Sunday CoronaBuzz, April 19, 2020: 32 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 and I want you to be okay.


Harvard FXB: New Data Visualization Tool Can Help Officials Assess COVID-19 Vulnerability in Their Communities. “Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics and the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard have made available a data visualization tool for county officials to explore a range of biological, demographic and socioeconomic factors that may heighten the vulnerability of their communities, and impact the county’s ability to respond to this crisis in a just and equitable manner. The tool is available here: .”

WUSA: ‘We all have a part to play’ | You can now log your temperature online to help predict coronavirus hotspots. “It all started as an idea by Rich Kilmer, the CEO of Cargo Sense. He was stuck at home, amid the pandemic, and wanted to make a positive impact. ‘The challenge becomes what else can we do to help,’ Kilmer said. It was at this point that Kilmer created ‘TrackMyTemp.Org,’ a site where people can submit their temperature once a day, no matter where they are across the globe.”


EdWeek Market Brief: New Database Catalogs Remote Learning Approaches in 82 Districts Closed by Coronavirus. “Companies wanting a closer look at how districts are implementing remote learning plans can tap into a new database with details on 82 K-12 districts and their efforts. The Center on Reinventing Public Education is cataloging efforts by districts across the country to continue instruction for students as their schools are closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. So far, CRPE has collected data from 82 districts, many of them in urban areas of the country, and will continue to add districts to the list, said Robin Lake, the organization’s director.”

SportBusiness: FEI removes OTT paywall and offers broadcasters free archive. “The FEI, the international federation for equestrian sport, has removed the paywall from its streaming platform and is also providing free archive footage to broadcasters. Announcing the move today (Friday), the FEI said that the OTT platform will provide all of its coverage of past events and special equestrian features free of charge while live sport is on hold until the end of June.”

University of Hawai’i News: Experience Waikīkī Aquarium without leaving home. “As part of an ongoing effort to keep keiki, parents and educators engaged during the State of Hawaiʻi‘s stay-at-home order, the Waikīkī Aquarium has unveiled a variety of free virtual experiences and online educational resources for both residents and visitors to enjoy.” Also three marvelous new webcams.


Washingtonian: An Artist is Projecting Giant Memorials to Covid-19 Victims on Walls All Over DC. “The faces of those who have died from coronavirus were illuminated in Adams Morgan for an hour Thursday night. Visual artist Robin Bell projected the photos onto a building along with messages from loved ones as a part of Covid Memorial, a digital archive honoring the deceased and those who mourn them. ‘Collectively, we’re going through a loss. We’re going through grief,’ says Bell. ‘There’s something about taking a moment and acknowledging where we’re at and acknowledging the people we have lost.'”

Stanford Law School: Stanford Law School Launches COVID-19 Memo Database in Collaboration with Cornerstone Research. “Stanford Law School today announced the launch of its COVID-19 Memo Database, developed and maintained by the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University and Cornerstone Research. The database provides searchable access to approximately 4,000 memoranda covering legal, regulatory, accounting, and governance issues raised by the current corona virus crisis.”

Capital Press: New digital resource to help nursery industry navigate COVID-19. “The Nursery & Landscape Association Executives of North America, in partnership with the Oregon Association of Nurseries and Arizona Nursery Association, started the resource because governors across the U.S. have made decisions about whether to close nursery-related businesses, but until now there was no centralized source to track it all. The NLAE COVID-19 map has a simple interface. If users want to know more about a specific state or territory, they click on it and a box appears showing the current open/closed/restricted status of each industry sector in that state.”

My Panhandle: Panama City native creates ‘Map of Kindness’ to track positivity during pandemic. “A few students at Florida State University are trying to bring positivity to those being negatively impacted by COVID-19. Panama City native, Gabriela Cintron and her two friends have created a new website called ‘Kindness amid the Coronavirus’. Their goal is to track stories of kindness and humanity from around the globe.”

WJAC: PA launches ‘Pandemic Unemployment Assistance’ site for self-employed, independent workers. ” Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry announced Saturday the launch of a new website for individuals to to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, according to a release. State officials say this will allow those who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, etc to receive the unemployment benefits they deserve.”

The Stanford Daily: Students launch web app to provide local news on COVID-19. “To help keep California residents updated on local COVID-19 cases, fatalities and news stories, a team of five students from Stanford; the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Southern California developed Close, a web app that organizes information about COVID-19 cases in California by county.”


Michigan Live: How to ‘look up together’ while social distancing during International Dark Sky Week. “During International Dark Sky Week, recognized this year from April 19-26, the International Dark-Sky Association is encouraging everyone who’s homebound to ‘look up together’ and learn more about astronomy, cultural connections to the stars, and the importance of limiting light pollution — an increasing threat which has impacted everything from firefly populations and bird migration to human circadian rhythms.”

CNET: Herd immunity: What it is and how it can help stop COVID-19. “The problem with herd immunity and the novel coronavirus is that the world is nowhere close to having widespread resistance to COVID-19, and is still a long way from developing it. Experts estimate that from 60% to upwards of 90% of a population must have immunity to a disease for it to stop spreading. Most countries affected by COVID-19 have not surpassed the 1% mark, including the US, which currently has the highest number of cases out of all countries. Let’s explore what herd immunity looks like, what it means for COVID-19 and how the world can get there, explained by Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Joseph Vinetz, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

WQDR: Learn how to give men’s haircuts in quarantine with Quarancuts Virtual Hair School. “Barba, in partnership with the agency Terri & Sandy, has launched the Quarancuts Virtual Hair School. Each day, Barba’s owner and master stylist, Xavier Cruz, will guide you through the techniques of men’s haircuts via Zoom. The lessons will air on IGTV.”

PLOS Blogs: Tips on Using Science Twitter During COVID-19. “In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, many scientists have taken to social media platforms, particularly Twitter. Social media can facilitate research collaboration, generate ideas, clarify misinformation, and further understanding. Here are some of the ways that science is happening on Twitter, including strategies to extend the reach of ideas or ask others for help. While most of these examples address the urgent pandemic, they will work in ordinary times as well.”

Washington Post: Fan-made tools to help you get the most out of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. “In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, your NookPhone (the in-game smartphone) helps you keep track of much of the game’s features, with a built-in encyclopedia of critters you’ve found or donated, as well as a progress tracker displaying how far along you are in completing Nook Miles objectives. But some systems, like the ins and outs of the fluctuating Stalk Market for selling turnips and the occasionally resource-rich Mystery Island Tours, have hidden algorithms shrouded in mystery. Others, like your custom design creator, can be limited depending on your creative ambitions. Luckily, players from around the world have been data mining and building third-party tools to help you navigate these areas with ease.”


USA Today: Need a hug during the coronavirus pandemic? Facebook has a new feel-good reaction for that. “The new Facebook reaction – an emoji hugging a heart – is intended as shorthand to show caring and solidarity when commenting on a status update, message, photo or video during the coronavirus crisis, Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, said in an interview.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Japan doctors warn of health system ‘break down’ as cases surge. “Doctors in Japan have warned that the country’s medical system could collapse amid a wave of new coronavirus cases. Emergency rooms have been unable to treat some patients with serious health conditions due to the extra burden caused by the virus, officials say. One ambulance carrying a patient with coronavirus symptoms was turned away by 80 hospitals before he could be seen.”


Phys .org: Lead with empathy during the COVID-19 crisis. “During the COVID-19 crisis, leaders are performing their typical roles under the additional stress of workforce instability and escalated safety and health risks, while also managing their own mounting work-life challenges and staying informed about rapidly changing policies. And, with an increased prevalence of mental health issues experienced by workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, supervisors and managers have been called upon to recognize when their employees may need additional psychological help as well.”

Phys .org: Virus forced schools online, but many students didn’t follow. “During the first week that her San Diego public school was shuttered to slow the spread of the coronavirus, not one of Elise Samaniego’s students logged on to her virtual classroom. Three weeks in, the teacher still hadn’t connected online with roughly two-thirds of the students in her third- and fourth-grade combo class at Paradise Hills Elementary. She fears the pandemic will exact a devastating toll on education in the United States, especially at low-income schools like hers.”

CNET: Coronavirus means videoconference weddings now OK in New York. “Add weddings to the list of things you can do online during the coronavirus pandemic, along with dinner parties, schooling, concerts and cabinet meetings, as people try to get stuff done despite stay-at-home rules. The state of New York now permits marriage ceremonies via videoconference.”

New York Times: After Anonymous Tip, 17 Bodies Found at Nursing Home Hit by Virus. “The call for body bags came late Saturday. By Monday, the police in a small New Jersey town had gotten an anonymous tip about a body being stored in a shed outside one of the state’s largest nursing homes. When the police arrived, the corpse had been removed from the shed, but they discovered 17 bodies piled inside the nursing home in a small morgue intended to hold no more than four people.”

The American Prospect: The Art of Confined Spaces. “Today, artists worldwide are experiencing a different kind of seclusion. As the pandemic spreads, they are grappling with canceled exhibitions, events, and screenings. Still, this moment of closed public spaces presents some opportunities. For artists, the biggest test may be how to engage in the simplistic and sometimes superficial universe of social media without being beholden to it. Confinement, however, can lead to personal works, and we may see a turn to journals and sketchbooks, claustrophobic time capsules of the present.”


ProPublica: There’s Been a Spike in People Dying at Home in Several Cities. That Suggests Coronavirus Deaths Are Higher Than Reported.. “Coronavirus death counts are based on positive tests and driven by hospital deaths. But data from major metropolitan areas shows a spike in at-home deaths, prompting one expert to say current numbers were just ‘the tip of the iceberg.'”

The Atlantic: A New Statistic Reveals Why America’s COVID-19 Numbers Are Flat. “How many people have the coronavirus in the United States? More than two months into the country’s outbreak, this remains the most important question for its people, schools, hospitals, and businesses. It is also still among the hardest to answer. At least 630,000 people nationwide now have test-confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project, a state-by-state tally conducted by more than 100 volunteers and experts. But an overwhelming body of evidence shows that this is an undercount.”

Ohio State University: New Research Finds Chest X-Ray Isn’t Reliable Diagnostic Tool For COVID-19. “The research team led by Dr. Michael Weinstock, an adjunct professor of emergency medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, reviewed more than 630 chest x-rays of confirmed and symptomatic COVID-19 patients of a large urgent care company in New York and New Jersey. The radiologists determined the chest x-rays were normal in 58.3% of cases, and normal or only mildly abnormal in 89% of patients.”

New York Times: Coronavirus Testing Needs to Triple Before the U.S. Can Reopen, Experts Say. “An average of 146,000 people per day have been tested for the coronavirus nationally so far this month, according to the COVID Tracking Project, which on Friday reported 3.6 million total tests across the country. To reopen the United States by mid-May, the number of daily tests performed between now and then should be 500,000 to 700,000, according to the Harvard estimates.”

The BayNet: Southern Maryland Engineers Hope to Solve Ventilator Shortage With Breast Pumps. ” There are a lot of moms that still have them sitting around. Maybe stuffed in a drawer, maybe in a random bedroom closet, or maybe just tucked away with the rest of that old diaper bag you used before your baby grew up. Of course, we are talking about those old breast pumps that sit around collecting dust after you no longer need them. But this team of engineers from Southern Maryland hopes they found a new use for those pumps. In the midst of a global health pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus(COVID-19), their ingenuity could potentially save thousands of lives that will be impacted by a shortage of ventilators across the country.”

TechCrunch: New MIT machine learning model shows relaxing quarantine rules will spike COVID-19 cases. “MIT has developed a new model of the spread of COVID-19 infection, based on publicly available data, combined with established epidemiological equations about outbreaks, and neural network-based inference. The model, described in a new report, proves accurate when trained on data spanning late January to early March in terms of anticipating the actual spread leading up to April 1 in different regions around the world, and it indicates that any immediate or near-term relaxation or reversal of quarantine measures currently in place would lead to an ‘exponential explosion’ in the number of infections.”


Business Insider: The Trump administration awarded a $55 million contract to a bankrupt company with zero employees for N95 masks, which it’s never manufactured. “The coronavirus pandemic has created a desperate clamber for vital medical supplies, like N95 masks, that has led the federal government to award massive contracts to third-party vendors to help fill the gaps. In this chaotic effort to obtain supplies, the Trump administration awarded a $55 million contract to Panthera Worldwide LLC, a company with no expertise in the world of medical equipment, for N95 masks, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.”

Washington Post: U.S. sent millions of face masks to China early this year, ignoring pandemic warning signs. “U.S. manufacturers shipped millions of dollars of face masks and other protective medical equipment to China in January and February with encouragement from the federal government, a Washington Post review of economic data and internal government documents has found. The move underscores the Trump administration’s failure to recognize and prepare for the growing pandemic threat. In those two months, the value of protective masks and related items exported from the United States to China grew more than 1,000 percent compared with the same time last year — from $1.4 million to about $17.6 million, according to a Post analysis of customs categories which, according to research by Public Citizen, contain key PPE. Similarly, shipments of ventilators and protective garments jumped by triple digits.”

Wired: An Oral History of the Pandemic Warnings Trump Ignored. “Over the past quarter century, warnings have been clear and consistent from both US government leaders, scientists, and global health officials: A pandemic was coming—and whenever it arrived, it would be catastrophic to the global economy. In recent years red alerts have come almost monthly—sometimes weekly—and all three of Trump’s predecessors have dedicated significant personal time and public attention to the pandemic threat.”

Washington Post: Contamination at CDC lab delayed rollout of coronavirus tests. “The failure by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to quickly produce a test kit for detecting the novel coronavirus was triggered by a glaring scientific breakdown at the CDC’s central laboratory complex in Atlanta, according to scientists with knowledge of the matter and a determination by federal regulators. The CDC facilities that assembled the kits violated sound manufacturing practices, resulting in contamination of one of the three test components used in the highly sensitive detection process, the scientists said.”

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