Wednesday CoronaBuzz, March 17, 2021: 38 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.


Newswise / Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic’s Coronavirus Map now features forecasting on emerging COVID-19 hot spots. “The predictive modeling uses Mayo Clinic data analysis and expertise to forecast trends in COVID-19 cases and is based on modeling that Mayo Clinic has used to anticipate COVID-19 cases at its locations and to assist public health agencies. Predictive modeling is not available for Hawaii, Alaska, and U.S. territories.”

Nurse .org: ANA Launches Hub of COVID Vaccine Facts For Nurses. “Today, the American Nurses Association (ANA), along with 19 other leading nursing and healthcare organizations launched COVID Vaccine Facts for Nurses, an educational resource to bring ‘critical, current, and culturally sensitive COVID-19 vaccine information to the nation’s nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic and those caring for patients in every community across the country.'”


10 Boston: NH is Launching a New Vaccine Scheduling Website Wednesday. Here’s What to Know. “New Hampshire’s new vaccine scheduling and appointment management website is scheduled to launch on Wednesday morning, according to Gov. Chris Sununu. The Vaccine & Immunization Network Interface is scheduled to go live at 8 a.m. Wednesday as Phase 2A scheduling begins for state-managed fixed sites.”


Reuters: German COVID-19 cases are growing exponentially again: RKI. ” Coronavirus infections are rising exponentially in Germany, an expert at the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said on Tuesday, putting at risk plans to lift the lockdown and revive the economy.”


CNN: The ‘benefit year end’: A tough Covid anniversary for the unemployed. “Unhappy anniversary, jobless Americans. This week marks a year since the coronavirus pandemic began upending the US economy, costing millions of people their jobs and forcing them onto unemployment benefits. Those who are still out of work could soon start getting notices from their state unemployment agencies advising them that they are approaching their benefit year end date — which happens 52 weeks after an initial claim is filed.”

BBC: Covid-19 disruptions killed 228,000 children in South Asia, says UN report. “The disruption in healthcare services caused by Covid-19 may have led to an estimated 239,000 maternal and child deaths in South Asia, according to a new UN report. It’s focused on Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, home to some 1.8 billion people.”


Route Fifty: ‘Why Do I Put My Life on the Line?’ Pandemic Trauma Haunts Health Workers.. “Health care workers across the country say they feel underappreciated by their employers and disillusioned with the medical profession, according to ongoing research at the University of Washington in Seattle. More than half of the 300-plus doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers who participated in the study said the pandemic has decreased the likelihood they will remain in their profession.”

Politico: Major donors to South Florida hospital foundation got early vaccine access. “The fundraising foundation for the Baptist Health of South Florida hospital system told donors who could afford at least six-figure financial contributions on New Year’s Day that they were eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, at a time when vaccine doses were in short supply in the rest of the state.”

BuzzFeed News: A Native American Tribe In Oklahoma Denied Black Citizens COVID-19 Vaccines And Financial Relief. “By the time the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma began distributing vaccines to tribal citizens, LeEtta Osborne-Sampson had already witnessed nearly two dozen members of her extended family die of COVID-19. She was relieved vaccine doses had finally arrived to protect those who remained. But when she showed up at the Indian Health Service clinic in Wewoka, the capital of the Seminole Nation, staffers refused to give her a shot. They told her that she wasn’t eligible because her tribal ID card identifies her as a Freedman, a Seminole citizen who is a descendant of enslaved Black people.”

Boing Boing: People are selling Moderna COVID-19 vaccine bottles on eBay. They’re empty though.. “People are selling empty Moderna vaccine bottles on eBay. Current “Buy it Now” prices range from $22 to $75. One bottle sold there for $282 at auction but that was back in January. I suppose it’s an interesting historical souvenir but as my son points out, there will likely be hundreds of millions of these manufactured so they aren’t likely to become a ‘rare collectible.'”

Washington State University: Doctor communication key to pandemic vaccine adoption. “Researchers from Washington State University and University of Wisconsin-Madison surveyed patients about the vaccine for the H1N1 virus, also known as the swine flu, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in 2009. They found that doctor-patient communication helped build trust in physicians, which led to more positive attitudes toward the H1N1 vaccine–and it was more than just talk; it correlated to people actually getting vaccinated.”


CNBC: Dungeons & Dragons had its biggest year ever as Covid forced the game off tables and onto the web. “With vaccination rates rising, an end to the pandemic appears to be in sight. The D&D brand is emerging in a strong position. Stalwart fans used lockdown to teach friends and family how to play, ushering in a new cohort of dice-rolling enthusiasts that will transition from socially distanced online chatrooms to crowded tables in the coming year.”


BBC: Airline removes boy, 4, with autism for not wearing Covid mask. “A four-year-old boy with autism was removed from a flight in the US after the airline refused to recognise his disability and insisted he should wear a face mask, his mother said. Spirit Airlines told US media that all their passengers except those aged under two must wear a mask.”

Poynter: Fox tells staff to stay home until September as its on-air personalities question coronavirus precautions. “In an email to staff on Tuesday, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch told staffers — including from Fox News — that they won’t be returning to the offices until after Labor Day. In an email obtained by Mediaite, Murdoch said, in part, ‘While we spent the last year working in new, and often remote, ways, you have continued to prioritize caring for each other. Similarly, the health and safety of our workforce has remained my priority. With that as the guiding principle, we are deferring our next possible phase one reopening date to no earlier than September 7, immediately after Labor Day.'”


NBC News: IRS pushes tax filing deadline by one month, to May 15. “The Internal Revenue Service is pushing back the tax filing deadline for all taxpayers from April 15 to May 15, the agency confirmed to CNBC on Wednesday. The IRS this year began accepting 2020 returns as late as Feb. 12 instead of its customary January start date. But it had kept the filing deadline at April 15, resulting in a shorter filing season.”

The Local Switzerland: Coronavirus: This tool shows when you will get vaccinated in Switzerland. “A new tool using official information from Swiss health authorities lets you see how long you’ll be waiting until you get the jab. At current rates, most of the general public us won’t be vaccinated until 2022.”

BBC: Covid: NHS warns of ‘significant reduction’ in vaccines. “The NHS has written to local health organisations warning of a ‘significant reduction in weekly supply’ of coronavirus vaccines from the week beginning 29 March for a month. It says there has been a ‘reduction in national inbound vaccines supply’.”


CBS News: At odds with national Republicans, GOP mayors welcome long-awaited COVID relief. “As President Biden embarks on his tour to push his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, GOP mayors are emerging as vocal defenders of the president’s plan as they prepare for an infusion of federal dollars to address financial woes brought on by the pandemic.”

CNN: Chicago surprises the city with the traditional green river for St. Patrick’s Day after saying the event was canceled. “The green river wasn’t supposed to flow for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago this year, but the city surprised its residents by carrying on the tradition unannounced. To help curb crowds again due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chicago officials canceled the annual dying of the Chicago River event — a longstanding St. Patrick’s Day tradition. On Friday, the Chicago Sun Times lamented the lack of green for the holiday this year. However, Saturday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot shared an image on her Twitter account announcing that the river was being be dyed that morning in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.”

FDA: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA takes steps to streamline path for COVID-19 screening tools, provides information to help groups establishing testing programs. “Testing remains an important cornerstone of our nation’s fight against COVID-19. This includes schools, workplaces, communities and other locations using testing to screen asymptomatic individuals who may still spread the virus. Screening involves testing asymptomatic individuals who do not have known or suspected exposure to COVID-19 in order to make individual decisions, such as whether an individual should participate in an activity, based on the test results. Today, we are providing information for test developers about a streamlined path to emergency use authorization for these important screening tools as well as information to help these groups as they set up testing programs.”

ABC News: More than 800 Massachusetts State Police employees decline COVID-19 vaccine. “More than 800 Massachusetts State Police employees declined to receive the COVID-19 vaccine despite being in the first stage of priority for the doses, police sources said. A total of 845 members of the MSP, including sworn personnel and civilian officers, declined to receive the vaccine at state police clinics. That’s about 30% of the force’s sworn and civilian officers.”


The Guardian: Masked moves and ballet in the bath: a year of digital dance. “At the beginning of the pandemic, the dance that appeared online was all about trying to connect. That’s what was moving about Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Swan, or the Alvin Ailey company’s dancers performing Revelations in their New York apartments, or the companies doing their ritual daily class over Zoom and inviting us to watch or join in. It was a way of witnessing people apart but moving in harmony, absorbed in the same actions, finding a rhythm together, closing the distance.”


Deadspin: On the anniversary of sports shutting down due to COVID-19, what have we learned about sports, the virus, and ourselves?. “There are 6,629 cases of coronavirus associated with college sports according to the New York Times coronavirus tracker. And whether they contracted the virus in the locker room or elsewhere, they aren’t all fine. Justin Foster just ended his career at Clemson citing the effects of COVID. HBO’s Real Sports did this piece on college runner Natalie Hakala, who went from competing in track to using a wheelchair with long-term COVID. There is still research into what degree myocarditis impacts athletes. Former Ironman competitor Tamsin Lewis is still suffering effects from covid a year later. WNBA player Asia Durr’s basketball career is in jeopardy after getting the disease. These are just a few of those stories.”


Route Fifty: Poll: Over Three-Quarters of Parents Support School Reopening. “An online Gallup poll conducted in mid-February found that 79% of overall respondents supported in-person schooling in their communities at that time. The share of people who felt that way was even higher among working parents (82%) and Republicans (94%). But even among parents who aren’t working and Democrats, majorities—71% and 62% respectively—said they thought it was time for kids to go back to classrooms.”

New York Times: Learning Apps Have Boomed in the Pandemic. Now Comes the Real Test.. “Venture and equity financing for education technology start-ups has more than doubled, surging to $12.58 billion worldwide last year from $4.81 billion in 2019, according to a report from CB Insights, a firm that tracks start-ups and venture capital. During the same period, the number of laptops and tablets shipped to primary and secondary schools in the United States nearly doubled to 26.7 million, from 14 million, according to data from Futuresource Consulting, a market research company in Britain.”


AP: Duke COVID-19 cases surge; fraternities blamed for many. “The vast majority of the 231 new cases reported from March 8 through Sunday occurred within the university’s undergraduate student population, which accounts for only about 0.06% of North Carolina’s population of 10.5 million people, but whose cases account for nearly 1.9% of the total number reported statewide last week. A total of 241 cases were reported during the entire fall semester.”


Business Insider: A baby girl born to a partially vaccinated healthcare worker has COVID-19 antibodies. “A baby girl born three weeks after her mom got the first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has antibodies against the virus, a February pre-print paper reported. After getting the shot, the mom, a healthcare worker in Florida, developed COVID-19 antibodies.”

CNN: Coronavirus strains first detected in California are officially ‘variants of concern,’ CDC says. “The variants may be about 20% more transmissible, the CDC said, citing early research. Some Covid-19 treatments may also be less effective against the strains. Still, the CDC didn’t say that vaccines would stop working against them.”

The Oregonian: U.S. coronavirus infections may have been twice the official number, according to antibody study. “A new study that looks at the presence of coronavirus antibodies in nearly 62,000 life insurance applicants found that before the devastating holiday surge, the number of asymptomatic or undiagnosed coronavirus infections in the U.S. may have been twice as high as the official tally of cases overall.”

BBC: Festivals: ‘Grave concerns’ over drug safety this summer. “If lockdown is lifted as planned, large events are expected to go ahead from 21 June onwards in England – with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland aiming for a similar timescale. Charities are worried ‘pent-up’ energy could increase the amount people take. They’re also concerned about the strength of the drugs and the lack of testing to identify bad batches.”

New York Times: The U.S. Is Opening Up. For the Anxious, That Comes With a Cost.. “A new survey from the American Psychological Association found that while 47 percent of people have seen their stress rise over the pandemic, about 43 percent saw no change in stress and 7 percent felt less stress. Mental health experts said this fraction of the population found the quarantine protective, a permission slip to glide into more predictable spaces, schedules, routines and relationships. And the experts warn that while quarantine has blessed the ‘avoidance’ of social situations, the circumstances are poised to change.”


Neowin: IDC: Pandemic shifted consumer spending to wearables market. “The analyst firm IDC has reported that 444.7 million wearables units were shipped in 2020, representing an increase of 28.4% compared to 2019; according to IDC, this was a result of lockdowns which caused people to build up more disposable income. IDC also said the market saw a year-over-year increase in 4Q20 of 27.2% driven by the availability of new devices and reduced prices.”

Mashable: Tinder will give 500 lucky matches free COVID tests. “With the United States finally turning a corner with the coronavirus pandemic, singles are taking to dating apps (and the vaccine line) to find potential dates. With safety top of mind for many, Tinder will send 500 matched couples (1,000 users) home COVID-19 test kits from Everywell.”

Neowin: You can now find COVID-19 vaccination locations in the US using Apple Maps. “In the past year or so, multiple tech companies have integrated tooling in their software to help customers stay safe during the ongoing pandemic. One such organization is Apple, which has been rolling out multiple features related to curbing the spread of COVID-19. Back in July 2020, Apple Maps began to notify users to self-quarantine if they’ve recently traveled internationally. Now, the software has been updated to show locations of COVID-19 vaccination centers in the US.”


Texas A&M Today: Texas A&M Research Uncovers First Known COVID-19 UK Variant In Animals. “The United Kingdom variant (B.1.1.7) of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been detected for the first time in a dog and a cat from the same household in Brazos County, Texas, as part of a study led by researchers at Texas A&M University.”

Medical XPress: New study finds slow walkers four times more likely to die from COVID-19: study. “Slow walkers are almost four times more likely to die from COVID-19, and have over twice the risk of contracting a severe version of the virus, according to a team of researchers from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre led by Professor Tom Yates at the University of Leicester.”


Washington Post: After weeks of declining cases, echoes of hot spots emerge in Upper Midwest, New York City area. “Caseloads are down nationally and tens of millions of people are fully loaded with antibodies to the virus, with more than 2 million people getting doses of vaccine every day. But the virus continues to pose a real and present threat, with about 55,000 new infections daily. Michigan has seen a rise in hospitalizations and positive test results. Minnesota’s numbers are creeping up, as are Maryland’s and New Jersey’s. Many places, including New York City and surrounding counties, are no longer seeing steady declines in cases, despite intensive vaccination efforts.”


NBC News: Ammon Bundy refuses to wear a mask in court, arrested for missing trial. “Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy was arrested in Idaho on Monday after he refused to wear a mask in court, thus preventing him from entering and making him a no-show for his own trial, officials said. Ammon Bundy was due in a Boise courtroom at 8:15 a.m. for the beginning of his trial on misdemeanor trespassing and resisting arrest charges stemming from an August incident at the Idaho Statehouse.”

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