coronabuzz

Saturday CoronaBuzz, September 12, 2020: 37 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

It’s been six months. I’ve been inside two buildings besides my Granny’s house and my own: picking up my mail once, and taking Granny to a doctor appointment. If you saw my hair you would laugh your head off. Please wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you can. Please be careful. I love you.

USEFUL STUFF

Philadelphia Inquirer: The pandemic caused a seed shortage. Here’s how to save them.. “‘The more you spend time with your plants, the more you develop a relationship with them,’ says Owen Taylor, founder of Truelove Seeds. The local seed company works with small farmers to cultivate and preserve not only rare seeds but also the stories and cultural significance behind them. It’s the difference, Taylor says, between seed-saving and seed-keeping (which is also Taylor’s Instagram handle, sans the hyphen).”

Arizona State University: Strategies for surviving and thriving as a ‘COVID-19 couple’. “For many of us, stay-at-home orders over the past several months have meant that we are sleeping, eating and working in the same place, potentially with the same people, all the time. Many couples may be facing a ‘make or break’ time for their romantic relationship — and as a result, they are searching for tools to manage increased stress, anxiety and uncertainty. That’s where Ashley K. Randall’s research comes in.”

The Next Web: How to enjoy movies, games and more with friends online while social distancing. “…while it’s still not wise to go to movies, concerts, or game nights with friends, there are still ways you can enjoy movies, music, and games with them. Here are some of the ways to enjoy these activities with friends online while maintaining a safe distance.”

FACT CHECKS / MISINFORMATION

BBC: Coronavirus: False claims test kits for ‘Covid-19’ were sold in 2017. “A database of worldwide shipments of chemical supplies created in 2020, but going back to 2015, did refer to their use for ‘Covid-19 kits’. The World Bank, one of the international organisations responsible for maintaining the list, says this was because these previously existing products are now being used for Covid-19 testing. The website has now been changed and a clarification issued.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

BuzzFeed News: At 10, Kyle Can No Longer Imagine What He Wants To Be When He Grows Up. “For Kyle Lyons, parts of childhood are fading into memory as he learns to cope with an uncertain future. His parents fear what the pandemic is doing to him — and his Bronx neighborhood, one of the poorest in the country.”

New York Times: How to Birth a New American Theater. “Playwrights awaiting their breakthroughs no less than producers awaiting their windfalls instantly faced a future that had literally gone dark. But what if the end of the business-as-usual party were actually the start of a new dream of what theater could be in New York — and by extension in the rest of the country? It’s not as if the shotgun marriage of art and industry that for decades decided what and whom we see onstage had produced an equitable, or even a sensible, result.”

Phys .org: Antarctica is still free of COVID-19. Can it stay that way?. “At this very moment a vast world exists that’s free of the coronavirus, where people can mingle without masks and watch the pandemic unfold from thousands of miles away. That world is Antarctica, the only continent without COVID-19. Now, as nearly 1,000 scientists and others who wintered over on the ice are seeing the sun for the first time in weeks or months, a global effort wants to make sure incoming colleagues don’t bring the virus with them.”

CNBC: U.S. economy faces $15 trillion hit as a result of school closures, OECD says. “The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned the interruption to children’s schooling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic could mean global economic growth is 1.5% lower on average for the rest of the century. The intergovernmental economic organization said this projected loss of gross domestic product, which measures economic growth, would be equivalent to a total economic loss of $15.3 trillion in the U.S.”

Frontline: “I Don’t Want to Live Like This Forever”: A 14-Year-Old’s Story of “Hidden Homelessness” Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. “Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, almost 12 million children in America were estimated to be living in poverty — a burden disproportionately borne by kids who are Black or Latino. Kyah is one of them. Her story unfolds in Growing Up Poor in America, a new FRONTLINE documentary that follows children in three families — one Black, one mixed-race and one white — in the battleground state of Ohio as they struggle to make ends meet. That struggle has been heightened by the coronavirus.”

Washington Post: New York City can’t rebound without Broadway. And Broadway’s road back is uncertain.. “For months now, Thomas Schumacher’s dining room table has been taken over by a master list of every Broadway show that’s seeking to reopen or schedule an opening night — from the established ‘The Lion King’ to the new ‘Diana: A True Musical Story.’ Since the pandemic-related shutdowns, the Disney Theatrical Group president and his colleagues have been working through various scenarios to get New York theater back on its feet. But a half-year into an ongoing human tragedy and economic calamity that has drained the cultural lifeblood of the city, neither Schumacher — who is also chairman of the Broadway League trade group — nor anyone else knows for sure when the nation’s premier performing arts district will start up again.”

BuzzFeed News: At 17, Noel’s College Football Dreams Are Up In The Air. What Else Will He Lose This Senior Year?. “Noel Raehl thought he’d be spending the Friday nights of his senior year of high school on the football field, making tackles under the bright lights. As a lineman on both sides of the ball, he was gearing up for clashes with the opposing team in the muddy trenches between end zones, blocking their defense from tackling his teammates as they ran the ball for a touchdown, or muscling his way past their linemen to rush and sack the quarterback. This fall was the Chicago 17-year-old’s last chance to get an offer to play in college — his last shot at an athletic financial aid package to help pay for his education. But now, because of the coronavirus, that future is in jeopardy.”

BUSINESS / CORPORATIONS

CNN: Century 21 files for bankruptcy and will close all of its stores. “New York department store chain Century 21 filed for bankruptcy Thursday and said it will shut down its business. Century 21 has 13 stores mostly in the New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area. The company blamed the lack of payment on its business interruption insurance as the cause of its demise.”

CBS News: Amazon customers face price gouging, consumer watchdog says. “Shopping on Amazon for paper towels, rice or other products that consumers hoovered up during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic? You might be able to find them cheaper elsewhere, according to a report by a consumer advocacy group that raises concerns about price gouging at the e-commerce company.In a new report that compared the cost of 10 food, health and cleaning products found on Amazon.com last month with prices charged by other major retailers for the same items, the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that the items on Amazon were often two to 14 times more expensive than the identical products sold by Target, Walmart and others.”

Daily Beast: Workers Reveal Disney Is Covering Up Its COVID Cases. “Four sources familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast that Disney has kept the total number of positive cases at the district under wraps, alerting unions only to the positive test results of their members—often days after the fact, risking further exposure—and leaving workers to guess for themselves why colleagues disappeared for days at a time, or why 11 people from the 12-person Horticulture Irrigation team didn’t show up to work for a full week. ”

Slate: Louis Vuitton’s Luxury Face Shield Is Good. “We live in a world where there is such a thing as a luxury face shield. It’s made by Louis Vuitton, it will be available for purchase in October, and it will reportedly cost nearly $961—though a rep denied that pricing to another outlet, saying the price hadn’t been announced yet. After a brief period of taking in and cooling off about all these facts, I am glad that it exists.”

GOVERNMENT

Politico: USAID to shut down its coronavirus task force. “The U.S. Agency for International Development, which has been on the front lines of the battle with the coronavirus, is about to shut down the task force it set up to tackle the still-ongoing pandemic. The decision is being met with concerns by some who fear it will lead to greater dysfunction at USAID, which already faces personnel and structural turmoil. Others, however, say the task force was poorly managed and that its functions can be delegated.”

Politico: Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19. “The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.”

INDIVIDUALS / BANDS / GROUPS

Bloomberg Law: Fauci Downplays Virus Shot Before Election, Countering Trump. “It’s ‘unlikely’ a Covid-19 vaccine will be available to the public by Nov. 3, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. ‘The only way you can see that scenario come true is that there are so many infections at clinical trial sites you get an efficacy answer earlier than you expected,’ he said during a Research!America panel. ‘It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely.'”

New York Times: ‘Covid Will Not Win’: Meet the Force Powering Brooklyn Hospital. “During the surge of Covid-19 cases this spring that filled Brooklyn Hospital’s emergency room and intensive care unit with the critically ill and the dying, the staff went in day after day, trying to save as many lives as they could. Now they are bracing for a second wave. These portraits of the hospital staff were taken during the grueling first wave. In interviews in recent months, the workers reflected on that period — what they had lived through and how they had coped, what they had learned and how it had changed them.”

SPORTS

Washington Post: Memphis shuts down football after coronavirus outbreak, and a party bus might be to blame. “The Memphis Tigers football team has paused all practice and group activities after experiencing a novel coronavirus outbreak, saying in a statement that most of the cases as ‘primarily linked to social events outside of official football activities.’ A party bus is reportedly to blame.”

EDUCATION

Daily Beast: White House Said to Keep Sick Kids on Campus. Emails Reveal the Messy Reality.. “Last Monday, top officials on the White House coronavirus task force issued an urgent warning to governors across the country: Stop sending your COVID-infected college students home to their parents or risk another nationwide surge, just like the one that overwhelmed the South this summer. So far, the task force’s request for governors to talk to their college presidents appears to have made little difference. By the end of the week, some colleges in the country’s biggest coronavirus hot spots not only were still allowing students to go home after they’d been exposed or infected—they were ordering them to.”

Associated Press: At military academies, COVID-19 is the enemy to be defeated. “Under the siege of the coronavirus pandemic, classes have begun at the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. But unlike at many colleges around the country, most students are on campus and many will attend classes in person. This is largely due to advantages the military schools have. They’re small, each with about 4,500 students who know that joining the military means they’re subject to more control and expected to follow orders. Their military leaders, meanwhile, are treating the virus like an enemy that must be detected, deterred and defeated.”

New York Times: A University Had a Great Coronavirus Plan, but Students Partied On. “An unexpected upswing in positive tests at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed how even the most comprehensive approaches to limiting the virus’s spread can break down.”

HEALTH

ProPublica: A Doctor Went to His Own Employer for a COVID-19 Antibody Test. It Cost $10,984.. “When Dr. Zachary Sussman went to Physicians Premier ER in Austin for a COVID-19 antibody test, he assumed he would get a freebie because he was a doctor for the chain. Instead, the free-standing emergency room charged his insurance company an astonishing $10,984 for the visit — and got paid every penny, with no pushback. The bill left him so dismayed he quit his job. And now, after ProPublica’s questions, the parent company of his insurer said the case is being investigated and could lead to repayment or a referral to law enforcement.”

The Atlantic: What Young, Healthy People Have to Fear From COVID-19. “COVID-19 presents an array of health challenges that are serious, if not imminently fatal. The disease occasionally sends people’s immune system into a frenzy, wreaking havoc on their internal organs. Several studies of asymptomatic patients revealed that more than half of them had lung abnormalities. A March study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that 7 to 20 percent of sick patients showed heart damage associated with COVID-19.”

HuffPost: COVID ‘Fatigue’ Threatens To Boost Cases, Warns Former FDA Head. “Americans getting sick and tired of living quieter, more careful lives to stop the spread of COVID-19 threaten to spark a dangerous surge in cases, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration warned Sunday.”

ABC News: As scientists hustle to develop a coronavirus vaccine, the push for first dibs is already underway. “Advocates for a dizzying array of interest groups have already begun mounting their appeals – to political leaders and the trusted medical groups that will advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in developing a plan to begin distributing vials of any vaccine that is approved for use.”

OUTBREAKS

Sky News: Coronavirus: More than 60 cases linked to charity football match. “More than 60 people have tested positive for coronavirus following a charity football match. A further 33 people have now contracted the virus amid an outbreak linked to the event at Burnside Working Men’s Club in Fencehouses, on the border of County Durham and the City of Sunderland.”

BBC: Coronavirus: UK epidemic growing as R number goes above 1. “Public health officials have warned of ‘worrying signs’ of infection among the elderly, as an official measure indicated the UK’s epidemic is growing again. The R number was raised to between 1 and 1.2 for the first time since March. Any number above one indicates the number of infections is increasing.”

Mother Jones: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Is Now Linked to More Than 250,000 Coronavirus Cases. “According to a new study, which tracked anonymized cellphone data from the rally, over 250,000 coronavirus cases have now been tied to the 10-day event, one of the largest to be held since the start of the pandemic. It drew motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country, many of whom were seen without face coverings inside crowded bars, restaurants, and other indoor establishments. The explosion in cases, the study from the Germany-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics finds, is expected to reach $12 billion in public health costs.”

TECHNOLOGY

Slate: App-Based Contact Tracing Has Been a Bust. Apple Wants to Try Something New.. “So far, attempts to use apps for contact tracing in the U.S. have largely fallen flat. Each state has had to decide whether to issue an app at all, and then what kind of system to use. States that have created apps have struggled to get people to download them at all. But Apple is hoping it might change things.”

RESEARCH

Phys .org: Pandemic spawns ‘infodemic’ in scientific literature. “The science community has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with such a flurry of research studies that it is hard for anyone to digest them all, underscoring a long-standing need to make scientific publication more accessible, transparent and accountable, two artificial intelligence experts assert in a data science journal.”

The Next Web: COVID-19 made your data set worthless. Now what?. “The COVID-19 pandemic has perplexed data scientists and creators of machine learning tools as the sudden and major change in consumer behavior has made predictions based on historical data nearly useless. There is also very little point in trying to train new prediction models during the crisis, as one simply cannot predict chaos. While these challenges could shake our perception of what artificial intelligence really is (and is not), they might also foster the development of tools that could automatically adjust.”

CRIME / SECURITY / LEGAL

BuzzFeed News: The FBI Is Warning Scientists To Watch Out For “Suspicious” Packages. “Hundreds of researchers at the University of Washington have been warned to watch out for suspicious mail after the FBI informed the school that a suspicious package was sent to coronavirus scientists elsewhere.”

OPINION

STAT News: Pharma drew a line in the sand over Covid-19 vaccine readiness — because someone had to. “The vaccine makers that signed this pledge — Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Novavax — are rushing to complete clinical trials. But only Pfizer has indicated it may have late-stage results in October, and that’s not a given. Yet any move by the FDA to greenlight a Covid-19 vaccine without late-stage results will be interpreted as an effort to boost Trump — and rightly so.”

Slate: We Should Have Treated COVID as a Natural Disaster, Not a Public Health Emergency. “When I talk to friends who work in emergency rooms across the country, some in hot spots, the general feeling is of exhaustion and abandonment. For a while, we were lauded as front-line heroes (how I have grown to hate that term) and given free meals, but that didn’t stop our pay from being cut with most of the rest of America’s; nor did it stop the endless litany of indignities that characterize the normal workday in an emergency department.”

POLITICS

ABC News: Trump makes rosy vaccine timing front and center in campaign, predicting it’s possible before Election Day. “With the election less than two months away, and the president’s poll numbers suffering under scrutiny over his handling of the pandemic, Trump has taken to repeatedly hyping the possibility of a vaccine before Election Day, despite top health experts having cautioned that it’s unlikely.”

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