Thursday CoronaBuzz, October 15, 2020 35 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.


InsideSources: InsideSources Presents New Searchable COVID Database For Citizens, Journalists. “InsideSources presents the ‘COVID-19 Accountability Library,’ a free, searchable database of hundreds of thousands of unique data points on the COVID-19 pandemic. These statements, quotes and comments come from prominent American and international figures. And they are all easily searched in this new online library.”


Politico: Millions of workers face jobless benefits cliff with lifeline set to expire. “…the U.S. is inching closer to a Dec. 31 deadline when several key federal jobless aid programs created under the March CARES Act will be cut off entirely. If the government doesn’t pass legislation, more than half of those receiving unemployment benefits — about 13.4 million people — stand to be left with no income.”

New York Times: U.S. Virus Cases Climb Toward a Third Peak. “The number of new coronavirus cases in the United States is surging once again after growth slowed in late summer. While the geography of the pandemic is now shifting to the Midwest and to more rural areas, cases are trending upward in most states, many of which are setting weekly records for new cases.”


University of Utah: The rise of ‘Zoom Towns’ in the rural west. “When COVID-19 hit the United States, small towns near ski areas such as Park City, Utah, and Sun Valley, Idaho, experienced some of the highest per capita cases; people from around the world had brought the virus along with their skis. As the coronavirus spread, gateway communities—communities near scenic public lands, national parks, and other outdoor recreational amenities—felt acute economic pressure as the virus forced them to shut down tourist activities. Now, many gateway communities are facing an entirely new problem: a flood of remote workers fleeing big cities to ride out the pandemic, perhaps permanently.”

Mother Jones: Plague Comforts: Empty Streets. “After the coronavirus paralyzed New York City in March, the only part of my life that became more pleasant was riding my bike. For a moment, empty streets replaced cars parked in bike lanes, cars running red lights, cars blaring their horns for no discernible reason. On most days when I rode, I felt free. I no longer envisioned myself ensnared in the wheels of a box truck or flattened against the pavement by a charter bus that had run a red. Instead, I entertained myself, in this socially distanced reality, by riding to Rockaway Beach, or Kissena Park, or eerily silent Times Square with a clear mind.”

New York Times: 8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up. “The number of poor people has grown by eight million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University, after falling by four million at the pandemic’s start as a result of an $2 trillion emergency package known as the Cares Act.”

ABC News: The wealth of billionaires hit a new record high of $10.2 trillion as pandemic raged. “The wealth of the world’s billionaires soared to a record new high of $10.2 trillion at the end of July as the coronavirus pandemic raged, according to a new report published Wednesday from Swiss bank UBS and the global firm PwC.”

World Economic Forum: 1 in 4 women are considering stepping back from their career because of COVID-19. “By now it’s well-established the Covid-19 crisis is hitting women particularly hard. Working mothers bear the brunt of the childcare responsibilities brought on by shuttered daycare centers and Zoom classrooms, while Black women are stricken with the added toll the pandemic has taken on their communities. A new report quantifies the extent of the problem: One in four women are considering leaving their jobs, cutting back hours, or otherwise scaling back work as a result of the pandemic and its fallout.”


Gothamist: Orthodox Borough Park Residents Burn Masks, Beat Dissenters Over COVID Lockdown. “Hundreds of members of Brooklyn’s Orthodox community stormed the streets and synagogues of Borough Park on [October 6] to protest new coronavirus restrictions imposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.”


Washington Citypaper: Four Strategies That Just Might Help Restaurants Make It Through Winter. “Nearly one in six U.S. restaurants have closed permanently or indefinitely six months into a public health crisis people initially hoped would only last weeks. That’s approximately 100,000 closures, according to the National Restaurant Association. The trade group’s survey-based report, released in mid-September, also found 40 percent of restaurant owners don’t think they’ll be in business in another six months without additional relief from the federal government.”

Cheddar: Exclusive: Hypur Finds Coronavirus Is Changing How Consumers Pay for Pot. “While many consumers still prefer to pay for cannabis with cash, fears concerning health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic are driving many toward alternative payment methods, according to a new survey from digital payments provider Hypur.”


NBC News: Trump’s ‘reckless’ New Jersey fundraiser is under state review. “In the hours after a top aide tested positive for COVID-19 last week, President Donald Trump ignored federal health guidelines to quarantine and instead attended a fundraiser in New Jersey, where he spoke — without a mask — to more than 200 supporters. The event, at Trump’s golf course in the tony town of Bedminster, is now being investigated by state officials looking into whether it violated New Jersey’s COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.”

Washington Post: In the U.S., states — not science — decide what counts as a coronavirus outbreak. “The nation’s patchwork pandemic response has led to wide disparities in data reporting and even in definitions for basic medical concepts. In the absence of federal standards, states have adopted divergent and sometimes scientifically questionable approaches to disease control, which experts say have allowed the virus to spread.”

AP: Noem blames surge in cases on testing as hospitals fill. “South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday blamed South Dakota’s recent surge in coronavirus cases on an increase in testing, even as the state saw a new high in the number of people hospitalized by the virus. There are currently no open general-care hospital beds in the southeastern part of the state, which contains the two largest hospitals, according to the Department of Health. Hospitals are dealing with both an increase in COVID-19 patients and people needing other medical care. The hospitals in Sioux Falls do have about 41% of their Intensive Care Units available.”

KMSP: Minnesota adding COVID-19 saliva test results to online database. “The Minnesota Department of Health began posting the results from the saliva COVID-19 tests to the online database. This means that results from saliva testing, also known as antigen testing, will be posted alongside results from the other COVID-19 tests. The cumulative results are also posted. For example, on Wednesday, Minnesota reported the state has a total of 115,943 positive cases to date, with 180 of those coming from antigen tests.”


New York Times: An Arms Dealer, an Ex-N.F.L. Player and Huge Federal Contracts for Medical Gowns. “The Defense Department distributed more than $1 billion in federal contracts last month to companies for disposable medical gowns to protect those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 100 large and midsize companies, many with track records of successfully completing federal procurement contracts, bid for the work. But the majority of the awards ultimately went to a handful of unexpected and inexperienced companies that now find themselves on the hook to produce hundreds of millions of gowns in a matter of months.”

ProPublica: Inside the Fall of the CDC. “How the world’s greatest public health organization was brought to its knees by a virus, the president and the capitulation of its own leaders, causing damage that could last much longer than the coronavirus.”

The Daily Beast: White House Quietly Told Vets Group It Might Have Exposed Them to COVID. “On the same day President Donald Trump acknowledged contracting the coronavirus, the White House quietly informed a veterans group that there was a COVID-19 risk stemming from a Sept. 27 event honoring the families of fallen U.S. service members, the head of that charitable organization told The Daily Beast.”


Slate: A Former Pence Aide on His COVID Task Force: “It Is Everything That Horrifies You”. “As part of the White House coronavirus task force, Olivia Troye had a front-row seat to the federal government’s pandemic response—and its many failures. Troye was a homeland security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence and saw firsthand how the Trump administration hid the truth about the COVID-19 crisis and prioritized the election over public health. She left the White House in August. On Thursday’s episode of What Next, I spoke to Troye about her role on the task force and why she’s speaking out now. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.”


Washington Post: Alabama football coach Nick Saban tests positive for coronavirus. “The University of Alabama announced Wednesday that football coach Nick Saban tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Saban, 68, said that he would work from home while offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian oversees team operations at the Crimson Tide’s facility.”


Boston Globe: Boston delays next phase of in-person school as coronavirus positivity rate rises to 4.1 percent. “With Boston’s coronavirus positivity rate rising to 4.1 percent, city officials announced [October 7] that they will delay the start of in-person learning for the next phase of students who were slated to return on Oct. 15, but will continue in-person classes for those who already have come back.”


The College Post: Monmouth Goes Online After ‘Super-Spreader Event’ Led to 125 Infections. “A ‘super-spreader event’ at Monmouth University’s New Jersey campus led to over 100 positive cases of COVID-19, forcing the school to cancel all its in-person classes. The university found out about the event, which happened two weeks ago off-campus, after it noticed a spurt of some 300 cases of the virus on the campus.”

Big Red Today: Nebraska track team suspends practice amid COVID-19 outbreak. “The Nebraska track and field team has had an outbreak of COVID-19 significant enough to close practice for the rest of the week, coach Gary Pepin confirmed Wednesday. According to a source, a number of athletes on the team tested positive this week. The team’s roster includes more than 100 athletes.”

Washington Post: Only one of their children survived Sandy Hook. Now school posed a new threat: The virus.. “Millions of parents had begun to worry by that July afternoon about schools reopening in the fall, but many found comfort in what they knew of the novel coronavirus. Most children who got sick would be fine. Seldom would they be hospitalized. Rarely — in only the worst cases — would they die. But Isaiah understood how little solace that knowledge offered his parents. They knew the worst could happen.”


BBC: Coronavirus: ‘Long Covid could be four different syndromes’. “‘Long Covid’ – the long-lasting impact of coronavirus infection – may be affecting people in four different ways, according to a review. And this could explain why some of those with continuing symptoms are not being believed or treated.”

CNN: The US could see the fewest recorded deaths from lightning strikes this year. “In a year of increasingly bleak headlines, here’s one uplifting piece of news: The US is on track to experience the fewest recorded deaths from lightning strikes in a single year. Fourteen people have died from lightning strikes in the US so far this year. And because peak lightning season in the Northern Hemisphere takes place during June, July and August, the worst is likely behind us.” It’s not clear if this is the pandemic keeping people inside, deaths not being reported, or something meteorological. But I’m including it here because it’s interesting.

SwissInfo: Swiss health experts sign letter wary of herd immunity claims. “Amid rising Covid-19 cases in Switzerland, five experts have signed a letter in the Lancet warning that a pandemic management strategy relying on herd immunity is flawed.”

New York Times: How Much Would Trump’s Coronavirus Treatment Cost Most Americans?. “President Trump spent three days in the hospital. He arrived and left by helicopter. And he received multiple coronavirus tests, oxygen, steroids and an experimental antibody treatment. For someone who isn’t president, that would cost more than $100,000 in the American health system. Patients could face significant surprise bills and medical debt even after health insurance paid its share.”

BBC: Covid reinfection: Man gets Covid twice and second hit ‘more severe’. “A man in the United States has caught Covid twice, with the second infection becoming far more dangerous than the first, doctors report. The 25-year-old needed hospital treatment after his lungs could not get enough oxygen into his body. Reinfections remain rare and he has now recovered.”


The Daily Beast: Virus-Plagued Megachurch Bedevils Town—and Locals Are Mad as Hell. “Erik Withers is furious. The 29-year-old from Redding, California, works at a private security company, and was desperate to return to work when novel coronavirus restrictions recently began easing in the state—and the pandemic appeared to turn a corner. But over the past few weeks, as local COVID-19 cases have crept up, launching the county from higher tier to higher tier in the state’s color-coded guide to the pandemic, that dream has been dashed.”


New York Times: ‘I Won’t Be Used as a Guinea Pig for White People’. “Recruiting Black volunteers for vaccine trials during a period of severe mistrust of the federal government and heightened awareness of racial injustice is a formidable task. So far, only about 3 percent of the people who have signed up nationally are Black. Yet never has their inclusion in a medical study been more urgent.”


Andy Slavitt: Be Afraid of Covid-19. “Now that Trump is an expert on Covid-19 — not the book-learning kind you get by reading the reports that have been presented to him for months on end — but the kind of REAL education people get — he has an inescapable conclusion. There’s a million people worldwide, many of whom presented exactly the way Trump presented and who died. Those other million people who didn’t have dozens of doctors, an arsenal of drugs, including a compassionate-use cocktail not available to anyone. Or a helicopter.”


New York Times: Biden’s Covid Response Plan Draws From F.D.R.’s New Deal. “Joseph R. Biden Jr. is preparing for the biggest challenge he would face if elected president — ending the coronavirus pandemic — by reaching back nearly a century to draw on the ideas of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose big-government policies lifted the country out of the Great Depression and changed the shape of America.”

The Atlantic: What COVID-19 Families Hear When Trump Brags About His Strength. “There are thousands of Americans like [Sabila] Khan, for whom the past few months have been nothing less than a nightmare. To many of them, Donald Trump’s downplaying of his own COVID-19 diagnosis, and his rhetoric equating sickness with weakness, has been a profound insult. Before Trump’s hospitalization, most Americans already disapproved of his handling of the pandemic. With each dismissive comment, he minimizes the suffering of an ever-growing share of Americans.”

Slate: Oh Good, Dianne Feinstein Concluded the Barrett Hearings by Giving a Maskless Lindsey Graham a Hug. “No one is supposed to be hugging anyone outside of their family right now, never mind hugging a possible vector when you are in a high-risk category for a deadly virus while neither party wears a mask. But for old Lindsey Graham, sure, a maskless hug was apparently in order—he did such a good job with the hearings, after all.”

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