coronabuzz

Thursday CoronaBuzz, June 25, 2020: 39 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.

NEW RESOURCES – MEDICAL/HEALTH

BetaNews: IBM launches open source tool to help COVID-19 data analysis. “COVID notebooks is designed to help with tasks including obtaining authoritative data on the current status of the outbreak, cleaning up the most serious data-quality problems, collating the data into a format amenable to easy analysis with tools like Pandas and Scikit-Learn, and building an initial set of example reports and graphs.”

NEW RESOURCES – EDUCATION/ENTERTAINMENT

EdWeek Market Brief: New Database Features Ed-Tech Products to Help Schools Improve Learning During COVID-19. “Financially supported by the World Bank and the United Kingdom Department for International Development, among other entities, The EdTech Hub rolled out a new database this month to help education leaders find platforms and software that could help improve teaching and learning during COVID-19.”

Globe Newswire: Free Virtual Coding, STEM, Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy Programs Launch for Youth this Summer (PRESS RELEASE). (This is for Canada.) “As the school year officially comes to an end, Rogers Communications today announced its national Ted Rogers Community Grant partners have transitioned all youth programming online this summer, offering Canadian families free, self-directed educational experiences to fill the gap with many summer camps being cancelled due to COVID-19. These programs focus on developing critical skills across technology, innovation, financial literacy and education with engaging and empowering programs designed to prepare Canada’s next generation.”

NEW RESOURCES – OTHER

Silicon Republic: NASA, ESA and JAXA’s new tool shows our climate changed by Covid-19. “NASA, ESA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have unveiled a new tool designed to give researchers and policymakers access to planet-wide changes in the environment and human society following the largest pandemic in a generation. The Covid-19 Earth Observation Dashboard integrates multiple satellite data records with analytical tools to allow user-friendly tracking of changes in air and water quality, climate change, economic activity, and agriculture.”

USEFUL STUFF

Mashable: Sick of Zoom? Here are 8 other video conferencing options to try.. “Whether you’re looking to video chat with your friends and family regularly, or if you’re simply looking for a visual calling solution for your company, a video conferencing system is a must. Audio phone calls are increasingly out of fashion because who doesn’t want to see the reaction on a loved one’s face? Or be able to discuss more accurately a vital business matter with potential clients? With the urge to work remotely ever-growing, it’s particularly crucial for small businesses to take advantage of video calls, but really, we can all benefit from it. Find out the best video conferencing software for your needs here, and just why specific solutions are better than others, depending on your situation.”

UPDATES

AP: Masks, travel restrictions, testing as virus cases surge. “Coronavirus case numbers are rising to dire new levels in several U.S. states and around the world, potentially wiping out two months of progress in fighting the pandemic and prompting governments and businesses to impose new restrictions.”

FACT CHECKS

FactCheck .org: Trump Inherited More Ventilators Than Have Been Distributed. “Contrary to President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that he inherited a Strategic National Stockpile with ’empty’ or ‘bare’ cupboards, the federal government had more ventilators in stock than it ended up distributing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FactCheck.org has learned. The SNS had 16,660 ventilators ‘immediately available for use’ when the federal government began deploying the breathing machines to states to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients in March, according to a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

New York Times: Ballpark Peanuts, a Classic Summer Pleasure, Have Been Benched. “Today, most of the 2.3 million pounds of in-shell peanuts consumed during a typical baseball season are languishing in cold storage, waiting — like the fans — for an opening day at the park that is unlikely to come. Baseball teams both minor and major are trying to find a way to schedule a season, but there will be no one in the stands to shell out $4 or $5 for a bag of peanuts.”

Route Fifty: State Fairs Are the Latest Casualty of Covid-19. “At least 15 states have canceled their annual fairs due to public health concerns amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, while others are moving ahead with modified, pared-down events.”

Phys .org: Women disproportionately affected during pandemic, professor finds. “USC’s Understanding Coronavirus in America Study found that women, particularly those without a college degree, suffered more job losses than men and handled significantly greater responsibility for childcare during the pandemic. One-third of working mothers in two-parent households reported they were the only ones providing care for their children, compared to one-tenth of working fathers. Higher levels of psychological distress also emerged among women with children, compared to women without children and to men with or without children.”

The Conversation: COVID-19 has created more cyclists: How cities can keep them on their bikes. “Personal vehicles do allow for adequate distancing, but many cities cannot support the shift of public transit riders to cars. There is also a substantial cost-barrier associated with car ownership: parking, insurance, gas. As a result, more people in North America are taking to cycling — and bike shops across the United States and Canada are seeing record sales and facing supply shortages.”

Study Breaks: The Power Of ‘Selfilm’ Is Inventing A New Cinematic Subgenre. “It’s 7 p.m. and you’re ready to binge, assuming that content exists solely to comfort, to backload worries and delay the confrontation with the dreary world outdoors. Although the newly prescribed lifestyle of a hermit may precipitate greater escapism, it also welcomes the opportunity for self-exploration. It is impossible to regard film and television without one’s identity in mind, especially when so much of our quarantined lives are defined by the latest Netflix show. In an attempt to categorize and demystify this situation, an obscure word has found its way into my everyday thoughts: selfilm.”

INSTITUTIONS

Houston Chronicle: Texas Children’s admitting adult patients because of COVID-19 surge. “In a statement late Monday night, Texas Children’s confirmed that the pediatric hospital has taken the unusual step of providing such additional capacity through its intensive care units and acute care beds at its two biggest campuses in the area.”

BUSINESS / CORPORATIONS

KTNV: Caesars Entertainment announces mask requirement at all properties. “Caesars Entertainment Corporation has announced that everyone indoors at its properties across the Caesars network will be required to wear masks at all times, except when eating or drinking. The updated mask policy becomes effective on June 24, 2020 at 12 p.m. Pacific Time and applies to all employees, vendors, contractors, guests and passersby in properties. Previously, all employees plus guests at table games were required to wear masks at Caesars properties.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Qantas to axe 6,000 jobs due to pandemic. “Qantas will axe 6,000 jobs as part of its plans to survive the coronavirus pandemic, the airline says. The cuts equate to about a fifth of the airline’s workforce prior to the Covid-19 crisis. In March, it furloughed more than 80% of its staff. Australia’s national carrier said the collapse in global air travel had devastated revenues.”

ABC News: For coffee chain Trump heralded as model of payroll rescue, anxious days after federal funds run dry. “Eight weeks of federal loans enabled Bitty & Beau’s to keep Heup and his colleagues employed, even as the shops themselves were shuttered. But now the federal support has stopped. And like many companies that benefited from the $669 billion federal program meant to bridge the gap while the nation hunkered down, Bitty and Beau’s Coffee has been forced to retrench after a cautious reopening.”

NiemanLab: Philly news outlets are collaborating to offer new kinds of COVID-19 coverage. “In this article, we explore the information needs of this community and other marginalized communities in the Philadelphia region. We follow [Solmaira] Valerio’s work to increase access to Spanish-language news, and how it converged with the efforts of three local journalism projects in Philadelphia: Kensington Voice, the Germantown Info Hub, and Resolve Philadelphia.”

GOVERNMENT

WBTV: North Carolina governor requires face masks in public amid coronavirus pandemic. ” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has announced that residents are now required to wear face masks in public and the state’s Phase 2 will continue for three more weeks as coronavirus cases continue to rise at an alarming rate. People must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Australia sends 1,000 army personnel to Victoria to fight outbreak. “Australia is sending 1,000 army personnel to Victoria amid a surge in virus cases in the south-eastern state. This comes after Victoria has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases in recent days, with 33 infections reported overnight.”

New York Times: How the Virus Won. “Invisible outbreaks sprang up everywhere. The United States ignored the warning signs. We analyzed travel patterns, hidden infections and genetic data to show how the epidemic spun out of control.”

Washington Post: Virginia poised to create first pandemic workplace safety mandates in nation, as Trump labor agency sits on sidelines. “Virginia took a big step on Wednesday toward ushering in a new set of coronavirus-era safety rules that companies would be forced to implement to protect workers from infection — a first in the country and potentially way forward for other states in the face of federal inaction.”

CNBC: New York, New Jersey and Connecticut impose 14-day quarantine on travelers from coronavirus hot-spot states. “Travelers arriving in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from Florida, Texas and other states with spiking Covid-19 infections rates will be subject to a 14-day quarantine and fines if they don’t self-isolate, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. ”

HEALTH

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Fort Worth couple married 53 years died of COVID-19 while holding each other’s hands. “Curtis and Betty Tarpley lay together in a hospital room in Fort Worth and held hands. They shared 53 years of marriage, two children, 159 years of life, and a slew of adventures that brought them from a high school in Illinois to a cozy home in Fort Worth. On June 18, as their fingers laced together, the Tarpleys took their last breath, their lives ended by an invisible virus that attacked their bodies for nearly two weeks.”

OUTBREAKS

The Hill: Florida sees 5,500 new coronavirus cases, shatters one-day record. “Florida recorded more than 5,500 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, an all-time high that shattered the previous record set just last week. Cases of the virus in Florida have been surging, and more than 109,000 infections have been reported in the state since March 1.”

New York Daily News: California shatters coronavirus record, with over 7,000 positive tests in single day for 1st time. “Health officials in California confirmed nearly 7,150 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, just a day after the number of daily positive tests topped 5,000 for the first time since the pandemic began months ago. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the rise is partly attributed to an increase in testing, but he warned the health crisis is far from over and the infection rate is also going up. The share of tests coming back positive in the state is now 5.1%, up from 4.6% a week ago.”

BBC: Coronavirus: ‘Very significant’ resurgences in Europe alarm WHO. “Europe has seen an increase in weekly cases of Covid-19 for the first time in months as restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus are eased, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. In 11 countries, which have not been named, accelerated transmission has led to ‘very significant’ resurgences, said Regional Director Dr Hans Henri Kluge.”

Reuters: New Delhi readies vast quarantine centre as coronavirus cases mount. “Nationally, a record 16,922 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, federal data released on Thursday showed, taking total cases in the country to nearly half a million with nearly 15,000 deaths. That is behind only the United States, Brazil and Russia, and five times that of China, that has a similar-sized population and where the virus originated late last year.”

CNN: The 3 most populous states are breaking coronavirus records, leading to fears of ‘apocalyptic’ surges. “Florida and Texas announced Wednesday that they’d recorded more than 5,000 new Covid-19 cases the prior day, a new daily record. California reported more than 7,000 cases, obliterating a record hit a day earlier. In Texas, if the current case trajectory continues, Houston could be the hardest-hit city in the US with numbers rivaling those in Brazil. Infection numbers are also rising in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.”

TECHNOLOGY

CBS Austin: Use of fax machines by Austin labs blamed for long wait times for coronavirus test results. “Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority for Austin Public Health, says he spent this past Sunday entering faxed test results into the data base. Even so, he says the drop in Monday’s numbers is partially a result of using an archaic method of compiling data.”

BetaNews: Data privacy and identity in the age of COVID-19. “With governments around the world rolling out contact tracing in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, access management company Okta has commissioned a survey of 12,000 people across six counties to discover how consumers feel about data privacy and identity. It finds that 84 percent of Americans are worried that data collection for COVID-19 containment will sacrifice too much of their privacy. A majority say they are uncomfortable with personally identifiable information (67 percent), bluetooth data (57 percent), medical data (53 percent), and location data (52 percent) being collected for COVID-19 purposes.”

RESEARCH

Florida Atlantic University: Covid-19 Knowledge Base And Risk Assessment Tool Is Powered By AI. “Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, in collaboration with FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, have received a one-year, $90,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) RAPID project grant to conduct research using social networks and machine learning, facilitated by molecular genetics and viral infection, for COVID-19 modeling and risk evaluation. The project will create a web-based COVID-19 knowledge base, as well as a risk evaluation tool for individuals to assess their infection risk in a dynamic environment.”

OH THAT’S SO NICE

Washington Post: She was furloughed from her job. So she became ‘Lasagna Lady’ and made 1,200 pans of free lasagna for those in need.. “First a retired neighbor showed up at her house, then an out-of-work friend came for a pan. After that, so many people started showing up, including strangers, that [Michelle] Brenner lost track. Nearly three months and 1,200 pans later, Brenner is still at it, boiling noodles, cooking ground beef, mixing up tomato sauce and layering mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan. About eight hours a day, seven days a week, she helps feed people in her community — from hospital workers and first responders to single parents struggling without paychecks.”

CRIME / SECURITY / LEGAL

Dallas News: Feds say Murphy man lied about having a business to pocket a $1.6 million Paycheck Protection loan. “The wedding-planning business his wife owned went bust in 2018. But that didn’t stop Fahad H. Shah from using the company to apply for a $1.6 million federal Paycheck Protection Program loan, prosecutors say. Shah, 44, of Murphy was charged last Thursday with fraud, accused of using the PPP loan proceeds to pay off the couple’s mortgage, buy a Tesla vehicle and boost his E-Trade investment account by $550,000, court records show.”

BuzzFeed News: A Judge Blocked The Deportation Of A 16-Year-Old Boy Who Claims Trump Is Using The Coronavirus As An Excuse. “A federal court judge on Wednesday blocked the deportation of a 16-year-old boy as part of the first legal challenge to a controversial Trump administration policy that has turned back thousands of immigrants at the southern border by citing the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit was filed in Washington, DC, by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a 16-year-old Honduran boy who fled to the US to seek protection from persecution in his home country. The teen, who was seeking to stop his imminent deportation, was the first to challenge an unprecedented policy that has all but shut down asylum at the southern border.”

OPINION

Route Fifty: The Dudes Who Won’t Wear Masks. “Americans are figuring out how to live with a deadly new virus now, just as gay men did in the early years of AIDS. Abstinence from sex wasn’t sustainable, and condoms became a ticket to greater sexual freedom. Likewise, Americans can’t abstain from human interaction forever, and widespread masking may be a ticket to more social and economic freedom. But trying to shame people into wearing condoms didn’t work—and it won’t work for masks either.”

New York Times: Can We Call Trump a Killer?. “Trump has consistently been resistant to testing, falsely claiming that an increase in testing is somehow linked to an increase in cases. But in fact, the more you test, the more you are able to control the virus by identifying, isolating and treating the infected, thereby reducing the spread of the virus. Testing is how you reduce your cases. It is also how you save lives. But Trump believes that to reveal the true extent of the virus’s presence in this country would make him look bad. So more people get sick and more people die.”

POLITICS

Ohio State News: Twitter posts reveal polarization in Congress on COVID-19. “The rapid politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen in messages members of the U.S. Congress sent about the issue on the social media site Twitter, a new analysis found. Using artificial intelligence and resources from the Ohio Supercomputer Center, researchers conducted an analysis that covered all 30,887 tweets that members sent about COVID-19 from the first one on Jan. 17 through March 31. The algorithm they created could correctly classify the political party of the member who sent each tweet 76 percent of the time, based only on the text of the tweet and the date it was sent.”

Politico: Trump team weighs a CDC scrubbing to deflect mounting criticism. “White House officials are putting a target on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, positioning the agency as a coronavirus scapegoat as cases surge in many states and the U.S. falls behind other nations that are taming the pandemic.”

Reuters: Approval of Trump’s coronavirus response sinks to lowest on record amid surge in cases: Reuters/Ipsos poll. “American approval of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has dropped to the lowest level on record, the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll shows, as new COVID-19 cases surged and Trump was widely criticized for suggesting he wanted to slow down testing.”

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