Thursday CoronaBuzz, May 21, 2020: 33 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.


KCTV: ‘Shop Kansas Farms’ Facebook group creates virtual farmer’s market for entire state. ” A new Facebook group has created a virtual farmer’s market for the entire state of Kansas. More than 120,000 people have joined Shop Kansas Farms in about three weeks. Trips to a supermarket can be frustrating right now, so this is an alternative to make sure the fridge is stocked and money stays local. Shop Kansas Farms has more than just meat and dairy products. You can find seeds, freshly baked bread, herbs and honey.”

WHEC: NY Farm Bureau launches job database to help farmers, workers. “An online database is helping farms hit hard by the pandemic connect with people looking for temporary work. The New York Farm Bureau launched the Farmworker Relief Program on Tuesday. The bureau hopes it will serve as a resource to farms and farmers in order to keep staff on hand.”


CNET: T-Mobile rolls out Connecting Heroes program with free service for first responder agencies. “T-Mobile is joining the likes of AT&T and Verizon with new offers for first responders. On Thursday, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert announced that the carrier announced that it is now offering free service to public and non-profit state and local fire, police and EMS departments.”


AIDS .gov Blog: New COVID-19 CDC Resources on PrEP and Liver Disease. “We continue to update COVID-19 and People with HIV, our page of resources from agencies across the federal government. We recently added two resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that are relevant for people with and at risk for HIV during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”


Arizona State University: ‘Carbon Cowboys’: Farmers thriving during COVID-19, thanks to regenerative grazing. “Regenerative grazing involves quickly rotating cattle from pasture to pasture, before they can damage the land — similar to how bison herds moved across the Great Plains. The practice, which does not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, builds soils that are richer in carbon, which in turn boosts crop and livestock yields. It also makes the land better equipped to cope with drought and reduces flooding.”

Slate: What Going to the Dentist Is Like Now. “Reopened offices will need a sanitation upgrade. Until COVID-19, practices followed protocols that are largely designed to stop the spread of bloodborne illnesses, because they were developed during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. But the way certain dental procedures can make saliva into aerosols makes dentists’ offices a prime environment for dispersing an airborne pathogen like the coronavirus.”

WTTW: Can’t Stop the Comedy: Performers Adapt to COVID-19. “It’s said laughter is the best medicine, and while that might not be part of the CDC’s official guidelines, comedians everywhere are reaching out to audiences online, hoping for a little healing, some connection and a lot of laughter. The Second City, whose stages are as dark as any in town, is doing its part to light up the internet three nights a week with ‘Improv House Party.’ Anneliese Toft co-directs Thursday night’s offering, ‘Helter Shelter.’ The 45-minute show is an interactive Zoom spectacular.”

BBC: Coronavirus: The Russian republic enduring a ‘catastrophe’. “Dr Ibragim Yevtemirov still coughs every so often as he talks. A paediatric trauma surgeon in Dagestan, in the Caucasus region of southern Russia, his ward had been full of Covid-19 cases for a couple of weeks when he got infected himself. He says seven colleagues in his town have now died, including nurses, orderlies and laboratory staff, according to a count kept by local medics themselves.”

Time: ‘We Do This for the Living.’ Inside New York’s Citywide Effort to Bury its Dead. “Much of New York City has been idle since the coronavirus lockdown was declared two months ago, but not the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, an 88-acre shipping and distribution hub built in the 1960s on the east side of the city’s inner harbor, opposite the Statue of Liberty. Day and night, trucks back up to loading bays while 130 workers scamper between three football-field-size warehouses, waving in drivers and inspecting their freight. The traffic here is no longer in goods arriving from around the world, however. It is in the dead.”

USA Today: ‘We just want to be safe’: Hate crimes, harassment of Asian Americans rise amid coronavirus pandemic. “In California’s Alameda County, a Chinese American man was screamed at while mowing his lawn. The local prosecutor said the man was told to get out of America. In neighboring Santa Clara County, a Vietnamese couple was threatened while in a grocery store. Officials said the man turned his hand into the shape of a gun. In New York City, people of Asian descent were assaulted, kicked, pushed and accosted on subway trains. The theme: This virus is your fault.”

Phys .org: COVID-19 could reduce wildfire risk this season, says expert. “COVID-19 may cause a drop in spring wildfires as people are still being asked to self-isolate throughout May, Alberta’s riskiest fire month, says a University of Alberta expert. ‘Since we’re still staying at home in May, there are fewer people recreating or working in the forests and human-caused fires will be reduced,’ said wildfire scientist Mike Flannigan. ‘Over 80 percent of Alberta’s wildfires in May are started by humans.'”

Phys .org: Pop-up bike lanes and grassroots playgrounds: How COVID-19 will change cities. “Kottbusser Damm is just one of more than a dozen streets in Berlin where authorities have installed ‘pop-up bike lanes’—or ‘corona bike lanes,’ as locals are already calling them—in the last two weeks. The idea is to give pedestrians and cyclists a way to commute and exercise safely from both cars and possible infection by SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Berlin’s far from alone. Other German cities, including Stuttgart and Essen, are setting aside space for cyclists too. In Milan, city officials announced that 22 miles of streets in the city center will be re-engineered to make them safer for cyclists and pedestrians as restrictions on movement start to lift. And in Brussels, authorities are moving quickly to transform 25 miles of car lanes into bike lanes.”

The Hill: Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, former White House butler who served through 11 presidencies, dies of COVID-19. “Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, who served as a White House butler for more than five decades, has died of COVID-19 at the age of 91, local media report. Granddaughter Jamila Garrett said in an interview with FOX 5 DC that that Jerman first began working at the White House as a cleaner under the Eisenhower administration in 1957.”

Washington Post: Coronavirus seizes São Paulo as Trump ponders Brazil travel ban. “Hospitals nearing capacity. Deaths soaring. A president urging people back to work. São Paulo, the largest city in the Western Hemisphere, is emerging as the coronavirus pandemic’s latest global hot spot. Confirmed cases in the city have soared 34 percent and at least 510 people have died in the past week as the public health infrastructure buckles and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to shrug off the crisis.”

Washington Post: The pandemic upended child care. It could be devastating for women.. “The crisis has pushed the country’s fragile child-care ecosystem to the brink. Facilities in an industry with already-small profit margins struggled to access state and federal aid as first-come, first-served small-business loans ran out. They are now facing costly safety precautions, such as limiting class sizes and purchasing masks, gloves and sanitizing cleaner. Industry groups predict that one-third to half of child-care centers may not reopen at all.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Buffets in Las Vegas casinos might have had their day. “Casino companies have been characteristically cagey about when — and if, and in what form — they might reopen buffets in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown, but it appears most will hold off, at least for a while.”

The Scotsman: Covid-19 death notices are a reminder that nobody is really nobody – Martyn McLaughlin. “My maternal grandmother, a prying, curdled old woman, who welcomed visiting children as a driver might greet a wasp flying in through the dashboard vent, never read them in that way. She did not teach me very much about life. But I reserve a grudging gratitude for how she kindled my interest in the dead.”


The Atlantic: ‘How Could the CDC Make That Mistake?’. “The government’s disease-fighting agency is conflating viral and antibody tests, compromising a few crucial metrics that governors depend on to reopen their economies. Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, and other states are doing the same.”

Daily Beast: FEMA Tells States to Hand Public Health Data Over to Palantir. “Palantir, co-founded by key Trump ally Peter Thiel, signed government contracts last month worth approximately $24.8 million to provide the Department of Health and Human Services with data-management software to track health-infrastructure deficiencies and forecast where future needs will emerge, through a platform known as HHS Protect. The company’s tools integrate a staggering 187 data sets containing information on everything from hospital inventories, medical supply chains, diagnostic and geographic testing data, demographic stats and more. Those data sets do not include information from identifiable patients, according to HHS, which experts say keeps the arrangement from running afoul of privacy laws. But information on state capacity to meet COVID-19 hospitalization needs, particularly for the predictive purposes the FEMA administrator references and Palantir specializes in, is a potential goldmine for the secretive company. ”

BBC: K-League: FC Seoul fined 100 million won for sex dolls in stands. “A South Korean club has been fined 100 million won (£66,500) by the K-League for filling empty seats with ‘sex dolls’ at their recent home match. FC Seoul put 30 ‘premium mannequins’ in the stands, with fans unable to attend because of coronavirus restrictions.”

Washington Post: Reopening guidance for churches delayed after White House and CDC disagree. “Guidance for reopening houses of worship amid the coronavirus pandemic has been put on hold after a battle between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House, which was resistant to putting limits on religious institutions, according to administration officials.”

CNET: Coronavirus shut down Hollywood, but there may be a silver lining. “Last month the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that, at least for next year’s Oscars ceremony, movies no longer need to fulfill a one-week run in a Los Angeles theater to be eligible for best picture. As long as a film had a scheduled theatrical release, it qualifies for a chance at an Oscar nomination. Out of the few films trickling out during the pandemic, several of the standouts were directed by women. These films could bring long-overdue recognition for female directors at the next Oscars, where women have historically missed out on nominations in the best director category.”

Hollywood Reporter: “Germ-Zapping Robots”: How Hollywood Might Kill Coronavirus Fears on Set. “With plans for safely revving up production underway in Hollywood, the industry is looking at creative ways to make sure sets are sanitary in the age of COVID-19. One newly emerging strategy might have people wondering whether the pandemic is turning Hollywood into one of the sci-fi films it churns out: ‘germ-zapping robots.’ Yes, really. Hollywood has begun to take interest in a lab-certified disinfecting robot that uses pulses of ultraviolet (UV) light to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”


The Conversation: Coronavirus: When teaching during a disaster, students need to be partners. “In addition to having experience in disaster management, my doctoral studies were in the field of educational technology. This combination of education and experience has been of great value in thinking about how to best support students’ continued education during the pandemic in the Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management program at Royal Roads University where I teach. To help inform the changes we are making in our program due to coronavirus, I drew on two distinct practices respectively grounded in higher education and disaster management: working with students as partners and using impact and needs assessments to support decision-making.”


CNN: Coronavirus testing is ‘a mess’ in the US, report says. “Coronavirus testing in the United States is disorganized and needs coordination at the national level, infectious disease experts said in a new report released Wednesday. Right now, testing is not accurate enough to use alone to make most decisions, including who should go back to work or to school, the team at the University of Minnesota said.”

The Gazette: Detective, nurse, confidant: Virus tracers play many roles. ” Health investigator Mackenzie Bray smiles and chuckles as she chats by phone with a retired Utah man who just tested positive for the coronavirus. She’s trying to keep the mood light because she needs to find out where he’s been and who he’s been around for the past seven days. She gently peppers him with questions, including where he and his wife stopped to buy flowers on a visit to a cemetery. She encourages him to go through his bank statement to see if it reminds him of any store visits he made.”


The Register: COVID-19 sparks new wearables to push the pandemic away. “COVID-19 is spurring new types of wearable hardware. Exhibit A: a startup named Nodle has cooked up a ‘smart wearable’ that bakes the third-party contact-tracing the ‘Whisper tracing protocol’ and Bluetooth into a device said to be wearable as a necklace or clipped onto your garments.”

New York Times: How the ‘Plandemic’ Movie and Its Falsehoods Spread Widely Online. “Just over a week after ‘Plandemic’ was released, it had been viewed more than eight million times on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and had generated countless other posts. The New York Times focused on the video’s spread on Facebook using data from CrowdTangle, a tool to analyze interactions across the social network. (YouTube and Twitter do not make their data as readily available.) The ascent of ‘Plandemic’ was largely powered by Facebook groups and pages that shared the YouTube link.”


NPR: Researchers: Nearly Half Of Accounts Tweeting About Coronavirus Are Likely Bots. “Nearly half of the Twitter accounts spreading messages on the social media platform about the coronavirus pandemic are likely bots, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University said Wednesday. Researchers culled through more than 200 million tweets discussing the virus since January and found that about 45% were sent by accounts that behave more like computerized robots than humans.”

BetaNews: announces COVID-19 (coronavirus) testing. “With the current pandemic continuing to grow in some areas, and unemployment rising even faster than food prices, we need problem solvers. Help at this time comes mostly from doctors and scientists, but can also come from other surprising areas. If you’ve recently taken an AncestryDNA test, is inviting you to supply some information that could assist in the fight against COVID-19.”

RadioFreeEurope: EU Monitor Sees Drop In COVID-19 Disinformation, Urges Social Media To Take More Action. “EU monitors say they have seen ‘at least a temporary decrease’ in the amount of misinformation and disinformation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, but external actors, notably pro-Kremlin sources, are still active in spreading false information on the outbreak. In a report released on May 20, the strategic communications division of the European diplomatic corps, the European External Action Service (EEAS), said that, while social media companies continue to invest into detecting and countering misinformation and disinformation on their platforms, ‘it is clear that much more needs to be done.'”

STAT: ‘It’s something I have never seen’: How the Covid-19 virus hijacks cells. “Adeep dive into how the new coronavirus infects cells has found that it orchestrates a hostile takeover of their genes unlike any other known viruses do, producing what one leading scientist calls ‘unique’ and ‘aberrant’ changes. Recent studies show that in seizing control of genes in the human cells it invades, the virus changes how segments of DNA are read, doing so in a way that might explain why the elderly are more likely to die of Covid-19 and why antiviral drugs might not only save sick patients’ lives but also prevent severe disease if taken before infection.”


New York Times: G.O.P. Officials Quietly Consider Paring Back Convention. “The money to pay for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., is mostly raised, and contracts with hotels and local vendors are signed. The delegates are set to easily anoint a party nominee who fought tooth and nail for the title four years ago. But instead of preparing to celebrate President Trump, White House and Republican officials are now quietly looking at the likelihood of a pared-down convention, with the coronavirus appearing increasingly likely to still pose a serious threat in late summer.”

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