Saturday CoronaBuzz, July 4, 2020: 33 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 Canaan Daily Voice: COVID-19: Online Learning Hub Launched By Connecticut Department of Education. “The Connecticut Department of Education has launched a learning hub to assist teachers, students, and parents during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Pubs and hairdressers reopen as England’s lockdown eases. “Rollercoaster rides, early morning pints and long barber shop queues – this is how England is emerging after three months of coronavirus lockdown. Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas and theme parks have reopened with strict social distancing rules. But ministers have urged caution and England’s chief medical officer said the latest step was not ‘risk-free’.”

AP: Virus concerns grow — as do crowds flocking to Jersey Shore. “As coronavirus-related restrictions are eased and temperatures climb, people are flocking back to the Jersey Shore. And with the July Fourth holiday weekend upon us, that’s making some people nervous, particularly given the large crowds that have surfaced at some popular shore spots recently and poor compliance with mandated measures to help slow the spread of the virus.”

Orlando Sentinel: Florida breaks coronavirus record with over 11K new cases reported in one day. “Florida reported 11,458 new coronavirus cases on Independence Day, shattering its record for daily reported cases in the state since the pandemic began. The positivity rate for new cases was 14%, slightly lower than the highest reported rate during the past two weeks. That came June 23, when 16% of new cases tested positive.”


Wired: ‘Covid Parties’ Are Not a Thing. “Despite its implausibility and utter lack of valid sourcing, the fantasy of Alabama virus gamblers has nonetheless exploded across the internet, with slack-jawed coverage turning up in CNN, the New York Post, and the Associated Press, among many others.” Including this here newsletter. Silly me, I thought a city council member would not turn up and say that the state and local hospitals had confirmed something that turned out to be a bucket of bullshit. Am I dumb.


New York Times: European Workers Draw Paychecks. American Workers Scrounge for Food.. “The pandemic has ravaged Europeans and Americans alike, but the economic pain has played out in starkly different fashion. The United States has relied on a significant expansion of unemployment insurance, cushioning the blow for tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs, with the assumption that they will be swiftly rehired once normality returns. European countries — among them Denmark, Ireland, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Austria — have prevented joblessness by effectively nationalizing payrolls, heavily subsidizing wages and enabling paychecks to continue uninterrupted.”


Houston Chronicle: Claiming confusion, Texas Medical Center changes how it reports ICU capacity amid COVID-19. “Texas Medical Center hospitals stopped updating key metrics showing the stress rising numbers of COVID-19 patients were placing on their facilities for more than three days, rattling policymakers and residents who have relied on the information to gauge the spread of the coronavirus.”


Radio Prague International: Czech Firm Switches From Car Production To Helping Make Ventilators For Us. “Czech carmakers and associated industries have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Faced with this challenge, one family-run firm is now drawing on its expertise to fight Covid-19 itself, helping the production of much-needed ventilators in the US.”

Greenock Telegraph: Pub boss was stripped of his licence after keeping his bar open despite the coronavirus lockdown. “CORONAVIRUS shutdown-flouting pub boss Ian Ellis was stripped of his licence after putting lives at risk by keeping his bar open as the pandemic gripped Greenock. Ellis continued trading at his Cheers premises — a decision which led to drunken violence and shameful headlines — despite being told to close to protect the community.”


New Zealand Herald: Covid-19 scientist Siouxsie Wiles reveals appalling social media abuse. “Infectious diseases expert Siouxsie Wiles has spoken out about the appalling online abuse she has suffered in her work. The prominent science communicator, who answered the nation’s Covid-19 questions during lockdown, has revealed dozens of ugly insults and threats she has received on social media aimed at her bright pink hair and her weight.”


NBC South Florida: Second Miami Heat Player Tests Positive For Coronavirus, Cancelling Team Workouts. “The Miami Heat has confirmed to NBC 6 that a second Heat player has tested positive for coronavirus, resulting in a cancellation of individual team member workouts at American Airlines Arena. At the end of last month, it was revealed that Derrick Jones Jr. had tested positive for the virus, a result that came in shortly after the Heat and other NBA teams began mandatory testing in preparation for July’s resumption of the season.”


New York Times: Colleges Face Rising Revolt by Professors. “College students across the country have been warned that campus life will look drastically different in the fall, with temperature checks at academic buildings, masks in half-empty lecture halls and maybe no football games. What they might not expect: a lack of professors in the classroom.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Bay Area charter schools tap tens of millions in federal small business loans. “Charter schools in the Bay Area received tens of millions of dollars from a federal coronavirus relief program intended for small businesses, money they say is necessary to stay afloat amid the pandemic. The schools are alternatives to traditional public schools and are exempt from many state regulations related to class size, curriculum and teacher tenure, yet still receive state funding.”


Washington Post: How Fauci, 5 other health specialists deal with covid-19 risks in their everyday lives. “As Americans learn to live with the coronavirus, many are struggling with decisions about which practices are safe or risky for them. The Washington Post asked six public health/infectious diseases specialists about their own behavior choices.”

KMOV4: An 11-year-old boy is Florida’s youngest person to die from Covid-19 complications. “An 11-year-old boy from Miami-Dade County has died from Covid-19 complications, according to the Florida Department of Health, making him the youngest person in the state of Florida to die from the disease. The boy had severe underlying health conditions, the health department told CNN. The latest health records show the 11-year-old’s case was not travel-related, but it’s unclear if he recently had close contact with anyone who had Covid-19.”

BuzzFeed News: Hundreds Of Workers May Have Contracted Covid-19 To Get You The Food On Your Plate This July 4th.. “After months of stress, Americans have been looking forward to the pre–COVID-19 pleasures of a (socially distanced) 4th of July. How about a cookout? It’s a traditional, low-key summer celebration — but amid the nation’s growing outbreak, even a simple home-cooked meal comes at an exorbitant price. A BuzzFeed News investigation reveals the extent to which the virus — and the nation’s inadequate response to it — has infected, sickened, and even killed workers up and down the nation’s food supply chains as they work to keep our refrigerators full.”

CBS News: Florida “heading a million miles an hour in the wrong direction” as COVID-19 cases keep rising, doctor says. “Florida’s most populous county instituted an overnight curfew, and beaches and businesses began closing down again as the state’s number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations keep rising. The grim trend threatened a further spread during the festive Fourth of July weekend. ‘Right now, we are heading a million miles an hour in the wrong direction,’ Dr. Aileen Marty told “CBS This Morning” lead national correspondent David Begnaud. Marty is an infectious disease expert who helped Miami-Dade write its reopening rules but she says not enough people are following them.”


BBC: Coronavirus Spain: Catalonia locks down area of 210,000 people. “The government in Spain’s Catalonia region has re-imposed coronavirus controls on an area of 210,000 people after a sharp rise in infections. President Quim Torra said no-one would be allowed to enter or leave Segrià, an agricultural area west of Barcelona which includes the city of Lleida.”

CBS News: 105 University of Washington students in frat houses test positive for coronavirus. “More than 100 students living in fraternity houses near the University of Washington campus have reported testing positive for COVID-19, with hundreds of results pending. The Interfraternity Council, a student-led governing board for UW fraternities, said that at least 105 residents living in 15 fraternity houses have self-reported that they tested positive, CBS affiliate KIRO-TV reports.”

New York Times: The Young Cut Loose in Myrtle Beach. The Virus Followed Them Home.. “A popular spring break and summertime destination on the South Carolina coast is linked to clusters of coronavirus cases among teenagers and young adults in several states.”

US News & World Report: New Outbreaks Push Inmate Coronavirus Cases Past 50,000. “At the end of June, the total number of coronavirus cases among prisoners had reached at least 52,649, an increase of 8% from the week before, according to data compiled by the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization focusing on criminal justice, and The Associated Press.”


CNN: MIT-designed robot can disinfect a warehouse floor in 30 minutes — and could one day be employed in grocery stores and schools. “MIT has designed a robot that is capable of disinfecting the floor of a 4,000-square foot warehouse in only half an hour, and it could one day be used to clean your local grocery store or school. The university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) worked with Ava Robotics — a company that focuses on creating telepresence robots — and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) to develop a robot that uses a custom UV-C light to disinfect surfaces and neutralize aerosolized forms of the coronavirus.”


CNN: Study finds hydroxychloroquine may have boosted survival, but other researchers have doubts. “A surprising new study found the controversial antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine helped patients better survive in the hospital. But the findings, like the federal government’s use of the drug itself, were disputed.”

Reuters: CanSino’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate approved for military use in China. “China’s military has received the greenlight to use a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by its research unit and CanSino Biologics (6185.HK) after clinical trials proved it was safe and showed some efficacy, the company said on Monday.”

Michigan State University: Machine Learning Model Finds SARS-CoV-2 Growing More Infectious. “The model, developed by lead researcher Guowei Wei, professor in the departments of Mathematics and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, analyzed SARS-CoV-2 genotyping from more than 20,000 viral genome samples. The researchers analyzed mutations to the spike protein — a protein primarily responsible for facilitating infection — and found that five of the six known virus subtypes are now more infectious.”


KTLA: Deputies to cite those not wearing masks in West Hollywood; 1st offense carries $300 fine. “Sheriff’s deputies in West Hollywood say they’ll begin fining people spotted without a face covering in public. The violation carries a $300 price tag for first-time offenders, including a $250 fine and $50 fee, the sheriff’s station said in a tweet. Deputies said enforcement begins this month, indicating it is effective immediately.”


The BMJ Opinion: Devi Sridhar and Adriel Chen: Why Scotland’s slow and steady approach to covid-19 is working. “In April 2020, the Scottish government issued a framework for decision-making on covid-19 which notably included that there would be no acceptable number of covid-19 cases, and that no one would be intentionally exposed to this virus. This framework set the objective clearly: to drive the number of cases as close to zero as possible, and from that, a strategy and game plan could be worked out to arrive at the outcome.”

MarketWatch: Opinion: Fed warns stock market of a second recession if the coronavirus pandemic isn’t brought under control. “It’s up to the public health and fiscal policy officials, as well as the private sector, to get us through this with a minimal loss of lives and damage to our livelihoods. That means wear a mask, keep your distance, test everyone you can, trace contacts, and isolate anyone who has the disease or who may have it. And it means Congress needs to provide more support for individuals, families, small businesses, and state and local governments.”


Politico: White House ‘free marketeers’ raised concerns over coronavirus price-gouging crackdown. “As the coronavirus crisis reached a boiling point in the United States, government officials squared off in countless internal arm-wrestling matches about how to handle it. But at least one of those debates — involving officials from the White House and the Department of Justice — was philosophical: How exactly should the federal government deal with pandemic-related hoarding and price-gouging?”

New York Times: Trump Uses Mount Rushmore Speech to Deliver Divisive Culture War Message. “The scene at Mount Rushmore was the latest sign of how Mr. Trump appears, by design or default, increasingly disconnected from the intense concern among Americans about the health crisis gripping the country. More than just a partisan rally, it underscored the extent to which Mr. Trump is appealing to a subset of Americans to carry him to a second term by changing the subject and appealing to fear and division.”

NPR: Former NIH Director Calls Trump Administration’s Pandemic Response ‘Amateur Hour’ . “Dr. Elias Zerhouni knows the dangers of infectious disease outbreaks. He was director of the National Institutes of Health in 2005 when bird flu appeared poised to become more infectious to humans. Fortunately, that pandemic never materialized, but he says it served as a warning of what was to come. Zerhouni has been a member of the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and head of global research and development for the pharmaceutical company Sanofi. NPR asked him about the difficulties of responding to pandemics in general, and in particular the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

NBC News: Trump’s July Fourth ‘Salute to America’ in D.C. promises fireworks, flyovers — and coronavirus risk. “As coronavirus cases spike, public health officials are pleading with Americans to avoid large crowds and hold more muted Independence Day celebrations, but subdued is not President Donald Trump’s style, and he aimed to go big, promising a ‘special evening’ in Washington that could bring tens of thousands to the National Mall.”

Tampa Bay Times: How mask mandates are playing out in Florida’s 2020 elections. “With about a month to go before in-person voting starts for Florida’s Aug. 18 primary, the state’s 67 elections supervisors are planning for the coronavirus pandemic. Among the issues they must consider: what to do about voters and masks. Wearing a mask — or not — has become a flash point, with disputes and confrontations involving the use of masks flaring on social feeds across the nation.”

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