coronabuzz

Wednesday CoronaBuzz, July 1, 2020: 45 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Wash your hands and stay at home as much as you can. When you go out, please wear a mask. Please be careful. I love you.

NEW RESOURCES – EDUCATION/ENTERTAINMENT

CNET: Microsoft offers free digital-skills training amid COVID-19 jobs crisis. “Microsoft launched an initiative Tuesday aimed at offering digital-skills training to 25 million people around the world by the end of 2020. As part of the initiative, the company will be providing free access to educational content on LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and GitHub Learning Lab.”

NEW RESOURCES – STATE-SPECIFIC

MLive: Free Michigan coronavirus testing easy to locate with state’s new website. “After visiting the state’s new coronavirus test site locator website, simply enter your city or ZIP code and how far you are willing to travel. The new tool will generate a list of available testing sites with the location’s criteria for testing. Users may also check various boxes based on their personal situation, such as if they are not insured, require free testing, aren’t exhibiting symptoms or don’t have a testing prescription from a doctor.”

WILK (Pennsylvania): Department of Health Launches COVID-19 ‘Early Warning’ Monitoring. “The Department of Health today launched an online early warning monitoring dashboard that provides information statewide and county COVID-19 prevalence to track increases in disease in the community on a weekly basis.”

WUSA: Did your landlord receive a mortgage deferral? This new online tool holds DC landlords accountable. “Back in April, DC Council passed emergency COVID-19 legislation that required mortgage lenders to offer deferrals to property owners. The legislation also called for those property owners to pass that same relief on to their renters. DISB, the District’s Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking created a tool that allows renters to hold their landlords accountable. It’s called the mortgage deferment locator tool.”

KJZZ: New Program Provides Free Crisis Counseling To Arizonans Impacted By Coronavirus. “The Resilient Arizona Crisis Counseling program is now available for free to people statewide. It’s being done in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) at the federal level, and the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) at the state level.” This is mostly an audio article, but the text appears to contain all the salient information.

Alabama Public Health: Color-coded system guides COVID-19 reopening recommendations. “Calculation for each county’s risk of COVID-19 spread in the community is based on the increasing or decreasing trend in the number of new cases each day. The number of new cases each day is determined with a rolling 3-day average to account for fluctuations in reporting. The main indicator for decreasing risk of COVID-19 spread in the community is the number of days the county has experienced a downward trend of new cases. Several factors can influence a county’s number of new COVID-19 cases, so other factors are examined to additionally inform the level of a county. A detailed explanation of how the overall risk level is determined is located on the COVID-19 Risk Indicator Dashboard. A color-coded state map displays four risk levels: very high, high, moderate and low indicated in red, orange, yellow and green, respectively.”

USEFUL STUFF

CNBC: Therapists share how to manage anxiety over returning to work. “As some businesses reopen and people get called back to work, while others slow or reverse their plans altogether, CNBC Make It spoke with psychologists for tips on how to manage anxiety when returning to work and public life.”

UPDATES

CNET: Baseball is coming back: Dates, locations and how to watch MLB’s return. “After the coronavirus postponed the start of the baseball season, and shut down nearly everything else, baseball is finally set to return with a 60 game season mandated by Commissioner Rob Manfred. Negotiations between the league and the MLB Players Association haven’t been pretty, with weeks of back-and-forth proposals that played out in the media without reaching a resolution before a season was finally imposed. Even now, a handful of players including the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman have announced they’re sitting out the shortened season and more might follow. There is still a lot to be sorted before the first pitches are thrown, but here’s everything we know so far about the MLB’s eagerly awaited start.”

FACT CHECKS

Poynter: Sarah Sanders didn’t tweet this COVID-19 conspiracy theory. “The tweet was like a word cloud of popular conspiracy theory topics: COVID-19, Russia, antifa and Hillary Clinton. And it looked like it came from former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Sanders has a couple verified Twitter accounts: @SHSanders45, where she last tweeted in 2019, @SarahHuckabee, where she actively tweets today. And she once tweeted from the handle @PressSec. But an image being shared on Facebook that looks like she tweeted a conspiracy theory from yet another account is not actually from Sanders.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

Pew (PEW PEW PEW PEW PEW PEW PEW!- yes, I must do it here too.): Three Months In, Many Americans See Exaggeration, Conspiracy Theories and Partisanship in COVID-19 News. “As Americans continue to process a steady flow of information about the coronavirus outbreak – from changing infection and death rates to new testing protocols and evolving social distancing guidelines – they give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health organizations the highest rating when it comes to getting the facts right. And they give Donald Trump and his administration the lowest rating for ‘getting the facts right’ among five key sources of COVID-19 information, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 9,654 U.S. adults conducted June 4-10, 2020, as part of the American News Pathways project.”

Bandwagon: Here is the future of music: monetized livestreams. “Since the start of quarantine, there has been an influx of livestream content, with many artists flocking to platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Instagram to perform and connect with their fans. On Twitch alone, there was a 524% rise in viewership hours during March, on the platform’s music and performing arts category. Instagram Live also saw a 70% surge in usage that same month. Despite the increased interaction between musicians and their audiences, most of these online concerts come free of charge, thus, threatening how the music industry makes money.”

New York Times: Fighting Over Masks in Public Is the New American Pastime. “On any given day, somewhere in the United States, someone is going to wake up, leave the house and get in a huge argument with a stranger about wearing masks. Grocery store managers are training staff on how to handle screaming customers. Fistfights are breaking out at convenience stores. Some restaurants even say they’d rather close than face the wrath of various Americans who believe that masks, which help prevent the spread of coronavirus, impinge on their freedom.”

Route Fifty: For July Fourth, Many Cities Go Virtual or Cancel Fireworks Displays. “From virtual parades to unannounced fireworks shows, the Fourth of July will look different this year. To prevent large gatherings and tamp down on the spread of coronavirus infections, many cities are canceling or curtailing traditional Independence Day celebrations.”

BUSINESS / CORPORATIONS

Today: Cirque du Soleil files for bankruptcy protection. “Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group said on Monday it has filed for protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the famed circus to cancel shows and lay off its artistes.”

BBC: Plane-maker Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs amid coronavirus fallout. “Aerospace giant Airbus says it plans to cut 15,000 jobs as it deals with the effects of the coronavirus crisis. It will cut 1,700 jobs in the UK, along with thousands more in Germany, Spain and elsewhere. The move is subject to talks with unions which have opposed compulsory redundancies.”

ESPN: Baseball’s minor leagues cancel 2020 season due to coronavirus. “Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their 2020 season on Tuesday after Major League Baseball decided not to provide any players to its affiliated teams amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

NBC News: COVID-19 helped this small syringe business boom. Then came the taxpayer-backed windfall.. “In late March, the Department of Health and Human Services began drafting an $83.8 million order for [Retractable Technologies Inc.] to produce the lion’s share of roughly 330 million needles and syringes for a future COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign. That coincided with private business brisk enough for the company to report a 41.8 percent increase in first-quarter sales compared with the same period in 2019, according to one of its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But despite its good fortune, a few weeks later, on April 17, RTI secured a $1.4 million hardship loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP.”

CNN: An internal Amazon memo shows how closely it’s tracking coronavirus data at warehouses. “For months, Amazon has refused to reveal data on the number of coronavirus cases inside its warehouses by claiming the data itself ‘isn’t particularly useful,’ frustrating workers and critics hoping for a clearer picture of infections within what have become critical hubs for home supplies. But behind the scenes, Amazon has been closely tracking the spread of the virus inside at least one warehouse, according to an internal memo viewed by CNN Business. And its own data may raise new concerns about the rate of infections in its facilities.”

Yahoo Finance: Google Pushes Back U.S. Office Reopening Plan After Virus Surge. “Google is pushing back a plan to reopen its U.S. offices after coronavirus cases surged in several western and southern states. All U.S. offices will remain closed until Sept. 7 at the earliest, according to a memo Google sent to employees. In May, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said the company would cautiously move some workers back in starting July 6.”

GOVERNMENT

New York Times: Paycheck Program Ends With $130 Billion Unspent, and Uncertainty Ahead. “The program distributed forgivable loans to five million small businesses that could use the money to pay workers to stay home. But shifting rules blunted its effect.”

Phys .org: EPA’s relaxed enforcement of pollution reporting due to COVID-19 ends in August. “The Environmental Protection Agency will end a temporary policy that relaxed reporting requirements on pollutants due to the coronavirus at the end of August, amid criticism that the pandemic policy has jeopardized public health.”

Colorado Sun: Colorado governor orders bars to re-close to in-person service. “Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday ordered Colorado bars and nightclubs to close once again to in-person service because of the coronavirus crisis, citing the fact that the establishments have been blamed for spikes in the disease in other states.”

BBC: India coronavirus: Officials sorry after video shows bodies flung into pit. “Officials in the south Indian state of Karnataka have apologised after footage showing officials dumping bodies of Covid -19 victims caused outrage. The videos circulated on social media showed workers in PPE kits tossing bodies wrapped in black garbage bags into deep pits. Officials in the state’s Bellary district confirmed that the footage was genuine and apologised to families.”

Yahoo News: Federal government runs out of free face masks; TSA also faces shortage. “An initiative to provide Americans with free face coverings has run out of supplies, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The shortfall comes as the nation struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 130,000 people in the United States.”

Politico: DeSantis kills online learning program amid virus resurgence. “With a stroke of his veto pen, Gov. Ron DeSantis wiped out the entire $29.4 million budget for a suite of online education services that have become critical to students and faculty during the Covid-19 outbreak. The move, barring action before midnight Tuesday, will kill the Complete Florida Plus Program, an array of technology systems that faculty, staff and students throughout Florida rely on, never more so than now, in the midst of a pandemic that has amplified reliance on distance learning. The cuts include a database of online courses and an online library service that provides 17 million books to 1.3 million students, faculty and staff.”

ABC 7: Stricter stay-at-home restrictions may return for Californians, Gov. Newsom says as COVID-19 cases climb. “Warning about the COVID-19 dangers of gatherings over the Fourth of July weekend, Gov. Newsom said he will make an announcement tomorrow regarding possible rollbacks of recent reopenings.”

INDIVIDUALS / BANDS / GROUPS

ProPublica: An Employee at a Private Sports Club Owned by This Billionaire Governor Tested Positive for Coronavirus. “After complaints alleging lax reopening practices at Gov. Jim Justice’s luxury resort, a kitchen employee has tested positive at the sports club affiliated with the hotel. Officials at the venue are scrambling to be ready for the July 4 weekend.”

HEALTH

Inside Edition: Investigation Finds Sheets Weren’t Changed Between Guests at Some New York Hotels. “Inside Edition producers checked into different New York City hotel rooms and used a harmless, washable spray to apply an Inside Edition logo – only visible under UV light – to the pillows, bed sheets and bath towels. Commonly touched surfaces, including the TV remote, thermostat and desk were also marked with a special washable gel. After marking the room, Inside Edition producers left the beds at all three locations looking like they’d been slept in and then checked out. The following day, using a new reservation with a different guest name, Inside Edition checked back into the exact same rooms to see if housekeeping had changed the linens and wiped down various surfaces.”

Washington Post: Caregivers on the front lines in nursing homes risk health, safety during pandemic. “In the parking lot of an assisted-living center in southern Illinois, Shalla McBride sat in a Buick stocked with hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes and prayed for her mother to watch over her. Her mother had reassured the family, McBride recalled, every time she went to work at a nursing home an hour’s drive north, hoping to help stave off the novel coronavirus that was sickening elderly residents. “I’ll be fine,” her mother had said, even as her throat began to hurt, her chest tightened and she lost her sense of taste and smell. The 65-year-old registered nurse died May 2 of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Fauci warns of 100,000 US cases per day. “Top disease researcher Dr Anthony Fauci has told the US Senate that he “would not be surprised” if new virus cases in the country reach 100,000 per day. ‘Clearly we are not in control right now,’ he testified, warning that not enough Americans are wearing masks or social distancing. During the hearing, he said about half of all new cases come from four states.”

AP: Hollowed out public health system faces more cuts amid virus. “The U.S. public health system has been starved for decades and lacks the resources to confront the worst health crisis in a century. Marshaled against a virus that has sickened at least 2.6 million in the U.S., killed more than 126,000 people and cost tens of millions of jobs and $3 trillion in federal rescue money, state and local government health workers on the ground are sometimes paid so little, they qualify for public aid. They track the coronavirus on paper records shared via fax. Working seven-day weeks for months on end, they fear pay freezes, public backlash and even losing their jobs.”

Slate: What It’s Like to Feel COVID Symptoms for Months on End. “Matthew Long-Middleton is a media training manager at KCUR in Kansas City, Missouri. For over 90 days now, he’s felt many of the reported symptoms of the coronavirus, and they don’t seem to be going away. He doesn’t have definitive proof he has COVID, due to testing troubles, and he doesn’t know where he would have picked it up. But having had to travel a lot for his job, he knew he was at risk. Like a lot of people now living with what some are calling ‘long haul’ COVID, figuring out what’s going wrong has been an ongoing project. Long-Middleton is one of a growing number of people who say that this coronavirus could last longer than you think, and affect you more severely than you realize. After all, he once was able to bike across the country. Now he has trouble biking down the block.”

Route Fifty: Workers Filed More Than 4,100 Complaints About Protective Gear. Some Still Died.. “Since March, more than 4,100 COVID-related complaints regarding health care facilities have poured into the nation’s network of federal and state OSHA offices, which are tasked with protecting workers from harm on the job. A KHN investigation found that at least 35 health care workers died after OSHA received safety complaints about their workplaces. Yet by June 21, the agency had quietly closed almost all of those complaints, and none of them led to a citation or a fine.”

TECHNOLOGY

PC World: Data caps on AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile will return after June 30. “Major Internet service providers are scheduled to end their quarantine benefits soon, once again subjecting Americans to data caps and removing protections if they are unable to pay their bills. They’re scheduled to expire at the end of June, meaning that July 1 will see the return of data caps to some major ISPs.”

RESEARCH

Ohio State News: Using your phone’s microphone to track possible COVID-19 exposure. “Signals sent and received from cell phone microphones and speakers could help warn people when they have been near someone who has contracted COVID-19, researchers say. In a new paper, researchers described a system that would generate random, anonymous IDs for each phone, automatically send ultrasonic signals between microphones and speakers of phones within a certain radius, and use the information exchanged through this acoustic channel for contact tracing.”

Phys .org: Face mask construction, materials matter for containing coughing, sneezing droplets. “Results showed that loosely folded facemasks and bandana-style coverings provide minimal stopping-capability for the smallest aerosolized respiratory droplets. Well-fitted homemade masks with multiple layers of quilting fabric, and off-the-shelf cone style masks, proved to be the most effective in reducing droplet dispersal. These masks were able to curtail the speed and range of the respiratory jets significantly, albeit with some leakage through the mask material and from small gaps along the edges. Importantly, uncovered emulated coughs were able to travel noticeably farther than the currently recommended 6-foot distancing guideline. Without a mask, droplets traveled more than 8 feet; with a bandana, they traveled 3 feet, 7 inches; with a folded cotton handkerchief, they traveled 1 foot, 3 inches; with the stitched quilted cotton mask, they traveled 2.5 inches; and with the cone-style mask, droplets traveled about 8 inches.”

The Harvard Gazette: Is air conditioning helping spread COVID in the South?. “Drawing on insights from another deadly airborne disease, tuberculosis, a Harvard infectious disease expert suggested Friday that air conditioning use across the southern U.S. may be a factor in spiking COVID-19 cases and that ultraviolet lights long used to sterilize the air of TB bacteria could do the same for SARS-CoV-2.”

CRIME / SECURITY / LEGAL

New York Times: F.B.I. Warns of Fraudulent Coronavirus Antibody Tests. “The F.B.I. has issued a warning about scammers who advertise fraudulent Covid-19 antibody tests as a way to obtain personal information that can be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud. The warning, issued Friday, is the latest in a series of alerts from the federal government about fraudulent exploitation of the coronavirus pandemic.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Colombian mayor shops son to police for breaking lockdown. “The mayor of a town in Colombia has been praised after he turned his own son in to the police for breaking a curfew imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Carlos Higgins Villanueva said he had to set an example.”

OPINION

Washington Post: Treating coronavirus is brutal. But our hunt for better medicine keeps us going.. “As a physician-scientist, I have spent 30 years at the bedside of my patients and their families. There is no place I’d rather be, but I wouldn’t have stayed here for so long without the research part. Alongside 90 others in Vanderbilt’s Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction and Survivorship (CIBS) Center, I now study covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The pandemic is different: tough, inspiring and exasperating all at once. Answering questions to help reduce human suffering is what we do. Attempts to flatten the curve have shuttered our existing projects and catapulted us into new work and international collaborations in what seemed like one day. And then almost as quickly this month, we were immersed in disparities. The pandemic has amplified elements of the everyday disadvantages that millions face, and it’s obvious to all of us that it’s not fair or just.”

New York Times: Focus on Opening Schools, Not Bars. “The way states lifted social distancing restrictions imposed to fight the coronavirus sadly demonstrates our priorities. Officials let bars, restaurants and gyms open, despite warnings from public health experts that these environments pose the greatest risk for spreading the disease. Yet political leaders seem to have paid scant attention to safely reopening schools.”

POLITICS

NBC News: S. Dakota Gov. Noem says ‘we will not be social distancing’ at July 3 celebration with Trump at Mount Rushmore. “South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says the thousands of people who attend the July 3 celebration for Independence Day at Mount Rushmore with President Donald Trump will not be required to practice social distancing despite an increase in coronavirus cases across the country.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Joe Biden will not hold campaign rallies. “US Democrat Joe Biden has said he will not hold presidential campaign rallies during the coronavirus pandemic. ‘This is the most unusual campaign, I think, in modern history,’ Mr Biden said at a press conference in Delaware. His rival, President Donald Trump, saw lower-than-expected turnout for a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June and his campaign has announced no new rallies.”

Slate: About Face. “On Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the week’s session by imploring ‘each family, each small business, each employer, and all levels of government to apply common sense’ to combat the spread of the coronavirus, which has reasserted itself at record levels of cases over the past week. Then he got more specific.”

Politico: Trump team’s brewing debate: How to message a raging health emergency. “The Trump White House has a new internal battle: how much to talk publicly about a pandemic that’s crippling huge swaths of America. President Donald Trump’s top aides are divided over the merits of resuming national news briefings to keep the public informed about the latest coronavirus statistics as infection rates spike in large states including California, Texas, Florida, Arizona and Georgia.”

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