coronabuzz

Tuesday CoronaBuzz, June 30, 2020: 43 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. Wear a mask if you go out. Please be careful. I love you.

NEW RESOURCES – MEDICAL/HEALTH

NextGov: VA Launches Digital COVID-19 Screening App for Patients and Employees. “The app—accessible online, by texting ‘SCREEN’ to 53079 or by scanning a QR code—asks six questions to gauge an individual’s exposure to and likelihood of having contracted COVID-19. Upon arrival at a VA facility, staff will meet people at the entrance, take a look at the results of the survey and either allow them to enter or direct them to a separate area for additional screening.”

Engineering and Technology: Covid-19 dashboard forecasts local ‘pressure points’ across UK. “Researchers from Oxford University’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science have created an online tool which combines data from multiple sources and identifies likely Covid-19 ‘pressure points’.”

Purdue University: How have people responded to COVID-19 restrictions around the world?. “Public camera footage of how people have responded so far to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines in spaces such as tourist spots and busy street corners could help inform new policies as the pandemic progresses. But that footage is scattered all over the internet. Purdue University engineers built a website that pools together live footage and images from approximately 30,000 network cameras in more than 100 countries, making data easier to analyze.”

EurekAlert: The MIT Press and UC Berkeley launch Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 journal. “The MIT Press announced today the launch of Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 (RR:C19), an open access, rapid-review overlay journal that will accelerate peer review of COVID-19-related research and deliver real-time, verified scientific information that policymakers and health leaders can use.”

NEW RESOURCES – LEGAL / SECURITY / PRIVACY / FINANCIAL

ABA Journal: Small businesses have COVID-19 questions, and the legal profession is working to answer them . “Through its Lowcountry COVID-19 Small Business/Non-Profit Legal Clinic, Charleston Legal Access works with Am Law 100 firms Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough and Jackson Lewis as well as fellow nonprofit Lowcountry Local First to provide free legal advice to local businesses with 25 or fewer employees during 45-minute telephone or video calls. They also assist other nonprofit organizations. The clinic is one of eight launched and supported by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation, a nonprofit network of more than 125,000 legal advocates, throughout the country starting in New York City and extending as far as Washington state. It provides the clinic framework, client intake form templates and an online database, which is used to assign client matters to volunteer attorneys and track the outcome of those matters.”

NEW RESOURCES – STATE-SPECIFIC

News Channel 20: IDPH map shows COVID-19 risk by county. “As the number of COVID-19 cases in some parts of the country are seeing substantial increases, there is now a new tool in Illinois to keep track of the pandemic in your area. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is offering an even closer look at the COVID-19 risks in each Illinois county.”

USEFUL STUFF

Science Blog: Still Confused About Masks? Here’s The Science Behind How Face Masks Prevent Coronavirus. “Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization now recommend cloth masks for the general public, but earlier in the pandemic, both organizations recommended just the opposite. These shifting guidelines may have sowed confusion among the public about the utility of masks. But health experts say the evidence is clear that masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that the more people wearing masks, the better. We talked to UC San Francisco epidemiologist George Rutherford, MD, and infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, MD, about the CDC’s reversal on mask-wearing, the current science on how masks work, and what to consider when choosing a mask.”

FACT CHECKS

12 News: Verify: Contrary to social media claims, there’s no evidence Arizona is ‘double-counting’ positive tests for coronavirus. “You may have noticed more than a few social media skeptics about Arizona’s soaring coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. They just don’t trust the numbers. We verified whether the state Department of Health Services, the repository of the data, is ‘double-counting’ positive coronavirus tests. On Sunday, Arizona posted a single-day record high of 3,857 cases. Before Gov. Doug Ducey reopened the state six weeks ago, 1 in 20 tests was positive. Today, 1 in every 5 tests are returning as positive, according to DHS.”

CNET: 11 coronavirus health myths, fact checked. “Well before the coronavirus was named a pandemic by the World Health Organization, people started sharing all sorts of questionable advice on how to protect yourself from getting infected, ranging from misguided (like making your own hand sanitizer) to outright dangerous (like injecting bleach into your body). It’s reached the point where Facebook has moved to ban any ads promoting fake coronavirus cures. In an effort to get the facts straight, we’re going to bust these common coronavirus myths that have taken over our feeds.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

BBC: Coronavirus: UK economy hit worse than first thought. “The UK economy shrank more than first thought between January and March, contracting 2.2% in the joint largest fall since 1979, official figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revised down its previous estimate of a 2% contraction, with all the main economic sectors dropping.”

Phys .org: Post-COVID, more in West see China as major power: study. “The coronavirus pandemic has led a growing number of Westerners to see China as a top power, with the lead of the United States slipping, a study said Tuesday. A survey of French, German and US opinion released by the German Marshall Fund of the United States found significant increases in perceptions of Chinese influence since the outbreak of COVID-19—in which Beijing has alternately been portrayed as a culprit and an aid provider.”

MSN Money: Banks Have No Idea Who’s Creditworthy Anymore. “Lenders that are having a tough time spotting risky loan applicants are approving fewer borrowers for credit cards, auto loans and other consumer debt. They are also hunting for new data sets that could indicate who is in financial trouble and how much they need to set aside to cover soured loans. The Federal Reserve last week said the biggest U.S. banks could be saddled with as much as $700 billion in loan losses in a prolonged downturn.”

GOVERNMENT

NJ .com: N.J. restaurants NOT reopening for indoor dining this week after ‘knucklehead’ crowds at bars ruin it for everyone. “New Jersey will not reopen indoor dining this week as planned in the first major reversal of the state’s Phase 2 coronavirus reopening plan, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday. Indoor dining was scheduled to resume Thursday along with several other big reopening steps including Atlantic City casinos, amusement parks, boardwalk rides and arcades ahead of the busy July 4th weekend. The canceled reopening also includes wedding venues and banquet halls. But the reopening of casinos remains scheduled for Thursday.”

NBC News: European Union bars travelers from U.S. citing coronavirus concerns. “Most travelers from the United States will be barred from entering the European Union after it reopens its borders Wednesday because the coronavirus is still far too prevalent in the U.S., European officials announced Tuesday.”

EDUCATION

NPR: U.S. Pediatricians Call For In-Person School This Fall. “The nation’s pediatricians have come out with a strong statement in favor of bringing children back to the classroom this fall wherever and whenever they can do so safely. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidance ‘strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.'”

HEALTH

BBC: Covid-19: China pushes traditional remedies amid outbreak. “As scientists race to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, Beijing has been championing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a way to treat the disease. A recent white paper released by the Chinese government claimed that 92% of the country’s Covid-19 cases were treated in some way with it.”

New York Times: ‘They Want to Kill Me’: Many Covid Patients Have Terrifying Delirium. “Kim Victory was paralyzed on a bed and being burned alive. Just in time, someone rescued her, but suddenly, she was turned into an ice sculpture on a fancy cruise ship buffet. Next, she was a subject of an experiment in a lab in Japan. Then she was being attacked by cats. Nightmarish visions like these plagued Ms. Victory during her hospitalization this spring for severe respiratory failure caused by the coronavirus. They made her so agitated that one night, she pulled out her ventilator breathing tube; another time, she fell off a chair and landed on the floor of the intensive care unit.”

CNBC: CDC says U.S. has ‘way too much virus’ to control pandemic as cases surge across country. “The coronavirus is spreading too rapidly and too broadly for the U.S. to bring it under control, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.”

BBC: Coronavirus overwhelms Afghanistan’s war-ravaged hospitals. “Doctors say the already weak healthcare system in the war-torn country is struggling to cope with the pressure of Covid-19. Concerns have been raised about the supply of oxygen and other resources to government hospitals. A doctor in Kabul described patients’ families having to ‘fight for oxygen’ when cylinders arrived, before bringing it to the intensive care unit themselves.”

Bloomberg: Virus Testing Shortfalls Cause Lines to Build in Hard-Hit States. “The U.S. is again grappling with a shortfall of testing that has hobbled the nation since the pandemic’s early weeks, and now threatens to further undermine containment efforts at a crucial moment. In new hot spots like Arizona, Texas and Florida, where Covid-19 is rapidly spreading, lines for testing extend outside of urgent-care offices and other sites. Two high-school football stadiums in Houston regularly hit capacity by mid-morning and have to turn people away.”

Washington Post: Millions track the pandemic on Johns Hopkins’s dashboard. Those who built it say some miss the real story.. “Since launching in January, the university’s Coronavirus Resource Center has exploded in scope and popularity, garnering millions of page views and popping up in news coverage and daily conversation. Through numbers, the tracker has told the story of what the virus is doing while the story is still unfolding, offering a nearly real-time picture of its silent march across the globe. But even as data has jumped to the forefront of international discussions about the virus, the Johns Hopkins team wrestles with doubts about whether the numbers can truly capture the scope of the pandemic, and whether the public and policymakers are failing to absorb the big picture. They know what they are producing is not a high-resolution snapshot of the pandemic but a constantly shifting Etch a Sketch of the trail of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.”

OUTBREAKS

CNET: Coronavirus cases hit 10 million as outbreaks surge in the US, Brazil and India. “The daily number of coronavirus cases continues to rise across the globe, with the World Health Organization on Sunday reporting the highest number of recorded cases in a 24-hour period. The increase saw the pandemic reach another grim milestone as the total number of confirmed cases crossed 10 million with 500,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 database. Over 5 million are listed as recovered.”

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County issues dire warning amid ‘alarming increases’ in coronavirus cases. “Los Angeles County health officials issued a dire warning Monday that conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic are deteriorating rapidly and the highly contagious virus is spreading swiftly in the nation’s most populous county. They said they are now faced with one of their biggest fears: that the reopening of L.A. County would coincide with sudden jumps in disease transmission that have the potential to overwhelm public and private hospitals.”

Huffington Post: Officials Trace More Than 100 Coronavirus Cases To Michigan Bar. “At least 107 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been linked to a bar in Michigan. Some 95 people who visited Harper’s Restaurant & Brewpub in East Lansing June 12-20 have now tested positive for COVID-19, Ingham County Health Department announced Monday.” Initial reporting put the number at about 85.

San Antonio Express-News: Bexar County coronavirus cases soar above 10,000. “With San Antonio’s coronavirus crisis at a critical stage, topping more than 10,000 cases Sunday, local officials are asking the state to send medical professionals to staff a 250-bed field hospital in Freeman Coliseum that would accommodate an expected flood of new patients.”

TECHNOLOGY

Daily Herald Business Ledger: Pandemic internet aid is ending, but digital divide remains. “Earlier this year, to help students and teachers finish the disrupted school year online, Charter, Comcast, AT&T and others began providing free internet. They also pledged not to cut off service or charge late fees to customers struggling financially because of the pandemic. Now, several of those programs are set to end in the coming weeks — a looming expiration that, if left unaddressed, threatens to unravel a precarious thread of the social safety net at a particularly difficult time for many American families.”

Fortune: Google gets mixed reviews for its coronavirus aid initiative. “A Google program announced with big fanfare three months ago to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic is being criticized for the inconsistent amounts of aid it has provided to recipients and its limited financial impact.”

CNET: Coronavirus, BLM protest conspiracy theories collide on Facebook and Twitter. “A pandemic, societal protests and a contentious election have created an especially challenging environment for Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Content moderators and fact-checkers are struggling to prevent the spread of obvious misinformation while giving users space to voice their opinions. The problem has gotten knottier for the online platforms as false claims about both the health crisis and Floyd’s killing collide, making content moderation decisions — taxing in the best of situations — even tougher.”

CanIndia News: Google tests tool to show COVID-19’s impact at community level. “Google on Monday said it is piloting a new feature in partnership with local news publishers to understand how COVID-19 is impacting different communities. The company said it would test the News feature in a few geographic areas in the US and Canada in the COVID-19 special section of the app, where users can view community reopening timelines, plus updates around business and school openings.”

EurekAlert: Researchers use machine learning to build COVID-19 predictions. ” As parts of the U.S. tentatively reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s long-term health continues to depend on tracking the virus and predicting where it might surge next. Finding the right computer models can be tricky, but two researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York believe they have an innovative way to solve those problems, and they are sharing their work online. Using data collected from around the world by Johns Hopkins University, Arti Ramesh and Anand Seetharam — both assistant professors in the Department of Computer Science — have built several prediction models that take advantage of artificial intelligence. Assisting the research is PhD student Raushan Raj.”

RESEARCH

Scientific American: Hospitals Experiment with COVID-19 Treatments, Balancing Hope and Evidence. “Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist, was standing with a group of physicians outside the doors of the intensive care unit at Plainview Hospital on Long Island, N.Y., in late February. Layered in protective gowns, masks, and gloves and standing six feet apart to maintain social distancing, the doctors swapped stories about their COVID-19 patients.”

ScienceBlog: New Approach To Extend Shelf Life For N95 Mask. “A Purdue University team has come up with an approach to extend the shelf life for an N95 mask, which is one of the pieces of personal protective equipment being used by health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Purdue innovators developed a technique that focuses on the elastic band that attaches to the front of the mask.”

Washington Post: This coronavirus mutation has taken over the world. Scientists are trying to understand why.. “When the first coronavirus cases in Chicago appeared in January, they bore the same genetic signatures as a germ that emerged in China weeks before. But as Egon Ozer, an infectious-disease specialist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, examined the genetic structure of virus samples from local patients, he noticed something different.”

CNET: Here’s the truth about the new swine flu with ‘pandemic potential’. “The coronavirus pandemic isn’t even close to being over and, if you read the latest headlines, there’s a potential new pandemic right around the corner. This one’s caused by influenza — the virus that causes the ‘flu’ — and the culprit was discovered circulating in pigs in China. But, the headlines are overdoing it a little. Let’s set the record straight.”

STAT News: Researchers report nearly 300 cases of inflammatory syndrome tied to Covid-19 in kids. “Two U.S. research groups have reported finding nearly 300 cases of an alarming apparent side effect of Covid-19 in children, a condition called multisystem inflammation syndrome, or MIS-C. While researchers have previously reported on the condition, the papers mark the first attempt to measure how frequently the side effect occurs and how it affects children who develop it.”

OH THAT’S SO NICE

New York Times: With Flights Banned, Son Sails Solo Across Atlantic to Reach Father, 90. “Days after Argentina canceled all international passenger flights to shield the country from the new coronavirus, Juan Manuel Ballestero began his journey home the only way possible: He stepped aboard his small sailboat for what turned out to be an 85-day odyssey across the Atlantic. The 47-year-old sailor could have stayed put on the tiny Portuguese island of Porto Santo, to ride out the era of lockdowns and social distancing in a scenic place largely spared by the virus. But the idea of spending what he thought could be ‘the end of the world’ away from his family, especially his father who was soon to turn 90, was unbearable.”

CRIME / SECURITY / LEGAL

BBC: How hackers extorted $1.14m from University of California, San Francisco. “A leading medical-research institution working on a cure for Covid-19 has admitted it paid hackers a $1.14m (£910,000) ransom after a covert negotiation witnessed by BBC News.”

Vox: How Trump gave insurance companies free rein to sell bad health plans. “Amid a raging pandemic and skyrocketing unemployment, those subpar plans are making a comeback. The US uninsured rate has begun ticking up again recently, and it’s poised to soar this year. As millions of Americans cope with the coronavirus crisis and lose their jobs and employer-sponsored health insurance, experts expect that many may undertake the same journey that Lawley did — and end up victims of misleading marketing, weak health insurance, and the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda.”

OPINION

New York Times: Remote School Is a Nightmare. Few in Power Care.. “With expanded unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of July, many parents will have no choice but to return to work by September. Even for parents who can work from home, home schooling is often a crushing burden that’s destroying careers, mental health and family relationships. And online school has had dismal results, especially for poor, black and Hispanic students.”

POLITICS

Politico: A Sun Belt time bomb threatens Trump’s reelection. “Republican governors in Florida, Arizona and Texas followed Trump’s lead by quickly reopening their states while taking a lax approach to social distancing and mask-wearing. Now each of them is seeing skyrocketing coronavirus caseloads and rising hospitalizations, and Republican leaders are in retreat. It’s hard to overstate the gravity of the situation for Trump: Lose any one of the three states, and his reelection is all but doomed.”

New York Times: Jacksonville, Trump’s New Convention Site, Will Now Require Face Masks. “Republicans moved their national convention to Florida to avoid social distancing measures and masks, but officials in Jacksonville are mandating new precautions as coronavirus infections surge.”

Politico: Behind the Trump team’s U-turn, mounting fears about a mission-accomplished message. “The vice president worried that a weeks-long public hiatus by his coronavirus task force had created an information void that contributed to a sharp rise in confirmed cases across the southern and western United States. With a televised briefing on Friday, organized at Pence’s direction on a day’s notice, the group revealed an undercurrent of fear behind the scenes of the federal government as the virus mounted its resurgence. Over the weekend, Pence stepped up his urgency. Other Trump officials and allies issued stark new warnings as case counts soared in some of the nation’s largest states. And the machinery that had lined up behind President Donald Trump’s mission-accomplished message suddenly started to fade away.”

Argus Leader: South Dakota health experts warn Mount Rushmore fireworks could cause coronavirus spike. “The July 3 fireworks, which President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend, will be the first at Mount Rushmore National Monument in a decade and comes three months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Health professionals in South Dakota are concerned the lack of mitigation efforts expected at the event could cause the coronavirus to spread in the communities surrounding Mount Rushmore and in communities where attendees live following the event.”

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