Friday CoronaBuzz, May 22, 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.


ProPublica: States Are Reopening: See How Coronavirus Cases Rise or Fall. “Many states are lifting stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on social and business activity that were put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. Questions linger, however, about whether some states meet criteria set by public health experts and the federal government for doing so. Experts are keeping a close eye on whether states that have reopened are seeing an uptick in cases or a worsening in other key metrics. To give people context on state reopenings, and what happens afterward, we are tracking metrics derived from a set of guidelines published by the White House for states to achieve before loosening restrictions. Even if these criteria are met, without a vaccine, reopening may cause an increase in cases. What’s more, some states may meet all of the criteria and still have a high infection rate.”


SUNY Polytechnic: SUNY Poly Offering Online ‘Pandemic Studies Semester’ to Students in New York and Around the World. “Students who enroll in the online program can sign up for custom ‘bundles’ consisting of two courses—one from a distinctive disciplinary perspective, such as history, anthropology, or nanotechnology; and the other to produce distinct ‘artifacts’ of their choice, such as essays, presentations, digital art, 3D models, or the production of equipment that can help essential workers on the front lines. Most courses provide general education credits.”


KOMO (Washington): Open For Boating: New website to navigate coronavirus closures. “‘We’ve been through a lot here as a community and boating is sort of the original social distancing,’ said George Harris, with the NW Marine Trade Association. After months of quarantining at home, boating is the escape many now crave. ‘This isn’t the time to be out socializing rafting up bringing friends and family out of your boat or anything else like that — that’s going to come later,’ Harris said. ‘So, I’m expecting boaters and anglers to be role models during this time and set a good example.’ Help to do that is right at your fingertips with a new website from the NMTA aptly called ‘Open for Boating.'”

New Mexico Department of Agriculture: Website Connects Consumers With New Mexico Agriculture Products. “As part of the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture has assisted with identifying sources and securing food in a timely manner, whether it has been for food banks or for New Mexico’s Nations, Tribes and Pueblos. To add to this effort, now consumers can link directly to local producers and agricultural businesses.”


Lifehacker: How to Respond if Your Friends Share COVID-19 Misinformation. “We’ve probably all got somebody on our friends list who’s been sharing a lot of suspect information about the coronavirus. The component pseudo-facts of conspiracy theories are floating around Facebook in abundance, and it’s super frustrating to see them rebroadcast by people you know and love. You may be tempted to unfriend them or ignore their posts—both valid options, should you choose to take them—but when it comes to pushing back against misinformation, you have more power than you think.”

BuzzFeed News: These Are The Fake Experts Pushing Pseudoscience And Conspiracy Theories About The Coronavirus Pandemic. “Many of those who spread hoaxes and pseudoscience about the coronavirus pandemic can be hard to distinguish from medical authorities recognized by their peers as legitimate. To help you cut through the misinformation, we’re keeping a running list of the most prominent people who have pushed what scientists and professional fact-checkers have found to be demonstrably false claims about the outbreak — and who they really are. We’re also highlighting real experts whose words were taken out of context and deliberately distorted.”


Politico: Reopening reality check: Georgia’s jobs aren’t flooding back. “Georgia’s early move to start easing stay-at-home restrictions nearly a month ago has done little to stem the state’s flood of unemployment claims — illustrating how hard it is to bring jobs back while consumers are still afraid to go outside. Weekly applications for jobless benefits have remained so elevated that Georgia now leads the country in terms of the proportion of its workforce applying for unemployment assistance. A staggering 40.3 percent of the state’s workers — two out of every five — has filed for unemployment insurance payments since the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread shutdowns in mid-March, a POLITICO review of Labor Department data shows.”

Washington Post: Virus ‘does not spread easily’ from contaminated surfaces or animals, revised CDC website states. “The coronavirus primarily spreads from person to person and not easily from a contaminated surface. That is the takeaway from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which this month updated its ‘How COVID-19 Spreads’ website. The revised guidance now states, in headline-size type, ‘The virus spreads easily between people.’ It also notes that the coronavirus, which causes the disease covid-19, ‘is spreading very easily and sustainably between people.'”


(The lead picture for this story features corpses of skinned animals and might disturb you.) New York Times: Opinion: The End of Meat is Here. “Meat is embedded in our culture and personal histories in ways that matter too much, from the Thanksgiving turkey to the ballpark hot dog. Meat comes with uniquely wonderful smells and tastes, with satisfactions that can almost feel like home itself. And what, if not the feeling of home, is essential? And yet, an increasing number of people sense the inevitability of impending change. Animal agriculture is now recognized as a leading cause of global warming. According to The Economist, a quarter of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 say they are vegetarians or vegans, which is perhaps one reason sales of plant-based ‘meats’ have skyrocketed, with Impossible and Beyond Burgers available everywhere from Whole Foods to White Castle.”

CNBC: American billionaires got $434 billion richer during the pandemic. “America’s billionaires saw their fortunes soar by $434 billion during the U.S. lockdown between mid-March and mid-May, according to a new report. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had the biggest gains, with Bezos adding $34.6 billion to his wealth and Zuckerberg adding $25 billion, according to the report from Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program for Inequality. The report is based on Forbes data for America’s more than 600 billionaires between March 18, when most states were in lockdown, and May 19.”

ABC News: ‘Sorrowful’: Black clergy members and churches reeling from COVID-19 losses. “ABC News identified at least 33 African American bishops, reverends and pastors who led various denominations around the country who have died from the coronavirus, according to an analysis of news reports. There were seven in Michigan (including two from the same church), seven in Louisiana, six in New York, three in Illinois, two in Mississippi, two in Georgia, two in New Jersey, one in Virginia, one in Tennessee, one in Alabama and one in Missouri.”

Associated Press: Uncertain future rattles Italy’s famed restaurants. “Italy’s restaurants and pizzerias, for foodies the world over a key reason to visit, are facing an existential threat. Those that didn’t fold after 10 weeks of a strict coronavirus lockdown are emerging to find that new social distancing requirements might yet drive them out of business.”

Los Angeles Times: No cash, please, we’re skittish: How coronavirus has spawned fear of paper money. “No longer a thing to be shoved mindlessly into a pocket, tucked into a worn wallet or thrown casually on a kitchen counter, paper money has seen its status change during the virus era — perhaps irrevocably. The pandemic has also reawakened the debate about the continued viability of what has been the lifeblood of global economies: physical bank notes and coins.”


Ohio Capital Journal: Ohio prisons chief says inmates getting ‘excellent’ health care; 63 dead, thousands infected. “Ohio has decreased its prison population by less than 4% while some institutions have been virtually overrun by COVID-19. Four prison workers and 63 inmates have died since prison officials first detected the new coronavirus March 29. More than 4,500 inmates have tested positive, though officials believe this to be a massive undercount since they abandoned a mass-testing strategy.”

AL .com: Montgomery running out of ICU beds as coronavirus cases double in May. “Montgomery hospitals are starting to run low on intensive care beds, said Dr. David Thrasher, a critical care doctor at Montgomery Pulmonary Consultants. The four counties making up the Montgomery metro area have seen a combined 721 new confirmed coronavirus cases since May 4 – an increase of 110 percent. Mayor Steven Reed said the virus is straining the city’s hospitals.”

The State: 570 employees test positive for coronavirus at North Carolina plant, Tyson says. “Tyson Foods said Wednesday that 570 workers at its Wilkesboro, North Carolina, poultry facility have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s more than a fourth of the plant’s total workforce. Tyson’s statement said all 2,244 employees and contractors at the site have been tested.”

Montgomery Advertiser: Gov. Kay Ivey loosens coronavirus restrictions on theaters, athletic events, child care. “Gov. Kay Ivey Thursday said existing bans on large entertainment venues, athletic activities, and school and child care facilities would end at 5 p.m. Friday, so long as they adhere to distancing guidelines meant to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak. The amended Safer At Home order further loosens steps taken to control the outbreak of COVID-19, even as data from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) shows continued increases in 7-day and 14-day averages in the state.”

ABC News: Health officials shut down New Jersey gym that defied COVID-19 stay-at-home order. “A New Jersey gym that became a rallying point of resistance against Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order was closed overnight by the state health department. The Atilis Gym in Bellmawr gained national attention after reopening this week, and its owners had vowed to stay open despite local police handing them $2,000 citations on two consecutive days for violating Murphy’s executive order meant to blunt the spread of the pandemic.”

News & Observer: After worker’s death, employees at Pilgrim’s Pride plant in NC to get coronavirus test. “An employee of the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing plant in Sanford died due to COVID-19 complications after developing symptoms at work in April and being hospitalized, according to the employee’s family who live in Siler City in Chatham County. Adelfo Ruiz Calvo, a 65-year-old Mexican immigrant and Siler City resident, died May 1 at a Chapel Hill hospital. The Orange County Register of Deeds confirmed documentation of Ruiz Calvo’s death to The News & Observer.”

Houston Chronicle: Locked inside. “Raul Razo and three buddies were knocking out their daily situps and pushups in their 72-man tank at the Harris County Jail in late March when they were overcome. All four were gasping for air. ‘Uno por uno. Uno por uno,’ Razo told his wife in a phone call punctuated by dry coughs. One by one they’d abandoned their workout and slogged off to their bunks. The next day they lay within arms’ reach of one another in their tight fortress of metal-frame beds, shaking with chills and passing up meals. They had crushing headaches, achy bones, sore muscles, chest pain, nausea, diarrhea and unrelenting fever.”

NBC News: China launches new Twitter accounts, 90,000 tweets in COVID-19 info war. “China has launched a Twitter offensive in the COVID-19 information war, more than doubling its number of official government tweets since January and in recent days using the platform to spread a conspiracy theory that the virus came from a U.S. government lab.”

Charlotte Observer: Nurse’s COVID-19 death raises questions about delayed testing at NC prison. “Barbara Anne Stewart died at a hospital in Danville, Va., on May 7 at age 57. Five weeks earlier, she had come home from her job as a nurse at Caswell Correctional Center, across the state line, complaining she didn’t feel well.”

Washington Post: As the backlogged IRS struggles to open mail and answer the phone, taxpayers face long delays. “The Internal Revenue Service had barely begun bringing its lowest-paid workers back to the office in late April when someone in the Philadelphia call center came down with a fever, forcing the third-floor staff to head home. Within two days, an employee in the processing center in Kansas City, Mo., who routes paper checks for deposit was sick with symptoms of the novel coronavirus, too. Then the husband of a woman in accounts management in the Covington, Ky., office tested positive, leading managers to presume that she was infected. The three service centers, among 10 campuses nationwide where the IRS is trying to reinstate 11,000 employees, had to partially close for a week for deep cleaning. The infections were just the first hurdle for an agency desperate to reconnect with tens of millions of taxpayers it has struggled to serve since late March.”


CNN: Magic Johnson will provide $100 million to fund loans to minority-owned businesses. “Magic Johnson may no longer be playing in the NBA, but the Hall of Fame member is still making valuable assists. Johnson announced that EquiTrust Life Insurance Co., of which he owns a majority, is providing $100 million in capital to fund federal loans for minority and women business owners who have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.”


Arizona State University: African American community experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 exposure, infection and death. “Researchers are discovering that health differences between racial and ethnic groups are often due to economic and social conditions, lower access to health care and other existing heath disparities. Mako Fitts Ward, a clinical assistant professor with ASU’s School of Social Transformation and faculty lead of African and African American Studies, said all of these conditions have left the African American community especially vulnerable during the pandemic. An educator, writer, facilitator and social justice advocate with over 15 years of experience teaching core principles of justice and social change to college students and advocating for racial and gender equity in communities around the country, ASU Now spoke to Ward about her observations on how COVID-19 has impacted the African American community.”

The Guardian: Survey finds 87% of America’s nurses forced to reuse protective equipment. “The vast majority of America’s nurses say they have not been tested for Covid-19, are reusing personal protective equipment (PPE), or have exposed skin or clothing while caring for Covid-19 patients, a new survey has shown.”

Washington Post: Why is coronavirus hitting Britain’s minority doctors so hard?. “Nearly all the doctors who have died of covid-19 in the United Kingdom have been ethnic minorities, most born overseas, like el-Tayar, according to the British Medical Association. That grim toll has confounded health experts, alarmed minority physicians, and startled a nation that relies on immigrants to swell the ranks of its public health-care system — yet voted for Brexit with a promise to ‘take back control’ of its borders and limit immigration.”

New York Post: NYC child vaccination rates take ‘troubling’ plunge during pandemic. “There’s a new crisis emerging amid the coronavirus pandemic — New York City children aren’t getting their shots. Child vaccination rates in the Big Apple have dramatically plunged during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, calling the revelation ‘quite shocking and troubling.'”

The Guardian: Exclusive: US has three months to rebuild medical supplies stockpile, Obama administration scientists warn. “Nine top scientists who advised Barack Obama in the White House are warning that the US has just three months to rebuild its national stockpile of emergency medical supplies or risk further drastic shortages of testing kits and protective gear should coronavirus strike again in the fall.”

Daily Beast: The Hot New Far-Right Trend: Claiming a Disability to Avoid Wearing a Mask. “Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University professor specializing in public health law, said some people do have real health concerns that could give them ADA protection to avoid a mask—even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘If they have severe breathing difficulties—asthma, or other significant respiratory problems—if a mask makes their breathing more labored, they’d be protected under the ADA,” Gostin told The Daily Beast. “But you need to be able to demonstrate that you’re disabled. It can’t be an idle claim.’ The anti-masking backlash seeks to exploit that very grey area.”


New York Times: Trump’s Vaccine Chief Has Vast Ties to Drug Industry, Posing Possible Conflicts. “The chief scientist brought on to lead the Trump administration’s vaccine efforts has spent the last several days trying to disentangle pieces of his stock portfolio and his intricate ties to big pharmaceutical interests, as critics point to the potential for significant conflicts of interest.”

Washington Post: Blue Flame Medical asks Maryland to restore its contract for covid-19 equipment. “Blue Flame Medical, the supply company started this spring by two Republican consultants, has asked the state of Maryland to restore a canceled $12.5 million contract with the firm to provide equipment used in the fight against coronavirus. The contract was canceled by Maryland officials earlier this month who said Blue Flame failed to deliver medical masks and ventilators on time. The firm’s lawyer, Douglas Gansler, a former Maryland attorney general, said Thursday that Maryland officials made a mistake.”

Daily Beast: Trump Fans Gobble Up His Favorite, Unproven COVID Drug—Some Are Even Trying To Cook It Themselves. “Donald Trump’s allies are seeking out hydroxychloroquine and even trying risky substitutes for the anti-malaria drug as it has become an emblem of the president’s unorthodox approach to fighting coronavirus. Trump has frequently touted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the disease, asking potential patients in April ‘what have you got to lose?’ But that enthusiasm took on an entirely new meaning Monday, when he claimed he’d been taking medication for ‘a couple of weeks.’ ”

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