Thursday CoronaBuzz, October 8, 2020 38 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.


ABC News: 34 people connected to White House, more than previously known, infected by coronavirus: Internal FEMA memo. “The coronavirus outbreak has infected ’34 White House staffers and other contacts’ in recent days, according to an internal government memo, an indication that the disease has spread among more people than previously known in the seat of American government.”

CNN: No masks and no back up measures: How the White House became ripe for an outbreak. “While aides took steps to keep Trump from catching coronavirus, the White House’s ultimate failure and the ensuing West Wing outbreak can be tied to an over-reliance on rapid coronavirus testing and disregard for the most basic and effective public health measures that have become second nature to most Americans: wearing a mask and social distancing.”


CNN: Stubbornly high: Unemployment benefits remain four-times pre-pandemic level. “The pace of America’s jobs recovery continues to slow. Another 840,000 workers filed for initial unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. That was down from 849,000 in the previous week, but more than economists had expected.”


WTVB: Exclusive: U.S. traffic deaths fell after coronavirus lockdown, but drivers got riskier. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found the fatality rate jumped to 1.42 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the three months ending June 30, the highest since 2005. At the same time, overall traffic deaths fell by 3.3% to 8,870 while U.S. driving fell by about 26%, or 302 fewer over the same period in 2019, according to the report reviewed by Reuters.”

Washington Post: The pandemic has devastated downtown D.C. Some fear the damage is permanent.. “In downtown Washington, formerly a textbook case of a reborn city center, the coronavirus has flatlined almost every measure of vitality. About 95 percent of downtown’s 167,000 office workers — a mix of federal employees, lawyers, lobbyists, consultants, advocates and journalists — were working from home this summer, according to a recent report from the DowntownDC Business Improvement District.”

New York Times: The Virus Sent Droves to a Small Town. Suddenly, It’s Not So Small.. “Mr. Bushee is one of the half-dozen or so people who run the town of Winhall, with a year-round population, before Covid-19, of 769. He is a cranky dude. That is his brand. At the entrance to his compound, above the sign that warns his fellow residents that they cannot enter after 3:50 NO EXCEPTION, he has affixed a demented-looking baby doll, blank-eyed and with one hand replaced by a plastic fork.”

Morning Consult: Millennials Were Already Putting Off Having Children. Then the Pandemic Hit.. “According to a new Morning Consult survey, 17 percent of 572 millennials (those ages 24 to 39) who don’t have children said they would further delay having them because of the pandemic, and 15 percent said they are less interested in having children at all because of COVID-19. Only 7 percent of this group said they are more interested in having children due to the pandemic.”

ABC News: COVID-19 pandemic amplifying voter disenfranchisement. “As COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact minorities, some experts warn the pandemic may make it even harder for certain groups to vote in the upcoming election.”

New York Times: ‘We’re at War’: New York City Faces a Financial Abyss. “The unemployment rate in New York City is 16 percent, twice as high as the rest of the country. Personal income tax revenue is expected to drop by $2 billion this fiscal year. Only a third of hotel rooms are occupied, and apartment vacancies in Manhattan have hit a peak. New York, more than any large city in the world, has been forced to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak’s dual paths of devastation: The virus has killed 24,000 people in the city and has sapped it of hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue.”

Cosmopolitan: People are reminiscing on all the gross stuff we did before coronavirus. “It goes without saying that coronavirus has changed, well, pretty much everything. Some of the changes are obvious (e.g. the restricted socialising, people very sadly losing loved ones and the pandemic’s impact on mental health), others less so. But now a new Twitter thread has served up some nostalgic reminders of all the (honestly) gross habits many of us had before COVID-19 hit.”

Boston Globe: ‘I fell for what Trump was saying’: Workers sound off on virus, uncertainty about economic aid. “With President Trump calling for a new economic stimulus package to be put off until after the election, millions of unemployed Americans and hard-hit businesses may have to wait until after Election Day, or possibly next year, to find out if their rapidly dwindling benefits will be extended. Although the president backtracked via Twitter on Tuesday night, seeming to support another round of stimulus checks and aid for small businesses and airlines, his message wasn’t reassuring.”


CNN: Prestigious medical journal calls for US leadership to be voted out over Covid-19 failure. “In an unprecedented move, the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday published an editorial written by its editors condemning the Trump administration for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic — and calling for the current leadership in the United States to be voted out of office.”

Washington Post: A pandemic-era ode to every tourist’s guilty pleasure: The gift shop. “Gift shops are the dessert at the end of any tour, gallery or attraction, sometimes better than the exhibits themselves. Do I want to visit Baltimore’s Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum? Of course. But do I want a ‘Masque of the Red Death face mask’ from the Poe House gift shop? Be still my telltale heart — yes! Right now, of course, I can only do one of those things and when it comes to future travels, my outlook is far less sunny than that of Mr. Poe. The evil twins, pandemic and penury, have turned my Bucket List into a Shot Glass List.”


News Center Maine: 400+ Baileyville mill workers tested for COVID-19 after cases found among out-of-state contractors . “More than 400 employees at the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville are being tested for COVID-19 after at least seven out-of-state contractors tested positive for the virus. Mill officials were notified of the positive cases Tuesday after the workers from a New York company were among at least 600 subcontractors brought in for routine maintenance to the facility last week.”

BBC: Mirfield: Face mask cameras installed at garden centre. “A garden centre has employed mask recognition technology to help stop customers entering without coverings. Whiteley’s Garden Centre at Mirfield, West Yorkshire, has installed cameras linked to software at the entrance point to spot anyone without a mask.”

Politico: No forgiveness: Small businesses still on hook for rescue loans. “When the government pledged to give small businesses billions of dollars in rescue loans during the pandemic, it was an offer almost too good to refuse: The loans could be forgiven if employers only maintained payroll. In little more than four months, the Paycheck Protection Program doled out $525 billion in loans to 5.2 million borrowers, which economists estimate saved millions of jobs. But to date, none of the loans have been forgiven.”

WSOC: Mooresville-based Lowe’s giving hourly workers another $100M in bonuses. “A news release from the Mooresville-based company said all full-time hourly workers will get $300, and part-time and seasonal employees will receive $150 on Oct. 16. The bonuses total $100 million and will affect hourly workers at Lowe’s stores, distribution centers and store support centers, the company said.”


Phys .org: Government in a pandemic: How coronavirus caused a dramatic shift in our relationship with the state. “As we head into the colder months, the increased threat of a second spike in the pandemic has forced the UK government to reintroduce new restrictive measures, including targeted local lockdowns, new rules (‘of six’) and early pub closures. At the same time, compliance is fraying. One of the deeper issues with the government restrictions, which has less often been discussed, is a moral one. It concerns the level of control we grant to the government over our individual healthcare decisions.”


Washington Post: Millions brace for more layoffs, hunger and utility shutoffs as stimulus talks break down. “Americans left in the lurch by President Trump’s sudden decision to abandon negotiations over a long-delayed stimulus package expressed disbelief, disgust and desperation Wednesday about Trump’s abrupt move. In interviews with The Washington Post, more than a dozen unemployed workers and struggling business owners affected by the move said that while they are familiar with Washington dysfunction, they are stunned by the latest decision by Trump and Republicans to break discussions off.”

Business Insider: The Houses of Parliament’s bars will no longer be exempt from the UK’s 10pm coronavirus drinking curfew following public outcry. “Bars inside the UK’s Houses of Parliament will no longer be exempted from strict new coronavirus restrictions requiring licensed premises to close at 10pm, following public outcry about the decision. Boris Johnson announced earlier this month that all bars and restaurants in England would have to close their doors at 10pm in a bid to halt the current second wave of infections spreading across the country.”

BBC: Covid-19: New restrictions to be announced for parts of England ‘within days’ – Jenrick. “New measures to tackle coronavirus are to be announced ‘in the coming days’, a minister says, after the BBC was told pubs and restaurants could be closed in the worst-affected areas of England. There could also be a ban on overnight stays away from home in the locations – which include the North and Midlands.”


CNN: Marine Corps assistant commandant tests positive for Covid-19. “Gen. Gary L. Thomas, the assistant commandant of the US Marine Corps, has tested positive for Covid-19, the Marine Corps said in a statement Wednesday. As CNN previously reported, Thomas had been in self-quarantine since Tuesday, after being notified he had been in close contact with a person who later tested positive for the virus.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Back from brink of death, Mark DeSaulnier is ready to work and run again. “It was March 13. The Democrat was being rushed to a hospital in the nation’s capital, where he would be put on a ventilator as he battled pneumonia and a virulent infection. He suffered a mild heart attack and faced multiple organ failure. Doctors at one point gave him a 10% chance of surviving. But survive he did.”

Washington Post: I couldn’t sit idly and watch people die from Trump’s chaotic, politicized pandemic response, so I resigned. This is an editorial from Rick Bright. “Public health guidance on the pandemic response, drafted by career scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been repeatedly overruled by political staff appointed by the Trump administration. Career scientists throughout the Department of Health and Human Services hesitate to push back when science runs counter to the administration’s unrealistically optimistic pronouncements. Public health and safety have been jeopardized by the administration’s hostility to the truth and by its politicization of the pandemic response, undoubtedly leading to tens of thousands of preventable deaths. For that reason, and because the administration has in effect barred me from working to fight the pandemic, I resigned on Tuesday from the National Institutes of Health.”


ProPublica: The Federal Government Promised Native American Students Computers and Internet. Many Are Still Waiting.. “Computer shortages have raised nationwide concerns about educational inequities, which are amplified in tribal communities that resisted the Bureau of Indian Education’s desire for in-person instruction in an effort to control rising cases of COVID-19. The inability to attend classes in person, coupled with the bureau’s delay in distributing emergency CARES Act funding, forced some students attending the federally-operated schools to start the new year the same way the last one ended, working on paper packets from home while getting little instruction from their teachers.”

CNN: Mother of teacher who died of Covid-19 dies from it weeks later. “Shirley Bannister, 57, passed away from complications from Covid-19 on [September 27], according to her brother, Dennis Bell. Bannister is the mother of Demetria Bannister, a 28-year-old elementary school teacher who died earlier this month, just a few days after testing positive for Covid-19.”


Washington Post: One Alabama university stayed safe during the coronavirus outbreak. Another, 60 miles away, struggled. “The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, with its lush green lawns and fancy Greek houses, is a world apart from the concrete high-rises at the university system’s Birmingham campus nearly 60 miles away. But the schools were supposed to have the same clean slate when classes resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Every student had to test negative before setting foot on campus. Everyone had to use a smartphone application to check for symptoms daily. And everyone heard the same pleas from university leaders: Keep the campuses safe. More than a month later, 2,375 Tuscaloosa students had tested positive for the virus, 6.2 percent of the student body, according to data through Oct. 1. Birmingham had 109 cases, a tiny 0.48 percent of the students.”

The Guardian: Flurry of coronavirus reinfections leaves scientists puzzled. “So far, only two dozen or so reinfections have been confirmed worldwide in a pandemic that has infected more than 30 million people. For now at least, reinfection seems uncommon. But scientists point out that confirming reinfection is no easy task and many cases are missed.”

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.”

STAT News: New document reveals scope and structure of Operation Warp Speed and underscores vast military involvement. “…Operation Warp Speed is largely an abstraction in Washington, with little known about who works there other than its top leaders, or how it operates. Even pharmaceutical companies hoping to offer help or partnerships have labored to figure out who to contact. Now, an organizational chart of the $10 billion initiative, obtained by STAT, reveals the fullest picture yet of Operation Warp Speed: a highly structured organization in which military personnel vastly outnumber civilian scientists.”


New York Times: How a Virus Surge Among Orthodox Jews Became a Crisis for New York. “For decades, tightly knit Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects have thrived in the city and the surrounding suburbs while warding off many aspects of the modern world. Now, they are facing unwelcome scrutiny over whether the virus is spreading because some people in these insular communities are reluctant to embrace public health practices and have become susceptible to misinformation, including from President Trump.”


MIT Technology Review: Trump’s antibody treatment was tested using cells originally derived from an abortion. “The emergency antibody that Trump received last week was developed with the use of a cell line originally derived from abortion tissue, according to Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the company that developed the experimental drug. The Trump administration has taken an increasingly firm line against medical research using fetal tissue from abortions.”

New Statesman: Data analysis: How the poorest countries are losing out on Covid-19 relief funds. “New Statesman analysis suggests some countries with a higher GDP per capita have been allocated more international funding to fight the virus than poorer nations.”

Phys .org: Men less likely to see food as national security issue amid pandemic. “On average, men not only showed less empathy toward temporary agricultural laborers, known as H-2A guest workers, but also were less likely to see food supply and production as issues of national security, according to a study led by a Washington State University researcher. This particular finding relating to gender stood out from the rest of the study’s results. The survey was conducted before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Data for Progress: Voters Want The Senate To Prioritize Coronavirus Relief Over A Supreme Court Nomination. “In three states, North Carolina, Texas, and Montana — all of which traditionally lean Republican — we asked voters a similar question as to what the Senate should prioritize: Passing new coronavirus relief legislation, or confirming a new Supreme Court Justice. We find that voters in these states want the Senate to prioritize additional coronavirus economic relief. In North Carolina and Texas, this is the position of nearly two thirds of voters — 67 percent and 66 percent, respectively.”


The Scotsman: Scottish courts face 10 year Covid-19 backlog. “Holyrood’s Justice Committee said ‘unpalatable’ steps are needed to address the lengthy delays in the criminal justice system. Most criminal cases were put on hold during the initial stages of the pandemic.”


Andy Slavitt: Another Wave, the Same Mistakes. “Two hundred thousand people died and only 9% of the public has been infected. A year from now will those 9% have immunity? We don’t know. We still don’t understand what immunity is conferred, how long it lasts, and how many strains are covered. Message for ‘herders’ (pick one: herd immunity, herd mentality, or herd thinner): 200,000 lives is too high a price to pay. Even if we cut the death rate in half, which I believe we can, the cost of 50% immunity is another 400,000 American lives.”


BBC: Presidential debate: Trump refuses to take part in virtual TV event. “US President Donald Trump has refused to take part in a virtual TV debate with his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Earlier the commission deciding the 15 October Miami debate’s format said it would have to take place remotely. It made the decision after Mr Trump was treated for Covid-19. He has no current symptoms but the White House is tackling a cluster of positive tests.”

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