Thursday CoronaBuzz, September 17, 2020: 51 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Tweaked a couple of categories. Please wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you can. Please be careful. I love you.


Vox: Your state’s Covid-19 epidemic, explained in 5 maps. “Public health experts look at a few markers to determine how bad things are in each state: the number of daily new cases; the infection rate, which can show how likely the virus is to spread; the percentage of tests that come back positive, which should be low in a state with sufficient testing; and the percentage of hospital beds that are occupied by very sick patients. A Vox analysis indicates the vast majority of states report alarming trends across all four benchmarks for coronavirus outbreaks.”

BBC: Covid pushes New Zealand into worst recession in years. “New Zealand is in its deepest recession in decades, following strict measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic which were widely praised. The country’s GDP shrank by 12.2% between April and June as the lockdown and border closures hit. It is New Zealand’s first recession since the global financial crisis and its worst since 1987, when the current system of measurement began.”


WRAL: Salisbury couple of 50 years died of COVID-19 holding hands, son says. “A North Carolina husband and wife of 48 years died holding hands after a battle with COVID-19. Their son, Shane Peoples, said his mom and dad, 67-year-old Johnny Lee Peoples and 65-year-old Cathy Darlene Peoples, died last week.”

New York Times: The Other Way Covid Will Kill: Hunger. “Long before the pandemic swept into her village in the rugged southeast of Afghanistan, Halima Bibi knew the gnawing fear of hunger. It was an omnipresent force, an unrelenting source of anxiety as she struggled to nourish her four children. Her husband earned about $5 a day, hauling produce by wheelbarrow from a local market to surrounding homes. Most days, he brought home a loaf of bread, potatoes and beans for an evening meal. But when the coronavirus arrived in March, taking the lives of her neighbors and shutting down the market, her husband’s earnings plunged to about $1 a day. Most evenings, he brought home only bread. Some nights, he returned with nothing.”

BNN Bloomberg: Kosher Crisis Hits $19 Billion Market With Rabbis Stuck at Home. “There’s a lot more to the kosher food industry than Hebrew National hot dogs and Manischewitz wine. Kosher food was a $19.1 billion industry in 2018, according to Allied Market Research, which projects it will grow to $25.6 billion by 2026…. While China doesn’t have many Jews, it’s nonetheless an important part of the kosher food industry: Chinese factories produce canned fruit and other packaged goods and also play a critical role in the production of artificial flavorings, amino acids, and other ingredients that make their way into the diets of observant Jews.”


CBS News: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be television-only for first time in its history. “There are few things as synonymous with Turkey Day as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But this year, the beloved New York City event will be television-only for the first time in its 94-year history, Macy’s announced on Monday.”


Washington City Paper: Hilton Brothers to Close Seven Bars ‘for Foreseeable Future’ on Halloween. “The brothers and nightlife impresarios behind many bars and restaurants stretching up 14th Street NW and down U Street NW will close seven establishments for the foreseeable future on Halloween. Eric and Ian Hilton say they fought for six months to keep American Ice Company, The Brixton, Echo Park, El Rey, The Gibson, Marvin, and Players Club running through the COVID-19 pandemic, but ultimately couldn’t.”

Washington Post: Meg’s choice: She could reopen her diner. But what about the hungry people she’s feeding?. “In the heart of this pandemic summer, some restaurants have yet to reopen, still struggling to find a workable way forward with diminished capacity or takeout only. Others tried to restart, only to shut down again as cases surged. And many more are gone forever — more than 20,000 restaurants have closed nationwide since the start of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association, with tens of thousands more expected to close. In Lawrence’s downtown, nearly a third of the restaurants have either delayed reopening, reopened and then scuttled indoor dining — or closed all together. [Meg] Heriford faced an agonizing choice — should she try to reopen Ladybird Diner as it was, and if so, what about the people she’s feeding — the newly destitute families who come shyly, pushing their masked kids to the front of the line?”

Bloomberg: The Carnival Cruise Ship That Spread Coronavirus Around the World. “Although multiple cruise ships recorded large numbers of Covid-19 cases in the early stages of the pandemic, the Ruby was unique, and not simply because 28 people died of the illness, the most of any voyage. Two other notorious Carnival ships—the Diamond Princess, which was sealed off for weeks on a Japanese pier, and the Zaandam, which sailed up the entire west coast of South America looking for a country that would allow it to dock—were vessels that guests couldn’t leave. The Ruby was the opposite, the incubator of a devastating outbreak discovered only after passengers were on dry land.”

New York Daily News: Tax, tip, COVID fee: Council passes bill letting struggling NYC eateries charge 10% extra to get back on their feet. “New York restaurants will be allowed to tack up to 10% onto their bills under a law passed by the City Council on Wednesday. The bill’s sponsor, Councilman Joe Borelli of Staten Island, says the fee will help struggling restaurateurs get back on their feet. The bill passed on a 46-2 vote.”


New York Times: N.Y.C. Mayor to Furlough 495 Staff Members for a Week, Including Himself. “Facing a $9 billion, two-year revenue shortfall because of the coronavirus’s impact on the economy, Mr. [Bill] de Blasio this year closed the city’s budget with $1 billion in unspecified labor savings. He warned that he would have to lay off 22,000 employees, a number that could be reduced depending on three factors: negotiated union givebacks, state approval for New York City to finance its operations with up to $5 billion in long-term debt and more federal assistance.”

Politico: Florida: We can’t afford Trump’s jobless aid anymore. “Florida‘s Republican governor will end a Trump program to boost unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans because the state’s bare-bones jobless program is too poor to continue qualifying for the federal boost. Gov. Ron DeSantis, an ally of President Donald Trump, is scrapping the extra $300 in weekly benefits because the state pays its unemployed workers too little to meet a 25 percent matching requirement. Florida appears to be the first state in the nation to halt the program because of its cost.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Irish health minister tests negative for Covid-19. “Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has tested negative for Covid-19 after reporting feeling unwell. Members of the Irish cabinet were told to restrict their movements after the country’s health minister made the report on Tuesday afternoon. Initially it was announced that the cabinet would have to self-isolate and the Dáil (Irish parliament) would be adjourned indefinitely. However, the Dáil resumed business on Tuesday evening.”

CBS 3 Philly: White House Staff Members Reportedly Test Positive For COVID-19 Less Than 24 Hours After President Donald Trump Visited Philadelphia. “White House staff members have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 less than 24 hours after President Donald Trump visited Philadelphia. Globo News reporter Raquel Krahenbuhl says she was informed of the positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday, but Chief of Staff Mark Meadows says he is not releasing any further information.”

Financial Advisor: U.S. Officials Offer Conflicting Coronavirus Vaccine Timetables. “Top U.S. health officials offered conflicting estimates Wednesday of when Americans should expect coronavirus vaccines to be widely available, with one saying in an interview that every American could be able to get a shot by the end of March. That timetable, offered by Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, is more ambitious than those of drug company executives, most public health experts and some other top U.S. health officials. It follows comments by President Donald Trump during a televised town hall event hosted by ABC News Tuesday that a vaccine could be approved in three or four weeks.”

Salon: Invisible company owned by Rudy Giuliani got taxpayer-backed PPP money — but where did it go?. “A payroll company owned by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, took between $150,000 and $350,000 in taxpayer-backed emergency small business loans this spring. It’s unclear what Giuliani did with the money.”

Politico: How Michael Caputo transformed what the public learned about coronavirus. “On Wednesday, after POLITICO detailed Caputo’s efforts to interfere with the weekly scientific reports coming out of the CDC and a disastrous rant in which he accused health officials of plotting against Trump, the 58-year-old spokesman announced he was taking a 60-day medical leave. HHS officials are left to assess the damage to their credibility at a time when they need the public to accept the safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine they choose as soon as next month.”

BBC: Coronavirus: South Africa eases strict lockdown as cases drop. “South Africa, which had one of the world’s earliest and strictest lockdowns, has announced a further easing of anti-coronavirus measures. From 20 September an overnight curfew will be reduced, gatherings will be allowed at 50% of a venue’s capacity, and restrictions on the sale of alcohol will be eased.”


NBC News: Fauci says U.S. needs to ‘hunker down’ for fall and winter. “As the United States heads into flu season, Americans can’t let up in the fight against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday. Although the number of new daily cases of coronavirus in the U.S. has slowly been declining over the last two weeks, the country is still closing in on 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 6 million confirmed infections.”

Stereogum: Noel Gallagher Refuses To Wear A Mask. This quote has some Language in it. You know what I mean. I have censored it a little so my email newsletter has a chance of not getting filtered out. “Noel Gallagher said that he refuses to wear a face mask in a new interview on The Matt Morgan Podcast. ‘I don’t wear a mask, no. The whole f!cking thing is bollocks,’ he said. ‘You’re supposed to wear them in Selfridges but you can f!cking go down to the pub and be surrounded by every f!cking c!unt. Oh well, actually, we don’t have the virus in the pubs, but we have it in Selfridges, oh alright.’ (Just yesterday, England announced new regulations limiting the amount of people gathering to no more than six after COVID-19 cases escalated, though pubs and restaurants are still open.)”

CNN: Barr says calls for coronavirus lockdown are the ‘greatest intrusion on civil liberties’ other than slavery in US history. “Attorney General William Barr suggested on Wednesday that the calls for a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus were the ‘greatest intrusion on civil liberties’ in history ‘other than slavery.’ The comments came minutes after he slammed the hundreds of Justice Department prosecutors working beneath him, equating them to preschoolers, in a defense of his own politically tuned decision making in the Trump administration.”

NBC News: Top HHS official takes leave of absence after Facebook rant about CDC conspiracies. “In the video, first reported by The New York Times, Michael Caputo, HHS’ assistant secretary for public affairs, charged that scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ‘don’t want America to get well.’ He also urged supporters of President Donald Trump to load up on ammunition in preparation for a violent left-wing rebellion if the president wins re-election.”


ABC News: White House offered tests to Big Ten to resume football: Sources. “As President Donald Trump pushed the Big Ten in recent weeks to restart college football amid the coronavirus pandemic, the White House offered to provide the college athletic conference with enough COVID-19 tests for play to begin, a university official briefed on the matter and a senior Trump administration official said. The Big Ten ultimately sourced the tests from a private company instead, the officials said.”

Mercury News: USC, UCLA band together to get clarity on lifting of restrictions in L.A. County. “An unprecedented situation called for an unusual maneuver. The athletic directors at USC and UCLA joined forces and held a joint Zoom call with Los Angeles County health officials Wednesday evening to clear a path for the football teams to begin practicing, according to sources familiar with the discussions. And it worked.”


Gothamist: Queens Yeshiva, Reportedly Shut By Mayor, Continues Holding Classes After COVID Outbreak. “A yeshiva in Queens continued holding in-person classes on Tuesday, contradicting a declaration from the Mayor’s Office that the school was shut down after more than a dozen students tested positive for coronavirus. A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bill Neidhardt, told Gothamist that the city made the decision on Monday night to shutter classes at Yeshiva Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway beginning on Tuesday.”

WTXL: 36 Leon County Schools teachers resign amid staff shortage, COVID-19 risks. “Some teachers in the Big Bend area say going back to work isn’t worth the risks involved. Leon County Schools is dealing with about 200 fewer teachers on staff this year. Teachers are taking leaves of absence, retiring, or quitting altogether.”

Slate: “It Feels Like There’s No Winning”. “Christopher Pinto is a high school math teacher at the Lamar Consolidated Independent School District outside of Houston. His school only decided to take on a hybrid model—both online and classroom education—less than a week before the fall semester started, even though it had gone fully remote in the spring. Thus, families got to choose between in-person learning and virtual, but teachers were expected to show up unless they had health issues. Pinto is immunocompromised—he has Type 1 diabetes—and applied to get a medical waiver so he could teach remotely, but he was denied. He still had some hope that the school’s hybrid approach would suit him better, since remote learning was so isolating, but it’s not normal at all. On Wednesday’s episode of What Next, I spoke with Pinto about the hybrid learning experiment being tested all over the country, and why teachers feel so alienated right now.”


People: Sociologist Says College Hookup Culture Is ‘Incompatible’ with Preventing Coronavirus. “Several universities, including the University of Georgia and University of Maryland, have put forth guidelines to curb the spread of the virus. The University of Georgia guidelines say ‘You are your safest sex partner. Practice solo sex, or limit the number of sexual partners you have.’ They also recommend hand washing, wearing masks and communicating with your partner about the risk of COVID-19, as well as consent, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.”

Chronicle of Higher Education: This Tenured Professor Said His College’s Reopening Plans Risked Deaths. That’s Now in His Personnel File.. “A tenured faculty member at Juniata College, in Pennsylvania, is facing censure after writing a comment on Facebook critical of his institution’s reopening plans in light of the pandemic. Administrators at the college placed a letter of reprimand in Douglas A. Stiffler’s personnel file after he wrote that ‘as the result of Juniata’s decision to hold classes in person, it is quite possible that people who come on to Juniata’s campus will die, as will people in town. That is what is at stake.'”

New York Times: Party Selfies and Hazmat Suits: How N.Y.’s Worst Campus Outbreak Unfolded. “It was the middle of the night when a man in a hazmat suit led a first-year student from her dormitory at SUNY Oneonta to a van as she cried quietly, a scary experience later shared on social media. She had tested positive for the coronavirus…. Those incidents seemed to highlight how SUNY Oneonta in upstate New York had seriously mishandled the pandemic, resulting in the worst outbreak of any college in New York State, with more than 670 cases, totaling about 10 percent of the campus student population.”

WRAL: N.C. State eclipses 1,000 coronavirus cases among students. “North Carolina State University confirmed on Wednesday it has had more than 1,000 of its students test positive for the coronavirus since classes began on Aug. 10. Mick Kulikowski, a spokesman for the university, said that 1,007 students have gotten the virus as of Monday.”

People: NYU Places Entire Dorm Under Mandatory Quarantine After 6 Students Test Positive for Coronavirus. “New York University has placed all residents and employees in one of its dormitories under mandatory quarantine after reporting several positive cases of the novel coronavirus. NYU officials said in an update shared on the school’s website Monday that six out of approximately 400 students living at Rubin Hall recently tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the entire dorm to go into lockdown since the weekend.”

BuzzFeed News: Class Of COVID-19: The Horrifying Sadness Of Sending My Kids To College During A Pandemic. “I have two daughters, twins. They have been and will always be the best thing my wife and I have ever done. I am so hopeful and excited for them. I am so excited to see the adults they are becoming. But I am terrified for them as well. Heading off to college mid-pandemic with no end in sight.”


New York Times: Study Raises Concerns for Pregnant Women With the Coronavirus. “Pregnant women infected with the coronavirus are more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to an intensive care unit and put on a ventilator than are infected women who are not pregnant, according to a new government analysis.”


Washington Post: ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to D.C. protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed.. “The Trump administration flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer to facilitate the rapid deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington, circumventing restrictions on the use of charter flights for employee travel, according to a current and a former U.S. official. After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died.”


TheCity NYC: WiFi Sign of the Times as New Yorkers Gather Outside Libraries for Free Internet. “One New Yorker uses the free WiFi in front of libraries to research music. Another watches movies on Netflix as she charges her computer, while a man videochats with a friend on his laptop. Across the city, people without internet service at home or with limited service on their phones huddle in front of or near some of the city’s 207 branches for access at all hours.”

Christian Science Monitor: Beyond the gallery wall: Art world retrains the public, virtually. “When a pipe burst in January at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, it caused a flood that shuttered the popular museum in Rockland for a few months. The crisis forced a deep dive into technology to keep audiences engaged – and it left the CMCA staff better prepared for the pandemic-related shutdown in mid-March. ‘The flood gave us a head start so that when COVID hit, we could respond rapidly and continue to offer the three-dimensional, virtual tours that we’d just produced,” says CMCA Executive Director Suzette McAvoy. “We’d also received some great feedback by then, so we were awarded a grant that has helped us move forward.’ As museums and art galleries look for the resources to stay open and preserve staffing, some are finding that a hybrid approach – part virtual, part in-person – is the best way to engage with the public.”

South Florida Times: Women Data Scientists Created GPS-Driven App to Help Kenya Keep Covid-19 Numbers Low. “Women in GIS Kenya (WiGISKe), a geospatial technology non-profit, partnered with the country’s Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology to create an online database and the tools to keep it updated. It tracks the number of cases, recoveries and confirmed deaths across the sub-Saharan nation, plus a tally of testing. Using cellphone GPS data based on people’s physical locations, the website creates maps that show emerging and current disease hotspots. ”


Arizona State University: COVID-19 models should take the unique conditions of sub-Saharan Africa into account. “COVID-19 models that predict the costs and benefits of lockdowns and other social distancing policies must be adapted for use in lower-income regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, according to findings by a team led by Arizona State University researchers.”

EurekAlert: Extent of India’s COVID nudge campaign revealed. “India has reported nearly five million COVID-19 cases and well over 80,000 deaths (as of 16 September 2020), making the country one of the worst hit in the world. But an even greater tragedy may have unfolded had India’s government not used nudge theory to maintain one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns in the first quarter of the year. This is the view of a new study by Ramit Debnath and Dr Ronita Bardhan from Cambridge’s Behaviour and Building Performance Group, Department of Architecture.” Never heard of nudge theory? Here’s a quick explanation.

CNBC: Eli Lilly reports a reduced rate of hospitalization for coronavirus patients using its antibody treatment. “Eli Lilly said Wednesday its antibody-based drug appears to have reduced the rate of hospitalization for coronavirus patients recently diagnosed with mild-to-moderate symptoms. The U.S. drugmaker said it tested three different doses of LY-CoV555 against a placebo in a trial enrolling roughly 450 patients. The middle dose of 2,800 mg met the trial’s target of significantly reducing the presence of SARS-CoV-2 after 11 days.”


Variety: ‘South Park’ Sets Hour-Long Pandemic Special (Watch). “In terms of the plot, viewers will see Randy comes to terms with his role in the COVID-19 outbreak as the on-going pandemic presents continued challenges to the citizens of South Park. The kids happily head back to school but nothing resembles the normal that they once knew; not their teachers, not their homeroom, not even Eric Cartman.”


Courthouse News: The Donziger Exception: How SDNY’s First Covid-Age Criminal Trial Fell Apart. “Private lawyers tapped as prosecutors asked the defendant to foot the technology bill for holding the proceedings remotely. Witnesses from around the globe prepared to testify, and attorneys from across the country worried about how to best serve their client in New York. There would have been no jury. It was supposed to have been the first criminal trial in Manhattan Federal Court for the coronavirus age, but the plan fell apart — with the man on the dock complaining about a constitutional and public-health crisis in the making.”

Slate: Trump Judge: COVID Business Closures Violate Employers’ Constitutional Rights. “On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge William S. Stickman IV, a Donald Trump appointee, blocked Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 restrictions by relying on a combination of conservative dissents, bad precedent, and his own scientific acumen. Stickman appears to be on a mission to forcibly reopen the state—prematurely, in the view of its elected governor—by any means necessary.”


WRAL: 100-year-old woman describes surviving COVID-19. “On a muggy summer day, the back door creaked as Lena May Shaw gripped her walker. Nice and easy, she stepped toward the chair under the pecan tree to tell her story. Loud and clear, she began, saying, ‘Yes sir!’ She feels alright today.”


Mother Jones: A Simple Plan to Deal with COVID-19: Free Flu Shots for All . “There is an amazingly simple and clever step that the US federal government could take to counter a possible COVID-19 surge this fall and winter: a national crash program for flu shots. So far, the Trump administration has not embarked on such a program.”


Politico: Pelosi says House will return to Washington if Covid deal reached. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that the House would return to Washington if a long-stalled coronavirus deal can be reached, although a growing number of her members say they shouldn’t leave town at all without an agreement.”

CNN: House Democrats seek information on $250 million contract on coronavirus PR campaign. “In new letters, House Democrats are demanding new documents about the Department of Health and Human Services’ $250 million contract with a marketing firm handling a campaign on coronavirus that Democrats say they want to ensure does not go to propping up the President’s reelection campaign.”

New York Times: Trump Scorns His Own Scientists Over Virus Data . “President Trump on Wednesday rejected the professional scientific conclusions of his own government about the prospects for a widely available coronavirus vaccine and the effectiveness of masks in curbing the spread of the virus as the death toll in the United States from the disease neared 200,000.”

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