Friday CoronaBuzz, February 26, 2021: 38 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.


National Law Review: State of California Releases New Employer Portal to Assist With COVID-19 Compliance. “As the state of California approaches one year of being under various shelter-in-place orders, the Labor & Workforce Development Agency and the Department of Industrial Relations have consolidated resources for employers into a new website. The site provides information on how to ensure a safer and healthier workplace. It also has information on handling employees who may be sick or exposed to COVID-19 in the form of an FAQ.”

WLBT: New MSDH tool allows you to search for vaccine sites on a map. “The Mississippi State Department of Health announced a new tool for you to make an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s called the Vaccination Provider Map and allows you to search for distribution sites.”

The Hawk Eye: Iowa is launching a new site, phone line to help eligible people get the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how they will work.. “Iowa will launch a new website Friday telling residents eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination where they might find one. The site won’t schedule appointments or register people for a waiting list but may make it easier to match people to available shots.”


AP: Brazil death toll tops 250,000, virus still running rampant. “Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll, which surpassed 250,000 on Thursday, is the world’s second-highest for the same reason its second wave has yet to fade: Prevention was never made a priority, experts say.”


The Guardian: Vaccine scepticism is as old as vaccines themselves. Here’s how to tackle it. “Nineteenth-century doctors tried to maintain boundaries between scientific journalism and the media, but were unable to prevent the public and journalistic demand for health information. That desire remains with us today. The flow of medical knowledge works best when researchers, journalists and the public are better connected and considerate of one another. Preventing misinformation is a shared responsibility.”

NiemanLab: Covid-19 misinformation on Chinese social media offers lessons for countering conspiracy theories. “Our research found that posts that came from influencers, as well as women without enormous numbers of followers, and that cited scientists or other scholars, received more likes, comments, retweets and hashtags.”

Poynter: ‘No record’ of Nashville nurse who claims to have developed Bell’s palsy from COVID-19 vaccine. “In a now-viral video, a Tennessee woman who says her name is Khalilah Mitchell said she developed Bell’s palsy, a disorder that causes paralysis on one side of the face, after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. In the video, the woman says she is a registered nurse and advises others against receiving the vaccine. This claim turned out to be Not Legit. Here’s how we fact-checked it.”


Getty Blogs: Photographing the Traces of COVID-19. “[Camilo José] Vergara sees the signs of the pandemic all around him. The murals wear facemasks. Building entrances are plastered with signs directing patrons not to enter if they are ill. Restaurants have erected tented dining areas outside, and bus drivers are separated from riders by plastic barriers. Sidewalks have become waiting rooms, and people waiting to see the dentist or doctor find themselves toughing it out on the street in the cold. Vergara is toughing it out every day, too, photographing the impact of the pandemic on New York and New Jersey, places he can reach by public transportation. His focus is laser-sharp on the virus these days, because, he says, the virus is focused on us.”

Los Angeles Times: For a rural family, COVID-19 felt like a distant threat. Until it devastated them. “Last summer, everyone in the house [Sonia] Bravo shares with eight family members got COVID-19: Bravo, her husband, her 7-year-old twin boys. Her mom and dad. Her two sisters. Her brother…. Now, the family hopes their story can be a cautionary tale for rural California, where skepticism of the virus’s severity and of the vaccine’s effectiveness runs deep.”


New York Times: Facing Deficit, Met Considers Selling Art to Help Pay the Bills. “Facing a potential shortfall of $150 million because of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has begun conversations with auction houses and its curators about selling some artworks to help pay for care of the collection.”

Toronto Star: Anne fans worldwide give Bala’s Museum record sales with COVID-19 online push. “Bala’s Museum — with memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery is tucked away on Maple Avenue, but for a slew of new and returning customers this summer, its location is on Facebook. Adapting to a digital-friendly operation during the COVID-19 lockdown has turned a stressful year into a record-breaking one thanks to worldwide sales from a converted home office.”


Route Fifty: Covid-Certified Businesses Try to Woo Leery Patrons. “At a time when officials in parts of the nation are facing backlash from business owners who have been hurt by covid restrictions, Mesa County [Colorado]’s 5-star program encourages them to partner with the local health department to promote the directives. Whether the approach boosts compliance with health directives remains to be seen. This largely rural county of 154,000 people on the Utah border is divided about covid protocols, with many still skeptical of wearing face coverings.”

IDG Insider Pro: After a year of Working from Home where are we going from here?. “In February 2020, we were just realizing we’d need to work from home for a while. We had no idea just how drastic the change would be. Now, a year in, thanks to the Coronavirus vaccines, we’re beginning to think about returning to the office. Or, are we?”


New York Times: Russian Campaign Promotes Homegrown Vaccine and Undercuts Rivals. “Russian news outlets with connections to the Kremlin ran disingenuous Spanish-language stories targeting vaccines made in the United States and Europe, researchers said.”

Washington Post: Trump White House donated 8,700 ventilators to other nations. Officials now don’t know where many of them are, watchdog finds.. “The Trump administration spent $200 million to send more than 8,700 ventilators to countries around the world last year, with no clear criteria for determining who should get them and no way to keep track of where many ended up, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.”

BNN Bloomberg: EU Told to Back Vaccine Passports or Google Will Do Them Anyway. “European Union leaders inched toward establishing bloc-wide vaccine certificates to enable countries to reopen to travel as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that unless they hurry Apple Inc. and Google will step into the vacuum.”

New York Times: In Biden’s White House, Masks, Closed Doors and Empty Halls. “The West Wing of the White House has become a much different place under its new occupants — quieter, more disciplined and far more conscious of the pandemic that is the new administration’s priority. Partly, it reflects the way President Biden’s team wants to work, but mostly it is a product of the strict rules it has put in place to reduce the risk of a widespread infection if someone on the president’s team gets sick.”

Route Fifty: States to Recoup More Covid Costs From Feds Under Biden Reimbursement Plan. “States will be able to collect millions more dollars from the federal government to offset coronavirus-related costs under a presidential order that revises reimbursement rates and expands the type of expenses eligible for the funding.”


HuffPost: CNN’s Brianna Keilar Moved To Tears Remembering 500,000 Victims Of COVID-19. “CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Monday wiped away tears as she remembered the 500,000 people in the United States who have now died of COVID-19. The ‘Newsroom’ host marked the harrowing milestone by sharing stories of just a few of the half a million victims.”

New York Times: Andrew Brooks, Who Developed a Coronavirus Spit Test, Dies at 51. “Andrew Brooks, a research professor at Rutgers University who developed the first saliva test for the coronavirus, died on Jan. 23 in Manhattan. He was 51. The cause was a heart attack, his sister, Janet Green, said.”

NJ Arts: The Kennedys respond to pandemic with steady stream of livestreams. “Throughout the quiet of the pandemic, when the doors of venues remain locked and outdoors events are few, spouses Maura and Pete Kennedy, who perform together as the captivating duo The Kennedys, have raised their voices in performances of more than 500 songs for a global audience through weekly live-streaming concerts.”


Washington Post: Unprecedented numbers of students have disappeared during the pandemic. Schools are working harder than ever to find them.. “School districts across the country that closed buildings in mid-March in response to the coronavirus pandemic handled the transition to remote learning with varying levels of success. During the disruption, schools lost track of students. Many students who were present in the classroom in early March could not be found online. And others who showed up in the spring haven’t been seen since.”

EdTech: How School Librarians Adjusted to Remote Learning. “As schools across the nation shifted to distance learning — and then again to a hybrid model — library staff have taken creative approaches to foster student engagement and give students access to literature.”

CNN: More than 100 students and staff quarantined in San Diego County 2 days after resuming in-person learning. “Two days after officials welcomed back students to on-campus instruction, about 100 students and staff across a San Diego County school district were ordered to quarantine due to Covid-19 infections reported across various K-8th grade campuses — raising questions about whether schools in the region are ready to reopen their doors.”

AJC: Georgia schools prepare for vaccinations of teachers, other staff. “Schools across Georgia are prepping for mass vaccination of their staff as soon as Gov. Brian Kemp expands eligibility to them. Many want to use their own nurses to administer the shots of COVID-19 vaccine, often with the help of local health departments and pharmacies, though not all have a nurse on staff.”


Washington Post: New diabetes cases linked to covid-19. “Researchers don’t understand exactly how the disease might trigger Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, or whether the cases are temporary or permanent. But 14 percent of those with severe covid-19 developed a form of the disorder, one analysis found.”

Poynter: The stress you feel is normal. “A year into this pandemic, the American Psychological Association checked in to see how you are doing. The answer, you said, is ‘not great.’ A fourth of you said you are feeling a ‘great deal of stress.’ Arthur C. Evans Jr., APA’s chief executive officer said, ‘Without addressing stress as part of a national recovery plan, we will be dealing with the mental health fallout from this pandemic for years to come.'”

Psychology Today: Anticipating the Wave of Long-Haulers After the Pandemic. “A survey published last year by a grassroots COVID-19 group called ‘Survivor Corps’ found that ‘fatigue’ was the most common symptom experienced by a group of more than 1,500 Long-Haulers. Also included among the top 10 symptoms were: ‘difficulty concentrating or focusing,’ ‘difficulty sleeping,’ ‘anxiety,’ and ‘memory problems.’ That sounds like a perfect storm of brain fog.”

LiveScience: COVID-19 vaccines: What does 95% efficacy actually mean?. “One common misunderstanding is that 95% efficacy means that in the Pfizer clinical trial, 5% of vaccinated people got COVID. But that’s not true; the actual percentage of vaccinated people in the Pfizer (and Moderna) trials who got COVID-19 was about a hundred times less than that: 0.04%.”


New York Times: Where Do Vaccine Doses Go, and Who Gets Them? The Algorithms Decide. “The algorithms are intended to speed Covid-19 shots from pharmaceutical plants to people’s arms. The formulas generally follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that frontline health care workers, nursing home residents, senior citizens and those with major health risks be given priority for the vaccines. Yet federal agencies, states, local health departments and medical centers have each developed different allocation formulas, based on a variety of ethical and political considerations. The result: Americans are experiencing wide disparities in vaccine access.”

Queen Mary University of London: New tool reveals security and privacy issues with contact tracing apps. “COVIDGuardian, the first automated security and privacy assessment tool, tests contact tracing apps for potential threats such as malware, embedded trackers and private information leakage. Using the COVIDGuardian tool, cybersecurity experts assessed 40 Covid-19 contact tracing apps that have been employed worldwide for potential privacy and security threats.”

Marketing Brew: “Stuck Inside My Phone:” Four Social Media Managers On Working During the Pandemic. “Marketing Brew heard from dozens of social media managers about how they’re doing after a year of absolute chaos. We’ve pulled out four representative responses below. Answers have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.”


New York Times: How the Search for Covid-19 Treatments Faltered While Vaccines Sped Ahead. “The government poured $18.5 billion into vaccines, a strategy that resulted in at least five effective products at record-shattering speed. But its investment in drugs was far smaller, about $8.2 billion, most of which went to just a few candidates, such as monoclonal antibodies. Studies of other drugs were poorly organized. The result was that many promising drugs that could stop the disease early, called antivirals, were neglected. Their trials have stalled, either because researchers couldn’t find enough funding or enough patients to participate.”

PsyPost: Your adherence to COVID‐19 rules depends more on your social circle than your own opinion. “New research published in The British Journal of Psychology provides insight into some of the factors associated with compliance with COVID-19 regulations. The findings indicate that people are significantly more likely to follow such guidelines when their close friends and family members also do.”


Route Fifty: After Hundreds of Meatpacking Workers Died From Covid-19, Congress Wants Answers. “A key House subcommittee cited reports by ProPublica and other news outlets in launching an investigation into how the country’s meatpacking companies handled the pandemic, which has killed hundreds of workers to date.”


The Guardian: Canadian couple who got vaccine meant for Indigenous people may face jail time. “A millionaire Canadian couple who secretly travelled to a remote community to receive a coronavirus vaccine meant for vulnerable and elderly Indigenous residents may now face jail sentences for breaking public health rules.”

FTC: Social media is no place for COVID-19 vaccination cards. “Some of you are celebrating your second COVID-19 vaccination with the giddy enthusiasm that’s usually reserved for weddings, new babies, and other life events. You’re posting a photo of your vaccination card on social media. Please — don’t do that! You could be inviting identity theft.”


Poynter: I graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not going well.. “I know most people in the media industry are struggling right now — freelancers and people with staff jobs alike. But, people in more stable positions in the industry need to do a better job of letting younger writers know that we deserve a place in journalism, even if a story is not a perfect fit. While I understand editors are busy, a simple ‘no’ to a pitch with a brief reason why is more helpful than one might think. It helps me when I brainstorm what might be a good fit for an editor in the future.”

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