Tuesday CoronaBuzz, March 2, 2021: 45 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 Academies: New Rapid Expert Consultation Offers Strategies for Navigating Disaster Response, Evacuation, and Sheltering Complicated by COVID-19. “A new rapid expert consultation from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies strategies for emergency planners and decision-makers to consider as they update their disaster plans for evacuation, sheltering, and mass care amid COVID-19.”

11 Alive: VaccineFinder: New tool aims to show where COVID-19 shots are available. “A CDC-backed tool previously used to help Americans find flu vaccines has been repurposed to show where COVID-19 vaccines are available by zip code.”

Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research: The Cancer Imaging Archive posts COVID-19 imaging data to benefit community. “Publicly available data sets related to COVID-19 are appearing in an unexpected place—the Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA), a project of the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis of the National Cancer Institute. Since the start of the pandemic, researchers around the world have been racing to learn as much as possible about the virus—how it spreads, how to diagnose and treat it, and how to develop vaccines against it. One way to help speed up scientific discovery is data sharing.”

University of Hawaii: Free guide to caring for individuals with COVID-19 at home. “How to Care for Persons with COVID-19 was compiled by DOH, various state agencies and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (SONDH).”


Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation: IPLC Launches the Global Social Responses to COVID-19 Web Archive. “With an emphasis on websites produced by underrepresented ethnicities and stateless groups, the Archive covers (but is not limited to): sites published by non-governmental organizations that focus on public health, humanitarian relief, and education; sites published by established and amateur artists in any realm of cultural production; sites published by local news sources; sites published by civil society actors and representatives; and relevant blogs and social media pages. At the time of its launch, the Archive featured over 2,000 websites from over 80 countries in over 50 languages.”


Colorado Virtual Library: COVID-19 and Organized Sports. “With COVID-19 numbers on the decline, many people — especially high school and collegiate athletes and their families — are wondering about the possibility of a return to organized sports this spring. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has set up a new webpage with guidance on organized sports. The information on the page, which can be viewed in multiple languages, includes not only information on school sports but on other types of leagues and facilities as well.”


Knight Center for Journalism: Video of Knight Center’s webinar for journalists covering the COVID-19 vaccines is now available in 7 languages. “Video recordings of the Knight Center’s multilingual webinar, “Covering the COVID-19 Vaccines: What Journalists Need to Know,” are now available for free in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, with Hindi forthcoming. All versions of the webinar can be easily accessed for free and in an ongoing way on a new page available on the Knight Center’s Journalism Courses website.”


Ars Technica: B.1.1.7 variant now 10% of US cases—and cases are once again ticking up. “After weeks of dramatic decline, COVID-19 cases in the US have hit a plateau—and in some places are ticking up. Officials are sounding the alarm in hopes of averting a fourth surge in the devastating pandemic.”

Houston Chronicle: Houston is first city to record all major COVID strains, new study finds. “Since the virus was first detected in the Houston region nearly a year ago, [Dr. James] Musser’s team has sequenced more than 20,000 genomes of COVID-19. The most recent batch of roughly 3,000 genomes sequenced from patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 included variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.”


CNET: Twitter begins labelling misleading tweets about COVID-19 vaccines. “Twitter has announced it will begin labelling any tweets that may contain misleading information about the COVID-19 vaccine. Since introducing its coronavirus guidance in December, Twitter said Monday it has removed more than 8,400 tweets and challenged 11.5 million accounts across the globe.”


Core77: 12 Months Later: How Consumer Tech Has Responded to the Pandemic. “Last year, we noted that technology for the home which fosters our sense of comfort, wellbeing and community was still lacking in many respects. With a totally different landscape one year on, brands are being presented with more opportunities and challenges to integrate meaning into technology than ever before. We’ve collected a few examples of these below, with suggestions for how brands and developers can chart the best course forward.”

UCLA: Internet trends suggest COVID-19 spurred a return to earlier values and activities. “American values, attitudes and activities have changed dramatically during COVID-19, according to a new study of online behavior. Researchers from UCLA and Harvard University analyzed how two types of internet activity changed in the U.S. for 10 weeks before and 10 weeks after March 13, 2020 — the date then-President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency. One was Google searches; the other was the phrasing of more than a half-billion words and phrases posted on Twitter, blogs and internet forums.”

Colorado State University: Survey reveals how pandemic has changed consumers’ food habits. “Nearly a year of social distancing and economic disruptions has triggered both subtle and seismic shifts in how Americans are buying or getting food, and Colorado State University researchers from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics have spent the last several months documenting those shifts. Their efforts are part of a $1 million cooperative study funded by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, in partnership with University of Kentucky and Penn State University, looking at the pandemic’s effects on local and regional food markets.”

The Atlantic: Where Are the Iconic COVID-19 Images?. “News organizations have long argued that “bearing witness” to conflicts, famines, and natural disasters is an ethical imperative, even when it means placing reporters and photographers in dangerous situations. (The cynical add that we are perfectly capable of looking at other people’s tragedies without feeling obliged to ameliorate them.) ‘News photography is what brings a story to the world, and news photography is all about access,’ Rickey Rogers, the global head of pictures at the Reuters news agency, told me. ‘When everyone is running away from a war or an explosion, journalists are running towards it.’ But covering an infectious disease has changed the risk calculus.”

Washington Post: Millions couldn’t afford diapers before the pandemic. Now, diaper banks can’t keep up.. “Chelesa Presley is deeply familiar with the struggles of young families, first from her years as a social worker and now from running a nonprofit in one of Mississippi’s poorest regions. She’s used to the questions about car seats, nursing and colicky babies, but paying for diapers is always the chronic and most-pressing worry. ‘I see parents not putting anything on their babies because they don’t have diapers,’ she said. ‘I’ve seen people use shopping bags with some rags in it. I’ve seen T-shirts. I’ve seen people keeping the diapers on longer than necessary, and the diapers sag down when the babies walk.'”

The Globe and Mail: Another victim of COVID-19: Sex between married couples. “Surveying 1,500 adults last spring just after the pandemic hit, researchers at the Kinsey Institute found nearly half said their sex lives were in decline. Though some had actually expanded their sexual repertoires through the global crisis, they tended to be younger people living alone, rather than long-married spouses quarantining together in homes piled high with homework and laundry.”


NPR: Music Therapists Are Trying To Help COVID-19 Patients Who Experience Loneliness. “Can you sing your way through social isolation and loneliness? A music therapist in Virginia started a support group for people with COVID-19. As NPR’s Elizabeth Blair reports, they connect with each other through song.” Audio with transcript.

Cedars-Sinai: #YearofCOVID: The Evolution of Care. “Peter Chen, MD, remembers those early days of March 2020 as one of swirling hyperactivity in the intensive care unit he leads at Cedars-Sinai. Chen and his team were struggling to respond to an emerging health crisis that was quickly growing into a global pandemic. In California, the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus prompted state officials to shutter all but essential businesses and services, close schools and order everyone to shelter in place. People fashioned bandanas into face masks to protect themselves. As the weeks went by, frightened patients streamed into hospital emergency rooms, and deaths began mounting in intensive care units and nursing homes.”

University of Cambridge: ‘Silent epidemic of grief’ leaves bereaved and bereavement care practitioners struggling. “Major changes in bereavement care have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, amid a flood of demand for help from bereaved people, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. The first major study of pandemic-related changes in bereavement care has found that the switch to remote working has helped some services to reach out, but many practitioners feel they do not have capacity to meet people’s needs.”

University of Colorado Anschutz: Writing Proves a Therapeutic Outlet for Pandemic Stress. “Writing patient notes is just part of the daily routine for doctors, nurses and other providers. It’s a rare occasion, however, when providers are asked to look inward, to search their own feelings and write about them. What happens when they get this encouragement? What kinds of stories emerge, especially during a historic pandemic? Some of the answers can be found in “Narrative Expressive Writing (NEW).” Expressions about this challenging time — waves of sorrow, nightmares, paralyzing guilt, fear of death and other stressful feelings — have poured forth through this flexible, non-intrusive program launched at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.”


Washington Post: Biden to announce ‘historic partnership’: Merck will help make Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, officials say. “President Biden will announce Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. will help make Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine — an unusual pact between fierce competitors that could sharply boost the supply of the newly authorized vaccine, according to senior administration officials.”


BBC: Covid: France approves AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s. “The French government says older people with pre-existing conditions can now get AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, revising its stance on the issue.”

Fox LA: Fauci says CDC working on guidelines for small gatherings among fully vaccinated people. “During a Monday virtual press briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci said small gatherings at home without masks are ‘low risk’ as long as the people present have received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine.”

The Guardian: Coronavirus crisis unlikely to be over by the end of the year, WHO warns. “Despite the spread of Covid-19 being slowed in some countries due to lockdowns and vaccination programs, it is ‘premature’ and ‘unrealistic’ to the think the pandemic will be over by the end of the year, the World Health Organization’s executive director of emergency services has said.”

BBC: Covid-19: Sri Lanka chooses remote island for burials. “A remote island has been chosen by Sri Lanka’s government for the burial of Covid-19 victims from the minority Muslim and Christian communities. The government previously forced minorities to cremate their dead in line with the practice of the majority Buddhists. It claimed burials would contaminate ground water. But the government backed down last week in the face of vehement criticism from rights groups.”


Route Fifty: States Fail to Prioritize Homeless People for Vaccines. “Many homeless people have underlying medical conditions. They are more likely to be people of color, and many are older adults—all groups disproportionately at risk for serious harm from the virus…. Yet at least 20 states don’t include people living in homeless shelters in their vaccine distribution plans, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy, a nonpartisan research organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Maine. Few state plans even mention homeless people not in shelters.”

NBC Washington: Metro May Close 22 Stations Without More Federal Funding. “Metro officials say they may have to close up to 22 stations next year if the transit agency does not receive another round of federal funding. Metro is facing a large budget shortfall because of the decrease in ridership caused by the pandemic. Ridership is down about 90%.”

New York Times: Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout That Many States Feared. “…new data shows that a year after the pandemic wrought economic devastation around the country, forcing states to revise their revenue forecasts and prepare for the worst, for many the worst didn’t come. One big reason: $600-a-week federal supplements that allowed people to keep spending — and states to keep collecting sales tax revenue — even when they were jobless, along with the usual state unemployment benefits.”


NBC News: Trump, former first lady quietly received Covid vaccine in January. “Former President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump quietly received the Covid-19 vaccine at the White House in January, a Trump advisor told NBC News on Monday. It is not clear which type of vaccine they received and they were not disclosed at the time by the Trump White House.”

The Verge: San Diego Comic-Con, E3, and Anime Expo cancel geek gatherings for the second year in a row. “San Diego Comic-Con has just announced this year’s show will not go on, at least not in person. For the second time in 50 years — the first was last year — Comic-Con has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There’ll still be a virtual event from July 23rd to the 25th, and organizers are planning a three-day in-person convention tentatively set for November, but they’re clear that the full shebang has been postponed until 2022 — and offering refunds and rollovers as appropriate.”

ABC 7: Teen, 14, helps hundreds secure COVID-19 vaccine appointments through his own database, ‘Chicago Vaccine Angels’. “For many people, the path to getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a long and winding road. But Benjamin Kagan of Chicago Vaccine Angels is taking the legwork out of it for those who don’t have the time, resources, or computer know-how to locate a dose. The 14-year-old tracks down where and when vaccines are available and makes appointments for people on a waiting list.”


Toronto Sun: Experts call Peel guidelines to place children in solitary quarantine ‘cruel punishment’. “Peel Health has issued guidelines to parents instructing them to keep any children who have been sent home because a classmate has tested positive for COVID-19 isolated in a separate room from all other family members for 14 days.”


Ars Technica: Why N95 masks are still hard to get, even though production is up. “Even though we’ve had more good vaccine news lately, COVID-19 in the US is still very much a widespread concern. We’re still going to need masks for many months to come. So why, a year into the pandemic, are good ones still so hard to find? The New York Times reports that there are dozens of small, US-based businesses that have pivoted to making medical-grade masks, but they can’t sell them to consumers because of policies put in place to protect supply chains at the beginning of the pandemic.”

Lifehacker: If Everyone Isn’t Masking Up at Your Gym, Stay Home. “A room full of people breathing heavy, without masks or adequate ventilation, is a risky place to be during a coronavirus pandemic. To those who complain that it’s annoying or even impossible to exercise with a mask on, I say, if you can’t do it with a mask on, you shouldn’t be doing it indoors around other people.”

University of Alabama at Birmingham: How smoking could impact health complications with COVID-19 illness. “Smoking cigarettes poses an increased risk of respiratory infections and weakens the immune system, experts say. Recent studies have demonstrated that the impact of smoking on one’s health intensifies if COVID-19 is contracted. The CDC reports that smoking is one of the risk factors of severe COVID illness.”

New York Times: Virus Variant in Brazil Infected Many Who Had Already Recovered From Covid-19. “…three studies offer a sobering history of P.1’s meteoric rise in the Amazonian city of Manaus. It most likely arose there in November and then fueled a record-breaking spike of coronavirus cases. It came to dominate the city partly because of an increased contagiousness, the research found. But it also gained the ability to infect some people who had immunity from previous bouts of Covid-19. And laboratory experiments suggest that P.1 could weaken the protective effect of a Chinese vaccine now in use in Brazil.”


Scientific American: The COVID Zoom Boom Is Reshaping Sign Language. “People who use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate are no strangers to video chatting. The technology—which has been around since 1927, when AT&T experimented with the first rudimentary videophones—allows deaf people to converse with signs over the airwaves. But after the coronavirus pandemic began confining people to their homes early last year, the use of platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet exploded. This increased reliance on videoconferencing has inevitably transformed the way deaf people communicate.”


University of Wisconsin-Madison: 20 million years of life lost to COVID-19. “The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 20 million years of life across 81 countries, according to a new analysis of the disease’s mortality through all of 2020. That’s an average of 16 years of lost life per death.”

The Conversation: New coronavirus variant: here is what scientists know about B1525. “Scientists are keeping a watchful eye on this variant because it has several mutations in the gene that makes the spike protein – the part of the virus that latches onto human cells. These changes include the presence of the increasingly well-known mutation called E484K, which allows the virus to partly evade the immune system, and is found in the variants first identified in South Africa (B1351) and Brazil (P1).”

Net Nebraska: Do ‘Tight’ Cultures Fare Better In The Pandemic Than ‘Loose’ Cultures?. “Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that some countries have had few cases and fewer deaths per capita. The U.S. has had 152 deaths per 100,000 people, for example, versus .03 in Burundi and .04 in Taiwan. There are many reasons for these differences among countries, but a study in The Lancet Planetary Health published last month suggests that a key factor may be cultural.”


BuzzFeed News: This Woman Wins For Accidentally Getting The Most Hilariously Unfortunate Pandemic-Era Tattoo. “A trend going around TikTok asks people to share ‘the dumbest tattoo that you’ve ever gotten,’ and a Kentucky woman has completely taken the cake. Leah Holland, 25, had wanted to get this specific tattoo for two years before she finally did it.”


AP: Victims of anti-Asian attacks reflect a year into pandemic. “Nearly a year after they were almost stabbed to death inside a Midland, Texas, Sam’s Club, Bawi Cung and his two sons all have visible scars. It’s the unseen ones though that are harder to get over. Cung can’t walk through any store without constantly looking in all directions. His 6-year-old son, who now can’t move one eyebrow, is afraid to sleep alone.”


PsyPost: Populism and conservative media linked to COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs among both Republicans and Democrats. “A new study in the journal Research & Politics provides evidence that populist attitudes are correlated with conspiracy beliefs about COVID-19 in the United States. The findings indicate that populism — which pits ‘the people’ against ‘the elites’ — plays an even greater role than political partisanship.”

Axios: Republicans are least likely to want the coronavirus vaccine. “Vaccine hesitancy is higher among white Republicans than any other demographic group, and it hasn’t been improving much as the vaccination effort continues, according to Civiqs polling.”

CBS News: Democratic leaders criticize Biden administration’s “outmoded” guidance on aerosol COVID-19 spread. “In a four-page letter addressed to White House COVID response chief Jeff Zients, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky and acting Labor secretary Al Stewart, four House committee chairs say they have ‘serious questions’ about the adequacy of the CDC’s guidance on workplace protection from aerosol transmission.”

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