Thursday CoronaBuzz, June 18, 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.


Gulf News: UAE health ministry launches virtual information centre for COVID-19. “A national awareness platform disseminating information on COVID-19 has been launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention. The platform will seek to curb myths and provide authentic information on the pandemic in five languages with a ‘Virtual Doctor’ service to help assess the health condition of those who might have symptoms. Divided into six main sections providing scientific and health information, the virtual information centre provides the latest information about the virus, ways to prevent it, as well as updated statistics on the number of infected cases in the [United Arab Emirates].”


European Commission: Travel and transportation during the coronavirus pandemic. “On 15 June, the European Commission launched ‘Re-open EU’, a web platform that contains essential information allowing a safe relaunch of free movement and tourism across Europe. To help people confidently plan their travels and holidays during the summer and beyond, the platform will provide real-time information on borders, available means of transport, travel restrictions, public health and safety measures such as on physical distancing or wearing of facemasks, as well as other practical information for travellers.”

ZDNet: Intuit’s new tool helps small businesses determine coronavirus tax credit eligibility. “Intuit on Wednesday announced it’s adding new features to an online tool designed to help small businesses and self-employed individuals wade through the federal government’s complex coronavirus relief programs. The new estimator tool on the Intuit Aid Assist site specifically helps customers estimate the tax credits and deferments they may be eligible for from the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”


CBS Austin: Dell Medical School releases video debunking common face mask myths. “The University of Texas Dell Medical School released a video Tuesday of an epidemiologist dispelling three common myths about cloth face masks and their role in keeping people healthy during the pandemic.” There’s also a text article.

NPR: Our Daily Breather: How To Keep Moving During The Pandemic. “Our Daily Breather was a daily series where we asked writers and artists to recommend one thing that’s helped them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. The series concluded on June 13, 2020. Many writers and artists suggested running, working out and other physical activties; here, we’ve collected some of their recommendations.”


BBC: Paulinho Paiakan: Amazon indigenous chief dies of coronavirus. “Paulinho Paiakan, one of the best known indigenous defenders of the Amazon rainforest, has died of coronavirus. Paiakan, who was around 65, was a chief of the Kayapo people.”

CBS News: Saudi Arabia is battling a 2nd wave of coronavirus infections, making hajj unlikely. “Saudi authorities started easing lockdown measures at the end of May, after the number of new infections recorded daily dropped by half to around 1,500. They reduced curfew times, allowed congregational prayers in mosques and domestic flights to resume, and businesses to reopen. But since June 1, the number of new COVID-19 cases confirmed every day has more than doubled again.”

CNBC: Jobless claims total 1.5 million, worse than expected as economic pain persists. “Weekly jobless claims stayed above 1 million for the 13th consecutive week as the coronavirus pandemic continued to hammer the U.S. economy. First-time claims totaled 1.5 million last week, higher than the 1.3 million that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting. The government report’s total was 58,000 lower than the previous week’s 1.566 million, which was revised up by 24,000.”

Bloomberg: Sweden Proves ‘Surprisingly Slow’ in Achieving Herd Immunity. “Sweden has made less progress than expected in achieving immunity to the coronavirus, according to its state epidemiologist. After leaving schools, shops and restaurants open throughout the pandemic, contagion rates in Sweden are much higher than anywhere else in the Nordic region. Its Covid-19 mortality rate is among the worst in the world. Scientists have been eager to learn whether the flipside of widespread contagion is a higher level of immunity.”


New York Times: ‘There Is No Work Here’: Migrants, Some Sick, Move North. “Florida’s agricultural communities have become cradles of infection, fueling a worrying new spike in the state’s daily toll in new infections, which has hit new records in recent days. The implications go far beyond Florida: Case numbers in places like Immokalee are swelling just as many farmworkers are migrating up the Eastern Seaboard for the summer harvest.”


New York Daily News: Movie theaters set to reopen with reduced capacity, cashless tickets and staggered showtimes. “Both Regal and Cinemark announced they would start showing movies this month and next, introducing options such as cash-free online transactions, staggered showtimes, reduced theater capacity, lots and lots of cleaning and other measures to decontaminate surfaces and ensure social distancing protocols.”

Washington Post: U-Va. calls students back for fall, with assigned sinks, social distancing and other precautions. “Wear masks. Keep your distance. Now comes another edict: Use your assigned sink. Students heading to college in the fall know they will face unprecedented pandemic rules meant to safeguard the campus from the spread of the novel coronavirus. Among them is this one spelled out by the University of Virginia on Wednesday: Those who live in residence halls ‘will be assigned to specific sinks, stalls and showers.'”

CNN: US stockpile stuck with 63 million doses of hydroxychloroquine. “The federal government is stuck with 63 million doses of hydroxychloroquine now that the US Food and Drug Administration has revoked permission for the drug to be distributed to treat coronavirus patients.”

Montgomery Advertiser: Montgomery City Council votes down mask ordinance, sends doctors out in disgust. “Jackson Hospital pulmonologist William Saliski cleared his throat as he started describing the dire situation created by the coronavirus pandemic in Montgomery to its City Council before they voted on a mandatory mask ordinance. ‘It’s been a long day, I apologize,’ he said.”

Aaaaand ALSO Montgomery Adviser: Mayor Steven Reed bypasses City Council vote, mandates masks with executive order. “Mayor Steven Reed issued an executive order to mandate masks in Montgomery, bypassing a tied City Council vote that failed to do the same less than 24 hours prior. Reed announced the order in a news conference at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. It goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and is intended to be temporary until the next council meeting for council members to consider another ordinance, Reed said.”

New York Times: With the Federal Health Megaphone Silent, States Struggle With a Shifting Pandemic. “The federal government’s leadership in the coronavirus crisis has so faded that state and local health officials have been left to figure out on their own how to handle rising infections and to navigate conflicting signals from the White House. About 800 Americans a day are still dying of Covid-19, a pace that, if sustained over the next few months, would yield more than 200,000 dead by the end of September. Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Oregon and Texas all reported their largest one-day increases in new cases on Tuesday.”

Huffpost: Guest Workers Describe Coronavirus Nightmare On Louisiana Crawfish Farm. “Two guest workers from Mexico say they were stricken with COVID-19 as they processed crawfish in a crowded Louisiana plant ― and that their bosses forbid them from going to the hospital and threatened to report them to immigration authorities when they finally did. Ultimately, they got fired.”

Blooloop: Theme parks after coronavirus: the road to recovery. “As theme parks prepare for reopening after COVID-19, what does a path to recovery look like? With its access to big data in China, The Park Database team has some early indications using Shanghai Disney as an example.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Hundreds of abattoir workers test positive in Germany. “Thousands of people in Germany have been told to go into quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak at an abattoir. More than 650 people have tested positive for the virus at the meat processing plant in Gütersloh, in the north-west of the country.”

Phys .org: COVID-19 makes air pollution a top concern worldwide: report. “At least two-thirds of people in countries home to a fifth of the world’s population support stricter laws and enforcement to tackle air pollution, the Clean Air Fund said Wednesday.”

Block Club Chicago: As Restaurants And Bars Reopen, Servers Worry They Could Catch Coronavirus: ‘There Are No Safety Nets For Me’. “The city entered Phase 3 of reopening from coronavirus on June 3, allowing restaurants to open for patio service with strict safety precautions. Bars and breweries can join them in reopening as of Wednesday. But obedience to these guidelines — requiring guests wear face masks when not eating and social distance — has been mixed, which has servers like Alicia Rottman concerned about returning to work.”

New York Times: ‘When Am I Coming Home?’: A Tough Month Inside a Virus Recovery Unit. “Charlie Blueweiss, 33, woke up believing he was in a secret infirmary in an airport somewhere, maybe in China. He was certain someone was stalking him; threatening messages seemed to keep appearing on screens around him. As his confusion — which is common among Covid-19 patients who have spent a long stint on a mechanical ventilator — dissipated in the coming days, Mr. Blueweiss began to take stock of his situation.”

STAT News: How likely are kids to get Covid-19? Scientists see a ‘huge puzzle’ without easy answers. “There is some evidence that kids are less likely to catch the virus and less likely to spread it, but it’s not clear exactly how strong that evidence is. Much of it was generated at a time when children were caught up in the topsy-turvy world of Covid-19 transmission suppression, with schools closed and families cocooned, limiting their chances of catching or spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In reality, it may take reopening schools and returning children to a closer-to-normal life for the picture to come into clearer focus.”

CNN: Coronavirus cases are spiking across the country and experts say Florida has the makings of the next epicenter. “Ten states saw a record number of new Covid-19 cases this week, and one of them could be the next epicenter of the pandemic. Florida has ‘all the markings of the next large epicenter of coronavirus transmission,’ and risks being the ‘worst it has ever been,’ according to Wednesday’s projections from a model by scientists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.”


BetaNews: The fax reborn: How COVID-19 gave new life to an unlikely technology. “With stay at home orders and the sudden need to securely share sensitive documents from employee’s homes, there has been a significant demand for a surprising technology: the digital fax. Despite industry-wide efforts to digitally transform, the physical fax is still a very common and necessary piece of technology for many organizations.”

CNBC: Facebook, YouTube usage linked to belief in coronavirus conspiracy theories, study finds. “People using social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube to find information about the coronavirus are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories about the disease, according to new research out of the U.K.”

CNN: The pandemic could be a turning point for online shopping in Africa. “Covid-19 has brought untold hardship to Africa, but lockdowns are also driving a move to online shopping in a continent where it has been slow to take off. The whole of Africa had only around 21 million online shoppers in 2017 — about the same number as Spain. That’s less than 2% of the world’s total, according to the latest UN data.”


Phys .org: Benefits of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 are still unclear. “With vaccines and therapeutic drugs for COVID-19 still under development, doctors are wondering whether antibody-rich plasma infusions from the blood of recovered patients could be a more immediate way to keep hospitalized patients alive and off ventilators. However, an article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, indicates that, despite some anecdotal evidence, scientists still don’t have high-quality data showing that the treatment actually works.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Covid-denying priest Father Sergei Romanov seizes Russian monastery. “An ultraconservative Russian priest who denies coronavirus exists has taken over a women’s monastery by force. Father Sergei Romanov entered the Sredneuralsk convent outside the city of Yekaterinburg on Tuesday. The mother superior and several nuns have left and armed guards are patrolling the site.”

The Register: How do you run a military court over Zoom? With 28 bullet points and a ceremonial laptop flunkey, of course!. “A bizarre new court protocol for sentencing military criminals over Zoom includes instructions for the ceremonial carrying of a laptop and webcam in and out of the courtroom. In no fewer than 28 bullet points the UK’s Military Court Service, ( MCS) which deals with officers, soldiers, sailors and airmen accused of crimes, has set out its protocol for using videoconferencing to sentence guilty military lawbreakers.”

CNET: Price gouging persists during pandemic, despite push to stamp it out. “We’re three months into the pandemic, but it’s still easy to find examples of price gouging on Amazon. Last Friday, within five minutes, CNET found Cottonelle toilet paper listed on Amazon for $57.42 (price for the same item on Target: $21.49), and a two-pack of 28-ounce jars of Rao’s marinara sauce for $29.04 (an adjacent listing of 24-ounce jars from Amazon-owned Whole Foods would cost you $10.78). The problem isn’t confined to Amazon’s massive digital storefront. It’s pretty much everywhere.”


Yahoo News: Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’. “Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus cases in the U.S. ‘have stabilized,’ a document produced that same day by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and circulated to the other government agencies warns that infections in the U.S. have increased more than 18 percent.”

CNN: ‘They’re in denial’: How Trump’s White House is ignoring the pandemic. “The President’s focus in meetings over the past several weeks has been on economic figures and developing a vaccine — not the increase in cases — according to people familiar with the matter. Trump has also begun to question the accuracy of numbers from states and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing case counts increasing in certain areas, one person familiar with the matter said. Trump has previously questioned data coming from governors and the nation’s top health agency.”

New York Times: Will the Pandemic Slow New York’s Progressive Momentum?. “After helping Democrats win control of New York State’s government two years ago, progressives envisioned 2020 as the year to expand their foothold in the State Capitol in Albany. They would use a proven playbook: Progressive groups would recruit liberal-minded newcomers to challenge entrenched Democratic state legislators whom they regarded as too moderate, and who had run unopposed for years. But just as they were getting their grass-roots campaigns off the ground, the coronavirus descended on New York, dampening efforts to push the State Legislature leftward in the June 23 primary elections.”

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