Monday CoronaBuzz, September 20, 2021: 46 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.


WSFA: Alabama saw more deaths than births in 2020. “For the first time in recorded history, the state of Alabama in 2020 saw the number of deaths surpass the number of births ‘and actually by quite a bit,’ said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris. There were 64,714 deaths and 57,641 births in 2020.”

New York Daily News: COVID-19’s US death toll on verge of surpassing that of 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic. “The United States’ known death toll from COVID-19 will surpass the number of dead from the Spanish Flu within the next day or two, according to the side-by-side numbers — though a direct comparison between the raw numbers doesn’t give the whole story, medical experts and statisticians say. What is clear is that the sheer numbers, given the modern-day tools that combat such illnesses, are a heavy burden. COVID-related U.S. deaths as of Sunday night are at 673,763, according to Johns Hopkins University data.”


Mother Jones: Report: Facebook’s Own Research Confirms It Is a Hotbed of Vaccine Denial. “According to a company memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal and released this morning, around the time COVID-19 vaccines became widely available last spring, ‘roughly 41% of comments on English-language vaccine-related posts risked discouraging vaccinations.’ The document and other internal memos show, the Journal writes, “that Facebook has often made minimal or ineffectual efforts to address the issues and plays them down in public.””

Newswise: As COVID-19 and Online Misinformation Spread, Children and Teens Were Poisoned with Hand Sanitizer and Alcoholic Drinks. ” During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, as false health information spread on social media, the number of children and teens poisoned with hand sanitizer or alcoholic beverages surged in Iran. These poisonings resulted in hundreds of hospitalizations and 22 deaths. Misinformation circulating on social media included the false suggestion that consuming alcohol (methanol) or hand sanitizer (ethanol or isopropyl alcohol) protected against COVID-19 infection (it does not).”

Newsweek: Danice Brod, Woman Misidentified as Coughing Shopper, Suffers Harassment at Work. “Police in Nebraska have warned that people who harassed a woman online—after wrongly accusing her of coughing on people while not wearing a mask in a grocery store—could face criminal charges.”

Mediaite: WATCH: Children Tell CNN They Blame Tucker Carlson For Their Father’s Covid Death. “Katie and Evan Lane recently lost their 45-year-old father to Covid, and have made a public plea for others to get vaccinated. Their efforts took them to CNN New Day Monday morning, an appearance in which they blamed their father’s death on vaccine misinformation he learned from Fox News prime time host Tucker Carlson.”


Axios: Reported firearm injuries spiked in 2020 . “According to data compiled by the Epic Health Research Network, firearm injuries that resulted in a documented health care visit began spiking in the late spring of 2020 and peaked in October at 73% higher than the monthly average in 2018 and 2019.”

National Geographic: 670,000 flags on the National Mall pay tribute to America’s devastating COVID-19 losses. “Beneath the Washington Monument hundreds of thousands of small white flags flutter in the hot breeze. Landscape workers and volunteers walk among them, stooping to plant the flags 10 inches apart until they fill 20 acres of the National Mall. Each flag represents an American life lost to COVID-19.”


Seattle Times: The days of full COVID coverage are over. Insurers are restoring deductibles and copays, leaving patients with big bills. “Jamie Azar left a rehab hospital in Tennessee last week with the help of a walker after spending the entire month of August in the ICU and on a ventilator. She had received a shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in mid-July but tested positive for the coronavirus within 11 days and nearly died. Now Azar, who earns about $36,000 a year as the director of a preschool at a Baptist church in Georgia, is facing thousands of dollars in medical expenses that she can’t afford.”

New York Times: They Shunned Covid Vaccines but Embraced Antibody Treatment. “Vaccine-resistant Americans are turning to the treatment with a zeal that has, at times, mystified their doctors, chasing down lengthy infusions after rejecting vaccines that cost one-hundredth as much. Orders have exploded so quickly this summer — to 168,000 doses per week in late August, up from 27,000 in July — that the Biden administration warned states this week of a dwindling national supply.”

Montgomery Advertiser: High rate of Alabama COVID-19 deaths contributes to hospitalization drop. “Though COVID-19 hospitalizations in Alabama have fallen from their late summer peak, the drop is partially attributable to a ‘really high rate’ of deaths occurring daily, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday.”

Wired: 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.”


Washington Post: Four patients, two dialysis machines: Rationing medical care becomes a reality in hospitals overwhelmed with covid patients . “Rationing medical care, one of the most feared scenarios of the pandemic, is becoming a reality in a few parts of the United States as coronavirus infections remain at surge levels. On Thursday, Idaho officials announced the state was taking the extraordinary step of activating crisis standards of care statewide, giving hospitals the power to allocate — and potentially even deny — care based on the goal of who could benefit the most when faced with a shortage of resources such as ventilators, medications or staff. The decision will affect both covid and non-covid patients in a health-care system that is fraying.”

Lakeshore Public Radio: Coronavirus: Indiana Surpasses 900,000 Confirmed Cases, Hospitals ‘In Crisis Mode’. “In just four weeks, Indiana reported more than 100,000 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, driving its total beyond 900,000. The state has averaged 3,976 new cases per day in September, after reaching a pandemic low in June of 282. That average is also higher than August’s, which reached an average 2,899 new cases per day. In the last seven days, the state has reported nearly 27,000 new cases.”

Lexington Herald-Leader: KY National Guard deploying at UK HealthCare as unvaccinated COVID patients mount. “The Kentucky Army National Guard has been deployed to the University of Kentucky’s inundated hospital system to assist staff as they continue to treat an influx of COVID-19 patients. In the Monday morning announcement to news outlets, UK said the National Guard was ‘providing non-clinical logistical and administrative support to hospital staff.'”


Mother Jones: Conservative Baptist Pastor Sees “No Credible Religious Argument” Against Vaccines. “…several large churches have announced that they will not be granting any exemptions, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Previously, Catholics, who are anti-abortion, expressed concern that coronavirus vaccine research used fetal cell lines. However, the vaccine itself does not contain any and the Vatican announced that Catholics may receive the vaccine in good conscience. ”

DCist: All Of The National Zoo’s Lions And Tigers Have Tested Positive For Coronavirus. “Six African lions, a Sumatran tiger, and two Amur tigers — all the great cats at the Northwest D.C. facility — were included in the test results. Over the weekend, zookeepers observed multiple cats showing decreased appetites, coughing, sneezing, and lethargy. The lions and tigers are undergoing treatment with antibiotics to help with their discomfort and decreased appetite.”


CNN: Covid-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is safe and shows ‘robust’ antibody response, Pfizer says. “In a highly anticipated announcement, Pfizer said on Monday a Phase 2/3 trial showed its Covid-19 vaccine was safe and generated a ‘robust’ antibody response in children ages 5 to 11.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Not getting the COVID-19 vaccine will be considered a ‘voluntary resignation’ for Wisconsin Center District employees. “All employees of the Wisconsin Center District must be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Nov. 1 or else the district will consider it their ‘voluntary resignation.’ Marty Brooks, president and chief executive officer of the district, said in a board meeting Friday that the district informed all full- and part-time staff members of the vaccine requirement this past Monday.”


CNN: FDA vaccine advisers vote to recommend booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine in people 65 and older and those at high risk. “Vaccine advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted Friday to recommend emergency use authorization of a booster dose of Pfizer’s vaccine to people 65 and older and those at high risk of severe Covid-19 six months after they get their first two shots. But the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee rejected a broader application to approve booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccines for everyone 16 and older six months after they are fully vaccinated.”

Washington Post: U.S. to buy hundreds of millions more doses of Pfizer vaccine to donate to the world. “The Biden administration is buying hundreds of millions more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to donate to the world, according to two people familiar with the deal, as the United States looks to increase efforts to share vaccine with the global population. The administration is expected to purchase 500 million doses, but the terms are not finalized, said the people with knowledge of the deal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the donation.”


Reuters: Vatican Says to Require COVID-19 Health Pass for Residents, Visitors. “A health certificate showing proof of immunity from COVID-19 immunity will be required to enter the Vatican as of Oct. 1, the city state said on Monday.”

Slashgear: WHO director blasts rich countries over failure to share vaccine doses. “World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus heavily criticized wealthy nations in a recent statement about the pandemic and other health matters impacting the world. Among other things, the director-general said that wealthier nations are failing to uphold their promises to share vaccine doses with the world’s poorest countries.”

Military .com: Navy Secretary Says All COVID-19 Sailor and Marine Deaths During His Tenure Have Been Unvaccinated. “Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, who was confirmed by the Senate in early August, says all victims of the coronavirus pandemic in his department during his watch so far, including civilians, have not gotten the inoculation shot.”


New York Times: Mississippi’s governor plays down state’s high death rate.. “Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi on Sunday downplayed his state’s high Covid death rate, calling it an inadequate benchmark to measure the pandemic’s toll in the state. The state is among the top three in the nation for Covid-19 deaths per capita, behind only Florida and Alabama, according to The New York Times database.”

Washington Post: D.C. mandates coronavirus vaccines for public and private school staff and child-care workers with no testing option. “D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said Monday that all teachers and school staff and early child-care workers in the District must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Nov. 1, eliminating a testing option for these professionals who regularly interact with children who are often too young to be vaccinated.”


Dallas Morning News: First Baptist’s Robert Jeffress: ‘There is no credible religious argument against the vaccines’. “As Americans increasingly seek religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates, many faith leaders are telling them no. With more employers imposing the mandates, the push for exemptions has become more heated. At issue for many whose faith leads them to oppose abortion is that the most widely used coronavirus vaccines were tested on fetal cell lines developed over decades in laboratories, though the vaccines themselves do not contain any such material.”

CNN: After 169 hospitals, a dad finally got the Covid-19 care he needed — and changed dozens of skeptics’ minds. “No one knows exactly when or where Robby Walker got infected. ‘We believe it happened over the Fourth of July weekend,’ Susan said. A relative and friend came to visit, and family festivities included several outings — including to an indoor restaurant. But no one in the family was vaccinated.”


New York Times: Chris Rock says he has Covid.. “Chris Rock told his social media followers on Sunday that he is sick with Covid-19 after a breakthrough infection, and the comedian urged people to get vaccinated.”

Yahoo Sport: Aussie gold medallist Madi Wilson hospitalised with Covid-19. “Aussie swimmer Madi Wilson has revealed she’s been hospitalised with Covid-19 despite being double vaccinated. The 27-year-old is currently in Naples, Italy for the International Swimming League (ISL) and was admitted to hospital on Sunday.”

CNN: San Francisco mayor scolds ‘fun police’ after being criticized for flouting city’s indoor mask mandate. “San Francisco Mayor London Breed is defending herself after flouting the city’s indoor mask mandate, criticizing ‘fun police’ for raising questions about her recent appearance at a live concert where she was seen dancing and posing for photos without a mask on.”

The Hill: Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19. “Chelsea Manning, a former Army analyst who leaked classified military information, announced on Friday that she had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week despite being fully vaccinated.”

CNET: BTS shares vaccine status at United Nations, shows new video filmed there. “K-pop band BTS spoke at the United Nations General Assembly meeting on Monday, and also shared a new video of their song Permission to Dance, which was filmed at the UN. More than 6 million people watched the YouTube video of the speech and song in just five hours.”


Tampa Bay Times: Death of Hillsborough GOP member from COVID-19 causes financial problems for party. “The Hillsborough County Republican Party alerted federal election regulators Tuesday that it may file its monthly campaign finance reports late because a key member of the organization died Saturday from COVID-19. Prior to his death, Gregg Prentice developed and maintained software that electronically tracked donations to the Hillsborough County GOP and supplied data for the organization’s monthly finance reports. None of the other officers knew how to operate Prentice’s software, the party told the the Federal Elections Commission.”

Wildfire Today: Two water tender operators on the Dixie Fire died of COVID-19. “Two water tender operators have died of COVID-19 this month. They both worked for Brenda’s Fire Water based in Ramona, California. Two trucks with three drivers were dispatched from the company to the Dixie Fire in Northern California. They worked shifts to keep the water tenders working on the fire as much as possible.”


Yahoo Sports: Yahoo Sports Report: MLB to require all non-playing personnel be vaccinated for COVID-19 for playoffs. “Major League Baseball will require that all non-playing personnel be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to access the field or any other restricted area in the playoffs, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday night.”


New York Times: A New Covid Testing Model Aims to Spare Students From Quarantine. “When the schools in Marietta, Ga., opened their doors on Aug. 3, the highly contagious Delta variant was sweeping across the South, and children were not being spared. By Aug. 20, 51 students in the city’s small school district had tested positive for the coronavirus. Nearly 1,000 others had been flagged as close contacts and had to quarantine at home for seven to 10 days.”


ITV: Older people and men ‘more likely to suffer’ with Covid even after two jabs, researchers say. “Older people, men and those from ethnic backgrounds are more likely to be admitted to hospital or die even after they have been double-vaccinated against coronavirus, according to researchers. The QCovid tool developed by scientists at the University of Oxford used a range of data to show that while the risk of severe Covid-19 after vaccination remains low, some people are at greater risk than others.”


PhoneArena: Your phone could listen to your cough to tell if you have COVID. “The Wall Street Journal recently published a piece about the ventures of various establishments that are actively working towards being able to identify various diseases through the sound of a patient’s cough, which can be recorded on people’s smartphones in the comfort of their home. ”


NewsWise: Cameras, not meetings, cause Zoom fatigue. “In the post-pandemic world, a few things have become ubiquitous: masks, hand sanitizer and Zoom fatigue, or the feeling of being worn out after a long day of virtual meetings. But new research from a team led by University of Georgia psychologist Kristen Shockley suggests that it’s not the meetings causing the fatigue—it’s the camera.”

Newswise: Vitamin D Emerges as Possible Treatment for COVID-19. “Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggested in September 2020 that vitamin D could help fight COVID-19. He also estimated that 40% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.”

Newswise: New study on COVID-19 vaccinations in the largest US cities finds stark inequities. “In a study of the 9 largest U.S. cities, researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health found stark racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities in COVID-19 vaccination rates across neighborhoods. The study showed that high vaccination neighborhoods had more white residents, fewer people of color, higher incomes, and lower poverty rates. These high vaccination neighborhoods also had lower historical COVID-19 death rates, showing that lifesaving vaccines have been slow to reach the areas that were hardest-hit by the pandemic.”

Newswise: Study: No Serious COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects in Breastfeeding Moms, Infants. “In a recent study, published in the online edition of Breastfeeding Medicine, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that breastfeeding mothers who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccination reported the same local or systemic symptoms as what has been previously reported in non-breastfeeding women, with no serious side effects in the breastfed infants.”


NPR: Readers Respond: What To Say If Someone Asks Why You’re Wearing A Mask. “That ‘why do you wear a mask’ question struck a chord with our readers. Thousands of them have been asked just that. They shared their real-life answers on Facebook and Instagram. Here’s a sampling.”


Knight First Amendment Institute: In Knight Institute Lawsuit, Court Orders CDC to Release Trump Administration Policies Restricting Employees’ Ability to Speak to Press and Public. “A federal court today ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to release records concerning Trump administration policies that restricted CDC employees’ ability to speak to the press and the public about the coronavirus pandemic. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed the lawsuit last year when the CDC did not respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the Institute filed seeking the policies.”


Washington Post: Opinion: We’re not calling out Nicki Minaj. We’re calling her in.. “Minaj’s now-infamous post follows comments from other Black musicians, such as the rapper Busta Rhymes and R&B singers Tank and Summer Walker, who have taken to stages and social media to question the safety and utility of the vaccines. Given the unique trust many Black people afford Black musicians — and the understandable skepticism with which many regard the medical establishment — it is extra critical we make sure these celebrities have all the information they need to talk about the vaccines responsibly. And the best way to do so is without judgment.”

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