Tuesday CoronaBuzz, September 29, 2020: 46 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.


Cullman Times: State creates new website to help families. “Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced the creation of Alabama Family Central a comprehensive, easy-to-use web and mobile destination that offers parents and families, guardians, teachers and caregivers a one-stop connection to programs and services in Alabama. Information on childcare, education, family services and health services can all be found here.”

MissouriNet: Missouri revamps COVID-19 dashboard features. “The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced Monday that it launched a new set of COVID-19 dashboards. The agency says the overhaul showcases health information as well as economic and social impact data.”


Seattle Times: If you absolutely have to fly, here’s how to minimize risks of coronavirus. “There are reasons some people might still need to get on a plane, like caring for a family member in a medical emergency, or relocating for a new job. A recent study showed how the novel coronavirus had spread on two international flights earlier this year. But both incidents took place before airlines implemented mandatory mask-wearing. Traveling by plane is likely safer now — but not without risks. If you absolutely have to fly, here are tips from experts on how to do it as safely as possible.”

Feel a bit weird posting this, as I’m a prude. BUT IT’S IMPORTANT FOR YOUR HEALTH. MindBodyGreen: Your Full Guide To Virtual Sex: 23 Ways To Try It, Risks & Expert Tips. “Having sex using your phone, computer, or other technology with someone you may or may not know is a lot less taboo than it used to be. From sending a nude Snapchat photo to having phone sex to masturbating with your partner on video chat, here’s a crash course on what virtual sex is and how to have it safely.”

Washington Post: Some covid-19 rule-breakers could be narcissists, experts say. Here’s how to approach them.. “This unwillingness to follow pandemic guidelines, despite the fact that health experts and scientific data support their efficacy, has become a widespread issue in the United States, and reflects its reputation as a society with higher levels of attitudes associated with narcissism, said Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor at California State University at Los Angeles.”

Fast Company: This site has over a dozen free tools to keep you from burning out. “When you’re working from home, it’s all too easy to develop some bad habits. Maybe you’re staring at the screen for too long without interruption, or hunching over your laptop with little regard for posture. Or perhaps you’re just working too much in the first place. A new website called Working Den wants to help with all that, offering a free suite of tools that promote a healthier remote work routine. ”


BBC: Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 death toll passes one million. “The number of people worldwide who have died from Covid-19 has passed one million, researchers say, with many regions still reporting surging numbers of new infections. According to a tally by Johns Hopkins University the death toll now stands at 1,000,555. The US, Brazil and India make up nearly half of that total.”

CNET: LA Comic Con 2020 is going ahead despite coronavirus concerns. “Despite San Diego Comic-Con going virtual in July, Los Angeles Comic Con has announced it intends to open its doors in December. ‘Over the past six months, we’ve been struggling with a very important question: “Should we even ATTEMPT to have LA Comic-Con in 2020?”‘ Chris DeMoulin, general manager of LA Comic Con, wrote in a statement Sunday (via Los Angeles Daily News).” I suspect they will get pushback such that the event will be cancelled.

Orlando Sentinel: 202 more Florida residents dead from coronavirus; number of infections passes 690K. “Florida added 2,590 coronavirus cases Wednesday to push the statewide total to 690,499 infected. With 202 new virus fatalities reported statewide, 13,618 Florida residents are now dead. Each report includes deaths from several previous days, as it can take two weeks or more for fatalities to be logged.”

ABC 4 Utah: 827 new cases, no new deaths, state announces new website features for school cases. “On Monday, Sept. 28, the Utah Department of Health reported a daily total of 827 additional cases of COVID-19 and no deaths. The state has announced new features to the state website to track what is happening in schools, you can watch the video below to see the new items. Including a new school tab with searchable case information by districts.”


VOX EU: The US excess mortality rate from COVID-19 is substantially worse than Europe’s. “The US has 4% of the world’s population but 21% of the global COVID-19-attributed infections and deaths. This column shows that when comparing excess mortality rates, a more robust way of reporting on pandemic deaths, Europe’s cumulative excess mortality rate from March to July is 28% lower than the US rate, contradicting the Trump administration’s claim that Europe’s rate is 33% higher. The US Northeast – the region most comparable with individual European countries – has experienced substantially worse excess mortality than Europe’s worst-affected countries. Had the US kept its excess mortality rate down to the level in Europe, around 57,800 American lives would have been saved. ”

TheStreet: Former CDC Director on How to Combat Fake News About COVID-19. “Fake news has become more and more of an issue in recent times, and this includes Facebook posts around how COVID-19 is spread, misleading information about the death count and more. And with all of this information, how can both the mainstream media and public health officials counter misinformation for fake news especially the stories that could put lives at risk?”


Los Angeles Times: In Arizona, voter outreach groups become lifelines for people hit by COVID-19. “Advocacy groups returning to face-to-face outreach are finding a landscape changed by the coronavirus, and they have become lifelines, through food banks or passing along contacts for organizations that help with rent or utility bills. But often, canvassers said, people just want to be heard.”

HuffPost: Getting COVID-19 Is Putting Americans On The Brink Of Economic Crisis. “Contracting COVID-19 is putting already financially stressed Americans on the brink of economic disaster. And the rest of the country isn’t that far behind. Of the Americans who’ve contracted COVID-19, 63% are facing serious financial problems, according to a survey released Wednesday morning from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.”


New York Times: The Metropolitan Opera Won’t Reopen for Another Year. “The Metropolitan Opera announced Wednesday that the still-untamed coronavirus pandemic has forced it to cancel its entire 2020-21 season, prolonging one of the gravest crises it has faced in its 137-year history and keeping it dark until next September.”


CBS 17: More than 600 COVID-related complaints from NC received by OSHA in last 4 months. “More than one third of those complaints filed between May 11 and Sept. 17 came in the employers in manufacturing industry — a broad classification that also includes the state’s poultry-processing plants — with another 15 percent coming in health care and social assistance, according to data collected from OSHA and posted online by Strike Wave, a publication that covers labor issues.”

Washington Post: Top CEOs call for ‘major’ coronavirus stimulus to keep economy from backsliding. “Roughly 1 in 4 chief executives of some of the nation’s largest companies say their businesses have recovered or will have by year end, despite the lingering ill effects of the coronavirus recession, according to a survey. But the economy remains fragile, they say, and the federal government must provide ‘further major support’ to ensure it does not backslide.”

Bloomberg: New York Region Sees 40% Bankruptcy Surge, Braces for More. “The pandemic has battered New York City businesses, with almost 6,000 closures, a jump of about 40% in bankruptcy filings across the region and shuttered storefronts in the business districts of all five boroughs. It’s going to get worse.”


WLRN: Florida’s Hunt For Chinese Communist Ties Comes Up Empty-Handed. “Instead of finding communists, the state effort gave many Floridians a scare that the state was engaging in the kind of political fear mongering and list-making that marked the darkest days of the Cold War, according to responses reviewed by WLRN. The move was a stroke in Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis’ campaign to assign blame for the COVID-19 pandemic to China. The letters were signed by him, and recipients were further asked to confirm whether they represent ‘U.S. Interests’ or not.”


New York Times: Behind the White House Effort to Pressure the C.D.C. on School Openings. ” Top White House officials pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer to downplay the risk of sending children back to school, a strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic, according to documents and interviews with current and former government officials. As part of their behind-the-scenes effort, White House officials also tried to circumvent the C.D.C. in a search for alternate data showing that the pandemic was weakening and posed little danger to children.”

BBC: Coronavirus: New rules in Netherlands to cope with virus surge. “Many residents in the Netherlands will for the first time be advised to wear a face mask in shops as the country introduces a range of measures to control a second coronavirus wave. Compared to its neighbours, the Netherlands had largely avoided strict restrictions until now. This week nearly 3,000 infections daily are being recorded in the nation of 17 million people.”

The Hill: Despair at CDC after Trump influence: ‘I have never seen morale this low’. “The Trump administration’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent efforts to meddle with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are taking a substantial toll on the nation’s foremost public health institution. In interviews with half a dozen current and former CDC officials, they described a workforce that has seen its expertise questioned, its findings overturned for political purposes and its effectiveness in combating the pandemic undermined by partisan actors in Washington.”


NBC News: Romanian villagers re-elect mayor who died from Covid-19. “Romanian villagers have re-elected their mayor by a landslide even though he died two weeks ago from Covid-19 complications, saying he had done a good job and deserved his posthumous victory. A video shared on social media showed dozens of villagers visiting the grave of Ion Aliman, a Social Democrat, to light candles after voting had ended in Sunday’s local elections.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Parson, his wife test positive for COVID-19; governor postpones travel, debate. “Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday he and his wife, Teresa, have tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting both to isolate from the public and postpone several events, including a ceremonial bill signing in St. Louis and a widely anticipated debate with Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway.”

Mother Jones: Dr. Fauci Pushes Back on Rand Paul’s Pseudoscience. “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggested at Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the federal pandemic response that shutdowns did not curb the spread of the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci wasn’t having it.”

American Independent: CDC director contradicts Trump: 90% of Americans ‘still susceptible’ to coronavirus. “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield testified on Wednesday that ‘more than 90% of the population’ in the United States is ‘still susceptible’ to the COVID-19 virus. Redfield cited an ongoing study across the country, which he said he expects to be published soon. His comments are in stark contrast to those of Donald Trump, who has continued to push for the country to reopen despite the rising death toll of the virus, which has claimed over 200,000 lives.”


BBC: The pandemic is fuelling a surfing boom – in Ohio corn country. “With holidays to beachside destinations scuttled by the pandemic, adventure seekers in America’s Midwest are hitting their local waterways, writes Stephen Starr. In any year but this, landlocked Ohioans would descend in their thousands on the beaches of the Florida panhandle and the Carolinas for summer vacation. The pandemic, unsurprisingly, has changed all that.”

NY Daily News: Tennessee Titans facilities shut down after 3 players, 5 staffers test positive for coronavirus. “The Tennessee Titans are being forced to shut down their facilities after three players and five staff members tested positive for COVID-19. ‘On Tuesday morning, the Titans COVID testing results returned three new player positives and five new personnel positives,’ the NFL said in a statement. ‘The Titans will suspend in-person club activities starting today. Likewise, the Vikings, who played the Titans on Sunday, will also suspend in-person club activities.'”


THV11: Over 3,600 COVID-19 cases reported in Arkansas public schools. “Reports show that the highest number of COVID-19 cases in public schools come from Springdale and Fort Smith School Districts in northwest Arkansas. Fort Smith leads with 151 cases, followed by Springdale with 135. The Little Rock School District comes in third with only 92 cases. The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville also reported an extremely high total of cases with 1,786, which is over half of the state’s total COVID-19 cases in colleges and universities.”

Washington Post: Feared coronavirus outbreaks in schools yet to arrive, early data shows. “Thousands of students and teachers have become sick with the coronavirus since schools began opening last month, but public health experts have found little evidence that the virus is spreading inside buildings, and the rates of infection are far below what is found in the surrounding communities. This early evidence, experts say, suggests that opening schools may not be as risky as many have feared and could guide administrators as they chart the rest of what is already an unprecedented school year.”

ProPublica: The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning. “I have chosen to tell the story of Shemar’s remote-learning difficulties, with his family’s permission, because it was his plight that alerted me to the fact that remote learning was proving disastrous. As the spring went on, I grew increasingly distressed by the lack of public alarm over students like Shemar, who were sitting in countless dark rooms, safe from COVID-19, perhaps, but adrift and alone. Society’s attention to them has always been spotty, but they had at least been visible — one saw them on the way to school, in their blue or burgundy uniforms, or in the park and the playground afterward. Now they were behind closed doors, and so were we, with full license to turn inward. While we dutifully stayed home to flatten the curve, children like Shemar were invisible.”


NBC 10 Boston: Here Are All of the Coronavirus Outbreaks at Colleges in New England. “Classes are now underway at many New England colleges, and problems have begun cropping up on local campuses as students fail to abide by restrictions put in place by administrators as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Schools in Boston and throughout the region have seemed to fare better than many in other parts of U.S., but there have still been some issues reported, including several in the last few days alone. According to a New York Times database, there are now more than 1,500 coronavirus cases at colleges and universities across New England.”

Miami Herald: Cops break up huge party of over 1,000 people at off-campus housing at FSU. “A large gathering, with more than 1,000 people, was shut down by cops late Saturday night near Florida State University in Tallahassee. The party was at an off campus apartment complex called Tenn Street Apartments that saw at least 700 cars parked in the area, blocking travel lanes, cops said. The Tallahassee Police Department said that this bash was just one of a dozen large social events they broke up over the weekend, read a Facebook post from the agency.”


GQ: Doctors Tell Me I Have COVID. Why Won’t the Tests?. “The sheer scale of the pandemic—and the volume of testing—means that there are far more false negatives occurring than we think. ‘Even if a test were 98% sensitive and 99% specific,’ warned a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, ‘it would still produce a false negative result in 2 of every 100 people infected. If we test 5 million Americans daily and only 1% of them have COVID-19, a total of 1000 positive cases will be missed, which increases the risk of spread.’ And as we know, one missed infection—and the false sense of confidence created by a false negative—can create a chain of transmission that snares dozens of people.”

The Washington Post: Massive genetic study shows coronavirus mutating and potentially evolving amid rapid U.S. spread. “Coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 are relatively stable as viruses go, because they have a proofreading mechanism as they replicate. But every mutation is a roll of the dice, and with transmission so widespread in the United States — which continues to see tens of thousands of new, confirmed infections daily — the virus has had abundant opportunities to change, potentially with troublesome consequences, said study author James Musser of Houston Methodist Hospital.”

MIT Technology Review: A city in Brazil where covid-19 ran amok may be a ‘sentinel’ for the rest of the world. “What happens when a major city allows the coronavirus to rage unchecked? If the Brazilian city of Manaus is any answer, it means about two-thirds of the population could get infected and one person in 500 could die before the epidemic winds down.” Please read the next article.

Reuters: In Brazil’s Amazon a COVID-19 resurgence dashes herd immunity hopes. “The largest city in Brazil’s Amazon has closed bars and river beaches to contain a fresh surge of coronavirus cases, a trend that may dash theories that Manaus was one of the world’s first places to reach collective, or herd, immunity. When a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, its spread becomes unlikely. University of Sao Paulo researchers suggested that a drastic fall in COVID-19 deaths in Manaus pointed to collective immunity at work, but they also believe that antibodies to the disease after infection may not last more than a few months.”

Michigan Health: 1 in 3 Parents Plan to Skip Flu Shots for Their Kids During COVID-19 Pandemic. “The pandemic doesn’t seem to be changing parents’ minds about the importance of the flu vaccine. It could be a double whammy flu season this year as the nation already faces a viral deadly disease with nearly twin symptoms. And while public health experts have emphasized the importance of people of all ages receiving seasonal flu vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents may not be getting that message.”


EurekAlert: App analyzes coronavirus genome on a smartphone. “A new mobile app has made it possible to analyse the genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on a smartphone in less than half an hour. Cutting-edge nanopore devices have enabled scientists to read or ‘sequence’ the genetic material in a biological sample outside a laboratory, however analysing the raw data has still required access to high-end computing power – until now.”

Mashable: Twitter encourages mask-wearing with hidden emoji Easter egg. “Basically, for any tweets that contain the hashtag #WearAMask (like the one above), users will be met with an animated mask emoji when hitting the like button — it just pops up for a second, then disappears and becomes a regular like. The feature is live now in the U.S., but doesn’t appear to work in other countries like the UK — Mashable has reached out to Twitter for clarification.”


Phys .org: Digital technologies will help build resilient communities after the coronavirus pandemic. “Amid the horrific public health and economic fallout from a fast-moving pandemic, a more positive phenomenon is playing out: COVID-19 has provided opportunities to businesses, universities and communities to become hothouses of innovation. Around the world, digital technologies are driving high-impact interventions. Community and public health leaders are handling time-sensitive tasks and meeting pressing needs with technologies that are affordable and inclusive, and don’t require much technical knowledge.”

EurekAlert: Conversation quickly spreads droplets inside buildings. “With implications for the transmission of diseases like COVID-19, researchers have found that ordinary conversation creates a conical ‘jet-like’ airflow that quickly carries a spray of tiny droplets from a speaker’s mouth across meters of an interior space.”


Daily Beast: Seattle Entrepreneur Investigated for Selling Bogus, $400 COVID Vaccine: Feds. “A Seattle entrepreneur is under federal investigation for allegedly claiming he’d manufactured a vaccine for the coronavirus—and selling it for $400 a pop. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched an investigation into Johnny Stine, the 56-year-old founder and president of North Coast Biologics, a Seattle biotech company with a focus on antibodies, after he touted the bogus vaccine on social media, according to a 40-page search warrant application obtained by The Daily Beast.”


AP: Pandemic overwhelms Trump’s message in critical N. Carolina. “In one of the nation’s most consequential swing states, Trump’s push to inject new dynamics into the final weeks of the 2020 election is being overshadowed by the frightening realities of everyday life during a pandemic. Trump and his allies hope the escalating Supreme Court nomination fight will help unify a fractured Republican Party that has lost its grip on college-educated suburban voters, particularly white women. But for many, the coronavirus and the related economic challenges are much more pressing issues.”

Politico: Pelosi and Mnuchin make one final attempt at Covid talks before elections. “Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke Monday evening, according to Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesman, and they plan to speak again Tuesday morning. If no agreement seems likely — and it hasn’t been despite months of on-and-off negotiations — Pelosi and House Democratic leaders will hold a vote on their own $2.2 trillion bill as soon as Wednesday and then go home, guaranteeing that Congress won’t send more help until after Election Day, said the sources.”

The Daily Iowan: Iowa candidates in competitive seats navigate campaigning during COVID-19. “Republican and Democratic candidates for the U.S. House and Senate in Iowa are navigating a new culture of campaigning in contentious races many election experts consider to be toss ups. These candidates, in races crucial to their party’s efforts to either hold or flip a seat, are pushing their messages through social media, Zoom rallies, and socially distanced events.”

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