Monday CoronaBuzz, October 25, 2021: 31 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.


Alaska Public Media: Alaska’s COVID hospitalizations have hit a new high . “The state of Alaska logged 1,024 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, continuing its ranking as the state with the highest case rate in the nation. The state is also seeing its highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began. On Thursday, there were 242 patients with the coronavirus in Alaska hospitals, 30 of them on ventilators. Roughly 1 in 5 patients in Alaska has COVID-19. On a Zoom call with reporters, Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink noted that the hospitalizations aren’t necessarily all Alaska residents, some are nonresidents hospitalized in the state.”


Washington Post: A couple died of covid, leaving five children behind. A relative says people called their deaths ‘fake news.’. “In September, a California man said he wished he and his wife had been vaccinated after their unborn child died as the mother lay hospitalized on a ventilator. That same month, an Illinois woman died soon after missing her scheduled wedding day because she was hospitalized with covid. And around the same time, a Southern California couple died two weeks apart, leaving behind five children. Social media platforms have struggled to control the flow of misinformation, which has ranged from the promotion of unproven therapies to questioning vaccine safety and the coronavirus’s existence.”

The Guardian: The populist right is regretting its encouragement of Covid conspiracists. “Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the pandemic has become yet another stage for the culture war. But it may be one that the right will end up regretting.”


BuzzFeed News: Americans Are Overworked And Over Work. “In a mass exit dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’ by psychologist Anthony Klotz, nearly 4 million people left jobs this past June, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Another 4 million left in July, the fourth consecutive month of such high departure rates. In August, 4.3 million people left their jobs, a record number, according to CNBC. Labor economist Julia Pollak, who works for ZipRecruiter, told me that in normal times, ‘there are typically 3.5 million people quitting a job any month … That’s a substantially higher number, and employers are really feeling it.’ Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, told me in a recent interview that the “social contract [of] work is being rewritten,” and the balance of power that exists between employer and employee “is shifting towards the worker.”

Washington Post: ‘Crises reveal’: The pandemic changed how these women choose to spend their money. “Some millennial women are finding that although they can now access just about everything they could before March 2020, they can forgo — and even prefer skipping — things and experiences they once bought.”

BBC: Covid: Dogs bought in lockdown being abandoned. “People have tried to sell their lockdown dogs on Gumtree before disguising them as strays so rescue centres take them in, a charity warned. More than 3.2 millions pets were bought by UK household during lockdown, figures from March showed. Hope Rescue, in Rhondda Cynon Taf, said the number of dogs being dropped off at its rescue centre in Pontyclun was the highest in its 15-year history.”

Bloomberg Quint: One Thing That Hasn’t Kept Up With Inflation This Year: College Tuition. “The growth in the cost of college had outpaced inflation for decades until Covid. Tuition and fees rose 0.6% on average annually over the last 12 months compared with a 3.2% increase in U.S. prices overall, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s the largest gap between the two since the late 1970s and early ’80s when annual inflation peaked around 15%.”


Press-Enterprise: Protest against COVID vaccine mandate led by Inland Empire teachers and parents. “Parents of children in Inland Empire schools and some of their teachers took to the streets Monday, Oct. 18, to push back against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s vaccine mandate while others skipped work or kept their kids at home. The demonstrations coincided with statewide employee vaccination requirements that kick in this week, essentially leaving school employees with a choice to either get vaccinated, tested or potentially lose their jobs.”


UNC: $2M grant to UNC-Chapel Hill program will rebuild, fortify local economies across North Carolina and beyond. “– Today, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced new programming that will transform economically distressed communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on powerful partnerships, the programs will help build resilient local economies with more job opportunities and business growth in North Carolina and across the country.”


Yahoo News: CDC recommends masks stay on in schools. “Even as the Biden administration is preparing to roll out coronavirus vaccines for children as young as 5, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, indicated on Wednesday morning that her agency would not be changing its guidance that all teachers, students and staff wear masks in schools.”

NBC News: Biden administration unveils new Covid vaccine, testing requirements for travel into U.S.. “The Biden administration on Monday released updated guidelines for traveling into the United States, including stricter requirements on U.S. citizens who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 as well as some exceptions for foreign travelers.”


The Guardian: Victorian government used ‘low grade’ mask study to justify mandate, experts say. “The study, published in the medical journal Plos One in July, used newspaper photographs and surveys to assess mask compliance and its effect on Covid rates. The mask mandate in Victoria has been controversial because it requires people to wear masks at all times, including when outdoors in open spaces, despite strong evidence that the risk of indoor transmission, especially within households, is significantly higher.”

Washington Post: Japan and South Korea never did full lockdowns. It left lessons on how to coexist with the virus . “Like many countries, both are navigating a way to safely coexist with the coronavirus in the face of increasing economic pressures and a potential new wave of infections in the winter. But unlike many other countries, neither Japan nor South Korea imposed a full lockdown and have been trying to coexist with the virus all along. They pursued a middle ground — consider it lockdown lite — that relied on the cooperation of citizens already accustomed to mask-wearing and social distancing in response to previous respiratory epidemics. Businesses, more or less, voluntarily closed early to help keep the virus at bay.”

The Guardian: Latvia is first country to reimpose lockdown in Europe’s new Covid wave. “Latvia has announced a month-long Covid-19 lockdown after an unprecedented surge in infections, becoming the first country in Europe to reimpose far-reaching restrictions amid a new wave of cases in countries across the continent.”


KDKA: Panel Decides To Uphold School Masking Rule After State House GOP Seeks Review. ” The statewide mask order for Pennsylvania schools does not need to be enacted through the state’s system of passing governmental regulations, as state House Republicans had sought, a panel decided Thursday.”

WRAL: NC data: 90+% of those who got COVID in 2021 were unvaccinated. “In North Carolina, 907,665 cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the first of the year. Of those, 91% were in people who had not been vaccinated, according to the latest Respiratory Surveillance report from the state Department of Health and Human Services.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting: Computer error led Oregon to miss more than 10 percent of state’s COVID deaths. “The agency said state epidemiologists were unaware of the deaths until recently due to a computer error. A quality assurance check in the last week revealed problems with the way OHA was gathering data from COVID-19 death records and case reports. OHA said it expects to add about 550 deaths that occurred between May and August to the state’s official total in the coming weeks. That amounts to missing more than 10% of all official COVID-19 deaths in Oregon.”


Route Fifty: How Cities and Counties Are Prioritizing American Rescue Plan Funds. “Infrastructure was the top investment priority for communities of all sizes, followed by replacing lost public sector revenue, according to a report by ICMA. Within the infrastructure category, the most anticipated project concerns were water and sewer infrastructure, prioritized by 74% of respondents.”


Hartford Courant: State Rep. Michael DiMassa arrested by FBI in probe of misuse of COVID relief funds, accused of stealing more than $600,000. “State Rep. Michael DiMassa was accused Wednesday of stealing more than $600,000 in federal COVID relief money by billing the city of West Haven, where he also worked as an aide to the City Council, for pandemic related consulting services that federal officials said he never performed.”

Washington Post: When local reporters resist vaccination mandates, everyone in town hears about it. “These journalists aren’t much different from other workers who have opposed employee vaccination mandates, whether in health care, law enforcement, education or any other field — except for one thing: They’re among the best-known people in their communities as a result of beaming into homes for years or even decades. Because of their high profiles, the fired journalists have captured local headlines and in some cases have become heroic figures to local vaccine resisters.”

WRAL: New NC lawmaker resigned hospital position last year over COVID-19 posts. “Donnie Loftis is a former Gaston County commissioner, an Army veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star, a medal given for heroism or merit. He was on the CaroMont Health board of directors for eight years but resigned in May 2020 after The Charlotte Observer asked about some of his COVID-19 Facebook posts, the newspaper reported at the time.”


BBC: Delta ‘Plus’ Covid variant may be more transmissible. “A new mutated form of coronavirus that some are calling ‘Delta Plus’ may spread more easily than regular Delta, UK experts now say. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has moved it up into the “variant under investigation” category, to reflect this possible risk. There is no evidence yet that it causes worse illness.”

New York Times: What Scientists Know About the Risk of Breakthrough Covid Deaths. “The vaccines are highly effective, even against the more contagious Delta variant, which is now responsible for nearly all coronavirus infections in the United States. People who are fully vaccinated are roughly one-tenth as likely to be hospitalized and even less likely to die from Covid-19 than those who are unvaccinated, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A New York Times analysis of data from 40 states found that fully vaccinated people have accounted for 0.2 to 6 percent of Covid-19 deaths.”

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘This is it’ is the consensus among some COVID experts. So how should you assess risk for the long term?. “That slow shift back, with pandemic calculus still running in the background, is how Bay Area public health and infectious disease experts see the upcoming months and years of the coronavirus crisis, as cases remain relatively low but risk persists.”

Business Insider: People who’ve had COVID-19 are facing memory problems months after contracting the disease, new study says: ‘They can’t think’. “A study, published Friday in medical journal JAMA Network Open, says nearly a quarter of individuals who’ve been infected with the coronavirus have problems retaining information and focusing months after contracting the disease. Researchers, examining 740 patients at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, found that it’s relatively common for people who’ve had COVID-19 before to struggle with things like multitasking.”

New York Times: Are Vaccine Boosters Widely Needed? Some Federal Advisers Have Misgivings.. “Following a series of endorsements over the last month by scientific panels advising federal agencies, tens of millions of Americans are now eligible for booster shots of coronavirus vaccines. But the recommendations — even those approved unanimously — mask significant dissent and disquiet among those advisers about the need for booster shots in the United States.

San Francisco Chronicle: Three California teens developed psychosis after COVID. Here’s what scientists say about the cases. “Three California teenagers who developed psychoses seemingly overnight are helping researchers at University of California San Francisco better understand how COVID-19 can affect the brain, even in young people. A study of the three, published Monday in the journal JAMA Neurology, is the first to examine how rogue antibodies can attack the brains of pediatric patients who previously tested positive for COVID.”


The Conversation: Doomscrolling COVID news takes an emotional toll – here’s how to make your social media a happier place. “Picture this: it’s April 2020, you’re between Zoom meetings, and scrolling through your social media newsfeed. Headlines like ‘Death toll continues to rise’, ‘COVID-19 may cause long-term health implications’ and ‘Health-care systems overwhelmed’ flash across your screen. Your mood takes a dive, but you can’t stop scrolling.”


Stony Brook University: To Mask or Not to Mask: Study Provides Mechanism to Test Materials. ” In a study that used inorganic, physical and analytical chemistry to mimic respiratory droplets that can carry viruses, researchers demonstrated a mechanism that enables multiple mask materials to be protective. Led by Stony Brook University Professor Amy Marschilok, PhD, the study findings suggest that adsorptivity of mask materials is an important feature in providing protection from viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. The paper is published in Applied Materials & Interfaces, a journal of the American Chemical Society.”

Nature: Rather than inducing psychological reactance, requiring vaccination strengthens intentions to vaccinate in US populations. “In a survey and three experiments (one preregistered with a nationally representative sample), we examined if vaccination requirements are likely to backfire, as commonly feared. We investigated if relative to encouraging free choice in vaccination, requiring a vaccine weakens or strengthens vaccination intentions, both in general and among individuals with a predisposition to experience psychological reactance. In the four studies, compared to free choice, requirements strengthened vaccination intentions across racial and ethnic groups, across studies, and across levels of trait psychological reactance. The results consistently suggest that fears of a backlash against vaccine mandates may be unfounded and that requirements will promote COVID-19 vaccine uptake in the United States.”

University of Miami: Research explores how to measure COVID-19’s impact on children. “Rebecca Shearer, an associate professor of psychology at the University, is one of 12 writers who contributed to an academic paper that offers a method by which researchers, government entities, academics, and others can study the effect of the pandemic on children by using existing data.”

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