Monday CoronaBuzz, September 27, 2021: 52 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.


Johns Hopkins: New global dashboard sheds light on reasons behind COVID vaccine hesitancy, refusal. “In an ongoing global survey, more than half of those who are unvaccinated in more than 50 countries indicated in August that they definitely or probably won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine. A new dashboard, launched today by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, unpacks that survey data to help explain why—and how experts can work to increase acceptance rates.”


Penn State News: Online course shapes COVID-19 curriculum in schools nationwide. “In February 2021, an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Penn State released an online course called ‘The Science of COVID-19.’ Led by faculty in the College of Education’s Center for Science and the Schools (CSATS), the course was designed to give middle- and high-school students an opportunity to learn about how scientists approach and tackle a novel virus. Since then, the free course has reached about 2,500 teachers and students in all 50 states in the nation, and plans are underway to modify the course so that it remains timely and relevant for years to come.”


WTVR: VDH launches tool to turn your vaccination card into a QR code. “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has launched a new tool that will turn your vaccination card into a QR code that can be scanned to prove your status at retail stores, restaurants and more.”


Belfast Telegraph: Joe McCarron: Man released from Donegal hospital by anti-vaccine campaigners to be buried today. “Covid-sceptic Joe McCarron, who was the presenter of Joe’s Wild Atlantic Country Show at Strabane Radio Online, allowed a group to remove him from the intensive care unit at Letterkenny University Hospital in Co Donegal under the pretence that they were ‘saving his life’. The 75-year-old refused to listen to doctors who told him he could die. This morning he’ll be buried in a cemetery not far from the home in Dungloe he shared with his grief-stricken wife Una later this morning.”

WTOP: COVID Conspiracy: Foreign disinformation driving American vaccine resistance. “The U.S. has been a target of Russian intelligence disinformation operations for decades, dating back to the 1960s, when dropping flyers was their principal method of communication. But late last year, the State Department released a report exposing the Kremlin’s use of evolving digital technology to amplify divisions among Americans. And COVID-19 is a popular theme: Dozens of social media platforms are exploited to inundate millions of Americans, often without their knowledge, with anti-vaccine messaging.”

Poynter: There’s no evidence that the Pfizer vaccine causes deaths. “A man who promotes himself as an entrepreneur and technology expert made a COVID-19 claim that drew wide attention on Facebook and elsewhere: ‘Pfizer vaccine kills more people than it saves.’ That’s not accurate.”

Slate: New Florida Surgeon General Appeared at Demon-Sperm COVID Conspiracy Summit With Future Capitol Rioter. “Donald Trump-aligned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state recorded more COVID-19 cases and deaths in August than it did in any month before vaccines became widely available, has appointed a new state surgeon general. Is it someone normal who will tell people to get vaccinated? No, you idiot! It’s a doctor named Joseph Ladapo who was last seen on the national stage participating in a COVID miracle cure event with another doctor who believes that lizard people control the government and that demons cause gynecological problems by implanting stolen sperm, as well as a third doctor who later got arrested for being part of the mob that smashed into the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the presidential election.”

Friendly Atheist: Bob Enyart, Who Mocked AIDS Victims and Spread COVID Lies, Has Died of COVID. “Bob Enyart, a conservative Christian radio host and pastor of Denver Bible Church, has died from COVID. (Last week, I posted about how he had tested positive.) He was 62 (though I can’t seem to find a good source for his birthday). There’s no word yet on his wife, who also tested positive for COVID.”

Firstpost: How heavy internet usage and poor digital literacy made India world’s top source of misinformation on COVID-19. “‘Lemon juice up the nose will kill Coronavirus.’ ‘Keeping bundles of cloves, cardamom, camphor and mace in the pocket keeps keep Coronavirus at bay.’ ‘The COVID-19 vaccine generates magnetic properties in the human body.’ Misinformation such as the statements above and many more like these have been spread around the country repeatedly, leading India to become the biggest source of COVID-19 misinformation, as per a study published in Sage’s International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions journal.”

The Ohio State University: Experts warn: Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccine endangering pregnant women. “When it comes to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, people understandably want to do their research before making a decision, especially those who are pregnant or planning to have a baby. However, it can be extremely difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially when some information found online or on social media is intentionally deceptive. Myths and misinformation linking the vaccine to infertility or pregnancy issues are preventing many women from getting vaccinated, which puts them and their babies at risk.”

CBC: A Canadian COVID-19 study that turned out to be wrong has spread like wildfire among anti-vaxxers. “The researchers mistakenly failed to record the accurate number of vaccinations given out during that two-month period, despite the data on total doses being publicly available, and the figure turned out to be astronomically higher than what was presented in the study. Instead of 32,379 mRNA vaccine doses administered in June and July, as the study suggests, there were actually more than 800,000 shots given out at that time, according to Ottawa Public Health. ”


New York Times: New Mexico health officials link misuse of ivermectin to two Covid-19 deaths.. “The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 1,440 cases of ivermectin poisoning this year through Sept. 20, which is more than triple the number during the same period in 2019 and 2020. A majority of this year’s reports came over the summer as people sought prescriptions after false claims about the drug’s effectiveness in Covid patients started to circulate on social media, podcasts and talk radio. Joe Rogan, the podcasting giant, and Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist, have both promoted the drug.”


The Guardian: Breaking up, but living together: how lockdowns lead to ‘nesting’. “Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Lisa and her husband had been attending marriage counselling with a view to seperate, but when the world shut down, they found it ‘very difficult to do that online’. Ultimately, coinciding with the first lockdowns in March 2020, the pair finalised their decision, but amid the uncertainties of the pandemic, they wanted to retain a stable home environment for their three children, who are of pre- and primary-school age. This led them to ‘nesting’ – where a couple breaks up, but remains living together.”

University of Denver: Cookbooks are selling like hotcakes. “For generations, cookbooks have been a staple in every kitchen, yet with the influx of online recipes, many had been relegated to the back shelf. That changed in 2020 as more people began cooking and baking at home. Today, cookbooks are growing in popularity, and sales are sizzling.”

Washington Post: Alone in death. “There are no official statistics about how many unclaimed bodies are buried across America, but a Washington Post investigation that included more than 100 interviews over six months with medical examiners and local officials from Maine to California found that every year tens of thousands of lives end this way. Covid-19 increased the number of unclaimed bodies in many places, including Maricopa, which had a 30 percent spike, according to the investigation.”

BBC: Thailand Covid: Idle taxis used to grow food for out-of-work drivers. “In a car park in the Thai capital Bangkok, green shoots sprout from the roofs of colourful taxis. Thailand’s tough Covid-19 restrictions have left the city’s hectic streets quiet, putting taxi drivers out of work. As fares dried up, many drivers left the city for their home villages, leaving so-called taxi graveyards behind.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Quirky S.F. street performers went dark during the pandemic. Now they’re lighting up the city again. “Street performers have been part of the landscape of San Francisco for decades. Robert Shields was a classically trained mime who loved entertaining tourists and locals alike in Union Square in the early 1970s. A. Whitney Brown starred on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ but only after getting his start as a street juggler when Pier 39 opened in the late 1970s. Edward Jackson has tap-danced on a wooden platform at the Powell Street cable car turnaround since 1998. I met several of the city’s best street performers recently thanks to impromptu tour guide Don Propstra, who lives in North Beach and is writing a book about the Golden Gate Bridge. He walks the city every day and has gotten to know many of its best street performers. He reached out, thinking they deserved a spotlight after a tough 18 months.”

CNET: Coronavirus pandemic continues to stunt women’s careers, study finds. “In the annual Women in the Workplace report from consultancy McKinsey & Company and nonprofit women’s advocacy group Lean In, data shows that even more women are struggling with their careers than last year. Forty-two percent of women said they felt burned out ‘often or almost always,’ up from 32% in 2020. This stands in contrast to 35% of men, up from 28% last year. ”


Anchorage Daily News: Alaska Gov. Dunleavy activates statewide crisis standards of care to help COVID-overwhelmed hospitals. “Alaska is activating crisis standards of care for the entire state and bringing in contracted health workers as staff shortages and influx of COVID-19 patients make it difficult for hospitals to operate normally. Gov. Mike Dunleavy and top health officials announced the hospital support on Wednesday, the same day Alaska’s new single-day cases hit another record as the highly infectious delta variant drives infections.”

Billings Gazette: Postcard from an overrun ICU: ‘The problem is we are running out of hallways’. “The situation has played out in hospitals around the nation since 2020. But now Montana is a national hot spot for COVID infections, recording the highest percentage increase in new cases over the past seven days. The state announced 1,209 new cases on Friday, and Yellowstone County, home to Billings Clinic, is seeing the worst of it. Last week, the county had 2,329 active cases, more than the next two counties combined.”

WWAY: FEMA to send ambulances, personnel to North Carolina to help with COVID-19 response. ” The Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing to send 50 ambulances and 100 personnel to North Carolina to help with the COVID-19 response. The FEMA support information was detailed in a federal planning document obtained by ABC News.”


Smithsonian: Update on COVID-19-Positive Great Cats at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “The lions and tigers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo continue to be treated for COVID-19. All tigers and three lions are eating normally and improving. Three lions are of greater concern.”


BBC: Nike and Costco warn of product shortages and delays. “US sportswear giant Nike and US retail giant Costco both say they are facing product shortages and delays due to global supply chain problems. Nike said production and delivery of its shoes would impacted until next spring, as it struggles with shipping issues and a worker shortage in Asia. Meanwhile, Costco has re-imposed limits on items like toilet paper.”

WRAL: Charlotte brewery says church ignoring mask mandate can no longer use its parking lot. “Triple C Brewing Company’s owner Chris Harker says a Charlotte church that has an outspoken stance against Mecklenburg County’s mask mandate will no longer be allowed to use his parking lot on Sundays.”


State of New York: Governor Hochul Announces Series of Universal Mask Requirements to Protect New Yorkers amid Rise of Delta Variant. “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a series of universal mask requirements designed to protect New Yorkers against the highly contagious Delta variant and the recent surge in COVID-19 infections statewide.”

New York Times: New York weighs using the National Guard to replace unvaccinated health care workers.. “Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York is considering calling in the National Guard and recruiting medical professionals from other states to cover looming staff shortages at hospitals and other facilities as the likelihood grows that tens of thousands of health care workers will not meet the state’s deadlines for mandated vaccinations.”


Tallahassee Democrat: ‘Fear is done’: Florida’s new surgeon general outspoken critic of COVID lockdowns, mandates. “Dr. Joseph Ladapo — a UCLA medical professor who has published controversial articles about ‘COVID mania’ and is an outspoken critic of lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates and other mitigation measures — has been named as Florida’s new surgeon general, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday.”

Florida Politics: After firestorm, Manny Diaz won’t review school vaccine mandates. “Sen. Manny Diaz insisted Friday there will be no changes to the current list of vaccines required in schools, a move intended to tap down the backlash that flared up after the Hialeah Republican said he was open to reviewing them.”

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Florida’s new surgeon general issues rule ending required school quarantines, says parents will decide. “Florida parents can now decide if their children should quarantine or stay in school after exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, according to an emergency rule the state’s new surgeon general signed Wednesday, the day after he was tapped for the job.”


San Francisco Chronicle: Nearly 200 S.F. police staff want religious exemptions from city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. “Nearly 200 members of the San Francisco Police Department have applied for a religious exemption from the city’s employee vaccine mandate, the highest number of waiver requests from any city department, by far. About 91% of the city’s 35,140-person workforce is fully or partially vaccinated, but 2,706 employees, or 7.7%, still have not been vaccinated. Meanwhile, 1.4% of workers — 489— haven’t reported their status.”


WRAL: 5% survival chance: NC man nears long-awaited homecoming after 8-month battle with COVID. “Imagine being just two days away from getting the COVID vaccine, then suddenly discovering you have the virus. That was what happened to 68-year-old Frankie Ballard from Harnett County back in February. Since then, he’s been in multiple hospitals. Eight months later, a homecoming is near.”


Washington Post: A school photographer told a first-grader he could shed his mask. He politely declined: ‘My mommy told me not to’. “On the day of his first-grade school photos, 6-year-old Mason told his mom he was excited to show the camera his new ‘big boy’ smile. He recently lost four teeth. But when the photographer asked Mason to take off his navy mask before snapping his picture, Mason politely declined, his mom Nicole Peoples told The Washington Post. ‘My mommy told me not to take my mask off,’ Mason replied.”


Washington Post: George Holliday, who videotaped L.A. police beating Rodney King, dies of covid-19 complications. “George Holliday, the plumber who videotaped White Los Angeles police officers beating Black motorist Rodney King in 1991, capturing a brutal attack that became a symbol of racial injustice and helped spark a week of deadly riots after the officers were acquitted, died Sept. 19 at a hospital in Simi Valley, Calif. He was 61. The cause was complications of covid-19, said his friend Robert Wollenweber. Mr. Holliday had been hospitalized with the coronavirus for about a month.”


Mashable: As schools reopen, trauma-informed teaching might be more important than ever. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, research indicated that as many as 50% of children had experienced some form of trauma or victimization, including sexual assault, abuse, the death of a loved one, natural disasters, a car accident or community violence. These experiences can tax the brain and make it harder for kids to learn and behave well. Now, 40,000 U.S. children have lost a parent to COVID-19, food and housing insecurity remains a concern and more kids are suffering from higher rates of anxiety and depression. As schools reopen amid ongoing uncertainty, interest in trauma-informed teaching practices is growing among educators. The American Rescue Plan, the federal pandemic relief bill approved in March, included some funding for training, and some states and school districts have allocated money as well.”

WRAL: Union County schools to comply with COVID-19 protocols amid lawsuit threat. “Union County’s school board voted Monday to modify the district’s quarantine protocols to comply with state law and let the county health department lead contact-tracing efforts. The move comes after the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services threatened to sue the district for overhauling contact-tracing procedures and allowing most of its 7,000 quarantined students back into the classroom so long as they are not symptomatic or infected with COVID-19.”


Local News Matters: How California’s universities are using online data to track campus COVID cases. “All across the state, the University of California and California State University campuses have created COVID-19 data dashboards that include details about case rates among students, staff and faculty. However, dashboard details vary from campus to campus.”


New York Times: Does My Mask Protect Me if Nobody Else Is Wearing One?. “It’s true that masks work best when everyone in the room is wearing one. That’s because when an infected person wears a mask, a large percentage of their exhaled infectious particles are trapped, stopping viral spread at the source. And when fewer viral particles are floating around the room, the masks others are wearing would likely block those that have escaped. But there is also plenty of evidence showing that masks protect the wearer even when others around them are mask-free. ”

CNN: Covid-19 death rate more than 4 times higher in least vaccinated states than in most vaccinated. “The average rate of Covid-19 deaths in the 10 least vaccinated states was more than four times higher over the past week than the rate in the 10 most vaccinated states, according to a CNN analysis. In the least vaccinated states, roughly eight people out of every 100,000 residents died of Covid-19 over the past week, compared with only about two out of every 100,000 people in the 10 most vaccinated states.”

Axios: Study: Pandemic cut U.S. life expectancy by more than 9 million years. “The data show that despite reports of older and more vulnerable populations assuming many of the deaths, young people with above-average life expectancies, including Black and Hispanic communities, were not spared.”

WRAL: Coronavirus hitting harder in communities of color across NC. “According to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services, Black and Latino residents are disproportionately affected by the virus. Latino residents, for example, have experienced 15,586 cases per capita, which is 82 percent more than the 8,553 cases per capita among white residents, according to DHHS data. Cases per capita among Black and Native American residents are 11 percent and 10 percent higher, respectively, than the rate for whites.”

Texas A&M Today: Even Mild Cases Of COVID-19 Leave A Mark On The Brain – But It’s Not Yet Clear How Long It Lasts. “With more than 18 months of the pandemic in the rearview mirror, researchers have been steadily gathering new and important insights into the effects of COVID-19 on the body and brain. These findings are raising concerns about the long-term impacts that the coronavirus might have on biological processes such as aging. As a cognitive neuroscientist, my past research has focused on understanding how normal brain changes related to aging affect people’s ability to think and move – particularly in middle age and beyond. But as more evidence came in showing that COVID-19 could affect the body and brain for months or longer following infection, my research team became interested in exploring how it might also impact the natural process of aging.”

New York Times: Red Covid. “Because the vaccines are so effective at preventing serious illness, Covid deaths are also showing a partisan pattern. Covid is still a national crisis, but the worst forms of it are increasingly concentrated in red America.”


BNN: Americans Ramp Up Google Searches for Covid Tests Amid Scarcity. “The number of Americans looking up ‘at-home Covid test near me’ on the platform has doubled in the past month, according to Google Trends, while those asking how long rapid test results take is up by 250%. In the past week, users were also more interested in searches related to tests, rather than vaccines, in most states, with Louisiana and Mississippi as exceptions.”


Arizona State University: ASU-led study finds use of respirator masks could have prevented spread of COVID-19. “The researchers formulated a basic mathematical model for the transmission dynamics of COVID-19 in a population where a certain proportion habitually wear face masks. They considered four categories of face masks: cloth masks (with estimated efficacy of 30%), improved cloth masks or poorly fitted surgical masks (with estimated efficacy of 50%), properly fitted surgical masks (with estimated efficacy of 70%) and properly fitted respirators (with estimated efficacy of 95%).” Respirators are those stiff, pointy masks. You might have heard them called N95 masks.

UMass Chan: A direct recommendation from a doctor may help with vaccine hesitancy. “Though the science is clear that COVID-19 vaccines save lives, it can be difficult to start a productive conversation about vaccination. And doctors experience the same challenge, too. We are researchers at the UMass Chan Medical School who have been trying to address this challenge. One of us is a critical care pulmonologist who was on the front lines working in the COVID-19 intensive care unit during the darkest days of the pandemic. And one of us has studied patient perspectives on health and health care for many years. To figure out how doctors can best talk to their patients about vaccination, we first needed to understand what patients were concerned about.”

WRAL: NC State study: Pandemic cost us time, physical activity, mental health . “A new multi-state survey from North Carolina State University finds more people showed signs of psychological distress during the pandemic, that it has had an impact on their physical activity. The results also point to differences due to income status and where people live.”

UNC: A 3D printed vaccine patch offers vaccination without a shot. “Scientists at Stanford University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have created a 3D-printed vaccine patch that provides greater protection than a typical vaccine shot. The trick is applying the vaccine patch directly to the skin, which is full of immune cells that vaccines target.”

PR Newswire: National Average Charge for a Complex Hospital Stay for COVID-19 Is $317,810, FAIR Health Finds (PRESS RELEASE). ” The average billed charge for a complex COVID-19 hospitalization in the United States is $317,810, according to new cost estimates from FAIR Health. The average estimated allowed amount (the total amount paid to an in-network provider, including payments from both the plan and the patient) is $98,139. This cost information can be found in the latest release of FH® Total Treatment Cost benchmarks for COVID-19. Next month, similar values at the state level will be available through a free COVID-19 cost tracker on”


BBC: New Zealand council’s Zoom talks go viral as pretend meeting . “A New Zealand council’s Zoom meeting has been viewed more than 290,000 times on YouTube as people use it to pretend to take part and avoid being disturbed. The meeting of the Waipa District Council’s finance and corporate committee was recorded during a Covid-19 lockdown period in April last year. Since then, users have been playing it at home and at their workplaces to create the impression they are busy.”


Business Insider: A sheriff told a Wisconsin teenager to take down a COVID-19 Instagram post. A judge ruled it a First Amendment violation.. “A Wisconsin teenager won a lawsuit against a sheriff and his deputy who allegedly threatened to have her jailed if she didn’t remove a social media post about her COVID-19 experience in March 2020, the Wausau Daily Herald reported. On Friday, US District Judge Brett Ludwig ruled that student Amyiah Cohoon’s free speech rights had been violated.”

NBC News; Man charged with assaulting rail conductor who asked him to ‘put a mask on’. “A man who allegedly attacked a train conductor after he was asked to ‘put a mask on’ was arrested and taken into custody, police in Massachusetts said Friday. Daniel Libby, 40, was charged with assault and battery on a public official, the Massachusetts Bay Transport Authority (MBTA) Transit Police said in a news release.”


Washington Post: Opinion: State medical boards should punish doctors who spread false information about covid and vaccines. “In hindsight, it’s clear that the virus has had an accomplice — the infodemic, as the World Health Organization calls this parallel epidemic of disinformation. Regrettably, much of it is circulated by a small number of unethical physicians in league with political interests, who intentionally generate and repeat false allegations and undermine the public health response. Individual front-line physicians are powerless to restrain those misguided colleagues. We now call on our country’s regulatory bodies, primarily the state medical boards, to take the requisite disciplinary measures — including suspension or revocation of guilty physicians’ licenses to practice medicine.”

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