Wednesday CoronaBuzz, December 16, 2020: 32 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 Virginia: University Of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute Launches National Covid-19 Medical Resource Demand Dashboard. “As COVID-19 cases reach record numbers and are anticipated to escalate with increased holiday travel, the University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute has launched a national COVID-19 Medical Resource Demand Dashboard that can project weekly COVID-19 hospitalization rates and the percentage of occupied hospital beds up to six weeks in advance. This groundbreaking prediction tool provides a clearer picture of anticipated demand, enabling local public health officials—including emergency managers and hospital administrators—to better anticipate where and when action will be needed to mitigate the impact on medical facilities.”


Cornell Chronicle: Cornell’s Adult University to offer winter ‘education vacations’. “Building on the success of its online courses for alumni and friends last summer, Cornell’s Adult University (CAU) is offering winter online programming for adults and young people. CAU Winter Session: A Season to Study runs Dec. 28 through Feb. 5, 2021.”


WKYC: Ohio Department of Health to launch new COVID-19 vaccination dashboard. “During his Monday afternoon press conference, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the state–along with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH)–will soon launch a new tool on the COVID-19 dashboard that allows Ohioans to track the distribution and number of people who have received the Coronavirus vaccine as more vaccinations and doses arrive in the coming week.”

State of Michigan: New online tool allows Michiganders to learn their risk of COVID-19. “The Aging and Adult Services Agency at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has announced the launch of CV19 CheckUp in Michigan – a free, anonymous, personalized online tool that evaluates someone’s risks associated with COVID-19.”


NBC News: Ambulance companies at ‘a breaking point’ after receiving little Covid aid. “Stefan Hofer’s ambulance company, West Traill EMS, in Mayville, North Dakota, has received only one or two calls that weren’t related to Covid-19 over the past two months. But he said the case count has ballooned by 20 to 30 percent because of the pandemic. At the same time, the company’s expenses have mounted, its revenue has cratered and its workforce is being decimated by the virus. The company — which is private and supported by volunteers, a few employees and four trucks — covers more than 1,500 miles of North Dakota prairie and serves about 10,000 people on the far east side of the state.”

BuzzFeed News: “COVID In Rural America Is A Horror Story”: How The Pandemic Is Devastating Small Town Hospitals. “Healthcare workers in smaller towns are as exhausted and despondent as their counterparts in bigger cities. They, too, are facing shortages of personal protective equipment and are watching hospital beds and ICU wards fill up rapidly. But these medical workers also often find themselves treating patients that they know.”

New York Times: Vaccination Campaign at Nursing Homes Faces Obstacles and Confusion. “…even before it begins, the mass-vaccination campaign is facing serious obstacles that are worrying nursing home executives, industry watchdogs, elder-care lawyers and medical experts. They expect nursing homes to be the most challenging front in the mission to vaccinate Americans.”

STAT News: ‘There absolutely will be a black market’: How the rich and privileged can skip the line for Covid-19 vaccines. “Athletes, politicians, and other wealthy or well-connected people have managed to get special treatment throughout the pandemic, including preferential access to testing and unapproved therapies. Early access to coronavirus vaccines is likely to be no different, medical experts and ethicists told STAT.”


State Historical Society of North Dakota: Good News From 2020: Or, What Historic Sites Did During Covid-19. “… staff worked with tenacity to make sure 2020 was anything but a lost year. Though many of the sites had fewer visitors, staff at these sites took advantage of the quieter season to achieve restoration and maintenance goals. Here are a few of the highlights from five sites I manage.”


USA Today: Walt Disney World will no longer digitally add face masks on ride photos. “Disney World will no longer be digitally adding face masks onto guests’ faces in ride photos, the company said. Florida’s Disney World reopened with new COVID-19 restrictions in July, one of which included wearing a face covering at all times except while eating or swimming. Park visitors who chose to not wear a mask while riding on attractions did not receive PhotoPass photos taken on the rides.”


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.”

The Guardian: Florida newspaper investigation finds state government misled public on Covid as cases rose. “Florida [the week of December 4] became the third US state to record a million coronavirus cases and yet the public there has been misled by state leadership about the extent and dangers of the pandemic, especially in the run-up to the presidential election, an investigation has concluded.”


CNN: Vaccination cards will be issued to everyone getting Covid-19 vaccine, health officials say. “The Department of Defense released the first images of a Covid-19 vaccination record card and vaccination kits Wednesday. Vaccination cards will be used as the ‘simplest’ way to keep track of Covid-19 shots, said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of the Immunization Action Coalition, which is supporting frontline workers who will administer Covid-19 vaccinations.”

Politico: ‘We want them infected’: Trump appointee demanded ‘herd immunity’ strategy, emails reveal. “A top Trump appointee repeatedly urged top health officials to adopt a ‘herd immunity’ approach to Covid-19 and allow millions of Americans to be infected by the virus, according to internal emails obtained by a House watchdog and shared with POLITICO.”


AP: Pastor tells congregation to catch virus, ‘get it over with’. “The senior pastor of a church in western Michigan has encouraged his congregation to catch the coronavirus to ‘get it over with’ and calling it ‘all good.’ Bart Spencer made the statements during a Nov. 14 sermon at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Holland, The Holland Sentinel reported. ‘COVID, it’s all good,’ Spencer said. ‘It’s OK. Get it, get it over with, press on.'”

CNN: Romney calls Trump’s leadership on Covid-19 ‘a great human tragedy’. “Republican Sen. Mitt Romney on Thursday blasted President Donald Trump’s leadership — or lack thereof — during the deadly coronavirus pandemic as ‘a great human tragedy.'”


CBS News: Some Colleges Axing “Secondary Sports” Like Gymnastics And Tennis As Pandemic Continues. “American universities have been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic. Some have shut their campuses down completely. But schools that play big-time sports have gone to remarkable lengths to save their football and basketball seasons…. They do it, of course, to keep the TV money coming in from football and basketball. But at the same time, dozens of universities have been eliminating smaller ‘secondary’ sports like gymnastics and tennis and swimming.”

Wall Street Journal: A Rapid Covid Test That’s Also Accurate? The NFL Says It Has One. “The NFL’s rapid PCR test, developed by Mesa, has been tested on a selection of league personnel across five teams, who also submitted their usual samples for standard PCR tests. The 917 tests using both methods each produced 27 positive samples and 890 negative samples, a perfect match. The league used the rapid PCR test to clear the Ravens and Steelers to play on Wednesday, and it’s the type of development these companies hope could have broad public health implications soon beyond football—possibly helping airlines, schools and more safely return to a semblance of normalcy.”


CNN: Even beloved public schools may lose students forever. “The Newhart family moved to their Chicago suburb for the public schools. But when William Hatch Elementary closed its doors at the beginning of the pandemic, it contributed to a downward spiral for the family.”

Science Magazine: Get Ready for False Side Effects. “…if you take 10 million people and just wave your hand back and forth over their upper arms, in the next two months you would expect to see about 4,000 heart attacks. About 4,000 strokes. Over 9,000 new diagnoses of cancer. And about 14,000 of that ten million will die, out of usual all-causes mortality. No one would notice. That’s how many people die and get sick anyway. But if you took those ten million people and gave them a new vaccine instead, there’s a real danger that those heart attacks, cancer diagnoses, and deaths will be attributed to the vaccine.”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: To Make a Building Healthier, Stop Sanitizing Everything. “In the Western world, humans spend 90% of their time indoors. The average American spends even more than that—93%—inside buildings or cars. For years scientists have sounded the alarm that our disconnect from the outdoors is linked to a host of chronic health problems, including allergies, asthma, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and obesity. More recently, experts in various fields have begun studying why buildings, even those designed to be as germ-free as possible, are vectors for disease, not the least Covid-19.”


University of Vermont: Plante & Colleagues’ Study Details First AI Tool to Help Labs Rule-Out COVID-19. “Hospital-based laboratories and doctors at the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic might soon add artificial intelligence to their testing toolkit. A recent study conducted with collaborators from the University of Vermont and Cedars-Sinai describes the performance of South Burlington, Vt.-based Biocogniv’s new AI-COVID™ software. The team found high accuracy in predicting the probability of COVID-19 infection using routine blood tests, which can help hospitals reduce the number of patients referred for scarce PCR testing.”

BBC: Moderna vaccine safe and effective, say US experts. “Moderna’s vaccine is safe and 94% effective, regulators say, clearing the way for US emergency authorisation. The analysis by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) means it could become the second coronavirus vaccine to be allowed in the US. It comes one day after Americans across the country began receiving jabs of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.”

MIT: MIT study: Covid-19 vaccines may be less effective for Asian Americans. “This week, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) showed that the vaccines’ effectiveness may vary depending on a person’s race, and said that the vaccines should be tested robustly across populations with diverse genetic backgrounds.”


Argus Leader: COVID at the Capitol: More legislators fall ill after gathering in Pierre last week. “At least three South Dakota lawmakers who attended Gov. Kristi Noem’s budget address last week in Pierre have since been diagnosed with COVID-19. Sens. Helene Duhamel (R-Rapid City) and Reynold Nesiba (D-Sioux Falls) last week confirmed they had come down with the coronavirus after returning home from their legislative duties, which included hours side-by-side other lawmakers at the capitol as well as a leadership dinner at the governor’s mansion.”


Smithsonian Magazine: What the Pandemic Christmas of 1918 Looked Like. “Christmas 1918 was not Christmas 2020. The pandemic had already peaked in the U.S. in the fall of 1918 as part of the disease’s second wave. Meanwhile, this week the deaths attributed to Covid-19 in the U.S. are the highest they’ve ever been, showing no signs of waning as the holiday approaches. But the flu also killed far more people (675,000) than Covid-19 has to date, in a country that was much smaller, population-wise, at the time. And it wasn’t over by any means.”


AP: As hospitals cope with a COVID-19 surge, cyber threats loom. “By targeting providers with attacks that scramble and lock up data until victims pay a ransom, hackers can demand thousands or millions of dollars and wreak havoc until they’re paid. In September, for example, a ransomware attack paralyzed a chain of more than 250 U.S. hospitals and clinics. The resulting outages delayed emergency room care and forced staff to restore critical heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen level monitors with ethernet cabling.”

The Daily Beast: COVID Orgy Host: Lawmakers From Nine Countries Came to My Sex Parties. “The organizer of a lockdown-busting sex party in the EU’s capital city involving around 25 men has claimed that politicians from nine countries have been frequent guests at his orgies.”


Washington Post: A laid-off law student found treasure in his late dad’s baseball cards. “When Eddie Healy was laid off from his job in July while juggling night classes at the University of Maryland law school, he had newfound time to sort through his late father’s old baseball cards. The perfect pandemic project, a task Healy, 30, had been looking forward to checking off his to-do list for months, brought back good memories and even produced some buried treasure.”


New York Times: Yes, People Are Traveling for the Holidays. Stop Shaming Them.. “While some people may have legitimate reasons to be upset (say, if they were infected by a co-worker who refused to wear a mask or stay home after developing flulike symptoms), anger and hectoring are rarely the way to make things better. Shaming others might make you feel good about yourself, but it rarely corrects bad behavior. Indeed, it often backfires. It can harden feelings and drive bad behavior underground. That’s exactly what we don’t want.”

BuzzFeed News: I’m 33 Years Old. I Got COVID-19 Eight Months Ago. I’m Still Sick.. “I’m 33 years old. Before I got sick with COVID-19 in April, I was traveling nonstop for my work as a campaign reporter, with 12- to 14-hour days on my feet, sometimes working 10 or more days in a row. In between all that, I’d fit in hot yoga classes and jogs every couple of days. The best way I can describe how I am now, at the end of this strange, horrible year, is that I wake up most days feeling like I drank a six-pack of beer the night before.”


Politico: Wikipedia page for Biden’s new Covid czar scrubbed of politically damaging material. “Jeff Zients, the man President-elect Joe Biden has put in charge of his administration’s response to Covid-19, ‘fell in love with’ the culture at Bain & Co. He later founded his own private equity firm, Portfolio Logic. He joined the board of Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. One chief executive on Obama’s Jobs Council remarked that he thought Zients, then a top Obama aide, was a Republican. That was the Jeff Zients people read about on Wikipedia. At least, until a few months ago.”

CoronaBuzz is brought to you by ResearchBuzz. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment, send resource suggestions, or tag @buzz_corona on Twitter. Thanks!

Categories: coronabuzz

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply