Monday CoronaBuzz, June 1, 2020: 34 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.


Notre Dame News: Online tool created to track development of coronavirus vaccines. “The COVID-19 pandemic has led an unprecedented number of groups to begin developing coronavirus vaccines. To track this response, researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Research Computing are recording details about the coronavirus vaccine candidates currently in development as well as the progress of those candidates via a new interactive online tool. Dubbed the Vaccine Mapper, the free tool allows visitors to visualize everything from where the different vaccines are being developed around the world to the pre-clinical or clinical stages of development the vaccine candidates are currently in.”

University of Missouri: New COVID-19 tracking tool monitors continuous 14-day trends as nation, states reopen. “A new tracking tool developed at the University of Missouri provides a continuously updated 14-day snapshot of new cases of COVID-19 in every county in the nation, helping the public monitor trends in cases as local stay-at-home restrictions are lifted and other measures are gradually repealed.”

Yale News: Yale doctors design tool to predict rapid COVID-19 decline. “The tool, which uses predictive modeling, is called the COVID-19 severity index and is available online. To use it, emergency room doctors input just three patient parameters: rate of breathing, oxygen level, and the amount of oxygen required from a nasal cannula, a device used to deliver supplemental oxygen. A study describing the development and validation of the COVID severity index is available as a preprint on MedRxiv and has been submitted for peer review.”


Jerusalem Post: New website acts as database of coronavirus rules in 84 countries. “Developed by David Tabznikov, an Israeli ‘digital nomad’ currently based in Serbia, the website will allow users to see the policies of each country; whether its borders are fully or partially open, and if mandatory self-isolation rule is required as well as where that self-isolation should take place. In addition, municipal or regional restrictions within countries can also examined by users, which may include the status of public transportation in the area and police roadblocks.”


Yale News: Fishy Facebook science? Yale ‘Methods Man’ gives tools to interpret data. “[Dr. F. Perry Wilson] is the instructor behind a free, online course called ‘Understanding Medical Research: Your Facebook Friend Is Wrong,’ developed before the onset of the pandemic but especially relevant in the current onslaught of science and medical news. In the seven-week Coursera course, designed to be entertaining as well as instructive, Wilson explains how medical research works and how misinformation happens through faulty study designs and bad reporting. He covers topics like medical jargon, statistics, and bias. He gives people the basic knowledge to go back to the original study and interpret it themselves, and to look at media reports about those studies with a critical eye.”


WBTV: N.C. reports 916 new COVID-19 cases as death toll nears 900. “North Carolina reported nearly 1,000 additional COVID-19 cases on Sunday. The state says there are 916 confirmed new cases, bringing the state’s total to 28,859. The state also reported nine additional deaths, as the death toll has increased to 886.”

KY3: A positive COVID-19 case from out of the area visited the Lake of the Ozarks pool bars on Memorial Day Weekend. “The Camden County Health Department said Friday a Boone County resident who has tested positive for COVID-19 visited the Lake of the Ozarks during Memorial Day Weekend. According to Health Director Bee Dampier, the case arrived at the Lake on Saturday and started showing symptoms on Sunday. Dampier said it is likely COVID-19 was incubating illness during that person’s visit.”

Kurdistan24: Kurdistan reports all-time high 104 new COVID-19 infections. “The Kurdistan Region’s health ministry on Sunday announced 104 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours, the highest daily count since the virus first crossed into the region’s borders. A ministry statement said that the new cases came after health workers carried out 1,718 tests across the region. The total number of tests conducted so far has reached 76,478, per official data.” The population of Kurdistan is a little over five million.

Washington Post: VA says it has ‘ratcheted down’ use of hydroxychloroquine to treat veterans. “The Department of Veterans Affairs has drastically scaled back the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat veterans with coronavirus infections after a major study raised questions about its efficacy and linked it to serious side effects, including higher risks of death. Testifying before the House Appropriations subcommittee on military construction, Veterans Affairs and related agencies, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie defended the continued use of the unproven drug but said it was used just three times last week.”


AFP: Hoax circulates online that Taiwanese doctors have discovered COVID-19 is a ‘combination of SARS and AIDS’. “Multiple Facebook posts shared hundreds of times claim doctors from the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) in Taipei have found that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is a combination of AIDS and SARS. The claim is false; according to a spokesperson from the hospital, the statement was not authored by its doctors; as of May 20, 2020, advisories from global health organisations have not characterised COVID-19 as a disease that is AIDS and SARS combined.”


Scientific American: COVID Has Changed Soundscapes Worldwide. “The Silent Cities project is collecting sound from cities around the planet during the coronavirus pandemic to give researchers a database of natural sound in areas usually filled with human-generated noise.”


The Daily Beast: Florida’s Seen a ‘Statistically Significant’ Uptick in Pneumonia Deaths. The CDC Says It’s Likely COVID.. “Since the beginning of this year, Florida has experienced an uptick in the number of pneumonia and influenza deaths, according to data from the Centers for Disease and Control. Experts and Trump administration officials responsible for keeping tabs on mortality rates across the country believe that many of those individuals had likely contracted and died from COVID-19.”

BDN Politics: Advocates want Maine to form task force combating racial disparity in virus cases. “Black Mainers accounted for 20 percent of the cases in which racial data is disclosed as of Wednesday’s data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, while they represent only 1.6 percent of the state’s population, in an increase from the past week. White Mainers make up 75 percent of cases while comprising 94.6 percent of the population.”

NBC News: ICE keeps transferring detainees around the country, leading to COVID-19 outbreaks. “In the past several months, while most Americans have been ordered to shelter at home, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has shuffled hundreds of people in its custody around the country. Immigrants have been transferred from California to Florida, Florida to New Mexico, Arizona to Washington State, Pennsylvania to Texas. These transfers, which ICE says were sometimes done to curb the spread of coronavirus, have led to outbreaks in facilities in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana, according to attorneys, news reports and ICE declarations filed in federal courts.”

Washington Post: South Korea closes schools again amid coronavirus spike, days after reopening. “The country had started to stage the opening of schools in the last week, instituting social distancing and prevention measures in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. But according to the Korea Times, hundreds of schools were closed again because of high infection rates in their communities. It cited the Ministry of Education as saying that 838 schools of the 20,902 nationwide that were supposed to reopen on Wednesday did not, including in Seoul, and hundreds closed on Thursday in Seoul, Bucheon and other cities.”

Entertainment Weekly: Stormtroopers are enforcing social distancing at Disney World. “‘Stay in your sector!’ one stormtrooper warns the other when he gets too close. Then she draws an imaginary line to separate them and he backs off. Later, one stormtrooper notes that male banthas (those large hairy creatures ridden by stormtroopers on the planet Tatooine in A New Hope) can reach 3.9 meters long, and the other warns again about getting too close.”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: How an Online Yarn Seller Kept Dozens of Businesses Alive. “Luigi Boccia and Jared Flood ran their online yarn business, Brooklyn Tweed, for nearly a decade of ups and downs before the novel coronavirus upended life. Convinced that they needed to do something to buoy their network of suppliers and retailers, as well as their own venture, they raced to develop an idea that would make a difference.”


AP: DC mayor: We have to be concerned about virus rebound. “As more beaches, churches, mosques, schools and businesses reopened worldwide, civil unrest in the United States over repeated racial injustice is raising fears of new virus outbreaks in a country that has more infections and deaths than anywhere else in the world. And it’s not just in the U.S. — London hosted a large anti-racism protest Sunday that certainly violated government social distancing rules.”

The Guardian (SaltWire): More than 1,100 surgeries cancelled in P.E.I. because of coronavirus. “More than 1,100 surgeries have been cancelled in P.E.I. as the province continues to deal with the fallout of the coronavirus (COVID-19). On Friday, Health Minister James Aylward presented the numbers in the legislature after several days of questioning from O’Leary-Inverness MLA Robert Henderson. Aylward said Health P.E.I.’s service reinstatement team is assessing the situation daily as it makes plans to address the backlog.”

Asia Times: US declares a vaccine war on the world. “The United States and the UK were the only two holdouts in the World Health Assembly from the declaration that vaccines and medicines for Covid-19 should be available as public goods, and not under exclusive patent rights. The United States explicitly dissociated itself from the call for a patent pool, talking instead of ‘the critical role that intellectual property plays” – in other words, patents for vaccines and medicines.’

New York Times: It’s Not Whether You Were Exposed to the Virus. It’s How Much.. “When experts recommend wearing masks, staying at least six feet away from others, washing your hands frequently and avoiding crowded spaces, what they’re really saying is: Try to minimize the amount of virus you encounter. A few viral particles cannot make you sick — the immune system would vanquish the intruders before they could. But how much virus is needed for an infection to take root? What is the minimum effective dose?”

ProPublica: Nursing Homes Fought Federal Emergency Plan Requirements for Years. Now, They’re Coronavirus Hot Spots.. “The long-term care industry resisted a federal mandate to plan for disasters including pandemics. About 43% of nursing homes have been caught violating the requirement, including facilities that have now had deadly COVID-19 outbreaks.”

Politico: Rising ICU bed use ‘a big red flag’. “ICU beds are also starting to fill up in places like Minnesota’s Twin Cities; Omaha, Neb.; and the entire state of Rhode Island, according to local health officials and epidemiologists tracking such data, a warning sign of possible health care problems down the road. The availability of ICU beds is one measure of a hospital’s ability to care for its most vulnerable patients — people with severe illness who require more staff to treat them and may need life-support equipment such as a ventilator to breathe. And it’s served as a metric for whether the local health care system is able to handle a coronavirus outbreak, albeit a constantly shifting one.”


ABC News (Australia): Queensland researchers analysing coronavirus conspiracy theories warn of social media danger. “It’s one of the major conspiracy theories to flourish during the global pandemic — that coronavirus is a biological weapon. Now, a new Australian report suggests that theory has been amplified on Twitter through the ‘coordinated’ efforts of clusters of Pro-Trump, QAnon and Republican partisan accounts.”

Bloomberg: Google Helps Place Ads on Sites Amplifying Covid-19 Conspiracies. “Google has taken aggressive action to scrub coronavirus conspiracies from its news service and YouTube, at a time when social media companies have come under intense scrutiny for their potential to spread dangerous disinformation about the global pandemic. It has begun labeling misleading videos aimed at U.S. audiences, and has joined with other major internet companies to coordinate a response against what the World Health Organization has described as an ‘infodemic.’ But Google is also placing advertisements on websites that publish the theories, helping their owners generate revenue and continue their operations. In at least one instance, Google has run ads featuring a conspiracist it has already banned.”

NewsTalk: ‘Social media overload’ makes people more likely to believe COVID-19 misinformation, study finds. “Researchers in NUI Galway and the University of Turku in Finland say that when people search through too much content, it impairs their ability to critically assess if the information is true. They’re also then more likely to share that content throughout their social network, which in turn amplifies the misinformation problem.”

NBC News: Troll farms from North Macedonia and the Philippines pushed coronavirus disinformation on Facebook. “One of the largest publishers of coronavirus disinformation on Facebook has been banned from the platform for using content farms from North Macedonia and the Philippines, Facebook said on Friday.”


Case Western Reserve University: National Science Foundation awards grant to team developing COVID-19 mapping tool. “The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded an $84,000, one-year grant to the team behind the online mapping tool designed to provide users with a real-time, location-based risk assessment for transmission of the novel coronavirus that leads to COVID-19.”

National Geographic: A COVID-19 vaccine has passed its first human trial. But is it the frontrunner?. “A PROMISING CORONAVIRUS vaccine candidate cleared a key hurdle this week, when Moderna Therapeutics entered phase two of clinical trials. The move signals that the company’s mRNA vaccine has passed its initial safety checks and has met an important milestone in bringing this drug closer to the public and commercial markets.”


The Asian Age: Google detects coronavirus-themed phishing attacks by firms in India posing as WHO, banks. “Hack-for-hire firms, many of them based in India, are creating accounts spoofing the World Health Organisation (WHO) and targeting business leaders in financial services, consulting, and healthcare corporations in the US, the UK and Bahrain among other countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report by Google.”

Mother Jones: When $10,000 Is the Difference Between Contracting COVID-19 in Detention and Getting the Hell Out. “…a majority of ICE detainees are eligible for release on bond while their cases move through the courts. Less than half of those who get bond hearings, however, are actually granted bond; as of March of this year, the national median granted bond was $8,000, but that number can easily go up to $40,000 in individual cases—an impossible sum for many immigrants to raise.”


CNBC: North Carolina, GOP convention planners at an impasse over social distancing. “Republican National Convention organizers appear to have hit an impasse with the state of North Carolina over social distancing at the party’s nominating convention, scheduled to be held in Charlotte in late August. After weeks of trading strongly worded letters, punctuated by angry threats from President Donald Trump to move the convention to a more accommodating city, the GOP organizers appear no closer to getting their desired green light for a massive gathering than they were a month ago.”

Washington Post: White House and CDC remove coronavirus warnings about choirs in faith guidance. “Two White House officials said the first version posted by the CDC was not approved by the White House. Once West Wing officials saw it, they asked the CDC to post a different cleared document without the choir references and other parts. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk about policy discussions, said there have long been concerns within the White House that there were too many restrictions on choirs. A CDC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the guideline change also said the updated Saturday guidance was approved by the White House.”

USA Today: Coronavirus postcard that featured Trump’s name cost struggling Postal Service $28 million. “A postcard mailed to every American household that included coronavirus social distancing guidelines and also prominently featured President Donald Trump’s name cost the U.S. Postal Service $28 million, USA TODAY has learned. The coronavirus card, which began appearing in U.S. mailboxes in March, drew fire from good-government groups that said it applied a political veneer to the administration’s effort to inform Americans about the pandemic. The cost comes as the U.S. mail service – which Trump has described as ‘a joke’ – is struggling financially.”

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