Friday CoronaBuzz, March 5, 2021: 26 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.


BBC: Covid-19: Mystery UK person with Brazil variant found. “A mystery person in the UK infected with the Covid variant of concern first found in Brazil has now been traced. Last week, it was announced that six cases of the P.1 variant had been found in the UK – but the identity of one of the cases was unknown. The person, who lives in Croydon, has been traced, as have their contacts.”


Pew: In their own words, Americans describe the struggles and silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The outbreak has dramatically changed Americans’ lives and relationships over the past year. We asked people to tell us about their experiences – good and bad – in living through this moment in history.”


American Independent: No, immigrants aren’t spreading COVID to Americans like Republicans claim. “Republicans are back to blaming immigrants for the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, even as officials like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reverse crucial safety measures intended to curb the pandemic. Facing pushback for his announcement on Tuesday, lifting the statewide mask mandate and other coronavirus safety restrictions, Abbott went on the defensive, claiming in an interview with CNBC on Thursday that Biden had put Texans in danger by ‘releasing immigrants’ into the state.”

BBC: Coronavirus: The misleading claims about an Indian remedy. “A controversial herbal concoction has been in the news again in India, with renewed claims that it is effective against coronavirus. The substance, called Coronil, was launched recently at an event attended by some Indian government ministers. But there is no evidence that it works, and misleading claims have been made about approval for its use.”


ABC News: ‘Pharmacy deserts’ are new front in the race to vaccinate for COVID-19. “Even though 90% of Americans live within 3 miles of chain pharmacies, there are many others who live in so-called food and health care deserts, without a single grocery store or pharmacy in close range, said Dr. James Hildreth, president and CEO of Meharry Medical College and a member of Biden’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.”


Eater Portland: No Restaurant? No Problem: Chefs Have Found a Certain Freedom in Selling Meals on Instagram.. “Chefs make everything from za’atar-rubbed roast chickens to whole lasagnas to ramen kits to pozole on menus posted to Instagram via stories; customers then order meals via DM, paying over Venmo or CashApp. Many of these Instagram businesses — not quite a restaurant, not quite a pop-up — began as survival mechanisms related to the pandemic as mid-level restaurant jobs dried up.”

ProPublica: The Pandemic’s Existential Threat to Black-Owned Businesses. “There are disparities between American businesses owned by white people and those owned by all minority groups, but the widest ones are typically with Black entrepreneurs, who tend to have modest family wealth and thin professional networks to help recruit talent and cut deals. Although the number of Black-owned businesses has grown in recent years, the vast majority remain sole proprietorships. As of 2012 — the most recent data the Census Bureau has collected — average annual sales for a Black-owned business came to about $58,000, compared to nearly 10 times that amount for the average white-owned enterprise. Those years of compounding disadvantage have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Texas Tribune: Texas businesses must decide whether to require face masks. Some worry they could lose customers either way.. “As small-business owners and managers across Texas went to work Wednesday morning, they faced yet another 2021 headache: deal with losing business from customers who don’t want to wear face masks during the pandemic or from patrons who will only frequent places that require them. The dilemma was abruptly thrust upon them after Gov. Greg Abbott announced yesterday afternoon that the state will lift its mask mandate and allow all businesses to operate at 100% capacity starting March 10.”

Arizona State University: The end? How movie theaters move past the pandemic. “The coronavirus pandemic, social unrest and economic turbulence defined 2020. The past year has also changed the entertainment industry dramatically — and perhaps permanently. Has the pandemic led to the disappearance of movie theaters for good? Can storytelling industries adapt and become more representative of diversity and respond to cries for racial and social justice? How will Big Tech’s entrance into streaming impact the industry?”


BBC: Covid-19: Australia asks European Commission to review Italy’s vaccine block. “Australia has asked the European Commission to review Italy’s decision to block the export of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the country.It is the first time new rules have been used that allow a ban on EU exports if the drug provider fails to meet its obligations to the bloc.”


ABC News: Which states have dropped mask mandates and why. “Five states — Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota — have ended, or soon will end, statewide mask mandates, despite the looming threat of COVID-19 and highly transmissible variants. They’re joining 11 other states — Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee — that never required face coverings statewide.”

CNN: New York State Senate passes bill to repeal Cuomo’s emergency executive powers. “The New York State Senate passed a bill to repeal Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s expanded emergency executive powers Friday. The vote split straight down the party lines, with all 20 Republican senators saying the bill does not go far enough to curtail Cuomo’s power and voting against it.”


CNBC: ‘I worry we’re getting numb’ to Covid numbers as states reopen, former CDC director says. “Richard Besser, who served as acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under former President Barack Obama, said he worries that people are discounting Covid numbers as governors decide to reopen their states.”

Task & Purpose: The Navy tried to cast Capt. Brett Crozier as a villain. New emails reveal how much support he really had. “The Navy has repeatedly blamed Capt. Brett Crozier for the unprecedented novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt last year, but newly-released emails show several of Crozier’s colleagues instantly recognized that he had put the lives of his crew above his own career.”

Washington Post: A year later, Washington region’s first coronavirus patient recounts trauma of her role in history. “A year ago this weekend, Bonnie Lippe picked up the telephone and broke down — again and again. One by one, she called family members and friends, asking them to watch out for symptoms of the deadly coronavirus because she might have exposed them. Lippe was the Washington region’s first known case. Or, as she put it half-jokingly, ‘patient zero.'”


CNET: March Madness 2021: Start time, schedule, how to watch and what you need to know. “The pandemic caused last year’s NCAA tournament to be canceled but college basketball’s premier event has returned for 2021, albeit with a few changes to account for COVID-19. Typically the early rounds are scattered across the country in different ‘regions,’ but this year the 67 men’s games will all take place in Indiana with the bulk of the action happening in Indianapolis.”

CNN: How wearable tech helped elite athletes through the pandemic. “Until recently, gathering athletes’ performance data was a laborious process. Coaches and sports scientists would spend hours compiling information from games and training sessions, pulling out the information relevant to their players’ development. But technology-based performance analytics has changed all that. These days, athletes can wear devices or vests with GPS-tracking capabilities that record the speed and distance they run, as well as the impacts on their body. The information helps coaches develop training plans to avoid athlete fatigue and maximize performance for match days.”


NPR: Being Vaccinated Doesn’t Mean It’s Safe To Take Off The Mask. “What newfound freedoms can people who have been vaccinated feel safe about? With only about 20% of U.S. adults vaccinated against COVID-19, experts explain why some restrictions remain in place.”


CNBC: Young People Have a Popular Pandemic Pastime: Filling, Then Abandoning, E-Commerce Shopping Carts. “The internet equivalent of window-shopping isn’t new. People have been picking out items and abandoning carts for years. But the pastime appears to have increased due to the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers are in need of something to do and less willing to shell out money.”

CNN: People are turning to Nextdoor for tips on getting a vaccine. Why that may be a problem. “A fraudulent link could be shared on many social networks but it may carry unique weight on Nextdoor. The startup, founded in 2010 and most recently valued at $2.1 billion, was designed to give people a way to connect with neighbors virtually to do things such as buy and sell items from each other, and discover local businesses, services and, importantly, news at a time when local publications are in decline. People are required to verify their home address to use the platform, and, for some, that could lend more credibility compared to interacting with random strangers on other sites.”


PsyPost: Intellectually arrogant people are less willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, study finds. “Those who are hostile to revising their beliefs in the face of new information are more likely to hold anti-vaccination sentiments and are less willing to be vaccinated for COVID-19, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. The findings provide more evidence of a link between intellectual humility and vaccination attitudes.”

Ohio State News: More than 87,000 scientific papers on coronavirus since pandemic. “The researchers searched for coronavirus-related articles in several scientific databases and found that 4,875 articles were produced on the issue between January and mid-April of 2020. That rose to 44,013 by mid-July and 87,515 by the start of October.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Researchers find ways to push international research forward, despite COVID-19. “The details were in place, and an international team of researchers was ready to launch a multi-year study of Kenya’s socio-ecological systems — specifically how globalization and climate change are impacting the country’s native Daasanach pastoralists. Then, like dominoes, COVID-19 began spreading across the world, with new countries announcing cases, shutdowns and travel restrictions each day.”


KTVB: Idaho lawmakers drop coronavirus lawsuit against Legislature. “Two Idaho lawmakers have dropped their lawsuit against the Republican-led state Legislature and legislative leadership that alleged lax coronavirus protocols at the Statehouse. Democratic state Reps. Sue Chew and Muffy Davis notified a federal court Wednesday that they were dismissing the lawsuit. The court filing didn’t reveal why they dropped the case.”

Krebs on Security: How $100M in Jobless Claims Went to Inmates. “The U.S. Labor Department’s inspector general said this week that roughly $100 million in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims were paid in 2020 to criminals who are already in jail. That’s a tiny share of the estimated tens of billions of dollars in jobless benefits states have given to identity thieves in the past year. To help reverse that trend, many states are now turning to a little-known private company called This post examines some of what that company is seeing in its efforts to stymie unemployment fraud.”


Wall Street Journal: Biden White House Chief Learns From Obama Mistakes to Sell Covid-19 Plan. “White House chief of staff Ron Klain is trying to avoid the pitfalls of the last Democratic administration with his approach to President Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package: Don’t spend months pursuing Republican votes and don’t wait to start selling it to the public.”

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