Saturday CoronaBuzz, July 18, 2020: 55 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Please wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you can. Please be careful. I love you.


BBC: Coronavirus tests: Swabs don’t damage the brain and other claims fact-checked. “Claims that coronavirus tests can harm people are circulating on social media. We investigated the claims in some of the most widely shared posts.”


News18: Maskhole, After Covidiots, is the Best Word to Define People with Reckless Behaviour in Pandemic. “Four months into the lockdown and continuous messages on how to be safe, the mask is still not finding its place. And now we do have a word for such people who defeat the purpose of masks. Maskhole is the word that The New Yorker has devised for such individuals.”

I’m not really sure where to put this. I don’t know if the kids are really getting alcohol when they cosplay older adults, or if it’s just a prank. If they ARE getting alcohol this way, I can’t put it under humor, because I don’t find anything funny about a minor getting access to alcohol. So I’ll just put it here. New York Post: Teens are dressing up as mask-wearing grandmas to try to score alcohol. “In a pandemic, no one knows you’re underage. That’s what Gen Z has discovered as they’ve updated the fake ID for the COVID-19 era, hitting up liquor stores dressed as elderly grandmas wearing coronavirus face masks.”

CNN: Latinx residents fear the toll coronavirus is taking on their lives and community. “The Kaiser Family Foundation released new research last week that identified 33 states as hotspots of Covid-19 in the US, 23 of which were in the South and West. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, just over half (51%) of people in the US reside in these 23 states, but they are home to seven in 10 of all Hispanic individuals (71%).”

Newsweek: Texas Newspaper Prints 43-Page Obituary Section As Coronavirus Deaths Soar. “The section reportedly features around 900 obituaries, according to Twitter user @ShawnDCstudent, who noted: ‘By my calculations 43 pages x 21 on each page that equals 903 obituaries.'”

CNN: Half of US adults live in households that lost income in pandemic. “The coronavirus pandemic has generated a lot of eye-popping statistics as it wreaks devastation across America. Here’s the latest: Half of US adults live in households that lost income from jobs.”


CNN: Walmart, Kroger will start requiring customers in US stores to wear masks. “Other national chains made similar moves on Wednesday. Kroger and Kohl’s announced they would start requiring all customers to wear masks, signaling that more retailers are lining up behind mask-wearing mandates. The National Retail Federation, the main lobbying group for the industry, also called on retailers to require masks for customers.”

ProPublica: How McKinsey Is Making $100 Million (and Counting) Advising on the Government’s Bumbling Coronavirus Response. “In the middle of March, as the coronavirus pandemic was shutting down the country, McKinsey & Co., the giant management consulting firm, saw opportunity. The firm sprang into sales mode, deploying its partners across the country to seek contracts with federal agencies, state governments and city halls. Government organizations had been caught unprepared by the virus, and there was a lot of money to be made advising them on how to address it.”

Deadline: ‘Empire Strikes Back’ Leads At The Weekend Box Office With $644K, 23 Years After Sequel’s Special Edition – Update. “In the current broken exhibition marketplace where 1,5K theaters are open, that’s a pretty potent weekend for a No 1 film, just under Ghostbusters‘ 5-day last weekend of $656K (but above that Ivan Reitman pic’s 3-day of $550K), Trolls World Tour‘s 4-day Memorial weekend of $656K (yes, same amount), and Jurassic Park‘s June 19-21 weekend which banked $517,6K over three-days according to industry estimates.”


Washington Post: As the coronavirus crisis spins out of control, Trump issues directives — but still no clear plan. “Trump has boasted that the United States leads the world in coronavirus testing, yet he has declined to produce a national testing plan, and in many communities tests can take a week or longer to process, rendering their results all but useless in slowing the spread. And with case numbers spiking from coast to coast and fears mounting of additional outbreaks this fall and winter, Trump’s most clearly articulated plan to end the covid-19 pandemic is to predict the virus will ‘just disappear’ and to bank on a vaccine being ready ‘very, very soon.'”

ProPublica: Hospitals Are Suddenly Short of Young Doctors — Because of Trump’s Visa Ban. “As hospitals across the United States brace for a difficult six months — with the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic still raging and concerns about a second wave in the fall — some are acutely short-staffed because of an ill-timed change to immigration policy and its inconsistent implementation.”

Washington Post: State Department releases cable that launched claims that coronavirus escaped from Chinese lab. “The State Department has released an internal cable from 2018 detailing the concerns of U.S. Embassy officials in China about a lack of adequately trained personnel at a virology lab in Wuhan, the city that later became the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Leaked contents of the cable sparked unproven speculation from senior U.S. officials beginning in April that the outbreak occurred as a result of an accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

The Hill: Trump says he won’t issue national mask mandate. “President Trump says he will not issue a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.”

Washington Post: Maryland’s governor touts his purchase of tests from South Korea. Emails show a U.S. company offered tests at a lower price.. “As Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan negotiated receipt of 500,000 coronavirus tests from South Korea this spring, a domestic test distributor tried to sell the state a million or more federally authorized tests at less than two-thirds the price, according to emails between the distributor and a state health official.”

New York Times: Government Says Contract for Covid-19 Database Was Competitively Bid. ” The Pittsburgh company that won a $10.2 million contract to run the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database beat five other firms that bid on the work, according to officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, who said a federal website that listed the award as a ‘sole source’ contract was in error.”

The Daily Beast: Italy Finds Tens of Thousands of COVID-19 Cases—Literally at Random. “The white square tent in the parking lot of an IKEA on the outskirts of this city looks like it could be a store display for the latest flat-pack garden gazebo. But behind the flap, health officials in hazmat are carrying out random screenings for COVID-19, a potentially life-saving measure and one of the most proactive ways Italians have found to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, at least for now.”


Washington Post: Angela Merkel is riding high as she steers Europe’s coronavirus recovery effort. “Earlier this year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been written off by many as a lame duck. Her coalition and party were beset by infighting, and speculation was rife that she would buckle to pressure to step aside before the end of her final term in 2021. But a coolheaded and effective response to the coronavirus crisis has pushed Merkel’s approval ratings as high as 86 percent within Germany. She is in a position of strength and confidence this week as she steers Europe’s effort to address what is predicted to be its deepest economic recession on record.”

CNBC: Georgia Gov. Kemp urges people to wear masks despite suing Atlanta over mask mandate. “Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp urged residents Friday to wear a face mask when in public, two days after he blocked local officials from enforcing their own rules to further prevent the spread of Covid-19.”


Sports Chicago: How to watch White Sox-Cubs exhibition: Time, TV schedule and streaming info. “The 2020 MLB season gets a little extra Crosstown this year. Because of the delay to start the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB teams are preparing to start the season in July when normally the season is eclipsing the midway point. Teams are putting on a mid-summer Spring Training at their home ballparks and will play three exhibition games before beginning the season.”


Daily Beast: Sorry, Donald, but Home-Schooling Is Reality Now. “Hillary Clinton was right about one thing. It really does take a village to raise a child. I learned this lesson last spring, as I dove headfirst into serious homeschooling when the world shut down and the schools closed. Others may have flirted with homeschooling—I asked it to the prom. Not only did my kids’ grades improve, so did my knowledge (and appreciation for our educators). But trust me. It wasn’t easy. At times, I felt like the resident idiot in our home-school village.”

Chalkbeat Colorado: U-turn: Denver reverts to virtual learning to start the school year. “Denver Public Schools is changing course again on whether to reopen schools next month: The district on Friday said it will now start the school year remotely. Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Colorado, and both teachers and parents expressed serious concerns about students returning to school in person.”

AP: Millions of kids told full return to school in fall unlikely. “Millions more children in the U.S. learned Friday that they’re unlikely to return to classrooms full time in the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic as death tolls reached new highs. It came as many states — particularly in the Sunbelt — struggled to cope with the surge and governments worldwide tried to control fresh outbreaks.”

Politico: Newsom orders virtual instruction in most California counties. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out new rules Friday that will require schools in counties with high rates of coronavirus infections to keep campuses closed until they can meet certain public health standards, the broadest move yet in the U.S. to mandate virtual learning for the fall.”

CNN: White House blocks CDC from testifying on reopening schools next week. “The White House is blocking US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield and other officials from the agency from testifying before a House Education and Labor Committee hearing on reopening schools next week, just as the debate over sending children back to classrooms has flared up across the US.”


ABC News: Some hospitals see rise in younger admissions for COVID-19, raising doctors’ concerns. “As data shows more and more younger people are getting infected by the novel coronavirus, health experts are trying to bust a myth that they say has stifled the global health crisis response: that young people can’t get seriously ill from the virus that has killed more than 574,000 people around the world.”

Fox 13 Utah: Man discovered dead in tent while waiting for COVID-19 test in North Ogden. “A 71-year-old man was found dead in the parking lot on Sunday while waiting for a COVID-19 test at the Intermountain Healthcare clinic in North Ogden. Officials with Intermountain said a driver and caretaker from a nursing facility brought the patient to the testing site, but by the time they arrived to the front of the line found that the patient was dead.”

CNBC: These doctors and nurses volunteered to battle Covid-19 in the Navajo Nation, and came back with a warning. “The Navajo Nation, which reported its first Covid-19 case in mid-March, has seen infection rates per capita among the highest in the country. Thus far, there have been 8,000 cases and more than 300 deaths. The reservation, which is home to more than 170,000 people, is spread out across the varied desert landscape of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.”

Washington Post: Long delays in getting test results hobble coronavirus response. “Test results for the novel coronavirus are taking so long to come back that experts say the results across the United States are often proving useless in the campaign to control the deadly disease. Some testing sites are struggling to provide results in five to seven days. Others are taking even longer. Outbreaks across the Sun Belt have strained labs beyond capacity. That rising demand, in turn, has caused shortages of swabs, chemical reagents and equipment as far away as New York.”

AZ Central: Uncounted millions had COVID-19 symptoms, but no positive test. “Experts estimate tens of millions of Americans contracted coronavirus but are not included in official tallies because of testing errors, misdiagnoses, a sluggish public health response, and ignorance about the disease during its early days in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday that there have been about 3.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide and at least 136,000 deaths. The actual number of infections is likely 10 times the number of reported cases, CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a news conference on June 25.”

New York Times: A Detailed Map of Who Is Wearing Masks in the U.S.. “In some American neighborhoods, it’s hard to spot even one person outside without a face covering. In others, your odds of seeing many maskless people are quite high. Public health officials believe that face coverings can substantially slow transmission of the coronavirus, which is spreading rapidly in many states. But face coverings work best if they are adopted widely, and that is not the case everywhere. The accompanying map shows the odds of whether, if you encountered five people in a given area, all of them would be wearing masks.”

San Francisco Chronicle: There were no reports of coronavirus in Yosemite. Then they tested the park’s sewage. “Like a lot of the rural West, Yosemite National Park stood as a safe haven from the coronavirus. No park employees or residents tested positive. No visitors reported being sick. The fresh air and open space seemed immune. That’s until local health officials started looking for the coronavirus in the park’s raw sewage — that’s right, the poop. This week, lab analysis of feces at two wastewater treatment plants serving Yosemite revealed the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19. Dozens of people in Yosemite Valley are believed to have been infected.”

International Business Times: Fauci Warns Of ‘Post-Viral Syndrome’ Among COVID-19 Patients That Causes Fatigue, Brain Fog After Recovery. “Even six months after COVID-19 was identified, the medical community is still learning about the disease’s long-term effects. As of now, it is known that COVID-19 can cause heart damage, lung damage, stroke and several neurological issues. COVID-19 could also lead to potentially debilitating consequences termed post-viral syndrome, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who spoke at the International AIDS conference. ‘Brain fog, fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating. So this is something we really need to seriously look at because it very well might be a post-viral syndrome associated with COVID-19,’ Healthline quoted Dr. Fauci.”


Dallas Morning News: As coronavirus spreads through Seagoville prison, inmates and family fear ‘a waiting game’ to get sick. “After Michael Mouton tested positive for COVID-19, he said his symptoms escalated from fatigue to fever, coughing, vomiting, aches and chills. But unlike most Americans with the coronavirus who can isolate at home, social distancing is a challenge in prisons, like the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville, where Mouton is serving a sentence on a federal drug charge. He’s one of the more than 1,800 inmates in the prison, which is facing a massive outbreak of the virus.”

The Guardian: Okinawa demands answers from US after 61 marines contract coronavirus. “The governor of Okinawa island in Japan has demanded that a United States military commander take tougher prevention measures and have more transparency after officials were told more than 60 marines at two bases have been infected with the coronavirus over the past few days.”

CNN: Task force report says 18 states in coronavirus ‘red zone’ should roll back reopening. “An unpublished document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom, recommends that 18 states in the coronavirus ‘red zone’ for cases should roll back reopening measures amid surging cases.”

3 News Las Vegas: Culinary Union: 352 workers & family members hospitalized with COVID-19 so far. “The Culinary Union in Las Vegas continues to push for more safety measures related to COVID-19, arguing that workers and their family members have been getting sick since casinos in the state reopened a month ago. The union said in a statement Friday that 22 of its members and their spouses or dependents have died due to COVID-19, and 352 have been hospitalized through July 15.”


BBC: How a Colombian market is using AI to combat Covid-19 outbreaks. “Mr Palacio explains how they use facial recognition software connected to cameras at the entrances and to security cameras around the building to collect data on the vendors and market-dwellers. Among the data they collect is their age range, gender, and if the person is wearing their mask correctly in order to assess risks and more vulnerable demographics. Thermal cameras can take the temperature of 200 people per minute, he says. If someone has a high temperature or wears their mask incorrectly, an alarm will go off and alert market security.”


AP: Profile of a killer: Unraveling the deadly new coronavirus. “Seven months after the first patients were hospitalized in China battling an infection doctors had never seen before, the world’s scientists and citizens have reached an unsettling crossroads. Countless hours of treatment and research, trial and error now make it possible to take much closer measure of the new coronavirus and the lethal disease it has unleashed. But to take advantage of that intelligence, we must confront our persistent vulnerability: The virus leaves no choice.”

CNET: COVID-19 virus isn’t transmitted by mosquitoes, scientists find. “A lot of coronavirus health myths are spreading through a worried and weary world. One concern is that mosquitos could feed on an infected person and then transmit the virus to another person. According to a new study from researchers at Kansas State University, we don’t have to be concerned about that.”

Newsweek: Scans Reveal Heart Damage in Over Half of COVID-19 Patients in Study. “The study involved 1,216 patients, of whom 813 had been diagnosed with COVID-19, and 298 were deemed probable cases. Due to the design of the study, the remaining 105 were assumed to have COVID-19, the co-authors told Newsweek. The participants were from 69 countries across six continents. They each had an echocardiogram, a type of ultrasound scan for the heart, between April 3 and 20.”

Rappler: Full coronavirus vaccine unlikely by next year – expert. “There is little chance of a 100% effective coronavirus vaccine by 2021, a French expert warned Sunday, July 12, urging people to take social distancing measures more seriously.”


ABA Journal: Prosecutor in critical condition with COVID-19 had filed an OSHA complaint. “A hospitalized prosecutor in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, told colleagues he filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after becoming ill with COVID-19. Assistant Allegheny County District Attorney Russ Broman, 65, was in critical condition, according to initial reports by CBS Pittsburgh, WXPI and TribLive.”

Houston Chronicle: Texas GOP to use George R. Brown as backup after federal judge rules convention can proceed. “A federal judge on Friday ruled that Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston First Corp. must allow the Texas Republican Party to proceed with an in-person convention at the downtown George R. Brown Convention Center, though the party now only intends to use the facility as a backup option.”

San Antonio Express-News: San Antonio-based Southwest Research Institute finds ‘counterfeit’ masks among hospital supplies of coronavirus gear. “More than two-thirds of KN95 respirator masks tested by Southwest Research Institute failed to meet U.S. filtration standards. KN95 masks are manufactured in China and look similar to the gold-standard N95 masks used by health care providers to protect against the contagious novel coronavirus. But KN95 masks sold in the United States have not gone through the same certification process as N95 masks.”


New York Times: America Drank Away Its Children’s Future. “None of this had to happen. Other countries stuck with their lockdowns long enough to reduce infections to rates much lower than those prevailing here; Covid-19 death rates per capita in the European Union are only a 10th those in the United States — and falling — while ours are rising fast. As a result, they’re in a position to reopen schools fairly safely.”

New York Times: The Pandemic Could Get Much, Much Worse. We Must Act Now.. “When you mix science and politics, you get politics. With the coronavirus, the United States has proved politics hasn’t worked. If we are to fully reopen both the economy and schools safely — which can be done — we have to return to science.”

CNN: Bernie Sanders and Andy Slavitt: America’s cost effective Covid-19 solution? Masks for All. “In the midst of this unprecedented global pandemic, it is clearer than ever that not only is health care a human right, but so too are the resources to protect your health and the health of your family and neighbors. That’s why we are urgently calling for a simple, common-sense, practical and inexpensive way to protect Americans during the coronavirus pandemic: Masks for All. Our goal must be to make high-quality masks available on an equitable basis to every single person in this country at no cost. Next week, one of us will introduce legislation to do just that.”


CNN: Georgia mayors speak out against governor’s ban on face mask mandates. “Mayors across Georgia stood behind Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Thursday after the state’s governor filed a lawsuit against her over the city’s mask mandate. Gov. Brian Kemp said the measure violates his emergency orders prohibiting local leaders from adding to the state’s requirements to protect against coronavirus. The lawsuit escalates a feud between Kemp and Bottoms after she introduced an order that makes not wearing a mask within city limits punishable by a fine or up to six months in jail.”

New Yorker: How Trump Is Helping Tycoons Exploit the Pandemic. “On June 22nd, in the baking heat of a parking lot a few miles inland from Delaware’s beaches, several dozen poultry workers, many of them Black or Latino, gathered to decry the conditions at a local poultry plant owned by one of President Donald Trump’s biggest campaign contributors. ‘We’re here for a reason that is atrocious,’ Nelson Hill, an official with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, told the small but boisterous crowd, which included top Democratic officials from the state, among them Senator Chris Coons. The union, part of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., represents some 1.3 million laborers in poultry-processing and meatpacking plants, as well as workers in grocery stores and retail establishments. Its members, many defined as ‘essential’ workers—without the option of staying home—have been hit extraordinarily hard by the coronavirus. The union estimates that nearly thirty thousand of its workers in the food and health-care sectors have contracted covid-19, and that two hundred and thirty-eight of those have died.”

CNN: To reverse slide, some Trump aides hope for a return to coronavirus briefings. “His poll numbers have cratered. Cases are surging. A large majority of the country says he’s actively impeding efforts to contain coronavirus. What’s a President to do? For some aides, a solution lies in a return to the daily coronavirus briefings that punctuated the earliest days of the pandemic, a once-nightly ritual that ended when President Donald Trump made an offhand suggestion that ingesting disinfectant might help treat the disease.”

Washington Post: Rancor between scientists and Trump allies threatens pandemic response as cases surge. “This week’s remarkable character assault by some top White House advisers on Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, signified President Trump’s hostility toward medical expertise and has produced a chilling effect among the government scientists and public health professionals laboring to end the pandemic, according to administration officials and health experts.”

Politico: Why DeSantis yanked Florida’s surgeon general from a coronavirus briefing. “The coronavirus was sweeping Florida in April when state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees warned that people in the state might have to social distance for up to a year. Minutes later, an aide to Gov. Ron DeSantis whisked him out of the briefing. The aide, DeSantis communications director Helen Aguirre Ferré, blamed Rivkees’ abrupt removal on a scheduling conflict. But state records obtained by POLITICO challenge that assertion.”

Axios: Rep. McCarthy to require masks at Republican conference. “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will require his GOP colleagues to wear face masks for a conference next Tuesday to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in Congress, Bloomberg first reported and McCarthy’s team confirmed to Axios.”

ABC News: As pandemic rages, Trump puts public focus elsewhere. “As much of the country remains engulfed in the biggest public health crisis in a century, President Donald Trump has held only three public coronavirus-related events in the last month. This week alone, the president has maintained a busy public schedule, but it has been devoid of any events focused on the crisis.”

New York Times: The Democrats Are Downsizing Their Convention to Almost Nothing. “Every aspect of the four-day Democratic National Convention, scheduled to begin Aug. 17, has been scaled back from the ambitions set when Milwaukee was named the host city in March 2019. A program of five to six hours of daily speeches, engineered to entertain delegates in the arena and draw heavy television coverage and headlines for Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his vice-presidential nominee, will be cut down closer to three hours each night. Much of the program is likely to be pretaped videos, according to people familiar with the planning.”

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