Monday CoronaBuzz, July 20, 2020: 36 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.


Popular Science: How to evacuate and find emergency shelter during a pandemic. “Storm season is here, but the pandemic doesn’t care. Emergency preparedness will need to look different this year, but thinking ahead and staying informed will help you stay primed and ready if catastrophe strikes.”

Lifehacker: How to Keep Track of All the Potential Coronavirus Treatments. “There’s still no cure for the coronavirus, but dozens of drugs and treatments are being tested against it. And you’re not alone if you’ve gotten confused about which ones are mere possibilities and which are widely understood to be useful. The science changes day by day, and sometimes a drug will make headlines based on data that turns out not to be as reliable as it first looked. This tracker from the New York Times aims to cut through some of the confusion.”

Lifehacker: How to Try and Prevent Your Eviction. “If you’re struggling to pay rent and grappling with the possibility of eviction, you may have more options than you expect. But as the New York Times reports, the process of preventing eviction may take weeks, at a minimum—so the sooner you act, the better your chances are of staying in your home.”


San Francisco Chronicle: South Carolina sets one-day COVID-19 case record with 2,335. “Sunday saw 2,335 newly diagnosed people come down with COVID-19, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported. South Carolina has reported 2,000 new cases three times since the virus was first detected in the state in March. All have been in the past eight days.”


Philadelphia Inquirer: Commuting rabbis and kosher chickens: A rural Pa. poultry processor’s unique challenge in keeping COVID-19 at bay. “Empire [Kosher] is unique among Pennsylvania poultry suppliers because the company must have rabbis on the killing floor at all times, putting 65,000 chickens to death daily in the manner prescribed by the Torah. The Jewish community is small here near the state’s center, but Empire is one of Juniata County’s largest employer, with a workforce of 601 employees. Sixty of them are rabbis who travel back and forth between the rural plant and their homes in more densely populated areas including New York, New Jersey, and Maryland — places hit far harder than Mifflintown by the coronavirus.”

Kottke: A Time Lapse World Map of Every Covid-19 Death. “From January to the end of June, over 500,000 people died of confirmed cases of Covid-19. In order to demonstrate the magnitude of the pandemic, James Beckwith made a time lapse map of each Covid-19 death.”

New York Times: Federal Aid Has So Far Averted Personal Bankruptcies, but Trouble Looms. “As of mid-June, the Treasury Department had issued nearly $270 billion worth of stimulus payments to some 160 million people. Unemployment benefits, which normally average about $340 a week, were temporarily increased by $600 a week. Some unemployed people now have more income than when they were working. But those benefits are set to expire this month.”

Kottke: Famous Artworks Mask Up for Coronavirus Prevention. “On an Instagram account called Plague History, artist Genevieve Blais has been modifying the subjects of artworks to give them face masks.”


Boing Boing: Zoos worldwide are improvising drive-thru tours during pandemic. “Spend a relaxing 20 minutes touring Toronto’s zoo by car in a new vehicle-friendly route inspired by the pandemic. It’s one of many zoos trying out drive-thru tours to allow for visitors while reducing health risks.”


WTOP: Workers turn into amateur sleuths to track virus cases. “Major companies are keeping their employees in the dark on just how prevalent the virus is in their warehouses, stores and meatpacking plants. That has left workers like [Jana] Jumpp to become amateur sleuths in their spare time. Unions and advocate groups have taken up the cause, too, creating lists or building online maps of stores where workers can self-report cases they know about. The numbers are publicized by the unions and labor groups and used to organize worker protests. But mainly, the reason for collecting them is so that workers can make decisions about their health.

WLNY: NYC Bar, Restaurant Owners Say It’s Unfair To Make Them Enforce Social Distancing, Mask Wearing: ‘I Got Into The Business Of Hospitality’. “Friday marked the first full day of new regulations for bars and restaurants in New York. They must now require customers to social distance, wear masks and purchase food with alcohol, but some of those new rules were quickly broken in Astoria, CBS2’s Cory James reports.”


Slate: The Economy Is Going to Hit an Iceberg in 10 Days. “In theory, the $600 per week federal unemployment benefits that have been a crucial lifeline to families throughout the crisis were supposed to expire on July 31. That was the date most journalists, Capitol Hill staffers, and lawmakers initially marked in their brains as the deadline for passing another round of pandemic aid so that people who are out of work don’t see a sudden, massive drop in their income. But it turns out everybody circled the wrong day. The problem is that July 31 is a Friday, and states pay unemployment benefits based on weeks that end on a Saturday or Sunday. As a result, the last week of this month won’t actually be covered by the $600 top off. The extra cash will disappear after July 26 in every single state.”

Los Angeles Daily News: Local businesses find more errors in federal PPP loan data. “Loans from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, more commonly known as PPP, were meant to be a lifeline for local businesses navigating the coronavirus pandemic. It succeeded, by almost all accounts, but left news reporters across the country baffled when they found the data, released this month, riddled with errors. The size of some loans were overstated by millions — including one South Bay business whose $66,000 loan was somehow listed as between $5 to $10 million, this newsgroup found — while some were counted twice.”

ABC News: Elbows? Masks? Presents? Let this divisive EU summit begin!. “At the start of one of the most daunting and divisive summits in recent history, the atmosphere among the European Union leaders was downright giddy. Blame the coronavirus pandemic. With all kinds of masks, social distancing rules, and new ways of greetings, some of the leaders reveled in the novelty of it all as they met in person for the first time since February.”

US Department of Health & Human Services: HHS To Begin Distributing $10 Billion in Additional Funding to Hospitals in High Impact COVID-19 Areas. “… the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is announcing it will begin distributing $10 billion in a second round of high impact COVID-19 area funding to hospitals starting [this] week. As parts of the nation confront a recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases and hospitals elsewhere continue to recover and grapple with the financial hardships caused by the pandemic, HHS recognizes the need to quickly get these funds to frontline health care providers.”


Samford University: The Problem with the Neutral Courts at the NBA Bubble in Orlando. “The NBA’s format has remained unchanged for decades now: teams try to win as many games as possible during the regular season. As a reward for their success during the regular season, teams have home court advantage every time they play a post-season series against a team with a lower record. Home court advantage refers to the advantage a team has if most of the games in a series are played in their home court. Every time the post-season starts, home court advantage is one of the most talked about elements of each series.”

Pro Football Talk: Players blast NFL’s COVID-19 response in coordinated social media campaign. “Several NFL players took to Twitter around noon Eastern on Sunday to blast the NFL for what the players say is the lack of a coherent plan to keep them healthy while having a safe and successful season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mashable: The Mets-Yankees game was filled with cardboard cutouts and some Very Good Pups. “It was Saturday night at the Mets’ Citi Field stadium in New York City, and the crowd was hushed. It wasn’t a particularly tense moment in the Mets-versus-Yankees scrimmage that had the heads dotting the stands holding their collective breath, but rather the fact that the cardboard cutouts that have replaced real attendees in the age of the coronavirus have no breath to hold. Oh yeah, and then there were the dogs.”


The 74: Reality Check: What Will It Take to Reopen Schools Amid the Pandemic? 5 Experts Weigh In on What New Roles Teachers Should Play. “This is the fifth in a series of invited responses to some of the big, unanswered questions facing America’s schools as they prepare to reopen in the fall. The Center on Reinventing Public Education, in partnership with The 74, fielded responses from a diverse roster of educators and policymakers in order to promote creative thinking and debate about how we can collectively meet student needs in an extraordinarily challenging school year, and beyond.”


Slate: How Much Should You Worry About Air Conditioning and COVID-19?. “It’s summer, and it’s hot. We’re on pace for, yet again, the hottest year in recorded history, and in the U.S., heat waves are scorching the South and Southwest. This would usually be a great time to close up those windows, pull the shades, and crank the air conditioning. But with the pandemic raging in many of the country’s hottest areas, the public is getting mixed messages about the role of air conditioning in spreading the coronavirus.”

Washington Post: Despite pandemic, young bar patrons say they want to keep on partying. “Last week, the governors of Maryland and Virginia raised concerns about enforcement of pandemic rules, such as masks and social distancing, at bars and restaurants — with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) noting in a letter to county officials that the coronavirus positivity rate among Marylanders under 35 is on the rise.”

Core77: Hide-a-Mask: On-Demand Face Mask That Pops Out of a Baseball Cap. “The Hide-a-Mask is an innovative face mask design that tucks away inside a ball cap. It can be pulled on in just seconds.”

Harvard Business Review: When a Cancer Patient Tests Positive for Covid-19. “Our team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) needed to urgently develop a way to care for our patients with Covid-19 at home to detect escalating symptoms that would require immediate care. In March, the Hospital Incident Command System, which focuses on emergency planning and response, commissioned a team to fast-track a solution. Six days later we launched the Covid-19 Cohort Monitoring Program, a team and set of technologies for safely managing cancer patients with Covid-19 at home.”


Techdirt: Content Moderation Case Study: Dealing With Misinformation During A Pandemic (2020). “In early 2020, with the world trying to figure out how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the big questions faced by internet platforms was how to combat mis- or disinformation regarding the pandemic. This was especially complex, given that everyone — including global health experts were trying to figure out what was accurate themselves, and as more information has come in, the understanding of the disease, how it spread, how to treat it, the level of risk, and much, much, has kept changing. Given the fact that no one fully understood what was going on, plenty of people rushed in to try to fill the void with information. Most social media firms put in place policies to try to limit or take down misinformation or disinformation using a variety of policies and tactics. But determining what is misinformation as opposed to legitimate truth-seeking can be very tricky in the midst of a pandemic.”

Computer Business Review: Coronavirus is challenger banks’ biggest challenge yet. “Some digital-only banks were struggling even before the lockdown started. Nicu Calcea’s data report asks that as customers of the traditional high street banks turn to online and mobile banking, is Covid-19 killing off the pureplay challenger banks?”

Core77: Salad Bars, Killed by COVID, Now Replaced With Custom-Salad-Making Robots. “Salad bars are big business. According to Bloomberg, they’re lucrative, have high profit margins, drive store visits and more than 90% of supermarkets have them. On the downside they take up a lot of floor space. More importantly, ever since COVID-19 hit no one wants to use them anymore. A California-based company called Chowbotics may just be in the right place at the right time. They’ve been working on Sally the Fresh Food Robot, a sort of vending-machine-plus that workers load up with individual ingredients.”

Engadget: National COVID-19 exposure server could alert people across states. “COVID-19 contact tracing apps will only be effective across borders if states and countries can readily share data, and a collaboration could soon make that happen in the US. iMore reports that Apple, Google, and Microsoft are working with the Association of Public Health Laboratories to launch a national server to store keys and help exposure notifications reach people across states. It would be based around Apple and Google’s exposure alert framework, while Microsoft and APHL would host the server.”


Ars Technica: Beyond antibodies, the immune response to coronavirus is complicated. “Ultimately, the only way for societies to return to some semblance of normal in the wake of the current pandemic is to reach a state called herd immunity. This is where a large-enough percentage of the population has acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2—either through infection or a vaccine—that most people exposed to the virus are already immune to it. This will mean that the infection rate will slow and eventually fizzle out, protecting society as a whole. Given that this is our ultimate goal, we need to understand how the immune system responds to this virus.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Zimbabwe arrests 100,000 for ‘violations’ of measures. “More than 105,000 people have been arrested in Zimbabwe since March for violating regulations aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, police say. Around 1,000 were arrested in the last two days for ‘unnecessary movement’ or for not wearing face masks, they add.”

CBS Sacramento: Woman Urinates On Floor After Refusing To Leave Verizon Store For Not Wearing Mask. “We’ve seen a lot of confrontations involving masks, including verbal fights, physical altercations and even coughing fits. But this one might top it all when a regular day at work turned into quite a show at the Verizon store off Galleria Boulevard in Roseville.”


New York Times: Doing Schoolwork in the Parking Lot Is Not a Solution. “Like Ms. [Autumn] Lee, many other Americans sheltering from Covid-19 are discovering the limitations of the country’s cobbled-together broadband service. Schooling, jobs, government services, medical care and child care that once were performed in person have been turned over to the web, exposing a deep rift between the broadband haves and have-nots. Those rifts are poised to turn into chasms, as the global pandemic threatens another year of in-person schooling for American children.”

The Daily Beast: I Was a Military COVID Planner. Trust Me: Texas Is in Deep, Deep Trouble. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is calling for an above-average Atlantic Hurricane Season this year with a possibility of 19 named storms. We based some of our planning off Hurricane Harvey, which struck Cruz’s hometown of Houston in 2017. Typically, the National Guard and some active duty forces respond to hurricanes to provide things like search and rescue, engineering, and medical support. Rooftop helicopter rescues make for dramatic footage, but the truth is that the military does not do the bulk of the work. Instead, volunteer organizations like the Red Cross lead the effort by managing shelters, feeding the hungry, and processing displaced families. My team looked at how COVID-19 might impact volunteers. What we found was scary.”

The Print: India’s online classrooms are outdated for disabled kids. Covid just made it worse. “The manner in which digital education is being made accessible is outdated and uncoordinated. In 2012, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) published a National Policy on ICT in School Education, which is silent on universal design principles for digital education and does not refer to the most up-to-date Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) that were released in 2018.”


CNN: Ex-Trump economist says White House was warned of potential pandemic disaster in September. “Former Trump administration economist Todas Philipson said on Friday that his team alerted the White House about the dangers of a looming pandemic outbreak about three months before Covid-19 is believed to have made its way into the United States. Philipson served three years as acting chairman of the administration’s Council of Economic Advisers before stepping down in June to resume his teaching role at the University of Chicago. Philipson acknowledged testing positive for Covid-19 less than a month before his White House departure, according to The Wall Street Journal.”

New York Times: As Trump Ignores Virus Crisis, Republicans Start to Contradict Him. “Once-reticent Republican governors are now issuing orders on mask-wearing and business restrictions that run counter to Mr. Trump’s demands. Some of those governors have been holding late-night phone calls among themselves to trade ideas and grievances; they have sought out partners in the administration other than the president, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Mr. Trump in public, is seen by governors as far more attentive to the continuing disaster.”

New York Times: Trump Leans Into False Virus Claims in Combative Fox News Interview. “An agitated President Trump offered a string of combative and often dubious assertions in an interview aired Sunday, defending his handling of the coronavirus with misleading evidence, attacking his own health experts, disputing polls showing him trailing in his re-election race and defending people who display the Confederate flag as victims of ‘cancel culture.'”

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