Monday CoronaBuzz, September 28, 2020: 30 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.


USA Today: A new database tracks COVID-19’s effects on sex and gender. “Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, details about the virus’ sex and gender implications have begun to emerge: More men than women are dying from the coronavirus. But other details — such as why, or what social or biological mechanisms are involved, or what that means for treatment or public health — remain unknown. One problem, experts say, is an international blind spot to sex and gender. Global disease surveillance systems have done a poor job of monitoring how the virus affects people of different gender identities or sexes. A new database is trying to address that.”

EurekAlert: Web resources bring new insight into COVID-19. “Researchers around the world are a step closer to a better understanding of the intricacies of COVID-19 thanks to two new web resources developed by investigators at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of California San Diego. The resources are freely available through the Signaling Pathways Project (Baylor) and the Network Data Exchange (UCSD).”


Poynter: The sheer amount of misinformation is forcing fact-checkers to collaborate. “This week a study by the Oxford Internet Institute showed that only 1% of a sample of YouTube videos spreading COVID-19 misinformation received a fact-checking label when recirculated on Facebook. The study authors concluded that Facebook’s Third Party Fact-Checking program may be overmatched by the sheer amount of false information on YouTube and Facebook. (Full disclosure: Facebook requires that its fact-checking partners are verified signatories to International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles).


STAT News: The Road Ahead: Charting the coronavirus pandemic over the next 12 months — and beyond. “In this project, STAT describes 30 key moments, possible turning points that could steer the pandemic onto a different course or barometers for how the virus is reshaping our lives, from rituals like Halloween and the Super Bowl, to what school could look like, to just how long we might be incorporating precautions into our routines. This road map is informed by insights from more than three dozen experts, including Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates, people on the frontlines at schools and hospitals, as well as STAT reporters. It largely focuses on the U.S.”

NPR: CDC’s Halloween Guidelines Warn Against Typical Trick-Or-Treating. “In a year that’s been plenty scary, this much is clear: Pandemic Halloween will be different than regular Halloween. Many traditional ways of celebrating are now considerably more frightful than usual, because now they bring the risk of spreading the coronavirus. Accordingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidelines on how to celebrate Halloween safely. No big surprise: Classic door-to-door trick-or-treating and crowded, boozy costume parties are not recommended.”


Times of India: As a circus goes online, clown pines for hugs and selfie requests. “The last time Biju Pushkaran had whistled at a girl, she had shown him her slipper and soon, they were married. Many years later, young girls would whistle at this shy Malayali widower and smother him with hugs as they took selfies. Such unsolicited proximity used to make Pushkaran -the painted face of Rambo Circus- uncomfortable but the lockdown turned the joke on the joker.”

CNBC: Virus disrupting Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival for the first time in a century. “A cloud of uncertainty that has hung over Rio de Janeiro throughout the coronavirus pandemic has been lifted, but gloom remains — the annual Carnival parade of flamboyant samba schools won’t be held in February. And while the decision is being characterized as a postponement of the event, no new date has been set.”


CNET: The American RV industry fell off a cliff, but now it’s bouncing back. “America is in a pretty rough place right now, both financially and from a public health standpoint, but that isn’t stopping people from going out and buying or renting RVs and undertaking their great American road trip. According to a report published Tuesday by Reuters, the RV industry is seeing a dramatic increase in sales after the initial plummet at the start of the COVID-19 crisis — aka the mythical V-shaped recovery. Why, though? It’s not as though new RVs are cheap.”

Barron’s: The Pandemic Has Swelled the Ranks of Zombie Companies. Here’s How to Recognize Them.. “With Halloween near, investors need to keep an eye out for zombies. The pandemic has boosted the number of zombie companies—unprofitable, cash-poor firms that rely on financial markets to cover their costs—reports money manager Principal Global Investors. In the first quarter, Principal found 18% of companies in the Bloomberg Total Return Index couldn’t cover interest costs with the previous year’s pretax earnings, up from a little more than 10% a year ago.”

BBC: Nike expects permanent shift to online sales. “Sportswear firm Nike has seen a huge rise in online sales as it bounces back from a coronavirus slump. The US company saw digital sales rocket 82% during the June to August quarter, offsetting falling revenue in its stores.”


Route Fifty: Local Officials Say They Need More Time to Spend CARES Act Money, as Future Aid Remains in Doubt. “Local officials say a looming end-of-year deadline for their governments to use hundreds of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus aid could force them to unnecessarily rush spending over the coming three months and will limit them from spreading the money into next year when the virus is likely to still be a threat. It would be immensely helpful, they say, if the federal government pushed the cutoff date to use the money from Dec. 30, out into 2021.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia to gradually resume Umra pilgrimage. “Saudi Arabia is to gradually resume a Muslim pilgrimage which has been suspended for seven months because of the coronavirus pandemic. From 4 October, up to 6,000 Saudi citizens and residents will be allowed to undertake the Umra each day. Pilgrims from countries deemed safe will be permitted from 1 November, when the daily capacity will rise to 20,000.”

American Independent: More than 1 million US citizens might never get virus relief checks. “Millions of Americans have been left out to dry when it comes to obtaining coronavirus relief money, and among the hardest hit are U.S. citizens with undocumented spouses. A Monday report by the United States Government Accountability Office indicated that 8.7 million or more Americans had not yet received their stimulus checks during the coronavirus pandemic. At least 1.2 million Americans with undocumented spouses likely never will.”

New York Times: Despite Claims, Trump Rarely Uses Wartime Law in Battle Against Covid. “President Trump has sweeping powers to compel companies to produce protective gear and to guarantee that the federal government will pay them for it — and as his election campaign intensifies, he has been boasting about aggressively using them. But in fact, most of his administration’s use of that authority, granted under the Cold-War Defense Production Act, has had nothing to do with the pandemic.”

Ubergizmo: Finland Deploys COVID-19 Sniffer Dogs At The Airport. “We’ve all seen how dogs are deployed at checkpoints along the border or at airports to help sniff out drugs and other illegal substances that people should not be bringing into a country, but could sniffer dogs also be used to sniff out diseases in people, like the coronavirus? Apparently so, or that’s what Finnish researchers believe.” There’s already been quite a bit of research done into dogs sniffing out coronavirus.


BBC: Gordi: The pop star doctor who answered the Covid call. “Singer-songwriter Gordi thinks it’s ‘incredibly selfish’ not to wear a face mask during the coronavirus pandemic. As a practising doctor in hospitals around the state of Victoria – the current “epicentre of Covid in Australia” – she’s perhaps more qualified than most musicians to talk on the topic.”

CNN: A ‘distressed’ Birx questions how long she can remain on White House task force, sources say. “Once a fixture at the administration’s coronavirus briefings, Dr. Deborah Birx has confided to aides and friends that she has become so unhappy with what she sees as her diminished role as coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force that she is not certain how much longer she can serve in her position, sources familiar with her thinking tell CNN.”


HuffPost: U.S. COVID Deaths Are Set To Blow Past Trump’s Own Targets. “On April 10, President Donald Trump gave somber remarks on COVID-19, which by then had been spreading in the U.S. for months. He cited models that it would kill as many as 220,000 Americans ― although he predicted ‘substantially’ below 100,000 ― and said ‘our people had to be extremely strong and brave to be able to put up with what they’ve put up with.’ Five months later, the nation is hurting even more.”

Slate: What Keeps an Immunization Expert Up at Night. “Dr. Paul Offit has a role in the race to get a vaccine to market. Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and serves on the vaccine advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration. On What Next TBD, I spoke with him about the vaccine development process, how to restore Americans’ trust in science, and why the vaccine won’t be a miracle cure.”

NiemanLab: “‘Warp speed’ was an unfortunate term”: With Covid-19, vaccine messaging faces an unprecedented test. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a problem: A new vaccine could save lives and end a viral epidemic that had infected millions of Americans. The immunization was safe, effective, and widely available. Most insurance companies planned to cover it. But few people were taking it. That epidemic was human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that sometimes causes cervical cancer and other serious conditions.”

Poynter: When can we expect a vaccine for children, an important step in the fight against COVID-19?. “As I read the CDC’s new playbook for how to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine, one thing is missing from the plan: how we will vaccinate children. The plan, understandably prioritizes seniors, health care workers, people with medical vulnerabilities, people in jails, homeless shelters and other at-risk populations. The first priority group also includes daycare workers and school teachers, but does not mention the students, except for college students. There are reasons for this.”

New Zealand Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus: Hundreds of women desperate after endometriosis treatment cancelled. “Endometriosis New Zealand chief executive Deborah Bush said that during the seven-week lockdown alone the organisation received cries for help from 568 women, far more than usual, with some suicidal because they were struggling to deal with their condition.”

Washington Post: Rising coronavirus case numbers in many states spur warning of autumn surge. “Twenty-seven states and Puerto Rico have shown an increase in the seven-day average of new confirmed cases since the final week of August, according to The Post’s analysis of public health data. Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Utah set record highs [September 21] for seven-day averages.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Madrid at serious risk without tougher rules, minister warns. “Madrid is again at the epicentre of Spain’s coronavirus outbreak, as it was during the first peak earlier this year. The country recorded a further 12,272 cases on Friday, bringing the official total to 716,481, the highest infection tally in western Europe. Spain and many other countries in the northern hemisphere have seen a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks.”


Vox: The pandemic is speeding up the space internet race. “In vast swaths of the United States and the world, there are millions of people who don’t have reliable internet access. These unconnected people aren’t just in far-flung places like rural America or New Zealand or sub-Saharan Africa, either. There are plenty of people living in dense city centers who struggle to access affordable broadband. The pandemic has brought new urgency to the problem, and while companies like Google and Facebook have floated far-out ideas for solving this problem, the internet technology that’s most promising is also the one that’s already proven: satellite broadband.”

Mike Shouts: Not A Joke: This Helmet With HEPA Filters Is A Real Product Money Can Buy. “Well, what do I know? I thought the spherical helmet conceptualized by art collective Plastique Fantastique in response to the pandemic was not something to be taken seriously. But then this happen: AIR by MicroClimate.”


EurekAlert: Comparing face coverings in controlling expired particles. “Without a mask, talking (reading a passage of text) gave off about 10 times more particles than simple breathing. Forced coughing produced a variable amount of particles. One of the volunteers in the study was a superemitter who consistently produced nearly 100 times as many particles as the others when coughing. In all the test scenarios, surgical and N95 masks blocked as much as 90 percent of particles, compared to not wearing a mask. Face coverings also reduced airborne particles from the superemitter.” Wear ya mask.

Reuters: J&J kicks off study of single-shot COVID-19 vaccine in 60,000 volunteers. “Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N on Wednesday began a 60,000-person trial of an experimental single-shot COVID-19 vaccine that, if proven effective, could simplify distribution of millions of doses compared with leading rivals requiring two doses.”


Richmond Times-Dispatch: Ten inmates at Deerfield Correctional Center now dead from COVID-19. “Ten inmates with COVID-19 at the Deerfield Correctional Center have now died. The rural Southside prison holds many elderly and otherwise vulnerable inmates. With 925 inmates, Deerfield has an assisted living unit and infirmary and holds many of the state prison system’s elderly and medically impaired offenders. Many of the inmates at Deerfield sleep in dormitories, making social distancing difficult if not impossible.”


Washington Post: Yes, airborne transmission is happening. The CDC needs to set the record straight.. “The science here is fairly straightforward. When you talk or sing — or even just breathe — you emit a range of particles of different sizes. Yes, there might be one or two particles that are large enough to see and that fall to the ground within six feet, but there are also thousands of particles that are smaller than five microns (or five millionths of a meter). Such particles stay aloft for minutes to hours and can travel all the way across a room on natural air currents. They don’t stop at six feet. They will stay in the air in the room until they are pushed outdoors by ventilation, trapped on a filter if you have one, or deposited in your lungs. More importantly, among particles that stay in the air long enough to be inhaled, those smaller than five microns actually carry more virus than the larger ones, counterintuitively.”

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