Wednesday CoronaBuzz, September 29, 2021: 36 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.


LocalSYR: New COVID-19 booster website launched by New York State. “Governor Kathy Hochul announced a COVID-19 booster shot outreach plan including a new dedicated booster website on Monday.”


Washington Post: YouTube is banning prominent anti-vaccine activists and blocking all anti-vaccine content . “YouTube is taking down several video channels associated with high-profile anti-vaccine activists including Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who experts say are partially responsible for helping seed the skepticism that’s contributed to slowing vaccination rates across the country. As part of a new set of policies aimed at cutting down on anti-vaccine content on the Google-owned site, YouTube will ban any videos that claim that commonly used vaccines approved by health authorities are ineffective or dangerous. The company previously blocked videos that made those claims about coronavirus vaccines, but not ones for other vaccines like those for measles or chickenpox.”

Associated Press: ‘The Big Delete:’ Inside Facebook’s crackdown in Germany. “In the case of the German network, the nearly 150 accounts, pages and groups were linked to the so-called Querdenken movement, a loose coalition that has protested lockdown measures in Germany and includes vaccine and mask opponents, conspiracy theorists and some far-right extremists. Facebook touted the move as an innovative response to potentially harmful content; far-right commenters condemned it as censorship. But a review of the content that was removed – as well as the many more Querdenken posts that are still available – reveals Facebook’s action to be modest at best. At worst, critics say, it could have been a ploy to counter complaints that it doesn’t do enough to stop harmful content.”


New York Times: How Covid Misinformation Created a Run on Animal Medicine. “While certain versions of ivermectin can treat head lice and other ailments in people, other formulations — which come in forms such as liquid and paste — are common across the equine and livestock industries as ways to get rid of worms and parasites. People are increasingly trying to obtain those animal products to ward off or battle the coronavirus, farmers, ranchers and suppliers said. The demand has strained the equine and livestock world. Jeffers, a national retailer of animal supplies, recently raised the price of ivermectin paste to $6.99 a tube from $2.99. Overwhelmed by orders, one farm supply store in Las Vegas started selling the medicine only to customers who could prove they had a horse. In California, a rancher was told the backlog of orders was so large that she was 600th in line for the next batch.”

New York Times: Facebook groups promoting ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment continue to flourish.. “Facebook has become more aggressive at enforcing its coronavirus misinformation policies in the past year. But the platform remains a popular destination for people discussing how to acquire and use ivermectin, a drug typically used to treat parasitic worms, even though the Food and Drug Administration has warned people against taking it to treat Covid-19.”


Daily Beast: Mocking Unvaxxed COVID Victims Is the New Pandemic Blood Sport. ” The average number of daily coronavirus deaths in America has spiked back above 2,000 and the vast majority involve people who are not vaccinated. On this particular unvaxxed death repository, the newest deaths added are usually very recent, with each case having occurred within the last 48 hours or so. The effect is a relentless parade of dead faces, usually shown in happier moments, arms around loved ones, smiling from beyond the grave. But reveling in this apparently irresistible daily fact of vaccine-era life is not confined to one site. And even as cataloging the death of those without shots risks becoming a major pastime among the enthusiastically masked and vaxxed, health experts say it may be doing more harm than good.”

Washington Post: Workers are putting on pants to return to the office only to be on Zoom all day. “As many office workers head back to the office — even as the delta variant spreads across the United States — employees are facing a bizarre new reality: They’re still spending most of their time isolated and glued to their computers for Zoom meetings, email and Slack. With more companies implementing permanent hybrid working options — in which some employees work from home and others in the office — the virtual nature of work may far outlive the pandemic. And with it, so may the quirks of the new office environment.”

Washington Post: The feared eviction ‘tsunami’ has not yet happened. Experts are conflicted on why.. “When the Supreme Court decided to strike down a federal ban on evictions in August, lawmakers and housing experts mentioned a slew of devastating metaphors — cliff, tsunami, tidal wave — to describe the national eviction crisis they saw coming. One month later, however, many of those same authorities find themselves wondering: Where is the cliff?”


Washington Post: Staten Island crowd defies vaccine mandate by storming mall food court, video shows. “As customers enjoyed their Saturday afternoon at Staten Island Mall and prepared to dig in to their meals, a raucous, maskless crowd of dozens opposing New York City’s indoor vaccination mandate stormed into the food court while chanting, ‘U-S-A!’ Their goal: to eat at the food court without showing proof of vaccination.”


New York Times: Deadline Looming, Thousands of Health Care Workers in New York Get Vaccinated. “In the New York City public hospital system, more than 8,000 workers were unvaccinated a week ago. But by Monday morning, that number had dropped to 5,000 — or just over 10 percent of the work force. Although those unvaccinated employees were not permitted to work, city officials said they felt they could manage the gaps.”

The Conversation: Half of unvaccinated workers say they’d rather quit than get a shot – but real-world data suggest few are following through. “…while it is easy and cost-free to tell a pollster you’ll quit your job, actually doing so when it means losing a paycheck you and your family may depend upon is another matter. And based on a sample of companies that already have vaccine mandates in place, the actual number who do resign rather than get the vaccine is much smaller than the survey data suggest.”

Business Insider: A Missouri hospital is giving employees panic buttons to address rising attacks on healthcare workers during the pandemic. “By the end of this year, staff who work in the emergency room and inpatient hospital rooms at Cox Medical Center Branson will be able to use a panic button that alerts security who can then track the employee’s location, the facility said in a Facebook announcement. In their post, the facility said that assaults on staff by patients have tripled in the past year. Total assaults rose from 40 in 2019 to 123 in 2020. Total injuries rose from 17 in 2019 to 78 in 2020, the facility said.”


The Hill: Vatican ordering all employees to be vaccinated or tested. “The Vatican will require all employees to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test, The Washington Post reported. The mandate will take effect on Oct. 1, and anyone without the required documentation will be considered ‘unjustly absent’ and will not be paid their salary, according to The Post.”


BBC: United Airlines to fire staff who refuse vaccine. “Nearly 600 United Airlines employees face being fired after failing to comply with the firm’s Covid-19 vaccination policy. The vast majority of its 67,000 US staff have supplied proof of vaccination, which was required by Monday.”

CBS News: Pfizer is testing a pill to ward off COVID-19. “Pfizer said Monday that it is now testing a pill that could help people ward off COVID-19 if a close contact, such as family member, gets the virus. The drugmaker said it is looking at the efficacy of the pill as used in combination with a low dose of the HIV drug ritonavir in people who are at least 18 years old and live in the same household with someone who has COVID-19.”


Politico: Top CDC official steps aside as head of pandemic task force. “The veteran official leading the pandemic response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is stepping aside, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. Henry Walke, who has overseen the CDC’s Covid-19 response for more than a year, will be replaced by Barbara Mahon, the deputy chief of the agency’s enteric-disease branch, those sources said. Walke will remain at the agency as director of the CDC’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections.”

Poynter: Proposed federal fines for failing to enforce workplace mandates are up to $700,000. “When President Joe Biden announced he would seek Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules that would force companies with 100 or more employees to require COVID-19 vaccines, it was unclear how strongly the government might enforce the rule.”


New York Times: South Korea will start giving vaccine boosters amid a surge in Covid cases.. “The Prime Minister of South Korea said on Sunday that the nation would soon start administering booster shots to medical workers and people in their 60s and older, as the country battled a new wave of infections after a national holiday.”

Associated Press: Japan to lift all coronavirus emergency steps nationwide. “Japan’s government announced Tuesday that the coronavirus state of emergency will end this week to help rejuvenate the economy as infections slow. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the emergency will end Thursday and virus restrictions will be eased gradually “in order to resume daily lives despite the presence of the virus.” He said the government will create more temporary COVID-19 treatment facilities and continue vaccinations to prepare for any future resurgence.”

CNN: Russia reports worst single-day Covid-19 death toll since start of pandemic. “Russia reported its highest Covid-19 death toll in a single day on Tuesday with 852 coronavirus-related deaths recorded in the past 24 hours, according to the country’s coronavirus response center.”


News9: Pastors applaud judges who blocked Tennessee governor’s mask opt-out order. “Pastors across Tennessee are applauding three federal judges who blocked Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order which allows parents to opt their kids out of wearing mandated masks at school. Lee issued the order in August after a handful of Republican lawmakers demanded the governor call a special session so the GOP-dominant General Assembly could halt mask mandates in schools and other COVID-19 safety measures.”


Gizmodo: Anti-Vaccine Cartoonist Ben Garrison Says He’s Got Covid-19, Won’t Go to Hospital. “Ben Garrison, a right-wing cartoonist known for his opposition to vaccines and his extremely flattering drawings of former President Donald Trump, told Gizmodo late Sunday that he contracted covid-19 and has been sick for about two weeks. But allegedly getting covid hasn’t changed Garrison’s mind about modern medical science.”


Sports Illustrated: Karl-Anthony Towns Opens Up About His Season of Grief. “On Jan. 15, Karl-Anthony Towns tested positive for COVID-19. Just nine months after the 25-year-old watched his mother, Jacqueline Towns, die of the same disease that also killed his uncle and five other members of his family, this was a nightmare scenario. Towns received treatment at an area hospital, then quarantined at home for the next few weeks, isolated from friends and family. Basketball had been the closest thing in his life to an outlet. Now, by himself, he had no choice but to confront the pain that followed his mother’s sudden death.

CNN: NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls for unvaccinated players to be removed from teams. “If NBA players are not vaccinated, they shouldn’t be on the team, basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told Rolling Stone.”

HuffPost: Mitch McConnell Gets COVID-19 Booster On Same Day As Biden: ‘Easy Decision’. “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he had received his coronavirus booster shot on Monday, telling Americans that ‘mountains of evidence’ show the vaccines are safe and effective.”


WBTV: ‘A devastating shock’: UNCW student brain dead due to COVID-19 complications, mother pleads for young people to get vaccinated. “Many of the unvaccinated hope the odds are in their favor, and if they do catch COVID-19, they won’t get that sick. That was the case with Tyler Gilreath, a 20-year-old UNCW student who is now brain dead due to complications he suffered after contracting the virus in mid-August. His family plans to take him off life support Monday evening after doctors harvest his organs.”


New York Times: No Veggies, No Buns, Few Forks: Schools Scramble to Feed Students Amid Shortages. “Schools across the country are facing shortages of cafeteria staples like chicken, bread, apple juice and even plastic cutlery, as supply chain woes and a lack of truck drivers complicate the most basic task of feeding students. Officials say they are scrambling to provide meals for students — many of whom rely on the food they eat at school as a significant, and sometimes the only, source of daily nutrition. Many educators say they expect supply-chain issues will only worsen in the coming months.”

Michigan Live: COVID contributing to record rate of Michigan high school football forfeits, but not the only factor. “Through the first five weeks of the 2021 prep football season, 74 games have been decided via forfeit, which, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association online database, is the state’s second highest single-season total, behind the 94 forfeits from last year’s six-week regular season and playoffs.”

ABC News: School districts struggle to establish COVID-19 testing, frustrating parents. “Six months after President Joe Biden offered states $10 billion so schools could routinely test students and staff to prevent asymptomatic cases, the school year is being hindered by the virus. Some 925,000 children have become infected since school began this fall, according to data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a staggering spike that has pushed many more kids into quarantine.”

ABC News San Diego: San Diego Unified unanimously passes COVID-19 vaccine mandate for eligible students, staff. “San Diego Unified School District board voted unanimously Tuesday night to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all students who are eligible and for district employees.”

WCCO: Fight Breaks Out At Eastern Carver County School Board Meeting. “A scuffle broke out during a Twin Cities school board meeting over a new mask mandate Monday night. A few men got physical at the Eastern Carver County Schools meeting in Chaska over what appeared to be a disagreement about someone taking a photo. Earlier in the meeting, speakers talked about their support or opposition to masks.”


CBS News: Harvard Business School goes virtual amid rise in COVID cases. “Harvard Business School says it is reverting to remote learning after beginning the semester with in-person classes, citing a rise in breakthrough COVID-19 cases among its students.”


University of Minnesota: People use Facebook as an emergency communication system during pandemic. “Researcher Jude Mikal found that in the first weeks of the pandemic Facebook users shared helpful details, spread misinformation, and even created a call-out culture to police social distancing behavior.”


BBC: Vitamin A treatment trial for Covid loss of smell. “Vitamin A nasal drops might be able to treat the loss or altered sense of smell in some people who have had Covid, UK researchers say. The University of East Anglia is conducting a 12-week trial. Only some of the volunteer patients will receive the treatment but all will be asked to sniff powerful odours such as rotten eggs and roses.”


Arizona Republic: Gov. Doug Ducey must stop handcuffing schools that want to protect kids from COVID-19. “Many experts agree that schools need a combination of measures to keep transmission under control. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others recommend schools focus on measures such as improved ventilation, physical distancing and staying home when sick. But masking also is a key part of the strategy. In fact, the CDC released a study on Friday that found schools in Maricopa and Pima counties that began the school year with a mask requirement were 3.5 times less likely to experience a COVID-19 outbreak than those without one. Yet many public schools are sorely missing this key mitigation component, thanks to the threats of legal action and diminished funding from Gov. Doug Ducey.”


National Catholic Register: Conscience, COVID Vaccines and the Common Good. “Those who encourage the vaccine and emphasize the common good should acknowledge that some of their brothers and sisters have grave concerns and have chosen to engage a battle that upholds conscience and medical and moral concerns, and which emphasizes the teaching that vaccines must be voluntary. Those who seek to engage this battle ought also to accept that others see the priorities differently arrayed, and that they emphasize an urgency rooted in the teaching of the common good.”

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