Sunday CoronaBuzz, July 26, 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.


New York Times: ‘It’s Like Groundhog Day’: Coronavirus Testing Labs Again Lack Key Supplies. “Labs across the country are facing backlogs in coronavirus testing thanks in part to a shortage of tiny pieces of tapered plastic. Researchers need these little disposables, called pipette tips, to quickly and precisely move liquid between vials as they process the tests. As the number of known coronavirus cases in the United States passes 4 million, these new shortages of pipette tips and other lab supplies are once again stymieing efforts to track and curb the spread of disease. Some people are waiting days or even weeks for results, and labs are vying for crucial materials.”

Politico: City sustains low infection rates amid attempts to expand testing. “New York City has not yet seen a spike in new coronavirus cases after moving through all the scheduled phases of its reopening, city officials said Thursday. The city began to roll back its Covid-19 lockdown on June 8 and moved into the fourth and final reopening phase this week. But it has taken a cautious approach, nixing several planned reopenings like indoor restaurants and bars, museums and malls to avoid the spikes seen in other parts of the country — leaving a big chunk of its economy shut down indefinitely to control the spread.”


Politico: ‘Crashing down’: How the child care crisis is magnifying racial disparities. “The collapse of the child care industry is hitting women of color the hardest, threatening to stoke racial and gender inequities and putting pressure on Congress to address the crisis in its new round of coronavirus aid. Black and Latina women are suffering a double-barreled blow as coronavirus-induced shutdowns batter the industry, since they dominate the ranks of child care providers and have long struggled to gain access to the services for their own kids.”


NPR: One-Third Of U.S. Museums May Not Survive The Year, Survey Finds. “Museums seem like immortal places, with their august countenances and treasured holdings. Even in our TikTok era of diminishing attention spans, they draw more than 850 million visitors a year in the U.S., according to the American Alliance of Museums. But the coronavirus was not impressed, and the effects of the pandemic-related shutdown on the country’s museums have been dire, says AAM President and CEO Laura Lott.”

Washington Post: Librarians alarmed about coronavirus safety at D.C.’s reopened public libraries. “When the District’s public libraries began gradually reopening in late May, many residents rushed to check out books for the first time in six weeks. By mid-July, the library was opening its doors for six hours a day, five days a week, for patrons who could come inside to borrow items and spend time using public computers at 14 locations. But librarians say the reopening has been poorly handled, exposing both staff members and the public to potential coronavirus risks. They also say library managers have kept staff in the dark about colleagues who come down with the virus and have struggled with cleaning protocols and mask requirements.”

NBC 2: Museums and historians are navigating how to write the history of Covid-19 when the end isn’t in sight. “When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in the United States, the California Historical Society received call after call asking for its archive on the 1918 flu. Researchers and journalists were looking for clues into how Americans coped in the thick of a pandemic — and what we could learn in 2020 from 1918. But the documents from the early 20th century were few and there was just one photograph in the archive to depict the entire experience. Historians, libraries and museums now are making sure, in that way, history does not repeat itself with the coronavirus pandemic.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Indoor gyms and pools in England start to reopen. “Indoor gyms, swimming pools and other indoor sports facilities have seen a cautious return of customers as they reopen their doors for the first time since March.”

USA Today: McDonald’s to require customers wear masks at all U.S. restaurants starting Aug. 1 as COVID-19 cases increase. “McDonald’s will require customers to wear masks or face coverings when entering its 14,000 restaurants nationwide starting Aug. 1. The fast food giant is the latest business to announce it will mandate masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 as cases spike. The coronavirus causes the disease COVID-19.”

ABC News: Some guests, employees at Trump properties flout face-covering mandates. “As the coronavirus surges across the country, several properties owned by President Donald Trump have continued to host gatherings with guests and employees that skirt state and city-mandated face covering ordinances as well as the organization’s own public rules for resuming business during the pandemic.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Why won’t India admit how Covid-19 is spreading?. “The WHO’s guidelines say the same: ‘community transmission is evidenced by the inability to relate confirmed cases through chains of transmission for a large number of cases’. This is certainly happening in India, according to Dr Arvind Kumar, chairman of the Centre for Chest Surgery at Delhi’s Sir Gangaram Hospital. He says that more and more patients are turning up at hospitals whose source of infection cannot be traced. And, he adds, the rising case numbers support this.”

United States Mint: United States Mint Statement on Circulating Coins. “The impact of COVID-19 has resulted in the disruption of the supply channels of circulating coinage – the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters that the American people and businesses use in their day-to-day transactions. The United States Mint is part of the solution to this issue, but we need your help as well.”

Washington Post: Coronavirus ravaged Florida, as Ron DeSantis sidelined scientists and followed Trump. “As the virus spread out of control in Florida, decision-making became increasingly shaped by politics and divorced from scientific evidence, according to interviews with 64 current and former state and administration officials, health administrators, epidemiologists, political operatives and hospital executives. The crisis in Florida, these observers say, has revealed the shortcomings of a response built on shifting metrics, influenced by a small group of advisers and tethered at every stage to the Trump administration, which has no unified plan for addressing the national health emergency but has pushed for states to reopen.”

BBC: Coronavirus: What would working from home in Barbados really be like?. “The Barbados Welcome Stamp, which has just started taking applications, gives international visitors the opportunity to work remotely on the island for up to a year. Palm trees, sun, and blue skies sound like a dream to many, but even stunning locations have their pros and cons, especially during a pandemic. So what can remote workers expect if they take up the tempting offer?”


MarketWatch: Fauci tells MarketWatch his one big lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic — and why he won’t fly or eat out. “If the speed and duration of the coronavirus pandemic is getting you down, spare a thought for Fauci. Are we there yet? How far are we on this journey through the pandemic? Near the finish line? Halfway? Or are we back where we started? ‘It’s a moving target,’ he said. ‘I certainly don’t think we’re near the end of this if you look at what’s going on in the United States — that’s for sure.'”


CNBC: ESPN’s MLB Opening Day games draw average of 4 million viewers, up 232% from last year. “Major League Baseball started its Covid-19 regular season Thursday night with a record average 4 million viewers, the most-watched regular-season MLB game on any network since 2011, according to ESPN, which aired the opener.”

CNET: Fox will put virtual baseball fans in the stands for MLB games. “In an age of social distancing, Fox is figuring out how to put fans in the stands for Major League Baseball game broadcasts. In a tweet Thursday, the network showed off a video featuring virtual fans who can wear team colors, cheer, boo and even do the wave.” I dunno, I kind of like the cardboard cutouts.


ABC News: Kansas school board rejects governor’s executive order delaying start of the school year. “As school districts across the country grapple with how and when to reopen safely during the coronavirus pandemic, the Kansas State Board of Education rejected Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order delaying the start of the school year despite rising cases of COVID-19 in the state.”


NBC News: What’s the backup plan if there’s no COVID-19 vaccine?. “It’s a heartening thought that even as the country has failed to contain the virus or implement the kinds of public health measures experts have called for, there’s a deus ex machina coming to rescue us if we can just hold out long enough. But some experts are worried about Americans getting too used to the idea that a miracle vaccine or treatment is around the corner. While there’s broad agreement the latest news is promising, some are concerned that the prospect of future relief could breed complacency amid raging outbreaks that are killing hundreds of people each day.”

STAT News: Actual Covid-19 case count could be 6 to 24 times higher than official estimates, CDC study shows. “The true number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. could be anywhere from six to 24 times higher than the confirmed number of cases, depending on location, according to a large federal study that relied on data from 10 U.S. cities and states.”

Los Angeles Times: Coronavirus is killing more Californians than ever before, and cruel inequities are worsening. “California reached another bleak coronavirus milestone this week, recording more than 100 daily deaths in the worst fatality numbers since the pandemic began. But just as troubling, health officials and experts say, is how COVID-19 is stalking certain groups, such as essential workers, and those in institutions including nursing homes and prisons, at much greater rates than those who have the ability to stay home.”

Washington Post: FDA says at least 77 hand sanitizer products may be toxic. “Hand sanitizer demand has skyrocketed during the pandemic as Americans were urged to wash their hands often to guard against the coronavirus. That has sparked a rush of new brands onto the market. But since June, the Food and Drug Administration has identified at least 77 products — including two this week — that consumers should avoid. Many of the products’ labels say they contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but FDA tests show that they contain methanol, or wood alcohol. Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin, the agency said in an advisory, and can cause blindness. It can be lethal if ingested.”

San Francisco Chronicle: California requires masks, but not everyone wears one. Here’s how to fix that. “Lack of masks and social distancing are key reasons, experts say, that California is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases. Though data are sparse, about 64% of Californians reported using masks consistently in an Axios/Ipsos poll conducted June 19-22, a week or two after Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated mask-wearing statewide. What can be done to persuade the holdouts to change? It’s an issue that academics say needs urgent study. That’s because wearing a mask reduces the chance that an infected person may spread the disease to others. Researchers also believe wearing a mask protects the wearer to some extent, and recent studies suggest that the less virus someone is exposed to, the less likely they are to become infected or severely ill.”

NPR: U.S. Disaster Response Scrambles To Protect People From Both Hurricanes And COVID-19. “A powerful storm could uproot tens of thousands of people at a time when coronavirus infections and deaths from COVID-19 are soaring through the region. Congregate shelters, from school gyms to vast convention centers, risk becoming infection hot spots if evacuees pack into them. Many shelters are managed by the American Red Cross under the supervision of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But the Red Cross intends to adhere to new guidelines based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing standards, which could cut shelter capacity by as much as 60%, according to local emergency managers.”


AP: Watchdog finds flawed virus response at California prison. “A federal prison complex in California struggled to contain the spread of the coronavirus because of staff shortages, limited use of home confinement and ineffective screening, the Justice Department watchdog said Thursday as it released the first results of remote inspections of facilities across the country.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New COVID-19 cases push hospitals to capacity. “After weeks of an eerie silence, some hospitals in Savannah are now jammed with patients. On a recent day, several ambulances packed the hospital bays outside one hospital’s emergency room, as an unusual number of paramedics waited in the hallway with their patients in cots, ready to drop them off. But there were no beds to receive them, and crews can’t leave until patients are admitted. That can take hours, said Chuck Kearns, chief of Chatham County EMS, the region’s 911 provider.”


University of Colorado Boulder: New COVID-19 test returns results in 45 minutes, without nasal swab. “CU Boulder researchers have developed a rapid, portable, saliva-based COVID-19 test able to return results in 45 minutes. Such a test might eventually be deployable in community settings like schools and factories, and efforts are underway to conduct further validation tests and seek regulatory approval.”

CNET: Coronavirus six months later: Everything we know right now. “There was a light at the end of the tunnel in May and June 2020, when many states started to loosen stay-at-home orders and other restrictions. That feels like false hope now that US cases are once again on the rise. Throughout all of this, some corners of the internet have managed to keep hope and positivity alive with memes and solidarity. And, though the novel coronavirus is still largely a mystery, we do have much more information than we did six months ago. Here’s what we’ve learned to date. ”

AP: Pepcid as a virus remedy? Trump admin’s $21M gamble fizzled. “….in early April, when government scientists learned of a proposal to spend millions in federal research funding to study Pepcid, they found it laughable, according to interviews, a whistleblower complaint and internal government records obtained by The Associated Press. But that didn’t stop the Trump administration from granting a $21 million emergency contract to researchers trying it out on ailing patients. The Food and Drug Administration gave the clinical trial speedy approval even as a top agency official worried that the proposed daily injections of high doses of famotidine for already sick patients pushed safety ‘to the limits,’ internal government emails show.”

BuzzFeed News: Here’s What We Do And Don’t Know About Coronavirus Immunity. “Although the novel coronavirus pandemic still defies prediction, medical experts are expressing increasing optimism about the human immune system’s ability to fight the virus. Doomsday headlines followed a recent study of recovered COVID-19 patients reporting that antibodies, the hallmark of the immune system responding to an infection, may only last a few months. But in the last month, promising vaccine results and new findings analyzing the immune response of people who survived the disease are giving scientists more encouragement. Experts caution this is only provisional given that we are still in the early months of a pandemic that has so far killed more than 600,000 people.”

CNET: Can herd immunity help stop coronavirus? What we know now. “Let’s explore what herd immunity looks like, what it means for COVID-19 and how the world can get there, explained by Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons; Dr. Joseph Vinetz, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Signs tell shoppers ‘stay seven Chihuahuas apart’ . “Stern signs instructing people to queue two metres apart have become part of life since lockdown. But graphic designer Keith Williams and friend Katrina Collins wanted to lighten the mood and create a talking point. So they settled on making messages that describe two metres in quirky ways, such as ‘7 Chihuahuas’ and ’50 chips’.”


OCCRP: Middle East/North African Authorities Seize Fake Medical Products. “Between February and April, authorities from Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia carried out inspections on their land, water and air borders, targeting pharmaceutical crimes. This led to the seizure of 61,000 respiratory masks, 63,418 face masks and 85,000 other medical products such as gloves, thermometers, medical glasses, in addition to a variety of illicit medicine ranging from antimalarial drugs to sexual stimulants.”

ProPublica: They Warned OSHA They Were in “Imminent Danger” at the Meat Plant. Now They’re Suing the Agency.. “The suit by workers at Maid-Rite Speciality Foods in Pennsylvania employs a rarely used legal tool and is the latest in a growing chorus of complaints about how the federal agency charged with protecting workers has responded to COVID-19.”

Albuquerque Journal: Two shot, one fatally, in confrontation over mask. “A confrontation over a mask at an auto shop in Southwest Albuquerque ended with the owner’s son allegedly shooting two men Tuesday afternoon, according to incident reports from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office.”


NBC New York: ‘Miracle’ COVID-19 Survivor Finally Leaves NYC Hospital After 128-Day Fight For His Life. “A man known as ‘Miracle Larry’ finally walked out of his Manhattan hospital on Wednesday, 128 days after he first was admitted with COVID-19. And for the first time since mid-March, he gets to do something he hasn’t done in far too long: hug his loved ones.”


Bloomberg: Covid-19 Testing Is Broken and There’s No Plan to Fix It. “Test results, to be useful, should arrive in less than two days. If they take longer, opportunities to isolate infected people and trace their contacts with others wither, undermining broader containment efforts. So why can’t the wealthiest and most innovative country in the world have more rapid-fire testing during a pandemic?”

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