Saturday CoronaBuzz, March 13, 2021: 37 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.


IrishCentral: Irish culture goes online this St. Patrick’s Day. “Missing the big St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue this year? You’re not alone. At this point, many of us can’t remember what a public event looks like, never mind what a freshly poured Guinness looks or tastes like. So to take your mind off the pandemic blues why not catch the over one Irish hundred artists who will be featured in Culture Ireland’s SEODA, an online global celebration of Irish culture that runs March 17-21, 2021.”


WUSA: Waiting for the 3rd stimulus payment? Here’s how to check online. “Taxpayers who have provided bank information with the IRS will receive the direct-deposit payments, while others will get paper checks or debit cards mailed to them. Officials said that beginning on Monday, people can check the ‘Get My Payment’ tool on the website to track their own payments.”


CBS 2 Iowa: New Twitter account is helping more Iowans receive COVID-19 vaccine. “Brian Finley became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Noticing how difficult it was to find available appointments for him and his family, he used available data to create a list of open time slots. Finley then thought that the information gathered, could help other Iowans, so he took it to Twitter.”


Teen Vogue: COVID Anniversary Anxiety Is Real — Here’s How to Cope. “New COVID-19 cases are a fraction of what they were at the January peak, and good news about vaccine efficacy (if not always its accessibility) continues to rise. We’re beginning to consider what stitched-back-together versions of our lives can look like by year’s end — a line of thinking that brings up plenty of anxieties in its own right, but also unmistakably carries with it the promise of relief. This collective hope, arguably our first meaningful dose of it since the pandemic started, is something many of us are, on a rational level, reveling in. And yet, underneath that optimism, unease festers. Why the uptick in anxiety now?”


AP: After long pandemic year, a changed New York shows renewal. “It’s still quiet, borderline moribund, in some neighborhoods, especially tourist-dependent locales in midtown Manhattan and in the financial district, where companies have made a wholesale shift to remote work. For-lease signs and boarded-up storefronts scar commercial strips all over the five boroughs. But New York is no ‘ghost town,’ as former President Donald Trump called it in October.”


East Bay Times: COVID economy: Job losses jolt Bay Area, California in January. “Job losses continued to jolt the Bay Area and California during January, according to a new report Friday that also revealed that the coronavirus dealt a harsher economic blow to the region and state than first estimated. The Bay Area lost 4,800 jobs during January, with the South Bay and the San Francisco-San Mateo region suffering the biggest declines. The East Bay and Marin County were bright spots with sturdy job gains, according to the report from the state Employment Development Department. Overall, California lost 69,900 jobs.”

Boing Boing: Pandemic curbs Europe’s birthrate. “France’s national statistics institute was one of the first to publish figures for the number of children born in January — nine months after the country was stuck in its first Covid-19 lockdown — and the provisional data show a startling decline: there were 53,900 births in the month, 13 per cent down on the figure for January 2020.”

Poynter: Looking back at a year that changed everything. “Certainly, a year ago, we were generally aware of the potential of stormy clouds on the horizon. But many had no idea of what was truly ahead. Predictions that we would all return to normal by July or August 2020 were wildly optimistic and not even close to realistic. They now seem almost childish in their wishful thinking. Fast-forward to today and July or August 2021 might be a little too hopeful. And, of course, worst of all, we could not fathom that more than half a million people in the U.S. would die.”


Poynter: In your traditional mailbox: pizza coupons and COVID-19 disinformation. “German fact-checking organization Correctiv was tipped off to this tactic by a reader in October 2020. The team crowdsourced a collection of 186 distinct fliers from readers across Germany, which came from several networks of Telegram groups that spread anti-lockdown messaging and COVID-19 disinformation. From Nov. 16-26, Correctiv found 650 groups such groups spread out across Germany with a total membership of around 66,000 users.”

CNET: COVID relief bill: Debunking the misinformation about the plan. “President Joe Biden on Thursday signed his American Rescue Plan, which includes a third round of stimulus checks, an increase to the child tax credit and extended unemployment benefits. With a price tag of $1.9 trillion, it’s just shy of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that was passed last March when the coronavirus pandemic triggered shutdowns across the US. Polls show people overwhelmingly support Biden’s plan, but there’s already a wealth of misinformation on social media declaring that this bill is a ‘heist’ and won’t help Americans. Those claims are false. So let’s clear up the confusion and inaccurate information about the COVID relief bill.”

PolitiFact: No, Biden didn’t promote ‘mandatory’ COVID-19 vaccines in primetime address. “In a primetime address delivered hours after he signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law, Biden said his goal is to make small-group gatherings possible by July 4. He encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and follow public health guidelines to make that happen. But the president did not say he would mandate that everybody get the vaccine, despite what one conservative commentator said in a Facebook live video reacting to the address.”

Poynter: A year into the pandemic, MediaWise teen fact-checkers prepare to tackle COVID-19 misinformation on YouTube. “On Feb. 11, 2020, the MediaWise Teen Fact-Checking Network published its first fact-check about the coronavirus. The story, reported on by then-16-year-old Angie Li, detailed what we knew about the virus (at the time, very little), and gave tips on how not to fall for or share misinformation. Now a year into the pandemic, Li’s fact-check served as just a glimpse at the COVID-19 misinformation to come.”


WBFO: Local doctors become ‘vaccine ninjas,’ using social media to share appointment tips. “Dr. Jennifer Walsh is one of the eight female doctors known as the ‘vaccine ninjas’ who are using social media groups, posts, and videos to dish out the tips and tricks that have made it possible for about 4,000 people in the region to get their vaccine.”

University of Minnesota: Study adds more evidence of antibiotic overuse in COVID-19 patients. “The findings of the study, which is the largest study to date on antibiotic use in US COVID-19 patients, add to the growing body of research on antibiotic prescribing during the early months of the pandemic. Studies to date have estimated that anywhere from 55% to 98% of hospitalized COVID patients around the world were treated with antibiotics, while only a fraction had a bacterial co-infection that would require their use. This has led to widespread concern about unnecessary antibiotic use during the pandemic.”


The Verge: Artifacts from the first COVID-19 vaccination in the US are headed to the Smithsonian. “The glass vial used in the first US COVID-19 vaccination has been acquired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The museum also acquired related items including the scrubs and vaccination card of Sandra Lindsay, director of critical care nursing at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center who, on December 14th, 2020, became the first person in the US to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”


New York Times: Companies That Rode Pandemic Boom Get a Reality Check. “While the pandemic battered the economy, tech companies and consumer companies powered by digital technology stood out as islands of growth. But with coronavirus cases and deaths falling, more than two million Americans a day getting vaccinations and the overall economic outlook improving, investors are starting to turn elsewhere.”

Washington Post: Hundreds of covid cases reported at Tesla plant following Musk’s defiant reopening, county data shows. “Tesla’s Bay Area production plant recorded hundreds of covid-19 cases following CEO Elon Musk’s defiant reopening of the plant in May, according to county-level data obtained by a legal transparency website. The document, obtained by the website PlainSite following a court ruling this year, showed Tesla received around 10 reports of covid-19 in May when the plant reopened, and saw a steady rise in cases all the way up to 125 in December, as the disease caused by the novel coronavirus peaked around the country.”

Gulf News: The men who made billions during COVID-19. “The pandemic has been a boom time for America’s richest billionaires. The wealth of nine of the country’s top titans has increased by more than $360 billion in the past year. And they are all tech barons, underscoring the power of the industry in the US economy. Tesla’s Elon Musk more than quadrupled his fortune and jockeyed with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos for the title of world’s wealthiest person. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg topped $100 billion. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin gained a combined $65 billion.”


BBC: Covid-19 pandemic: Italy to shut shops and schools amid infection spike. “Shops, restaurants and schools will be closed across most of Italy on Monday, with PM Mario Draghi warning of a ‘new wave’ of the coronavirus outbreak. For three days over Easter, 3-5 April, there will be a total shutdown.”

Washington Post: ICE has no clear plan for vaccinating thousands of detained immigrants fighting deportation. “The coronavirus has been running rampant for months through Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s network of jails holding civil immigration detainees fighting deportation — but the agency has no vaccination program and, unlike the Bureau of Prisons, is relying on state and local health departments to procure vaccine doses. Nobody can say how many detainees have been vaccinated.”

BBC: Covid: Jordan’s health minister quits over hospital oxygen deaths. “Jordan’s health minister has resigned after six people died due to a lack of oxygen at a hospital ward treating Covid-19 patients, state media report. The deaths were reported early on Saturday at a new government facility in the town of Salt, about 14 miles (23km) west of the capital, Amman.”


KXAN: Texas loses at court, Austin’s mask mandate to stay in place for at least 2 weeks. “A Texas District Court judge refused to grant the State of Texas an emergency, temporary injunction on Friday, meaning the mask mandate from Austin and Travis County will stay in place for at least two more weeks.”

Route Fifty: Cities Direct Johnson & Johnson Vaccine to Homeless Populations. “City health departments across the country are planning to use the newly approved Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to target homeless and other hard-to-reach populations—touting the easy logistics with the single-dose shot. But to avoid sewing confusion and distrust among the public, health experts caution that officials need to be transparent about the reasons why certain groups are getting a specific brand of the vaccine.”


Reuters: Former Trump coronavirus coordinator Birx takes job at Texas air purifier maker. “Dr. Deborah Birx, the former Trump White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, is taking a private sector job, joining a Texas manufacturer that says its purifiers clean COVID-19 from the air within minutes and from surfaces within hours.”

WRAL: Jeffrey MacDonald, convicted of murdering family at Fort Bragg, says COVID risk means he should get out of prison. “Jeffrey MacDonald, the former Army captain who is serving three life sentences for the murders of his wife and two young children their home at Fort Bragg in 1970, is asking a federal judge free him due to his age and failing health.”

NBC News: Ex-presidents club (mostly) comes together to encourage vaccinations. “The exclusive club of former presidents — minus its most recently inducted member — is featured in two national ad campaigns released Thursday that are aimed at building confidence among Americans in the coronavirus vaccines, according to copies of the videos provided to NBC News.”


Ars Technica: COVID herd immunity may be unlikely—winter surges could “become the norm”. “Some experts speculate that the pandemic coronavirus will one day cause nothing more than a common cold, mostly in children, where it will be an indistinguishable drip in the steady stream of snotty kid germs. Such is the reality for four other coronaviruses that have long stalked school yards and commonly circulate among us every cold and flu season, to little noticeable effect. But that sanguine—if not slightly slimier—future is shaky. And the road to get there will almost certainly be rocky.”

Big Think: Cotton masks outperform synthetic fibers in humidity test. “A recent study, published in ACS Applied Nano Materials, investigated the durability of cloth and synthetic masks in environments meant to mimic the humidity generated by breathing. The researchers found that filtration efficiency (how well each material captures particles) increased by 33 percent with cotton fabrics.”


Mashable: From Amazon to Zoom: A year of tech in the pandemic, by the numbers. “It’s impossible to fully quantify how the pandemic has affected Americans’ relationship with tech, but we know we’ve downloaded tons of news apps, streamed obscene hours of Netflix, and attempted to de-stress with YouTube yoga. Here’s our attempt to break down a very difficult and unusual year by the numbers.”

New York Times: Our Virtual Pandemic Year. “Here are three things that I’ve learned in the past 12 months: Technology showed its utility by helping people and businesses manage through a crisis. Our increasingly digital lives have also created new problems that will be hard to fix. And the most important things have nothing to do with technology. Let’s talk about each of these.”


PsyPost: Trait victimhood and mental rigidity linked to heightened fear of COVID-19 and greater adherence to safety measures. “According to new research, the fear and uncertainty characterizing the coronavirus pandemic may lead certain personalities to be more likely to follow safety guidelines. The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, found that the tendency to feel like a victim and an inclination toward mental rigidity were both associated with greater adherence to safety measures.”

PsyPost: New study uncovers several factors linked to unwillingness to vaccinate against COVID-19. “Nearly two in five U.S. adults expressed hesitation about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in newly publish scientific research. The study, published in the journal Vaccine, found that intention to vaccinate was highest for men, older people, individuals who identified as white, the affluent and college-educated, Democrats, and those with pre-existing medical conditions.”


WWL: WATCH: Woman given prescription to ‘hug granddaughter’ after receiving COVID vaccine. “After getting her COVID-19 vaccine, one woman’s doctor wrote her a prescription for the best medicine in these bleak times: a hug. Jessica Shaw took to Twitter to post a photo of her mother’s prescription slip, which was given to her after getting her second vaccine, telling her to go hug her family.”


Route Fifty: Pandemic Drives Phone, Computer ‘Right-to-Repair’ Bills. “The legislation would loosen restrictions on manufacturers’ information and parts and allow small repair shops and handy device owners to do their own fixing. Manufacturers and distributors of brand-name products are opposed. They say unauthorized repairs are unsafe and compromise security by putting nonstandard components into machines which, they say, makes them more vulnerable to hacking. Supporters of the right-to-repair bills dispute those assertions.”


Baltimore Sun: Poll: Black Marylanders embrace COVID-19 vaccine; rate discrepancies persist | COMMENTARY. “Vaccine hesitancy among Black Marylanders has plummeted. Sixty percent of Black residents say they will either get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can or indicate they’ve already received at least one dose, according to the most recent Goucher College Poll. That’s the same percentage who said they would not get such a vaccine just five months ago. The causes and public health implications of this dramatic shift are worth considering, as are some potential blind spots of the data.”

Washington Post: Opinion: Abandoning masks now is a terrible idea. The 1918 pandemic shows why.. “That pandemic came in waves that were much more distinct than what we have experienced. The first wave was extraordinarily mild. The French Army suffered 40,000 hospitalizations but only about 100 deaths. The British Grand Fleet had 10,313 sailors fall ill — but only four deaths. Troops called it ‘three-day fever.’ It was equally mild among civilians and was not nearly as transmissible as influenza normally is. Like SARS-CoV-2, the 1918 influenza virus jumped species from an animal to humans. As it infected more humans, it mutated. It became much more transmissible, sweeping across continents and oceans and penetrating everywhere. And as it became more transmissible, it caused a much, much more lethal second wave. It became the worst version of itself.”

New York Times: 17 Reasons to Let the Economic Optimism Begin. “Predictions are a hard business, of course, and much could go wrong that makes the decades ahead as bad as, or worse than, the recent past. But this optimism is not just about the details of the new pandemic relief legislation or the politics of the moment. Rather, it stems from a diagnosis of three problematic mega-trends, all related.”

CoronaBuzz is brought to you by ResearchBuzz. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment, send resource suggestions, or tag @buzz_corona on Twitter. Thanks!

Categories: coronabuzz

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply