Friday CoronaBuzz, March 26, 2021: 34 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.


Scientific Data: AI-assisted tracking of worldwide non-pharmaceutical interventions for COVID-19. “We present the Worldwide Non-pharmaceutical Interventions Tracker for COVID-19 (WNTRAC), a comprehensive dataset consisting of over 6,000 NPIs implemented worldwide since the start of the pandemic. WNTRAC covers NPIs implemented across 261 countries and territories, and classifies NPIs into a taxonomy of 16 NPI types. NPIs are automatically extracted daily from Wikipedia articles using natural language processing techniques and then manually validated to ensure accuracy and veracity.”


Deadline: Los Angeles Covid-19 Transmission Rate Creeping Up In Recent Weeks; Unclear If Cases, Hospitalizations, Deaths Will Jump Also. “County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported in a Zoom meeting with reporters that the estimated transmission number was 0.93 in early March, up from 0.87 the week before. The range of uncertainty is from .085 to 1.04. Any R number over 1 means that every person infected is passing the virus on to more than one other county resident. In a region of 10 million, infections can quickly snowball.”

Route Fifty: U.S. Unemployment Claims Fall to Under 700,000, Lowest Since Pandemic. “Claims fell to 684,000 for the week ending March 20, a drop of 97,000 from the previous week and the first time that claims have dipped below 700,000 since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic last year. Applications had never totaled above 700,000 before then, according to federal data. The previous record was 695,000, in October 1982.”


AP: Weaned on Hollywood endings, Americans now face a messy one. “There will come a day — maybe even a day in the next few months — when Americans wake up, emerge from their homes, cast away their masks and resume their lives. On that day, the Great Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020-21 will be over. Ridiculous, right? A consummation devoutly to be wished, but highly unlikely. Here’s the problem with anticipating the end of the pandemic: No one is sure just what that ending will look like or when it will arrive — or even if we’ll know it when we see it.”


ABC News: From COVID-19 vaccine to Jan. 6 siege, America’s adversaries continue to stoke online misinformation: DHS. “After a year that saw foreign governments trying to interfere with U.S. elections and cause chaos amid a pandemic, America’s adversaries continue to try to weaken the nation by stoking divisions on issues ranging from the COVID-19 vaccine to the Jan. 6 siege, a new intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News warns.”

New York Times: Far-Right Extremists Move From ‘Stop the Steal’ to Stop the Vaccine. “If the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government. Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chat rooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations.”


Gothamist: Why COVID-19 Is Surging In New Jersey But Flat In New York. “The difference may be due to vaccine disparities. About 14% of the state’s 8.8 million residents have been fully vaccinated in New Jersey, and more than 3.6 million doses have been administered. But Black and Latino residents in the state are getting inoculated at much lower rates—5% and 7%, respectively—compared to white residents. Latinos make up about 21% of the population and Black residents about 15%.”

BBC: Coronavirus: France accuses UK of ‘blackmail’ over vaccine exports. “Vaccine rollouts have started sluggishly across the bloc, and the EU has blamed pharmaceutical companies – primarily AstraZeneca – for not delivering its promised doses. AstraZeneca has denied that it is failing to honour its contract. The EU is expecting to receive about 30 million AstraZeneca doses by the end of March, less than a third of what it was hoping for.”


USA Today: Grape-Nuts shortage is over: Cereal brand to reimburse consumers who paid inflated prices during COVID shortage. “For those with pandemic pangs for the sweet crunch of Grape Nuts, take heart. The Great Grape-Nuts Shortage of 2021 is officially over. After months of being out of stock, the cereal is shipping at full capacity to stores nationwide, parent company Post Consumer Brands told USA TODAY exclusively. And if you paid wildly inflated prices on the black market to get your hands on a box, you may be eligible for reimbursement.”

BBC: Coronavirus: EU says AstraZeneca must ‘catch up’ on vaccine deliveries. “The vaccine producer AstraZeneca must “catch up” on its promised deliveries to the EU before exporting doses elsewhere, the bloc’s chief has said. ‘The company… has to honour the contract it has with member states,’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday evening. She spoke after EU leaders held a summit to discuss vaccine supplies.”

CNBC: Cruise and shipping industries could take a hit due to lack of Covid vaccines. “The lack of access to Covid-19 vaccines for maritime crews will expose the global shipping industry to a ‘legal minefield’ and leave global supply chains vulnerable, according to internal legal guidance from the International Chamber of Shipping.”


Health Analytics: NIH Funds National Project to Promote COVID-19 Data Sharing. “UC hospitals have received a $500,000 grant from NIH to enable COVID-19 data sharing on a national scale, allowing collaborations among researchers, providers, and patients. Led by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), leaders will manage a transfer of UC data on COVID-19 cases into the National COVID Cohort Collaborative’s (N3C) centralized data resource at the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.”

CNN: US government stops distribution of Eli Lilly Covid-19 antibody treatment due to spread of coronavirus variants. “The US government in coordination with Eli Lilly said it will no longer distribute the Covid-19 monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab for use on its own. The halt is due to the ‘sustained increase’ in coronavirus variants in the United States.”

ProPublica: How a Federal Agency Excluded Thousands of Viable Businesses From Pandemic Relief. “Like every other storefront in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, the Coffee House — a cavernous student hangout slinging espresso and decadent pastries since 1987 — saw its revenue dry up almost overnight last spring when the coronavirus pandemic made dining indoors a deadly risk. Unlike most, however, the business wouldn’t have access to the massive loan fund that Congress made available for small enterprises in late March.”

BBC: Covid-19: Dutch sign up for test holiday on Greek island. “A Dutch travel firm will take nearly 200 people for an eight-day holiday in Greece aimed at seeing if tourism is feasible during the Covid-19 pandemic. Those picked will have an all-inclusive getaway on the island of Rhodes at a cost of €399 (£344; $472) per person, but there are some catches.”

Reuters: U.S. COVID response could have avoided hundreds of thousands of deaths – research. “The United States squandered both money and lives in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and it could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths with a more effective health strategy and trimmed federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while still supporting those who needed it. That is the conclusion of a group of research papers released at a Brookings Institution conference this week, offering an early and broad start to what will likely be an intense effort in coming years to assess the response to the worst pandemic in a century.”

CNET: Biden holds first news conference, ups COVID-19 vaccine goal to 200M shots in 100 days. “US President Joe Biden has announced a new COVID-19 vaccine goal: 200 million shots during his first 100 days in office. The president announced the new target on Thursday during his first formal press conference at the White House.”

BBC: Coronavirus: Germany tightens borders amid alarm over pandemic. “Germany could see 100,000 infections a day if the third wave of coronavirus spreads unchecked, the head of the RKI public health institute has warned. Random checks and compulsory tests will be enforced on the border with France, says the French foreign minister, because ‘the pandemic in Germany is exploding faster than they thought’.”

Politico: White House nixed Deb Haaland’s Southwest-themed party over Covid concerns. “The White House recently ordered that a 50-person, Southwest-themed indoor party the Interior Department was planning to celebrate Secretary Deb Haaland’s confirmation be canceled after senior administration officials raised concerns that it could become a superspreader event.”

Washington Post: White House faces new pleas to avert ‘tidal wave’ of water shut-offs as state bans continue to lapse. “… the wave of potential water shut-offs in Michigan reflects a broader, national crisis in the making: Utility protections enacted in the early months of the pandemic are slated to expire in some states — including Hawaii, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont — over the next few weeks. The looming lapses have registered new urgent alarm among congressional lawmakers and community activists nationwide, who say the Biden administration should have acted faster, and sooner, to distribute federal aid to households at risk.”


New York Times: What the ‘Invisible’ People Cleaning the Subway Want Riders to Know. “The thousands of workers the contractors hired — largely low-income immigrants from Latin America — were envisioned as a stopgap measure, as M.T.A. workers were falling ill and dying of the virus. At the same time, ridership and revenue had plummeted and the agency found itself in an intense budget crunch. But nearly a year later, the workers are still toiling at stations all over the city, some paid as little as half as much as the M.T.A. employees who did the same work before the pandemic began, and many without access to health insurance.”

The Root: Chicago Hospital Exec Resigns After Bragging About Vaccinating Eric Trump From Supply of COVID-19 Doses Meant for Underserved Residents. “Anosh Ahmed, the chief operating officer at Loretto Hospital on the West side of Chicago, has resigned from his post following the revelatory reports that he had sent vaccine doses meant for residents of the majority-Black, low-income neighborhood to considerably richer and whiter people in Chicago—including Eric Trump.”

CNN: Autopsy of a pandemic: 6 doctors at the center of the US Covid-19 response. “This past January, just a few days after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, six of the doctors responsible for the previous administration’s Covid-19 response agreed to sit down — in strict confidence — and talk with me about the events of the past year. Over the period of a few weeks, in Houston, Washington, DC, and Baltimore, our team secured nondescript, large hotel ballrooms with plenty of space and ventilation to allow these extraordinary one-on-one conversations to take place with Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Brett Giroir, Dr. Stephen Hahn, Dr. Robert Kadlec and Dr. Robert Redfield.”

The National: A year in lockdown: ‘Art is playing a massive part in the pandemic’. “WHEN the pandemic struck, painter Mousa AlNana turned his home into a giant work of art. The 34-year-old – now holding online workshops to help learners beat isolation – says art has been the one thing helping most people through the lockdown as they sought solace in film, music and books. He says it’ll also help us make sense of what we’ve been through these last 12 months.”


1010 WINS: Rutgers to require COVID-19 vaccination for students this fall. “Rutgers University has announced that all students planning to attend in-person classes in the fall semester must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions.”


UC Riverside: Review paper links air pollution to COVID-19 susceptibility. “Exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to severe COVID-19 and creates a pre-inflammatory state in patients, a team that includes a University of California, Riverside, biomedical scientist reports in a literature review focusing on the impact of air pollution and COVID-19 on the cardiopulmonary system.”


Gizmodo: Researchers Put Cloth Face Masks Under a Microscope. The Images Are Out of This World. “After seeing the destruction covid-19 has wreaked around the world, it can seem incredible that something as simple as a cloth face mask could slow the spread of the virus. (PSA: They do. Please wear a mask). However, you probably won’t feel the same way once you see the spectacular images of cloth face masks under a scanning electron microscope captured by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.”

EurekAlert: X-rays combined with AI offer fast diagnostic tool in detecting COVID-19. “X-rays, first used clinically in the late 1890s, could be a leading-edge diagnostic tool for COVID-19 patients with the help of artificial intelligence, according to a team of researchers in Brazil who taught a computer program, through various machine learning methods, to detect COVID-19 in chest X-rays with 95.6 to 98.5% accuracy.”

PsyPost: Watching Anthony Fauci on Fox News makes people more willing to engage in pandemic reducing behaviors, study finds. “How warmly or coldly people feel toward scientists is associated with their compliance with measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to new research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. The study also found evidence that medical experts such as Anthony Fauci can help motivate people to maintain social distance from others and use disinfectant products amid the pandemic.”


Boston Herald: 32 Massachusetts cities and towns at high risk for coronavirus transmission as red zone doubles over two weeks. “The number of Massachusetts cities and towns at high risk for COVID-19 transmission has more than doubled in the past two weeks, rising to 32 this week from a low of 14 as officials sound alarms about local outbreaks.”

East Hampton Star: Students Contract Covid at Party, Dozens Quarantine. “By now, it’s an open secret: A single gathering of teens, reportedly held two weekends ago at a house in Sag Harbor and attended by students from multiple schools, has resulted in a spate of positive Covid-19 cases and related quarantines at at least two schools.”


Times-Union: Batavia ICE detainees among first in country to get COVID-19 vaccine. “The news comes a month and a half after a COVID-19 outbreak hit the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility. In the past month, 119 of the 187 detainees have contracted COVID-19, according to court documents. ICE’s website says there are 63 active positive cases at the facility. At the start of the outbreak, the New York Civil Liberties Union and Prisoner Legal Services of New York sued the facility and ICE over providing vaccines to 85 detained immigrants who are medically at-risk.”

Mashable: FTC warns of ‘vaccine survey’ scams, because people are the worst. “There’s no good thing that scammers won’t try to ruin. The Federal Trade Commission issued a warning Wednesday that unscrupulous actors are preying upon the newly vaccinated, attempting to trick those in the throes of post-jab joy out of their cash.”


Miami Herald: Blame Gov. DeSantis for Florida’s COVID super-spreader spring break beach madness | Opinion. “Florida’s spring break debacle — rowdy COVID super-spreader crowds at beaches around the state, at some spots with violence thrown in for special effect — is the perfect showcase for what ails the state’s governor: recurring poor judgment.”

CoronaBuzz is brought to you by ResearchBuzz. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment, send resource suggestions, or tag @buzz_corona on Twitter. Thanks!

Categories: coronabuzz

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply