Monday CoronaBuzz, January 25, 2021: 43 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.


North Platte Telegraph: New Alzheimer’s Foundation web page aimed at helping those affected by Alzheimer’s. “To help individuals affected by Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers continue to stay active and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has created a new web page. The ‘AFA Teal Room’ is home to a free library of virtual activity and therapeutic programming. Programs, which are free, are open to all and held daily, according to a press release.”


GoLocal Prov: RI Education Launches Free Online Tutoring with Schoolhouse Platform. “Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) has launched a partnership with, an online platform that pairs students with tutors around the globe. The initiative is free to RI families.”

KFYR: North Dakota Department of Health creates COVID-19 vaccine locator. “As more doses of the coronavirus vaccine are delivered, the North Dakota Department of Health has a new tool to help you find who is giving vaccines. The locator shows a list and map of where in North Dakota vaccines are available. It includes the name and city of the provider, what priority group can receive a vaccine and instructions on how to contact each provider.”

Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette: Education notebook. “The Arkansas Department of Education has created the Statewide Community Resources Portal, a website to connect schools and communities with information about available support or ‘wrap-around’ services. State Education Secretary Johnny Key announced the establishment of the resources portal during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s most recent weekly news conference on the covid-19 pandemic in the state. Wrap-around services can include financial, health care and housing assistance, as well as abuse services, day care options and transportation assistance.”

Associated Press: Virus vaccine online signup portal debuts in West Virginia. “West Virginia is debuting an online portal for residents to register for coronavirus vaccine appointments. Gov. Jim Justice says the new system that will help streamline vaccination efforts statewide launches Monday.”


CNET: Five ways Alexa can help make remote learning easier this semester. “While technology isn’t going to solve the problem of remote learning altogether, voice assistants like Alexa, which works on Amazon Echo smart speakers and displays, can genuinely help with some of the challenges of teaching and learning in this time.”

STAT News: Covid-19 vaccine basics: Why the rollout is so slow, who can get doses, and what about side effects. “When can we get it? How can we find out? How well will the vaccines work? How close will they get us back to the life we see in TV shows and movies filmed in the before times, when only health workers and trick-or-treaters wore masks and social distancing wasn’t part of anyone’s vernacular. We all have questions; Heck, we’re waiting for our chance to be vaccinated, too. While we wait, we figured we’d try to find some answers to the questions we’re hearing and asking ourselves. Here goes.”


Moderna: Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Retains Neutralizing Activity Against Emerging Variants First Identified in the U.K. and the Republic of South Africa. “Moderna Inc. (Nasdaq: MRNA), a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, today announced results from in vitro neutralization studies of sera from individuals vaccinated with Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine showing activity against emerging strains of SARS-CoV-2. Vaccination with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine produced neutralizing titers against all key emerging variants tested, including B.1.1.7 and B.1.351, first identified in the UK and Republic of South Africa, respectively.”

BBC: Covid-19: US tops 25 million coronavirus cases. “More than 25 million cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed across the United States. Experts say the true number is likely to be higher. More than 417,500 in the US have died with the virus. The daily number of deaths has exceeded 4,000 in recent weeks – including on Wednesday when Joe Biden was sworn into office.”


The Guardian: The information warriors fighting ‘robot zombie army’ of coronavirus sceptics. “Sometimes, Stuart Ritchie feels like he’s being pursued by an army of smiley faces. The lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, is not delusional: instead, and somewhat to his surprise, he is on the frontline of a coronavirus information war. The emojis often decorate the Twitter profiles of the self-proclaimed ‘lockdown sceptics’, a subset of social media users who remain unconvinced that coronavirus restrictions are necessary, even as the number of deaths in the UK approaches 100,000.”

SupChina: Beijing promotes vaccine nationalism and new COVID-19 conspiracies. “Ever since March 2020, when Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhào Lìjiān 赵立坚 suggested the U.S. Army might have ‘brought the epidemic to Wuhan,’ conspiracy theories have been part of Beijing’s arsenal, but they now appear to be gaining emphasis — and a new focus on undermining confidence in non-Chinese vaccines.”

BBC: Coronavirus in Zimbabwe: Nick Mangwana apologises for ‘medical assassins’ slur. “A spokesman for Zimbabwe’s government who called doctors in the country ‘medical assassins’ has apologised. In comments posted to Twitter, Nick Mangwana had suggested that four cabinet ministers who died in recent months of coronavirus had in fact been ‘eliminated’.”


The Conversation: This is what lockdown sounds like. “Three days after the first lockdown began in the UK, I put out a call via social media to ask for help capturing sounds which had changed as a result of governments’ actions around the world to curb the spread of the virus. It struck me that the extraordinary times in which we found ourselves would be worth documenting as far as the changing soundscape was concerned.”

New York Times: How to Keep Internet Trolls Out of Remote Workplaces. “Office conversation at some companies is starting to look as unruly as conversation on the internet. That’s because office conversation now is internet conversation. Many companies have been working online for nearly a year, with plans to continue well into 2021. And just as people are bolder behind keyboards on Twitter, they are bolder behind keyboards on workplace messaging platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack — with all the good and all the bad, but with a lot more legal liability.”

BBC: Coronavirus: How the pandemic has changed the world economy. “The coronavirus pandemic has reached almost every country in the world. Its spread has left national economies and businesses counting the costs, as governments struggle with new lockdown measures to tackle the spread of the virus. Despite the development of new vaccines, many are still wondering what recovery could look like. Here is a selection of charts and maps to help you understand the economic impact of the virus so far.”


Los Angeles Times: As Mexico enters the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, its vaccination plan takes a hit. “Large-scale vaccination is widely seen as the clearest way out. Yet this last week the government announced that its inoculation program — one of the most ambitious in Latin America — had essentially come to a standstill. The country of 128 million people has received just 766,350 doses of vaccine, all produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.”


Phys .org: Gorilla treated with antibodies recovering from COVID, says US zoo. “An elderly gorilla was recovering from a serious case of COVID-19 after he was treated with cutting-edge synthetic antibodies, the San Diego Zoo said Monday. Veterinarians are now identifying which animals to inject with the zoo’s limited supply of vaccines.”


Simple Flying: Lufthansa Set To Ban Cloth Masks Onboard From February. “Flying with airlines is typically seen as relatively safe given that most have mandatory mask policies and hospital-grade HEPA filters onboard. However, governments and airlines have become increasingly alarmed by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is once again bringing European skies to a standstill. As such, Lufthansa is changing its mask policy in line with the latest government recommendations in Germany.”

New York Times: Help With Vaccination Push Comes From Unexpected Businesses. “Amazon wrote to President Biden on Thursday offering to assist with communication and technology. Microsoft is opening up its largely empty office campus as a vaccination center as part of a broader partnership with the State of Washington. Starbucks is assigning workers from its operations and analytics departments to help design vaccination sites, donating the labor to the same state while continuing to pay employees. While some retailers and pharmacy chains have been directly involved in the rollout of coronavirus vaccinations, more surprising is the number of companies that have offered help despite having little to do with health care.”

STAT News: In a major setback, Merck to stop developing its two Covid-19 vaccines and focus on therapies. “Merck said Monday it will stop developing both of the current formulations of the Covid-19 vaccines the company was working on, citing inadequate immune responses to the shots. Work will continue on at least one of the vaccines, which is being developed in partnership with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), to see if using a different route of administration would improve how effective it is.”

CNET: Google to open up its office facilities for COVID-19 vaccine clinics. “Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Monday said the company will make its office facilities available for COVID-19 vaccination clinics, as tech giants aim to speed up distribution efforts in the US.”

CNN: Godiva is closing or selling all of its stores in the United States. “Luxury chocolatier Godiva is getting out of the brick and mortar business. The company is closing or selling all 128 of its brick-and-mortar stores in North America, it announced in a statement. It plans to complete the closures and sales by the end of March.”


Route Fifty: Ski Patrol Before Teachers? States Criticized Over Vaccine Timelines. “As states begin to make coronavirus vaccines available to broader segments of the public, health officials have had to make difficult choices about who should be next in line. And state leaders are facing pushback over determinations that certain occupations or medical conditions will be eligible before others.”

New York Times: How West Virginia Became a U.S. Leader in Vaccine Rollout. “West Virginia has used 83 percent of its allotted vaccines, among the best in the nation. But even efficient operations face a major problem: There simply are not enough shots to go around.”


TV NZ: Chris Hipkins warns Kiwis not to share ‘fake, untrue’ social media content about Covid-19. “Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has again warned New Zealanders not to share ‘fake, untrue’ social media content about Covid-19. At today’s 1pm briefing Hipkins says incorrect information about a lockdown was circulating online last night.”


CBS News: Dr. Anthony Fauci: Divisiveness has failed America “in every single way”. “It is a measure of Tony Fauci’s durability that, at the age of 80 he has just taken on a new title, working for Joe Biden – his seventh president – as his chief medical advisor. ‘What we’re gonna be seeing over the next months is much more of a coordinated, synergistic partnership between the federal government and the states,’ Fauci said. ‘So, I believe we’re gonna see a turnaround in attitude when the federal government and the states start working together much more, as opposed to “You’re on your own.”‘

New York Times: Fauci on What Working for Trump Was Really Like. “For Dr. Fauci, 80, the past year has stood out like no other. As the coronavirus ravaged the country, Dr. Fauci’s calm counsel and commitment to hard facts endeared him to millions of Americans. But he also became a villain to millions of others.”

MarketWatch: ‘When older people are upset, you fix it’ — this Florida journalist has helped hundreds book COVID-19 vaccinations. “Many people have found themselves juggling two or three different jobs during the pandemic, such as working parent/homeschool teacher/caregiver for a sick neighbor or family member. Well, one Florida education reporter hasn’t just been covering her regular K-12 beat and how the coronavirus has ravaged her city; she also became the unofficial community liaison for Tallahassee residents bewildered by the process to register for the COVID-19 vaccine. And her story illustrates just how confusing the vaccine rollout has been in some parts of the country.”

NPR: Mexican President López Obrador Tests Positive For COVID-19. “Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he has tested positive for COVID-19. His symptoms are mild and he’s already started receiving medical treatment, he said in a tweet announcing the news on Sunday evening. ‘As always, I am optimistic,’ he wrote. ‘We will all move forward.'”


MGoBlue: University of Michigan Athletics Enters Department-Wide Activity Pause. “Under a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) decision made Saturday (Jan. 23), the University of Michigan Athletic Department will immediately pause athletic activities in all sports, including games, team and individual training sessions, until further notice and up to 14 days.”

Hickory Daily Record: Heat to use COVID-19-sniffing dogs to screen fans at games. “The Miami Heat are bringing back some fans, with help from some dogs. The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at AmericanAirlines Arena to screen fans who want to attend their games. They’ve been working on the plan for months, and the highly trained dogs have been in place for some games this season where the team has allowed a handful of guests — mostly friends and family of players and staff.”


New York Times: Surge of Student Suicides Pushes Las Vegas Schools to Reopen. “Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in. The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus’s spread. In Clark County, it forced the superintendent’s hand.”


New York Times: Two Masks Are the New Masks. “One big advantage of double-masking that I’ve found is that it creates a better fit and closes the gaps around the edge of your mask. I like layering my masks. When I walk the dog or exercise outdoors, I wear a regular mask to comply with area mask rules. When I want more protection for short errands, I wear a better mask. When I’m in a taxi or on a train, I double-mask.”

New York Times: I Lost My Appetite Because of Covid. This Sichuan Flavor Brought It Back.. “When I got sick and lost my sense of smell — a common neurological symptom of Covid-19 — the foods I loved became muddled and ugly. My brain was incapable of interpreting the delicious information floating around me, unable to detect, let alone identify, any of the aromas I took in through my nose. Without smells to guide me, my sense of taste faded and food flattened out, going gray and muted, dull and lifeless. Cheese became rubber and paste. Popcorn turned into thorny foam. The bland squish of a roast-chicken breast made me recoil. My appetite dwindled, until I was brought back to the pure pleasures of eating by a classic Sichuan flavor: mala.”


PsyPost: Implicit bias against Asians increased after Trump’s secretary of state and others popularized “Chinese virus”. “New research suggests that the use of terms like ‘Wuhan flu’ and ‘Chinese virus’ by conservative media outlets and Republican figures had a measurable impact on unconscious bias against Asian Americans. The study, published in Health Education & Behavior, found that implicit bias increased after the use of such phrases went viral.”

Phys .org: Making masks smarter and safer against COVID-19. “A new tool for monitoring COVID-19 may one day be right under your nose. Researchers at the University of California San Diego are developing a color-changing test strip that can be stuck on a mask and used to detect SARS-CoV-2 in a user’s breath or saliva.”

CTV: At least 1 in 3 COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic, study suggests. “A review of 61 studies and reports comprising more than 1.8 million people suggests that at least one in three people infected with COVID-19 do not have any symptoms, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.”


Radio .com: A cat’s birthday party reportedly leads to 15 people contracting COVID. “An outbreak that led to 15 people testing positive for COVID-19 has been traced back to a birthday party thrown for a cat. Ten people who attended the feline fiesta contracted the deadly virus, along with 5 friends and family members of the cat’s owner, reported the Daily Mail.”


BBC: Covid: Police and protesters clash during Dutch curfew demo. “Riot police in the Netherlands have clashed with protesters angry at new coronavirus restrictions. Officers used water cannon and tear gas to clear demonstrators in Eindhoven. They had gathered in defiance of a new 21:00 (20:00 GMT) curfew. Some protesters threw fireworks, looted supermarkets and smashed shop windows. There were smaller demonstrations in the capital, Amsterdam.”

AP: Indonesia to deport Russian social media star who held party. “A Russian social media celebrity was being deported from Indonesia on Sunday after he held a party at a luxury hotel on the resort island of Bali attended by more than 50 people despite coronavirus restrictions.”

Columbus Dispatch: Shots fired into home of Ohio Department of Health official. “Police are investigating after someone fired shots into the home of an official at the Ohio Department of Health. Upper Arlington Police responded to a call just after 8 p.m. in the 1700 block of Berkshire Road on Saturday of shots being fired into the home of Dr. Mary Kate Francis, assistant medical director of the Ohio Department of Health.”


New York Times: I Covered Coronavirus Victims. Then My Family Members Became Victims, Too.. “In a surreal way, reporting on the coronavirus tragedies of other families helped me cope with Covid in my own. I knew I wasn’t alone, and I was heartened by the strength I saw in others who were coping. And conversely, seeing those I love get infected — my husband, father, son, niece and mother-in-law are recovering, thank goodness — and losing a dear family member to the virus gave me a depth of empathy for others in my reporting that I could never have imagined otherwise.”


Politico: Bipartisan group of senators pushes back on Biden Covid plan. “A bipartisan group of senators told White House officials on Sunday that the stimulus spending in President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief plan provides too much money to high-income Americans, an opening setback in the new administration’s complex pandemic negotiations with Congress.”

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