Monday CoronaBuzz, October 26, 2020 40 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.


Poynter: Here’s a spreadsheet of COVID-19 superspreader events from around the world. “The database describes where the event happened, what kind of location it was (such as a prison, meat processing plant, nursing home, etc.) and, interestingly, provides the geographic coordinates that make it easy to map. Look at the U.S. data and you will be overwhelmed by the number of these superspreader events that were in prisons, a few weddings and nursing homes.”


Washington Post: How to safely — and graciously — host friends and family as the weather gets colder. “Many of us were just getting the hang of pandemic-era socializing. In backyards and patios, stoops and parks, people have gathered at a distance with small numbers of friends and family for the human connections we so badly need. There was always a risk. But just when standing six feet apart and forgoing hugs (and cheese boards!) had started to feel almost normal, things shifted again. This time, that darn change of seasons threatens to upend our pandemic routines.”

Gothamist: How To Camp In New York When The Campgrounds Are Crowded. “The best primitive campsites are near a swimming hole or mountain top view. But short of hiring a professional guide, how do you find these wild places? To answer that question, it helps to know how New York classifies its public land. What follows is a primer on public lands and primitive camping opportunities in New York.”


MarketWatch: Federal budget deficit hit record $3.1 trillion in just-ended fiscal 2020, CBO says. “The U.S. budget deficit hit a record $3.1 trillion in the recently concluded 2020 budget year, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected Thursday. ‘Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit—at an estimated 15.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—was the largest since 1945, and 2020 was the fifth consecutive year in which the deficit increased as a percentage of GDP,’ the CBO said in its monthly forecast. ”

ABC News: The last COVID-free counties in America. “The four counties in the United States that haven’t reported a single COVID-19 case have some commonalities. They’re sparsely populated and geographically isolated. They’re solidly middle-class. In two counties, tourism has ground to a sudden halt because of the pandemic. But testing in areas without strong health infrastructure can complicate the picture, experts warn. You can’t report COVID-19 cases if you don’t test for them, and rural America has historically lacked access to health resources available in more populated areas.”


New York Times: Jobless Workers Built Up Some Savings. Then the $600 Checks Stopped.. “The $600 weekly unemployment benefit the federal government funded this year was a remarkably effective expansion of the safety net. It helped pay many workers more than their lost wages. It enabled families to spend more than during normal times. It even allowed households to put away savings as the economy was teetering. Then the money stopped at the end of July. And it’s clear, looking back, what happened next: Workers quickly burned through the reserves that the aid had given them.”


CNBC: Trump administration announces deal with CVS and Walgreens to administer coronavirus vaccine to seniors in long-term care. “The vaccine will be free of charge and available for residents in all long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential care homes and adult family homes, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a press release.”

Yucatan Times: First Exclusive Coronavirus Supply Store Opens in NYC. “A new business billing itself as the city’s first coronavirus safety supply store opened to customers in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, NY, last month. The CV-19 Essential store near Herald Square is selling safety products for homes and businesses, including face masks, cell phone sanitizers, plexiglass dividers, UV lights and air purifiers.”

Toledo Blade: Decimated secondary ticket market hanging on for life. “Whether it’s phone calls to brokers, searching StubHub’s online database, or buying from a scalper outside the stadium, college football fans have become accustomed to having an outlet to purchase tickets. The secondary market is part of the college football ecosystem, with an estimated market value of $4.2 billion (Power Five conference only).”

Politico: Pfizer won’t seek coronavirus vaccine authorization until after election. “Pfizer will not seek an emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine until after the election, the final blow to President Donald Trump’s repeated pledges to make a shot available before Americans cast votes amid the worst pandemic in a century.”


AP: Some in North Dakota wish for tougher virus tack by governor. “James Yantzer strode into a Harbor Freight Tools store in one of North Dakota’s worst hot spots for the coronavirus, brushing off a sign telling customers to wear a face mask. ‘If they kick me out, I’ll go somewhere else,’ Yantzer said, calling masks about as effective at blocking the virus as ‘stopping sand with chicken wire.’ Despite the Bismarck store’s mask requirement, the 69-year-old trucking company owner wasn’t asked to leave.”

Argus Leader: South Dakota mayors ask citizens to do their part against COVID-19. “The mayors of South Dakota’s largest cities have written an open letter to the citizens of the state, asking that they do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. The letter, signed by 16 mayors including Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and released through the South Dakota Municipal League, says they ‘have come together to bring you a united message concerning the COVID pandemic in our state.'”

Florida Phoenix: FL’s COVID infection stats at odds with major national database. “Florida’s official COVID-19 ‘positivity rate’ is at odds with rates reported by the renowned tracker run by Johns Hopkins University. The official state rate is around 5 percent; Johns Hopkins says it’s closer to 12. As is common with statistics, data can be analyzed and interpreted in various, even contradictory, ways.”

Los Angeles Times: Newsom says California will review FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines before releasing them to public. “Gov. Gavin Newsom said [October 19] that California will review the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines that receive federal approval before distributing them to the public, adding an extra safeguard amid concerns that the White House could rush the process.”


ABC News: Trump’s Secret Service agents required to wear masks, sources say, but often don’t. “While President Donald Trump tosses masks to supporters at his rallies, Secret Service agents protecting him at those campaign events are often not wearing them. Secret Service policy is that agents are required to wear masks, sources tell ABC News, but agents on the president’s detail don’t always follow it.”

AP: White House puts ‘politicals’ at CDC to try to control info. “The Trump White House has installed two political operatives at the nation’s top public health agency to try to control the information it releases about the coronavirus pandemic as the administration seeks to paint a positive outlook, sometimes at odds with the scientific evidence.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Coronavirus again hits Roosevelt carrier as sailors test positive two days after new deployment. “The warship returned to San Diego on July 9 after an ill-fated six-month deployment that led to a massive coronavirus outbreak infecting more than 1,250 of its crew. One sailor died from COVID-19 complications. The crew had spent about three months in the homeport. During its challenging earlier deployment, the Roosevelt spent about a month in Guam trying to stem the outbreak, isolate sailors and sanitize the ship.”

Cairo Scene: Egypt Now Accepting Volunteers For Covid-19 Vaccine Trial With New Website. “News of a potential Coronavirus vaccine initially started circulating as little as two weeks into the pandemic, creating a lot of uncertainty throughout this already tumultuous period. However, it now seems now that more tangible news has popped up, bringing with it some potential for major advancements in the fight against the Coronavirus – the Ministry of Health are accepting volunteers to participate in the third phase of the clinical trials for the Coronavirus vaccine.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Dutch PM concedes ‘wrong assessment’ over royal holiday. “Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has conceded he ‘made the wrong assessment’ by not intervening against plans by the royal family to holiday in Greece. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima headed off on Friday but flew back a day later, following a public backlash.”

New York Times: White House Blocked C.D.C. From Requiring Masks on Public Transportation. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention drafted a sweeping order last month requiring all passengers and employees to wear masks on all forms of public and commercial transportation in the United States, but it was blocked by the White House, according to two federal health officials.”

BuzzFeed News: FEMA Threw Out The Faulty Ventilators Russia Gave The US Without Ever Using Them. “The Russian ventilators were received by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in New York on April 1 and divided up between hospitals there and in New Jersey. But there were problems with the Aventa-M ventilators from the moment they landed and they were never used. Now, according to FEMA, they have essentially been tossed in the trash.”


Wall Street Journal: More Than 1,000 Current and Former CDC Officers Criticize U.S. Covid-19 Response. “More than 1,000 current and former officers of an elite disease-fighting program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have signed an open letter expressing dismay at the nation’s public-health response to the Covid-19 pandemic and calling for the federal agency to play a more central role.”

Grand Forks Herald: Candidate in high-profile North Dakota House race died of COVID-19. “A Republican candidate for the North Dakota House of Representatives died from COVID-19 on Monday, Oct. 5, a month out from Election Day and with no way to replace his name on the November ballot.”

CNN: The Flaming Lips performed a concert with the band and fans encased in plastic bubbles. “It’s unclear whether The Flaming Lips are using jelly — or vaseline, for that matter — at their concerts these days. The rock band is, however, trying plastic bubbles. The rock musicians from Oklahoma City are literally blowing up in 2020, using inflatable human-sized bubbles to defend themselves and fans against Covid-19 while finding a way to play live.”

AP: Concert attended by Gianforte linked to several COVID cases. “A Montana concert attended by Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, who is running for governor, has been linked to several COVID-19 cases, local health officials said Thursday. The outdoor concert, held Oct. 3 in Helena, was approved by the local health department, the Independent Record reported. Event organizers later faced criticism for failing to abide by local health orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which limit public events to fewer than 250 attendees.”

Daily Beast: Dr. Fauci: The Trump Campaign Is ‘In Effect, Harassing Me’. “[Dr. Anthony] Fauci, a member of that White House coronavirus task force, prides himself on being apolitical. And he pushed back aggressively… when President Donald Trump’s campaign featured him in a video advertisement and used remarks he made in the past out of context.”

WRAL: Coronavirus kills ‘transformative’ St. Aug’s president. “St. Augustine’s University said [October 16] that Irving Pressley McPhail, the school’s 12th president, has died from complications from a coronavirus infection.”


CNN: 18 members of Yale’s men’s ice hockey team test positive for Covid-19. “Eighteen members of Yale University’s men’s hockey team have been instructed to isolate after testing positive for coronavirus. Collectively, the cluster raised the school’s Covid-19 alert status from green, which notes ‘lower risk’ to yellow, which signals ‘low to moderate risk of viral transmission.'”

Buckeye Xtra: Ohio State marching band to stage prerecorded performances for football games. “Ohio State’s marching band will not be at football games this fall, but it will conduct pre-recorded pregame and halftime routines.”


New York Times: ‘It’s insane’: This is what happened when schools reopened in a virus-hit community.. “Three weeks into the school year, the number of coronavirus cases at the Corner Canyon was rising, and the district was considering shifting to online instruction. After parents flooded the board with messages, the school stayed open. Within a week, the number of cases had nearly quadrupled. A teacher was hospitalized and put on a ventilator. When the board finally decided on Sept. 18 to close the school temporarily, 77 students and staff members had tested positive.”

Global News Canada: Parents fighting for refunds of coronavirus cancelled school trips set to file class-action lawsuit. “As it became clear in March that COVID-19 was spreading around the world, the Canadian government released travel advisories warning against international travel, something that sent many travellers scrambling to cancel trips. Among those being cancelled were hundreds of international trips for high school students over the March break.”


New York Times: After 700 Students Test Positive, a College President Resigns. “The State University of New York at Oneonta on Thursday announced the abrupt resignation of its president only weeks after it experienced the most severe coronavirus outbreak of any public university in the state…. Last month, more than 700 students at Oneonta tested positive for the virus, causing the shutdown of in-person classes. The outbreak forced state officials to send a virus control crew to the university to keep the spread from reaching the rest of the city, which is in upstate New York.”


NPR: What’s Coming This Winter? Here’s How Many More Could Die In The Pandemic. “Dr. Michael Mina, a professor at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, compares the situation to a growing forest fire with small sparks all over the U.S. that will gain strength as the weather turns colder. ‘We are likely to see massive explosions of cases and outbreaks that could potentially make what we’ve seen so far look like it hasn’t been that much,’ says Mina.”

NBC News: A rare Covid-19 complication was reported in children. Now, it’s showing up in adults.. “It was a rash that tipped Dr. Alisa Femia off. Femia, director of inpatient dermatology at NYU Langone Health in New York City, was looking at a patient’s chart, which included several photos of the 45-year-old man who had, in recent weeks, cared for his wife while she was sick with Covid-19. The man had dusky-red circular patches on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet. His eyes were pink, and his lips were extremely chapped.”

BuzzFeed News: A Woman In Her Thirties Died Of COVID-19 On A Plane. “A woman in her thirties died of COVID-19 while she was on a plane from New Mexico to Texas in July, officials said Sunday. Dallas County official Lauren Trimble told BuzzFeed News on Monday that the woman died while the plane was on the tarmac in Arizona. However, on Tuesday, Trimble said the woman died while the plane was on the ground in New Mexico.”


Washington Post: How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have spread coronavirus across the Upper Midwest. “Within weeks of the gathering, the Dakotas, along with Wyoming, Minnesota and Montana, were leading the nation in new coronavirus infections per capita. The surge was especially pronounced in North and South Dakota, where cases and hospitalization rates continued their juggernaut rise into October. Experts say they will never be able to determine how many of those cases originated at the 10-day rally, given the failure of state and local health officials to identify and monitor attendees returning home, or to trace chains of transmission after people got sick. Some, however, believe the nearly 500,000-person gathering played a role in the outbreak now consuming the Upper Midwest.”


Wichita Eagle: One arrested in threat to kidnap and kill Wichita mayor over COVID-19 mask mandate. “A Wichita man has been arrested on suspicion of threatening to kidnap and kill Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple over frustrations with the city’s mask ordinance, the mayor and police said Friday afternoon. Meredith Dowty, 59, was booked into Sedgwick County Jail at 6:05 p.m., Friday, booking reports show. Police confirmed he is the suspect and said he could face a charge of criminal threat.”

Department of Justice: Rapper Who Bragged about Unemployment Benefits Scam in Music Video Arrested for Allegedly Bilking COVID-19 Jobless Relief Program. “A rapper who boasted in a YouTube music video about getting rich from committing unemployment benefits fraud was arrested [October 16] on federal charges of carrying out that very scheme by fraudulently applying for more than $1.2 million in jobless benefits, including by using stolen identities.”


STAT News: Community outbreaks of Covid-19 often emerge after Trump’s campaign rallies. “As the death toll of Covid-19 heads toward 220,000 in the United States alone, more deaths than in any other country in the world, the president, who is currently convalescing from Covid-19 himself, has spent the past several months crisscrossing a pandemic-ravaged country in his bid for reelection. The crowds he draws are fertile breeding grounds for transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, followed by community outbreaks.”

Washington Post: Trump attacks ‘Fauci and all these idiots,’ says public is tired of pandemic, public health restrictions as infection rates rise. “President Trump dismissed precautions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and attacked the nation’s top infectious-disease expert as a ‘disaster’ [October 19], arguing that people are getting tired of all the focus on a pandemic that has killed more than 219,000 Americans and continues to infect thousands of people in communities across the country.”

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