Friday CoronaBuzz, April 16, 2020: 42 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. Enjoy your weekend. I love you.


ZDNet: Verizon introduces open-source, big data coronavirus search engine. “As we struggle to get a grip on exactly how COVID-19 makes us ill and what we can do about it, researchers have created over 50,000 articles. That’s a lot of information! So, how do you make sense of it all? Verizon Media is doing it by using Vespa. This is an open-source, big data processing program to create a coronavirus academic research search engine: CORD-19 Search.”

PR Newswire: MIT Sloan models track COVID-19 spread in communities and predict patient outcomes (PRESS RELEASE). “The COVID-19 pandemic is raising critical questions regarding the dynamics of the disease, its risk factors, and the best approach to address it in healthcare systems. MIT Sloan School of Management Prof. Dimitris Bertsimas and nearly two dozen doctoral students are using machine learning and optimization to find answers. Their effort is summarized in the COVIDanalytics platform where their models are generating accurate real-time insight into the pandemic. The group is focusing on four main directions; predicting disease progression, optimizing resource allocation, uncovering clinically important insights, and assisting in the development of COVID-19 testing.”

TechCrunch: FDA debuts new online portal to encourage donation of plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. “One of the avenues currently being pursued in terms of developing an effective treatment for COVID-19 is through the use of convalescent plasma. Basically, that means using the liquid component of blood from people who have had, and already recovered fully from, COVID-19 to produce treatments that hopefully translate to others the antibodies they developed over the course of fighting off the virus. The FDA has created a dedicated new website seeking recovered COVID-19 donations, and explaining its potential uses.”

George Washington University: Novel Tool Reveals Which States Could Face Shortages of COVID-19 Workforce. “To meet the potentially explosive demand for healthcare workers, researchers at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) have created a novel tool that will help states and the federal government estimate the need for health care workers under different scenarios of patient infection rates and health worker attrition. The estimates provided by the new tool will help state and federal pandemic experts plan for large spikes in illness and potential shortfalls of key ICU personnel, such as respiratory therapists, intensivists, critical care nurses and others.”

Click on Detroit: Actress launches free virtual therapy for African-Americans affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). “Actress Taraji Henson is launching a free virtual therapy campaign for African-Americans hit hard by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Henson announced the campaign will be through the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. She encouraged anyone struggling due to COVID-19 to make an appointment for a free tele-therapy session with a clinician.”

Cornell Chronicle: Weill Cornell doctor creates epidemic modeling tool. “Using a tool he created called the Cornell COVID Caseload Calculator C5V, Dr. Nathaniel Hupert, associate professor of population health sciences and of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, has been making forecasts of the potential impact of COVID-19 on local and regional health care systems. The data helps state and city leaders answer questions related to when cases of the disease will peak in hospitals and what resources will be needed to successfully care for those patients.”

NIST: NIST Tool Could Help Hospitals Repurpose Rooms for Disinfecting N95 Masks. “A new tool from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can help hospitals and medical professionals determine which rooms should be used to disinfect N95 masks. The tool estimates the amount of VHP masks would receive and suggests that larger rooms containing fewer objects, with less-reactive surfaces and slower ventilation, maintain VHP concentration the best.”


Web Bike World: Motorcycle Safety Foundation Offers Free Digital Learning Content. “The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) doesn’t just want you to sit around on your backside while styling home. The organization has opened up free digital learning courses so that riders can become better and more knowledgable two-wheelers.”

NJArts: NJPAC launches ‘In Your Living Room,’ an online library of entertainment and education. “Artists featured in videos range from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to rapper Ja Rule, ‘Great American Songbook’ crooner Michael Feinstein, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. There are also offerings geared toward children, workshops, and wellness videos. And every Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m., ‘In Your Living Room’ will present a DJ Dance Party; the April 16 DJ is Storm Norm Da General from BKS1 Radio.”

MIT News: Students and teachers rely on MIT teaching and learning resources now more than ever. “In response to physical distancing set into motion to address the Covid-19 pandemic, MIT Open Learning has created a number of new platforms for higher education students and faculty, as well as for teachers, parents, and K-12 students, while continuing to offer its existing online education resources and courseware.”

TIME: Missing Baseball? Taiwanese Games Are Now Broadcasting in English. Here’s How to Watch Live. “In an attempt to raise the profile of Taiwanese baseball, Eleven Sports network is streaming home games for one Taiwanese team, the Rakuten Monkeys, live on Twitter with English commentary—for free. Simply visit the Eleven Sports on Twitter.”

Business Insider: As Instagram Live use skyrockets, a ‘TV guide of live content’ is launching to help users find and schedule the best ones. “The self-styled ‘TV guide of live content’ launched with a group of influencers, brands, and content creators lined up, and new Instagram Live events are already being added every few minutes. The platform is still evolving and is just in phase one, [Reesa] Lake said, and has the potential to become monetized, letting brands pay for better site placement.”

Montana University: Museum of the Rockies launches new online learning resources. “In light of closures across the state due to the novel coronavirus, Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies has launched a new, free online learning resource for community members. The online library of resources comprises lessons, curriculum guides, games and videos intended for school-aged children, families, museum members, caregivers and the community to help stay engaged with the collections, exhibits and programs the museum has to offer.”


Out There Colorado: Crowding at Colorado’s Front Range parks and trails tracked by new website. “Analytical as they are, Connor McCormick and his friends from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs took their own dive into data before the coronavirus outbreak swept the nation. ‘We were watching the graphs and doing the math,’ McCormick said. ‘We started thinking, “This is gonna be really bad.”‘ Entrepreneurial as the 20-somethings are — having secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments on past projects — they started thinking of something people could use. They thought of their favorite parks and open spaces, again rightly predicting trails would be overrun.”

Attractions Magazine: Visit Orlando compiles virtual learning experiences from local attractions. “To help the parents who are juggling working from home, sheltering, and now teaching their children from home, Visit Orlando has compiled a list of more than 20 free online learning activities from the region’s travel partners to keep kids engaged and educated.”


Task & Purpose: Here are all the financial resources for troops and veterans hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. “As the public health crisis posed by COVID-19 worsens, many Americans across the country are experiencing significant financial shock. Servicemembers, veterans, and military families are no exception. Although veterans will continue to receive their benefits and active-duty servicemembers will continue to receive their pay, some military personnel and their families are facing financial strain due to lost employment or changes in military orders. If you need financial assistance as a result of the pandemic, there is help.”

New York Times: Eating Is Weird Now. Here’s How to (Kind of) Get Back to Normal.. “As the first shelter-in-place orders were spreading across the country, a popular tweet was going around: ‘Wear jeans for an hour or two in your house every day. You don’t want to get three or four weeks from now and go to put them on and have it be an absolute crisis.’ It’s been about four weeks since that tweet was sent. Anyone have that crisis yet?”

NPR: Coronavirus Panic: How To Get Your Thinking Brain Back Online. “Toilet paper hoarding. Obsessive cleaning. News bingeing. Sometimes panic can be as contagious as a virus. Dr. Judson Brewer, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist at Brown University, is doing his part to help us manage coronavirus anxiety with practical advice in his daily YouTube updates. Life Kit host Shereen Marisol Meraji spoke with Dr. Jud about what’s going on in the brain when we’re anxious, how to get our ‘thinking brains’ back online and how not doing anything can actually be helpful to those around us.” Audio with edited transcript.

CNA: These celebrity chefs are offering quarantine-friendly Instagram cooking classes. “With one-third of the global population on lockdown in an attempt to flatten the curve, a handful of chefs and TV show personalities have taken to Instagram to share easy-to-follow recipes to ensure that you eat well while practising safe distancing.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Japan declares nationwide state of emergency. “A nationwide state of emergency has been declared in Japan due to the country’s worsening coronavirus outbreak. The move allows regional governments to urge people to stay inside, but without punitive measures or legal force. The state of emergency will remain in force until 6 May.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Facebook alerts users exposed to misinformation. “Facebook users who have read, watched or shared false coronavirus content will receive pop-up warnings as the company attempts to combat the spread of misinformation. The new alerts system is a response to what the World Health Organisation calls the ‘infodemic’ around Covid-19.”

BBC Sport: PGA Tour plans to resume in June with tournaments behind closed doors. “The PGA Tour has announced plans to resume in June with the first four tournaments played behind closed doors. The Tour has been suspended since 12 March because of the global coronavirus pandemic that has halted all golf. The Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas is scheduled to be the first tournament back on 11-14 June.”

Axios: Social media app Cocoon adds features for the coronavirus era. “Cocoon, an iPhone app for sharing with a close circle of friends, is adding a number of health and wellness features designed to be useful amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

BetaNews: Zoom releases software update to improve passwords, protect meeting IDs and secure cloud recordings. “Zoom has been forced to take a long, hard look at its security and privacy in recent weeks. The company has not only put a pause on new features, it is focusing instead on making existing options more secure. In an update to the software, Zoom has taken steps to improve the security of passwords, as well as introducing random IDs for meetings. The company has also enhanced password protection for meeting recordings stored in the cloud, and added other key security features.”

Los Angeles Times: You can now order food for delivery or takeout through Instagram. “The next time a restaurant posts a video of some lust-worthy food on Instagram, you may be able to have it delivered in a couple of clicks. The social media app has partnered with the ChowNow food ordering platform to create an ‘order now’ button and story sticker that will allow Instagram users to order and pay for food directly from the app.”

New York Times: Navy May Reinstate Fired Captain to Command of Roosevelt. “The Navy is looking into whether it can reinstate Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was removed from command of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt after he pleaded for more help fighting a novel coronavirus outbreak aboard his ship, Defense Department officials said on Wednesday.”


Phys .org: Eradicating the COVID-19 coronavirus is also the best economic strategy. “Less than a month after restrictions first took effect, Australia appears to have contained the spread of COVID-19 more successfully than we could have possibly imagined. But we’ve done so at unimaginable cost: large swathes of the economy have been shut down, leaving the livelihoods of millions of Australians on hold indefinitely. With new cases now on the decline, the conversation at today’s National Cabinet meeting will turn to what can reopen, and when. But the economic costs of re-opening prematurely could be enormous.”

Phys .org: A COVID-19 crisis looms in the mortgage industry, experts warn. “More than two years ago, [Nancy] Wallace and [Richard] Stanton again began raising the alarm that the mortgage landscape that emerged from the last crisis is dominated by ‘nonbank’ lenders who operate with little of their own capital or access to emergency cash. It was another disaster waiting to happen, they warned, and called for increased oversight. No one predicted a shock the size and speed of the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s now upon us, and Wallace fears the worst.”

New York Times: A Dissident Company Celebrates 15 Years Underground. “Long before the coronavirus closed most of the world’s playhouses, one company pioneered creating theater at a distance. The Belarus Free Theater, founded in 2005 by dissident artists in the former Soviet republic, has operated clandestinely in the capital, Minsk, and in London, where the artistic directors, Natalia Kaliada and Nicolai Khalezin, have lived in exile since 2011. For performances in Belarus, where most of the 12-person ensemble is still based, the troupe rehearses its provocative productions over Skype and puts them on in changing ‘underground’ locations, in defiance of a government ban.”

The Atlantic: Our Pandemic Summer. “In January, the United States watched as the new coronavirus blazed through China and reached American shores. In February, hindered by an unexpected failure to roll out diagnostic tests and an administration that had denuded itself of scientific expertise, the nation sat largely idle while the pandemic spread within its borders. In March, as the virus launched several simultaneous assaults on a perilously stretched-thin health-care system, America finally sputtered into action, frantically closing offices, schools, and public spaces in a bid to cut off chains of transmission. Now, in April, as viral fevers surge through American hospitals and cabin fever grows in American homes, the U.S. has cemented itself as the new center of the pandemic—the country that should have been more prepared than any other, but that now has the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world. What will May bring? Or June? What happens as this seemingly interminable spring rolls into a precarious summer? When will things go back to normal?”

Next City: How Fear of Cities Can Blind Us From Solutions to COVID-19. “There are three natural enemies of urbanism: crime, terrorism, and pandemics. In the 1970s and 1980s, crime seemed like an existential threat to American cities. In the 2000s, it was terrorism. And today it’s pandemics, as COVID-19 sweeps across the country’s dense urban areas. For many, all three cases provoke a fear of cities, especially the dense clustering of diverse populations. This fear can prevent decision-makers from understanding and implementing solutions to those problems.”

This Twitter account made me so mad I blocked it, but it’s relevant, so. Los Angeles Magazine: This Twitter Account Is Savaging Politicians’ and Pundits’ Skype Environs. “With the country on lockdown and TV studios empty, our talking heads have been forced to work from home, giving us a rare glimpse of their private lives as we peer into their offices, living rooms, and other intimate settings. Now, a new Twitter account is taking the opportunity to pass judgment on the personal spaces of anchors, politicians, and other media chatterboxes—and the internet loves it.”

Waging Nonviolence: For climate activists, coronavirus lockdown means more time to organize. “The responses to these earlier disruptions suggest that — in an emergency — the climate movement can adapt very quickly to new circumstances. However, the effects of COVID-19 are much wider reaching than either of those earlier events and have impacted climate organizing all over the world to a far greater degree. The barriers to building a mass movement when large street mobilizations are impossible are very real. But for a movement led largely by young people — the most internet-savvy generation in history — keeping the momentum going without being able to meet in person may not be quite as difficult as it seems.”

University of Washington: How to move ‘hands on’ classes online. “Every spring, Laura Prugh teaches a wildlife research techniques class at the University of Washington. Her students spend much of their time outside, complementing their lecture notes with actual experience. They learn to identify and properly handle animals — frogs, salamanders and bushy-tailed woodrats, for example — and they practice using equipment for tracking animals and estimating populations. But when the UW announced it was moving its spring quarter 2020 classes entirely online to combat the novel coronavirus, Prugh and other instructors across campus faced a new, unchartered challenge.”

London Free Press: Coronavirus could cause upheaval across Middle East – Red Cross. “Coronavirus outbreaks across the Middle East threaten to shatter the lives of millions of already destitute people in conflict zones, and could fuel socio-economic upheaval, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday. Curfews and lockdowns imposed as public health measures to stem spread of the virus are already making it difficult or impossible for many to provide for their families, it said.”

Elle: The Hauntingly Beautiful Self-Portraits Of ‘Girls Of Isolation’. “The account has nearly 10,000 followers, and more than 40 collages made up of five or six individual self-portraits in black and white, which, Gatwood says, ‘gives off this kind of intimate but also melancholy energy, which is very much what people in isolation are experiencing right now.'”


New York Times: Small Chloroquine Study Halted Over Risk of Fatal Heart Complications. “A research trial of coronavirus patients in Brazil ended after patients taking a higher dose of chloroquine, one of the drugs President Trump has promoted, developed irregular heart rates.”

CBS Sacramento: UC Davis Researchers Conducting Coronavirus Study Suggest Social Media Tracking To Help Forecast Outbreaks. “UC Davis researchers conducting a study of coronavirus-related posts on China’s popular microblogging website Weibo say social media surveillance could help health officials identify and respond to emerging outbreaks. The study involved the analysis of over 12 million Weibo posts regarding COVID-19 between November 2019 and March 2020. The research found that posts about symptoms and the disease could help health officials predict daily case counts up to week earlier than officials statistics.”


Center for Public Integrity: City Leaders To Trump: Help Us Fight The Coronavirus By Paying Your Bills. “Fourteen municipal governments — from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Wildwood, New Jersey — want Trump’s campaign committee to clear a combined $1.82 million worth of public safety-related debt connected to Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign rallies, according to interviews with local officials and municipal records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. The Trump campaign’s tab is now more than double what Public Integrity first reported in June.”

FBI: FBI Expects a Rise in Scams Involving Cryptocurrency Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. “Fraudsters are leveraging increased fear and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money and launder it through the complex cryptocurrency ecosystem. People of all ages, including the elderly, are being victimized by criminals through cryptocurrency-related fraud schemes. Developments in cryptocurrency technology and an increasing number of businesses accepting it as payment have driven the growing popularity and accessibility of cryptocurrency. There are not only numerous virtual asset service providers online but also thousands of cryptocurrency kiosks located throughout the world which are exploited by criminals to facilitate their schemes. Many traditional financial crimes and money laundering schemes are now orchestrated via cryptocurrencies.”

Washington Post: How false hope spread about hydroxychloroquine to treat covid-19 — and the consequences that followed. “The world is looking for answers in the search for a treatment for covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives across the globe. President Trump has repeatedly touted the anti-malarial medications hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as that much-needed solution. Even before Trump started talking about the drugs, studies abroad sparked interest in them as a potential cure. News about the drugs spread quickly online, percolated to the media and the White House.”

Hindustan Times: Google, SpaceX to NASA: Top companies, government agencies that banned Zoom. “As quickly as Zoom’s popularity rose, so did its security woes. Ever since Zoom’s skeleton of privacy and security issues were out, the company has been trying to fix its mistakes. It has launched new features which aim to strengthen user privacy, and is regularly updating users on the same.”

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