Monday CoronaBuzz, March 15, 2021: 44 pointers to updates, useful stuff, research news, and more.

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of CoronaBuzz. According to ResearchBuzz Firehose, where I post the individual articles, I have aggregated 8,557 items. I missed big gaps when people in my family got sick, and I will admit that doing this newsletter when my mother was in the hospital and then in ICU sometimes felt like repeatedly punching myself in the face. I did not want to read about failed research or people getting sick and dying. But I did anyway.

I have this dumb idea if I can understand things better I’ll be less anxious about them. This past year has been an attempt to understand things better. From that perspective it’s been an epic failure, but I have learned some things I was able to use and share. I hope that this newsletter has been at least a tiny bit helpful in informing you.

I know some community projects are winding down after a year. I intend to keep doing this newsletter, though issues may space out as there’s less focus on coronavirus.

Thanks for reading. You’re giving me a reason.

Please wear a mask (or even two). Wash your hands. Stay at home if you can. Please be careful. I love you.


USA Today: Trying to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment? Facebook is launching a vaccine finder tool. “As many Americans struggle to make appointments for COVID-19 vaccines, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a plan to help more people get vaccinated. Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post early Monday that the social media giant is launching a tool in its COVID Information Center that shows ‘when and where you can get vaccinated, and gives you a link to make an appointment.'”


Lifehacker: How to Date During the Pandemic Without Going on Another Damn Walk. “The pandemic has taken dating from a difficult and necessary evil to a basically impossible and dangerous temptation. But with COVID-19 cases waning internationally and vaccination rates increasing daily in the U.S., you’ll likely be able to stumble through an awkward date again, just like the olden days. And when you do, why the hell would you go on another lame, lackluster walk?”


AP: AP-NORC poll: 1 in 5 in US lost someone close in pandemic. “A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research illustrates how the stage is set for a two-tiered recovery. The public’s worry about the virus has dropped to its lowest point since the fall, before the holidays brought skyrocketing cases into the new year. But people still in mourning express frustration at the continued struggle to stay safe.”

New York Times: A Year of Trauma and Resilience: How the Pandemic Changed Everything. “Across the United States and around the globe, nearly everyone experienced a moment when the coronavirus pandemic truly hit home for them. One year later, as the pandemic carries on, having claimed more than 2.6 million lives worldwide, we asked our readers: When did the pandemic become real for you? Nearly 2,000 people responded.”


BBC: YouTube deletes 30,000 vaccine misinfo videos. “YouTube has removed more than 30,000 misleading Covid-19 vaccination videos in the past five months, it said. A YouTube spokeswoman said the videos contradicted vaccine information from the World Health Organization (WHO) or health authorities such as the NHS.”

UK .gov: Government targets false vaccine information on social media. “The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has now developed a toolkit with content designed to be shared via Whatsapp and Facebook community groups, as well as Twitter, Youtube and Instagram, to tackle false information spread through private channels.”

Poynter: 6 things we’ve learned from a year of misinformation about the coronavirus. “Since the novel coronavirus first emerged in late 2019, PolitiFact has fact-checked nearly 800 claims — 60% of which we rated False or Pants on Fire! In the early days of the pandemic, much of the misinformation focused on ways to cure or prevent COVID-19. Now, disinformation is casting doubt on the efficacy and safety of coronavirus vaccines. Here are a few things we’ve observed and learned while fact-checking coronavirus claims over the past year — and some lessons for how to avoid misinformation in what we hope is the twilight of the pandemic.”

American Independent: No, COVID aid doesn’t give ‘free alcohol and marijuana’ to the homeless. “‘Did you know? — Nancy Pelosi’s Bay Area Bailout included $600 million for San Francisco, part of which goes to cover the tab for free alcohol and marijuana for the homeless,’ McCarthy tweeted on Sunday, linking to a Fox News clip in which he makes the same false claim. ‘I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this bailout is too costly, corrupt, and liberal.’ This claim is patently false.”


BBC: Covid-19: Dutch police break up anti-lockdown protest. “Police in the Netherlands have used water cannon to clear anti-government demonstrators from a park in The Hague. Some 2,000 demonstrators rallied in the centre of the city to protest against Covid-19 restrictions and other government policies. Mounted officers as well as riot police with batons and dogs moved in after some of the protesters refused to leave at the end of the demonstration.”


NewsWise: COVID-19 has changed surgery forever. “The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed health care forever, including surgery, just as 9/11 changed airport security and AIDS/HIV altered blood draws and donation. Although this new reality continues to evolve, many changes are likely to remain – possibly permanently – from requirements for patients and visitors to wear face masks at the hospital or ambulatory (outpatient) surgery center to pre-surgery COVID-19 testing, says the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).”

New York Times: ‘At Your Age, It’s the Vaccine or the Grave’. “…much of the racial disparity in vaccination rates, experts say, can be tied to a longstanding mistrust of medical institutions among African-Americans. Many Baton Rouge residents can readily cite the history of abuse: starting with the eugenics campaigns that forcibly sterilized Black women for nearly half of the 20th century, and the notorious government-run Tuskegee experiments in Alabama that withheld penicillin from hundreds of Black men with syphilis, some of whom later died of the disease.”

Healthcare Finance: Pediatric emergency visits, hospitalizations down sharply during pandemic. “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s hospitals across the U.S. have seen significant reductions in the number of children being treated for common pediatric illnesses like asthma and pneumonia, according to a new multicenter study led by Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.”

ABC News: Advocates seek to prioritize at-home vaccines for homebound seniors. “As mass inoculation against COVID-19 is underway across the country, advocates for the elderly are pushing to prioritize at-home vaccinations in order to protect the health of older, homebound adults.”


Smithsonian: Smithsonian Folklife Festival Goes Virtual for 2021. “In addition to monthly digital programs online, the festival will offer a weekend of artisan-based digital programming in late June. Activities will include master classes and family workshops, cook-alongs and panel discussions. The festival is scheduled to return to the National Mall in 2022 with the programs ‘UAE: Living Landscape | Living Memory,’ ‘Creative Encounters: Living Religions in America’ and ‘Earth Optimism.’ This is the second year the Folklife Festival has been virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”


The Verge: Amazon ordered to temporarily close facility near Toronto due to increase in COVID-19 cases. “A public health authority has ordered Amazon to close one of its fulfillment centers in Canada for two weeks because of an uptick in the rate of COVID-19 infections at the facility. A public health investigation found that while the rate of COVID-19 infections has been decreasing in the area, the rate inside the Brampton facility, near Toronto, ‘has been increasing significantly.'”


IRS: IRS Statement – American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. “The IRS is reviewing implementation plans for the newly enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Additional information about a new round of Economic Impact Payments, the expanded Child Tax Credit, including advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, and other tax provisions will be made available as soon as possible on The IRS strongly urges taxpayers to not file amended returns related to the new legislative provisions or take other unnecessary steps at this time.”

BBC: Covid-19: Netherlands suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccine. “The Netherlands has become the latest country to suspend use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine over concerns about possible side effects. The Dutch government said the move, which will last until at least 29 March, was a precaution.”

New York Times: Hungary pays big for a Chinese vaccine. “Hungary has agreed to pay about $36 a dose for the Covid-19 vaccine made by Sinopharm, a Chinese state-owned company, according to contracts made public by a senior Hungarian official on Thursday. That appears to make the Sinopharm shot among the most expensive in the world.”

Bloomberg: Germany Joins Growing List of Countries to Suspend Astra Vaccine. “Germany suspended use of the AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine amid a growing health scare that’s creating yet another delay for the European Union’s inoculation campaign. The country cited the recommendation of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which oversees vaccine safety, according to a statement from the health ministry on Monday.”

NBC News: Whether struggling or thriving, odds are you’re getting some stimulus cash. “The average household can expect $3,000 in direct tax benefits, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, and about $6,000 if they have children. That doesn’t include the law’s boost to subsidies to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act or its $300 weekly bump in unemployment pay.”


Washington Post: New York’s vaccine czar called county officials to gauge their loyalty to Cuomo amid sexual harassment investigation. “New York’s ‘vaccine czar’ — a longtime adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo — phoned county officials in the past two weeks in attempts to gauge their loyalty to the embattled governor amid an ongoing sexual harassment investigation, according to multiple officials. One Democratic county executive was so unsettled by the outreach from Larry Schwartz, head of the state’s vaccine rollout, that the executive on Friday filed notice of an impending ethics complaint with the public integrity unit of the state attorney general’s office, the official told The Washington Post. The executive feared the county’s vaccine supply could suffer if Schwartz was not
pleased with the executive’s response to his questions about support of the governor.”

Los Angeles Times: L.A.’s homeless residents are 50% more likely to die if they get COVID. Now they’re a vaccine priority. “Faced with the knowledge that homeless people are dying at much higher rates if they catch COVID-19, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will make the county’s entire homeless population eligible for vaccines starting Monday. This comes as welcome news for public health officials and advocates who for months have been saying there should be more of a focus on a community that’s rife with comorbidities, struggles to access healthcare and can’t easily shelter in place or maintain social distance.”

AP: Governments delay access to public records during pandemic. “As states prepared to reopen their economies following coronavirus shutdowns last spring, The Associated Press asked governors across the U.S. for records that could shed light on how businesses and health officials influenced their decisions. Nine months later, after several more COVID-19 surges and shutdowns, the AP still has not received records from about 20 states. Some outright denied the requests or sought payments the AP declined to make. Others have not responded, or said they still need more time.”

New York Times: Fewer than half of states are giving vaccine access to U.S. Postal Service workers.. “The Postal Service has endured tumultuous months amid a significant increase in online shopping, understaffing, government funding issues and an explosion of mail-in ballots during a contentious election. Thousands of postal workers have contracted the coronavirus, and more than 150 have died. Still, fewer than half of the states across the country — at least 22 — have begun administering shots to Postal Service workers, at least in some counties, even as they rapidly expand access to more groups of people, according to a New York Times survey.”


ABC News: Live entertainment venues hungry for financial relief after year of pandemic closures. “The click of a light switch echoes eerily these days inside the cavernous empty Stone Church music club in Brattleboro, Vermont. Owner Robin Johnson says the silence is a daily reminder of a devastating pandemic year without live performances in the hall.”


New York Times: Despite Covid Outbreaks, Youth Sports Played On. “A year after the coronavirus crisis first closed athletic fields and darkened school gyms, students, parents, coaches and officials have struggled to navigate the challenges of youth sports, weighing concerns about transmitting the virus against the social, emotional and sometimes financial benefits of competition.”

Reuters: Mexico’s lucha libre wrestlers take fight against COVID to vast market. “Mexico’s famous lucha libre wrestlers turned Latin America’s largest wholesale food market into a battleground against COVID-19 this week, barging down walkways to urge people to wear masks to contain the virus.”


Gothamist: NYC Public Schools With The Worst Attendance Are In Areas With Higher COVID Rates. “New data shows that nearly half of New York City public schools have had attendance rates during the COVID-19 crisis that fall below what’s considered acceptable by education experts. In dozens of schools, serving thousands of students, the median attendance rate is alarmingly low, at less than 61%. And the majority of the schools with a high number of absences are located in Black and brown communities hit hardest by the pandemic, exacerbating an already stark disparity, in not only health but also education.”

New York Times: A new study suggests 3 feet, not 6 feet, is sufficient distance for school students, with mask-wearing and other safety measures kept in place.. “The new study, published last week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, suggests public schools may be able to reopen safely for in-person instruction as long as children maintain three feet of distance between them, and with other mitigation measures maintained, such as wearing masks.”


Axios: More states are battling an increase in drug overdoses during the pandemic. “Roughly 81,000 people died from a drug overdose between June 2019 and May 2020, the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period, according to provisional data in the CDC’s December report.”

Newswise: Sleep Maximizes Vaccine Effectiveness. “With the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines now underway, University of South Australia sleep experts are urging people to reprioritise their sleep, as getting regular and sufficient sleep is known to boost your immune system. In Australia, four in every ten people suffer from a lack of sleep. Globally, around 62 per cent of adults feel that they don’t sleep well when they go to bed.”

New York Times: Women Report Worse Side Effects After a Covid Vaccine. “In a study published last month, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed safety data from the first 13.7 million Covid-19 vaccine doses given to Americans. Among the side effects reported to the agency, 79.1 percent came from women, even though only 61.2 percent of the vaccines had been administered to women.”

Washington Post: ‘I almost made it’: Close to a vaccine, these Americans got covid-19 instead. “From its beginning, the coronavirus pandemic has been a terrifying game of chance, requiring moment-to-moment calculations about whether the most mundane decision — entering an elevator, perhaps, or using a public restroom — is worth risking one’s life. For those infected in recent weeks, as vaccinations became available and experts began talking of an impending return to normalcy, the bad timing is the pandemic’s latest cruel twist.”


BBC: We asked for your first Covid text messages. These are your stories. “The pandemic is the biggest global story in generations, but a year ago as borders were closing we did not know how it would unfold. We asked readers to share and talk about their first text messages about the virus.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Microsoft could reap more than $150 million in new U.S. cyber spending, upsetting some lawmakers. “Congress allocated the funds at issue in the COVID relief bill signed on Thursday after two enormous cyberattacks leveraged weaknesses in Microsoft products to reach into computer networks at federal and local agencies and tens of thousands of companies. One breach attributed to Russia in December grabbed emails from the Justice Department, Commerce Department and Treasury Department. The hacks pose a significant national security threat, frustrating lawmakers who say Microsoft’s faulty software is making it more profitable.”

CNET: Zoom anxiety is still a major problem, one year into the pandemic. “One year into the pandemic, video chat platforms have afforded many people the ability to work from home and stay connected to family and friends. We’ve heard a lot about ‘Zoom fatigue’ — the sense of utter exhaustion you feel after a day of staring at your screen for on-camera meetings, worsened when most of your after-work socializing is happening through video, too. But the related concept of ‘Zoom anxiety’ has gotten less attention, though it can be more debilitating for many — and have potential career implications.”


The National Academies: Emerging Evidence Indicates COVID-19 Pandemic Has Negatively Impacted Women in Academic STEMM Fields, Endangering Progress Made in Recent Years. “Preliminary evidence indicates that the COVID 19 pandemic has negatively affected the well-being of women in academic STEMM fields in a range of areas, including productivity, work-life boundary control, networking and community building, and mental well-being, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.”

The Verge: Some research has gotten a huge boost during the pandemic. “Billions of dollars have been spent fighting the pandemic, with a huge proportion of that money going towards vaccine development. Other areas of research have also gotten a big boost during the pandemic — and the results could make a huge difference to public health in the future. Here are some of the big winners in the pandemic-inspired funding race.”


AP: US prison guards refusing vaccine despite COVID-19 outbreaks. “As states have begun COVID-19 inoculations at prisons across the country, corrections employees are refusing vaccines at alarming rates, causing some public health experts to worry about the prospect of controlling the pandemic both inside and outside. Infection rates in prisons are more than three times as high as in the general public. Prison staff helped accelerate outbreaks by refusing to wear masks, downplaying people’s symptoms, and haphazardly enforcing social distancing and hygiene protocols in confined, poorly ventilated spaces ripe for viral spread.”

The Grio: Maskless woman who attacked Uber driver arrested, 2nd woman to turn herself in. “Malaysia King, one of the women caught on camera during an attack on a San Francisco Uber driver has been arrested while her friend, Arna Kimiai, plans to surrender to police for her role in the disturbing assault. In the days since their March 7 encounter with Uber driver Subkahar Khadka, King and Kimiai had been wanted by San Francisco police for assault and robbery. In video of the incident, Kimiai is seen hitting the driver and is also believed to have sprayed him with pepper spray after he ended the trip when she refused to wear a mask.”


Axios: Vaccine brawl riles House. “Uncertainty about why only 75% of the House is confirmed as vaccinated against the coronavirus is fueling a debate about when the chamber can return to its normal rules of operation. Between the lines: The other 25% of members have either refused to get the vaccine, have not reported getting it at home or are avoiding it because of medical conditions.”

AP: Biden, Harris and others to promote relief plan’s benefits. “President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses are opening an ambitious, cross-country tour this week to highlight the benefits of his $1.9 trillion plan to defeat the coronavirus and boost the economy.”

Washington Post: ‘We want to be educated, not indoctrinated,’ say Trump voters wary of covid shots. “Be honest that scientists don’t have all the answers. Tout the number of people who got the vaccines in trials. And don’t show pro-vaccine ads with politicians — not even ones with Donald Trump. That’s what a focus group of vaccine-hesitant Trump voters insisted to politicians and pollsters this weekend, as public health leaders rush to win over the tens of millions of Republicans who say they don’t plan to get a coronavirus shot. If those voters follow through, it would imperil efforts to achieve the high levels of immunity needed to stop the virus’s spread in the United States, experts fear.”

SupChina: U.S., Japan, and Australia to help India compete with China’s vaccine diplomacy. “One billion doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be produced in India and distributed to Southeast Asian countries, with the help of the U.S., Japan, and Australia. The initiative, an output of the informal ‘Quad’ alliance, is an attempt to counter Chinese vaccine diplomacy in the region.”

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