Thursday CoronaBuzz, March 4, 2021: 33 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.


KOCO: Woman launches website to tell stories of Oklahomans lost to COVID-19. “A local woman has launched a website to tell the story of the Oklahomans who have died because of COVID-19. The website…,which is run by volunteers, allows families to post a tribute and a picture.”


CNN: One year into the pandemic, America is still down nearly 10 million jobs. “The American job market is nowhere near fixed. Nearly one year into the pandemic, the nation is still down nearly 10 million jobs. Another 745,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits on a seasonally adjusted basis last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. It was a slightly smaller number of claims than economists had expected, but up from the prior week.”


SupChina: Chinese youth find pandemic relief in the form of role-playing. “Murderers disguise themselves as friends, members teleport back in time, and even laws of physics are transcended on a whim. All from the comfort of home. The role-playing murder mystery game jùběnshā 剧本杀 (literally, ‘script murder’) has been popular in China for years, but it was only during the pandemic, as people were cooped up inside, that it really took off. It is now the favored pastime of many Chinese youth.”

The Invisible Hand: Personal Income, Consumer Spending rise significantly with the help of federal aid. “Personal income surged in January as Americans received $600 stimulus checks, leading to new optimism about the nation’s recovery from the pandemic. The monthly report issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis for January noted a personal income increase of 10%, the second largest on record, was aided by federal stimulus checks and a $300 a week boost to unemployment benefits. Consumer spending had an increase of 2.4%, while the savings rate continued to rise at an extraordinary rate topping 20.5% for the month. ”


BlogTO: Anti-maskers grab and detain woman trying to walk through Toronto protest. “Things got ugly (or rather, uglier than usual) this past weekend during a regularly-scheduled anti-masker march through downtown Toronto when a passerby clashed with over-zealous protesters on Queen Street. The incident, which involved several men swarming a lone woman, pushing her, grabbing her and shouting insults, took place in the afternoon on Saturday, February 27.”


Mashable: The CDC website has a trove of vaccine data, revealing progress — and inequity. “It has been heartening to see vaccine numbers go up and up since the new year. Even with much more progress needed to reach herd immunity, those data points and percentages represent real people protecting themselves and their family members from COVID. As of this writing, over 80 million vaccine doses had been distributed to Americans. Unfortunately, the outlook is not as sunny if you dive deeper into some of the data.”

ProPublica: Dying on the Waitlist. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, public health experts had been warning about the need to ‘bend the curve’ — to prevent the number of COVID-19 cases from spiking so hospitals wouldn’t get overwhelmed. But starting in early November, the daily number of COVID-19 hospitalizations surged in Los Angeles County, rising eightfold between then and the wave’s crest, which arrived just after New Year’s Day. Within weeks, overflowing hospitals faced exactly the types of care-rationing decisions experts had feared.”

The Verge: Vaccine centers embrace stickers and selfie stations. “As the vaccine rollout continues, clinics and distribution centers across the country are embracing things like stickers and even selfie stations decked out with colorful backgrounds to help people celebrate getting the shot.”


CNET: Great apes at San Diego Zoo receive experimental COVID-19 vaccine for animals. “Eight great apes at the San Diego Zoo have each received two doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed for animals, National Geographic reports. Three orangutans and five bonobos received both shots of the vaccine while distracted by treats, and have reportedly not had any negative side effects. The zoo will soon be able to check for antibodies to know if the vaccine worked as intended.”


News4Jax: CVS offering virus vaccine to Florida teachers under 50. “The CVS Pharmacy chain is vaccinating Florida teachers under age 50, circumventing state orders that continue to limit coronavirus inoculations to those over that age. The chain also began vaccinating day care and preschool teachers Wednesday, even though Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has not yet opened the vaccination program to them.”

New York Times: One and Done: Why People Are Eager for Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine. “Since Johnson & Johnson revealed data showing that its vaccine, while highly protective, had a slightly lower efficacy rate than the first shots produced by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, health officials have feared the new shot might be viewed by some Americans as the inferior choice. But the early days of its rollout suggest something different: Some people are eager to get it because they want the convenience of a single shot.”


Politico: Tracking the money: Bid to make business rescue more inclusive undercut by lack of data. “The Small Business Administration, which runs the Paycheck Protection Program, is facing massive data gaps in how more than $660 billion in loans have been distributed because it does not require business owners to report demographic information when they apply for aid. It only began asking new applicants to voluntarily report the data in January, nine months after the program was launched.”

BBC: Covid: Germany approves AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s. “Germany’s vaccine commission has approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab in people aged over 65. The country previously approved it for under-65s only, citing insufficient data on its effects on older people.”

SupChina: China might soon have four approved COVID-19 vaccines. “On the same day that U.S. regulators cleared the way for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to become the country’s third approved COVID-19 shot, two more Chinese companies applied for public rollouts of their vaccines in China.”

National Library of Medicine: Vaccines, Vaccinations, and NLM. “As I write this message, I am one of the more than 25 million people in the U.S. who have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine. I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on February 4, and my second dose on February 25. NIH is distributing vaccines to employees based on priority group following general guidance from the CDC, but I became eligible first through my health plan. I’m sharing my story with you today and highlighting how the NLM has and still plays a role in vaccines and vaccinations during this time of the COVID pandemic.”

AFP: Philippines receives first Covid-19 vaccines from China. “The Philippines received 600,000 vaccine doses from China Sunday, kickstarting the country’s inoculation drive despite concerns over the Sinovac jab’s effectiveness.”

BBC: Covid: Italy ‘blocks’ AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to Australia. “The decision affects 250,000 doses of the vaccine produced at an AstraZeneca facility in Italy. Italy is the first EU country to use the bloc’s new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the company providing the vaccines has failed to meet its obligations to the EU.”

Wall Street Journal: OSHA’s Job Is Workplace Safety. In the Covid-19 Pandemic, It Often Struggled.. “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration faced one of the biggest workplace-safety challenges in its 50-year history when the coronavirus struck. It didn’t meet the moment. Instead of thoroughly investigating complaints of unsafe practices at workplaces, the federal agency and state OSHA agencies it oversees often took limited steps, OSHA records and state health data show, leaving workers more vulnerable to workplace outbreaks.”


New York Times: Empty Office Buildings Squeeze City Budgets as Property Values Fall. “Those dormant offices, malls and restaurants that have turned cities around the country into ghost towns foreshadow a fiscal time bomb for municipal budgets, which are heavily reliant on property taxes and are facing real estate revenue losses of as much as 10 percent in 2021, according to government finance officials.”

AP: California to give 40% of vaccine doses to vulnerable areas. “California will begin setting aside 40% of all vaccine doses for the state’s most vulnerable neighborhoods in an effort to inoculate people most at risk from the coronavirus and get the state’s economy open more quickly.”

Miami Herald: Wealthy Keys enclave received COVID vaccines in January before much of the state. “As Florida’s eldest residents struggled to sign up to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, nearly all those aged 65 years and older in a wealthy gated enclave in the Florida Keys had been vaccinated by mid-January, according to an emailed newsletter obtained by the Miami Herald.”

Business Insider: A Texas city booked vaccine appointments for its seniors by using the Meals on Wheels database. “A Texas city found an innovative way to ensure homebound seniors could easily access vaccine appointments – and now it’s being used as a model across the entire state. The fire department in Corpus Christi, Texas, paired up with the local Meals on Wheels program to reach out to seniors already in their database to arrange vaccine appointments. From there, firefighters arrived at the seniors’ homes to vaccinate them.”


NPR: ‘Now Is Not The Time To Stop Wearing A Mask,’ Says CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voiced concern on Wednesday about the recent climb in the number of new cases of the coronavirus, warning that pandemic fatigue and the loosening of restrictions may be setting the stage for yet another surge this spring.”

Associated Press: Businesses tied to Noem family got $600,000 in virus grants. “Family members of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem received over $600,000 in funds from a state grant program pushed by the governor that directed federal coronavirus relief funds to small businesses.”

The Scotsman: Stay tuned: Meet the weird and wonderful volunteers keeping community radio alive in lockdown. “Local DJs – the unsung Covid heroes – haven’t stopped providing music, news, comedy and most importantly, companionship to people across Scotland as many have been forced into unavoidable loneliness. While the pandemic may have emptied studios across the country attics, bedrooms, cupboards and even a caravan are just a few of many ad hoc locations loyal community DJs have been using to stay on the beat for their listeners.”


CNN: Covid-19 death rates 10 times higher in countries where most adults are overweight, report finds. “The risk of death from Covid-19 is about 10 times higher in countries where most of the population is overweight, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Obesity Forum. Researchers found that by the end of 2020, global Covid-19 death rates were more than 10 times higher in countries where more than half the adults are overweight, compared to countries where fewer than half are overweight.”

TIME: Insurance Claim Data Show How Much Teen Mental Health Has Suffered During the U.S. COVID-19 Pandemic. “In a new study by the nonprofit FAIR Health, investigators combed through a database of 32 billion U.S. health insurance claims—focusing on the two billion or so from 2019 to 2020—to calculate the numbers filed for health services in the pediatric age group, which they defined as ages 0 to 22. The researchers focused particularly on the emotionally turbulent years from 13 to 18, and to a somewhat lesser extent on claims filed by those ages 19 to 22. In both groups they found sharp spikes from pre-pandemic 2019 to 2020 in a range of psychological conditions including major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, self-harm, substance abuse, overdoses, OCD, ADHD and tic disorders.”


Route Fifty: Covid Vaccine Websites Violate Disability Laws, Create Inequity for the Blind. “An investigation finds that covid vaccine registration and information websites at the federal, state and local levels are flouting disability rights laws and limiting the ability of people who are blind or visually impaired to sign up for shots.”


Reuters: ‘When will it end?’: How a changing virus is reshaping scientists’ views on COVID-19. “A new consensus is emerging among scientists, according to Reuters interviews with 18 specialists who closely track the pandemic or are working to curb its impact. Many described how the breakthrough late last year of two vaccines with around 95% efficacy against COVID-19 had initially sparked hope that the virus could be largely contained, similar to the way measles has been. But, they say, data in recent weeks on new variants from South Africa and Brazil has undercut that optimism.”

PsyPost: COVID‐19 pandemic may have increased preferences for traditional gender roles. “A new study has found that the early stages of the COVID‐19 pandemic coincided with increases in support for traditional gender roles among U.S. adults, suggesting that the coronavirus outbreak is linked to a small shift towards social conservatism. The findings appear in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.”

Phys .org: Air pollution fell sharply during lockdown. “The far-reaching mobility restrictions at the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March 2020 created a unique situation for atmospheric sciences: ‘During the 2020 lockdown, we were able to directly investigate the actual effects of drastic traffic restrictions on the distribution of air pollutants and on the emission of climate gases,’ says Innsbruck atmospheric scientist Thomas Karl. With his team, he has now published a detailed analysis of air quality during the first lockdown in the city of Innsbruck, Austria, in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.”


BBC: Covid: Biden says ‘Neanderthal thinking’ behind lifting of mask rules. “President Joe Biden has criticised the lifting of mask requirements in the states of Texas and Mississippi, calling it ‘Neanderthal thinking’. ‘I think it’s a big mistake,’ he said. Masks, social distancing and other measures were still important, despite the role vaccines were playing in containing the pandemic, he said.”

PsyPost: New study sheds light on the complicated relationship between Trump support and the COVID-19 pandemic. “Donald Trump appears to have benefited from a rally-round-the-flag effect among Republicans concerned with COVID-19 during the early stages of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the United States, according to new research published in PLOS One. But this effect had reversed itself just a few months later.”

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