Wednesday CoronaBuzz, May 20, 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.


CNET: Amid COVID-19, iFixit releases repair database for ventilators. “iFixit, the website known for tearing apart devices and making tech repair guides, has released an extensive online repair resource for medical professionals. It hopes the guide will help keep hospital equipment working throughout the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Kyle Wiens said Tuesday.”


MakeUseOf: 5 Best Gardening Websites & Apps for Beginners to Garden Anywhere. “Whether you have a house or an apartment, these are some of the best gardening websites, ebooks, and apps to cultivate your own little green patch. When you have some extra time at home, seize the opportunity to add a little greenery. If you have a garden, you can use it to grow vegetables and herbs, or beautify it with flowers. Growing plants in apartments has been shown to improve mood and mental stability. These gardening websites and apps have something in them for both beginners and experienced gardeners to reap what they sow.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Travis McCready plays America’s first gig in months. “Country musician Travis McCready played to an audience wearing face masks in what’s been described as the first US concert since the Covid-19 lockdown. The gig, in Arkansas, offered a glimpse of how live music could resume in the UK, with compulsory temperature tests and social distancing for all present.”

NPR: Maryland Reports Largest Rise Yet In Coronavirus Cases 4 Days After Reopening. “The Maryland Department of Health reported 1,784 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, setting a new high mark four days after the state began reopening its economy. Maryland is now reporting 41,546 cases, including nearly 2,000 people who have died from the disease.”

Christian Post: Ga. church closes two weeks after reopening as families come down with coronavirus. “Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle, an independent Baptist church led by Pastor Justin Gazaway in Ringgold, Georgia, restarted in-person services on April 26. Church representative Joan Lewis told The Christian Post on Monday, however, that they decided to suspend ‘in-person worship services for the foreseeable future’ on May 11 after learning several families had contracted the virus.”


New York Times: Where Group Prayer Meets Group Fitness. “At first glance, the streaming fitness class looks like any other: blue yoga mats against a neutral background, with ambient music and candles to set the mood. Two athleisure-clad instructors, flanked by hand weights, introduce themselves. The giveaway is the flash of a wooden crucifix.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Anger grows for stranded crew on forgotten cruises. “When Caio Saldanha and his fiancée Jessica Furlan arrived in the US in early March, they were looking forward to a new life working on board a lavish cruise ship. Working on Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Infinity was supposed to be a fresh start, the next chapter in their lives together. On 13 March, the date of the cruise’s departure, the ship became their home. Little did they know then, it would prove to be their prison.”

LBC: Inside Intensive Care during the coronavirus pandemic: LBC Exclusive. “Theo Usherwood visited an Intensive Care Unit to see the work coronavirus doctors are doing to save lives. Theo was in hospital for six days with Covid-19 and admits ‘it could have gone either way’ for a couple of days. He wanted to visit an ICU to see first-hand the remarkable work they are doing to treat patients with coronavirus. This is his documentary.”

Block Club Chicago: No Walk-ins, No Magazines, No Blowouts: Salons, Barber Shops Prepare To Reopen With New Safety Measures. “Georgia reopened salons April 24 with some social distancing restrictions. Indiana salons reopened last week at reduced capacity. New Hampshire reopened salons last week, too, but with no blow drying allowed. Across the country, similar scenes are playing out: 6 feet of distance between chairs, masks and gloves for staff and clients and jugs of hand sanitizer.”

Washington Post: Masks are changing the way we look at each other, and ourselves. “Melina Basnight looks into the camera and applies two shades of eyeshadow: a periwinkle blue, and a bright, bold ochre. It’s like any other tutorial on her YouTube channel, Makeup Menaree, except that it’s based on a new premise: that all points south of the eyes will be eclipsed by a mask.”

Washington Post: Global emissions plunged an unprecedented 17 percent during the coronavirus pandemic. “As covid-19 infections surged in March and April, nations around the globe experienced an abrupt reduction in driving, flying and industrial output, leading to a startling decline of more than a billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That includes a peak decline in daily emissions of 17 percent in early April, according to the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. For some nations, the drop was much steeper.”

NPR: Russian Speakers Imitate Art In A Time Of Coronavirus Confinement On Facebook. “Called Izoizolyacia — roughly meaning ‘Art Isolation’ — the Facebook group says it’s for people with “limited movement and unlimited fantasy.” It invites members to re-create masterworks but with one important restriction of its own: Use only what you have at home. In little over a month, the community has grown to more than a half-million members. Using household items, food, raided wardrobes and a familiar Russian-inflected sense of irony, members have produced dizzyingly creative remakes of everything from European masterpieces to Soviet agitprop and coronavirus-influenced memes.”

Washington Post: ‘He gave his life for that hospital’: A doctor put off retirement to fight covid-19, only to die of the virus. “Before it came for him, [Dr. James “Charlie”] Mahoney witnessed the toll of the virus in his patients in the ICU — not just at SUNY Downstate but also across the street at Kings County Hospital Center, where he also took on shifts. Sometimes he slept there, his brother said. Mahoney had new coronavirus patients needing critical care every hour, an onslaught of suffering that was unlike anything he and his team had ever seen, Foronjy said. He worked on his patients until he couldn’t anymore, in mid-April, when the telltale fever crept up on him. It never got better.”

Seattle Times: Is now the time to switch to a yearlong school calendar? Districts consider coronavirus reset. “With Washington students out of school since mid-March, some say it’s time to consider a move to year-round schooling, even if it comes with added costs. Such an extended period away from classroom learning is raising the specter that all students — but especially those who benefit from more support like children in special education and low-income students — will face an unprecedented loss of knowledge.”

San Francisco Chronicle: For Death Angel drummer, coming out of coronavirus coma was like escaping ‘hell’. “Being the drummer for thrash metal legends Death Angel, Will Carroll was used to crowds cheering after a show. But inside the California Pacific Medical Center on March 30, the Bay Area rocker received a standing ovation just for opening his eyes. He had woken up from a 12-day coma after testing positive for coronavirus.”

New York Times: Beach Towns Ask: Will There Be Summer?. “In summer resort towns across the United States, livelihoods for the year are built in the 15 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is during those 15 weeks that tourists from around the country and the world arrive to bask on the beach and gather for festivals and weddings. And it is during those three months that tour operators, hoteliers, innkeepers, restaurant employees and others earn the bulk of their income. But this year, with Memorial Day — the kickoff for summer — approaching, there will be fewer guests to welcome and likely no sizable weddings or festivals to host.”

Los Angeles Times: One-fifth of Americans fear they can’t pay June rent or mortgage, federal survey finds. “More than half of California households have seen a loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday, based on a newly launched weekly survey. Since March 13, 54.5% of California adults surveyed said they or another adult in their home had lost income, and an additional 40.8% expected their households to earn less from work over the next four weeks. Nationally, more than a fifth of adults surveyed reported they had slight or no confidence in their ability to pay their rent or mortgage in June.”


Task & Purpose: Leaked Pentagon memo warns of ‘real possibility’ of COVID-19 resurgence, vaccine not coming until summer 2021. “The Defense Department should prepare to operate in a “globally-persistent” novel coronavirus (COVID-19) environment without an effective vaccine until “at least the summer of 2021,” according to a draft Pentagon memo obtained by Task & Purpose. ‘We have a long path ahead, with the real possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19,’ reads the memo, authored for Secretary of Defense Mark Esper but not yet bearing his signature.”

BuzzFeed News: Scientists Studying The Coronavirus Say Some States Are Censoring Them. “Disputes over coronavirus case counts in reopening states like Georgia, Arizona, and Florida are worrying public health experts, who fear public trust in health agencies is being destroyed by moves to silence or obscure unwelcome data. ‘Ultimately this is going to kill people,’ said biostatistics professor Ruth Etzioni of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. ‘People are going to see low numbers from these reports with manipulated numbers, go outside when they should stay in, get ill, and die.'”

New York Times: Cambridge University Will Hold Its Lectures Online Next Year. “Cambridge on Tuesday became the first British university to move all student lectures online for the coming academic year, underscoring the far-reaching changes the coronavirus is forcing on higher education institutions around the world.”


CNN: Staying safe isn’t just about hygiene and distance. It’s about time, too.. “By now, you’ve likely heard the main pieces of advice to avoid the coronavirus. Wear a mask. Wash your hands with soap. Stay at least 6 feet from others. If you do gather with others, go outside rather than inside. Still, there’s one more aspect to infection that has received less attention. Growing evidence suggests that Covid-19 infection, like with other illnesses, is related to prolonged time exposed to the virus. The longer you stay in an environment that may contain the virus, the higher the risk of getting sick.”

KHN: Fewer Traffic Collisions During Shutdown Means Longer Waits For Organ Donations. “On Day Two of the San Francisco Bay Area’s stay-at-home orders in March, Nohemi Jimenez got into her car in San Pablo, California, waved goodbye to her 3-year-old son and drove to her regular Wednesday dialysis appointment. The roads were deserted. No traffic. Jimenez, 30, said it is hard to admit what she thought next: No traffic meant no car accidents. And that meant she’d be on the waiting list for a kidney transplant even longer.”

WTVC (Tennessee): Rhea Co. Executive: COVID-19 cases in county to rise “from 13 to close to 180” by May 21. “Rhea County Executive George Thacker is telling residents to be careful this Memorial Day weekend, as he says the county will soon see a drastic increase in the number of reported COVID-19 cases.”


CNBC: Wearing a mask can significantly reduce coronavirus transmission, study on hamsters claims. “As the debate over the effectiveness of wearing masks during a pandemic continues, a new study gives weight to arguments by medical professionals and government leaders that wearing a mask does indeed reduce virus transmission — and dramatically so. Experiments by a team in Hong Kong found that the coronavirus’ transmission rate via respiratory droplets or airborne particles dropped by as much as 75% when surgical masks were used.”

CNET: Your face mask selfies could be training the next facial recognition tool. “Your face mask selfies aren’t just getting seen by your friends and family — they’re also getting collected by researchers looking to use them to improve facial recognition algorithms. CNET found thousands of face-masked selfies up for grabs in public data sets, with pictures taken directly from Instagram.”

Scientific American: How COVID-19 Deaths Are Counted. “In Colorado, for example, a Republican state legislator has accused the state’s public health department of falsely inflating COVID-19 deaths; in Florida, local media have objected to the State Department of Health’s refusal to release medical examiner data to the public, alleging that the state may be underreporting deaths. The reality is that assigning a cause of death is not always straightforward, even pre-pandemic, and a patchwork of local rules and regulations makes getting valid national data challenging. However, data on excess deaths in the United States over the past several months suggest that COVID-19 deaths are probably being undercounted rather than overcounted.”

Wired: Metaphors Matter in a Time of Pandemic. “The virus has upset the human microbiome in an epochal act of strategic surprise. Almost instantly, that shock generated a set of metaphors drawn from warfare. This may be inevitable in a time of great fear. But more useful models for confronting a pandemic may come from the microbiome itself—and from the mechanisms, from human care to life-extending machines, used to give our immune systems time to learn the signatures of a new virus.”


CNET: FTC warns of COVID-19 contact tracing text message scams. “The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday warned the public about scammers taking advantage of contact tracing to steal your information. Contact tracers are generally hired by a state’s department of public health. If a tracer contacts you, they won’t ask for personal information. If the person contacting you is asking for money or sensitive information like your Social Security number, bank account or credit card number, it’s a scam.”


CNN: ‘We’ve been muzzled’: CDC sources say White House putting politics ahead of science. “In interviews with CNN, CDC officials say their agency’s efforts to mount a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science. The result has worsened the effects of the crisis, sources inside the CDC say, relegating the 73-year-old agency that has traditionally led the nation’s response to infectious disease to a supporting role.”

Mother Jones: Jared Kushner Had One Job: Solve America’s Supply Crisis. He Helped Private Companies Instead.. “The origins of Project Airbridge lie with MIT experts, who originally proposed a government led and funded airlift of supplies, according to the Washington Post. But it was seized upon by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who ran a volunteer shadow coronavirus task force that included his former roommate and people from private-equity companies and consulting firms like McKinsey. (‘Young geniuses’ Trump called them.) Unhappy employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) dubbed them ‘the children.’ Yet less than two months later, after many glowing PR hits, the administration decided to put an end to Project Airbridge as members of Congress and the media started demanding answers about how the supplies were being distributed, who received them, and whether the White House was making distribution decisions based on politics rather than public health.”

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