Wednesday CoronaBuzz, November 25, 2020: 38 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.


News-Medical: Researchers develop new search engine to investigate viral sequences in COVID-19. “The database is periodically reloaded from the three sources and as of today contains 200,516 sequences of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, and 33,256 sequences of other viral species also associated to epidemics affecting humans, such as SARS, MERS, Ebola, and Dengue.”


South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Where to find free meals in South Florida during the coronavirus pandemic. “With the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the community, one of the biggest growing concerns has been putting food on the table. Broward and Palm Beach County Public Schools along with other organizations have teamed up to make sure that families don’t go to sleep hungry. Here are some of the organizations offering free meals.”

Southeast Missourian: Gov. Parson announces launch of new coronavirus vaccine website for Missourians. “As research and development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines continue to show promising safety and effectiveness findings, Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday announced the launch of a new vaccine website for Missouri residents.”


Chicago Tribune: With museums closed again, here are 5 great online museum experiences. “A few advantages to digital museumgoing: 1. No lines. 2. No fees. 3. No alarms sounding when you venture a little too close to the item on exhibit. So below are five great ways to visit museums digitally during this resurgent COVID-19 pandemic.”


NBC News: European coronavirus restrictions appear to be paying off, WHO says, as U.S. cases soar. “Coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Europe appear to be paying off, with a dip in new weekly cases, the World Health Organization said, offering a glimmer of hope ahead of Christmas, while cases soar in the United States. Restrictions, from school and store closures to limited social interactions, have led to a slight decrease in new Covid-19 weekly cases from 2 million to 1.8 million over the last two weeks, the WHO said.”


Arizona State University: With COVID-19, will snowbirds still answer the call of warmer weather?. “Christine Vogt is the director of Arizona State University’s Center for Sustainable Tourism in the School of Community Resources and Development. Vogt has done research for over two decades in the areas of recreation, parks and tourism. She spoke with ASU Now about what kind of tourism changes we can expect to see this snowbird season.”

Sydney Morning Herald: Church cancels world’s largest Catholic pilgrimage over pandemic. ” Mexico’s Roman Catholic Church announced the cancellation on Monday of what’s considered the world’s largest Catholic pilgrimage, for the Virgin of Guadalupe, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mexico’s Episcopal Conference said in a statement that the basilica will be closed from December 10-13. The Virgin is celebrated on December 12 and for weeks in advance, pilgrims travel from across Mexico to gather by the millions in Mexico City.”

ABC News: An American tragedy: Inside the towns hardest hit by coronavirus. “A South Dakota doctor is moonlighting as a newspaper columnist, urging readers to protect themselves against the virus that killed both his parents. The sheriff in a Kansas town is fighting for his life in a Denver hospital he was sent to for critical care. In Georgia, a minister who led up to three COVID-19 funerals a day at the pandemic’s height dreads his phone’s ringer, announcing more death.”

Sacramento Bee: Here’s how hard the coronavirus pandemic hit Black workers in California. “More than four of five Black workers in California have sought unemployment benefits during the covid pandemic — a rate nearly twice the state average. A new report from the nonpartisan California Policy Lab, obtained by McClatchy [November 18], illustrates dramatically how Black workers have been hit unusually hard by the coronavirus crisis.”


Pioneer Press: 900 on Mayo Clinic staff have contracted coronavirus in last two weeks. “Over 900 Mayo Clinic staff have contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks, according to a Tuesday briefing by Dr. Amy Williams, dean of clinical practice. Williams said that 93 percent of staff who have contracted the virus did so in the community — away from the job — and that the majority of those who contracted the virus at work did so while eating in a break room with a mask off.”

Blooloop: National Gallery charging for virtual tour of Artemisia exhibition. “The National Gallery has developed a new revenue stream amid COVID-19 by charging for an online tour of Artemisia, an exhibition dedicated to Artemisia Gentileschi. The virtual offering takes visitors on an 30-minute, online tour of the five-star exhibition ‘Artemisia’ at the National Gallery with curator Letizia Treves. It costs £8.”

CNN: Smithsonian temporarily closes museums, National Zoo again as Covid cases climb. “A number of museums in Washington, DC are closing their doors again amid a spike in coronavirus cases. The Smithsonian Institution announced on Thursday it will temporarily close all its museums and the National Zoo beginning on November 23 due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases across DC and nationwide.”


Los Angeles Times: Even as COVID-19 surges, Triller planned a red carpet party in a Hollywood Hills mansion. “Triller, an L.A.-based company that operates a video sharing app that competes with TikTok, planned to throw a private launch party Thursday for Irvine-based beauty products company UVé Beauty. The party was described as an ‘evening of glitz and glamour,’ with ‘light bites, pampering and live music,’ according to an invitation reviewed by The Times.”

Washington Post: Despite precautions, CBS headquarters reports 15 coronavirus cases amid nationwide surge. “The cases this month seem to have primarily affected New York’s WCBS-TV local station and to not have directly affected CBS News employees, though the most recent alert mentioned that the ‘CBS This Morning’ kitchen area was an affected space. (The CBS-run syndicated ‘The Drew Barrymore Show,’ along with third-party productions, also tapes in studios at the Broadcast Center complex.)”


Los Angeles Times: California to issue emergency COVID-19 workplace safety rules as infections rise. “California is on track to issue emergency rules aimed at curbing workplace spread of COVID-19 — offering a chance at relief to essential workers, who have been disproportionately sickened by the worsening pandemic. A six-member board overseeing California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA, voted unanimously Thursday to advance a slate of workplace protocols that have been championed by labor advocates since May.”

Chicago Tribune: Contact tracing in Illinois may not slow the coronavirus much. But the data is helping guide state decisions.. “Contact tracing for COVID-19 has gotten off to a slow start in Illinois, with the state still short of its initial goal of 3,800 people doing that work. And now, with infections soaring, caseloads are overwhelming tracers’ ability to slow the spread of the virus by tracking down contacts and getting them to quarantine. But the information gleaned by Schneider and other contact tracers is proving useful in another way: It is feeding a growing database that Gov. J.B. Pritzker has cited as a guide in making decisions about pandemic restrictions.”

Reuters: California, Ohio order nightly curfews on gatherings as coronavirus surges. “California’s governor on Thursday imposed a curfew on social gatherings and other non-essential activities in one of the most intrusive of the restrictions being ordered across the country to curb an alarming surge in novel coronavirus infections.”

CBC: Toronto, Peel move into COVID-19 lockdown Monday as Ontario tries to stop ‘worst-case scenario’. “The shutdown will last a minimum of 28 days, equal to two incubation periods for the coronavirus, and the province says it will fine people $750 for violating public-health rules.”


BBC: Covid: PPE price rises cost taxpayers £10bn, report says. “Personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles in England were inadequate for the Covid pandemic and price rises earlier this year cost taxpayers about £10bn, the spending watchdog has said. The National Audit Office said there had been a particular shortage of gloves and aprons.”

NPR: Man In Charge Of Coronavirus Testing In The U.S. On Why There Are Still Shortages. “NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly talks with Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, about coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution.”

Roll Call: Front-line workers in Capitol keep getting COVID-19. “Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 153 legislative branch employees have tested positive or are presumed positive for COVID-19, according to a Democratic aide for the House Administration Committee. This cumulative total, as of Nov. 18, includes 59 employees from the Capitol Police, 57 from the Architect of the Capitol and 37 contractors working construction in the Cannon House Office Building.”

HuffPost: White House Plans In-Person Holiday Parties As COVID-19 Cases Rise. “The White House plans to host its annual Hanukkah reception next month, even as coronavirus cases are on the rise around the country. The reception is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Dec. 9, according to a copy of the invitation, which was shared with HuffPost by the recipient. There were no instructions included about special coronavirus precautions.”

StarTribune: Minnesota to get 25 staffed ambulances from FEMA for help with COVID-19 surge. “Minnesota is receiving 25 staffed ambulances from the federal government to help hospitals transfer patients so medical centers are better prepared for a surge of those critically ill with COVID-19. The state submitted the request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency after ambulance operators said the rising cases could soon exhaust their ability to transfer patients between health care facilities, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.”

NBC News: Nearly one out of four sailors from the Navy destroyer USS Michael Murphy test positive for Covid. “A Covid-19 outbreak among sailors assigned to the USS Michael Murphy, a guided missile destroyer in the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, has sidelined most of the crew and delayed its training schedule, according to two U.S. military officials and one defense official. Nearly a quarter of the roughly 300 sailors assigned to the ship have tested positive for Covid-19, the officials said.”


New York Times: How Iowa’s Governor Went From Dismissing Mask Mandates to Ordering One Herself. “Ms. Reynolds has offered little insight into her reversal, but interviews with more than a dozen political, health and business leaders in Iowa — some of whom the governor consulted before issuing the order — show that her hand was forced by a spiraling hospital crisis. As pressure built from doctors, mayors and even people serving in her own administration, the message was clear: If she did not act, Iowa’s hospitals could soon be overflowing with coronavirus patients, leaving few ambulances, beds or doctors left to care for anyone else.”

New York Times: Wisconsin Medical Examiner Prepared for the Worst. It Wasn’t Enough.. “The pandemic was a faraway nightmare — a catastrophe on the coasts — when Patty Schachtner, the medical examiner in St. Croix County, Wis., began preparing. In March, she counted up all of her county’s hospitals, ventilators and nursing homes, including the one where her beloved 88-year-old father lived. If the coronavirus reached this mostly rural place on Wisconsin’s western edge, full of dairy farms and snowmobile trails, would residents be ready? She had spent 31 years working in public health — the last nine as the county’s chief medical examiner — but she could not be sure. So she kept going.”

New York Times: Donald Trump Jr. tests positive for coronavirus. He has been isolating since Monday.. “Mr. Trump is the latest person close to the president who has tested positive for Covid-19. Barron Trump, the president’s youngest son, tested positive last month. Melania Trump, the first lady, also tested positive in October. In July, Mr. Trump’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, had tested positive for the virus.”


BBC: Andy Murray says tennis players should ‘probably’ be required to take Covid vaccine. “Andy Murray thinks tennis players should “probably” be required to take a Covid-19 vaccine to be able to continue to play on the tour. World number one Novak Djokovic said in April he ‘wouldn’t want to be forced to take a vaccine to be able to travel’. But Murray hopes players would ‘do that for the good of the sport, providing everything has proved to be safe’.”


Seattle Times: Washington state officials are considering loosening guidelines to reopen schools. “Washington state health officials are considering changing the disease metrics that guide school district reopening decisions during the pandemic. If adopted, up to half the state’s 300 school districts would meet the benchmark to start educating their youngest learners in person at least part time.”


CNN: Most coronavirus cases are spread by people without symptoms, CDC now says. “Most coronavirus infections are spread by people who have no symptoms, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in newly updated guidance. It’s one of the main reasons mask use is so important, the CDC said.”

BuzzFeed News: Airlines Say Flying During COVID-19 Is Safe. The Science Isn’t Quite So Certain.. “Research shows that the virus can float indoors in tiny particles and infect those nearby. The good news: Studies suggest that the chances of inhaling these aerosols and catching COVID-19 on a plane are low, thanks in large part to powerful ventilation systems and strict mask-wearing requirements. But the risk is not zero.”

Washington Post: More than 3 million people in U.S. estimated to be contagious with the coronavirus. “More than 3 million people in the United States have active coronavirus infections and are potentially contagious, according to a new estimate from infectious-disease experts tracking the pandemic. That number is significantly larger than the official case count, which is based solely on those who have tested positive for the virus.”

New York Times: What 635 Epidemiologists Are Doing for Thanksgiving. “The family of one epidemiologist plans to celebrate Thanksgiving in a garage, with tables 10 feet apart and the doors rolled up. Another epidemiologist’s family is forgoing a traditional meal for an outdoor hot cider toast with neighbors. A third is dining in an outdoor tent, with a heater, humidifier and air purifier running. And, according to an informal survey of 635 epidemiologists by The New York Times, the large majority are not celebrating with people outside their household.”


CNET: Santa Claus wants to Zoom with you now that he has Wi-Fi at the North Pole. “A UK-based project called Santa at Home will connect children with Mr. Claus himself for Zoom sessions between now and Dec. 24. The calls will last up to 12 minutes and can accommodate six kids and an unlimited number of grown-ups joining from anywhere.”


American Economic Association: Epidemiology’s Time of Need: COVID-19 Calls for Epidemic-Related Economics. “The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted scientific conversations and scientific divisions into the public consciousness. Epidemiology and economics have long operated in distinct silos, but the COVID-19 pandemic presents a complex and cross-disciplinary problem that impacts all facets of society. Many economists have recognized this and want to engage in efforts to mitigate and control the pandemic, but others seem more interested in attacking epidemiology than attacking the virus. As an epidemiologist, I call upon economists to join with us in combating COVID-19 and in preventing future pandemics.”

Andy Slavitt: The Holiday Time Restrictions Are Needed. “I know many plane tickets for Thanksgiving are already purchased (several hundred million). There are 35 million potential super-spreader events. My advice is start planning for next year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas, not this one. If your state isn’t asking you to dine in your bubble, remember the leaders don’t care about you. If you die or get sick, their life will not change. They were not elected because of their skill at comprehending a crisis.”


Vanity Fair: “It’s the Trump Bubble”: The Right Has Created a Wave of COVID Patients Who Don’t Believe It’s Real. “A Texas nurse had a patient in a COVID ICU tell her the virus is ‘fake news.’ A California nurse was mocked for wearing a mask. As a new wave of COVID-19 sweeps the country, health care workers are grappling with the consequences of the president’s misinformation machine. ‘This is insane,’ says one. ‘I have never seen anything like it.'”

Spectrum News 1: Officials Apologize After Attending Party Ignoring Coronavirus Safety Restrictions. “Two influential Brooklyn political insiders apologized Friday after attending a crowded party flouting public safety restrictions that currently prevent people from gathering as the city’s rate of coronavirus infections continues to steadily increase.”

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