Friday CoronaBuzz, November 20, 2020: 48 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.


Arizona State University: ASU offers five weeks of free virtual programming over winter break. “ASU is offering five weeks of free virtual programming to engage students, families with kids and the entire community in learning activities covering topics from social justice to the zombie apocalypse to cookie decorating. The catalog of learning opportunities includes nearly 200 activities, which range from single, 15-minute sessions to courses taking place over multiple weeks.”

Calgary Herald: Quickdraw animation festival goes online, celebrates local and international talent. “GIRAF [Quickdraw’s Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival] programmers received 1,200 submissions and also scouted other festivals to make up its 2020 lineup, which will stream online from Nov. 19-29. In past years, the program was usually whittled down to roughly 50 titles. But in its 16th year, the festival will feature more than 80 selections from around the globe. For the first time, it will also put a focus on local animators with its Alberta Spotlight program.”


Wired: Are Covid Patients Gasping ‘It Isn’t Real’ As They Die?. “There’s no doubt that we owe a deep debt of gratitude to Jodi Doering and all the frontline medical personnel dealing with the current surge in Covid cases. The work they do is truly heroic. Still, the manner in which Doering’s account of her experience has been reported and circulated should give people pause.”

BBC: Covid: Mexico passes 100,000 coronavirus deaths. “Mexico has recorded more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19 – the fourth country to pass the sombre milestone. According to Johns Hopkins University, the country has suffered 100,104 deaths since the pandemic began. The news comes just days after the world’s largest Spanish-speaking country reported more than one million infections.”

Washington Post: Texas surpasses 20,000 virus deaths, second highest in US. “Texas surpassed 20,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths Monday, as COVID-19 continues to surge in the United States. That is the second-highest death count overall in the U.S., trailing only New York, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. It’s the 22nd-highest per capita at 69.7 deaths per 100,000 people.”

HuffPost: North Dakota Hits Highest COVID-19 Mortality Rate In The World. “North Dakota had the highest COVID-19 mortality rate of any other state or even any other country in the world last week, according to a shocking analysis by the Federation of American Scientists. South Dakota ranked third-worst in the world.”


USA Today: Fact check: Pfizer received COVID-19 vaccine data after Election Day, released within days. “Pfizer lacked access to its trial data until after Election Day and could not have known or released the results prior to that. Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO, told Axios that the data came in on Nov. 5 or 6, after Election Day on Nov. 3.”


DCist: Home For The Holidays? For Some, It’s Not A Risk Worth Taking. “Lauren Durkee is not going to New Jersey to see her aunt and uncle this year for Thanksgiving. She and her husband Colin usually make the trip from their home in Silver Spring, Maryland, but with coronavirus cases rising and local officials warning against holiday gatherings, they feel the risks are not worth it. Plus, she says, the chances of letting their guard down are too great.”

CNN: Retail sales grew less than expected in October, as economists worry about a ‘difficult winter’. “US retail sales grew at a slower pace than economists had predicted last month — prompting worries about a ‘difficult winter’ with lower consumer spending before a recovery next year. Retail sales increased by 0.3% to $553.3 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in October, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday. That’s below expectations of a 0.5% increase, and it’s down from a revised 1.6% in September.”


NBC News: Add to Biden’s transition challenges: Imposing Covid-19 precautions on cramped West Wing. “Biden’s team is brainstorming ways to apply his coronavirus-conscious campaign practices to the presidency, several of his advisers said. Transition officials are trying to determine how — and how many — White House officials can physically work out of the West Wing while maintaining social distancing and other protocols the pandemic requires, the advisers said.”


Business Insider: The first cruise line to resume Caribbean trips just canceled all 2020 cruises after an outbreak infected 7 passengers. “SeaDream Yacht Club has canceled its remaining 2020 cruises following a COVID-19 outbreak on one of its ships, the company announced Tuesday. The cruise line was the first to resume Caribbean trips when its SeaDream I set sail from Barbados on November 7. It had planned 22 such voyages, but a coronavirus outbreak onboard the very first ship forced the ship to turn around and led the company to suspend sailings for the rest of the year.”

Wall Street Journal: Hundreds of Companies That Got Stimulus Aid Have Failed. “About 300 companies that received as much as half a billion dollars in pandemic-related government loans have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of government data and court filings. Many of the companies, which employ a total of about 23,400 workers, say the funds from the Paycheck Protection Program weren’t enough to keep them going as the coronavirus and lack of additional stimulus payments weighed on their businesses.”


Washington Post: Maryland governor tightens restrictions a second time as coronavirus infections continue to soar. “Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an executive order that clamps down on the hours that restaurants and bars can operate and the number of people allowed in retail stores and at religious facilities. Local officials have strengthened policies several times in recent days, looking for ways to slow a virus spreading at record rates in the Washington area and across the country.”

WTVD: Gov. Cooper unveils COVID-19 county alert system, pushes counties to curb spread. ” Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday warned North Carolinians that the unfettered spread of the novel coronavirus could result in snapping back statewide restrictions on businesses, but for now endorsed the idea of a more regional approach. That included the debut of a color-coded map alerting all 100 counties in the state of their current COVID-19 predicament.”

Florida Sun-Sentinel: As coronavirus cases climb in Florida, health department top spokesperson resigns. “With the pandemic worsening in Florida, the person in charge of reminding residents to wear a mask and stay six feet apart has abruptly resigned. Alberto Moscoso, the chief public information officer for the Florida Department of Health throughout the pandemic, bowed out Nov. 6 amid a reshuffling of personnel at the state agency. He would not elaborate on why he left, or where he was going.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri lawmakers were to meet on COVID. But outbreak after retreat forces postponement . “The Missouri Senate has postponed a special legislative session focused on limiting COVID-19-related lawsuits after a COVID-19 outbreak within its ranks. Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden announced on Twitter Monday that ‘due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases among members and staff,’ the upper chamber would postpone the special legislative session until after Thanksgiving.”

New York Daily News: ‘An end to the New York way of life’: MTA proposes catastrophic service cuts amid COVID-19 budget crunch. “A 40% cut in weekday subway service and layoffs of more than 9,000 transit workers are on the table as MTA honchos battle a COVID-19 financial catastrophe, the Daily News has learned. ‘This would absolutely be an end to the New York way of life,’ said Andrew Albert, the non-voting rider advocate on the MTA board.”


Weekly Technology Times (Pakistan): Fawad Asks Opposition To Avoid Public Gatherings To Curb COVID-19. “Chaudhry Fawad Said Opposition Parties Should Cooperate With Government & Avoid Public Gatherings As Corona Cases Are Increasing. All political parties should take a unified step to contain and control the second outbreak of deadly virus, he said while talking to a private news channel.”

CNN: Task force warns of ‘further deterioration’ as pandemic worsens. “The White House coronavirus task force has again ramped up its warnings to states in a weekly set of reports as the pandemic continues to aggressively worsen, raising alarms on the potential impact of rising cases on hospitals.”

Reuters: Sweden limits public gatherings as pandemic second wave swells. “The Swedish government on Monday moved to cut the size of public gatherings sharply as it sought to come to grips with a second wave of the pandemic that has seen record daily numbers of new cases and growing pressure on hospitals. Swedes are not sticking to coronavirus recommendations as well as in the spring and public gatherings will now be limited to eight people, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said, down from a previous upper limit of 300.”


New York Times: José Luiz da Silva, Brazilian Social Media Star, Dies at 52. “He acquired more than a million followers on Instagram and appeared in commercials and music videos and on TV variety shows. He died of Covid-19.”

BBC: Covid-19: Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej dies. “Serbia’s leading religious figure, Patriarch Irinej, has died after contracting coronavirus. The 90-year-old head of the Serbian Orthodox Church had led a large public funeral in early November for the most senior cleric in neighbouring Montenegro who also died of Covid-19.”

News 5 Cleveland: ‘He never takes responsibility’ — Sen. Brown delivers harsh critique of Trump’s response to COVID-19. “Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown had some harsh words for President Trump about his response to the coronavirus pandemic in a one-on-one interview with The Columbus Dispatch over the weekend. Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senator, Rob Portman, earlier this month defended the administration’s response, saying that the Obama White House would not have been any more prepared.”

Stanford University: Statement regarding Scott Atlas. “Stanford’s position on managing the pandemic in our community is clear. We support using masks, social distancing, and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing. We also believe in the importance of strictly following the guidance of local and state health authorities. Dr. Atlas has expressed views that are inconsistent with the university’s approach in response to the pandemic. Dr. Atlas’s statements reflect his personal views, not those of the Hoover Institution or the university.”

NPR: GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, 87, Tests Positive For The Coronavirus. “Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has tested positive for the coronavirus, he confirmed in a Tuesday tweet, hours after the Republican lawmaker told the public he had been exposed to the virus. The 87-year-old wrote on Twitter that he was ‘feeling good’ and expected to continue his Senate duties from home while he isolated and recovered.”

Detroit Free Press: Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg tests positive for coronavirus, reports mild symptoms. “Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg says he has tested positive for the coronavirus and has mild symptoms. Walberg, a Tipton Republican, issued a statement Monday that said he learned of the positive test result Sunday.”

Denver Post: Colorado congressman tests positive for COVID-19. “U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Tuesday. ‘As of now, I am asymptomatic and I’m feeling good,’ Perlmutter said in a written statement. ‘I am currently in Washington, D.C., and plan to isolate in my apartment while continuing to work and voting remotely.'”

Anchorage Daily News: Despite his serious coronavirus infection, Don Young still doesn’t support mask mandates or hunkering down. “Young, first elected in 1973, said ‘many’ members of his campaign staff also have been infected with the coronavirus, though he did not provide an exact number and his office would not comment, citing privacy concerns. He added that his wife has tested positive but is not symptomatic. Young said he does not know how or when he contracted the virus. But he continued to hold in-person fundraising events during the campaign season and did not require attendees to wear masks or to socially distance.”


Wall Street Journal: A College Basketball Tournament Needed a Safe Home. It Moved to a Covid Hot Spot.. “Some of the best teams in college basketball were supposed to be celebrating Thanksgiving in the Bahamas. But when the pandemic canceled a tournament called the Battle 4 Atlantis, the schools had to change their plans. They ripped up their tickets to paradise and booked trips to South Dakota. The relocated teams were seeking a safer place to play. They happened to pick a part of the country with one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks anywhere in the world.”


Cardinal & Pine: What’s It Like Being Back in a Classroom With COVID Booming? Scary, NC Parents Say.. “COVID-19 cases in NC might still be on the rise, but thousands of elementary school students across the state have been gradually returning to the classroom over the past month. For parents, teachers, staff, administrators, and students in counties that opted for the hybrid ‘Plan B’ model, the transition back to in-person learning has brought both anxiety and excitement.”


The Daily Beast: Alabama Sorority Cancels 600-Person Farm Party After Daily Beast Story on ‘Superspreader’ Uproar. “Members of the Kappa Delta sorority at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa were getting ready on Tuesday for a massive party that, in any other year, would be a routine event. The main difference—besides safety measures like face masks—in a nod to the pandemic? Instead of 600 people at once, organizers promised to bus in three ‘shifts’ or groups of 200 revelers at a time.” Apparently the party was canceled after this article was published.


BuzzFeed News: Is It Safe To Get Together With Loved Ones This Thanksgiving? We Asked 7 Experts.. “…despite the fact that almost a quarter of a million Americans have died of COVID-19, fatigue has set in among many. More people are hosting social gatherings in their homes with people they don’t live with, or who are outside of their ‘quarantine bubble,’ leading to more infections. In many parts of the country, people have rejected guidance to wear masks. The holidays will likely be no different.”

CNBC: Dr. Fauci says masks, social distancing will still be needed after a Covid-19 vaccine—here’s why. “Dr. Anthony Fauci warns ‘it’s not going to be a light switch’ back to normalcy even when a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available to the public. In fact, Fauci recommends people still wear masks and practice social distancing even after getting the vaccine, he told CNN’s Jake Tapper on ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday.”

Associated Press: Not just COVID: Nursing home neglect deaths surge in shadows. “When COVID-19 tore through Donald Wallace’s nursing home, he was one of the lucky few to avoid infection. He died a horrible death anyway. Hale and happy before the pandemic, the 75-year-old retired Alabama truck driver became so malnourished and dehydrated that he dropped to 98 pounds and looked to his son like he’d been in a concentration camp. Septic shock suggested an untreated urinary infection, E. coli in his body from his own feces hinted at poor hygiene, and aspiration pneumonia indicated Wallace, who needed help with meals, had likely choked on his food.”

19th News: Pregnant people haven’t been included in promising COVID vaccine trials. “Early results from two major COVID-19 vaccine trials have sparked hope that the worst of the pandemic may soon be over. But it’s still unclear if or when that relief would extend to pregnant people, who have been excluded from those vaccine trials.”

Los Angeles Times: Some in L.A. are getting COVID-19 tests so they can party, socialize. Officials call this a disaster. “Desperately seeking to find a seemingly responsible way to hold dinner parties, some people have started to get tests for the coronavirus as a way to clear themselves to attend dinner parties without needing to wear masks or keep their distance. That’s absolutely the wrong thing to do, according to Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s director of public health.”

Washington Post: Echoes of a pandemic: Experts fear lessons from the 2009 H1N1 vaccine drive are being ignored. “Now, as the United States ramps up for a vaccination drive against the novel coronavirus, boosted by reports of promising results from two major clinical trials, [Kelly] Moore and other experts are frustrated that many of the lessons of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic have not been addressed, from ongoing investments in public health infrastructure to the use of transparent, fact-based communication strategies. Some of those insights have been neglected, some blatantly ignored, while other conundrums loom, unsolved, over the upcoming distribution of the coronavirus vaccines.”

New York Times: The County With No Coronavirus Cases? No Longer. “Zoom in on the glowing red map of ever-escalating coronavirus cases in the continental United States and for months you would find a county that had been spared. It remained that way until it was the only one, from coast to coast. Like a lone house standing after a tornado has leveled a town, Loving County, in the shadeless dun plains of oil-rich West Texas, had not recorded a single positive case of the coronavirus.”


Idaho Statesman: Here’s what it looks like inside a rural Idaho hospital fighting to survive COVID-19. “The pace of the pandemic has been unrelenting for months, but the last few weeks have been the worst of all for the staff at Minidoka Memorial Hospital. In October, the hospital hit an all-time high of transfers. So many patients were arriving at the Rupert hospital in need of intensive care — Minidoka Memorial only has space for three COVID-19 patients, and doesn’t have an ICU — that some were being transferred to other hospitals at the same time. The fallout of a ‘devastating’ COVID-19 outbreak at the hospital’s own assisted living facility flooded the hospital suddenly with seriously ill patients, and would eventually account for 27 coronavirus cases and five deaths as of Nov. 13, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.”


Yahoo Finance: Coronavirus: Banking apps more popular than social media during pandemic. “Mobile banking apps have now become more popular than social media as a result of COVID-19, research suggests. Older generations have flocked to online and mobile banking to ensure they stay on top of their money and bills while remaining safe during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, people in the UK are now more likely to have a banking app than a social media app on their mobile phone.”


ABC News: What to know about COVID-19 vaccines and how they work. “Across the globe, scientists are scrambling to develop multiple vaccines with the goal of stopping the deadly coronavirus in its tracks. All aim to neutralize the virus SARS-COV-2 before it makes you sick with COVID-19, but the way they work and how they were created take divergent paths. Currently there are at least 48 vaccines being tested in experiments with human volunteers, and another 164 that are being studied in a laboratory.”

Gallup: More Americans Now Willing to Get COVID-19 Vaccine. “Americans’ willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19 rebounded a bit in October, as seen in Gallup polling conducted before Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna made promising announcements about the likely effectiveness of their coronavirus vaccines. Fifty-eight percent of Americans in the latest poll say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine, up from a low of 50% in September.”

CNN: Pfizer and BioNTech say final analysis shows coronavirus vaccine is 95% effective with no safety concerns. “A final analysis of the Phase 3 trial of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine shows it was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults, and caused no serious safety concerns, the company said Wednesday.”


DCist: D.C. Bar Hit With $2,000 In Fines For Phase Two Violations Amid Pro-Trump Rally. “Harry’s, a downtown D.C. bar that saw scores of pro-Trump rally-goers this weekend, has been slapped with $2,000 in fines for violating coronavirus business restrictions.”

Queens Daily Eagle: High-ranking prosecutors ditch masks in Queens DA’s office. “A wave of new COVID-19 cases has hit the Queens District Attorney’s Office, but that hasn’t stopped high-ranking prosecutors from ditching masks inside the Queens Criminal Court building and adjacent offices, according to staff and defense attorneys.”

Phys .org: Study shows more centralized, uniform COVID-19 response needed in prisons and jails. “A more centralized, uniform response to combating the COVID-19 pandemic in American prisons and jails is required to curb the spread across an especially vulnerable incarcerated population, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.”


Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Editorial: Wisconsin is being swamped by the coronavirus pandemic. Republican leaders do nothing.. “After playing politics with the lives of Wisconsin citizens for months, it seemed on Tuesday that Republicans in the state Assembly were finally going to offer new ideas to fight an out-of-control pandemic — one of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus in the nation. And then … they did nothing. During a press conference, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t offer a single new bill or any concrete proposal that would actually help, even as the state health department reported 7,090 new cases and 92 deaths, the most deaths so far on a single day.”


NBC News: Masks, nurses and stockpiles: Biden’s team missing key Covid-19 information. “President-elect Joe Biden’s administration will face a daunting task when he takes office: vaccinating more than 300 million people against the coronavirus as quickly and as safely as possible. But trying to get detailed information from the outgoing Trump administration has proven impossible, hampering the Biden team’s ability to begin planning, according to several health officials advising the incoming president’s team.”

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