Sunday CoronaBuzz, November 1, 2020: 25 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.


World Health Organization: Let’s flatten the infodemic curve. “We are all being exposed to a huge amount of COVID-19 information on a daily basis, and not all of it is reliable. Here are some tips for telling the difference and stopping the spread of misinformation. Due to COVID-19, most of us have a new word in our vocabulary: epidemiology. It is the branch of medical science that deals with the ways diseases are transmitted and can be controlled in a population. Now it is time to learn another new word: infodemiology.”

Wired: Trump’s Strangest Lie: A Plague of Suicides Under His Watch. “IN [October 22nd’s] presidential debate, Donald Trump repeated one of his more unorthodox reelection pitches. ‘People are losing their jobs,’ he said. ‘They’re committing suicide. There’s depression, alcohol, drugs at a level that nobody’s ever seen before.’ It’s strange to hear an incumbent president declare, as an argument in his own favor, that a wave of suicides is occurring under his watch. It’s even stranger given that it’s not true.

CNN: Weird science: How a ‘shoddy’ Bannon-backed paper on coronavirus origins made its way to an audience of millions. “It was a blockbuster story. A respected Chinese virologist appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News in mid-September to share the results of her just-completed report. The conclusion: The novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 was likely engineered in a Chinese lab. On Carlson’s show, she claimed it was intentionally released into the world. Then, its validity began to unravel.”


New York Intelligencer: The Pandemic Has Men Shaving Less, But Not Women. “Consumer packaged-goods giant Procter & Gamble continues to have a very good pandemic, all things considered. Sales in the quarter ending September 30 were 9 percent higher than the same quarter a year ago, with most of the growth being driven by higher sales volume. It seems people are still buying a lot of paper towels and soap.”

BuzzFeed News: His Landlord Evicted Him During The Pandemic And Then Demanded $1,100 For Him To Get His Belongings. “Ty is one of tens of thousands of Americans who have already been, or soon will be, evicted from their homes since the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread job and income loss in March. The combined forces of the economic fallout from the pandemic, tenuous contract employment, poor protections for tenants, and lack of access to affordable healthcare have created a miasma of conditions that has pushed those already living in a precarious state over the edge.”

Politico: How coronavirus is reshaping America’s job market. “Just two-thirds of Americans were working for the same employer in September as they were in February, with the rest either landing new jobs or unemployed, according to the Real-Time Population Survey, a collaboration between researchers at Arizona State University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Brookings Institution researchers paint an even grimmer long-term picture, estimating that 42 percent of jobs lost due to Covid-19 will eventually be gone for good. Incomes are also dropping, indicating that many of these workers are transitioning into lower-paying jobs. More than 25 percent of U.S. workers earned less in September than they did in February, according to the Population Survey.”

New York Times: Out of Work in America. “A conference call in which everyone on the line was laid off. An email declaring that a restaurant had served its last meal. A phone call from the boss before work saying to come in — and pack up all your things. In March and April, as the coronavirus began tearing through the country, Americans lost as many jobs as they did during the Great Depression and the Great Recession combined — 22 million jobs that were there one minute and gone the next. A job is a paycheck, an identity, a civic stabilizer, a future builder. During a pandemic, a job loss erases all that, when it is needed the most.”


Variety: At 172 Years Old, London’s Regent Street Cinema is Rallying to Survive: ‘We’re Independent. We Can Do This.’. “Located at 307 Regent Street, a short distance from the bustle of Oxford Street’s shopping district, the theater has long been considered the birthplace of British Cinema. Though it was opened in 1848 to host live stage productions, it became the first U.K. venue to screen moving images with a short movie by the Lumiere brothers in 1896, and went on to serve as a cinema until 1980. The University of Westminster, on whose land the Grade II-listed building resides, reopened it as a repertory cinema in 2015 after a three-year restoration project at the cost of £6.1 million ($7.9 million).”

MarketWatch: Opinion: Are employers using the pandemic as cover to shed older workers?. “The labor market has never been easy for older Americans, and now there is fresh evidence that the COVID-19 crisis is making it even worse. A new report by the Retirement Equity Lab, part of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at New York City-based The New School, says that unemployment rates for workers 55 and older has topped those of mid-career workers for the entire length of the pandemic. It’s the first time since 1973 that such a gap has existed for six months or longer.”

Mashable: After coronavirus shutdown, self-driving cars on Lyft will pick up passengers again. “You can order a self-driving car on Lyft again. The company paused its autonomous taxi program, which only operates in Las Vegas, in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

NBC News: Delta adds 460 passengers who refused masks to ‘no-fly’ list. “Over 400 passenger won’t be flying Delta anytime soon as a result of their alleged refusal to wear face masks during flights, according to an internal memo obtained by NBC News.”


The Week: Fauci says Trump hasn’t attended a coronavirus task force meeting in several months. “Asked by Chuck Todd when Trump himself last attended one of these meetings, Fauci said ‘that was several months ago.’ Fauci also said in the interview that Scott Atlas, a controversial White House COVID-19 adviser who has no background in epidemiology and recently posted a false claim that masks don’t work that was removed by Twitter, has the president’s ‘ear’ more than he does.”

New York Times: The Trump Administration Shut a Vaccine Safety Office Last Year. What’s the Plan Now?. “For now, Operation Warp Speed, created by the Trump administration to spearhead development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments, is focused on getting vaccines through clinical trials in record time and manufacturing them quickly. The next job will be to monitor the safety of vaccines once they’re in widespread use. But the administration last year quietly disbanded the office with the expertise for exactly this job, merging it into an office focused on infectious diseases. Its elimination has left that long-term safety effort for coronavirus vaccines fragmented among federal agencies, with no central leadership, experts say.”


Man of Many: The Rock Just Released His Own Under Armour Sportsmask. “Coming in midnight navy blue and gold, at only USD$35, much like the brand’s other masks, it’s designed to be worn all day long and is perfect for sports. The non-medical grade mask features a structured design that sits up off the face and lips for added comfort and breathability.”

Vanity Fair: Trump’s Vaccine Rush vs. the FDA: Inside Stephen Hahn’s “Existential Crisis”. “In the last few months, as the president and his surrogates have pressed for speed, the FDA’s career scientists have battled back, using abstruse FDA guidances to pharmaceutical companies and acronym-laden advisory committees to build a bulwark against political interference. Their efforts to increase transparency and guarantee safety have tacked several months onto the accelerated timetable. They understand that the stakes could not be higher, as the agency’s actions in the coming weeks will undoubtedly have a global impact.”

CNN: Fauci says it might be time to mandate masks as Covid-19 surges across US. “Mask mandates may be tricky to enforce, but it might be time to call for them, Fauci said ‘There’s going to be a difficulty enforcing it, but if everyone agrees that this is something that’s important and they mandate it and everybody pulls together and says, you know, we’re going to mandate it but let’s just do it, I think that would be a great idea to have everybody do it uniformly,’ he said.”


The Ringer: The NBA May Be Back Much Sooner Than Anyone Thought. “It has not been two weeks since LeBron James and the Lakers won the NBA title, but their championship already feels like it’s deep in the rearview mirror. After playing a virus-free three months inside the Orlando bubble, the league isn’t looking to decelerate.”


ProPublica: Illinois Will Start Sharing Data About COVID-19 Outbreaks in Schools. “As educators and parents assess the risk of returning to the classroom, some felt frustrated by the lack of public data about COVID-19 in schools. After a ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation, the state will start publishing the data.”


Washington Post: Suicide rates during the pandemic remained unchanged. Here’s what we can learn from that.. “As an emergency room physician, I kept an eye out during my shifts in the weeks following Trump’s March 24 statement. It seemed to me that we had fewer suicidal patients than usual. I called a colleague across town at another hospital. He thought he might be observing the opposite in his ER, that there might have been an uptick in patients with suicidal thoughts or attempts. Along with a team of researchers, I set out to try to find out what was happening. But we would have to wait. Death by suicide takes longer to be reported and finalized than most other causes of death. Every suicide death is investigated and its final cause directly adjudicated by a medical examiner, making the process slower but ultimately more reliable. It turns out that both I and my crosstown colleague were mistaken. Suicide rates in Massachusetts neither rose nor fell last spring. Suicide rates did not change from expected rates at all.”

Cleveland .com: Americans who died from the coronavirus lost a combined 2.5 million years of life expectancy, study says. “The more than 222,000 Americans who died from the coronavirus could have lived a combined 2.5 million years longer if they’d survived to their full life expectancies, according to a new analysis of COVID-19 death data. The staggering figure includes nearly 1.2 million years of potential life lost for people under the age of 65, according to an analysis by Dr. Stephen Elledge, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School.”

Washington Post: A powerful argument for wearing a mask, in visual form. “Despite the clear opposition to masks within the Trump White House and among its allies, Americans of all political stripes overwhelmingly support their use as a public health measure and say they wear them whenever they’re in public. Still, there are significant differences in mask-use rates at the state level. And data from Carnegie Mellon’s CovidCast, an academic project tracking real-time coronavirus statistics, yields a particularly vivid illustration of how mask usage influences the prevalence of covid-19 symptoms in a given area. Take a look.”


ScienceDaily: New tool pulls elusive COVID-19 marker from human blood. “When COVID-19 attacks, the immune system produces a cytokine, or protein, called Interleukin-6 (IL-6), whose concentrations can offer vital information about a patient’s level and stage of infection…. Now researchers at McMaster University and SQI Diagnostics have created a surface that repels every other element of human blood except the critical cytokine, opening a timely window for understanding the progress of COVID-19 in individual patients.”


Argus Leader: Editorial: Biggest constant during COVID-19 crisis has been lack of leadership. “Forgive us here at the Argus Leader Editorial Board if it feels like we’re going insane. Time and again, we have urged state and city leaders – most notably Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken – to take stronger action in response to a COVID-19 crisis that has led to 34,000 cases and 333 deaths in South Dakota, a state that leads the nation in current per capita hospitalizations. From the day when the first case was confirmed in March to our predicament seven months later, with stressed hospitals entering a critical fall and winter, calls for firm and consistent leadership have largely gone ignored in favor of the governor’s ‘positive pants’ rhetoric and anti-mask talking points. In the interest of accuracy, we’re not actually going insane. We’re just frustrated as hell.”


CNN: States grapple with mask rules at polls to avoid dangers of both superspreaders and standoffs. “Secretaries of state or election boards in 29 of the 33 states with current mask mandates told CNN that their rules would not prevent someone who refused to wear a mask from casting a vote. The four other states did not respond to questions about the issue. Elections officials in nearly all of those states say masks are strongly encouraged for people voting in person. Many states will be offering voters free masks at polling places, as well as requiring poll workers to wear masks.”

ProPublica: Veterans Affairs Secretary Headlines GOP Fundraiser as COVID-19 Cases Surge. “Though legal, campaigning by cabinet secretaries is a departure from historical norms. Nevertheless, it’s become standard practice in the administration of President Donald Trump. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has hit the campaign trail for Trump, and several other cabinet members recently visited Iowa. Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is also campaigning in North Carolina. Trump himself has routinely blurred politics with official functions, most prominently by hosting the Republican convention on the White House lawn, and he’s brushed off more than a dozen staff violations of the federal Hatch Act, which limits political activity by government employees.”

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