Tuesday CoronaBuzz, March 30, 2021: 22 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.


Houston Chronicle: Can’t find a shot? Texas has a new COVID-19 vaccine website to help. “Through the Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler, Texans can create a profile to place themselves on a statewide wait list for the vaccine. A day after individuals enter their personal information and preferred appointment times, the state will match them with the next available appointment in their home county.”


AP: Paris doctors warn of catastrophic overload of virus cases. “Critical care doctors in Paris say surging coronavirus infections could soon overwhelm their ability to care for the sick in the French capital’s hospitals, possibly forcing them to choose which patients they have the resources to save. The sobering warnings were delivered Sunday in newspaper opinions signed by dozens of Paris-region doctors.”


NBC News: Coronavirus pandemic slowdown has made the oceans quieter, which has been good for whales. “Visitor numbers have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. But the global slowdown has actually been good for the whales, as human interference has decreased. Ambient noise in the world’s oceans from cruise ships, sonar and construction is way down.”

Reuters: Gen X emerging from pandemic with firmer grip on America’s wallet. “Crammed between the cultural extremes of the baby boomers and the millennials, members of Generation X saw their wealth jump during the Trump administration and through the coronavirus pandemic as they hit their prime earning years during a record bull market for stocks.”


CBC: Marketplace flagged over 800 social media posts with COVID-19 misinformation. Only a fraction were removed. “Marketplace producers, between Feb. 3 and Feb. 16, combed through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter — using the user tool to flag and report more than 800 posts that breach each company’s policies that cover, among other things, posting misinformation. The result: 12 per cent of the posts were labelled with warnings or taken down entirely. That number jumped to 53 per cent per cent only after Marketplace journalists identified themselves and shared the findings directly with the companies.”

NPR: Few Facts, Millions Of Clicks: Fearmongering Vaccine Stories Go Viral Online. “A new NPR analysis finds that articles connecting vaccines and death have been among the most highly engaged with content online this year, going viral in a way that could hinder people’s ability to judge the true risk in getting a shot.”


BBC: Irish pubs could become work hubs in post-pandemic plan. “The Irish government scheme is part of a five year rural development policy, released on Monday. Under the plan, a fifth of public servants would shift to remote or home working by the end of the year.”

Politico: Biden admin remakes vaccine strategy after mass vaccination sites fizzle. “The Biden administration is rethinking a costly system of government-run mass vaccination sites after data revealed the program is lagging well behind a much cheaper federal effort to distribute doses via retail pharmacies.”

CNBC: CDC will extend national eviction ban through June 30. “The eviction ban was scheduled to expire in two days, and advocates warned of a spike in evictions without an extension. Around 20% of adult renters said they didn’t pay last month’s rent, according to a survey published in March by the Census Bureau. Closer to 33% of Black renters reported the same.”

AP: Slovak Premier, Government Resign Over Russian Vaccine Deal. “Slovakia’s Prime Minister Igor Matovic and his government resigned on Tuesday to ease a political crisis triggered by a secret deal to buy Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. It is the first European government to collapse due to its handling of the pandemic but the move will keep the current four-party coalition in power and avoid the possibility of an early election. The coalition holds a comfortably parliamentary majority.”

Arab News: Filipinos voice frustration over Duterte’s handling of COVID-19 crisis. “Filipinos took to social media over the weekend to vent their anger over the government’s move to place the nation’s capital and four surrounding provinces under the strictest lockdown for a week starting from Monday amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.:


New York Times: New York Must Offer Vaccine to All Prisoners Immediately, Judge Rules. “New York must immediately begin to offer Covid vaccines to all incarcerated people in the state’s prisons and jails, a judge ruled on Monday, making the state one of few in the nation to provide doses to such a broad population behind bars.”

CBS New York: Connecticut Deploys Nation’s First FEMA Mobile Vaccination Unit To Underserved Communities. “Connecticut has a new tool to help residents access the COVID vaccine. The state deployed the nation’s first FEMA COVID-19 mobile vaccination unit in Bridgeport on Monday.”

Washington Post: New accounts detail how New York health officials were told to prioritize coronavirus testing of people connected to Andrew Cuomo. “New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s relatives and other well-connected New Yorkers were among those given preferential treatment at state coronavirus testing centers. State troopers were on standby to rush their samples to a lab to be expedited. And those with priority status got results within hours or a day compared to a wait of up to a week that other New Yorkers faced at the time. Seven individuals with firsthand knowledge of testing practices said that some people with access to power were able to largely bypass the overburdened resources available to the general public when the pandemic first gripped New York last year.”


Reuters: Another danger for kids in the age of COVID: Failing grades. ” Like millions of American children, Brody Cotton has not seen the inside of a classroom in more than a year. As the COVID-19 pandemic left him navigating 7th grade from his couch in Carlsbad, California, Brody’s grades dropped from As and Bs to a D and two Fs last semester.”

New York Times: Why Virus Tests at One Elite School Ran Afoul of Regulators. “It was supposed to be a pandemic triumph, a way for a prestigious school to keep its doors open when many others could not. Instead, the coronavirus testing program at New Trier High School, outside Chicago, offers a cautionary lesson about what happens when educators are asked to take on public health responsibilities.”


New York Times: We Can’t End the Pandemic Without Vaccinating Kids. “The United States’ coronavirus vaccine rollout has finally hit its stride, with well over two million doses administered daily. Soon, vaccines will be available to all adults who want them. Children are the next vaccination frontier. When it comes time to vaccinate them, the same urgency and large-scale coordination efforts driving adult vaccination must continue if we want to sustainably drive down Covid-19 cases and ultimately end the pandemic.”


Mashable: Scientists figured out the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine’s code and posted it on Github. “Hackers have posted a brand new trove of reverse-engineered data on Github. And by ‘hackers,’ I mean ‘scientists.’ And that trove of ‘reverse-engineered data’ is the mRNA sequence which makes Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine work.”


CNBC: Fraudsters are laundering millions in Covid relief funds through online investment platforms. “Tech-savvy fraudsters stealing from the government’s Covid pandemic relief programs to help businesses have found a convenient way to launder the money: they’re opening accounts with at least four online investment platforms, law enforcement officials said. The digital platforms, investigators said, are easy to dump the money into by setting up accounts with stolen identities. More than $100 million in fraudulent funds passed through investment accounts since Congress passed the CARES Act last March, according to authorities.”

AP: Pandemic masks ongoing child abuse crisis as cases plummet. “The AP requested public records from all 50 state child welfare agencies and analyzed more than a dozen indicators in 36 states, though not every state supplied data for total reports or investigations. The analysis compared the first nine months of the pandemic — March to November 2020 — with the same time period from the two previous years.And there are signs in a number of states that suggest officials are dealing with more urgent and complex cases during the pandemic, according to the analysis, though most child welfare agencies didn’t provide AP thorough data on severity.”

Daily Beast: COVID-Crazed Brits Are Risking Huge Fines to Go on Vacation. “After more than a year of lockdowns and restrictions, some stir-crazy travelers will do anything to get away from it all—even if that means paying a hefty fine. In the U.K., the government is set to fine anyone who travels abroad without a ‘valid reason’ 5,000 pounds ($6,895) starting Monday. But where there is a will, there is always a way, and we found a number of loopholes that are sure to send people packing.”


CNN: The hard lesson of Dr. Deborah Birx. “She, like many of us, had no idea how badly his administration would distort, ignore and deny science and the truth during the pandemic. Although she said she took the job out of a sense of obligation (‘That’s what a civil servant is supposed to do,’ she said a year later), Birx became inextricably tied to the harmful decisions of her negligent, disastrously ignorant boss.”

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