Saturday CoronaBuzz, September 5, 2020: 42 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.


Washington Post: Covid cases are linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but the full impact may never be known. “As hundreds of thousands flocked to rural South Dakota for a motorcycle rally [in August], sparking fears of a coronavirus superspreader event, photos captured people crowding the streets without masks and packing local businesses in the city of Sturgis — including a bar on Main Street, One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon. Now state health officials say a person who visited One-Eyed Jack’s for about five hours has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. So has an employee of the tattoo shop inside the bar who worked there from last Thursday through Monday. Both could have transmitted the virus to others at the time.”


TIME: How Far-Right Personalities and Conspiracy Theorists Are Cashing in on the Pandemic Online. “[Nick] Fuentes, 22, a prolific podcaster who on his shows has compared the Holocaust to a cookie-baking operation, argued that the segregation of Black Americans ‘was better for them,’ and that the First Amendment was ‘not written for Muslims,’ is doing better than O.K. during the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s part of a loose cohort of far-right provocateurs, white nationalists and right-wing extremists who have built large, engaged audiences on lesser-known platforms like DLive after being banned from main-stream sites for spreading hate speech and conspiracy theories.”

BBC: Coronavirus: The US has not reduced its Covid-19 death toll to 6% of total. “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has been deluged with queries about false rumours the official tally of Covid-19 deaths is drastically lower than the publicised headline figure of about 185,000. Social-media posts making this bogus claim have been circulating widely on the internet. And one re-tweeted by President Trump was removed by Twitter for breaching its guidelines.”


New York Times: Manhattan Vacancy Rate Climbs, and Rents Drop 10%. “The number of apartments for rent in New York City has soared to the highest rate in more than a decade, a sign that a notable number of residents have left the city because of the outbreak, at least temporarily, potentially creating a new obstacle to reviving the local economy.”

WCNC: Doctors say CBD sales are up due to the concern of the coronavirus. “Demand at Prime Sunshine CBD has quadrupled with more customers coming in to treat increased stress and anxiety. Prime Sunshine is the first CBD company in North Carolina and the first dispensary in Charlotte. Now the business is seeing an unexpected boost from more customers seeking treatment due to ongoing coronavirus concerns.”

Slate: Do Not Be the Coronavirus for Halloween. “Despite drugstores’ insistence on setting up Halloween candy displays in August, you probably haven’t given much thought to what that holiday is going to be like in this pandemic year, what you should dress up as, or if you should dress up at all. As you begin to consider the possibilities, I have an early request. Don’t be the coronavirus for Halloween. And if you do (which, again, you shouldn’t), don’t wear one of these masks that depict the virus itself, that microscopic spiked sphere rendering enlarged and given a grotesque face.”

Poynter: The coronavirus has closed more than 50 local newsrooms across America. And counting.. “In many places, it started with a cut in print days. Furloughs. Layoffs. Just to get through the crisis, newsroom leaders told readers. In some places, none of it was enough. Now, small newsrooms around the country, often more than 100 years old, often the only news source in those places, are closing under the weight of the coronavirus. Some report they’re merging with nearby publications. But that ‘merger’ means the end of news dedicated to those communities, the evaporation of institutional knowledge and the loss of local jobs.”

Get the Word Out: The elephant in the room (PRESS RELEASE). “H-ELP partnered with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) in Thailand, an organisation that has facilitated workshops for it and is well known in Thailand for its ethical interactions with elephants. For $100 people can bring an elephant on their Zoom video call for ten minutes or for $200 they can get an additional 2 minute introduction and 3-4 minute question and answer session with a GTAEF expert. All elephants live at GTAEF and the donation will be split between H-ELP and GTAEF projects and the upkeep of the elephant you meet.”

New York Times: They’re Making the Rent. Is It Costing Their Future?. “They’ve made it with government checks and family help. They’ve made it with savings and odd jobs. They’ve made it with church charity, nonprofit rescue funds, GoFundMe campaigns. One way or another, through five months of economic dislocation, the nation’s tenants have for the most part made their rent. Now the question is how much longer these patchwork maneuvers will work — and what will happen to the economy if they suddenly don’t.”


Washington Post: Fed up with anti-maskers, mask advocates are demanding mandates, fines — and common courtesy.. “In a country stumbling to control a rampant and deadly virus, masks are effective and popular weapons. Three-quarters of Americans favor requiring people to wear face coverings in public to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, including 89 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in July. Now, with the nation reeling from more than 5 million infections and nearly 170,000 virus-related deaths, a rising sense of outrage is leading this silent majority to push back against the smaller but louder anti-mask contingent.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Arrests at Australia anti-lockdown protests. “Australian police have made dozens of arrests amid anti-lockdown protests attended by hundreds nationwide. In Melbourne, the centre of Australia’s outbreak, about 300 people marched in defiance of tough measures that have been in place for a month. Smaller protests took place in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.”


CNN: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will go on this year — but with many changes. “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will take place this fall, but it won’t exactly look like it did in years past, according to a statement from the fashion retailer. ‘We are currently working with our partners in the City of New York to re-imagine the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in a similar fashion to how we successfully and safely produced this year’s Macy’s Fireworks,’ Orlando Veras, Macy’s Inc. director of national media relations told CNN.”


ProPublica: Meatpacking Companies Dismissed Years of Warnings but Now Say Nobody Could Have Prepared for COVID-19. “In documents dating to 2006, government officials predicted that a pandemic would threaten critical businesses and warned them to prepare. Meatpacking companies largely ignored them, and now nearly every one of the predictions has come true.”

CNN: Don’t argue with anti-maskers, CDC warns stores. “The procedures that retail and service businesses have been advised to implement under CDC guidelines include enforcing mask wearing, social distancing and limiting the number of customers allowed in a business at one time. But the CDC warns that workers could be threatened or assaulted for employing these safety measures, describing violence ranging from yelling and swearing to slapping and choking the employees.”

BBC: Pascha: One of Europe’s biggest brothels goes bust. “The 10-floor Pascha is a major landmark in the city of Cologne. ‘We are at an end,’ the brothel’s director, Armin , told local paper Express. Prostitution has been outlawed in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia since the outbreak of the virus. Some 120 prostitutes usually work at Pascha. It employs around 60 staff including cooks and hairdressers.”

Delaware Online: Here’s how bad coronavirus has been in Delaware’s poultry industry. “Nearly six months into the coronavirus pandemic, a total of 1,032 Delaware poultry workers have been infected with the virus and seven have died, according to new data released by the state on [August 25]. This means about 6% of confirmed Delaware COVID-19 cases involve poultry processing plant workers. As of Aug. 25, Delaware health officials have confirmed 16,986 coronavirus cases and 604 related deaths.”

ProPublica: CareOne Nursing Homes Said They Could Safely Take More COVID-19 Patients. But Death Rates Soared.. “Of the 363 nursing homes in New Jersey, two of the three CareOne facilities that received transfers from Hanover — facilities in Morristown and Parsippany — have had among the highest death rates. At the Morristown facility, where 45 residents died, there has been one death for every four beds in the facility. At the Parsippany home, there were 36 deaths, nearly one for every three beds. Infections at CareOne’s Morristown facility went on to raise alarms with the local Health Department, and the Parsippany home was cited for infection-control issues.”


Washington Post: The U.S. forced major manufacturers to build ventilators. Now they’re piling up unused in a strategic reserve.. “Months into a $3 billion U.S. effort to manufacture tens of thousands of ventilators to stave off coronavirus deaths, the government stockpile is facing a glut. General Motors and Ford by early May began delivering the first ventilators they scrambled to manufacture, in part compelled by President Trump’s invocation of the federal Defense Production Act. General Electric, Philips and other manufacturers’ efforts have delivered more than 94,000 of them to the stockpile, and General Motors plans to soon hand over its business to a counterpart.”

New York Times: Local Officials in China Hid Coronavirus Dangers From Beijing, U.S. Agencies Find. “Trump administration officials have tried taking a political sledgehammer to China over the coronavirus pandemic, asserting that the Chinese Communist Party covered up the initial outbreak and allowed the virus to spread around the globe. But within the United States government, intelligence officials have arrived at a more nuanced and complex finding of what Chinese officials did wrong in January.”

Kaiser Health News: As Georgia Reopened, Officials Knew of Severe Shortage of PPE for Health Workers. “As the coronavirus crisis deepened in April, Georgia officials circulated documents showing that to get through the next month, the state would need millions more masks, gowns and other supplies than it had on hand. The projections, obtained by KHN and other organizations in response to public records requests, provide one of the clearest pictures of the severe PPE deficits states confronted while thousands fell ill from rising COVID-19 cases, putting health workers at risk.”


Centre Daily Times: PSU football doctor: 30-35 percent of COVID-19-positive Big Ten athletes had myocarditis. “During a State College Area school board of directors meeting on Monday night, Wayne Sebastianelli — Penn State’s director of athletic medicine — made some alarming comments about the link between COVID-19 and myocarditis, particularly in Big Ten athletes. Sebastianelli said that cardiac MRI scans revealed that approximately a third of Big Ten athletes who tested positive for COVID-19 appeared to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can be fatal if left unchecked.”


Daily Kos: Miami-Dade schools say almost 600 staff have tested positive for coronavirus. “According to the Miami Herald, Miami-Dade County Public Schools has almost 600 employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. This number is about 600% larger than the figure that Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s chief of staff at Miami-Dade Schools gave the press in July. Separately, Miami-Dade Schools Police Department Union President Al Pacio says that at least seven officers have reported positive tests.”

New York Times: ‘I’m Only One Human Being’: Parents Brace for a Go-It-Alone School Year. “Just one in seven parents said their children would be returning to school full time this fall, and for most children, remote school requires hands-on help from an adult at home. Yet four in five parents said they would have no in-person help educating and caring for them, whether from relatives, neighbors, nannies or tutors, according to the survey, administered by Morning Consult. And more than half of parents will be taking on this second, unpaid job at the same time they’re holding down paid work.”

Courier: Dozens of Arizona Teachers Quit While Schools Attempt to Reopen Classrooms. “In Arizona, some parents and students cheered when certain school districts decided to try to reopen classrooms Monday despite not yet meeting the state’s COVID-19 benchmarks. But in one district, teachers concerned about their safety took back control.”

Washington Post: Freshmen waited for their schools to share reopening plans. Then things got complicated.. “After spending the past several months steeped in uncertainty and waiting to learn how their universities would reopen in the fall, students had hoped the last few weeks of the summer would usher some stability. Instead, college students at all levels are facing potentially life-altering decisions — weighing their desire for a normal college experience against their health and safety, against the financial burden of going to school during an economic crisis.”

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: School reopening order is unconstitutional, judge rules. “Florida’s school reopening order is unconstitutional, a judge ruled [August 24], serving up a victory for teachers and parents who feel a return to school is risky during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s order in July mandated the relaunching of in-person classes across the state this [August] after they closed in March. South Florida’s school districts were exempt because local authorities deemed reopening unsafe as coronavirus cases continued to rise over the past few months.”

New York Times: New York’s School Chaos Is Breaking Me. “In New York City, where I live, in-person school is supposed to start in just over two weeks. Officially, my kids’ public elementary school has adopted one of those logistically demented hybrid schedules, in which students attend either Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday, plus every other Monday. But parents haven’t been told their days yet, and despite the insistence of Mayor Bill de Blasio, I’m increasingly unsure the school will open at all.”


The Atlantic: Long-Haulers Are Redefining COVID-19. “Lauren nichols has been sick with COVID-19 since March 10, shortly before Tom Hanks announced his diagnosis and the NBA temporarily canceled its season. She has lived through one month of hand tremors, three of fever, and four of night sweats. When we spoke on day 150, she was on her fifth month of gastrointestinal problems and severe morning nausea. She still has extreme fatigue, bulging veins, excessive bruising, an erratic heartbeat, short-term memory loss, gynecological problems, sensitivity to light and sounds, and brain fog.”


BuzzFeed News: 147 Cases Of COVID-19 And 3 Deaths Have Been Connected To A Maine Wedding. “A Maine wedding reception in early August has been connected to 147 cases of the coronavirus and three deaths, health officials reported. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday that the 147 people included both those who attended the ceremony and people who contracted the virus indirectly. The three COVID-19–related deaths were not among people who attended the wedding, NBC News reported.”


Washington Post: The unemployed are taking their struggles to Reddit, a ‘beacon of light in this long dark night’. “Users join the subreddit for different reasons. Some have questions. Some are desperate. Some want to help. Some have nowhere else to turn. Many will start their post’s title with their state name, to help localize the discussion. Multiple users stressed that r/unemployment proved the only place they could find reasonable advice on navigating the unsolvable maze of bureaucracy. A striking aspect of the subreddit is how it brings people together regardless of their politics — an anomaly in our divided America. Unemployment has a tendency to wash away differences. Socialists, libertarians and everyone in between fill the discussion, and everyone gets something slightly different out of it.”


New York Times: 1.5 Million Antibody Tests Show What Parts of N.Y.C. Were Hit Hardest. “New York City on Tuesday released more than 1.46 million coronavirus antibody test results, the largest number to date, providing more evidence of how the virus penetrated deeply into some lower-income communities while passing more lightly across affluent parts of the city. In one ZIP code in Queens, more than 50 percent of people who had gotten tested were found to have antibodies, a strikingly high rate. But no ZIP code south of 96th Street in Manhattan had a positive rate of more than 20 percent.”

IndiaSpend: COVID-19: Hundreds Of Clinical Trials Under Way In India, Many Lack Rigour, Say Experts. ” Jammi Nagaraj Rao, a UK-based public health physician and epidemiologist, has scanned through approximately 477 COVID-19 trials registered on India’s Clinical Trials Registry. Around 192 of these were observational studies, not multi-phase randomised clinical trials. And at least 53 were for traditional Indian remedies and homoeopathy.”

The BMJ: Two metres or one: what is the evidence for physical distancing in covid-19?. “Physical distancing is an important part of measures to control covid-19, but exactly how far away and for how long contact is safe in different contexts is unclear. Rules that stipulate a single specific physical distance (1 or 2 metres) between individuals to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing covid-19, are based on an outdated, dichotomous notion of respiratory droplet size. This overlooks the physics of respiratory emissions, where droplets of all sizes are trapped and moved by the exhaled moist and hot turbulent gas cloud that keeps them concentrated as it carries them over metres in a few seconds.12 After the cloud slows sufficiently, ventilation, specific patterns of airflow, and type of activity become important. Viral load of the emitter, duration of exposure, and susceptibility of an individual to infection are also important.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Russian vaccine shows signs of immune response. “Russian scientists have published the first report on their coronavirus vaccine, saying early tests showed signs of an immune response. The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects. Russia licensed the vaccine for local use in August, the first country to do so and before data had been published. Experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety.”


Input Magazine: ‘Airplane Mode’ simulates a 6-hour flight in coach because that’s how grim reality is now. “Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is having such a moment right now that people are apparently buying up all the supply of flight stick controllers, leaving plebes to use a keyboard and mouse or — *gasp* — gamepad like some kind of monster. Screw that hoity-toity front-of-the-plane-you’re-a-captain simulation because Airplane Mode is clearly the more realistic flying experience. The One True Flight Simulator.”


Detroit News: Michigan Court of Appeals upholds Gov. Whitmer’s emergency actions. “In a 2-1 decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s unilateral emergency actions to combat COVID-19, denying a legal challenge brought by the GOP-controlled state Legislature. The court agreed with a state Court of Claims judge in finding the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act gives Whitmer the ability to declare emergencies and take actions in response without lawmakers’ approval.”

Axios: Hospitals still suing patients in coronavirus hotspots. “Almost all of the roughly two dozen Community Health Systems hospitals in Florida, Texas and Arizona have sued patients since the pandemic began. Many paused or slowed down in the spring, but then resumed business as usual over the summer — when these states were being hit hardest.”

New York Times: An Influencer House Wouldn’t Stop Partying, So L.A. Cut Its Power. “The City of Los Angeles cut the power at a Hollywood Hills mansion rented by the TikTok stars Bryce Hall, Noah Beck and Blake Gray on [August 19] in response to parties held at the residence amid the coronavirus crisis.”

US Justice Department: North Carolina Man Charged with COVID-19 Relief Fraud. “A North Carolina man was charged by criminal complaint unsealed today for fraudulently seeking more than $414,000 in COVID-19 relief guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Man, 90, goes online to offer funeral prayers. “A man who helps grieving Hindu families has been holding prayers and ceremonies over the internet during the coronavirus lockdown. Narandas Adatia, 90, is known as Bapuji or ‘father’ in Leicester, where he has been offering the rituals – spoken in Gujarati – for decades. When he was forced to shield during the coronavirus pandemic he learned how to hold them online instead.”


Washington Post: ‘So, what do you do?’ What, indeed. With office life dormant, white-collar Washington is adrift.. “Greg Crist is a D.C. lobbyist who used to wear suits, and go to lunch, and spend his days taking meetings on the Hill, or in his nicely appointed office at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. Now that his office is closed because of the pandemic, Crist is a man who commutes a few hundred feet from his Alexandria, Va., home to his silver Audi, where he spends much of the day taking calls in the only place where the important people on the other end of the line cannot hear his toddler son scream.”

Vox: Trump used the RNC to gaslight America on Covid-19. “The virus rages on, affecting every aspect of American life, from the economy to education to entertainment. Nearly 180,000 Americans are dead. Schools are closing down again after botched attempts to reopen, with outbreaks in universities and K-12 settings. America now has one of the worst ongoing epidemics in the world, with the most daily new deaths to the virus, after controlling for population, among developed countries.”

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