Tuesday CoronaBuzz, March 16, 2021: 46 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: AstraZeneca vaccine: Safety experts to review jab. “Vaccine safety experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) are meeting on Tuesday to review the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, after several European countries halted their rollouts. A number of cases of blood clots were reported in Europe after the vaccine was administered.”


CNET: Scientists warn air pollution is climbing back to pre-COVID levels. “With lockdowns easing comes an unfortunate but expected rise in air pollution. The European Space Agency said Monday that nitrogen dioxide levels have returned to pre-COVID levels in China. According to the EPA, nitrogen dioxide is mainly traced to the burning of fuel and emissions from vehicles and power plants. The gas is connected to lung irritation, acid rain and hazy air quality.”

Washington Post: The pandemic helped D.C. slash family homelessness. But a new crisis looms.. “Thousands of families who have lost jobs during the pandemic and been unable to pay their rent could end up on the street, analysts say. Thousands more could face an abrupt end to their ‘rapid rehousing’ rent subsidy, meaning they must either dramatically increase monthly payments or lose their newfound stability. And with D.C. revenue shrunken by the lack of tourism, entertainment and sales tax dollars, the city has warned of potential funding cuts next year to nonprofits that offer services to the homeless.”

CNN: The pandemic has changed TV viewing patterns, and awards shows are suffering. “The Grammys free-falled in the ratings despite a telecast that critics praised for its inventiveness and energy. But where some saw a well-produced event, others saw a desperate appeal to youth that was ill-suited for the older demos of broadcast TV. The bigger-picture problem is that a great splintering is underway — a loss of communal experiences, whether at the movies or on broadcast or, to some degree, in music.”

The Cut: ‘How I’m Spending My Stimulus Check’. “The Biden administration’s newly passed pandemic aid bill will provide stimulus checks of up to $1,400 per qualifying person (individuals who make $80,000 or less, couples who make under $160,000, and single parents who make up to $120,000). It will also provide those households with up to $1,400 per dependent. For the millions of Americans who have lost income due to COVID, this will provide at least some relief. For others, it will help meet needs that they would otherwise struggle to afford. Here’s what six different women are planning to spend their checks on.”


BuzzFeed News: Amazon Is Pushing Readers Down A “Rabbit Hole” Of Conspiracy Theories About The Coronavirus. “Conspiracy theorist David Icke’s lies about COVID-19 caused Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Spotify to ban him. But on Amazon, Icke, who believes in the existence of lizard people, is recommended reading. Despite being filled with misinformation about the pandemic, Icke’s book The Answer at one point ranked 30th on’s bestseller list for Communication & Media Studies. Its popularity is partly thanks to the e-commerce giant’s powerful recommendation algorithms that suggest The Answer and other COVID conspiracy theory books to people searching for basic information about the coronavirus, according to new research shared exclusively with BuzzFeed News.”


New York Times: Afraid of Needles? Don’t Let It Keep You From a Covid-19 Vaccine.. “Most people aren’t particularly fond of needles. But to a significant number of people, the fear of needles goes beyond merely inducing anxiety into a more dangerous area, in which the fear prevents them from seeking out needed medical care. And as the world’s hopes of returning to a post-pandemic normal rest largely on people’s willingness to take a Covid-19 vaccine, experts and health care professionals are assuring those people that there are ways to overcome this fear.”

AP: Extent of COVID-19 vaccine waste remains largely unknown. “Thousands of shots have been wasted in Tennessee, Florida, Ohio and many other states. The reasons vary from shoddy record-keeping to accidentally trashing hundreds of shots. However, pinning down just how many of the life-saving vials have been tossed remains largely unknown despite assurance from many local officials the number remains low.”

New York Times: Moderna begins testing Covid vaccine in babies and young children.. “The drug company Moderna has begun a study that will test its Covid vaccine in children under 12, including babies as young as six months, the company said on Tuesday. The study is expected to enroll 6,750 healthy children in the United States and Canada.”

American Independent: Maternal mortality is a huge problem in the United States. COVID aid could help.. “The $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill signed into law by President Joe Biden Thursday contains legislation experts say could drastically improve outcomes in women’s health care: a Medicaid extension that could reduce maternal mortality.”


NOLA: Tipitina’s, the Howlin’ Wolf to reopen with limited-capacity shows this weekend. “For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic commenced a year ago, Tipitina’s and the Howlin’ Wolf plan to open to the public. Tipitina’s will host keyboardist and singer Ivan Neville for two limited-capacity, seated-only ‘Piano Session’ shows Friday, at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Both shows sold out not long after tickets went on sale Monday.”


New York Times: Beer Here, Bouquets Next Door: How a Bar Defied the Pandemic. “On a recent Saturday, a masked bartender handed beer and tater tots out of a takeout window cut into the kitchen wall. Groups gathered around picnic tables on a patio that was previously a lane of traffic. A D.J. broadcast hip-hop onto the sidewalk. And a man on roller skates bounced to the music, drink in hand. The Hatch is alive, albeit as a different place. It is one of hundreds of thousands of bars and restaurants that have scraped by over the past year, finding ways to survive. Many have relied on government aid and donations, and nearly all of them have had to be creative and adapt.”

BBC: Covid-19: British Airways plans app-based travel pass. “British Airways is planning to make it easier for passengers to prove they are safe to travel once they have been vaccinated against Covid. Under the plans, people who have had both jabs will be able to register their status on BA’s smartphone app.”

CNN: This startup is giving customers early access to billions in stimulus checks. “Big-bank customers complained over the weekend about how their $1,400 stimulus payments were still pending in their bank accounts. Those payments may not arrive until Wednesday, nearly a week after President Joe Biden signed the historic $1.9 trillion economic relief package into law. Newbies in the banking space are moving much faster.”

Indeed Hiring Lab: The Impact of Coronavirus on US Job Postings Through March 12: Data from “Job postings on Indeed are a real-time measure of labor market activity. On March 12, 2021, they were 8.6% above February 1, 2020, the pre-pandemic baseline, after adjusting for seasonal variation. That’s a notable gain from a week earlier, when postings were 6.7% above the baseline. Postings improved over the past week at a faster rate than during the summer 2020 rebound, when postings rose by an average of 1.6 percentage points per week.”

Block Club Chicago: Trump Tower Vaccinated Staff At Luxury Hotel, Saying It Was Part Of Program Meant To Help Hard-Hit South And West Sides. “A vaccination provider came to the luxury tower — which serves condo residents and hotel guests — last week to vaccinate staff through an event organized by tower management, multiple sources told Block Club. Hotel and tower residence staff members are not eligible to be vaccinated yet — and while a Trump Tower official said the event was done under the city’s Protect Chicago Plus campaign, Chicago Department of Public Health leaders said they aren’t aware of any such vaccination event happening at the tower.”


New York Times: For Gig Workers and Business Owners, Taxes Are Even Trickier Now. “Tax time is always complicated for freelancers and business owners, but this year, it’s especially swampy. Pandemic relief programs that helped small companies and self-employed individuals created new tax challenges. And many people had unusually jumbled patchworks of jobs and income sources last year.”

CNN: White House races to blunt potential Covid-19 surge. “The White House is racing to prevent and prepare for a potential fourth coronavirus surge as more transmissible coronavirus variants spread across the US — investing billions of dollars to boost coronavirus preparedness, accelerating the pace of vaccinations and working to prepare the public and governors for the prospect of another surge. In what would be a first, the White House is drawing up plans to surge vaccines to emerging hotspots in an attempt to blunt the virus’ trajectory and protect those at highest risk, two senior administration officials told CNN.”

Vox: Covid-19’s big public health lesson: Ask people to be careful, not perfect. “For too long, America has approached public health issues with puritanical, black-and-white approaches. Whether it’s an abstinence-only approach for teen sex and HIV/AIDS, or refusing to provide clean needles and overdose antidotes to people who use drugs, the country has a tendency to prefer the perfect but unrealistic over the better and pragmatic. The US repeated those mistakes again with the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Washington Post: CDC identifies public-health guidance from the Trump administration that downplayed pandemic severity. “Federal health officials have identified several controversial pandemic recommendations released during the Donald Trump administration that they say were ‘not primarily authored’ by staff and don’t reflect the best scientific evidence, based on a review ordered by its new director.”

HuffPost: The New Stimulus Payments Aren’t Protected From Debt Collectors. “Debt collectors can take away some of the $1,400 coronavirus relief payments Congress approved last week as part of the American Rescue Plan. The $600 payments that Congress approved in December were protected from garnishment ― but the special rules that Democrats used to pass the latest bill did not allow them to include the protections this time, according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The Intercept: CIA Headquarters Got Vaccinated In Early January, Rankling Intelligence Officers Abroad. “IN EARLY JANUARY, as much of the country awaited the Covid-19 vaccine, personnel at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, had already begun receiving their shots, according to three former CIA officials with knowledge of the matter. Yet the agency has lagged in getting vaccines to overseas personnel, according to former officials.”

Voice of America: Somalia Receives Its First Batch of COVID-19 Vaccines. “Somalia’s government on Monday announced the arrival of 300,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the international COVAX vaccine initiative. Inoculations could start as early as Tuesday, according to the health ministry.”

Travel+Leisure: Italy Heads Into Another Lockdown As COVID-19 Cases Surge. “The ‘red zone’ regions — those with more than 250 cases per 100,000 residents — are now under strict lockdowns, with all non-essential stores closed and people only allowed to leave their homes for work or health reasons. Currently, half of Italy’s 20 regions, including the cities of Milan, Rome, and Venice, are under those orders. Those in the ‘orange zone’ can’t leave their towns or regions, but restaurants and bars are allowed to offer takeout and delivery, the news site explained. The current restrictions will be in place through at least April 6.”

Mother Jones: People Like Money. “Do you remember when Barack Obama gave Americans $400 of stimulus money to help them get through the Great Recession? Neither do I. Sadly, that was by design. Democrats, high on a supply of Cass Sunstein nudge-ism, didn’t want you to know they were sending you money. A decade and a reality television president later, Democrats have realized that a little garishness goes a long way. On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. Two days later, people are getting their $1,400 direct deposits from the IRS. One of the few good things on Twitter right now are the posts about the ‘stimmy’ coming from a president who has been labeled MoneyBaggJoe.”


Washington Post: As Maryland relaxes capacity limits, businesses proceed with caution. “The door leading back to normal opened a little wider in much of Maryland this weekend as gyms, restaurants, bars, houses of worship and retail businesses began operating under Gov. Larry Hogan’s order removing capacity limits. Even though limits were lifted, however, many establishments were proceeding with caution. And because social distancing guidelines and mask requirements are still in place, the removal of the capacity limits won’t make much difference in some venues, particularly at smaller retail stores and restaurants.”

Miami Herald: Miami-Dade police halt mask, curfew citations after DeSantis suspends fines. “Miami-Dade County police have stopped issuing mask and curfew citations, calling the tickets pointless after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis canceled fines for violating emergency COVID-19 orders.”


BuzzFeed: After One Year With The Coronavirus, Here Is Every Single Celebrity Who Has Caught It And What Having It Was Like For Each Of Them. “From Doja Cat to Jim Parsons, here’s every single celeb who caught the coronavirus.” This is an American-focused list, and I don’t think it’s every single celeb. But it is over 75 people.

Harper’s: The Crow Whisperer. “Last May, as the number of coronavirus deaths continued to rise, many of the animals that live among us in cities and towns—residing in gutters and trees and parks and crawl spaces—had their worlds turned upside down. City centers were empty; dumpsters were no longer filled with scraps of food; fewer cars were on the road; neighborhood parks were thick with people who would otherwise have been working or at school. If it weren’t for the coronavirus, Mona would never have been outside that morning chasing fledglings, because Adam and Dani would have been where they usually were in the middle of the day—at work.”

ABC News: Birx on Trump’s disinfectant ‘injection’ moment: ‘I still think about it every day’. “The former coronavirus response coordinator in the Trump White House, Dr. Deborah Birx, says she still thinks about the moment last year when she sat silently while former President Donald Trump raised the possibility of injecting disinfectant into people to treat COVID-19. ‘Frankly, I didn’t know how to handle that episode,’ Birx said Monday in an interview with ABC News’ Terry Moran for ABC News Live’s ‘The Breakdown.’ ‘I still think about it every day.'”

New York Times: The Met Opera’s Musicians, Unpaid Since April, Are Struggling. “About 40 percent of the players have left the New York area, and a tenth have retired. Now the Met is seeking long-term pay cuts, and offering them partial pay if they come to the bargaining table.”

Baltimore Brew: At West Baltimore site, more than 2,200 Covid vaccine doses are administered in a single day. “Enter Sarah Matthews and her Vaccine Empowerment Team, a group of individuals, mostly seniors themselves, who decided to take matters into their own hands and get shots to the people who despaired of ever getting them. The team clearly succeeded. In an event that came together in just three days after Matthews learned that Walgreens would provide the vaccine, more than 2,200 were inoculated.”

Washington Post: José Alberto Ortiz Chevez Jr., who loved his family and cooking, dies of covid-19. “Those who knew Chevez well say his affinity for the city was only superseded by the love he had for his family. When he finally felt ready in June to move into his own apartment — in the District’s Manor Park neighborhood — Chevez, then 30, still called his mother every day, to say good morning, be careful and ‘I love you.’ It was a tradition he carried on until he was physically unable to continue. Chevez was intubated in late December, just over a week after he tested positive for the coronavirus. Covid-19 had decimated his lungs, and a doctor told his family that it was among the most aggressive cases they’d seen.”


The Grio: Black vaccine hesitancy may not be about medical bias, report finds. “Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows the Black population in this country still lags way behind their white counterparts when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations — but a recent study reveals the reasons why may not be what was previously believed.”

CNN: Covid-19 antibodies present in about 1 in 5 blood donations from unvaccinated people, according to data from the American Red Cross. “In the first week of March, more than 20% of blood donations from unvaccinated people had Covid-19 antibodies, according to data shared with CNN by the American Red Cross. Between mid-June 2020 and early March 2021, the American Red Cross tested more than 3.3 million donations from unvaccinated people in 44 states for the presence of Covid-19 antibodies. Overall, about 7.5% of the donations tested in that time frame were positive for Covid-19 antibodies, meaning the donors had likely been infected with the coronavirus at some point.”

New York Times: Virus Variants Likely Evolved Inside People With Weak Immune Systems. “A coronavirus typically gains mutations on a slow-but-steady pace of about two per month. But this variant, called B.1.1.7, had acquired 23 mutations that were not on the virus first identified in China. And 17 of those had developed all at once, sometime after it diverged from its most recent ancestor. Experts said there’s only one good hypothesis for how this happened: At some point the virus must have infected someone with a weak immune system, allowing it to adapt and evolve for months inside the person’s body before being transmitted to others.”

Washington Post: Death in the prime of life: Covid-19 proves especially lethal to younger Latinos. “Throughout the pandemic, the coronavirus has disproportionately carved a path through the nation’s Latino neighborhoods, as it has in African American, Native American and Pacific Islander communities. The death rate in those communities from covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, is at least double that for Whites and Asian Americans, federal data shows. Even more stunning: the deadly efficiency with which the virus has targeted Latinos in their 30s and 40s.”


EurekAlert: Leprosy drug holds promise as at-home treatment for COVID-19. “A Nature study authored by scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and the University of Hong Kong shows that the leprosy drug clofazimine, which is FDA approved and on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, exhibits potent antiviral activities against SARS-CoV-2 and prevents the exaggerated inflammatory response associated with severe COVID-19. Based on these findings, a Phase 2 study evaluating clofazimine as an at-home treatment for COVID-19 could begin immediately.”

Brief19: Coronavirus MRNA Vaccines Reduce The Risk Of Asymptomatic Infection. “This research, conducted by the Mayo Clinic health system across its hospitals in Minnesota, Arizona, and Wisconsin, recruited patients requiring covid-19 testing 48 to 72 hours ahead of planned procedures and surgeries. The patients were divided into two cohorts: those who had received at least one dose of either vaccine and those who hadn’t had a shot yet at the time of the testing. Of the nearly 40,000 patients who were tested, 3.2 percent of the unvaccinated group tested positive, while only 1.4 percent of the protected group was found to have contracted SARS-CoV-2. This was a statistically notable difference and suggests a relative risk reduction of 44 percent after getting vaccinated for asymptomatic disease.”


The Verge: Zoom Escaper lets you sabotage your own meetings with audio problems, crying babies, and more. “Had enough Zoom meetings? Can’t bear another soul-numbing day of sitting on video calls, the only distraction your rapidly aging face, pinned in one corner of the screen like a dying bug? Well, if so, then boy do we have the app for you. Meet Zoom Escaper: a free web widget that lets you add an array of fake audio effects to your next Zoom Call, gifting you with numerous reasons to end the meeting and escape, while you still can.”


JD Supra: Pro Bono in a Pandemic: The Emergence of a Virtual Community. “Finding ways to continue pro bono participation in a virtual environment has given legal advocates opportunities to be creative and even cast their nets a little further when it comes to seeking attorney participation. Now, with various virtual pro bono platforms at an attorney’s disposal, there are three key opportunities we can take advantage of in order to provide the most effective assistance in the virtual world of pro bono service: (1) participate in virtual legal clinics, (2) attend virtual trainings, and (3) conduct virtual training for lawyers within your practice area, so they too can assist on pro bono matters.”

CNN: Woman arrested after refusing to wear a mask in a Texas bank. “Police body camera footage obtained by CNN affiliate KTRK shows a woman being arrested at a Galveston, Texas, bank after she refused to wear a mask or leave. The arrest occurred Thursday, the day after an order by Gov. Greg Abbott rolled back some of the state’s Covid-19 restrictions, including the state’s mask mandate. Private business, however, are still allowed to require masks at their discretion.”


New York Times: The Pandemic and the Future City. “In 1957 Isaac Asimov published ‘The Naked Sun,’ a science-fiction novel about a society in which people live on isolated estates, their needs provided by robots and they interact only by video. The plot hinges on the way this lack of face-to-face contact stunts and warps their personalities. After a year in which those of us who could worked from home — albeit served by less fortunate humans rather than robots — that sounds about right. But how will we live once the pandemic subsides?”

Wired: Big Music Needs to Be Broken Up to Save the Industry. “THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has shattered the music industry. By taking away live music for what will likely be 18 months or more, Covid has ended the revenue stream that animated an entire music ecosystem. This is particularly true for independent artists with few other means of making a living in today’s industry. Musicians lost two-thirds of their typical income in 2020. Live music revenue fell 85 percent. The Save Our Stages bill, passed in December as part of the second round of pandemic relief, has offered a lifeline. But even after it’s again safe to see a live gig, the underlying driver of the music industry’s deep inequity will persist.”


AP: The road show begins: VP Harris, Jill Biden promote aid plan. “From a vaccination site in the desert West to a grade school on the Eastern seaboard, President Joe Biden’s top messengers — his vice president and wife among them — led a cross-country effort Monday to highlight the benefits of his huge COVID relief plan. Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses have launched an ambitious tour this week to promote the $1.9 trillion plan as a way to battle the pandemic and boost the economy.”

Vanity Fair: Shot Chasers: How Officials in Trump’s Lame-Duck White House Scrambled to Score COVID-19 Vaccinations. “The quest to get on the White House list—which was closely guarded by Meadows’s office and a small cadre of NSC officials—attracted an array of supplicants. They ranged from the representatives of cabinet secretaries to young White House desk jockeys to those prepared to leverage their connections to President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Among this group, Vanity Fair has learned, were chiefs of staff of cabinet agencies, some of whose bosses had become notorious for publicly disregarding pandemic safeguards like mask wearing.”

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