Thursday CoronaBuzz, December 10, 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.


Indiana University: O’Neill School, University of Miami launch dashboard comparing COVID-19 executive orders nationwide. “The project tracked executive orders from every state, beginning in March through reopening. The research team coded more than 1,500 executive orders. The dashboard organizes and categorizes each state’s executive orders; ranks states by order stringency; and allows users to see how the information correlates with other issues, such as social distancing and the number of COVID-19 cases. It also allows users to filter information by various factors, such as age, income and governors’ political affiliations.”


Reuters: COVID-free for days, Australian state resumes singing, dancing, religious services. “Australia’s most populous state said that from [December 8] it would remove limits on the number of people at weddings, bars and religious services and end a ban on public venue dancing as a run of coronavirus-free days prompted a broad downgrade of social distancing rules.”

UPI: 1,000 veterans died of COVID-19 in November, VA reports. “The Department of Veterans Affairs recorded its highest monthly death count due to COVID-19 in November while case counts among the military continue an upward climb. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported [December 1] that COVID-19 killed more than 1,000 people in VA facilities in November — its highest death count in a single month.”

AP: ‘Very dark couple of weeks’: Morgues and hospitals overflow. “Nearly 37,000 Americans died of COVID-19 in November, the most in any month since the dark early days of the pandemic, engulfing families in grief, filling newspaper obituary pages and testing the capacity of morgues, funeral homes and hospitals. Amid the resurgence, states have begun reopening field hospitals to handle an influx of patients that is pushing health care systems — and their workers — to the breaking point. Hospitals are bringing in mobile morgues. And funerals are being livestreamed or performed as drive-by affairs.”


The Hill: Nevada governor: ‘Unconscionable’ for Trump to suggest Reno’s COVID-19 surge unit ‘fake’. “Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on [December 1] issued a scathing statement after President Trump suggested in a tweet that a Reno hospital’s overflow coronavirus unit in a parking garage was ‘fake.'”

USA Today: ‘We are talking about people’s lives,’ dire warnings of public health crisis as COVID vaccine misinformation rages. “Hours after Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother from the United Kingdom, became the first person to get the COVID-19 vaccine, anti-vaxxers claimed she didn’t exist, that she was dead and that she was part of a Bill Gates scheme to implant microchips. A USA TODAY analysis of one popular tweet claiming Keenan was a ‘crisis actress’ shows how quickly this misinformation can spread.”


Daily Beast: There’s No End in Sight to ‘Mind Boggling’ Homecoming Dances. “In any other time, a lighthearted photo of teens pretending to lick one another’s faces would not warrant national headlines. But the Nov. 7 Facebook post—in which three glittering teenage girls wear crowns, smiles, and red roses between pubescent boys blowing them kisses—is emblematic of a catastrophic divide between Americans in the middle of a pandemic.”


The Atlantic: Headlines Don’t Capture the Horror We Saw. “I was an anesthesiology resident in a large academic medical center at the peak of the pandemic in New York City this spring. During a time when journalists had little access to what was happening inside New York hospitals, I wrote regular email updates to friends and family. These messages—edited for length and clarity below—showcase the frightening reality of what care looks like in an overwhelmed hospital. (Where I describe individual cases in significant detail, I’ve obtained the consent of the patient or family in question.) The emails relate the experiences of health-care workers, and young doctors in particular: the anxiety, the fear, the overwhelming responsibility, and the ethical burden of hard decisions. Even after the pandemic is over, the weight of these experiences will remain with us for a lifetime.”

The Atlantic: The U.S. Has Passed the Hospital Breaking Point. “The pandemic nightmare scenario—the buckling of hospital and health-care systems nationwide—has arrived. Several lines of evidence are now sending us the same message: Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed, causing them to restrict whom they admit and leading more Americans to die needlessly.”


CNET: Disneyland’s troubles explained: Here’s when the theme parks can reopen. “For the first time in its 65-year history, Disneyland announced it would close its gates for an entire month in 2020. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the iconic California theme parks shut down on March 12 — and have remained shut. Ever since, we’ve all been wondering when Disneyland can open, and why it hasn’t while Disney’s other global theme parks were free to reopen, including Walt Disney World on the opposite coast of the US.”

Washington Post: More than half of emergency small-business funds went to larger businesses, new data shows. “More than half of the money from the Treasury Department’s coronavirus emergency fund for small businesses went to just 5 percent of the recipients, according to data on more than 5 million loans that was released by the government Tuesday evening in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit. According to data on the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), about 600 mostly larger companies, including dozens of national chains, received the maximum amount allowed under the program of $10 million.”


WRAL: Leaders affirm: Law enforcement officers should be wearing masks when interacting with the public. “On [November 29], Raleigh police were caught on camera not wearing masks in southeast Raleigh, an area that has seen the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Wake County. A former newspaper reporter, Sue Sturgis, posted photos to Facebook showing two Raleigh officers not wearing masks at a traffic stop on North Raleigh Boulevard.”

Washington Post: New Mexico shut down nearly everything to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by covid. It wasn’t enough.. “New Mexico has consistently won praise among public health experts for its aggressive approach to combating the virus. Lujan Grisham issued a stay-at-home order in March when there were fewer than 100 cases statewide, and she has gone as far as locking down entire cities to stem the spread. A study by Oxford University found that the state’s approach was among the most restrictive — and also the most successful, with New Mexico dodging the spring and summer surges that afflicted so many other states. But with pandemic fatigue growing and political resistance building — including from the White House — New Mexico has not escaped the outbreak raging nationwide this fall.”


Kyodo News: Japan enacts law to make coronavirus vaccines free to residents. “Japan’s parliament enacted a law [December 2] to cover the costs for residents to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, as hopes grow for the early arrival of vaccines following recent reports of progress amid a resurgence of infections.”


New York Times: Red Cross Visit to Guantánamo Limited by Virus Measures. “Delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross visiting Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic were unable to meet some of prisoners held there because restrictions imposed by the U.S. military made it impossible for the two sides to converse, lawyers for the prisoners say.”

HuffPost: Ice-T: ‘No Masker’ Father-In-Law Is Now A ‘Believer’ After COVID-19 Horror. “The ‘Law & Order: SVU’ star tweeted the ordeal of Steve Austin ― the father of his wife, Coco Austin ― who contracted COVID-19, spent 40 days in the ICU and nearly died. In an undated photo he shared of Austin appearing to take oxygen, Ice-T wrote that his father-in-law ‘was a serious “No Masker”‘ until ‘COVID hit him.'”

Grateful Web: Todd Rundgren Announces Multi-City Virtual Tour. “Legendary recording artist, producer, songwriter and tech pioneer Todd Rundgren has announced his 2021 Clearly Human virtual tour, featuring 25 performances, each geo-fenced and tailored to a different US city. With each performance emanating from a Chicago venue (the most convenient time zone to allow for 8pm showtimes in every market), the shows will be ‘localized’ to give both the band and the fans a sense of place (e.g. local landmarks will appear on the video wall, catering for the band and crew will feature dishes associated with each city, etc).”

Business Insider India: A California sheriff who refused to enforce the state’s mask order now has COVID-19. “Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones tested positive on [December 1] following ‘workplace exposure to an employee that later tested positive,’ the department said in a statement [December 2]. Jones hit headlines in June after he said he would not be enforcing for his city the mandatory mask order dispensed by Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on June 18.”


District Administration: COVID dashboards: Best practices advice from a national COVID database creator. “Many school districts are updating their communities on COVID case information via an easy-to-read dashboard. Here’s what these communication tools should include—and what superintendents surveyed by DA report about their dashboard development and features.”


BBC: Covid-19: The mask-wearing US city that bucked the trend. “More than half of US states currently have a mask mandate in place to limit the spread of coronavirus, but the issue has become highly controversial. We’ve taken a closer look at one mask-wearing US city, which has diverged from the state-wide policy. Care needs to be taken in drawing conclusions about wearing face coverings, but we can look at and compare the available data and consider the range of factors that may be involved in differing infection rates.”

Reuters: Cuddling in COVID: ‘Hug bubble’ lets seniors feel the magic of touch. “Since the COVID-19 outbreak, French care home resident Colette Dupas’s contact with her daughters has been limited to talking via video call, or through a window. Now the 97-year-old has been able to feel their touch, thanks to an inflatable tunnel and two plastic sleeves.”


Times of India: WhatsApp library comes to the rescue of pandemic-hit bibliophiles. “Whenever 13-year-old Pooja Kumari would find some time, she would escape into the community library in Delhi’s Sikandarpur with her younger sister. She had an arrangement. They would pick a book, sit down and the librarian would read to them. In March, like everything else, the library shut down because of the pandemic. School was also closed. The voracious reader lost her quiet refuge. That was when the Community Library Project (TCLP), a non-profit that runs four libraries across Delhi-NCR, launched a WhatsApp library. Duniya Sabki.”


Washington Post: What negative candle reviews might say about the coronavirus . “Terri Nelson had an unusual question about covid-19: If the virus robs people of their sense of smell, would that be reflected in online reviews of fragrant products? To find out, the Portland, Ore., science illustrator and cartoonist said she looked up reviews of ‘the stinkiest holiday thing I could think of’ — scented candles. ‘There are angry ladies all over Yankee Candle’s site reporting that none of the candles they just got had any smell at all,’ she wrote on Twitter last week. ‘I wonder if they’re feeling a little hot and nothing has much taste for the last couple days too,’ she added, a nod to other common coronavirus symptoms.”

EurekAlert: Immediate detection of airborne viruses with a disposable kit!. “The KIST-GIST collaborative research team developed an integrated sampling/monitoring platform that uses a disposable kit to easily collect and detect airborne viruses on-site. The disposable virus sampling/monitoring kit developed by the team is similar to the pregnancy test kit, and enables completion of both sampling and diagnosing on airborne viruses within 50 minutes on-site (10 to 30 minutes of sampling and 20 minutes of diagnosis) without requiring a separate cleaning or separation process.”


Vice: Darknet Drug Dealers Are Now Selling ‘Pfizer COVID Vaccines’. “At least two vendors that VICE World News spoke to over Wickr claimed to be pharmacists, insisting that they acquired the vaccine through the government and had already sold it to multiple customers. One claimed to have a stockpile of some 560 doses. When asked for proof of their qualifications and photographic evidence of the product, both refused. Later, one of them sent a high-quality stock image of a vial labelled ‘Coronavirus Vaccine’.”


BBC: Covid: Students and retirees form long-distance friendships. “Millie Jacoby met her new ‘French grandma’ for the first time last week via video call. The 21-year-old British student signed up to a scheme pairing language students with elderly French people, some of whom have been left isolated by the coronavirus pandemic.”


Andy Slavitt: 15 Reasons Why I Will Get a Covid-19 Vaccine. “There are milestones to get there and data to review, but preparations are underway. I recently talked with scientists and distributors. There is an impressive level of preparation to make all the logistics happen. But the vaccines’ effectiveness isn’t dependent on the scientists alone. It’s also dependent on us. So, what should we do and why? Here’s why I am going to get vaccinated.”

CNN: I jab myself daily to stay healthy, and people can’t wear a mask?. “Lathering my hands with soap one day in early May, preparing to prick my finger and draw blood to measure my blood sugar level, I reflected on the many silent sacrifices I have made to keep myself alive and healthy. I have to prick my finger five times a day and implant a meter on my body. I need to measure every carbohydrate in each of my meals (even snacks). I have to inject insulin daily and carry sugar with me everywhere in case I dose more than needed. I have to exercise daily (though we all should do that). Thinking about all of this made me optimistic that my fellow Americans would make the much smaller sacrifices to buy time for our doctors, nurses and scientists to beat Covid-19.”


Axios: Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades. “The House plans to renovate members’ suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios. Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.”

New York Times: It’s Holiday Party Season at the White House. Masks Are Encouraged, but Not Required.. “The red and gold party invitations make no mention of the coronavirus, nor do they acknowledge the holiday message that public health officials have been trying to emphasize to Americans: Stay home. Instead, the invitations are the latest example of how President Trump is spending his final weeks in office operating in an alternative universe, denying the realities of life during the pandemic.”

Salon: David Perdue bought Pfizer stock — a week before company said it would develop a vaccine. “Sen. David Perdue, one of two multimillionaire Georgia Republicans facing tight runoff elections in January, drew scrutiny this spring for stock transactions made in the weeks ahead of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., while he was receiving privileged briefings on the impending pandemic.”

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