Monday CoronaBuzz, April 20, 2020: 33 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Longtime readers may remember that today is ResearchBuzz’ birthday — its 22nd, as it started in 1998. I know some of y’all have been reading from the jump, and I really appreciate it. All I want to do is bring you helpful information every day in a low-key, hopeful kind of way. I’m so grateful for your support over the years. I can’t express how much it means to me. I’m looking forward to the day when I’m just doing ResearchBuzz again, and CoronaBuzz is no longer needed. But as long as it’s necessary and useful, I’ll be here. Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. Please be careful. I love you.


NiemanLab: Lost on the Frontlines wants to memorialize (and count) the health care workers who’ve died from coronavirus. “On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, among health care workers, there have been 9,282 confirmed cases and 27 deaths as of April 9. But Kaiser Health News, USA Today, and even the CDC itself have all said that number is a major undercount because of the way testing varies in each state…. The Lost on the Frontlines project, launched Wednesday, is a series of profiles of deceased frontline workers, like J. Ronald Verrier, a surgeon in the Bronx, or Daisy Doranila, a nurse in Kearny, New Jersey.”


Nieman Lab: This new newsletter looks to inform the black community about the coronavirus. “In Louisiana, 7 out of 10 patients killed by COVID-19 in Louisiana were black. In Michigan, 40 percent of the people who have died of the virus are black, even though black people only make up 14 percent of the state population. Though often referred to as the ‘great equalizer,’ the novel coronavirus has disproportionately hit black communities and decades of disparities are now on full display. Journalist Patrice Peck is dedicated to covering all of this with her newsletter, Coronavirus News For Black Folks. Peck, who has written for and/or worked at publications including EBONY, NBC’s The Grio, HuffPost Black Voices, CNN, The New York Times, and BuzzFeed, is sharing how the virus is impacting the black community worldwide.”

Mashable: Michelle Obama will entertain your kids for you. “Starting April 20 at noon EDT, the former first lady will be reading children’s books live in a weekly event dubbed ‘Mondays with Michelle.’ Obama will read a different beloved children’s book for four consecutive Mondays, through May 11, in a collaboration with Penguin Young Readers, Random House Children’s Books, and PBS Kids.”

Mashable: David Attenborough is teaching online geography lessons to kids at home. “From today, the BBC is launching its biggest educational offering in its history, Bitesize Daily, featuring lessons from over 200 teachers and scores of celebrities. The BBC has collaborated with teachers and education specialists to compile a 14-week curriculum for youngsters across the UK. Remarkably, this program has been put together in just four weeks. ” I was able to browse the site but not play any videos because I’m not in the UK.


EurekAlert: Amid COVID, computing society releases report on best practices for virtual conferences. “Science and technology conferences are engines of innovation–essential to the incubation of new ideas, the dissemination of research, and the spawning of new technologies. But this year, with no warning, conferences around the globe are finding themselves in uncharted waters as the global COVID-19 pandemic makes physical meetings impossible. To help organizers cope, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has issued a new report, ‘Virtual Conferences: A Guide to Best Practices,’ on how to replace face-to-face conferences with virtual ones during the pandemic.”


Thanks to Esther S. for this pointer. BGR: These nature live streams will lift your spirits during lockdown. “Being stuck inside is a bummer. Being stuck inside because there’s a global pandemic and coming within six feet of someone else could make things even worse? Well, that’s even more of a bummer. If you’re self-isolating in a rural area or small town it might be easy to get a bit of nature every day, but millions of people cooped up in big cities don’t really have that option. As someone who works from home anyway, virus or no virus, I’ve found that being stuck inside doesn’t necessarily mean you have to abandon your love of the great outdoors. Let me introduce you to the world of live nature cams.”

Getty Iris: How to Build an Art Museum in Animal Crossing. “Animal Crossing emulates the joys of the real world, and we especially love going to art museums—so a small team of us banded together to create a way for users to bring museum artwork into their own virtual homes. The generator makes it possible for any image in the Getty Museum’s open-access collection to be transformed into a mini artwork fit for Animal Crossing. You can search art and artists from the collection or choose from some of our favorites in one click, then scan the generated QR code to bring the artwork into your game where it can be used on clothing, wallpaper, canvas, and more.”

Mashable: 10 games and activities to keep you and your friends entertained on Zoom. “Maintaining friendships online, as is true offline, requires real effort and thought. Unless you’re making a deliberate effort to mix things up each time, Zoom dates will soon start to lose their luster and feel a bit routine. So forget Netflix and Zooming, here are 10 other things you can do to keep your friendship — ahem, I mean conversation — alive. Just make sure you know how to share your screen on Zoom.”

BBC: Coronavirus: How to get to sleep during lockdown. “Since the coronavirus lockdown, the hashtag ‘can’t sleep’ has been trending, with tales of people struggling to get their heads down for the night….If that’s you, here’s how you can reverse that trend.”


BBC: We are not prepared at all’: Haiti, already impoverished, confronts a pandemic . “With barely 60 ventilators for 11 million people, Haiti is the most vulnerable nation in the Americas to the coronavirus. While many countries would struggle to cope with a serious spread of Covid-19, Haiti might never recover from one. The reality inside Haiti’s intensive care units is even bleaker than that number – taken from a 2019 study – suggests. According to Stephan Dragon, a respiratory therapist in the capital, Port-au-Prince, the true number of ventilators is actually closer to 40, and maybe 20 of those aren’t working.”

Salt Lake Tribune: Navajo Nation has a higher coronavirus testing rate than Utah and most states. “The Navajo Epidemiology Center announced 1,127 confirmed cases of the disease and 44 deaths as of Saturday, and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has warned the peak may still be weeks away — a startling trend for a Native American nation that has an on-reservation population of about 174,000. As The Salt Lake Tribune previously reported, if the Navajo Nation were a U.S. state, it would rank behind only New York and New Jersey for per-capita confirmed cases.”

The Verge: Google is now listing COVID-19 testing centers in search results. “Google searches for terms related to COVID-19 will now display information for more than 2,000 COVID-19 testing centers across 43 states in the US, the company tells The Verge. There are other changes, too. When you search for something related to COVID-19, you’ll now see a new ‘Testing’ tab as part of the information shown in Google’s COVID-19 SOS alert.” This is for the United States only at the moment — and does exclude some states.


Gizmodo: Couple Fined For Violating Lockdown After Posting Old Vacation Photos to Facebook. “An Australian couple was issued hefty fines this week for violating lockdown orders after they posted photos to Facebook that were taken at a vacation spot two hours from their home. Police showed up at their door and issued over $3,300 in fines for the photos, according to multiple reports. The only problem? The photos were taken last year, long before non-essential travel was banned due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

San Francisco Classical Voice: The Art of the Pivot: Local Music Organizations Cope with COVID-19. “On the Vallejo Symphony website, the call is clear: ‘Let’s all take care of ourselves and each other.’ In early March, the coronavirus impacted Bay Area productions, canceling or postponing them in several counties that had called for sheltering in place before the statewide mandate was imposed. Lost performances mean lost revenue for organizations in one of the most expensive areas in the United States.”

New York Times: A Beloved Bar Owner Was Skeptical About the Virus. Then He Took a Cruise.. “Decades before he would embark on a cruise to the Mediterranean, confident that the coronavirus would have little to do with him, Joe Joyce was known to the world as a social creature, the kind who would do well on a boat full of strangers.”

The Guardian: Sick, elderly, pregnant: the California renters being evicted even during the pandemic. “When Covid-19 halted California’s economy, state officials promised to prevent evictions and defend tenants’ rights. But a dozen renters and their attorneys told the Guardian that some landlords are proceeding to expel them from their homes despite the new regulations, indicating there are significant gaps in the protections.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Will Covid-19 speed up the use of robots to replace human workers?. “As a pandemic grips the world, a person could be forgiven if they had forgotten about another threat to humanity’s way of life – the rise of robots. For better or worse the robots are going to replace many humans in their jobs, analysts say, and the coronavirus outbreak is speeding up the process.”

CNN: 3D printing enthusiasts are working from home to help hospitals fight coronavirus. “For weeks, Christian Parker has been working to save lives across the United States from his home in Washington state using a 3D printer and a blueprint for a small, Y-shaped piece of plastic. Parker has been under a stay-at-home order with his wife and three children since early March, as the US tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected at least 700,000 people nationwide.”

CNN: FaceTime dance parties and digital picture frames: How people are staying connected to their grandparents. “People around the world are turning to technology to stay connected during the pandemic, from livestreaming weddings and organizing virtual happy hours with friends on Zoom to meeting with coworkers on Webex. But less tech-savvy older generations are at risk of falling out of touch with loved ones at a time when stress and loneliness has the potential to impact an especially vulnerable demographic, who often lives alone or in assisted living facilities, which have been hit with coronavirus cases. In turn, families are finding creative ways to reach their elderly relatives through methods like smart picture frames, dance parties over FaceTime and simple tools like email.”

ProPublica: Most Illinois School Districts Did Not Have Approved E-learning Plans Before the Pandemic. “Long before the coronavirus crisis shut down Illinois schools, state education officials had encouraged districts to prepare for circumstances when they would have to teach remotely. But most of the state’s 852 school districts didn’t have e-learning plans in place when schools closed in mid-March, a ProPublica Illinois-Chicago Tribune analysis has found.”

New York Times: He Went to 3 Hospitals. When He Finally Got a Bed, It Was Too Late.. “After feeling unwell with what seemed like symptoms of the coronavirus, Luis Arellano first tried going to a nearby hospital in Brooklyn, where he was told to come back if his condition worsened. Days later, as his health deteriorated, his family took him to a New Jersey hospital. He waited eight hours, and after being told they’d have to wait another seven to nine hours, the family left, they said. By the time Mr. Arellano, 65, was finally determined to be sick enough to be immediately admitted into a hospital, his body had already been ravaged by Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.”

NBC News: 13 hours, 22 bodies: The long, lonesome shift of a crematory worker in the heat of COVID-19. “More than 12,000 people are believed to have died from the coronavirus in New York City, a death toll that’s still rising. The disease has fueled an exponential increase in the average number of deaths per day, placing an unprecedented strain on morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries. The challenges and dangers that the pandemic has thrust upon front-line medical workers have been well documented. So, too, has the plight of those who keep Americans fed and the mail moving — postal workers, truck drivers and grocery store clerks. But workers who spend their days digging graves or moving bodies into 1,850-degree furnaces have continued to labor largely in the shadows, doing the same work as always, only a lot more of it.”

Mashable: This bus plays voice messages from loved ones outside people’s homes. “Electric buses in Brussels are pulling up outside people’s homes and playing audio messages from loved ones via loudspeaker. The city’s transport authority STIB is asking residents to record messages for their grandparents, family members, healthcare workers, or the person they miss the most, so it can be played to them.”


New York Times: The Coronavirus in America: The Year Ahead. “In truth, it is not clear to anyone where this crisis is leading us. More than 20 experts in public health, medicine, epidemiology and history shared their thoughts on the future during in-depth interviews. When can we emerge from our homes? How long, realistically, before we have a treatment or vaccine? How will we keep the virus at bay?”

EurekAlert: Nanobodies hold the key to imaging COVID-19. “Researchers from Protein Production UK, a collaborative project led by The Rosalind Franklin Institute, have isolated nanobodies – a type of antibody used in research, which bind to the ‘spike’ protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The team have already made these nanobodies, which bind with high affinity to the ‘spike’ protein, available to researchers at The University of Oxford. They will be making these important research tools widely available to other research groups around the world.”

Washington Post: Dozens of coronavirus antibody tests on the market were never vetted by the FDA, leading to accuracy concerns. “The Food and Drug Administration, criticized for slowness in authorizing tests to detect coronavirus infections, has taken a strikingly different approach to antibody tests, allowing more than 90 on the market without prior review, including some that are being marketed fraudulently and are of dubious quality, according to testing experts and the agency itself.”


Man of Many: Real Life with Sports Commentary is Remarkably Exciting. “Life has been pretty slow without any sports to watch. Fortunately, most of us have our work to distract us from the tedium. But what happens when sport is your work? Athletes might be enjoying the slowed-down lifestyle, but what about sports commentators? Where do they turn to not only find relief but to keep up their skills? One out of work sports commentator has taken to commentating on real-life situations. You never suspected that such normal activities could be so exciting until you’ve heard a professional commentator’s take on them.”


BuzzFeed News: A Doctor Was Charged With Fraud For Allegedly Selling Drugs He Claimed Were A Coronavirus “Miracle Cure”. “Dr. Jennings Ryan Staley, a licensed physician, was charged Thursday with mail fraud in connection with the sale of what he described as a ‘100%’ cure for COVID-19, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California said in a statement. Staley, who operates the Skinny Beach Med Spa, a beauty spa in San Diego, allegedly claimed that the treatment would make customers immune to the virus for at least six weeks.”

Washington Post: As U.S. discouraged mask use for public, White House team raced to secure face coverings from Taiwan for senior staff. “In mid-March, a National Security Council team rushed to address what they saw as a threat to the U.S. government’s ability to function amid the advancing pandemic: a lack of masks to protect enough staff on the White House complex. Alarmed by the small cache and the growing signs of an acute shortage of protective gear in the United States, a senior NSC official turned to a foreign government for help, according to people familiar with the situation. The effort resulted in a donation of hundreds of thousands of surgical masks from Taiwan, which had plentiful domestic production and had sharply curtailed the spread of the coronavirus on the island. The bulk of Taiwan’s goodwill shipment went to the Strategic National Stockpile, but 3,600 masks were set aside for White House staff and officials, administration officials said.”

Washington Post: Americans at World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about coronavirus to Trump administration. “More than a dozen U.S. researchers, physicians and public health experts, many of them from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were working full time at the Geneva headquarters of the World Health Organization as the novel coronavirus emerged late last year and transmitted real-time information about its discovery and spread in China to the Trump administration, according to U.S. and international officials. A number of CDC staffers are regularly detailed to work at WHO in Geneva as part of a rotation that has operated for years. Senior Trump-appointed health officials also consulted regularly at the highest levels with the WHO as the crisis unfolded, the officials said.”

Intelligencer: The White House Has Erected A Blockade Stopping States and Hospitals From Getting Coronavirus PPE. “Over the last few weeks, it has started to appear as though, in addition to abandoning the states to their own devices in a time of national emergency, the federal government has effectively erected a blockade — like that which the Union used to choke off the supply chains of the Confederacy during the Civil War — to prevent delivery of critical medical equipment to states desperately in need. At the very least, federal authorities have made governors and hospital executives all around the country operate in fear that shipments of necessary supplies will be seized along the way.”

Politico: A watchdog out of Trump’s grasp unleashes wave of coronavirus audits. “By the end of April, at least 30 CARES Act reviews and audits — ‘engagements,’ per GAO lingo — are expected to be underway, according to interviews with senior investigators. Topics will range from the government’s handling of coronavirus testing to its distribution of medical equipment, and from the nation’s food supply to nursing home infections and any missteps in distributing the emergency cash payments that began landing in millions of Americans’ bank accounts this week. The office’s top fraud investigator said it’s already received a complaint about a check landing in the account of a deceased person.”

The Atlantic: New Zealand’s Prime Minister May Be the Most Effective Leader on the Planet. “German Chancellor Angela Merkel embraces science. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro rejects it. U.S. President Donald Trump’s daily briefings are a circuslike spectacle, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds no regular briefings at all, even as he locks down 1.3 billion people. Jacinda Ardern, the 39-year-old prime minister of New Zealand, is forging a path of her own. Her leadership style is one of empathy in a crisis that tempts people to fend for themselves. Her messages are clear, consistent, and somehow simultaneously sobering and soothing. And her approach isn’t just resonating with her people on an emotional level. It is also working remarkably well.”

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  1. TWENTY-SECOND! Holy moly — and here I was, feeling all cocky about having brought my own little place along for 12 years today. I. Am. In. AWE. (Not for the first time!) Congratulations, and thank you for all you’ve done here and now and elsewhere and elsewhen!

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