Friday CoronaBuzz, May 15, 2020: 30 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.


Arizona State University: Professors’ coloring book gives parents tools to help minimize kids’ COVID-19 anxiety. “Parents often struggle to explain certain things to their children. There are topics that can be embarrassing, like sex, or tougher situations, like the death of a beloved pet or divorce. But what about pandemics? When the world found itself in the grip of COVID-19, a global wave of illness unseen in the lifetimes of almost every living person, resources for parents were few. That’s part of what motivated Paige Safyer, Sara Stein, Julie Ribaudo and Kate Rosenblum to create Tender Press Books and write a coloring storybook to help children cope with what they may see or hear about the virus and its effects.” The coloring book is free.

Cornell Chronicle: Botanic Gardens’ Wildflower Explorations goes online. “The Cornell Botanic Gardens’ hands-on wildflower discovery program now is available online, making the ephemeral flowers of spring available from home or by virtual class instruction. During a typical spring, most Ithaca area third-graders participate in Wildflower Explorations, which includes in-classroom preparation and an instructional visit to the Mundy Wildflower Garden. It is one of the Kids Discover the Trail experience-based programs, where children visit eight cultural and historic sites in Tompkins County during their school years. With schools closed for COVID-19 containment, Cornell Botanic Gardens adapted the program for virtual learning and fun.”

Bucks Free Press: Let’s Rock Lockdown: Retro festival goes online in special show tomorrow. “The 80s LockdownFest will feature appearances by Tony Hadley, Wet Wet Wet, ABC, Howard Jones, Midge Ure, Jason Donovan, Toyah, Hue & Cry, Chesney Hawkes, Brother Beyond, Five Star, Then Jerico and more. The evening will be hosted by Pat Sharp and Dave Benson Phillips and the fun kicks off at 7pm on YouTube and across all the Let’s Rock locations Facebook pages. The 80s Lockdownfest online festival is completely free to enjoy – but the Let’s Rock team raise thousands of pounds for charity every year, so music fans will have the option to donate to Child Bereavement UK.”


WTHR: New search tool reveals COVID-19 cases & deaths at Indiana nursing homes. “…despite a lack of transparency by state officials and many nursing home operators, data showing what is happening inside Indiana long-term care facilities is now being exposed as local and federal agencies begin to release COVID-19 data that is crucial in understanding the spread of the virus. After weeks of collecting this data, 13News is now releasing the information in a searchable online database to help seniors and their families make more informed healthcare decisions.”

NBC12: New tool helps you track COVID-19 cases in your neighborhood. “Virginians can now access a new tool from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to see the number of COVID-19 cases in your neighborhood. The Virginia Department of Health has a new map that breaks down cases and testing numbers by zip code.”

WABI (Maine): New website aims to help teachers and families find online learning resources. “Rural Aspirations Project held a launch party Thursday afternoon for their new site ‘Community Learning For ME.’ It’s designed to help teachers, parents, and organizations find resources for online learning. It can suit the needs of Pre-K through grade 12.”

NBC Chicago: Illinois Launches ‘Get Hired’ Portal To Connect Workers With Job Opportunities Amid Pandemic Unemployment Crisis. “The Get Hired portal provides information on both job opportunities and unemployment information. It is designed to be user-friendly for all job seekers regardless of backgrounds, and will also allow employers not only to upload jobs, but also to set up virtual job fairs and training. As of Thursday, Get Hired already featured nearly 60,000 available jobs in several industries. More than 70 employers have also committed to hosting virtual job fairs through the website.”


MeriTalk: Wiki-Style Handbook Provides Governments With COVID-19 Tech Resources. “Newspeak House, a residential college in London, has stepped up to compile a handbook of tech resources for all affected by the virus. With 600,000 views, 4,000 projects, and over 130 sections, resident fellow at Newspeak House and Coronavirus Tech Handbook co-founder Nathan Young flags the handbook as the ‘largest online library of resources around coronavirus’ on his resume.”


SportingLife: Coronavirus: List of returning sports across the world, including football, rugby, darts, cricket, tennis and golf. “With sport slowly returning as countries across the world continue to fight the coronavirus, Sporting Life has a list of which sports are returning and when.”


BBC: One in four US workers claiming jobless benefits. “The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped by almost 3 million last week as virus shutdowns continue to weigh on the US economy. The filings brought the total number of new jobless claims since the middle of March to more than 36 million. That amounts to nearly a quarter of the American workforce.”


Slate: A Biologist Explains Why She and 1.8 Million Others Are Role-Playing as Ants on Facebook. “Since early March, a private Facebook group titled simply ‘A group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony’ has attracted more than 1.8 million members. The premise is as bizarre as it is self-explanatory: People join the group and act like ants. That’s it. That’s the whole idea. Originally founded in June 2019, the group had a modest following until social distancing rules went into effect earlier this year, sending the numbers skyrocketing. Once accepted by the moderators, users role-play as ants in a variety of ways, posting from the imagined perspective of members of a vast and collaborative colony.”

New York Times: Quarantining With a Ghost? It’s Scary. “For those whose experience of self-isolation involves what they to believe to be a ghost, their days are punctuated not just by Zoom meetings or home schooling, but by disembodied voices, shadowy figures, misbehaving electronics, invisible cats cozying up on couches, caresses from hands that aren’t there and even, in some cases — to borrow the technical parlance of ‘Ghostbusters’ — free-floating, full-torso vaporous apparitions. Some of these people are frightened, of course. Others say they just appreciate the company.”

Phys .org: Home wine consumption has significantly increased during confinement. “The frequency of wine consumption has increased significantly during the confinement caused by the coronavirus in Spain, as well as in the rest of Europe. However, this is not the case regarding the number of buyers, which has decreased, as well as the average expenditure per bottle, due to domestic self-supply, among other issues. These are the conclusions that can be drawn about the behaviour of European wine consumers after more than a month of confinement, with over 6,600 people polled in eight European countries (Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland), which included the participation of researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, University of Zaragoza and Public University of Navarre.”

New York Times: Pakistan’s Deficit and Poverty Rate to Soar Due to Coronavirus. “Pakistan’s fiscal deficit will be significantly worse than projected this fiscal year, with the fallout from the novel coronavirus pandemic pushing millions into unemployment and poverty, according to government estimates reviewed by Reuters.”

BET: Common Launches Campaign To Free Prisoners Amid Coronavirus Pandemic. “Common has launched a new advocacy campaign, #WeMatterToo, to help those who are incarcerated during the coronavirus pandemic. The Grammy and Academy award-winning rapper unveiled the new campaign on his Instagram page on Wednesday (May 13).”

Free Press: Coronavirus wrap: IOC reveals cost of postponing Tokyo Olympics. “The International Olympic Committee faces a £650 million bill following the postponement of the Tokyo Games to 2021. IOC president Thomas Bach revealed on Thursday the organisation’s executive committee has set aside the sum to cover the costs of reorganisation and to support individual sports federations and national Olympic committees.” £650 million is a bit under $791 million USD.


Salon: “What are you hiding?”: Nebraska stops releasing coronavirus data from meat plants after cases spike. “Nebraska officials stopped releasing data on coronavirus infections at meatpacking plants as cases spiked at multiple facilities run by companies like Tyson and Smithfield. Through the first week of May, Nebraska officials reported 96 infections at a Tyson plant in Madison, 123 at a Smithfield plant in Crete and 237 at a JBS plant in Grand Island. Then the updates abruptly stopped, The Washington Post reported.”

New York Daily News: War of words between NYC health commissioner, NYPD erupted over face masks for cops; police unions fuming. “An NYPD move to commandeer a half-million hospital-grade masks at the peak of the coronavirus epidemic set off a heated war of words between the city’s health commissioner and the police department’s top cop, sources say. The standoff over the in-demand N-95 masks —headed for the swamped hospital and health care workers overwhelmed by a daily flood of COVID-19 patients — came in mid-March when cops showed up unnannounced at an out-of-state FEMA warehouse and demanded the protective gear.”

Politico: How Google and Apple outflanked governments in the race to build coronavirus apps. “In the digital fight against COVID-19, Big Tech squared off against governments — and won. As policymakers around Europe pushed to develop smartphone apps to track the spread of the coronavirus, Apple and Google flexed their muscles by laying out conditions for building the tools, which are now set to be rolled out across the bloc and beyond by early June.”

Arkansas Online: Chinese retailers embrace livestreaming. “At the height of China’s coronavirus outbreak, the skin-care-products maker Forest Cabin closed more than half of its 300 stores across the nation as shoppers stayed home. With sales plunging, founder Sun Laichun decided it was time to reach his customers more directly. ‘We knew it was time for us to focus on an online strategy to survive,’ Sun said. But the company didn’t launch an online ad blitz or announce big giveaways. Instead, it trained hundreds of its salespeople to begin hosting live video streams where viewers could get skin-care tips and buy products without ever cutting away from the online patter. Within just a month, Sun said, Forest Cabin’s February sales were up by 20% compared with a year earlier, despite a plunge in store sales.”


CBS News: Doctors Without Borders dispatches team to the Navajo Nation. “Jean Stowell, head of the organization’s U.S. COVID-19 Response Team, told CBS News that Doctors Without Borders has dispatched a team of nine to the hard-hit Navajo Nation in the southwest U.S. because of the crisis unfolding there. The team consists of two physicians, three nurse/midwives, a water sanitation specialist, two logisticians and a health promoter who specializes in community health education.”

The Courier: EXCLUSIVE: 30,000 coronavirus test results in Scotland unaccounted for. “A fifth of Scotland’s coronavirus test results are unaccounted for, raising fears the country has thousands more confirmed cases than is being reported. The 30,000 swabs, taken since mid-April, are still being processed in a ‘data exchange’ between the UK Government and Scottish Government. It means Scotland’s confirmed figure of 13,929 is likely to be significantly higher and also casts doubt on recent regional figures.”


MIT Technology Review: Loud talking could leave coronavirus in the air for up to 14 minutes. “Thousands of droplets from the mouths of people who are talking loudly can stay in the air for between eight and 14 minutes before disappearing, according to a new study. The research, conducted by a team with the US National Institutes of Health and published in PNAS Wednesday, could have significant impact on our understanding of covid-19 transmission.”

Slate: Inside a COVID-19 Vaccine Trial. “Usually when you run an experiment, there is tons of red tape. There are ethical boards to consult, subjects to recruit. And you’ve got to convince other people. People with money that your research is important enough to move forward at all. Now, there’s none of that. Everyone agrees on the priority list. A vaccine against this novel coronavirus is at the very top of that list.” Podcast with transcript available.

Berkeley Lab: New Research Launched on Airborne Virus Transmission in Buildings. “As society prepares to reopen indoor spaces and ease back into some sense of normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is launching a study of the risk of airborne transmission of viruses within buildings and how to mitigate those risks.”

University of Pennsylvania Almanac: Penn Vet Launches COVID-19 Canine Scent Detection Study. “A pilot training program using scent detection dogs to discriminate between samples from COVID-19 positive and COVID-19 negative patients is the focus of a new research initiative at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet).”

Phys .org: Pandemic research: Economics project to explore impact of biases on social distancing. “With neither a vaccine nor a proven treatment available, many communities are relying on social distancing to battle the coronavirus pandemic, from closing non-essential businesses to wearing masks in public. The problem: Not everyone agrees to follow these measures, seen by recent protests across the country. A team of economists at Binghamton University, State University of New York is studying the phenomenon for a new research project on ‘The Role of Intertemporal Biases in Influencing Individual’s Demand for Social Distancing.'”


Journal-News: ‘A bright spot to the confinement’: Hamilton brothers build new tool to visit mother in nursing home. “Dick Meyer, 65, and his brother, Joe, 62, former owners of Meyer Brothers and Sons construction company in Hamilton, built a Plexiglas u-shaped partition. They unloaded it off a trailer and wheeled it near the front door of Barrington Of West Chester senior living community where their mother has resided since February, right before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine closed nursing home facilities to visitors. With more than 20 of her relatives all standing outside wearing masks, Virginia ‘Ginny’ Meyer was wheeled out of the nursing home. The contraption allowed Meyer, 95, an opportunity to be closer to many of her family members, some she hadn’t seen in months, while also having a barrier for protection from the virus.”


BetaNews: COVID-19 scam sites pass quarter of a million. “The first quarter of this year has seen a massive growth in phishing and counterfeit pages, with around a third of them related to COVID-19. A new report from fraud prevention company Bolster shows that it detected 854,441 confirmed phishing and counterfeit pages and four million suspicious pages, with more than a quarter of a million devoted to COVID-19.”


Politico: Pentagon fires its point person for Defense Production Act. “Jennifer Santos, the Pentagon’s industrial policy chief who oversees efforts to ramp up production of masks and other equipment to help fight Covid-19, was fired from her job this week and will move to a position in the Navy, according to two people familiar with the matter.”

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