Wednesday CoronaBuzz, October 6, 2021: 38 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.


The 74: Interactive Map — The Great Shortage: Explore How Districts in All 50 States Are Grappling With Missing Teachers, Nurses, Cooks, Bus Drivers & Other Essential Workers. “Faced with burnout, low wages and now COVID-19, scores of education workers — including not just teachers but also school bus drivers, special education paraprofessionals, cafeteria and afterschool workers, nurses, school safety agents and custodians — have left their posts. Districts have been forced to cancel classes, close cafeterias and feed students pizza, bring back remote classes, and hire per diem emergency workers. School officials have also increased salaries and other incentives to attract and retain staff. The 74 has found school staffing shortages in all 50 states.”


New York Times: Covid, in Retreat. “Covid-19 is once again in retreat. The reasons remain somewhat unclear, and there is no guarantee that the decline in caseloads will continue. But the turnaround is now large enough — and been going on long enough — to deserve attention.”

CNN: Full FDA approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine had only a modest impact on uptake. Here’s what mattered more. “Full FDA approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine had only a modest impact on uptake. Here’s what mattered more.”


Poynter: Claims that millions of people have died from the COVID-19 vaccine are unfounded. “The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, also called VAERS, is an official public government database where anyone can submit any potential adverse health effect following a vaccine. However, the reports are not verified, and the system itself warns that reports can contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental or unverifiable. When used improperly, VAERS can be a source for misinformation.”

Daily Dot: 2.5 million Americans are part of COVID denial groups on Facebook, new study finds. “Facebook has more than 1,700 groups about COVID-19 denial that have nearly 2.5 million members in them, according to new research. The Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR) published a lengthy report recently that dug into COVID denial groups on the social media platform. The organization found 1,732 groups dedicated to COVID denial that had 2,445,602 members in them from across the country.”


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: An Ohio COVID patient treated with ivermectin after wife sued hospital has died. “Jeffrey Smith, 51, died on Sept. 25, his attorney, Jonathan Davidson, of Hamilton, told WXIX-TV in Cincinnati. In August, an Ohio judge ordered West Chester Hospital to treat Mr. Smith with ivermectin after his wife sued, alleging that the facility refused to give her husband the drug, despite him having a doctor’s prescription.”

CNET: Ivermectin: Why are there lawsuits over this unproven drug. “In recent months, there has been a dramatic increase in calls to poison centers in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and Alabama from people who are taking ivermectin intended for animals. Meanwhile, emergency rooms are seeing more patients who consumed a version of the medicine intended as a horse dewormer and two New Mexicans died from ivermectin toxicity. The drug has stayed in the headlines following podcaster Joe Rogan saying he used it after he tested positive for COVID. There’s also been an increase in legal action over the drug.”


New York Times: Why These New Yorkers Stopped Paying Rent. “Across New York, many tenants who lost their jobs after the city went into lockdown are facing millions of dollars in unpaid rent and have been kept in their homes by government aid programs and a state eviction moratorium that expires in January. But the pandemic has also mobilized some tenants to take on landlords who have done little to improve their living conditions and pushed them into a new kind of activism.”


Washington Post: VA hospital nurse charged with stealing and selling covid vaccination cards: ‘I charge $150 for these’. “When a person messaged Bethann Kierczak requesting coronavirus vaccine cards this spring, the registered nurse promised she would do her best, court records state. Kierczak, a nurse at a Michigan Veterans Affairs hospital, had access to immunization records since she was responsible for administering the doses. But the requester, who is not identified in court records, needed 10 vaccine cards.”

ABC 7: Thousands of Kaiser Permanente employees suspended following vaccine mandate. “Kaiser Permanente announced thousands of its employees across the country have been suspended after choosing not to get vaccinated. The hospital reports that 2,200 of its nationwide employees have been placed on unpaid administrative leave as of October 1. The suspensions are impacting two percent of Kaiser’s entire U.S. workforce.”

Washington Post: Hospitals in less-vaccinated areas are struggling financially as infections mount and stimulus runs out. “Many hospitals in Southern states and rural areas of the country — even in states with otherwise high vaccination rates — have been forced once again to temporarily curtail elective procedures such as hip replacements that bring in the most money. Meanwhile, rates of burnout and nurse attrition have soared at institutions with overburdened ICUs and covid-19 wards, contributing to severe labor shortages that are driving up costs for replacement workers, hospital officials said.”

CBS News: Louisiana health system charging workers $200 for unvaccinated spouses. “Ochsner Health, the largest nonprofit health care system in Louisiana, announced it will charge workers an additional $200 per month to insure their unvaccinated spouses or partners covered by the hospital group’s insurance policies, citing the high cost of caring for and treating patients with COVID-19.”

Washington Post: Hospital system says it will deny transplants to the unvaccinated in ‘almost all situations’. “A Colorado-based health system says it is denying organ transplants to patients not vaccinated against the coronavirus in ‘almost all situations,’ citing studies that show these patients are much more likely to die if they get covid-19.”


New York Times: In Alaska’s Covid Crisis, Doctors Must Decide Who Lives and Who Dies. “…with some pockets of the state wary of taking vaccines — only about half the state’s residents are fully vaccinated — and Gov. Mike Dunleavy resisting restrictions to curtail the virus, the state’s isolation has become a growing liability as the Delta variant sweeps through. The state’s surge has continued even as the virus has receded nationwide, with new daily cases down by about a third and hospitalizations by about a quarter since Sept. 1.”


CNN: Johnson & Johnson asks FDA to authorize Covid-19 vaccine booster shots. “Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize booster shots for its coronavirus vaccine, but has left it up to the FDA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to decide just who should get their boosters and when.”

CBC: Google agrees to government request to pull ads linking to fake travel sites. “ArriveCan is the app the government uses to record international visits for the purposes of tracking COVID-19. Both Canadian residents and foreign visitors are required to have it. But scammers have taken advantage of that requirement by seeking to divert travellers onto fake ArriveCan websites and charging them for the service.”


Politico: Garland taps FBI in response to ‘disturbing spike’ in threats against educators. “Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday ordered federal law enforcement authorities to huddle with local leaders in the coming weeks to address what the nation’s top prosecutor called a recent ‘disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence’ against educators and school board members.”

VOA: Federal Court Orders CDC to Release Trump-Era Media Policies. “A federal court order compelling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to hand over Trump-era policies on media interactions has been welcomed by First Amendment experts. The ruling came a year after the Knight First Amendment Institute filed a lawsuit against the CDC because the public health agency had failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.”

CNN: Biden administration to boost at-home rapid testing with $1 billion investment. “The Biden administration is set to boost Covid-19 testing in the US by announcing an additional investment in at-home rapid tests. On Wednesday, a White House official said, the US will announce a $1 billion investment, which will go toward the ‘purchase of rapid at-home Covid tests to further mobilize our testing manufacturers to bring more to market.'”


Axios: Swiss Guards leave corps in order to avoid Vatican vaccine mandate. “Three members of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard have voluntarily left the corps after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, defying the Vatican’s mandate, AP reports. Driving the news: Last week, the Vatican ordered all employees to get vaccinated or submit to testing, with the new policy going into effect on Oct. 1.”

CBC: Ottawa to reveal plan for federal vaccine mandates Wednesday: government source. “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will on Wednesday unveil details of his government’s plan to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory in the public service and for travellers within Canada, a source tells CBC News. The information comes from a senior government source, who spoke to CBC News on the condition of anonymity because this person is not authorized to speak publicly.”

The Register: User to chatbot: Help! My kid has COVID! Chatbot to user: Always wear a condom. “A chatbot used by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has been switched off after providing inappropriate answers to residents’ queries on COVID-related matters. Screenshots of gaffes from the chatbot tool appeared online earlier this week.”


CNN: California becomes first US state to require Covid-19 vaccination for students, governor says. “California will add the Covid-19 vaccination to immunizations required for in-person school attendance, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in San Francisco Friday morning. It’s the first state to do so.”


First Coast News: Georgia mayor dies of COVID complications at 35. “A city in east Georgia is mourning as the community prepares to lay their mayor to rest. Joseph Harris died last Tuesday morning of COVID complications. The City of Riceboro made the announcement in a statement on Facebook the morning he passed at the Liberty Regional Hospital. He was only 35 years old. ”

Culpeper Star-Exponent (Virginia): Culpeper County board declines support of anti-vax mandate resolutions. “The Culpeper County Board of Supervisors, at its Tuesday morning meeting, declined to support a pair of resolutions that would have taken a politically symbolic stand against COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandates. Salem Supervisor Tom Underwood introduced the resolutions drafted, with his direction, by County Administrator John Egertson and County Attorney Bobbi Jo Alexis. Culpeper County Republican Committee Chairman Marshall Keene stood in the back of the boardroom for the ensuing discussion.”


Mashable: In Nepal, a woman treks over mountains to bring vaccines to the most vulnerable. “With a cold box firmly strapped to her back, 32-year-old Birma Devi Kunwar routinely treks about 20 kilometers — through bridges, hills, and valleys — to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to a remote health center in Nepal’s far-west. She’s been treading the same path towards the cut-off village of Pipalchauri for four years. She first started carrying life-saving vaccines used in routine immunizations for kids, which she has continued to do throughout the pandemic, too.” Mostly a video, but it’s captioned.


ProPublica: Few Masks. Sick Kids. Packed ERs. How One District’s First Four Weeks of School Went Bad.. “For the mother of two in suburban Atlanta’s wealthy East Cobb, the breaking point came the first Friday of the school year. It was two months after Cobb County School District, Georgia’s second-largest, announced it was revoking its mask mandate, two days after the district ditched its quarantine protocol for a far more lenient one, and 10 minutes after she had decided to cold call a local school official to ask a few questions.”

New York Times: N.Y.C. Schools’ Vaccine Mandate Is in Place. 96% of Teachers Got a Shot.. “New York’s requirement that virtually everyone who works in the city’s public schools be vaccinated against the coronavirus compelled thousands of Department of Education employees to get at least one dose of a vaccine in the past week, leading to extremely high vaccination rates among educators, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. About 95 percent of all full-time school employees have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the mayor said, including 99 percent of principals, 96 percent of teachers and 94 percent of non-education staff.”

Washington Post: Koch-backed group fuels opposition to school mask mandates, leaked letter shows. “The letter was made available on Tuesday to paying members of the Independent Women’s Network, a project of the Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice that markets itself as a ‘members-only platform that is free from censorship and cancellation.’ Both are nonprofits once touted by their board chairman and CEO, Heather Higgins, as part of a unique tool in the ‘Republican conservative arsenal’ because, ‘Being branded as neutral but actually having the people who know, know that you’re actually conservative puts us in a unique position.’ Higgins, an heiress to the Vicks VapoRub fortune, did not respond to a request for comment.”


Route Fifty: Employers Have Been Offering the Wrong Office Amenities. “I oversee the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard’s public-health school. Our research focuses on how indoor air affects cognition and other aspects of human well-being. (I should note that I also advise businesses, nonprofits, government leaders, and real-estate companies on ventilation and other healthy-building strategies.) In the United States, an engineering guideline known as ‘acceptable indoor air quality’ governs how much air is brought into a building. The problem is right there in the name: I don’t know about you, but I don’t want acceptable air quality; I want good air quality. Instead of being designed to meet a bare-minimum standard, buildings should optimize human health.”

Scientific American: Pregnant and Unvaccinated: Delta’s Deadly Toll. “Although it will take some time for corroborating data to be compiled, anecdotal and preliminary reports from the field are staggering. Some unvaccinated pregnant people are suffering far worse courses of COVID than those who have been inoculated, and the consequences can be severe. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22,000 pregnant people have been hospitalized, and 161 have died, because of COVID as of September 27.”

New York Times: Is the Coronavirus Getting Better at Airborne Transmission?. “Most researchers now agree that the coronavirus is mostly transmitted through large droplets that quickly sink to the floor and through much smaller ones, called aerosols, that can float over longer distances indoors and settle directly into the lungs, where the virus is most harmful. The new studies don’t fundamentally change that view. But the findings signal the need for better masks in some situations, and indicate that the virus is changing in ways that make it more formidable.”

Poynter: Why does the delta variant seem to rise and decline in two-month waves?. “Let’s not bury the lead: Many of the important indicators about the pandemic are positive. The number of new cases, hospitalizations and even deaths are declining in most places. But this post is about what we are learning about this virus. As everyone suspected, the delta variant acted in the United States similar to how it acted in other countries — with two and a half months of increase then a steep decline.”

WRAL: NC reports 10,000+ reinfected with coronavirus since March 2020. “Since the start of the pandemic, 10,812 people became reinfected with coronavirus and 94 of those people died. Only 200 people who were vaccinated and previously infected tested positive for the virus a second time.”


Sky News: Online abuse of those with disabilities increases more than 50 percent during lockdown. “According to Freedom of Information data requested from 39 police forces in England and Wales by charities Leonard Cheshire and United Response, there were 9,200 disability hate crimes reported to police in 2020-21, both online and in person. Of those, 44% were classed as “violent”, involving assault or possession of weapons, up 4.4% from the previous 12 months. But with lockdowns forcing people to stay at home for much of the year, it was in online abuse that the biggest increase was seen with 981 cases, up 52% on 2019-20.”


BBC: Study reveals why some people get Covid toe condition. “covid toes” was a very early CoronaBuzz tag. “Covid toe appears to be a side effect of the body switching into attack mode to fight off the virus. The researchers say they have pinpointed the parts of the immune system that appear to be involved. The findings, in the British Journal of Dermatology, may help with treatments to ease the symptoms.”


BET: First Grader Who Wore Mask In School Portrait Receives $30,000 In Scholarship Donations. “A first grader who went viral for wearing a mask for his school portrait, claiming that it’s what his mom wanted him to do, has now raised over $30,000 toward his college fund. Mason’s mother, Nicole Peoples, described the incident that made her son famous on her Facebook page, writing that she’s happy her son is listening to her, but should’ve been more clear.”


Washington Post: Opinion: What the 700,000 flags I put on the National Mall really mean. “Twenty-five years of hospice volunteering has taught me that the most important thing we can afford people is their dignity. That lesson formed the backbone of ‘In America: Remember,’ my art installation that for the past three weeks blanketed Washington’s National Mall with 700,000 fluttering white flags, each one representing an American lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The art is an effort to reclaim the dignity of 700,000 people who have become reduced to a single number, a number too large to fathom.”

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