Friday CoronaBuzz, April 24, 2020: 35 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.


Berkeley Haas: Open-source smartphone database offers a new tool for tracking coronavirus exposure. “The Covid-19 Exposure Indices, created by Berkeley Haas Asst. Prof. Victor Couture and researchers from Yale, Princeton, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with location data company PlaceIQ, is aimed at academic investigators studying the spread of the pandemic. The data sets allow researchers to visualize how people can potentially be exposed to those infected with the virus, based on cell-phone movements to and from businesses and other locations where a great deal of the exposure happens.”

Vancouver Sun: Vancouver radiologists and UBC students build database of COVID-19-affected lung images. “Most COVID-19 patients experience mild symptoms and recover within a week or two without treatment. But for those with moderate to even fatal cases, there is still a lot unknown about how the virus progresses. Two Vancouver radiologists are working with researchers and students at the University of B.C. to sort thousands of CT scans and chest x-ray images from COVID-19 patients that all show opaque patches on lungs that look like ground-up glass.”


CNET: The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine sing-along is coming to YouTube this weekend. “On Saturday, The Beatles’ YouTube channel is hosting a sing-along watch party for the 1968 animated movie, Yellow Submarine. Viewers of the psychedelic film can follow the lyrics to songs like All You Need Is Love and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds featured in the movie.”

Thrillist: The Best Boston Art Experiences You Can Enjoy From Home. “What is this, Week 47? And If you’re anything like us, your daily screen time has gone up approximately 786% since the staying-in started. And yet, not all streaming is made alike. For every half-baked sitcom reunion, there’s a local virtual art experience that reminds you why Boston is the cultural epicenter of New England. From online museum tours to virtual film screenings to archival dance performances, here’s a rundown of some local content to feed your soul.”

CNN Press Room: The ABC’s of COVID-19: A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Parents. “CNN and Sesame Street will join together for a very special Town Hall this Saturday morning to help children and parents deal with issues surrounding Coronavirus. The special, The ABC’s of COVID-19, will be hosted by CNN Chief Medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN anchor Erica Hill, along with America’s favorite feathered friend Big Bird on Saturday, April 25 at 9am, ET on CNN, CNN International and CNN en Español. The 90-minute special will provide information and tools for families, and answer the big questions both parents and kids have about the coronavirus pandemic.”


WKBW: New website helps you send thank you videos to workers across the country. “Four friends Noah Friedman, Sahil Bhaiwala, and Williamsville natives Ben and Ariella Sharf created this website to help spread more hope and uplifting messages. In just three weeks and 500 videos later, the company has become the digital version of a thank you card.”

KVIA: Nearly 500,000 jobs available in Texas; new state tool helps you find them. “Unemployment rates are surging nationwide. Many businesses have closed while the country works to fight against the spread of coronavirus. With so many doors closed, it can be difficult to find available jobs. A new tool in Texas hopes to change that.”

KXAN: New website tells you where to go for to-go cocktails in your area. (This appears to be for the entire state of Texas.) “All you do is enter a zip code, and it populates a map of all the places in and around the zip code that offer cocktails and other adult drinks to-go. You can set filters up, like what kind of liquor you’d like to enjoy or how big of a radius you want to search in, and restaurants that match the criteria will pop up.”


Washington Post: How to start regrowing green onions and other vegetables on your windowsill. “The isolation imposed by the coronavirus has awakened a latent homesteading spirit within many of us. The proliferation of sourdough was an early indication that people were seeking, even in small ways, self-sustainability, as grocery-store shelves were often frustratingly bare. Now, there’s a wave of people attempting farming on a (very) small scale. The latest trend to sprout up on social media: images of green onions, presumably purchased at the store, their roots submerged in water glasses and tucked onto sunny windowsills, where their owners hope they will grow.”


NBC News: Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s oldest brother dies from coronavirus. “The Globe identified Warren’s brother as Donald Reed Herring and said he died Tuesday at age 86 in Norman, Oklahoma, about three weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus. He had been hospitalized in February for pneumonia and was moved to a rehabilitation center, the report said, citing information provided by his family. In mid-April, he was moved to intensive care but was never put on a ventilator.”

NBC News: Lysol manufacturer warns against internal use after Trump comments. ” The manufacturer for Lysol, a disinfectant spray and cleaning product, issued a statement warning against any internal use after President Donald Trump suggested that people could get an ‘injection’ of ‘the disinfectant that knocks (coronavirus) out in a minute.'”


Slate: When Cathy Met the Coronavirus. “The most salient criticism of Cathy has always been the charge that she perpetuated negative stereotypes about women, although more recent feminist reconsiderations of the character have recognized that it was more complicated than that. This is all pretty academic considering we’re talking about a person who only sometimes has a nose—but either way, during the coronavirus crisis, Cathy’s struggles read as so much less gendered than before.”

Slate: Somehow the Pandemic Hasn’t Stopped Sumo Wrestling. “On March 22, 35-year-old professional sumo wrestler Hakuho Sho gripped 34-year-old Kakuryu Rikisaburo in a powerful bear hug, glided across the floor, and launched his opponent outside of the ring. That final bout, which lasted less than 30 seconds, won Hakuho his 44th top-division championship. No roar of the crowd accompanied his achievement, however, because the seats were empty. The 15-day tournament in Osaka, Japan, did not have an audience because of the Japan Sumo Association’s coronavirus precautions.”

New York Times: How School Districts are Outsmarting a Microbe. “Confronting the unprecedented challenge of lengthy school closures because of coronavirus, the nation’s roughly 13,000 public school districts are scrambling to cope. Almost no district was truly ready to plunge into remote learning full time and with no end in sight. There is no one-size-fits-all remedy and no must-have suite of digital learning tools. Leaders have largely had to find their own way, spurring a hodgepodge of local innovations. As the struggle continues, a few overarching lessons learned — about equity, expectations and communication — are now helping schools navigate this crisis on the fly.”

New York Times: My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?. “There used to be enough extra money every year that I could close for 10 days in July to repaint and retile and rewire, but it has become increasingly impossible to leave even a few days of revenue on the table or to justify the expense of hiring a professional cleaning service for this deep clean that I am perfectly capable of doing myself, so I stayed late and did it after service. The sludge of egg yolk seeped through the coverall, through my clothes to my skin, matted my hair and speckled my goggles as my shock registered: It has always been hard, but when did it get this hard?” A long, gut-wrenching read. Also worth it.

WBUR: What It’s Like To Deliver Groceries For Instacart During An Outbreak. “Twenty-six bottles of hand sanitizer. A hundred cases of water. Six 30-packs of toilet paper. These are just a few of orders that Theresa Woodford has received from Instacart customers during the past few weeks. And although these requests are about as likely to be fulfilled as Woodford snapping her fingers to manifest a cure for the coronavirus, she booked the orders because … what choice has she got?”


BBC: Coronavirus: Social restrictions ‘to remain for rest of year’. “The UK will have to live with some disruptive social measures for at least the rest of the year, the government’s chief medical adviser has said. Prof Chris Whitty said it was ‘wholly unrealistic’ to expect life would suddenly return to normal soon.”

CNET: Nextdoor app teams up with Walmart to make it easier to help your neighbors get groceries. “The Nextdoor app is partnering with Walmart on a program called Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The effort is meant to make it easier for neighbors to help each other grab groceries or other household and medical items from Walmart during the spread of COVID-19. Nextdoor users will be able to request assistance through the app and on, and those able to head to the stores can offer to help.”

New York Times: Protecting Workers From Coronavirus: OSHA Leaves It to Employers. “The agency, part of the Labor Department, announced last week that there would be few inspections of workplaces aside from those in high-risk activities like health care and emergency response. Instead, it called on employers to investigate coronavirus-related issues on their own, even in hot spots such as the food supply chain.”


BBC: Coronavirus: First patients injected in UK vaccine trial. “The first human trial in Europe of a coronavirus vaccine has begun in Oxford. Two volunteers were injected, the first of more than 800 people recruited for the study. Half will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, and half a control vaccine which protects against meningitis but not coronavirus.”

Phys .org: TED group backs pandemic response effort. “The big-ideas TED Conference said Thursday it was allocating prize funding this year to a project aimed at tackling pandemics like the COVID-19 outbreak and related health initiatives. The organizers said the ‘Audacious Project’ fund aimed at supporting innovation to deal with global problems would provided unspecified grants from the multimillion-dollar pool.”

Phys .org: Mathematical curves predict evolution in COVID-19 spread. “Efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic are now the top priority of governments across the globe. As they make these life-saving decisions, it is particularly crucial for policymakers to accurately predict how the spread of the virus will change over time. Through research published in EPJ Plus, Ignazio Ciufolini at the University of Salento, and Antonio Paolozzi at Sapienza University of Rome, identify a clear mathematical trend in the evolution of daily new cases and death numbers in China, and use the same curve to predict how a similar slowdown will unfold in Italy.”

Carnegie Mellon University: Self-reported COVID-19 Symptoms Show Promise for Disease Forecasts. “Self-reported descriptions of COVID-19-related symptoms, which Carnegie Mellon University researchers are gathering nationwide with the help of Facebook and Google, correlate well with test-confirmed cases of the disease, suggesting self-reports might soon help the researchers in forecasting COVID-19 activity. Ryan Tibshirani, co-leader of Carnegie Mellon’s Delphi COVID-19 Response Team, said millions of responses to CMU surveys by Facebook and Google users are providing the team with real-time estimates of disease activity at the county level for much of the United States.”

Defense One: Army Research Shows How Do-It-Yourself Facemasks Can Be as Safe as N95s. “Shortages of facemasks have many people making their own — not just grocery shoppers and Pentagon staff, but even medical professionals in coronavirus-wracked hospitals. Scientists with the Army Research Lab, working with a Massachusetts hospital, have figured out the best easy-to-find materials for making homemade masks: a layer of absorbent cloth combined with a water-repelling fabric, preferably one treated with Scotchgard.”

University of Rochester: Can Twitter anticipate attacks against Asians and Asian Americans?. “University of Rochester computer scientists are gleaning a wealth of information from Twitter users to document the social impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic. For example, a new study by the research group of Jiebo Luo, a professor of computer science, and posted to the scholarly website ArXiv, finds that the increased use of terms like ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Wuhan virus’ on the social media platform correlated strongly with a rise in media reports of attacks on Chinese and other Asians.”

STAT: New data on Gilead’s remdesivir, released by accident, show no benefit for coronavirus patients. Company still sees reason for hope . “The antiviral medicine remdesivir from Gilead Sciences failed to speed the improvement of patients with Covid-19 or prevent them from dying, according to results from a long-awaited clinical trial conducted in China. Gilead, however, said the data suggest a ‘potential benefit.’ A summary of the study results was inadvertently posted to the website of the World Health Organization and seen by STAT on Thursday, but then removed.”

The Verge: Researchers want social media companies to preserve coronavirus misinformation data. “A group of scholars and nonprofit organizations have asked web platforms to keep track of the content they’re removing during the coronavirus pandemic so they can make it available to researchers studying how online information affects public health. The signatories — including Access Now, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and EU DisinfoLab — sent an open letter to social media and content sharing services, urging them to preserve data even as they remove misinformation.”

Safety+Health Magazine: Study identifies three effective methods to sanitize N95 respirators for reuse. “Three methods to decontaminate N95 filtering facepiece respirators for reuse are being recommended by the National Institutes of Health after researchers at the agency successfully tested their effectiveness and the repeat functional integrity of the respirator after each sanitization.”

New York Times: Covid-19 Arrived in Seattle. Where It Went From There Stunned the Scientists.. “As the coronavirus outbreak consumed the city of Wuhan in China, new cases of the virus began to spread out like sparks flung from a fire. Some landed thousands of miles away. By the middle of January, one had popped up in Chicago, another one near Phoenix. Two others came down in the Los Angeles area. Thanks to a little luck and a lot of containment, those flashes of the virus appear to have been snuffed out before they had a chance to take hold. But on Jan. 15, at the international airport south of Seattle, a 35-year-old man returned from a visit to his family in the Wuhan region. He grabbed his luggage and booked a ride-share to his home north of the city.”


Uproxx: ‘Saturday Night Live’ Will Be Back This Weekend With Another Mystery ‘At Home’ Episode. “Like the first episode, SNL is playing things very close to its chest. There’s no official word on musical guests or who will be delivering the opening monologue, but that just adds to the spontaneity of the episodes as castmembers are forced to come up with apartment-bound material while everyone works remotely. We’ve all been on a Zoom call. Now imagine trying to turn one into an elaborate comedy sketch.”


Politico: DHS warns of increase in coronavirus-inspired violence. “Domestic terrorists and violent extremists are mobilizing in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the threat could get more severe ‘until the virus is contained and the normal routine of U.S. societal life resumes,’ according to a Department of Homeland Security intelligence note sent to law enforcement officials around the country.”

Associated Press: Doctors struggle to stay true to science but not cross Trump. “It’s becoming a kind of daily ritual: President Donald Trump and a phalanx of doctors file into the White House briefing room each evening to discuss the coronavirus, producing a display of rhetorical contortions as the medical officials try to stay true to the science without crossing the president. The result can be a bewildering scene for Americans trying to understand how best to protect themselves from the virus.”

Politico: Officials probe the threat of a coronavirus bioweapon. “The Pentagon and the intelligence community are more forcefully investigating the possibility that adversaries could use the novel coronavirus as a bioweapon, according to defense and intelligence officials, in a shift that reflects the national security apparatus’ evolving understanding of the virus and its risks.”

Washington Post: Nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords allegedly from NIH, WHO, Gates Foundation and others are dumped online. “Unknown activists have posted nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords allegedly belonging to the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, the Gates Foundation and other groups working to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online extremism and terrorist groups. While SITE was unable to verify whether the email addresses and passwords were authentic, the group said the information was released Sunday and Monday and almost immediately used to foment attempts at hacking and harassment by far-right extremists. An Australian cybersecurity expert, Robert Potter, said he was able to verify that the WHO email addresses and passwords were real.”

New York Times: Chinese Agents Helped Spread Messages That Sowed Virus Panic in U.S., Officials Say. “The officials interviewed for this article work in six different agencies. They included both career civil servants and political appointees, and some have spent many years analyzing China. Their broader warnings about China’s spread of disinformation are supported by recent findings from outside bipartisan research groups, including the Alliance for Securing Democracy and the Center for a New American Security, which is expected to release a report on the topic next month.”

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