coronabuzz

Tuesday CoronaBuzz, September 8, 2020: 48 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.

NEW RESOURCES – EDUCATION/ENTERTAINMENT

GMA News: Google releases online COVID-19 dictionary in Filipino and Cebuano. “Google Philippines has just released an online dictionary with COVID-19-related terms in Filipino and Cebuano. According to the technology company, the site ‘Isang Gabay sa mga Salitang Kaugnay ng COVID-19’ features over 115 commonly used COVID-19-related words and phrases translated in both Filipino and Cebuano.”

Inside Higher Ed: New Database Tracks Reversals in Colleges’ Fall Reopening Plans. “Inside Higher Ed today releases a map and database tracking changes in colleges’ plans for reopening this fall. Scores of colleges and universities have in recent weeks reversed plans they announced in the spring or early summer, and this new feature allows readers to see how the changes have unfolded over time and by region, and to search for individual institutions.”

NEW RESOURCES – LEGAL / SECURITY / PRIVACY / FINANCIAL

University of Southern California: USC Researchers Develop Tool to Aid Businesses Struggling with Disasters. “The Business Resilience Calculator (BRC) is a tool designed to help businesses minimize losses during uncertain times. The calculator was developed through a joint partnership by researchers at the University of Southern California, and The Ohio State University through the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI). It empowers users to make cost-effective resilience investments to reduce losses during business interruptions. A pre-release version of the tool is being offered for free to help provide relief to businesses affected by COVID-19.”

NEW RESOURCES – STATE-SPECIFIC

WATE: Tennessee launching dashboard tracking COVID-19 in schools. “The Tennessee Department of Education on Tuesday will unveil a new tool, informing parents about COVID-19 cases in their area. The dashboard including district and local school data on new positive COVID-19 cases including students and staff. School districts will provide the data for the dashboard that will be updated on a weekly basis.”

NEW RESOURCES – OTHER

Travel Weekly: Thousands Of Stranded Aussies Map Their Stories On ‘Remove The Cap’ Website. “According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), at least 23,000 Australians have registered with the Commonwealth saying they want to come home. The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia estimates the real figure is closer to 100,000. Up to now, the pleas of travellers stranded outside the country have appeared merely as numbers. But a new website founded by an Australian citizen trapped overseas visually conveys the difficulties and delays Aussies are facing in their attempts to return home.”

FACT CHECKS / MISINFORMATION

Poynter: No, the CDC did not ‘quietly adjust’ U.S. coronavirus deaths. “As of Aug. 31, the CDC reported that 182,622 Americans have died since the start of the pandemic — and some estimates put the death toll even higher. The agency told us that the vast majority of deaths involving COVID-19 can be attributed to the virus. Claims that the CDC adjusted its COVID-19 death numbers appear to have originated on Facebook before making their way to Trump’s Twitter feed, according to VineSight, an organization that uses artificial intelligence to surface potential misinformation. Several posts have been shared thousands of times.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Health worker investigated by employer after posting conspiracy video. “A worker at a major NHS provider is under investigation by her employer for posting a video on social media in which she claimed that Covid-19 does not exist.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

Morning Consult: Analysis: More People Got Back to Work in August, but Outlook Dims for Those Still Looking for Jobs. “Recent improvements in the demand for labor are creating two distinct employment paths as the economy recovers. On the one hand, a growing share of workers who are now back to work feels secure in their jobs and does not expect to suffer a loss of employment income over the next four weeks. On the other hand, unemployed workers are losing hope of returning to their prior jobs, and 50% of unemployment insurance recipients are unable to cover their basic expenses with the money they receive from UI benefits.”

BBC: India’s first ‘lockdown film’ is an edgy thriller. “C U Soon, a suspense drama, is possibly India’s first ‘made-at-home, lockdown film’, as [Mahesh] Narayanan called it. Released last week on streaming giant Amazon Prime Video, it is an unusual Indian film. At 90 minutes, it has a runtime which is a third shorter than a usual commercial release, and it has no song and dances. One critic called it an ‘an immersive experience like no other’. Another said it was ‘a radical film that offers a unique viewing experience’. There was appreciation for the film’s ‘dynamic visual setting’.”

Mashable: The Queen’s country estate is hosting a drive-in cinema. “In the UK, drive-in cinemas have been permitted since June 15 when lockdown restrictions began to lift. Indoor cinemas have been allowed to reopen since July 4 in the UK, but some delayed reopening to put in place strict safety measures — and even then, you attend at both your own risk and that of others. As for those outside, to ensure safety, the UK Cinema Association has been working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to put together health and safety guidelines for drive-in and outdoor cinemas. And that includes the Queen’s estate, too.”

Modern Diplomacy: India’s growing loneliness epidemic and how to tackle it. “In 2004, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) reported that 4.91 million people (1.23 million men and 3.68 million women) in India were living alone and suffered from loneliness. The National Mental Health Survey (2015-16) in 12 states of India covering 39,532 people found that one in 20 people suffers from depression. The same report stated that high suicidal risk is an increasing concern in India; that children and adolescents are vulnerable to mental disorders; and, mental disorders, including depression and anxiety, affect nearly 10 percent of the population.”

Route Fifty: Covid-19 Is Crushing Newspapers, Worsening Hunger for Accurate Information. “Newspapers have been closing at a rapid clip, buckling under the pressure from changing news consumption habits, advertising shifts and many other factors, including consolidated corporate ownership. For outlets covering state and local news, the drop in advertising revenue since the onset of COVID-19 has only exacerbated a preexisting financial crisis. A diminishing number of them can afford daily coverage of state government.”

New York Times: We’re All Socially Awkward Now. “As the school year begins amid a pandemic, many are concerned about the negative impact that virtual or socially distanced learning may have on children’s developing social skills. But what about grown-ups? It seems adults deprived of consistent and varied peer contact can get just as clumsy at social interactions as inexperienced kids.”

INSTITUTIONS

Crain’s Detroit: Capacity limitations strain arts, culture organizations even as patrons come back. “The Henry Ford is seeing about 15,000 visitors per week, compared to 51,000 per week last year, President and CEO Patricia Mooradian said in an emailed statement. The weekly reduction is due to capacity constraints, the continued closures of some of its venues and elimination of large events. It’s continuing to operate at 25 percent capacity in order to follow state guidelines for the safety and well-being of staff and guests, she said. But since reopening July 2, The Henry Ford has made gradual changes in its operations.”

BUSINESS / CORPORATIONS

New York Times: Small-Business Failures Loom as Federal Aid Dries Up. “The United States faces a wave of small-business failures this fall if the federal government does not provide a new round of financial assistance — a prospect that economists warn would prolong the recession, slow the recovery and perhaps enduringly reshape the American business landscape.”

GOVERNMENT

South China Morning Post: Xinjiang starts to ease Covid-19 lockdown after surge in social media anger. “China has relaxed some Covid-19 lockdown measures on the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang following a surge of complaints about their severity on Chinese social media. The city of 3.5 million people, which has been in strict lockdown since mid-July, has reported no new cases of the disease since August 16.”

Route Fifty: State Watchdogs Plan to Monitor Covid Data Accuracy. “Concerned about the accuracy and uniformity of Covid-19 data, a bipartisan coalition of fiscal watchdogs have banded together to try to help make sure states are compiling and tracking information the same way.”

AP: Emails show businesses held sway over state reopening plans. “As South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster prepared to announce the end of a coronavirus stay-at-home order, his top staff received an email from the state health department. The message, highlighted in bold, was clear: Wait longer before allowing customers back inside restaurants, hair salons and other businesses where people will be in close contact. Instead, McMaster pressed ahead with a plan written by the state restaurant association to resume inside dining on May 11. The guidelines made masks optional for
employees and allowed more customers inside than the health agency had advised.”

PC Magazine: As Virus Spread, China Ramped Up Keyword Censorship on Social Media. “In March, The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto found that Chinese social media app WeChat and live-streaming app YY had been censoring coronavirus-related keywords since Dec. 31. In a follow-up report released this week, Citizen Lab found that efforts to thwart criticism have continued, with a particular focus on stamping out international criticism of the Chinese government. As the virus hit the US, meanwhile, China also moved to block ‘conspiracy theories, US criticism of China’s political system, critical and neutral references to China-US relations, and US domestic politics,’ The Citizen Lab says.”

Washington Post: Secret Service copes with coronavirus cases in aftermath of Trump appearances. “In the past two months, dozens of Secret Service agents who worked to ensure the security of the president and Vice President Pence at public events have been sickened or sidelined because they were in direct contact with infected people, according to multiple people familiar with the episodes, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the incidents.”

Politico: HHS bids $250 million contract meant to ‘defeat despair and inspire hope’ on coronavirus. “As the presidential election fast approaches, the Department of Health and Human Services is bidding out a more than $250 million contract to a communications firm as it seeks to ‘defeat despair and inspire hope’ about the coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal HHS document obtained by POLITICO.”

AP: Hong Kong begins mass testing for virus amid public doubts. “Hong Kong tested more than 120,000 people for the coronavirus [September 1] at the start of a mass-testing effort that’s become another political flash point in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Volunteers stood in lines at some of the more than 100 testing centers, though many residents are distrustful of the resources and staff being provided by China’s central government and some have expressed fear DNA could be collected.”

CBS Pittsburgh: Gov. Wolf: Restaurants Can Increase Occupancy To 50%, But First Must Register With New Database. “Gov. Tom Wolf says restaurants in Pennsylvania may begin increasing their indoor occupancy to 50% starting later this month, but first they must go through a self-certification process. The occupancy increase can start on Sept. 21.”

SPORTS

CNET: Twitter, NFL and Bud Light say fans will be able to celebrate a touchdown virtually with players. “On Tuesday, the NFL, Twitter and Bud Light said that players will see tweets and videos from their fans displayed on a screen in the end zone during a game’s big moments such as a touchdown, allowing the athletes to react to the online chatter through a camera. Called the ‘Bud Light Showtime cam,’ the three companies say it will allow players to showcase their personalities and connect with their fans in real-time. Twitter users who tweet about the games using #ShowtimeCam and #BudLightSweepstakes could get their tweets featured and seen by the players.”

EDUCATION

Poynter: How Black parents juggle their work and kids’ virtual schooling during the pandemic. “On a mild August afternoon, Asia Mitchell styles hair in the living room of her two-bedroom apartment as she talks on the phone. In the background are voices of some of her children — ranging in age from 2 months to 14 years old — asking her for help with their schoolwork. Like thousands of parents throughout Atlanta and its neighboring counties, Mitchell juggles her job and supervising her children’s virtual learning while schools are closed because of the coronavirus.”

Daily Iowan: University of Iowa reports 175 new COVID-19 cases. “The University of Iowa is reporting new COVID-19 case numbers with 174 students self-reporting they have tested positive since Sept. 4. 1,569 students have tested positive since the beginning of the semester.”

Daily Herald: How grandparents are stepping in to help with remote learning. “Harried working families are becoming increasingly reliant on grandparents to help with virtual learning in the age of COVID-19. As virus cases rise in Illinois, more than 2,200 schools have moved to remote instruction for the fall, or nearly 31% of the 848 school districts surveyed by the state board of education. The shift has forced grandparents to supervise full-on digital learning while their adult children manage professional obligations.”

AP: College towns growing alarmed over outbreaks among students. “As more and more schools and businesses around the country get the OK to reopen, some college towns are moving in the opposite direction because of too much partying and too many COVID-19 infections among students.” I worry about this too. The city where I live in North Carolina has SIX colleges and universities.

Enterprise-Record: Chico State goes online, students must vacate dorms. “The fall semester at Chico State began unlike any other. Yet, the newfound normal lasted one week before the university, as it did in the spring, abruptly implemented changes. Over the summer, the California State University chancellor’s office authorized the school to offer 10 percent of its courses in-person. It also authorized students to move into residence halls at half capacity. Only 766 signed up to do so, a striking contrast to the 2,200 students who would ordinarily be living on campus. Notwithstanding those precautionary measures, the coronavirus made its way to the campus community.”

Salon: Betsy DeVos is now arguing COVID-19 pandemic is ultimately a “good thing” for U.S. public education. “n the heels of two federal judges halting a controversial rule that allows private schools to get more Covid-19 relief funding than Congress intended, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Friday that she believes the viral pandemic has been a ‘good thing’ for the nation’s education system, a comment that quickly drew criticism from Democrats and public education advocates.”

NBC News: West Virginia University suspends in-person undergrad classes amid spike in COVID-19 cases. “West Virginia University announced Monday that it would suspend in-person classes at its main campus because of concerns over a recent spike in coronavirus infections. The university said in-person undergraduate classes would be canceled Tuesday at its main campus in Morgantown and then shift to online-only instruction through Sept. 25. The school said graduate-level and professional courses would continue to be offered in person during the same period.”

Route Fifty: The Silent Suffering of Cafeteria Workers. “This spring and summer, thousands of K–12 cafeteria workers across the country continued working at schools that were closed to students, making sure that the millions of children who rely on free or reduced-price school meals were still getting fed. As schools navigate whether or not to reopen for in-person classes in the fall, and as COVID-19 continues to spread, schools are encountering outbreaks literally the same day that they open. There’s a fair bit of evidence that cafeteria workers, as adults, are more at risk from the pandemic than the children they serve. Yet their safety has gone largely unmentioned.”

WTXL: FSU to randomly test students, staff for COVID-19 as Leon County cases spike. “Numbers on the rise as a spike in COVID-19 cases comes to Leon County. The Leon County Department of Health reported 532 new cases just this weekend. A good number of those cases stem from young adults and teenagers. Since Aug. 31, the county has reported over 100 new cases total per day. A doctor ABC 27 spoke to says these numbers could be the result of the return of college students.”

HEALTH

AJC: Officials say some Georgians treat COVID with bleach-like cleaner. “Chlorine dioxide products have not been shown to be safe and effective for any use. The governor’s office said products are being marketed under various names: Aqueous Chlorine Dioxide, CDS, Master Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Solution, MSS, Water Purification Solution and others. Health officials said taking chlorine dioxide products can lead to respiratory failure, fatal abnormal heart rhythms, life-threatening low blood pressure, liver failure, low blood cell counts, and severe vomiting and diarrhea.”

Yahoo News Australia: Pregnant woman dies of coronavirus after surprise baby shower. “A pregnant teacher who was extremely careful to avoid COVID-19 has died after friends organised a surprise baby shower, not realising one of them was infected. The woman Camila Graciano, 31, was eight months pregnant when she caught the virus in the city of Anapolis, in the central Brazilian state of Goias, after contact with one of the people at the surprise party friends had organised for her.”

ABC News: Nevada lab confirms 1st coronavirus reinfection in the US. “Earlier this week, the world was dealing head-on with what was believed to be the world’s first documented case of coronavirus reinfection in Hong Kong. Now, less than a week later, researchers in the United States are reporting their first documented case of a patient who got COVID, recovered and then got it again.”

CNN: 9 vaccine makers sign safety pledge in race for Covid-19 vaccine. “Nine vaccine makers say they have signed a joint pledge to uphold ‘high ethical standards,’ suggesting they won’t seek premature government approval for any Covid-19 vaccines they develop.”

OUTBREAKS

BBC: Coronavirus: Rise in UK cases a great concern, Van Tam says. “The latest ‘big change’ in coronavirus infections across the UK is of ‘great concern’, England’s deputy chief medical officer has warned. Prof Jonathan Van Tam said people have ‘relaxed too much’ over the summer and ‘we have got to start taking this very seriously again’.”

Route Fifty: Parts of Iowa Still Reeling From Powerful Storms, as State Battles Rise in Coronavirus. “When a powerful line of thunderstorms with hurricane-force winds, known as a derecho, tore through a swath of Iowa on Aug. 10, Lance Lillibridge’s 1,500-acre farm was spared from the worst of the damage. But his neighbors two or three miles to the south were not as lucky. And even three weeks after the storm, the scene Lillibridge described in the area was grim one.”

TECHNOLOGY

New York Times: Trolls Flood Social Media in Pakistan Amid Virus Lockdown. “Toxic trending on Twitter has also taken aim at minorities, blaming the ethnic Hazaras for allegedly bringing the coronavirus to Pakistan from neighboring Iran. Like most Iranians, Hazaras are Shiites, and traditionally make pilgrimages to holy sites in Iran, which has the deadliest virus outbreak in the region. Some Pakistani pilgrims returning home were among the first reported cases of COVID-19 in Pakistan.”

City of Chicago: City of Chicago Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Snapchat Lens Encouraging Residents to Wear Masks. “The City of Chicago today launched another engagement tool to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Chicago—a Snapchat lens. The social media platform is popular amongst Millennials and Gen Zers, a demographic that has seen a recent rise in case numbers in Chicago, and which the City believes is key to stemming the virus. To encourage users to wear masks when in public, this first-of-its-kind Snapchat augmented reality lens deploys new technology that only allows the user to unlock the lens when they put on a mask.”

RESEARCH

Phys .org: Lockdown did not reduce ‘most harmful’ type of air pollution in Scotland. “The significant reduction in vehicle journeys during the COVID-19 lockdown did not reduce the level of toxic fine particles in Scotland’s air, according to experts at the University of Stirling. Analysis of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) in the first month of restrictions found little change—despite a 65 percent reduction in the number of vehicles on the country’s roads.”

CNN: Kids can carry coronavirus in respiratory tract for weeks, study suggests. “Children can carry coronavirus in their noses and throats for weeks even if they don’t show any symptoms, which might explain how the virus can spread silently, researchers in South Korea reported Friday.”

Phys .org: Restoring the filtration efficiency of N95 masks after they have been cleaned. “In the journal Physics of Fluids, researchers from India’s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Israel’s Technion-IIT share a method to restore the filtration efficiency of N95 masks to out-of-box levels—as long as the mask is not structurally compromised.”

CRIME / SECURITY / LEGAL

ProPublica: He Faced a Criminal Charge for Not Self-Isolating When He Had COVID-19 Symptoms. Prosecutors Just Dropped the Case.. “In March, a southern Illinois man who was under isolation orders for showing COVID-19 symptoms entered a busy gas station. An employee recognized him from Facebook. Prosecutors charged him with reckless conduct. Now, the case has been dismissed.”

Indian Express: District courts disposed of 12 lakh cases since lockdown: Justice D Y Chandrachud. “Drawing attention to the ‘positives’ of the judiciary, Supreme Court Judge Justice D Y Chandrachud Saturday lauded the country’s courts for their work during the Covid-19 lockdown, saying district courts alone had managed to dispose of over 12 lakh cases out of over 28 lakh registered between March 24 and August 28.”

POLITICS

Washington Post: Trump uses Republican convention to try to rewrite coronavirus history, casting himself as lifesaving hero. “Faced with a pandemic that has killed more than 175,000 Americans, President Trump used glitzy video and misleading testimonials to spin a tale of heroism and resolve far removed from the grim reality of a country in the throes of an uncontrolled public health crisis.”

Bloomberg: Trump and Top Aides Ditch Masks After Calling Them Patriotic. “Donald Trump and his top aides are conducting near-daily public events without wearing masks, disregarding government guidelines as well as the president’s short-lived effort to encourage Americans to cover their faces out of patriotism.”

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