Wednesday CoronaBuzz, August 11, 2021: 49 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.


St. Cloud Times: Minnesota launches new website with breakthrough COVID-19 infection data. “In Minnesota, 99.81% of people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have not had a breakthrough case of the infection as of July 11, according to a new page on breakthrough infections from the state Department of Health. Among the 2.9 million Minnesotans who had been vaccinated by that date, 5,599 contracted COVID-19, or 0.19%, according to MDH. Of those cases, 514 resulted in hospitalization (0.017% of those vaccinated) and 57 died (0.002% of fully vaccinated people).”


Miami Herald: Florida COVID update: More than 28,000 cases per day over the weekend, another record. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday afternoon released COVID-19 data for the weekend that showed Florida shattering its single-day case record. But by Monday night — the Florida Department of Health disputed those numbers.”


Poynter: Why the COVID-19 survival rate is not over 99%. “The Instagram post misrepresents data from the CDC’s COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios document published in September 2020. It was created so public health officials who use mathematical models could help hospitals and policymakers react to different levels of severity of the pandemic. The data does not show the likelihood of surviving COVID-19.”

CNN: ‘Ignorance is a virus:’ How local news outlets are reporting on Covid-19 vaccine rejection. “Incomprehensible conspiracy theories, illogical memes, bogus ideas — they all spread face to face and text to text in highly personal ways, and through wickedly viral platforms that spread nonsense from country to country in mere minutes. And we’re all witnessing this spread in near real time due to the most recent Covid-19 surge in parts of the US.”

New York Times: YouTube suspends Rand Paul for a week over a video disputing the effectiveness of masks.. “YouTube on Tuesday removed a video by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky for the second time and suspended him from publishing for a week after he posted a video that disputed the effectiveness of wearing masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus.”

Washington Post: Republicans raise money on Facebook by tying migrant influx to covid surge. “Facebook has allowed prominent Republican officials and candidates — including the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference — to use the platform’s powerful ad technologies to raise money by associating migrants with the surge of coronavirus infections in the southern United States. The ads, whose central claim has been rejected by doctors and fact-checkers, illustrate the platform’s inconsistent approach to defining coronavirus misinformation, especially when elected officials are involved. ”


Route Fifty: Masks Are Back, Maybe for the Long Term. “In the past week and a half, I’ve spoken with, texted, emailed, messaged, and tweeted dozens of sources, readers, friends, family members, and total strangers about the CDC’s announcement. My correspondences have been a mix of emotions. Some are relieved that the CDC has officially reunited vaccines and masks, a scientifically powerful pairing that many experts think never should have been broken up. But I also heard frustration, confusion, even betrayal.”

Washington Post: Covid killed her husband. Now it’s taking the only home her kids have ever known.. “Alan’s death had not only devastated their family emotionally, it had broken them financially. Even as they grieved, the Grims — like tens of thousands of other families shattered by the pandemic — were now facing a cascade of secondary losses: income, home, school friends, long-held plans for the future.”

Phys .org: Cities after COVID: Resiliency is about embracing the crisis as part of a new brand story. “Cities as we know them are under attack thanks to COVID-19. Their growth, sustainability and ability to attract investment, tourism and talent are extremely vulnerable during times of crisis. In the last hundred years, cities have seen an increase in crises, pandemics and economic pressures—but not all are hit equally.”

Prio: Burden of Pandemic May Motivate Violent Protest and Antigovernment Sentiment. “The sometimes-violent antigovernment demonstrations that erupted during 2020 and 2021 were fueled in part by the spread of extremist ideologies, conspiratorial thinking, and political polarization. New research published in the journal Psychological Science also puts some of the blame for civil unrest and political violence on the psychological burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.”


CNN: Texas hospital system is prepping tents to deal with rapid surge in Covid-19 patients. “Harris Health System in Houston is reporting 1 in 4 patients at its two hospitals have tested positive for Covid-19. Ben Taub Hospital’s intensive care unit is at 95% capacity with 27% of utilization by Covid-19 patients and Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, where the tents are being set up, is at 100% ICU utilization with 63% Covid cases, Harris Health spokesperson Bryan McLeod told CNN in an email.”

Texas Tribune: Dozens of Texas hospitals are out of ICU beds as COVID-19 cases again overwhelm the state’s capacity. “The state is divided into 22 trauma service areas, and half of them reported 10 or fewer available ICU beds on Sunday. As more than 9,400 COVID-19 patients fill the state’s ICUs, which are reserved for the patients who are the sickest or most injured, the trauma service area that includes Laredo reported no available ICU beds, while the area that includes Abilene reported having one. At least 53 Texas hospitals have no available ICU capacity, according to numbers reported to the federal government during the week ending Aug. 5.”

Reuters: Arkansas nearly out of ICU beds as Delta variant fuels U.S. pandemic. ” Only eight intensive care unit beds were available on Monday in the state of Arkansas, its governor said, as the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus pushed cases and hospitalizations in the United States to a six-month high.”

VT Digger: As Covid-19 reappears in Vermont long-term care facilities, many staff remain unvaccinated. “Almost eight months after vaccines became available to medical staff, the overall vaccination rate at Vermont nursing homes was 78%, as of late July. Individual nursing homes ran the gamut when it came to their clinical staff’s vaccination rates, from a high of 95% at Menig Nursing Home in Randolph to a low of 56% at St. Johnsbury Health and Rehabilitation.”

WTVD (Durham North Carolina): ‘The ICU is completely filled:’ COVID surge taking a toll on frontline workers. “The summertime surge of COVID-19 cases is taking a heavy toll on Triangle hospitals: emergency rooms and intensive care units are once again jammed with patients battling severe COVID-19. The local doctors on the front line of the new surge are feeling the frustration of what’s turned into a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And they’re hearing regret from some patients who now wish they had gotten the vaccine.”

AP: Hospitals run low on nurses as they get swamped with COVID. “The rapidly escalating surge in COVID-19 infections across the U.S. has caused a shortage of nurses and other front-line staff in virus hot spots that can no longer keep up with the flood of unvaccinated patients and are losing workers to burnout and lucrative out-of-state temporary gigs. Florida, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oregon all have more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic, and nursing staffs are badly strained.”

Mississippi Free Press: ‘Where Are You?’: Hospitals Beg Gov. Reeves For Help With 0 ICU Beds Left Statewide. “With no intensive-care beds left in the state, Mississippi reached a new record for patients in an ICU yesterday with 371, surpassing the prior record of 360 set on Jan. 12, 2021. More Mississippians are now on a ventilator than ever before, with the 234 beating the prior record of 230 on Jan. 6. In all, 1,410 residents were hospitalized for the virus yesterday—just below the record 1,444 patients recorded on Jan. 4.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: New COVID-19 surge overwhelms hospitals across Georgia. “A steep increase in seriously ill COVID-19 patients has pushed hospitals statewide into crisis mode again this week, prompting worries that the new surge may overwhelm facilities already struggling to find enough nurses to adequately staff emergency rooms and intensive care units. Large hospitals in metro Atlanta frequently went on diversion status this week because they were so full, sending ambulances elsewhere. Some elective procedures started to get pushed back across the state to free up medical staff and hospital beds.”


Vietnam Net: Museums go digital to survive pandemic. “Museums in the central city of Da Nang have been able to ride out several waves of the coronavirus through online exhibitions and exchanging up-to-date information with visitors through smartphones and social networks.”

Nola: 2021 New Orleans Jazz Fest canceled as Louisiana COVID cases surge; spring dates announced. “The 2021 Jazz Fest, like 2020’s, has been canceled after first being postponed because of surging rates of COVID-19 infections. The loss of the festival, and the thousands of visitors that it would have attracted, is another economic and psychological blow not just for musicians, music venues and festival workers and vendors, but for New Orleans’ larger tourism economy.”


AP: Pentagon to require COVID vaccine for all troops by Sept. 15. ” The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. That deadline could be pushed up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.”

Reuters: Coffee and Croissant in A French Cafe? You’ll Need a Covid Pass For That. “The French morning ritual of a coffee and croissant became more complicated on Monday as people had to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before taking a seat at their favourite cafe, though numerous eateries ignored the new rules.”

ABC News: Canada reopens its border for vaccinated US visitors. “Canada lifted its prohibition on Americans crossing the border to shop, vacation or visit on Monday while the United States is maintaining similar restrictions for Canadians, part of a bumpy return to normalcy from COVID-19 travel bans.”

New York Times: Germany will stop paying for virus tests for people choosing to remain unvaccinated.. “After months of offering free coronavirus antigen tests to all residents, Germany will stop subsidizing them for adults who choose not to get vaccinated, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Tuesday. Starting Oct. 11, when the changes take effect, the tests will continue to be available at no charge for people under 18, pregnant women or others who have medical reasons not to get vaccinated.”


Ubergizmo: Washington D.C. Giving Away Free AirPods To Encourage Teens To Get Vaccinated. “There are several conditions that teens will need to meet in order to be eligible. This includes their vaccination being the first shot, they must have a parent or legal guardian there with them, and they need to bring identification in the form of their school ID, DC One Card, Kids Ride Free card, a report card, or proof of enrollment.”

Local10: Florida requests 300 ventilators from federal government as COVID cases keep rising. “As a result of the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the state of Florida requested 300 ventilators from the federal government, according to a Department of Health and Human Services planning document obtained by ABC News.”

Politico: Abbott asks Texas hospitals to postpone elective procedures to free beds for latest Covid surge. “Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday called on Texas hospitals to voluntarily postpone elective procedures in order to clear more beds for the state’s latest flood of Covid patients. Abbott also said Texas’ Department of State Health Services is working to find out-of-state medical workers to help with the latest surge — a reversal from July, when the state said it would not send additional health care workers to help hospitals battle the latest outbreak.”

CNN: California to mandate vaccines or regular testing for teachers. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce Wednesday that teachers and other school employees must either be vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to regular testing. Under a new order that Newsom will unveil Wednesday, California will become the first state in the nation to implement such a requirement, which will be effective in mid-October, sources told CNN.”

State of Delaware: Governor Carney Announces Mask Requirement in K-12 Schools, Child Care, State Facilities. “Governor John Carney on Tuesday announced that everyone kindergarten-age and older in K-12 schools and child care homes and centers must wear face coverings indoors effective on Monday, August 16 – regardless of vaccination status. The requirement covers both public and private schools in Delaware. Child care centers and homes are strongly encouraged to require masks for children 2 years old to kindergarten inside their facilities to prevent spread of COVID-19. Children younger than 2 years old should not wear masks due to risk of suffocation.”


Fox 5 Atlanta: Georgia couple dies of COVID-19 hours of each other. “A Georgia couple died from the coronavirus within hours of each other, leaving behind two teenagers. Their loved ones in Hampton now beg anyone who will listen to get the shot.”

CNBC: The world is nowhere near the end of the Covid pandemic, says famed epidemiologist Larry Brilliant. “Dr. Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who was part of the World Health Organization’s team that helped eradicate smallpox, said the delta variant of the coronavirus is ‘maybe the most contagious virus’ ever.”

The Wrap: Queen’s Brian May Calls Anti-Vaxxers, Including Eric Clapton, ‘Fruitcakes’. “Brian May has just one word to describe people who are against the COVID vaccine: fruitcakes. And evidently, that includes his own ‘hero,’ Eric Clapton. Clapton has been loudly outspoken against the COVID vaccine and lockdowns since they began. May noted that while he definitely doesn’t share those beliefs — and a few other ideals Clapton champions — he still respects Clapton as a person.”

CNN: Meet the Florida coach who fought hard to beat Covid and now has a message for anyone who hasn’t gotten the vaccine. “As Terry heads back Tuesday to teaching, his family wants to share their rollercoaster of pain, they told CNN, to try to save others from living the kind of agony they endured — especially as average daily coronavirus cases have surged eightfold in Florida in the past month, a CNN analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. The Greear family’s message: Get vaccinated.”


BBC: Tokyo 2020: Some Australian Olympians face 28-day quarantine. “Rules meaning some Australian Olympians are having to quarantine for 28 days after returning to their country from Tokyo have been described as ‘cruel’. Athletes returning via Sydney to the state of South Australia are facing an extra two-week quarantine. That is on top of the two weeks already required for all overseas arrivals.”


Dallas Morning News: Dallas schools to require masks in defiance of Gov. Abbott’s order. “Starting Tuesday, Dallas ISD will require students and teachers to wear masks at its campuses, defying Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that bars districts from issuing mask mandates. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa announced the change during a Monday morning press conference, saying that it was within his discretion to ensure the health and safety of his employees and the district’s students.”

New York Times: We Studied One Million Students. This Is What We Learned About Masking.. “For more than a year, we’ve worked with North Carolina school districts and charter schools, studying the rate of new Covid cases, the efficacy of mitigation measures such as masking and the increased risks of participating in school-sponsored sports. We have learned a few things for certain: Although vaccination is the best way to prevent Covid-19, universal masking is a close second, and with masking in place, in-school learning is safe and more effective than remote instruction, regardless of community rates of infection.”

San Francisco Chronicle: San Francisco schools will require teachers and other staff to be vaccinated or face weekly testing. “San Francisco school officials will require teachers and other staff to be vaccinated or face weekly testing for the coronavirus, district officials said in a surprise announcement Tuesday. The decision came less than a week before the first day of school Monday and reversed a wait-and-see approach by the district, which included requiring the district’s 10,000 employees to submit vaccination status by the end of the month.”


WRAL: UNC warns students, staff against using fake vaccination records. “Within days of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announcement that students must show proof of COVID-19 vaccine or submit to regular testing this semester, fake vaccine cards were circulating on campus, students told WRAL News.”


New York Times: The Delta Variant Is Sending More Children to the Hospital. Are They Sicker, Too?. “It is not yet clear whether the Delta variant causes more severe disease in children, but its high level of infectiousness is causing a surge of pediatric Covid-19 cases.”

The Atlantic: Delta Is Bad News for Kids. “Across the country, pediatric cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing alongside cases among unimmunized adults; child hospitalizations have now reached an all-time pandemic high. In the last week of July, nearly 72,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in kids—almost a fifth of all total known infections in the U.S., and a rough doubling of the previous week’s stats.”

New York Times: See the Data on Breakthrough Covid Hospitalizations and Deaths by State. “Serious coronavirus infections among vaccinated people have been relatively rare since the start of the vaccination campaign, a New York Times analysis of data from 40 states and Washington, D.C., shows. Fully vaccinated people have made up as few as 0.1 percent of and as many as 5 percent of those hospitalized with the virus in those states, and as few as 0.2 percent and as many as 6 percent of those who have died.”


Newswise: “Survival Kit” Relieves COVID-19 Patients’ Anxiety while Waiting for Hospital Beds. ” Chula Engineering has come up with an idea to help COVID-19 patients handle the crisis of hospital bed shortage and the overflowing number of patients by providing them with ‘a survival kit’ complete with essential items and guidelines for self-care at home, as well as communication channels with officials while waiting for their beds. This is to help relieve the patients’ anxiety and to enable the community to survive the crisis together.”


CNET: Norwegian Cruise Line can seek proof of COVID vaccination at boarding, judge rules. “Norwegian Cruise Line is now allowed to ask passengers from Florida if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The cruise company won a preliminary court injunction on Sunday from US District Judge Kathleen M. Williams in Miami.”

The Guardian: Nurse in Germany suspected of replacing Covid vaccines with saline solution. “Authorities in northern Germany have appealed to thousands of people to get another shot of Covid vaccine after a police investigation found that a Red Cross nurse may have injected them with a saline solution. The nurse is suspected of injecting salt solution into people’s arms instead of genuine doses at a vaccination centre in Friesland – a rural district near the North Sea coast – in the early spring.”


Washington Post: Opinion: Sorry, Republicans. Your chance to block vaccine and mask requirements has sailed. “Rising covid-19 hospitalizations and a growing sense of dread that the country has slipped away from ‘normal’ have spurred the federal government, state and local officials, and private-sector workplaces to embrace vaccine and mask mandates. It’s time for Republicans to accept that, when it comes to blocking these policies, the ship has sailed.”

Indian Express: Why we need to count the Covid dead. “The official Covid death count as of end-June 2021 is 4,00,000. The reality is, of course, catastrophically worse. Unlike in other countries, authoritative excess death estimates based on official data have not been available because government recording of deaths, especially at the Centre, has been lagging. As a result, thus far, and with some exceptions, attempts to capture the sombre reality have been inadequate.”

Washington Monthly: Tax the Unvaxxed. “Policymakers—and employers—have radically shifted their treatment of vaccine holdouts in recent days. Carrots, like million-dollar prizes and college scholarships, are giving way to sticks and cudgels, with vaccine mandates for government workers and proof of vaccination soon to be required for activities like indoor dining. Life for the unvaccinated will be increasingly inconvenient. It should also become increasingly expensive.”


Politico: Poll: Majorities support vaccine, mask mandates — but not Republicans. “A majority of voters support mandatory coronavirus vaccines and indoor mask-wearing requirements, according to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll that shows opposition to the requirements is chiefly limited to Republicans. The survey also found that about half of all voters blame the new wave of infections that have sent numbers spiking equally on the unvaccinated and on political leaders opposed to mask-wearing and social-distancing mandates.”

CNN: Republicans are seizing on backlash to new mask and vaccine mandates. “As Republicans head back to their districts for the August recess, they are hammering the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and seizing on the backlash to new mask and vaccine mandates — part of a GOP-wide effort to use the fears and frustrations of Americans worried about another round of school closures and lockdowns as cudgels against their Democratic opponents.”

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