Friday CoronaBuzz, November 12, 2021: 47 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.


Glasgow Live: The Workers Stories Project – The day-to-day lives of Scotland’s frontline workers during lockdown. “Launched by trade unionists and activists in Glasgow last May, the Workers Stories Project is building an online archive which will show what the battle against coronavirus was like for the working class for generations to come. From delivery drivers and postal workers to teachers, carers and nurses, the project drew more than 80 accounts from those toiling on the frontline over the past 20 months. It also highlighted the unpaid labour done largely by women in the community.”


Associated Press: COVID-19 hot spots offer sign of what could be ahead for US. “The contagious delta variant is driving up COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Mountain West and fueling disruptive outbreaks in the North, a worrisome sign of what could be ahead this winter in the U.S. While trends are improving in Florida, Texas and other Southern states that bore the worst of the summer surge, it’s clear that delta isn’t done with the United States. COVID-19 is moving north and west for the winter as people head indoors, close their windows and breathe stagnant air.”

Texas Tribune: Unvaccinated Texans make up vast majority of COVID-19 cases and deaths this year, new state data shows. “New data from the Texas health department released Monday proves what health officials have been trying to tell vaccine-hesitant Texans for months: The COVID-19 vaccine dramatically prevents death and is the best tool to prevent transmission of the deadly virus. Out of nearly 29,000 Texans who have died from COVID-related illnesses since mid-January, only 8% of them were fully vaccinated against the virus, according to a report detailing the Texas Department of State Health Services’ findings.”


Poynter: People vaccinated against COVID-19 cannot ‘shed’ spike proteins to harm anyone. “In the spring, claims began spreading widely that vaccinated people can ‘shed’ the COVID-19 vaccine and harm those around them. Now, six months later, those false claims have come full circle.”

MPR News: A Twin Cities doctor spread misinformation about COVID-19. Then he died from it. “In blog posts over the past year, [Dr. Christopher] Foley wrote on his practice’s website that it was dangerous to wear masks and that the drug ivermectin was a proven treatment against COVID-19 — a drug he prescribed for patients even though the Food and Drug Administration warns against it. He reposted false claims about the vaccine made by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a well-known opponent of vaccines who has been banned from social media platforms.”

Ars Technica: 38% of US adults believe government is faking COVID-19 death toll. “From the very beginning, misinformation has plagued the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, undermining efforts to stop the spread of the disease and save lives. New survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) spotlights just how monstrous the problem of misinformation is. Among a nationally representative sample of US adults, 78 percent reported that they had heard at least one of eight common COVID-19 falsehoods and either said the falsehood is true or said they’re not sure if it’s true or false.”

NBC News: Covid vaccine holdouts are caving to mandates — then scrambling to ‘undo’ their shots. “Detox remedies and regimens have been staples of the anti-vaccine movement for years. Long before Covid, anti-vaccine influencers and alternative health entrepreneurs promoted unproven and sometimes dangerous treatments they claimed would rid children of the alleged toxins that lingered after routine childhood immunizations.”

The Wrap: Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson Banned From Twitter Over COVID Misinformation. “Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson was permanently suspended from Twitter Tuesday after repeatedly violating the platform’s guidelines about sharing COVID-19 misinformation. The ban from Twitter comes on the heels of a week-long suspension, which she earned by tweeting last week that COVID-19 vaccines ‘contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked.’ A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the suspension to TheWrap.”


Tucson: Report: Arizona only state where COVID-19 the leading cause of death during pandemic . “Arizona is the only state nationwide in which COVID-19 has been the leading cause of death during the pandemic, according to a new report Wednesday from the Arizona Public Health Association. Nationally, COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death, with cancer and heart disease in the first two spots.”

CNN: A record number of Americans quit their jobs in September. “A record 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September. America had 10.4 million open jobs that month as the worker shortage crisis continues, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Friday.”

CNET: Over 25,000 tons of COVID-19 plastic waste is now in the ocean. “Researchers have used models to determine that, as of late August, 193 countries collectively produced more than 8 million tons of pandemic-related plastic waste, ranging from masks and hospital equipment to packaging from online shopping generated by increased interest in no-contact purchases. According to the study, to be published Nov 23 in the journal PNAS, over 25,000 tons of that plastic have ended up in the world’s ocean, endangering marine animals. ”


Washington Post: A North Dakota GOP lawmaker helped organize an anti-vaccine rally. Then he got covid and couldn’t attend.. “Days ahead of an anti-vaccine rally he helped organize, North Dakota lawmaker Jeff Hoverson, a Republican, urged his social media followers to gather on the steps of the state capitol on Monday to oppose coronavirus vaccine mandates. ‘Noon Monday capital steps Bismarck. We The People rally,’ Hoverson wrote on Facebook. ‘Extremely important for freedom from mandates legislation.’ But he did not make it to the event.”

NBC News: 5 hurt, including 2 officers, after crash at anti-vaccine protest in San Francisco. “Five people were injured, including two California Highway Patrol officers, in a chain-reaction crash Thursday at an anti-vaccination protest in San Francisco, authorities said. The crash occurred shortly before 6 p.m. at the San Francisco entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge, where there was a protest billed as a ‘nationwide walkout’ against government-mandated vaccinations against Covid-19, California Highway Patrol spokesman Andrew Barclay said.”


Washington Post: Booster shots are most popular in poorly vaccinated states where coronavirus rages. “The rate at which fully vaccinated residents are getting the shots is highest in the states that also have high rates of new coronavirus cases, including Alaska, North Dakota and Montana, according to a review of state data by The Washington Post. In swaths of the country where health officials will not impose mask and vaccine mandates to curb the virus’s spread, or have had their powers stripped away by Republican state lawmakers or governors, boosters are one of the few shields left for those worried about contracting and spreading the virus.”


UNC News: Before the pandemic, North Carolina faced nursing shortage. “A new workforce model developed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Cecil G. Sheps Center Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy projects a looming nursing shortage in North Carolina. The projection about the future supply and demand of nurses is included in NC Nursecast, a workforce model developed over two years with support from the North Carolina Board of Nursing.”


Man of Many: Vienna Brothel Offers Free Sessions For Those Who Come to Get Vaccinated. “Forget free beers, lotteries and discount food, a brothel in Austria has come up with a sure-fire way to incentivise people to get the coronavirus vaccine. Not only is Fun Palast in Vienna administering jabs, it’s offering up a 30-minute session in the ‘sauna club’ with the ‘lady of your choice’ to anyone who gets the vaccine at the on-site clinic.”

Mashable: The pandemic upended Airbnb. CEO Brian Chesky says it was for the better.. “The pandemic directly affected Airbnb’s business and product plans for both the short and long term. It required the company to scale back some of its business ventures, like hotels and media, while also improving offerings for a world re-shaped by the coronavirus. Those changes have manifested as a retooled Airbnb product that launched the second half of more than 150 updates Tuesday, while the first half came in May.”

CNN: Out-of-stock problems for online shopping are getting worse. “There were more than 2 billion instances of a product being out of stock online across 18 categories tracked in October by Adobe Analytics, according to a new report released on Tuesday by the company. That’s up 33% over the same month a year ago and 325% since October 2019. If you’re currently shopping online, one in every 50 pages you visit will show an out-of-stock message, the company said. In January 2020, before the pandemic, it was closer to one in every 140 pages, the company said.”

BBC: AstraZeneca to take profits from Covid vaccine. “The drugs giant has signed a series of for-profit agreements for next year, and expects to make a modest income from the vaccine, it said. The company had previously said it would only start to make money from the vaccine when Covid-19 was no longer a pandemic. Its chief executive Pascal Soriot said the disease was becoming endemic. The jab will continue to be supplied on a not-for-profit basis to poorer countries.”

CNBC: Only 28% of New York office workers are back in the office. “Only 28% of Manhattan office workers are back at their desks and fewer than half will return by January, according to a new survey. Employers expect that 49% of office workers will return on an average weekday by January, according to a survey of 188 big employers in Manhattan by the Partnership for New York City. That’s up from the current level of 28%, yet the survey suggests that remote work will endure long after January and reduce demand for office space in New York.”

CNET: From machine parts to dumbbells: How a cast iron foundry responded to the pandemic. “Goldens’ Cast Iron didn’t always make workout equipment. Founded by two brothers in Columbus, Georgia, in 1882, the company spent its first century building things like machine parts, sugarcane syrup kettles and, during World War II, steering engines for Liberty ships. It was a lot of important stuff, though nothing you were likely to find in your home. It took COVID-19 to change that.”


CNBC: White House says about 900,000 kids ages 5 to 11 got a Covid vaccine in the first week after its approval. “About 900,000 kids ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine since U.S. regulators cleared the shots for the younger age group Nov. 2, the White House said Wednesday. Roughly 700,000 more young children have appointments at local pharmacies to get their shots, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters.”

CNN: How long will Covid-19 masking rules last?. “A federal court judge’s decision to strike down Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on school mask rules for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act could reverberate around the country and make new children eligible for the requirements. Expect Texas to appeal. The larger current trend in the US may be away from required masking.”

CNN: Violent airline passengers fined more than $200,000 by FAA. “Federal authorities have slapped 10 violent airline passengers with nearly a quarter-million dollars in new fines for shouting, spitting, screaming, shoving and throwing punches onboard commercial flights. The Federal Aviation Administration fines total $225,287, the second biggest announcement of fines for unruly passengers since the agency enacted a no-tolerance policy earlier this year.”


BBC: Covid: France brings in booster requirement for over 65s. “Over-65s in France will soon only be allowed to travel or visit restaurants and museums if they have a Covid booster jab, President Emmanuel Macron has said. ‘From 15 December, you will need to provide proof of a booster jab to extend the validity of your health pass,’ he warned in a TV address.”

Washington Post: Austria aims to ‘green light’ lockdown for unvaccinated citizens amid infection surge. “The government of Austria, one of Central Europe’s least vaccinated nations, said Friday that it will meet this weekend with the aim of implementing lockdown measures for people who have not been immunized against the coronavirus, as infections and hospitalizations have surged in recent days. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg will host the meeting on Sunday but did not say when such measures might take effect, although he said it was likely to be rolled out nationally. Two of Austria’s hardest-hit provinces — Upper Austria and Salzburg — said they will introduce the measure for themselves on Monday, Reuters reported.”

New York Times: Germany’s Fourth Covid Wave: ‘A Pandemic of the Unvaccinated’. ” The University Hospital of Giessen, one of Germany’s foremost clinics for pulmonary disease, is at capacity. The number of Covid-19 patients has tripled in recent weeks. Nearly half of them are on ventilators. And every single one is unvaccinated.”

BBC: Covid: Dutch set for partial lockdown as infections surge. “Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is set to declare Western Europe’s first partial Covid lockdown of the winter, with three weeks of restrictions for shops, sport and catering. His caretaker government is responding to record infections and rising intensive care cases in hospitals.”


State of Colorado: State activates crisis standards of care for staffing of health care systems. “Today, the state of Colorado reactivated crisis standards of care for staffing of health care systems throughout the state. Crisis standards of care are guidelines for how the medical community should allocate scarce resources. In this case, the state is activating these guidelines specifically for staffing. Crisis standards of care for staffing of health care systems allows hospitals to implement staffing solutions to best meet the increasing medical needs of their communities. Upon activation, these crisis standards of care for staffing of health care systems may be implemented to best manage the current influx of patients who need care for COVID-19 or any other illness. ”

BBC: Judge says Texas school mask mandate ban violates disabled student rights. “A US judge has overturned a Texas ban on mask mandates in schools, ruling it violated the rights of disabled students to learn during the pandemic. Judge Lee Yeakel said the ban denied disabled children, who are more likely to face Covid complications, the benefits of in-person learning. Districts may now set their own rules. Texas’ attorney general is looking to challenge Wednesday’s decision.”


Washington Post: Data broker shared billions of phone location records with D.C. government as part of covid-tracking effort. “A data broker shared billions of “highly sensitive” phone-location records with the D.C. government last year that revealed how people moved about the city, public records show. The sharing of the raw phone location data was pitched as uniquely valuable for tracking the covid pandemic, the records show. But the provision of the records for six months to the D.C. government’s Department of Health also shows the potential for abuse of such data, which is generally collected without consumers’ knowledge and then resold to both public and private buyers.”

Sacramento Bee: Officer dies of COVID while on leave for missing California city’s vaccine deadline. “A California police officer died of COVID-19 while he was on leave for not meeting San Francisco’s Nov. 1 vaccination deadline, according to media outlets. San Francisco Police Department Officer Jack Nyce tested positive for the virus on Nov. 2 and died Saturday, Nov. 6, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. His symptoms were so severe on Nov. 6 that he was taken to a hospital in an ambulance and died later that day.”


CBC: Sask. doctor who died of COVID-19 remembered by loved ones as ‘a man who made a difference’. “Dr. Youssef Al-Begamy is being remembered for making everyone he met feel like his best friend. ‘That’s the impression that he leaves on anybody … that’s his character,’ close friend and colleague Fauzi Ramadan told CBC News at a prayer service Monday night. Al-Begamy, a 48-year-old Saskatchewan family and emergency room physician, died of COVID-19 complications early Sunday morning, Ramadan confirmed.”


Associated Press: With US aid money, schools put bigger focus on mental health. “In Kansas City, Kansas, educators are opening an after-school mental health clinic staffed with school counselors and social workers. Schools in Paterson, New Jersey, have set up social emotional learning teams to identify students dealing with crises. Chicago is staffing up ‘care teams’ with the mission of helping struggling students on its 500-plus campuses. With a windfall of federal coronavirus relief money at hand, schools across the U.S. are using portions to quickly expand their capacity to address students’ struggles with mental health.”


Michigan Daily: UMich reports significant increase in COVID-19 cases, other illnesses spurred by maskless gatherings. “Student cases of COVID-19 at the University of Michigan have risen significantly over the past week, U-M officials said in an update released Tuesday to the University’s COVID-19 dashboard. Since Oct. 31, the University has reported 247 cases of COVID-19. Over the same period, 7,024 people received COVID-19 tests, yielding a positivity rate of 3.5%. University President Mark Schlissel first drew attention to the rising case counts in an email to the campus community sent Friday. ”

Associated Press: Mandates drive up vaccinations at colleges, despite leniency. “Universities that adopted COVID-19 vaccine mandates this fall have seen widespread compliance even though many schools made it easy to get out of the shots by granting exemptions to nearly any student who requested one. Facing pockets of resistance and scattered lawsuits, colleges have tread carefully because forcing students to get the vaccine when they have a religious or medical objection could put schools into tricky legal territory. For some, there are added concerns that taking a hard line could lead to a drop in enrollment.”


The Atlantic: You’re Boosted! Now What?. “For months, the CDC has been updating its hefty page on what people can do once they’re fully vaccinated (which, by the way, is still defined as two weeks after the second Pfizer or Moderna dose, or two weeks after the one-and-done Johnson & Johnson). But no such instruction manual exists for the pre-to-post-boost transition, which some 120 million Americans will be eligible to make in the next few months.”

BBC: Covid: Medication holiday may boost vaccine protection. “About 1.3 million people in the UK are on methotrexate for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. It stops flare-ups, but can make the body less able to fight infections or respond to vaccines. The team will check if a two-week drug holiday timed to vaccination will help.”

Washington Post: For many ICU survivors and their families, life is never the same. “Intensive care has saved countless lives since January 2020, but the invasive process can also yield a poorly-recognized cluster of serious consequences that together constitute ‘post-intensive care syndrome.’ They are symptoms not of the disease, but of the cure.”

New York Times: How Does This End?. “Among the Covid experts I regularly talk with, Dr. Robert Wachter is one of the more cautious. He worries about ‘long Covid,’ and he believes that many people should receive booster shots. He says that he may wear a mask in supermarkets and on airplanes for the rest of his life. Yet Wachter — the chair of the medicine department at the University of California, San Francisco — also worries about the downsides of organizing our lives around Covid. In recent weeks, he has begun to think about when most of life’s rhythms should start returning to normal. Increasingly, he believes the answer is: Now.”


PsyPost: Mask-wearing social media influencers are perceived as more competent, according to new psychology research. “New research published in the journal Applied Psychology suggests that wearing a face mask can boost an influencer’s credibility. A series of studies revealed that when influencers wear face masks, they elicit thoughts of healthcare professionals. People then perceive the masked influencers as more competent than non-masked influencers and are more willing to follow their advice and recommend them to friends.”

KnowTechie: This little white box lets you know if it detects COVID-19 in the air. “Wouldn’t it be great if your home or office could monitor for pathogens like COVID-19 in the same way that it monitors for smoke and carbon monoxide? That’s the question that Poppy planned to answer before the pandemic hit, and now business is thriving.”


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University: How Has the Pandemic Impacted Pilot Skill? New Research Finds ‘Rust’. “When it comes to flying airplanes, the ‘use it or lose it’ rule applies to keeping pilot skills sharp. There has been no greater time in recent history, however, when pilots lacked a chance to “use it” than during the Covid-19 pandemic, when airlines halted or greatly reduced their services. This stretch of time, according to an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University researcher, had an alarming impact on pilot proficiency.”

NiemanLab: Conflict vs. community: How early coronavirus coverage differed in the U.S. and China. “How did major Chinese and U.S. outlets differ in their initial coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic? That’s the central question behind a new study published last week in the Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly journal. The overall finding: Chinese outlets’ focus on Covid-19 was much more domestic, perhaps because they were focused on trying to contain the outbreak, while the U.S. view was much more focused on politics and the conflict between various levels of government when it came to combatting the crisis.”

NPR: How SARS-CoV-2 in American deer could alter the course of the global pandemic. “Scientists have evidence that SARS-CoV-2 spreads explosively in white-tailed deer and that the virus is widespread in this deer population across the United States. Researchers say the findings are quite concerning and could have vast implications for the long-term course of the coronavirus pandemic.”


Department of Justice: Three men guilty for their roles in multimillion-dollar COVID-relief fraud conspiracy. “Three individuals have admitted to their participation in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and launder millions of dollars in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The Small Business Administration (SBA) guarantees PPP loans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Richard Reuth, 58, Spring, entered his plea today, while Raheel Malik, 41, Sugar Land, and Siddiq Azeemuddin, 42, Naperville, Illinois, pleaded guilty yesterday. During their respective pleas, they admitted to engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the SBA and certain SBA-approved PPP lenders by submitting false and fraudulent PPP loan applications. Azeemuddin and Malik also conspired to launder over $3 million in PPP loan funds through Azeemuddin’s business, Fascare International Inc. dba Almeda Discount Store.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Stonecrest mayor faces 3 federal charges in pandemic relief fund scandal. “Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary was among two people charged with federal crimes Wednesday after they were accused of using a kickback scheme to steal coronavirus relief funds. The embattled mayor, who has been connected to several financial scandals over the past year, appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Atlanta Wednesday morning. Authorities charged the 59-year-old with wire fraud; conspiracy to commit federal program theft; and federal program theft.”

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