Tuesday CoronaBuzz, September 22, 2020: 29 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.


Texas State Library and Archives Commission: Texas State Library and Archives Commission Launches Texas Free WiFi Map. “This interactive online map provides up-to-date location information for public drive-up WiFi hotspots provided by Texas libraries, schools, and nonprofits. The Texas Free WiFi Map is searchable, zoomable, and perfect for educators and students, as well as members of the general public requiring internet access for activities such as accessing library services, skill and workforce development, online job and government applications, virtual court appearances, WiFi-based telephone calls, research, business development and more. It provides site-specific login instructions for users.”

Washington State Department of Commerce: State launches interactive data tool to help leaders plan and track recovery efforts across regions, sectors and demographics. “[Lisa] Brown and Chris Green, Assistant Director of Economic Development and Competitiveness at Commerce, today unveiled the state’s new Economic Recovery Dashboard, a unique tool for analyzing and visualizing data from public and private organizations to reliably examine the impact of COVID-19 on the state’s economy. The dashboard details, on regional, demographic and industry sector levels, numerous metrics that could help guide state and local leaders as they chart a path to an equitable, statewide economic recovery.”

State of New York: NYSOFA Launches Tool to Help Older NYers Guard Against C19. “The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), in partnership with BellAge, Inc., and the Association on Aging in New York (AgingNY) has announced the launch of CV19 CheckUp in New York State, a free, anonymous, personalized online tool that evaluates an individual’s risks associated with COVID-19 based on their life situation and individual behavior and provides recommendations and resources to reduce those risks.”


Mashable: The practical guide to mid-pandemic sex, because abstinence isn’t cutting it. “It is, of course, true that solo play or virtual sex are the safest routes right now, but for many that simply is not a realistic or sustainable solution. Telling sexual adults to not have sex at a time when we’re not only socially isolated but also increasingly anxious and depressed is only going to result in shame — and perhaps even drive people to engage in riskier behavior if they feel the need to be dishonest for fear of ‘being found out.'”

Mic: How to focus during a pandemic, according to someone with ADHD. “Do you think you’re likely to finish reading this entire article in one sitting? Or is it, maybe, going to be opened in a new tab to save for later, when you feel better able to focus? If that’s the case, maybe just admit that it’s going to tab graveyard. We’re now six months into a pandemic, and understandably, our brains are fried. There are lots of reasons for this: Stress and trauma, which all of us are going through, have an incredible impact on brain chemistry, due to the high levels of cortisol (your body’s stress hormone) produced over time.”


Washington Post: CDC reverses itself and says guidelines it posted on coronavirus airborne transmission were wrong. “On Monday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention edited its Web page describing how the novel coronavirus spreads, removing recently added language saying it was ‘possible’ that it spreads via airborne transmission. It was the third major revision to CDC information or guidelines published since May. The agency had posted information Friday stating the virus can transmit over a distance beyond six feet, suggesting that indoor ventilation is key to protecting against a virus that has now killed nearly 200,000 Americans.”

Kurdistan 24: COVID-19: Iraq records 70 deaths and 3,821 infections in 24 hours. “The health ministry’s statement said that it had conducted 19,756 tests during that period, making for a total of 2,076,844 tests carried out since the beginning of the epidemic in Iraq. According to the health figures, the number of infections in Iraq has reached 322,856 confirmed cases, including 258,075 recoveries and 8,625 deaths.”


WRAL: Pandemic could eliminate aspects of daily routine forever. “More than six months after the first coronavirus case was diagnosed in North Carolina, the pandemic continues to disrupt and reshape daily life. From work to eating to shopping, experts say the impact will likely last even after the virus is under control.”

MIT Technology Review: Letter-writing staved off lockdown loneliness. Now it’s getting out the vote.. “Of course, there’s nothing new about writing letters. But a combination of social distancing measures and a volatile political year has made the traditional act of putting pen to paper suddenly more attractive than just shooting an email or an emoji-filled text. Beyond Instagram-fueled social projects for people in quarantine, letter writing has become a form of retro-political activism to help get out the vote.”

Washington Post: Nearly 200,000 deaths, millions of ripples. Each covid-19 fatality shifts attitudes about the virus.. “The novel coronavirus claimed Cleon Boyd. Then, six days later, it took his identical twin brother, Leon. As they lay dying, the disease cascaded through their family, eventually infecting 11 of their immediate relatives. The Boyd family’s harrowing experience rippled through the towns where they lived and worked, sharply altering attitudes toward the coronavirus and spreading adoption of social distancing and face coverings.”


National Geographic: How libraries are writing a new chapter during the pandemic. “AMERICANS’ LOVE AFFAIR with libraries has only grown during the pandemic—and so has their book borrowing. According to OverDrive, which libraries use to loan out digital material, weekly e-book lending across the United States has increased nearly 50 percent since March 9, even as some libraries remain physically closed. Libraries today not only provide free access to books, they also serve as contemporary community centers with shelter from the elements, accessible loos, and—usually—free Wi-Fi.”

Washington Post: College newspaper reporters are the journalism heroes for the pandemic era. “In New York, it was the Washington Square News that first reported a covid-19 outbreak in a college dorm. In Gainesville, Fla., the Alligator is the newspaper that has been painstakingly updating a map of local cases. And the Daily Gamecock alerted the public to the ways that University of South Carolina officials were withholding information about covid-19 clusters. While the pandemic economy has devastated the local news business, there remains a cadre of small newspapers that are more energized than ever, producing essential work from the center of the nation’s newest coronavirus hot spots.”


Philadelphia Inquirer: Sonoma’s wineries embrace online sales, budget pricing to woo pandemic drinkers. “In the Sonoma Valley, home to 60,000 acres of grapes and 400 wineries, the pandemic has disrupted a 150-year-old supply chain. Grape growers that once focused on selling to high-end wineries are lowering their prices and supplying cheaper brands. Wineries that can no longer count on tourist visits are replacing in-person events with online campaigns. Restaurants that boasted expansive wine lists now tout their to-go cups.”

Christian Science Monitor: Once struggling, Britain’s corner shops give comfort to UK shoppers. “For many years, there has been real concern that the heart and soul of Britain’s traditional towns and villages have been disappearing. Superstores expanded into almost every neighborhood, competing heavily on price and offering the convenience of everything under one roof. Now, the pandemic has shoppers abandoning the big supermarkets and out-of-town stores that had come to dominate the British retail landscape. And Dunorlan Park Stores is one of thousands of corner shops and independent stores that saw an overall 63% surge in trade at the peak of the lockdown in the United Kingdom, according to analyst firm Kantar. The question plaguing the big, billion-dollar grocers such as Tesco and Asda is whether this abrupt change might become permanent.”

Los Angeles Times: ‘Tsunami’ of hotel closures is coming, experts warn. “The Luxe Rodeo Drive is the first high-end hotel in the Los Angeles area to go out of business because of the pandemic, and industry experts point to an unusually high loan delinquency rate among hotel borrowers as a sign that more closures are likely to follow. ‘We know there is a tsunami outside. We know it’s going to hit the beach. We just don’t know when,’ said Donald Wise, a commercial real estate expert and co-founder and senior managing director at Turnbull Capital Group.”

Phys .org: How employers can soften the blow of furloughs and layoffs. “‘Softening the blow: Incorporating employee perceptions of justice into best practices for layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic’ suggests behavior-based policies leaders can apply when implementing furloughs or layoffs. Co-authors Isabel Bilotta, Shannon Cheng, Linnea Ng, Abby Corrington, Ivy Watson, Eden King and Mikki Hebl drew on previous research about perceptions of fairness to develop the recommendations.”


KTLA: California is pausing unemployment claims for 2 weeks. “Officials say California will not accept new unemployment claims for the next two weeks as the state works to prevent fraud and reduce a backlog as more than 2 million people are out of work statewide during the coronavirus pandemic.”


BBC: Coronavirus: ‘We’ve reached a perilous turning point’, says Boris Johnson. “The UK has reached ‘a perilous turning point’, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as he set out a raft of new coronavirus restrictions for England which could last for up to six months. Shop staff will have to wear face masks and weddings will be limited to a maximum of 15 people, under the rules. Fines for breaking laws on gatherings and not wearing a mask will increase to £200 for a first offence.”

Washington Post: Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks and swabs to make jet engine parts and body armor. “A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used to make things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms. The change illustrates how one taxpayer-backed effort to battle the novel coronavirus, which has killed about 200,000 Americans, was instead diverted toward patching up longstanding perceived gaps in military supplies.”


Daily Beast: A Notorious COVID Troll Actually Works for Dr. Fauci’s Agency. “The managing editor of the prominent conservative website RedState has spent months trashing U.S. officials tasked with combating COVID-19, dubbing White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci a ‘mask nazi,’ and intimating that government officials responsible for the pandemic response should be executed. But that writer, who goes by the pseudonym ‘streiff,’ isn’t just another political blogger. The Daily Beast has discovered that he actually works in the public affairs shop of the very agency that Fauci leads.”

New York Times: In ‘Power Grab,’ Health Secretary Azar Asserts Authority Over F.D.A.. “In a stunning declaration of authority, Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, this week barred the nation’s health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, from signing any new rules regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines.”


WTMJ: More than 276 teachers at Kenosha Unified School District call in sick Monday, schools move to virtual learning. “Several schools at Kenosha Unified School District are switching to virtual learning this week due to a ‘surge in employee absences.’ According to a district spokesperson, more than 276 teachers called in sick on Monday.”


Science Blog: Do-It-Yourself COVID-19 Vaccines Fraught With Public Health Problems. “As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the globe, several citizen science groups outside the auspices of the pharmaceutical industry have been working to develop and self-test unproven medical interventions to combat COVID-19. Although some of the interest in a DIY approach stems from the idea that self-experimentation can’t be regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other public health authorities, that belief is legally and factually incorrect, said Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois.”

CalTech: As Pandemic Progressed, People’s Perceived Risks Went Up. “In the first week of the coronavirus pandemic, people living in the United States underestimated their chances of catching the virus, or of getting seriously ill from the virus, according to a recently published Caltech-led study. But as the days progressed, those same people became more worried about their personal risk, and, as a result, began to increase protective behaviors such as washing hands and social distancing.”


Technology Times Pakistan: PPE Designers Redefine Masks During A COVID-19 Pandemic. “Experts say that PPE like masks is critical for slowing the spread of Covid-19. But for much of the pandemic, high-quality PPE has been in short supply for medical workers. Meanwhile, PPE available to the public has been of variable quality, with users complaining that cheap cloth masks, although widely available and recommended by public health agencies, are uncomfortable, hamper social interactions, and have limited effectiveness. Those issues have spurred new innovation, as inventors strive to make PPE cheaper, safer, more comfortable, and more accessible – and, in many cases, may see opportunities to turn a profit while doing so.”


NiemanLab: For COVID-19, as with everything else, Americans on the right and left live in different universes when it comes to trusting the media. “In the Nieman Lab universe, one of the core Ur-texts — alongside You’re probably going to need a paywall to survive, Information inequality is increasing, and There aren’t enough philanthropists to pay for all of local news — is Perceptions of the news media in the United States are radically and increasingly polarized by ideology. We’ve written about a gazillion studies, reports, and papers that reach a version of that conclusion. And here’s another one, with an international twist.”

Phys .org: The impact of human mobility on disease spread. “In a paper publishing on Tuesday in the SIAM Journal of Applied Mathematics, Daozhou Gao of Shanghai Normal University investigated the way in which human dispersal affects disease control and total extent of an infection’s spread. Few previous studies have explored the impact of human movement on infection size or disease prevalence—defined as the proportion of individuals in a population that are infected with a specific pathogen—in different regions. This area of research is especially pertinent during severe disease outbreaks, when governing leaders may dramatically reduce human mobility by closing borders and restricting travel. During these times, it is essential to understand how limiting people’s movements affects the spread of disease.”


Duluth News-Tribune: ‘Armed citizens’ confront Minnesota health workers during COVID-19 testing. “A team of state and federal health workers was recently confronted by armed residents while conducting random coronavirus testing in communities across Minnesota. ‘The incident was unfortunate,’ said Julie Bartkey, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Health. ‘The team did the right thing by leaving and notifying their study site coordinator of the situation.'”

New York Times: In South Korea, Covid-19 Comes With Another Risk: Online Bullies. “The scandal that riveted South Korea’s online busybodies began when Kim Ji-seon checked into a beachside condominium in February. A 29-year-old office worker planning a June wedding, she had nothing more salacious in mind than meeting with members of her church to organize a youth program. Then Ms. Kim tested positive for the coronavirus — and the details of her life became grist for South Korea’s growing culture of cyberbullying and misinformation, a phenomenon that has complicated the country’s widely praised digital effort to find those infected with the coronavirus.”

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