coronabuzz

Wednesday CoronaBuzz, July 8, 2020: 55 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 – MEDICAL/HEALTH

News-Medical: Researchers develop new tool to visualize worldwide trends in coronavirus infection. “Researchers at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna (CSH) developed a tool that uses the well-known traffic light system to visualize worldwide trends in coronavirus infection. The ‘CSH Corona Traffic Light’ shows countries in green, yellow, or red based on the confirmed cases within the past two weeks.” The tool is available at https://vis.csh.ac.at/corona-traffic-light/world/ .

EurekAlert: Contact tracing apps against COVID-19. “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile software applications have been developed worldwide. Such apps are part of a wider array of digital tools for the prevention and control of infectious diseases. Which technical questions occur in the development of these apps? What ethical aspects must be considered? How can these apps be helpful in the relaxation of restrictions on public and economic life? International experts will discuss these issues at an English-language virtual panel discussion organised by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina on Wednesday, 15 July, 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m CEST. We cordially invite you to this event and would appreciate an announcement of this date in your medium.”

NEW RESOURCES – EDUCATION/ENTERTAINMENT

TIME: TIME for Kids Launches Camp TFK, a Free Newsletter of Daily Activities to Keep Kids Engaged with Trusted and Fun Educational Content this Summer. “Curated by TIME for Kids editors, the free Camp TFK newsletter delivers a schedule of activities each weekday morning across a wide range of interests and skill levels, including arts and crafts, sports and games, performance skills, scientific concepts, and storytelling. Camp TFK is designed to be accessible to anyone, and all featured activities require minimal special supplies beyond everyday household items. At the beginning of the week, Camp TFK subscribers will be sent a preview of the following week’s activities and any recommended supplies to help parents prepare.”

NEW RESOURCES – LEGAL / SECURITY / PRIVACY / FINANCIAL

Washington Post: Explore the SBA data on businesses that received PPP loans. “The Paycheck Protection Program disclosure includes the names of 660,000 small businesses and nonprofit organizations that received at least $150,000 in funding. Although that is less than 15 percent of the total number of loans, it is the most detailed disclosure yet on one of the largest economic stimulus packages created by the federal government, part of the $2 trillion Cares Act. This searchable list shows information for businesses that received loans of more than $1 million through the program. The data does not contain exact loan amounts and instead shows ranges in amounts.”

NEW RESOURCES – OTHER

Bing Blog: Extracting Covid-19 insights from Bing search data . “As is true for many other topics, search engine query logs may be able to give insight into the information gaps associated with Covid-19…. We are pleased to announce that we have already made Covid-19 query data freely available on GitHub as the Bing search dataset for Coronavirus intent, with scheduled updates every month over the course of the pandemic. This dataset includes explicit Covid-19 search queries containing terms such as corona, coronavirus, and covid, as well as implicit Covid-19 queries that are used to access the same set of web page search results (using the technique of random walks on the click graph).”

UPDATES

AP: Protective gear for medical workers begins to run low again. “The personal protective gear that was in dangerously short supply during the early weeks of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. is running low again as the virus resumes its rapid spread and the number of hospitalized patients climbs.”

USA Today: Florida sees worrying spike in coronavirus cases, potential to ‘overwhelm our hospitals’ after reopening. “Texas and Arizona were among the first states to take a leap of faith in May by reopening their economies from lockdown orders meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. But in the weeks that followed, new COVID-19 cases began to gradually climb in both states. Then, after bars, gyms, hair and nail salons and other places not conducive to social distancing reopened, new cases skyrocketed. Now both states are seeing a growing number of COVID-19-related deaths as hospitals reach capacity to handle new patients.”

Washington Post: Virginia reports no daily coronavirus deaths as region sees smallest case increase since April. “Virginia reported no known coronavirus-related deaths Monday for the first time in more than three months, while the District lost ground in a key metric after identifying a weeks-old spike in cases. The District, Maryland and Virginia reported 659 new known coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the regional total to more than 146,000 since the start of the pandemic. The daily increase is the smallest number in the three jurisdictions since April 3.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

Washington Post: Evictions are likely to skyrocket this summer as jobs remain scarce. Black renters will be hard hit.. “A crisis among renters is expected to deepen this month as the enhanced unemployment benefits that have kept many afloat run out at the end of July and the $1,200-per-adult stimulus payment that had supported households earlier in the crisis becomes a distant memory. Meanwhile, enforcement of federal moratoriums on some types of evictions is uneven, with experts warning that judges’ efforts to limit access to courtrooms or hold hearings online because of covid-19 could increasingly leave elderly or poor renters at a disadvantage.”

The Toronto Observer: Data gaps, social media and pre-published studies: The new era of pandemic reporting. “Maureen Taylor was a leading health journalist during the SARS pandemic. Now, in the era of COVID-19, she’s working on a different front line as a Physician’s Assistant in Infectious Diseases at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto. ‘It’s just amazing to me to the difference that 17 years has made,’ Taylor said. ‘No one waits for the evening news to find out what’s going on with COVID.'”

Mother Jones: Inside the Facebook Group Where Doctors Process Their Immense Coronavirus Grief. “As she sat on her couch in her house, alone, sick with COVID-19, an unwelcome series of thoughts crept into Erica Bial’s mind. If I die here, she wondered, who would ever notice? How long would the neighbor’s cat take to find me? Bial, a neurosurgeon living in Massachusetts, works at Lahey Hospitals northwest of Boston. She was two weeks into her self-imposed isolation with the disease, when it took a turn for the worse on her 45th birthday. ‘I had been—I thought—getting better,’ she said.”

Slate: The View From Inside San Quentin State Prison. “This as-told-to diary is based on a conversation with Adamu Chan, an incarcerated journalist at San Quentin State Prison in California. San Quentin is experiencing a massive COVID-19 outbreak—more than 1,400 cases—after the state transferred infected people from another prison into San Quentin. The conversation has been transcribed, condensed, and edited for clarity by Aviva Shen.”

INSTITUTIONS

Harvard: Decision for 2020-21 Academic Year. “After careful deliberation and informed by extensive input from our community, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences announced plans to bring up to 40% of our undergraduates to campus, including all first-year students, for the fall semester. Assuming that we maintain 40% density in the spring semester, we would again bring back one class, and our priority at this time is to bring seniors to campus. Under this plan, first years would return home and learn remotely in the spring. We also will invite back to campus those students who may not be able to learn successfully in their current home learning environment.”

BUSINESS / CORPORATIONS

Mother Jones: #BuyBlack Has Helped Black Businesses Hit by COVID. But It Won’t Solve the Biggest Problems.. “Between February and April of this year, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses closed their doors, a National Bureau of Economic Research study found, a higher share than for businesses owned by any other racial group. The overwhelming majority of Black-owned businesses didn’t qualify for the first round of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to help small businesses, because recipients were required to use the bulk of the loans for payroll. As of 2012, more than 2.5 million of the 2.6 million US Black-owned businesses had no employees beyond their owners, notes Ron Busby, president of US Black Chambers, which represents local Black chambers of commerce across the country.”

BBC: Ghanaian Covid-19-inspired fashion wax-print designs launched. “The new fabrics have symbols like padlocks, keys and planes to reflect some of the measures implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus. Wax prints are popular in Ghana, many office workers wear them on Fridays.” Those of you who read ResearchBuzz know that if I see something I don’t know about, I go looking for background. Slate has an extensive background on wax prints.

Washington Post: The ‘Covid Cocktail’: Inside a Pa. nursing home that gave some veterans hydroxychloroquine even without covid-19 testing. “For more than two weeks in April, a drug regimen that included hydroxychloroquine was routinely dispensed at the struggling center, often for patients who had not been tested for covid-19 and for those who suffered from medical conditions known to raise the risk of dangerous side effects, interviews, emails and medical notes and records obtained by The Washington Post show. Though precise estimates vary, the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs said about 30 residents received the drug. Several nursing home staff members placed the number higher. The Chester County coroner, who reviewed the medical records for some of those who died, said at least 11 residents who had received the hydroxychloroquine treatment had not been tested for covid-19.”

GOVERNMENT

Los Angeles Times: L.A. lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19, forcing delay of Assembly legislative session. “California’s Assembly leader said Monday he will be delaying legislative hearings after a Los Angeles lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the state Capitol to close so it could be disinfected. The announcements came after Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Marina Del Rey) and four others who work in the building tested positive for the coronavirus, which likely spread as staffers and legislators met to pass the state budget in late June.”

Yahoo News: DeSantis cuts $28 million from disease treatment at Florida prisons as pandemic’s toll worsens. “With the third-highest prison population in the United States, after Texas and California, Florida could be putting its 99,000 prisoners at acute risk of contracting the coronavirus, criminal justice advocates worry. Nevertheless, Gov. Ron DeSantis used his veto powers late last month to excise from the state budget a $28 million initiative to treat prisoners for hepatitis C and the coronavirus.”

WOWK: WV Gov. Justice orders masks in buildings. “West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says he has signed an executive order on Monday, July 6, 2020, making face coverings mandatory in all public and privately owned buildings in the state. Justice said the executive order comes into effect 12:01 a.m. Tuesday July 7, 2020.”

Bloomberg: Australia’s Second-Largest City Re-Enters 6-Week Virus Lockdown. “Australia’s second-largest city will be locked down for six weeks as a coronavirus outbreak risks triggering a second wave of infections in the nation. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said from midnight Wednesday people across metropolitan Melbourne must stay home except for work, essential services, medical treatment or school — returning to restrictions that were lifted weeks ago across the country.”

AZ Central: Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego says federal government denied requests for COVID-19 testing help. “The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied multiple requests for a mega-COVID-19 testing site in Phoenix, according to Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. Gallego said her office asked FEMA to implement a large-scale, drive-thru testing site — as they’ve done in other cities, including Houston — multiple times since the earliest days of the novel coronavirus pandemic. She said her initial request came in April, but federal government officials told her that Phoenix’s case numbers were not high enough to merit that infrastructure. Now that Arizona has surpassed 100,000 known COVID-19 cases and is nearing 2,000 deaths, Gallego asked the federal government again.”

Albany Business Review: Cuomo adds more states to New York’s list for traveler quarantine order. “New York has expanded the list of states from which travelers coming back to New York will have to self-quarantine to include Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma. Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York will be imposing a 14-day quarantine on people traveling from states with high Covid-19 infection rates.”

The Register: Baroness Dido Harding lifts the lid on the NHS’s manual contact tracing performance: ‘We contact them up to 10 times over a 36-hour period’. “Baroness Dido Harding of Winscombe, who is currently leading the UK’s coronavirus track-and-trace efforts, has shed light on the nation’s human-driven contact-tracing efforts in a meeting of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.”

CNN: Operation Warp Speed commits $1.6 billion to Covid-19 vaccine maker Novavax. “‘Operation Warp Speed,’ the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccine program, on Tuesday announced the largest government Covid-19 vaccine contract to date — a $1.6 billion contract with Novavax, a Maryland biotech company.”

INDIVIDUALS / BANDS / GROUPS

The Guardian: Tom Hanks on surviving coronavirus: ‘I had crippling body aches, fatigue and couldn’t concentrate’. “Hanks is used to bowing to the changed landscape. Back in March, while he was filming in Australia, he and his wife, Rita Wilson, became, he says, “the celebrity canaries in the coalmine of all things Covid-19”. They were among the earliest and certainly most famous people in the west to be diagnosed with the virus on 10 March, and were hospitalised for three days. I ask if they have suffered any after effects of the illness.”

CNN: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for Covid-19 after months of dismissing the seriousness of the virus. “Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for Covid-19, following months of downplaying the virus. Bolsonaro himself announced the result, speaking on Brazilian TV channels Tuesday. ‘Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me,’ he said, referring to the Covid-19 test he took Monday.”

SPORTS

Bloomberg: Baseball’s Return in Peril After Champs Shut Down Training. “The World Series champion Washington Nationals have shut down their spring training after just three days, and their players and front office are questioning the wisdom of baseball’s return to play. In a statement Monday, General Manager Mike Rizzo said the team canceled its morning workout due to a delay in receiving test results from Major League Baseball’s lab. The Houston Astros, the Nationals’ opponent in last year’s World Series, also canceled workouts on Monday after test delays.”

EDUCATION

AJC: University System of Georgia to require masks in classrooms after all. “The University System of Georgia announced late Monday it will require students and faculty to wear face coverings in classrooms and other campus facilities if social distancing can’t be done, a reversal of its prior position that faced widespread criticism.”

WTXL: FL Education Commissioner requires all Florida school districts to reopen campuses in August. “Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has issued an executive order requiring all of Florida’s public K-12 schools to reopen in August. As part of the executive order issued Monday, school districts and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools at least five days per week for all students in August.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Kenyan schools to remain closed until 2021. “All schools in Kenya will remain closed until next January because of the coronavirus pandemic. Final year exams, usually taken in October and November, have also been cancelled. Education Minister George Magoha said students would repeat a year as schools had closed in mid-March, three months after the school calendar had begun.”

AP: DeVos rejects part-time reopening for schools amid pandemic. “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday assailed plans by some local districts to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week and said schools must be ‘fully operational’ even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Anything less, she says, would fail students and taxpayers.”

HEALTH

The Atlantic: The U.S. Is Repeating Its Deadliest Pandemic Mistake. “More than 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths in America have been in nursing homes. Here’s how it got so bad, and why there might still be more to come as cases surge in the Sun Belt.”

World Health Organization: WHO: access to HIV medicines severely impacted by COVID-19 as AIDS response stalls. “Seventy-three countries have warned that they are at risk of stock-outs of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new WHO survey conducted ahead of the International AIDS Society’s biannual conference. Twenty-four countries reported having either a critically low stock of ARVs or disruptions in the supply of these life-saving medicines.”

New York Times: Are Protests Dangerous? What Experts Say May Depend on Who’s Protesting What. “Public health experts decried the anti-lockdown protests as dangerous gatherings in a pandemic. Health experts seem less comfortable doing so now that the marches are against racism.”

Herald-Tribune: Florida teen fighting for her life against COVID-19; family begs people to wear masks. “Just two weeks ago, 16-year-old Halene O’Connell was a normal, healthy teenage girl, ready to start the summer before her senior year at Milton High School. But today, she’s in a coma and on a ventilator fighting for her life at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart in Pensacola, battling a severe case of COVID-19 — and her family is begging the community to wear masks and practice social distancing so they don’t end up in a hospital bed too.”

The Guardian: Fauci: US is ‘still knee-deep in first wave’ of pandemic as it nears 130,000 deaths. “Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Monday that America’s grasp of the pandemic was ‘really not good’ and urged further action as new cases of the virus continue to surge to record highs of about 50,000 a day across the country.”

Route Fifty: Scolding Beachgoers Isn’t Helping. “Our national pandemic conversation, like almost everything else, has turned into a polarized, contentious tug-of-war in which evidence sometimes matters less than what team someone is on. And in a particularly American fashion, we’ve turned a public-health catastrophe into a fight among factions, in which the virus is treated as a moral agent that will disproportionately smite one’s ideological enemies—while presumably sparing the moral and the righteous—rather than as a pathogen that spreads more effectively in some settings or through some behaviors, which are impervious to moral or ideological hierarchy. Add in our broken digital public sphere, where anger and outrage more easily bring in the retweets, likes, and clicks, and where bikini pictures probably do not hurt, and we have the makings of the confused, unscientific, harmful, and counterproductive environment we find ourselves in now.”

OUTBREAKS

AZ Central: Arizona COVID-19 cases surpass 100,000 as weekslong spikes continue. “Known cases of COVID-19 in Arizona passed 100,000 on Monday, just over five months since the first case was identified in Maricopa County in late January and just over two weeks since the case count passed 50,000.”

Statesman: Texas coronavirus cases cross 200,000 mark. “Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came as the state has reported weeks of surging hospitalizations and new cases, and as Gov. Greg Abbott aimed to clamp down on those rising numbers with a statewide mask order.”

CBS News: Hospitals across Texas prepare to hit capacity amid surge in coronavirus cases. “Coronavirus hospitalizations have more than doubled in Texas over the last two weeks, with nearly 8,700 people in hospitals as of Monday. Officials from Houston to Austin fear their hospitals could hit capacity in about two weeks, CBS News’ Janet Shamlian reports. Hospitals are already overwhelmed in the Rio Grande Valley. A nurse who fell ill with COVID-19 warns it could happen to anyone.”

Reuters: Dozens of Florida hospitals out of available ICU beds, state data shows. “More than four dozen hospitals in Florida reported that their intensive care units (ICUs) have reached full capacity on Tuesday as COVID-19 cases surge in the state and throughout the country. Hospital ICUs were full at 54 hospitals across 25 of Florida’s 67 counties, according to data published on Tuesday morning by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration. More than 300 hospitals were included in the report, but not all had adult ICUs.”

RESEARCH

Reuters: Becton Dickinson’s rapid antigen test for COVID-19 authorized by FDA, shares rise. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization to Becton Dickinson and Co (BDX.N) for a COVID-19 antigen test that can be administered at the point of care and produce results within 15 minutes, the company said on Monday.”

NiemanLab: Coronavirus responses highlight how humans are hardwired to dismiss facts that don’t fit their worldview. “Americans increasingly exist in highly polarized, informationally insulated ideological communities occupying their own information universes. Within segments of the political blogosphere, global warming is dismissed as either a hoax or so uncertain as to be unworthy of response. Within other geographic or online communities, the science of vaccine safety, fluoridated drinking water, and genetically modified foods is distorted or ignored. There is a marked gap in expressed concern over the coronavirus depending on political party affiliation, apparently based in part on partisan disagreements over factual issues like the effectiveness of social distancing or the actual COVID-19 death rate.”

Plus: Study: Lower COVID Risk for HIV-Positive People on Antiretrovirals. “A study of tens of thousands of HIV-positive Spaniards found they faced less risk of dying or getting seriously ill from COVID-19 than people without HIV. Researchers specifically cited the use of antiretroviral therapy — specifically medications that include a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) backbone of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF)/emtricitabine (FTC) — as a factor in the lower risks, according to the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and reported in the American Journal of Managed Care.”

FUNNY

CNET: Rickroll service spices up Zoom meetings with Never Gonna Give You Up. “Zoom fatigue is real. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed much of the world into endless loops of virtual meetings, but there is a light in the Zoom darkness. Creative technologist Matt Reed has created a Rickrolling service that summons Rick Astley and his catchy Never Gonna Give You Up hit into your Zoom meetings.”

CRIME / SECURITY / LEGAL

Detroit Free Press: Petition drive to repeal governor’s emergency powers starts this week. “A petition to repeal the emergency law Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is using to manage the coronavirus pandemic will be on the streets in Michigan within a couple of days, a spokesman for the group backing the petition said Monday.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Italian beach nudists fined as police crack down. “Six people who dared to go bare on the shores of an Italian lake have been given big fines for outraging public decency. The naturists were spotted by police patrolling the beaches of Abbadia Lariana in an attempt to enforce social distancing measures. The six, all men aged 43 to 68, were each given fines of €3,333 (£3,000; $3,750).”

Law .com: ‘I Don’t Blame You, Man’: South Florida Lawyer Turns Heads by Wearing Full Hazmat Suit to Federal Court. “When Miami criminal defense attorney Samuel J. Rabin Jr. got out of his car and began walking down the street in a full hazmat suit, gloves, respirator mask and face shield, two police officers pulled up, rolled down their car window and said, ‘Is there something we should be worrying about?’ ‘I’ve got to go to court,’ Rabin told them.”

Route Fifty: Coronavirus Fraudsters Keep Prosecutors Busy. “Many fraudsters have submitted false state unemployment claims. In Washington state, the unemployment system temporarily crashed under the weight of hundreds of millions of dollars in payments for fake claims. These are just a few examples of what prosecutors say are tens of thousands of attempts to rip off governments by fraudulently filing for expanded unemployment benefits or lying on applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to assist small businesses forced to close or drastically cut back due to the pandemic.”

OPINION

Washington Post: Here are the governors who hurt so many, so needlessly. “President Trump deserves a good deal of the blame for playing down the pandemic and goading governors to reopen. However, it was these states’ governors who arrogantly defied expert advice and replete warnings about closing down too late and opening too soon. They ultimately made the decision to follow Trump’s horrendously dangerous advice.”

POLITICS

CNN: The problem with Trump’s pandemic-era events. “Cases of Covid-19 are climbing both nationally and within President Donald Trump’s team. Still, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have kept holding public events. Staffing and staging ahead of any presidential event is complex, even without the pandemic. But now, when the President or Vice President is on the move, it puts their staff members and guests at greater risk.”

CNN: The mask decision that will haunt Trump’s reelection bid. “As coronavirus cases surge and governors begin agitating for a national mandate on wearing masks, President Donald Trump is showing few signs he’ll budge on an issue that has come to epitomize a national pandemic response rooted in denial and which now threatens his political future.”

Washington Post: Trump and Biden campaigns shift focus to coronavirus as pandemic surges. “The Trump and Biden presidential campaigns now see the coronavirus response as the preeminent force shaping the results of November’s election, prompting both camps to try to refocus their campaigns more heavily on the pandemic, according to officials and advisers of both campaigns.”

Jacksonville .com: Coronavirus: Jacksonville mayor quarantined after contact with COVID-19 case. “Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is in isolation after being exposed to someone who had COVID-19. Curry said Tuesday he has tested negative for the coronavirus since being exposed but is staying home, away from people, as a precaution.”

CNN: Trump administration begins formal withdrawal from World Health Organization. “The Trump administration has notified Congress and the United Nations that the United States is formally withdrawing from the World Health Organization, multiple officials tell CNN, a move that comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases throughout the Americas in the last week alone. Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tweeted the news Tuesday.”

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