Thursday CoronaBuzz, November 19, 2020: 43 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.


Johns Hopkins University: ADVISORY: New Tool Offers County-Level Insight Into COVID-19 Impact. “The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center has launched a new tool on its U.S. state tracking pages that provides county-level insight into the effects of COVID-19 through case and testing data measured against key demographic information, including race and poverty level. The Coronavirus Resource Center is the first to publish such a compilation of at the county level.”

University of Texas at Austin: New Tool Helps Parents and Educators Estimate COVID-19 Infection Numbers at Their School. “USTIN, Texas — With COVID-19 cases hitting new highs across the country, a new online tool can help families and school leaders estimate how many infected people are likely to show up at a school on a given day anywhere in the United States. The free, interactive dashboard was produced by The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.”


Jerusalem Post: National Library’s Docu.Text film festival goes online. “Read all about it: the National Library of Israel’s sixth annual Docu.Text Film Festival is going digital this year, with festivals in both the US and Israel, November 15-25. Both festivals feature award-winning documentary films, Q and A sessions, and a number of special events. All the events are free, while viewers need to pay to stream the films.”


Syracuse .com: Need help paying for food or rent? NY has a new online site that could help you find resources. “The coronavirus pandemic has created historic unemployment, leaving record numbers of families struggling at exactly a time when it is difficult to go out and ask for help. The state has set up a new website to aid people across the state find help without leaving their homes.”

Carson Now: Nevada launches influenza vaccination data dashboard. “The dashboard was developed by the Nevada State Immunization Program (NSIP) and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Analytics, and provides updates weekly on influenza vaccination coverage rates by county, age, and gender across the state throughout the 2020-2021 influenza season and compares rates to the two previous flu seasons.”


UC Davis: Manetti Shrem Museum Creates ‘Exhibition in Progress’ Website. “The ‘Exhibition in Progress’ website invites the public behind the scenes as the museum documents the development and installation leading up to its January 2021 exhibition, “Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation.” The site will provide a window into the challenges and innovative approaches that are part of building an exhibition during a global pandemic.”

From Sitejabber: Coronavirus Consumer Resource Center. “This time of uncertainty and alarm has brought out both the best and worst in businesses. While some aim to help with donations and discounts, others offer false information and scams to make more money. As a leading platform of authentic consumer resources, we are providing this consumer-centric guide with businesses for users to turn to for medical information, protective gear, stay-at-home alternatives, and more.”


CNET: US death toll from coronavirus surpasses quarter-million mark. “More than a quarter-million people have died in the US from the coronavirus, according to tracking numbers from Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, by far the highest total in the world. The grim milestone comes about six weeks after the world surpassed the 1 million fatalities mark.”

BuzzFeed News: The US Added 1 Million New Coronavirus Cases This Week Alone. “The US has careened past 11 million recorded cases of the coronavirus, adding 1 million new cases in just the past week as the country faces an alarming acceleration in spread. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the US hit the 11 million mark on Sunday afternoon after ticking over 10 million on Monday, Nov 9. Since then, there has been an average of 150,000 new cases a day.”

CNN: Good news on the vaccine front shows ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ For now, the Covid crisis is unabated. “Most Americans probably won’t get vaccinated until next year. And the fall surge continues to bring a terrifying jump in cases: Nationwide, for two straight weeks, the US has added more than 100,000 new cases daily. And hospitalizations hit another new high. For the 11th day in a row, Illinois reported more than 10,000 cases in a single day, according to the state Department of Health website.”

Washington Post: Some places were short on nurses before the virus. The pandemic is making it much worse.. “As the virus stampedes across the country, setting previously unimaginable infection records nearly every day of its third major surge, some hospitals are desperately searching for staffers and paying dearly for it. There is record demand for travel nurses, who take out-of-town assignments on short-term contracts of 13 weeks or less at elevated wages. Per-diem nurses, who are willing to take a shift or two in their local hospitals, have been pressed into service. The military is chipping in. And still, in some places, it is not nearly enough.”


Daily Beast: South Dakota Nurse: Dying COVID Patients Think It’s Fake. “A South Dakota nurse whose tweets went viral over the weekend says the hardest part of her job is convincing some critically ill patients that they really do have COVID-19. ‘Their last dying words are, “This can’t be happening, it’s not real,”‘ Jodi Doering said on CNN. ‘Even after positive results come back, they don’t believe it.'”


BBC: Vietnam economy is Asia’s shining star during Covid. “Vietnam has minimised the economic damage from Covid-19 and is the only country in South East Asia on track for growth this year. Its economy is expected to grow 2.4% this year, according to latest figures from the International Monetary Fund.”

Phys .org: Pandemic has surprising impacts on public transit demand. “The COVID-19 pandemic had surprising effects on demand for public transit in American cities, new research suggests. While demand for public transit dropped about 73% across the country after the pandemic hit, the reduction didn’t impact all cities equally, according to the study, which analyzed activity data from a widely used public transit navigation app.”

CNBC: Shoppers seek out personalized, thoughtful holiday gifts to feel connected during pandemic. “Long-distance trips to visit relatives are a health risk. Seasonal traditions, such as cookie swaps and neighborhood parties, have been canceled. And meals with some family and friends will be celebrated on a video call rather than around a table. In a time of social distancing, financial hardship and illness from Covid-19, online searches and purchasing patterns indicate that holiday shoppers are seeking meaningful gifts, from personalized items to handmade goods.”


Iowa Capital Dispatch: Lawsuit: Tyson managers bet money on how many workers would contract COVID-19. “A wrongful death lawsuit tied to COVID-19 infections in a Waterloo pork processing plant alleges that during the initial stages the pandemic, Tyson Foods ordered employees to report for work while supervisors privately wagered money on the number of workers who would be sickened by the deadly virus.”

City A.M.: Exclusive: Coronavirus stalls nearly a third of promotions. “Some 28% of full time workers were due a promotion in 2020 that has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, exclusive research has revealed. The research found more than a third (36%) of full-time workers felt their professional development had regressed due to the coronavirus pandemic.”


Washington Post: Metro considers buyouts to stave off 1,400 layoffs due to pandemic-created financial crisis. “Metro plans to offer buyouts to avoid having to lay off 1,400 employees as it searches for ways to cut more than $176 million from its pandemic-ravaged budget. The transit agency’s board on Thursday will consider offering retirement-eligible employees a bonus to quit so Metro can freeze or eliminate their positions and save jobs for younger, less expensive workers.”

KMBC: Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issues new statewide mask mandate as COVID-19 cases soar. “Gov. Laura Kelly announced a new executive order that creates a statewide mask mandate designed to control the spread of the coronavirus in Kansas, as the state again reported another record seven-day increase in cases.”

Associated Press: North Dakota governor changes tack and issues mask mandate. “After months of resisting ordering the people of North Dakota to wear masks and limit the size of gatherings, the state’s Republican governor relented in an effort to stem a coronavirus surge that is among the worst in the U.S. and that threatens to overwhelm the state’s hospitals.”

Des Moines Register: Reynolds broadens mask requirements, limits bar, restaurant hours, to combat COVID-19 in Iowa. “After months of rebuffing calls for a broad mask mandate to fight COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday evening that all people ages 2 and older must wear a face covering when in an indoor space that is open to the public. Her order applies when people who are not members of the same household will be within six feet of one another for 15 minutes or more.”

Washington Post: Virginia House of Delegates to meet online in 2021 as coronavirus cases rise. “Virginia’s House of Delegates will meet online for the 2021 legislative session that convenes in January, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn said Monday, citing the need to avoid a coronavirus pandemic that has been worsening across the state. The House went virtual this summer for the first time during a special session that began Aug. 18 and tackled budget, coronavirus and criminal justice issues. That session stretched across 84 days — longer than the regular session set to open Jan. 13.”

Los Angeles Times: California lawmakers travel to Hawaii conference amid COVID-19 travel warnings. “Legislators from California and other states are gathering for an annual conference in Maui this week despite a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Golden State that resulted in travel warnings by health officials.”

NPR: Whitmer: ‘Not Going To Be Bullied’ Over Michigan Coronavirus Restrictions. “On Sunday, Michigan health officials announced the ‘three-week pause’ that seeks to limit indoor social gatherings and group activities. The measures, which are set to go into effect Wednesday, include the temporary suspension of in-person learning at colleges and high schools, closing casinos and movie theaters, and closing indoor services at bars and restaurants.”


Politico: Whitmer: Atlas’ call for Michiganders to ‘rise up’ against Covid restrictions ‘took my breath away’. “Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Monday that she was stunned by a call from one of President Donald Trump’s top coronavirus advisers for people in her state to ‘rise up’ against new restrictions aimed at slowing the disease’s deadly surge. ‘It actually took my breath away, to tell you the truth,’ Whitmer told MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe,’ referring to a tweet posted over the weekend by Scott Atlas, whose skepticism toward Covid-19 mitigation strategies has been the subject of widespread criticism.”

Washington Post: ‘This is how we treat each other? This is who we are?’. “I don’t really know if I should be talking about all of this. It makes me worried for my safety. I’ve had strange cars driving back and forth past my house. I get threatening messages from people saying they’re watching me. They followed my family to the park and took pictures of my kids. How insane is that? I know it’s my job to be out front talking about the importance of public health — educating people, keeping them safe. Now it kind of scares me.”

E&E News: Sources: Fish and Wildlife chief Aurelia Skipwith has COVID-19. “Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith tested positive for COVID-19 last week, according to two sources familiar with her diagnosis. Skipwith, who has worked at Interior Department headquarters for most of the pandemic and traveled frequently in her official capacity, began working from home last Wednesday and has canceled her upcoming trips, sources confirmed. Her diagnosis came shortly after a hunting trip in Maryland the weekend after the election.”


BBC: Coronavirus: The realities of schooling in rural Brazil. “In Latin America and the Caribbean, 97% of children are still not having face-to-face classes, according to estimates by the United Nation’s children’s agency, Unicef. That is around 137 million students. On average, children in Latin America have lost nearly four times more days of schooling than in other parts of the world, Unicef says.”

Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State dashboard helping Columbus-area schools spot COVID outbreaks among children. “Using the dashboard, school leaders can now monitor data that’s specific to their districts, including student and staff absences, nurse visits by students with flu-like symptoms and COVID-19 cases among people living in their district boundaries. If they’re seeing statistics that aren’t too out of the ordinary, the dashboard also gives them the confidence to know they’re operating safely.”


ProPublica: Rapid Testing Is Less Accurate Than the Government Wants to Admit. “By September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had purchased more than 150 million tests for nursing homes and schools, spending more than $760 million. But it soon became clear that antigen testing — named for the viral proteins, or antigens, that the test detects — posed a new set of problems. Unlike lab-based, molecular PCR tests, which detect snippets of the virus’s genetic material, antigen tests are less sensitive because they can only detect samples with a higher viral load. The tests were prone to more false negatives and false positives. As problems emerged, officials were slow to acknowledge the evidence.”

Mississippi Free Press: After Big Thanksgiving Dinners, Plan Small Christmas Funerals, Health Experts Warn. “Mississippians should plan ‘to have very small Thanksgiving gatherings’ with only nuclear family members this year to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mississippi State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs and other public health officials warned on Friday.”

CNN: Covid-19 is sending Black, Latino and Native American people to the hospital at about 4 times the rate of others. “Black, Hispanic and Native American people infected with Covid-19 are about four times more likely to be hospitalized than others, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows.”


TechRadar: Google Maps’ new update goes gung-ho on the Covid-19 safety features. “Google Maps has had a tough time staying relevant in a Covid-19 world, when lockdowns make navigating streets ill-advised or even illegal, and when businesses open, close or change working hours faster than the big G can update. Well, it seems Maps is trying to remedy that.”

NHK World-Japan: Google starts forecasting COVID-19 cases in Japan. “The service will provide the number of new COVID cases, deaths, hospitalization and other data at the prefecture level over the next 28 days. During the period from Sunday to December 12, a total of 53,321 people are projected to test positive nationwide. Hokkaido is expected to have the most cases at 16,877, followed by Tokyo with 10,164 and Osaka with 7,756.”

ABC News Australia: Federal Government used Google Translate for COVID-19 messaging aimed at multicultural communities. “Critical public health messages by the Commonwealth about the coronavirus pandemic were bungled amid revelations bureaucrats used Google Translate to communicate with multicultural communities. The decision by the Department of Home Affairs has been revealed in documents obtained by the ABC that show official translators were initially sidelined.”


Bloomberg: Oxford Study Confirms Covid Shot’s Response in Older Adults. “The University of Oxford confirmed that the Covid-19 vaccine it’s developing with AstraZeneca Plc produced strong immune responses in older adults in an early study, with pivotal findings from the final phase of trials expected in the coming weeks.”

Politico: There are 2 effective Covid-19 vaccines. What’s next?. “The news Monday that a second coronavirus vaccine has proven more than 90 percent effective in late-stage trials could be a game-changer, but the hard work isn’t over. Governments and vaccine developers are still figuring out how to distribute limited early stocks of the shots, whether they can pump up production to meet intense global demand, and — at least in the United States — how to overcome a rising tide of vaccine hesitancy.”


PCMag: Zoom Is Scanning Social Media for Signs of Impending Zoom-Bomb Attacks. “Zoom has been scanning social media posts for Zoom meeting links—a sign that bad actors are preparing to infiltrate and hijack the video session—and will notify users if it believes their meetings are in danger of being Zoom-bombed.”


CNN: An intubated Covid-19 patient played the violin in the ICU to thank health care workers. Get your tissues out. “A retired orchestra teacher battling Covid-19 in a Utah hospital turned to his true passion — music — to help spread some joy in the ICU. Even while being intubated and unable to speak, Grover Wilhelmsen wanted to show his gratitude to the health care workers at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.”


Washington Post: Scott Atlas’s rabble-rousing will lead to illness and death. He should be fired.. “SCOTT ATLAS is a neuroradiologist, not an infectious disease expert, nor an epidemiologist. As President Trump’s leading adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, he continues to make statements that will cause more illness and death. He ought to be fired immediately.”

Daily Beast: I Was a Military COVID Planner. The Vaccine Rollout Is Going to Be a Nightmare.. “Before I retired from the Army, I served as a COVID crisis planner at NORTHCOM, where we were terrified of a potential ‘COVICANE.’ Luckily, a major hurricane did not deliver a Katrina- or Harvey-like hit to a big city facing a coronavirus outbreak this year, at least on the scale we feared. But our next biggest concern was what the virus might do to rural America. And it’s playing out in harrowing fashion right now.”


WyoFile: Wyo GOP passes resolution opposing state of emergency. “As Wyoming’s COVID-19 crisis reaches a fever pitch, the Wyoming Republican Party’s governing body passed a resolution calling on Gov. Mark Gordon to rescind his declaration of a state of emergency. Gordon’s declaration, passed March 13 by executive order, directed the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security to take actions to respond to the virus. It created legal authority for the subsequent public health orders that early on included closing businesses and to date impose some restrictions on businesses and public places.”

Associated Press: Pandemic politics leave DC in gridlock as virus surges. “The urgency of the nationwide surge in virus cases, spiking hospitalizations and increasing death tolls has hardly resonated in the nation’s capital as its leaders are vexed by transition politics and trying to capitalize on the promise of a coming vaccine. The virus has killed more than 247,000 Americans this year and infected at least 11.1 million — some 1 million of them in just the past week.”

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