Saturday CoronaBuzz, August 1, 2020: 26 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: Read the Latest Federal Report on States’ Response to the Virus. “The federal government prepares regular reports on the response to the coronavirus. The following report, dated July 26, was distributed to states by the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force.”


BBC: Coronavirus: German officials ‘very concerned’ by rising cases. “The head of Germany’s public health agency has said he is ‘very concerned’ by rising infections in the country. ‘We are in the middle of a rapidly developing pandemic,’ Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), told reporters. Mr Wieler said Germans had become ‘negligent’ and urged people to wear masks and respect social distancing and hygiene rules.”


NBC News: Dark money and PAC’s coordinated ‘reopen’ push are behind doctors’ viral hydroxychloroquine video. “A dozen doctors delivered speeches in front of the U.S. Capitol on Monday to a small crowd, claiming without evidence that the coronavirus could be cured and that widely accepted efforts to slow its spread were unnecessary and dangerous. It was the latest video to go viral from apparent experts, quietly backed by dark money political organizations, evangelizing treatments for or opinions about the coronavirus that most doctors, public health officials and epidemiologists have roundly decried as dangerous misinformation.”


Los Angeles Times: A farmer, ‘little ghosts’ and 18,000 tobacco plants: How COVID-19 upended farming in South Korea. “He was in his third hour of picking tobacco, beginning shortly after dawn at the foot of a mountain in a sleepy South Korean town. Weaving between rows lining the gentle slope, he stooped to snap off the ripe, yellow-tinged leaves from plants as tall as he. Nearby, Park Jong-bum took a break from heaving bales of tobacco onto a truck bed. He lit a cigarette beneath a cloudy sky. He had quit smoking last year, but the stresses of running a farm had hooked him again. Park and Phonsrikaew were on the second chapters of their lives: Phonsrikaew a 52-year-old Thai army captain-turned-migrant farmworker, and Park, 49, a South Korean businessman who returned to his native farming village after two decades of city life.”

BloombergQuint: U.S. Dollar Suffers Its Worst Month in a Decade. “The euro rose the most in a decade this month, the British pound is headed for its best July since 1990, and for the first time this year, every major currency in the world rose against the greenback. A gauge of the dollar against its biggest peers is down 4.4% this month, the worst rout in a decade.”

Pew (pew pew pew pew pew pew pew!): Four-in-ten who haven’t yet filled out U.S. census say they wouldn’t answer the door for a census worker. “As 2020 census workers begin knocking on the doors of millions of U.S. households that have not returned their census questionnaires, four-in-ten U.S. adults who have not yet responded say they would not be willing to answer their door, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Thousands protest in Germany against restrictions. “Thousands of people in the German capital Berlin are taking part in a protest against the country’s coronavirus restrictions. The demonstrators say the measures, including the wearing of facemasks, violate their rights and freedoms. Germany has been less badly affected by the pandemic than some European countries, but cases are starting to rise again.”


Sky News: Coronavirus: Phantom of the Opera to close ‘permanently’ in the West End. “The show, which has been running at Her Majesty’s Theatre since 1986, will no longer operate in the West End, due to the financial impacts of the ongoing coronavirus restrictions on theatres, producer Cameron Mackintosh has said.”


Bloomberg: One-third of U.S. restaurants facing permanent closure, forecast says. “As many as 231,000 of the nation’s roughly 660,000 eateries will likely shut down this year, according to an estimate from restaurant consultancy Aaron Allen & Associates provided to Bloomberg News. This will bring the industry’s steady growth to a halt and mark the first time in two decades that U.S. restaurant counts don’t climb. Restaurants have already shed millions of jobs this year, economic data show.”

CNN: Universal and AMC Theatres strike a deal allowing new films to play at home sooner. “Universal and AMC are mending their frayed relationship in a deal that not only reverses the theater chain’s ban on Universal’s movies but also appears to upend the traditional exclusivity model that studios and theaters have followed for decades.”

Slate: Everything, Um, Unusual About Kodak’s Trump-Assisted Pivot to Pharmaceuticals. “Kodak’s stock peaked as high as $60, and investors traded 272 million of its shares on Wednesday, up from its previous daily average trading volume of 125,000. Much of this activity came from day traders using the investing platform Robinhood. Before Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, approximately 9,300 Robinhood users had Kodak in their portfolios; by noon on Wednesday, that number rose to more than 72,000. Many financial analysts are warning, however, that a lot of things don’t quite add up about Kodak’s sudden bout of success on the stock market. Taken all together, this week has been a particularly fishy Kodak moment.”

Bloomberg: Getting Covid Gets You Fired When You’re a Food Worker on a Visa. “As coronavirus cases explode at U.S. farms and food factories, the foreign migrants who pick fruit, clean seafood and sort vegetables are getting trapped in tightly packed bunkhouses where illness spreads like wildfire. Often, they can’t leave — unless they’re willing to risk deportation.”


Philadelphia Inquirer: Parties indoors are ‘playing with fire,’ N.J. governor warns; Philly outlines steps to reduce coronavirus risk in communities of color. “A house party in Stone Harbor, N.J., that has caused 25 Avalon lifeguards to quarantine; two conferences at a church in Delaware where members have tested positive for the coronavirus; a 700-person party in Jackson Township, N.J., that took police five hours to break up. Officials on Monday pleaded with people to stay outdoors, keep distanced, and wear masks if attending social gatherings. Citing a Long Beach Island party where at least 35 attendees were infected with the virus, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said people can get together but should do it outside.”

Arab News: Philippine president pledges free coronavirus vaccines for poorest 20 million citizens. “Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday announced that 20 million of the country’s poorest citizens will receive free COVID-19 vaccines, which he hoped would happen by December.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Russia plans mass vaccination campaign in October. “Russian health authorities are preparing to start a mass vaccination campaign against coronavirus in October, the health minister has said. Russian media quoted Mikhail Murashko as saying that doctors and teachers would be the first to receive the vaccine. Reuters, citing anonymous sources, said Russia’s first potential vaccine would be approved by regulators this month. However, some experts are concerned at Russia’s fast-track approach.”


Slate: Prominent Congressional Mask Skeptic Louie Gohmert Tests Positive for COVID-19 at White House. “One of the most anti-mask members of Congress, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, has tested positive for COVID-19. Gohmert was scheduled to travel to Texas with President Donald Trump and got a positive result after taking a test at the White House.”


Engadget: The NBA will use Microsoft Teams to virtually seat fans courtside. “As part of its ongoing partnership with Microsoft, the league plans to use the software’s recently released Together Mode to put more than 300 fans in the stands. The feature utilizes AI to segment your face and shoulders and put you in a shared digital space with other people.”


BuzzFeed News: Teachers Are Organizing To Protest School Reopenings Before The Coronavirus Is Under Control. “Teachers across the country have begun organizing protests to voice concerns about the Trump administration’s push for schools to reopen in the fall despite the coronavirus pandemic and to pressure school districts to delay the start of face-to-face instruction. Educators who have been organizing independently in cities across the United States told BuzzFeed News they’re frustrated by the Trump administration’s campaign to return to school with no national plan to keep teachers and students from spreading the coronavirus and little to no funding for personal protective equipment.”

Detroit Free Press: Detroit teachers threaten to stay home from school: What they want before returning. “Detroit teachers say they are prepared to stay home from school next month if their concerns over COVID-19 are not addressed. ‘If the members don’t feel that it’s safe, if the union leadership doesn’t feel that it’s safe, then we won’t show up,’ Detroit Federation of Teachers President Terrence Martin said Tuesday in a conference call with media and other union leaders.”


New York Times: Masks May Reduce Viral Dose, Some Experts Say. “Researchers have long known that masks can prevent people from spreading airway germs to others — findings that have driven much of the conversation around these crucial accessories during the coronavirus pandemic. But now, as cases continue to rise across the country, experts are pointing to an array of evidence suggesting that masks also protect the people wearing them, lessening the severity of symptoms, or in some instances, staving off infection entirely.”

NBC News: These women’s coronavirus symptoms never went away. Their doctors’ willingness to help did.. “The frightening symptoms began in early March, when Ailsa Court of Portland, Oregon, suspects she caught the coronavirus from someone at work. More than four months later, she still has shortness of breath, achiness in her lungs, and a strange tingling in her calves. But doctors have downplayed Court’s concerns as her health problems have dragged on. At one point, her primary care doctor suggested that perhaps she was just ‘stressed because of the economy,’ she said.”


CNET: Face masks are thwarting even the best facial recognition algorithms, study finds. “It turns out face masks aren’t just effective at preventing the spread of airborne diseases like COVID-19 — they’re also successful at blocking facial recognition algorithms, researchers say. In a report published Monday, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology found that face masks were thwarting even the most advanced facial recognition algorithms. Error rates varied from 5% to 50%, depending on an algorithm’s capabilities.”


Washington Post: Two coronavirus vaccines begin the last phase of testing: 30,000-person trials. “At 6:45 a.m. Monday, a volunteer in Savannah, Ga., received a shot in the arm and became the first participant in a massive human experiment that will test the effectiveness of an experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate. The vaccine is being developed by the biotechnology company Moderna in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.”


San Francisco Chronicle: Free masks for all? Ro Khanna, Bernie Sanders propose mailing them out. “A mask in every mailbox — that’s what Rep. Ro Khanna wants to make reality under a new proposed law. The Fremont Democrat and Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, have introduced legislation that would respond to the surge in coronavirus cases by distributing three ‘high-quality,’ reusable face masks to all Americans through the Postal Service, for free. The bill would also provide medical-grade N95 masks to health care workers at no cost.”

Vice: Customers Who Refused Masks Assault Trader Joe’s Workers, Send One to the Hospital. “One of the customers ripped a mask off the face of the employee who’d asked them to wear masks, pummeled an employee over the head with a wooden paddle, and pulled the hair of a third worker, according to the police spokesperson. The employee who was pummeled with the wooden paddle (used by Trader Joe’s cashiers to signal that they’re ready to checkout a new customer) started bleeding from the head and had to go to the hospital, according to an employee who witnessed the incident. Trader Joe’s has still not publicly acknowledged the incident and did not respond to a request for comment.”


Dallas Voice: A harsh lesson in the reality of COVID-19. “… believing the pandemic to be a hoax, my partner and I hosted family members on Saturday, June 13. On Sunday, June 14, I woke up sick. By Monday, June 15, my partner and my parents were all sick. That same Monday, my in-laws traveled to witness the birth of their first grandchild. They took with them my father-in-law’s mother and one of my partner’s sisters. That night my father-in-law became ill. Then my mother-in-law and their daughter began feeling sick. So they cut their trip short.”

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