Monday CoronaBuzz, October 4, 2021: 39 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.


RiotAct: National Film and Sound Archive preserving lockdown’s creative collection. “Among some of the quirky bits and pieces preserved for posterity in the NFSA’s ‘Creativity in the Time of COVID’ project – which has been running throughout Australia’s arduous lockdowns – you’ll find the YouTube hit, Nat’s What I Reckon, which takes cooking shows in a bizarre direction thanks to rocker host Nat. You can also find internet hit Love in Lockdown, an unlikely romantic comedy created by TV comedians Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope.” Nat’s What I Reckon sounded fun so I took a look. It’s like YOU SUCK AT COOKING goes to Hell via Australia. I subscribed immediately.


WKYC: Ohio launches COVID variant dashboard. “There’s a new tool available Friday that will help provide more context to the daily COVID-19 data throughout Ohio. Instead of just reporting a total number of new COVID infections, the state of Ohio is now providing a variant dashboard HERE.”


New York Times: U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Surpasses 700,000 Despite Wide Availability of Vaccines. “The United States surpassed 700,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Friday, a milestone that few experts had anticipated months ago when vaccines became widely available to the American public. An overwhelming majority of Americans who have died in recent months, a period in which the country has offered broad access to shots, were unvaccinated. The United States has had one of the highest recent death rates of any country with an ample supply of vaccines.”

Associated Press: Kentucky’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate Drops Into Single Digits. “Gov. Andy Beshear reported 4,118 new coronavirus cases and 34 more virus-related deaths, pushing the statewide virus death toll past 8,800. The newest reported deaths included two Kentuckians as young as 36, the governor said. Younger people have been hit hard by the fast-spreading delta variant. But in a hopeful sign after a prolonged surge of the virus, the rate of Kentuckians testing positive for COVID-19 dipped to 9.67% — the first time it’s been below 10% since Aug. 3, Beshear said.”

BBC: Covid vaccines: How fast is progress around the world?. “More than six billion doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered, in at least 196 countries worldwide. However, there are vast differences in the pace of progress in different parts of the world. Some countries have secured and delivered doses to a large proportion of their population – but others are some way behind.”


AFP Fact Check: Graphic photos do not show Melbourne protesters wounded by rubber bullets. “Facebook and Instagram posts are sharing photos they claim show protesters wounded by rubber bullets at an anti-lockdown march in Melbourne, Australia. The claim is false; the photos were taken after protests in Argentina and the United States.” Clarification: reading that excerpt you may infer that the protests in Argentina and the US were about covid. They were not. The pictures were taken long before 2020.

HuffPost: Joe Rogan Ripped For Conspiratorial Hot Take On Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Booster. “Joe Rogan is facing backlash after he baselessly suggested President Joe Biden faked receiving the COVID-19 booster shot on live TV.”

Washington Post: How wellness influencers are fueling the anti-vaccine movement. “Glance at Jessica Alix Hesser’s Instagram page and you may feel a little like you’ve just opened up a pamphlet for a meditation retreat. Amid photos of lagoons and a waterfall, Hesser (eyes closed, one hand touching the side of her face) is awash in rainbow-hued lens glare or soaking in a bath with flowers floating on top. Her website contains blog posts recommending natural cardamom floss and Gregorian chants. Sprinkled throughout, however, are posts where Hesser urges her nearly 37,000 followers to question the safety of the coronavirus vaccines.”

Associated Press: Doctors grow frustrated over COVID-19 denial, misinformation. “They describe being aggravated at the constant requests to be prescribed the veterinary parasite drug Ivermectin, with patients lashing out at doctors when they are told that it’s not a safe coronavirus treatment. People routinely cite falsehoods spread on social media, like an Illinois doctor who has people tell him that microchips are embedded in vaccines as part of a ploy to take over people’s DNA. A Louisiana doctor has resorted to showing patients a list of ingredients in Twinkies, reminding those who are skeptical about the makeup of vaccines that everyday products have lots of safe additives that no one really understands.”


Motherboard: The FDA Was Internally Thrilled Over That Viral Horse Paste Tweet. “Internal documents obtained by Motherboard through a Freedom of Information Act request show that the federal Food and Drug Administration was absolutely delighted to do a fire tweet discouraging the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. In internal emails, supervisors with the agency’s public affairs office congratulated the author of the tweet for their ‘clever (humorous)’ approach, suggesting the agency will employ more humor in its desperate, often ineffective efforts to keep the American public from continuing to poison themselves with unproven treatments for the novel coronavirus.”


USC News: USC professor records the Latinx voices missing from the COVID conversation. “Professor Laura Isabel Serna is a cultural historian whose work has focused on media culture in Mexican immigrant communities within the United States and in Mexico, as well as their intersection with consumer culture and gender. She is an associate professor of history and cinema at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the author of Making Cinelandia: American Films and Mexican Film Culture. The book is a historical account based on deep research in U.S. and Mexican archives of film culture in Mexico during the late 1910s and early 1920s. Serna recently spoke to USC News about her current focus: an oral history project about the experiences of Latinx communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Washington Post: During the ‘Great Resignation,’ workers refuse to accept the unacceptable. “In a recent Washington Post Live webcast, Anthony Klotz, an associate professor of management at Texas A&M University credited with coining the term the ‘Great Resignation,’ attributed the departures to four main causes: a backlog of workers who wanted to resign before the pandemic but held on a bit longer; burnout, particularly among frontline workers in health care, food service and retail; ‘pandemic epiphanies’ in which people experienced major shifts in identity and purpose that led them to pursue new careers and start their own businesses; and an aversion to returning to offices after a year or more of working remotely.”


WRAL: 80 of 30,000 UNC Health workers quit over COVID-19 vaccine mandate. “Eighty UNC Health employees have resigned rather than get vaccinated against coronavirus, health system officials said Friday. On Sept. 21, 60 employees had resigned. A spokesperson tells WRAL News that UNC Health is still working to figure out the status of about 300 employees, an improvement from the 1,100 who were still unvaccinated in late September.”

Washington Post: Thousands of D.C. health care workers remain unvaccinated amid flurry of religious exemption requests. “The overwhelming majority of government and health-care workers in the District who have reported their vaccination status say they’ve gotten at least one shot, but District lawmakers have homed in on the city’s Fire & EMS Department, whose employees are among a relatively small group of government workers that are subject to the stricter requirements for health-care workers. About 267 of the department’s more than 2,000 employees have sought exemption from getting the vaccine, according to city officials — with the vast majority of them citing their religion. The 20 requests that have been reviewed so far were denied.”


North Dakota Office of the Governor: As strain on hospitals reaches tipping point, leaders urge public to help reduce need for hospitalization. “Regional centers are currently unable to support critical access hospitals as they have in the past, and providers have seen adverse outcomes due to delays in care, said Dr. Chris Meeker, chief medical officer at Sanford Bismarck. Today North Dakota’s six largest hospitals reported 43 patients were deflected to other facilities, including six psychiatric patients; and 29 patients were waiting in emergency departments to be admitted to the hospital.”


Stuff New Zealand: ‘I have zero people’: Napier restaurant forced to close for two weeks over staff shortages. “The owner of a Napier restaurateur forced to close for two weeks due to staff shortages says Kiwis must be prepared to pay more to dine out if the hospitality industry is to survive. Nadia Nazaryeva​, who opened wine bar and restaurant Matisse on Herschell St three-and-a-half years ago, said the problems began with Covid-19 closing borders.”


BBC: Covid threat looms over Thailand’s plans to open up to tourists. “Covid-19 was successfully contained through most of 2020, but by June this year infections were rising quickly, and the government was being roundly criticised for being too slow to start vaccinating. Opening up in October seemed impossible. But true to his word, the great reopening appears to have begun, albeit with only very modest steps.”

BBC: Covid: India imposes 10-day quarantine on UK nationals. “India has imposed mandatory quarantine for all UK nationals arriving in the country, even if they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. From Monday, British citizens will have to undergo ten days of home quarantine after arriving in India.”

BBC: Covid-19: India to pay $674 compensation for every death . “India’s top court has approved the government’s decision to pay 50,000 rupees ($674; £498) as compensation for every death due to Covid-19. The Supreme Court’s order followed a petition by lawyers seeking compensation under India’s disaster management laws. India has officially recorded more than 447,000 Covid-19 deaths so far.”

Associated Press: New Zealand admits it can no longer get rid of coronavirus. “New Zealand’s government acknowledged Monday what most other countries did long ago: It can no longer completely get rid of the coronavirus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a cautious plan to ease lockdown restrictions in Auckland, despite an outbreak there that continues to simmer.”


CNN: Alabama GOP governor signs bills to use Covid-19 relief funds to build prisons into law. “Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law Friday a number of prison infrastructure bills that will use coronavirus relief funds to build new prisons in the state, calling it a ‘pivotal moment for the trajectory of our state’s criminal justice system.'”


Click Orlando: Fire rescue employees file lawsuit against Orange County over vaccine mandate. “Forty-three employees with Orange County Fire Rescue filed a lawsuit Friday morning, suing the county over its vaccine mandate, documents show. The filing comes a day after a deadline set by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings for county employees to have received at least one dose in a two-dose series from either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson.”

Route Fifty: Why Some Small Towns Are Rejecting Federal Covid Relief Funds. “Congress in March authorized $19.5 billion in aid for cities and towns with fewer than 50,000 residents, including very small jurisdictions such as Bingham. Lawmakers wanted to help every town cover the cost of fighting a pandemic and recovering from last year’s recession. But in some small, rural or conservative towns, local leaders are refusing the cash. They say they don’t need it, and in some cases, don’t feel comfortable accepting it.”

Fairfield Citizen: Autopsies relocated as medical examiner goes unvaccinated. “An upstate New York county is being forced to send human bodies to a hospital 50 miles away for autopsies because its prominent medical examiner has not been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to county officials.”


CBC: Mother of hospitalized 5-year-old says her decision not to get vaccinated was ‘big mistake’. “A Regina mother says she’s grappling with regret over not getting vaccinated sooner after her five-year-old son ended up in the hospital with COVID-19. ‘If you’re unsure about getting vaccinated, you should really think twice about it, because this virus is very real,’ said 25-year-old Janis Bennett.”

WRAL: ‘Miracle baby’: NC woman in coma fighting COVID-19 gives birth to her first child. “A first-time mother in North Carolina has not yet seen her newborn daughter, because she is a COVID-19 patient in a medically-induced coma. Her family says as Vicki Goodson battles the virus, they won’t give up hope.

WRAL: No vaccine or test, no entry: More major music venues make the call. “Several entertainment venues across the Triangle are now requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. Until recently, most venues were only requiring face masks. Now DPAC and all Live Nation venues, which include the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, Red Hat Amphitheater and the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte, require one of the two options.”


The Independent: Vaccinated U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs says he tested positive for the Coronavirus. “U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs said he has tested positive for COVID-19. The Lakeville resident announced on social media late Thursday night he was feeling ‘under the weather’ with symptoms of a bad cold. He was tested for the virus.”

WRAL: 3 Doors Down cancels Raleigh concert in response to new COVID-19 regulations. “A rock band is no longer scheduled to come to Raleigh because of recently implemented COVID-19 regulations. 3 Doors Down was set to play at Red Hat Amphitheater on Oct. 7 as part of its The Better Life 20th Anniversary Tour. On Wednesday, the band announced on social media that upcoming performances in Raleigh and Atlanta were off. Refunds will be issued.”


New York Times: In Portugal, There Is Virtually No One Left to Vaccinate. “Portugal’s health care system was on the verge of collapse. Hospitals in the capital, Lisbon, were overflowing and the authorities were asking people to treat themselves at home. In the last week of January, nearly 2,000 people died as the virus spread. The country’s vaccine program was in a shambles, so the government turned to Vice Adm. Henrique Gouveia e Melo, a former submarine squadron commander, to right the ship. Eight months later, Portugal is among the world’s leaders in vaccinations, with roughly 86 percent of its population of 10.3 million fully vaccinated. ”


Crooks and Liars: Pediatric Nurse And Strident Anti-Mask, Anti-Vaxxer Has Died From COVID. “Dianna Rathburn’s anti-mask speech in August to the Lowell School Board went viral. A month later she was dead from COVID.” The tone of this article is … unsympathetic … and may make some readers uncomfortable.


NBC News: NBA draws line as stars like Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins balk at Covid vaccine. “Irving, 29, is part of a group of current NBA players — which includes Golden State Warriors star Andrew Wiggins, the Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal and the Orlando Magic’s Jonathan Isaac — who have chosen not to get vaccinated as the NBA 2021-22 season is about to unfold during the ongoing pandemic.”


Scientific American: Why We Need to Upgrade Our Face Masks—and Where to Get Them. “There is now a cornucopia of high-filtration respirator-style masks on the market, including N95s, Chinese-made KN95s and South Korean–made KF94s. They have been widely available and relatively affordable for months and provide better protection than cloth or surgical masks. Yet it was not until September 10 that the CDC finally updated its guidance to say the general public could wear N95s and other medical-grade masks now that they are in sufficient supply.”

Mashable: Could your COVID-19 test be wrong? . “No test, whether for COVID-19 or another infection or medical condition, is perfect, and false results are always possible. But the accuracy of COVID-19 tests has improved since the virus first emerged, and scientists also now have data showing that the most effective tests, like PCR and other molecular tests, are often correct. If you have reason to suspect a false result, it may make sense to confirm your results with another test. But for the most effective tests, false positive results may be particularly rare. False negatives are also relatively uncommon with these tests, especially if you have symptoms. Still, a number of individual factors affect accuracy, including what type of test you take, whether you have symptoms, and more.”


University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Nahrstedt to Shake Off Zoom-Fatigue With an Augmented-Reality System for Virtual Meetings. “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced hundreds of millions of people to interact with each other over online videoconferencing systems instead of meeting face-to-face—and no one would deny that tools like Zoom have made the pandemic far easier to cope with. However, such services provide only an unnatural-seeming meeting environment that emphasizes participants’ isolation and potentially leaves them feeling marginalized, unseen, uncomfortable, and less able to focus, resulting in less productive conversations. Now, under a new grant from the National Science Foundation, Illinois CS professor and Coordinated Science Laboratory director Klara Nahrstedt will lead a timely effort to create a next-generation, mixed-reality, immersive meeting environment that offers attendees a vivid experience that better simulates the feeling of in-person conversations.”


NBC News: Vaccinated people are less likely to spread Covid, new research finds. “People who are vaccinated against Covid-19 are less likely to spread the virus even if they become infected, a new study finds, adding to a growing body of evidence that vaccines can reduce transmission of the delta variant.”

Medical News Today: Breakthrough COVID-19: New tool identifies people at risk. “Before the availability of vaccines, experts in the U.K. developed the QCOVID risk assessment tool to identify those with the highest risk of dying or being hospitalized with COVID-19. The tool resulted in the addition of 1.5 million people to the National Shielded Patient List and helped authorities prioritize vaccinations. There remains, however, a residual risk of breakthrough infections for people who are fully or partially vaccinated. To identify people most at risk of breakthrough infections, researchers from the University of Oxford in the U.K. have published a paper presenting an updated QCOVID tool called QCOVID3.”

PsyPost: Longitudinal study shows how parasocial relationships changed over time during the COVID-19 pandemic. “People can form strong social bonds with celebrities and fictional characters who they do not personally know, a phenomenon known as a parasocial relationship. New research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships provides evidence that these parasocial bonds were strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.”


CBC: Cybercriminals are offering to sell fake Canadian COVID-19 vaccination certificates online. “As provinces and employers across Canada increase restrictions on the unvaccinated or introduce vaccine passports, cybercriminals are attempting to cash in by offering fake vaccination certificates for sale online. Sellers are offering phoney proof-of-vaccination documents for several provinces that apparently look just like the real thing. Some of them even claim to be able to enter the data from the fake certificates into official government databases.”

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