Thursday CoronaBuzz, November 5, 2020: 43 pointers to updates, useful stuff, research news, and more.

A teacher (hi Becky!) emailed me and asked if there was any way to search just the materials in CoronaBuzz. So now there is. If you go to the ResearchBuzz Firehose ( ) you’ll see a search box on the right that allows you to limit your search by category. Almost 6500 coronavirus-related articles have been indexed on RB Firehose since March 14. Please wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home if you can. Please be careful. I love you.


Daily Evergreen: New tool shows rural-urban gap in COVID-19 cases. “As Whitman County reports 18 deaths from COVID-19 over the span of about one month, WSU researchers are looking to a new rural COVID-19 tracking tool to understand gaps in rural and urban areas…. The tool, COVID Urban Rural Explorer, collects data from The New York Times’ daily tracker and other sources to compile and classify it into a weekly rural-urban visual, [Professor Ofer] Amram said.”


SciTechDaily: Visualization Tool: See How Your Congressional District Has Handled COVID-19. “Launched earlier this year, the COVID Atlas interactive visualization compiles county-level case numbers, generates daily hotspot statistics, and displays them on an easy-to-read map. Now, the online resource also includes a congressional district overlay—a new feature that allows users to see how the impacts of COVID-19 might differ according to local government responses.”


Salina Post: New website shows where $1B in virus relief spent in Kansas. “Governor Laura Kelly announced the launch of the online investment dashboard to show how the $1.034 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) are being spent across Kansas.”

KSL NewsRadio: Navajo eligible to apply for CARES Act pandemic assistance. “Enrolled members of the Navajo Nation can now apply for federal CARES Act funding through a new website. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the Navajo Nation particularly hard, resulting in strict lockdowns and resource donations to fight the spread.”

CTV News: New web tool assesses air quality in Montreal buildings to reduce spread of COVID-19. “As Montrealers head increasingly indoors, concerns over air quality and the spread of COVID-19 is on the rise. A Concordia researcher says a new web-based tool can help determine the safety of the air quality in a building and thus reduce the spread of COVID-19.”


KSHB: Kansas City area sees upward trend in new COVID-19 infections. “41 Action News analyzed data that shows Missouri passed 200,000 total COVID-19 infections Wednesday. The state has set records for the highest number of new infections in one day four times in the past week.”


Washington Post: Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes.. “Anchored in public health concerns that the economic stress of the pandemic will force millions of renters from the safety of their homes and into the crosshairs of a fast-spreading virus, the CDC order aims to keep the estimated 40 million renters facing eviction this year in place through Jan. 1. “I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions,” President Trump said in a statement when the CDC order was announced. But as [Emily] Brockman and tens of thousands of others soon realized, rather than offer a bubble of stability in the midst of the pandemic, the federal response has injected confusion into housing courts. ”

Axios: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals. “Some states are seeing dangerous levels of coronavirus hospitalizations, with hospitals warning that they could soon become overwhelmed if no action is taken to slow the spread. Why it matters: Patients can only receive good care if there’s enough care to go around — which is one reason why the death rate was so much higher in the spring, some experts say.”

WBUR: COVID-19 Hit Mass. Nursing Homes Hard — Especially Those Serving People Of Color . “In Massachusetts, nursing homes were hit hard and early by the coronavirus. Thousands of residents in these facilities have died from COVID-19, and the death rate from the virus in nursing homes is 90 times that of the statewide death rate. But nursing homes across the state did not bear this burden equally.”

New York Times: Recession’s Silver Lining: American Households Are Doing Better Than Expected. “Since April, consumer savings have increased, credit scores have surged to a record high and household debt has dropped. The billions of dollars that banks set aside at the start of the crisis to cover anticipated losses on loans to customers have been largely untouched. And lending at pawnshops and payday lenders, where business tends to boom during downturns, has been unexpectedly slow.”

The Guardian: Low and no-alcohol sales soar 30% in lockdown as UK drinking habits change. “From beers to spirits and even ready-to-drink cocktails, supermarket sales of no- and low-alcohol drinks have soared during lockdown as consumers become used to popping them into their trolleys with their grocery staples.”


WPTV: ‘Reopen South Florida’ holds mask-burning ceremony in response to re-extended mask mandate. “The re-extension of Palm Beach County’s facial covering directive is being called ‘medical tyranny’ by some opponents who took to the streets [October 24] in Delray Beach to display their frustrations and demand their reinstated freedoms.”


Washington Post: Bonuses before bankruptcy: Companies doled out millions to executives before filing for Chapter 11. “The coronavirus recession tipped dozens of troubled companies into bankruptcy, setting off a rush of store closures, furloughs and layoffs. But several major brands, including Hertz Global, J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus, doled out millions in executive bonuses just before filing for Chapter 11 protection, according to a Washington Post analysis of regulatory filings and court documents.”

The Takeout: Grocery delivery companies brace for a busy winter. “Remember how hard it was to get groceries delivered at the beginning of the pandemic? Well, delivery companies do too. They’re gearing up for a potentially busy season by beefing up their staff in both stores and warehouses to prevent major catastrophes.”


Salt Lake Tribune: Utah’s hospitals prepare to ration care as a record number of coronavirus patients flood their ICUs. “Under the criteria, which would require [Governor Gary] Herbert’s approval, patients who are getting worse despite receiving intensive care would be moved out first. In the event that two patients’ conditions are equal, the young get priority over the old, since older patients are more likely to die.”

Yahoo: El Paso returning to coronavirus lockdown could be a sign of more to come in the US. “In its reopening orders at the state level, Texas Governor Greg Abbott allowed businesses to increase capacity from 50% to 75% occupancy beginning September 21, unless a region’s hospital patients constituted more than 15% of total hospitalizations. That metric was different from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s emphasis on tying regions reopening in that state to a threshold of coronavirus test positivity rates, a more leading indicator of spread than hospitalizations. In New York City, despite a test positivity rate of 2%, indoor dining remains capped at 25% occupancy.”


CBS News: Russia orders national mask mandate as coronavirus cases spike. “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration is taking its most drastic measures yet to curb the second wave of COVID-19. The Russian government on [October 27] implemented a nationwide mask mandate, as coronavirus cases spike worldwide.”

NPR: Internal Documents Reveal COVID-19 Hospitalization Data The Government Keeps Hidden. “NPR has obtained documents that give a snapshot of data the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services collects and analyzes daily. The documents — reports sent to agency staffers — highlight trends in hospitalizations and pinpoint cities nearing full hospital capacity and facilities under stress. They paint a granular picture of the strain on hospitals across the country that could help local citizens decide when to take extra precautions against COVID-19.”

Washington Post: Trump’s pandemic agenda shoved government scientists aside. They’re attempting an 11th-hour comeback.. “After months of being sidelined or outright attacked by President Trump, a growing number of government scientists and physicians are pushing back against the president’s political agenda when it comes to the pandemic.”


American Medical Association: AMA statement on ongoing attacks on physicians treating COVID patients. “Throughout this pandemic, physicians, nurses, and frontline health care workers have risked their health, their safety and their lives to treat their patients and defeat a deadly virus. They did it because duty called and because of the sacred oath they took. The suggestion that doctors—in the midst of a public health crisis—are overcounting COVID-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge.”

Billings Gazette: Once skeptical, Butte man now advocates caution after surviving COVID-19. “Since March, Gilbert Herrera believed the COVID-19 pandemic would end after the Nov. 3 election. ‘I wanted to call it a “shamdemic,” ‘ he said. Then in September Herrera, his wife, Gina Sandon, and his daughter all contracted COVID-19. Now he says he’s a ‘firm believer’ the pandemic is no hoax and finds himself getting upset seeing people unmasked or shirking social distancing guidelines.”

STAT News: Ashish Jha on Covid-19, pandemic fatigue, and when we’re getting back to normal. “Avery 2020 thing is that we now have a group of people who’ve become pandemic celebrities. They’d probably prefer not to have that moniker. But the fact is, public health experts are now well-known faces on TV news and well-known voices on your favorite podcasts. Among them is Ashish Jha, who’s now dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. He has more Twitter followers than STAT’s Adam Feuerstein and Damian Garde combined. And he’s particularly helpful at cutting through the noise and explaining what’s happening with Covid-19.”

ProPublica: Out of Jail and Back in School, Grace Finds Her Voice. “Ten minutes before her debut and three months after she became known as the Michigan girl sent to juvenile detention for failing to do her online schoolwork, Grace* hurried into a bustling doughnut shop in suburban Detroit and plopped into a leather chair next to her mother. She straightened her headband and searched her pockets, unsuccessfully, for lip gloss. She tapped a few final notes into her phone. Then, ignoring her mother’s request to sit up straight, Grace leaned in toward her laptop and, for the first time since her case gained national notoriety as a symbol of racial inequities in the juvenile justice system, she began to speak publicly about what had happened to her.”

New York Times: ‘A Slow Killer’: Nursing Home Residents Wither in Isolation Forced by the Virus. “After months of near-isolation inside his senior care facility, Charlie no longer recognizes his wife of almost 50 years. In another nursing home, Susan’s toenails grew so long that she could not squeeze into her shoes. Ida lost 37 pounds and stopped speaking. Minnie cried and asked God to just take her. They are among thousands of older people stricken by another epidemic ravaging America’s nursing homes — an outbreak of loneliness, depression and atrophy fueled by the very lockdowns that were imposed to protect them from the coronavirus.”


Washington Post: D.C. Public Schools cancels plan to bring some students into classrooms Nov. 9. “The chancellor of D.C.’s public school system announced Monday that he will abandon plans to bring thousands of mostly high-needs elementary students back to classrooms next week after talks with the teachers union collapsed. The reversal came as educators staged a sick-in, forcing the cancellation of online lessons.”


Washington Post: Pandemic depression is about to collide with seasonal depression. Make a plan, experts say.. “A survey study published in the the JAMA Network Open in September found that U.S. adults were reporting levels of depressive symptoms more than three times higher during the pandemic than before it. A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in June yielded similar results, with more U.S. adults reporting adverse mental health symptoms, particularly in young adults, racial and ethnic minorities and essential workers. (On the flip side, a survey done of U.S. teens from May to July found that teens actually fared well when it came to depression and loneliness.)”

Reuters: UK study finds evidence of waning antibody immunity to COVID-19 over time. “Antibodies against the novel coronavirus declined rapidly in the British population during the summer, a study found on [October 27], suggesting protection after infection may not be long lasting and raising the prospect of waning immunity in the community.”

Scientific American: A Flu Shot Might Reduce Coronavirus Infections, Early Research Suggests. “U.S. health officials are urging Americans to get their flu shots this year in the hopes of thwarting a winter ‘twindemic’—a situation in which both influenza and COVID-19 spread and sicken the public. But a new study suggests that there could be another key reason to get a flu jab this year: it might reduce your risk of COVID-19. The research, released as a preprint that has not yet been peer-reviewed, indicates that a flu vaccine against the influenza virus may also trigger the body to produce broad infection-fighting molecules that combat the pandemic-causing coronavirus.”

Washington Post: First, coronavirus infections increased. Then, hospitalizations. Now, deaths are on the rise.. “All signs indicate that this isn’t a blip but rather a reflection of a massive surge in infections that, without a dramatic effort to reverse the trend, will drive up the death toll for weeks to come. At least 229,000 people in the United States have died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.”

Yahoo: Study finds brain abnormalities ‘common’ in COVID-19 patients. “Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine reviewed 84 studies involving more than 600 patients who had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The median age was 61, and two-thirds of the patients were men, while one-third were women. The study’s authors examined the results of patients’ electroencephalograms — known as EEGs, the tests detect abnormalities in brain waves, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine — and found that brain abnormalities in COVID-19 patients were ‘common.'”

New York Times: Masks Work. Really. We’ll Show You How. “The public health debate on masks is settled, said Joseph G. Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard. When you wear a mask, ‘you protect yourself, you protect others, you prevent yourself from touching your face,’ he said. And you signal that wearing a mask is the right thing to do. With coronavirus cases still rising, wearing a mask is more important than ever. In this animation, you will see just how effective a swath of fabric can be at fighting the pandemic.”


Washington Post: Canada’s post-Thanksgiving coronavirus surge could be a cautionary tale for Americans. “As the holiday season approaches amid a surge in novel coronavirus cases across the United States, a Thanksgiving-related spike in Canada could serve as a cautionary tale. Case counts in much of Canada are climbing, even in parts of the country that imposed new autumn restrictions. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, and both provincial and federal officials have pointed to the holiday as a culprit in the spike.”

NBC News: ‘We are broken’: Montana health care workers battle growing Covid outbreak. “Health care workers are frustrated that many people are not following basic public health guidelines, such as wearing masks. This summer, Montana’s governor imposed a mask mandate, but it’s been difficult to enforce in many parts of the state. As the winter and flu season takes hold, health care workers are most worried about staffing. What if they get sick? What if a relative gets sick, and they have to quarantine, keeping them at home for days? Will there be enough traveling nurses to go around as the virus surges simultaneously in several parts of the country?”


KHN: Verily’s COVID Testing Program Halted in San Francisco and Oakland. “Amid fanfare in March, California officials celebrated the launch of a multimillion-dollar contract with Verily — Google’s health-focused sister company — that they said would vastly expand COVID testing among the state’s impoverished and underserved communities. But seven months later, San Francisco and Alameda counties — two of the state’s most populous — have severed ties with the company’s testing sites amid concerns about patients’ data privacy and complaints that funding intended to boost testing in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods instead was benefiting higher-income residents in other communities.”


University of Southern California: A 10-Day Forecast for COVID-19. “What if we could predict the future and see what is going to happen with the spread of COVID? That something is what USC Viterbi Professor Roger Ghanem of the Civil and Environmental department of Engineering and his doctoral student, Xiaoshu Zeng, are trying to do with their research. Ghanem, Gordon S. Marshall Professor of Engineering Technology, and Zeng hope to help contain the spread of the virus by looking at recent surges in COVID-19 cases. They have developed a model to make reliable predictions and forecast the number of daily new COVID-19 cases for the next week for individual states and the entire U.S., allowing scientists in the impacted areas to advise policymakers to take mitigating actions such as social distancing and mask mandates.”


Politico: Trump fights in court to block pandemic food aid for lowest-income Americans. “The Trump administration is fighting in federal court to block states from giving billions of dollars in emergency food stamps to the lowest-income Americans during the coronavirus crisis. Residents of Pennsylvania and California have sued President Donald Trump’s Agriculture Department over a policy that has kept roughly 40 percent of households who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from receiving any emergency benefits during the pandemic.”

CNN: Texas landowners facing coronavirus pandemic and land seizures for border wall. “Within the last six months, as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the US, the Trump administration filed 75 lawsuits to seize private land along the US-Mexico border for the border wall, according to data reviewed by CNN from the Texas Civil Rights Project.”

News & Observer: Company agrees to pay $150,000 to settle claims of N95 mask price gouging in NC. “A New Jersey company has agreed to pay $150,000 to the state to settle claims that it violated North Carolina’s price gouging law when it tried to sell masks and other personal protective equipment at inflated prices last spring.”

AP: Utah governor ‘disgusted’ after health office vandalism. “Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said [Oct 30] he is ‘disgusted’ after someone shot at a state health department office in what he called an attempt to intimidate public health employees. The agency said someone shot at its office overnight in the Salt Lake City suburb of Millcreek with what appeared to be a pellet gun.”

ProPublica: When Falling Behind on Rent Leads to Jail Time. “Evictions in Arkansas can snowball from criminal charges to arrests to jail time because of a 119-year-old law that mostly impacts female, Black and low-income renters. Even prosecutors have called it unconstitutional.”


BuzzFeed: I Thought I Knew Everything About My Depression. COVID-19 Proved Me Wrong.. “COVID-19 has illuminated within me a deep understanding of mental health during a crisis, particularly the mechanisms by which people grow fearful, paranoid, depressed, helpless, and lost. At the start of this global crisis, I found myself playing the part of the pugnacious prick who told struggling people to just get over it or that they didn’t deserve to be depressed. Through the duration of the pandemic, however, I’ve seen how COVID-19 can deepen our shared experience of isolation and come to understand that the best thing we can do — when focusing on ourselves makes us feel worse — is extend ourselves to others, further the conversation, and ask ourselves if we can take things a step further.” This is a hard read, especially for those of us who have struggled with depression. But it’s a good read.

Chemical & Engineering News: We’re all science communicators. Here’s how to do it better. “Our situation comes with innumerable challenges. However, it also provides an opportunity for scientists to make a powerful contribution to society and demonstrate the value of science education. Whether or not you are engaging in research directly related to COVID-19, you can help those around you separate facts from myths, interpret the data that are available, and make better-informed decisions.”

USA Today: Doctors: Trump is wrong to accuse medical professionals of profiting from diagnosing COVID-19. “As doctors we are outraged by Trump’s gutless insinuations. We’re not alone. The American Medical Association, American College of Physicians, and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, leveraging the voices of over 800,000 American physicians, have each castigated Trump for his callous allegations. The mere implication that health care professionals would be incentivized by profit to alter the true rate of this public health pandemic is reprehensible. Here’s why.”

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