Friday CoronaBuzz, December 18, 2020: 20 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.


New York Times: One of the First Virus Hot Spots in the U.S. Is Under Siege Again. “As the virus rages across Westchester County, it has returned to New Rochelle, a city hit so hard during the outbreak’s earliest days that it was for a time the epicenter of the pandemic in the region. In early March, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state’s first so-called containment zone in this New York City suburb, New Rochelle’s fate proclaimed an unnerving message: The virus is here. Now it is back.”


NiemanLab: We need to learn how to talk to (and about) accidental conspiracists. “A lot of America slipped into conspiracy thinking during this pandemic, and they got there from yoga Instagrams and NFL forums and private church choir Facebook groups that were systematically invaded by QAnon and anti-vax recruiters. It’s going to be a rude awakening in the next few months as we find out which of our friends got sucked into truly astonishing tales of New World Orders and Great Resets that helped them cope — and just so happen to be spectacularly wrong. We’re going to have to learn to create a vocabulary to talk about how their friends fell down the wrong YouTube hole and came out speaking another language.”

Vice: Anti-Vaxxers Are Coaching People How to ‘Refuse’ the COVID Vaccine. “Anti-vaxxers have flooded social media with posts about how to ‘refuse’ a COVID-19 vaccine, part of a widespread campaign to spread misinformation about the vaccine’s development and its effects. The posts are being shared by people who falsely believe that governments and other health agencies will make taking the vaccine mandatory — a claim that has already been debunked.


NPR: Americans Are Drinking More During The Pandemic. Here’s How To Cut Back. “When the pandemic began spreading across the U.S. in March, stores, restaurants and schools closed down. But liquor stores in many parts of the U.S. were deemed essential and stayed open. Alcohol sales have ticked up during the pandemic, so maybe it’s a good time to ask yourself: Are you drinking more than you’d like to be?”

BBC: Coronavirus: Trains cancelled over Covid-related staff shortages. “South Western Railway (SWR) is cancelling services because so many train crew have contracted coronavirus or are self-isolating. West of England line trains via Salisbury are starting and terminating at Basingstoke until 23 December. Services between Salisbury and Bristol are also cancelled.”


BuzzFeed News: If You’ve Worked In TV Or Film Production During The Pandemic, We Want To Hear From You. “Now, as the number of COVID-19 cases rise across the country, states like California are locking down and issuing regional stay-at-home orders, putting additional pressure on studios. If you work in TV or film production, BuzzFeed News would like to speak with you about your experience and how you’ve navigated being on set during the pandemic.”


CNN: Florida police raid home of former state Covid-19 data scientist. “About 10 officers with guns drawn showed up to her Tallahassee home around 8:30 a.m., [Rebekah] Jones said. A video taken from a camera in her house, which she posted on social media, showed an officer pointing a gun up a stairwell as Jones told him her two children were upstairs. Jones said that the officer was pointing his gun at her 2-year-old daughter, 11-year-old son and her husband, who she said were in the stairwell, although the video doesn’t make that clear.”


BBC: Covid: Moderna vaccine moves closer to US approval. “A second coronavirus vaccine is nearing emergency approval in the US after it was endorsed by a panel of experts. The head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said his agency would move quickly to authorise the Moderna vaccine, allowing the company to begin shipping millions of doses.”


Los Angeles Times: Pastor dies of COVID-19 weeks after Fontana megachurch reopened for indoor services. “Bob Bryant of the Water of Life Community Church in Fontana tested positive for the coronavirus in November and soon developed an aggressive pneumonia in his lungs, according to a post on the church’s Facebook site. He then suffered a heart attack. He ultimately was placed on a ventilator and died [November 30]. He was 58.”

ESPN: Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns says season will be difficult amid off-court tragedies. “As Karl-Anthony Towns prepares to begin his sixth season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he said he also is continuing to process the death of his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, and six other family members who also died of complications from the coronavirus.”

CNN: Former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton volunteer to get coronavirus vaccine publicly to prove it’s safe. “Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are volunteering to get their Covid-19 vaccines on camera to promote public confidence in the vaccine’s safety once the US Food and Drug Administration authorizes one.”

CNBC: Dr. Fauci’s 18-hour workday includes two breaks and answering ‘emails until I’m so tired I can’t do anymore’. “The first thing Fauci does in the morning is appear on interviews for morning news shows about the pandemic, he told the Huffington Post. He said he wakes up at 5:10 a.m., showers, shaves and answers emails before a 6:30 a.m. interview with Good Morning America. At 7 a.m., Fauci leaves his home in Northwest Washington D.C. to go to the National Institutes of Health headquarters.”


WSET: Doubts about COVID-19 vaccine spread on social media, threatening effort to end pandemic. “There is new hope this holiday season as the first COVID-19 vaccines are given to frontline healthcare workers. Public health experts agree it’s the first step toward defeating the devastating pandemic. But Spotlight on America found there’s still widespread hesitance to get the shot, and experts say social media is playing a major role in shaping public opinion.”

Quartz: How many people need to be vaccinated for life to go back to normal?. “In lieu of any other successful containment and mitigation strategies for the pandemic, Covid-19 vaccines have become the de-facto final hope for ending the pandemic. The question now is, how much of the global population will need to get vaccinated to return life to normal? Answering that question depends on a few different factors.”

CNET: CDC’s New Numbers Show Black Americans and Other People of Color Dying at Higher Rates From COVID-19 Than It Previously Reported. “After initially saying that Black Americans are dying at about two times the rate of their white counterparts from COVID-19, the CDC has updated its publicly reported figures to show that the racial disparity in deaths from the disease is even wider. An adjusted data report published by the agency this week now shows that Black people are actually dying from the coronavirus at almost 3 times the rate of their white counterparts.”

Medical Xpress: COVID-19 causes more severe disease than seasonal influenza: comparison of data from over 130,000 hospitalized patients. “Nearly twice as many people were admitted to hospital for COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic than were for influenza at the peak of the 2018/2019 flu season, a study of French national data published today in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal has found (COVID-19, 89,530 patients vs influenza, 45,819 patients). The study compared data from COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital over a two-month period in spring 2020 with influenza patients admitted over a three-month period during the seasonal flu outbreak of 2018/2019.”


BBC: Covid: Sydney residents urged to stay home amid new outbreak. “Hundreds of thousands of Sydney residents have been told to stay home after a new outbreak of coronavirus ended a two-week run of no local cases. Australian officials are scrambling to trace the source of the infection, after finding 28 cases across the city’s Northern Beaches region.”


New York Times: Puppy Scams Have Spiked in the Pandemic. “Scammers are notorious for preying on people who are vulnerable during natural disasters, but the isolation of the pandemic has created fertile ground for those looking to exploit people who are seeking the comfort of four-legged companions, mostly puppies, consumer advocates say. Many use social-distancing mandates to explain why buyers cannot see dogs in person before committing.”


BuzzFeed News: Was It Selfish To See My Grandmother Before She Died?. “My grandmother had dementia for years, but it was inconsistent. She remembered how to take care of herself, who every member of her family was when they called, the important facts about our lives, and the best gossip. But she forgot the things less fun to remember: finances, current events, deadly global pandemics. Instead, she spent her days wondering why she was so alone, why her family wasn’t visiting like they normally did, and why the caretaker helping her was wearing a mask and a transparent plastic visor.”

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