Monday CoronaBuzz, December 28, 2020: 35 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: Watch the Nutcracker and Listen to NASA’s Golden Record. “Here is a sampling of the week’s events and how to tune in (all times are Eastern). Note that events are subject to change after publication.”


WUSA: ‘Data is useless unless you find a way to communicate’ | New website for COVID-19 data in DC schools. “As DC Public Schools plan to open their doors to in-person learning in 2021, there is a new tool parents are sharing about COVID-19 data, but it doesn’t exactly come from an official source.”

KTSM: New state website will allow New Mexicans to receive notice when they qualify for COVID-19 vaccine. “New Mexicans can now register for COVID-19 vaccinations on a new state sign-up website. The New Mexico Department of Health announced the launch of the website on Wednesday, which will enable New Mexicans to receive notice when they qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine.”


Seattle PI: Over 1.5 million Washington residents activate coronavirus exposure notification tool. “More than 1.5 million people across Washington have activated the tool on their phones that helps notify people if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. The tool, WA Notify, was launched in Washington less than a month ago and now, more than 25% of adults across the state are using it.”

NBC News: How America Gave Up. “There are more cases of Covid-19, more deaths and more pain for families than ever experienced throughout the darkness of 2020. A fractured government response, combined with growing public malaise and distrust, is threatening once again to overwhelm hospital systems across the country, just as it did in the confused and panic-filled weeks at the beginning of the pandemic. Vaccines are on the way, with the first U.S. approval pending and distribution networks ready to launch. But that does not change the stark reality of the coming months: Public health professionals expect the winter to be the worst season yet for victims of the virus — assuming that America does not change the path it is on.”


HuffPost: COVID-19’s Looming Eviction Crisis Will Devastate Women. “Eviction moratoriums have saved lives and kept people in their homes during a devastating pandemic. Now, with those moratoriums set to expire, nearly 40 million people are at risk of being evicted over the coming months, according to an analysis from the Aspen Institute. Women are both disproportionately likely to be evicted and disproportionately hit by the current economic downturn. Many, like [Nawaal] Walker, are sole caretakers for their kids.”

New York Times: Lockdown Gardening in Britain Leads to Archaeological Discoveries. ” Gardeners in Hampshire, a county in southeast England, were weeding their yard in April when they found 63 gold coins and one silver coin from King Henry VIII’s reign in the 16th century, with four of the coins inscribed with the initials of the king’s wives Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour. The archaeological find was one of more than 47,000 in England and Wales that were reported this year, amid an increase in backyard gardening during coronavirus lockdowns, the British Museum said on Wednesday.”


AZ Central: ‘A slap in the face’: Yuma hospital fires ER doctor for talking about COVID-19 in Arizona. “Dr. Cleavon Gilman, a well-known emergency-medicine physician, has been asked not to return to his work at Yuma Regional Medical Center for his social media posts about the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona, according to him and his staffing agency.” You can read more about Dr. Gilman in this STAT interview.

MIT Technology Review: Pregnant in the pandemic? It helps to have good Wi-Fi.. “Pregnancy, including birth and aftercare, is the single largest reason for hospital visits in the US, and on average a typical pregnancy will involve between 12 and 14 medical appointments. Proper prenatal visits can prevent life-threatening complications. But limiting in-person care is vital during the pandemic, especially for pregnant women, who are more likely to develop severe or even fatal covid infections. As a result, an unprecedented number of women are turning to virtual care or telehealth services such as video appointments, text support, and phone calls. ”

BBC: Covid-19: Hospitals under pressure as coronavirus cases rise. “Hospitals in the south of England say they have seen a ‘real rise in pressure’ as the number of Covid patients needing treatment increases. Saturday was described as one of London Ambulance Service’s busiest in history amid the rapid spread of a new variant. The service and at least two others have urged people to call 999 only if there is a serious emergency.”


Ocula: Following Martial Arts Trope, Galleries Try to Be Like Water. “‘You must be shapeless, formless, like water,’ said Bruce Lee, playing the part of a martial arts instructor in the ’70s cop show Longstreet. A group of galleries have adopted the same strategy for 2021, morphing in response to fast-changing circumstances. Jan Mot in Brussels, Experimenter in Kolkata, and Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg are among 21 of them taking part in the new GALLERIES CURATE initiative, which seeks to create more flow between gallery programmes around the globe.”

Commercial Appeal: Stax Museum to close temporarily amid COVID-19 surge. “The Stax Museum of American Soul Music is closing temporarily. In a statement announcing the move, the Stax Museum confirmed that in ‘accordance with a new Shelby County Health Directive with restrictions regarding public and private gatherings and area businesses operating at reduced capacity, we have made the decision to temporarily close.'”

Politico: Snow leopard at Kentucky zoo tests positive for coronavirus. “A snow leopard at a Kentucky zoo is the first in the U.S. to test positive for the coronavirus, federal officials announced…Two other snow leopards at the Louisville Zoo are undergoing testing to confirm the virus, the Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories said in a statement.”


New York Post: NYC’s iconic 21 Club to shut down. “The historic Midtown eatery — a favorite haunt for John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and Frank Sinatra, and a dining spot for nearly every president since FDR — has shuttered its jockeys-guarded doors indefinitely, a rep told The Post.”

Neowin: Google employees to now work from home until September 2021. “Back in March, Google requested all its North American employees to work from home for a month. This time frame was then extended multiple times, with the latest date set as being ‘summer 2021’. Google has now once again delayed this plan, this time to September 2021 as per an email by CEO Sundar Pichai.”


WCSH: Maine DHHS launches text notifications to people testing positive for COVID-19. “The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Wednesday the launch of a new text messaging service to alert Maine people who test positive for COVID-19 of steps to take to protect their health and limit the spread of the virus, as part of a comprehensive plan to adapt Maine’s response to the pandemic.”

Yahoo News: Angry Florida governor defends police raid on COVID data whistleblower. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis angrily defended the handling of a search warrant at the Tallahassee home of Rebekah Jones, the data scientist who ran the state’s coronavirus dashboard until she was fired in May. State police officers entered her home with guns drawn on Monday, and Jones can be heard on body camera footage loudly pleading, ‘Do not point a gun at my children!’ She later likened the officers to agents of the Gestapo, the secret police in Nazi Germany.”


BBC: Covid: Trump signs relief and spending package into law. “US President Donald Trump has belatedly signed into law a coronavirus relief and spending package bill, averting a partial government shutdown. Mr Trump had previously refused to sign the bill, criticising ‘wasteful spending’ and calling for higher payouts to people hit by the pandemic. The delay meant that millions temporarily lost unemployment benefits.”


Charleston Post and Courier: SC Gov. Henry McMaster tests positive for COVID-19, will undergo antibody treatment. “The 73-year-old Republican governor is experiencing mild symptoms, including coughing and fatigue. The diagnosis comes five days after first lady Peggy McMaster, also 73, took a routine test that revealed she had the virus. She remains asymptomatic and both are in good spirits, said the governor’s spokesman, Brian Symmes.”

New York Times: She Chronicled China’s Crisis. Now She Is Accused of Spreading Lies. “In one video, during the lockdown in Wuhan, she filmed a hospital hallway lined with rolling beds, the patients hooked up to blue oxygen tanks. In another, she panned over a community health center, noting that a man said he was charged for a coronavirus test, even though residents believed the tests would be free. At the time, Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer turned citizen journalist, embodied the Chinese people’s hunger for unfiltered information about the epidemic. Now, she has become a symbol of the government’s efforts to deny its early failings in the crisis and promote a victorious narrative instead.”


BBC: Greg Norman: Former world number one in hospital with Covid-19 symptoms. “Former world number one Greg Norman is in hospital in the United States with coronavirus symptoms. The 65-year-old Australian tested negative on Tuesday but said on Thursday he had a mild fever, cough, aches and pains and a headache.”


MIT Technology Review: Kids are sick of Zoom too—so their teachers are getting creative. “A few times a week, Vincent Buyssens’s students in Mechelen, Belgium’s Thomas More University College get on Instagram while he’s lecturing about creative strategy. They swipe through stories, add posts to their profile, and get lost in rabbit holes. But they’re not being surreptitious about it; in fact, Buyssens requires those taking his college course to use the app. The more they scroll during his lecture, the better.”


Washington Post: Covid-19 sparked a run on outdoor heaters and fire pits. Which is better for the planet?. “Nelson Bryner has set a lot of things on fire in his career. Buses. Trash cans. Life-sized mannequins dressed in firefighting gear. A five-piece wooden dining set. As chief of the fire research division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Bryner spends many of his working days inside the division’s 20,000-square-foot laboratory, analyzing how much heat is generated and what byproducts are produced when various items are set ablaze. With coronavirus cases spiking and the mercury dropping, sparking a run on backyard heating devices, I knew Bryner could tell me what will happen when the fuel for those heaters is burned.”

Der Spiegel: Reevaluating Children’s Role in the Pandemic. “A large study from Austria shows that SARS-CoV-2 infects just as many schoolchildren as it does teachers. Other surveys indicate that while young children may show no symptoms, they are quite efficient at spreading the virus.”

CNN: Boston biotech conference led to 245,000 Covid-19 cases across US, genetic fingerprinting shows. “A biotech conference in Boston last February that’s already been flagged as a Covid-19 superspreading event led to at least 245,000 other cases across the US and Europe, a new genetic fingerprinting study shows. One single case seems to have been responsible for many of the other eventual cases, the team at the Broad Institute in Massachusetts reported.”

Washington Post: Military-grade camera shows risks of airborne coronavirus spread. “To visually illustrate the risk of airborne transmission in real time, The Washington Post used an infrared camera made by the company FLIR Systems that is capable of detecting exhaled breath. Numerous experts — epidemiologists, virologists and engineers — supported the notion of using exhalation as a conservative proxy to show potential transmission risk in various settings.”


New York Times: Vaccinated? Show Us Your App. “In the 1880s, in response to smallpox outbreaks, some public schools began requiring students and teachers to show vaccination cards. In the 1960s, amid yellow fever epidemics, the World Health Organization introduced an international travel document, known informally as the yellow card. Even now, travelers from certain regions are required to show a version of the card at airports. But now, just as the United States is preparing to distribute the first vaccines for the virus, the entry ticket to the nation’s reopening is set to come largely in the form of a digital health credential.”


BBC: Covid: Rapid tests ‘useful public health tool’. “Rapid tests for coronavirus are a ‘useful’ public health tool despite only picking up half as much virus as tests done in a lab, a group of scientists has said. The 30-minute test has been criticised for how it measures up to the tests processed in the government’s mega-labs. But the scientists cautioned against comparing them directly.”

Vox EU: “Covid Economics”: A new kind of publication. “From early March, it became clear that economists around the world, like everyone else, were mesmerised by the Covid-19 pandemic and trying to make sense of the unfolding events. This column describes how the tradition of pre-prints in physics and the medical sciences inspired the creation of CEPR’s ‘Covid Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers’. Beyond its contribution to a faster understanding of the pandemic, the Covid Economics experiment may help the economics profession think about how research is published.”

KFDA: InfantRisk Center studying pregnancy and postpartum during COVID-19 pandemic. “The InfantRisk Center at Texas Tech University Health Science Center is studying the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on pregnant women. Scientists are currently recruiting participants for an online survey.”


CNN: A person who went to work while sick is likely the cause of two separate Covid-19 outbreaks in Oregon. “The action in question: A person knowingly went to work while sick and later tested positive for the virus, Douglas County officials said last week. Two separate Covid-19 outbreaks have now been traced back to that person, officials said. Seven people died as a result of the first outbreak, and hundreds of people were forced to self-isolate over the second one.”


Washington Post: Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic. “Shoplifting is up markedly since the pandemic began in the spring and at higher levels than in past economic downturns, according to interviews with more than a dozen retailers, security experts and police departments across the country. But what’s distinctive about this trend, experts say, is what’s being taken — more staples like bread, pasta and baby formula.”


MSNBC: Amazon and other corporations won the pandemic at the expense of everyone else. “In a year when millions of Americans are struggling to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, watching as their life savings have plummeted to zero and unemployment remains rampant, some of the biggest corporations have been absolutely thriving. If we’re going to ever end this neo-Gilded Age, we’re going to need to reckon with the utter immorality of that disconnect.”

CNN: Analysis: More Black people need to be part of Covid-19 vaccine trials. Here’s why I participated. “Dr. Kenneth Kim, the medical director and chief executive officer of Ark Clinical Research, says his office will administer shots to about 200 people in the trial and then follow up with them to learn how their bodies’ respond. Overall, the study involves about 40,000 people nationwide, according to Johnson & Johnson. But who signs up for these trials is key. That’s a large part of the reason why I wanted to volunteer for this Covid-19 vaccine research — more Black people and more people of color need to be part of these trials so more diverse populations can reap the benefits of this medical research. I believe in science and I hope my decision to join a trial and my transparency about the process will help more people trust today’s medicine.”


BBC: Covid: Biden urges Trump to sign coronavirus bill into law. “US President-elect Joe Biden has warned of ‘devastating consequences’ if President Donald Trump continues to delay signing a Covid-19 economic relief bill into law. Unemployment benefits and a ban on evictions will be affected unless the bill is signed by the end of Saturday.”

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