Thursday CoronaBuzz, August 20, 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.


KHQA: Illinois launches online COVID-19 hotspot map for travelers. “Before you plan your next trip you might consider using a new tool. IDPH launched its new COVID-19 travel map to help inform residents of potential risks associated with traveling during the pandemic.”


Heart (UK): New postcode checker lets you find out coronavirus lockdown rules in your area. “Over the past few weeks, many areas of the country have been forced back into lockdown to deal with local coronavirus outbreaks. But with so many new rules in place, now a handy postcode checker has been created to show you exactly what is going on in your area. The Lockdown Checker allows users to type in their postcode and find out whether they can shop, eat out and see their friends and family.”


WATE: New Tennessee online education tool. “Tennessee leaders announced a new website designed to assist parents and teachers with educational resources. It’s called Best For All Central: Tennessee’s Hub for Learning and Teaching. School leaders, educators, and families get free access to an extensive collection of resources to support learning, as well as features for locating specific resources quickly and easily.” This is specific to Tennessee education requirements, but I didn’t have any problems browsing the content. There don’t seem to be any location restrictions.

University of Alabama at Birmingham: Alabama’s GuideSafeTM Exposure Notification App Launches Statewide. “Supported by CARES Act funding, the GuideSafeTM Exposure Notification App was built by UAB and Birmingham-based MotionMobs in active collaboration with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and integrating Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification System (ENS). This app, previously available only to .edu email address holders during its recent pilot phase, can now be downloaded at no cost by any individual across the entire state via iPhone and Android devices.”

Orange County Register: UC Irvine scientists launch coronavirus tracking site that compares Orange County to others. “A team of UC Irvine scientists on Monday launched a coronavirus tracking website that distills important pandemic metrics and compares Orange County’s case, hospitalization and death averages against other large counties around California.”

6sqft: NYC launches online portal with free eviction help. “An online portal launched on Monday to help New York City renters avoid eviction by providing free resources and legal assistance. The new website comes just days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the state’s eviction moratorium for at least another month, only hours before it was set to expire. But with housing trials expected to resume in September in most of the city, tenant advocates say that no law currently in place protects the 14,000 households issued eviction warrants prior to the pandemic.”


Washington Post: How to help children adjust to masks, according to experts and parents. “Adjusting to face masks has been a challenge for many children — and it’s a problem that’s only going to intensify as more and more kids and teens head back to in-person day care, child care and school. Here are some tips to make the process a little easier.”


KTVU: COVID-19 leaves LA college student and teen brother only survivors in household. “A 22-year-old college student in Los Angeles has been left to care for her 17-year-old brother, after the coronavirus swept through her household, killing first her grandmother, then taking her father, and finally her mother.”

Houston Chronicle: ‘A part of us died’: Along the Texas-Mexico border, a coronavirus crisis. “Six adults in the Treviño family battled COVID-19 for weeks in the hospital and in their small three-bedroom home close to the border with Mexico. Five survived. The sixth, Maria Treviño, 79, was laid to rest Tuesday amid acres of flowers and graves in the Garden of Angels cemetery that abuts the Rio Grande. The family’s tears slid into their masks as Luis Chavez, 36, played long, sorrowful notes on his trumpet.”

CNN: Tie-dye on the rise as a pandemic pastime. “For Danielle Somers, tie-dye has taken on ritual status during the pandemic. Like all good rituals, it’s a mix of order and chaos; the process is deeply familiar while the outcomes remain mysterious. When tie-dying, she takes her time preparing and setting up the different colors, placing the rubber bands on the cloth, dipping the cloth in the ink and then, in time, observing the surprising results.”

New York Times: Florida’s Summer of Dread. ” The crowded grocery stores, empty shelves and barren streets of South Florida in the dawning days of the coronavirus pandemic felt unsettlingly familiar: They resembled the rush of preparations and then the tense silence that precede a hurricane. Maybe the tough residents of a state used to dealing with unpredictable forces of nature would have an edge in handling the deadly coronavirus. In theory, the people of Florida know a thing or two about how to follow orders during an emergency and stay at home. Oh, were we naïve.”

The Atlantic: How the Pandemic Defeated America. “How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.”

NBC News: For richer and poorer, Uncle Sam’s coronavirus response widened the gulf. “The government’s treatment of two businessmen — one Black, one white; one struggling, one thriving; one left to fend for himself, one supported despite no apparent need — reflects the much larger story of the federal response to the coronavirus crisis. It has pumped trillions of dollars into America’s wealthiest companies and investors, along with smaller chunks for lower- and middle-class families, in ways that reinforced and widened disparities between races and between economic classes, according to economists.”


BBC: Broadway workers fight to stay afloat with theatres closed. “On 12 March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered Broadway’s 41 theatres to close as the coronavirus pandemic spread through the city. The shows, with their hundreds of closely packed seats, presented a high risk for Covid-19 to spread among the audience. In June, the industry announced that closures would extend until January next year.”


New York Times: Nordstrom Uses Influencers to Promote Safety and Draw Anxious Shoppers. “Even before the coronavirus pandemic, retailers were struggling to get more people into stores. Now foot traffic to malls, including outdoor shopping centers, is down about 30 percent from last year, according to aggregated data from the location analysis company Cuebiq, which tracks about 15 million cellphone users nationwide daily. It was down as much as 57 percent earlier this year, as widespread shutdowns essentially ended in-person shopping in many areas of the country. By hiring influencers to highlight safety measures, retailers, especially those that sell apparel and other discretionary goods, are trying to restore a sense of normalcy to activities like in-store shopping that were utterly banal six months ago but now may seem dangerous to many customers.”

NBC News: More than 100 executives warn Congress of ‘catastrophic’ consequences without relief for small business. “More than 100 current and former top executives at major U.S. companies are calling on Congress to pass long-term relief to ensure that small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic.”

ProPublica: Cannabis, Lies and Foreign Cash: A Mother and Daughter’s Journey Through the Underground Mask Trade. “Contracts, emails and spreadsheets that Juanita and Dawn Ramos shared with ProPublica detail how domestic and foreign investors, many with marijuana industry ties, have seized upon the nation’s public health disaster. They show that some brokers attempted to use forged documents to gain access to masks coming off production lines of 3M, the manufacturer that makes the gold-standard masks capable of filtering 95% of particles that could transmit the novel coronavirus. In one exchange, the owner of a Swiss nutritional supplement company detailed his plan to buy millions of 3M masks at $3.71 apiece and resell them to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose purchase order priced masks at $7 each.”

Washington Post: Two more retailers file for bankruptcy: Lord & Taylor and Tailored Brands. “Two more retail icons have filed for Chapter 11 protection, joining more than a dozen major brands that have tipped into bankruptcy as pandemic-fueled store closures sent sales plummeting. Lord & Taylor, the nation’s oldest department store chain, filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday and said it is searching for a buyer. Hours later, Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, followed suit, saying the pandemic had forced a reckoning. The company recently announced it would lay off 20 percent of its corporate workforce and close as many as 500 stores to cut costs.”

New York Times: One-Third of New York’s Small Businesses May Be Gone Forever. “In early March, Glady’s, a Caribbean restaurant in Brooklyn, was bringing in about $35,000 a week in revenue. The Bank Street Bookstore, a 50-year-old children’s shop in Manhattan, was preparing for busy spring and summer shopping seasons. And Busy Bodies, a play space for children in Brooklyn, had just wrapped up months of packed classes with long waiting lists. Five months later, those once prosperous businesses have evaporated. Glady’s and Busy Bodies are closed for good and Bank Street, one of the city’s last children’s bookstores, will shut down permanently in August.”

The Guardian: Two cruise ships hit by coronavirus weeks after industry restarts. “Covid-19 has been detected on at least two cruise ships – one in the Arctic and one in the Pacific – just weeks after cruising holidays restarted. At least 40 passengers and crew from the MS Roald Amundsen have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and authorities are trying to contact trace hundreds of passengers from two recent Arctic voyages the ship took.”


BBC: Coronavirus: France to make face masks mandatory in most workplaces. “France is to make face masks compulsory in most workplaces as it grapples with a resurgence in coronavirus cases. The new rule is likely to apply to all shared spaces in offices and factories where there is more than one employee present. The measure is set to begin on 1 September. Individual offices will be exempt.”

Kansas City Star: Missouri got millions to fight COVID-19, but 50 health agencies haven’t seen a penny. “By early May, the federal government had delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to Missouri to fight the spread of the coronavirus. But three months later, dozens of Missouri county health departments have not received a penny.”

New York Times: U.S. Small Business Bailout Money Flowed to Chinese-Owned Companies. “Millions of dollars of American taxpayer money have flowed to China from the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program that was created in March to be a lifeline for struggling small businesses in the United States. But because the economic relief legislation allowed American subsidiaries of foreign firms to receive the loans, a substantial chunk of the money went to America’s biggest economic rival, a new analysis shows.”

Washington Post: ‘This is no longer a debate’: Florida sheriff bans deputies, visitors from wearing masks. “On Tuesday, as Florida set a daily record for covid-19 deaths, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods prohibited his deputies from wearing masks at work. His order, which also applies to visitors to the sheriff’s office, carves out an exception for officers in some locations, including hospitals, and when dealing with people who are high-risk or suspected of having the novel coronavirus. In an email to the sheriff’s department shared with The Washington Post, Woods disputed the idea that masks are a consensus approach to battling the pandemic.”

BBC: Ruby Princess: Australian officials failed to carry out health checks. “Australian officials have admitted they failed to carry out mandatory health checks on board a cruise ship that became the source of one of the country’s largest coronavirus clusters. Andrew Metcalfe, the secretary for the Department of Agriculture, told the Senate Covid-19 committee on Tuesday that protocols had not been followed.”

Reuters: Singapore to make travellers wear electronic tags to enforce quarantine. “Singapore will make some incoming travellers wear an electronic monitoring device to ensure that they comply with coronavirus quarantines as the city-state gradually reopens its borders, authorities said.”


KXAN: Can Congress save the live music industry before it’s too late?. “The pandemic has silenced even Texas’ famous music scene: Austin, known as the ‘Live Music Capitol of the World.’ But the live music industry ground to a halt when the COVID-19 outbreak hit the U.S. in March. According to the National Independent Venue Association, hundreds of independent music venues are broke and will close for good if they don’t receive federal help.”


BBC Sport: NFL 2020: Kansas City Chiefs will host fans at reduced capacity. “The Kansas City Chiefs plan to allow fans inside Arrowhead Stadium at 22% capacity when the 2020 NFL season begins. The Chiefs, who won their first Super Bowl in 50 years in February, play the Houston Texans on 10 September. Supporters will be required to wear face masks and will also be separated into grouped pods inside the stadium.”


Times-Journal: Alabama Public Television to support Alabama students with broadcast, online resources amid pandemic. “As schools across the state begin to open for the 2020-21 school year, whether in-person or virtually, Alabama Public Television will continue to serve Alabama’s pre-K-12th grade students, teachers, and families with high-quality broadcast programs and digital resources. Broadcast programming for pre-K through fifth- grade students, organized around weekly themes, will be offered daily on APT’s main channel. A five-hour learning block designed for students in grades 6-12 will be available from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday on APT’s WORLD channel. The block includes content in social studies, science/engineering and English Language Arts.”


New York Times: The Mask Slackers of 1918. “More than a century ago, as the 1918 influenza pandemic raged in the United States, masks of gauze and cheesecloth became the facial front lines in the battle against the virus. But as they have now, the masks also stoked political division. Then, as now, medical authorities urged the wearing of masks to help slow the spread of disease. And then, as now, some people resisted. In 1918 and 1919, as bars, saloons, restaurants, theaters and schools were closed, masks became a scapegoat, a symbol of government overreach, inspiring protests, petitions and defiant bare-face gatherings. All the while, thousands of Americans were dying in a deadly pandemic.”

Washington Post: A coronavirus vaccine won’t change the world right away. “In the public imagination, the arrival of a coronavirus vaccine looms large: It’s the neat Hollywood ending to the grim and agonizing uncertainty of everyday life in a pandemic. But public health experts are discussing among themselves a new worry: that hopes for a vaccine may be soaring too high. The confident depiction by politicians and companies that a vaccine is imminent and inevitable may give people unrealistic beliefs about how soon the world can return to normal — and even spark resistance to simple strategies that can tamp down transmission and save lives in the short term.”

Phys .org: Using a public restroom? Mask up!. “Think you don’t need to worry about COVID-19 while using a public restroom? A group of researchers from Yangzhou University in China recently reported that flushing public restroom toilets can release clouds of virus-laden aerosols for you to potentially inhale. If that’s not cringeworthy enough, after running additional computer simulations, they’ve concluded that flushing urinals does likewise. In Physics of Fluids, the group shares its work simulating and tracking virus-laden particle movements when urinals are flushed.”

New York Times: A Hospital Forgot to Bill Her Coronavirus Test. It Cost Her $1,980.. “Ms. [Debbie] Krebs had a clear memory of the experience, particularly the doctor saying the coronavirus test would make her feel as if she had to sneeze. She wondered whether the doctor could have lied about performing the test, or if her swab could have gone missing. (But if so, why had the laboratory called her with results?) The absence of the coronavirus test made a big price difference. Insurers, Ms. Krebs had heard, were not charging patients for visits meant to diagnose coronavirus. Without the test, Ms. Krebs didn’t qualify for that protection and owed $1,980. She called the hospital to explain the situation but immediately ran into roadblocks.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Ireland at ‘tipping point’ as Covid-19 cases rise. “The Republic of Ireland’s cabinet has reversed some of its lockdown relaxation measures as it attempts to deal with rising Covid-19 case numbers. Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: ‘We are at a tipping point.’ He added that a few weeks ago there were just 61 new reported cases for a seven day period but last week there were 533 cases.”

BBC: South Korea tightens Covid-19 curbs amid warning of new ‘crisis’. “Museums, nightclubs and karaoke bars have closed in and around South Korea’s capital, Seoul, as Covid-19 cases reach a five-month high. The country reported another 297 new cases on Wednesday – the highest daily figure since March.”


EurekAlert: Airborne viruses can spread on dust, non-respiratory particles. “Influenza viruses can spread through the air on dust, fibers and other microscopic particles, according to new research from the University of California, Davis and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai. The findings, with obvious implications for coronavirus transmission as well as influenza, are published Aug. 18 in Nature Communications.”


WCSC: Charleston to consider dropping warning for violating face covering ordinance. ” After Tuesday’s Charleston City Council meeting, anyone stopped on the street without a face covering could be hit with a fine without a warning. City Council will consider removing the warning, which would mean the first violation would result in a $100 fine.”

Washington Post: ‘Not handling the pandemic well’: Man fires at officers with AK-47 after refusing to wear a mask, police say. “When a cigar shop clerk told Adam Zaborowski on Friday he had to wear a mask in the shop, the 35-year-old angrily refused. Instead, he grabbed two stogies, stormed outside — and then pulled a handgun and shot at the clerk, Bethlehem Township, Pa., police said. The next day, cornered near his home, Zaborowski allegedly fired at police with an AK-47, sparking a wild shootout with at least seven officers that ended with him shot multiple times and under arrest.”


New York Times: Scientists Worry About Political Influence Over Coronavirus Vaccine Project. “Under constant pressure from a White House anxious for good news and a public desperate for a silver bullet to end the crisis, the government’s researchers are fearful of political intervention in the coming months and are struggling to ensure that the government maintains the right balance between speed and rigorous regulation, according to interviews with administration officials, federal scientists and outside experts.”

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