Thursday CoronaBuzz, July 9, 2020: 34 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.


CNN: Here’s how to volunteer for a Covid-19 vaccine trial. “Wednesday, a new website… went live allowing people in the United States to register to take part in clinical trials for vaccines. The website will handle registration for the four large vaccine studies that are expected to start this summer and fall, and any others that follow.”


ProPublica: Tracking PPP Loans: Search Every Company Approved for Federal Loans Over $150k. “As part of the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal government provided up to $659 billion in financial support to banks to make low-interest loans to companies and nonprofit organizations in response to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Search the loans approved by lenders and disclosed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).”


WNEP: Mourning America: New website for those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. “They are more than just numbers. A brand new website has popped up as a tribute to those who have died of COVID-19. It is called Mourning America, and it is a place where family and friends can post pictures and obituaries of people who have died of COVID-19.”

Thank you to Esther S. for dropping this in my email. Due to COVID-19, at , is archiving the signage used right now. From the front page: “During the coronavirus pandemic, daily life has come to a sudden standstill and businesses have had to respond. Signs on storefronts announce operational changes but these messages are also brimming over with solidarity, shared responsibility, and cautious optimism. This project attempts to document the temporary signs that have gone up across our communities. This archive features 1260 sign photos from 118 cities across the world.”


ProPublica: The Most Common IRS Tax Forms You’re Likely to Come Across When Filing. “For those who haven’t filed yet, we recommend checking out our guide to filing your state and federal taxes completely for free, looking to see if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or learning how to track your refund. Though the IRS offers the option of paper filing, with the current COVID-19 state of affairs — and a backlog of 11 million paper returns and documents — the agency is encouraging taxpayers to file electronically to ensure prompt payment of refunds and avoid filing errors. Most paid and free tax prep services will tell you which forms you need to file, but if you’re still confused, see below for a list of the most commonly used tax forms.”


New York Times: Grave Shortages of Protective Gear Flare Again as Covid Cases Surge. “As coronavirus cases surge across the country, hospitals, nursing homes and private medical practices are facing a problem many had hoped would be resolved by now: a dire shortage of respirator masks, isolation gowns and disposable gloves that protect front-line medical workers from infection.”


ABC News: US coronavirus mortality rate not lowest in world, despite Trump claim: FACT CHECK. “The mortality rate is the number of deaths from COVID-19 relative to the overall population. As of Tuesday, the United States had the ninth-worst mortality rate in the world, with 39.82 deaths per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University. The case-fatality rate is the number of deaths from COVID-19 relative to the total number of confirmed cases, shown as a percentage.”


Phys .org: COVID-19 forced us to move a conference from a Greek island to the web, and quickly. Here’s what we learned. “In May this year, we were convening a dream conference: 140 like-minded academics on a Greek island for three-and-a-half days to work on a topic we cared about—organizing sustainably…. Then the universe threw us a curveball in the form of COVID-19, which made us rethink sustainable organizing. Despite a complete lack of experience, and no funding, we decided to move online. More than 100 participants, across 14 time zones, decided to experiment with us.”

CNBC: Empty Manhattan apartments reach record levels, landlords slash rent. “The number of apartments listed for rent in Manhattan reached record levels in June, as brokers remained unable to host showings amid the coronavirus pandemic and more renters left the city, according to a new report. More than 10,000 apartments were listed on the market in June, an increase of 85% over June 2019, according to a report from Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. The official vacancy rate hit a record 3.67% but is far higher in many buildings, according to brokers.”


New York Times: On Some Planes, Empty Rows While Passengers Crowd Together. “On a June 30 flight on American Airlines from Dallas to Newark, Joy Gonzalez, an aviation engineer based in Seattle, found herself seated at a window with two older passengers beside her in the middle and aisle seats. In order to gain more social distance, she and the aisle passenger both moved to seats behind them where two rows were empty. But before takeoff, a flight attendant ordered them back to their assigned seats, telling them they had not paid for those exit row seats, which are more expensive.”

BBC: ‘Don’t scream and be serious’ Japan theme park tells rollercoaster riders. “Many people might find it tricky keeping quiet through an entire roller coaster ride, but one Japanese theme park wants you to do that – and more. Fuji-Q Highland near Tokyo re-opened last month after its virus shutdown. It asked riders to avoid screaming when they go on its rollercoasters, to minimise spreading droplets, and instead ‘scream inside your heart’.” No problem! Been doing it for months.


CNN: Trump trashes CDC school-reopening guidelines — then CDC updates them. “After President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that he disagreed with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for safely reopening schools because they are ‘very tough’ and ‘expensive,’ the agency said it would issue new recommendations next week. The move came as the Trump administration makes a concerted push for schools to reopen by the fall, even as cases surge in some parts of the country.”

The Guardian: US anti-abortion groups received millions in federal Covid-19 aid . “Pro-reproductive rights groups have also received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Planned Parenthood, America’s largest network of abortion and sexual health clinics, received $80m in PPP loans. However, the government agency that oversees the program later tried to claw back loans from Planned Parenthood after Republican criticism, whereas Christian conservative groups were not subject to such efforts.”

NBC News: Trump admin plans to block asylum seekers from U.S. by citing public health risk of COVID-19. “The Trump administration has proposed a new rule that would allow it to deny asylum to immigrants who are deemed a public health risk. The soon-to-be published rule would let the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice to block immigrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. based on ‘potential international threats from the spread of pandemics,’ according to a notice announcing it Wednesday.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Public spending on crisis soars to £190bn. “Public spending on the battle against coronavirus has risen to nearly £190bn, according to latest Treasury figures. It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced another £30bn of support in his summer statement on Wednesday. The extra money is worth nearly £3,000 for every person in the UK – and more than the entire planned health budget for 2020-21.”


New York Times: Ivy League Places All Sports on Hold Until January. “The Ivy League presidents placed all sports on hold Wednesday until at least January, making it the first Division I conference that will not play football as scheduled in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, a broad array of sports, from football and men’s basketball to cross country and sailing, have been placed in limbo.”


AP: Schools or bars? Opening classrooms may mean hard choices. “President Donald Trump insists that schools reopen this fall. Many parents, educators, doctors and economists want the same thing. But getting children back to school safely could mean keeping high-risk spots like bars and gyms closed. A growing chorus of public health experts is urging federal, state and local officials to reconsider how they are reopening the broader economy, and to prioritize K-12 schools — an effort that will likely require closing some other establishments to help curb the virus spread and give children the best shot at returning to classrooms.”

New York Times: N.Y.C. Schools, Nation’s Largest District, Will Not Fully Reopen in Fall. “About four months after 1.1 million New York City children were forced into online learning, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday that public schools would still not fully reopen in September, saying that classroom attendance would instead be limited to only one to three days a week in an effort to continue to curb the coronavirus outbreak.”

The Hill: Teachers union president dares Trump to sit in classroom amid coronavirus ‘and breathe that air’. “The president of the nation’s largest teachers’ union hit back at President Trump over his demand that schools resume in-person classes this fall, saying reopening cannot take place without guaranteeing the safety of students and staff.”

AZ Central: As Trump pushes to reopen schools, Arizona school leaders face more uncertainty. “As President Donald Trump’s administration pushes for schools to reopen on time, a small community in eastern Arizona is reeling from the death of a teacher who contracted COVID-19 after she taught summer school virtually while in the same room as two other teachers. The school district’s superintendent, Jeff Gregorich, said three teachers went above and beyond in taking precautions against the spread of the virus while teaching in the same room, but all three contracted COVID-19.”


KOB4: Texas passes 10,000 confirmed new virus cases in single day. “The record high of 10,028 new cases in Texas served as another alarming new measure of the swift resurgence of COVID-19 nationwide and the failures of the country’s response. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas aggressively began one of America’s fastest reopenings in May, but reversed course last week, ordering bars closed and mandating face coverings in much of the state.”

ProPublica: A Spike in People Dying at Home Suggests Coronavirus Deaths in Houston May Be Higher Than Reported. “In Houston, one of the nation’s fastest-growing coronavirus hot spots, more residents are dying before they can make it to a hospital. Medical examiner data shows that an increasing number of these deaths are the result of COVID-19.”

Montgomery Advertiser: Available Alabama ICU beds at all-time low as COVID-19 hospitalizations spike. “A steep spike in coronavirus hospitalizations across Alabama has led to ‘serious strain’ on hospital capacity across the state, with 206 ICU beds available in state hospitals as of Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said ICUs around the state are 88% full.”

People: Missouri Summer Camp Closes After 82 Kids and Staff Infected with Coronavirus. “Kanakuk Kamps, a network of Christian sports camps in the state, reopened their camps to thousands of kids beginning in May. Kanakuk chose to reopen after Missouri leaders said that there was a risk in letting camps reopen, but that they were confident that the camps had made plans to stop any potential COVID-19 outbreaks from happening. Parents of Kanakuk campers were recently notified by email that one of the camps known as K-2, in Lampe, was temporarily shutting down after staff and campers contracted coronavirus.”


CNN: Ultrasound machines that connect to smartphones are helping doctors safely scan coronavirus patients. “When Butterfly Network first began rolling out its handheld ultrasound scanners in 2018, much of the focus was on providing tools to parts of Africa and Latin America, where access to large and more traditional ultrasound machines was far more restricted. But two years later, a technology that was positioned to help the developing world may find a new use in the United States as hospitals adapt to the new challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.”

EurekAlert: Chatbots can ease medical providers’ burden, offer guidance to those with COVID-19 symptoms. “COVID-19 has placed tremendous pressure on health care systems, not only for critical care but also from an anxious public looking for answers. Research from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business found that chatbots — software applications that conduct online chats via text or text-to-speech — working for reputable organizations can ease the burden on medical providers and offer trusted guidance to those with symptoms.”


BNN Bloomberg: Google, Amazon Funnel Over $20 Million to Virus Conspiracy Sites. “Digital advertising platforms run by Google, Inc. and other tech companies will funnel at least $25 million to websites spreading misinformation about Covid-19 this year, according to a study released Wednesday. Google’s platforms will provide $19 million, or $3 out of every $4 that the misinformation sites get in ad revenue. OpenX, a smaller digital ad distributor, handles about 10% of the money, while Amazon’s technology delivers roughly $1.7 million, or 7%, of the digital marketing spending these sites will receive, according to a research group called the Global Disinformation Index.”

Arizona State University: Low-cost sterilization units combat N95 shortage, help businesses. “Students in the Arizona State University Luminosity Lab have created two versions of a low-cost, small-scale sterilization unit that is effective on general personal protective equipment, including increasingly scarce N95 masks.”


BBC: Anonymous letters providing solace in the pandemic. “When the letter arrived at Daniel Guzmán’s doorstep, it provided him with a glimmer of hope during one of the hardest moments of his life. ‘Keep going, when this is all over, you will walk out of the house with your head held high and your heart willing to give the best of you,’ it read. It was signed simply ‘Niña Peregrina’ (Spanish for ‘Wandering Girl’) Niña Peregrina’s was one one of hundreds of letters that have been exchanged by complete strangers in the Colombian city of Medellín during the country’s months-long quarantine.”

CNET: This 12-year-old CEO is offering free coding, AI classes during COVID-19. “Samaira Mehta is a 12-year-old with lofty goals. The founder of Yes, 1 Billion Kids Can Code and CEO of a board game company called CoderBunnyz wants to get 1 billion kids into coding by the time she graduates from college around 2030. While the coronavirus pandemic threatened to put a damper on her ambitions to host workshops, one quote taped to her bedroom wall stood out to her: ‘When it rains, look for rainbows. When it’s dark, look for stars.'”


WWSB: Federal agencies, hazmat crews respond to Florida church selling COVID-19 ‘miracle solution’. “Multiple agencies were called to the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing in Bradenton, Fla. in connection with search warrants and a federal order involving a concoction that the church has been selling as an alleged treatment for the novel coronavirus.”


Washington Post: Stop saying Trump is ‘in denial.’ The truth is much worse.. “It isn’t enough to point out that Trump repeatedly ignored that advice. What’s more important is that Trump has repeatedly seen the predicted consequences of those failures come to pass, and is seeing that right now. Yet Trump still continues not just to downplay the severity of the virus’s continuing toll, but also to actively discourage current efforts to mitigate the spread — by failing to set an example through mask-wearing, for instance — and to urge the very sort of rapid reopening that has already contributed to catastrophic outcomes.”


AP: Health official: Trump rally ‘likely’ source of virus surge. “President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa in late June that drew thousands of participants and large protests ‘likely contributed’ to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said Wednesday. Tulsa County reported 261 confirmed new cases on Monday, a one-day record high, and another 206 cases on Tuesday. By comparison, during the week before the June 20 Trump rally, there were 76 cases on Monday and 96 on Tuesday.”

New York Times: What Will Trump’s Rally in New Hampshire Be Like? It’s Anyone’s Guess. “Three days before President Trump’s latest rally, in a state that Hillary Clinton narrowly won in 2016, the only thing that seems clear is that the president’s team has no idea what to expect. Mr. Trump’s campaign is planning an event at an airport hangar in Portsmouth, N.H. But the state’s governor, Chris Sununu, a Republican, has said he will not be attending. It isn’t clear how many other Republican elected officials will come. The number of attendees could be low, or it could be expansive. There could be lots of people drifting in from Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts.”

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