Thursday CoronaBuzz, July 2, 2020: 50 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.


NPR: Green, Yellow, Orange Or Red? This New Tool Shows COVID-19 Risk In Your County. “[Professor Danielle] Allen, along with researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute, is leading a collaboration of top scientists at institutions around the country who have joined forces to create a unified set of metrics, including a shared definition of risk levels — and tools for communities to fight the coronavirus. The collaboration launched these tools Wednesday, including a new, online risk-assessment map that allows people to check the state or the county where they live and see a COVID-19 risk rating of green, yellow, orange or red. The risk levels are based upon the number of new daily cases per 100,000 people.”

Fast Company: Bookmark these COVID-19 trackers to see how state reopening policies affect outbreaks. “As 4.8 million Americans returned to work in June, COVID-19 did not magically go away. New cases are spiking in a number of southern states—and tracking this clusterjam from your screen has become the new people watching of our era. To make sense of the chaos, the excellent Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, which already operates the COVID-19 dashboard that scientists and policymakers depend on, has added two critically helpful new tools.”


AL .com: Alabama adds 906 coronavirus cases, COVID hospitalizations reach new high of 776. “For the second day in a row, the number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in Alabama has set a new record. The Alabama Department of Public Health’s July 1 10 a.m. numbers show 38,442 COVID-19 cases in the state, an increase of 906. ADPH reported 947 deaths, an increase of 21 since yesterday.”

Washington Post: Coronavirus cases rose by nearly 50 percent last month, led by states that reopened first. “Coronavirus infections in the United States surged nearly 50 percent in June as states relaxed quarantine rules and tried to reopen their economies, data compiled Wednesday showed, and several states moved to reimpose restrictions on bars and recreation. More than 800,000 new cases were reported across the country last month, led by Florida, Arizona, Texas and California — bringing the nation’s officially reported total to just over 2.6 million, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.”

Reuters: Florida shatters records with over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in single day. “Florida shattered records on Thursday when it reported over 10,000 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase in the state since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally.”


BBC: Ama Agbeze: Coronavirus ‘could set women’s sport back decades’ – former England netball captain. “Former England netball captain Ama Agbeze fears the coronavirus pandemic could set women’s sport back decades because of the cancellation of leagues and competitions. But other leading figures, including UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday, are hopeful the disruption will be a short-term ‘blip’.”

Phys .org: COVID-19 leaving some Americans sick and hungry. “The COVID-19 pandemic is not just making Americans sick, it’s leaving many hungry as well, and experts who gathered for a Harvard Chan School forum on the problem said that legislation to relieve the pandemic’s economic burden may be able to help.”


The Next Web: Europe’s first Museum of Digital Art closes permanently due to coronavirus. “It’s sad times. Severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Europe’s first physical museum dedicated to digital arts, the Museum of Digital Art in Zurich, has revealed it will close for good at the end of July.”


Hollywood Reporter: CAA Offices in L.A., N.Y. and Nashville to Remain Closed Until 2021. “Amid a rise in novel coronavirus cases across multiple states, [Creative Artists Agency] will keep offices in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville shuttered through the end of the year. The agency had previously set an August 1 timetable for a decision to return to its major offices, including London. CAA also has offices in Chicago, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Memphis stateside as well as outposts in Beijing, Shanghai, Stockholm, Munich and Geneva.”

CNET: Walmart will soon open drive-in movie theaters. “Walmart. What doesn’t Walmart sell or provide? Well, soon, it will provide a place of entertainment in the form of drive-in move theaters. Yes, the massive retail chain apparently plans to operate drive-in theaters at its Supercenters across the US starting next month, according to a teaser internet page published July 1. Walmart followed up the webpage with a tweet announcing the ‘select’ stores will turn into drive-in theaters, thanks to a partnership with with Tribeca.”

CNBC: Apple to reclose 30 more retail stores as coronavirus cases spike. “Apple will close 30 additional stores in the United States by Thursday, the company said, bringing the total number of reclosures in the United States to 77 as Covid-19 cases rapidly rise in several regions around the country. Stores in Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma will close Thursday. Other stores in Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Utah are closed as of Wednesday. Apple has 271 stores in the United States.”


Patch: New York City Will Test Its Sewage For Coronavirus. “The newest coronavirus testing site in New York City isn’t the neighborhood clinic, it’s at your local sewage plant. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection has started collecting samples from all 14 of its wastewater facilities as a new way to track the coronavirus in New York City, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, whose Solid Waste Advisory Board suggested the practice, announced this week.”

BBC: Coronavirus: US buys nearly all of Gilead’s Covid-19 drug remdesivir. “The US is buying nearly all the next three months’ projected production of Covid-19 treatment remdesivir from US manufacturer Gilead. The US health department announced on Tuesday it had agreed to buy 500,000 doses for use in American hospitals.”

Kyodo News: Japan to build virus testing centers exclusive for int’l travelers. “Japan plans to set up new coronavirus testing centers at three major airports in Tokyo and Osaka, as well as in central parts of the cities, as the country prepares to relax its travel restrictions, health minister Katsunobu Kato said Thursday.”

KCRA: Restaurants, other businesses in 19 counties must stop indoor operations. “Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering some businesses in 19 counties to halt indoor operations ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. Restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums and cardrooms in the 19 counties must stop indoor operations for a minimum of three weeks, Newsom said during his coronavirus briefing Wednesday.”

New York Times: N.Y. Officials Halt Indoor Dining, Alarmed by Virus Rise in Other States. “With the coronavirus spreading rapidly in other large states like California, Florida and Texas, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that New York City would not resume indoor dining at restaurants next week as anticipated.”

Bloomberg: Swedish Covid Expert Says the World Still Doesn’t Understand. “After three months of non-stop controversy, Sweden’s top epidemiologist is about to go on vacation. Anders Tegnell is unlikely to stray far from home, after much of the European Union excluded Sweden from safe travel lists. His decision to advise against a Swedish lockdown has coincided with one of the world’s highest Covid-19 mortality rates. But Tegnell insists Sweden’s strategy remains widely misunderstood.”

Dallas News: Next of kin tried to return $1,200 stimulus checks to dearly departed taxpayers, but it’s not so easy. “So, about those 1.1 million stimulus checks the IRS sent to people who have already demonstrated the inevitability of both death and taxes. The government wants the money back. But next of kin have discovered that’s not so easy, because apparently the U.S. Postal Service didn’t get the memo, and it has been diligently redelivering checks rather than returning to sender.”


Entertainment Weekly: Vanilla Ice throwing Fourth of July concert: ‘We didn’t have coronavirus’ in the ’90s. “The concert is titled the Independence Day Throwback Beach Party and it’s happening due to a legal loophole, the Austin Chronicle pointed out. The venue — Emerald Point Bar & Grill, located on the shores of Lake Travis — is technically a restaurant, even though it also has a large capacity outdoor general admission concert space. So fans don’t have to collaborate with or listen to current recommended coronavirus guidelines that seek to eliminate large crowds.”

Annnnnd from Consequence of Sound: Vanilla Ice Cancels 4th of July Concert: ‘I Didn’t Know the Numbers Were So Crazy!’. “‘I listened to my fans, I hear all you people out here. I didn’t know the numbers were so crazy,’ he said in an Instagram video. ‘We just want to stay safe, we do take it seriously, and we want to make sure everyone stays safe. We wanted to have a good time on Fourth of July, but it turned into a big vocal point on me, and it’s not about that.'”

CBS News: Former presidential candidate Herman Cain hospitalized with COVID-19. “Former presidential candidate Herman Cain has been hospitalized with COVID-19, less than two weeks after he attended a Trump rally in Oklahoma. Cain’s hospitalization in Atlanta comes as the U.S. continues to grapple with a serious uptick in coronavirus cases.”


NPR: After Reopening Schools, Israel Orders Them To Shut If COVID-19 Cases Are Discovered. “Two weeks after Israel fully reopened schools, a COVID-19 outbreak sweeping through classrooms — including at least 130 cases at a single school — has led officials to close dozens of schools where students and staff were infected. A new policy orders any school where a virus case emerges to close.”

San Francisco Chronicle: More than 40 Bay Area school principals in quarantine after in-person meeting. “More than 40 school principals in the South Bay are in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19 during an in-person meeting held by the Santa Clara Unified School District. A pre-symptomatic individual at the school reopening planning meeting on June 19 tested positive for the coronavirus just a few days after school administrators congregated.”

Washington Post: D.C. school system and teachers clash ahead of school reopening. “The Washington Teachers’ Union is telling its members to ignore a school system letter asking teachers to select whether they plan to teach in person in the fall or stay home. The letter, and the union’s response, represent the latest tension between school leaders and teachers as the city struggles to build confidence in its school reopening plan.”

Politico: Florida to rescue ‘essential’ online education programs after veto. ” ‘Essential’ pieces of a $29.4 million education program vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis will survive and be transferred from the University of West Florida. The emergency rescue, which sidesteps Florida law and suggests that state officials were unprepared for the far-reaching fallout of the veto, was announced by the State University System Board of Governors and UWF just hours before the cuts took hold at midnight Tuesday.”


AP: Huge spike in COVID-19 cases overwhelms S. Carolina tracers. “South Carolina reported more people in the hospital and more deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday than any day since the pandemic began in March, overwhelming the ability to track cases and try to slow the spreading outbreak, the state’s top infectious disease specialist said.”

Washington Post: As cases surge, lines for coronavirus tests sometimes stretch miles in the summer heat. “Surging cases of the coronavirus across the Sun Belt are sparking unprecedented demand for testing, with lines stretching miles in the summer heat, supplies running out and medical workers left exhausted. Supply-chain issues that hampered testing from the beginning of the pandemic have improved but not ended, even as many states opened sites that require no appointment or referral.”

NBC News: California man who posted regret for attending party died a day later of coronavirus. “A California man posted his regret on Facebook about contracting the coronavirus after he attended a party in June. A day later, he died from COVID-19. On June 20, Thomas Macias, wrote an impassioned message on Facebook in which he lamented ignoring social distancing guidance.”

New York Times: Here’s What Recovery From Covid-19 Looks Like for Many Survivors. “Hundreds of thousands of seriously ill coronavirus patients who survive and leave the hospital are facing a new and difficult challenge: recovery. Many are struggling to overcome a range of troubling residual symptoms, and some problems may persist for months, years or even the rest of their lives. Patients who are returning home after being hospitalized for severe respiratory failure from the virus are confronting physical, neurological, cognitive and emotional issues.”

ABC News: Alabama students throwing ‘COVID parties’ to see who gets infected: Officials. “Tuscaloosa City Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students have been organizing ‘COVID parties’ as a game to intentionally infect each other with the contagion that has killed more than 127,000 people in the United States. She said she recently learned of the behavior and informed the city council of the parties occurring in the city.”

New York Times: Did Floyd Protests Lead to a Virus Surge? Here’s What We Know. “For more than two months, the authorities had been urging New Yorkers to stay indoors and keep their distance from others. But after the police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, tens of thousands of New Yorkers poured into the streets, day and night, to protest police brutality and racism. Epidemiologists braced for a surge of new coronavirus cases. But it has not come yet.”

Newsweek: Family of Man Who Died of Coronavirus Hit With $1 Million Hospital Bill. “Florida family received a claims summary from a hospital totaling more than $1 million over a relative who died from the novel coronavirus. A picture of the claims summary was posted to an Instagram account June 28. The account holder, workshoppgh, wrote a lengthy post about the $1,123,600 bill and said: ‘No one should have to face this virus alone and make it out to get bills like this.'”

KTLA: U.S. coronavirus deaths may be 28% higher than official count, study estimates. “As if the death toll of COVID-19 weren’t bad enough, a new study estimates that the true number of U.S. fatalities linked to the pandemic is up to 28% higher than the official tally. That means that for every 3.5 known victims of COVID-19, another American lost his or her life as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.”


Washington Post: The virus didn’t stop a Washington socialite from throwing a backyard soiree. Then the tests came back positive.. “Ashley Taylor Bronczek, one of Washington’s social stars, decided to throw a party after the Washington Ballet’s online fundraiser, which she co-chaired. The June 18 gala was a huge success, raising more than $800,000 — the top sponsors were her generous in-laws, David and Judy Bronczek. To celebrate the occasion, she hosted a catered dinner for a couple dozen friends in the backyard of her Spring Valley home. It was, by all accounts, a picture-perfect night chronicled on (per usual) her Instagram account. Then Bronczek, 37, was diagnosed with covid-19, along with a few other guests at the event. The news spread quickly through the wealthy young families in her social circle because their small children play together. Friends begged her to take down photos of the party, which she eventually did. But details of the evening — some true, some exaggerated — were already all over town.”

ProPublica: Internal Messages Reveal Crisis at Houston Hospitals as Coronavirus Cases Surge. “Texas was one of the first states in the nation to ease social distancing mandates. In Houston, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has quadrupled since Memorial Day. ‘It’s time to be alarmed,’ one expert said.”

New York Times: Late Action on Virus Prompts Fears Over Safety of U.S. Diplomats in Saudi Arabia. “Inside the sprawling American Embassy compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a coronavirus outbreak was spreading. Dozens of embassy employees became sick last month, and more than 20 others were quarantined after a birthday barbecue became a potential vector for the spread of the disease.”


CU Boulder Today: As the coronavirus spread, two social media communities drifted apart. “On Feb. 11, 2020, the World Health Organization put a name to the mysterious respiratory disease spreading with alarming speed around the globe: COVID-19. Around the same time, two of the internet’s most popular communities for discussing this unfolding crisis began to drift apart—with one increasingly embracing racist language and conspiracy theories, while the other tended to avoid those topics. Now, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder are exploring this tale of two online communities: the r/Coronavirus and r/China_flu discussion boards on the social media site Reddit.”

CNET: Pandemic purchases lead to surge in online shopping complaints, FTC says. “As people rushed to buy supplies online during the coronavirus pandemic, not all shoppers got what they ordered, the US Federal Trade Commission said in a blog post Wednesday. Online shopping complaints about goods that never arrived surged in April and May, said the FTC.”


New York Times: Researchers Debate Infecting People on Purpose to Test Coronavirus Vaccines. “Challenge trials have been used to test vaccines for typhoid, cholera, malaria and other diseases. For malaria, volunteers have stuck their arms into chambers full of mosquitoes to be bitten and infected. But there were so-called rescue medicines to cure those who got sick. There is no cure for Covid-19. For both ethical and practical reasons, the idea of challenge trials for a coronavirus vaccine has provoked fierce debate.”

Phys .org: Surveys reveal significant shifts in consumer behavior during pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered how people shop, how much they buy, the trips they take outside their homes, and the number of tele-activities—like work, medicine and education—that have become commonplace. These changes were rapid and have tremendously impacted the economy, supply chains, and the environment.”

LSU College of Engineering: Following the Source: LSU CS Professor Studies COVID-19 Disparities on Social Media. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, a plethora of information has gone out from various news sources about how the virus is being tracked, how it is spread, how many cases exist, and so forth. The problem is much of this vital information can be inaccurate, leaving people to ignore advice from public officials. For this reason, LSU Computer Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Kisung Lee and LSU Environmental Sciences Professor Nina Lam are evaluating how a population reacts to multiple sources of information, hoping to eliminate disparities in the messaging.”

CNBC: Researchers find neurological damage in four children with coronavirus inflammatory syndrome. “Children diagnosed with Covid-19 pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or PMIS, may develop new neurological problems without any of the respiratory issues commonly associated with the virus, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

MIT Technology Review: Another experimental covid-19 vaccine has shown promising early results. “An experimental covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech provoked immune responses in 45 healthy volunteers, according to a preprint paper on medRXiv. The levels of antibodies were up to 2.8 times the level of those found in patients who have recovered. The study randomly assigned 45 people to get either one of three doses of the vaccine or a placebo. But there were side effects like fatigue, headache, and fever—especially at higher doses. The researchers decided to discontinue with the highest dose, 100 micrograms, after the first round of treatments.”

NiemanLab: Why do people share misinformation about Covid-19? Partly because they’re distracted. “Researchers led by Gordon Pennycook found that ‘nudging people to think about accuracy is a simple way to improve choices about what to share on social media,’ they write in a paper published this week in Psychological Science. The studies focused specifically on Covid-19-related misinformation, borrowing ideas from the ways we fight political misinformation. They found that similar interventions worked.”


New York Times: That Healing Jazz Thing on a Porch in Brooklyn. “Albert Marquès, a Barcelona-born Latin jazz musician and public-school teacher, began piping away on his melodica as his children, ages 3 and 6, danced and twirled on the sidewalk. The Haitian jazz guitarist Eddy Bourjolly came in from Canarsie, while Eric Alabaster, a retired teacher and drummer, and Mo Saleem, a Pakistani musician marooned by the virus, kept rhythm on drums and the dholak, a two-headed hand drum. In rain and chill and welcome shafts of sunlight, the audience grew, young and not so young, African-Americans and whites and Pakistanis and Mexicans, masked and occupying spaces between cars and trucks and on lawns and in driveways. It was like this the world round, Italians and Argentines, French and Greeks and New Yorkers, singing and playing in rebellion against the darkness.”


New York Times: In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both.. “Let me say the quiet part loud: In the Covid-19 economy, you’re allowed only a kid or a job. Why isn’t anyone talking about this? Why are we not hearing a primal scream so deafening that no plodding policy can be implemented without addressing the people buried by it? Why am I, a food blogger best known for such hits as the All-Butter Really Flaky Pie Dough and The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake, sounding the alarm on this? I think it’s because when you’re home schooling all day, and not performing the work you were hired to do until the wee hours of the morning, and do it on repeat for 106 days (not that anyone is counting), you might be a bit too fried to funnel your rage effectively.”


BuzzFeed News: The Coronavirus Spread In A Dallas Megachurch’s Choir And Orchestra. Then It Hosted Mike Pence.. “At least five members of the choir and orchestra at the Dallas megachurch visited by Vice President Mike Pence this weekend tested positive for the coronavirus in June, according to Facebook posts and internal church emails reviewed by BuzzFeed News. An additional orchestra member had symptoms several days after being exposed and was awaiting a test result in mid-June, according to a call for prayers sent to the church’s musicians. None of those six people were at the First Baptist church in Dallas during Pence’s hour-and-a-half-hour visit on Sunday, but it’s unclear how many of the musicians who performed for Pence may have been exposed during previous practices and performances with those who were infected.”

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. delays American diplomats’ return to China amid concerns over coronavirus testing, quarantine. “The United States has postponed flights for dozens of American diplomats who had planned to return to China later this month, after failing to reach agreement with Beijing over issues including COVID-19 testing and quarantine.”

Washington Post: New evidence that Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is pushing his support lower. “Over the past two months, former vice president Joe Biden’s lead over President Trump in the RealClearPolitics average of national polling of the upcoming presidential contest has nearly doubled. It’s a period that has overlapped with a number of major shifts in the country and in the national mood, including the ongoing — and now resurging — coronavirus pandemic and widespread protests focused on racial equality. So it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to assume that perhaps those two things are correlated.”

Washington Post: In wake of Trump’s Tulsa rally, his campaign is still contending with the fallout. “It was just hours before President Trump was set to take the stage for his rally in Tulsa last month when the news broke: Six staff at the site had just tested positive for the coronavirus. The president, who was en route from Washington, was livid that the news was public, according to people familiar with his reaction. In the tent outside the BOK Center, where campaign staff were being tested before the event, the release of the information caused a scramble. Health-care workers were quizzed about whether they had leaked the information about the positive cases to the news media — and then were given a different list of people to test, according to two people with direct knowledge of the events who, like others in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal conversations.”

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