Wednesday CoronaBuzz, April 29, 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.


Berkeley Lab: Machine Learning Tool Could Provide Unexpected Scientific Insights into COVID-19. “A team of materials scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) – scientists who normally spend their time researching things like high-performance materials for thermoelectrics or battery cathodes – have built a text-mining tool in record time to help the global scientific community synthesize the mountain of scientific literature on COVID-19 being generated every day. The tool, live at, uses natural language processing techniques to not only quickly scan and search tens of thousands of research papers, but also help draw insights and connections that may otherwise not be apparent.”

TechRepublic: New database of pediatric COVID-19 patients hopes to protect vulnerable children with cancer. “The Global COVID-19 Observatory and Resource Center for Childhood Cancer combines several COVID-19 resources for medical professionals specializing in treating pediatric cancer, including a resource library, a global registry of pediatric cancer patients infected with COVID-19, and a collaboration space for healthcare professionals.”

KSAL: State’s New COVID-19 Website Launches. “The site includes the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) daily case rates, what to do if you experience COVID-19 symptoms, how to protect yourself and more updated information on state resources in place to help Kansans. Kansans also can learn about volunteer efforts taking place statewide.”

Mashable: New website offers quick mental health support during COVID-19. “There’s no shortage of local, state, and national helplines that offer support to people during emotional or mental health crises. The problem is that they’ve not been easily accessible in one searchable database, which means it might take callers or texters reaching out for help longer to find the resources they need. A new website launched Tuesday by the Pandemic Crisis Services Coalition aims to change that. Its goal is to make mental health support a click away for people who are struggling with their emotional and mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.”


TimeOut: London’s first public art walk The Line goes online. “There is a now new way to walk the line without ever getting lost. To celebrate its fifth birthday, mark International Sculpture Day and cope with the obvious barrier of the lockdown, The Line is going online. In collaboration with children’s arts charity House of Fairy Tales, it has launched a new interactive map which will guide you through each art installation. Click on the numbered dots and you’ll be given the story behind sculptures like Alex Chinneck’s immense 35-metre-tall latticed steelwork ‘A Bullet from a Shooting Star’ or Laura Ford’s ’Bird Boy’, a lonely figure of a lost child in a bird costume that stands on the edge of a pontoon in the Royal Docks.”

T.H.E. Journal: Updated: Free STEM and STEAM Resources for Schools During the COVID-19 Outbreak. “Education technology companies and organizations have stepped forward to help educators bring STEM and STEAM experiences to students in virtual ways during the COVID-19 closures. The following list of free resources in the arts, coding/computer science/engineering, crafting/design/making, math, science and integrated STEM/STEAM will be updated regularly as announcements are made.”


New York Times: Oprah to Headline Facebook, Instagram Graduation Event. “Oprah will be the commencement speaker and Awkwafina, Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X and Simone Biles will offer words of wisdom to the Class of 2020 in a multi-hour graduation streaming event on Facebook and Instagram on May 15.”

High Times: High Times Opens Its Digital Archive To All. “Just as industry webinars and sesh hangouts on Zoom are starting to lose their appeal as sources of quarantine cannabis content, High Times has come to the rescue by opening the magazine’s archives online for all the world to view for free. From interviews with cultural icons such as Andy Warhol and Hunter S. Thompson to work contributed by the likes of Charles Bukowski and William S. Burroughs, High Times has featured stories that are nearly nonexistent in today’s fast cut, clickbait society. By simply registering online with an email address, every issue of High Times ever published can be viewed online through May 20, with no credit card required.”


Screen Rant: Free Digital Comics Are Helping Fans Get Through Coronavirus Lockdown. “The Coronavirus pandemic has thrown the comic book industry for a loop, giving fans week after week without new comics for the first time in years. To make matters worse, their favorite superheroes, characters, and senses of humor have gone missing when they’re needed most, as millions around the world weather the storm in isolation. To help those comic readers during this difficult time, some creators and publishers have come to the rescue by releasing free digital content while the printed weekly issues and trade paperbacks are unavailable. We’ve rounded up some of those that are currently providing fans with the best online content for free.”

PopSugar: How to Turn a T-Shirt Into a Face Mask in Less Than 10 Minutes — No Sewing Required. “The CDC released a no-sew T-shirt face mask tutorial, and it’s a lot easier than you might think. Keeping with CDC cloth face mask guidelines, this method takes less than 10 minutes to do and only requires a T-shirt, scissors, and ruler.”


Washington Post: Three doctored covid-19 protest photos — and other lessons on fake news. “This is the latest installment of a weekly feature on this blog — lessons from the nonprofit News Literacy Project, which aims to teach students how to distinguish between what’s real and fake in the age of digital communication and a president who routinely denounces real news as ‘fake.'”

BBC: Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be ‘scrapped’ instead of delayed again, says Games chief. “The postponed Tokyo Olympics will be ‘scrapped’ if they cannot take place in 2021, says Games chief Yoshiro Mori. Tokyo 2020 is now scheduled to run from 23 July to 8 August next year after being delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

CNET: Every coronavirus symptom you can have, according to the CDC. “As countries like the US face coronavirus testing shortages, a lot of people are depending on matching their symptoms to the list of officially recognized symptoms of COVID-19 to determine if they have the disease or not. Those efforts may have gotten easier as the CDC has expanded its list of coronavirus symptoms, adding six more indicators. Previously, the only recognized symptoms were fever, coughing and shortness of breath.”

CNET: US hits 1 million coronavirus cases. “In a new grim milestone, the US now has more than 1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to tracking numbers from the John Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Research Center. As of 11:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday, there have been 57,266 deaths from 1,002,498 confirmed cases in the US. Around 5.6 million people have been tested across the nation.”

The Times: Germany ready to tighten lockdown as coronavirus infection rate climbs again. “Germany may be compelled to bring back elements of its lockdown amid signs that coronavirus cases could be on the point of starting to multiply again. The country’s virus reproduction rate, which measures how many people the average person with Covid-19 infects, has rebounded to a value of 1.0, the dividing line between growth and decline, according to government epidemiologists.”


Daily Beast: Covid Cashout: Plastic Surgeons and Cannabis Startups Rush to Grab Coronavirus Trademarks. “Trademark applications filed with the Patent Office show an explosion in products marketed in some fashion as related to the virus. Nearly 200 applications containing the words ‘coronavirus’ or ‘COVID’ have been filed since March 29, the first time either word appeared in a trademark application, according to USPTO’s online database.”

Caltech: Forming New Habits in the Era of the Coronavirus. “With the coronavirus pandemic upon us, people are readily forming new habits, such as washing their hands more frequently and communicating with colleagues over video platforms like Zoom. Which of these habits will stick when the pandemic is over and which will pass? Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics and the T&C Chen Center for Social and Decision Neuroscience Leadership Chair in the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech, is looking into this question of habit formation, or what scientists call habitization. He says that the coronavirus pandemic may have ripple effects that lead to lasting behavioral changes in the arenas of public health, education, and more.”

Stylist: Comparison culture is worse than ever during lockdown. Why?. “Despite finding ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic, our desire to compare ourselves to the people we follow on social media and interact with online is stronger than ever. But why is this? And what, if anything, can we do about it?”

Phys .org: Toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and now elastic? Mask makers cope with unexpected COVID-19-related shortages. “With protection against COVID-19 spurring demand, hobbyists skilled in sewing have turned to making masks and are hunting down materials and sewing machines. That’s led to shortages of elastic and high demand for less pricey sewing machines and even the services of people who repair old machines.”

CNET: A chef offered up her sourdough starter on Instagram and the results are amazing. “Nothing travels faster than news in 2020, thanks to social media, except maybe sourdough starter. Just ask Johanna Hellrigl, the 31-year-old chef and Washington, D.C, resident who, at the start of the outbreak when the U.S. began shuttering, offered to share a sourdough starter with her 6,000-plus Instagram followers. At last count, the former executive chef at Doi Moi had distributed over 500 iterations of her starter and, in doing so, created a sprawling network of baked goods and goodwill in rather dark times.”

GQ: How Instagram Live Became Appointment Viewing. “On Instagram Live on any given day over the past two months, you may have watched SZA lead a sound bowl meditation, Rihanna and Lil Uzi Vert do the Futsal Shuffle, or Offset make an offer on Reese Witherspoon’s dad’s car. Seemingly overnight, Instagram Live has become a digital smorgasbord, catering to all manner of pop-culture predilections, many of which you probably didn’t know you had in the first place…. While all these shows differ in content, there’s an energetic thread that runs throughout them: a quaint clumsiness and a spontaneous sort of humanity that you rarely encounter in such abundance on celebrity social media channels.”

New York Times: ‘I Could Be One of Them’: Belgians Help Migrants Amid Coronavirus. “Gare du Nord, once the busiest train station in Brussels, the Belgian capital, has been nearly empty of regular travelers after the lockdown, since most trains have been canceled. But twice a day, a long line of migrants waits along a platform for food and hygienic supplies. Nabil Moujahid, a 33-year-old schoolteacher, started a grass-roots initiative called Citizens in Solidarity to distribute food to migrants who gather in the Parc Maximilien near the station.”

The Daily Beast: Fox-Loving Parents Are Driving Coronavirus-Paranoid Kids Insane. “The spread of coronavirus is pitting family members against each other over the severity of the pandemic and the steps needed to combat it. The fault lines are generational and geographic. But mainly they appear determined by news appetites.”

CNBC: Belgians urged to eat fries twice a week as coronavirus creates massive potato surplus. “Belgians are being called upon to eat fries at least twice a week as more than 750,000 tons of potatoes are at risk of being thrown away. The coronavirus crisis has led to a surplus of potatoes in the small European country, as demand for frites — a national dish of twice-fried potatoes often eaten in bars and restaurants — has slumped amid Belgium’s government-enforced lockdown.”

New Yorker: April 15, 2020: A Coronavirus Chronicle. “The novel coronavirus is not the first pandemic of the global age, but it is easily the most relentless. In just a matter of months, from the first appearance of respiratory illnesses in a cluster of people associated with the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the virus infected millions of human hosts, killing tens of thousands. The disease it causes, COVID-19, has come to every corner of the earth, except Antarctica. How it first reached New York City, which by late March had become known as the epicenter of the pandemic, is not hard to imagine.”


NBC News: Face masks for passengers now required on all JetBlue flights. “JetBlue Airways on Monday became the first U.S. airline to announce that all passengers will have to wear a face covering on flights. Starting May 4, passengers will be required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth during the duration of each flight and also during check-in, boarding and deplaning, according to a JetBlue statement.”

Food & Wine: Rolls-Royce’s Honey Production Is Still Booming, Even While Auto Plants Are Shut Down. “What would you consider the Rolls-Royce of honeys? Maybe you prefer for your honey to be monofloral? Perhaps you’ve been turned on to Melipona honey from Mexico? Or maybe ‘the Rolls-Royce of honey’ is simply the honey made by Rolls-Royce? Yes, the car company produces its own honey—and while the coronavirus pandemic has brought car production to a standstill, honey production is actually booming.”

Toronto Star: Toronto Public Library and friends remix wartime posters for the pandemic. “‘Keep These Hands Off!’ the Second World War poster implores, urging people to buy victory bonds as a mother and baby cower from the gnarled hands of the enemy. ‘Keep These Hands Off!’ the pandemic version of the poster echoes, as the same mother and baby cower, but with masks. ‘Who knows what, or who you touched.’ The Toronto Public Library has more than 100 wartime posters in its digital collection and, last week, they asked people to remix them ‘to speak to the new historic moment we’re in.'”


BBC: Coronavirus: ‘One billion’ could become infected worldwide – report. “One billion people could become infected with the coronavirus worldwide unless vulnerable countries are given urgent help, an aid group has warned. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said financial and humanitarian aid were needed to help slow the global spread of the virus. It said ‘fragile countries’ such as Afghanistan and Syria needed “urgent funding” to avoid a major outbreak.”

UC San Diego Health: Loss of Smell Associated with Milder Clinical Course in COVID-19. “Following an earlier study that validated the loss of smell and taste as indicators of SARS-CoV-2 infection, researchers at UC San Diego Health report in newly published findings that olfactory impairment suggests the resulting COVID-19 disease is more likely to be mild to moderate, a potential early indicator that could help health care providers determine which patients may require hospitalization.”

Berkeley News: Study challenges reports of low fatality rate for COVID-19. “A comparison of daily deaths in Italy since January 2020 with those over the previous five years there indicates that the fatality rate in that country for those infected with the new coronavirus is at least 0.8%, far higher than that of the seasonal flu and higher than some recent estimates. Extrapolating from the Italian data, University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory data scientists estimate that the fatality rate in New York City and Santa Clara County in California can be no less than 0.5%, or one of every 200 people infected.”

Phys .org: Correlations in COVID-19 growth point to universal strategies for slowing spread. “Researchers in Brazil analyzed the growth of confirmed infected COVID-19 cases across four continents to better characterize the spread of the virus and examine which strategies are effective in reducing its spread. Their results, published in Chaos, found the virus commonly grows along a power law curve, in which the social, economic and geographical features of a particular area affect the exponent to which the infection spreads rather than affecting traits of the infection itself.”

Washington Post: Antibody tests support what’s been obvious: Covid-19 is much more lethal than the flu. “The new serological data, which is provisional, suggests that coronavirus infections greatly outnumber confirmed covid-19 cases, potentially by a factor of 10 or more. Many people experience mild symptoms or none at all, and never get the standard diagnostic test with a swab up the nose, so they’re missed in the official covid-19 case counts. Higher infection rates mean lower lethality risk on average. But the corollary is that this is a very contagious disease capable of being spread by people who are asymptomatic — a challenge for communities hoping to end their shutdowns.”


BetaNews: Americans fear the COVID-19 crisis will lead to more government tracking. “As COVID-19 has spread around the globe, governments everywhere have been taking extraordinary measures to try to contain the pandemic. There are fears though that some of these measures could become the new normal. The website decided to ask people in the US how they feel about possibly giving up their privacy during the government’s response to the coronavirus. It finds that 79 percent are either somewhat worried or very worried that intrusive tracking measures enacted by the government could continue long after the pandemic has been defeated.”

CNET: Zoom security issues: Zoom could be vulnerable to foreign surveillance, intel report says. “Here’s everything we know about the Zoom security saga, and when it happened. If you aren’t familiar with Zoom’s security issues, you can start from the bottom and work your way up to the most recent information. We’ll continue updating this story as more issues and fixes come to light.”

NBC News: Warren, Ocasio-Cortez propose halt to big mergers during coronavirus pandemic. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., are teaming up on a proposal to halt mergers and acquisitions for large companies during the coronavirus pandemic, elevating a progressive cause as Democrats and apparent nominee Joe Biden craft the party’s platform ahead of the 2020 election.”

The Detroit News: COVID-19 doctor charged in multimillion-dollar fraud case. “Dr. Charles Donald Mok II, 56, of Allure Medical Spa used the COVID-19 pandemic to bill insurers for vitamin C infusions fraudulently presented as COVID-19 treatments and preventative measures, according to a 47-page criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday. He also failed to utilize appropriate protocols at the clinic to minimize the spread of the virus, prosecutors said.”

Politico: Trump called PPE shortages ‘fake news.’ Health care workers say they’re still a real problem.. “For this story, reporters in the past week spoke with 17 health care workers and officials across the country, including some who responded to a POLITICO survey about working conditions on the front lines of coronavirus. Some spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution, because some hospitals have threatened to fire workers for airing their concerns publicly. The interviews reveal a medical workforce still struggling to adapt to dangerous conditions with little confidence that the available protective gear is being steered to the places it’s needed most. Some say they’re still being forced to reuse masks or MacGyver their own equipment four months into the U.S. outbreak, even as Trump dismisses questions about shortages as ‘fake news,’ as he did earlier this month.”

Salon: Trump administration hijacked 5 million masks from veterans hospitals, chief physician says. “The chief physician overseeing the Veterans Health Administration acknowledged that the Trump administration redirected a shipment of masks to the national stockpile after officials denied claims that health care workers were forced to work with inadequate protective equipment.”

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