Wednesday CoronaBuzz, June 24, 2020: 32 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.


Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Medicare COVID-19 Data Release Blog. “Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released preliminary data on COVID-19 derived from Medicare claims. The data provides a highly instructive picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population, further confirming a number of long understood patterns in the disease such as the elevated risk for seniors with underlying health conditions.”


Department of Labor: U.S. Department Of Labor Announces Online Tool To Help Workers Determine Eligibility For Paid Sick Leave Due To Coronavirus. “The tool guides workers through a series of questions to help them determine if the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) apply to their employer. If the provisions do apply, the tool helps them learn whether they qualify for either paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave under that law.”

Investment Executive: New tool helps navigate Covid-19 relief benefits. This is for Canada. “Toronto-based Prosper Canada has launched a new tool to help people access government relief benefits related to Covid-19. The Financial Relief Navigator is a bilingual online tool designed to help individuals access pandemic-related financial benefits from governments, financial institutions, utility, telecom and internet providers.”


Urban Milwaukee: New Tool Tracks COVID-19 Changes By County. “The Wisconsin Department of Health Services released a new dashboard Tuesday afternoon that highlights the active spread of COVID-19 by county, a move the department says is intended to give local decision makers more information.”


Northern Arizona University: Navajo Housing Authority, NAU develop interactive web app showing Wi-Fi locations on the Navajo Nation. “Most of the Wi-Fi hotspot access points are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, but times vary depending on Navajo Nation curfew hours. Points can be accessed from any mobile device including laptops and smartphones. Most do not require passwords to connect, however, a few hotspots have been identified for student use only. Wi-Fi hotspots will be updated when telecommunication companies submit new geospatial data.”


BBC: Coronavirus: UK must prepare for second virus wave – health leaders. “Health leaders are calling for an urgent review to determine whether the UK is properly prepared for the ‘real risk’ of a second wave of coronavirus. In an open letter published in the British Medical Journal, ministers were warned that urgent action would be needed to prevent further loss of life.”

Washington Post: Seven states report highest coronavirus hospitalizations since pandemic began. “Seven states are reporting new highs for current coronavirus hospitalizations, according to data tracked by The Washington Post — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — as the number of infections continues to climb across the South and West. More than 800 covid-19 deaths were reported in the United States on Tuesday, the first time fatalities have increased since June 7.”


PolitiFact: Fact-checking three coronavirus claims from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. “Although infections and hospitalizations connected to the coronavirus are on the rise in Texas, state officials are continuing efforts to reopen parts of the state and allow people to return to their jobs. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sought to quell fears over the virus during a press conference on Tuesday, pointing to the number of available hospital beds in the state and statistics suggesting that Texas is handling the virus better than other large states.”


Axios: Axios-Ipsos poll: Catching up when the virus comes. “People in mostly red states where coronavirus cases have been rising the fastest are developing a heightened sense of risk and taking steps to dial back their exposure, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.”

Mother Jones: How the Coronavirus Spread QAnon. “Data compiled from social networking sites and Google and Wikipedia search trends show a broader spike in interest around QAnon among Americans after businesses started to close and various lockdowns started in mid-March in anticipation of further viral spread. Online activity around QAnon and related topics rapidly climbed to all-time highs. Interest in the search terms has yet to return to pre-COVID levels.”

CNBC: 14% of businesses expect layoffs after using their PPP loan funds. “Roughly 14% of business owners who received a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program expect to lay off workers once they deplete their funds, according to a survey published by the National Federation of Independent Business. The finding comes as lawmakers debate the necessity and contours of another round of federal relief measures for individuals and businesses, and points to the potential fragility of the U.S. economic recovery absent additional aid.”

Mashable: How queer clubs are handling the first pandemic Pride. “Queer club owners who spoke to Mashable echoed similar sentiments about the loss of business and celebration this year, with all of them closed at some point due to the pandemic. Already some, like famed bar The Stud in San Francisco, have lost their space. Even the Stonewall Inn — where riots sparked the queer liberation movement — has an uncertain future.”

CNN: A viral Black-owned business success and the shortcomings of the federal pandemic response. “From lack of relationships to banks, to minimal or less than pristine credit histories, to something as simple as the size and structure of their businesses, Black-owned small businesses faced built-in structural disadvantages, according to lawmakers, advocates, government officials and business owners. ‘This is just laying bare all of the cracks and issues that were already there in this foundation and that people of color had been experiencing every single day,’ said Ashley Harrington, federal advocacy director and a senior counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending.”

Washington Post: ‘Heroes, right?’. “Nobody wants to know about what I do. People might pay us lip service and say we’re heroes, but our stories aren’t the kind anyone actually wants to hear about. Kids in this country grow up with toy firetrucks, or maybe playing cops and robbers, but who dreams of becoming a paramedic? That’s ambulances. That’s death and vulnerability — the scary stuff. We’re taught in this culture to shun illness like it’s something shameful. We’d rather pretend everything’s fine. We look the other way.”


Reuters: Rare chance to say goodbye: Chilean hospital invites in COVID patients’ families. “Around the world, a need to slow the spread of the highly-contagious virus in hospitals has been placed above providing patients with the comfort of being with their families at the end of their lives. One of the greatest cruelties of an illness that has killed almost half a million people worldwide, is that many have died alone, lucky to bid a digital goodbye via a computer tablet or phone. Medical chiefs at the University of Chile’s clinical hospital in Santiago decided, however, to allow family visits and, wherever possible, create a space for a final farewell.”


Kansas City Star: ‘I don’t feel guilty’: Parson rejects responsibility for COVID-19 increase in Missouri. “Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Tuesday he takes no personal responsibility for Missourians who have contracted COVID-19 since he fully reopened the state on June 16, and suggested that the media are responsible for misconstruing facts. Parson, who for months has stressed the importance of personal responsibility in combating the virus, took issue with a reporter’s question toward the end of his afternoon press briefing.”

KOMO News: COVID-19: Inslee announces mandatory face mask rule for Washington state. “Faced with a recent uptick in confirmed COVID-19 cases in certain parts of the state, Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that the state is imposing a mandatory requirement that people wear masks when they are outside their homes as officials struggle to contain the virus.”

Route Fifty: Federal Officials Detail Preparations for ‘Inevitable’ Coronavirus Surge This Fall. “Agencies are working to ramp up the production and distribution of personal protective equipment, exponentially increase testing capacity and develop treatments and vaccines, officials told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday. The leaders repeatedly emphasized they will follow the data and science presented by experts, seeking to set aside politically motivated statements from the White House and elsewhere.”


BBC: Top US health official Fauci warns of ‘disturbing’ new US surge. “America’s top infectious disease expert has told lawmakers that the US is seeing a ‘disturbing surge’ in coronavirus infections in some states. A panel of health officials, including Dr Anthony Fauci, said the next few days will be crucial to stem the new outbreaks. Cases are climbing rapidly across a number of US states.”


CNN: These 9 hand sanitizers may contain a potentially fatal ingredient, FDA warns. “The US Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers not to use hand sanitizer products manufactured by Eskbiochem SA due to the potential presence of a toxic chemical. The FDA has discovered methanol, a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through skin or ingested, in samples of Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ hand sanitizers, both produced by the Mexican company.”

Arizona State University: Native nations are fighting COVID-19 on many levels. “COVID-19 has exacerbated infrastructure vulnerabilities in Indian Country and has brought attention to myriad issues that advocacy hasn’t been able to, experts say. Even though the Navajo Nation’s highest per capita coronavirus infection rate has been getting the lion’s share of attention in the media, the lack of infrastructure — especially broadband — impacts civic engagement, education, energy and health care delivery on U.S. reservations affected by the pandemic.”

Buenos Aires Times: Coronavirus decimating indigenous Latin American communities. “The Pan American Health Organisation says that at least 20,000 people living in the Amazon River basin, which passes through Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname, are infected. On the border between Brazil and Venezuela, the Yanomamis territory is occupied by around 20,000 illegal miners, according to Survival International. Sometimes, the illegal miners and loggers carry the virus with them, exposing indigenous populations to danger.”


Houston Chronicle: Gov. Abbott warns of record-breaking 5,000 new COVID-19 infections for Texas . “Texas added yet another record number of new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, as Gov. Greg Abbott urged people to wear masks and stay indoors whenever possible. The state reported nearly 5,200 new cases, surpassing the previous high of 4,600 on Friday, according to a data analysis by Hearst Newspapers. The weekly rolling average hit 3,722 new cases per day, up from about 1,500 two weeks ago.”


ZDNet: New ransomware masquerades as COVID-19 contact-tracing app on your Android device. “Researchers from ESET said this week that the ransomware emerged only a few days after Health Canada announced the release of COVID Alert, which will first be tested in Ontario before rolling out nationwide.”


Imperial College London: First volunteer receives Imperial COVID-19 vaccine. “The first healthy volunteer has now received a candidate coronavirus vaccine developed by Imperial researchers. The clinical team, who delivered a small dose of the vaccine to the participant at a West London facility, are closely monitoring the participant and report they are in good health, with no safety concerns.”

Western Michigan University: WMU researchers creating national database of religious response to COVID-19. “Research underway at Western Michigan University will create a national archive of religious response to the pandemic. Funded by a University COVID-19 response grant, the project will also fuel the development of relevant coursework for students at WMU and other colleges and high schools across the country.”

The Register: Korean boffins build COVID-bot to shove a swab right up your hooter. “The South Korean Institute of Machinery and Materials has developed a robotic rig capable of shoving a COVID-19-sputum-sampling-swab right up your hooter, so that medicos don’t have to come into contact with possibly-contagious patients.”


Department of Justice: Winchester Man Charged with COVID-Relief Fraud. ” A Winchester man was arrested today and charged with allegedly filing fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $13 million in forgivable loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for COVID-19 relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.”

BBC: Nigeria police rescue 300 workers ‘locked in rice factory’. “Police in Nigeria have rescued 300 people they say were locked in a rice-processing factory and forced to work throughout a coronavirus lockdown. From the end of March the men were allegedly not allowed to leave the mill in the northern city of Kano.”

Courthouse News Service: Judge Orders Brazil’s Bolsonaro to Wear Mask. “A federal judge in Brazil ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a face mask in public, after the far-right leader repeatedly flouted the coronavirus containment measures in place in Brasilia. Judge Renato Borelli ordered Bolsonaro, who has famously compared the new coronavirus to a ‘little flu,’ to stop ignoring the capital city’s mask decree, or face a fine of $390.”


Washington Post: Is entirely contactless travel possible? I planned a trip to find out.. “What if I cut out the parts of travel that made it problematic during the pandemic? The parts like going through airports, sitting on planes, interacting with hotel guests, congregating at bus terminals or contaminating a gas station? Convinced I could make contactless travel a thing, I booked a campsite, went to Target and bought the cheapest tent and sleeping bag I could find. Then I hatched a plan to bike 42.8 miles to a national park carrying all of my gear and supplies.”


Daily Beast: Team Trump Says It Was a COVID Testing ‘Joke.’ His Own Health Officials Aren’t Laughing.. “White House officials and President Donald Trump loyalists tried on Sunday to walk back remarks he made over the weekend in which he told rally-goers that he had asked officials to slow COVID-19 testing so as to decrease the number of confirmed cases in the U.S…. But two officials working on the coronavirus response within the Trump administration, as well as state officials and experts in emergency response, told The Daily Beast that they did not take the president’s remarks lightly. Whether facetious or not, they argued, the casual indifference Trump displayed towards testing at his Tulsa rally only reaffirmed that his administration was not prepared when the pandemic response hit—and may still not be.”

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