Wednesday CoronaBuzz, October 7, 2020 45 pointers to new resources, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Only one part today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring? (I try not to think about it tbh.) Please wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you can. Please be careful. I love you.


CNN: White House email says ‘all contact tracing’ is complete. “The White House told staff in an email on Tuesday that it had completed ‘all contact tracing’ for positive Covid-19 cases identified at the White House, and urged anyone who hasn’t been contacted and suspects they have had contact with someone infected by the virus to reach out to the White House Medical Office.”


Columbus Dispatch: More rural Ohioans being hospitalized for coronavirus than residents of big cities. “As the coronavirus spreads throughout Ohio, it’s moving from urban to rural areas and the most-affected age groups have shifted over time. In April, 54% of virus hospitalizations were in urban areas, 26% were in suburban locations and 21% occurred in rural areas, according to new data published by the state Tuesday. As of Sept. 27, hospitalization shifted, and now 42% are occurring in rural parts of Ohio, 24% in urban areas and 34% in suburbs.”


ProPublica: Debt Collectors Have Made a Fortune This Year. Now They’re Coming for More.. “Earlier this year, the pandemic swept across the country, killing 100,000 Americans by the spring, shuttering businesses and schools, and forcing people into their homes. It was a great time to be a debt collector. In August, Encore Capital, the largest debt buyer in the country, announced that it had doubled its previous record for earnings in a quarter. It primarily had the CARES Act to thank: The bill delivered hundreds of billions of dollars worth of stimulus checks and bulked-up unemployment benefits to Americans, while easing pressures on them by halting foreclosures, evictions and student loan payments. There was no ban on collections of old credit card bills, Encore’s specialty.”

BBC: Venezuelans brave ‘brutal’ migrant route made tougher by pandemic. “Ángel García breathed heavily through his mouth as he hiked out of Pamplona, a scenic town nested in the Andes Mountains and located 2,300 meters above sea level. With his belongings stuffed into a blue back-pack and a red gym bag that hung from his right shoulder, the 21-year-old was making a 1,600km (1,000 mile) trek to the Colombian city of Cali, where he was hoping to live with a cousin and find construction work.”

Washington Post: ‘There are no words’: As coronavirus kills Indigenous elders, endangered languages face extinction. “The old man knew he was dying. The disease he’d been warning of for weeks had taken hold, and it wouldn’t be long now. He looked to his son, who would soon be the leader of what remained of their people. The old man was fluent in five languages, but the one he chose to speak now was one that virtually no one else in the world could understand.”

The Atlantic: Normalcy for Some, Apocalypse for Others. “The pandemic recession has erased trillions of dollars of economic activity and pushed the jobless rate to 8.4 percent, with one in 10 Americans currently drawing unemployment-insurance payments. But it has not been evenly distributed. Big companies and rich families have largely recovered, whereas mom-and-pops and the moms and pops who run them are living through a second Great Depression.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Health experts join global anti-lockdown movement. “Thousands of scientists and health experts have joined a global movement warning of “grave concerns” about Covid-19 lockdown policies. Nearly 6,000 experts, including dozens from the UK, say the approach is having a devastating impact on physical and mental health as well as society. They are calling for protection to be focused on the vulnerable, while healthy people get on with their lives.”


Axios: White House coronavirus outbreak reaches the press corps. “White House reporters are increasingly anxious and angry about the Trump administration’s handling of COVID-19 cases within its own building. … Several White House reporters have tested positive and many are trying to figure out whether they and their families need to quarantine.”


Washington Post: How the Cares Act poured millions into corporate hands with no strings attached. “For pipeline company Antero Midstream, a firm at the forefront of the Appalachian fracking boom, the mammoth stimulus bill known as the Cares Act delivered a quick and happy benefit: a $55 million payment from the Treasury Department. The payment came with no strings attached. And although the legislation was partly tailored to help businesses keep people employed, Antero didn’t need to agree to hire or retain any workers. It didn’t need to promise to invest in its business. And it didn’t need to pledge to meet any new regulatory standards.”

The Counter: No cold beer, no flowers, and no one to park the car: A shadow economy hits the skids as restaurant suppliers lose their jobs. “Eight million Americans are employed in restaurant-adjacent industries, from linen washers to accountants to exterminators. How are they coping now?”

Slate: Why COVID Was the Final Straw for Brooks Brothers. “The COVID pandemic and the work-from-home-in-sweatpants culture it’s accelerated tipped Brooks Brothers over a cliff. In June, Brooks announced it would close three of its factories and lay off 700 workers. In July, it filed for bankruptcy. In August, it was sold to a group known for snatching up famous but troubled brand names at bargain prices. For more than a century, Brooks Brothers defined fashion for a certain kind of East Coast American elite. It’s been the clothier to nearly every U.S. president. So how did it get here?”

New York Times: Lumberjack, Tailor, Counselor, Host: A Hotel Owner Does It All in the Pandemic. “As the head of a small business, Mr. Patel, whose family owns eight budget hotel franchises, was used to wearing multiple hats. But since March, when the long-haul drivers, families on road trips and business travelers who made up most of his clientele stopped checking in, forcing him to lay off workers and hunt for cash, Mr. Patel has become a one-man army battling for the survival of his business. Its death would be no less than the extinguishing of an American dream.”


Politico: ‘It is not acceptable’: Cuomo, de Blasio at odds as Covid surges in New York. “New York City is reliving some of the nightmares it endured earlier this spring as coronavirus cases begin to surge, and once again Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are pointing fingers and offering conflicting guidance.”

Flathead Beacon: Montana Physicians Plead for Adherence to Wearing Facemasks, Other Precautions. “Their collective plea is straightforward: wear a mask, social distance, avoid large gatherings, wash hands, stay home if you’re sick and take the virus seriously, in order to the re-flatten the curve, protect vulnerable residents and keep businesses open. That message is the same as it’s been for months, but it has grown more urgent, as demonstrated by a Sept. 30 press conference in which physicians and public-health officials stressed that public commitment to those precautions is the critical factor in controlling COVID-19 in Montana.”


Washington Post: White House event for families of deceased U.S. troops thrust into new light after admiral’s coronavirus diagnosis. “The White House’s handling of an event for the family members of deceased U.S. troops was thrust into a new light on Tuesday amid the disclosure that a Coast Guard admiral who attended has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, forcing some of the military’s top generals and admirals into quarantine. The Sept. 27 ceremony, held on Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day with dozens of people in attendance, recognized the families of 20 deceased service members, according to a copy of the event program obtained by The Washington Post.”

BBC: Coronavirus: ‘Rolling lockdowns’ will become norm in Wales. “People in Wales should “get ready” for rolling lockdowns over the winter months, Wales’ chief medical officer has said. Dr Frank Atherton said Wales could be ‘going in and out of those restrictions over the next few months’. Local lockdown areas now cover 2.3 million people living in Wales.”

NPR: CDC Acknowledges Coronavirus Can Spread Via Airborne Transmission. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says the coronavirus can be spread through airborne particles that can linger in the air ‘for minutes or even hours’ — even among people who are more than 6 feet apart.”

New York Times: White House Blocks New Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines. “The F.D.A. proposed stricter guidelines for emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine, but the White House chief of staff objected to provisions that would push approval past Election Day.”

Politico: Trump’s workplace watchdog assailed for lenient penalties on Covid safety violators. “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has received 10,485 complaints and referrals about Covid-19 risks at workplaces and closed 8,702 of them during the pandemic. But in these cases — some involving companies worth millions — the agency hasn’t proposed a single penalty greater than $30,000 for coronavirus-related risks.”

NBC News: How South Korea has eliminated coronavirus risk from foreign travelers. “Many countries have strict restrictions on American visitors, with many requiring them to spend two weeks in quarantine. South Korea was no exception: I was told I would be required to download an app at the airport and self-quarantine for two weeks on arrival. But that was just the beginning. It wasn’t until I arrived that I realized the extent of the government’s program to contain the virus.”

BBC: Covid: 16,000 coronavirus cases missed in daily figures after IT error. “A technical glitch that meant nearly 16,000 cases of coronavirus went unreported has delayed efforts to trace contacts of people who tested positive. Public Health England said 15,841 cases between 25 September and 2 October were left out of the UK daily case figures.”

BuzzFeed News: Federal Officials Now Say That Transferring Detainees Between Jails Holding Immigrants Contributed To Coronavirus Outbreaks. “Department of Homeland Security officials have acknowledged that transfers of detainees between facilities holding immigrants for ICE had ‘contributed to outbreaks’ of COVID-19 and that poor information sharing made tracking and preventing the spread of the virus more difficult, according to a draft report obtained by BuzzFeed News. The document also acknowledges that the inability for adequate social distancing within the ICE detention centers had contributed to the spread of the disease.”

Washington Post: ‘Doomed to fail’: Why a $4 trillion bailout couldn’t revive the American economy. “The U.S. response to the coronavirus has already been the costliest economic relief effort in modern history. At $4 trillion, the assortment of grants, loans and tax breaks exceeded the cost of the Afghanistan war. More than half, or $2.3 trillion, went to businesses which in many cases were not required to show they were impacted by the pandemic or keep workers employed.”

ABC News: In late-night tweets, Trump changes course on coronavirus relief talks. “In a pair of late-night tweets, President Donald Trump, changed course on negotiating coronavirus relief that he had earlier announced he was calling off until after the election.”


New York Times: Whistle-Blowing Scientist Quits Government With Final Broadside. “In a new addendum to the whistle-blower complaint he filed in May, Dr. Bright’s lawyers say officials at the National Institutes of Health, where he worked after his demotion, rejected his idea for a national coronavirus testing strategy ‘because of political considerations.’ He also accused them of ignoring his request to join the $10 billion effort to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed.”

The Guardian: Texas doctor, 28, dies of Covid: ‘She wore the same mask for weeks, if not months’. “[Adeline] Fagan is one of over 250 medical staff who died in southern and western hotspot states as the virus surged there over the summer, according to reporting by the Guardian and Kaiser Health News as part of Lost on the Frontline, a project to track every US healthcare worker death. In Texas, nine medical deaths in April soared to 33 in July, after Governor Greg Abbott hastily pushed to reopen the state for business and then reversed course.”

Slate: Stephen Miller Tests Positive for COVID-19. “Miller was part of the team preparing Donald Trump for the debate last Tuesday, and participated in mask-free prep sessions on Sunday, Sept. 27, along with former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager Bill Stepien, and presidential aide Hope Hicks, all of whom have since tested positive for COVID-19. Miller also accompanied Hicks on the Minnesota campaign trip during which she first began showing symptoms of COVID-19.”


Green Bay Press Gazette: Packers say no fans until COVID-19 rates improve. “The Green Bay Packers say fans will not be allowed into Lambeau Field for the Nov. 1 game against the Minnesota Vikings, or until future notice, for that matter. The Packers said Tuesday the level of COVID-19 cases in Brown County makes it unwise to allow people to gather, even in reduced numbers. The team said earlier this year that if fans were allowed in Lambeau Field, the number would be capped at 12,000, but did not guarantee it would be that high. Lambeau Field’s capacity is more than 81,000.”

Western Mass News: Patriots cancel practice amid reports of new positive test. “Sports Illustrated reported that reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and was added to the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. The Patriots did not give a reason for Wednesday’s cancellation and did not immediately respond when asked if it was related to a third positive test.”


New York Post: NYC to pay school bus companies $106M for COVID-19 idling. “The city will pay school bus companies $106 million for two of the months in which they stood idle during the COVID-19 shutdown, officials told The Post. And in a massive new deal, the cash-strapped city will be on the hook to pay bus companies at least 43% of their contracts through 2025 if schools close for more than five days in a row.”


LAist: SATs? Out. Pandemic Essays? In. How To Apply For College In 2020. “I spoke with close to two dozen high school counselors, principals, college advisors, admissions staff and academics to better understand how the pandemic is forcing change in the admissions process and what students, parents and school leaders should know to give all students the best possible chance at higher education. Here’s what I learned.”


AP: US medical supply chains failed, and COVID deaths followed. “The Associated Press and ‘FRONTLINE’ launched a seven-month investigation — filing Freedom of Information Act requests, testing medical masks, interviewing dozens of experts from hard-hit hospitals to the White House — to understand what was behind these critical shortages. Medical supply chains that span oceans and continents are the fragile lifelines between raw materials and manufacturers overseas, and health care workers on COVID-19 front lines in the U.S. As link after link broke, the system fell apart.”

New York Times: Nearly One-Third of Covid-19 Patients in Study Had Altered Mental State. “Nearly a third of hospitalized Covid-19 patients experienced some type of altered mental function — ranging from confusion to delirium to unresponsiveness — in the largest study to date of neurological symptoms among coronavirus patients in an American hospital system.”

SF Gate: The upcoming nitrile glove shortage could be way worse than the mask shortage. “In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, a nitrile glove shortage may not seem as dire as a mask shortage. After all, no virus can ‘drill through the skin on your hand,’ and masks are still the best safety precaution for most people. However, these gloves are still a necessity for medical professionals, tattoo artists, food servers, and mechanics. Plus, they have various at-home uses including gardening, cleaning, and safety precautions for the immunocompromised. Right now, our supplies are dwindling — and the United States currently has no domestic manufacturers.”

EurekAlert: Study finds older persons underrepresented in COVID-19 treatment and vaccine trials. “A study published [September 28] in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine revealed that older persons are highly likely to be excluded from the majority of COVID-19 trials that seek to establish effective treatments, as well as find a preventive vaccine. This is despite the fact that older persons are overwhelmingly impacted by COVID-19. Globally persons 65 and older make up nine percent of the population, yet account for 30 – 40 percent of COVID-19 cases and 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths.”

Washington Post: The Health 202: Genetic tracing could show how coronavirus spread through White House. “The Trump administration could, if it chose, search samples taken from dozens of White House staff members and visitors for tiny genetic variants. Because the virus undergoes slight changes as it moves from person to person, it’s possible to map where it has moved by looking for similarities in mutations. White House spokesman Judd Deere said tracing has been done for people who had contact with Trump. But it’s the kind recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which involves merely tracking people who were nearby those known to be infected.”


The Independent: At least 30 of 41 choir members contract coronavirus after indoor rehearsal. “At least 30 out of 41 members of a gospel choir in Spain have contracted Covid-19 after they rehearsed indoors in a space with little air circulation, the chorus and local authorities have said. The River Troupe Gospel, a volunteer group, rehearsed on 11 September ahead of an open-air performance two days later for a local festival in Sallent, a town in the province of Barcelona.”


KOAA: Colorado to work with Google, Apple on COVID-19 exposure app. “The release of a mobile application that would notify Colorado residents if they were close to a person who tested positive for COVID-19 has been delayed so state officials can work with Google and Apple. Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said at the beginning of September that the Exposure Notification Express application would be available by the end of the month, the Denver Post reported. It is now unclear when the app would be available for use.”


Princeton University: Research shows conversation quickly spreads droplets more than six feet 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.”

University of Arizona: Pain Relief Caused by SARS-CoV-2 Infection May Help Explain COVID-19 Spread. “SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can relieve pain, according to a new study by University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers. The finding may explain why nearly half of all people who get COVID-19 experience few or no symptoms, even though they are able to spread the disease, according to the study’s corresponding author Rajesh Khanna, PhD, a professor in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Pharmacology.”


The Marshall Project: Thousands of Sick Federal Prisoners Sought Compassionate Release. 98 Percent Were Denied.. “Of the 10,940 federal prisoners who applied for compassionate release from March through May, wardens approved 156. Some wardens, including those at Seagoville in Texas and Oakdale in Louisiana, did not respond to any request in that time frame, according to the data, while others responded only to deny them all.”


Washington Post: A covid-19 diagnosis, texts suggesting infidelity roil pivotal N.C. Senate race. “On Thursday night, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham bumped elbows at their final debate in the contentious North Carolina race that could determine which party controls the Senate. Not 24 hours later, both candidates’ lives — and possibly the fate of the upper chamber — were upended, as Tillis tested positive for the novel coronavirus and Cunningham acknowledged sending illicit texts to a woman who is not his wife.” We did not need a John Edwards Lite. Sigh.

ABC News: Trump has taken pains to hide medical record, equating sickness with weakness: Critics. “When presidential physician Dr. Sean Conley appeared before a national television audience over the weekend and offered scarce and, at times, misleading details about his novel coronavirus infection, he became only the latest participant in Trump’s concerted effort to maintain his image of health.”

Washington Post: For Boris Johnson, catching covid-19 was sobering. Less so for Trump.. “President Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have prompted many comparisons over the years: as populists, as politicians who aren’t afraid to offend, as people who play fast and loose with the facts. Now, they are a pair of world leaders with personal experience of the coronavirus.”

Politico: A new challenge for transition planners: Building a government over Zoom. “High-level meetings interrupted by crying children. A presidential nominee taking diligent notes as he receives a virtual policy briefing at home. Advisers who have never met in person working to put together a federal government. This is what presidential transition planning looks like in the age of Zoom.”

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