coronabuzz

Monday CoronaBuzz, August 23, 2021: 89 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

Split up more categories and still working on the workflow. Please stay safe. Please get vaccinated. Please wear a mask when you’re inside with a bunch of people. Much love.

NEW RESOURCES – STATE-SPECIFIC

5 News (Arkansas): Over 1,300 active COVID cases reported in Arkansas schools as students return to class. “The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has released a new tool that keeps track of the number of active COVID-19 cases within school districts across Arkansas. As of August 16, Arkansas public schools are reporting 1,347 active COVID cases of students and faculty.”

USEFUL STUFF

Lifehacker: How to Choose the Right Face Mask for a Flight so You Aren’t Turned Away. “The last thing you need right now is to show up at the airport and get turned away from your flight because you have the wrong type of mask. These rules are constantly changing, but here’s what we know for now, courtesy of an article by Alison Fox in Travel + Leisure.”

Miami Herald: These resources are available to Miami-Dade residents who are struggling financially. “The COVID pandemic has brought an unprecedented demand for assistance in South Florida. Here’s where you can get help if you are a Miami or Miami-Dade resident.”

UPDATES

AL: ‘Everything is so desperate’: Inside the surge as COVID overwhelms south Alabama. “Greg Darden had big plans for his 50th year. For years, he lifted weights and cut carbs, chiseling his physique to high definition. He took it to body building competitions across the South, first as a contestant and then as an organizer and judge. After years in the background, he planned to compete again in the master’s division for body builders ages 50 and older in 2022, his wife said. But instead, he spent his 50th birthday in the emergency room, waiting to be admitted to Thomas Hospital.”

Business Insider: A year and a half after Sweden decided not to lock down, its COVID-19 death rate is up to 10 times higher than its neighbors. “Sweden has recorded more COVID-19 cases per capita than most countries so far: Since the start of the pandemic, roughly 11 out of every 100 people in Sweden have been diagnosed with COVID-19, compared with 9.4 out of every 100 in the UK and 7.4 per 100 in Italy. Sweden has also recorded around 145 COVID-19 deaths for every 100,000 people — around three times more than Denmark, eight times more than Finland, and nearly 10 times more than Norway.”

Beckley Register-Herald: Covid cases still climbing in W.Va.. “Covid-19 cases in West Virginia continued to climb on Friday with a reported 911 new cases, 8,806 active cases, seven deaths and a positive test rate of 9.26 percent.”

Tasnim News Agency: COVID-19 Kills 555 More Iranians Over Past 24 Hours. “Over the last 24 hours, 28,833 new cases of COVID-19 infection were discovered, with 4,064 of them requiring hospitalization, according to the report. The Iranian Health Ministry also noted that 3,868,196 people have recovered or been discharged from hospitals out of a total of 4,616,516 sick people.”

MISINFORMATION / FACT-CHECKING

CNN: Fact check: Texas lieutenant governor falsely implies Black people to blame for Covid surge. “The blame game over rising cases of Covid-19 continues along largely partisan lines, with Democrats attacking GOP governors who have banned measures like mask mandates and vaccine passports, and Republicans blaming the Biden administration’s border policy for the uptick in cases. The attacks heated up Thursday when Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed that African Americans were to blame for the ever-increasing wave of coronavirus cases.”

Media Matters: TikTok’s algorithm is amplifying COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation. “TikTok’s algorithm appears to be promoting COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation to its users through personalized content recommendations, enabling conspiracy theories and medical misinformation to flourish on its platform. ”

UC Riverside: Data mining tools combat COVID-19 misinformation and identify symptoms. “UC Riverside computer scientists are developing tools to help track and monitor COVID-19 symptoms and to sift through misinformation about the disease on social media.”

BBC: Wuhan lab leak theory: How Fort Detrick became a centre for Chinese conspiracies. “A disinformation campaign claiming that the Covid-19 virus originated from an American military base in Maryland has gained popularity in China ahead of the release of a US intelligence report on the virus origins.”

New York Times: Health officials warn people not to treat Covid with a drug meant for livestock.. “Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug commonly used for livestock, should not be taken to treat or prevent Covid-19, the Food and Drug Administration said on Saturday. The warning came a day after the Mississippi State Department of Health issued a similar statement in response to reports that an increasing number of people in Mississippi were using the drug to prevent a Covid infection.”

SOCIETAL IMPACT

WRAL: Pandemic fiction: Fall books include stories of the virus . “From wars to plagues to the Sept. 11 attacks, the literary response to historic tragedies has been a process of absorbing trauma — often beginning with poetry and nonfiction and, after months or years, expanding to narrative fiction. The pandemic has now lasted into a second fall season for publishing, and a growing number of authors, among them Picoult, Louise Erdrich, Gary Shteyngart and Hilma Wolitzer, have worked it into their latest books.”

Route Fifty: The Coronavirus Is Here Forever. This Is How We Live With It.. “Endemicity as the COVID-19 endgame seems quite clear, but how we get there is less so. In part, that is because the path depends on us. As my colleague Ed Yong has written, the eventuality of endemic COVID-19 does not mean we should drop all precautions. The more we can flatten the curve now, the less hospitals will become overwhelmed and the more time we buy to vaccinate the unvaccinated, including children. Letting the virus rip through unvaccinated people may get us to endemicity quickest, but it will also kill the most people along the way.”

ACTIVISM / PROTESTS

BBC: Covid: Australian police clash with anti-lockdown protesters. “Police in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney have clashed with thousands of people protesting against Covid lockdowns. In Melbourne, mounted officers used pepper spray when elements of a 4,000-strong rally broke through police lines. Police arrested 218 people, and at least seven officers were injured.”

HEALTH CARE / HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

Missouri State School of Nursing: Christina shares her experience in the Medical ICU. “I have watched and listened to so many patients saying goodbye to their crying families, unable to say everything they wanted to or needed to, because of the huge force of air being blown into their lungs from the bi-pap machine. I’ve watched their noses turn blue and their fingers turn black as they wave goodbye in tears. As soon as this happens, things move forward quickly.” Almost everything in this digest is a difficult read. This is especially so.

STAT: ‘It’s soul-draining’: Health workers deployed to Covid hot zones are overwhelmed by deaths among the unvaccinated. “Bren Ingle watched through a set of twin glass doors as her patient drew his final, halting breaths, a terrifyingly long pause separating each one. She could hear every haunted exhalation he made, a sound halfway between a snore and a scream of pain. It was not her first such vigil. But the knowledge that the patient was unvaccinated made it, somehow, bleaker than the rest.

BBC: India vaccination drive picks up pace amid fears of third wave. “On Tuesday, the country administered more than 8.81 million doses in 24 hours – the highest daily jabs since vaccinations began in January, the government said. But only 13% of the eligible population – nearly a billion – has been fully vaccinated so far, leaving majority of the people still vulnerable.”

WJCT: COVID Antibody Treatments Get Underway At Jacksonville’s Main Library. “The Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment site at the Downtown Jacksonville Main Library opened Tuesday morning, offering a COVID-19 treatment option with no doctor referral needed. Monoclonal antibodies are a treatment authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for use in adult and pediatric patients (12 and older). ”

Washington Post: ‘I’m begging you. … Take that shot.’. “Even at the most urgent of moments, it was the most ordinary of questions because of what the doctor understood: that if Alabama had any chance of turning things around at this point, it was no longer a matter of what Dr. Fauci said on CNN, or what some celebrity posted on Twitter but rather what was about to happen now, a delicate conversation between a doctor and a patient, the vaccines in a cooler down the hall just in case. Between [Dr. Lacy] Smith and two colleagues, there were 10 unvaccinated people on the schedule this day, and the first was Potts.”

Tampa Bay Times: Florida’s COVID deaths climb as children lead state in positivity rate. “Florida’s pandemic is getting deadlier and infecting more children. The state reported 1,486 deaths, a 141 percent increase from two weeks ago. And it’s the most deaths since Feb. 10, as federal data shows Florida approaching the weekly death toll last seen this past winter. One out of every four COVID-19 infections recorded by the state in the most recent seven-day period were 19 or younger.”

Health System Tracker: Most private insurers are no longer waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment. “In the last few months, the environment has shifted with safe and highly effective vaccines now widely available. In this brief, we once again review how many private insurers are continuing to waive patient cost sharing for COVID-19 treatment. We find that 72% of the two largest insurers in each state and DC (102 health plans) are no longer waiving these costs, and another 10% of plans are phasing out waivers by the end of October.”

HEALTH CARE – PEDIATRICS

NBC News: Child Covid-19 hospitalizations soar, filling pediatric wings, data show. “It happened fast: As of Wednesday, U.S. hospitals were tending to an average of more than 1,200 children a day, twice the number from the end of July and four times from the start of July, according to an NBC News analysis of data released this week by the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Wall Street Journal: More Kids Are Hospitalized With Covid-19, and Doctors Fear It Will Get Worse. “Hospitals in the South and Midwest say they are treating more children with Covid-19 than ever and are preparing for worse surges to come. Cases there have jumped over the past six weeks as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads primarily among unvaccinated people. That is leading to more sick kids in places where community spread of the variant is high, public-health experts say.”

HEALTH CARE – CAPACITY

AL: Federal team coming to Alabama to help Baldwin County hospital swamped by COVID-19. “Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced that today at his weekly briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic. The team from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be deployed at South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley, Harris said. The hospital had an occupancy rate of 190% in its ICU as of Aug. 12.”

ABC 7: Sarasota Memorial Hospital hits record number of COVID cases, ICU patients rising. “According to the Coronavirus Daily News Update webpage on SMH’s website, as of Friday, there are 256 patients in the hospital with COVID. 54 of those patients are in the ICU. On Thursday, hospital officials reported that 86% of the COVID-19 cases at the hospital are those who are unvaccinated. The ICU currently has 85 patients in total, with a capacity of 97. The hospital currently has a total of 797 patients with a total capacity of 839 beds.”

WRAL: With no beds, hospitals ship patients to far-off cities. “Many overwhelmed hospitals, with no beds to offer, are putting critically ill COVID-19 patients on planes, helicopters and ambulances and sending them hundreds of miles to far-flung states for treatment. The surge in the delta variant of the virus, combined with low vaccination rates, has pushed hospitals to the brink in many states and resulted in a desperate scramble to find beds for patients.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia nursing shortage at crisis levels. “In a state that already had one of the nation’s lowest ratios of nurses to population, job postings for nurses jumped by double-digit percentages in each of its regions in 2020, then jumped again. As of this week, 11,000 nursing positions across the state sit vacant, according to the nursing job service Vivian. More than 1,700 of those are in intensive care units.”

Click2Houston: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this’: ER doctor says hundreds of patients are waiting to be admitted into hospitals, but there are no beds. “Emergency room doctors in Southeast Texas say they are running out of hospital beds, and some patients are waiting hours, sometimes days to be admitted into a hospital…. As of Friday afternoon, [Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council CEO Darrell] Pile says 482 patients were waiting for hospital beds in his 25-county region. He said 211 of those patients are COVID-19 positive. An additional 120 patients are waiting for an ICU bed. Of those patients, 65 are COVID-19 positive.”

BUSINESS / CORPORATIONS

New York Times: Maker of Popular Covid Test Told Factory to Destroy Inventory. “One of the leading producers of rapid tests purged supplies and laid off workers as sales dwindled. Weeks later, the U.S. is facing a surge in infections with diminished capacity.”

NBC News: Don’t duct tape unruly passengers, United Airlines says in memo to employees. “Unruly passengers may have been duct taped to their seats on other carriers, but United Airlines officials want to make clear that they do not endorse the practice. ‘Please remember that there are designated items onboard that may be used in difficult situations, and alternative measures such as tape should never be used,’ John Slater, senior vice president of inflight services, told employees in a Friday memo.”

UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT

AP: Biden to require COVID vaccines for nursing home staff. “President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that his administration will require that nursing home staff be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding. Biden unveiled the new policy Wednesday afternoon in a White House address as the administration continues to look for ways to use mandates to encourage vaccine holdouts to get shots.”

New York Times: The F.D.A. is aiming to give full approval to Pfizer’s Covid vaccine on Monday.. “The Food and Drug Administration is pushing to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, further expediting an earlier timeline for licensing the shot, according to people familiar with the agency’s planning.”

Washington Post: Four weeks in July: Inside the Biden administration’s struggle to contain the delta surge. “Early last month, as the planned Fourth of July blowout at the White House approached, top health officials inside the Biden administration began calling each other with a flurry of anxious questions. Would the president declare victory too soon? Would the event be seen as beating a virus that was not yet defeated? And would the massive party, with 1,000 guests, contribute to the virus’s spread?”

NPR: The U.S. Is Trying To Improve Relations With Southeast Asia — Using Western Vaccines. “U.S. vaccine diplomacy is in full swing, especially in Southeast Asia. This distribution of millions of shots is an effort aimed in part at helping regain influence across several countries.”

ProPublica: The CDC Only Tracks a Fraction of Breakthrough COVID-19 Infections, Even as Cases Surge. “A May 1 decision by the CDC to only track breakthrough infections that lead to hospitalization or death has left the nation with a muddled understanding of COVID-19’s impact on the vaccinated.”

WORLD/COUNTRY GOVERNMENT

Times of Israel: In world first, Health Ministry approves COVID boosters to all Israelis over 40. “The Health Ministry announced Friday that its director-general Nachman Ash had approved giving COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all Israelis over the age of 40. The decision came after a government advisory panel of health experts made the recommendation Thursday evening.”

BBC: Covid: New Zealand pandemic strategy in doubt amid Delta spread. “The arrival of the highly infectious Delta variant “does raise some big questions” about New Zealand’s pandemic response, a minister has said. Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said the variant ‘changes the game considerably’ and makes existing protections ‘look less adequate’ It comes as the country announced a further 21 confirmed cases in the latest outbreak of the virus.”

STATE GOVERNMENT

WDIO: Minnesota State Fair finalizes health guidelines ahead of opening day. “The Minnesota State Fair has finalized their health recommendations ahead of it’s opening, which is now just over a week away. As of a release on August 18th, fair officials are urging fairgoers to wear a mask in both indoor and outdoor settings regardless of vaccination. That recommendation applies to those older than age two and who are medically able to wear one.”

Politico: Kentucky governor suffers legal defeat in combating Covid surge . “The Kentucky governor’s efforts to aggressively combat COVID-19 suffered a legal defeat Saturday as the state’s high court cleared the way for new laws to rein in his emergency powers. In a landmark separation-of-powers case, the Kentucky Supreme Court said the legislature wields policy-making authority to limit the emergency powers granted to the governor by state law.”

Business Insider: Louisiana attorney general gave parents sample letters to help their children skirt mask-wearing guidance in schools. “The attorney general of Louisiana drafted and distributed sample letters intended to help parents evade mask-wearing ordinances and COVID-19 vaccination requirements for their children in schools. Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Landry posted the letters to his office’s Facebook page. The letters cite philosophical or religious motivations as reasons for a parent to get their child a mask exemption in a Louisiana school. ”

NBC News: Mississippi threatens fines, jail time for Covid patients who don’t isolate. “State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued an ‘isolation order’ that states, ‘All persons residing in Mississippi must immediately home-isolate on first knowledge of infection with COVID-19.’ Failure to do so could result in fines and jail time. Dobbs’ order mentions two possible levels of violation. One, a refusal to obey a health officer, comes with a $500 fine and, possibly, six months behind bars.”

STATE GOVERNMENT – FLORIDA

WTSP: Judge denies motion to dismiss lawsuit challenging Gov. DeSantis’ school mask mandate ban. “A Florida judge ruled Thursday to deny the state’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by several Tampa Bay area attorneys to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in schools.”

Washington Post: In Florida, DeSantis cut jobless aid just as virus began terrifying new wave. “[Meli] Feliciano and her family have been thrust squarely into a vast social, political and economic experiment that has no parallel or precedent. DeSantis and 25 other governors nationwide, all but one of them Republican, opted this spring and summer to reject extra federal aid intended for people who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus, contending that the more robust social safety net was leading to widespread labor shortages. But the coronavirus’s deadly delta variant, which has overwhelmed Florida in recent weeks, shows just how fragile the economic recovery still is.”

AP: AP urges DeSantis to end bullying aimed at reporter. “Twitter suspended the account of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary for violating rules on ‘abusive behavior’ after The Associated Press said her conduct led to a reporter receiving threats and other online abuse. The DeSantis aide, Christina Pushaw, saw her account locked for 12 hours, a Twitter spokeswoman said. She won’t be able to tweet, although others can retweet or ‘like’ her messages.”

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Orlando Sentinel: Orlando urges reduced water usage; liquid oxygen used to treat water is needed for COVID patients. “The city of Orlando and its water utility on Friday appealed to residents to cut back sharply on water usage for at least several weeks because of a pandemic-triggered shortage of liquid oxygen used to treat water. Orlando Utilities Commission consumes 10 tankers of liquid oxygen each week to remove odor and color from water. A sharp increase in the usage of liquid oxygen by hospitals in treating COVID-19 patients has resulted in short supplies for other uses.”

WRAL: Charlotte-area fire department shutting down due to COVID-19 cases. “A Rowan County Fire Department is temporarily shutting down after multiple reported COVID-19 cases within the department’s staff.”

INDIVIDUALS / BANDS / GROUPS

ABC News: COVID patient seen on floor of Florida antibody treatment site says she was afraid to ‘run out of breath’. “Toma Dean had been in and out of the emergency room for the past two weeks, “extremely sick” with COVID-19, when she arrived at a Jacksonville, Florida, monoclonal antibody treatment center on Wednesday. Because standing for too long left her feeling breathless, Dean made the decision to lie down on the floor of the makeshift treatment center until her appointment….While Dean was waiting, a fellow patient took a photo of her. The image was shared online, and subsequently went viral on social media.”

Hollywood Reporter: Florida Georgia Line Cancels Tour Due to COVID-19 Concerns: “Safety Has Been Weighing Heavy on Us”. “Grammy-nominated country music duo Florida Georgia Line have announced their I Love My Country tour has been canceled due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus on Friday. The 29-date arena and amphitheater tour was set to kick off on Sept. 24 at the Cellairis Amphitheater in Atlanta. ”

NBC News: Garth Brooks cancels 5 shows, cites ‘new wave’ of Covid. “Country superstar Garth Brooks pulled the plug Wednesday on five coming shows because of the country’s struggle with Covid-19 and the new surge brought about by the delta variant of the coronavirus.”

NBC News: Jesse Jackson and wife, Jacqueline, ‘responding positively’ to Covid-19 treatment. “The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, are ‘responding positively’ to medical treatment after having been hospitalized with Covid-19, their family said Sunday.”

AP: At 60, Peace Corps plots return to world after virus hiatus. “More than a year after COVID-19 began sweeping the world, abruptly cutting short her Peace Corps stint, Cameron Beach is once again living in rural Malawi — this time on her own dime. The Peace Corps, a U.S. government program marking its 60th anniversary this year, boasted 7,000 volunteers in 62 countries in March 2020. They were given little time to pack before being put on a plane and sent back to the United States that month.”

Spectrum News 1: Texas congressman Nehls says he tested positive for COVID-19. “U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls of Texas says that he’s tested positive for COVID-19 and has moderate symptoms. Nehls, a Republican from the Houston area, said Saturday that he is fully vaccinated and hopes the symptoms pass soon.”

INDIVIDUALS – HEROES

New Zealand Herald: Coronavirus Australia: How The Wiggles help save life of Covid 19 patient with Down syndrome. “Sarah Kelly, who has Down syndrome, was in the intensive care unit with Covid-19, struggling to breathe. However, The Wiggles’ fan kept refusing to have oxygen tubes put in As her condition began to deteriorate rapidly, ICU nurse Steven Moylan, who had witnessed Kelly watching the group on her iPad regularly, took it upon himself to track them down and ask them for help.”

INDIVIDUALS – DEATHS

ABC News: Unvaccinated single mom dies of COVID-19, leaving 4 children behind. “Cindy Dawkins was celebrating her 50th birthday in Orlando earlier this month when family members said she began to feel tired and short of breath. Just a week later, Dawkins, of Boynton Beach, Florida, passed away due to complications from COVID-19, according to her family.”

CNN: Conservative talk show host Phil Valentine dies after battle with Covid-19, his employer says. “His death comes more than a month after the host first announced he had been diagnosed with Covid-19. On his program, Valentine had repeatedly downplayed the importance of getting a vaccine against the virus, saying last December that he believed his personal odds of dying from Covid-19 were ‘probably way less than one percent.'”

KSLA: Family mourns mother, daughter who died one day apart due to COVID-19. “A family is mourning after COVID-19 caused a mother and daughter to lose their lives just one day apart. A routine pregnancy checkup for 21-year-old Lacresanna Williams took a turn when she tested positive for COVID-19.”

Bottom Line News: Former state Rep. Brent Yonts passes away from COVID-19. “Former Kentucky state Rep. Brent Yonts passed away Friday after a long battle with COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated. According to posts from his daughter and state Senator Whitney Westerfield, Yonts had been in critical condition and in the ICU for two weeks before being placed on a ventilator earlier this week.”

New York Daily News: Five South Florida cops die in a single week of COVID-19: report. “The novel coronavirus has become a leading killer of police officers across the U.S., with five South Florida police officers succumbing to COVID-19 in a single week, according to several police departments.”

SPORTS

CBS: Las Vegas Raiders to make fans prove they’ve been vaccinated. “Starting at the Raiders’ September 13 game against the Baltimore Ravens, fans will be required to prove they’ve been vaccinated. Then, they won’t have to wear masks – the first policy of its kind in the NFL.”

BBC: Tokyo 2020: First Covid case detected at Paralympic village. “The person who tested positive for the virus is not an athlete and is not a resident of Japan, they added. Organisers have already reported more than 70 Covid cases linked to the Paralympics, mostly among contractors and staff.”

K-12 EDUCATION

New York Times: As Childhood Covid Cases Spike, School Vaccination Clinics Are Slow Going. “Districts are heeding President Biden’s call to host pop-up vaccination clinics. But promoting vaccines is politically difficult, and persuading parents isn’t easy.”

AP: Arizona school board imposes gag rule for vaccines, masks. “Employees in a northwestern Arizona school district cannot discuss vaccination status or mask-wearing with students under a motion approved unanimously by the local school board.”

NPR: Moms Describe Preparing For Another Pandemic School Year. “One year ago, August 2020, I got on the phone with some other moms. We were all staring down the back-to-school season in the middle of a pandemic. Our kids were reporting to school in their pajamas in front of a laptop. Well, somehow we all managed to navigate an academic year like no other – same for teachers, who we heard from on the program yesterday. Today we are going to check back with a couple of those moms, share some thoughts as we gear up once again for a school year that is not looking normal. Dominique Spencer, you first. You have two kids. You run a child care center in Washington, D.C. What grade are your kids now going into?” 8 minutes of audio with transcript.

AP: Bus driver shortages are latest challenge hitting US schools. “A Montana school district is dangling $4,000 bonuses and inviting people to test drive big yellow school buses in hopes of enticing them to take a job that schools are struggling to fill as kids return to in-person classes. A Delaware school district offered to pay parents $700 to take care of their own transportation, and a Pittsburgh district delayed the start of classes and said hundreds more children would have to walk to school. Schools across the U.S. are offering hiring bonuses, providing the training needed to get a commercial driver’s license and increasing hourly pay to attract more drivers.”

NBC News: Texas school district makes masks part of dress code to get around Gov. Abbott’s order. “A small Texas school district has made facial coverings part of its dress code, in a bid to get around Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates. The board of the Paris Independent School District, which has about 4,000 students, said in a statement Tuesday that the governor’s order does not usurp its ability to manage schools.”

K-12 EDUCATION – FLORIDA

Tampa Bay Times: Hillsborough School Board votes to require masks for students, staff. “Confronted with rising numbers of COVID-19 cases on its campuses, the Hillsborough County School Board voted Wednesday to require that students, teachers and staff wear masks for the next 30 days, starting Thursday. Students can opt out, but only for medical reasons.”

Politico: Sarasota becomes first Trump county to defy DeSantis on school masks. “By a 3-2 vote that came late Friday night, Sarasota’s board became the sixth in Florida to mandate masks and the first in a GOP-county to defy state laws blocking local Covid-19 requirements. Parents and local residents showed up in droves to protest the decision, telling the board they were ‘disgusted’ and ‘mad as heck’ over their ‘medical tyranny’ during a tense five-hour meeting where multiple people were kicked out for disruptions.”

CNN: Ron DeSantis leans into mask-mandate fights as Covid cases soar in Florida. “As the number of new coronavirus cases in his state soars, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is betting that an aggressive campaign against mandatory mask-wearing in schools will harden the Republican base ahead of his expected re-election bid next year — and make him a GOP star nationwide as the party’s 2024 presidential primary comes into view.”

CNN: Florida Board of Education orders Broward, Alachua counties to allow mask opt-out in 48 hours or start losing funding. “The Florida State Board of Education has sent an order to Broward and Alachua counties’ school board officials stating that they have 48 hours to comply with the state’s wishes to allow an opt-out option for masks or the state will begin withholding funds, according to copies of the orders shown to CNN.”

HIGHER EDUCATION

WRAL: Photos tweeted by UNC-Chapel Hill spark concern over virus; university steps up testing of unvaccinated students. “The Twitter post shows students lining up to take part in a university tradition – drinking water from the Old Well on campus on the first day of classes. The students waiting in line were wearing masks, but dozens of people commented, expressing concern that everyone was drinking from the same fountain while the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant spreads.”

Virginian-Pilot: University of Virginia disenrolls 238 students for not complying with vaccine requirement. ” The University of Virginia disenrolled 238 students ahead of its fall semester for noncompliance with the school’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Of that number, 49 were enrolled in fall courses — meaning that ‘a good number’ of the remaining students ‘may not have been planning to return to the University this fall at all,’ U.Va. spokesperson Brian Coy said in an email to The Virginian-Pilot.”

If you’ve been reading the articles going around that Rice had a ton of breakthrough infections, please read this. Rice University: COVID-19 Response weekly update: August 22. “We’ve discovered some anomalies with the test results we received this week from one of our three providers. I’m going to explain in detail what we’ve discovered and how we discovered it, but the bottom line is this: Dozens of people whose initial tests showed them to be COVID-positive have been retested twice and all but one of those have turned out to be negative.”

HEALTH

National Geographic: Evidence mounts that people with breakthrough infections can spread Delta easily. “A preliminary study has shown that in the case of a breakthrough infection, the Delta variant is able to grow in the noses of vaccinated people to the same degree as if they were not vaccinated at all. The virus that grows is just as infectious as that in unvaccinated people, meaning vaccinated people can transmit the virus and infect others.”

Fin 24: 80% of South Africans may have had Covid-19, Discovery says. “As many as four out of five South Africans may have contracted the coronavirus, indicating that the country may be one of the world’s hardest-hit nations by the disease, the chief actuary at Discovery said. Emile Stipp based his calculations on the country’s case-fatality rate and excess deaths, a measure of the number of fatalities compared with an historical average. They are thought to provide a more accurate picture of the impact of the pandemic than the official toll.”

TECHNOLOGY

KnowTechie: You can now store your COVID-19 vaccination card on Samsung phones. “As more and more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccination, smartphone manufacturers have been working on ways to story vaccination information easily on users’ smartphones. Samsung has become the latest manufacturer to jump on board, announcing the COVID vaccination cards are now available on your smartphone through Samsung Pay.”

Women Love Tech: Why COVID-19 Has Accelerated The Need For Open Data Sources. “Open banking guru and Head of Product for Envestnet | Yodlee, Tonia Berglund and Jamie Leach from global open banking industry body FData, are leading the way for Australia’s open banking sector. We sat down with both Tonia and Jamie to discuss the recent developments in Australia’s open banking regime, including the recent change by the Treasury to amend the Consumer Data Right (CDR), giving consumers greater access to, and control over, their data.”

RESEARCH

Reuters: Israel Finds COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Significantly Lowers Infection Risk. “A third dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has significantly improved protection from infection and serious illness among people age 60 and older in Israel compared with those who received two shots, findings published on Sunday by the Health Ministry showed.”

Nature: The mutation that helps Delta spread like wildfire. “As the world grapples with the hyper-infectious Delta coronavirus variant, scientists are racing to understand the biological basis for its behaviour. A slew of studies has highlighted an amino-acid change present in Delta that might contribute to its swift spread. Delta is at least 40% more transmissible than is the Alpha variant identified in the United Kingdom in late 2020, epidemiological studies suggest.”

New York Times: A microscopic video shows the coronavirus on the rampage.. “The intruder stalks its prey with stealth and precision, preparing to puncture its quarry’s armor. Once inside, the aggressor forces its host to produce more intruders, and then causes it to explode, spewing out a multitude of invaders who can continue their rampage on a wider scale. The drama, depicted in a microscopic video of SARS-CoV-2 infecting bat brain cells, provides a window into how the pathogen turns cells into virus-making factories before causing the host cell to die.”

PUBLIC OPINION:

AP: COVID anxiety rising amid delta surge, AP-NORC poll finds. ” Anxiety in the United States over COVID-19 is at its highest level since winter, a new poll shows, as the delta variant rages, more states and school districts adopt mask and vaccination requirements and the nation’s hospitals once again fill to capacity.”

CRIME / SECURITY / LEGAL

Radio Free Asia: Researchers Jailed Over Github Stash of Pandemic Content Banned in China. “Two Chinese researchers who kept an online repository of banned articles on the coronavirus pandemic have been sentenced, then released, by a court in Beijing. Chen Mei, 28, and Cai Wei, 27, were found guilty on by the Chaoyang District People’s Court on Aug. 13 of ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,’ a charge frequently used to target peaceful critics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”

OH THAT’S SO NICE

Washington Post: A goofy paper horse became an Australian pandemic sensation. Now he’s going in a museum . “The National Museum of Australia houses hundreds of years of the country’s history, from Aboriginal artifacts to Capt. James Cook’s navigational instruments. Soon, the sprawling institution on the edge of a lake in central Canberra will get a new addition: a paper horse named Russell. The nearly life-size stallion became a national — neigh, international — sensation this year when David Marriott pieced him together while in hotel quarantine. The 58-year-old also created an alter ego, known as the Quarantine Cowboy, whose adventures with the horse were an online hit.”

OPINION

Washington Post: Opinion: When culture wars turn deadly. “There have always been anti-vaxxers. But attitudes toward this round of vaccinations are so embedded in tribal conflict that persuasion on the merits is, if not impossible — the threat of the delta variant has changed some minds — then far more difficult than it should be. Culture wars are like that. They shut down conversation.”

New York Times: Dying in the Name of Vaccine Freedom. “In the video above, Alexander Stockton, a producer on the Opinion Video team, explores one of the main reasons the number of Covid cases is soaring once again in the United States: vaccine hesitancy and refusal. ‘It’s hard to watch the pandemic drag on as Americans refuse the vaccine in the name of freedom,’ he says. Seeking understanding, Mr. Stockton travels to Mountain Home, Ark., in the Ozarks, a region with galloping contagion and — not unrelated — abysmal vaccination rates.” This is mostly video but all the spot-checks I did had captions.

RELIGION

Washington Post: Philadelphia becomes latest archdiocese to reject religious exemptions for vaccine mandates. “The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is the latest district of the Catholic Church to reject religious exemptions to coronavirus vaccination mandates, reflecting a stark divide among the church’s hierarchy over immunization requirements. Church leaders in the nation’s sixth-largest city urged priests Wednesday not to help parishioners evade the shots, which the Vatican has deemed ‘morally acceptable.'”

POLITICS

AL: As Cullman prepares for Trump rally, city declares COVID state of emergency. “With Cullman Regional experiencing overcrowding due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Cullman will be providing more first responders to this weekend’s Alabama GOP rally. The Cullman City Council passed a resolution during a special called meeting Thursday morning to declare a State of Emergency due to threat that COVID-19 continues to pose to the city’s residents.”

Florida Politics: Another poll shows Ron DeSantis’s favorability rating underwater. “Another polling outfit is show Gov. Ron DeSantis’ favorability ratings underwater as Florida endures another surge in Covid-19 infections. The Political Matrix/The Listener Group survey results also show DeSantis trailing either Democrat Charlie Crist or Nikki Fried in a potential matchup for Governor. But the Pensacola-based pollster delivered better news for Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in his own reelection bid.”

NBC News: Covid got California Gov. Newsom into this recall mess. He’s banking it’ll get him out.. “Covid-19 restrictions got Gavin Newsom into this mess. Now he’s counting on them to get him out of it. Amid a contentious national debate over masks and vaccines, California’s embattled Democratic governor is betting his political life on turning next month’s recall election into a referendum on some of the nation’s strictest mandates.”

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