Sunday CoronaBuzz, August 2, 2020: 31 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.


Poynter: How college journalism covered COVID-19. From the About statement on the front page: “This project was borne out of a deep admiration for the tireless work of student journalists. As we at the Duke Chronicle worked to document the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, we found strength in the fact that, while physically fractured, we were not alone. Thanks to the collaboration of media platforms from all 50 states, this project is a lasting testament to college journalism’s resilience.”


AP: US officials: Russia behind spread of virus disinformation. “Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, U.S. officials said Tuesday.”


Los Angeles Times: ‘Underserved and underfunded’: Inside California’s county hit hardest by COVID-19. “As most of California begins a second shutdown over the pandemic, no place has been hit as hard as Imperial County. In the last two weeks, the county has averaged 688.1 infections per 100,000 people, compared with Los Angeles County’s 400.3. Its mortality rate is the highest in the state, averaging 25.5 deaths per 100,000 people — four times greater than L.A. County’s.”

Washington Post: Ten bucks left, no place to go: How the pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives. “The pandemic crept up on Lakeisha Rollins one text at a time. When the coronavirus hit the District in March, the 30-year-old was working at the Whole Foods Market on P Street NW, pulling items off shelves to fill online orders. Rollins, who is studying to become a nursing assistant, got a message that one of her co-workers had tested positive. The next day, another text alerted her about another positive employee. By April, six workers at the store had contracted the virus.”

Phys .org: We urgently need new tools to measure economic recovery after coronavirus. “Economies across the world are on course to face the worst fall in GDP figures since 2008. In the UK, GDP fell by 10.4% in the first three months of 2020, and a whopping 20.4% in the month of April, the largest fall since records began in 1997. The Bank of England predicts that GDP will fall by 14% this year, probably more. The IMF has revised downward its forecast for global economic growth from -3% to -4.9% this year. This is scary. But these GDP figures also hide the deep inequalities that our economic system produces. It confuses the growth of markets and prices with prosperity and value. It is assumed that if we make, consume and sell more things, our welfare and life quality improves. Is this true?”

Thompson Reuters Foundation: Coronavirus crisis threatens internet opportunity for Native Americans. ” The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted a rare opportunity for Native American communities to address a lack of critical internet access, supporters and elected officials say, by missing a deadline to obtain free broadband licenses from the government. The cutoff for tribes to apply for licenses from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) expires on August 3, and the process entails submitting complex applications, surveys and maps, said officials at a digital rights conference on Monday. Only about 15% of eligible tribes have applied, said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel during a question-and-answer session at the virtual RightsCon conference.”

New York Times: Transit Workers Were N.Y.C.’s Pandemic Lifeline. These 3 Paid a Price. “When the coronavirus engulfed New York, it pummeled the transit workforce: So far, 131 transit workers have died from the virus and over 4,000 have tested positive, making the Metropolitan Transportation Authority one of the hardest-hit government agencies in New York.”

The Civics Center: New Voter Registrations Have Plummeted Due to COVID-19. “Voter registration rates in April and May of 2020 have plummeted in relation to the rates in the same months in 2016. Declines in voter registration rates have been as significant as 75% in some states. This decrease is likely credited to the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has caused the closure of schools and offices including many DMVs and the cancellation of nearly all spring in-person voter registration drives.”


Deadline: CAA Furloughs 275 Employees And Lets Go Of 90 Agents & Executives In A Bombshell Move. “CAA has dropped a bombshell today. The agency has confirmed rumors that it has let go of 90 agents and executives, and has furloughed 275 employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first layoff exercise that the agency has gone through, to this point, though technically the affected hourly employees aren’t being let go, they are being shelved for now. The agency will pay their health benefits through the length of the furlough, and those impacted can apply for unemployment to take some of the sting out of it.”

CNN: McDonald’s sales tumbled 30% last quarter, but it’s optimistic about a turnaround. “McDonald’s is having a rough year, as shown in another dismal quarterly earnings report — but there are signs of recent improvement. Total sales sank 30% in the second quarter compared to a year ago, McDonald’s announced Tuesday, falling to $3.77 billion. Net income plummeted 68% to $483.8 million. The figures reflect the April to June period, the first full quarter of coronavirus effects in the United States.”


ABC News: As coronavirus threatened invasion, a new ‘Red Dawn’ team tried to save America. “A group of public health and national security experts who sent some of the earliest and most dire warnings to officials across the Trump administration about the gathering coronavirus crisis is now offering a searing assessment of how the federal government blundered through the critical first months of a lethal outbreak.”


Vox: What the Miami Marlins’ Covid-19 outbreak means for the MLB season, explained by an epidemiologist. “On Monday, news broke that 11 of the 33 Miami Marlins players who traveled with the team to Philadelphia for the opening series that took place from Friday to Sunday tested positive for the virus, as well as two coaches. That news prompted MLB to postpone two games that were scheduled for Monday evening: the Marlins’ home opener against the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia’s contest against the New York Yankees. (The Yankees will be using the same clubhouse that the Marlins did over the weekend while the coronavirus was apparently spreading among the team.) Miami’s scheduled game on Tuesday has been postponed as well. Then, on Tuesday, news broke that four more Marlins players tested positive, bringing the number of team members with confirmed cases in recent days up to 17.”


BBC: Kashmir’s open-air classes offer stunning solution to lockdown.”Every morning, students in Doodpathri, a town in Budgam district, walk past streams and bridges, and up the hill to their new classroom: a picturesque spot with the snow-capped Himalayas as a backdrop. The outdoor school is a breather for both parents and children after months of a grinding lockdown to slow down Covid-19 infections. The state has reported more than 19,000 cases and some 365 deaths.” The photography with this article is just stunning.

Phys .org: Virtual school: Teachers want to improve but training varies. “With remote learning part of an increasing number of fall reopening plans, districts are facing pressure to improve after many students got left behind this spring in the scramble to close schools during the coronavirus pandemic. But investment in training varies widely. While some school systems have offered new guidance on teaching from afar, many educators feel like they’re on their own.”

CNN: Coronavirus means many school bus riders could be left with no seat. “As arguments rage about whether it is safe to have children back in classrooms amid coronavirus, there is another major hurdle — how to get them there. More than 25 million students typically use buses to get to and from school, but with social distancing needs, there will just not be enough space.”

American Independent: Teachers union supports strike over Trump’s ‘chaotic and catastrophic’ reopening plan. “The American Federation of Teachers, which represents 1.7 million school employees, issued a resolution on Tuesday saying it will support any local chapter that decides to strike over reopening plans. The group says school buildings should open only in areas where coronavirus infections are low enough and if schools enact certain safety measures.”

The 74: Educating Through a Pandemic: From a Kansas Showdown Over Campus Closures to California’s New Tool to Measure Learning and New York’s Surge in Homeschooling Families, 11 Ways Schools & States Are Adapting to COVID-19 . “Regardless of in-person or remote instructional plans, district officials, teachers, advocates, and researchers are also heavily engaging in conversations around student assessment, citing grim findings on the impact of school closures on children’s academic achievement.”


San Francisco Chronicle: Should I isolate my newborn? Move to the Bay Area for college? Stories of pandemic risk, hard choices. “The coronavirus pandemic has forced countless tough decisions for Bay Area residents. We’ve weighed medical, financial and personal risks against needs and benefits. Experts say these calculations are not always easy under the best of circumstances, and especially difficult in periods of high stress and strong emotion. Here are the stories of four people in the Bay Area and how they approached difficult choices that seemed to have no clear answer.”

University of California San Francisco: We Thought It Was Just a Respiratory Virus. “By June, clinicians were swapping journal papers, news stories, and tweets describing more than three dozen ways that COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes, appears to manifest itself. Now researchers at UC San Francisco and around the world have begun taking a closer look at this dizzying array of symptoms to get at the disease’s root causes. They are learning from people inside the hospital and out; people on the brink of death and only mildly sick; people newly exposed and recovered; people young and old, Black, brown, and white. And they are beginning to piece together the story of a virus unlike any known before.”

Washington Post: At the heart of dismal U.S. coronavirus response, a fraught relationship with masks. “The mask is the simplest and among the most effective weapons against the coronavirus in the public health arsenal. Yet from the start, America’s relationship with face coverings has been deeply fraught. Faulty guidance from health authorities, a cultural aversion to masks and a deeply polarized politics have all contributed. So has a president who resisted role modeling the benefits of face coverings, and who belittled those who did. The result, experts say, is a country that squandered one of its best opportunities to beat back the coronavirus pandemic this spring and summer. In the process, the United States fell far behind other nations that skipped the fuss over masks, costing lives and jeopardizing the recovery heading into the fall.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Humans are notoriously bad at assessing their risk. In a pandemic, that’s a problem. “In the first few weeks of the pandemic, the familiar options of everyday life narrowed to almost nothing. The Bay Area largely hunkered down and stayed home while the coronavirus numbers climbed. Decisions had been made for us: School and work were closed, travel and socializing designated unsafe by health officials. The framework for decision-making was limited. But it was also more clear. Now, as reopening has begun, life has become more expansive but in many ways far more complicated and confusing. There are more things to do, but risk is ever present.”


Washington Post: Virginia governor adds restrictions in Hampton Roads region after surge in coronavirus cases. “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced new restrictions Tuesday on restaurants and gatherings in the Hampton Roads area because of a rise in coronavirus cases. Northam (D) said restaurants will be limited to 50 percent capacity for indoor dining, will have to stop serving alcohol after 10 p.m. and will have to close at midnight. In addition, gatherings of more than 50 people will be prohibited.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Victoria declares state of disaster after spike in cases. “The Australian state of Victoria has declared a state of disaster and imposed new lockdown measures after a surge in coronavirus infections. Under the new rules, which came into effect at 18:00 (08:00 GMT), residents of the state capital Melbourne are subject to a night-time curfew. There will be further restrictions on residents’ ability to leave home.”

Vox: Nursing home deaths in Texas rose 64 percent in the past 2 weeks. “When coronavirus cases began to spike again, experts outlined the worst-case scenario: that those spikes, initially concentrated among younger people who were more cavalier once businesses reopened, would eventually migrate to older people — particularly long-term care facilities, where so many seniors have already died from Covid-19. And now, according to a new data analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, it seems those fears are being realized. The question is how bad it will get.”

Politico: New Jersey Covid-19 cases rising amid outbreaks fueled by large gatherings, house parties. “New Jersey reported 565 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, its highest daily total since early June, a clear indication the state is far from being ‘out of the woods,’ Gov. Phil Murphy said. The state’s rate of transmission, a measure of how many people will likely be infected by each new patient, remains above 1.0, Murphy said during an unrelated press conference. That means the virus is spreading faster than it’s being contained. The current rate of transmission, he said, is 1.14.”


Washingtonian: The Medical-Mask Emoji Sucks. This DC Man Is Petitioning Apple for a Better One.. ” The current mask emoji (😷) on Apple’s iOS looks sickly. Its wincing eyes connote the agony of illness—an undeniable reality of our current moment. But it’s not the reality of daily mask usage by asymptomatic folks, notes DC resident Shohsei Oda. With this in mind, Oda started a petition to change that: ‘Design a smiley mask-wearing emoji for Apple iOS.'”

STAT News: ‘It’s like you injected adrenaline into them’: Facebook’s vaccine misinformation problem faces a new test with Covid-19. “Since the outset of the pandemic, vaccine-related falsehoods have ballooned on the platform — and recent research suggests some of those inaccurate posts are gaining traction among people who weren’t previously opposed to vaccinations. Part of the problem appears to be the way Facebook’s algorithms capitalize on divisive or extremist content.”


EurekAlert: NIH delivering new COVID-19 testing technologies to meet US demand. “The National Institutes of Health is investing $248.7 million in new technologies to address challenges associated with COVID-19 testing (which detects SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus). NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative has awarded contracts to seven biomedical diagnostic companies to support a range of new lab-based and point-of-care tests that could significantly increase the number, type and availability of tests by millions per week as early as September 2020. With national demand estimated to be millions more tests per day above current levels, these technologies are expected to make a significant contribution to expanding the nation’s testing capacity.”


The Hill: Georgia governor withdraws request for emergency hearing to block Atlanta mask order. “Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) withdrew a request for an emergency hearing in a lawsuit that aims to block his state’s largest city from ordering people to wear masks in public or imposing other pandemic-related restrictions. Kemp spokesperson Cody Hall told The Hill Tuesday morning that the governor was heartened by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s (D) recent decision to impose economic restrictions on restaurants on a voluntary basis.”


Center for American Progress: A Comprehensive COVID-19 Vaccine Plan. “Several COVID-19 vaccines have shown promising results in early stages of development. This summer and fall, several vaccines will enter Phase III clinical trials to determine their efficacy and safety. Some experts believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could authorize a vaccine within six months. But this time frame is not when most Americans can expect to be vaccinated. The time between FDA authorization of a vaccine and widespread availability can take many months. For example, in 2009, the first doses of the H1N1 vaccine were administered on October 5. Only 124 million doses were available by the end of January 2010, four months later.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Nancy Pelosi criticises Deborah Birx. “US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has attacked the White House coronavirus task force’s Deborah Birx, linking her to ‘disinformation’ spread by President Donald Trump. Dr Birx responded that she always based her decisions on scientific data. She is a leading member of the task force, working alongside infectious diseases chief Anthony Fauci.”

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