Tuesday CoronaBuzz, November 24, 2020: 34 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.


StarTribune: Minnesota launches COVID-19 tracking app via mobile devices. “A new Bluetooth-enabled mobile app will give Minnesotans with COVID-19 the ability to anonymously notify close contacts who they might have exposed to the infectious disease. Gov. Tim Walz unveiled COVIDaware MN on Monday and urged Minnesotans to use the app to slow the spread of the pandemic that has caused at least 3,265 deaths and more than 276,500 lab-confirmed infections in the state.”


CNET: Yes, Macy’s 2020 Thanksgiving Day Parade will happen: Here’s how to watch. “Thanksgiving looks different in many ways in this coronavirus year of 2020, and the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is different, too. But the holiday spectacular will happen, and it will still be televised live, so home cooks can tune in while prepping their socially distanced turkey dinners. Here’s how to follow along, and what to expect.”

Digital Inspiration: Build a COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool with Google Forms. “Businesses and schools worldwide are using Google Forms to build COVID-19 self-declaration forms that employees, students and visitors must complete every day before they can attend work. Here is a sample COVID-19 Health Screening Form – if the answer is ‘yes’ to any of the questions, the person is expected to stay home.”


New York Times: How Steve Bannon and a Chinese Billionaire Created a Right-Wing Coronavirus Media Sensation. “Dr. Li-Meng Yan wanted to remain anonymous. It was mid-January, and Dr. Yan, a researcher in Hong Kong, had been hearing rumors about a dangerous new virus in mainland China that the government was playing down. Terrified for her personal safety and career, she reached out to her favorite Chinese YouTube host, known for criticizing the Chinese government. Within days, the host was telling his 100,000 followers that the coronavirus had been deliberately released by the Chinese Communist Party. He wouldn’t name the whistle-blower, he said, because officials could make the person ‘disappear.'”


Vanity Fair: “They Are Going to Have a Problem”: Will Davos Become the Next COVID Casualty?. “Will the famed World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, be COVID’s latest victim? Does jetting into ‘Davos,’ as the exclusive annual event is known, for a week of expensive wine and hobnobbing still make sense for its stable of tycoons and world leaders, given the cost of the program and the health risks of the pandemic? What’s Klaus Schwab, the 82-year-old founder of Davos, going to do in the face of an increasing existential threat to his baby?”

High Country News: COVID-19 makes it harder to know when to harvest sugar beets. “To create forecasts, meteorologists look to weather models fueled in part by temperature, pressure and humidity readings collected by commercial flights. But as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe in early 2020, travel ground to a halt: In March, air traffic was cut by 75% to 80%, leaving meteorologists with just a fraction of their usual data, and, by September, many airlines were still operating less than half their pre-pandemic flights. Fewer readings mean that experts have an incomplete picture of what’s happening in our skies, resulting in murkier forecasts for farmers.”

Mother Jones: Hygiene Theater at Restaurants Is Creating Endless Plastic Waste. “…it’s not clear exactly how many restaurants have switched to disposables. But extrapolating from pre-pandemic studies of California restaurants, a midsize restaurant with 30 seats went through 17,800 disposable cups and utensils in a year. Multiply that by 520,000—the number of US restaurants that the consulting firm McKinsey estimates survived the COVID-19 shutdowns—and you get more than 9 billion pieces of trash in one year. And bursting landfills aren’t the only problem: The uptick in plastic restaurant waste, advocates point out, will be especially acute in Black and Brown communities.”


North Carolina Health News: COVID-free nursing homes fought hard to keep virus out. “More than 200 North Carolina nursing homes have succeeded in totally excluding COVID-19 infections. What did they do right? This is the first of two stories exploring what skilled nursing facilities can do and have done to prevent COVID infections for the people in their care.”


BBC: Covid-19: World’s top latex glove maker shuts factories. “The world’s largest maker of latex gloves will shut more than half of its factories after almost 2,500 employees tested positive for coronavirus. Malaysia’s Top Glove will close down 28 plants in phases as it seeks to control the outbreak, authorities said.”

The Hill: Coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants linked to 8 percent of early cases: study. “Up to 8 percent of U.S. coronavirus cases could have their origins in outbreaks among workers at meatpacking plants, according to a new study. Researchers from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business analyzed coronavirus cases through the end of July and found between as many as 310,000 cases of the virus connected with proximity to meatpacking plants.”

KFYR: High contact business owners say masks are now another thing they need to worry about. ” Several North Dakota businesses shut down during the early days of the pandemic. They endured weeks of financial hardship until they were allowed to reopen, with some restrictions. And now, Gov. Doug Burgum’s mask mandate may hit them again. Hair Garage owner Anna Vetter opened her barber shop in December and has had to make lots of changes due to the pandemic. The latest is enforcing a mask mandate for her employees and customers. The stylists at The Hair Garage are working with a new tool. But it’s not one they chose.”

Bloomberg: Clorox shipping nearly 1 million packs of wipes every day. “Clorox Co. is shipping out its disinfecting wipes as fast as the company can make them. It’s not fast enough. While the bleach maker planned to have inventories replenished at major retailers by this summer, unprecedented demand throughout the pandemic dashed any hope of that. To cope, Clorox has added 10 additional third-party manufacturers and is running its own facilities 24 hours a day.”

USA Today: Tyson suspends managers at pork plant who placed bets on how many workers would get COVID-19. “As state officials and lawmakers urged the shutdown of a Tyson Foods pork-processing plant in Iowa, managers at the plant reportedly placed bets on how many would end up getting sick…. Tyson Foods has since suspended the individuals reportedly involved, per a statement issued Thursday afternoon by the company.”


Tampa Bay Times: Florida Legislature: Not our role to contain the coronavirus. “In speeches before their mostly masked colleagues, both Wilton Simpson and Chris Sprowls acknowledged the pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 17,500 Floridians, but neither of them suggested the Legislature has any role to address it.”

AL .com: Tennessee mayor won’t require COVID masks until Holy Spirit says so. “The mayor of a Tennessee county on Alabama’s northern border says COVID-19 cases are increasing there, but he won’t order residents and visitors to wear masks until ‘the Holy Spirit’ moves him to do so. It isn’t that he’s anti-science, Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman said today. He’s an Auburn University-trained veterinarian and understands science, he said.”


Washington Post: Danish cabinet minister resigns over mink culling order that has shaken highest levels of government. “Denmark’s agriculture minister resigned Wednesday amid falling trust in government, after conceding the lack of a legal basis for a questionable order earlier in the month to kill the country’s entire population of more than 15 million farmed minks to contain a coronavirus mutation. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen faced calls from the opposition to do the same.”

New York Times: Mnuchin to End Key Fed Emergency Programs, Limiting Biden. “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he does not plan to extend several key emergency lending programs beyond the end of the year and asked the Federal Reserve to return the money supporting them, a decision that could hinder President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s ability to use the central bank’s vast powers to cushion the economic fallout from the virus.”

Washington Post: End of Year Means End of Federal Aid for Millions of Americans. “A whole range of pandemic aid programs are set to expire in the new year, leaving millions of Americans without the government support that’s helped keep them afloat — and threatening to hold back a rebounding economy. The biggest blow will likely come from the end of two federal unemployment-insurance programs, with roughly 12 million people facing a late-December cutoff, according to a study released Wednesday by The Century Foundation. Also, measures that froze student-loan payments, offered mortgage forbearance and halted evictions have a year-end deadline –- and so do Federal Reserve lending facilities for small businesses and local governments.”


BBC: Prof Sarah Gilbert: The woman who designed the Oxford vaccine. “Born in Kettering, Northamptonshire in April 1962, Sarah Gilbert’s father worked in the shoe business while her mother was an English teacher and member of the local amateur operatic society. Speaking to Radio 4’s Profile, one school friend recalled Sarah’s silent steeliness – a trait which perhaps explains her decision, years later, to stick with her PhD despite her doubts.”

Sporting News: Kelly Stafford apologizes for calling Michigan a ‘dictatorship’ during Instagram rant. “Kelly Stafford has learned the power of words. Stafford, whose husband is Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, issued a apology on her Instagram page Monday for her Instagram rant last week, during which she referred to the state of Michigan as a ‘dictatorship.'”

CNN: Senior Pentagon official Anthony Tata tests positive for Covid-19. “Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, a top Pentagon official, has tested positive for Covid-19 after meeting with the Lithuanian minister of defense, according to a Pentagon statement. Tata will isolate at home for the next 14 days.”

Mother Jones: Turning Point USA to Hold Superspreader Event in Palm Beach. “The pro-Trump student group Turning Point USA will hold its sixth annual Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach in December, COVID-19 be damned.” The co-founder of Turning Point USA died of coronavirus-related complications in July.

BBC: Covid: King Felipe of Spain in quarantine after contact. “Spain’s King Felipe VI has begun ten days of quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive for coronavirus. Palace sources say the king, 52, was in ‘close contact’ with the individual on Sunday, but gave no further details.”


Washington Post: Once again, a deal between D.C. and the teachers union collapses. “It has become a familiar pattern in the District. The city and Washington Teachers’ Union near an agreement on how schools should reopen. Both sides indicate that a finalized deal could be imminent. And then, at the 11th hour, it falls apart.”


BNN Bloomberg: Covid to Kill 30,000 More in U.S. by Christmas, CDC Model Shows. “After a week that shattered daily case, testing and hospitalization records, Covid’s trajectory is slated to steepen in the U.S. Coronavirus, which has killed more than 256,000 Americans so far, is on track to claim another 30,000 lives by mid-December, according to forecasts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The model shows weekly cases and deaths both rising every week for the next month, the maximum range of the agency’s projection.”

ABC News: Health experts clash over use of certain drugs for COVID-19. “On Friday, a World Health Organization guidelines panel advised against using the antiviral remdesivir for hospitalized patients, saying there’s no evidence it improves survival or avoids the need for breathing machines. But in the U.S. and many other countries, the drug has been the standard of care since a major, government-led study found other benefits — it shortened recovery time for hospitalized patients by five days on average, from 15 days to 10.”

The Atlantic: How Many Americans Are About to Die?. “Because the case-fatality rate has stayed fixed for so long and there are now so many reported cases, predicting the virus’s death toll in the near term has become a matter of brutal arithmetic: 150,000 cases a day, times 1.5 percent, will lead to 2,250 daily deaths. In the spring, the seven-day average of daily deaths rose to its highest point ever on April 21, when it reached 2,116 deaths. With cases rising as fast as they are, the U.S. could cross the threshold of 2,000 daily deaths within a month.”


Washington Post: An Ohio wedding left dozens with the coronavirus, including the bride and groom: ‘It starts to take a toll on you’. “When Mikayla Bishop began walking down the aisle in October, the bride immediately noticed that even though she had provided masks, almost no one was wearing one. ‘I’m walking down the aisle,’ she told WLWT this week.’We can’t do anything now.’ Now, more than two weeks later, she said, 32 of the 83 guests at her Cincinnati-area wedding have tested positive for the coronavirus, including three of the couple’s grandparents. Bishop and her husband, Anthony, also contracted the virus, she told the TV station.”


Purdue University: New therapy for flu may help in fight against COVID-19. “A new therapy for influenza virus infections that may also prove effective against many other pathogenic virus infections, including HIV and COVID-19, has been developed by Purdue University scientists.”

EurekAlert: Historical bias overlooks genes related to COVID-19. “A historical bias — which has long dictated which human genes are studied — is now affecting how biomedical researchers study COVID-19, according to new Northwestern University research. Although biomedical researchers know that many overlooked human genes play a role in COVID-19, they currently do not study them. Instead, researchers that study COVID-19 continue to focus on human genes that have already been heavily investigated independent of coronaviruses.”


Accounting Today: $7.2M in SBA coronavirus aid went to family’s fake farms. “The single-family house on Forestview Avenue in Euclid, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, shows no signs of farming activity. The only things growing on the one-eighth-acre plot are trees, shrubs and grass. But 20 companies registered at that address, with names like Organic Ohio Berries LLC and Garlic Farming LLC, have won government approval for loans and grants intended to support small businesses hurt by the pandemic.”

NBC News: Kyle Rittenhouse says he used coronavirus stimulus check to buy AR-15 used in fatal shooting. “Kyle Rittenhouse cashed a coronavirus stimulus check to purchase the semi-automatic rife that authorities say he used to fatally shoot two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, he said. In a telephone interview with The Washington Post, posted Thursday, the jailed Rittenhouse said he acted in self-defense and has no regrets for arming himself that fateful August night as protesters marched in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting by police.”

ABC 7 Chicago: Disturbing new details in alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “New filings claim there was a Plan B the militiamen had drawn up, that involved a takeover of the Michigan capitol building by 200 combatants who would stage a week-long series of televised executions of public officials. And, according to government documents now on file in lower Michigan court, there was also a Plan C — burning down the state house, leaving no survivors.”

Lost Coast Outpost: (VIDEO) Eureka Police Remove Anti-Masker From Costco By Force, Say Case Will be Forwarded to DA for Charging Decision. “Yesterday at about 1:15 p.m., Eureka police officers were summoned to Costco on report of a woman refusing to wear a mask inside the store and making a scene about it. In video shot of the incident by another shopper — see below — the woman can be seen loudly arguing with other patrons and employees about the efficacy of masks before being handcuffed and escorted from the premises by police.”

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