Thursday CoronaBuzz, May 14, 2020: 33 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

I added a new section; you’ll know it when you see it. Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. Please be careful. I love you.


Notre Dame News: New online portal forecasts coronavirus transmission to aid officials in management, planning. “Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed an online portal that forecasts how hospital services and resources may be impacted during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Developed for government and public health service officials, the portal models predict COVID-19 disease transmission by using county data of daily reported infections and current human movement restrictions, such as shelter-in-place and social distancing orders.”

Environmental Protection Agency: EPA Makes it Easier for Consumers to Find Safe, Effective Disinfectant Products to Use Against the Novel Coronavirus. “Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its List N Tool, a new web-based application (app) that allows smart phone users and others to quickly identify disinfectant products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”


BroadwayWorld: Arts@Home: New Website Offers Free Resources And Activities For Educators And People Of All Ages (PRESS RELEASE). “For so many, Toronto is our creative, cultural home. That’s why during the COVID-19 crisis, several local cultural organizations, in collaboration with arts educators and with the support of the City of Toronto, have come together to launch Arts@Home, a shared online space promoting free cultural resources for both educators and the community…. The portal features resources for educators and people of all ages in several diverse and broad-based categories: Art, Dance, Music, Theatre, Media, and More. Subsections include Film and Photography, as well as offerings from Indigenous arts organizations. All tools and activities are free of charge, and available to everyone.”

Variety: London Indian Film Festival Goes Online with Satyajit Ray Short Film Winners. “The London Indian Film Festival is to go online, launching its own streaming platform with a selection of winners from the Satyajit Ray Short Film Competition. Due to be held in June this year, LIFF has gone digital because of coronavirus restrictions and will show movies online in a range of South Asian languages.”


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: CFPB, FHFA, & HUD Launch Joint Mortgage and Housing Assistance Website for Americans Impacted by COVID-19. “CFPB, FHFA and HUD are offering extensive CARES Act assistance and protection for Americans having trouble paying their mortgage or rent during the COVID-19 national health emergency. This joint website consolidates the CARES Act mortgage relief, protections for renters, resources for additional help, and information on how to avoid COVID-19 related scams. It also provides lookup tools for homeowners to determine if their mortgage is federally backed, and for renters to find out if their rental unit is financed by FHA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac.”


TimesDaily: Sweet Grown Alabama launches searchable database for products. “Consumers looking to buy locally grown products are encouraged to visit the website and search for farmers in their area. Each farmer profile features products grown, location, social media links, website links and how to purchase products.”


New Statesman: Dreaming of Covid-19. “Visit [the site] and you can browse strangers’ dreams chronologically, by location or by theme, from ‘animals’ to ‘Zoom’. It’s a surreal, poignant, often darkly comic online archive. The peculiarity of dreams, their abstraction, emotional intensity and crude symbolism, makes them feel universal: my dreams could be your dreams. Someone dreams that masks have become part of our faces, that their wardrobe is hanging with human organs, that people have started smuggling themselves out of their homes in shipping boxes, that they were disqualified from a post-pandemic global sex tape competition because they had hallucinated their partner and were just having air sex.”

PR Newswire: Virtual Meetings Help Overcome Social Distance; Spatial Makes Platform Accessible For All With Free Service (PRESS RELEASE). “Spatial, the leading VR/AR collaboration platform that allows people to work over distance as if in the same room, today announced that in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s opening up unlimited access to its premium services to everyone free of charge, for the coming months. In addition to access via major headsets, Spatial can now be used by the masses via a web version on your desktop or iPhone/Android, allowing anyone to enter a Spatial AR/VR meeting by simply clicking on a meeting link – no downloads required. The company is also announcing a much-improved experience and general availability of Spatial on the leading all-in-one VR headset today, Oculus Quest, previously only available in private beta.”

WROK: Skip The Store, Local Farms Will Deliver To Your Door. “I literally had no idea you could just go to farms and buy stuff or order online and have it shipped to your door. This is a great way to directly support local farmers and avoid going to crowded grocery stores during the pandemic. I poked around the website a little and found a handful of farms about 30 minutes away that would make a nice weekend trip.”


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Protections for renters during the coronavirus pandemic. “If you’re having trouble making rent payments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, you are not alone. Across the country, many tenants are facing job losses, furloughs, or reduced hours, and having to make tough financial decisions in order to make ends meet. Fortunately, there are steps all renters can take, as well as many significant protections from eviction that apply in certain situations.”

Lifehacker: Use These Extensions To Trick Out Google Meet. “Google Meet is now free for everyone to use. The search giant has finished its rollout, and anyone with an email address—a Gmail address, that is—can use it to hold free video chats. Meet isn’t as fully-featured as other video chat apps, but a few useful browser extensions can add in much-needed functionality. Oh, and they’re free, too.”


The Guardian: Record death tolls in Mexico and Brazil add to fears of Covid-19 surge in Latin America. “In Brazil – where the president, Jair Bolsonaro, has dismissed the virus as ‘a little flu’ – the health ministry reported a new grim record of 881 deaths in 24 hours on Tuesday night. It has now confirmed 12,461 deaths, the sixth-highest death toll in the world, and 178,214 cases. Mexico also reached a new landmark on Tuesday night, reporting 353 new deaths over the previous 24 hours and 1,997 new confirmed cases.”

BuzzFeed News: Russia Sold The US A Bunch Of Ventilators That Never Got Used. The Same Model Just Burst Into Flames And Killed Six People In Russia.. “They were delivered in crates stamped ‘from Russia, with love.’ But dozens of ventilators sent from Moscow to New York and New Jersey to help their hospitals respond to the coronavirus outbreak have gone unused — and will now be handed over to federal authorities.”

Search Engine Journal: Facebook & Instagram Add More Ways to Support Local Businesses. “Facebook and Instagram are receiving new features that will allow other users to discover and support small businesses in their area. Both platforms are also adding tools to help businesses stay informed and connected with their customers.”

The Guardian: Lesotho records first coronavirus case a week after lifting lockdown. “One of the few places in the world to remain apparently free of coronavirus has recorded its first case. The government of Lesotho said on Wednesday there is now a likelihood that more cases could be recorded before the end of the week after the Ministry of Health said it was awaiting results for 301 cases where tests had been done and sent to neighbouring South Africa.”


Asia Times: Cambodia poised to be big Covid-19 loser. “Cambodia, despite reporting fewer coronavirus cases than most of its neighbors, could be among the region’s biggest Covid-19 losers due to economic and financial contagion effects. The country’s most crucial business sectors, including tourism and garment manufacturing, have ground to a virtual halt since the pandemic first emerged in China in January and thereafter spread worldwide.”

NBC News: Arctic explorers stranded amid coronavirus lockdowns. “Sunniva Sorby, 59, and Hilde Fålulm Strøm, 52, co-founders of the Hearts in the Ice polar education campaign, set off in August to the Svalbard archipelago, located between Norway’s mainland and the North Pole, to collect environmental data and raise awareness about climate change. They were due to return this month but the vessel designated to pick them up was canceled amid global travel restrictions.”

Variety: Pornhub Offers to Stream Germany’s Oldenburg Film Festival Amid Coronavirus Shutdown (EXCLUSIVE). “Digital juggernaut Pornhub has offered itself as a streaming partner to Germany’s Oldenburg Film Festival, a 26-year-old indie movie event known for edgy programming and quirky celebrity tributes. The offer, extended by Pornhub vice president Corey Price, comes nearly a week after the festival announced it will forge ahead as planned for a September run. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the festival is aiming for a combination of physical and virtual screenings. The move is yet another recent sign of Pornhub’s seriousness about participating in mainstream cinema.”

New York Times: Manhattan Faces a Reckoning if Working From Home Becomes the Norm. “Before the coronavirus crisis, three of New York City’s largest commercial tenants — Barclays, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley — had tens of thousands of workers in towers across Manhattan. Now, as the city wrestles with when and how to reopen, executives at all three firms have decided that it is highly unlikely that all their workers will ever return to those buildings.”


CNN: FEMA cancels $55 million contract for N95 masks. “The Federal Emergency Management Agency canceled a $55 million unfulfilled contract with a Virginia company for an order of N95 masks that was supposed to be sent earlier this month — the latest in a string of cancellations many states and agencies have faced amid the scramble to procure personal protective equipment for front-line workers.”


Fast Company: Thermal cameras are terrible at exposing COVID-19. Companies are buying them anyway. “The new technology is part of an evolving infrastructure aimed at keeping workers protected from COVID-19. Companies like Suffolk are buying up a range of cameras, applications, and even robots to mitigate virus transmission. While such precautions may be helpful, they are far from a panacea—even though some companies treat them that way. COVID-19 has been a particularly difficult virus to curb in part because of its long incubation period and high portion of asymptomatic cases, making it hard to detect even with technology.”

AP: Counterfeit masks reaching frontline health workers in US. “On a day when COVID-19 cases soared, healthcare supplies were scarce and an anguished doctor warned he was being sent to war without bullets, a cargo plane landed at the Los Angeles International Airport, supposedly loaded with the ammo doctors and nurses were begging for: some of the first N95 medical masks to reach the U.S. in almost six weeks…. But the shipment arriving that night in late March wasn’t going to solve the problem. An Associated Press investigation has found those masks were counterfeits — as are millions of medical masks, gloves, gowns and other supplies being used in hospitals across the country, putting lives at risk.”


NPR: How To Make Sense of All The COVID-19 Projections? A New Model Combines Them. “More than 82,000 people in the United States have died of COVID-19 as of Tuesday. How many more lives will be lost? Scientists have built dozens of computational models to answer that question. But the profusion of forecasts poses a challenge: The models use such a wide range of methodologies, formats and time frames that it’s hard to get even a ballpark sense of what the future has in store. Enter Nicholas Reich, a biostatistician at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Reich and his colleagues have developed a method to compare and ultimately to merge the diverse models of the disease’s progression into one ‘ensemble’ projection. The resulting forecast is sobering. By June 6, it projects, the cumulative death toll in the U.S. will reach 110,000.”

CNN: Covid-19 infects intestines, kidneys and other organs, studies find. “The new coronavirus can infect organs throughout the body, including lungs, throat, heart, liver, brain, kidneys and the intestines, researchers reported Wednesday. Two separate reports suggest the virus goes far beyond the lungs and can attack various organs — findings that can help explain the wide range of symptoms caused by Covid-19 infection.”

University of Queensland: Global study of ICU data to guide COVID-19 treatments. “Queensland researchers are leading a worldwide clinical study using AI to examine COVID-19 patient data from 300 intensive care units (ICU) to provide insight for health professionals to determine the best treatments for the disease. University of Queensland researcher Professor John Fraser, a pre-eminent specialist at The Prince Charles Hospital and Director of ICU at Brisbane’s St Andrews Hospital, said the COVID-19 Critical Care Consortium Study is the first of its kind in the world.”

NPR: A New Study Explores The Spread Of Misinformation About Coronavirus On Facebook. “NPR’s Ailsa Chang talks with Neil Johnson, a professor of physics at George Washington University, about his study on the spread of scientific misinformation about the coronavirus and its effects.” Audio with transcript.

Inside Science: Anti-Vaccine Messaging Is Well-Connected on Social Media. ” A video dubbed ‘Plandemic’ that brought together unsubstantiated and debunked claims and conspiracies about the coronavirus, featuring a discredited virologist who is also aligned with the anti-vaccine movement, gathered millions of views last week. Social media platforms have since removed the video for violating misinformation policies, but the 26-minute video highlights one way that the anti-vaccine movement is feeding into the recent surge of misinformation and disinformation swirling around COVID-19.”


LADbible: Dad Builds Huge Stage On Driveway So Daughter Doesn’t Miss Out On Graduation. “Many US student have been given the upsetting news that their graduation ceremonies have been cancelled, but one kind-hearted dad made sure that his daughter wouldn’t miss out by setting up this incredible stage in his driveway so she still got to enjoy her special day.”


BuzzFeed News: Facebook Banned Mask Ads. They’re Still Running.. “Founded in 2015, ZestAds sources cheap electronics, clothing, and household products from China to sell around the globe using slick and at times misleading Facebook ads. On its website, ZestAds claims to be one of the top e-commerce companies in Asia. Since March, the company has made a mockery of Facebook’s ban by running ads that dangerously claimed its masks would ‘fully protect’ from the virus, cited a fake expert, and falsely listed US companies as behind the ads.”


AP: Whistleblower: US could face virus rebound ‘darkest winter’. “America faces the ‘darkest winter in modern history’ unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound of the coronavirus, says a government whistleblower who alleges he was ousted from his job after warning the Trump administration to prepare for the pandemic. Immunologist Dr. Rick Bright makes his sobering prediction in testimony prepared for his appearance Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Aspects of his complaint about early administration handling of the crisis are expected to be backed up by testimony from an executive of a company that manufactures, respirator masks.”

Sun Prairie Star: Candidates get creative in collecting nomination signatures amid social distancing. “In normal circumstances, candidates would spend the time between April 15 to June 1 going door to door or showing up at festivals, farmer’s markets or the local library to collect enough signatures. The signature requirements range from a minimum of 200 for the Assembly to a minimum of 400 for the state Senate to a minimum of 1,000 for congressional candidates. The highest threshold is a minimum of 2,000 signatures for statewide office. But social distancing requirements and Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order ruled out things like going door to door.”

Seattle Times: Emails: Trump nominee involved in shelving CDC virus guide. “A former chemical industry executive nominated to be the nation’s top consumer safety watchdog was involved in sidelining detailed guidelines to help communities reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, internal government emails show.”

Daily Beast: Team Trump Pushes CDC to Revise Down Its COVID Death Counts. “President Donald Trump and members of his coronavirus task force are pushing officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change how the agency works with states to count coronavirus-related deaths. And they’re pushing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported, according to five administration officials working on the government’s response to the pandemic.”

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