Monday CoronaBuzz, October 18, 2021: 33 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.


Virginian-Pilot: Virginia’s new coronavirus data tool tracks children hospitalized. It could be off by hundreds or more.. “In its new dashboard for cases among children launched Monday, The Virginia Department of Health reported there have been nearly 128,000 pediatric cases of COVID-19, with 380 hospitalizations and nine deaths since March 2020 statewide. But the number of hospitalized patients seemed extremely low. The Virginian-Pilot had previously reported from the agency that young people under 20 had accounted for about 1,000 hospitalizations so far. That was in September.”

WBNG: State comptroller releases tool to track federal COVID-19 funding. “New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a new tool that people can use to monitor the spending of federal recovery aid and COVID-19 relief programs. The tool is available online. You can view the tracker by going to this link.”


Washington Post: Vaccine mandates stoked fears of labor shortages. But hospitals say they’re working.. “At Houston Methodist — one of the first American health-care institutions to require workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus — the backlash was short-lived. More than 150 employees were fired. There were legal battles and protests. But President and CEO Marc Boom has no regrets: 98 percent of staff have been vaccinated, and they and patients are safer as a result, he said.”

BBC: Covid: Russia’s daily deaths pass 1,000 for first time. “The figure had been rising all week, with the Kremlin blaming the Russian people for not taking up vaccination. Only about a third of the population has had a jab, amid wide distrust of the vaccines. Russia’s figure of 222,000 Covid deaths is the highest in Europe, with another 33,000 infections reported on Saturday.”


Associated Press: Photo shows Swiss music festival, not recent Italian protest. “CLAIM: Photo shows a massive protest in Trieste, Italy, against a new requirement that all workers show a COVID-19 health pass. AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The photo doesn’t show Italy, and was taken in 2018 at Street Parade, a music festival in Zurich, Switzerland.”

Reuters: Fourteen U.S. attorneys general press Facebook on vaccine disinformation. “The attorneys general of 14 U.S. states sent a letter to Facebook Inc FB.O Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg asking if the top disseminators of vaccine disinformation on the platform received special treatment from the company. The line of inquiry was generated after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen used internal documents to disclose that the social media platform has built a system that exempts high-profile users from some or all of its rules.”

Mother Jones: Utah Protesters Claim Hospitals Are Killing People Who Have COVID. “Greg Johnson is standing on the corner of State Street in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah, holding a neatly stenciled sign that says, ‘COVID-19 Protocols Killed My Uncle.’ Behind him looms the Intermountain Medical Center, the largest hospital in the region. Johnson is one of about 30 people who’ve come to protest Saturday because they believe that the hospital is murdering people with the coronavirus by putting them on ventilators, injecting them with the anti-viral Remdesivir, and refusing to give them intravenous vitamin C or the deworming drug Ivermectin.”


Associated Press: Lawsuits demand unproven ivermectin for COVID patients. “Mask rules, vaccination mandates, and business shutdowns have all landed in the courts during the COVID-19 outbreak, confronting judges with questions of science and government authority. Now they are increasingly being asked to weigh in on the deworming drug ivermectin.”


BBC: The shortages hitting countries around the world. “Disruption caused by the Covid pandemic is mostly to blame – but there are many factors, and effects are being felt in different ways.”

The Guardian: Psychosis cases soar in England as pandemic hits mental health . “Cases of psychosis have soared over the past two years in England as an increasing number of people experience hallucinations and delusional thinking amid the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic. There was a 75% increase in the number of people referred to mental health services for their first suspected episode of psychosis between April 2019 and April 2021, NHS data shows.”


Cal Matters: Hospitals brace for strikes as California workers protest staff shortages. “As weary health care workers across California enter the 19th month of the pandemic, thousands are walking off the job and onto the picket line, demanding more staffing. The strikes and rallies threaten to cripple hospital operations that have been inundated by the COVID-19 Delta surge as well as patients seeking long-delayed care.”


New York Times: Will New Covid Treatments Be as Elusive for Poor Countries as Vaccines?. “Nearly a year after the first Covid-19 vaccination campaigns began, the vast majority of the shots have gone to people in wealthy nations, with no clear path toward resolving the disparity. News this month that an antiviral medication had proved effective against the coronavirus in a large clinical trial has brought new hope of a turning point in the pandemic: a not-too-distant future when a simple pill could keep infected people from dying or falling severely ill.”


Smithsonian: Lions and Tigers Continue To Recover From COVID-19 and First Vaccines Were Administered to Susceptible Species at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. “The lions and tigers who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo the week of Sept. 13 are recovering well. All lions and tigers are behaving, eating and drinking normally. Zoo animal care staff also administered the first round of animal-specific COVID vaccines Oct. 13. All seven orangutans, one western lowland gorilla, one white-eared titi monkey and two emperor tamarins received shots. Veterinarians and keepers are closely monitoring the vaccinated animals and have not observed any side effects.”


ProPublica: The Trump Administration Used Its Food Aid Program for Political Gain, Congressional Investigators Find. “A $6 billion federal program created to provide fresh produce to families affected by the pandemic was mismanaged and used by the Trump administration for political gain, a new congressional report has found. As a ProPublica investigation revealed last spring and as the new report further details, the Farmers to Families Food Box program gave contracts to companies that had no relevant experience and often lacked necessary licenses.”

Stars and Stripes: Navy announces discharge details for coronavirus vaccine refusers. “Active-duty sailors who are not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus after Nov. 28 without a pending or approved exemption request will be forced out of the Navy for failing to obey a lawful order, according to the statement. For Navy Reserve sailors, the deadline is Dec. 28.”


RTE: Covid-19 case surge: Pause for thought, but not panic. “Around 10 days ago, things were looking quite positive with the Covid-19 trends and then something happened to cause a rise in the key metrics. It has prompted experts and Government to consider ‘a go, no go’ decision on lifting most of the remaining restrictions from 22 October. It has been billed as something like a ‘freedom day’. However, full freedom may have to wait just a bit longer.”


Associated Press: There won’t be unemployment checks for Maine health care workers who refuse a COVID vaccine. “The Maine Department of Labor said Thursday that refusing to comply with an employer’s policies, including a health or safety policy, typically disqualifies a person from benefits.”

Tampa Bay Times: For 105 days, COVID’s death toll in Florida counties went missing. “For 105 days this summer, while COVID-19 deaths soared across the state, Floridians had no idea how many of their neighbors were dying. The Florida Department of Health knows how many people are dying in each county, but stopped telling the public on June 4. That’s when state officials stopped releasing daily pandemic data, switched to weekly reports and started withholding data once available to the public.”


WRAL: COVID-19 was cause of death for 2 of every 3 NC law enforcement officers in last 2 years. “The coronavirus is now the leading cause of death for police officers, sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers, data from the national Officer Down database show. Since January 2020, 21 law enforcement officers in North Carolina have died from COVID-19 – 68 percent of all officers statewide who have died in that time.”


Rappahannock News: Rep. Good encourages Rappahannock students to shed masks at school and rise up in opposition to mandates. “U.S. Rep. Bob Good on Thursday encouraged a group of Rappahannock County High School students to not wear masks in school, saying during his visit the administration ‘can’t stop everyone.'”


BuzzFeed News: Robert Durst Has Tested Positive For COVID-19, His Lawyer Says. “Robert Durst, the multimillionaire who was the focus of the HBO documentary The Jinx, has tested positive for COVID-19, his attorney told BuzzFeed News on Saturday, days after he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering his friend.”


CBS: “There are no unimportant jobs”: This retired FBI boss became a school bus driver amid shortage. “If anyone has earned a coffee break, it’s 63-year-old Mike Mason of Midlothian, Virginia. He has served his country for decades — first as a captain in the Marines and later as the No. 4 man at the FBI. Mason left the bureau in 2007 and went to work as an executive at a Fortune 500 company, and then retired. But Mason said retirement did not sit well with him.”


NPR: Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, dies at 84. “Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state during the presidency of George W. Bush and led the first Gulf War as chairman of the joint chiefs, has died at age 84 of complications from COVID-19, his family confirmed. Powell, the first African American to serve in both of those senior posts, died Monday morning, they said, adding that ‘he was fully vaccinated.'”

NBC Washington: ‘Get the Shot’: Unvaccinated Virginia Parents of 4 Die of COVID-19. “A Virginia husband and wife in their 40s died of COVID-19 this month, leaving four children without parents. Their relatives had urged them to get vaccinated against the virus but they refused. The family now wants to try to help others. Kevin and Misty Mitchem met in high school and married 17 years ago. They were raising their four younger children in Stafford County. Kevin also had an adult daughter and his first grandson.”


BBC: Australian Open: Unvaccinated players ‘unlikely’ to be allowed to compete. “Players who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 are unlikely to be allowed into the country for the Australian Open, says the leader of the state in which the tournament is held. The Grand Slam event is due to start on 17 January in Melbourne, Victoria.”


Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Atlanta school district to hire epidemiologist among 26 new COVID positions. “The new roles include five help desk operators, who principals can call when they have questions about COVID-19 protocols; 20 case investigators, who will work with schools to conduct case investigations and help notify those who have been in contact with someone who tests positive; and a district epidemiologist.”


KGUN: University of Arizona to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. “The University of Arizona — the largest employer in the city of Tucson — is requiring all its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the school announced Friday.”


CNN: New CDC data shows the risk of dying from Covid-19 is 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than for fully vaccinated adults. “Throughout August, the risk of dying from Covid-19 was 11 times higher for unvaccinated adults than for fully vaccinated adults in the United States, according to new data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”


Miami Herald: Subject of Miami Herald PPP investigation charged with COVID-19 relief fraud. “A Texas man flagged in a 2020 Miami Herald investigation whose companies were approved for millions in suspicious loans through the Paycheck Protection Program has been charged with multiple counts of wire fraud and making false statements to a bank. The federal charges in the Eastern District of Texas stem from three loans received by companies tied to Sinoj Joseph that totaled more than $3 million.”


New York Times: The Unvaccinated May Not Be Who You Think. “As early as the end of April of this year, when vaccines were in dire short supply globally, almost every adult who wanted to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in the United States could do so, free of charge. By June, about 43 percent of the U.S. population had received two doses while that number was only about 6 percent in Canada and 3 percent in Japan. Now, just a few months later, these countries, along with 44 others, have surpassed U.S. vaccination rates. And our failure shows: America continues to have among the highest deaths per capita from Covid.”

Washington Post: Opinion: Covid-19 is the No. 1 killer of police officers. So why do their unions oppose mandating vaccines?. “Covid-19 has been the No. 1 killer of law enforcement officers in 2020 and 2021. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks the on-duty deaths of police officers in the United States, more than 470 have died as a result of contracting the virus in the line of duty since the start of the pandemic. That is more than four times as many officers who have died from gunfire.”

Washington Post: Opinion: Distinguished persons of the week: Defying anti-mandate nuttiness. “Companies as diverse as BlackRock, McDonald’s, Cisco, IBM, Citigroup, CVS and Goldman Sachs have instituted some form of vaccine mandate. So have Google and Walmart. Many universities have done so as well — even before Biden announced the federal directive. Businesses have received a lot of criticism lately for reneging on promises not to fund candidates who participated in the violent insurrection or for equivocating on voting rights. When they do act responsibly, risking the ire of state officials and vengeful MAGA politicians, they should be applauded. In defying the MAGA death cult, business leaders are demonstrating what ‘pro-life’ actually means.”


Politico: These Republicans torpedoed vaccine edicts — then slipped in the polls. “Republican governors crusading against vaccine mandates are facing significantly lower approval ratings on their handling of the coronavirus pandemic than their counterparts. But they’re not worried.”

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