Sunday CoronaBuzz, November 29, 2020: 31 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.


Washington Post: California seemingly corralled the coronavirus. Now, cases are surging, hospitals are full and shutdowns are back.. “The fenced-in area outside The Dailey Method was filled with exercise bikes where, just hours earlier, it had served as outdoor seating for patrons of Miminashi. The restaurant had been near closing late last month when health restrictions were lifted and its inside tables filled again. In just two weeks, all that has changed here in the golden heart of California wine country and across the West, again overwhelmed by a swelling pandemic. This surge, though, has been like no other in how quickly the number of cases has climbed, hospitals have filled, and the improvised relationships that have kept businesses afloat have been re-created in crisis.”

ABC7: Nevada seeing COVID-19 cases of one 1 per minute, 1 death per 2 hours. “The coronavirus is spreading so fast in Nevada that one person is diagnosed with it every minute and someone is dying from it every two hours, state health officials said Wednesday. Nearly half of the state’s 142,239 total cases since the start of the pandemic in March have occurred since September – fully one-fourth of those in the month of November and 10% in just the last seven days, according to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.”


WTOP: COVID-19 is increasing demands on nonprofits: How to help on #GivingTuesday. “December 1 is Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday) — a day dedicated to simply encouraging people to do good around the world by giving their time, talents and treasure. But that might be a bigger challenge this year as millions deal with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

CNN: Another 778,000 Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week. “The recovery in the American job market is still painfully slow. Another 778,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was more than the 735,000 initial jobless claims that economists were expecting, and it’s also higher than last week’s revised number of 748,000. It’s the second straight week that first-time claims rose.”


KSDK: ‘We are capacity now’: Task force says St. Louis hospitals will start sending patients to out-of-area facilities. “St. Louis Metropolitan Task Force head Dr. Alex Garza had a grim message after touring area hospitals on the busiest travel day of 2020 so far: ‘We are at capacity now.’ Garza said that in one hospital, there was one bed for three waiting patients. He expects the Thanksgiving holiday — which traditionally comes with extended-family gatherings, travel, and shopping sprees — will increase local coronavirus cases.”

Reuters: ‘We’re drowning’: COVID cases flood hospitals in America’s heartland. “The vital signs of the 30-year-old COVID-19 victim were crashing, and Kearny County Hospital in rural Lakin, Kansas, just wasn’t equipped to handle the case. Miller, Kearny’s chief medical officer – who doubles as the county health officer – called around to larger hospitals in search of an ICU bed. With coronavirus cases soaring throughout Kansas, he said, he couldn’t find a single one.”

Washington Post: Trump, Carson tout covid-19 treatments as lifesavers. But regular people find them harder to get.. “Frustrated doctors say they have had to ration the Regeneron medication given to Trump, and a similar one by Eli Lilly — if they can get them at all — because of extremely short supply. The government has distributed just 205,000 doses of the drugs so far, at a time when around 170,000 people are being infected by the coronavirus every day. Nonetheless, patients are clamoring for the medications, in part because of Trump’s comments, as well as testimonials from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who also got the drugs before they were approved.”

New York Times: Covid Combat Fatigue: ‘I Would Come Home With Tears in My Eyes’. “About 2 a.m. on a sweltering summer night, Dr. Orlando Garner awoke to the sound of a thud next to his baby daughter’s crib. He leapt out of bed to find his wife, Gabriela, passed out, her forehead hot with the same fever that had stricken him and his son, Orlando Jr., then 3, just hours before. Two days later, it would hit their infant daughter, Veronica. Nearly five months later, Dr. Garner, a critical care physician at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, is haunted by what befell his family last summer: He had inadvertently shuttled the coronavirus home, and sickened them all.”

KSDK: Exclusive: Inside Mercy Hospital’s COVID-19 ICU. “It’s a once-in-a-century fight to save lives that, until now, most have never seen. For eight months health care workers have waged war against COVID-19 mostly behind closed hospital doors – until now. Monday, Mercy Hospital St. Louis granted 5 On Your Side access to its COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a time when the region’s pandemic task force reports St. Louis area hospitals are in danger of running out of room for the most critical coronavirus patients.”


Los Angeles Times: Will California’s small businesses survive another COVID-19 surge without more help?. “After months of partisan wrangling and the presidential election of Joe Biden, Congress remains in a stalemate over new stimulus funding for struggling entrepreneurs, unemployed workers and strapped state and local governments. Without an influx of new federal aid, tens of thousands of California’s 5 million small enterprises face a bleak winter of government restrictions, dwindling customers and closures amid a slowing economic recovery. Many may not survive.”

Washington Post: Workers call on Walmart, Amazon and other retailers to bring back hazard pay ahead of holiday rush. “Workers at Walmart, Amazon, Kroger and other major retailers are calling on their employers to reinstate hazard pay and strengthen safety protocols ahead of the busy holiday shopping season as coronavirus infection rates skyrocket.”

New York Times: After Admitting Mistake, AstraZeneca Faces Difficult Questions About Its Vaccine. “The announcement this week that a cheap, easy-to-make coronavirus vaccine appeared to be up to 90 percent effective was greeted with jubilation. ‘Get yourself a vaccaccino,’ a British tabloid celebrated, noting that the vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, costs less than a cup of coffee. But since unveiling the preliminary results, AstraZeneca has acknowledged a key mistake in the vaccine dosage received by some study participants, adding to questions about whether the vaccine’s apparently spectacular efficacy will hold up under additional testing.”

CNN: Disney increases number of planned layoffs to 32,000 employees. “Walt Disney Co. is planning to shed 32,000 employees by the end of March — 4,000 more than previously announced — as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer its parks and resorts business.”

BuzzFeed News: After Two COVID-19 Shutdowns At The “Tamron Hall” Show, Crew Members Say The Show Is “Seriously Putting Lives In Danger”. “As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise across the US, crew members at Tamron Hall in New York City say they’ve repeatedly been exposed to the virus after two production shutdowns and that safety measures are inadequate. ‘They’re seriously putting lives in danger,’ one crew member told BuzzFeed News. ‘They do segments on COVID and how people lost loved ones and family members, but they’re not practicing what they’re preaching.'”


WBTV: N.C. closes prisons, moves inmates as COVID cases spike. “Three state prisons have been closed, with hundreds of inmates being transferred to other facilities across the state, as COVID-19 continues to spike within the prison system. Inmates at Randolph Correctional Center in Randolph County, the minimum custody unit at Southern Correctional Institution in Montgomery County and the minimum custody unit at Piedmont Correctional Institution in Rowan County have been moved.”


Washington Post: Trump officials gave a finance firm $16.3 million to supply food boxes to the poor. House Democrats are raising questions about how those funds were handled.. “One of the largest awardees in a key Trump pandemic relief operation redirected $3 million to its own nonprofit organization despite its lack of track record or capacity in delivering food to people in need, House Democrats have alleged. Yegg Inc., a California firm that offers business finance solutions, was awarded $16.6 million to supply milk and dairy boxes for the Farmers to Families Food Box program May 8.”

Yahoo News: Intelligence employees vent frustrations over being forced to return to the office. ” Employees at one of the most secretive parts of government have been forced to return to their offices, leading to widespread concerns about their exposure to COVID-19. Tensions inside the National Security Agency — which is responsible for eavesdropping and digital espionage — bubbled over last week, leading to an all-hands meeting at the agency on Wednesday to address complaints, according to four sources familiar with the matter.”

CNN: White House coronavirus task force calls for ‘significant behavior change of all Americans’. “The White House coronavirus task force continues to sound the alarm on the spread of the pandemic across the country in weekly reports to states, focusing this week on mitigation efforts and calling for ‘significant behavior change of all Americans.'”

Reuters: Exclusive: White House considers lifting European travel restrictions – sources. “The White House is considering rescinding entry bans for most non-U.S. citizens who recently were in Brazil, Britain, Ireland and 26 other European countries, five U.S. and airline officials told Reuters.”


Washington Post: Which Trump official has coronavirus now? This reporter always seems to know first.. “If you want to find out who in the Trump administration has tested positive for the coronavirus, you should probably just set an alert for Jennifer Jacobs’s tweets. The Bloomberg News reporter has emerged as the preeminent source for intel on covid-19 cases in and around the White House. Before she helped break the story on Friday that Donald Trump Jr. tested positive, she was the one who first told the world — and many in the White House — about the positive diagnosis of Trump’s close aide Hope Hicks in early October, a watershed revelation followed hours later by President Trump disclosing his own positive test result.”

Associated Press: Ga. Sen. Perdue boosts wealth with well-timed stock trades. “On Jan. 23, as word spread through Congress that the coronavirus posed a major economic and public health threat, Perdue sold off $1 million to $5 million in Cardlytics stock at $86 a share, according to congressional disclosures. Weeks later, in March, after the company’s stock plunged following an unexpected leadership shakeup and lower-than-forecast earnings, Perdue bought the stock back for $30 a share, investing between $200,000 and $500,000. Those shares have now quadrupled in value, closing at $121 a share on Tuesday.”


Los Angeles Times: Kindergartners struggle to learn online. But this mother-daughter duo keeps them glued. “A year ago, mother and daughter taught in classrooms one room apart at Bushnell Way Elementary School in Highland Park — Mrs. Carter with 4-year-olds, Ms. Tai in a mixed group of children ages 4 and 5. Many of the felt puppets and linking cubes they shared there are the same ones Karen Carter used when her daughter was a student in her classroom. Out of respect for her mother’s long tenure, Tai Carter goes by Ms. Tai at school. Now, the pair teach their pint-size students from home, keeping L.A.’s youngest learners engaged online even as kindergarten enrollment has plummeted and online attendance has slumped.”


New York Times: A U.S. Record: Two Million New Virus Cases in Two Weeks. “Some epidemiologists project that the number of deaths in the coming weeks could exceed the spring peak, in spite of improved treatment. In the past week, the United States added an average of 173,000 new daily cases. If this growth pattern holds, the total number of cases reported for the full month of November is likely to hit 4.5 million. That would be more than double the number of any previous month.”


NBC News: YouTube suspends OANN for violating its Covid-19 policy. “YouTube suspended the right-leaning One America News Network for one week on Tuesday after it posted a video that contained coronavirus misinformation. YouTube removed the video for violating a policy prohibiting the posting of content that spreads coronavirus misinformation. The one that One America News Network, or OANN, posted contained claims of a guaranteed cure for the disease.”


Opportunity Insight: The Economic Impacts of COVID-19: Evidence from a New Public Database Built Using Private Sector Data. “We build a publicly available database that tracks economic activity at a granular level in real time using anonymized data from private companies. We report daily statistics on consumer spending, business revenues, employment rates, and other key indicators disaggregated by ZIP code, industry, income group, and business size. Using these data, we study how COVID-19 affected the economy by analyzing heterogeneity in its impacts.”

New York Times: Evidence Builds That an Early Mutation Made the Pandemic Harder to Stop. “As the coronavirus swept across the world, it picked up random alterations to its genetic sequence. Like meaningless typos in a script, most of those mutations made no difference in how the virus behaved. But one mutation near the beginning of the pandemic did make a difference, multiple new findings suggest, helping the virus spread more easily from person to person and making the pandemic harder to stop.”


Politico: Major shift at Supreme Court on Covid-19 orders. “The Supreme Court signaled a major shift in its approach to coronavirus-related restrictions late Wednesday, voting 5-4 to bar New York state from reimposing limits on religious gatherings. The emergency rulings, issued just before midnight, were the first significant indication of a rightward shift in the court since President Donald Trump’s newest appointee — Justice Amy Coney Barrett — last month filled the seat occupied by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.”

Los Angeles Times: California has sent COVID-19 jobless benefits to Scott Peterson, death row inmates. “San Quentin inmate Scott Peterson, convicted of killing his wife and unborn son, received California unemployment benefits in recent months, according to a group of state and federal prosecutors who have been investigating fraud in the pandemic relief system administered by the state Employment Development Department. So did convicted serial killer Cary Stayner, who murdered two women and two girls near Yosemite in 1999 and now is jailed, near Peterson, on death row.”


Washington Post: Pay Americans to take a coronavirus vaccine. “The vaccines are likely to arrive at the same moment Washington is, belatedly, taking up much-needed stimulus legislation. The timing couldn’t be better: Money would go into Americans’ pockets just when the U.S. economy can begin fully reopening with a vaccinated population that can go about their daily lives without fear of catching the disease or infecting others.”


CNN: Pandemic inauguration could cut the choir, standing-room-only parties and maybe the historic lunch. “Construction of the parade platform for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration festivities is well underway. The viewing stand and bleachers are almost complete and each day they get closer to being done — all within Trump’s view — as it becomes clearer his days in the White House are coming to a close. Despite the uncertainty of the coronavirus and Trump’s waning attempts to overturn the election, the structure is a growing reminder of the transition now in motion. Whatever else must change to accommodate the pandemic, people are getting ready for Biden’s inauguration come January, which will likely reflect the President-elect’s cautious, science-driven approach to the pandemic.”

Washington Post: Joe Biden calls for shared sacrifice to fight the pandemic as Trump rails about baseless election accusations . “President-elect Joe Biden urged Americans on the eve of Thanksgiving to recommit to fighting the coronavirus, not one another — even as President Trump continued to ignore the pandemic while he spent another day venting over baseless claims of election fraud. Wednesday afternoon provided a stark look at two vastly different presidencies, one suffused with anger and recrimination in its final days and the other sober and deliberate as it prepares to start.”

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