Thursday CoronaBuzz, October 1, 2020: 44 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.


FE News: NEU launches interactive School Covid Map website. (This is for schools in England.) “Updated weekly, the data will show the number of Covid-19 cases in a school’s surrounding area, the trend since last week (an increase or decrease in case numbers), whether or not the school is on a watchlist, and links to any local restrictions in place.”


ABC News: New York City’s daily positivity rate tops 3% amid ‘alarming increase’ in COVID-19 cases. “New York City reported its highest daily positivity rate since June on Tuesday, the same day elementary schools started welcoming students back in person and a day before restaurants began indoor dining.”


New York Times: Study Finds ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation: Trump. “Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump. That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world.”


New York Times: Pandemic Baking Just Got Weirder. “Back in March, when isolation and homebound boredom were novelties, many Americans fashioned themselves into folksy sourdough bakers. Come June, making bread loaves, cookies and cakes took on new urgency, as professionals banded together to raise funds for organizations that support and defend Black lives. All the while, many artists and amateur bakers had been creating confections at home, not out of practicality or as part of a campaign, but for art’s sake. Their cakes, which draw on the absurdist Jell-O mold tradition of 1950s homemakers and revel in gross-out palettes, reflect ideas about gender, power and respectability.”

Washington Post: Public records requests fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic. “With most government employees still working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, the disclosure of public records by many federal agencies and local government offices nationwide has worsened or even ground to a halt…. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which provides legal support for journalists, has catalogued more than 130 instances in which state and local officials in 39 states and the District of Columbia cited the pandemic as a reason to curtail access to public records.”

BBC: Coronavirus risks ‘greatest surge in child marriages in 25 years. “The coronavirus pandemic could lead to a spike in child marriages globally, reversing 25 years of progress on ending the practice, a charity has warned. Save the Children said Covid-19 had put 2.5 million more girls at risk of early marriage by 2025. The pandemic is increasing poverty, forcing girls out of school and into work or marriage, the charity said.”

NBC News: California Latinas saw their pay gap widen for a decade. Then came coronavirus.. “In California, nearly 30 percent of Latinas lost their jobs in the first months of the pandemic compared to 9 percent of white women. The numbers are even higher for Latinas without legal status (over 36 percent), according to a new report published Thursday by Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, (HOPE) a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization.”

New York Times: Elderly and Homeless: America’s Next Housing Crisis. “Miles Oliver’s troubles began in April, when he had to choose between making his monthly car payment and paying his rent. He chose the car, based on a logical calculation: Without a car, he couldn’t drive to work, meaning no money for rent regardless. Oliver came to Arizona from Chicago more than 30 years ago as an Army recruit at Fort Huachuca, the storied military post wedged into shrublands in the southeastern part of the state, just a 15-mile hike from the Mexico border. He grew to love Arizona — the dry air, the seemingly endless sunshine, the sense of possibility for someone looking for a new start. He moved to Phoenix and built a life for himself there. Now it was all falling apart.”

Washington Post: The covid-19 recession is the most unequal in modern U.S. history. “Job losses from the pandemic overwhelmingly affected low-wage, minority workers most. Seven months into the recovery, Black women, Black men and mothers of school-age children are taking the longest time to regain their employment.”


Bloomberg: One Day, Thousands of Job Cuts: Economic Pain Is Deepening. “In one of the biggest layoff announcements since the pandemic caused widespread economic shutdowns, Walt Disney Co. said late Tuesday that it’s slashing 28,000 workers in its slumping U.S. resort business. In the hours that followed, the pace of job cuts at some of the world’s biggest companies — across in a range of industries from energy to finance — quickened. On Wednesday, Allstate Corp., the fourth-largest car insurer in the U.S., said it will cut 3,800 jobs, roughly 8% of its workforce. And Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. plans to cut roughly 400 jobs after temporarily suspending job reductions at the beginning of the crisis.”

The Conversation: How to prevent disruptions in food supply chains after COVID-19. “Almost all businesses involved in the food supply chain have experienced effects ranging from a mild shock to severe disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and further disruptions may be ahead during the second wave. Yet not all organizations have learned critical lessons, and history shows us some companies are destined to remain unprepared for the next waves.”

The Verge: The Mask Barons Of Etsy. “Between April and June, shoppers purchased $346 million worth of masks from Etsy stores, more than 5 percent of which would be pocketed by Etsy itself. It was an enormous surge for the site. Masks accounted for more than one out of every 10 dollars spent on the platform that quarter. For sellers, it was also a huge opportunity: a lucrative new market that existing shops hadn’t cornered. There was money to be made for anyone who wanted it — and for those who already knew the ins and outs of manufacturing, there was a lot of it.”


Dezeen: Outdoor dining on New York City streets becomes permanent. “New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has made the Open Restaurants Program, which allows restaurants in the city to extend seating onto streets, sidewalks and public spaces, permanent following the coronavirus pandemic.”


CNN: Not a ‘good look’: White House fight over masks signaled Covid-19 plans running awry. “The first masks arrived on the White House grounds in February by special order of the National Security Council, mobilizing early on to address the emerging threat of the coming coronavirus. Job One in their emergency response was to take personal precautions, preparing for the critical work at hand, multiple officials tell CNN. But word that some NSC staffers were being told to wear masks quickly made its way back to the West Wing and it wasn’t long before a sharp dictum came down.”

ABC News: CDC slowing pace on releasing new coronavirus health guidance. “For the last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stopped issuing new health information related to the novel coronavirus after altering the procedure by which that information was being shared with the American people, sources with direct knowledge of the change told ABC News.”

New York Times: White House Blocked C.D.C. Order to Keep Cruise Ships Docked. “The White House has blocked a new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February, a step that would have displeased the politically powerful tourism industry in the crucial swing state of Florida.”

Minneapolis StarTribune: COVID-19 surveys halted in Minnesota amid racism, intimidation. “A door-to-door COVID-19 testing survey has been halted due to multiple incidents in greater Minnesota of residents intimidating and shouting racial and ethnic slurs at state and federal public health survey teams.”

CNN: Task force continues to urge mask usage in states without mask mandates. “The White House coronavirus task force continues to issue recommendations to states via weekly reports, this week again strongly recommending mask usage in some states that still do not have statewide mask mandates.”


Groupmuse: Introducing: The Groupmuse Foundation. “The Groupmuse PBC is a squad of millennial cultural activists — no one on the team is older than 40. We’ve got the energy, the tech-savvy, and the fresh thinking to build something unprecedented. But we don’t need to erase the old to create the new. We need to honor and make space for all the work that has been done by those that came before us. Classical music has always been supported by patrons and communities who understand there are some things that are too important to be buffeted by economic forces, and that is what The Groupmuse Foundation is ultimately about.”

Mother Jones: A Real Estate Firm Co-Owned by Jared Kushner Is Looking to Profit From the Pandemic. “At the start of the pandemic, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser pushed the view that the media were hyping the threat of the virus to damage the president. Still, he promoted a national testing system—with drive-through sites and a website (similar to one created by a business he was linked to)—that never came to be. Kushner pulled together a secretive shadow task force with members drawn from the private sector, and he recruited volunteers from investment and consulting firms to hand out government contracts for desperately needed medical equipment—and generally botched the job.”

NBC Montana: Birx ‘deeply concerned’ about Montana, encourages action now. “In a one-one-one interview with NBC Montana, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said she’s deeply concerned about Montana heading into the winter months.”

CNN: Trump has lost patience with CDC head after series of mixed messages. “President Donald Trump has lost patience with the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, as well as with the other public health experts on his coronavirus team because their sober messaging on the future of the pandemic clashes with his rosy assessments. Trump believes that breakthroughs are not coming swiftly enough, according to people familiar with the President’s thinking. Trump’s frustrations have caused some to question whether Redfield is on the chopping block, but a Trump adviser said they did not expect the President to make major staffing changes before the election.”


Minneapolis StarTribune: 175 COVID-19 cases linked to University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus in September. “The increasing spread of COVID-19 was reflected Friday in newly reported infections at the University of Minnesota and another 1,191 cases statewide confirmed by diagnostic testing. The Minnesota Department of Health reported a total of 94,189 infections with the novel corona­virus that causes COVID-19, and 1,994 deaths from the infectious disease.”


Slate: How the 6-Feet Rule Can Lead Us Astray. “The original definition for close contact was basically a good guess, made at the beginning of the pandemic, with the understanding that the virus spread via relatively large particles. Helpfully, our understanding of how the virus makes its way from one person to the next has evolved since. It turns out that large virus-containing particles, the kind that usually don’t travel more than a few feet and don’t linger in the air, aren’t the only particles that an infected person expels as they breathe, talk, and cough. They also emit smaller particles that remain airborne for minutes to hours.”

Washington Post: These laboratory-made antibodies are a best bet for a coronavirus treatment, but there won’t be enough. “Predictions about coronavirus vaccines have become almost deafening in recent weeks, but whether or not the first doses of a vaccine arrive this year, some people will continue to get sick. A medication that could prevent people from progressing to the point that they need a hospital bed or ventilator could be a bridge to a vaccine, or it could be the lifeline that could give people confidence to return to normal life even once vaccines are developed.”

ProPublica: How to Tell a Political Stunt From a Real Vaccine. “There is a small chance that Pfizer’s vaccine trial will yield results by Nov. 3. But it could still take weeks for FDA review. Here’s everything that has to happen and how to tell a political stunt from a real vaccine.”

BBC: Covid: Vaccine will ‘not return life to normal in spring’. “Even an effective coronavirus vaccine will not return life to normal in spring, a group of leading scientists has warned. A vaccine is often seen as the holy grail that will end the pandemic. But a report, from researchers brought together by the Royal Society, said we needed to be ‘realistic’ about what a vaccine could achieve and when.”

New York Times: Huge Study of Coronavirus Cases in India Offers Some Surprises to Scientists. “With 1.3 billion people jostling for space, India has always been a hospitable environment for infectious diseases of every kind. And the coronavirus has proved to be no exception: The country now has more than six million cases, second only to the United States. An ambitious study of nearly 85,000 of those cases and nearly 600,000 of their contacts, published Wednesday in the journal Science, offers important insights not just for India, but for other low- and middle-income countries.”

The Atlantic: This Overlooked Variable Is the Key to the Pandemic. “By now many people have heard about R0—the basic reproductive number of a pathogen, a measure of its contagiousness on average. But unless you’ve been reading scientific journals, you’re less likely to have encountered k, the measure of its dispersion. The definition of k is a mouthful, but it’s simply a way of asking whether a virus spreads in a steady manner or in big bursts, whereby one person infects many, all at once. After nine months of collecting epidemiological data, we know that this is an overdispersed pathogen, meaning that it tends to spread in clusters, but this knowledge has not yet fully entered our way of thinking about the pandemic—or our preventive practices.”


Riverfront Times: Veterans’ Home Recently Visited by Governor Parson Has Outbreak of COVID-19. “A veterans home visited two weeks ago by Missouri Governor Mike Parson is dealing with a major COVID-19 outbreak, according to a news report. The Missouri Veterans Home in Mount Vernon has had 31 of its 150 residents test positive for the virus, ABC affiliate KODE-TV reported. Parson visited the home on September 15, meeting with staff. The next day, he mentioned the visit during a news briefing.” Parson and his wife have both recently tested positive for coronavirus. Spokespeople have denied a connection between his status and this visit.


The Register: UK privacy watchdog confirms probe into NHS England COVID-19 app after complaints of spammy emails, texts. “Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed it is investigating grumbles about heavy-handed marketing emails and texts promoting the NHS COVID-19 contact-tracing app in England. Between 26 and 27 September, NHS Test and Trace messaged anyone resident in the country who was over the age of 16 and had previously provided their contact details to a GP. Those contacted had not specifically opted in to receive marketing communications regarding the NHS COVID-19 app.”


CBS News: Moderna CEO says its coronavirus vaccine won’t be ready until spring of next year. “Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said Wednesday that his company’s coronavirus vaccine won’t be ready for widespread public distribution until spring of next year, according to a report. The drugmaker also won’t seek emergency authorization for the vaccine for frontline medical workers and other at-risk individuals until November 25 at the earliest, he told the Financial Times.”

MarketWatch: FDA broadens U.S. safety inquiry into AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, report says. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has widened its investigation into AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine study, according to a report, raising the prospect of further delays. AstraZeneca and its partner, the University of Oxford, voluntarily paused its Phase 3 vaccine study worldwide on Sept. 9, after a volunteer in the U.K. developed an ‘unexplained illness.'”

Reuters: Trump-touted hydroxychloroquine shows no benefit in COVID-19 prevention: study. “A malaria drug taken by U.S. President Donald Trump to prevent COVID-19 did not show any benefit versus placebo in reducing coronavirus infection among healthcare workers, according to clinical trial results published on Wednesday. The study largely confirms results from a clinical trial in June that showed hydroxychloroquine was ineffective in preventing infection among people exposed to the new coronavirus.”

Cath Lab Digest: Neandertal Gene Variant Increases Risk of Severe COVID-19. “A study published in Nature shows that a segment of DNA that causes their carriers to have an up to three times higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neandertals. The study was conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.”

PNAS: Speech can produce jet-like transport relevant to asymptomatic spreading of virus. “Medical reports and news sources raise the possibility that flows created during breathing, speaking, laughing, singing, or exercise could be the means by which asymptomatic individuals contribute to spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We use experiments and simulations to quantify how exhaled air is transported in speech. Phonetic characteristics introduce complexity to the airflow dynamics and plosive sounds, such as ‘P,’ produce intense vortical structures that behave like ‘puffs’ and rapidly reach 1 m. However, speech, corresponding to a train of such puffs, creates a conical, turbulent, jet-like flow and easily produces directed transport over 2 m in 30 s of conversation. This work should inform public health guidance for risk reduction and mitigation strategies of airborne pathogen transmission.”


CNN: Superintendent, ex-medical director at veterans home face criminal charges after deadly Covid-19 outbreak. “The superintendent and former medical director of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home face criminal charges in connection with a Covid-19 outbreak at the veteran’s home earlier this year, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said Friday.”

CBC: Ontario police used COVID-19 database illegally, civil rights groups find. “Police forces across Ontario engaged in broad, illegal searches of a now-defunct COVID-19 database, two civil rights groups alleged Wednesday, claiming the use of the portal violated individual privacy rights for months. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) said in separate reports that many services used the database to look at COVID-19 test results for wide geographic areas and sometimes pulled up personal information unrelated to active calls.”

Reason: Federal Prosecutors Argue COVID-19 Is Just ‘One More Way to Perish in Prison’. “Federal prosecutors unsuccessfully tried to argue this week that an 80-year-old inmate serving a life sentence for marijuana offenses shouldn’t be released because COVID-19 is just “one more way to perish in prison.” U.S. District Judge Donald Graham disagreed and ordered Atilano Dominguez, who was 27 years into his life sentence, to be released from federal prison on Tuesday, over the objections of the Miami U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).”

BetaNews: Fraudsters target account takeovers during the pandemic. “Attempted account takeovers grew by 282 percent over the last year, while ATO rates for physical eCommerce businesses — those that sell physical goods online — have jumped 378 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Q3 2020 Digital Trust and Safety Index released today by Sift finds that between Q2 2019 and Q2 2020, ATO attacks happened in discrete waves about a week apart, indicating that fraudsters are turning to bots and automation in order to overwhelm security.”


USA Today: COVID-19 ravaged meat plants: My refugee mother’s life is worth more than the bottom line. “The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited JBS last month for failing to protect its employees in Greeley, Colorado, from being exposed to COVID-19. The company’s negligence cost one corporate employee and six workers at the plant their lives, including my mom, Tin Aye. Another 290 workers have confirmed positive cases as of mid-September. JBS denies it did anything wrong, but my mother, who worked for JBS for 12 years, was almost certainly exposed to COVID-19 in the Greeley meat packing plant, where she worked long, hard hours to keep America’s grocery stores well-stocked, and an endless supply of meat available for summer grilling. It made me sick to hear OSHA only fined JBS $15,615, the maximum allowed. That’s less than $3,000 per death. My mom’s life is only worth $2,230?”


The Conversation: Existing political tensions intensify during pandemic: a ‘glocal’ observation. “Tensions have been rising between the Indonesian central government and the Jakarta administration over differences in dealing with the pandemic, leading to confusion and concerns about scattered strategies in mitigating the crisis…. Why do jurisdiction tensions – in this Indonesian case, between the president and Jakarta governor – happen in such a crisis? We argue that existing political tensions (either latent or open) are often intensified during crises and disasters.”

Los Angeles Times: ‘I really don’t think he has done a great job’: COVID-19 puts Florida at risk for Trump. “Priscilla Skalka figured Donald Trump’s experience as a businessman would serve him well as president, so the Florida retiree voted for him. Four years later, she’s convinced he lacks what it takes to run the country. The pandemic has upended Skalka’s life, first with depression as it kept family away, then with a terrifying case of COVID-19 that put her in intensive care at a St. Petersburg hospital. She believes Trump failed to take the threat seriously early on.”

The Lantern: College Republicans, Democrats Campaign For November Election During Pandemic. “In the middle of a notorious swing state, Ohio State is a breeding ground for young leaders from across the political spectrum. The university’s chapters of College Democrats and College Republicans are fighting for party wins in Ohio despite restrictions on in-person meetings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

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