Saturday CoronaBuzz, May 2, 2020: 32 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. Try to enjoy the weekend. Did I mention I love you?


News & Observer: How many coronavirus cases are in your ZIP code in NC? Now you can find out.. “The ZIP code with the highest number of cases is in Durham — 27705 — and has more than 240 cases, according to DHHS. The ZIP code also has 21 deaths. Three congregate living settings are also located there — Durham Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, which has 111 cases and 12 deaths; a Veterans’ Affairs community living center, which has five cases and no deaths; and Hillcrest Convalescent Center, with two cases and one death.”


5280: 17 Free (Or Super Cheap) Virtual Things to Do This May. “From online classes to virtual beer tastings—and even live circus performances—there are plenty of free or donation-based happenings to keep you entertained at home.” Colorado-focused but eclectic.

Apartment Therapy: You Can Now Stream Classical Opera and Ballet Performances For Free. “The classical arts bring history and culture into lives around the globe. But you don’t have to wait for the theater doors to reopen in order to reap the benefits: Stingray Classica is offering one month of on-demand and live performances that can be streamed for free (no dress code required!). The Canada-based TV channel has opened up their digital library for everyone to enjoy for a month free of charge. Stingray Classica features orchestral performances, operas, ballets, and music documentaries from all over the globe, ranging in genres for every type of performing arts lover. ”


Oil City News: Wyoming Business Council Releases Interactive Business Directory To Track Modified Hours And Services. “The Wyoming Business Council has released a new tool… to serve as a one-stop site to see open businesses in their community and how to access their services amid the COVID-19 crisis. ‘The site is searchable by business or by community, and it’s easy to navigate,’ said Wendy Lopez, business recruitment manager for the Wyoming Business Council.”

Untapped New York: Miss the Sounds of NYC During Pandemic? NYPL’s New Spotify Album Does the Trick. “As many of us sit in our homes in the coronavirus pandemic, we might be starting to forget what New York sounds like. We no longer hear the cacophony of rush hour traffic, the chatter of a crowded restaurant, nor the rumbling of the subway. Today, the New York Public Library dropped a new Spotify album titled Missing Sounds of New York, a collection of audio landscapes evoking the ‘daily urban orchestra’ of New York.”

CDL Life: Here’s a new ‘one-stop shop’ for active emergency declarations & relaxed trucking regulations. “In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) recently debuted an online repository that gives users quick access to all active emergency declarations in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. In the weeks since the COVID-19 crisis began, numerous federal, state, and local agencies have issued emergency declarations intended to support the flow of products through the supply chain by relaxing certain trucking regulations including Hours of Service requirements and weight restrictions.”


EdTech: How To Keep Cyber Shenanigans Out Of The Digital Classroom. “Welcome to the world of remote learning, newly populated by institutions forced online almost overnight in response to the growing crisis around COVID-19. Now, as they endeavor to establish a new normal, some schools are finding the systems they’ve adopted might be vulnerable to visitors exhibiting less-than-scrupulous behavior. From students paying stand-ins to write their papers and take their classes to the ‘Zoom-bombing’ targeting classes at universities like ASU and UI, there’s no shortage of potential hijinks and trouble that can pop up when instructors put distance learning systems into place. Here’s a look at some of the budding cheats, shenanigans and trolls that educators should be wary of when operating a remote classroom — and a few tips on how to avoid them.”

Vice: ‘Allostatic Load’ Is the Psychological Reason for Our Pandemic Brain Fog. “My days have been reduced to the bare minimum. I work in drips and chunks of time, keeping my energy up with M&Ms and frequent Youtube breaks. I scrounge together leftovers for lunch, creating what I ambitiously call Grazing Plates. In reality, it’s a pear hacked into pieces and four olives piled on a handful of dry Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I have done yoga twice, and I felt undeniably smug about it. I’m doing so much less than I’m used to, and I’m so tired. Turns out, I’m not alone. Nancy Sin, assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, says that in stressful situations like this, there are physiological responses in our bodies.”


Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. coronavirus stimulus went to some healthcare providers facing criminal inquiries. “Eager to bolster the healthcare system during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government last month sped $30 billion in stimulus payments to most healthcare providers that billed Medicare last year. That speed resulted in taxpayers’ money flowing to some companies and people facing civil or criminal fraud investigations, according to defense lawyers and others representing more than a dozen firms and people facing such inquiries.”

Reuters: Google travel data show lockdown fatigue in U.S., Australia; other countries stay home. “More people stayed home in Brazil, Japan and Singapore in April as those countries’ novel coronavirus cases surged, while people in the United States and Australia returned to parks and jobs as infection rates flattened, data from Google show.”


New York Times: Porches, Yards, Driveways, Parking Lots: Where the Neighborhood Is Now. “We walk the dogs across the meadow in the rain. We don’t talk much. We say the same things over and over, and yet somehow there’s comfort in the repetition. Yesterday someone wrote on the town listserv that certain dog owners had been spotted in the meadow less than six feet away from each other. Suddenly, everybody’s a cop, yardsticks in their minds. People are scared, and with good reason. But distance — the idea of distance. Were we so close to begin with? How far will we be from each other after this is over? The dogs, off leash, circle back to us. I’ve got the sense they know what’s going on, if not the particulars. But something is most definitely up. For starters, how come we’re all home all the time?”

CBS Chicago: Coronavirus Shopping Habits: Americans Buying More Baking Goods, Alcohol, Frozen Food; Less Flowers, Makeup, Shaving Products. “Baking is hot these days, but buying a prepared cake is not. A Chicago-based research firm just released a new tool to track coronavirus purchases. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory reveals what’s making it inside our cart, and what’s being left on store shelves. Americans are headed to the grocery store less, but leaving with more than usual. Our baskets are fuller, bellies too.”

The Daily Beast: Unmasked Protesters Storm Huntington Beach After California Governor’s Closure. “Give them Vitamin D or give them death. Hundreds of demonstrators swarmed Huntington Beach, south of Los Angeles, on Friday to protest California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s closure of the Golden State’s sandy shores—an anti-lockdown display organized in part by the owner of a ‘health and wellness center.'”

The Atlantic: The Fragility of the Global Nurse Supply Chain. “Figures from New American Economy, a research and advocacy organization, show that 16.5 percent of all health-care workers in the United States are immigrants, with even greater representation in specific fields such as home health aid, where nearly 37 percent of workers are immigrants. And perhaps no place has played as large a role in this as the Philippines, which for decades has provided the nurses, porters, and aides who have formed the crucial infrastructure of hospitals, clinics, and other health-care facilities in wealthier parts of the world.”


Vice: EXCLUSIVE: Whistleblower Warned of Coronavirus Danger in Prison Where a Woman Just Died After Giving Birth. “Andrea Circle Bear died from COVID-19 four weeks after giving birth while on a ventilator in federal prison, leaving behind her newborn baby, a grief-stricken grandmother, and many questions about how the 30-year-old woman’s death could have been prevented. Documents obtained by VICE News show that staff at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, Texas, had filed a whistleblower complaint with a U.S. senator a week after Circle Bear gave birth, alleging that the Bureau of Prisons ‘knowingly misleads the American public’ about conditions in federal prisons.”

ProPublica: How Profit and Incompetence Delayed N95 Masks While People Died at the VA. “Before embarking on a 36-hour tour through an underground of contractors and middlemen trying to make a buck on the nation’s desperate need for masks, entrepreneur Robert Stewart Jr. offered an unusual caveat. ‘I’m talking with you against the advice of my attorney,’ the man in the shiny gray suit, an American Flag button with the word “VETERAN” pinned to his blazer, said as we boarded a private jet Saturday from the executive wing at Dulles International Airport. It remains a mystery why the CEO of Federal Government Experts LLC let me observe his frantic effort to find 6 million N95 respirators and the ultimate unraveling of his $34.5 million deal to supply them to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, where 20 VA staff have died of COVID-19 while the agency waits for masks.”

USA Today: Coronavirus in Chicago: How the mayor of the nation’s 3rd-largest city is waging her biggest fight. “Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced Chicago’s first-ever citywide celebration of graduating seniors via a video of herself dancing posted to TikTok – the most recent in a series of viral social media posts that Lightfoot’s office has used to encourage residents to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak. More than than 22,000 Chicagoans have been infected; 962 have died. In an exclusive one-on-one interview with USA TODAY, the Chicago mayor talked about the challenges of battling COVID-19 on the political front lines – and her personal experience of the outbreak.”

Sioux City Journal: Source: 669 Tyson workers at Dakota City, Nebraska, plant test positive for COVID-19. “A total of 669 workers at Tyson Fresh Meats’ beef plant in Dakota City have tested positive for COVID-19, a source familiar with the situation told The Journal late Thursday. The disclosure came as Tyson prepared to idle production at its largest beef plant for four days, starting Friday. The company on Wednesday announced the temporary halt to deep clean the facility, which is easily metro Sioux City’s largest employer with over 4,300 workers.”

CNBC: Sweden had no lockdown but its economy is expected to suffer just as badly as its European neighbors. “Sweden has attracted global attention for not imposing a full lockdown, as seen in most of Europe, to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, data released from the country’s central bank and a leading Swedish think tank show that the economy will be just as badly hit as its European neighbors, if not worse.”


World Economic Forum: How to fight the COVID-19 infodemic: lessons from 3 Asian countries. “What makes the current pandemic more dangerous than any before is that the spread of rumours and false information on the internet is even faster than that of the coronavirus itself. Sylvie Briand, director of the WHO’s Infectious Hazard Management department, could not have better emphasized the need for governments to battle this parallel yet more vicious outbreak – that of the ‘infodemic’, or information epidemic.”

The Indian Express: Bengal girl’s ‘game-changer mask’ for Covid-19 patients makes central agency’s shortlist. “A class XI student from Bengal’s Purba (East) Bardhaman district has come up with a mask that may be a game-changer in the treatment of Covid-19 patients, and her design been shortlisted in a national competition. Digantika Bose, a student of Vidyasagar Smriti Vidyamandir Branch 2 in Memari, has come up with a ‘Air Providing and Virus Destroying Mask’ that took her seven days to develop. After series of tests, the Ministry of Science and Technology has asked for the student’s permission to take forward her innovation in the war against the virus.”

News@Northeastern: Can A New Tool For Diabetes Patients Solve The Problem Of Covid-19 Testing?. “For nearly a decade, [Professor Ming L.] Wang has been perfecting his glucose testing device, which can perform quick and easy tests from saliva samples. That test kit uses a disposable chip equipped with sensors to detect glucose molecules—no finger pricks, doctors, or pain involved. It was patented in 2018 and is now being tested in preclinical trials, Wang says. Now, Wang is reconfiguring the device’s biosensor to test for SARS-Cov2 molecules in the saliva of people who carry the coronavirus and give an accurate diagnosis within three minutes of testing.”

Stony Brook University News: Team Using Twitter to Track COVID-19 Symptoms and Mental Health. “A team of graduate student researchers led by Stony Brook’s Andrew Schwartz, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Computer Science, and Stanford University’s Johannes Eichstaedt is using Twitter to track and analyze COVID-19 symptoms and mental health in U.S. communities.”

Vox: This coronavirus model keeps being wrong. Why are we still listening to it?. “On Wednesday, the US death count passed the 60,000 mark that the IHME model had said was the likely total cumulative death toll. The IHME on April 29 released a new update raising its estimates for total deaths to 72,433, but that, too, looks likely to be proved an underestimate as soon as next week. Even its upper bound on deaths — now listed as 114,228 by August — is questionable, as some other models expect the US will hit that milestone by the end of May, and most project it will in June.”


Washington Post: Getting antsy? Try quarantine bingo!. “Our worlds may have gotten smaller as we shelter in place and venture out mostly for essential services or exercise close to home, but we can still have that travel bingo experience. Below are cards for both indoor and outdoor versions of the game. Download and cut out the cards, or take a photo on your phone and mark off the sights you see using your photos app or Instagram or Snapchat. Happy rambling!”


The Daily Beast: McConnell Was Warned D.C. Hadn’t Hit COVID Benchmarks Prior to Reconvening Senate. “At least one official with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office was on a call last week with the Capitol’s attending physician during which that physician, Dr. Brian Monahan, said Washington, D.C. had not yet cleared coronavirus-related benchmarks needed to safely reopen. According to two sources familiar with the call, McConnell’s chief of staff, Sharon Soderstrom, stressed to individuals on the call that they should take seriously the likelihood that the Majority Leader would reconvene the Senate on May 4 even amid the pandemic. A third source who was informed of the call’s exchanges confirmed that account. Despite Monahan’s warnings, McConnell did just that, telling lawmakers this week that they would be called back next Monday.”

New York Times: Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who Identified Critical Medical Shortages. “President Trump moved on Friday night to replace a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services who angered him with a report last month highlighting supply shortages and testing delays at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. The White House waited until after business hours to announce the nomination of a new inspector general for the department who, if confirmed, would take over for Christi A. Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who was publicly assailed by the president at a news briefing three weeks ago.”

Gizmodo: Google’s Fighting A Losing Battle Against Coronavirus Scammers. “Bad actors in advertising have a reputation of being notoriously slimy, doing anything they can to tiptoe around the guardrails put up by companies like Google. One early-April post on a popular ad-fraudster forum mentioned that the mask ban could be pretty much bypassed by avoiding certain obvious keywords, like ‘mask’ or ‘virus.’ It could explain how the ‘Healthcare Products’ ad slipped through the story I was reading, since you and I might both know that KN95 refers to the popular face mask, but might register to Google’s algorithms as a garbled set of letters and numbers.”

Washington Post: White House blocks Fauci from testifying before House panel next week. “The White House is blocking Anthony S. Fauci from testifying before a House subcommittee investigating the coronavirus outbreak and response, arguing that it would be ‘counterproductive’ for him to appear next week while in the midst of participating in the government’s response to the pandemic.”

New York Times: Fearing Political Peril, Republicans Edge Away From Trump on Pandemic Response. “Moderate Republicans in competitive districts are navigating a careful balance in addressing the coronavirus crisis, eager to put some distance between themselves and a president whose response has been criticized.”

ABC News: New allegations pressure ICE to release immigrant detainees. “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement faces mounting pressure as COVID-19 continues to spread through its detention facilities and civil liberty advocates levy new allegations of misconduct. Amid the health crisis, a joint report released this week from the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and National Immigrant Justice Center alleges ‘cruel treatment and neglect’ of disabled detainees, improper use of solitary confinement as well as multiple instances of unsanitary conditions at ICE facilities.”

Salt Lake Tribune: A state investigator said Utah’s plan for malaria drugs may violate the law, but then her supervisor stepped in. “A Utah regulator alerted a Draper pharmacist that his plan to sell the state massive quantities of malaria drugs to treat COVID-19 patients likely violated the law. In a mid-April phone call, she urged him to abandon his plan. By that time, Utah officials had already shelled out $800,000 in public funds to buy the drugs, apparently without confronting some of the legal concerns.”

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