Saturday CoronaBuzz, November 28, 2020: 40 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.


Salt Lake Tribune: Utah hospitals have begun informal rationing of care, doctors say, as they cope with surge of COVID-19 patients. “With a combination of luck, new hires and creative reorganizing of staff and patients, Utah’s hospitals haven’t had to eject anyone from intensive care units due to the coronavirus. But several doctors say the solutions still amount to rationing, with the quality of care deteriorating as hospitals are stretched thinner and thinner.”

WBEZ: COVID-19 Deaths Are Rising In Chicago And Black Residents Remain The Most Likely To Die. “While they’re not close to the peak levels witnessed in April and May, COVID-19 deaths in Chicago are rising fast. Deaths in the city have increased two months in a row. And just halfway through November, Chicago had already surpassed its death count for all of October, according to a WBEZ analysis of death records from the Cook County medical examiner’s office and census data.”

CBS 4 News: Curfew coming for El Pasoans as 14 mobile morgues now needed for wave of deaths. “El Paso will be expanding its morgue capacity to 14 mobile morgues and a refrigerated warehouse as the county is now investigating the deaths of nearly 500 El Pasoans for COVID-19.”

Reuters: Singapore nearly virus free after local cases and clusters cease. “Having once had the highest COVID-19 rate in Southeast Asia, Singapore has all but eradicated the virus after reporting 14 days without any new local cases on Tuesday, and saying it had snuffed out the last cluster of infection at a worker dormitory.”


ABC News Australia: You may have seen pictures of vaccine vials dated March 15 on social media. There’s a simple explanation. “Low case numbers, eased lockdowns and the fast-approaching new year have prompted Australians to turn their attention to the likelihood of a return to some sort of pre-COVID normal and to the vaccines that may help get us there. In this week’s newsletter, we debunk suggestions that the quick start on developing a vaccine meant the pandemic must have been ‘planned’, and look at claims around the efficacy rates of the various vaccine contenders.”


BBC: Coronavirus lockdown sees share of women on India’s stock market rise. “Sakina Gandhi has found a new passion: stock market trading. The 31-year-old works in public relations and until this year had only invested in mutual funds, generally seen as a safer bet than directly trading in stocks. But when India went into a stringent lockdown in March to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Ms Gandhi found herself with a lot of time on her hands.”

Poynter: How local journalists are covering a Thanksgiving drastically impacted by COVID-19. “More than 1 million COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States last week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And as cases continue to rise again in different parts of the country, the federal agency has discouraged Americans from having gatherings with family and friends who do not live with them. Many local journalists and editors are adjusting their coverage around a drastically different Thanksgiving this year.”

New York Times: A.A. to Zoom, Substance Abuse Treatment Goes Online. “It began as a stopgap way to get through the pandemic, but both participants and providers say virtual sessions have some clear advantages and will likely become a permanent part of recovery.”

Route Fifty: Here Comes the Covid-19 Baby Bust. “The resulting decline in births, whenever it kicks in, could be quite large. In June, the economists Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine projected that 300,000 to 500,000 fewer babies might be born in 2021 than there would have been otherwise. ‘We see no reason to think that our estimate was too large at this point,’ Kearney told me five months after the analysis was published. ‘In fact, given the ongoing stress for current parents associated with school closures, the effect might even be larger than what we predicted.'”

Wall Street Journal: A Homebound Nation Goes All Out With Lavish Christmas Decorations. “Fred Stewart was disappointed that he couldn’t throw a holiday party as usual this year, he decided to decorate his front yard in Rogersville, Mo., for the first time. He bought four 6-foot snowmen and an 8-foot Santa, and is adding his own tropical theme, including 20 pink flamingos in Santa caps plus a 4-foot-tall hippo wearing a pink tutu. ‘We were like, what else can we do?’ says the 48-year-old owner of a plumbing company.”


Idaho Press: Group protests Boise coronavirus restrictions at Mayor McLean’s home. “Roughly 30 people, some bearing Tiki torches, protested outside Boise Mayor Lauren McLean’s home Monday night, upset about the city’s new health order issued last week in an effort to curb the coronavirus’s rampant spread. The protest was organized via text by the group People’s Rights, an organization formed this year by Ammon Bundy of Emmett.”


VOA News: Seven Sudanese Doctors Die from COVID-19 in 10 Days. “Sudanese health authorities said Sunday that seven medical doctors died from COVID-19 in 10 days, a development that reflects Sudan’s sharp rise in cases in recent weeks. Nearly 100 deaths were recorded in the past month.”


Mashable: ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse’ is a bizarrely perfect pandemic binge. “I’ve heard a lot of metaphors about social distancing — that it’s like a long-distance relationship, a voyage at sea, a prison sentence, being on a spaceship. For me, 2020 has been somewhat like Pee-wee and his Playhouse: a bizarre exercise in rekindling my inner child and appreciating the power my imagination has over my circumstance.”


CBS News: Grocery store workers fear getting sick as coronavirus cases continue to climb. “At least 350 UFCW [United Food and Commercial Workers] members have died of COVID-19, including 109 grocery workers, according to the union, which represents 835,000 grocery store workers at major chains including Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons and Kroger. More than 17,400 grocery workers have been infected or exposed to the virus, the union added.”

Route Fifty: Why Employers Find It So Hard to Test for Covid. “The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance to employers to include Covid testing, and it advised that people working in close quarters be tested periodically. However, the federal government does not require employers to offer those tests. But the board overseeing the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA, on Thursday approved emergency safety rules that are soon likely to require the state’s employers to provide Covid testing to all workers exposed to an outbreak on the job at no cost to the employees. Testing must be repeated a week later, followed by periodic testing.”


Dallas Morning News: Who’ll get Texas’ first COVID-19 shots? Hospital, nursing home, EMS, home health workers top the list. “Hospital staff members working directly with coronavirus patients and workers in long-term care institutions serving vulnerable populations should be the first state residents to receive vaccines for COVID-19, a Texas health department panel has recommended.”

Mississippi Free Press: Health Leaders Call for Statewide Mask Mandate, Say Gov. Reeves’ Plan ‘Not Working’. “In cases and hospitalizations, Mississippi is now back at summer levels just days before Thanksgiving, which could provide fertile soil for COVID-19 super-spreader events if families across the state gather in large numbers. Dr. LouAnn Woodward, the vice chancellor for health affairs and the dean for the UMMC school of medicine, told reporters today that she believes the governor’s current COVID-19 strategy is failing.”

AP: Los Angeles orders more restrictions as coronavirus surges. “Los Angeles County announced a new stay-home order Friday as coronavirus cases surged out of control in the nation’s most populous county, banning most gatherings but stopping short of a full shutdown on retail stores and other non-essential businesses.”

Anchorage Daily News: Over 1,600 COVID-19 cases never made it into Alaska’s database after a lab failed to report results for weeks. “Hundreds of positive COVID-19 test results weren’t reported to Alaska’s health department in the past month, one of several indicators of a taxed data reporting system and a sign that climbing daily case tallies announced by the state reflect only a portion of recent cases.”

New York Times: Emergency Hospital Reopening on Staten Island to Handle 2nd Wave. “The announcement is another sign that New York City is in the grip of a second coronavirus wave that has already led to the closing of public schools, the reversal of some reopenings and warnings to families to scale back their Thanksgiving plans. It also raises the specter of a return to the pandemic’s darkest days in March and April.”


AP: Federal prisons to prioritize staff to receive virus vaccine. “The federal prison system will be among the first government agencies to receive the coronavirus vaccine, though initial allotments of the vaccine will be given to staff and not to inmates, even though sickened prisoners vastly outnumber sickened staff, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.”

NPR: CDC Likely To Recommend Shortening Coronavirus Quarantine Period. “The exact language of the new guidelines and when they might be announced remains unclear, but according to a federal official who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue, the recommended quarantine time is likely to be just seven to 10 days for people who then test negative for the virus.”


New York Times: The Reigning Queen of Pandemic Yoga. “[Adriene Mishler] is an Adidas ambassador and runs an online shop where you can buy a T-shirt or a camping mug that says Find What Feels Good, which is her motto — as in: Don’t worry if you can’t nail the Split-Leg Handstand or Killer Praying Mantis; no one’s keeping score. Her top video has more than 30 million views. She’s the most popular instructor on YouTube, which means she’s probably the most popular instructor in America and arguably the most prominent yoga figure this country has seen since Ram Dass.”

NBC News: 70-year-old nurse who came out of retirement to teach dies of Covid-19. “Iris Meda retired in January excited to start her new life. After a 35-year-long-career as a devoted registered nurse, Iris had planned on spending more time with her grandkids, catching up with her siblings, and joining her local senior center. But soon after her retirement, the pandemic arrived and with it, a change of plans.”

The Guardian: Honestie Hodges, handcuffed in Michigan at 11, dies aged 14 of Covid. “Honestie Hodges, who was handcuffed outside her home in Michigan at age 11 in an incident that prompted national outrage, died on Sunday aged 14. Her grandmother, Alisa Niemeyer, said in posts online the 14-year-old died from Covid-19.”

ABC News: Sanford Health CEO steps down following reports he won’t wear a mask. “Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Sanford Health announced Tuesday it has parted ways with longtime CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft. The announcement comes after Krabbenhoft sent an email on Nov. 18 to health system employees, saying he won’t be wearing a mask at work because he recovered from COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.”

New York Times: Cuomo Invited His Mother for Thanksgiving. New Yorkers Noticed.. “For days, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has been preaching a message of sacrifice during the holidays, warning New Yorkers that Thanksgiving gatherings could be dangerous as virus cases spike across the nation, and beseeching them to reconsider their plans to help stem the rising tide. So it was surprising when Mr. Cuomo announced on Monday afternoon that he had invited his 89-year-old mother, Matilda, and two of his daughters to celebrate a very Cuomo Thanksgiving with him this week in Albany.”


ProPublica: Two School Districts Had Different Mask Policies. Only One Had a Teacher on a Ventilator.. “No other precaution short of closing schools — a drastic measure that can set children back academically and developmentally, and deprive them of free meals and health care — is likely to be as effective as a mask mandate, experts say. Allowing staff and students to forgo them contradicts guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopenings.”


USA Today: New Zealand study details COVID-19 spread on long-haul flight despite tests. “The 12-page report…follows a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to one passenger traveling on an 18-hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand in September. Though the traveler tested negative with a PCR test before the flight, researchers concluded that ‘at least four in-flight transmission events of SARS-CoV-2 likely took place’ as the pre-symptomatic yet contagious person infected at least four others. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.”

STAT News: ‘Essential workers’ likely to get earlier access to Covid-19 vaccine. “Essential workers are likely to move ahead of adults 65 and older and people with high-risk medical conditions when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signs off on Covid-19 vaccine priority lists, coming after health care workers and people living in long-term care facilities, a meeting of an expert advisory panel made clear Monday.”

Duluth News Tribune: Drug overdose deaths increase during pandemic, hit rural areas. “According to preliminary numbers in a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug-related deaths increased about 10% while the pandemic was first hitting the country. The biggest increase in fatal overdoses happened in rural South Dakota, where drug-related fatalities increased by nearly 50%.”


The Register: UK coronavirus tier postcode-searching tool yanked offline as desperate Britons hunt for latest lockdown details. “The postcode-searching tool for Britons to find out what level of coronavirus lockdown they’ll be in until Christmas has crashed on launch and been withdrawn. Arriving [Thursday] morning as part of the government’s scheme to partially lift lockdown measures across England, the website almost immediately died and threw up a slew of different errors before red-faced Government Digital Service (GDS) bods pulled the plug.”

Caltech: Caltech’s AI-Driven COVID-19 Model Routinely Outperforms Competitors. “While existing models to predict the spread of a disease already exist, few, if any, incorporate AI, which allows a model to make predictions based on observations of what is actually happening—for example, increasing cases among specific populations—as opposed to what the model’s designers think will happen. With the use of AI, it is possible to discover patterns hidden in data that humans alone might not recognize.”


ScienceBlog: Doctors Use Existing Treatment Earlier To Save The Lives Of Covid-19 Patients. “The lives of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 are being saved by doctors who are using an existing medical treatment at an earlier stage. Dr Luigi Sedda of Lancaster University analysed the results from the team at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (WWL). Their research has now been published in the prestigious medical journal BMJ Respiratory Open.”


The Cut: New York nightlife never stopped. It just moved underground.. “The urge to party isn’t class-specific. For every good bottle of Champagne consumed on a Manhattan rooftop, there was a handle of Taaka vodka being passed around a circle somewhere. This illicit summer saw a Bushwick brownstone that threw enough parties to be declared the ‘Illmore,’ along with crowded outdoor park events that took place in the light of day. In their most flagrant pandemic-defying jubilance, party organizers have staged warehouse ragers, spreading the word via Instagram about indoor and outdoor all-night events with rotating DJs and unlicensed bars.”

Yahoo News: NYC sheriffs broke up a sex party with 80 people, a room full of mattresses, and boxes of condoms. “Officials walked into the venue to find a crowd of people at the event hosted by self-described swinger’s club Caligula New York. The New York City Sheriff’s Office told Insider that deeper in the party, officers found three couples having sex in a back room with multiple mattresses set up covering the floor, which was scattered with condoms.”

New York Times: $15,000 Fine After Secret Hasidic Wedding Draws Thousands of Guests. “Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered to celebrate a wedding inside a cavernous hall in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood earlier this month, dancing and singing with hardly a mask in sight. The wedding was meticulously planned, and so were efforts to conceal it from the authorities, who said that the organizers would be fined $15,000 for violating public health restrictions.”

CBC: Man arrested after assault of Walmart employee who asked him to wear face mask, B.C. RCMP say. “A 30-year-old man has been arrested for assault and mischief after allegedly assaulting an employee at a Walmart in Dawson Creek, B.C. RCMP were called to the store at around 8 p.m. PT Wednesday after reports of a customer assaulting an employee who asked him to wear a face mask — which is both store policy and a provincial health order.”


Politico: Biden to spotlight CDC officials shunned by Trump. “President-elect Joe Biden is putting scientists in charge and back on the stage to restore trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plans include immediately reviving regular media briefings and giving a central role to long-sidelined career officials including Nancy Messonnier, the public health official who first warned of the ‘severe’ impact of the Covid-19 back in February.”

Washington Post: Nearly a sixth of the Senate Republican caucus has tested positive for coronavirus. “Since the novel coronavirus emerged in the United States, more than 12.5 million Americans have been confirmed to have been infected by it. The actual number is unquestionably far higher than that, given the slow rollout of effective testing for the virus. But even by itself, that number constitutes nearly 4 percent of the population. In the Senate, the rate of infections is even higher. As of writing, eight senators have tested positive for the virus, according to data compiled by GovTrack. That’s an 8 percent rate of positive tests, more than twice the national measure.”

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