Tuesday CoronaBuzz, August 4, 2020: 34 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.


Scientific American: How to Evaluate COVID-19 News without Freaking Out. “Carl Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, is an expert on how information flows in science and society. He and his University of Washington colleague Jevin West teach a course on data reasoning in the digital world (its materials are available online). They have also written a book based on the course, Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World, which is set to be published this Tuesday. Bergstrom has monitored the pandemic closely, sharing frequent updates on Twitter and countering disinformation. Scientific American spoke with him about his tool kit for navigating the daily deluge of news about the novel coronavirus, from finding reliable sources to interpreting reporting about preprint research.”

Vox: Thursday’s historically bad economic growth numbers, explained. “The US economy shrank at the fastest rate on record in the second quarter of 2020, according to data released Thursday morning by the Bureau of Economic Analys Labor Statistics. Quarterly GDP statistics are normally calculated in terms of a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, and when you do that, here’s what it looks like — a sharp drop from positive growth in 2019 to a more than 30 percent contraction in the most recent quarter.”


National Geographic: Exclusive: Buddy, first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., has died. “Medical records provided by the Mahoneys and reviewed for National Geographic by two veterinarians who were not involved in his treatment indicate that Buddy likely had lymphoma, a type of cancer, which would explain the symptoms he suffered just before his death. The Mahoneys didn’t learn that lymphoma was being considered as the probable cause of his symptoms until the day of his death, they say, when additional bloodwork results confirmed it. It’s unclear whether cancer made him more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus, or if the virus was responsible for any of his symptoms, or if it was just a case of coincidental timing. Buddy’s family, like thousands of families grappling with the effects of the coronavirus around the world, is left with many questions and few answers.”


Associated Press: Misinformation on coronavirus is proving highly contagious. “Experts worry the torrent of bad information is dangerously undermining efforts to slow the virus, whose death toll in the U.S. hit 150,000 Wednesday, by far the highest in the world, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Over a half-million people have died in the rest of the world.”

USA Today: Fact check: Fauci warned Trump administration in 2017 of surprise infectious disease outbreak. “The claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci, in 2017, warned the Trump administration of the likelihood of an infectious disease outbreak is TRUE based on our research. Fauci did not warn about the coronavirus specifically, as some posts claim, but rather, that a more general ‘surprise infectious disease outbreak’ would take place.”


Houston Chronicle: ‘I’m just so, so tired’. “As a nurse, LaTonya Rafe has developed a sense of knowing when death is closing in. She felt it the moment she walked into the room of one of her favorite COVID-19 patients, the one she was sure would beat the virus overtaking her small Houston hospital. Not him, too, she thought. The team at United Memorial Medical Center rushed in to try to save the Hispanic man in his 60s as his blood pressure dropped. Their hospital is ground zero in Acres Homes, one of the city’s hardest-hit neigbhorhoods. Rafe speaks no Spanish, her patient spoke no English. She worried he would be frightened, so she scrolled through her phone to find Spanish-language ballads on YouTube to calm him. She stroked his hand because no family was there.”

CNN: Unemployment claims rise for second week in a row. “In yet another sign that the economic recovery is teetering in a resurgence of coronavirus cases, the number of Americans filing first-time unemployment claims rose for the second week in a row. Some 1.4 million people filed for initial jobless claims last week, up 12,000 from the prior week’s revised level, which was the first increase in 16 weeks, according to the Department of Labor.”


BuzzFeed News: A Woman’s Obituary For Her Husband Who Died From The Coronavirus Is Going Viral. “David W. Nagy didn’t usually like it when his wife talked politics, but when he died last month from COVID-19 she channeled her devastation and anger into his short obituary, blaming his death on President Trump, the governor of Texas, and ‘the many ignorant, self-centered and selfish people’ who refuse to wear a mask. ‘Dave did everything he was supposed to do, but you did not,’ Stacey Nagy, 72, wrote in the six-paragraph tribute to her 79-year-old husband, who died on July 22. ‘Shame on all of you, and may Karma find you all!'”


New York Times: As the Pandemic Forced Layoffs, C.E.O.s Gave Up Little. “When the pandemic prompted companies to furlough or lay off thousands of employees, some chief executives decided to show solidarity by forgoing some of their pay. But it turns out that their sacrifice was minimal. A survey of some 3,000 public companies shows that the cuts — which, so far, have come in the form of salary reductions — were tiny compared with their total pay last year. Total pay includes things like bonuses and stock awards that typically make up the bulk of what corporate bosses take home.”

WCVB: Dunkin’s to close 800 US locations. “Dunkin’ has announced that it plans to close 800 locations across the country.The Canton-based company announced the closures Thursday in its second quarter earning report and said it affects low-volume sales locations. Dunkin’ said the move is ‘part of a real estate portfolio rationalization’ and the locations represent 8% of the company’s locations in the United States.”


Chicago Tribune: Gov. J.B. Pritzker warns of a possible ‘reversal’ as COVID-19 numbers rise in Illinois: ‘Things are not headed in the right direction’. “Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned on Wednesday that Illinois could be headed for a ‘reversal’ in its reopening as the state continues to see a resurgence in coronavirus case numbers, and called on residents to ‘defend our progress.’ It was the governor’s latest and perhaps strongest caution that if trends across Illinois continue or worsen, the state could clamp back down on businesses and gatherings and possibly even bring back a stay-at-home order for regions where metrics such as the positivity rate exceeds a certain threshold.”

Tampa Bay Times: ‘Small victory’: Florida waives work requirements for food stamp recipients for another month. “Facing a workforce still grappling with the coronavirus crisis, Florida officials said [July 28] that they would extend for another month a waiver of job search requirements residents must comply with so that they can get aid to buy food.”

NPR: Irregularities In COVID Reporting Contract Award Process Raise 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: Coronavirus: Peru allows Venezuela medics amid pandemic. “Peru is letting thousands of Venezuelan health workers who fled their country join the Peruvian health system during the coronavirus pandemic. Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra signed a decree which exempts qualified foreign doctors and nurses from having to validate their degrees. Peru has more than 430,000 cases of coronavirus and its health service has been struggling.”

ProPublica: How the Trump Administration Allowed Aviation Companies to Keep Relief Money That Was Supposed to Go to Workers. “Flying Food didn’t just lay off [Gebrish] Weldemariam. The Chicago-based company, one of the largest airline caterers in the country, has pink slipped more than 2,000 other workers since March. The cuts left the vast majority of its workforce out of a job at facilities in California, Chicago, Virginia and the New York City area, according to the union UNITE HERE, which represents Flying Food workers. Then in June, the Flying Food was approved to receive $85 million from the Trump administration from a pandemic relief program that was intended to preserve those very jobs.”

CNN: Countries are strengthening their face mask rules. Soon you might have to wear one outdoors, too. “Cases are ticking upwards in parts of Europe, the process of unlocking is paused in the UK, and the Americas are still battling to contain vast Covid-19 outbreaks. But as the tremors of a potential second wave of infections are starting to be felt, some governments are reaching for a new tool that many public health experts have been touting for months: stricter mask mandates.”


ABC News: Dr. Fauci: Wear goggles or eye shields to prevent spread of COVID-19; flu vaccine a must. “Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested Wednesday that Americans should consider wearing goggles or a face shield in order to prevent spreading or catching COVID-19. ‘If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,’ the nation’s top infectious disease expert told ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton during an Instagram Live conversation on ABC News.”

Slate: Why Arizona’s Top Coronavirus Expert Quit. “Back in March, Arizona was averaging fewer than 200 cases of COVID-19 a day. The numbers were increasing, but at the time they were nowhere near those of places like New York City. If there was one person in Arizona who felt she was prepared to take on the coronavirus, it’s Wendy Smith-Reeve, who’d served as director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management. But when she found that her efforts were being stymied by a governor’s office that often went over her head, she handed in her resignation. Now Smith-Reeve looks at her state, which has more than 165,000 cases and 3,000 deaths, and thinks the current situation could have been prevented, had the state government let her system work.”


CNET RoadShow: 2020 Indy 500 will be closed to fans. “The 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be the first without any spectators. Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske has officially changed his mind about letting fans attend amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according an Associated Press report on Tuesday.”


New York Times: $25,000 Pod Schools: How Well-to-Do Children Will Weather the Pandemic. “This fall, a majority of 50 million American children enrolled in public school are almost certainly going to be confined within their homes for part or all of the school day. The numerous harms of being kept out of school — academic, social, emotional, psychological, physical — are felt by all children, but a disproportionate weight will be borne by those with the least resources. The wealthiest children will be ensconced in private schools and catered to by tutors and nannies. For most, there are few options. But for a slice of enterprising American parents with resources, so-called pod schools have arrived.”

SunHerald: ‘We are going to pay the price’ if MS kids go back to school this week, Dobbs says. “With Mississippi near the top of the list nationwide for COVID-19 spread, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs is leery of sending children back to classrooms this week. Dobbs said during a video question-and-answer session sponsored by the Mississippi State Medical Association that he believes COVID-19 cases will level off, then soar once schools are in session. He said Mississippi’s health department will be recommending a statewide mask mandate for all children attending schools.”

NBC News: The ‘she-cession’: Teachers, a majority-female workforce, grapple with what’s next. “There are no good options, and no playbook. Across the country, schools are grappling with what ‘back to school’ looks like in the time of a pandemic. And pressure from the White House and President Donald Trump to send kids back into classrooms, comes with questions from educators about how best to do that while keeping everyone — including themselves and their loved ones — safe.”


New York Times: A Covid Patient Goes Home After a Rare Double Lung Transplant. “The last thing that Mayra Ramirez remembers from the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago is calling her family to say she had Covid, was about to be put on a ventilator and needed her mother to make medical decisions for her. Ms. Ramirez, 28, did not wake up for more than six weeks. And then she learned that on June 5, she had become the first Covid patient in the United States to receive a double-lung transplant.”

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio pharmacy board reverses ban on hydroxychloroquine as coronavirus treatment after DeWine’s request. “Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by President Donald Trump as a way to treat and prevent the coronavirus. The Ohio pharmacy board planned to ban the drug as a COVID-19 treatment until Gov. Mike DeWine spoke up about it. The State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy has changed course on its ban of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as coronavirus treatments following the governor’s urging to do so.”

ABC News: A COVID-19 vaccine will still save lives even if it’s not 100% effective, experts say. “As coronavirus cases continue to climb in hot spots across the U.S., positive results from the first phase of several drug trials have raised hopes that a vaccine will soon help Americans return to a normal life. But experts are stressing that even if the vaccine is not 100% effective, it will still be a safe and important tool in the fight against the virus.”


Los Angeles Times: COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at San Diego gym operating illegally. “An outbreak of COVID-19 was confirmed Wednesday at a popular San Diego gym that had been operating in defiance of the county’s public health order. In response, county officials announced that they would step up efforts to protect workers and improve enforcement and contact tracing. County officials had ordered the Pacific Beach fitness business, The Gym, to immediately close last week, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said Wednesday. The gym continued operating but is now closed.”


BetaNews: How lockdown has affected global broadband speeds. “Average broadband speeds during COVID-19 lockdown measures that limited people’s activities dropped by an average of 6.31 percent globally, according to a new report. Internet advice site analyzed data from the Oxford Coronavirus Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT), and over 364 million broadband speed tests courtesy of M-Lab to compare average internet speeds in 114 countries both during and outside of their most stringent COVID-19 lockdown periods.”


MIT Technology Review: Eli Lilly is testing a way to prevent covid-19 that’s not a vaccine. “Nurses and patients in some US assisted living facilities will receive an antibody drug to prevent covid-19 infection, according to drug company Eli Lilly…. Early in the coronavirus pandemic, companies searched the blood of covid-19 survivors for potent antibodies against the novel virus. Eli Lilly’s drug is one of these Y shaped proteins—it’s a natural antibody manufactured at larger scale.”

Phys .org: ‘Price of life’ lowest in UK during COVID-19 pandemic, study finds. “The price the UK government was prepared to pay to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic was far lower than in many other developed nations, a study has revealed. In a cross-country comparison across nine nations—Belgium, the US, Germany, Korea, Italy, Denmark, China, New Zealand and the UK—researchers used epidemiological modelling to calculate how many lives were lost through delaying lockdown, estimating that a UK lockdown date just three days earlier would have saved 20,000 lives.”


Washington Post: I’ve eaten at restaurants, gone to a mall and attended concerts. That is life in France.. “Over the past six weeks, I’ve eaten out at restaurants five times, attended two concerts, visited a large, busy indoor mall three times, had two haircuts, and repeatedly watched school kids run around the schoolyard. But that’s all been responsible behavior — because instead of being locked down in my house in the D.C. area, I’ve been in France, where life and the economy are now carrying on close to normal.”

New York Times: Yes, the Coronavirus Is in the Air. “I am a civil and environmental engineer who studies how viruses and bacteria spread through the air — as well as one of the 239 scientists who signed an open letter in late June pressing the W.H.O. to consider the risk of airborne transmission more seriously. A month later, I believe that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via aerosols matters much more than has been officially acknowledged to date.”

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Help us out, Gov. DeSantis. We’re dying here | Editorial. “Gov. Ron DeSantis wore a face mask as he greeted Vice President Mike Pence with a fist-bump at Miami’s airport Monday. He should back up the photo-op with a sensible and long-overdue statewide mask requirement.”


CNN: Pelosi mandates masks in House chamber after Gohmert tests positive for Covid-19. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday she would require all House members and aides to wear masks on the floor after Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert — who was often in the chamber interacting with colleagues and refusing to wear a face-covering — tested positive for coronavirus.”

HuffPost: Donald Trump’s Campaign Is Pretending There’s No Pandemic. “President Donald Trump’s campaign advertising is focused largely on issues that are of minimal concern to the American electorate, a HuffPost analysis of campaign ad spending data found, airing zero ads about the coronavirus pandemic in the month of July.”

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