Friday CoronaBuzz, August 21, 2020: 38 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.


EurekAlert: New database shows more than 20% of nursing homes still report staff, PPE shortages. “Nearly half of all COVID-19 deaths in the United States have occurred among nursing home residents, whose age, chronic medical conditions, and congregate living quarters place them and their caregivers at high risk of contracting the disease. And yet, six months into the pandemic, more than 20 percent of nursing homes in the US continue to report severe shortages of staff and personal protective equipment (PPE), according to a new study.”


9News: Colorado high school freshman creates free website to connect students with tutors. “School may look different this year, but the need for extra help outside the classroom remains. Private tutors can be expensive, so Cherry Creek High School freshman Jeri Bailey came up with a solution. ‘One room school is kind of a tutoring system for anyone and everyone that’s completely free,’ she said.” Very new, not much here yet…


KVAL: ‘Quarantine Buddy’ website seeks to match you up with a friend for the pandemic. “A new website hopes to help people make new friends during the quarantine. It’s called Quarantine Buddy and matches people with virtual friends. The website pairs you with a buddy based on your preferences. You can customize the age, gender, and proximity of your new friend, as well as the hobbies you’d like to share with them.”


BBC: US jobless claims rise back above one million. “The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed back above one million last week, official figures show. The US Labor Department said claims rose to 1.1 million, ahead of economists’ forecasts of 925,000.”


Vox: Anti-maskers explain themselves. “Masks have become an extremely heated point of contention during the Covid-19 outbreak. Viral videos of people having meltdowns over masks are commonplace, and in many parts of the country, it’s not abnormal for strangers to confront each other publicly over the issue. A small but vocal segment of the population has dug in and ignored the growing evidence that masks make a difference in combating the coronavirus. For those who believe that at the very least wearing a mask can’t hurt, it’s hard to not develop some animosity toward those who refuse. The question I keep hearing from pro-mask friends and family is always the same: What are these people thinking?”

Medium: What Future Generations Will Remember About The Pandemic. “Today’s kids will be back in school at some point, hopefully soon. What should scare us is that their kids will study us in their history books. My grandmother, like so many others, came here with nothing without her parents. She was 8. Everything I have including the ‘liberty’ and ‘rights’ were nothing I earned. They were gifted them from her and many others who sacrificed. I always thought our job was to give something of equivalent value to our kids and grandkids. They have known for some time we have decided not to give them a more livable planet. And that’s unforgivable.”

Los Angeles Times: ‘So many bodies … I lost count’: The grim business moving Latino coronavirus victims as death toll spikes. “The spike in COVID-19 cases is contributing to a disproportionate number of Latinos dying statewide. As of Saturday, 826 people had died of the disease in the valley, about 12% of the state total,even though the area accounts for about 5% of Texas’ population. Half of the 6,837 Texans who died of COVID-19 were Latino, according to state health figures, although Latinos make up about 40% of the population. Many of those dying are uninsured and have underlying health conditions. And in Texas, the largest state to refuse to expand health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, nearly a third of adults under age 65 are uninsured, the highest rate in the country. ”

Washington Post: The new rules for packing a bag during the pandemic. “Before the pandemic, packing for a flight had a lot to do with your travel style and destination. A carry-on bag for a beach vacation might include a sun hat and a beach read. You could count on business travelers to wear noise-canceling headphones and pull out laptops right after takeoff. Now, packing considerations should start with coronavirus precautions.”

New York Magazine: A Historian of Economic Crisis on the World After COVID-19. “In March, history broke into our house, and ever since, we’ve been cowering in panic rooms, wondering what our home will look like when the mad thief is finally through. Or at least this is how living in the COVID era can feel. We know that an unprecedented economic cataclysm has rippled across the globe. But the precise consequences of this catastrophe — for the global economy, geopolitics, climate change, and our own little lives — remain opaque. If anyone can discern the outlines of what’s on humanity’s horizon, it may be Adam Tooze.”


CNN: Georgia student who posted photo of a crowded school hallway and called it ‘good and necessary trouble’ is no longer suspended, her mom says. “The mother of a student who was suspended after posting a photo on Twitter that showed her high school’s crowded hallways this week tells CNN that her daughter’s suspension has been reversed. The viral photo showed students at North Paulding High School, outside Atlanta, crowded in hallways and with few visible masks. Hannah Watters, the sophomore who posted it, said she was initially suspended over the act.”


BBC: Coronavirus-hit Qantas reports £1bn annual loss. “Qantas has reported an annual loss of almost A$2bn (£1bn) as it deals with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Australian flag carrier’s boss says trading conditions are the worst in the airline’s 100-year history. The firm also says around 4,000 of its 6,000 planned job cuts are expected to be finalised by the end of next month.”

CNET: Airbnb bans parties amid continued coronavirus outbreaks. “Airbnb on Thursday introduced a global party ban that prohibits parties and event of all types at its listings worldwide and caps house occupancy at 16 people. The move, which Airbnb said aims to address continued public health concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, comes just one day after the home rental company revealed that it had filed paperwork to go public. ”

The Atlantic: Why Is Anyone Going to Disney World Right Now?. “Almost as soon as Serena Lyn stepped back inside the Magic Kingdom, she burst into tears. It’d been four months since the theme park and crown jewel of Walt Disney World’s Florida stronghold had shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Before the parks closed, Lyn had been visiting them twice a week; it was part of her job as a Disney blogger and an Instagrammer with more than 71,000 followers. As a devoted Disney fan who’d moved with her husband, two kids, and dog to Orlando, close enough to the parks to see their fireworks shows every night, not being able to set foot inside Disney World had been painful.”

CNN: Virgin Atlantic files for bankruptcy in the US to secure its rescue deal. “Virgin Atlantic has filed for bankruptcy in the United States as it races to finalize a $1.5 billion plan to rescue it from the aviation industry’s worst crisis. The company, which is based in the United Kingdom, filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in New York on [August 4], which shelters the US assets of foreign companies undergoing restructuring proceedings in their home country.”

Arizona State University: Pandemic reveals weakness in companies’ supply chains, ASU professors say. “Rogers and Thomas Choi, a professor of supply chain management at ASU, co-authored a recent article in the Harvard Business Review titled ‘Coronavirus Is a Wake-Up Call for Supply Chain Management.’ The article calls on companies to pay more attention to their entire supply chains.”

Politico: Fed study: Covid-19 overwhelmingly strikes counties with most Black businesses. “The Black community has been disproportionately battered by the coronavirus, as numerous studies have shown. Now, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has quantified just how hard an economic punch the pandemic has delivered. Thirty counties account for 40 percent of receipts from Black-owned businesses, and 19 of those areas — roughly two-thirds — have the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, according to new research from the New York Fed. By contrast, counties with more white-owned firms have a lower share of cases.”


New York Times: N.Y.C. Health Commissioner Resigns After Clashes With Mayor Over Virus. “New York City’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, resigned… and voiced her ‘deep disappointment’ with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s handling of the pandemic, renewing scrutiny of his leadership during the crisis just as the city faces pressing decisions about how quickly to reopen schools and businesses.”


Coloradoan: CSU hires firm to investigate athletic department’s handling of COVID-19 threat. “Colorado State University President Joyce McConnell wasted little time in securing an outside law firm to lead the investigation into the athletic department’s handling of public health precautions surrounding COVID-19. McConnell sent an email to the athletic department and student athletes late Thursday afternoon announcing Colorado State University has hired law firm Husch Blackwell to conduct the investigation. The email said the firm based in Kansas City, Missouri, has experience conducting investigations related to university athletic departments.”


New York Times: When Covid Subsided, Israel Reopened Its Schools. It Didn’t Go Well.. “Confident it had beaten the coronavirus and desperate to reboot a devastated economy, the Israeli government invited the entire student body back in late May. Within days, infections were reported at a Jerusalem high school, which quickly mushroomed into the largest outbreak in a single school in Israel, possibly the world.”

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Pandemic pods’ present health risks, too. Experts offer safety tips for kids, parents, teachers. “As Bay Area schools prepare to kick off the year with distance learning, tens of thousands of families have scrambled to connect online and form ‘pandemic pods’: small groups that facilitate learning and relieve some of the burden of child care….Here is a look at several models of pandemic pods and advice from experts on how to minimize their health risks.”

Washington Post: Johns Hopkins switches to virtual fall semester as pandemic worsens, urges students not to return to Baltimore. “Johns Hopkins University will hold its fall semester entirely online for undergraduates, a reversal of plans and the latest sign of the turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic. School officials strongly urged students not to return to Baltimore. They also acknowledged the change of plans — coming just weeks before classes resume — would create a real hardship for many families and announced efforts to ease that burden.”


BBC: Coronavirus: What are the risks of catching it from food packaging?. “In theory, it may be possible to catch Covid-19 from packaging material. Laboratory-based studies have shown that the virus can survive for hours, if not days, on some packaging materials – mostly cardboard and various forms of plastic. What’s more, the virus is more stable at lower temperatures, which is how many foods are transported. However, some scientists have questioned whether these results could be replicated outside the lab.”

New York Times: Rave Under the Kosciuszko Bridge: Are Illicit Parties Endangering N.Y.C.?. “On a humid Saturday night, under a segment of the Kosciuszko Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Queens, hundreds of people at an illicit gathering danced and swayed to the thumps of hip-hop and electronic music. Some wore masks. Many did not. Many were attending their first party in months, since the pandemic had forced many venues to close.”

Phys .org: Machine-learning model finds SARS-COV-2 growing more infectious. “The model, developed by lead researcher Guowei Wei, professor in the departments of Mathematics and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, analyzed SARS-CoV-2 genotyping from more than 20,000 viral genome samples. The researchers analyzed mutations to the spike protein—a protein primarily responsible for facilitating infection—and found that five of the six known virus subtypes are now more infectious.”

ABC News: Childhood vaccinations beginning to rebound, but still below normal levels as school resumes. “Childhood vaccination rates are still down in at least 20 states, public health officials in those areas told ABC News, a worrying trend that has continued in the days and weeks before children are set to head back to school in parts of the country. The continued decline in pediatric visits comes as parents are fearful about possible infection amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

Roll Call: Pandemic’s effect on already rising suicide rates heightens worry. “The nation’s suicide rate reached historic highs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with rates at the highest levels since World War II. Economic and social pressures this year have heightened the risks, worrying experts, health officials and lawmakers. Suicide mortality rates that were rising over the past two decades combined with the current pandemic are a ‘perfect storm,’ found a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April. Factors include economic stress, social isolation, reduced access to religious services, overall national anxiety, increased firearm sales and increases in health care provider suicides.”

BBC: Coronavirus and the cancelled kidney transplant. “Lockdown has resulted in a dramatic change in the lives of many young people – and this is especially true for Mali Elwy. The 19-year-old student was due to receive a kidney transplant from her brother Morgan on 24 August, but the operation has had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.”

New York Post: Putting an N95 mask in an Instant Pot decontaminates it: study. “In the report published last month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, researchers from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign discovered the electric multicooker is capable of decontaminating N95 respirators without chemicals and without compromising the equipment’s filtration or fit.”


BBC: France: Virus cases spike to 4,700 in a day. “France has reported a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases – 4,771 – up a thousand on Wednesday’s figure. It is the first time more than 4,000 daily cases have been seen since May. Meanwhile Spain, Germany and Italy have also recorded their highest numbers of cases since late April or May.”


Vice: Facebook Stopped the ‘Plandemic’ Sequel But Not the Lies Behind It. “On Tuesday, Facebook demonstrated just how effective it can be at stopping the spread of misinformation when it blocked the sequel to viral coronavirus conspiracy theory video ‘Plandemic’ from spreading online. But hours later, a damning report revealed the true scale of health misinformation being shared on Facebook, leading the researchers behind the report to label Facebook ‘a danger to public health.'”

TechCrunch: Fearing coronavirus, a Michigan college tracks its students with a flawed app. “Albion College, a small liberal arts school in Michigan, said in June it would allow its nearly 1,500 students to return to campus for the new academic year starting in August. Lectures would be limited in size and the semester would finish by Thanksgiving rather than December. The school said it would test both staff and students upon their arrival to campus and throughout the academic year. But less than two weeks before students began arriving on campus, the school announced it would require them to download and install a contact-tracing app called Aura, which it says will help it tackle any coronavirus outbreak on campus. There’s a catch. The app is designed to track students’ real-time locations around the clock, and there is no way to opt out.”


Phys .org: How consumer expectations are evolving throughout the COVID-19 crisis. “From savings and job security to staying safe in the age of social distancing, there’s a lot for consumers to worry about during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Raphael Schoenle and a team of researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland are doing their part to track public opinion in real time. By compiling daily survey data throughout the pandemic, they hope to aid policymakers by shining a light on how the perceptions of every-day Americans are evolving.”

EurekAlert: LSU Health New Orleans team creates better tool to aid COVID diagnosis. “An LSU Health New Orleans radiologist and evolutionary anatomist have teamed up to show the same techniques used for research on reptile and bird lungs can be used to help confirm the diagnosis of COVID-19 in patients. Their paper published in BMJ Case Reports demonstrates that 3D models are a strikingly clearer method for visually evaluating the distribution of COVID-19-related infection in the respiratory system.”

Medical News Today: Tool to help manage COVID-19 patients with diabetes. “In a new study published in the journal Diabetes, a team from the University of Michigan describes the management of almost 200 COVID-19 hospitalized patients with high blood sugar levels. From their observations, the team developed an algorithm to help doctors manage the blood sugar levels in people who have COVID-19 and diabetes. They say the tool could help reduce the risk of severe complications, including kidney failure and severe respiratory distress, in these patients.”


London Free Press: Watchdog seeks audit of heavy London police use of COVID-19 database. “A national human rights watchdog is asking London’s police board to turn over an audit of the force’s use of a COVID-19 database that city officers accessed at one of the highest rates in Ontario. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) released statistics this week detailing how many times municipal police forces used Ontario’s COVID-19 database when first responders were granted the power under a now-lifted state of emergency.”

The Guardian: Man attacked in Paris launderette for asking customer to wear mask. “A man using a launderette in a Paris suburb says he was beaten by two men with baseball bats in front of his young children after asking a customer to put on a face mask. Masks are obligatory inside all public places in France to combat a recent surge in coronavirus cases.”

NPR: ‘We’re Risking Our Lives’: Front-Line Federal Workers Sue For Hazard Pay. “Some 6,000 federal employees are expected to have contracted COVID-19 on the job as of this week, and as many as 60 have died, according to a Department of Labor report issued last month. Heidi Burakiewicz, a Washington, D.C., attorney who brought the suit in collaboration with the American Federation of Government Employees, says such federal workers ‘are risking their health and safety to go to work. They have the types of jobs that are necessary to keep the country up and running and safe.'”


TIME: How COVID-19 Changed Everything About the 2020 Election. “For four years, Trump has been the dominant force and inescapable fact not only of national politics but also of American life. Now he finds himself displaced as the central character in his own campaign by a plague that answers to no calendar, ideology or political objective. Just as the virus has changed the way adults report to offices and children go to school, upending whole industries in the process, it has spurred a massive shift in the fundamental act of American democracy: how we select the President who will be charged with ending the pandemic’s reign of destruction, dealing with its aftermath and shaping the nation that rises from its ashes. And as with so many other changes wrought by the coronavirus, the practice of American politics may never be quite the same again.”

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