Monday CoronaBuzz, April 27, 2020: 34 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.


India Today: Kerala university launches Covid-19 search engine for India, will let experts find latest research material. “Though there are dozens of apps in the country that provide information on the coronavirus, the search engine is a first dedicated toward the medical community in India. The idea is that through this search engine scientists, doctors and researchers who are racing to better understand Covid-19 and the novel coronavirus will be able to keep a track of the latest research about the disease and the pandemic it has caused.”

Geeks in Cambodia: Cambodia’s Health Ministry Creates Online Location-Tracking Map Of Covid-19 . “As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Cambodia reached 122 (as of April 22), the Ministry of Health’s Communicable Disease Control Department (CDC) has recently launched an online initiative that provides an interactive map and updated case count in near real-time, as well as a series of educational videos to help people play their part to stem the spread of the virus.”


Google Blog: Go on a cultural rendezvous with “Art For Two”. “If you don’t work for a cultural institution, you’ve probably never had the opportunity to wander all alone through a museum’s hallways, exhibition spaces and galleries, after hours, with no one else around. That’s a privilege usually reserved for staff—until now. In the first installment of Google Arts & Culture’s new video series called ‘Art for Two’, curators from three cultural institutions are extending a special invitation to explore their collections, minus the crowds, as they discuss their favorite rooms and pieces with digital curators Mr. Bacchus and The Art Assignment.”

Nieman Lab: Bloomberg Media will be free for every college and graduate student in the world for the next three months. “Although the company limits its regular student subscription pricing to those based in the United States, any college student in the world can register with their university email to redeem the priced-for-a-pandemic offer. That’s…a lot of students. Just under 20 million people started the fall semester at a college or university in the United States, and many times that are enrolled worldwide.”

ABC 6: New initiatives aim to support Rhode Island arts community. “With the galleries, concert venues, museums, and theaters shut down, artists have lost their livelihoods overnight. That’s why the Artist Relief Fund, supported by several organizations, has been a lifesaver for people like Magnolia Perez, a bilingual actress, teaching artist, and mother of three.”


The List: Best Scottish online events this week. “Aside from stepping outside for some exercise or to purchase essential items, we’re all stuck at home for the foreseeable future. The boredom is setting in for some, but thankfully there are plenty of Scottish online events to keep you and your family busy this week. Read on for some of the best Scotland-based events streaming on various social media platforms this week including live music performances, art classes, quizzes and more.”

Make Tech Easier: Skype vs. Zoom: Which Will Serve You Best in Lockdown. “As much of the United States and other places around the world are under stay-at-home orders, many people are working from home. That is good news for services like Skype and Zoom, two apps dedicated to group video chat. As both apps offer roughly the same service, how does a person or business choose which one to utilize? Let’s look at which one serves you best in lockdown.”

MakeUseOf: 5 Meditation and Relaxation Apps to Beat Stress and Anxiety. “The entire planet is trying to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. But apart from the virus itself, the changes and upheavals in lifestyle can take a heavy toll on mental health. Time and again, meditation has proven to be the best practice to relieve stress and reduce anxiety. Apart from mindfulness meditation for beginners, there are other techniques like self-reflection and mind training to counter those negative thoughts. And you can get it all for free with these apps.”

DIY Photography: Instagram Soon To Roll Out “Memorial Accounts” In Light Of Covid-19 Deaths. “Instagram has been working on creating ‘in memoriam’ accounts for deceased members of the platform. However, the current situation has reportedly forced them to speed things up. According to the latest report, Instagram wil launch the feature soon due to the increasing number of COVID-19 deaths. Reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong was the first one to figure out Instagram’s upcoming feature.”

New York Times: What to Do When Your Uncle Believes Coronavirus Conspiracies. “It’s not unusual for my relatives or friends to talk about kooky ideas. But now others’ believing in hoaxes or bad information feels dangerous. This drug is a miracle cure! Blame this billionaire for the virus! I tried to figure out what we can do when someone we love believes in coronavirus conspiracies they see online. What I learned is we need to have empathy for people who are afraid of a scary illness. We should be on the lookout for those who have reasons to talk up misinformation. And with trust in authority figures falling among many Americans, we can step in and spread good information to people who trust us and model good behavior.”

The Texas Record: COVID-19 Records and How Long to Keep Them. “The analysts here at TSLAC have been getting tons of questions about how governments should be handling their COVID-19 records. The influx of these questions is understandable – we are working during extraordinary times. In fact, these may be historic times; COVID-19 records may potentially be used as documentary evidence by future researchers, historians, and citizens. However, we’re here to tell you: don’t panic! Well, at least don’t panic about the records. If you know anything about basic records management, then you already have all the tools you need to manage COVID-19 records.”

TechHive: How to record all the free streaming TV before it’s gone. “With a service called PlayOn, you can record movies and shows from online sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and CBS All Access. The resulting video files are yours to keep, even if you’ve stopped subscribing to the services from which those files came. If we’re going to remain mostly at home for the foreseeable future, now might be the time to stock up on free movies and shows to watch later.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Worldwide death toll climbs to 200,000. “More than 200,000 people worldwide have now died with the coronavirus, figures from Johns Hopkins University show. There are more than 2.8 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, according to the tally. It comes after the number of fatalities in the US passed 50,000, as Americans endure the world’s deadliest outbreak.”

CNBC: Public companies took far more small business loans than first thought — here’s the latest tally. “Even as the U.S. small business relief program is set to reopen Monday with fresh funding, the full extent that public companies tapped the emergency facility is only now becoming clear. More than 200 public companies applied for at least $854.7 million from the government program that was billed as for small businesses without access to other sources of capital, according to Washington D.C.-based data analytics firm FactSquared.”

BBC: Coronavirus: New Zealand claims no community cases as lockdown eases. “New Zealand says it has stopped community transmission of Covid-19, effectively eliminating the virus. With new cases in single figures for several days – one on Sunday – Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the virus was ‘currently’ eliminated. But officials have warned against complacency, saying it does not mean a total end to new coronavirus cases.”


BBC: Coronavirus: India’s circuses struggle to survive the lockdown. “Circuses are already a dying art form in India, and the lockdown imposed to spread the curb of the coronavirus has left them barely hanging on for survival.”

CNN: Writing about the dead during a pandemic: ‘They are not a statistic or data point’. “Obituary desks are expanding all across the United States as newspapers strain to capture the scope of the loss from the pandemic. The papers are honoring individual lives through short stories, features and special presentations. And in doing so, they are converting the death toll statistics of Covid-19 into deeply human stories.”

Mashable: Man dressed as grim reaper to visit Florida beaches that reopen too early. “While the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, some U.S. states have decided to reopen as soon as… well, right now. Georgia was the first to ease restrictions, with businesses like gyms and salons opening Friday. Michigan will soon follow suit, following protests from residents. Reopening worries some citizens, medical professionals, and elected officials, but one Florida man is dedicated to doing what he can to flatten the curve. Attorney Daniel Uhlfelder said he will tour the state’s beaches on May 1 to remind fellow Floridians to stay home.”

MIT Technology Review: Covid-19 has blown apart the myth of Silicon Valley innovation. “Silicon Valley and big tech in general have been lame in responding to the crisis. Sure, they have given us Zoom to keep the fortunate among us working and Netflix to keep us sane; Amazon is a savior these days for those avoiding stores; iPads are in hot demand and Instacart is helping to keep many self-isolating people fed. But the pandemic has also revealed the limitations and impotence of the world’s richest companies (and, we have been told, the most innovative place on earth) in the face of the public health crisis. Big tech doesn’t build anything. It’s not likely to give us vaccines or diagnostic tests. We don’t even seem to know how to make a cotton swab. Those hoping the US could turn its dominant tech industry into a dynamo of innovation against the pandemic will be disappointed.”

WLRN: Inmate Coronavirus Cases In Miami-Dade Have Exploded, Contrary To Official Claims. “In the document filed on Saturday, Miami-Dade County reported that 159 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 in Metro-West Detention Center alone. The number reflected the number of positive inmates in the facility as of April 19….However, the Department of Corrections has in recent days been relaying information indicating there were far fewer inmates that had tested positive. On Friday, Department of Corrections spokesperson Juan Diasgranados wrote to WLRN in an email that there were 59 inmates who had tested positive across the entire jail system.”

New York Times: The Social Media Challenges Helping Keep Boredom at Bay. “With the coronavirus continuing to upend familiar rhythms of life, leaving schools shuttered, millions out of work and billions stuck at home, those looking for ways to pass the time have gotten creative. In the absence of jam-packed calendars, people are turning to social media challenges in droves. Some bring together families for choreographed dance routines while others spark the inner artist or unlock hidden engineering skills. All of them hold the promise of warding off boredom and — maybe — earning users a moment of online celebrity.”

Daily Beast: ‘Too Little, Too Late’: Inside the Nation’s Worst Coronavirus Hotspot. “By Friday, over 2,000 people, or almost 80 percent of the [Marion Correctional Facility’s] population, had tested positive for COVID-19, causing Marion County to become the number one COVID-19 hotspot in the nation, according to The New York Times. At least 15 inmates and one corrections officer have died statewide, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC). Some 150 correctional officers at Marion alone have also tested positive for the coronavirus, and Gov. Mike DeWine called in the National Guard to fill the void.”

School Library Journal: What Librarians Are Doing to Support Students and Teachers in the Shutdown | SLJ COVID-19 Survey. “School Library Journal’s School COVID-19 Response Survey queried K-12 librarians from April 2 to April 12 about their experience. More than 1,000 librarians responded, providing information about preparedness for remote learning; how librarians are supporting students and teachers, and more. Topics included services they have provided staff and students, school schedules and curriculum, plans for returned library books when schools reopen, and the pandemic’s possible impact on future purchasing.”

Poynter: Have you become a personal fact-checker to your family and friends?. it me. “For years, I heard friends who are doctors talk about people who approach them in parties, concerts and even soccer games to ask medical questions or have a quick appointment. Since mid-March, when the World Health Organization declared that the planet was experiencing a COVID-19 pandemic and a tsunami of misinformation, I have empathized with doctors. I have become a sort of personal fact-checker for a huge group of family and friends, people who reach me daily on WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Instagram or email.”

BBC: Coronavirus: ‘I’m tattooing myself every day in lockdown, but I’m running out of space’. “Sitting on the sofa in his flat in Walthamstow, north-east London, with his dog Pingu by his side, Chris Woodhead is trying to find space to add another tattoo to his already crowded body. There is little unmarked skin left – from the tips of his fingers to the soles of his feet, almost every inch is covered in a vast jumble of tattoos of different styles. A pair of dice have fallen just before the toes of his right foot begin, a scorpion extends down his inner thigh, there’s a leaning palm tree, a swordfish arching around a love-heart, and a voodoo doll floats above some ripe, glossy cherries.”


Politico: USDA let millions of pounds of food rot while food-bank demand soared. “Tens of millions of pounds of American-grown produce is rotting in fields as food banks across the country scramble to meet a massive surge in demand, a two-pronged disaster that has deprived farmers of billions of dollars in revenue while millions of newly jobless Americans struggle to feed their families. While other federal agencies quickly adapted their programs to the coronavirus crisis, the Agriculture Department took more than a month to make its first significant move to buy up surplus fruits and vegetables — despite repeated entreaties.”

New York Times: Testing Remains Scarce as Governors Weigh Reopening States. “As governors decide about opening their economies, they continue to be hampered by a shortage of testing capacity, leaving them without the information that public health experts say is needed to track outbreaks and contain them. And while the United States has made strides over the past month in expanding testing, its capacity is nowhere near the level Mr. Trump suggests it is.”

The New Yorker: Seattle’s Leaders Let Scientists Take the Lead. New York’s Did Not. “Epidemiology is a science of possibilities and persuasion, not of certainties or hard proof. ‘Being approximately right most of the time is better than being precisely right occasionally,’ the Scottish epidemiologist John Cowden wrote, in 2010. ‘You can only be sure when to act in retrospect.’ Epidemiologists must persuade people to upend their lives—to forgo travel and socializing, to submit themselves to blood draws and immunization shots—even when there’s scant evidence that they’re directly at risk. Epidemiologists also must learn how to maintain their persuasiveness even as their advice shifts. ”


The Next Web: Boston Dynamics is open-sourcing its robot tech to help hospitals fight coronavirus. “We’ve seen Boston Dynamics‘ Spot robot walking, running, dancing, and opening doors. Now, the company has assigned it a more important task during the coronavirus pandemic: telemedicine. In this new solution, the iPad mounted on the robot lets health workers communicate with patients remotely, saving time, reducing exposure, and preserving personal protective equipment (PPE). The newly developed application is already under trial in Bringham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts. ”

San Francisco Chronicle: Exclusive: Coronavirus caused heart to rupture in nation’s first known victim, autopsy shows. “The Santa Clara woman whose death from COVID-19 is the earliest so far known in the United States suffered a massive heart attack caused by coronavirus infection, signs of which were found throughout her body, according to an autopsy report obtained exclusively by The Chronicle.”

Financial Times, non-paywalled: Global coronavirus death toll could be 60% higher than reported. “The death toll from coronavirus may be almost 60 per cent higher than reported in official counts, according to an FT analysis of overall fatalities during the pandemic in 14 countries. Mortality statistics show 122,000 deaths in excess of normal levels across these locations, considerably higher than the 77,000 official Covid-19 deaths reported for the same places and time periods.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Kaiser study finds coronavirus seriously affects people regardless of age. “A study of 1,300 Northern California Kaiser patients who tested positive for the coronavirus last month found that nearly a third were hospitalized and almost 1 in 10 ended up in intensive care — and nearly as many young and middle-aged adults were admitted as people age 60 and over, according to results published online Friday.”


Mashable: Brad Pitt as Dr. Fauci on ‘SNL’ reminds viewers not to inject bleach. “Hey, America! Dr. Fauci knows you have a little crush on him. So who better to portray the doctor on Saturday Night Live this week than collective crush of the ’90s, Brad Pitt? The deeply random casting likely came about because a few weeks ago, Dr. Fauci jokingly said he’d like the famously handsome star to play him on the program. Anthony Fauci…can you even believe your life right now?”


The Hill: San Francisco mayor says city’s PPE orders have been diverted, confiscated: It ‘blows my mind’. “San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) said Friday that her city’s orders for personal protection equipment (PPE) have been diverted to other U.S. cities and foreign countries. ‘We’ve had issues of our orders being relocated by our suppliers in China,’ she said at a press conference. ‘For example, we had isolation gowns on their way to San Francisco and they were diverted to France. We’ve had situations when things we’ve ordered that have gone through Customs were confiscated by FEMA to be diverted to other locations.'”

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