Wednesday CoronaBuzz, November 11, 2020: 31 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.


Boston .com: New database shows how the 40 largest school districts in Massachusetts have responded to the coronavirus. “Almost a quarter of public school districts in Massachusetts are in fully remote learning models due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But among the state’s 40 largest districts, the rate is nearly double.”


HuffPost: U.S. Becomes First Nation To Surpass 10 Million Coronavirus Cases. “The United States became the first nation worldwide since the pandemic began to surpass 10 million coronavirus infections, according to a Reuters tally on Sunday, as the third wave of the COVID-19 virus surges across the nation. The grim milestone came on the same day as global coronavirus cases exceeded 50 million.”

Des Moines Register: More than 1,000 in Iowa hospitals; COVID-19 hospitalizations up 84% in past two weeks. “For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Iowa, more than 1,000 people were being hospitalized in Iowa with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Hospitalizations have increased dramatically in the past two weeks. On Oct. 25, the state reported a then-record 561 COVID-19 hospitalizations. On Sunday, the state reported 1,034, an increase of about 84%. Sunday’s hospitalizations were up 42 from the day prior.”

CNN: Texas becomes the first US state with more than 1 million Covid-19 infections. “Texas has now surpassed one million Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University — becoming the first US state to record such a staggering number of cases. That means about one tenth of the country’s more than 10 million positive tests were reported in the Lone Star state.”


The Guardian: ‘It had been on my shelf for years’: readers share their lockdown reads. “Publishers report that coronavirus has boosted sales of long, classic novels. You reveal the great baggy monsters you’ve found the time to tackle.”

BetaNews: COVID-19 has hurt physical book sales and helped audio and digital. “You would expect the recent coronavirus crisis to have helped digital entertainment, but with reading it is still led by the traditional hardback and softback formats. However, the pandemic is helping to dethrone physical books, as people are more cautious about going out. While paper books still lead the market, their dominance is shrinking.”


CNN: Lyft’s business is nearly half of what it was before the pandemic. “Lyft’s business has been slashed nearly in half due to the ongoing pandemic. The company reported Tuesday that its revenue fell 48% compared to a year ago in the third quarter, to just below $500 million. Active riders fell 44% over the same period, to 12.5 million riders.”


New York Times: N.Y.C. Dangerously Close to Second Wave, Mayor Says, as New Rules Loom. “As coronavirus cases surged to record highs across the country, New York City had hoped to keep the outbreak at bay and press ahead with its slow but steady recovery from the dark days of spring. But now, the forecast is turning more alarming. The number of new infections is swiftly rising, with more than 1,000 cases identified in the city for five days in a row, a level that last occurred in May, according to the state’s Department of Health. Just a month ago, daily cases were typically in the 500 to 700 range.”

STAT News: ‘They’re not really doing anything’: As Covid-19 cases spiral, leaders around the U.S. lose urgency on prevention. “More than a dozen states have seen record-high Covid-19 infections in the past five days, as the country experiences case counts never seen before anywhere in the world and, once again, surging hospitalizations and deaths. But public health experts around the country told STAT they were deeply worried that there has not been a correspondingly urgent response from federal, state, and local leaders. As a result, they warned, the country is set on an even more dire course as it moves deeper into the fall and holiday season.”

Des Moines Register: Gov. Kim Reynolds requires Iowans to wear masks at large gatherings to thwart spread of the coronavirus. “Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday that she will require masks at many public gatherings as new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to set records. Reynolds, who has long resisted calls from health professionals to issue a statewide mask mandate, pointed to the rising community spread in the state, where the number of cases has begun to put a strain on the hospital system.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Denmark shaken by cull of millions of mink. “There was shock last week when Denmark decided to cull all its mink – up to 17 million animals – because of the spread of coronavirus. That national cull has turned into a political outcry, now that the prime minister has admitted the plan was rushed and had no legal basis.”

The Connexion: French state to pay delivery fees for bookshops in lockdown. “The French state announced yesterday (November 5) it will cover the cost of delivery fees for independent bookshops that are sending orders to customers during confinement in order to ‘help them continue trading through online sales’.”

Washington Post: The U.S. has absolutely no control over the coronavirus. China is on top of the tiniest risks.. “In the United States, as the pandemic rages, an increasingly pressing worry has been airborne transmission — which appears to be the key to large super-spreading events. Meanwhile, transmission from surfaces has been played down by experts, who have emphasized that this route is not thought to be a common way the virus spreads. But in China, where cases are increasingly rare and the government has adopted a no-tolerance policy for new infections, a growing emphasis has been placed on identifying less likely sources of infection.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Turkish Germans raise new Covid vaccine hopes. “A Turkish-German husband-and-wife team have emerged as frontrunners in the race to market a vaccine against coronavirus, which would be an extraordinary achievement.”

Washington Post: HUD Secretary Ben Carson tests positive for the coronavirus. “Carson, who tested positive Monday morning at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after experiencing symptoms, was at the White House last Tuesday for an election night event, as was White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who also has tested positive for the virus. Carson was around senior administration officials and other Cabinet members during the event.”

New York Times: Saeb Erekat, Palestinian Chief Negotiator Amid Turmoil, Dies at 65. ” Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official and negotiator who passionately advocated the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Jerusalem. He was 65.” If you thought Mr. Erekat had already passed away, it’s understandable; he was mistakenly reported as dead last month.

BBC: Coronavirus: Youth orchestra’s digital Tchaikovsky triumph. “The coronavirus pandemic has silenced many orchestras around the world. But the 70 young musicians who make up the Ulster Youth Orchestra have found a way to make themselves heard. Under the supervision of Daniele Rustioni, the Ulster Orchestra’s chief conductor, they remotely recorded an ambitious piece of musical magic.”


Reuters: One in five COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days – study. “Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists said on Monday, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days.”

ProPublica: Most States Aren’t Ready to Distribute the Leading COVID-19 Vaccine. “A review of state distribution plans reveals that officials don’t know how they’ll deal with the difficult storage and transport requirements of Pfizer’s vaccine, especially in the rural areas currently seeing a spike in infections.”

Elemental: We Hoped a Covid Vaccine Would Be Effective. But 90% Efficacy Is a True Game-Changer.. “I can’t resist offering a few quick takes on the latest Pfizer vaccine news: 90% efficacy is far better than even the most optimistic projections. An election analogy that captures the ‘margin of victory’ — these are like California results for Biden/Harris, rather than Pennsylvania results.”

National Geographic: Pfizer vaccine results are promising, but lack of data ‘very concerning,’ experts say. “Several experts say they’re concerned that the public is getting an incomplete picture about the vaccine’s success that doesn’t reveal critical information, such as which demographic groups it protected and whether it was from a mild or severe form of the virus. There’s also the real possibility that the 90-percent figure could change as the trial ticks on and investigators collect more results. Plus, the unpublished results have not been peer-reviewed or even released as a preliminary preprint.”


EurekAlert: Respirator 2.0: new n95-alternative introduces sensors for a better fit. “Investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been working to design a better, reusable respirator that could serve as an alternative to an N95 respirator. In the latest iteration of their work, they have introduced sensors to inform the user if the respirator is on properly and whether the filters are becoming saturated.”

TechCrunch: Google adds COVID-related health and safety info to Google Travel. “Starting this week, when users search for hotels and vacation rental properties through Google Travel, they may see new information about COVID-19 safety precautions at the property — like enhanced cleaning procedures that may be in use, for example, or if there’s an option for a contact-free check-in, among other things.”


EurekAlert: Stanford-led team creates a computer model that can predict how COVID-19 spreads in cities. “The study, published today in the journal Nature, merges demographic data, epidemiological estimates and anonymous cellphone location information, and appears to confirm that most COVID-19 transmissions occur at ‘superspreader’ sites, like full-service restaurants, fitness centers and cafes, where people remain in close quarters for extended periods. The researchers say their model’s specificity could serve as a tool for officials to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 as they reopen businesses by revealing the tradeoffs between new infections and lost sales if establishments open, say, at 20 percent or 50 percent of capacity.”

New York Times: A Rapid Virus Test Falters in People Without Symptoms, Study Finds. “In a head-to-head comparison, researchers at the University of Arizona found that, in symptomatic people, a rapid test made by Quidel could detect more than 80 percent of coronavirus infections found by a slower, lab-based P.C.R. test. But when the rapid test was used instead to randomly screen students and staff members who did not feel sick, it detected only 32 percent of the positive cases identified by the P.C.R. test.”

Nature: What Pfizer’s landmark COVID vaccine results mean for the pandemic. “The vaccine, which is being co-developed by BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, consists of molecular instructions — in the form of messenger RNA — for human cells to make the coronavirus spike protein, the immune system’s key target for this type of virus. The two-dose vaccine showed promise in animal studies and early-stage clinical trials. But the only way to know whether the vaccine works is to give it to a large number of people and then follow them over weeks or months to see whether they become infected and symptomatic. These results are compared with those for a group of participants who are given a placebo.”

National Institutes of Health: Hydroxychloroquine does not benefit adults hospitalized with COVID-19. “A National Institutes of Health clinical trial evaluating the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of adults with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has formally concluded that the drug provides no clinical benefit to hospitalized patients.”


The Cut: Who Dies: COVID took my grandfather. But it wasn’t what killed him.. “My grandfather died from complications of COVID-19. The last time I saw him, I wore gloves and a plastic gown, and put a face shield on over a mask. I stood next to his hospital bed with my family. The doctor warned us not to touch him, but I did, gently, one gloved hand over his. That he should die without touch felt intolerable, a punishment for a man who didn’t deserve one. We reminded him that we loved him. My mother told him that the neighborhood bear had returned, that the farmers’ market had good carrots. Despite our alien look, he recognized us. The virus was bad, he said, but he’d fight it. He tried.”

Yale Review: Surviving COVID-19. “In my room in the ICU, a clock hung on a concrete pillar across from my bed. Big, with huge numbers, so that even a short-sighted patient like me could see the time. Was the clock placed there for those of us in the ICU to orient ourselves in time, since there were no windows? If so, it told me little. The hall lights went on and off, the staff came and went in some elusive rhythm that was not, as was usually the case, determined by the light coming in from outside which divides the day from the night. Eleven o’clock, as the hands on that clock showed, could be eleven in the morning but also eleven in the evening—how could I know which? The only sure sign that the day had ended or begun was brushing my teeth. The time the clock showed was not mine; it was determined by others, and I only existed in it.”


BuzzFeed News: Scientists Are Relieved About A Biden Presidency. They Say The Real Work Can Start Now.. “For scientists who have watched in horror as President Donald Trump relentlessly insulted, undermined, and ignored science, while more than 236,000 Americans died during a historic pandemic, Joe Biden’s victory on Saturday was a long-awaited cause for celebration.”

Washington Post: While America fixated on election results, Americans battled covid-19. “It was early in the morning on Tuesday when Trona Leaper’s doctor told her to check herself into the hospital to be treated for covid-19. She had been coughing and feeling not quite right since the previous Thursday; by Monday, she had been prescribed medication but couldn’t keep anything down. Still, there was one thing Leaper, 57, was determined to do beforehand: vote in the 2020 presidential election.”

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