Thursday CoronaBuzz, July 30, 2020: 41 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.


Washington State University: WSU scientists develop COVID-19 tracking tool for rural areas. “Using data from The New York Times and other sources, the COVID Urban Rural Explorer (CURE) focuses specifically on highlighting rural urban inequities in COVID trends by county and provides a daily report on rural areas experiencing spikes in COVID-19 cases. More specifically, the CURE tracker enables users to identify rural counties with both limited hospital capacity and where cases are rapidly growing.”

University of Texas at Austin: New Tool to Guide Decisions on Social Distancing Uses Hospital Data and Emphasizes Protecting the Vulnerable. “With communities throughout the United States combating surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Northwestern University have created a framework that helps policymakers determine which data to track and when to take action to protect their communities. The model specifies a series of trigger points to help local entities know when to tighten social distancing measures to prevent hospitals from being overrun by virus patients. The method also aims to minimize the economic impact to communities by suggesting the earliest times for safely relaxing restrictions.”


Deseret News: New tool aims to connect out-of-work Utahns to job training from colleges, companies. “A new online tool seeks to help Utahns who lost their jobs in the pandemic connect to training that could help them find work in sectors that are hiring, like technology, manufacturing and health care. Colleges in Utah have long offered certificate and training programs. But the business and education leaders behind the SkillUpUtah initiative say they created a one-stop shop for job seekers to browse those programs and others from companies like LinkedIn and Pluralsight.”

Crain’s Detroit Business: New digital hub to help Michigan workers displaced by pandemic boost skills. “A new digital hub offers online learning opportunities and other training resources for Michigan residents looking to return to work or learn new skills. The coronavirus crisis has created record unemployment in Michigan and across the country. The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity says workers who possess advanced skills will be better positioned to get and keep higher-paying and more stable jobs.”


CNET: Face masks: Here are the best and worst materials for protecting against coronavirus. “Everyone should wear nonmedical face masks when interacting with others during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the material your mask is made from may make a difference when it comes to reducing the spread of the virus, a study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection earlier this month found.”


Bloomberg: Almost 30 Million in U.S. Didn’t Have Enough to Eat Last Week. “Food insecurity for U.S. households last week reached its highest reported level since the Census Bureau started tracking the data in May, with almost 30 million Americans reporting that they’d not had enough to eat at some point in the seven days through July 21. In the bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, roughly 23.9 million of 249 million respondents indicated they had ‘sometimes not enough to eat’ for the week ended July 21, while about 5.42 million indicated they had ‘often not enough to eat.’ The survey, which began with the week ended May 5, was published Wednesday.”

Phys .org: Social distancing varies by income in US. “Wealthier communities went from being the most mobile before the COVID-19 pandemic to the least mobile, while poorer areas have gone from the least mobile to the most mobile, according to a study by the University of California, Davis.”

BBC: Coronavirus: US economy sees sharpest contraction in decades. “The US economy shrank by a 32.9% annual rate in the April-to-June quarter as the country grappled with cut backs in spending during the pandemic. It was the deepest decline since the government began keeping records in 1947 and three times more severe than the prior record of 10% set in 1958.”

HuffPost: Coronavirus-Linked Hunger Tied To 10,000 Child Deaths Each Month. “All around the world, the coronavirus and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, cutting off meager farms from markets and isolating villages from food and medical aid. Virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month over the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent call to action from the United Nations shared with The Associated Press ahead of its publication in the Lancet medical journal.”


Page Six: Celeb haunt Cipriani Downtown loses liquor license over COVID-related concerns. “Celebrity haunt Cipriani Downtown — known as a fave for models such as Kendall Jenner, and a reported ‘hunting ground’ for now-incarcerated movie mogul Harvey Weinstein — has lost its liquor license for not adhering to coronavirus-related regulations.”

New York Times: These Businesses Lasted Decades. The Virus Closed Them for Good.. “Nearly 3,000 small businesses in New York City have closed for good in the past four months, blaming falling revenue, vanished tourism and ballooning debt, especially for overdue rent. Some older businesses pointed to their failure to develop robust online commerce that might have carried them through the tough times.”

CNN: Some Instacart shoppers are having their jobs cut during the pandemic. “By late April, Instacart said it had hired 300,000 independent contractor ‘full-service shoppers’ to meet the surge in customer demand, and the company said it plans to add another 200,000 over the next couple of months. However, some of its in-store shoppers, who are part-time employees of Instacart, are losing their jobs, CNN Business has learned. The job cuts are the result of at least two of Instacart’s store partners, Aldi and Sprouts, opting to replace Instacart’s in-store shoppers, as necessary, with their own employees.”

United Farm Workers: After a death and quarter of work force infected by COVID-19, Primex letting go workers who complained & turned to UFW. “With one Primex Farms LLC worker dead from the novel coronavirus and a quarter of its workforce now infected, the large Wasco, Calif. pistachio and almond processing firm announced it is letting go many of the workers who complained about the failure to properly protect them and turned for help to the United Farm Workers, according to Primex employees who were informed on Thursday. The UFW is filing unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging illegal retaliation for union and concerted activities.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Virus isolation period extended from seven to 10 days. “People who test positive for coronavirus or show symptoms in the UK must now self-isolate for at least 10 days, rather than seven. The change, announced by the UK’s chief medical officers, comes as ministers try to avoid a resurgence of the virus.”

Deadline: Los Angeles County Health Director Says Officials Made Mistakes On Coronavirus: “I’m The First One To Admit…How Wrong We Were”. “‘I’ve said before that additional rollbacks or closures must remain on the table,’ said Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer on Monday. ‘But at this stage in the pandemic, we believe we have a lot of tools available that if fully utilized should allow us to slow the spread without going back to the more stringent Safer-At-Home orders that were in place earlier in the pandemic.’ Ferrer acknowledged the frustration expressed by some residents at the changing nature of health restrictions as the pandemic has progressed, but said adjustments were made as more was learned about the new virus.”

Bloomberg: Pandemic Advice Ignored by Trump Helps Vietnam Fight Virus. “Vietnam beat back its first wave of coronavirus infections by embracing U.S.-supported pandemic strategies that the Trump administration largely ignored. Now the Southeast Asian country is using the plan to combat its first cases in more than three months, seeking to keep its record as one of the few places in the world that hasn’t reported a single Covid-19 death as of this week.”

NPR: Irregularities in COVID Reporting Contract Award Process Raises New Questions. “An NPR investigation has found irregularities in the process by which the Trump administration awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a Pittsburgh company to collect key data about Covid-19 from the country’s hospitals. The contract is at the center of a controversy over the Administration’s decision to move that data reporting function from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which has tracked infection information for a range of illnesses for years — to the Department of Health and Human Services.”


BBC: Herman Cain, US ex-presidential candidate, dies after contracting Covid. “Herman Cain, the Republican pizza chain CEO who ran for president in 2012, has died after contracting Covid-19. Mr Cain, 74, was hospitalised after being diagnosed with the disease earlier this month.”

New York Times: Chainsmokers Concert in Hamptons Is Under Fire Over Social Distancing. “A charity concert on Saturday night in the Hamptons featuring performances from the chief executive of Goldman Sachs and the D.J. duo the Chainsmokers drew widespread outrage and a state investigation after video footage showed attendees appearing to ignore public health precautions.”


Washington Post: Every sport has a coronavirus plan. MLB’s lasted four days.. “With lots of inherent social distancing, baseball was supposed to be the easiest major American team sport to resume, just as leagues in Japan and South Korea have functioned smoothly for months. But MLB couldn’t go even a week without the serious prospect that its 60-game season should be canceled.”

The Conversation: Virtual Tour de France shows how esports has come of age during lockdown. “Elite sports events are still largely closed to the world – but July 2020 has still been an unprecedented month for the global sporting calendar thanks to the world’s first Virtual Tour de France, which – despite the name – was based nowhere in particular, as riders took part from their homes in all parts of the world. It’s historic, not just because the event brought together the world of esports cycling and the iconic and gruelling race – this was also the first time that women competed in a multistage Tour.”

USA Today: Dr. Anthony Fauci first-pitch baseball card breaks Topps record for sales in just 24 hours. “It was on sale for only 24 hours, but it broke company records. The Topps NOW limited edition baseball trading card featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, set an all-time print record run for the franchise, selling 51,512 cards, the company said.”

CNN: NFL cancels preseason games ahead of 2020 season, commissioner says. “here will be no preseason games for the National Football League this year, according to an open letter published Monday by Commissioner Roger Goodell. The mandate comes as every aspect of sporting world has been affected by coronavirus. Earlier this year, the NFL had to hold its draft virtually to avoid the spread of the virus. The season is set to begin in September.”


CNN: Child hospitalizations from Covid-19 surge 23% in Florida as schools statewide must reopen. “On July 16, the state had a total of 23,170 children ages 17 and under who had tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Florida Department of Health. By July 24, that number jumped to 31,150. That’s a 34% increase in new cases among children in eight days.”


San Francisco Chronicle: How SF’s Laguna Honda averted coronavirus disaster. “Nursing home advocates say that with the right response and safety protocols, nursing homes can protect residents and workers from the coronavirus — Laguna Honda proves that. With help from the state and federal governments, San Francisco city leaders were able to create a response around the virus that prevented tragedy: creating COVID wards to keep people separate, training in proper infection controls for workers and enlisting a contact-tracing team to track how far the virus may have spread from person to person. Laguna Honda achieved what it did despite the fact that for several months, it couldn’t meet federal testing recommendations due to nationwide shortages.”

Mother Jones: How Trees Can Help Us Fight a Pandemic. “As the world grapples with the devastation of the coronavirus, one thing is clear: The United States simply wasn’t prepared. Despite repeated warnings from infectious disease experts over the years, we lacked essential beds, equipment, and medication; public health advice was confusing, and our leadership offered no clear direction while sidelining credible health professionals and institutions. Infectious disease experts agree that it’s only a matter of time before the next pandemic hits, and that could be even deadlier. How do we fix what COVID-19 has shown was broken? In this Mother Jones series, we’re asking experts from a wide range of disciplines one question: What are the most important steps we can take to make sure we’re better prepared next time?”

Daily Beast: Is COVID-19 Creating a Generation of Heart Failure Patients?. “Two studies published Monday provide the strongest evidence yet that some patients who survive the respiratory ravages of COVID-19 may suffer long-lasting heart problems—the latest indication that the fallout from the pandemic goes well beyond the death toll.”

ThePrint: Virus surge as summer wanes in Australia indicates what US, Europe can expect this winter. “Deep into the Southern Hemisphere winter, Australia’s second-most populous city Melbourne is experiencing a virus resurgence that dwarfs its first outbreak back in March. The state of Victoria on Thursday reported a high of 723 new infections — nearly 200 more than its previous record set a few days earlier. The surge epitomizes a disturbing pattern: that subsequent Covid-19 waves can be worse than the first, particularly when the conditions — like people sheltering from colder weather in enclosed spaces — are ripe for transmission.”

CNET: Fauci says wearing face shield, goggles could help protect against coronavirus. “Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top infections-disease experts, said Wednesday that Americans should consider wearing goggles or a face shield to further help protect themselves amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Bloomberg: Herd Immunity May Be Developing in Mumbai’s Poorest Areas. “Around six in ten people living in some of India’s biggest slums have antibodies for the novel coronavirus indicating they’ve recovered from infection, in what could be one of the highest population immunity levels known worldwide. The findings, from a July serological survey of 6,936 people across three suburbs in India’s financial center of Mumbai, may explain why a steep drop in infections is being seen among the closely-packed population, despite new cases accelerating overall in the hard-hit country.”

BBC: Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths. “The UK saw some of the biggest rises in deaths rates in Europe in the months until the middle of June, official analysis shows. England saw the largest increase in death rates in Europe, with Scotland seeing the third largest increase. The Office for National Statistics says that Spain saw the highest peak in rates of death in Europe. But the UK had the longest period of above-average deaths and so overall saw higher death rates.”


San Francisco Chronicle: They defied health rules for a storybook San Francisco wedding. The virus didn’t spare them. “San Francisco’s city attorney had warned Catholic leaders to stop holding illegal indoor events only days earlier. Yet the leadership of SS Peter and Paul’s helped organize the wedding ceremony, the city said. The celebration included a rehearsal dinner and reception with invitations extended to large groups from multiple households, at a time when such gatherings remain heavily restricted in much of the Bay Area. In the days following, the newlywed couple and at least eight attendees tested positive for the coronavirus, two guests told The Chronicle.”

AP: Guatemala burying dozens of unidentified COVID-19 dead. “Guatemalan hospitals say they have had to bury dozens of COVID-19 victims who have never been identified, and one hospital is creating archives in hopes that once the pandemic passes, their relatives will come looking for them.”


The Verge: How another video of COVID-19 misinformation went viral on Facebook. “The video that captured the public imagination this week lacks a name as catchy as ‘Plandemic’ — it was a live stream of a press conference organized by a group known as the Tea Party Patriots, who are funded by wealthy Republicans — but it was seen much more widely, in much less time.”

Neowin: Google Maps now reminds users in the U.S. to wear a mask before going out. “The feature reminds people to wear a mask outside their homes, especially in public hubs where the chance of contracting or transmitting the virus is high. It’s found within the Explore tab, where a banner tells users: ‘Wear a mask. Save lives.’ Under that banner, there’s a small button that links to Google’s coronavirus website, providing more information about COVID-19.”


Houston Chronicle: J&J vaccine protects monkeys from Covid with single shot. “Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine protected a group of macaques with a single shot in an early study, prompting the U.S. drugmaker to start trials in humans this month. All of the animals that were exposed to the pandemic-causing pathogen six weeks after the injection were immune except one, who showed low levels of the virus, according to a study published in the medical journal Nature. The health-care behemoth kick-started human trials on July 22 in Belgium and in the U.S. earlier this week.”

STAT News: Covid-19 infections leave an impact on the heart, raising concerns about lasting damage. “One study examined the cardiac MRIs of 100 people who had recovered from Covid-19 and compared them to heart images from 100 people who were similar but not infected with the virus. Their average age was 49 and two-thirds of the patients had recovered at home. More than two months later, infected patients were more likely to have troubling cardiac signs than people in the control group: 78 patients showed structural changes to their hearts, 76 had evidence of a biomarker signaling cardiac injury typically found after a heart attack, and 60 had signs of inflammation.”

Phys .org: COVID-19: Social media users more likely to believe false information. “A new study led by researchers at McGill University finds that people who get their news from social media are more likely to have misperceptions about COVID-19. Those that consume more traditional news media have fewer misperceptions and are more likely to follow public health recommendations like social distancing.”

Yale News: Yale study finds expanded jobless benefits did not reduce employment. “A new report by Yale economists finds no evidence that the enhanced jobless benefits Congress authorized in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic reduced employment. The report (PDF) addresses concerns that the more generous unemployment benefits, which provide $600 per week above state unemployment insurance payments, would disincentivize work.”


Washington Post: Trump’s team still does not get it. “Judging from their TV appearances, President Trump’s advisers are unwilling to admit error and adjust their handling of the coronavirus pandemic accordingly. They still insist they are doing everything perfectly, and still blithely point to about a third of the United States as merely some ‘hot spots.'”


New York Times: ‘Mugged by Reality,’ Trump Finds Denial Won’t Stop the Pandemic. “The president who shunned masks and pressured states to reopen and promised a return to the campaign trail finds himself canceling rallies, scrapping his grand convention, urging Americans to stay away from crowded bars and at long last embracing, if only halfheartedly, wearing masks. It may not be the death of denial, but it is a moment when denial no longer appears to be a viable strategy for Mr. Trump.”

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