Thursday CoronaBuzz, March 18, 2021: 26 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.


Nature: Large socio-economic, geographic and demographic disparities exist in exposure to school closures. “This study introduces and analyses a U.S. School Closure and Distance Learning Database that tracks in-person visits to the vast majority of K–12 public schools in the United States from January 2019 through December 2020. Specifically, we measure year-over-year change in visits to each school throughout 2020 to determine whether the school is engaged in distance learning after the onset of the pandemic.”


Lifehacker: How to Plan Your ‘Vaxication’ in Advance. “Even though we are still required to wear masks and social distance, people are taking advantage of their enhanced immunity and booking a year or two in advance for their national and international excursions. Here are some helpful tips for planning a vacation six months to a year in advance.”


Laughing Squid: Images of New Yorkers Lost to COVID-19 Projected Onto the Brooklyn Bridge in a Moving Tribute. “COVID Day of Remembrance, a moving tribute to the 30,258 New Yorkers who died from COVID-19, took place on March 14, 2021. This date marked the tragic anniversary of the first New York City death due to this horrific pandemic. To remember those whom the city has lost forever, images of COVID victims were projected onto the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Route Fifty: New Estimates Show the Sharp Rise in Charitable Food Use Last Year. “As the pandemic shook the finances of many American households last year, the share of non-elderly adults accessing charitable food options, like free groceries and meals, increased by almost 50% compared to 2019, a new analysis shows.”

PLOS ONE: COVID-19 lockdowns and demographically-relevant Google Trends: A cross-national analysis. “The spread of COVID-19 and resulting local and national lockdowns have a host of potential consequences for demographic trends. While impacts on mortality and, to some extent, short-term migration flows are beginning to be documented, it is too early to measure actual consequences for family demography. To gain insight into potential future consequences of the lockdown for family demography, we use cross-national Google Trends search data to explore whether trends in searches for words related to fertility, relationship formation, and relationship dissolution changed following lockdowns compared to average, pre-lockdown levels in Europe and the United States.”


Poynter: Do masks really work? Here are PolitiFact’s answers for mask skeptics.. “We’ve been reviewing mask science since the start of the pandemic, and we’re persuaded that mask-wearing is a good idea. But if you’re not, we wanted to address your questions head on. Here’s the latest research on the efficacy of masks and answers to questions, from readers and our own team, on what we know and what we don’t about mask-wearing.”

PsyPost: People with greater intellectual humility show greater scrutiny toward “fake news” about the coronavirus. “New research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that intellectual humility is a trait that may protect against misinformation in the media or ‘fake news.’ A series of studies found that people with greater intellectual humility were consistently more inclined to investigate fake claims about COVID-19.”


BBC: Covid: How ethnicity and wealth affect US vaccine rollout. “The US vaccination rollout among people belonging to ethnic minorities is significantly behind that of white Americans – and wealthier areas are often getting jabs first, according to the latest data. We have looked into the numbers and the possible reasons behind the disparities.”


Search Engine Journal: Google Predicts These 4 Pandemic Changes Are Permanent. “Companies have changed the way they do business since the pandemic. In a new report, Google forecasts which of those changes are here to stay.”

New York Times: Walmart becomes largest U.S. vaccine provider to join push for digital vaccination credentials.. “The retail giant said on Wednesday that it had signed on to an international effort to provide standardized digital vaccination credentials to people. The company joins a push already backed by major health centers and tech companies including Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Cerner, Epic Systems, the Mitre Corporation and the Mayo Clinic.”

BBC: AstraZeneca: UK clot review confirms safety of vaccine. “There is no evidence the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine causes blood clots, the UK’s medicines regulator says after a ‘thorough and careful review’. The MHRA says people can have confidence in the vaccine’s benefits and should get immunised when invited, despite some countries suspending use.”


BBC: India coronavirus: Can its vaccine producers meet demand?. “India, one of the world’s largest producers of coronavirus vaccines, is struggling to meet its export commitments. Its largest manufacturer says doses intended for the UK could be held up, and a big order to supply Nepal has also been put on hold.”

UPI: Pentagon eases COVID-19 travel restrictions. “Travel restrictions between U.S. military bases, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, were reduced this week, the Defense Department said. Eight bases lifted travel restrictions while two had restrictions reinstated, meaning that 131 of 271, or 57%, of U.S. military installations around the world are operating without travel restrictions.”


New York Times: New York will expand the opening of sports and arts venues for baseball season, the governor says.. “New York will allow sports and performing arts venues that seat more than 2,500 people outdoors to open at limited capacity starting on April 1, just in time for the Yankees’ first home game of the season, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Thursday. The state will also allow indoor venues that seat more than 1,500 people to open at 10 percent capacity.”


Samford University: Study by Samford University Center for Sports Analytics Finds that Lack of Crowds Helped Visiting Teams this Season. “Data collected and analyzed by the center showed that the average number of fouls called on the visiting team during the 2020-2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball season was significantly lower than the number of fouls called on the visiting team during the previous three seasons. Specifically, the number of fouls called on the visiting team declined by 4.8% overall across all NCAA Division I home games played during the 2020-2021 regular season (3,716 games). Meanwhile, the average number of fouls called on the home team during the 2020-2021 season (16.80) was not statistically different than the previous three seasons (16.86).”


Route Fifty: States Consider ‘Do-Over Years’ for Students Affected by the Pandemic. “Students in Kentucky whose academic—and athletic—careers were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic could have the option for a do-over under legislation approved Tuesday by state lawmakers.”


Medical XPress: COVID-19 pandemic impacts mental health worldwide. “A study conducted at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health reports a high global prevalence of both depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic and shows how implementation of mitigation strategies including public transportation and school closures, and stay-at-home orders impacted such disorders. The results are published in Psychological Medicine.”

New York Times: Should You Worry About Your Kid’s Pandemic Weight Gain?. “Last spring, scientists predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic might contribute to a rise in children’s body weight, because of school closures and families hunkering down with comfort foods, lacking access to healthful meal options and exercising less. Yet while we know that childhood hunger has risen precipitously during the pandemic, we don’t have much data on whether children’s body sizes have changed in the past year.”

Poynter: When will we reach herd immunity? Here’s what the experts say.. “First, do public health experts generally consider herd immunity to kick in at 60%? In addition, does current scientific thinking equate protection from the antibodies generated by past COVID-19 infections with the same degree of protection as a vaccination? We decided to find out.”

Washington Post: What to Know About Blood Clots, Anaphylaxis and Other Vaccine Fears. “A vaccine is intended to prevent a specific disease, but many people who receive a Covid-19 inoculation are either elderly or suffer from other severe, chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Still others may harbor unknown health risks. As almost 10 million Covid shots are administered each day, it’s inevitable that some of these people will experience serious symptoms or even die soon after they receive immunizations; the question is, what caused it? This is one of the difficulties in untangling the relationship between shots — deemed safe in trials of tens of thousands of people — and conditions that have arisen in people after getting vaccinated, including blood clots; a serious, but treatable allergic reaction called anaphylaxis; a temporary facial paralysis or weakness known as Bell’s palsy; and death.”


Medical XPress: Survey finds young Americans are using social media to address mental health issues … caused by social media. “As social media contributes to depression among some U.S. teens and young adults amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they are ironically using that technology to tackle their mental health struggles, a new study shows.”

Mashable: SXSW got canceled by the pandemic. So it built Austin in VR for 2021.. “I was in a freefall high above Congress Avenue, or some acid-dream version of it, in Austin, (definitely not) Texas, with the ‘street’ below me rapidly coming into view….This was SXSW 2021. Or, to be exact, SXSW Online XR — a partial, virtual reality recreation of the familiar streets and venues that typically play host to the annual celebration of interactive, film, and art worlds. And it was alive inside of VRChat, the popular and scrappy social platform.”


Big Think: MIT study shows ultrasound vibrations may kill coronavirus. “The researchers created various models of the novel coronavirus, and then used computer simulations to determine the frequencies at which acoustic vibrations might damage key parts of the virus, namely the shell and spikes. The results showed that ultrasound vibrations between 25 and 100 megahertz caused the shell and spikes to rupture almost immediately.”

Newswise: Making Communication Clearer During COVID-19. “Realizing that wearing a mask can make communication harder for patients, staff and students, Irvine — along with a group of Medical Center employees — set out to find a solution. The solution: transparent face masks created by ClearMasks LLC.”

PsyPost: Study uncovers severe mental health issues among flight attendants at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Flight attendants who were grounded at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic showed severe symptoms of depression and stress, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology. Those who were flying during this time showed severe symptoms of anxiety.”


CNN: Seriously, stop sharing your vaccine cards on social media. “As the Covid vaccine rolls out to more people around the country, I’ve lost track of how many vaccine information cards I’ve seen across social networks and chat apps. While selfies are encouraged as a way to express joy at being vaccinated and broadcast that people are doing their part to help stop the spread of Covid-19, multiple government agencies have warned about the risks of posting vaccine card images online.”

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