coronabuzz

Saturday CoronaBuzz, April 25, 2020: 39 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.

NEW RESOURCES – MEDICAL/HEALTH

Echo Press: New website lists COVID-19 testing sites in Minnesota. “As part of the state’s effort to provide widespread, rapid COVID-19 testing, Gov. Tim Walz unveiled a new website Friday, April 24, to help Minnesotans find a testing location within their community – if they’ve determined they need a test.”

MIT News: Reporting tool aims to balance hospitals’ Covid-19 load. “A group of researchers in MIT’s Computer Science and Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), working with the MIT spinoff Mobi Systems, are aiming to help level demand across the entire health care network by providing real-time updates of hospital resources, which they hope will help patients, EMTs, and physicians quickly decide which facility is best equipped to handle a new patient at any given time. The team has developed a web app which is now publicly accessible at: https://Covid19hospitalstatus.com. The interface allows users such as patients, nurses, and doctors to report a hospital’s current status in a number of metrics, from the average wait time (something that a patient may get a sense for as they spend time in a waiting room), to the number of ventilators and ICU beds, which doctors and nurses may be able to approximate.”

Miami Herald: Insulin company offers free 90-day supply amid coronavirus pandemic. Who qualifies?. “An insulin company is offering a free 90-day supply to people with diabetes who’ve been financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic. People who use Novo Nordisk insulin who have lost health insurance coverage during the pandemic may be eligible for the company’s Diabetes Patient Assistance Program, according to a news release.”

NEW RESOURCES – EDUCATION/ENTERTAINMENT

Scoop Culture (New Zealand): Virtual Doors Open A World Of Culture For The Capital. “Arts and events have been severely affected by the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, but many have adapted by virtually opening doors to old audiences – and new. With venues, galleries, and museums closed during the lockdown, a whole new world has opened up for people to enjoy from their living room – and artists, performers and event organisers have found a captive audience with innovative, interesting and entertaining ways.” New Zealand focused.

UVA Today: UVA Art Museums Get Creative With Online Offerings Amid Covid-19 Restrictions. “Instead of exhibition galleries filled with students and community members, live tours for classes and faculty and all sorts of workshops and events, staff at The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection were suddenly looking at museums full of amazing art, with no one to enjoy it. And so they got busy, doing what artists and art lovers do best: getting creative…. Now, with a few clicks on the museums’ websites and social media accounts, you can access a wide variety of art, from a video tour weaving through 112 intricately carved memorial poles created by Aboriginal Australian artists to talks and tutorials with museum staff, student docents and guest artists.”

USEFUL STUFF

IT Pro Today: 2020 Open Source Conferences That Have Moved Online. “Although open source developers are unlikely to fly to some cool and groovy city to spend a few days fellowshipping and learning from fellow geeks, they can still attend open source conferences from the comfort of their shelter-in-place abode, since many of the cancelled conferences are holding safe and sanitary online conferences. Even better news: Attending a conference in person can cost a king’s ransom once attendees shell out $1,000 or more for admission to a major event, plus airfare and hotel fees. In contrast, most of these virtual conferences are absolutely free. All anyone has to do is register.”

HYPEBEAST: The Artist’s Guide to Staying Creative at Home. “The current lockdown measures in place across the world have had a huge impact on the art world. Whether it’s by closing galleries such as the Tate indefinitely or postponing exhibitions, the art industry has had to adapt quickly to social distancing measures as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Those changes have also affected individual artists, many of whom are unable to access their studio spaces or are deprived of inspiration while isolating at home. We caught up with four different artists to discuss how quarantine has impacted their practice, where they are looking for inspiration, and their top tips for staying creative in these trying times.”

NBC New York: 7 Telemedicine Services Offering Free Health Care During the Coronavirus Pandemic. “In the U.S., unemployment during a health crisis can be especially challenging since about 49% of Americans get health insurance through their employer. As many as 9.2 million workers are at risk of losing their employer-provided health insurance, according to the latest estimates from the Economic Policy Institute. To help fill that gap, telemedicine companies are offering check-ups and other services for free or at discounted rates. Honeybee Health found several telehealth companies offering discounted services, ranging from $15 to $89.” 3 of the resources were for all states in the US, while the others had various geographic limitations.

Blooloop: Coronavirus shutdowns and home-schooling: how museums are providing alternative education. “Museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions around the world are providing a huge range of educational resources online for free during the coronavirus pandemic, and beyond. Here are some examples of what is on offer, for both children and adults. This shows how museums can support visitors beyond their four walls. We’ve also looked at some resources and information for museums wanting to set up their own digital learning projects.”

UPDATES

CNBC: ‘Payment status not available’: For many, IRS stimulus payment website raises more questions than answers. “When the government launched a web tool on April 15 so that eligible Americans could find out the status of their coronavirus stimulus payments, Jake Koepke was eager to log on. But the central Wisconsin resident, 34, was disappointed to find himself shut out after three failed attempts to get onto the site.”

CNET: Google, Apple change coronavirus tracking tech to get ahead of privacy concerns. “As companies and governments around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic, Apple and Google are making changes to the contact tracing technology they’ve developed to help inform people when they may have been exposed to the virus.”

Los Angeles Times: Coronavirus becomes leading cause of death in L.A. County as toll nears 800. “Los Angeles County health officials on Thursday announced that COVID-19 — the illness caused by the coronavirus — has become the leading cause of death in the county, surpassing fatalities from flu, emphysema and heart disease. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, confirmed 68 new coronavirus-linked deaths, bringing the total to just under 800 since the outbreak began. The county also reported 1,081 new COVID-19 cases — pushing the overall number to 17,508.”

New York Daily News: A spike in New Yorkers ingesting household cleaners following Trump’s controversial coronavirus comments. “An unusually high number of New Yorkers contacted city health authorities over fears that they had ingested bleach or other household cleaners in the 18 hours that followed President Trump’s bogus claim that injecting such products could cure coronavirus, the Daily News has learned. The Poison Control Center, a subagency of the city’s Health Department, managed a total of 30 cases of possible exposure to disinfectants between 9 p.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Friday, a spokesman said.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

BBC: Coronavirus: Why going without physical touch is so hard. “Milestone birthdays are being celebrated over video calls, elderly people are talking to neighbours through windows and those who live alone are going without any human touch at all, as they obey the government guidelines to stay at home and keep 2m (6ft) apart from others. But touch is ‘really fundamental’ for humans, says Prof Robin Dunbar, evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford – and going without it weakens our close relationships.”

HR Dive: College students see internships, job offers cancelled due to coronavirus. “The writing is on the wall for recruiters and job seekers. A March survey by Willis Towers Watson found that 42% of companies had either reduced or frozen hiring in response to COVID-19, while an additional 28% were at least considering doing so. The pandemic’s impact on hiring has also shown up in statistics for job boards, with Indeed reporting near the end of March that job posts on its site were down 15% from the same point last year.”

Marketplace: Thanks to COVID-19, there’s a new category in retail: the cloth face mask. “Every time I scroll through my Instagram feed now, there’s another ad for another company selling face masks. There are the classic ones in neutral tones. The ones made of organic cotton. The ones with → your company’s logo ← here. Overnight, the face mask has become America’s new T-shirt.”

Seattle Times: Rick Steves finds unexpected joy amid travel standstill, and vows to keep staff working. “Rick Steves is an explorer at heart, so it should come as little surprise that he is finding unexpected joy in the midst of an awful situation. So far, he has refunded about half of the 24,000 reservations made this year for tours led by his Edmonds-based travel empire, Rick Steves’ Europe, in what had been shaping up to be its best year. And his travel guidebook sales — he had 18 of the 20 bestselling European guidebooks in the U.S. last year — are off 90%. This is all terrible. But at the same time, he’s finding happiness while learning the pleasures of domesticity and discovering daily delights in his hometown.”

Wired: An Oral History of the Day Everything Changed. “Every hour seemed to bring major new developments: On Wall Street, after days of huge up-and-down gyrations, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,465 points and officially entered bear territory; Capitol Hill faced its first confirmed Covid-19 case; the NCAA announced it would play its basketball tournament without fans; and then, in rapid-fire succession that evening, President Trump gave an Oval Office address, announcing a travel ban from Europe, the NBA suspended its season after player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus, and Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita, posted on Instagram that they too had been diagnosed while in Australia and were recuperating. By Thursday, the national landscape had been undeniably altered, and Americans were panic-buying toilet paper.”

INSTITUTION / CORPORATE / GOVERNMENT

CNET: Amazon extends its higher hourly and overtime pay during coronavirus. “Amazon is extending its increased hourly pay and double overtime pay, offering warehouse employees in the US and Canada $2 extra an hour through May 16. The online retail giant said Friday the higher wages will now cost the company just under $700 million, up from an estimated $350 million when it first announced the increased pay in mid-March.”

ABC News (Australia): As the coronavirus spread, an experiment showed Facebook was struggling to keep up with fake news. “Facebook approved a series of paid ads on its platforms that claimed everything from COVID-19 being a hoax to the idea that drinking bleach will keep you healthy. The ads were part of an experiment by American tech writer Kaveh Waddell earlier this month to test the social media giant’s early ability to stop coronavirus misinformation as it was starting to spread. The ads were never published or seen by the public.”

Law .com: Public Records Requests During the COVID-19 Pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused nations and organizations across the world to take emergency action to safeguard public health. Courts, public schools and colleges, municipalities, and other agencies throughout Florida, and across the nation, have temporarily closed office buildings, suspended or reduced operations, and instituted work from home policies. Federal, state, and local governments have requested that residents practice social distancing, and some states have even implemented ‘stay-at-home’ orders. Notwithstanding these unprecedented times, agencies continue to have an obligation to acknowledge and respond to public records requests. ”

New York Times: New York Put Recovering Virus Patients in Hotels. Soon, 4 Were Dead.. “When Robert Rowe Jr. was discharged from the hospital this month after testing positive for the coronavirus, he needed a place to stay so he would not put his 84-year-old father at risk. New York City health officials put him up at a three-star hotel in Midtown Manhattan. The room was provided under a city program that was intended to protect recovering patients’ families and roommates. Case workers are supposed to check on the patients twice a day by telephone. But on Saturday, Mr. Rowe, 56, was found dead in his room at the Hilton Garden Inn on West 37th Street, nearly 20 hours after a city worker last phoned him, though it was unclear whether he picked up.”

Washington Post: How a family-owned Nebraska bank became a leader on coronavirus loans. “Union Bank & Trust is nowhere near the top of the banking leagues. Last year the family-owned institution, with 900 employees, was the nation’s 202nd largest bank by assets, according to the Federal Reserve. Yet 72 hours into the emergency lending program, it ranked second in the nation for number of loans approved, according to the Small Business Administration.”

ProPublica: Nursing Homes Violated Basic Health Standards, Allowing the Coronavirus to Explode. “All told, there are about 15,000 nursing homes in the United States, which house about 1.3 million people. The homes offer a high level of care for those who need help with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing and getting dressed. They also offer skilled rehabilitation for patients after medical procedures or illnesses. Because Medicaid pays for a substantial share of care at the homes, and Medicare pays for some, CMS sets the standards under which they operate. Many of the homes that received immediate jeopardy citations in recent weeks related to COVID-19 have been cited in the past for violations of those rules.”

Des Moines Register: Coronavirus at meat packing plants worse than first thought, USA TODAY investigation finds. “A rash of coronavirus outbreaks at dozens of meat packing plants across the nation is far more extensive than previously thought, according to an exclusive review of cases by USA TODAY and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. And it could get worse. More than 150 of America’s largest meat processing plants operate in counties where the rate of coronavirus infection is already among the nation’s highest, based on the media outlets’ analysis of slaughterhouse locations and county-level COVID-19 infection rates.”

Associated Press: U.S. states build stockpiles of malaria drug touted by Trump. “State and local governments across the United States have obtained about 30 million doses of a malaria drug touted by President Trump to treat patients with the coronavirus, despite warnings from doctors that more research is needed. At least 22 states and Washington, D.C., secured shipments of the drug, hydroxychloroquine, according to information compiled from state and federal officials by The Associated Press. Sixteen of those states were won by Trump in 2016, although five of them, including North Carolina and Louisiana, are now led by Democratic governors.”

San Francisco Chronicle: SF begins offering free coronavirus tests to all essential workers. “San Francisco officials have started making COVID-19 tests available to all essential workers still on the job during the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to a significant expansion in testing capacity…. any essential worker in the public or private sector — from frontline health care workers to grocery store clerks and restaurant cooks — will have access to a COVID-19 test if they exhibit symptoms of the disease, like a fever, cough or shortness of breath.”

RESEARCH

Arizona State University: Novel coronavirus detected, monitored in wastewater. “Within weeks of arriving on the world stage, SARS-CoV-2 has managed to encircle the globe, leaving illness, mortality and economic devastation in its wake. One of the central challenges facing health authorities and the medical community has been testing for the elusive virus on a sufficiently comprehensive scale. A new approach to monitoring the novel coronavirus (as well as other dangerous pathogens and chemical agents) is being developed and refined. Known as wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE), the method mines sewage samples for vital clues about human health. It can potentially identify levels of coronavirus infection at both a local and global scale.”

Washington Post: Young and middle-aged people, barely sick with covid-19, are dying from strokes. “Thomas Oxley wasn’t even on call the day he received the page to come to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. There weren’t enough doctors to treat all the emergency stroke patients, and he was needed in the operating room. The patient’s chart appeared unremarkable at first glance. He took no medications and had no history of chronic conditions. He had been feeling fine, hanging out at home during the lockdown like the rest of the country, when suddenly, he had trouble talking and moving the right side of his body. Imaging showed a large blockage on the left side of his head. Oxley gasped when he got to the patient’s age and covid-19 status: 44, positive.”

WBEZ: COVID Toes Skin Disease Gains A Foothold Across The Country. “In the Chicago area, teens and young adults are developing red, purple, sore and itchy toes that doctors are informally calling ‘COVID toes.’ Dr. Amy Paller, the chair of dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said that in the past week she’s gotten more than 50 reports of new pediatric cases in the Chicago area. She said she expects many more cases as news of the condition spreads.”

Vox: The case for ending the Covid-19 pandemic with mass testing. “Vox’s Ezra Klein has gone through some of the major proposals from several think tanks and researchers mapping the routes out of the pandemic. All of them involve testing huge numbers of people. One of the lower-end benchmarks estimates the US will need 750,000 tests per week. The high-end proposal, from Nobel laureate economist Paul Romer, starts at 22 million tests per day and goes up. And not just one test per person, but repeated testing over time. Test millions. Test early. Test late. Test over and over. Test until the whole damn pandemic is over.”

CNBC: Citing a high risk of death, researchers cut chloroquine coronavirus study short over safety concerns. “Citing a high risk of death, researchers cut short a study testing anti-malaria drug chloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 after some patients developed irregular heart beats and nearly two dozen died after taking doses daily.”

New York Times: Coronavirus Antibody Tests: Can You Trust the Results?. “For the past few weeks, more than 50 scientists have been working diligently to do something that the Food and Drug Administration mostly has not: Verifying that 14 coronavirus antibody tests now on the market actually deliver accurate results. These tests are crucial to reopening the economy, but public health experts have raised urgent concerns about their quality. The new research, completed just days ago and posted online Friday, confirmed some of those fears: Of the 14 tests, only three delivered consistently reliable results. Even the best had some flaws.”

BuzzFeed News: Two Antibody Studies Say Coronavirus Infections Are More Common Than We Think. Scientists Are Mad.. “Most experts agree there are far more coronavirus infections in the world than are being counted. But almost as instantly as the California numbers were released, critics called out what they saw as significant problems with, or at least big questions about, how the scientists had arrived at them. Chief among their concerns was the accuracy of the test underpinning both studies, and whether the scientists had fully accounted for the number of false positives it might generate.”

FUNNY

BBC: Coronavirus: Library books rearranged in size order by cleaner. “A well-meaning cleaner who took the opportunity to give a locked-down library a thorough clean re-shelved all of its books – in size order. Staff at Newmarket Library, Suffolk, discovered the sloping tomes after the building underwent a deep clean.”

POLITICS AND SECURITY

Politico: How overly optimistic modeling distorted Trump team’s coronavirus response. “More than 50,000 Americans are dead from the coronavirus already, following several days during which the nation’s death toll routinely topped 2,000. The U.S. is now expected to blow past the 60,000 mark around the beginning of May, earlier than the [University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation] model had projected and with less of the dramatic leveling-off that its forecast had initially baked in. In retrospect, public health experts said, the sudden downward shift in IHME’s numbers that gave the Trump administration, governors and some health professionals the confidence to float reopening the country by summer was also a prime example of the model’s inherent limitations — and the risk of relying on any model to accurately predict how a virus that scientists are still scrambling to understand will behave in the real world.”

New York Times: Trump Speech to Bring 1,000 West Point Cadets Back to Campus. “The academy had been looking at the option of a delayed presidential commencement in June, but had yet to complete any plans. With Mr. Trump’s pre-emptive statement, they are now summoning 1,000 cadets scattered across the country to return to campus in New York, the state that is the center of the outbreak.”

The Guardian: Revealed: leader of group peddling bleach as coronavirus ‘cure’ wrote to Trump this week. “The leader of the most prominent group in the US peddling potentially lethal industrial bleach as a ‘miracle cure’ for coronavirus wrote to Donald Trump at the White House this week. In his letter, Mark Grenon told Trump that chlorine dioxide – a powerful bleach used in industrial processes such as textile manufacturing that can have fatal side-effects when drunk – is ‘a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body’. He added that it ‘an rid the body of Covid-19’.”

Lawfare Blog: Prosecuting Zoom-Bombing. “While some Zoom-bombing incidents are run-of-the-mill ‘trolling,’ others represent a new, virulent form of cyber harassment. This ‘weaponization of Zoom,’ as the New York Times recently described it, has seen harassers using both mainstream and fringe platforms to share meeting passwords and synchronize disruption efforts. Intruders have exploited unprecedented public dependence on videoconference meetings to transmit hateful messages and ideologies, often targeting meetings based on the identities of their participants. In recent weeks, many federal and state prosecutors have responded to reports of these disruptions by threatening to impose criminal charges and fines on would-be ‘Zoom-bombers.'”

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