Monday CoronaBuzz, September 14, 2020: 55 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.


WTHI: Indiana partners with ‘180 Skills’ to open free library of workforce skills courses. “The State of Indiana has partnered with ‘180 Skills.’ Together, they are opening a free online library of courses. These courses are designed to improve general employability skills. This includes acing a job interview, mastering Microsoft Office products, and improving communication skills.”


Poynter: This database shows media layoffs caused by the coronavirus. “The graphics of 2020 are grim ones — flattening the curve of the coronavirus, watching it spread, seeing jobs disappear. Now, we have another — what the pandemic has done to newsrooms in the U.S. Thanks to the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, we can now see the places and mediums hit by cutbacks, layoffs, closures and more.”


Mashable: Pandemic parenting: Choosing educational apps and balancing screen time with remote learning. “The most serious concern with screen time is that you don’t want a child to experience negative mental health effects of too much time inside the bubble of social media. This is a hard line to walk right now as many kids and teens are otherwise cut off from their friends. Balance among social media, other screen time, exercise, schoolwork, and hobbies is still the goal. But screen time can be a wonderfully rewarding and enriching activity when done conscientiously. It can even help kids cope with the changes in their lives right now.”


CBS News: Canada reports no new deaths from coronavirus for the first time since March. “Canada reported no new deaths from COVID-19 on Friday for the first time in six months. The last time the country reported no new deaths from the virus on March 15, at the start of lockdowns in North America due to the pandemic, Reuters reports.”


CNN: A new front in coronavirus disinformation: Wall Street research. “Coronavirus misinformation is infecting the unlikeliest of places: Wall Street research that investors rely on to trade in the financial markets. In an early August note to clients, an analyst at a research firm called Fundstrat Global Advisors, which distributes widely-read reports and analysis to investors, cited a series of tweets by an ophthalmologist named James Todaro who painted a rosy picture of the US population’s potential for developing herd immunity to coronavirus.”


Los Angeles Times: L.A. County walks back Halloween ban, says trick-or-treating ‘not recommended’. “Less than a day after issuing new health guidelines that banned trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities, Los Angeles County public health officials walked back the decision Wednesday. Citing an inability to maintain safe social distancing and the potential for gatherings beyond household members, county officials initially nixed trick-or-treating along with other Halloween traditions, including haunted houses and parades.”

ABC News: Half of households in 4 largest US cities report financial problems due to pandemic: POLL. “Americans already enduring the most frayed financial safety nets now find themselves on the fault lines exacerbated by the novel coronavirus. New polling reveals the strain born by families caught in the crosshairs of several issues converging on the country: COVID-19 and systemic racial, socioeconomic and health inequality.”

Bloomberg: Americans Stayed Inside Even as Cities and States Reopened. “By the latter half of August, 130 million Americans said they avoided eating at restaurants, a new U.S. Census Bureau survey analyzed by Bloomberg News shows. Only about 21 million of the nearly 250 million people had resumed dining out, according to the data gathered in collaboration with multiple federal agencies. Asked if they were still making fewer trips to stores in late August than before the pandemic, 70% said ‘yes.’ Even among the youngest adults aged 18 to 24, 68% said they were shopping less.”

Route Fifty: Generation Work-From-Home May Never Recover. “If the Covid‑19 experiment has proved anything, it’s that employees can be productive without being physically present, so why not jettison expensive corporate leases and free everyone from commutes? But the longer people spend editing spreadsheets or taking conference calls at the kitchen table, the more obvious it is that workers lose far more than physical space when they lose their office.”

Washington Post: A pandemic, a motel without power and a potentially terrifying glimpse of Orlando’s future. “Rose Jusino was waking up after working the graveyard shift at Taco Bell when a friend knocked on her door at the Star Motel. The electric company trucks were back. The workers were about to shut off the power again. The 17-year-old slammed her door and cranked the air conditioning as high as it would go, hoping that a final blast of cold air might make the 95-degree day more bearable. She then headed outside to the motel’s overgrown courtyard, a route that took her past piles of maggot-infested food that had been handed out by do-gooders and tossed aside by the motel’s residents. Several dozen of them were gathered by a swimming pool full of fetid brown water, trying to figure out their next move.”

Charlotte Observer: SC couple married 40 years died of COVID-19 on same day, leaving 14-year-old daughter. “David and Lora McManus of Pageland were married 40 years. Their deaths were announced on Tuesday by government officials in Union County, N.C., where Lora McManus, 59, worked in the Public Works customer service office for more than 20 years. David McManus, 64, was a pulp wood logger and trucker, according to his obituary.”


ProPublica: The Big Corporate Rescue and the America That’s Too Small to Save. “Girish Patel doubts his small, 20-year-old shop will survive the pandemic economy. Thirty stories above, aerospace company TransDigm has sustained eye-popping profits thanks to steep layoffs and raised over a billion with help from the U.S. government.”


Yahoo News: Exclusive: White House orders end to COVID-19 airport screenings for international travelers. “The U.S. government on Monday will stop conducting enhanced screening of passengers on inbound international flights for COVID-19, Yahoo News has learned. The screening operations have been held at select airports since January, when the first cases of the disease began to emerge from Wuhan, China. Since March, incoming international flights from select high-risk countries, including much of Europe, China and Iran, among other regions, have been funneled through 15 designated airports in the United States.”

Washington Post: Dozens of Austrians puzzled after receiving U.S. stimulus checks, banks say. “Hundreds of people have cashed U.S. stimulus checks at Austrian banks in recent months. Some of them appeared puzzled by the unexpected payments or were ineligible for the payouts, according to bank officials and Austrian media reports.”

CNN: Andrew Cuomo reinstates indoor dining in New York City — but restrictions apply. “New York City restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining, with strict restrictions. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that restaurants can restart indoor dining on September 30, but they will be limited to operating at 25% capacity.”

New York Times: Amtrak Chief Pleads for Nearly $5 Billion to Survive Pandemic. “Amtrak’s chief executive, William J. Flynn, urged House lawmakers on Wednesday to provide $4.9 billion for the national passenger rail agency, warning that additional cuts to its service and work force would be needed to ‘stave off bankruptcy’ if Congress did not provide any further emergency funding.”

Times of India: Police depts tap pop culture for mask messages on social media. “Dancing, singing, wearing corona hats – police departments across the country have used their in-house talent to create corona anthems and plays to educate people about staying safe in the pandemic. Viral memes like ‘rasoda’ and ‘Binod’ and campaign hashtags like Bask in the Mask and MaskUp have repeatedly driven home the message about wearing a mask in public.”

The City NYC: Former Inmates Threatened with Early Checkout from Taxpayer-Funded Hotel Rooms. “The de Blasio administration is seeking reimbursement for the COVID Emergency Housing program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has recently moved to yank funding for disinfecting New York City trains and schools. The city has contracted with multiple social service nonprofits and the hotels until Oct. 31.”


Washington Post: California’s GOP Senate leader was under quarantine. She spoke with no mask at a huge prayer event anyway.. “In front of thousands of worshipers packed shoulder-to-shoulder outside the Capitol, California Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove (R) grabbed the microphone on Sunday and promised the huge church event would have a real impact…. But state leaders are warning the event’s impact could actually be a mass coronavirus outbreak. Although Grove’s permit allowed 1,000 people and required social distancing, the California Highway Patrol said three times as many showed up; videos showed virtually no social distancing or masks in the crowd.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Israeli minister resigns over plans for second lockdown. “An Israeli cabinet minister has resigned in protest against plans to impose a second national lockdown. Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman said the restrictions would prevent Jewish people from celebrating religious festivals later this month. The lockdown is due to come into force on Friday, the Jewish new year, and affect Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, on 27 September.”

People Magazine: Jillian Michaels Says She Contracted COVID-19 After Letting Her ‘Guard Down for an Hour’. “Jillian Michaels is opening up about her experience with coronavirus. On Tuesday, the fitness trainer, 49, revealed she had contracted COVID-19 ‘several weeks ago’ as she discussed why people should consider not going to the gym amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

Washington Post: An Olympic gold medalist said she was ‘brave’ for not wearing a mask. It was not well-received.. “Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings apologized Monday for leaving some people ‘upset’ by an Instagram post in which she described going shopping without a face mask, saying she was advocating for individual freedom amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.”


Poynter: Come on, professional sports players. Mask up consistently.. “My wife and I watch the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays every evening and while I appreciate some players, like Ji-Man Choi, consistently wearing COVID-19 masks, others in the dugout don’t. Some coaches wear those neck gaiters, which researchers have said are barely better than wearing no face covering.”

CNBC: Unprecedented mega-sports weekend could be online betting bonanza. “The pandemic has pushed the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association playoffs to September, overlapping with Week 1 of the National Football League season for the first time ever. The U.S. Open men’s tennis final and a slate of Major League Baseball games will make Sunday one of the biggest sports betting days ever, according to Patrick Keane, chief executive officer of The Action Network, the sports betting media company.”

Washington Post: Baseball has never been so lonely, and players are feeling the strain. “During normal times, there are aspects to a major league season that don’t lend themselves to top-notch mental health. Work is nearly every day. Struggles are laid bare for the public to see. Travel is constant. Baseball is a team sport, but at its worst, there’s no overstating the potential for isolation. And now, here lies the novel coronavirus-shortened 2020 MLB season, unprecedented in so many ways. The star of this show isn’t Max Scherzer or Juan Soto. Rather, it’s the coronavirus pandemic. It has altered American life in ways that, seven months ago, we could not have envisioned. And it is affecting this season in ways we could overlook.”


BBC: Coronavirus: How the lockdown has changed schooling in South Asia. “Children across much of Europe have been going back to school for the start of a new year, but in many other parts of the world, coronavirus restrictions have kept classrooms closed. We’ve taken a look at the situation in India and its neighbours in South Asia where the United Nations estimates nearly 600 million children have been affected by lockdowns.”

CNN: Michigan State University students asked to self-quarantine after Covid-19 outbreak. “Health officials on Saturday asked Michigan State University students to self-quarantine immediately after parties contributed to 342 new coronavirus cases….The hundreds of new Covid-19 cases involving people affiliated to the university date to August 24, the health department said. Only 23 people had tested positive before that date.”

Times-Union: Feds shipping 7 million masks to New York for students, teachers. ” As students head back to school, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will send 6.9 million cloth face coverings to New York this month for distribution to students, teachers and staff at schools across the state. Masks arriving in September may prove useful to some schools, but most schools offering in-person learning have already had to procure thousands of face coverings and districts are unsure if they’ll get reimbursed for those new costs, amid state budget cuts and limited federal aid.”

Washington Post: Coronavirus cases spike among school-age children in Florida, while state orders some counties to keep data hidden. “One month into the forced reopening of Florida’s schools, dozens of classrooms — along with some entire schools — have been temporarily shuttered because of coronavirus outbreaks, and infections among school-age children have jumped 34 percent. But parents in many parts of the state don’t know if outbreaks of the virus are related to their own schools because the state ordered some counties to keep health data secret.”

Daily Beast: At Least 4 Teachers Have Died of COVID-19 Since Start of School Year. “Two teachers died in Mississippi and AshLee DeMarinis, 34, a teacher at John Evans Middle School in Potosi, Missouri, died on Sunday. The coronavirus had already devastated schools before the summer break. In New York alone, 75 Department of Education employees died from COVID-19, including 31 teachers. The American Federation of Teachers said 210 of its members have died of the virus.”

CNN: Ohio State University canceled spring break 2021 because of Covid-19. “The Ohio State University announced it will cancel spring break next semester in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the university community. In a letter Friday to students, faculty and staff, Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron said the university would instead have two instructional breaks with no classes on February 9 and March 31.”

Wisconsin State Journal: UW-Madison moves to all-online classes amid growing COVID-19 case count. “UW-Madison is moving all classes online and quarantining students in two of its largest dorms for at least the next two weeks, the most significant step by the university to curb a COVID-19 outbreak that has surpassed 1,000 infections in mere days. The announcement on Wednesday came as little surprise to the campus community, many of whom expected the university to pivot to all-online in the face of uncontrolled virus spread and criticized administrators for their ‘Smart Restart’ reopening plan throughout the summer.”


Akron Beacon Journal: Ohio’s COVID nursing home deaths clustered in 25% of facilities. “At least 250 nursing homes in Ohio have had residents die due to COVID-19 or its combination with other health problems. The deaths were concentrated in a quarter of those facilities, accounting for 60% of all coronavirus fatalities in the state’s nursing homes, a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis of federal data shows. Nursing homes have held the majority of the state’s coronavirus deaths, Ohio records show.”

The Atlantic: America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral. “The U.S. enters the ninth month of the pandemic with more than 6.3 million confirmed cases and more than 189,000 confirmed deaths. The toll has been enormous because the country presented the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus with a smorgasbord of vulnerabilities to exploit. But the toll continues to be enormous—every day, the case count rises by around 40,000 and the death toll by around 800—because the country has consistently thought about the pandemic in the same unproductive ways.”

Route Fifty: Kids Are Missing Critical Windows for Lead Testing Due to Pandemic. “In the Upper Midwest, Northeast and parts of the West Coast — areas with historically high rates of lead poisoning — the slide has been the most dramatic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In states such as Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota, testing for the brain-damaging heavy metal fell by 50% or more this spring compared with 2019, health officials report.”

Bangkok Post: Sewage serves as affordable virus warning tool in Nepal. “As the number of cases continues to rise worldwide, more countries are analysing wastewater for traces of the infectious disease to quickly identify which communities are experiencing an outbreak. For impoverished Nepal, still recovering from a major 2015 earthquake and with its economy reeling from the pandemic’s shattering impact on its crucial tourism sector, the sewage tests could become an affordable weapon in the virus fight.”

New York Times: How the Coronavirus Attacks the Brain. “A new study offers the first clear evidence that, in some people, the coronavirus invades brain cells, hijacking them to make copies of itself. The virus also seems to suck up all of the oxygen nearby, starving neighboring cells to death. It’s unclear how the virus gets to the brain or how often it sets off this trail of destruction. Infection of the brain is likely to be rare, but some people may be susceptible because of their genetic backgrounds, a high viral load or other reasons.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Cases in France leap past 10,000 a day. “France has reported a record daily increase in coronavirus cases as the country struggles to contain a fresh surge in infections. On Saturday health authorities said there were 10,561 new cases, rising by more than 1,000 from Friday’s figures. The numbers of people admitted to hospital and intensive care are also increasing.”

New York Times: Summer Jet-Setters Turned Sardinia Into a Virus Hot Spot. “Silvio Berlusconi was there in August. So was his friend, the club owner Flavio Briatore. Now both are among hundreds of Covid-19 cases linked to the Italian island, a favorite of rich partygoers.”


Pittsburgh Business Times: Google gives Carnegie Mellon University funding, staff to develop COVIDcast . “Carnegie Mellon University received $1 million in funding from Google to further develop COVIDcast, a project to track and forecast localized coronavirus activity across the country, according to a news release. Google also announced it would provide CMU with a full time team of 12 Google fellows to support the work, in partnership with the university’s Delphi Research Group, for six months.”


Reuters: Exclusive: Vaccine group says 76 rich countries now committed to ‘COVAX’ access plan. “Seventy-six wealthy nations are now committed to joining a global COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to help buy and fairly distribute the shots, the project’s co-lead said on Wednesday.” The list does not include the United States.

Bloomberg: Googling for Gut Symptoms Predicts Covid Hot Spots, Study Finds. “Researchers at the top-ranked hospital in Boston compared search interest in loss of taste and appetite, and diarrhea with the reported incidence of Covid-19 in 15 U.S. states from Jan. 20 to April 20. Using Alphabet Inc.’s Google Trends online tool, they found the volume of searches correlated most strongly with cases in New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts and Illinois — states with high disease burden — three to four weeks later.”

Los Angeles Times: The coronavirus may have reached Los Angeles even before China announced its outbreak. “Was the novel coronavirus on the loose in Los Angeles way back in December, before the World Health Organization was even aware of an unusual cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China? A new analysis of medical records from UCLA hospitals and clinics suggests the answer might be yes.”

Zawya: COVID-19: Egypt launches website for vaccine volunteers. “Egypt launched an online portal on September 13th to receive all requests from those who want to volunteer for taking the coronavirus vaccine clinical trials, according to an official statement.”


WHIO: People driving over 100 mph more than doubles in Ohio from 2019. “The amount of speeding tickets given to Ohio drivers going over 100 miles per hour has more than doubled from this time last year. The trend started in April when the pandemic began.”

Route Fifty: Covid Could Spur Reduced Reliance on Classified Sources of Cyber Intelligence. “In weighing the prospect of a larger and more diverse workforce against the benefits of accessing classified intelligence, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency may be realizing it can do more with less.”

StateTech Magazine: Tech Is Aiding Several Aspects of the Criminal Justice System During the Pandemic. “The coronavirus pandemic has upended all aspects of society, from how work gets done to social gatherings and how people greet one another. It has also posed a significant challenge to the criminal justice system, which has long relied on bringing people into close contact. That’s true for court proceedings, interviewing suspects and conducting parole checkups.”


Washington Post: There is no good explanation for Trump’s coronavirus comments to Bob Woodward. “President Trump has made a months-long series of often bizarre comments about the coronavirus — from frequently downplaying it and saying it would just go away, to hyperbolically pitching unproven treatments for it, to ridiculing masks and then briefly embracing them before ridiculing them again, to repeatedly floating potential death tolls that would be surpassed in very short order. The question, as it often is with Trump, is whether the president truly believes his own hype and is just that disconnected from the reality of the situation, or whether he’s just saying stuff to get through a news cycle. A new book from legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward suggests that it’s very much the latter.”

Andy Slavitt: This Bug Is Beatable. “This bug is beatable. I talked to three lab directors, the Food and Drug Administration, two former FDA commissioners, three epidemiologists, two virologists, and a senior White House scientist so I could give you a consensus on what we know. Much of the spread is highly clustered. Everyone who gets the flu is more or less evenly infectious. Here, a small number of people are highly infectious. And there are a small number of places where the virus is highly spreadable.”

Washington Post: My extreme anti-covid routines: Sterilizing my eyelids and soaping my nostrils. “You may think you’re totally safe because you wear a mask and gloves during the pandemic. But do you put alcohol up your nose and antiseptic on your eyelids when you come home? Having little to do these days but wait for the novel coronavirus to spread, I take what might seem like excessive precautions. It’s not because I don’t follow the science. It’s because so few others are taking any precautions at all; those of us who want to avoid the contagion have to carry a much heavier security burden. Measures that appear gratuitous are basic efforts at self-preservation.”

Vox: Trump is making a mockery of public health. His rally in North Carolina demonstrated it.. “New daily coronavirus cases and deaths were trending upward in North Carolina heading into Labor Day weekend. But you certainly wouldn’t know that by watching President Donald Trump’s rally at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem on Tuesday.”

Washington Post: The latest dumb Republican talking point on covid-19. “Short of money, back on the defense for disparaging the military, responsible for bollixing up the response to the pandemic that has killed 186,000 people and desperate to use racial unrest to its advantage, the Trump camp now throws out one mindless talking point after another. The latest: Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) is going anti-vax on a covid-19 vaccine.”


Daily Beast: Trump Has Bragged to Advisers That He Likely Stopped a Second COVID Wave. “‘We’re going to have a vaccine soon,’ Trump said during a press conference with reporters Thursday afternoon. “It’s going to be much sooner than you think.” But top health officials in his administration admitted this week that “there’s no way of knowing” when a vaccine will be available and that it could take another nine months to produce.”

Politico: Odds shrink for a coronavirus relief deal. “The prospect of Congress and the White House providing much needed coronavirus relief to millions of Americans is getting worse by the day, despite leaders in both parties saying they’re open to a deal.”

Washington Post: A GOP county chair asked Trump to wear a mask to his rally. Instead, Trump mocked pandemic restrictions.. “For months, the president ridiculed masks and refused to appear in public with one on, until he suddenly changed course in July and tweeted a photo of himself with his face covered, calling it a ‘patriotic’ act. But after mocking Biden for wearing a mask and insisting that reporters remove theirs while asking him questions during a news conference, Trump on Tuesday evening appeared to make a full, unabashed return to his previous stance on the coverings.”

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