Wednesday CoronaBuzz, December 2, 2020: 44 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.


University of Wisconsin Green Bay: Faculty note: Prof. Nesvet at the Keats Letters’ Project: Keats in Quarantine. “Last month, UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Rebecca Nesvet (English) and a few other Romanticists from around the world were invited to publish brief creative and critical reactions to the final surviving letter of the Romantic poet John Keats, which he dated November 30, 1820—200 years ago today.”


State of Washington: Inslee announces statewide COVID-19 exposure notification tool. “Gov. Jay Inslee, along with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), today announced the launch of WA Notify, a simple, anonymous exposure notification tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19. By adding WA Notify to their smartphones, Washington residents will be alerted if they spent time near another WA Notify user who later tests positive for COVID-19. ”

KJZZ: Arizona Department Of Education Launches Tool To Track School Learning Models During COVID-19. “The Arizona Department of Education has released a statewide tool that tracks whether schools are in distance, hybrid or in-person learning models. The tool, which can be found on the education department’s website, gathers self-reported data from Arizona’s 15 county superintendents and individual charter school operators.”

Texas State Library and Archives Commission: Virtual Mental Health First Aid Training available free of charge for Texas public library workers. “Thanks to a grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Center (Hill Country MHDD), in partnership with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, is offering free online classes in Adult and Youth (Adults Assisting Youth) Mental Health First Aid for the next five months for Texas public library workers, Texas public library board members, and Texas public library volunteers.”


Washington Post: Front-line workers have seen the worst of covid-19. A new website allows donors to support them.. “The website, spearheaded by the nonprofit public interest advocacy organization D.C. Appleseed Center in partnership with Amazon Web Services, allows donors to channel money and resources directly to the nurses, grocery clerks, office cleaners and more who are still clocking in every day while others shelter at home. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)”


Washington Week: Special Report on the COVID-19 Pandemic. “COVID-19 case numbers are hitting record highs as outbreaks are appearing nationwide right before the holiday season. With millions struggling, the biggest question is, what’s next? The panel discusses what the future holds for America as vaccines arrive, and how a deeply divided Congress can impact future COVID-19 legislation.” This is a TV show, but I spot-checked the captioning and it was solid.

New York Times: 2nd Coronavirus Wave Hits Buffalo Area ‘With a Vengeance’. “Over the past month, the number of coronavirus cases has increased tenfold in the upstate city of Buffalo and its surrounding suburbs. Hospitalizations already have surpassed the levels seen in the spring. And the Covid-19 hotline for Erie County, where Buffalo is situated, is getting ‘annihilated,’ the health commissioner said, with 1,500 calls in one 24-hour period this week.”


CNN: Social media must prepare for flood of Covid-19 vaccine misinformation. “Nearly two years ago, public health experts blamed social media platforms for contributing to a measles outbreak by allowing false claims about the risks of vaccines to spread. Facebook pledged to take tougher action on anti-vaccine misinformation, including making it less prominent in the news feed and not recommending related groups. But shortly after, Facebook-owned Instagram continued to serve up posts from anti-vaccine accounts and hashtags to anyone searching for the word ‘vaccines.’ Despite actions against anti-vaccine content since then — some as recent as last month — Facebook has failed to totally quash the movement on its platforms.”

BBC: Covid vaccine: Rumours thrive amid trickle of pandemic facts. “With a number of potential vaccines for Covid-19 now imminent, there are increasing concerns that misinformation online could turn some people against being immunized. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the world’s not only fighting the pandemic, but also what it calls an ‘infodemic’ – where an overload of information, some of it false, makes it difficult for people to make decisions about their health.”

Poynter: How a team led by a journalist is fighting coronavirus misinformation in the Filipino community. ” Tayo means ‘us’ in Tagalog. The website — a collaboration between members in the U.S. and a team in the Philippines — provides useful information for senior citizens, front-line workers and unemployed people and even has translation in Tagalog. The group also calls the effort The Caretaker Project.”


KMBC: In Santa’s mailbag, a peek into children’s pandemic worries. “Jim, from Taiwan, slipped a face mask inside the greeting card he sent to Santa and marked “I (heart) u.” Alina, 5, asked in her Santa letter written with an adult’s help that he please use the front door when he drops in, because the back door is reserved for Grandma and Grandpa to minimize their risk of contamination. And spilling out her heavy little heart to ‘Dear Father Christmas,’ 10-year-old Lola wrote that she is wishing ‘that my aunt never has cancer again and that this virus no longer exists.'”


Reuters: UK police arrest 155 in anti-lockdown protests in London. “Police in London said on Saturday that they had made 155 arrests as they tried to break up anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests. The police said the arrests had been made for different offences including assaulting a police officer, possession of drugs and breaching coronavirus restrictions. England’s current lockdown ends on Dec. 2.”


Arizona State University: Cold storage is crucial to COVID-19 vaccine distribution. “Moderna reports it can have 20 million vaccine doses ready by the end of 2020, and Pfizer says it can have 50 million doses by then. Vaccination with either product requires two injections, so their combined output could mean protection for 35 million people by the end of the year….These breakthroughs are very welcome in a year defined by the heavy toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. But supplying these vaccines requires a feat of logistical precision known as a ‘cold chain.'”

New York Times: Covid Overload: U.S. Hospitals Are Running Out of Beds for Patients. “In the spring, the pandemic was concentrated mainly in hard-hit regions like New York, which offered lessons to hospitals in other states anticipating the spread of the coronavirus. Despite months of planning, though, many of the nation’s hospital systems are now slammed with a staggering swell of patients, no available beds and widening shortages of nurses and doctors. On any single day, some hospitals have had to turn away transfer requests for patients needing urgent care or incoming emergencies.”

Politico: Governments around the world weigh thorny question: Who gets the vaccine first?. “In theory, everyone in the world who wants it should eventually be able to get immunized. But for much of 2021, demand for the coronavirus vaccine will outstrip supply, presenting a massive dilemma for governments, which must decide who gets the vaccine first or early, and who must wait.”

Poynter: Will journalists be considered front-line workers for COVID-19 vaccines?. “The National Press Photographers Association filed a request with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices asking ‘that journalists who have direct contact with the public on a regular basis, and particularly visual journalists, be expressly included in the phase of the COVID-19 vaccine that includes the essential and critical infrastructure workforce.'”

Washington Post: A shot. A wait. Another shot: Two-dose coronavirus vaccine regimens will make it harder to inoculate America. “As [North Dakota]’s immunization program manager, [Molly] Howell is on top of mass vaccinations for seasonal flu, essentially a one-stop shot. And she is well versed in serial immunizations, like the two-step shingles shots. But for the current coronavirus vaccines, which require two injections spaced either three or four weeks apart, she anticipates clinicians having to make many more than two visits to facilities. Will health-care workers be considered a high-priority group and thus scheduled for vaccination sooner than at-risk residents? How should shift workers be accommodated? And what about the many people who move in or out of facilities in the window between shots?”

CBS News: Doctor recreates what COVID-19 patients may see before they die in chilling video. “A Missouri doctor recently published a chilling video recreating what a COVID-19 patient may see in the moments before they die. In the now-viral video, Dr. Kenneth Remy hovers over the camera in full PPE, giving the viewer the perspective of someone lying in a hospital bed. ‘I hope that the last moment of your life doesn’t look like this,’ Remy, a Washington University in St. Louis researcher and physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, said in the video.”

Today: Photo goes viral showing ICU doctor embracing COVID-19 patient on Thanksgiving. “A heartbreaking photo showing the emotional moment a doctor comforted a patient in the coronavirus intensive care unit on Thanksgiving is going viral. Thursday marked the 252nd consecutive day of work for Dr. Joseph Varon at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston. The physician, who was identified by the Getty photographer, wore full personal protective gear as he wrapped his arms around an elderly patient.”


Capital Gazette: What’s a virtual Clydesdale? The Military Bowl Parade goes online this year.. “Organizers of the Military Bowl have decided to take their popular parade online this year, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of bands, dancers and the Budweiser Clydesdales marching up Main Street and out to Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Dec. 27, the Military Bowl Foundation said it is accepting videos that will be edited into a parade and then premiered on social media.”


BBC: Zoom boosts sales forecast as pandemic drags on. “Video conferencing company Zoom has said annual sales will be even higher than expected as the pandemic drives demand for its software. The California firm said revenue could hit more than $2.5bn (£1.9bn) – more than twice what it forecast in March.”

CNN: An Oregon mink farm has reported a Covid-19 outbreak. “An Oregon mink farm has reported an outbreak of coronavirus among mink and farmworkers. Ten mink samples submitted all came back positive for coronavirus, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) said in a news release on Friday. The farm has been placed under quarantine, meaning ‘no animal or animal product can leave the farm until further notice,’ according to ODA.”

New York Times: Pushed by Pandemic, Amazon Goes on a Hiring Spree Without Equal. “Amazon has embarked on an extraordinary hiring binge this year, vacuuming up an average of 1,400 new workers a day and solidifying its power as online shopping becomes more entrenched in the coronavirus pandemic.”


Washington Post: Britain tries to swab all of Liverpool in pilot of mass coronavirus testing. “‘Liverpool can beat TB’ proclaimed a 1959 public health campaign urging the whole of England’s third-largest city to get X-rayed to screen for tuberculosis. The same attitude is being applied to the coronavirus, as Liverpool attempts to quash its outbreak by swabbing its entire population.”


BBC: Coronavirus: New Covid tier system comes into force in England. “England has returned to a tiered system of coronavirus restrictions after its second national lockdown ended. The tougher new system has come into force hours after being approved by MPs in a Commons vote.”

The Daily Beast: Veterans Saw Friends Die From COVID. Then It Got Worse.. “First the coronavirus spread inside the Lyons, New Jersey, long-term Veterans Affairs facility and ravaged residents and staff. Then came what workers and veterans described as indifference and neglect from Lyons administrators as the bodies piled up and the lockdown dragged on. But to them, the worst part, the part that is ongoing nine months into the COVID-19 outbreak in America, has been watching people who need help and dignity, long after serving their country, give up.”

New York Times: The Lost Days That Made Bergamo a Coronavirus Tragedy. “The northern Italian province became one of the deadliest killing fields for the virus in the Western world. But a Times investigation found that faulty guidance and bureaucratic delays rendered the toll far worse than it had to be.”

BBC: France to impose border checks to stop skiing abroad. “Random border checks will be imposed to stop French holidaymakers going to ski in neighbouring Switzerland, Prime Minister Jean Castex has said. France, in common with Germany and Italy, is shutting its ski lifts over Christmas to stop the spread of Covid-19, but Swiss slopes are already open.”


CNN: Colorado governor and spouse test positive for Covid-19. “Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and his spouse have tested positive for Covid-19 and are both asymptomatic, according to a statement from the governor’s office. ‘This evening, Governor Polis and First Gentleman (Marlon) Reis learned that they have tested positive for COVID-19,’ the statement reads.”


New York Times: Plastic Dividers and Masks All Day: What Teaching in a Pandemic Looks Like. “Returning to the classroom has not been easy; neither has remote learning. Educators looking to get back in front of students have had to navigate conflicting guidance from politicians and public health officials. Some teachers’ unions have refused to return to buildings until the virus abates, ostracizing colleagues who dare break with them. On the other hand, the country’s most vulnerable children have sustained severe academic and social harm from the remote-learning experiment. Parents, navigating their own economic and work struggles, are increasingly desperate.”

Associated Press: Cut Off: School Closings Leave Rural Students Isolated. “The midday arrival of a school bus at Cyliss Castillo’s home on the remote edge of a mesa breaks up the long days of boredom and isolation for the high school senior. The driver hands over food in white plastic bags, collects Castillo’s school assignments and offers some welcome conversation before setting out for another home. The closing of classrooms and the switch to remote learning because of the coronavirus have left Castillo and other students in this school district on the sparsely populated fringe of the Navajo Nation in New Mexico profoundly isolated — cut off from direct human contact and, in many cases, unconnected to the grid.”


Orange County Register: College applicants go the extra mile – to other states – to take entrance exams amid pandemic. “Mater Dei High senior Catherine Iveson approached her college entrance exams with a level of determination and responsibility that would make many parents proud. The 17-year-old from Costa Mesa put one of her favorite extracurricular activities – competitive riding with her horse Waldo – on hold to focus on taking a weekend prep class for the ACT, one of the most common standardized tests for college admissions. ‘It was as much about time as it was about finances,’ she said of the decision. ‘It’s impractical to do both.’ But the trade-off turned out to be just the start of the sacrifices for Iveson and her family amid the first college application season of the pandemic era.”


New Yorker: Our Brains Explain the Season’s Sadness. “I’ve been consumed this fall with a melancholy sadness. It’s different from the loneliness that I felt in the early stage of the pandemic, during the lockdown, when I took a picture of my shadow after a neighborhood walk failed to jumpstart exercise endorphins. Eleven months after COVID-19 spread globally, and during what would otherwise be a joyous Thanksgiving, my sorrow, and surely the emotion of many others, is more complicated.”

WGBH: Juliette Kayyem: Expect Widespread Immunity to COVID By Summer Of 2021. “On Boston Public Radio Wednesday, national security expert Juliette Kayyem offered a clear-eyed view of the U.S.’ timeline out of the coronavirus pandemic, with three COVID-19 vaccines on track for distribution in 2021. ‘We have every reason to be happy,’ she said. ‘There is a light that is getting brighter and brighter.'” This is mostly audio with a little text.

CNBC: Evictions have led to hundreds of thousands of additional Covid-19 cases, research finds. “Expiring state eviction bans have led to hundreds of thousands of additional coronavirus cases, new research finds, raising alarm about what will happen when the national eviction moratorium lapses next month.”

Politico: Drugs hyped as coronavirus treatment linked to psychiatric disorders, says EU agency. “Chloroquine and a related compound, hydroxychloroquine, have been associated with cases of psychiatric disturbances and suicidal behavior after being given to COVID-19 patients, warned the EU’s drug regulator [November 27]. The two medicines were some of the first drugs put forward as possible treatments for the coronavirus, and were famously promoted by controversial French doctor Didier Raoult and U.S. President Donald Trump. However, since then, they haven’t shown to be effective in clinical studies.”

Science: More people are getting COVID-19 twice, suggesting immunity wanes quickly in some. “South Korean scientists reported the first suspected reinfections in April, but it took until 24 August before a case was officially confirmed: a 33-year-old man who was treated at a Hong Kong hospital for a mild case in March and who tested positive again at the Hong Kong airport on 15 August after returning from a trip to Spain. Since then, at least 24 other reinfections have been officially confirmed—but scientists say that is definitely an underestimate.”

Washington Post: He didn’t take covid-19 seriously. Being hospitalized ‘made a believer’ out of him. “He wore a mask in public — most of the time. He limited his circle of friends, but still saw six or eight people. He largely followed the rules, but admits that he occasionally stretched them. [Craig] Buescher was 69 and in good health. Surely, he thought, the virus wouldn’t be that bad if he came down with it. While he doesn’t know how he ultimately contracted the virus, it was, in fact, quite bad. Nine days in the hospital, as he struggled to breathe, convinced him that not only did he need to be more careful to avoid the virus, but also that he should persuade others to do the same.”

CNN: US is ’rounding the corner into a calamity,’ expert says, with Covid-19 deaths projected to double soon. “More than 205,000 new cases were reported Friday — which likely consists of both Thursday and Friday reports in some cases, as at least 20 states did not report Covid-19 numbers on Thanksgiving. As of Saturday evening, more than 138,000 new cases and 1,100 deaths had been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US has now reported more than 100,000 infections every day for 26 consecutive days. The daily average in the week to Friday was more than 166,000 — almost 2.5 times higher than the summer’s peak counts in July.”


CNET: Facial recognition is getting better at making matches around face masks. “Scientists agree that face masks are here to stay, and research finds that facial recognition technology is starting to catch up. Since the start of the pandemic, facial recognition providers have been working to get around the coverings, and they’ve gotten marginally better, results from a US government study shows.”

Wiley Online Library: A critical review of emerging technologies for tackling COVID‐19 pandemic. ” As the pandemic continues to spread, current measures rely on prevention, surveillance, and containment. In light of this, emerging technologies for tackling COVID‐19 become inevitable. Emerging technologies including geospatial technology, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, telemedicine, blockchain, 5G technology, smart applications, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), robotics, and additive manufacturing are substantially important for COVID‐19 detecting, monitoring, diagnosing, screening, surveillance, mapping, tracking, and creating awareness.”


UCLA Anderson Review: Comprehensive COVID-19 Screening Would Pay for Itself Many Times Over. “A nationwide COVID-19 screening program that includes quick verification of positive test results would provide economic benefits far beyond its considerable costs, according to new research out of UCLA and Harvard. A two-test protocol could spur economic recovery by greatly reducing the number of people and businesses sidelined by COVID-19–related fears and unnecessary quarantines, as well as lowering actual sickness and death rates.”


KCRA: 82 contract COVID-19 at Northern California nursing facility. “A skilled nursing facility in Capitola is reporting more than 80 cases of COVID-19 among its residents and staff. Pacific Coast Manor said Thursday that 48 residents and 34 staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began in March. It is not clear how many of those cases were reported in recent days.”


Politico: McConnell suspends in-person GOP lunches. “McConnell’s decision comes as the Senate’s seen a recent uptick in members contracting the disease. Both Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks, while Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) announced she’d received a positive test before proceeding to test negative.”

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