Tuesday CoronaBuzz, October 19, 2020 29 pointers to updates, 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.


Yale Daily News: New YSPH model helps citizens and policymakers monitor COVID-19 spread. “Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health and the T. H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health created a new tool, called covidestim, to track current COVID-19 cases on a state-by-state and county-by-county basis. The technology takes into account the latest information on the number of reported cases, death counts and disease severity to provide accurate information about the pandemic to citizens. Access to the online model is free to the general public.”

Florida International University: DIY contact tracing interview tool could disrupt spread of COVID-19. “After testing positive for COVID-19, a person is typically advised to report who they’ve recently been in contact with, so those individuals can be notified of their exposure. Remembering every single person can be very difficult. The team of psychologists, with expertise in memory, cognition and investigative interviewing, have launched the new web-based contact tracing tool — called CogTracer — as a free way for people in the community to help to slow the spread of COVID-19.”


Washingtonian: DC’s New Covid-Tracing Smartphone Tool Is Going Live This Week. “Starting Tuesday, iPhone and Android users can opt-in to ‘DC CAN’—the District’s new coronavirus contact tracing technology. The tool will send push notifications to users if they’ve been in contact with a Covid-positive individual. iPhone users can opt-in to the tech through their phone settings; Android users will download an app.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Argentina’s confirmed cases surpass one million. “Argentina has become the fifth country in the world to record one million confirmed coronavirus cases. In the past 24 hours, there were 12,982 new infections, pushing the overall number to 1,002,662, the country’s health ministry said. It reported 451 new deaths, bringing the nation’s toll to 26,716.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin’s coronavirus death toll reaches 1,600; state reports first numbers after weekend system outage. “Wisconsin’s coronavirus death toll reached 1,600 people Monday as the state’s escalating health crisis continued to rank among the country’s worst. The number of people hospitalized with the virus hit a new high Monday, with 1,172 active patients across the state, including 302 in intensive care units. Coronavirus hospitalizations have more than tripled in the last month.”


Washington Post: Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic: Trust in government science. “Politics has thoroughly contaminated the scientific process. The result has been an epidemic of distrust, which further undermines the nation’s already chaotic and ineffective response to the coronavirus.”

New York Times: For 3 Filmmakers, Now Is the Best Time for a Coronavirus Documentary. “As the coronavirus raged out of control this spring, Alex Gibney, an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker who has released two other movies this year, embarked on a secret project: a film that would ‘tell the origin story’ of the pandemic that has cost more than 215,000 Americans their lives. He wanted to know if the carnage could have been prevented.”

Phys .org: Asian Americans more affected by pandemic-related unemployment than any other racial group. “While the lockdown associated with COVID-19 has negatively affected people from all walks of life, one U.S. minority group is bearing the brunt of unemployment. According to a new study by a quartet of University of Kansas researchers, the pandemic’s effect on the labor market has hit Asian Americans the hardest.”


India Today: Exclusive: It’s no-holds-barred at bars amid Covid pandemic. “Many nightclubs in cities across India appear to be offering a perfect setting for the new coronavirus to prey on as cavalier guests hit the dancefloor in tight quarters — of course without masks!”


NBC News: Mass. Using New Tool in COVID Fight: Phone Alerts for High-Risk Communities. “People who live in or near some Massachusetts communities at high risk for COVID-19 transmission were getting alerts on their phones Monday afternoon reminding them about coronavirus safety rules. It’s the first time a Wireless Emergency Alert is being sent about the coronavirus in Massachusetts, a Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center spokesman said.”

Mississippi Free Press: Mississippi Governor Re-enacts Mask Mandates in Nine Counties as COVID-19 Surges. “Mississippi recorded a dramatic uptick in new COVID-19 cases last week, including some of the highest daily numbers since the pandemic’s summer peak here, when many hospitals were overwhelmed. Cases and hospitalizations dropped dramatically in the weeks after Reeves first issued a statewide mask mandate on Aug. 4. Since its end, though, hospitalizations have also begun rising once more.”


BBC: Covid-19: First UK airport coronavirus testing begins. “Passengers flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong and Italy on Tuesday will be the first to have the option of paying for a rapid Covid test before checking in. The test will cost £80 and a result can take a mere 20 minutes. The aim is to help people travelling to destinations where proof of a negative result is required on arrival.”

Government Executive: Trump Administration Has Cut the Number of Federal Personnel Deployed in COVID-19 Fight by 60%. “At the peak of pandemic response efforts, the Trump administration had deployed more than 50,000 federal employees around the country for various initiatives and projects, according to a Health and Human Services Department spokesperson. That number dropped to fewer than 20,000 as of Sept. 28, according to an updated count from the Department of Homeland Security, marking a decline of more than 60%.”


MIT Technology Review: One doctor’s campaign to stop a covid-19 vaccine being rushed through before Election Day. “After being released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 5, US President Donald Trump praised the doctors who treated him for covid-19 and promised that the public would soon have a vaccine against the deadly coronavirus. ‘We have the best medicines in the world, and very shortly they are all getting approved, and the vaccines are coming momentarily,’ he said in a video statement shared with millions of Twitter followers. Across the country, in California, a doctor named Eric Topol was responding in real time on social media. He questioned the president’s health, his doctors’ actions, and even his mental status.”

White House: First Lady Melania Trump: ‘My personal experience with COVID-19’. “I am happy to report that I have tested negative and hope to resume my duties as soon as I can. Along with this good news, I want people to know that I understand just how fortunate my family is to have received the kind of care that we did. If you are sick, or if you have a loved one who is sick—I am thinking of you and will be thinking of you every day. I pray for our country and I pray for everyone who is grappling with COVID-19 and any other illnesses or challenges.”

Al Arabiya: Coronavirus: PLO Erekat’s son says health critical but stable, denies death reports. “Palestinian state television has denied news reports of the death of Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Speaking to family members at the Hadassah Medical Center in Israel, Erekat’s health condition is currently critical. Hours earlier, Asharq television channel tweeted a breaking news alert of Erekat dying but had later deleted the tweet from their verified account on Twitter.”

Eater DC: In D.C., Dr. Fauci Inspires Trust, Calm, and a Popular Line of Pouched Cocktails. “Dr. Anthony Fauci’s face is everywhere, which explains why it popped into Rohit Malhotra’s head. As the nation’s leading expert on infectious disease, Fauci endeared himself to the public early on in the COVID-19 pandemic with his heavy Brooklyn accent, unassuming physique, and straight talk on the novel coronavirus. Over the past seven months, he has become a household name, a frequent guest on primetime news shows, inevitable meme fodder, and — thanks to Malhotra and his staff — the unwitting logo for a line of pouched cocktails that helped a Washington, D.C., bar stay open through a public health crisis that has been catastrophic for restaurants.”


The Mercury News: Coronavirus: Few cases so far as Bay Area kids return to classrooms. “They’re masked, disinfected and distanced — with encouraging results so far. California’s K-12 school children have been returning to the classroom this month, and so far state public health officials report ‘no significant increases in COVID-19 cases.’ That’s noteworthy, officials say, considering the number of schools resuming in-person instruction and relevant levels of community transmission.”


The Atlantic: How to Tell If Socializing Indoors Is Safe. “Beyond ‘stay at home’ and ‘it’s okay to go out now,’ government officials aren’t explaining the relative risks clearly and widely enough for everyone to understand. Ever since states publicized their ‘reopenings,’ some people have seen unrelated people only from a six-foot distance and outside. Others are throwing indoor weddings. Often, these people live in the same city. Given this information vacuum, researchers like [Dr. Megan] Ranney and some public-health workers have launched their own efforts to help people decide what types of social activities are safe, based on where they live.”

BBC: Coronavirus: How pollution could make India’s Covid fight tougher. “A Harvard University study shows that an increase of only one microgram per cubic metre in PM 2.5 – dangerous tiny pollutants in the air – is associated with an 8% increase in the Covid-19 death rate. Another study by scientists at the UK’s University of Cambridge also found a link between the severity of Covid-19 infection and long-term exposure to air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and ground-level ozone from car exhaust fumes or burning of fossil fuels.”

AP: Extra safety scrutiny planned as virus vaccine worries grow. “Facing public skepticism about rushed COVID-19 vaccines, U.S. health officials are planning extra scrutiny of the first people vaccinated when shots become available — an added safety layer experts call vital.”


Vox: Europe’s new Covid-19 wave, explained. “So far, most of the restrictions stop short of country-wide stay-at-home orders, where people’s movements outside the home are curtailed and all non-essential businesses close. But by Friday, both Wales and Ireland will be back in lockdowns that resemble last spring’s, while health officials in other countries with fast-spiraling outbreaks — such as the Czech Republic and England — are warning of more restrictions to come.”


WCTV: Federal Correctional Institution Tallahassee sees spike in active inmate COVID-19 infections. “No federal prison in the South has more active coronavirus cases than the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, according to the Bureau of Prison’s online database of infections. According to that tracker, 91 inmates and 16 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Those are considered ‘active’ cases. A BOP spokesperson said cumulative totals weren’t immediately available to the public.”


ABC News: Trump dismisses pandemic, rips Fauci as ‘disaster’ in campaign all-staff call. “In a remarkable move with 15 days to go until Election Day, President Donald Trump on an all-staff campaign call Monday morning leveled his most aggressive attacks yet on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert on the president’s own coronavirus task force, calling him a ‘disaster’ while also outright dismissing the pandemic, saying Americans are ‘over COVID’ as deaths near 220,000 in the United States and cases rise around the country.”

NBC News: Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows refuses to speak to reporters with mask on. “White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on [October 12] refused to keep his face mask on when speaking to reporters at the Capitol during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.”

BuzzFeed News: “I Can’t Vote For Someone Who I Blame For The Death Of My Husband”: Meet The Coronavirus Widows. “As the country nears an election set to be in part a referendum on the Trump administration’s handling of a pandemic that has killed over 212,000 Americans, millions of grieving people — the loved ones left behind by the victims — will also be a voting bloc.”

TIME: This Isn’t the First Time America Has Voted During a Pandemic. Here’s How the 1918 Flu Affected That Year’s Election. “As the midterm elections of 1918 approached, World War I was winding down, but a new strain of the flu was surging. It had been spreading earlier in the year, but is believed to have mutated into a more deadly, more contagious strain that fall. Data analyzed by Tom Ewing, a professor of history at Virginia Tech, reveal that death rates in northeastern cities had spiked in late September and mid-October in 1918, and had sharply declined by Election Day on Nov. 5, while West Coast cities were in the throes of ongoing outbreaks.”

BuzzFeed News: Seniors Who Aren’t Afraid Of The Coronavirus Love What Trump Is Saying About COVID. “…The Villages, known for its manicured lawns and golf carts and courses, is a Republican haven. If there are older adults anywhere in America who aren’t particularly concerned about a pandemic that is particularly dangerous for older people, it is here. Here, the fear is about supposedly rising socialism and radically changing American culture, not the coronavirus. Frankly, they’re just not that interested.”

ABC News: With coronavirus concerns a factor, it’s all tied up in North Carolina: Poll. “Coronavirus concerns lift former Vice President Joe Biden in North Carolina while the state’s sizable evangelical and rural populations pull for President Donald Trump, producing a dead-heat contest in a state that’s backed Democratic presidential candidates just twice in the last half century.”

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