coronabuzz

Friday CoronaBuzz, June 26, 2020: 44 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 – STATE-SPECIFIC

KSBY: California rolls out new coronavirus ‘forecast’ model at local level. “The website offers three main sets of data. It includes NowCast, which gives the rate of spread of COVID-19. Scenarios, which show long-term scenarios estimating the effect of various non-pharmaceutical interventions. And short-term forecasts that take into account the most recent trends in cases, hospitalizations and deaths and apply statistical models to that data to generate anticipated trends in the coming 2-4 weeks.”

USEFUL STUFF

Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials: How to Tell the Difference Between Agoraphobia and Coronavirus Anxiety. “As more cities and states across the country continue to relax pandemic guidelines, many people may be experiencing anxiety about leaving their house for the first time in weeks or months, still fearful of becoming infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19). In fact, some may confuse this new anxiety with agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder in which people feel extreme fear, causing them to avoid places or situations that make them feel embarrassed, helpless, or threatened.”

UPDATES

Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama coronavirus spread continues as Montgomery deaths increase. “More people have died in the last 24 days than in the previous 80 days: 47 deaths have been reported since June 1, while a previous 40 fatalities were reported from March 13, when coronavirus was first diagnosed in Alabama, and May 31.”

Hindustan Times: US economic recovery looks to be weakening in some states with Covid outbreaks. “The US economic recovery is showing incipient signs of weakening in some states where coronavirus cases are mounting. The ebbing is evident in such high-frequency data as OpenTable restaurant reservations and follows a big bounce in activity as businesses reopened from lockdowns meant to check the spread of Covid-19.”

FACT CHECKS

AFP Fact Checking: False social media posts claim Israel has reported zero deaths from COVID-19 due to baking soda remedy. “Multiple posts shared repeatedly on Facebook and Twitter since March 2020 claim that Israel has reported zero deaths from the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The posts also claim Israeli citizens have protected themselves from COVID-19 by drinking a remedy of hot water, lemon and baking soda, which purportedly ‘kills’ the virus. Both claims are false; as of June 21 the World Health Organization (WHO) states Israel has reported 305 deaths from COVID-19; health experts say there is no evidence the baking soda concoction can cure or prevent COVID-19 infections.”

Newsweek: ‘Freedom to Breathe Agency’ Masks Exemption Cards Are Fake—How to Tell. “While it is true that businesses are not allowed to question the nature of a person’s disability or request documentation proving the ailment, when it comes to face masks, things get tricky. A number of states including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and others enforced rules requiring residents to wear face masks when visiting essential businesses or using public transportation due to the coronavirus pandemic back in April. In Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee issued a public health order on Tuesday requiring individuals to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces as well as outdoor public areas where social distance guidelines can’t be regulated.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

CNET: YouTube views of sourdough videos jumped 400% in coronavirus lockdown. “YouTube’s average daily views of videos related to sourdough leapt more than 400% between March 15 through the end of May compared with the two-and-a-half month period that preceded it, the Google-owned video company said Thursday. Average daily views of videos with ‘workout at home’ in the title increased more than 200% since March 15 compared with their average for the rest of the year.”

Poynter: COVID-19 is canceling public fireworks displays. Meanwhile, annoying all-night explosions are booming.. “Since communities around the country have canceled their big fireworks displays so as not to attract crowds during a pandemic, people seem to be buying lots of fireworks to shoot off in the backyard.”

ABC News: 89% of Americans wear masks in public as the coronavirus pandemic persists: POLL. “An overwhelming majority of Americans say they’ve worn a face mask in public in the last week, as the coronavirus pandemic persists and infections reach new highs in more than a dozen states, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds. Nearly nine in 10 Americans (89%) who left their home in the last week said they wore a face mask or a face covering, compared to only 11% who said they did not.”

INSTITUTIONS

Institute of Museum and Library Services: Mellon Foundation Invests $1.5 Million in Federal COVID-19 Research Project to Support Libraries, Museums Reopening. “The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced the receipt of a $1,500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support materials research for collections care and the reopening of libraries and museums during the COVID-19 pandemic. As libraries and museums around the country begin to resume operations and reopen to the public, the need for clear information to support the handling of core museum, library, and archival materials has become increasingly urgent.”

TechCabal: COVID-19 is quietly threatening the future of Nigeria’s news media. “As print media becomes more expensive to operate, news publications are switching to the internet. Fortunately, online news consumption is high thanks to the pandemic and virus control measures. Internet service providers say data subscription has spiked as more people stay at home. By recently increasing their digital footprints, news publications are competing for an even smaller online revenue stream. Google and Facebook dominate the online advertising business. Nigerian news media, like other countries, have no leverage capable of getting these platforms to fork out a greater part of their revenue.”

BUSINESS / CORPORATIONS

CNN: Disney is postponing the reopening of Disneyland . “Disney is delaying the phased reopening of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, the company’s flagship theme parks in California, the company said on Wednesday. The resort, located in Anaheim, California, was set to welcome back guests on July 17 after being closed for months because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Preview: More Houston restaurants forced to close during COVID-19 spike. “Texas’ alarming spike in coronavirus cases coincides with more hits to the local restaurant and bar industry. On Thursday the statewide total of new COVID-19 cases increased by nearly 6,000 – the state’s highest single-day increase. A new round of temporarily restaurant closures also marked the past few days.”

NBC News: Macy’s to slash 3,900 jobs as coronavirus continues to hammer sales. “Macy’s announced Thursday it is laying off 3,900 corporate jobs, or 3 percent of its total workforce, in a move to cut costs as its business has been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. The department store chain said it expects to save about $365 million through the layoffs in fiscal 2020. It said it will save roughly $630 million on an annualized basis.”

GOVERNMENT

Washington Post: Treasury sent more than 1 million coronavirus stimulus payments to dead people, congressional watchdog finds. “The federal government sent coronavirus stimulus payments to almost 1.1 million dead people totaling nearly $1.4 billion, Congress’ independent watchdog reported Thursday. The Washington Post previously reported that the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service disbursed some payments of up to $1,200 each to dead people. But the astonishing scope of the problem had not been known.”

ProPublica: Stop Seizing Paychecks, Senators Write to Capital One and Other Debt Collectors. “Wage garnishments ordered before the pandemic started have continued for many workers during the recession. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown have demanded an end to the practice.”

CBS News: Trump administration to stop funding 13 COVID community test sites. “The Trump administration is ending federal funding of 13 coronavirus community-based test sites in five states on June 30, a senior Health and Human Services Department official told CBS News, after having extended the funding once because states said they were not prepared to take over the sites. The HHS official stated that the administration isn’t ‘defunding’ or ‘closing’ federal testing sites — the money was provided to states through the Paycheck Protection Program to fund their testing efforts.”

Washington Post: More than 13,000 federal workers face a possible furlough of 30 days or longer. “Three-fourths of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services workforce — more than 13,000 employees — could be told as soon as Wednesday that they face extended furloughs starting Aug. 3 that would cut off their salaries and severely curtail the agency’s work, the union representing the employees has said. The agency has said it will need to take that action unless it receives a cash infusion from Congress because the fees from visa and citizenship applications and other services it provides are down sharply in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Those fees largely fund the operations of USCIS, which is a component of the Department of Homeland Security.”

Slate: States Are Focused on Reopening. But What About Reclosing?. “…after talking with experts and reviewing several areas’ reopening documents, I’ve learned that it appears there are no specific criteria in place for what would—or should—trigger a selective or mass shutdown. And even worse, local, regional, and state governments seem unwilling to broach the topic with citizens, despite experts’ predictions that the virus will ebb and flow for the next several months.”

Route Fifty: One State is Manufacturing Free Masks for Any Resident Who Wants One. “Masks aren’t mandatory in most public places in Utah. But Gov. Gary Herbert’s administration encourages people to wear them—and, since April, has provided more than a million masks to residents for free, courtesy of a public-private partnership between the state and area manufacturers.”

GAO Blog: GAO’s review of the federal response to COVID-19. “Facing unprecedented national public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies moved swiftly to distribute funds and implement programs to help people and businesses. But, as a tradeoff for that speedy response, agencies have made only limited progress so far in achieving transparency and accountability goals. On June 25, we issued our first audit report on the federal response to COVID-19 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and other relief laws. The CARES Act requires GAO to issue bi-monthly reports through the first year of the law, in addition to several other related studies. Today’s WatchBlog explores what we’ve found so far.”

INDIVIDUALS / BANDS / GROUPS

ProPublica: The Governor Urged Businesses to Reopen Safely, but a Restaurant at His Luxury Resort Didn’t, Complaints Say. “West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice allowed bars and restaurants to reopen in late May. Since then, a steakhouse at the luxury resort he owns has received repeated complaints for not reopening safely. A health inspector called it an ‘unnecessary risk.'”

EDUCATION

Mashable: The online lesson plan marketplace boomed when the pandemic hit. “The coronavirus pandemic has upended life as we know it, mandating we sequester ourselves to slow the spread of a potentially deadly illness that has killed hundreds of thousands of people globally. That reality presents a whole host of complications to everyday life. One major issue: How do we educate our kids?”

HEALTH

AZ Central: ‘I didn’t take this seriously’: Tempe man with COVID-19 says he regrets sharing drinks in bar. “He was admitted June 15 to Banner Baywood Medical Center with COVID-19 and pneumonia after experiencing body aches, nasal congestion, fatigue, headaches, chills, sweating, shortness of breath, and other symptoms, according to [Jimmy] Flores. Flores is one of the thousands of confirmed new COVID-19 cases in the month since Gov. Doug Ducey lifted the stay-at-home order in Arizona, which saw an increase of a record 3,591 new cases reported Tuesday. Face masks became mandatory across Maricopa County within the last week to help slow the spread of the virus.”

Reuters: U.S. group raises pricing recommendation for Gilead’s remdesivir in COVID-19. “Gilead Sciences Inc’s (GILD.O) antiviral remdesivir could be priced up to $5,080 per course based on benefits shown in COVID-19 patients, a U.S. drug pricing research group suggested on Wednesday, above its prior recommendation of around $4,500.”

Route Fifty: Cities Brace For ‘Collision Course’ Of Heat Waves And COVID-19. “Across the country, authorities are finding that their usual strategies for protecting people against heat-related health problems are in direct conflict with their strategies for containing the coronavirus.”

Slate: How Florida Hospitals Are Handling the Coronavirus Surge. “While the pandemic has been described as a matter of waves, Florida never saw an end to its first: it has only experienced a growth in cases since March. The scenario health experts warned of appears to have finally caught up with the state, including a significant spike in mid-June, a week or so after it began its second phase of reopening. Slate spoke with Dr. Minal Ahson, a University of South Florida Health Med-Peds Hospitalist in Tampa, about what this surge in cases looks like on the ground and how it hits differently four months into the pandemic. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Vaccine alliance finds manufacturing capacity for 4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines. “An influential foundation focused on preparation and response to epidemics that is backing nine potential coronavirus vaccines has identified manufacturers with capacity to produce four billion doses a year, the group’s top manufacturing expert told Reuters.”

San Francisco Chronicle: UC health experts: San Quentin coronavirus outbreak could pose threat to entire Bay Area. “A team of UC Berkeley and UCSF health experts warned prison medical officials nearly two weeks ago that they’d need to cut the population of San Quentin State Prison in half to avoid a potentially ‘catastrophic’ outbreak there. But prison officials didn’t heed the warning and since then, confirmed coronavirus infections among prisoners have rocketed from 48 to 456, far outpacing any other facility in the state and overwhelming a system that waited too long to react.”

OUTBREAKS

NBC News: Texas pauses reopening as hospitals inundated with ‘explosion’ of COVID-19 cases. “The governor of Texas hit the brakes on reopening his state Thursday as hospitals were inundated with ‘an explosion’ of new COVID-19 cases and officials warned there might not be enough beds available.”

WFAA: North Texas family shaken after 18 relatives test positive for COVID-19 following family gathering. “As North Texas watches COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge, one family is shouldering a health crisis that they never expected to face. That crisis, all began on May 30 when just a single relative, unknowingly infected with COVID-19, interacted with seven family members at a surprise birthday party who later tested positive. Now, Ron Barbosa is keeping track of 18 people in his family who have tested positive for COVID-19.”

TECHNOLOGY

ITPro Today: Meet the Groundswell of Open Source COVID-19 Efforts. “Open source communities around the world have been on the forefront of assisting medical researchers, health care professionals and government health agencies with research on the coronavirus responsible for the rapid spread of COVID-19 around the world.”

RESEARCH

Science Focus: Coronavirus: simple salt water solution ‘could help reduce symptoms’. “A simple saltwater solution could help reduce early symptoms and the progression of coronavirus, new research has suggested. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh believe sea salt could boost the antiviral defence of cells that kicks in when you are affected by a cold. The new study builds on a trial published in 2019, which found participants who gargled and cleared their nose with a saltwater solution had fewer coughs and less congestion.”

Wired: Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals Don’t Really Do Their Job. “Instead of showing (once again) that formal peer review is vital for good science, the last few months could just as well suggest the opposite. To me, at least—someone who’s served as an editor at seven different journals, and editor in chief at two—the recent spate of decisions to bypass traditional peer review gives the lie to a pair of myths that researchers have encouraged the public to believe for years: First, that peer-reviewed journals publish only trustworthy science; and second, that trustworthy science is published only in peer-reviewed journals.”

Reuters: Coronavirus may have infected 10 times more Americans than reported, CDC says. “Government experts believe more than 20 million Americans could have contracted the coronavirus, 10 times more than official counts, indicating many people without symptoms have or have had the disease, senior administration officials said.”

Washington Post: New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic. “In recent weeks, three studies have focused on conservative media’s role in fostering confusion about the seriousness of the coronavirus. Taken together, they paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others.”

CRIME / SECURITY / LEGAL

ProPublica: He Removed Labels That Said “Medical Use Prohibited,” Then Tried to Sell Thousands of Masks to Officials Who Distribute to Hospitals . “Lucas Rensko was making money through a popular handyman-for-hire app called TaskRabbit, doing odd jobs and delivering groceries, when he picked up a task that led him to a leaky-roofed warehouse on a tattered road in northwest San Antonio. Inside, a man named Jaime Rivera had set up long tables where five or six other ‘Taskers’ earning about $20 an hour were ripping Chinese masks out of plastic bags and stuffing them into new ones that were identical but for one potentially deadly difference. The old packages were labeled in all caps ‘MEDICAL USE PROHIBITED,’ meaning not to be used by doctors and nurses who need the strongest protection from tiny particles carrying the novel coronavirus. The new bags, intended to make their way to Texas hospitals, simply omitted that warning.”

BBC: Illegal lockdown parties hosted in online rentals. “Lockdown parties hosted in properties booked via online sites, including Airbnb and Booking.com, are putting ‘communities at risk’, the Bed and Breakfast Association has said. Hosts and residents have complained of groups of up to 30 breaking social-distancing rules and taking drugs. BBC News has been told of several such parties in the past month.”

Politico: Court rebukes Justice Department move in Hawaii quarantine case. “A judge appointed by President Donald Trump has rebuffed the administration’s bid to bolster a lawsuit challenging Hawaii’s strict quarantine rules for those arriving from out-of-state. The unexpected move by U.S. District Court Judge Jill Otake in Honolulu appears to be the first serious judicial resistance to the drive that Attorney General William Barr announced in April to scrutinize state and local lockdown measures aimed at containing the coronavirus.”

AM NY: EXCLUSIVE: Lawyer representing 15 minor league clubs suing insurers over coronavirus damages maps out case. “Up to 15 minor-league baseball teams are suing five-different insurance companies to recover financial losses experienced during the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit, which will be held in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is being led by Robin Cohen of McKool Smith and Andy Sandler of Mitchell Sandler.”

POLITICS

CNN: Multiple Trump campaign staffers quarantining after Tulsa rally. “All of President Donald Trump’s campaign staffers who attended his rally in Tulsa on Saturday are quarantining this week after interacting with several colleagues later tested positive for coronavirus, CNN has learned. The campaign did not immediately return a CNN request for comment.”

The Hill: White House says Trump won’t follow NJ quarantine order. “The White House has indicated that President Trump will not be quarantining for the required 14 days when he visits New Jersey this weekend. ‘The president of the United States is not a civilian,’ White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to The Hill on Thursday.”

NBC News: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice forces out top health official, questions accuracy of coronavirus data amid outbreaks. “West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice forced out the commissioner of his public health bureau on Wednesday, hours after he publicly questioned the accuracy of the state’s coronavirus data and detailed growing outbreaks in about a dozen counties. The abrupt resignation of Cathy Slemp, who was also a state health officer, came after the Republican governor vented during a news conference that West Virginia’s active virus caseload may have been overstated.”

NBC News: Biden ties COVID-19 to Trump’s ‘callous’ Obamacare assault: ‘A new pre-existing condition’. “Joe Biden on Thursday warned that President Donald Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act will have disastrous consequences on Americans who become infected with the coronavirus, demanding in a fiery speech that the ‘callous’ president end a lawsuit that is seeking to terminate the landmark health care law.”

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