Friday CoronaBuzz, March 19, 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.


CNBC: Some cities are paying people up to $16,000 to move there—this online directory will help you find them. “MakeMyMove currently lists 37 relocation offers on its pages, some through paid promotions and others for free. Each destination has its own page listing the incentive programs on offer, how much they’re worth, who qualifies and how to apply.”


KNDO: New tool now available to help Washingtonians find COVID-19 vaccines. “This week, the Department of Health launched a new, user friendly web tool to help Washingtonians find a vaccination appointment. The web tool looks at various scheduling options from multiple providers to find a vaccination appointment easier and is available in multiple languages.”


BBC: Lamborghini’s profits soar during Covid. “While sales were slightly lower than the previous year, Lamborghini sold more expensive, customised supercars, pushing profits higher. China has fuelled a lot of demand and would overtake Germany as its second-biggest market this year.”

WGRZ: Two local major retailers say they’re considering whether to sell rapid COVID-19 home tests. “Two local major retailers say they’re looking into the possibility of selling rapid at-home COVID-19 testing kits in stores. And, just this week, the FDA made a move intended to accelerate the delivery of these devices more broadly to consumers. There are numerous efforts locally and nationally already underway to try to get COVID-19 testing kits closer to you.”

CNET: California theme park group wants you to stop screaming on roller coasters. “This may be one of the biggest challenges of the coronavirus outbreak, much more difficult for most people than strapping on a face mask. A California theme-park trade group is joining those in Japan and recommending ways to limit screaming on roller coasters and other thrill rides, since screams produce saliva droplets that can spread COVID-19.”

AP: Trump’s Mar-a-Lago partially closed due to COVID outbreak. “Former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, club has been partially closed because of a COVID-19 outbreak. That’s according to several people familiar with the situation, including a club member who received a phone call informing them about the closure Friday. A receptionist at the Mar-a-Lago club confirmed the news, saying it was closed until further notice, but declined to comment further.”


Reuters: U.S. to share 4 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine with Mexico, Canada. “The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that it is not using to Mexico and Canada in loan deals with the two countries, yielding to requests to share vaccines with allies.”

Sky News: COVID-19: Paris and 15 other French regions go back into lockdown for a month. “Sixteen regions of France – including Paris – have entered into a new lockdown, the country’s prime minister Jean Castex has announced. The measures will be in place for at least four weeks and will be less restrictive than those last March and November.”

BBC: Covid vaccine: PM to have AstraZeneca jab as he urges public to do the same. “The prime minister is to receive his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after reassuring the public it was ‘safe’. Boris Johnson, 56, has urged people to get inoculated and said England’s roadmap out of lockdown was ‘on track’.”

CNN: US military says a third of troops opt out of being vaccinated, but the numbers suggest it’s more. “Despite a massive effort by the Pentagon to promote the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, the US military’s opt-out rate for vaccinations may be far higher than the 33% figure defense officials have used publicly. Conversations with military medical officials and service members, as well as data from several bases and units around the country, suggest the current rejection rate may be closer to 50%.”

New York Times: White House Easter Egg Roll is canceled again because of the pandemic.. “The event was canceled for the second year in a row over concerns about large gatherings. President Biden’s cautious benchmark — small gatherings by July 4, if Americans keep to social distancing protocols and receive vaccines when they are offered — comes well after the Easter holiday and nowhere near the usual capacity for the egg roll, which draws up to 30,000 people to the White House grounds.”

BBC: Coronavirus: How Russia glosses over its Covid death toll. “A year into the pandemic, the virus this team are battling is familiar, but their careful daily routine is a reminder of the risk – it was last autumn that Covid-19 struck hardest in Perm, on its sweep from Moscow across the regions, and the number of sick and dead shot up. But there is very little talk in Russia of the death toll from Covid. The full data revealed by excess mortality is not secret, but it’s never highlighted, and the preliminary tally published each day by the government significantly underplays the impact.”


Washington Post: How Cuomo put a political loyalist in charge of New York’s vaccine rollout. “Around midnight on March 4, county officials across New York received a startling email threat from Larry Schwartz, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s volunteer vaccine czar. Their counties had kept more than 250 doses of vaccines on hand for more than a week, Schwartz claimed, and if they did not begin administering them, they could face penalties of $100,000 a day — and even lose access to more inoculations.”

New York Times: F.B.I. Investigating Whether Cuomo Aides Gave False Data on Nursing Homes. “A federal investigation into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic has focused in recent weeks on whether the governor and his senior aides provided false data on resident deaths to the Justice Department, according to four people with knowledge of the investigation.”


Lifehacker: Vaccine Death Reports Are Not What They Seem. “The US government maintains a database called VAERS, to which anybody can file a report if they think something bad happened to them after receiving a vaccine. It’s an important tool in keeping tabs on vaccine safety, but it’s also being mined by anti-vaccine activists to make vaccines seem scarier than they are.”

Salt Lake Tribune: Utahns find the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine can bring harsher side effects. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not reported a significant difference in side effects among the three approved vaccine brands: The two-shot Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna versions, and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Among the more than half a million Utahns who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 184 people had bad reactions — ranging from fever and nausea to muscle and joint pain — that have been reported to a federal database.”


CNET: Coronavirus pandemic gives health care workers a chance to shine on social media. “Health care influencers existed long before the pandemic, but the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, has provided a chance for health care workers to showcase their expertise as people spend more time on social media. These workers are turning to TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Google-owned YouTube and other sites to educate the public, debunk misinformation, provide health care tips, boost vaccination rates and tackle hot-button topics such as health equity.”


National Science Foundation: Chip delivers COVID-19 test results on a phone. “COVID-19 can be diagnosed in 55 minutes or less with the help of programmed magnetic nanobeads and a diagnostic tool that plugs into an off-the-shelf cellphone, according to Rice University engineers. Mechanical engineer Peter Lillehoj has developed a stamp-sized microfluidic chip that measures the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein, a biomarker for COVID-19, in blood serum from a standard finger prick. The nanobeads bind to SARS-CoV-2 N protein in the chip and transport it to an electrochemical sensor that detects minute amounts of the biomarker.”

The Guardian: Covid: viral shedding is greatest in afternoon, study suggests. “The phased return of children to classrooms across the UK has prompted widespread concern that this could lead to an increase in infections. Because of this, college and secondary schoolchildren are required to take twice weekly lateral flow tests, to monitor rates of infection in the community. However, new research, which has not yet been peer reviewed, suggests Covid-19 tests may be less likely to give false negative results if taken during the early afternoon, compared with other times of day.”

CNN: Coronavirus spread on flight, in hotel corridor, New Zealand study finds. “The coronavirus spread on an international flight, in a hotel corridor and then to household contacts despite efforts to isolate and quarantine patients, New Zealand researchers reported Thursday. Careful genomic tracing confirmed the spread of the virus among nine patients and shows how people can infect one another despite careful efforts, the researchers reported in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.”

Science Daily: Having an unhealthy heart could lead to a higher risk of being diagnosed with COVID-19. “People with unhealthy heart structures and poorer functioning hearts have a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with COVID-19 infection, according to research by Queen Mary University of London, in collaboration with the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (The University of Southampton).”

JAMA Network: Association of Vitamin D Levels, Race/Ethnicity, and Clinical Characteristics With COVID-19 Test Results. “In this cohort study of 4638 individuals with a measured vitamin D level in the year before undergoing COVID-19 testing, the risk of having positive results in Black individuals was 2.64-fold greater with a vitamin D level of 30 to 39.9 ng/mL than a level of 40 ng/mL or greater and decreased by 5% per 1-ng/mL increase in level among individuals with a level of 30 ng/mL or greater. There were no statistically significant associations of vitamin D levels with COVID-19 positivity rates in White individuals.”

MIT News: Vaccination by inhalation. “Many viruses infect their hosts through mucosal surfaces such as the lining of the respiratory tract. MIT researchers have now developed a vaccination strategy that can create an army of T cells that are ready and waiting at those surfaces, offering a quicker response to viral invaders.”


BBC: Covid: Germany warns of ‘exponential’ rise in coronavirus cases. “Coronavirus cases are rising exponentially in Germany, officials warn, as continental Europe braces for a third wave of infections. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was likely that the country would now need to apply an ’emergency brake’ and re-impose lockdown measures.”


ABC News: Trump’s ‘Chinese Virus’ tweet helped lead to rise in racist anti-Asian Twitter content: Study. “A new study suggests that former President Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric around the coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in China, helped spark anti-Asian Twitter content and ‘likely perpetuated racist attitudes.'”

Orlando Sentinel: Orlando Sentinel sues Florida Department of Health to force release of COVID variant data. “The Orlando Sentinel filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Florida Department of Health for allegedly violating the state’s public records law by refusing to release detailed information on the location of mutated strains of COVID-19, even as such cases rapidly multiplied.”

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