Monday CoronaBuzz, February 8, 2021: 36 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.


MyHighPlains: Man creates COVID-19 vaccine tracker website, Texas has recently been added. “A new website was created by a man in the UK as a way to keep track of data concerning the number of people getting vaccines, and the number of vaccines available. ‘Currently regarding the vaccines, I believe there are 60 or 70 countries right now that have entered the vaccine rollout and I have created some sort of scripts on the website,’ George Karabassis, the founder of this vaccine tracker website.” If you click on the link to the tracker in this article it goes straight to Texas’ data. Use the breadcrumb nav on the left side of the screen and you can “zoom out” to the entire world.

KARE 11: Twin Cities doctor helps launch site to honor health care workers. “[Dr. Kellie Lease] Stecher teamed up with Dr. Navin Goyal to launch a site called Patient Care Heroes. The newly launched website aims to document pictures, names, and the stories of health care workers who have died during the pandemic.


WPXI: Pitt students launch website to help people find COVID-19 vaccinations. ” Trying to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination in Pennsylvania right now is frustrating, but a group of University of Pittsburgh students is trying to help by launching a new website… It shows where vaccines are available, if you have to get an appointment or if you can just walk in. It also lists hospitals systems that say they have the vaccine but currently unavailable.”

Fox 19: New interactive site shows how many Ohioans have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine. “The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) launched a new website showing how many Ohioans have completed the vaccination process against COVID-19. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two shots to become inoculated. The state has been reporting for weeks how many people had received the first shot, but this is the first time sharing the data for completed shots.”


Smashing Magazine: Making Remote Work Work: Useful Tools And Resources. “In this post, we compiled some useful tools and resources to help you tackle some of the challenges of working remotely. The collection is by no means complete, but rather a selection of things that we found useful and that we hope will make your day-to-day work more productive and efficient, too.”

Vanity Fair: The Best Online Art Exhibitions to Explore During Lockdown. “Relentless rain, January blues and a mysterious lack of novelty bakes on our Instagram feeds—the U.K.’s third lockdown is proving undeniably dreary. But as we reach for our favourite sweatshirt-and-leggings ensemble and prepare for more laptop-fuelled weekends, we can thank museums and galleries around the world for keeping our cultural appetites satiated. We’ve delved into the art scene to find more online offerings, so settle in for another round of well-deserved virtual escapism.”


New York Times: Three American Mothers, On The Brink. “Three mothers, in three different parts of the country. They are stressed, burned out, unraveling at the seams the pandemic has exposed. We began following them in September. The mothers have kept logs of their time — by text, email and audio — and sat for dozens of interviews. What has emerged is a story of chaos and resilience, resentment and persistence, and of course, hope. In other words: What it means to be a mother.”

BBC: Covid: More than 12 million in UK have had first jab. “More than 12 million people in the UK have now had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, after 550,000 first jabs were given out on Saturday. The government is aiming to offer first doses to 15 million people in the top four priority groups by 15 February. At the current rate, about 16 million people would receive a first jab by that date.”


CNET: The twisted, messy hunt for COVID-19’s origin and the lab leak theory. “Coincidences and circumstantial evidence continue to build, pointing to the Wuhan institute as a potential starting point. But the theory, and a dearth of information, has also helped spawn baseless conspiracies, like the notions that COVID-19 is a bioweapon or that it was used as a cover to install 5G across the world.”

The Guardian: Hospital incursions by Covid deniers putting lives at risk, say health leaders. “Lives are being put at risk and the care of patients disrupted by a spate of hospital incursions from Covid-19 deniers whose online activity is channelling hatred against NHS staff, say healthcare and police chiefs.”

New York Times: Russian Campaign Promotes Homegrown Vaccine and Undercuts Rivals. “Russian news outlets connected to election disinformation campaigns in the United States have set their sights on a new target: convincing Spanish-speaking countries that the Russian coronavirus vaccine works better than its American competitors, according to researchers and State Department officials.”

CNN: Facebook vowed to crack down on Covid-19 vaccine misinformation but misleading posts remain easy to find. “Nearly two months into the largest vaccine rollout in US history, Instagram continued to prominently feature anti-vaccination accounts in its search results, while Facebook groups railing against vaccines remained easy to find.”

Reuters: EU tells Google, Facebook and Twitter to extend fake news watch, COVID-19 in focus. “The European Commission has told Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft to continue monthly reports on their efforts to tackle fake news, especially on COVID-19, for another six months. Social media and online platforms have come under fire globally over the spread of fake news, leading to calls for regulators to force them to do more or face cumbersome rules.”


New York Times: A Parallel Pandemic Hits Health Care Workers: Trauma and Exhaustion. “Dr. Sheetal Khedkar Rao, 42, an internist in suburban Chicago, can’t pinpoint the exact moment when she decided to hang up her stethoscope for the last time. There were the chaos and confusion of the spring, when a nationwide shortage of N95 masks forced her to examine patients with a surgical mask, the fears she might take the coronavirus home to her family and the exasperating public disregard for mask-wearing and social distancing that was amplified by the White House. Among the final blows, though, were a 30 percent pay cut to compensate for a drop in patients seeking primary care, and the realization that she needed to spend more time at home after her children, 10 and 11, switched to remote learning.”


New York Times: Mona Lisa Is Alone, but Still Smiling. “From her bulletproof case in the Louvre Museum, Mona Lisa’s smile met an unfamiliar sight the other morning: Emptiness. The gallery where throngs of visitors swarmed to ogle her day after day was a void, deserted under France’s latest coronavirus confinement. Around the corner, the Winged Victory of Samothrace floated quietly above a marble staircase, majestic in the absence of selfie-sticks and tour groups. In the Louvre’s medieval basement, the Great Sphinx of Tanis loomed in the dark like a granite ghost from behind bars. Yet out of the rare and monumental stillness, sounds of life were stirring in the Louvre’s great halls.”


Stars and Stripes: Coffee, noodles and coronavirus tests: Japanese vending machines sell test kits during the pandemic. “Vending machines on almost any street corner in Japan sell everything from sodas to ice cream and warm noodles. Now consumers in Tokyo and a neighboring prefecture can find machines vending coronavirus test kits.”

Fox 11 Los Angeles: ‘Call the pros’: Chick-fil-A helps direct gridlocked traffic at S.C. drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine site. “No business can master a drive-thru like Chick-fil-A, and a restaurant manager is getting high praise for using the company’s method to help workers at a COVID-19 vaccination site after a computer glitch caused a traffic gridlock.”


Washington Post: Biden harnesses Defense Production Act to speed vaccinations and production of protective equipment. “The Biden administration announced a handful of initiatives Friday aimed at accelerating mass inoculations against the coronavirus and expanding production of rapid tests and surgical gloves to help control the pathogen. In the most immediate action, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy 1,110 troops to support vaccination sites. The first active-duty military personnel will arrive in California within the next 10 days, to begin operations around Feb. 15, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House’s coronavirus response team. The service members, the majority of whom will be medical personnel, are expected to be stationed at five FEMA megasites, two of which are in Oakland and east Los Angeles.”

NBC News: Biden administration weighs plan to directly send masks to all Americans. “The Biden White House is considering sending masks directly to American households, according to three people familiar with the discussions, an action the Trump administration explored but scrapped. The Covid-19 Response Team is evaluating the logistics of mailing out millions of face coverings, but no decision has been made, and the proposal hasn’t yet reached President Joe Biden for final approval, a White House official said.”

Washington Post: China rolls out anal swab coronavirus test, saying it’s more accurate than throat method. “Chinese state media outlets introduced the new protocol in recent days, prompting widespread discussion and some outrage. Some Chinese doctors say the science is there. Recovering patients, they say, have continued to test positive through samples from the lower digestive tract days after nasal and throat swabs came back negative. Yet for many, it seemed a step too far in government intrusions after a year and counting of a dignity-eroding pandemic.”


Tulsa World: Oklahoma paid a Tulsa bar owner $2.1 million to deliver N95 masks. Only 10,000 came, so the state is suing.. “In March, at the start of the pandemic, Oklahoma health officials turned four times to a Tulsa piano bar owner who was promising he could get N95 masks from China in large amounts and quickly. They ordered more than 2 million of the highly sought after masks from his brand new company, PPE Supplies LLC. On the second order, they even paid him half upfront — $2.125 million — after he promised delivery in 10 days. Now, the owner, Casey Bradford, is accused of being a liar.”


BBC: Li Wenliang: ‘Wuhan whistleblower’ remembered one year on. “Tributes have been paid on social media in China commemorating a doctor who raised the alarm about the country’s coronavirus outbreak, one year after he died with Covid-19. Thousands paid tribute to Li Wenliang ahead of the first anniversary of his death on 7 February 2020.”

New York Times: How I Wrote the Pandemic: The Writer of ‘Locked Down’ Explains. “I called the screenwriter of ‘Locked Down,’ Steven Knight (the writer-director of ‘Locke’), in Gloucestershire, England, to talk about how he wrote the pandemic, what archaeologists will uncover about this era and the value of pre-empting the ‘tidiness’ of history. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.”

Winchester Star: Chaplains ‘pour it all out’ giving comfort to virus patients. “When the pandemic first hit the region in March, [Winchester Medical Center] Staff Chaplain Rob Looney said he spent about a third of his time with COVID-19 patients. Now that there is a much larger wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, he spends at least 50% to 60% of his time with COVID-19-related interactions.”


Washington Post: CDC finds scant spread of coronavirus in schools with precautions in place. “Schools operating in person have seen scant transmission of the coronavirus, particularly when masks and distancing are employed, but some indoor athletics have led to infections and should be curtailed if schools want to operate safely, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded in papers published Tuesday. The CDC team reviewed data from studies in the United States and abroad and found the experience in schools differed from nursing homes and high-density work sites where rapid spread has occurred.”

Chicago Tribune: Mayor Lori Lightfoot: Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union reach a tentative reopening deal ‘at long last’. “Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Teachers Union’s leadership reached a tentative agreement Sunday to reopen city schools for families seeking in-person instruction, narrowly avoiding a strike, sources said.”


New York Times: New York City Barely Tests for Virus Variants. Can That Change?. “In New York City, despite its many major hospitals and research institutions, only about 55 coronavirus cases a day on average last month were sequenced and screened for more contagious variants. That amounted to just 1 percent of the city’s new cases, a rate far below the 10 percent that some experts say is needed to understand the dynamics of New York’s epidemic at a time when more contagious variants, including some that may blunt the effectiveness of existing vaccines, have led to surges of cases in Britain, Brazil and South Africa.”

Wired: Are Mass Clinics the Solution for Covid-19 Vaccination?. “There’s no question mass sites could put the most shots into the most arms in the shortest period of time. But depending on where they are sited and how they are operated, they may inadvertently exclude the people who need protection the most. Choosing whether to do mass vaccination is effectively a proxy for deciding national priorities: whether to reach herd immunity quickly, by vaccinating as widely as possible in order to suppress infections, or whether to focus on protecting the most vulnerable, by targeting the first doses in order to reduce severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.”


Department of Defense: DOD Uses 3D-Printing to Create N95 Respirators. “Air Force Maj. Daniel Williams serves as product manager of the WEMT PMO’s N95 respirator efforts at USAMMDA. These include coordinating programmatic and regulatory support, leveraging existing government resources and developing synergies within the Defense Department’s organic industrial base to successfully generate N95 respirator products. He explained that his primary task is to ensure the medical device meets military needs and regulatory requirements, and that development of the product remains on schedule and within budget.”

IT Pro Today: Responsibly Recycling Computers in the Age of COVID-19. “Typically, companies pay certified recyclers to take their used electronic devices, which then recover some rare-earth metals and remove some toxic parts from them before sending what remains to landfills. There are many nonprofit organizations, however, that will take used computers and laptops, replace any failed or failing parts, install a new operating system (usually a desktop Linux distribution but sometimes Windows) after wiping the hard drive, and give them new life with students, seniors or economically distressed families – which keeps them out of landfills for another five years or so. This can be a win-win for companies, because by doing so they not only avoid the expense of the traditional recycling process, but also pick up a tax deduction in the process – while helping alleviate the digital divide that’s been rapidly growing during the pandemic.”

WAFB: Race to get coronavirus vaccine going digital with ‘vaccine hunters’. “It’s open season for hunting, only if you look at it from a vaccine perspective… The race to get vaccinated is now going digital. Folks are turning to ‘vaccine hunter’ pages on social media just to find available COVID-19 vaccines in their community.”


Washington Post: U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds. “The variant, known as B.1.1.7, is more contagious than earlier forms of the coronavirus and may also be more lethal, although that is far less certain. It carries a package of mutations, including many which change the structure of the spike protein on the surface of the virus and enhance its ability to bind to human receptor cells. People infected with the variant have higher viral loads, studies have shown, and they may shed more virus when coughing or sneezing.”


FTC: Scammers cash in on COVID-19 vaccination confusion. “With every passing day, the news on COVID-19 vaccine distribution seems to change. One reason is that distribution varies by state and territory. And scammers, always at the ready, are taking advantage of the confusion. Besides a big dose of patience, here are some tips to help you avoid a vaccine-related scam, no matter where you live.”


Wired: Stop Ignoring the Evidence on Covid-19 Treatments. “It’s reasonable to think that giving sick patients someone else’s naturally occurring antibodies might help their recovery along, even save their life, and doctors have tried convalescent plasma to treat viral illnesses at least as far back as the 1918 Spanish flu. Here’s the problem, though: The evidence for its benefit has never been very good.”


AP: Biden’s dilemma in virus aid fight: Go big or go bipartisan. “President Joe Biden’s push for a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill is forcing an internal reckoning that pits his instincts to work toward a bipartisan deal against the demands of an urgent crisis and his desire to deliver for those who helped elect him.”

PsyPost: Republicans tend to follow Donald Trump’s opinions on vaccines rather than scientists’ opinions. “When it comes to the false claim that vaccines cause autism, Republicans tend to be more swayed by Donald Trump than scientists, according to new research published in the journal Health Communication. The study indicates that politicians can have a significant influence on citizens’ science beliefs.”

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