Friday CoronaBuzz, August 6, 2021: 65 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

Please stay safe. Please get vaccinated. Please wear a mask when you’re inside with a bunch of people. Much love.


TechCrunch: As the delta variant surges, a nonprofit app lets hospital patients call home for free on any device. “A hospital can request a TeleHome login (provided again, for free). Once it’s installed using that one-time login, patients can use a hospital’s device to send a link via text to another person. Clicking that link will take participants to a Zoom-call like format in an internet browser — regardless of whether they have an iPhone, Android, computer or any other type of device.”


WREX: Illinois launches new website to track COVID-19 data in long-term care facilities. “To help ensure transparency, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today that COVID-19 vaccination data for both residents and staff in long-term care (LTC) facilities is now available on the IDPH website.”


CNN: Delta variant now accounts for more than 93% of COVID-19 cases in the US. “The delta variant now accounts for an estimated 93.4% of coronavirus circulating in the United States, according to figures published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes several sub-lineages of delta, all of which are classified as variants of concern. Together, they made up about 93.4% of cases during the last two weeks of July.”

AP: Sturgis bike rally revs back bigger, despite virus variant. “The rally, which starts Friday, has become a haven for those eager to escape coronavirus precautions. Last year, the rally hardly slowed down, with roughly 460,000 people attending. Masks were mostly ditched as bikers crowded into bars, tattoo parlors and rock shows, offering a lesson in how massive gatherings could spread waves of the virus across the country.”

KTNV: COVID cases up 84% among US kids, teens. “We’re seeing an alarming jump in COVID cases among teens and children in the U.S. Almost 72,000 young Americans caught COVID last week alone, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That’s an 84% jump from the week before. And five times higher, than the end of June.”

New York Times: Alarmed Louisiana Residents Turn to Vaccines in ‘Darkest Days’ of Pandemic. “Louisiana is leading the nation in an explosion of new cases. Hospitals are overflowing and admitting more young people than before. But the crisis is also driving some to get vaccinated.”

AP: COVID: In Florida hospitals, ‘there are only so many beds’ . “A South Florida hospital chain is suspending elective surgeries and putting beds in conference rooms, an auditorium and even a cafeteria as many more patients seek treatment for COVID-19.”

Palm Beach Post: COVID and kids: Pediatricians in Palm Beach County seeing ‘alarming rise’ in children being hospitalized. “Pediatricians across Palm Beach County are taking on social media, television and email to warn of a surge in COVID-19 cases among children both locally and across the state. They are concerned not only about the growing number of cases among the young but also about the severity of illness they are witnessing.”


Washington Post: Opinion: Despite all the disinformation, Americans are finally waking up to the covid-19 crisis. “Some rays of sunshine have permeated the Republican fog of coronavirus disinformation. It turns out that despite rather shoddy coverage putting the number of ‘breakthrough’ infections in absolute terms (rather than as a percentage of cases) and ongoing lies from opportunistic politicians, more Americans are waking up to the danger posed by the delta variant.”


Washington Post: Last-minute eviction ban extension fuels confusion and is too late for some. “A last-minute extension of a moratorium barring evictions for covid-struck counties is injecting a new layer of confusion for millions of renters who had been on the verge of eviction and aren’t sure whether they’ve gotten a reprieve — and for some, it’s too late.”

New York Times: Americans Suffer Pandemic Whiplash as Leaders Struggle With Changing Virus. “An evolving virus and 18 months of ever-changing pandemic messaging have left Americans angry, exhausted and skeptical of public health advice.”

Rolling Stone: Take It From Them: Americans Hospitalized With Covid Regret Not Getting the Vaccine. “The degree to which right-wing influencers like [Phil] Valentine are responsible for the vaccine hesitancy fueling the Covid resurgence can’t be overstated. Local radio hosts, cable news talking heads, and Republicans in Congress have duped tens of millions of Americans into failing to protect themselves and others from the disease. These unvaccinated millions are now coming down with severe cases of Covid at an alarming rate. Like Valentine, many of them are expressing regret that they neglected to get the vaccine.”


NJ .com: Gov. Murphy rips protesters objecting to mandatory vaccinations. ‘You are the ultimate knuckleheads.’. “Gov. Phil Murphy angrily lashed out at a small group of protesters carrying signs objecting to mandatory vaccinations, calling them the ‘ultimate knuckleheads’ during a public bill signing event on a crowded street in Union City on Wednesday.”


ABC 7: Nearly a quarter of SoCal hospital workers still unvaccinated, federal data shows. “Nearly a quarter of hospital workers across Southern California still haven’t gotten a COVID-19 shot, according to federal data. The federal figures self-reported by 98 hospitals across the region indicate 22% of their healthcare personnel remain unvaccinated.”

The Advocate: Quantifying Louisiana’s dire hospital staff shortages as COVID hospitalizations break records. “Louisiana forwarded the staffing requests to the federal government last week, and on Monday, Washington responded by dispatching a 33-member disaster support team to Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. While grateful for the help, state officials — who requested nearly 1,700 reinforcements — are under no illusion that the federal government will be able to fill in all the gaps.”

NBC New York: Moderna Says a 3rd Dose of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Will Be Needed Before Winter. “Vaccine maker Moderna believes people who received two doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will need a third dose before winter as a booster shot. The company said Thursday it is also working on a single shot that would provide an annual booster for COVID-19, as well as flu and the respiratory condition RSV.”

HuffPost: ‘Only So Many Beds’: 1,600 Patients Were Admitted To Single Florida Hospital System In A Day. “A hospital chain in Florida’s Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, admitted an astounding 1,600 patients in a single day. At least a third of the patients in the county who were checked into the health care system Wednesday were suffering from COVID-19, The Associated Press reported.”

Texas Tribune: Texas hospitals hit by staffing crisis as burnout depletes workforce and COVID-19 surges. “In Texas, where hospitals are struggling with historically low staffing levels while hospitalizations from the COVID-19 delta variant are skyrocketing, nurses like [Jenna] Price are a hot commodity. There are 23,000 more unfilled jobs in Texas for registered nurses than there are nurses seeking to fill them, according to a labor analysis by the Texas Workforce Commission.”


Detroit News: New York Auto Show canceled because of COVID-19 surge. “The New York International Automobile Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center has been canceled two weeks before it was supposed to happen because of the COVID-19 delta variant and new measures announced recently by state and local officials to stop its spread, officials said Wednesday.”


CNN: Vanguard will pay vaccinated workers $1,000. “Vanguard, one of the world’s largest asset managers, is offering employees $1,000 to get vaccinated. The incentive shows how aggressively some companies are moving to encourage workers to get vaccinated as concerns about the Delta variant mount. All of Vanguard’s approximately 15,500 US employees are eligible and must show proof of vaccination by October 1.”

Above the Law: Davis Polk To Deactivate Building ID Cards Of Unvaccinated Lawyers And Staff. “Want to go back to the office? If you’re an employee at Davis Polk, that means you’d better be fully vaccinated — as soon as possible — because without proof, you will not be welcomed back to the firm. In fact, you won’t even be able to get inside the building because your access pass will be deactivated.”

Yelp Blog: Yelp Helps Businesses Communicate Vaccination Requirements. “With the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the COVID Delta variant, we’re seeing an increasing number of businesses implement new safety measures to protect their employees and communities. To help consumers understand how a business is currently operating as pandemic guidelines continue to evolve, today, Yelp is announcing two new, free attributes – ‘Proof of vaccination required’ and ‘All staff fully vaccinated.'”

CNN: Amazon is delaying its return to office until 2022. “Amazon on Thursday pushed back its office return date until early next year amid a surge in Covid-19 cases from the Delta variant, making it one of the most significant delays yet in the tech industry.”

New York Times: CNN fires three employees who went into the office unvaccinated.. “CNN said on Thursday that it had fired three employees who violated its coronavirus safety protocols by going to the office unvaccinated, one of the first known examples of a major American corporation’s terminating workers for ignoring a workplace vaccination mandate.”


NBC News: England reopened amid a delta surge, then cases fell. Are there lessons for the U.S.?. “The U.K. boasts one of the world’s most successful campaigns, with more than 88 percent of adults receiving one dose, and 73 percent a second, according to government data as of Wednesday. For the U.S., that drops to 70 percent for one dose and 60 percent for two — and rates are far lower in Southern states such as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Officials there are now in the same race of vaccine-versus-variant that Britain has been battling this summer.”

CNN: Defense Secretary Austin expected to make Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for active duty troops. “Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to seek authorization to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for all active duty troops as soon as this week, following President Joe Biden’s directive that the military examine how and when it could make that happen.”

Poynter: What’s happening with the federal eviction moratorium and rental assistance?. “The eviction moratorium that gave millions of households a cushion as the pandemic upended their lives expired July 31. Now top Democrats are at odds over how to get it started again.”

CNN: Exclusive: Intel agencies scour reams of genetic data from Wuhan lab in Covid origins hunt . “US intelligence agencies are digging through a treasure trove of genetic data that could be key to uncovering the origins of the coronavirus — as soon as they can decipher it. This giant catalog of information contains genetic blueprints drawn from virus samples studied at the lab in Wuhan, China which some officials believe may have been the source of the Covid-19 outbreak, multiple people familiar with the matter tell CNN.”

AP: France’s Macron uses social media to push for vaccination “French President Emmanuel Macron has taken to popular social media apps in a new push to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19, combat ‘false information’ and reach out to younger people.”

Daily Beast: Tokyo Covered Up Arrival of Deadly New COVID Variant Just Before the Olympics. “Three days before the Olympics began, on July 20, Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) reported to an international organization that the highly infectious Lambda variant had been detected in an airport test in Japan for the first time, but did not announce it widely to the public.”

Washington Post: Education Secretary Cardona criticizes Republican governors for banning mask mandates: ‘Our kids have suffered enough’. “Education Secretary Miguel Cardona criticized two Republican governors Thursday for banning mask mandates in their states, arguing that their actions are preventing children from safely returning to school. Cardona made the remarks in response to a question from a reporter about the recent moves by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The more contagious delta variant coupled with vaccine holdouts have led to a national surge in coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks, with Texas and Florida among the hardest-hit states.”


AP: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson regrets law prohibiting mask mandates. “Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson pressed forward Tuesday with efforts to allow schools to mandate face masks as the state’s coronavirus cases continued to spiral, but faced heavy opposition from fellow Republicans over the move.”

State of North Carolina: North Carolina to Require Vaccine Verification for State Employees, Urges Other Government Agencies and Private Employers to do the Same. “Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. announced that state government would begin verifying vaccination status of its workers. Employees not vaccinated are required to wear a mask and be tested at least once a week. Today’s announcement comes as North Carolina’s latest upswing in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is driven by unvaccinated North Carolinians.”

Raw Story: DeSantis refuses to declare state of emergency for COVID — and it’s leaving hospitals short of oxygen: report. “Bloomberg reports that DeSantis’s refusal to re-declare a state of emergency over the pandemic is leaving Florida hospitals scrambling to secure enough oxygen to treat COVID patients who are struggling to breathe. Essentially, unless DeSantis declares a state of emergency, then there are limits to how long medical support transport drivers can be on the road.”

KPTV: Get tested often or get vaccinated: Brown orders new pandemic rule for Oregon health care workers. “A new rule announced by Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday will require employees in health care settings statewide to either undergo weekly testing for COVID-19 or verify their vaccination status.”

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: North Carolina Offers $100 Cards for First-time COVID-19 Vaccinations, and $25 Cards for Drivers. “As part of its effort to help more North Carolinians protect themselves against COVID-19 and the highly contagious Delta variant, North Carolina is now offering $100 Summer Cards at some vaccine sites across the state to offset the time and transportation costs of getting vaccinated. From Aug. 4 through Aug. 31, the $100 Summer Cards are available to anyone 18 and older who gets their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a participating site—while supplies last.”

WTHR: West Lafayette mayor reiterates derogatory reference about unvaccinated residents. “The mayor of West Lafayette is making headlines after comments he made about unvaccinated residents during a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday…. ‘I lost my temper at a council meeting recently and called these people unvaccinated a**holes and, unfortunately, sometimes that’s accurate. That’s true,’ [John] Dennis said about 35 minutes into the video.”

Washington Post: Md., Va. governors say state workers need to show proof of covid vaccination or get tested. “The governors of Virginia and Maryland on Thursday announced some state employees would be required to get vaccinated or get tested regularly for the coronavirus, but neither said he would reimpose a mask mandate as cases in the region continue to increase. Meanwhile leaders of several localities in Maryland — including Montgomery County, the state’s most populous jurisdiction, and Prince George’s County, the second-largest and the hardest hit by the virus — announced they were requiring indoor masks for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, as much of the state reached a ‘substantial’ level of coronavirus transmission.”


Daily Beast: Missouri Coroner Admits to Excluding COVID-19 From Death Certificates. “A coroner in one Missouri county has admitted to removing COVID-19 as the cause of death on at least half a dozen death certificates, the Kansas City Star reports. The virus was reportedly left off the death certificate in cases where other factors could have been the main cause of death.”

WDSU: COVID-19 vaccine required for all New Orleans deputy constables ahead of heavy eviction workload. “Deputies with the First and Second City Courts of New Orleans will be required to get a coronavirus vaccination. Constable Edwin M. Shorty Jr. has mandated all commissioned deputies must be vaccinated as COVID-19 case counts are rising with the spread of the delta variant.”

New York Times: New York City’s Vaccine Passport Plan Renews Online Privacy Debate. “When New York City announced on Tuesday that it would soon require people to show proof of at least one coronavirus vaccine shot to enter businesses, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the system was ‘simple — just show it and you’re in.’ Less simple was the privacy debate that the city reignited.”


Mashable: Oh nothing, just Eurovision winner Lordi casually getting the COVID-19 vaccine. “We’ve seen a fair few inspiring images of famous people posting photos of themselves getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but few rival a photograph taken on Sunday. Tomi Petteri Putaansuu of the Finnish hard rock band Lordi got his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination on Sunday, in full garb.”

Baptist News Global: Evangelist dies of COVID just 25 days after preaching at a huge Baptist youth camp. “A popular youth evangelist who preached at one of the nation’s largest Baptist youth camps July 5-9 has died of COVID pneumonia less than a month later. Some parents had complained that their teenagers came home from Falls Creek Assembly with COVID infections, but the camp’s managers said those infections represented a small percentage of the 30,000 campers who attended over seven weeks.”

New York Times: Obama Significantly Scales Back 60th Birthday Party as Virus Cases Rebound. “The party plans had been months in the making and many invitees had already arrived on Martha’s Vineyard when former President Barack Obama belatedly announced he was canceling his huge 60th birthday bash scheduled for Saturday.”

The Guardian: Fitness enthusiast, 42, who rejected vaccine, dies of Covid. “A ‘fit and healthy’ 42-year-old who loved climbing mountains and lifting weights has died of Covid-19 after refusing to get vaccinated, leaving his twin sister and mother heartbroken. The two women warned others not to think they are invulnerable to the dangers of the virus.”

New Zealand Herald: Google billionaire visited New Zealand while the country’s border was closed. “Google co-founder Larry Page travelled to New Zealand to get hospital treatment for his young child despite the country’s borders being closed. The billionaire does not have New Zealand citizenship, but according to multiple reports is spending the Covid-19 pandemic on an island in Fiji.”

BBC: Paul Johnson: Chicago house music DJ dies at 50 after catching Covid. “Influential Chicago house music DJ Paul Johnson has died at the age of 50 after contracting Covid-19. Johnson, who had a global hit with Get Get Down in 1999 and was named as an influence by Daft Punk, had spent several weeks in hospital.”

WRAL: ‘See you soon, idiots’: Raleigh man puts 13-ft skeleton in his yard to encourage vaccinations. “[Jesse Jones] hopes he will at least convince one person to get vaccinated with his yard display. In his yard stands a 13-foot tall skeleton, depicting an unvaccinated person, with a sign hanging on him that says, ‘Not vaccinated, see you soon, idiots!'”


Brown County Democrat: COVID-19 cases could be linked to Bucks’ championship run. “Health officials have identified nearly 500 coronavirus cases statewide that could be linked to the large crowds that gathered in downtown Milwaukee as fans cheered on the Bucks’ run to the NBA championship.”


12 News: COVID-19 outbreak increases to 32 cases at Hamilton High School in Chandler. “Hamilton High School in Chandler reported there are 32 active COVID-19 cases among its staff and students on Tuesday, according to the Chandler Unified School District’s COVID-19 dashboard. The new amount of cases is three times higher than the next highest amount of COVID-19 cases in the district. Chandler High School is at 10 cases.”


KSTP: Hundreds of U of M professors push for vaccine mandate. “University of Minnesota professors are mulling a work stoppage if the university refuses to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to American Association of University Professors meeting minutes and documents obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. More than 500 faculty and students have signed on to a letter endorsing a vaccine requirement.”


New York Times: Is the Delta Variant Making Younger Adults ‘Sicker, Quicker’?. “Recently, a 28-year-old patient died of Covid-19 at CoxHealth Medical Center in Springfield, Mo. Last week, a 21-year-old college student was admitted to intensive care. Many of the patients with Covid-19 now arriving at the hospital are not just unvaccinated — they are much younger than 50, a stark departure from the frail, older patients seen when the pandemic first surged last year.”

New Yorker: How the Delta Variant Is Changing the Public-Health Playbook. “I recently spoke by phone with Rebecca Weintraub, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Better Evidence program at Ariadne Labs. Since the pandemic began, Weintraub, who is also a practicing internist, has been working with health officials across the country and around the world, advising them on vaccination efforts. ”

Boing Boing: People who contracted Covid may have “substantial” drop in intelligence, according to The Lancet. “A new paper published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet found that ‘People who had recovered from COVID-19, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits versus controls.'”


TechCrunch: Pokémon GO influencers threaten a boycott after Niantic removes COVID safety measures. “One new incentive gives users 10x XP for visiting a new PokéStop for the first time (or, in real-world terms, visiting a new place). But as the delta variant spreads in the U.S., players find these changes to be frustrating and misguided. Why roll back features that made the game more accessible while also netting the company more money?”

Ars Technica: Big tech companies are at war with employees over remote work. “All across the United States, the leaders at large tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook are engaged in a delicate dance with thousands of employees who have recently become convinced that physically commuting to an office every day is an empty and unacceptable demand from their employers.”


Jerusalem Post: COVID: 90% of patients treated with new Israeli drug discharged in 5 days. “The Phase II trial for an Israeli COVID drug confirmed the results of Phase I, which was conducted in Israel last winter and saw some 29 out of 30 patients moderate to serious recover within days.”

NBC News: Unvaccinated Americans not changing their behavior, report finds. “Unvaccinated Americans believe the vaccines are more dangerous than Covid-19, while vaccinated Americans believe the delta variant is worrisome enough that they continue to mask in public and avoid large gatherings. And even though almost 165 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated and the delta variant is raging across the country, the percentage of U.S. adults who say they oppose the Covid vaccines has remained unchanged since December, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.”

Carnegie Mellon University: Text Reminders Boost Vaccine Appointments. “Researchers find text messages that impart psychological ownership are an effective method to encourage people to sign up and show up for COVID-19 vaccinations.”

NewsWise: Research Shows Many with Mild COVID-19 Infections Still Experience Long-Term Symptoms. “The majority of individuals who experience mild or moderate COVID-19 infection also experience long COVID, or persistent symptoms more than 30 days after they test positive, according to research data from the longitudinal CoVHORT study at the University of Arizona Health Sciences.”


Poynter: Going deeper on the Massachusetts COVID outbreak that led to the CDC’s mask reversal. “I want to give you some deeper details about a COVID-19 outbreak in Barnstable County, Massachusetts. This is the case that alerted experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to a new understanding about whether vaccinated people can pass the virus to others. This new evidence led the CDC to alter its recommendation about whether vaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors.”


BBC: Canada fines travellers for fake vaccination and testing papers. “Canada has fined two travellers arriving from the US who, officials say, forged Covid-19 testing and vaccination documents. Each was fined C$19,720 ($16,000, £11,500) after inspectors at the Toronto airport found their vaccine cards and proof of testing were fake.”

Washington Post: Real estate, landlord groups file legal salvo to stop Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium. “Only one day after the Biden administration issued a new policy protecting renters from eviction, a series of real estate and landlord groups is trying to invalidate it — setting up another legal showdown over a moratorium that Democrats say is essential to keeping Americans in their homes.”

ABC News: ‘Unprecedented’ fraud penetrated rollout of COVID-19 small business loans, watchdog warns. “As small businesses emerge from the pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), two key relief programs passed as part of the congressional CARES Act, are winding down. But for all the jobs they’ve rescued, their legacies may be tarnished by unprecedented amounts of fraud — a reality that experts fear may impair efforts to pass future emergency relief programs.”


Baltimore Sun: I went to a party with 14 other vaccinated people; 11 of us got COVID | COMMENTARY. “Fortunately, none of us seems to be seriously ill. When fully vaccinated people experience so-called ‘breakthrough’ infection, they tend not to progress to serious disease requiring hospitalization, and I expect that will be the case for us. But I can tell you that even a ‘mild’ case of COVID-19 is pretty miserable. I’ve had fever, chills and muscle aches, and I’ve been weak enough that I can barely get out of bed. I don’t wish this on anybody.”

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