Thursday CoronaBuzz, May 7, 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.


KPIX: Coronavirus Update: California Gov. Newsom Announces New Testing Site Tool, Expanded Workers’ Compensation. “Keeping Californians working with confidence as they increasingly begin to return to a reopening economy was the focus of two new announcements by Gov. Gavin Newsom. During his daily press briefing on Wednesday, Newsom said the state health department’s COVID-19 website now features a link to find testing sites across the state. The tool allows users to enter their zip codes and be presented with testing sites in their area.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: New website aims to connect people with support systems. “Nebraska visitors to the website can sign up for a free 30-minute consultation with a therapist in the university’s marriage and family therapy program, find social media support groups, and discover other tips and resources to strengthen their mental health and resilience. Project leaders say they hope this website can be a resource for anyone needing assistance, but especially those in rural communities who may not have access to other mental health services.”

Newswise: New Tool Will Help Public Health Officials Estimate the Need for COVID-19 Contact Tracing. “Using data on the number of COVID-19 cases, the estimated number of contacts per infected persons and other information, the team of researchers at the Mullan Institute have created the Contact Tracing Workforce Estimator. The tool was developed in collaboration with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). Using the new estimator, state and local public health officials will be able to plug in the number of COVID-19 cases and other data to help them gauge the number of staff needed to effectively trace contacts of all infected people in their jurisdiction. In addition, the estimator helps public health officials understand the factors, such as the need for social services, which can impact the number of contact tracers needed to slow the spread of infection.”

ProPublica: How Safe Are Nursing Homes Near Me? This Tool Will Help You Find Out.. “We’re updating Nursing Home Inspect to include more information about nursing homes across the country, including past problems with infection control practices, and which ones have had cases of COVID-19 among residents or staff…. You can easily compare the nursing homes in your state based on how many times they have been cited for violating infection control protocols in the past three inspection cycles (roughly three years). We’ve also added data from The Washington Post on homes with COVID-19 cases.”


Asbury Park Press: Coronavirus in NJ: How to visit the boardwalk, aquarium and more from home. “We’re all doing our part to fight the global coronavirus pandemic by responsibly staying inside. But you can still experience plenty of New Jersey’s landmark destinations from the comforts of your own home. Concert venues, museums, educational institutions and amusement spots have all moved online, giving folks from New Jersey and beyond a virtual escape.”

Library of Congress: Spending a Lot of Time at Home? Take the Archive Challenge!. “At the American Folklife Center, we know it’s been hard for those of you who are cooped up at home in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most of the staff live in areas under stay-at-home orders, and have been working from home for weeks. And although some cities and states are starting to open up a little, we have a feeling it will be a while before we’re going out to concerts, theaters, jams, or open mics to perform or enjoy live music and performing arts. But guess what? At the Library of Congress, we have an amazing online archive of folk music and folklife which you can explore right from home, and we’d like to offer a suggestion: why not learn a song, tune, poem, or story from the archive, make a recording or video of yourself performing it, and post it online? Or make a work of art based on one of our photos, or write a story or poem based on our materials. We’d love to see what you come up with! Folks from all genres and creators of all art forms are invited to interpret a field recording, video, photo, or manuscript from the AFC Archive. You don’t need to be a professional in order to participate!”

SportBusiness: FISU extends archive offering to streaming platforms. “The International University Sports Federation (FISU) has stepped up its offering of archive sports content during the Covid-19 shutdown of sports by launching the #UniSportsClassics venture. FISU has already opened its archive of television-quality content to broadcasters and member federations, but will now seek to reach audiences directly with full competition replays of medal events from the summer and winter Universiades, and World University Championship events.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Gollum actor Serkis to raise cash by reading entire Hobbit live online. “Andy Serkis will give a continuous live reading of The Hobbit online, to raise money for charity. The Gollum actor will read JRR Tolkien’s 1937 novel from start to finish with no breaks. Serkis played the corrupted character, originally known as Smeagol, in the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. Money raised from the 56-year-old’s expected 10-12-hour performance will be split between NHS Charities Together and Best Beginnings.”


Land Line: DHS launches route planning app to help truckers navigate COVID-19. “The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Idaho National Laboratory launched its Commercial Routing Assistance tool on Wednesday, May 6, for truckers and other commercial drivers in the U.S. This free app incorporates coordinated data streams and plots multiple routing options so commercial operators can plan and manage vehicle movements across multiple states quickly in times of disasters or other restrictions.”


CNET: Face mask hurting your ears? How to make your covering more comfortable. “Now that states are starting to reopen businesses, many are requiring that you wear face coverings when you go out in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you wear one when social distancing isn’t possible. And now that summer is approaching, you may be wondering how you’ll stay comfortable while wearing a mask when the sun is hot and your face is sweating. Fortunately, we have some tips to help keep you comfortable while wearing your covering.”

NewScientist: How to sniff out the good coronavirus studies from the bad. “With researchers, journals, politicians, journalists and social media influencers all capable of espousing misleading or unverified scientific findings, it pays to be able to recognise the telltale signs of a study that might be poor. Here are seven potential warning flags.” A quick roundup of things to think about.

Campus Technology: Updated: Free and Discounted Ed Tech Tools for Online Learning During the Coronavirus Pandemic. “As more and more colleges and universities have shut down their campuses in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, education technology companies have stepped forward to help move student learning to the virtual realm. Some companies are making their paid services free through the rest of the school year; others are lifting limits to services and/or adding premium features to what’s free. The following list will be updated regularly as announcements are made.”


Miami Herald: Months before Florida leaders had any clue, coronavirus was creeping through the state. “It was March 1 when Florida announced its first two cases of the novel coronavirus, a 29-year-old Hillsborough County woman who had traveled to Italy and a 63-year-old Manatee County man. But buried in data recently published by the Florida health department is an intriguing revelation: The spread of COVID-19 in Florida likely began in January, if not earlier. State health officials have documented at least 170 COVID-19 patients reporting symptoms between Dec. 31, 2019, and February 29, according to a Miami Herald analysis of state health data. Of them, 40 percent had no apparent contact with someone else with the virus. The majority had not traveled.”

Hollywood Reporter: Was Sundance a “First Petri Dish” of Coronavirus in the States?. “Industryites long have dubbed any illness caught while visiting the 10-day festival as ‘the Sundance flu,’ a byproduct of frigid temperatures, late-night partying and all that handshaking, in which everyone becomes an unknowing vector for spreading germs. But there was something different about Sundance 2020. A swath of attendees, including festival regulars and at least one high-profile actor, became sicker than ever before, leading some to later believe they had early, undocumented cases of COVID-19.”

Washington Post: Smartphone data shows out-of-state visitors flocked to Georgia as restaurants and other businesses reopened. “One week after Georgia allowed dine-in restaurants, hair salons and other businesses to reopen, an additional 62,440 visitors arrived there daily, most from surrounding states where such businesses remained shuttered, according to an analysis of smartphone location data. Researchers at the University of Maryland say the data provides some of the first hard evidence that reopening some state economies ahead of others could potentially worsen and prolong the spread of the novel coronavirus. Any impetus to travel, public health experts say, increases the number of people coming into contact with each other and raises the risk of transmission.”

BBC: Coronavirus: US unemployment claims hit 33.3 million amid virus. “A further 3.2 million Americans sought unemployment benefits last week as the economic toll from the coronavirus pandemic continued to mount. The new applications brought the total number of jobless claims since mid-March to 33.3 million. That amounts to more than 15% of the US workforce.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Photographers’ children’s lives in lockdown. “Unicef UK, a charity working for children in danger, has coordinated a photo-essay by their photographers, showing life in their households. Hundreds of millions of children have been affected by the lockdowns, with a potential negative impact on their education and mental wellbeing. The images, taken in March and April, show the constrained and resourceful way activities are being carried out in households, including home-schooling, exercise and playtime.”

New York Times: New York Lost These 5 Remarkable Characters to the Virus. “To live in New York is to know the city as a patchwork of tight-knit neighborhoods defined by local characters: the beloved bartender, the ‘mayor’ of the block, the habitual stoop-sitter, the chatty sidewalk vendor. And while the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 18,000 city residents, has claimed the lives of prominent figures, the wider toll has been on these lesser-known but no less distinctive citizens.”

Khmer Times: In Cambodia, learning during COVID-19. “Cambodia’s first confirmed case of Covid-19 occurred in late January. With a second case in early March in Siem Reap province, home of the renowned temples of Angkor Wat, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS), in an abundance of caution, closed the schools until further notice. Education in Cambodia ground to a halt, or so one might have imagined, but the MoEYS quickly found creative ways to promote learning outside the traditional school setting. The ministry worked with private companies to launch a new e-learning initiative. Lessons for students in grades one through 12 were prerecorded and offered online through the ministry’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, e-learning website and TV.”

AP: Face masks make a political statement in era of coronavirus. “The decision to wear a mask in public is becoming a political statement — a moment to pick sides in a brewing culture war over containing the coronavirus. While not yet as loaded as a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, the mask is increasingly a visual shorthand for a debate pitting those willing to follow health officials’ guidance and cover their faces against those who feel it violates their freedom or buys into a threat they think is overblown.”

Reuters: ‘Whole new business’: Farmers innovate to get food from field to plate. “From Europe to Asia and across the Americas, farmers and others in the global food supply chain are innovating to keep the world fed when populations are told to stay home, street markets are closed and labourers cannot travel to work in the fields.”

Washington Post: Hispanics are almost twice as likely as whites to have lost their jobs amid pandemic, poll finds. “Hispanics are nearly twice as likely as whites to have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus shutdowns, according to a Washington Post-Ipsos poll, underlining that the pandemic is wreaking a disproportionate toll on some racial and ethnic groups. The poll finds that 20 percent of Hispanic adults and 16 percent of blacks report being laid off or furloughed since the outbreak began in the United States, compared with 11 percent of whites and 12 percent of workers of other races.”


GAO WatchBlog: Is FEMA Ready to Respond to Emergencies? “In today’s WatchBlog, we look at some of our latest work on FEMA’s readiness to respond to emergencies and how it could improve its efforts. You can also tune in to our podcast, the Watchdog Report, to learn more.”

ABC News: New bill would forgive medical school debt for COVID-19 health workers. “Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., introduced a bill Tuesday to forgive student loan debt for health care workers treating patients on the COVID-19 front line, many of whom still owe hundreds of thousands of dollars from medical school.”

CBS News: 3 USDA meat inspectors dead, about 145 diagnosed with COVID-19. “About 145 field employees were absent from work as of April 28 due to COVID-19 diagnoses, and another 130 were under self-quarantine due to exposure to the virus, a spokesperson for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the federal agency that inspects the U.S. food supply, told CBS News on Monday. One FSIS inspector based out of the New York City area, one from the Chicago area and another from Mississippi have died due to the virus, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), a union representing food inspectors, said Tuesday.”

CNET: Amazon warehouse worker in New York dies of COVID-19. “A number of Amazon warehouse workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least five have died, according to news reports. Workers at Amazon warehouses in Hawthorne and Tracy, California, have died from COVID-19. Two employees of supermarket chain Whole Foods Market, which Amazon owns, have also died, one in Massachusetts and another in Portland, Oregon.”

Greensboro News & Record: From math to PE, teachers creating online video library for Guilford County Schools students. “Guilford County Schools is pulling together a new resource for parents and students, who are finishing the school year virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is an online library of district-made videos explaining topics that students should or would be learning about in their grade levels. Teachers and others have been working for weeks to make the videos. This week, the district started uploading them to a special spot on its website for distance learning.”

The State: West Columbia chicken plant workers say they were fired for protesting pay, conditions. “About a dozen workers at a chicken processing plant in West Columbia were fired Wednesday after protesting for better pay and working conditions amid the coronavirus, according to some of those who said they were fired. Workers at the House of Raeford chicken plant refused to work under what they consider hazardous conditions without pay to compensate for the increased dangers of the coronavirus, the protesters told The State as they congregated on the sidewalk across Sunset Boulevard from the plant.”

Miami Herald: FDLE releases list of COVID-19 deaths. Top medical examiner calls it a sham.. “Acting under intense pressure from a coalition of Florida news organizations and open-government advocates, the state Wednesday evening released a list of every Florida fatality documented by a medical examiner resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The information was so riddled with holes, however, that it sparked as many questions as answers. Missing from the data set were the names of those who have perished from COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus infections, the probable cause of death (there can be multiple factors) and the circumstances of the person’s demise.”


AccuWeather: Severity of COVID-19 may depend on where you’re located on the map, new study suggests. “Vitamin D plays a critical role in preventing respiratory infections and boosting the immune system, and a study published by scientists in Ireland analyzed the correlation between vitamin D deficiency and the different mortality rates countries have seen in recent months. Dr. Eamon Laird and Professor Rose Anne Kenny from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland drew a link between vitamin D and the severity of coronavirus impacts in Ireland, including mortality rate, in a recently published study that focused on the implications of vitamin D deficiency on the severity of COVID-19.”

The Atlantic: The Problem With Stories About Dangerous Coronavirus Mutations. “As if the pandemic weren’t bad enough, on April 30, a team led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory released a paper that purportedly described “the emergence of a more transmissible form” of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. This new form, the team wrote, ‘began spreading in Europe in early February.’ Whenever it appeared in a new place, including the U.S., it rapidly rose to dominance. Its success, the team suggested, is likely due to a single mutation, which is now ‘of urgent concern.’ The paper has not yet been formally published or reviewed by other scientists. But on May 5, the Los Angeles Times wrote about it, claiming that ‘a now-dominant strain of the coronavirus could be more contagious than [the] original.’ That story quickly went … well … viral. But ‘the conclusions are overblown,’ says Lisa Gralinski of the University of North Carolina, who is one of the few scientists in the world who specializes in coronaviruses.”

Becker’s Hospital Review: How UT Health Austin is 3D printing N95 masks personalized for clinicians . “University of Texas at Austin is using facial scan and 3D printing technologies to create custom N95 masks based on the clinician’s facial shape. The mask, dubbed the Contour3D, is made of non-porous material that can be sterilized in an autoclave and features a screw-cap end that allows used filters to be swapped out for fresh inserts. UT Health Austin partnered with a team of engineers, medical professionals, software and IT experts and 3D printing specialists to create the mask. The entire process took about five weeks.”


AP: AP Exclusive: Admin shelves CDC guide to reopening country. “A set of detailed documents created by the nation’s top disease investigators meant to give step-by-step advice to local leaders deciding when and how to reopen public places such as mass transit, day care centers and restaurants during the still-raging pandemic has been shelved by the Trump administration. The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled ‘Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,’ was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.”

The Guardian: Trump Death Clock seeks to bring ‘accountability for reckless leadership’. “Donald Trump has been accused of personally causing the deaths of 40,000 Americans through his ‘reckless’ handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, in a new website launched on Wednesday under the provocative title Trump Death Clock. The website, created by independent film-maker Eugene Jarecki, is a conscious echo of the National Debt Clock which since 1989 has given a running score near Times Square in Manhattan of total US borrowing. The Trump Death Clock extends the idea dramatically by providing a tracker measured not in dollars but in lives allegedly lost by the president’s own inept actions.”

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