Thursday CoronaBuzz, July 16, 2020: 49 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.


University of North Carolina: ‘Heroes Health’ mental wellness app launched by School of Medicine and UNC Health. “The UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health have launched the Heroes Health Initiative to help support the mental health of first responders and health care workers during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The app is available through the App Store/Google Play Store in the United States, free of charge to first responders, health care workers and their organizations.”

Khaleej Times: UAE coronavirus updates available on new website. “The website is the result of a collaboration between three authorities: the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) and the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority (FCSA). It provides the latest coronavirus news and statistics such as total tests, cases, deaths and recoveries.”

The Guardian: New points-based tool could gauge Covid-19 risk for health workers. “A new points-based checklist could help keep healthcare workers safe by offering a way to calculate their risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19, researchers have said, stressing its usefulness for workers of black, Asian and ethnic minority heritage.”

PR Newswire: New COVID-19 Policy Mapping Tool and Database Released to Help Inform Decision Making (PRESS RELEASE). “Amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and in anticipation of outbreaks intensifying over the summer, the experts behind have launched a new policy mapping tool and comprehensive database. The tool allows community and national leaders to measure their phased reopening and ongoing local disease spread against the impact of specific policies—like social distancing, wearing masks or limiting crowd size—on suppressing COVID-19 across the United States and around the world.”


Polygon: This website turns your browser into a view through someone else’s window. “Their new website WindowSwap invites users to ‘open a new window somewhere in the world.’ When you click on the button on the site, it opens a new browser window (ha) that takes up the width of the computer screen and is filled with a video of a user-submitted view from their window.” Super-neat and a much-needed reminder that the world is beautiful.


8NewsNow (Nevada): NDE launches digital learning website to help students with online education. “The website, called the Nevada Digital Learning Collaborative (NvDLC), features new tools and resources, such as curricular materials and instructional strategies, that will help students and educators.”

ABC8: Nebraska rolls out new site for COVID-19 information. “Governor Pete Ricketts on Wednesday announced a new website dedicated to providing updates about Nebraska’s response to COVID-19. The site… contains information about the virus and a variety of resources including health guidelines, state case information, guidance documents, testing information and more.”

WTVA: New website launched for Mississippi PPE providers. “On Wednesday, Governor Tate Reeves announced a new, online resource to help Mississippi businesses, schools, churches and other organizations who need to purchase personal protective equipment. The website serves as a hub, where Mississippi businesses can help the state’s own residents when it comes to buying PPE items that are in high demand.”


New York Times: How to Fight Health ‘Cures’ Online. “Anne Borden King had already battled online health misinformation as a parent of a child with autism. Then, as a patient, she was barraged on Facebook by bogus cancer ‘cure’ advertisements after posting about her diagnosis. Borden, a co-founder of the Campaign Against Phony Autism Cures, talked to me about what we and Facebook can do to stamp out the worst kinds of junk health information that preys on people’s fears. It requires us to have some uncomfortable conversations, and for Facebook to fundamentally change how it works.”


AP: Number of laid-off workers seeking jobless aid stuck at 1.3M. “The number of laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits remained stuck at 1.3 million last week, an historically high level that indicates many companies are still cutting jobs as the viral outbreak intensifies.”


AFP Fact Check: False social media posts purport to share coronavirus guidelines from Sri Lankan hospital. “An image has been shared repeatedly on Facebook and WhatsApp alongside a claim it shows a list of COVID-19 preventive measures issued by Sri Lanka’s Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH). The claim is false; the hospital said it did not issue the purported recommendations; Sri Lankan health officials urged the public to ‘strictly adhere” to approved COVID-19 guidelines; the purported recommendations in the misleading posts have previously been debunked by health experts.”


ProPublica: Different Names, Same Address: How Big Businesses Got Government Loans Meant for Small Businesses. “From Vibra’s corporate address in Pennsylvania, 26 limited liability companies received PPP loans, 23 of them from the same bank, with almost all the loan approvals coming on the same day in April. ProPublica found several other large businesses employing the same apparent strategy of counting each of their LLCs or other entities as a separate business. In Las Vegas, a casino operator backed by hedge funds got 20 loans. Two nursing home chains received tens of millions of dollars: One chain in Illinois got loans for 51 different entities, while another based in Georgia got 19. Together, ProPublica was able to identify up to $516 million that flowed to just 15 organizations.”

ProPublica: Thousands of Small Business Owners Have Not Gotten Disaster Loans the Government Promised Them. “A top official said 99% of funds were paid, but only 55% of small business owners reported receiving the money. Borrowers were told there was a technical glitch, but the Small Business Administration would not answer questions about it.”

BNN Bloomberg: Domestic Cruises Unlikely to Resume This Year, Analysts Say. “Cruising in ‘any meaningful way’ in North America for the major brands will not resume until at least the second quarter of next year, SunTrust analyst C. Patrick Scholes wrote in a note, citing industry sources. This would be a ‘material setback’ from the expected October starting dates that his contacts were telling him just two months ago, he said.”

HuffPost: Disney World May Be Open, But Most Kids In The U.S. Have Nowhere To Go. “Without additional public funding, 40% of the child care centers in the U.S. say they’ll be forced to permanently shutter because of the financial pressures of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey released Monday by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.”


WABC: Coronavirus Update: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut add 4 states to mandatory isolation list. “New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have added four states to the list from which travelers are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. The newly-added states are Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin. Delaware has been removed.”

NBC News: Federal stockpile is thin amid coronavirus surge, internal documents show. “For example, the Strategic National Stockpile and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have fewer than 900,000 gloves in reserve after shipping 82.7 million of them — or just 30 percent of the amount requested by state, local and tribal governments — since the COVID-19 crisis began, according to figures compiled Sunday by Health and Human Services Department officials for senior leaders of the interagency coronavirus task force effort. In particular, nursing homes and long-term care facilities say there is a major personal protective equipment shortage.”

CNN: US-Canada border closure to be extended another month, officials say. “The US border with Canada border is expected to remain closed until at least August 21, two Canadian government sources with knowledge of the situation tell CNN, extending the ban on non-essential travel between the two countries for another month.”

Reuters: France to make masks compulsory in enclosed public places. “France will make it compulsory for people to wear masks in shops and other enclosed public spaces from next month to stop a resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.”

CNBC: The Treasury Department is canceling stimulus checks to dead recipients. “As part of the CARES Act, the federal government pushed out economic impact payments — stimulus checks — to millions of Americans this spring. Individuals were eligible for up to $1,200 in federal funds, plus $500 for each qualifying child under age 17. Close to 160 million of these payments were made as of June 3, exceeding $267 billion, according to Treasury. However, as many as 1.1 million payments — or $1.4 billion — went to dead individuals, the Government Accountability Office found.”

BuzzFeed News: The Government’s Own Experts Say Separating Immigrant Families During The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Add To Their Mental Trauma. “A group of medical experts hired by the Department of Homeland Security says separating immigrant children from their parents would ‘exacerbate the physical and mental trauma to detained families who know they are unable to protect themselves from the deadly, rapidly spreading pandemic.'”

Washington Post: Trump administration recommends the National Guard as an option to help hospitals report coronavirus data. “The Trump administration is asking governors to consider sending the National Guard to hospitals to help improve data collection about novel coronavirus patients, supplies and capacity, according to a letter, internal emails and officials familiar with the plans. The move is part of a new data reporting protocol for hospitals that eliminates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a recipient of that information — a decision that is sparking controversy about whether or not the data is reliable.”

AP: Georgia gov. explicitly voids mask orders in 15 localities. “Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp is explicitly banning Georgia’s cities and counties from ordering people to wear masks in public places. He voided orders on Wednesday that at least 15 local governments across the state had adopted even though Kemp had earlier said cities and counties had no power to order masks.”


Fierce Pharma: Merck CEO Frazier says COVID-19 vaccine hype a ‘grave disservice’ to the public. “Politicians, government officials and pharma executives alike have been predicting a COVID-19 vaccine debut by year’s end, but Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier doubts that’s possible—and Merck has enough vaccine experience to know the obstacles ahead. Instead, those who are promising vaccines later this year could be hurting the overall fight against the pandemic, Frazier figures.”

Politico: Freedom Caucus member tests positive for coronavirus. “Rep. Morgan Griffith, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has tested positive for coronavirus — a diagnosis that comes five days after the Virginia Republican attended a GOP press conference and which spurred an effort at contact tracing within the group.”

Politico: CDC chief: Trump should set example with mask. “CDC Director Robert Redfield on Tuesday said President Donald Trump should ‘set an example’ by wearing a mask as he also warned the upcoming convergence of flu season and the coronavirus could be ‘one of the most difficult times that we have experienced in American public health.'”


WBUR: As Universities Prepare To Bring Students Back, Some Turn To Mass Coronavirus Testing. “When Tufts University President Anthony Monaco looks out his window these days, he sees rows of trailers set up on the campus tennis courts. The university calls them ‘The Mods’ – short for modular housing – and they’ll hold hundreds of temporary rooms for students who may need to isolate themselves if they get the coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19.”

WTSP: ‘Teachers are preparing lesson plans and living wills’: Florida teachers union pushes for delayed start to school year. “Following the state’s Department of Education’s order, school districts across Tampa Bay are pushing for in-person learning to begin at the start of the school year, but teachers say they don’t have enough answers to feel safe enough to go back into classrooms.”

NBC News: ‘I’m scared’: In Detroit, a city hit hard by COVID-19, reopening classrooms sparks protests. “The fury surrounding the start of summer school in Detroit this week offers a preview of the emotional battles that could hit many more communities this fall. The city’s main public school district made the unusual decision to open classrooms for in-person summer learning starting Monday in hopes of helping children catch up four months after the coronavirus forced schools to close.”


Washington Post: In this Maryland suburb, 74 percent of new covid-19 patients are Hispanic. “Recent data shows that Montgomery County’s 200,000 Hispanic residents account for more than two-thirds of new infections, even though they are just a fifth of the county’s population. Advocates blame the disparity partly on government failures to provide easy access to testing and medical care in underserved Latino communities, where residents are more likely to face job and living conditions that make it harder to avoid the virus.”

Medical University of South Carolina: MUSC researchers emphasize masks as tool to reduce COVID infections. “…when researchers looked at COVID-19 mortality rates around the world, they found that countries with older people or greater numbers of people who are obese had higher mortality rates – but so did countries that resisted masks when compared with countries where mask-wearing is a cultural norm or was mandated early.”


The Diplomat: Kazakhstan’s COVID-19 Crisis Spinning on. “On Monday, July 13, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev tweeted that the country’s second lockdown — which began on July 5 — would be extended through the end of July. Meanwhile, as case numbers soar a handful of media organizations in the country have banded together to catalogue the names of the dead missed by the government and Tokayev has threatened to fire his entire cabinet for failing control of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

New York Times: I Went Home to Texas to Cover the Virus. Then My Family Got It.. “My family moved to the Rio Grande Valley in the mid-1990s, when I was 16. My parents, two sisters and their offspring all live on the same block outside of McAllen. As soon as the outbreak reached the border, I volunteered to report on the story because I was uniquely equipped to tell it. After having reported on the virus during its calamitous sweep through New York City, I knew that the warm, close-knit family culture I had grown up with in the Valley would make social distancing a challenge — and as I called ahead to prepare for my return home, I quickly learned that my worst fears were coming true.”

Syracuse .com: At least 16 sick after coronavirus exposure at DeWitt in-home day care: ‘Take this seriously … stay home if sick at all’. “At least 16 children and adults have come down with the coronavirus after it spread from contact at a DeWitt family in-home child care. The cluster of the coronavirus cases has made people in four families sick, including six children at the child care, one sibling, seven parents and two grandmothers, according to Heidi Feathers, who operates the licensed in-home child care with two other parents.”

Talking Points Memo: FEMA Sends Texas 14 Mobile Morgues As Coronavirus Death Counts Rise. “The Sunbelt states buckling under COVID-19 have started making preparations for the worst to come: They’re ordering extra morgues. The mobile, refrigerated morgue units are supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or on the private market, giving hospitals and local public health departments extra capacity to store the dead.”


The Atlantic: Facebook’s Pandemic Feuds Are Getting Ugly. “The pandemic has opened up a new front in the American culture wars. There have been protests against masks and lockdowns in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and several other states. In North Carolina, Facebook has served as a highly visible hub for both sides. Reopen NC has sparked more than 30 smaller, county-specific groups that started sharing its videos of mask burnings in the spring and have echoed its complaints about government ‘tyranny’ all summer. It also has a number of antagonists, who bristle at the group’s flagrant disregard for public health and have spent the last several months becoming more and more embittered—often referring to those who don’t take the pandemic seriously as ‘plague rats.'”


Gallup: GOP Governors Losing Residents’ Support on COVID-19. “Americans are broadly positive about the way their state governors are handling the COVID-19 crisis, but that sentiment has slipped in the past month as virus cases have skyrocketed in parts of the country. These modest declines mask particularly sharp downturns in the collective governor ratings of residents in states led by Republican governors, while the ratings of residents in states led by Democratic governors have been steady.”

CNN: Moderna coronavirus vaccine shows ‘promising’ safety and immune response results in published Phase 1 study, but more research is needed. “A Covid-19 vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna in partnership with the National Institutes of Health has been found to induce immune responses in all of the volunteers who received it in a Phase 1 study.”

University of Oregon: New research examines the societal effects of COVID-19. “UO researchers trying to learn more about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected daily life are teaming up to explore how people get groceries and household provisions and how that is changing travel and transportation. Rebecca Lewis, a professor in the School of Planning, Public Policy, and Management in the College of Design, is a key member of two research teams taking on a pair of projects. The studies look at both personal lifestyles and public infrastructure.”


Talking Points Memo: Police: Unmasked Man Stabs Masked 77-Year-Old After Argument At Michigan Store. “A man who walked into a convenience store in a suburb of Lansing, Michigan without a mask Tuesday morning allegedly stabbed an elderly man who argued with him about it, a Michigan State Police spokesperson said. The unmasked man fled the scene and was later shot dead by a Eaton County sheriff’s deputy after allegedly coming toward the deputy with a knife. The stabbing victim is in stable condition at the hospital, police said.”

NBC News: Trump administration backs down on restrictions for international students. “Facing blowback and lawsuits, the Trump administration is rescinding its directive blocking international students from staying in the United States while taking online-only classes.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Russian hackers target Covid-19 vaccine research. “The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the hackers ‘almost certainly’ operated as ‘part of Russian intelligence services’. It said the group used malware to try and steal information relating to Covid-19 vaccine development.”

ProPublica: A Teenager Didn’t Do Her Online Schoolwork. So a Judge Sent Her to Juvenile Detention.. “A 15-year-old in Michigan was incarcerated during the coronavirus pandemic after a judge ruled that not completing her schoolwork violated her probation. ‘It just doesn’t make any sense,’ said the girl’s mother.”


Salon: Why is the stock market soaring amid a pandemic? Because Trump thinks that may save him. “All told, Donald Trump is a bit of an expert at blurting things that force the markets to bend to his will. And he’s engaging in similar shenanigans now, while Americans are dying by the thousands. Before the pandemic and accompanying economic calamity hit us, it’s possible, while not proven, that Trump used his inexplicable trade war to seize control over the indexes. Since Trump launched the trade war with China in early 2018, whenever he’d announce good news about negotiations with Beijing — which were probably lies — the markets would rise. Whenever he’d announce bad news along those lines, the markets would collapse. We can see it in the charts: Since 2018, we’ve observed wildly unprecedented whiplash swings by hundreds of points in single days of trading, and most of those gains or declines were linked to the trade war.”

Washington Post: We ran the CDC. No president ever politicized its science the way Trump has.. “As America begins the formidable task of getting our kids back to school and all of us back to work safely amid a pandemic that is only getting worse, public health experts face two opponents: covid-19, but also political leaders and others attempting to undermine the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the debate last week around reopening schools more safely showed, these repeated efforts to subvert sound public health guidelines introduce chaos and uncertainty while unnecessarily putting lives at risk.”


Politico: Dunford withdraws as pick to lead coronavirus oversight commission. “Retired Gen. Joseph Dunford, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, has withdrawn from consideration to lead a congressional commission tasked with overseeing the Trump administration’s implementation of a $500 billion coronavirus relief fund, according to multiple Capitol Hill sources.”

Local10: Hialeah mayor left out of DeSantis coronavirus roundtable, calls it ‘a lack of respect’. “A quick glance around the room at Gov. Ron DeSantis’ roundtable with Miami-Dade County mayors on Tuesday showed a glaring omission. Not present: Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez. It’s notable, considering Hialeah continues to be a statewide case-leader for COVID-19.”

New York Times: Republicans Said to Be Planning to Move Some Convention Events Outdoors. “With coronavirus cases surging in Florida, Republicans are planning to move the three nights of their national convention from an indoor arena to an outdoor venue in Jacksonville, but it’s still unclear how many people will be allowed to attend the events, people familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.”

NBC News: Trump’s coronavirus team puts internal battles on public display. “During the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House did what most administrations do when a crisis erupts: It sought to show government leaders and top experts working in tandem to solve the problem. Now the Trump administration is going to war with itself, putting vicious internal power battles on full public display ahead of an election that polling shows is becoming largely a referendum on the competence of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response.”

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  1. Jeez — LOVE that WindowSwap thing! So much potential for it to end prematurely, and badly — heck, simple overload could do it — which is hard not to think about in this cynical moment. But what a beautiful idea, well executed!

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