Monday CoronaBuzz, March 29, 2021: 30 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.


AP: Virus fight stalls in early hot spots New York, New Jersey. “A year after becoming a global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York and New Jersey are back atop the list of U.S. states with the highest rates of infection. Even as the vaccination campaign has ramped up, the number of new infections in New Jersey has crept up by 37% in a little more than a month, to about 23,600 every seven days. About 54,600 people in New York tested positive for the virus in the last week, a number that has begun to inch up recently.”

AP: As daily deaths near 4,000, worst may lie ahead for Brazil. “The nation’s seven-day average of 2,400 deaths stands to reach to 3,000 within weeks, six experts told the Associated Press. That’s nearly the worst level seen by the U.S., though Brazil has two-thirds its population. Spikes of daily deaths could soon hit 4,000; on Friday there were 3,650.”


Mashable: For better or worse, livestreamed and virtual concerts are probably here to stay. “For a music festival turned tech networking event turned series of livestreamed panels, the future of live music was appropriately top of mind at this year’s virtual SXSW. Over half a dozen talks, featuring experts from tech companies, music labels, artists, and more, tackled the topic. There was not a consensus about what the future would look like, but everyone agreed that the way artists and venues heavily relied on tech during the pandemic would have impacts after it’s over.”

Washington Post: Why you just can’t choose: Parenting through pandemic decision fatigue. “Drive on icy roads for grocery pickup or try to cancel the order? Pay the nonrefundable deposit on summer camp or wait? Send kids to school or suffer remote learning? Keep or cancel the client meeting with spotty Internet? These are just a few of the many decisions Austin mom Jenny Lemmons Magic had to make over a few days in February. The 40-year-old mother of two boys, ages 4 and 8, went on Facebook and shared these and other tough choices in a post that started: ‘”Decision fatigue” will be how I remember this season of my life.'”

The City: One in 10 Local COVID Victims Destined for Hart Island, NYC’s Potter’s Field. “More people were buried on Hart Island in 2020 than any year during the AIDS epidemic — and the city is on pace to inter one in 10 of its COVID-19 victims in the potter’s field. An exclusive analysis of city data, public records and interviews with dozens of local officials indicates at least 2,334 adults were buried on Hart Island in 2020 — 2 ½ times the figure recorded in 2019 and about 1,000 more than in 1988, the peak year for AIDS burials.”


USA Today: ‘You can’t trust the government’: Spanish-speaking social media spreads COVID-19 vaccine disinformation, adds to hesitancy. “It took Maria Teresa Kumar weeks to find out why her mom wouldn’t take a COVID-19 vaccine and to convince her it is safe. Kumar’s mother, a Colombian American woman who runs a small eldercare facility in Northern California, received a video on WhatsApp featuring a speaker who claimed to be a pharmacist. In Spanish, the speaker warned viewers not to get the shot because it was a ‘new technology never introduced into humans before.'”


Washington Post: ‘We’re going to take care of you, okay?’. “Across the country, the vaccination campaign against the novel coronavirus was picking up speed. The Biden administration was on the verge of securing 100 million more doses, and a few states were even starting to offer shots to the general population. But on a Thursday morning in March, Alabama lagged with one of the worst vaccination rates in the country, as well as one of the worst racial disparities nationally among those receiving the shots, and now a group of community clinics called Cahaba Medical Care was trying to turn those numbers around.”

Route Fifty: Building Trust in the Covid-19 Vaccine Among People of Color. “Government and health care organizations must overcome understandable skepticism toward the vaccine among some minority groups. Following three basic communications practices can help.”

Voice of America: Asian Frontline Medics in US Face Hate Amid COVID-19. ” While the past year’s battle with COVID-19 has been grueling for health care workers across America, the challenge has been compounded for Asian medical professionals, who have also had to work amid a wave of pandemic-inspired anti-Asian attacks.”


Poynter: Wood, plastics, chip shortages causing headaches for manufacturers. “We have explored the computer chip shortage that began during the pandemic and caused headaches for everyone from car manufacturers to companies that build laptops and game consoles. The Biden administration hopes to begin changing America’s reliance on foreign suppliers for such a critical part of our manufacturing. But wait, there’s more.”

CNET: Apple offers PTO to employees so they can get vaccinated, report says. “To encourage its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Apple is offering them paid time off to go to the appointments, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing unnamed sources. In addition, the company is also offering paid sick time for employees who experience side effects after getting the vaccine.”


New York Times: Trump’s former pandemic coordinator suggests restrained response may have cost hundreds of thousands of lives.. “In interviews broadcast on CNN Sunday night, former President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic officials confirmed in stark and no uncertain terms what was already an open secret in Washington: The administration’s pandemic response was riddled with dysfunction, and the discord, untruths and infighting most likely cost many lives. Dr. Deborah L. Birx, Mr. Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, suggested that hundreds of thousands of Americans may have died needlessly, and Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the testing czar, said the administration lied to the public about the availability of testing.”

Reuters: U.S. gives Palestinians $15 million for COVID-19 response: statement. “The Biden administration is giving the Palestinians $15 million to aid in their COVID-19 response in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the U.S. State Department said in a statement on Thursday. The funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would help support efforts by the Catholic Relief Services in healthcare facilities as well as address food insecurity, the statement said.”

BBC: Covid: Barcelona hosts large gig after testing crowd. “Around 5,000 people spent Saturday night at a gig in Barcelona after receiving negative results in same-day Covid testing. Spanish authorities let the concert, featuring band Love of Lesbian, go ahead as part of a pilot.Fans took a test earlier in the day and did not have to keep physically apart but they still wore masks.”

AP: Mexico’s real COVID-19 death toll now stands at over 321,000. “Mexico’s government acknowledged Saturday that the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic now stands above 321,000, almost 60% more than the official test-confirmed number of 201,429.”

BBC: Covid: Outdoor meetings and sport to resume in England. “Two households or groups of up to six people are now able to meet outside in England again as the stay-at-home Covid restrictions order comes to an end. Outdoor sport facilities including tennis courts and golf courses are also reopening, and organised outdoor sports can resume in the latest easing. And weddings will also be on again, attended by up to six people.”

New York Times: For Biden, a New Virus Dilemma: How to Handle a Looming Glut of Vaccine. “As U.S. manufacturers hit their stride, vaccine scarcity will soon turn to plenty as much of the world goes begging. And vaccine makers need answers now about what to do with the coming surplus.”

Luxembourg Times: EU dispute over vaccines continues, now in the background. “When EU leaders met last Thursday, it wasn’t the European Commission’s decision to toughen up the mechanism to block vaccine exports that heated up discussions. It was Austria’s demands for how to divide the doses available to the countries most affected by AstraZeneca’s shortages. One might argue that trying to convince 26 other heads of state and government that your people’s lives are more important than theirs was neither a very smart move nor an easy task. Yet Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz seemed pretty confident he would succeed.”


Route Fifty: How One State’s Public Health Defunding Led to Vaccination Chaos. “Missouri’s rocky vaccine rollout places it among the bottom states nationwide, with 23.7% of the population vaccinated with at least one dose as of Thursday, compared with the national average of 26.3%. If Missouri were on par with the national rate, that would be roughly equivalent to more than 162,000 additional people vaccinated, or almost the entire population of the city of Springfield. Part of the problem, health experts said, is that the state bypassed its 115 local health departments in its initial vaccine rollout plans.”


Poynter: The journalists and colleagues we’ve lost to the coronavirus. “Worldwide, more than 2 million people have died, according to The New York Times, with more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. Those numbers will keep changing. We’ll keep updating them. They’ll still be hard to comprehend. So as many of us have been taught to do, we’re gathering the stories alongside the numbers. Here, we’re collecting the published obituaries of the journalists and those employed by the media around the world who’ve died because of the coronavirus.”


The Daily: Social media and the pandemic have re-envisioned my 20s. “I think our 20s will be like waking up from a very long nap. I imagine that turning 20 will be like turning 16 or 21, but instead of a driver’s license or a bottle of vodka, I’ll be re-handed a semblance of social life as I once knew it. I imagine that the years following will be super quirky, but gradual and cautious. I’ll want to step back into familiarity, but it won’t be the same. I’ll still need to be thoughtful about where I travel and which populations I might put at risk, because many people will still be immunocompromised or unvaccinated in this time of transition.”


New York Times: First Covid, Then Psychosis: ‘The Most Terrifying Thing I’ve Ever Experienced’. “Doctors say such symptoms may be one manifestation of brain-related aftereffects of Covid-19. Along with more common issues like brain fog, memory loss and neurological problems, ‘new onset’ psychosis may result from an immune response, vascular issues or inflammation from the disease process, experts hypothesize. Sporadic cases have occurred with other viruses, and while such extreme symptoms are likely to affect only a small proportion of Covid survivors, cases have emerged worldwide.”

The Guardian: Pandemic periods: why women’s menstrual cycles have gone haywire. “When the gynaecologist Dr Anita Singh (who writes and podcasts as the Gynae Geek) posted an informal survey on Instagram in May, asking if women had noticed changes to their cycles or hormonal symptoms, 65% of the 5,677 respondents said yes. A study (not yet peer reviewed) carried out by sports scientists and the bioanalytics company Orreco showed that 53% of 749 women surveyed on the characteristics of their menstrual cycle reported changes, such as changes in mood and longer cycles than usual.”

Washington Post: Pfizer, Moderna vaccines are 90% effective after two doses in study of real-life conditions, CDC confirms. “In a study of about 4,000 health-care personnel, police, firefighters and other essential workers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the vaccines reduced the risk of infection by 80 percent after one shot. Protection increased to 90 percent following the second dose. The findings are consistent with clinical trial results and studies showing strong effectiveness in Israel and the United Kingdom, and in initial studies of health-care workers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center and in Southern California.”


Washington Post: ‘Vaccine passports’ are on the way, but developing them won’t be easy. “The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials — often referred to as ‘vaccine passports’ — that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen.”


AP: AP Exclusive: WHO report says animals likely source of COVID. “A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is ‘extremely unlikely,’ according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press. The findings were largely as expected and left many questions unanswered. The team proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.”

EurekAlert: Scientists identify virus-cell interaction that may explain COVID-19’s high infection rate. “Lehigh researchers quantify the specific interaction between the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — with the ACE2 receptors in human cells that may partially explain its high infection rate compared to SARS-CoV-1.”


USA Today: You will never be asked to pay for a vaccine: Watch out for these vaccination scams looking to get your money, information. “As if it wasn’t a stressful enough time – with tens of millions of Americans anxiously awaiting vaccination information to help protect themselves and their families from COVID-19 – a new crop of scams are exploiting the process. In fact, the FBI and the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services are warning about fraudulent vaccination schemes circulating through telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and even door-to-door visits.”

WAFB: 11 National Guard Soldiers transporting vaccines held at gunpoint in West Texas, suspect arrested. “Larry Harris, of Willcox, Arizona, is accused of following three National Guardsmen vans from Love’s Travel Station on East Regis Street in Lubbock to about two miles east of Idalou. Police say Harris attempted multiple times to run the vans off of the roadway. He then turned his vehicle into oncoming traffic on Hwy. 62/82 and stopped the vans. He then pointed a gun at an unarmed National Guardsman, identified himself as a detective, and demanded to search the vehicles and ordered the rest of the unarmed guardsmen out of their vehicles at gunpoint.”

The Daily Beast: Meet the Fake Lawyer Who Goes to War for Anti-Mask Restaurants. “Rick Martin presented a formidable résumé. ‘Lawyer Rick Martin “The Judge Slayer,”‘ a biography on his website read. Billing himself as the head of the ‘Constitutional Law Group,’ (CLG), Martin advertised his legal services for businesses that defied anti-COVID-19 measures. ‘“I have put three District Judges, two District Attorneys, and countless law enforcement officers behind prison walls,’ he wrote. ‘We the People need to come together and take back our country from these unlawful criminals.’ But it was Martin and one of his clients who went to jail this month.”

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