Sunday CoronaBuzz, January 17, 2021: 26 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.


Mashable: The CDC’s vaccine counter is the website you’ll constantly refresh in 2021. “Getting a window into the United States’ fight against the pandemic has often felt like trying to pry open a black box made even more difficult to understand by cagey crew members. Now, there’s a slightly more satisfying way to get a view of the battle firsthand. The CDC has released a new section of its COVID data website that tracks vaccinations across the country.”


CBS 46: Latest data estimates 19.5% of homes in several metro Atlanta cities are in a mortgage forbearance program. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta has released a new tool that will help local agencies determine which areas have had the most financial impact from COVID-19. The new website provides maps and graphs of mortgage forbearance and delinquency rates across the country.”


CBS Philly: COVID In Pennsylvania: New Website Helping Keep Track Of Who’s Vaccinated And Where. “Getting everyone vaccinated is the goal of health experts to curb the pandemic. Now a website in the state of Pennsylvania is helping keep track of who’s getting the vaccine and where.”

KREM: Can you get the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington? Online tool determines eligibility. “The Washington State Department of Health is launching a new tool that will allow residents to determine their eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. PhaseFinder allows users to take a survey to determine when they will be eligible to get the vaccine, according to a presentation given by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) in December.”

WRCB: Tennessee unveils new tool to determine your COVID-19 vaccine eligibility. “The eligibility tool also allows users to opt-in to receive updates and notifications about their vaccine phase and provides risk-based and age-based phase information at the county level.”

WOWT: Nebraska planning next phase of COVID-19 vaccine rollout. “There’s a new tool that allows Nebraskans to see COVID-19 vaccine-related information. The COVID-19 vaccination dashboard can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website. It’s similar to the state’s COVID-19 cases dashboard. The dashboard tracks how many of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses the state has received, how many have been administered, and how many people have received two doses of the vaccine.”

TribLive: New Pa. websites promote restaurants and show violators of covid measures. “New interactive dashboards announced Tuesday by state officials allow users to find open Pennsylvania restaurants, which are offering takeout and those accused of violating covid-19 mitigation measures.”


Snopes: Viral Post ‘How To Fight Covid at Home’ Provides Problematic Advice. “We refer to repeatedly copy-and-pasted text shared across multiple digital platforms as ‘copypasta’ — a sort of chain email for the social media age. Copypasta has been a major feature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the misinformation associated with it, often claiming to provide anonymously sourced ‘insider’ information on how to treat, cure, or avoid the disease that is often incorrect and dangerous. As always, we remind our readers that anonymous claims on the internet should never be taken as factual, efficacious, or even safe.”


NPR: Black Doctors Use Social Media To Share Accurate Information About COVID-19 Vaccine. “About a quarter of the American public is hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine. That number goes up to a third of Black Americans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll last month. The hesitancy is rooted in real mistreatment and fanned by myths and misinformation. As NPR’s Pien Huang reports, some Black doctors are finding creative ways to encourage vaccine acceptance.”


BBC: How RuPaul’s Drag Race UK faced Covid challenge. “Wearing blood-red shoulder pads, piercing red contact lenses, and dripping in jewels, Cherry Valentine’s drag is a world away from the day job as a mental health nurse. ‘It was a weird contrast to go from competing in the Olympics of drag… to the heart of a global pandemic.’ As one of the 12 queens in series two of Drag Race UK, Cherry says things became a “whole different ballgame” when filming was shut down because of the pandemic.”


Salt Lake Tribune: Exclusive: Utah leaders went rogue in early coronavirus response, emails from health experts show. “The powerful state budget managers who controlled key parts of Utah’s initial coronavirus response were skeptical about the value of medical expertise in handling the crisis and made repeated attempts to resist or subvert health officials, according to records obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune.”


Washington Post: The Trump administration approved faster line speeds at chicken plants. Those facilities are more likely to have covid-19 cases.. “Since 2018, the Trump administration has issued — or reissued — temporary waivers that grant permission to 54 poultry plants to increase line speeds. These plants are allowed to speed up lines from 140 to 175 birds per minute, a 25 percent increase. They are also 10 times as likely to have coronavirus cases than poultry plants without the line-speed waivers, according a Washington Post analysis of data collected by the nonprofit Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN). The Post analysis mirrors academic research that shows more coronavirus cases in counties with plants that have waivers to raise line speeds.”

Sky News: COVID-19: Nicola Sturgeon announces national lockdown in Scotland. “A nationwide lockdown will be introduced in Scotland from midnight tonight, Nicola Sturgeon has announced. The first minister told the Scottish Parliament there will be a legal requirement for people to stay at home for the rest of January, with schools remaining closed to most pupils until the start of February at the earliest.”

NBC News: Faced with mounting cases, England announces new lockdown. “British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced a new national lockdown in England, including the most stringent level of restrictions since the start of the pandemic, to slow down the spiral in new cases of Covid-19 on the same day the U.K. started the rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.”

US Army: Army’s official face mask to be issued to new Soldiers in 2021. “The official Army-designed, -tested, and -refined face mask – the Combat Cloth Face Covering (CCFC) – will be provided to new Soldiers during the second quarter of FY2021. This was one of the updates provided to the Army Uniform Board (AUB) during its 152nd meeting, which occurred on Nov. 18.”


Korea Times: K-pop in 2021: Social media-friendly musicians survive pandemic. “K-pop is tech-savvy. K-pop artists were able to build a global fandom thanks to their strategic use of YouTube and social media to interact with their fans abroad. Considering its tech-friendly nature, it’s no surprise K-pop is remaining strong despite the pandemic. K-pop musicians’ bonds with global fans are stronger than one might expect, partly because their decades-old relationships were built online, according to a K-pop expert.”

Pramila Jayapal: Jayapal Tests Positive for COVID-19 Following Lockdown at Capitol With Republican Lawmakers Who Cruelly and Selfishly Refused to Wear Masks. “United States Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) received a positive COVID-19 test result tonight after being locked down in a secured room at the U.S Capitol where numerous Republican lawmakers recklessly refused to wear masks in the moments after the January 6 attack.”


Independent (Ireland): Beats of the Swinging Sixties a hit with stroke patients on Zoom. “Karen Roberts is using Zoom to conduct online exercise classes and has discovered the musical hits from that period have ‘the perfect beat and tempo’ to get the best results. Initially she was providing free socially distanced dance exercise classes on the public green at Maunsells Park in Galway to help elderly cocooners maintain muscle strength during the pandemic.”

New York Times: How to Get More From Your Pandemic Bubble. “Social bubbles have helped us cope with the restrictions of Covid-19. For today’s Well Challenge, look to your pandemic pod to inspire and motivate you toward a healthier and happier life.”


EDGE Media Network: Watch: Instagram Account Shames Gay Men Partying Amid Pandemic. “…the account shares images and videos —often times posted by Instagram users — that show men partying despite the global COVID-19 pandemic (EDGE cannot verify all of the posts), adding snarky captions and dragging those featured.”


EurekAlert: Public mobility, social media attention in response to COVID-19 in Sweden, Denmark. “Denmark was one of the first countries to enforce lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent gradual reopening, whereas Sweden has had few restrictions, largely limited to public recommendations. Researchers assessed public mobility and social media attention associated with COVID-19 spread and societal interventions from February to June in Denmark and Sweden.”

WCVB: Vitamin D eyed as possible new tool in fight against coronavirus. “Brigham and Women’s Hospital will look at whether vitamin D can lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Researchers are also studying whether vitamin D supplements reduce the chance of becoming infected if you have been exposed to someone in your household who tested positive for COVID-19.”

University of Florida: Smell Tests Evaluated As Potential Tool To Identify COVID-19 (UF MBI News). “A team of University of Florida neuroscientists will analyze two different smell tests under a National Institutes of Health grant aimed at developing inexpensive, at-home tests to help identify new cases of COVID-19 and provide a warning sign of a community outbreak in time to thwart it.”


USA Today: How scammers siphoned $36B in fraudulent unemployment payments from US. “In a Zoom session with the camera turned off, Mayowa describes how he scoops up U.S. unemployment benefits fattened by COVID-19 relief, an international imposter attack that has contributed to at least $36 billion being siphoned away from out-of-work Americans. Mayowa is an engineering student in Nigeria who estimates he’s made about $50,000 since the pandemic began. After compiling a list of real people, he turns to databases of hacked information that charge $2 in cryptocurrency to link that name to a date of birth and Social Security number.”

ZDNet: Be warned: COVID-19 vaccine scams are now appearing online, over text, and by email. “There is now a rising sense of urgency due to the new COVID-19 variant that appears to be more easily transmitted. Mass vaccination is no easy task, especially when two separate doses are required — and when you combine millions of people desperately waiting for news and confusion in how vaccine programs are being operated, this becomes a situation that cybercriminals can exploit. Over the past few weeks, scammers and other threat actors have launched their own programs: not for public health, but to steal personal information, conduct identity theft, scam victims, and all with the potential for criminal financial gain.”

WLNY: Only On CBS2: Illegal Parties Continue To Rage Across NYC In Violation Of COVID-19 Restrictions. “For months, we have been told to avoid large gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19, but there have been dozens of illegal parties across New York City since the start of the pandemic. Video posted to Instagram shows more than 100 people in Queens jammed together, dancing and drinking with no masks in sight.”

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