Friday CoronaBuzz, August 25, 2021: 55 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.


Washington Post: Daily vaccination rate is rising among Americans getting their first shot, officials say. “The daily number of people getting their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine has risen by more than 70 percent since mid-July, White House officials said Tuesday. On average, about 450,000 Americans a day are getting their first jab, up from 260,000 a little more than a month ago, Jeff Zients, the White House Covid-19 Response Team coordinator, said in an afternoon briefing.”

WFLA: Bodies stacked to the ceiling as COVID-19 surge creates backlog at Florida funeral homes, crematories. “There’s an influx of bodies like they’ve never seen, worse than the first wave of COVID-19. The area where bodies are stored prior to being cremated is stacked to the ceiling. The staff is working day and night to honor the dead. WESH 2 called 20 funeral homes and crematories and many were too busy to be part of our story. Some were too busy to even talk on the phone. One funeral director said that in a 30-minute period where he talked to his partner, four new cases came in.”

BBC: Covid-19: Northern Ireland’s summer surge figures make for grim reading. “The statistics associated with the coronavirus pandemic in Northern Ireland paint a grim picture. Northern Ireland has the highest infection rate and lowest vaccination rate in the UK. And since the current swell in cases began at the start of July, we have had the highest death rate in the UK.”


KFOR: “Do not take medicine for animals,” Oklahoma stores sold out of horse deworming drug despite FDA warning about consumption. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to take horse deworming medication to treat COVID-19. It turns out the medicine, Ivermectin, is flying off store shelves in Oklahoma, despite the warning.”

Washington Post: Facebook says post that cast doubt on covid-19 vaccine was most popular on the platform from January through March. “Facebook said Saturday evening that an article raising concerns that the coronavirus vaccine could lead to death was the top performing link in the United States on its platform from January through March of this year, acknowledging the widespread reach of such material for the first time. It also said another site that pushed covid-19 misinformation was also among the top 20 most visited pages on the platform.”

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Washington County sheriff confirms use of ivermectin at Detention Center. “Eva Madison, justice of the peace for District 9, said she had been told by a county employee that Karas Correctional Health had been prescribing ivermectin for them. Madison said the federal Food and Drug Administration has warned against using ivermectin to treat covid-19 and said the county should review the situation before approving a budget that includes money for Karas.”

CNET: YouTube says it’s removed 1 million videos for COVID-19 misinformation. “YouTube has since February 2020 removed more than 1 million videos related to ‘dangerous’ coronavirus information, such as false cures or claims of a hoax, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said in a blog post Wednesday.”

The Scotsman: Far right website sees upsurge in ‘hateful content’ and Covid-19 disinformation aimed at Scots. “A video-sharing platform which has been reported to regulators for hosting hateful, violent and anti-semitic content is enjoying an upsurge in activity aimed at Scottish audiences, with a spate of posts pushing conspiracy theories and disinformation about the nation’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.” Not YouTube.

MinnPost: On an encounter with Unvaccinated America at the hospital. “While letting my brother take a turn with my mother in emergency, I sat outside the hospital on a very early morning, looking to the nearby Catalina Foothills for reassurance from family gone to the other side that I was doing the right thing. A couple who appeared to be in their late 30s sat at a distance from me and asked if I was with ‘the really elderly lady’ they saw being wheeled into one of the department’s private rooms. I said they probably were speaking about my mother. I expected to hear a perfunctory ‘sorry to hear your mom is sick’ sort of response. Oh no.”


Route Fifty: You’ve Been Vaccinated. Now Prove It.. “To get inside the August Wilson Theatre, patrons will need more than their tickets. They’ll also have to present a federal card or use an app on their phone and an ID to prove that they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19. The extra credentials stem from an order issued earlier this month by New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio requiring anyone eating inside restaurants, working out in gyms or attending movies, concerts and theatrical productions to show proof that they have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.”

ABC News: As states cancel large events due to delta variant, their economies are taking a hit. “A festival in New Orleans. Concerts in Nashville, Tennessee. A comic book convention in Atlanta. As the delta variant surges across the country, states with low COVID vaccination rates are reeling from a loss in tourism dollars due to large-event cancellations and postponements.”


New York Daily News: Dozens of doctors in Florida take part in symbolic walkout to protest unvaccinated COVID-19 patients . “Nearly 75 doctors in South Florida took part in a symbolic walkout Monday to protest the overwhelming number of unvaccinated coronavirus patients receiving care at their hospital in Palm Beach Gardens.”


KHN: Hot Spots Where Covid Vaccination Lags Push Experimental Antibody Treatment. ” [Joelle] Ruppert and her husband, Michael, 61, who also contracted covid-19, are among thousands of people in the U.S. who in recent weeks have rushed to receive infusions of the powerful antibody cocktails shown to reduce hospitalizations by 70% when given promptly to high-risk patients. The rush has been fueled in no small part by governors in Southern states, where vaccinations lag and hospitalizations are soaring with delta-variant infections. Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas are among leaders touting the antibody treatments even as they downplay vaccination and other measures that health officials say can prevent illness in the first place.”


Boise State Public Radio: Idaho Is “Dangerously Close” To Crisis Standards Of Care. “Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen visited a Treasure Valley intensive care unit last weekend. ‘It’s really hard to describe the amount of sadness and suffering that’s occurring there,’ he told reporters during a media briefing Tuesday. Hospitalizations because of COVID-19 in the state are nearing peaks reached last winter, while ICU admissions have already surpassed that point. Like last winter, hospitals are resorting to treating patients in hallways and conference rooms.”

CBS News: COVID-19 cases continue to spike, leading to shortages of ICU beds and problems for schools. “Intensive care unit beds are in short supply as coronavirus cases continue to spike across the country, fueled by the Delta variant. The nation saw a 14% jump in the number of COVID-19 cases caused by the highly contagious strain, according to the CDC. ICU beds in Tennessee are in such high demand that one unit had to be converted from cardiac care. A tented field hospital was built alongside the University of Mississippi Jackson. ”


Library of Congress: As the Library Sleeps. “Have you wondered what the Library was like when the buildings were nearly empty during the first months of the pandemic? During the Library’s extended closure beginning in March 2020, a team of volunteers from the Conservation Division monitored our historic buildings for leaks, environmental changes, and threats to collection safety. This post describes how we adapted to protect the Library’s collections from harm while the storage areas remained unoccupied.”

Portland Press Herald: Maine State Music Theatre cancels shows after deluge of refunds. “Maine State Music Theatre is canceling its fall schedule at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, after next month’s run of the musical ‘Jersey Boys,’ because of poor ticket sales. Curt Dale Clark, the theater’s artistic director, attributed the cancellation to controversy over the theater’s decision to require ticket-holders to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, as well as people’s general concerns about the virus.”


Washington Post: Carnival Cruise to require vaccination proof for all passengers 12 and over. “Carnival Cruise Line is tightening its vaccine mandate beginning this week, announcing that vaccination will be required for all passengers except children under 12 and adults with medical conditions that prohibit inoculation. The move came Sunday, three days after the Bahamas issued an emergency order barring cruise ships from entering the country’s ports beginning Sept. 3 unless all passengers over 12 have gotten the shots. An exception is made for those with medical issues that preclude inoculation.”

AP: Disney Reaches Vaccination Agreement With Union Workers. ” Florida’s Walt Disney World will now require union employees as well as non-union and salaried workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep their jobs at the theme park. The deal was reached Monday with a union coalition, shortly after the Pfizer vaccine earned full Food and Drug Administration approval.”

New York Times: Offices Dangle Beehives and Garden Plots to Coax Workers Back. “Office workers who were sent home during pandemic lockdowns often sought refuge in nature, tending to houseplants, setting up bird feeders and sitting outdoors with their laptops. Now, as companies try to coax skittish employees back to the office and building owners compete for tenants when vacancy rates are soaring, many have hit on the idea of making the office world feel more like the natural world.”


Global News: U.S. extending land border restrictions with Canada, Mexico for another 30 days. “Canadians won’t be able to drive into the United States for vacation for another month, American officials say. A spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told Global News Friday America’s land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico will be closed until at least Sept. 21.”

New York Times: About 89% of Rental Assistance Funds Have Not Been Distributed, Figures Show. “The $46.5 billion rental aid program created to pay rent accrued during the pandemic continues to disburse money at a slow pace, as the White House braces for a Supreme Court order that could strike down a new national moratorium on evictions.”


BBC: Covid: Antibody tests offered to public for first time. “Antibody tests are to be widely offered to the UK public for the first time in a new programme that aims to find out more about how much natural protection people have after getting coronavirus. The government scheme will offer tests to thousands of adults each day.”

Yahoo News Singapore: Singapore won’t reach COVID herd immunity: Lawrence Wong . “Singapore will not reach herd immunity in the pandemic despite its high COVID-19 vaccination rate, said Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Thursday (19 August). ‘The path towards being a COVID resilient nation is going to be a long and hard slog. Even with very high vaccination rates, we are not going to reach herd immunity, where the outbreak just fizzles out,’ Wong warned during a virtual multi-ministry taskforce conference.”


Washington Post: How the U.S. vaccination drive came to rely on an army of consultants. “When Gavin Newsom outsourced key components of California’s vaccine rollout to the private sector during the pandemic’s darkest days last winter, the Democratic governor promised the changes would benefit the most vulnerable. His ‘number one’ reason for handing the reins to Blue Shield of California, an Oakland-based health insurance company, was ‘equity’ — delivering vaccine doses to those at greatest risk, many in communities of color, he said in February. But the $15 million contract with Blue Shield, plus another $13 million for McKinsey, did not deliver on that promise, according to state and county officials, as well as public health experts.”

Washington Post: Some Nebraskans outraged at state’s recruiting ad for unvaccinated nurses: ‘It feels insulting to the profession’. “When Abbey Klein opened her mailbox on Monday, she found a postcard from the state of Nebraska advertising nursing jobs with bonuses as high as $5,000. Klein, a registered nurse who lives in Omaha, said she had received similar ads from the state in the past. But something stood out on this card. Bold letters inside a bright box read: ‘No mandated COVID-19 Vaccination.’ The message was under a photo of smiling health-care workers.”


CNN: So many people in this Texas town got Covid-19 that the school district shut down and then the city essentially closed. “It seemed that just about everyone in Iraan knew someone who was fighting Covid-19. During a two-week span this month, 119 people were tested for the virus and 50 tested positive, according to Iraan General Hospital CEO Jason Rybolt. That’s a 42% positivity rate.” The population of the town is about 1200.

Gambit: From bars to the Saints game, New Orleanians take new COVID 19 vaccination rules in stride. “A week into new proof-of-vaccination and masking rules, the constitution remains firmly in place and normal New Orleanians are going about their daily lives — all while showing their vaccination cards to bartenders, restaurant hosts and Superdome security staff.”

Miami Herald: ‘The numbers don’t lie.’ COVID hits Miami’s justice system with deaths, staff shortages. “… in Miami-Dade jails, officials now say they may be extending shifts to help deal with the rising number of staff members — and inmates — who have been infected with or been exposed to COVID-19 in the latest surge in South Florida. As of Friday, 136 employees were home quarantining. That’s in addition to 188 inmates in the jail system who are positive with COVID, the department said.”

CNN: Concert celebrating New York City’s comeback cut short by severe weather ahead of Hurricane Henri. “Thousands of people celebrating the return of New York City at a concert in Central Park were interrupted by severe weather ahead of Hurricane Henri’s anticipated Sunday landfall. Some of music’s biggest names descended on the Great Lawn at New York City’s iconic Central Park for the ‘We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert’ on Saturday to perform for a vaccinated crowd of 60,000.”


Washington Post: Even LDS leaders are struggling to get Mormons vaccinated against the coronavirus. “Less than half of eligible residents of Utah, where members constitute a majority of the population, are fully vaccinated, placing the state in the lower half of the nation. One study revealed that 33 percent of Mormons were vaccine hesitant, with another 17 percent refusing the vaccine altogether. This skepticism, despite encouragement from LDS leaders in the typically hierarchical religion, stems from Latter-day Saints’ embrace of political and religious conservatism in the wake of World War II.”

Tallahassee Democrat: COVID: Tallahassee ER doctor ousted from hospital after promoting $50 mask opt-out letters. “An emergency room physician who charged $50 for opt-out letters to Leon County parents who don’t want their kids to wear masks in school has been removed from Capital Regional Medical Center following a social media outcry for his ouster.”

WHAS: One-time vaccine skeptic recounts his fight against COVID. “Ethan Koehler contracted the virus in July and says he sees things differently after sharing anti-COVID and anti-vaccine messages on social media.”

People: Slipknot’s Corey Taylor ‘Devastated’ After Testing Positive for COVID-19: ‘I’m Very, Very Sick’. “Slipknot singer Corey Taylor has contracted a breakthrough case of COVID-19 that’s made him ‘very, very sick.’ The musician, 47, was forced to call off his upcoming appearance at a Michigan pop culture convention this weekend after testing positive for the coronavirus, Rolling Stone reports.”


Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Vaccinated Henry County teacher who died of COVID-19 loved education, family. “[Walter] Kearse, 36, died August 13, one of a growing number of so-called breakthrough cases among people vaccinated against the disease but infected nonetheless as the highly infectious delta variant ravages the country. ‘Please man, take care of y’all selves,’ he said in a Facebook video posted Aug. 3 from a bed at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. In the post an oxygen tube is strapped to his nose and his voice is labored as he tries to speak.”

WSB TV: 29-year-old father, Georgia corrections agent dies of COVID-19. “A 29-year-old father and special agent with the Georgia Department of Corrections has died of COVID-19, his family reported Saturday. Nick Boutwell, of Perry, Georgia, died Friday after battling the virus for over a month. His 1-year-old daughter, Rylee, was hospitalized but recovered.”

OPB: Patient with COVID dies waiting for ICU bed in Roseburg. “A patient with COVID-19 died on Wednesday while waiting for an intensive care unit bed at Mercy Health Hospital in Roseburg. The medical center said the patient was in its emergency department and the ICU was full with other COVID-19 patients. Hospital officials had expanded the ICU to other floors but were unable to find space for the patient.”


ProPublica: A Boy With an Autoimmune Disease Was Ready to Learn in Person. Then His State Banned Mask Mandates.. “For families whose children are too young to be eligible for vaccinations, the delta surge has once again left many parents weighing the risks of in-person learning, especially in states that are bucking federal recommendations to impose universal masking in schools. Some families have reluctantly shifted back to virtual instruction. Others have pulled their children out of the public school system altogether, opting for home-schooling. But for families like the Gambrels, the stakes are exponentially higher. Children like Jayden, with complex health conditions, often are among those most in need of direct, specialized instruction that can only be delivered in person. Those same health conditions can also put children like Jayden at higher risk of infection and illness.”

NBC News: What Missouri schools learned the hard way about rapid Covid testing. “The spread of the delta variant has mired communities in emotional fights about how to safely send children — most of whom are unvaccinated — back to classrooms, particularly in states like Missouri, which has been bedeviled by a high aversion to mask mandates and low vaccination rates. As classes begin, once again schools must weigh testing and other strategies to limit Covid-19’s spread — potentially without a deep supply of test kits available.”


Washington Post: More than half of Florida’s students now go to schools mandating masks in defiance of DeSantis. “More than half of Florida’s students are now enrolled in public school districts with mask mandates despite threats of sanctions from the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who decreed that only parents can decide whether their children wear masks. On Tuesday night, two school districts — in Orange and Indian River counties — approved mandates to try to stop the spread of the delta variant of the novel coronavirus. They joined eight other districts that recently moved to require a medical exemption from a doctor to opt out.”


WRAL: UNC identifies COVID cluster in residence hall, the second cluster this month. “At least five students in the Avery Residence Hall have tested positive for COVID-19. This is the second confirmed COVID-19 cluster connected to UNC so far this semester. University officials said in an effort to respect students’ privacy, they would not be sharing any additional details about the cluster.”


Poynter: What are the legit medical exemptions for vaccine mandates?. “There is no single list that every employer or business will accept to exempt a person from a vaccine mandate, but there are some more I want to cite. Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Tom Avril wrote a bang-up piece on this issue that I used as a launchpad for this item. Here are some conditions and scenarios that people or health care professionals commonly cite when seeking a medical exemption.”

PsyPost: Mindfulness meditation training reduces the negative emotional impact of COVID-19 news exposure. “Ample research supports the use of mindfulness meditation for better mental health, but it was unclear whether these effects would hold true in the context of COVID-19 with prolonged quarantine and related stressors. In our study, we found that a regular dose of mindfulness practice every day for 10 days provide a buffer against the negative impact of COVID-19 news consumption.”

Healthline: How the ‘Sunday Scaries’ Have Become Worse During COVID-19. “More than half of working people in the United States report experiencing the ‘Sunday scaries,’ a phenomenon in which people experience stress or anxiety on a Sunday before the coming workweek. A LinkedIn survey of 3,000 Americans found that 66 percent of respondents said they felt anxious or stressed on Sunday. In addition, 41 percent said the COVID-19 pandemic has either caused the Sunday scaries or made them worse.”


BBC: Covid infection protection waning in double jabbed. “Researchers say they are seeing some waning of protection against Covid infections in double-jabbed people. The real-world study includes data on positive Covid PCR test results between May and July 2021 among more than a million people who had received two doses of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.”

NewsWise: Clinical trial shows testing saliva for COVID-19 is as reliable as nasal swab. “In a real-world trial, a team of clinician-researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have demonstrated that tests of self-collected saliva provided comparable results to tests performed by trained healthcare professionals using NP swabs. The researchers concluded that saliva tests detect 93 percent of COVID-19 infections in an outpatient setting.”

CNNWire: CDC study shows COVID vaccine less protective against delta but still reduces risk by two-thirds. “Vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection dropped from 91% to 66% once the delta variant accounted for the majority of circulating virus, according to a study published Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ‘While we did see a reduction in the protection of the Covid-19 vaccine against the Delta variant, it’s still two-thirds reduction of risk,’ lead author Ashley Fowlkes, an epidemiologist for CDC Covid-19 Emergency Response, told CNN on Tuesday.”

NewsWise: Early COVID-19 vaccine campaign in US prevented 140,000 deaths. “The early COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the U.S. prevented nearly 140,000 deaths and 3 million cases of COVID-19 by the second week of May, according to a new study. As a result of early vaccination efforts, the average state experienced five fewer deaths from COVID-19 per 10,000 adult residents. The study estimates the number of lives saved during the first five months of the vaccination campaign in each of the 50 states and Washington, DC.”

NewsWise: Treating newly infected COVID-19 patients with plasma from COVID survivors demonstrates no significant benefit, study finds. “A new study published by the National Institutes of Health found that COVID-19 convalescent plasma did not prevent disease progression in an at-risk group of COVID patients when administered within one week of their symptoms. The trial, which was stopped in February 2021 due to lack of efficacy based on planned interim analysis, analyzed data from 450 patients who visited emergency departments with laboratory-confirmed COVID diagnoses and symptoms that began within a week.”


Sky News: COVID-19: Almost 5,000 coronavirus cases investigated after Cornwall music and surf festival. “Almost 5,000 coronavirus cases are suspected to be linked to a surf and music festival in Cornwall. Health officials have launched an investigation after it emerged 4,700 people had tested positive for COVID-19 following Boardmasters near Newquay earlier this month.”


Business Insider: An Alabama man who called himself the ‘vaccine police’ told pharmacists at a Missouri Walmart that they will be ‘executed’ if they continued giving COVID-19 shots. “A man, who calls himself the ‘vaccine police,’ entered a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri to put staff ‘on public notice,’ telling pharmacists they could be ‘executed’ if they carry out COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to reports.”

WTSP: Woman who said she had COVID and coughed, spit on food at grocery store sent to jail. “The woman accused of purposely coughing on fresh food inside a grocery store was sentenced on Tuesday in Luzerne County. We still didn’t know much about COVID-19 at the time when Margaret Cirko purposely coughed and spit all over the food displays inside a Gerrity’s supermarket in Hanover Township while saying, ‘I have the virus, now you’re all going to get sick.'”


Miami Herald: Has DeSantis muzzled Florida’s top doc? Rivkees, a pediatrician, silent as kids get COVID | Editorial . “Where in the world is Florida’s surgeon general — a pediatrician, no less — as COVID numbers spike for kids in Florida? We may have trouble summoning up his face, but Dr. Scott Rivkees was named to the top medical job in the state by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April 2019.”

CNN: Conservative radio host’s Covid death should prompt others to end vaccine lies. “Sadly, for the Valentine family, Phil won’t come back home. I sincerely was rooting for him to recover, as a fellow radio host and human being. I hoped that if Phil followed through on his promise to encourage his conservative listeners to get vaccinated, it could have saved countless lives. The question now, though, is: Will other conservative media outlets, from Fox News to local radio hosts, honor Valentine’s memory by finally stopping spewing misinformation about the vaccine?”


NBC News: Delivery of full Arizona ‘audit’ report delayed after Cyber Ninjas test positive for Covid. “Arizona Republicans will only receive a partial draft of findings from their partisan review of 2020 ballots on Monday after three people from the private company leading the so-called audit tested positive for Covid, state Senate President Karen Fann said in a statement.”

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