Thursday CoronaBuzz, August 6, 2020: 39 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.


Hyde Park Herald: With $20 million in federal funding, U. of C. launches medical imaging database to study COVID-19. “The University of Chicago announced today that it is launching a COVID-19 medical imaging database as part of an initiative to help study the disease using artificial intelligence. The Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center (MIDRC) is funded by a two-year, $20-million federal contract from the National Institutes of Health. Over the next three months, researchers will upload more than 10,000 radiographs and CT-scans of COVID-19 patients to a database.”

Lawfare Blog: Announcing a New Series on Healthy Elections. “The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project aims to assist election officials and the public as the nation confronts the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic poses for election administration. Through research, tool development, and direct services to jurisdictions, the project focuses on confronting the logistical challenges faced by states as they make rapid transitions to mail balloting and the creation of safe polling places.”


The Indy Channel: Searchable Database: Tracking COVID-19 at central Indiana Schools. “The database below will be used to track confirmed COVID-19 cases reported by school districts in central Indiana. The database below will be regularly updated as new information is received and confirmed by our news team here at WRTV. As far as how quickly cases have been reported since schools opened their doors last week, the Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says the numbers are not surprising and they had anticipated cases to come in quickly after schools began reopening.”


Reuters: U.S. records over 25,000 coronavirus deaths in July. “U.S. coronavirus deaths rose by over 25,000 in July and cases doubled in 19 states during the month, according to a Reuters tally, dealing a crushing blow to hopes of quickly reopening the economy. The United States recorded 1.87 million new cases in July, bringing total infections to 4.5 million, for an increase of 69%. Deaths in July rose 20% to nearly 154,000 total.”


BBC: Coronavirus: The viral rumours that were completely wrong. “Remember those panicky viral messages you were forwarded on WhatsApp at the start of the pandemic? They may have come as a text, voice note or blurry picture forwarded by a ‘friend of a friend’ – and most of them were scarcely credible. Here’s the truth behind a few of the most heart-stopping coronavirus rumours that we debunked at the time.”


Wall Street Journal: Summer Camp Canceled Because of Coronavirus? Not for These Hamptons Homeowners. “When Camp Takajo, the famed Maine sleep-away camp, announced it wouldn’t open this summer due to Covid concerns, many parents panicked at the thought of having their children remain at home after months of lockdown. But real-estate developer Jeff Greene, who has three young sons, jumped into action. He decided to turn his 55-acre North Haven, N.Y., compound, which includes a main house and five smaller buildings, into a private outpost of the summer camp. His first order of business was to call Takajo’s owner and arrange to hire his top staff, including the nature and wilderness counselor, arts and crafts specialist, tennis coach, and since Mr. Greene’s property sits on 3,000 feet of Sag Harbor Bay, the waterfront director.”

Los Angeles Times: As COVID-19 cases surge, L.A. librarians join the ranks of contact tracers. “Lupie Leyva is good at tracking things down. A kind of detective, if you will. She’s organized and meticulous, curious and tech-savvy. For the last nine years, it has served her well as senior librarian and manager at the Robert Louis Stevenson Branch Library in Boyle Heights, where no book — however obscure — can escape her once she’s on the case. Now, Leyva is using those skills to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. The 46-year-old is doing contact tracing of people who have tested positive in an effort to reduce their chance of infecting others.”

CNET: I’m a dad who skateboards to find some sanity under quarantine. “This pandemic has got me doing some crazy things. I made wine and brewed beer in my Instant Pot. I burned scores of logs testing multiple fire pits. I’ve consumed massive amounts of coffee and espresso for various other product roundups (to be fair, I usually do that). My newest activity is the most terrifying, yet it’s also the most therapeutic. After a 20-year hiatus, I’ve returned to skateboarding.”


CNET: UV light and Big Ass Fans combine for a potential coronavirus killer. “For years, doctors and health professionals have been using ultraviolet light as a disinfectant. Now, a major ceiling fan manufacturer is mounting UV lights onto the base of its smart ceiling fans, and promising they can rid a room of viruses and bacteria within minutes.”

The Points Guy: Update: One of the first ships to resume cruising is having a COVID outbreak. “On second thought, maybe it was too soon. One of the first cruise ships in the world to resume sailing since the coronavirus-caused worldwide halt to cruising in March is experiencing a significant outbreak of the illness that already has sent several people to the hospital.”


The Hill: House Democrats find Trump officials overpaid for ventilators by as much as $500 million. “A report from Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee released Friday finds that the Trump administration overpaid by as much as $500 million for ventilators and was slow to respond to an offer to accelerate shipments in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. The report finds that the Trump administration paid the manufacturer Philips $15,000 per ventilator, more than any other American purchaser. Some purchasers buying as few as just one ventilator negotiated prices down to as low as $9,327 per ventilator, the report said.”

SF Gate: California’s growing virus data collection headache. “California has stopped removing or adding to a list of counties facing more restrictions on businesses and schools as it tries to determine the impact from an unresolved technical problem with the state’s coronavirus testing database, health officials said Wednesday. The state has recorded a highest-in-the-nation 525,000 positive tests. But California health officials say the true number is even higher. They don’t know how much so until they can add backlogged testing data and fix the problem with the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE).”

ABC News: ‘They didn’t run the plays’: Ex-officials say Trump administration didn’t use pandemic ‘playbooks’. “President Donald Trump proclaimed in late March that “nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.” Confronted with criticism of a lethargic national response, he lamented ‘a system we inherited’ from past administrations. The problem with both statements, according to former public health officials, is that prior administrations not only “knew there’d be a pandemic,” they planned for it – extensively.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Los Angeles to shut off water and power to party houses. “The mayor of Los Angeles has said the city will be authorised to shut off water and power to properties where large parties and gatherings are held despite restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Eric Garcetti said house parties had become ‘nightclubs in the hills’ and that the focus would be on gatherings ‘posing significant public dangers’.”

Vox: San Francisco’s lonely war against Covid-19. “On June 25, San Francisco Mayor London Breed was excited the city’s zoo would finally reopen after closing down for months in response to Covid-19. She visited the facilities, posting photos on social media with a mask on and giraffes in the background. ‘I know people are eager to get back to some sense of normalcy, especially families and children,’ she tweeted. And it looked like her city was taking a step toward it. The day after the visit, Breed had to announce the sad news: San Francisco’s reopening plan — for the zoo and various other facilities, including hair salons and indoor museums — would have to be put on hold.”

New York Times: How Italy Turned Around Its Coronavirus Calamity. “Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain on Friday announced a delay to a planned easing of measures in England as the infection rate there rose. Even Germany, lauded for its efficient response and rigorous contact tracing, has warned that lax behavior is prompting a surge in cases. And Italy? Its hospitals are basically empty of Covid-19 patients. Daily deaths attributed to the virus in Lombardy, the northern region that bore the brunt of the pandemic, hover around zero.”


NBC News: Brazil President Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle, and science minister test positive for COVID-19. “Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s wife and one of his ministers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an official statement on Thursday, as the spread of the novel coronavirus showed no signs of slowing in the country with the world’s second-worst outbreak after the United States.”


ESPN: Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving commits $1.5M to help pay WNBA players who opted out. “Kyrie Irving is helping to make sure WNBA players can sit out the season and not stress about a paycheck. The Brooklyn Nets star is committing $1.5 million to supplement the income of players who choose not to play this season, whether because of coronavirus concerns or social justice reasons.”

Yahoo Sports: Bills send all rookies home from training camp after 5 positive COVID-19 tests. “The Buffalo Bills sent all their rookies home from training camp on Thursday following a fifth positive COVID-19 test at the facility. Players who were at the facility for meetings will instead participate in virtual meetings,” NFL Network reports. The Bills announced the decision in a statement.”


BuzzFeed News: The Truth Behind A Viral Picture Of A Reopening School Is Worse Than It Looked. “Behind a viral photo of a crowded hallway at a high school in Georgia, a potentially dire situation is brewing. Students, teachers, and parents fear the Paulding County school’s rushed reopening plans may be spiraling out of control just two days after students — who said they were told they could face expulsion for remaining home — returned to class despite reports of positive coronavirus cases among students and staff.”

AL .com: First schools reopen in Alabama this week, many more scrambling, changing plans. “As the opening date for schools creeps ever closer, school districts across the state are shifting plans, some to virtual-only learning, while a few others will start school with a model bringing smaller groups of students back on alternating days of the week. Two school districts, Saraland and Enterprise City, will open for students on Thursday, and three more districts—Dale County, Limestone County and Jackson County—are scheduled to open for students on Friday. Two districts, Anniston City and Macon County, are scheduled to start virtual-only learning for students this week.”

Good Morning America: Teachers are writing their own obituaries as schools near reopening amid COVID-19. “A group of Iowa teachers have sent their own mock obituaries to their governor in hopes she’ll revisit plans for reopening schools. ‘I’m very scared,’ 7th grade teacher Kerry Finley of Iowa City told ‘Good Morning America.’ ‘Are we going to wear scrubs? Are they going to amend the dress code? If we are going to do this, we are going to have to do this the way the hospitals did. We need training. We can’t just say, “OK, go back.”‘”

Global Voices: In Chile, the school year is only halfway through — and teachers are struggling. “By April 1, nearly 1.6 billion learners across the world had been affected by school closures due to COVID-19. For school children in the northern hemisphere, the turbulent school year came to an end with the arrival of warmer weather, but for millions of students and teachers in the southern hemisphere the school year is only halfway through. All primary and secondary level schools in Chile have been closed since March 15, forcing teachers to move classes online. Teaching across Chile’s structurally and economically diverse schooling system presents challenges even without a pandemic gripping the country.”

Mississippi Free Press: As Mississippi Schools Reopen, ‘Pediatric COVID Crisis’ Threatens Families, Teachers. “As schools prepare to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year in Mississippi amid the current coronavirus pandemic, though, data have shown that, overall, children experience much milder symptoms from COVID-19 infections than adults. But Douglas Chambers, a historian at the University of Southern Mississippian who has followed COVID-19 data in scholarly fashion since the first case appeared in the state, told the Mississippi Free Press that he fears a little-noticed ‘pediatric COVID crisis’ will overwhelm schools and hospitals this fall—especially if K-12 schools push forward with resuming “traditional” face-to-face classroom settings.”


Statesman Journal: More Oregonians dying in 2020, but COVID-19 doesn’t account for entire increase. “About 980 Oregonians have died so far in 2020 above the state’s five-year average. Of those above-average deaths, 247 were attributed to COVID-19. That means 735 people died through July 25 beyond the average and in addition to deaths attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. State health officials say this disparity is likely caused by the under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths because of the lack of testing and people not seeking medical attention. They say it also may indicate the coronavirus in Oregon is deadlier than previously thought.”

NBC News: ‘Huge, foolish mistake’: Sturgis residents split over giant bike rally as coronavirus cases rise. “More than 250,000 people are expected to rumble through western South Dakota, seeking the freedom of cruising the boundless landscapes in a state that has skipped lockdowns. The Aug. 7 to 16 event, which could be the biggest anywhere so far during the pandemic, will offer businesses that depend on the rally a chance to make up for losses caused by the coronavirus. But for many in Sturgis, a city of about 7,000, the brimming bars and bacchanalia will not be welcome during a pandemic.”

New York Times: Aboard the Diamond Princess, a Case Study in Aerosol Transmission. “In a year of endless viral outbreaks, the details of the Diamond Princess tragedy seem like ancient history. On Jan. 20, one infected passenger boarded the cruise ship; a month later, more than 700 of the 3,711 passengers and crew members had tested positive, with many falling seriously ill. The invader moved as swiftly and invisibly as the perpetrators on Agatha Christie’s Orient Express, leaving doctors and health officials with only fragmentary evidence to sift through. Ever since, scientists have tried to pin down exactly how the coronavirus spread throughout the ship.”

Washington Post: Ball pits were gross even before the pandemic. Will we ever dive in again?. “Natalie Pariano was feeling some pandemic-related wanderlust and found herself looking through old travel photos when something stopped her scrolling finger dead in its tracks. It was a shot of her head poking out of a pool of pastel-colored balls. The picture was from a 2019 trip to the Color Factory, an immersive, Instagrammable attraction in New York City that features rooms full of colorful installations. At the time, it had felt perfectly natural to dive in. But now?”

New York Times: Contact Tracing Is Failing in Many States. Here’s Why.. “Contact tracing, a cornerstone of the public health arsenal to tamp down the coronavirus across the world, has largely failed in the United States; the virus’s pervasiveness and major lags in testing have rendered the system almost pointless. In some regions, large swaths of the population have refused to participate or cannot even be located, further hampering health care workers.”

New York Times: Children May Carry Coronavirus at High Levels, Study Finds. “Infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, according to the research. Indeed, children younger than age 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults, the authors found. That measurement does not necessarily prove children are passing the virus to others. Still, the findings should influence the debate over reopening schools, several experts said.”


BBC: Coronavirus: France records two-month high in cases. “France has recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus infections in more than two months. Figures released on Wednesday showed 1,695 new cases within 24 hours. With more than 30,000 deaths, France has the third-highest death toll in Europe, behind the UK and Italy.”


Reuters: Virginia touts nation’s first contact tracing app with Apple-Google tech. “Virginia on Wednesday launched the first contact tracing app for the novel coronavirus in the United States that uses new technology from Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O). The state is betting that the app, COVIDWISE, can help it catch new cases faster, though long delays in getting test results must be overcome in order for it to be effective.”


Phys .org: Researchers examine food supply chain resiliency in the Pacific during COVID-19 pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic exposes weaknesses in the supply chain when countries go into lockdown. Some are small, such as the toilet paper shortages early on, that, while annoying, were eventually resolved. But what happens when the effects of the pandemic reach the food systems of countries highly reliant on food imports and income from abroad, and commerce slows to a halt?”


New York Times: Virus-Driven Push to Release Juvenile Detainees Leaves Black Youth Behind. “Black youth detained in juvenile justice facilities have been released at a far slower rate than their white peers in response to the coronavirus, according to a new report that also found that the gap in release rates between the two groups had nearly doubled over the course of the pandemic.”

WJLA: Sheriff: Man threatens Florida grocery store employees with ax after told to wear mask. “A Florida man is accused of threatening Pensacola grocery store employees with an ax after being told to wear a face mask inside the store, according to an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office report.”

New York Times: Wear Your Mask. Please. No, Not on Your Chin.. “Rachel Kobylas longs for the days when her job as a code enforcement officer in the laid-back Florida town of Key West meant that she drove around making sure people turned off noisy power tools after 7 p.m. She went after overgrown grass, unpermitted construction and boats illegally parked on the street. That all changed this summer, when her main challenge became convincing the tourists, bartenders, T-shirt shop sales clerks and fishermen who flock along Key West’s sweltering streets in shorts and flip-flops that they should also be wearing a mask.”

Tampa Bay Times: Mark Inch, Florida’s prison boss, tests positive for COVID-19. “After months of attempting to mitigate COVID-19′s spread through the Florida prison system, Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch is facing the highly infectious disease himself. In a press release sent late Friday night, the department said Inch and Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon have tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting Columbia Correctional Institution and attending a Florida Sheriff’s Association conference July 27.”


The Atlantic: The Pandemic Is Damaging the GOP Brand Everywhere. “Although hardly any of the governors grappling with the fiercest coronavirus outbreaks are on the ballot this fall, voters’ verdicts about their performance loom heavily over another electoral battle with enormous implications for the balance of power between the parties over the next decade: the struggle for control of state legislatures. In polls, voters have given higher marks to Democratic governors who have moved cautiously on reopening than to Republicans who reopened early in response to President Donald Trump’s cues. That may offer Democrats their best chance to overcome the GOP’s entrenched advantage in state legislatures—which next year will draw local legislative and congressional-district lines that will govern elections through 2030.”

Politico: The congressional underclass erupts in fury after Gohmert gets Covid-19. “The revelation Wednesday that Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, a renegade lawmaker known for stalking the halls of Congress without a mask, tested positive for Covid-19 has unleashed a fusillade of anger on Capitol Hill — a sudden release of built-up tension over how the institution has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic within the confines of its own workplace.”

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