Saturday CoronaBuzz, February 20, 2021: 36 pointers to updates, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Please wear a mask (or even two). Wash your hands. Stay at home if you can. Please be careful. I love you.


WSB-TV: What you need to know about Georgia’s vaccine website and mass vaccination sites. “People eligible in Phase 1A can pre-register for the vaccine. If you are not currently eligible, you can sign up to receive email updates to learn more about when you can get the vaccine.”

Universal Hub: Twitter feed alerts you when new vaccination slots open up. “Dan Cahoon, a Cambridge software wizard, has spun up a bot that ‘scrapes’ the state immunization site and posts alerts when new batches of Covid-19 vaccination slots open up, along with a link to the relevant shot spot’s signup form.” This is for Massachusetts.

WVIR: Virginia launches central pre-registration website for COVID-19 vaccine. “The Virginia Department of Health has launched a new website that allows folks to pre-register for the coronavirus vaccine. VDH announced Tuesday, February 16, that the site also allows Virginians to check if they are pre-registered and access additional information on the commonwealth’s vaccination roll-out.”

KREM: How many vaccines have been given in North Idaho? New tool breaks it down. “The state of Idaho has launched a web page that aims to provide transparent data on the distribution and allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the state.”


CNBC: Crowdfunding drives are raising millions for charity. Here’s how to give without getting scammed. “Americans have opened their wallets in response to crises like Covid-19 and racial injustice, according to the most recent data from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The organization reports a 7.6% increase in the amount donated through the first nine months of 2020. Leading the surge: smaller contributions of $250 or less.”

Mashable: Lyft offers free rides to COVID-19 vaccinations at CVS sites. “Lyft will provide free or discounted rides to vaccination appointments at CVS Health community clinics. These clinics will open in March and April in mobile vaccination vans and at other locations, in an effort to make the nationwide inoculation campaign more accessible. Lyft will share more about vaccination clinic locations and availability in the coming weeks.”


Reuters: Exclusive: White House working with Facebook and Twitter to tackle anti-vaxxers. “The White House has been reaching out to social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc’s Google about clamping down on COVID misinformation and getting their help to stop it from going viral, a senior administration official said.”


BBC: Coronavirus: What Europeans have learned from a year of pandemic. “From the first case diagnosed a year ago at a hospital in northern Italy to the empty shops, restaurants and stadiums of Europe’s cities, the lives of Europeans have been changed forever. Curbs on movement have forced every country and society to adapt its rules and rethink its culture. There have been hard truths and unexpected innovations in a year that changed Europe.”

New York Times: The Primal Scream. “The pandemic has touched every group of Americans, and millions are suffering, hungry and grieving. But many mothers in particular get no space or time to recover. The impact is not just about mothers’ fate as workers, though the economic fallout of these pandemic years might have lifelong consequences. The pandemic is also a mental health crisis for mothers that fervently needs to be addressed, or at the very least acknowledged.”


Oakland Press: Telehealth visits a new tool for pediatricians during COVID-19 pandemic. “Before the pandemic started last March, the eight physicians at Serenity Pediatrics performed zero virtual visits. Then the world changed. Now the eight pediatricians can do 20-30 telehealth visits per day, more if needed, and often seven days a week.”


BetaNews: The impact of COVID-19 on modern retailers. “The impact of COVID-19 and our new shopping behaviors have a profound effect on retailers. Changed buying experiences, falling and rising sales, and new consumer demands have defined an adverse year in retail. Here, we look at how customers and businesses have been affected by these changes.”


US VA: New rollout tool notifies high-risk Vets when to expect their vaccine. “With two COVID-19 vaccines available for emergency use and deliveries starting at VA health care facilities, many Veterans are wondering when they can receive the vaccine. Facilities will notify Veterans at high risk for contracting the virus or those who could develop serious illness about their eligibility and when they can expect to get their vaccine. This is possible because of VA’s new data outreach tool.”

CNN: Former Biden coronavirus advisers push White House to more widely recommend use of N95 masks. “Several members of President Joe Biden’s former coronavirus advisory board are urging his administration to more widely recommend and mandate the use of N95 masks, citing a ‘pressing and urgent need for action’ driven by the threat of new coronavirus variants.”


Washington Post: Iowa’s House speaker said he can’t make lawmakers wear masks — but he did enforce a ban on jeans. “Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley (R) has repeatedly pushed back against imposing a mask mandate inside the legislature, saying that he cannot force lawmakers to cover their faces — just as he cannot stop someone from voting on the House floor in their bathing suit. But when one Democratic lawmaker attempted to speak during a floor debate on Tuesday — not in a bikini or one-piece but in jeans — Grassley called her out for violating the chamber’s dress code.”

New York Times: Short of Vaccine, States Find Hidden Stashes in Their Own Backyards. “When tiny glass vials of coronavirus vaccine began rolling off production lines late last year, federal health officials set aside a big stash for nursing homes being ravaged by the virus. Health providers around the country figured as well that it was prudent to squirrel away vials to ensure that everyone who got a first dose of vaccine got a second one. Two months later, it is clear both strategies went overboard.”

AP: Virus outbreaks stoke tensions in some state capitols. “After only their first few weeks of work, tensions already are high among lawmakers meeting in-person at some state capitols — not because of testy debates over taxes, guns or abortion, but because of a disregard for coronavirus precautions.”


MIT Technology Review: He started a covid-19 vaccine company. Then he hosted a superspreader event.. “Some had paid upwards of $30,000 to attend a pandemic-year rarity: an indoor, in-person, mostly unmasked business conference, called the Abundance 360 Summit. Created by Peter Diamandis—who is also the founder or cofounder of several space companies and Silicon Valley innovation hub Singularity University, as well as of covid-19 vaccine developer Covaxx—the conference was a lucrative opportunity to hold court with a group of his ‘patrons.'”


Phys .org: COVID-19 has crippled the winter sports industry—but a digital revolution will help it recover. “It was all going so well. When China sparked the greatest winter sports boom in history by trying to inspire 300m people ahead of the Olympics in Beijing in 2022, the forecast for the industry was great. The 2018/2019 season was the most successful for 20 years, as the American and European markets were thriving too. Then the pandemic hit, and winter sports, like many other industries, were severely affected. But our recent research suggests the technological developments the pandemic has also ushered in could help secure its future by changing the way elite sportspeople and amateurs approach the sports they love.”

IndyStar: 2021 NCAA tournament will allow limited fans: ‘This is a good but bold move’. “Daniel McQuiston’s days are spent in academics, researching marketing and sports and trends, sizing up what works and what doesn’t. When the announcement came across Friday the NCAA would allow limited fan attendance for its men’s tournament, he said to himself: ‘I like it.'”


NBC News: The great attention deficit: More parents seek ADHD diagnosis and drugs for kids to manage remote learning. “Two dozen parents, pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists and researchers all described a crisis among children suffering from inattention and tanking school performance. Data from specialists involved with diagnosing and treating ADHD show just how much parents are struggling to get help: They are flooding an ADHD support line with questions, and ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions for related medications have soared.”

WFPL: Away From The Classroom, Disadvantaged JCPS Students Fail At Higher Rates. “All Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) students struggled while learning remotely early this school year. But low-income students, students of color and students learning English experienced the greatest increase in failing grades, data obtained by WFPL News shows.”

University of Arkansas: Research Reveals Positive Impact of COVID Remote Learning on Educators’ Cultural Awareness. “A study of the Marshallese experience during COVID-19 remote learning found that focusing first on basic and social-emotional needs and making frequent, personal connections with students and families may mitigate negative effects of school closures, especially for culturally diverse students.”


ScienceBlog: Adherence To Health Precautions, Not Climate, The Biggest Factor Driving Wintertime COVID-19 Outbreaks. “Wintertime outbreaks of COVID-19 have been largely driven by whether people adhere to control measures such as mask wearing and social distancing, according to a study published Feb. 8 in Nature Communications by Princeton University researchers. Climate and population immunity are playing smaller roles during the current pandemic phase of the virus, the researchers found.”

BBC: How to heal the ‘mass trauma’ of Covid-19. “Trauma is a far subtler concept than many of us realise. It isn’t just a word for something extremely stressful. It doesn’t always come from short, sharp shocks like car accidents, terrorist attacks, or firefights. And, trauma isn’t the same thing as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What trauma is about is events and their effect on the mind. But what separates it from something merely stressful is how we relate to these events on a deep level of belief. After the pandemic ends, the effects of the mass trauma it has inflicted will linger across societies for years. How might we understand this mental fallout? And what does the science of trauma suggest that we should – and shouldn’t – do in order to heal?”


IEEE Spectrum: How IEEE Conferences Thrived Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic. “If you have enjoyed attending any of the thousands of IEEE virtual conferences and events held around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have a dedicated team of IEEE volunteers and staff to thank. The IEEE conferences committee and the organization’s global Meetings, Conferences, and Events team, in collaboration with IEEE organizational unit partners, worked behind the scenes to make sure the gatherings went off without a hitch. By keeping the customer as their North Star and taking quick action, the MCE team was able to support the community, helping organizers hold more than 1,600 conferences.”

CanIndia: A leaked report shows Pfizer’s vaccine is conquering covid-19 in its largest real-world test. “A leaked scientific report jointly prepared by Israel’s health ministry and Pfizer claims that the company’s covid-19 vaccine is stopping nine out of 10 infections and the country could approach herd immunity by next month. The study, based on the health records of hundreds of thousands of Israelis, finds that the vaccine may sharply curtail transmission of the coronavirus.”

ScienceBlog: Existing Heart Failure Drug May Treat Potential COVID-19 Long-Hauler Symptom. “In a new study out of University of California San Diego School of Medicine, researchers found a drug used for heart failure improves symptoms associated with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, otherwise known as POTS. This complex, debilitating disorder affects the body’s autonomic nervous system, causing a high heart rate, usually when standing.”

CNN: Food and food packaging highly unlikely to spread Covid-19, experts say. “Food and food packaging are highly unlikely to spread Covid-19, the US Food and Drug Administration, US Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a reminder Thursday.”


New York Times: Montana and the Dakotas were hot spots. Until they weren’t.. “Experts say the spikes in the Northern Great Plains ebbed largely for the same reason that the U.S. caseload has been falling: People finally took steps to save themselves in the face of an out-of-control deadly disease.”


The Register: Healthy 32-year-old offered COVID-19 vaccine because doctors had him down as 6.2cm tall with BMI of 28,000. “The problem was that due to his supposed stature, [Liam] Thorp had a body mass index (BMI) of 28,000. A BMI of 40 is enough to be classed ‘morbidly obese’ so you can imagine that the UK’s health service was concerned. The heaviest person ever weighed in at 635kg/1,400lb/100st and only had a BMI of 186.”


New York Post: Two masks now required to enter Manhattan federal court buildings. “Visitors to Manhattan federal court and other buildings in the Southern District of New York are now required to either wear two face masks or an FDA-approved N95 mask.”

Department of Justice: CEO Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Multiple Federal Agencies. “An Arlington businessman pleaded guilty [February 3] to making false statements to multiple federal agencies in order to fraudulently obtain multimillion-dollar government contracts, COVID-19 emergency relief loans, and undeserved military service benefits.”

ABC News: 2 women dressed as ‘grannies’ to get COVID-19 vaccine, Florida officials say. “Two women tried disguising themselves as ‘grannies’ in a failed attempt to get a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Florida health officials said.”


USA Today: Biden should name a secretary of culture and creative industries to drive economic growth. “Last November, the G-20 convened its first ever meeting of its culture ministers. They recognized the growing importance of culture and creative industries to national competitiveness and cohesion. In country after country around the world, creative industries account for 2% to 7% of GDP, and few industries have been hit so hard by the COVID crisis. UNESCO estimates annual revenue from the cultural and creative sectors is $2.25 trillion, the exports related to the sector are $250 billion and the number of people employed in the sector is 30 million. Some estimates suggest this sector will soon be responsible for a tenth of all global output.”


Phys .org: California Republicans less likely to seek COVID vaccine, poll reports. “As California struggles to bring the deadly COVID-19 pandemic under control, the state’s Republican voters are far less likely to seek a vaccine and express less support for small businesses, health care workers and other at-risk workers, according to a new poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS).”

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