Wednesday CoronaBuzz, April 7, 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.


PR Newswire: Powerful New Tool Predicts COVID Trends (PRESS RELEASE). “Today, National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) announced the launch of its COVID-19 Index (, a powerful new tool designed to prepare communities for future waves of coronavirus. The COVID-19 Index will enable healthcare organizations and communities to view where coronavirus cases and deaths will surge so they may focus their resources on those areas most directly impacted by the virus. This ability to predict the future will improve response times for businesses and government agencies, as well as allow healthcare providers to prepare for an increase of expected patients who may need COVID-19 treatments.”


Mostly Economics: A global database on central banks’ monetary responses to Covid-19. “There is a dashboard and an excel file of the various measures by central banks. Really useful for research.”


Washington Post: As coronavirus infections and vaccinations surge, hope collides with dread. “When Laura Forman arrived at work a few weeks ago, something was missing. The refrigerated truck for bodies that had overflowed Kent Hospital’s morgue during the covid-19 surge was gone. ‘Coming up to the hospital and seeing that space where it had been, I cried,’ said Forman, the physician who heads the Warwick, R.I., hospital’s emergency department. ‘It was the most powerful symbol of hope.’ But this week, hope gave way, yet again, to concern.”

The Hill: Reported daily COVID-19 deaths dropped to lowest point in year on Sunday. “The number of COVID-19 deaths per day reported in the U.S. dropped to its lowest point in more than a year on Sunday, with the country documenting 222 fatalities. The U.S. saw daily toll drop from 676 fatalities recorded on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics. The data show the number of daily deaths reached its lowest point since early in the pandemic on March 23, 2020, when 192 deaths were documented.”

Washington Post: Brazil has become South America’s superspreader event. “With a sense of dread, the doctor watched the patients stream into his intensive care unit. For weeks, César Salomé, a physician in Lima’s Hospital Mongrut, had followed the chilling reports. A new coronavirus variant, spawned in the Amazon rainforest, had stormed Brazil and driven its health system to the brink of collapse. Now his patients, too, were arriving far sicker, their lungs saturated with disease, and they were dying within days. Even the young and healthy didn’t appear protected. The new variant, he realized, was here.”

NBC News: U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs in March, as vaccinations spur return to normal. “The U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell to 6 percent, in the strongest indication yet that the labor market is finally working its way back to pre-pandemic norms as the number of vaccinations continues to rise. The hiring and employment data, released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, firmly beat economists’ predictions of 675,000 positions added. Totals were revised upward for January by 67,000 to 233,000 positions and for February by 89,000 to 468,000.”


CNN: “Staggering” number of children have lost at least one parent to Covid-19, model estimates. “More than a year into the pandemic, children’s lives may be starting to look more normal as an increasing number of people get vaccinated and schools reopen. However, many children in the US are contending with the difficult reality that is irreparable: the loss of a parent from Covid-19. One result of the pandemic may be an ever-growing number of ‘Covid orphans.'”

Associated Press: US hunger crisis persists, especially for kids, older adults. “Food banks around the U.S. continue giving away far more canned, packaged and fresh provisions than they did before the virus outbreak tossed millions of people out of work, forcing many to seek something to eat for the first time. For those who are now back at work, many are still struggling, paying back rent or trying to rebuild savings.”


BBC: Vitamin D: The truth about an alleged Covid ‘cover-up’. “There are many treatments that have been suggested for Covid-19. Hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin and vitamin D – all are, or were, being studied. Suggesting that a treatment could be effective and then finding it isn’t upon further research is all part of the normal scientific process. But online, early or low quality research can be shared out of context. And the confusion this creates can be exploited by people promoting conspiracy theories.”


Gothamist: East Village Drag & Punk Venue Pyramid Club Closes Due To Pandemic. “East Village mainstay Pyramid Club, which has served as a neighborhood institution and longtime drag, punk and dance venue since the 1980s, has permanently closed. Managers Maria Narciso and Quirino Perez made the announcement on Instagram on Thursday morning. They wrote that the shuttering of the 41-year-old club, which had been closed since March 7th, 2020, was due to the pandemic.”

New York Times: U.S. Bet Big on Covid Vaccine Manufacturer Even as Problems Mounted. “The Baltimore plant that recently had to scrap up to 15 million ruined doses had flouted rules and downplayed errors, according to internal audits, ex-employees and clients. Other doses had to be scrapped last year.”


Reuters: England to open shops, gyms and outdoor pubs, PM Johnson says. “British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday a planned reopening of the economy would take place next week, with the opening of all shops, gyms, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality areas in England.”

CNN: Biden ramps up vaccine diplomacy efforts as hopes rise that he’ll share surplus doses. “President Joe Biden, well on his way to reaching a new goal of vaccinating 200 million Americans by the end of April, is taking initial steps toward helping other nations ramp up shots, including by boosting global manufacturing and appointing a top global health expert who previously advocated for shipping vaccines from the United States’ surplus abroad.”

Washington Post: Biden administration to launch massive funeral assistance program for covid victims. “The Biden administration next week will launch a funeral assistance program that will provide up to $9,000 to cover the burial costs of each American who died of covid-19 — the largest program of its type ever offered by the federal government. The program is open to families regardless of their income, as long as they show documentation and have not already received similar benefits through another program.”


State of New York: Governor Cuomo Announces Statewide Launch of “Roll Up Your Sleeve” Campaign and Encourages New Yorkers Age 16-Plus Who Are Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine Tuesday, April 6 to Schedule an Appointment. “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of the statewide “Roll Up Your Sleeve” ad campaign to encourage all New Yorkers, especially those from neighborhoods where COVID was most devastating, to get vaccinated. The ads will be shown on television and online statewide beginning April 7. The ads were directed by Contagion screenplay writer Scott Burns, and shot at New York City’s Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. This effort comes as universal eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine goes into effect and all New Yorkers 16-years-of-age and older are eligible to receive the vaccine starting April 6.”


NBC News: Gianforte tests positive for COVID-19. ” The governor’s office announced Monday evening that Gov. Greg Gianforte tested positive for COVID-19. Gianforte had just received his first vaccine dose last week. A spokesperson for the governor says they do not know how he contracted it, and added that he has held no public events since Thursday evening.”

Washington Post: This woman, 82, dresses to the nines each Sunday for virtual church. Her selfies have become legendary.. “It’s been more than a year now that churchgoers have been watching virtual streaming Sunday services on their cellphones and computers during the pandemic. Many have made a habit of tuning in while wearing cozy sweatpants or pajamas. Then there’s La Verne Ford Wimberly of Tulsa. The 82-year-old retired educator decks herself out head to toe every Sunday, then — to the delight of fellow parishioners at Metropolitan Baptist Church — posts a selfie on Facebook after the service.”


ProPublica: My Kids’ School Closed Again. So I Started Calling Experts.. “Here is the minute I finally lost it: Sunday, March 21, at 9:34 p.m. That’s when my wife and I got an email saying our kids’ New York City public elementary school would be closed yet again. Testing had found two positive COVID-19 cases among nearly 700 students and staff.”


Yahoo: ‘I don’t wish this on anybody’: 24-year-old receives lung and kidney transplant after testing positive for COVID-19. “In the year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, we’ve learned that the virus can affect individuals differently. While some people may only experience mild symptoms (or no symptoms at all) the virus has caused more than 2.8 million deaths worldwide. In an interview with TODAY, Colby Vondenstein shared his experience with COVID-19 — which resulted in two organ transplants.”

ABC News 7: Children now playing ‘huge role’ in spread of COVID-19 variant, expert says. “Dr. Michael Osterholm is the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He was also a member of Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board during the time between Biden being elected president and inaugurated. Osterholm previously supported sending children back to school. He said the virus was not a major threat to children. Now, the situation has changed.”


Arizona State University: Volunteers help SolarSPELL get back in action. “Volunteers from the Phoenix Peace Corps Association and the Arizona State University community came together April 3 to build dozens of portable, digital SolarSPELL libraries. The small devices are powered by a solar panel connected to a rechargeable battery and a tiny computer built by Raspberry Pi. The small containers cast a Wi-Fi signal that allows any user to connect a smartphone, tablet or computer in areas with no telecommunciation infrastructure, and the libraries are loaded with relevant, localized educational information.”


The Hill: 46 COVID-19 cases linked to one indoor bar event in rural Illinois: CDC. “The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the event was linked to 26 COVID-19 cases in patrons at the bar opening and three in bar staff, who then spread the virus on to an additional 17 people who were not at the bar opening, known as ‘secondary cases.'”

Associated Press: Nearly half of new US virus infections are in just 5 states. “New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey together reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 new cases, in the latest available seven-day period, according to state health agency data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Total U.S. infections during the same week numbered more than 452,000.”


New York Times Magazine: I’m Incarcerated. This Is My Covid Lockdown Story.. “I was in my prison cell in upstate New York one afternoon in mid-​January when someone called out, “Suits walking!” The Sullivan Correctional Facility superintendent, a gray-haired man in his 60s named William Keyser, had come into the cell block with a mask strapped to his face, accompanied by a pair of deputies. Now he stood in the belly of the block in his suit and tie, pulled down his mask and announced that he was putting us under quarantine.”

BBC: Covid rule-breaker ‘dies after exercise punishment’. “A Filipino man who was found breaking quarantine rules has died after being made to do 300 squat-like exercises by police as punishment, his family said. Darren Manaog Penaredondo was allegedly stopped by officers while buying water after 1800 local time in Cavite province on Thursday. He collapsed the following day and later died.”


Washington Post: Opinion: Why tearing down Fauci is essential to the MAGA myth. “MAGA political philosophy is not systematic, but it is comprehensive. Right-wing populism offers a distorted lens to view nearly all of life. Through this warped lens, progress toward equal rights is actually the oppression of White people. Free and fair elections, when lost, are actually conspiratorial plots by the ruthless left. But perhaps the most remarkable distortion concerns the MAGA view of covid-19.”


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