advice and conspiracy theories from going viral.”

California Streets Blog: Crashes Down: Real-Time Data Shows Stay-at-Home Orders May Be Saving Lives in More Ways Than One. “Researchers at UC Davis’ Road Ecology Center are using real-time collision report data from the California Highway Patrol to measure and compare crash rates during the stay-at-home orders. The preliminary report [PDF] finds that collisions have reduced by half since the order went into effect on March 20, from about 1,000 collisions per day a year ago to about 500 per day, and from about 400 injury or fatal crashes per day to about 200. The data is from state highways, which in some cases are freeways and rural roads but can also be main streets.”

Mashable: New emoji are being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. “One unexpected effect of the coronavirus pandemic has to do with the colorful little pictograms we use on our phones and computers to express, well, pretty much everything: emoji. According to the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit which takes care of the Unicode Standard – a widely-used standard for character encoding on computers and phones – the release of Unicode 14.0 has been postponed by six months.”

BBC: Coronavirus: I’m using my pizza oven to toss masks for nurses. “After consulting with a couple of his engineer friends and procuring large sheets of acrylic, [Dimitri] Syrkin-Nikolau and his staff have started making face shields for healthcare workers. The industrial pizza oven heats the acrylic up until it’s soft enough to bend into the right shape, and then it is attached to a foam strip and straps.”

Religion News Service: Shunning online services, some clergy preach ‘abstinence’ from gathered worship. “For weeks, as Easter approached, churches have been rushing to use the internet in new ways, livestreaming and videoconferencing to keep the faithful together for weekend worship. But at least a handful of churches across the country — including three Southern Baptist ones — have intentionally decided not to worship online on recent Sundays as some political and health officials said coronavirus-related social distancing applied to religious gatherings.”

Refinery29: How People Are Celebrating Easter This Year. “Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not just because it’s right around my birthday (shout out to all the Aries out there). I also love it because it typically means that my entire family comes over. Plus, my competitive childhood self was obsessed with winning the Easter egg hunts (again, Aries). But, this year, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, my holiday will look a little different.”

Consumer Reports: Coronavirus Is Pushing Car Dealerships Into Online Sales and Home Delivery. “As the coronavirus pandemic intensified this year, foot traffic at the Honda of Hollywood dealership in Los Angeles dried up quickly. To try to keep some business flowing, the dealership started advertising online transactions and free home deliveries that would respect social distancing, says Roland Perez, digital marketing director for Bakhtiari Auto Group, which owns the dealership and others in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. Dealership visits are now by appointment only, he says.”


Tom’s Guide: Apple and Google team up to fight coronavirus with contact tracing. “Today, Apple and Google announced a surprising collaboration: the two will unite to bring contact tracing to their smartphones in order to fight coronavirus. And both companies are committed to doing so while respecting user privacy. In posts made by both Apple and Google, the companies declared ‘a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.'”

New York Times: How Will We Know When It’s Time to Reopen the Nation?. “Some cities or states will recover sooner than others. It’s helpful to have criteria by which cities or states could determine they’re ready. A recent report by Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out some goal posts.”


The New Yorker: How Did the U.S. End Up with Nurses Wearing Garbage Bags?. “America was watching, shocked, as doctors and nurses pleaded for protective gear and medical equipment such as ventilators. [Eric] Ries was asked to help start a Web site that would match hospitals and suppliers. Sure, Ries said, he could have something up and running by Monday. What followed over the next two weeks was an inside glimpse of the dysfunction emanating from Trump’s Washington in the midst of the pandemic, a crash course in the breakdown that has led to nurses in one of the wealthiest countries in the world wearing garbage bags to protect themselves from a virus whose outbreak the President downplayed until it was too late to prepare for its consequences.”

NPR: Federal Support Ends For Coronavirus Testing Sites As Pandemic Peak Nears. “Some local officials are disappointed the federal government will end funding for coronavirus testing sites [yesterday]. In a few places those sites will close as a result. This as criticism continues that not enough testing is available.”

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