Friday CoronaBuzz, March 12, 2021: 29 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.


San Jose State University: SJSU Researchers Launch New COVID-19 Economic Dashboard for Silicon Valley. “The COVID-19 Economic Dashboard for Silicon Valley provides visual insight into key economic indicators for the San José Metro area, including employment trends, housing supply and demand, and business closures due to COVID-19 restrictions. With near real-time updates, the dashboard can track the current state of the local economy and trends that show the impact of the pandemic on the Silicon Valley community.”

WWLP: We Remember: New Yorkers share stories of loss, light, and love during the COVID pandemic. “This Sunday, the city will mark March 14–one year since NYC lost its first resident to the virus–with an official day of remembrance for the nearly 30,000 city residents who passed away. For our part, we decided to speak with our fellow New Yorkers and ask who or what they would like to remember on this somber anniversary. It might be someone they’ve lost, someone who did something heroic, or a larger group or event that played a role. And with these raw stories, we think we can describe this year, through all the feelings that can never be put into words.” Heartwarming and agonizing. I cried a lot.

BBC: ‘I went from Hollywood glamour to food donations’. “Event planners have large scale, glamorous receptions to organise, Beverly Hills waiters are serving hundreds of celebrities at various parties, and numerous publicists are walking their talent down the red carpet. But with the pandemic vastly changing awards ceremonies – which are now all virtual – and parties being cancelled, many jobs have been eliminated and people are out of work. Ahead of the Grammys being hold remotely on 14 March, and the Oscars likewise next month, we talk to Tinseltown workers who have had to find other ways to earn money.”

New York Times: We Were Born to Be Kissed in the Dark. “Let us recite an irreverent prayer for the club, the disco, the spot. For the battleground of our unleashing, the church of our weekly baptisms of the bitter week, the tent show revival of our rapture. Let us bow our heads and say “Remember when …” as if we are as old as Methuselah, as if we’ve seen all the world wars and we know the taste of tombstones. Remember when we danced?”

CNET: After coronavirus: Australia offers a strange glimpse of life post-pandemic. “A year since the World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic, Australia provides a tiny glimpse of what the future might look like. The crisis isn’t over, and we haven’t even agreed on what “The End” really means scientifically or socially, but in Australia, the end feels as close as it ever has. In this pseudo-future place, we’ve found some semblance of normalcy. As much of the world still struggles to get outbreaks under control and grieves daily losses. It’s an incredibly strange feeling.”

BuzzFeed News: Tom Hanks, The NBA, And COVID’s Day Of Reckoning In The US: An Oral History. “So many forces of history years in the making converged on March 11 and were all subsumed by something few thought possible just weeks earlier. Suddenly there was no escape. The sentencing of Harvey Weinstein and the last moments of Bernie Sanders’ failing campaign against Joe Biden — huge milestones for the #MeToo movement and American politics — were abruptly overtaken. Even the experts at the World Health Organization would agree March 11 was a turning point — that was the date they officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. BuzzFeed News reporters interviewed 65 people in four countries to tell the story of that fateful day.”


The Guardian: Anatomy of a conspiracy theory: how misinformation travels on Facebook. “This is how a single post from an Australian politician spread to a global network of Facebook groups promoting anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown and coronavirus misinformation. It shows how the platform is uniquely suited to potentially spreading harmful content online.”


Washington Post: Amtrak to restore daily long-distance train service with federal relief funds. “Daily service will be restored to long-distance Amtrak trains starting in May, and hundreds of furloughed employees will be called to report back to work as early as next month, the passenger railroad announced Wednesday after Congress passed a pandemic relief package that includes $1.7 billion for the carrier.”

USA Today: CDC, Dollar General exploring partnership to speed up COVID-19 vaccine rollout. “U.S. health officials are exploring a partnership with Dollar General, one of the nation’s largest retailers, to accelerate the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the nation’s rural areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in talks with Dollar General, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday.”


Roll Call: One-tenth of Congress had COVID-19, but cases halted soon after vaccinations. “Roughly 1 in 10 members of Congress contracted COVID-19 in the past year since the pandemic significantly changed daily life in the United States and on Capitol Hill. At least 71 lawmakers had COVID-19 at some point in 2020 or 2021, based on public statements they made about testing or being presumed positive for the virus or testing positive for antibodies, according to a GovTrack database.”

AP: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between COVID doses. “A national panel of vaccine experts in Canada recommended Wednesday that provinces extend the interval between the two doses of a COVID-19 shot to four months to quickly inoculate more people amid a shortage of doses in Canada. A number of provinces said they would do just that.”


Miami Herald: Florida inmates haven’t gotten COVID-19 vaccines. DeSantis won’t provide timeline.. “Three months into Florida’s vaccination efforts, Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to make vaccines available to state prisons, even as corrections officials have requested doses and identified thousands of elderly inmates who meet the state’s eligibility requirements.”

19th News: How Alaska managed to vaccinate residents at higher rates than any other state. “Whether distributed by boat, dog sled, snow machine or plane, vaccines have been given to more than half of all eligible Alaskans, according to Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer. The state has the highest per capita vaccination rate in the country. In a conversation with The 19th, Zink and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined Washington correspondent Amanda Becker to discuss how the largest geographical state — bigger than California, Texas and Montana combined — has managed to blaze the trail in vaccine distribution.”


Cosmopolitan: Rebekah Jones Tried to Warn Us About COVID-19. Now Her Freedom Is on the Line. “In a Cosmopolitan exclusive, the whistleblower speaks out about being raided at gunpoint, charged with a felony, and forced to flee hundreds of miles to protect her family. And no, she doesn’t see this ending well.”

New York Times: The Plan to Protect Indigenous Elders Living Under the Northern Lights. “In Canada, the first known Covid-19 case arrived on a January 2020 flight from Wuhan, China to Toronto. It was a wake-up call for the country, but especially for Northwest Territories Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola. Several passengers from that Wuhan flight were bound for Yellowknife — tourists eager to marvel at the Northern Lights.”

BuzzFeed News: “I Was The One Who Broke Broadway”: Meet The First Usher To Test Positive For COVID. “On March 11, 2020, the lights of Broadway in New York City were still shining bright. But as curtains rose in theaters around Times Square, one member of the Broadway community, an usher and aspiring actor named Peter McIntosh, was lying in a hospital bed, just hours after arriving with a positive diagnosis he’d received that day for COVID-19.”


Chalkbeat: A ‘daunting, dark and difficult’ time: How a Brooklyn school moved forward after losing its leader to COVID. “For many students at the school, [Dez-Ann] Romain was the first educator they felt they could trust, and she deployed a mix of support and tough love. One former student said she counseled him after he broke down in tears over a failed Regents exit exam and let him walk at graduation anyway. (He eventually passed the exam.) Sometimes, she challenged basketball players to pushups if they were goofing around in the hallway instead of heading to class, Musole said. But just days after city officials shuttered school buildings citywide in March due to surging coronavirus infections, Brooklyn Democracy Academy suffered a devastating blow: Romain was dead.”


BBC: Covid: Are some states lifting restrictions too soon?. “A number of US states are lifting Covid restrictions, despite public health concerns about relaxing measures too soon. President Joe Biden has called moves to rapidly remove restrictions ‘a big mistake’. So are some states in a good position to be lifting restrictions?”

University of Minnesota: Health workers’ greatest COVID-19 risk is from community, new data show. “The greatest COVID-19 risk factors for healthcare personnel (HCP) aren’t patient contact or clinical duties but rather community exposure and prevalence, according to a JAMA Network Open study yesterday.”

AP: Global rise in childhood mental health issues amid pandemic. “Pediatric psychiatrists say they’re also seeing children with coronavirus-related phobias, tics and eating disorders, obsessing about infection, scrubbing their hands raw, covering their bodies with disinfectant gel and terrified of getting sick from food. Also increasingly common, doctors say, are children suffering panic attacks, heart palpitations and other symptoms of mental anguish, as well as chronic addictions to mobile devices and computer screens that have become their sitters, teachers and entertainers during lockdowns, curfews and school closures.”


Mashable: How to help slash your community’s digital divide in education. “Before COVID-19 hit, 30 percent of K-12 public school students lived in homes without internet connections or devices they could use for remote learning, according to an analysis of the most recent data, from 2018, from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. But the pandemic has brought this issue into stark contrast, because some students have stable home internet and others don’t, says Katrina Stevens, who worked on best practices in digital learning in the Obama administration and is president of the Tech interactive, a family-friendly science and technology center.”


Duke Today: How To Reduce Severity Of The Next Global Virus Outbreak. “As more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, light appears at the end of a long, bleak tunnel. But there’s far more work to do to stave off the next global virus outbreak – a future pandemic that experts say is likely if not assured. There are plenty of improvements possible, from closer relationships between public health officials and food producers to a more cohesive, global virus response network. Three Duke experts discussed these and other issues Thursday in a virtual briefing for media.”

Inverse: A Surprising Treatment For Covid-19 Could Be The Key To Stopping Variants. “Over 90 percent of France’s 88,933 deaths in the past year occurred in people ages 65 and older. And yet, at the psychiatric hospital filled with antidepressant-taking patients, many of whom were in that high-risk age group, only one died. A genuinely shocking contrast when you compare it with any other facilities with older adults. The antidepressants, evidence suggests, were helping these patients survive.”


BBC: Covid: Does Tanzania have a hidden epidemic?. “Despite growing evidence to the contrary, Tanzania’s government continues to downplay the impact of coronavirus on the country. There is also speculation that President Magufuli is himself suffering from Covid and receiving hospital treatment, although that has not been confirmed.”

CNN: Brazil plunges into crisis as a second wave and deadly new variant overwhelm hospitals. “Brazil has broken its own record three times this month for number of deaths in a 24-hour period. On Wednesday, Brazil’s Health Ministry registered a devastating new high — 2,286 lives lost to the virus. In total, more than 270,000 people are known to have died due to Covid-19, making Brazil’s the second-highest national death toll after the United States.”


Department of Justice: Repeat Fraudster Sentenced for COVID-19 Loan Fraud Scheme. “A previously convicted felon was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for engaging in a COVID-19 related loan fraud scheme with losses of nearly $200,000…. According to court documents, Joseph Cherry, 40, of Norfolk, engaged in a scheme to obtain COVID-related loan benefits through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and affiliated lenders.”

Department of Justice: Four Additional Members of Los Angeles-Based Fraud Ring Indicted for Exploiting COVID-Relief Programs. “A federal grand jury in Los Angeles returned a superseding indictment, unsealed Thursday, charging four additional individuals for their alleged participation in a scheme to submit over 150 fraudulent loan applications seeking over $21.9 million in COVID-19 relief funds guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.”


CBS News: Over a third of Republicans don’t want the COVID vaccine — and many of them aren’t budging. “The Biden administration, advocacy groups and states are making a push for minority and underprivileged communities who have often been overlooked and mistreated by the medical community to get the COVID-19 vaccine, a key element in the effort to immunize these groups. But there is no concerted effort to change the minds of one of the factions most resistant to getting the vaccine: the ‘definitely not’ Republicans.”

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