coronabuzz

Friday CoronaBuzz, May 1, 2020: 40 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

Fox 17: New website could help you save money on medical bills. “It’s pretty straight forward and completely free to use, all you have to do is answer a few questions including your income, insurance status, and how much you owe at which hospital. In a couple minutes it will tell you if you qualify.” Applying for financial assistance is an additional step. You can do it on your own, or the site can help you for a fee of $29.

Brandeis NOW: How artificial intelligence is helping scientists find a coronavirus treatment. “More than 50,000 academic articles have been written about COVID-19 since the virus appeared in November. The volume of new information isn’t necessarily a good thing. Not all of the recent coronavirus literature has been peer reviewed, while the sheer number of articles makes it challenging for accurate and promising research to stand out or be further studied. Computer science and linguistics professor James Pustejovsky is leading a Brandeis team in creating an artificial intelligence platform called Semantic Visualization of Scientific Data — or SemViz — that can sort through the growing mass of published work on coronavirus and help biologists who study the disease gain insights and notice patterns and trends across research that could lead to a treatment or cure.”

NEW RESOURCES – EDUCATION/ENTERTAINMENT

Buzz IE: New website launched to help teachers support students online. “A new website, ‘Teacher Support’, has been launched by Hibernia College, one of Ireland’s leading teacher-training institutions, to support Primary and Post-Primary teachers who are teaching classes online during Covid-19.”

State of New Jersey: To Celebrate Earth Day, DEP Launches Online Stay-at-Home Activities, Learning Tools And Virtual Park Visits. “Visitors can also check in on active peregrine falcon and bald eagle nests through the live webcams maintained by the Wildlife Conservation Foundation of New Jersey, as well as the group’s many other interesting wildlife video and educational offerings. New Jersey’s Division of Parks and Forestry is also bringing New Jersey’s parks to visitors virtually. Its popular #IHeartNJParks campaign now connects with the public through virtual access through its Facebook and Instagram pages ( https://www.facebook.com/NewJerseyStateParks/ and https://www.instagram.com/newjerseystateparks). The campaign posts new content each day, including a special collection of park tours and projects, interviews with experts and never published historical photos. In addition, through a series of stunning, even inspiring, videos, families can make virtual visits to popular parks and historic sites from High Point to Cape May Point.”

TopGear Philippines: If your kids are starting to feel cabin fever, Porsche 4Kids might help. “If these kids have found something to immerse themselves in at home—such as books or art—then good for them (and for you). But if the kids keep asking what else they’re going to do at the start of each day, you’re in deep waters. We have a possible solution here for you, though, and it’s not the usual smartphone app, video game, or YouTube content that might first come to mind. This is Porsche 4Kids, a website filled to the brim with activities, games, and all sorts of enjoyable interactive content for children.”

PR Newswire: Discover Puerto Rico First to Offer Live Guided Tours Through Google Earth (PRESS RELEASE). “As most of us enter another week of shelter-in-place mandates, Discover Puerto Rico is the first destination to entertain and educate would-be tourists by transporting them through Google Earth on live guided tours throughout the Island. Jorge Montalvo from Patria Tours will be hosting a series of three live guided tours utilizing Google Earth, during National Travel and Tourism Week (May 3-9). Participants will feel like they are actually in Puerto Rico, seeing the Island’s natural wonders, off the beaten path experiences, and cultural offerings, with the ability to interact and ask questions along the way.” The tours are free.

The Statehouse File: Eiteljorg welcomes visitors for a virtual look at museum exhibits. “Even though the doors of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art are closed because of COVID-19, its online access allows visitors to enjoy the experience while remaining safe at home. The Eiteljorg Museum’s artworks from collections such as the Native American, Western and Contemporary are now accessible… The digital and interactive experiences allow families to stay at home and still see and learn about the museum’s exhibitions.

Lifehacker: How to Watch the Virtual Kentucky Derby This Weekend. “The Kentucky Derby was originally slated to happen this weekend, but like most everything else worth getting excited about, it has been postponed to later in the year. This is only the second time the race has even been postponed in its storied 146-year history. (The first time was in 1945, in the final year of World War II.) While we won’t see an actual race this Saturday—that’s been rescheduled for September 5—Churchill Downs is hosting a number of Derby-related events this weekend to raise money for COVID-19 relief.”

WWLP: Music Fan Creates Online Schedule of Home Based Performances. “Do you love live music? Are you disappointed that you can’t get out to see some live performances? We have some great news for you. A local music fan has created an online database of local music performances you can enjoy from home.” Local (western Massachusetts) gigs at the top (a LOT of ’em), “Shows from Elsewhere” further down.

Hyde Park Herald: With ‘Spinning Home Movies,’ DJs bring Chicagoans a weekly dose of history. “Luther Vandross soundtracking a Greater Grand Crossing block party. Kids rollerblading over Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love?’ A young couple sitting and laughing with each other while Curtis Mayfield sings “I wanna go back, to the sweetness of time/I wanna go back, and reminisce what was mine.” These are small excerpts from the videos and music, often old-school R&B and soul, found in the mixes that make up ‘Spinning Home Movies,’ a new DJ series from the South Side Home Movie Project (SSHMP) and Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago. Broadcast over a Facebook livestream every Thursday at 7 p.m., each entry features a different DJ putting together a mix over footage from the SSHMP archive. ” BRILLIANT.

NEW RESOURCES – OTHER

SportTechie: Cornhole, the Popular Backyard and Tailgate Game, Goes Online and Global. “The American Cornhole League has launched ACL Virtual, a digital platform that allows athletes to remotely compete in tournaments via the internet. The platform enables international players to compete against American-based players for the first time. ACL Virtual can be accessed through the ACL Bags App. Inside the platform, players will be able to sign up for tournaments (singles, doubles, or blind-draw) and pay a registration fee. Once all players have registered for a tournament, an ACL director will notify all participants of the time they have to complete each round, which will typically be 24 hours. ”

Los Angeles Magazine: California Launches a New Child Care Portal for Essential Workers. “With schools closed, many essential employees across California have struggled to find safe options for child care when they need to go work–and as more businesses begin to reopen, the child care crunch may become even tougher. To address those concerns, the state has launched a new tool to match families with available, licensed providers.”

Wisconsin Law Journal: New ABA pro bono portal connects lawyers with volunteer opportunities. “The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Disaster Legal Services Program and Paladin, a justice tech company, launched the national disaster relief pro bono portal on Thursday. The online database is free to use. Lawyers can filter by practice area, community, type of engagement and ability to work remotely. Current highlighted opportunities include COVID-19 relief, Puerto Rico earthquake relief, FEMA and federal, and disaster-related unemployment.”

USEFUL STUFF

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Guide to coronavirus mortgage relief options. “If you’re among those financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, you might be concerned about how to pay your mortgage or rent. Federal and state governments, as well as financial institutions and loan servicers, have announced plans to help struggling homeowners during this time. Keep reading to get information on what to do now, and what your options are for mortgage, rental relief, and utility disconnections.”

Book Riot: How To Find Bookish Joy In A Time Of Quarantine. “I have to make a conscious effort to finish a book, since I find myself easily swayed by the siren-like call of a new book. This means that my book cap goal has gone out the window. I haven’t listened to hardly any audiobooks, since I’m not commuting anymore. And my drinking has increased slightly since this all began. But, I am still trying to make lemonade margaritas out of the lemons being lobbed by life right now. I wanted to share some bookish things have brought me joy while grown-up grounded.”

UPDATES

USA Today: YouTube to roll out independent fact check feature for US users. “YouTube is rolling out information panels for search results aimed at providing fact checks for its users in the U.S. The fact check feature, already available in Brazil and India, includes independent information meant to offer additional context on a topic.”

CNET: Facebook sees strong user growth as coronavirus pandemic creates uncertainty. “Facebook’s first-quarter revenue and user numbers beat Wall Street expectations Wednesday, even as the social media giant cautioned that the coronavirus pandemic has caused ‘unprecedented uncertainty’ for the future of its ad business.”

UC Today: Otter. ai Launches Meeting Transcriptions for Teams, Zoom. “‘Live Transcription,’ lets meeting attendees open transcripts during a live call and highlight, comment, as well as add photos to live meeting notes. Following a call, end users can leverage ‘Post-Meeting Transcription,’ the automatic downloading of Zoom cloud recordings for transcription. There’s even headset support, a feature that captures both sides of a conversation when using headsets or earbuds. Each feature does require organizations have an active Zoom subscription.”

Search Engine Journal: Google My Business Impressions Down 59%. “An analysis of COVID-19’s impact on local search finds Google My Business experienced a sharp performance drop. A study from Reputation.com of over 80,000 US listings finds that impressions are down an average of 59% across all verticals. However, there are signs that performance will turn around sooner than many might expect.”

CNN: With $2.2 trillion stimulus, lawmakers now see fixes they want to make. “Lawmakers responsible for passing a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill in a matter of days are now looking back with some buyer’s remorse, fearful that some of the programs they launched haven’t yet met their potential or have unleashed unintended consequences that could become a liability in the next election with each party already pointing the finger at colleagues across the aisle.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

BBC: Coronavirus: Serena Williams among stars to compete in Mario Tennis tournament. “Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Maria Sharapova are among the tennis stars who will compete in a live-streamed tournament of Mario Tennis Aces. Top tennis players will partner celebrities and play as characters from the game on Nintendo Switch.”

WISHTV: Nearly 900 at Tyson Foods plant test positive for coronavirus. “The Cass County Health Department on Wednesday afternoon said it has seen just under 1,200 positive COVID-19 cases. Almost 900 employees at the Tyson Food plant in Cass County’s Logansport have tested positive. The county had been working with Tyson on a plan to reopen the plant after the pork processing plant voluntarily closed for 14 days in an effort to contain an outbreak. Cass County Commissioner Ryan Browning has been working with Tyson and the health department to develop a workable reopening plan that has been thrown into high gear by President Donald Trump’s executive order to reopen meat processing plants shuttered by the virus.”

TimeOut: Google reveals the top recipes every state is searching for right now. “You can tell a lot about what’s going on in someone’s life based on their search history. And right now, we’re all turning to recipes to bide our time indoors and create comforting dishes. There’s data to back that up: Google recently revealed that the search interest around the term ‘recipe’ has reached an all-time high between 2004 and now. Of course, the wizards at Google can also tell us exactly what folks are searching for and break it down by geographical location.”

African Arguments: “It’s lucrative”: Zimbabwe’s farmers turn to social media to stop the rot. “Since Zimbabwe started lockdown measures on 30 March, farmers have been struggling to sell their produce. With restaurants closed and people staying away from markets, tonnes of tomatoes, avocados and other fruit and veg have been rotting in piles across the country. Since COVID-19, many farmers have recorded losses of thousands of dollars. Some, however, have adopted new strategies to sell their produce. In the past few weeks, marketing posters have increasingly been popping up across social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp advertising direct home deliveries.”

Washington Post: Watch my kids, please: Parents hire Zoom babysitters so they can shelter in peace. “Babysitting used to go something like this: A local teenager comes over to the house after school to play with the kids, then tucks them into bed and spends the remainder of the evening texting from the sofa. All so the parents can unwind after a long week of working in offices by eating and drinking in a crowded restaurant. Now, babysitting is something that happens over a Zoom or FaceTime call during the day, usually for an hour or less, a few feet from those same parents. But instead of downing margaritas and laughing, they’re taking conference calls, catching up on emails, helping their other kids with home schooling, or just locking themselves in the bathroom for a quick cry.”

INSTITUTION / CORPORATE / GOVERNMENT

BBC: Coronavirus: France offers subsidy to tempt lockdown cyclists. “France is encouraging people to cycle to keep pollution levels low once lockdown restrictions end. Under the €20 million (£17m; $21.7m) scheme, everyone will be eligible for bike repairs of up to €50 at registered mechanics. The funding will also help pay for cycle training and temporary parking spaces.”

New Zealand Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus: Government to provide $100,000 interest-free loans to businesses. “The Government will provide interest-free loans of up to $100,000 to small businesses grappling with the impacts of Covid-19, after banks failed to meet the Government’s expectations. The loans are available for a year and will be offered to businesses with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent staff. But the loans are only available to businesses which have had their revenue hit by more than 30 per cent due to Covid-19.”

Tampa Bay Times: Florida medical examiners were releasing coronavirus death data. The state made them stop.. “State officials have stopped releasing the list of coronavirus deaths being compiled by Florida’s medical examiners, which has at times shown a higher death toll than the state’s published count. The list had previously been released in real time by the state Medical Examiners Commission. But earlier this month, after the Tampa Bay Times reported that the medical examiners’ death count was 10 percent higher than the figure released by the Florida Department of Health, state officials said the list needed to be reviewed and possibly redacted.”

ProPublica: Texas Still Won’t Say Which Nursing Homes Have COVID-19 Cases. Families Are Demanding Answers.. “As elderly and vulnerable citizens continue to die from COVID-19 in closed-off long-term care centers around the country, many of their relatives have begged elected leaders to release the locations of these outbreaks. Their pleas have carried weight with governors in Georgia, New York, Oklahoma and Florida, among others, who mandated an accounting of where the virus had spread. Not in Texas. Despite more than 300 deaths in such facilities, Gov. Greg Abbott has not moved to make public where patients and caretakers have fallen ill or died.”

City A.M.: Google removes 2.7bn bad ads as it launches Covid-19 taskforce. “Google removed roughly 2.7bn so-called bad ads last year as the tech giant ramps up its efforts to block misleading and malicious campaigns actors on its platform. The search engine’s crackdown, which equates to 5,000 ads per minute, is an increase on the 2.3bn adverts removed in 2018.”

Washington Post: U.S. officials crafting retaliatory actions against China over coronavirus as President Trump fumes. “Senior U.S. officials are beginning to explore proposals for punishing or demanding financial compensation from China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to four senior administration officials with knowledge of internal planning. The move could splinter already strained relations between the two superpowers at a perilous moment for the global economy.”

RESEARCH

EurekAlert: Researcher repurposes social networking models to predict COVID spread. “Since the COVID-19 epidemic began, there has been plenty of opportunity to observe how a vast array of truths, half-truths, and falsehoods can flare up and spread like wildfire across social media, swirl around, and just as quickly get buried and forgotten. It could serve as a fascinating case study for CSL and computer science professor Tarek Abdelzaher, who for years has studied how information propagates through social media. But he and his students Chaoqi Yang and Ruijie Wang have taken a big step further. They recognized that the dissemination of information through a population of online users is closely analogous to the transmission of a virus through a population of flesh-and-blood human beings, and that realization has inspired them to repurpose their information propagation models to predict COVID-19 spread. Furthermore, they have made the findings available to the public on an interactive website.”

Phys .org: Researchers offer ways to address life under COVID-19. “An international team of researchers has outlined ways to manage different facets of life under the spread of the COVID-19 virus, ranging from how we can combat racially driven bias and fake news to how we can increase cooperation and better manage stress. Its work, which appears in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, considers research stretching over the past half century to offer insights about how to address current circumstances.”

POLITICS AND SECURITY

Washington Post: Well-connected Trump alumni benefit from coronavirus lobbying rush. “As lobbyists blitz Washington for a piece of the massive federal response to the global pandemic, a group of former Trump administration officials and campaign alumni are in the center of the action, helping private interests tap into coveted financial and regulatory relief programs. Businesses hit hard by the virus and health-care manufacturers seeking approval for their products have rushed to hire Trump alumni, who are leveraging their connections in a variety of ways — helping get their clients designated as ‘essential’ services and securing meetings at the White House and federal agencies on their behalf, federal filings show.”

New York Times: Trump’s Disinfectant Talk Trips Up Sites’ Vows Against Misinformation. “At a White House briefing last week, Mr. Trump suggested that disinfectants and ultraviolet light were possible treatments for the virus. His remarks immediately found their way onto Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites, and people rushed to defend the president’s statements as well as mock them. But Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have declined to remove Mr. Trump’s statements posted online in video clips and transcriptions of the briefing, saying he did not specifically direct people to pursue the unproven treatments. That has led to a mushrooming of other posts, videos and comments about false virus cures with UV lights and disinfectants that the companies have largely left up.”

ZDNet: 5G mast arson, coronavirus conspiracy theories force social media to walk a fine censorship line. “There have been at least 61 suspected arson attacks against telephone masts in the United Kingdom alone in recent weeks, including against those serving local hospitals, and it is believed the uptake in vandalism is due to the deluge of 5G theories being shared across social media. The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Cyprus, and Sweden have also experienced mast arson attacks. While these theories have been debunked, with agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO), technology vendors, telecoms providers, and governments attempting to stop the spread of such misinformation, the conspiracy link between 5G and the novel coronavirus persists.”

Complex: Cops to Reportedly Crack Down on Large House Parties Using Social Media. “According to TMZ, police departments in major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City are reportedly planning on cracking down on large social gatherings that are in direct violation of the social distancing requests that are currently in place. And in an effort to try and curb any large functions, cops are reportedly planning on keeping an eye on social media and live streams as a way of tracking whether or not people are breaking the rules.”

Bloomberg: Trump Hails Kushner’s PPE Airlift, But Details of Sales Are Secret. “A program created by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has airlifted millions of gloves, masks and other coveted coronavirus supplies into the U.S. from overseas — but it isn’t clear who’s getting them and at what price, or how much private-sector partners are earning through the arrangement.”

ABC News: Maryland hiding testing kits, purchased from South Korea, from US government: Hogan. “Maryland authorities were so concerned about the federal government seizing a shipment of COVID-19 tests destined for the state that they made special arrangements to receive and guard the tests until they could be distributed, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said Thursday. Hogan cited the fate of 3 million N95 masks purchased by the state of Massachusetts — all of which were confiscated in March by the federal government at the port of New York — as the main reason for taking extra precautions to secure his state’s order of 500,000 COVID-19 testing kits from South Korea.”

NBC News: British doctors warn some Chinese ventilators could kill if used in hospitals. “Senior British doctors have warned that 250 ventilators the United Kingdom bought from China risk causing ‘significant patient harm, including death,’ if they are used in hospitals, according to a letter seen by NBC News. The doctors said the machines had a problematic oxygen supply, could not be cleaned properly, had an unfamiliar design and a confusing instruction manual, and were built for use in ambulances, not hospitals.”

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  1. Obsessive-compulsive, I know, but I loaded that list of recipe searches (per TimeOut) into a spreadsheet and sorted not by state name, but by recipe, to see which recipes are most sought by the most states. As might be expected, hamburger/hamburger meat recipes topped the list. But I most liked the outliers: zucchini in Florida, crepes in Utah (?), charoset in New York… And there seems to be a single beverage: margaritas, in *drumroll* Washington DC. Lololol.

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