Tuesday CoronaBuzz, December 1, 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.


Nursery World: Coronavirus: Sesame Street launches storylines to help parents through the pandemic . “The three organisations have come together to launch the Parenting Partnership, which will be rolled out to address the specific needs of parents and carers worldwide. The first phase of the partnership involves newly-created Sesame Street content, available in ten languages, which address common issues, such as adapting to spending more time in the home together, and not being able to socialise with friends.”

TwinCities Pioneer Press: Holiday Arts Guide: From Blenders to Brickman, music traditions continue online. “Nearly all of this year’s holiday concerts are virtual, but many familiar faces both local (the Blenders, Lorie Line, the SPCO) and national (Jim Brickman, Trans-Siberian Orchestra) have planned online events to keep holiday traditions going during the pandemic. Here’s a look at what’s on tap.” These events are a mix of free and not-free.


NYC Department of Education: Chancellor Carranza Launches Parent University, New Online Resource for Families. “Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today launched Parent University, a new online platform that offers a centralized catalog of courses, live events, and activities to help connect with families and support students. The platforms offers all New York City parents and guardians access to live and on-demand courses and resources across multiple discipline areas and grade bands.”


WARNING: This is really gross. USA Today: Dead minks infected with a mutated form of COVID-19 rise from graves after mass culling. “Minks infected with a mutated strain of COVID-19 in Denmark appear to be rising from the dead, igniting a national frenzy and calls from local officials to cremate mink carcasses. While the sight itself is certainly terrifying for the residents of West Jutland, a region of the country grappling with confirmed COVID-19 cases connected to mink, there is likely a scientific explanation for the zombie-like reemergence from their graves.”

Los Angeles Times: New COVID-19 spike spreading beyond urban areas to all corners of California. “A Times data analysis found that most California counties are now suffering their worst coronavirus daily case rates of the entire COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing even the summer surge that had forced officials to roll back the state’s first reopening in the late spring.”


BBC: Covid-19: What’s the harm of ‘funny’ anti-vaccine memes?. “Memes, often in the form of humorous images and videos, are a major part of how people communicate on the internet, but they can also be used to spread disinformation. We’ve been looking at how these memes can present false and misleading information about Covid-19 vaccines, feeding into concerns about their efficacy or safety.”


Mashable: 11 ways to virtually visit Santa this holiday season. “While your kids aren’t able to sit on Santa’s lap in 2020, they can still interact with him through a screen. A bunch of helpful online services are offering virtual Santa visits in the form of pre-recorded video messages or live video calls. They vary in price depending on type and duration of experience, date booked, and personalization, so we thought it would be helpful to round up a few of the best options for you to browse.”

BBC: Cancelled prom pictures win £15,000 Taylor Wessing portrait prize. “A series of portraits of school leavers dressed for proms that never took place because of the coronavirus pandemic has won a £15,000 prize for photography. The judges of this year’s Taylor Wessing Prize felt Alys Tomlinson’s Lost Summer ‘spoke to the events of 2020… without being heavy handed.'”

San Jose State University: Research Shows Lockdowns Did Not Decrease Park Visits. “Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Ahoura Zandiatashbar scoured publicly available data and found that although we have limited our visits to stores, Americans are still visiting parks and beaches at near pre-pandemic rates. In the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, Zandiatashbar—a newly hired faculty member in SJSU’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the College of Social Sciences—published a study he co-authored with Shima Hamidi, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.”

Poynter: How big will the pandemic eviction wave be?. “One estimate based on census data says, ‘8.4 million renter households, which include 20.1 million individual renters, could experience an eviction filing’ one month from now. Get your head around that: 8 million households could face evictions in four weeks. To put it in perspective, about 2.5 million people were displaced in the Dust Bowl days. I am way more interested in this than in Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping statistics.”


AZ Central: Yuma doctor says Arizona has shortage of ICU beds, staff as COVID-19 cases surge. “Dr. Cleavon Gilman was shocked when he came into work at Yuma Regional Medical Center this week and was told that although the hospital’s intensive care was full, patients in intensive care could not be transferred to other hospitals. ‘There was supposed to be 174 ICU beds in Arizona,’ Gilman said. ‘When I came on the shift there were none. And that’s unacceptable.'”


New York Times: ‘Bleak Friday’ for Stores as Pandemic Pushes Holiday Shopping Online. “Analysts at Morgan Stanley estimated that retailers’ overall Black Friday sales fell 20 percent from last year, based on early reports of drops in store foot traffic and increases in online sales. Consumers spent $9 billion online on Friday, a 21.6 increase from last year and the second-biggest figure for online retailers ever, according to Adobe Analytics, which scans 80 percent of online transactions across the top 100 U.S. web retailers. The firm said online sales rose to $23.5 billion in the four-day Thanksgiving-to-Sunday period, up 23 percent from last year.”

Daily Beast: Meat-Plant Workers Slam Rogue Colorado Officials Over Refusal to Enforce COVID Rules. “Meat-plant workers in Colorado condemned local leaders on Wednesday for refusing to enforce new state-directed COVID-19 safety restrictions, even after hitting a ‘level red’ designation over the region’s spiraling increase in coronavirus cases and dire hospital situation.”

NPR: New Mexico Distillery Owners Discuss Closing Their Business Because Of COVID-19. “Matt and Susan Simonds struggled to keep their Albuquerque distillery afloat over the summer during the pandemic. Now, they are among the tens of thousands of small businesses that have gone under.”


Anchorage Daily News: Governor’s outreach director urged people to go out and ‘party like it’s New Year’s Eve’ before Anchorage closed bars. “As the state of Alaska urges people to make sacrifices to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s director of communications and community outreach told friends and family to gather and party. ‘Monday night, go to your favorite bar and party like it’s New Year’s Eve,’ Dunleavy outreach director Dave Stieren wrote Thursday on his personal Facebook page. ‘Dress up. Uber. Whatever. Do it.'”


NPR: North Korea Executed Coronavirus Rule-Breaker, Says South Korean Intelligence. “North Korea is taking increasingly harsh measures to stop the coronavirus from entering the country, including executing an official in August who violated anti-virus rules, South Korean intelligence officials told lawmakers on Friday. In a closed-door briefing to a parliamentary intelligence committee on Friday, the officials told lawmakers that the executed North Korean had brought goods through customs in the city of Sinuiju on North Korea’s border with China, in violation of coronavirus-related quarantine measures.”

New York Times: Britain Set to Leap Ahead in Approving Vaccines. “Britain asked its drug regulator on Friday to consider AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency approval, forging ahead in the face of considerable uncertainty about the vaccine’s effectiveness as the government tries to corral a pandemic that has killed more than 66,000 people in the country.”

Washington Post: How a $17 billion bailout fund intended for Boeing ended up in very different hands. “The Trump administration has used a $17 billion loan fund meant for businesses critical to U.S. national security to help a hodgepodge of little-known companies with unclear importance to national defense, and the fund remains mostly unspent nearly eight months after Congress approved it as part of a $2 trillion stimulus bill.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Netherlands makes face masks mandatory indoors. “The Netherlands has made it compulsory to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus. The country is one of the last in Europe to introduce such a measure. The rule will apply to those over the age of 13 in public buildings such as shops, railway stations and hairdressers from Tuesday.”

Poynter: The CDC will meet this week to discuss who will be first to be vaccinated. “The meeting comes nine days before the CDC will consider Pfizer’s emergency application for the approval of its experimental vaccine, which it says is about 95% effective in preventing COVID-19. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn would not say exactly how many days it might take for the government to act on Pfizer’s application.”


CNN: Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister dies of Covid-19. “Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister, who was toppled in 1989 by former dictator Omar al-Bashir, died Thursday from coronavirus. Al-Mahdi, who was 84, died in the United Arab Emirates, where he had traveled for treatment after contracting the virus, his family said in a statement.”

NPR: With Less Money In Its Red Kettles, The Salvation Army Rallies To Save The Holidays. “The charitable organization relies on its red-kettle campaign’s donations to raise enough money to help millions of Americans around the holidays. That’s especially true this year, with so many people out of work and suffering financially. So with store traffic — and red-kettle donations — down, the charity is turning to technology and its enthusiastic volunteers to keep the tradition going. The familiar red-kettle campaign’s roots go back more than a century.”

New York Times: Dr. Mary Fowkes, 66, Dies; Helped Science Understand the Pandemic. “Dr. Mary Fowkes, a neuropathologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan whose autopsies of Covid-19 victims early in the pandemic discovered serious damage in multiple organs — a finding that led to the successful use of higher doses of blood thinners to treat patients — died on Nov. 15 at her home in Katonah, N.Y., in Westchester County. She was 66. Her daughter, Jackie Treatman, said the cause was a heart attack.”

Merco Press: Bolsonaro said he will refuse vaccination against Covid-19: “it’s my right”. “Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday he would refuse a coronavirus vaccine, the most recent of his vaccine-skeptic statements. ‘I’m telling you, I’m not going to take it. It’s my right,’ he said in remarks aired over several social media platforms.”


Washington Post: As thousands of athletes get coronavirus tests, nurses wonder: What about us?. “As sports lurched back to life over the summer, health experts debated the ethics of entire leagues jumping to the front of the testing line. But ultimately the leagues, with billions of revenue dollars at stake, contracted with private labs to pay for the best and fastest tests available — a luxury many hospitals and other healthcare providers, reeling from the pandemic, can’t afford.”


Bloomberg: Math Knowledge Is Another Casualty of the Pandemic. “Shalinee Sharma can track the impact of Covid-19 on students’ math achievement on a daily basis by checking Zearn, the nonprofit company of which she is chief executive and co-founder. Students go to Zearn to take math lessons and to earn badges, which they get for a perfect score on a quiz. Early in the pandemic she and her staff noticed that high-income students were using Zearn more than ever, but the low-income students that Zearn is most concerned about were dropping off. The gap seemed to narrow at the start of this school year, but lately it has widened again.”

New York Times: Teaching in the Pandemic: ‘This Is Not Sustainable’. “All this fall, as vehement debates have raged over whether to reopen schools for in-person instruction, teachers have been at the center — often vilified for challenging it, sometimes warmly praised for trying to make it work. But the debate has often missed just how thoroughly the coronavirus has upended learning in the country’s 130,000 schools, and glossed over how emotionally and physically draining pandemic teaching has become for the educators themselves.”


CNN: One college student shares why he trekked home for Thanksgiving, and what he’s doing to stay safe. “The choice to return home as cases continue to surge nationwide has not been an easy one for college students to make — and some health experts are concerned that colleges didn’t help enough to ensure safe departures for all students.”


Caroll Times Herald: A spreading sickness, part I. “… when you’re retired and have halted your lives for months, the allure of normalcy is tempting. There was a bottle of hand sanitizer ready at the front door, and the ladies wore masks when they weren’t eating pie. They tried to keep a safe distance, but Joan’s hands were arthritic and Nina had to help her with the cards. It’s hard to remember who won the $1 pot that day, because so much has happened since. So much is gone. The next day, Nina’s husband collapsed.”


MIT Technology Review: While mainland America struggles with covid apps, tiny Guam has made them work. “With no budget, and relying almost entirely on a grassroots volunteer effort, Guam has gotten 29% of the island’s adult residents to download its exposure notification app, a rate of adoption that outstrips states with far more resources.”


ABC News: How to watch out for scams as a coronavirus vaccine nears. “Homeland Security Investigations officials are preparing for a crush of new scams when the coronavirus vaccine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which could come in a few weeks.”

ZDNet: Personal data of 16 million Brazilian COVID-19 patients exposed online. “The personal and health information of more than 16 million Brazilian COVID-19 patients has been leaked online after a hospital employee uploaded a spreadsheet with usernames, passwords, and access keys to sensitive government systems on GitHub this month.”


New York Daily News: EXCLUSIVE: COVID survivor thanks all 116 members of Manhattan hospital team that saved his life. “When the 44-year-old patient returned home May 2, he felt a gnawing need to thank them all – a total of 116 doctors, nurses, therapists and other anonymous medical heroes of the pandemic. The finance professional turned into an online detective, using a hospital app and his own insurance records to track down dozens of his benefactors across the next five months. And then, as Thanksgiving neared, he sent them all a note of deep appreciation.”


Yahoo News: New Hampshire Republicans want to impeach the state’s GOP governor for requiring people to wear a mask in public places. “Seven conservative lawmakers in New Hampshire have called for an investigation into whether the state’s GOP governor Chris Sununu can be impeached for ruling by executive order during the pandemic. This news comes just days after the governor implemented a mask mandate requiring people to wear a face covering in public places, which led to an anti-mask demonstration outside his home in Newfields on Sunday.”

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