Tuesday CoronaBuzz, May 5, 2020: 30 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Added a new Crime section. Yay. Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. Please be careful. I love you.


Google AI Blog: An NLU-Powered Tool to Explore COVID-19 Scientific Literature. Traditional search engines can be excellent resources for finding real-time information on general COVID-19 questions like ‘How many COVID-19 cases are there in the United States?’, but can struggle with understanding the meaning behind research-driven queries. Furthermore, searching through the existing corpus of COVID-19 scientific literature with traditional keyword-based approaches can make it difficult to pinpoint relevant evidence for complex queries. To help address this problem, we are launching the COVID-19 Research Explorer, a semantic search interface on top of the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), which includes more than 50,000 journal articles and preprints. We have designed the tool with the goal of helping scientists and researchers efficiently pore through articles for answers or evidence to COVID-19-related questions.”

EurekAlert: New COVID-19 tool warns relaxing rules may increase deaths. “A new tool designed to help state and local officials estimate the effects of social distancing and other public health interventions used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has been released by the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. The free tool combines information from both epidemiological and economic models to estimate the effects of five different disease-fighting portfolios on public health metrics such as disease transmission and economic consequences such as gross state income.”

9News: Polis announces map tool to help find coronavirus testing sites in Colorado
. “Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) announced a new tool to help with COVID-19 testing across the state as part of his update Monday at the state Capitol on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The state has launched a map that locates sites that offer testing for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.”

WSAW: New website and app to help navigate COVID-19 pandemic. ” Faculty and staff at UW-Madison put together a new website and app to help people navigate through COVID-19. It’s called COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect and there are resources to help people find accurate information, mental health resources and talk with other Wisconsinites about their pandemic experience.”

VTDigger: UVM team gathers peer-reviewed, published Covid-19 articles into database. “In early March as University of Vermont students went on spring break, Dr. David Krag and his research intern began the intricate process of collecting research on Covid-19. Krag is a surgical oncologist and professor of surgery at UVM’s Larner College of Medicine. Previously, he and UVM senior neuroscience major Shania Lunna had been working together to collect research on the opioid crisis, but together they decided to shift their focus. The Covid-19 crisis took priority. They saw that no one person could possibly read and organize all the hundreds of articles being produced about the virus, so they decided to tackle the challenge. In a matter of weeks, they have created a database that has amassed a vast collection of the most current information on Covid-19.”


Golf: Here’s the newest golf league you can watch on social media. “The European Tour announced today the playing of the BMW Indoor Invitational, a new series of virtual golf tournaments using Trackman technology. The event will feature European Tour players Martin Kaymer, Joost Luiten, Mike Lorenzo Vera, Lee Westwood and Bernd Wiesberger as they face off head to head in virtual competition from their own homes. With regular events on the European Tour still suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event will allow pros to compete against each other and keep their games sharp, all without leaving the comforts of their homes.”


Boston University, launched in April, finally found via Reddit (I must work on my Google Alerts): Tracking COVID-19 Policies. “Many Americans have been sheltering in place for days or weeks, working or studying from home or newly unemployed. Some states have closed schools, gyms, and nonessential business. Some have reduced arrests and banned visits to nursing homes, and many have called in the National Guard for assistance—while other states have taken few steps so far to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. As states (and other countries) weigh taking different steps, they need to know how different policies are working, says Julia Raifman, assistant professor of health law, policy & management. That’s why she and a group of students at the School of Public Health have created a COVID-19 US state policy database.”


Hoboken Girl: Remote Learning 101: Resources for Parents to Use While Homeschooling. “In what seems to have been an overnight shift, schools across the country were forced to close, turning dining room tables into desks and parents into teachers. And while that was no easy feat, parents and caregivers have fearlessly taken on this incredible task. Luckily, there is a never-ending supply of resources out there to help keep children occupied during these times inside {and hopefully provide some peace and quiet for parents}. We’ve rounded up a list of activities + resources for kids to engage in + utilize while staying home. Most of these resources are free, however, in the few activities that are paid subscriptions {like IXL} check with your school district to see if they already have a paid subscription to help save a few bucks.” Nice roundup, decent annotation.


New York Times: Therapists and Patients Find Common Ground: Virus-Fueled Anxiety. “On a good day, New York City is awash in its neuroses, a tightly wound place where a wide assortment of sky-scraping anxieties can build to an almost comic crescendo. But with the coronavirus pandemic grinding on, that angst has reached new heights. Many New Yorkers are cloistered in their homes, often jammed tight with family or roommates; others must report to work in a contaminated city. They are dealing with isolation and fear; some have lost their jobs. Others are sick or in grief. It can be overwhelming, even for the mental health professionals tasked with easing such problems.”

KATV: Zoos using social media to delight, raise money amid virus. “Social media is one way zoos worldwide are engaging with people who can no longer visit — their main source of income — and raise some much-needed cash. Zoos and aquariums have brought adorable distraction by posting photos and videos of animals, but the closures mean they’re still in jeopardy. While a smattering of zoos, from Utah to Germany, have started reopening with social distancing rules, there’s no telling when they will reach their usual levels of visitors and revenue. Besides jobs, the well-being of the animals is at stake.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Internal Chinese report warns Beijing faces Tiananmen-like global backlash over virus. “An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into confrontation, people familiar with the paper told Reuters.”

CNN: The stories of the people who bring you food. “Maybe you feel it, the weight in the air, this psychological force that makes it all seem heavier. We are told it might be grief, and it probably is, though I suspect it is also guilt. At least it is for me: guilt about not giving more, about not helping enough, about being a nonessential worker in a time of such great need. Let me tell you about two essential workers in St. Louis.”

Washington Post: The coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis. “Three months into the coronavirus pandemic, America is on the verge of another health crisis, with daily doses of death, isolation and fear generating widespread psychological trauma. Federal agencies and experts warn that a historic wave of mental health problems is approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide. Just as the initial coronavirus outbreak caught hospitals unprepared, the country’s mental health system — vastly underfunded, fragmented and difficult to access before the pandemic — is even less prepared to handle this coming surge.”

Los Angeles Times: Coughing echoes through the bus and Metro drivers wonder, ‘Am I going to catch it today?’. “Coughing filled the bus as Metro’s Line 33 rumbled down Venice Boulevard. The driver looked on, horrified, as a passenger hacked repeatedly into his hands and wiped his palms on the seat. ‘I was disgusted and uneasy,’ said the driver. ‘Like, come on, man. What if someone sat there and they didn’t know? That’s how the virus spreads.’ For thousands of Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus drivers, going to work during a pandemic means spending hours in a confined space with strangers, wondering whether this will be the day they get sick.”

NPR: Flood Of Calls And Texts To Crisis Hotlines Reflects Americans’ Rising Anxiety. “America’s crisis centers and hotlines are themselves in crisis. As people grapple with fear, loneliness and grief, on a grand scale, those stresses are showing up at crisis hotlines. Not only are the needs greater, but their clients’ problems are more acute and complex and offer a window into the emotional struggles Americans face. Across the board, hotlines of all kinds are reporting increases in volume.”

Washington Post: More people in District dying outside of hospitals during pandemic. “The number of people in the District dying outside hospitals spiked as the novel coronavirus started its sweep through the nation’s capital, raising concerns that people suffering a wide range of critical ailments are not seeking medical attention. Some of those people contracted the virus; the city has so far confirmed such deaths at home for three residents. But officials suspect many of the deaths are not related to the virus and may be the result of heart attacks, drug overdoses or other causes.”


The Register: Singapore to require smartphone check-ins at all businesses and will log visitors’ national identity numbers. “Singapore will from May 12th require all businesses to adopt a system that checks visitors into and out of their premises using their smartphones, and has already made using the system compulsory before entering some venues. Called ‘SafeEntry’, the system is designed to enhance Singapore’s coronavirus contact-tracing capabilities and requires visitors to either scan a QR code or allow their phones to be scanned to record a barcode in the national e-services app. That scans are taken when visitors enter and exit a premises.”

Associated Press: Faced with 20,000 dead, care homes seek shield from lawsuits. “Faced with 20,000 coronavirus deaths and counting, the nation’s nursing homes are pushing back against a potential flood of lawsuits with a sweeping lobbying effort to get states to grant them emergency protection from claims of inadequate care.”

New York Times: Coronavirus Survivors Want Answers, and China Is Silencing Them. “The text messages to the Chinese activist streamed in from ordinary Wuhan residents, making the same extraordinary request: Help me sue the Chinese government. One said his mother had died from the coronavirus after being turned away from multiple hospitals. Another said her father-in-law had died in quarantine. But after weeks of back-and-forth planning, the seven residents who had reached out to Yang Zhanqing, the activist, suddenly changed their minds in late April, or stopped responding. At least two of them had been threatened by the police, Mr. Yang said.”

The Guardian: ‘We’re ready if we are needed’: East London Mosque opens Covid-19 morgue. “The coffins contained the remains of two men of Moroccan descent who had died of coronavirus at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington. They had been brought to Whitechapel through the capital’s unusually quiet streets by Haji Taslim Funerals, London’s oldest Muslim funeral service, which is based at the mosque. In the spotless refrigerated room, the coffin lids were carefully removed to allow morgue attendants to perform a dry purification ritual, tayammum, using a special sandstone, on the shrouded bodies. The morgue has a section in which bodies can be washed with water in a more common ritual called ghusl, but the risk of contamination from Covid means tayammum is now being performed more often.”


Science Magazine: How does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toes. “As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surges past 2.2 million globally and deaths surpass 150,000, clinicians and pathologists are struggling to understand the damage wrought by the coronavirus as it tears through the body. They are realizing that although the lungs are ground zero, its reach can extend to many organs including the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, gut, and brain.”

CNET: Llama antibodies might bring us closer to neutralizing COVID-19. “Whoever had llamas from Belgium on their social isolation bingo card, consider yourself free to tick that box. According to a peer-reviewed study, due to be published in Cell on May 5, llama blood might hold the key to unlocking new treatments for COVID-19 — and lessen the stress the coronavirus pandemic has placed on the world.”

Neowin: NASA’s ventilator prototype approved for use by the FDA. “Many firms and organizations across the world have responded to a possible, upcoming shortage of ventilators due to COVID-19. Recently, we’ve seen companies like Tesla, Maingear, and others, venture into the domain. NASA too has been active in taking action in the fight against the global pandemic. Now, the space agency has made a ventilator that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat severe cases of COVID-19.”

Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago researchers develop new tool to battle coronavirus. “A group of Chicago researchers hope an electronic monitor that affixes to the throat like a band-aid will aid in the detection of coronavirus cases among health-care workers who might not recognize subtle symptoms. The device will also be used to track the recovery of patients from their homes and hospital beds.”

The City: Early Precautions Draw A Life-and-Death Divide Between Flushing And Corona. “Residents of both places typically have household income below the Queens median and a similar share of people who lack health insurance, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau. And almost half of apartments and houses in both areas have more than one occupant per room, the Census definition of crowded. Yet when it comes to COVID-19, the differences between the neighborhoods couldn’t be more stark. Corona emerged as the early epicenter of the outbreak in New York City and shows no sign of slowing down. Meanwhile, the rate of test-confirmed positive cases of the virus among Flushing residents has remained among the lowest in the five boroughs.”


CNN: Three family members charged in shooting death of security guard who told a customer to put on a face mask. “Three family members have been charged in the killing of a security guard who told a customer at a Michigan Family Dollar store to wear a state-mandated face mask, officials said on Monday. Calvin Munerlyn, 43, died at a Flint hospital after he was shot in the head Friday, said Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser.”


Moscow Times: Third Russian Doctor Falls From Hospital Window After Coronavirus Complaint. “A paramedic who complained about being forced to work despite contracting coronavirus is in critical condition after he fell from a hospital window in western Russia this weekend, local media reported. This is at least the third incident in which a Russian healthcare professional has plunged from a hospital building under mysterious circumstances in the past two weeks. The two previous doctors have died from their injuries.”

BGR: Reliance Jio COVID-19 self checker tool could have compromised private data of millions of users. “A recent lapse in security in Reliance Jio’s COVID-19 self-checking tool opened the service’s database to the internet. This meant anyone could have gained access to the database of private information of people who used the tool, without the need for a password. Jio has since pulled down the tool. There is no exact number with respect to how many people accessed the database before their data was compromised online.”

Sydney Morning Herald: Australian intelligence knocks back US government’s Wuhan lab virus claim. “Multiple senior intelligence sources who spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in recent days have confirmed Australia has still not been provided with any evidence that strongly suggests the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak. Intelligence agencies have not been able to rule out the Wuhan lab, but the more likely cause of the virus is still the city’s Huanan Seafood Market where environmental samples of the virus were found.”

Courthouse News Service: Half a Billion Dollars for Medical Gowns: Yarn Maker That Hosted Pence Lands Giant Coronavirus Contract. “At more than half a billion dollars, the massive contract dwarfs those given to all other textile companies listed on the database for Covid-19, eclipsed only by ventilator manufacturers Philips North America and Hamilton Medical. Parkdale’s contract is more than $100,000 larger than what the Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna made on a $430.3 million contract to develop a vaccine. To compare it against other makers of personal protective equipment, Parkdale’s contract is more than three times the size of the $172.9 contract to 3M to make 190 million N95 masks. Trump publicly attacked 3M over that contract before resorting to the Korean War-era Defense Production Act as leverage to compel production.”

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