Monday CoronaBuzz, September 13, 2021: 60 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

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


Free Malaysia Today: Feed Malaysia connects the needy with food aid, resources. “Food banks and soup kitchens have become lifesavers for many. But it isn’t always easy to know the location of these initivaties, and finding a food bank or soup kitchen may be difficult for those incapable of long-distance travel. These are issues a group of local youths are tackling through their new website, Feed Malaysia. Launched on Aug 28, the platform lists food banks and aid organisations by location, allowing visitors to identify the ones closest to them. At present, 748 food banks and aid organisations are listed on Feed Malaysia, with more added regularly. The website also provides donation and volunteer pages, as well as helpful links to free mental health helplines.” The site is available in Malay, English, and Chinese.


Wired: How to Prevent and Treat Face Mascne. “You may have noticed an uptick in red bumps in the areas of your face that your mask covers, whether you’re someone who regularly gets breakouts or if you have nearly perfect skin. Acne can literally be a pain, but that doesn’t mean you should stop wearing a mask. If you treat your skin and clean your face coverings, you should be able to get it under control and eliminate larger breakouts from happening. Everyone’s skin responds differently to products and stressors, so go slow and spot test any new, potentially irritating ingredients.”


Bloomberg: Overwhelmed Morgues Belie U.S. Illusion of a Defanged Pandemic. “Nationwide, mask use fell to a third of its previous peak. Traffic at restaurants and stores approached pre-pandemic norms. Big sporting events and music festivals returned. Now, public health experts say the U.S. needs to reconsider some of those changes as reported deaths from Covid exceed 1,000 a day, and the nation looks warily ahead to another winter virus season.”

Quartz Africa: Is it too late to fight Covid skepticism and vaccine hesitancy in Tanzania?. “A little over one month since Tanzania started its Covid-19 vaccination drive, the country has seen slow progress, with the campaign marred by conspiracy theories and myths around the safety of the jab. Recent statistics from the Ministry of Health show ~300,000 people have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson shot. This translates to ~0.5% of its 58 million citizens.”

9 News: More Melburnians defying lockdown rules this time around, data suggests. “The number of Melburnians defying lockdown restrictions is much higher than it was during lockdown last year, exclusive Google mobility data obtained by 9News has revealed. Tracking data from Google has indicated non-essential shopping and recreation in Melton is only 21 per cent less than what it was pre-pandemic.”


Task & Purpose: No, F-22 pilots aren’t ‘walking off the job’ to avoid the COVID-19 vaccine. “If men stopped filming themselves rant in their cars then the world would be a better place. One such rant posted to Twitter on Friday spread false information about the effects of the Department of Defense mandating service members take COVID-19 vaccines.”

BBC: Covid: President Biden’s commitments on vaccines fact-checked. “President Joe Biden has been making the case for enforcing Americans to take a Covid vaccine. In a televised speech he said the unvaccinated were responsible for the rise in hospitalisations and made a series of claims about the US vaccine rollout. We’ve been checking them out.”

CNN: Pro-China misinformation operation attempting to exploit US Covid divisions, report says. “A pro-Chinese government online influence operation is targeting Americans in an effort to exploit divisions over the Covid-19 pandemic and ‘physically mobilize protestors in the US in response,’ according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Mandiant and experts at Google.”


Poynter: The FDA does not list male sterility as one of the side effects of ivermectin. “Ivermectin is the latest drug being floated as a treatment against the coronavirus despite warnings from public health authorities and a lack of evidence that it works. But a claim circulating on Facebook says the anti-parasitic drug has the side effect of sterilizing men who take it.”


The Register: ‘It takes a hell of a mental toll’ – techies who lost work due to COVID share their stories. “Pat Christensen’s* COVID layoff came earlier in 2020, and at an earlier point in his career. As the year commenced, Christensen worked in New York State as a developer at a software vendor that was stretching towards security products. As the COVID-19 pandemic gathered pace in February and March, Christensen was promoted into a new role designed to help make that stretch – and was thrilled at the chance to move his career towards security. In May, the axe fell.”

CNET: Business travel may never fully come back and that could change travel for all of us. “Business travel is in many ways the lifeblood of the travel industry. Even if you only travel for leisure, the highly profitable business traveler affects every seat in the plane and every room in the hotel. But that traveler is dialing back, perhaps permanently. Now what?”

19th News: The pandemic continues to strain nursing homes. What happens if a lot of them close?. “Nursing homes were closing before the pandemic: more than 550 from June 2015 to June 2019, more shuttering each year than the previous one, affected by staffing shortages, high costs and a decline in occupancy. But the coronavirus pandemic has hit nursing homes particularly hard, killing more than 186,000 residents and staff and pushing the industry into what experts have warned is its ‘worst financial crisis in history.’ Now, only one in four of the country’s 15,600 nursing homes is confident it can survive the coming months, according to a recent survey. ”


Salt Lake Tribune: ‘Very challenging to navigate’: Utahns report frustrations in getting tested as COVID-19 cases rise. “Coronavirus testing has remained a struggle in Utah this week, with patients reporting long lines at test sites, days of waiting for results, and frustration with finding a way to get tested in the first place.”

WWYN: Hospital to stop delivering babies as maternity workers resign over vaccine mandate. “Lewis County General Hospital will stop delivering babies after September 24 because too many maternity unit workers have resigned over COVID vaccination mandates. That’s according to Lewis County Health System Chief Executive Officer Gerald Cayer, who held a news conference Friday in Lowville.”


Montgomery Advertiser: ‘Now’s not the time to have a heart attack’: South Alabama hospital welcomes federal staffing aid. “Hospitals in the southeast Alabama region are currently caring for 25 more patients than they have staffed ICU beds, [Dale Medical Center CEO Vernon] Johnson said on Thursday. However, a U.S. Navy medical unit arrived in Ozark this week in hopes of alleviating this burden. The unit is composed of 14 nurses, four medical providers and two respiratory therapists who will work among the Dale Medical Center staff.”

Los Angeles Times: Some Central Valley hospitals on the brink as COVID-19 surge hits crisis point. “Parts of the Central Valley as well as rural Northern California have become the hot zones for COVID-19 in the state even as hospitalizations are beginning to fall in many parts of California, most dramatically in Southern California and the Bay Area, which generally have higher vaccination rates. In a sign of how severe the crisis has become, Fresno County’s health officer said Friday that hospitals may be forced to ration healthcare — choosing who receives lifesaving measures — because of dwindling resources.”

Business Insider: A major healthcare provider is suspending ‘almost all surgeries’ because nurses are swamped with treating unvaxxed people with COVID. “More than half of the hospitals within a major healthcare system in the western US region are suspending ‘almost all surgeries’ for ‘several weeks’ due to rising COVID-19 cases. Intermountain Healthcare, a major healthcare provider whose headquarters are in Utah, announced on Friday that it would postpone ‘all non-urgent surgeries and procedures requiring a hospital admission in our trauma and community hospitals’ starting Wednesday.”

WRAL: Hospitals across NC say staff, space maxed by latest COVID surge. “Over the past several weeks, the number of hospitalized COVID patients has surged across North Carolina to a near historic high of about 3,800. That’s a 10-fold increase in just two months. As of Wednesday, about 1 out of every 5 patients in North Carolina hospitals has the virus, data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows.”


Tampa Bay Times: Tampa General has put her kidney transplant on hold; she blames the unvaccinated. “Hundreds of patients have been left waiting for surgeries as Tampa Bay hospitals diverted doctors, nurses, ventilators and beds to treat a record level of COVID patients. AdventHealth has paused non-emergency surgeries at seven of its Tampa Bay Region hospitals. BayCare paused elective surgeries at hospitals in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Pasco counties. HCA Healthcare has also suspended some procedures.”


Associated Press: COVID-19 infections spread through gorillas at Atlanta zoo. “Atlanta’s zoo says at least 13 western lowland gorillas have tested positive for COVID-19, including 60-year-old Ozzie, the oldest male gorilla in captivity. Zoo Atlanta said Friday that employees noticed the gorillas had been coughing, had runny noses and showed changes in appetite. A veterinary lab at the University of Georgia returned positive tests for the respiratory illness. Zoo Atlanta says it’s waiting on confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa.”


Business Insider: A group of 200-plus CEOs from companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot says it ‘welcomes’ Biden’s vax-or-test mandate. “Business Roundtable, a lobbyist group whose members include chief executives from companies like Amazon, Walmart, Apple, Google, and Home Depot, said in a statement Thursday that it supports Biden’s plan requiring companies with over 100 workers to mandate vaccines or weekly tests.”

CNET: Pfizer to seek approval for COVID-19 vaccine in kids 5 and up in coming weeks, report says. “Pfizer and its partner BioNTech will reportedly soon seek clearance for their COVID-19 vaccine to be used in children 5 and up. ‘In the coming weeks, we will present the results of our study on the 5- to 11-year-olds worldwide to the authorities and apply for approval of the vaccine for this age group,’ Ozlem Tureci, the chief medical officer of BioNTech, told German publication Der Spiegel in an interview published Friday. ”


CNN: Biden announces new vaccine mandates that could cover 100 million Americans. “President Joe Biden on Thursday imposed stringent new vaccine rules on federal workers, large employers and health care staff in a sweeping attempt to contain the latest surge of Covid-19. The new requirements could apply to as many as 100 million Americans — close to two-thirds of the American workforce — and amount to Biden’s strongest push yet to require vaccines for much of the country.”

Politico: Surgeon general: New vaccine policies neither illegal nor unusual. “Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday defended the administration’s new Covid vaccine requirements, calling them ‘an appropriate legal measure’ that fit in with traditional safety requirements in schools and workplaces.”


Reuters: Vietnam’s capital ramps up testing after extending COVID-19 curbs. ” Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, extended COVID-19 restrictions on Monday for a further two weeks, as authorities launched a plan to conduct tests on the city’s 8 million people to try to curb a climb in infections that started in late April. The Southeast Asian country dealt successfully with the virus for much of the pandemic, but the virulent Delta variant has proved more challenging in recent months.”


Newsweek: Kentucky GOP Overrides Governor Andy Beshear, Ends Statewide School Mask Mandate. “Kentucky’s GOP-dominated legislature overrode Governor Andy Beshear’s statewide mask mandate, ending the requirement for masks to be worn in K-12 schools and child-care centers.”

NBC News: Texas sues 6 school districts that defied governor’s order, imposed mask requirements. “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Friday he’s suing at least six districts that defied Gov. Greg Abbott’s order prohibiting mask mandates at public schools.”


City of West Hollywood: City of West Hollywood Issues Emergency Executive Order to Implement COVID-19 Vaccine Verification Requirements. “As soon as possible, but no later than October 11, 2021, Covered Businesses must require all patrons age 18 and older to show proof that they are Fully Vaccinated before entering any indoor portion of a facility, subject only to certain exceptions. Individuals who do not provide proof of full vaccination may use outdoor portions of Covered Business facilities. Persons under the age of 18 are not required to show proof of full vaccination.”

WBAL: Baltimore pushes to reach people in neighborhoods with lowest vaccination rates. “There’s a new push in Baltimore to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19, particularly in some of the city’s neighborhoods that have the lowest vaccination rates. City leaders on Friday unveiled an updated COVID-19 dashboard as a new tool to track the spread of the virus and vaccination coverage.”

ProPakistani: Quetta Bans Unvaccinated People From Buying Fuel. “The District Administration of Quetta has decided to ban unvaccinated individuals from purchasing petrol in a bid to get citizens vaccinated. It ordered local fuel stations on Wednesday to only sell petrol to people who produce their vaccination certificates issued by National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA).”


NBC News: Tennessee teen talking about grandma who died of Covid heckled by adults at school board meeting. “Grady Knox, a junior at Central Magnet School, was mocked and shouted down while speaking at a Rutherford County School Board meeting Tuesday night. A clip of the moment made the rounds of social media, showing adults telling the teenage boy to ‘shut up’ as he gave a personal story to relay his views in favor of mask mandates.”

Newsweek: Lora Reinbold, Anti-Mask Lawmaker, Says She Can’t Fly to Senate After Airline Ban . “State senator Lora Reinbold, a Republican from Eagle River, said that her ban from Alaska Airlines made it impossible for her to fly into the state capital Juneau to carry out her legislative duties. In April, the airline banned Reinbold because she refused to follow the company’s COVID-19 rules on mask wearing which cited federal law requiring all passengers ‘to wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times during travel.'”

CNN: Rep. Joe Morelle says he has tested positive for Covid-19. “New York Rep. Joe Morelle announced Sunday that he has tested positive for Covid-19, stressing that his vaccination against the virus has prevented him from having a severe infection.”

The Root: Former NBA All-Star Cedric Ceballos Gives Update on COVID-19 Battle After 10 Days in ICU: ‘My Fight Is Not Done’. “Dr. Fauci and the CDC keep trying to tell us that COVID-19 is no joke. Sadly, one of the NBA’s most affable alums is waging his own personal war with the deadly virus, and he took to social media in recent days to provide his friends and fans with an update as he fights for his life in ICU.”


CNN: His wife was in the ICU with Covid-19, so he stood outside for 10 days with a sign saying, ‘I love you’. “For 10 days, Gary Crane stood outside of his wife’s ICU room holding a simple reminder of his love for her. Donna Crane, 56, of Port Orange, Florida, told CNN she tested positive for Covid-19 just two weeks before becoming fully vaccinated, and about 10 days later she found herself in the ER, unable to breathe.”


CBS 46: Sister-in-law of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp passes away due to COVID-19 complications. “The sister-in-law of Gov. Brian Kemp passed away Tuesday at age 61 due to COVID-19 pneumonia complications. The celebration of life service for Margaret Louise ‘Mimi’ Argo-Laney will be held at the Snellville Christian Church on Saturday at 2 p.m.”

USA Today: Alabama man dies of cardiac event after 43 hospitals with full ICUs turned him away. “The family of a man who died of heart issues in Mississippi is asking people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 after 43 hospitals across three states were unable to accept him because of full cardiac ICUs. Ray Martin DeMonia died last week in Meridian, Mississippi. He was three days shy of his 74th birthday and a well-known native in Cullman, Alabama, his family said. ”

Raw Story: 4-year-old girl dies from COVID-19 hours after developing symptoms — now mom regrets being anti-vaxx. “The girl’s mother, Karra Harwood, was diagnosed Monday with the coronavirus and isolated from her children, including 4-year-old daughter Kali Cook, but the girl developed a fever around 2 a.m. Tuesday, which her family gave her medicine to relieve, and she died in her sleep before 7 a.m., reported The (Galveston County) Daily News.”

Newsweek: Veronica Wolski, Woman Who QAnoners Demanded Hospital Treat COVID With Ivermectin, Dies. “Veronica Wolski, a popular QAnon advocate best known for hanging banners from a bridge in Chicago, died in the early hours of Monday morning after spending weeks in hospital with COVID-19.”


US News & World Report: The Looming Crisis of Kids and COVID. “More than 1,400 schools across 278 districts in 35 states that began the academic year in person have closed, according to Burbio, an organization that’s tracking how schools respond to the ongoing pandemic. The figures are up from 698 schools across 158 districts in 25 states.”

Associated Press: Chicago union says city school’s COVID tracker inaccurate. “The Chicago Teachers Union raised questions Thursday about safety and transparency in the nation’s third-largest school district, saying an online database tracking COVID-19 cases is inaccurate.”

CNN: Los Angeles school board votes to mandate Covid-19 vaccine for eligible students age 12 and over. “All eligible students attending Los Angeles Unified public schools — the nation’s second largest school district — will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the calendar year, the school board of education has voted.”

WRAL: North Carolina schools see major COVID spread as year begins. ” North Carolina health officials on Tuesday released a report showing 170 ongoing COVID-19 clusters in K-12 schools or child care settings.”

USA Today: Crowd of unmasked students force entry into Michigan high school, violating COVID-19 mandate. “A crowd of unmasked students pressed into Manchester High School in Michigan on Tuesday morning, violating a Washtenaw County Health Department mandate requiring all K-12 students to wear masks indoors to slow the spread of coronavirus.”


NPR: I Got A ‘Mild’ Breakthrough Case. Here’s What I Wish I’d Known. “The vaccines aren’t a forcefield that ward off all things COVID. They were given the greenlight because they greatly lower your chance of getting seriously ill or dying. But it was easy for me — and I’m not the only one — to grab onto the idea that, after so many months of trying not to get COVID-19, that the vaccine was, more or less, the finish line. And that made getting sick from the virus unnerving.”

Washington Post: Stillbirths have doubled during covid in Mississippi. Officials are sounding the alarm.. “Mississippi has recorded 72 fetal deaths in unvaccinated pregnant women infected with the coronavirus, state health officials announced Wednesday, sounding the alarm on the virus’s danger in pregnancy. Speaking during a news conference, Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said those deaths had occurred since the start of the pandemic. The number, which includes only deaths that occurred past 20 weeks of gestation, ‘is twice the background rate of what would be expected,’ he said.”

Ars Technica: As COVID cases rise, so do hospital-related infections. “Stories of patients unable to get into hospitals—stuck in waiting rooms, lingering in ambulances, life-flighted to other states where there might be an open bed—have been an awful constant during this hot-spot summer. Overcrowding is an obvious threat to their health. But it poses a more subtle threat to already-admitted patients: it creates conditions and demands on hospital staff that allow dangerous infections to spread. Now, a new study shows how real that threat is, based on infection statistics from hospitals that battled the first waves of COVID in 2020.”

New York Times: One in 5,000. “How small are the chances of the average vaccinated American contracting Covid? Probably about one in 5,000 per day, and even lower for people who take precautions or live in a highly vaccinated community.”

BBC: Covid: More than 300,000 suspected of breaking quarantine rules. “Nearly a third of people arriving in England and Northern Ireland as the coronavirus Delta variant took off may have broken quarantine rules. More than 300,000 cases were passed to investigators between March and May, according to figures seen by the BBC. The government was not able to say how many of these were found to have broken the rules or could not be traced.”


Vox EU: Mask mandates save lives. “The emergence of new Covid-19 variants and a highly uneven vaccine rollout have put mask mandates back on the policy agenda. This column presents new evidence that state-level mask mandates reduced new weekly COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions, and deaths significantly in the US. The results imply that 87,000 lives were saved up until 19 December 2020, while an additional 58,000 lives could have been saved if all states had put in place a mandate starting in April 2020. Mask mandates had a greater effect in counties more positively inclined towards mask wearing.”

Daily Beast: This Could Be Israel’s Level-Up in the Fight Against COVID. “There is nothing more vital for the ongoing fight against COVID-19 than vaccines, but the fact that the virus isn’t going away has put the need for therapeutic drugs to treat it back on the front burner.”

Wake Forest University: In the battle against Covid-19, the economics of boosters. “There has been some concern that the push for a booster shot may be motivated by profit rather than an individual’s health and long-term wellbeing. Economics professor Tina Marsh Dalton’s research is at the intersection of health economics and market organization. She holds a joint appointment with the Wake Forest School of Medicine and her work focuses on improving health care by analyzing how markets for health care goods and services work. ”

Newswise: Lasting Immunity and Protection from New Single-Shot, Room-Temperature Stable COVID-19 Vaccine. “With support from Novartis Gene Therapies, the AAVCOVID vaccine was shown to be producible with efficient, scalable, and industry-established manufacturing processes. The investigators further demonstrated that the vaccine product is stable at room-temperature storage conditions for up to one month, facilitating potential future distribution of the vaccine.”

Newswise: Nanofiber Face Masks Improve Filtration Efficiency, Need Replacing More Often. “Innovations to improve mask efficacy, with increasing focus on nanofiber manufacturing, have resulted in higher filtration efficiency, greater comfort, and easier breathing capacity. However, the effects of microwater droplets on the integrity of nanofibers are relatively unclear. In Physics of Fluids, by AIP Publishing, researchers from Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, examine these ambiguities through a visualization of nanofibers interacting with water aerosol exposure.”


France 24: French ex-health minister Buzyn under formal investigation over handling of pandemic. “Former French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn has been put under formal investigation on Friday over her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, after investigators at a special court in Paris concluded there were grounds to prosecute her. Buzyn has been charged with “endangering the lives of others”, the prosecutor of the Republic’s Court of Justice said, but not for a second possible offence of ‘failure to stop a disaster’.”

Washington Post: State troopers accused of making fake vaccination cards resign after colleagues turn them in. “Shawn Sommers and Raymond Witkowski resigned Aug. 10, a day after a colleague raised concerns about the alleged fraud to supervisors, while David Pfindel’s resignation took effect Friday after an investigation by Vermont’s Department of Public Safety, according to a police statement. Authorities said the three men, who were reported to supervisors by their fellow troopers, ‘are suspected of having varying roles in the creation of fraudulent covid-19 vaccination cards, which may be a violation of federal law.'”

Newsweek: Woman Removed From JetBlue Flight In Handcuffs After Refusing to Wear Mask. “Footage purporting to show a woman being removed from a JetBlue flight in handcuffs after she refused to wear a mask has circulated online. The video, showing the woman’s alleged ejection from the plane, was shared to TikTok by Brooklyn DeGumbia, a freelance reporter who previously worked for FOX23 and witnessed the incident firsthand.”

BBC: Vietnam: Man gets five years in jail for spreading Covid. “A Vietnamese man has been sentenced to jail for five years for flouting Covid-19 rules and spreading the virus. A court found Le Van Tri guilty of ‘transmitting dangerous infectious diseases’ to eight people, one of whom eventually died.”

Xinhua: Turkish nurses detained for issuing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards. “Turkish police detained three nurses on Tuesday for allegedly providing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards to unvaccinated people, local media reported. Acting on a tip-off, police teams apprehended the nurses who work at a private hospital in Bahcelievler district on the European side of Istanbul, said Turkey’s English newspaper Daily Sabah.”

Tuoi Tre News: Vietnamese official held for illegal COVID-19 vaccination arrangement for money. “Police in Ho Chi Minh City have arrested a civil servant for making money by illegally arranging for a score of people to get coronavirus vaccination.”

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