Monday CoronaBuzz, November 15, 2021: 42 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.


WSU Insider: New podcast pushes for healthcare professionals’ mental health. “A new podcast created by faculty at the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine explores how physicians and other healthcare professionals can maintain their physical and mental health. ‘Finding Joy: The Health Care Professional’s Journey to Wellness and Resiliency’ features doctors, nurses, medical students from the WSU College of Medicine, and other health care professionals as they dive into the challenges they face and how they manage practicing wellness in their careers.”


BBC: UK bucks Europe Covid trend but concern over winter. “While many European countries are seeing steep rises in coronavirus cases and preparing to step up Covid restrictions, the UK has been going in the other direction. Experts say differences in levels of immunity and people’s behaviour are the likely explanations.”


WXYZ: In open letter, Wisconsin doctor calls out Aaron Rodgers for spreading vaccine misinformation. ” In an open letter, a recent Wisconsin med school graduate and Green Bay Packers fan has called out the team’s quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, for spreading vaccine misinformation in an interview late last week. Now, she wants to set the record straight.”

New York Times: On Podcasts and Radio, Misleading Covid-19 Talk Goes Unchecked. “Scientific studies have shown that vaccines will protect people against the coronavirus for long periods and have significantly reduced the spread of Covid-19. As the global death toll related to Covid-19 exceeds five million — and at a time when more than 40 percent of Americans are not fully vaccinated — iHeart, Spotify, Apple and many smaller audio companies have done little to rein in what radio hosts and podcasters say about the virus and vaccination efforts.”

Meduza: The two faces of RT’s coronavirus propaganda. “When it comes to pandemic coverage at the network’s English-language division and especially its German-language branch, Russia Today actively amplifies unscientific information about COVID-19 and features many guests who are openly hostile to the very idea of vaccination. As a result, RT’s content for audiences abroad becomes material that Russia’s own vaccine opponents cite as ‘proof’ against the need for inoculation.”


BBC: Online hate speech rose 20% during pandemic: ‘We’ve normalised it’. “Online hate speech in the UK and US has risen by 20% since the start of the pandemic, according to a new report. Youth charity Ditch the Label commissioned the study, which analysed 263 million conversations in the UK and US, between 2019 and mid-2021. It found 50.1 million discussions about, or examples of, racist hate speech in that time.”

Associated Press: Thousands of military families struggle with food insecurity. “It’s a hidden crisis that has existed for years inside one of the most well-funded institutions on the planet and has only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic. As many as 160,000 active-duty military members are having trouble feeding their families. That estimate by Feeding America, which coordinates the work of more than 200 food banks around the country, underscores how long-term food insecurity has extended into every aspect of American life, including the military.”

BBC: No regrets! Pandemic purchases that made us happy . “Lockdown was an isolating experience for many people, but for John Emery it was an amazing opportunity to make new friends nearby and overseas. The maintenance engineer has always had an interest in amateur radio, but pandemic restrictions actually gave him the chance to fully embrace his hobby. He was able to save enough money to afford the equipment needed. With radio exams forced to move online, he also had the time to get fully qualified.”


BBC: Maori tribe tells anti-vaccine protestors to stop using popular haka. “A Maori tribe has told anti-vaccine protesters in New Zealand to stop the use of a famous haka ‘immediately’. The Ka Mate haka is hugely popular as it is performed by national rugby team the All Blacks before every match. The Ngati Toa tribe, which has legal guardianship of the haka, issued a strong notice after protestors performed the war dance during demonstrations last week.”

Foreign Policy: Italy’s Anti-Vaccination Movement Is Militant and Dangerous. “The intensity of Italy’s anti-vaccine movement is confusing at first glance. The country has done a good job of vaccinating its citizens during the pandemic. Right now, around 83 percent of people over 12 years old have had both doses. To put that in perspective, the United States is around 59 percent vaccinated, and as of last month, around 74 percent of adults in the European Union were vaccinated. But that hasn’t made Italian anti-vaccine hysteria any less powerful.”


Charlotte Weekly: Report: Nursing homes down 221,000 jobs since start of pandemic. “The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living released a report Nov. 10 showing long term facilities are suffering from the worst labor crisis and job loss than any other health care sector. Nursing homes alone have seen its industry’s employment level drop by 14% or 221,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.”


Portland Press-Herald: Maine sets all-time high for COVID-19 hospitalizations. “According to data from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of individuals hospitalized rose to 248, which eclipses the previous high of 235 set on Sept. 25. Among those currently hospitalized, 72 are in critical care and 31 are on ventilators. Prior to September, hospitalizations had not been above 200 since January. Now, the number has been above 200 for 21 of the last 22 days.”


CNN: Snow leopards die of Covid-19 complications at Nebraska zoo. “Three snow leopards at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska have died of complications from Covid-19, zoo officials announced Friday.”


EU Politics: New Retail Trends Explode In Spite Of Ongoing Covid Pandemic. “The continuing international health crisis has fundamentally changed daily life in France, as well as the average citizen’s consumer habits. Key players in retail are keen to answer new questions arising among the consumer base. According to Antoine Daviet, product marketing director of Trace One, new dynamics have emerged, particularly in the areas of eco-packaging, digitalization and local economies.”

Charlotte Observer: Motel owner announced vaccine mandate. Then most of his staff quit. “‘Now this is great. Just discovered this,’ says Joseph Franklyn McElroy, chuckling, as he tries to get the hardwood floors inside this cozy little motel room to sparkle. ‘This is a Swiffer that steams at the same time it cleans. It’s my favorite thing.’ The steam mop with the purple handle is actually a Shark-branded product, not a Swiffer. It’s tough, though, to fault McElroy for misidentifying this tool of the housekeeping trade. While he has become as proficient at turning over rooms at the Meadowlark Motel over the past couple months as any current cleaning staffer, changing linens and sanitizing toilets was never meant to be the New York City chief executive’s bailiwick.”


Boing Boing: Jen Psaki is back from Covid and as feisty as ever. “Twelve days after testing positive for a breakthrough case of Covid-19, Press Secretary Jen Psaki is back, along with a fresh stockpile of TNT. When asked by a reporter about the Build Back Better Act, and how it might add to inflationary pressure, Psaki shot straight to the point.”

CNN: House committee releases new evidence from investigation into Trump administration interference with CDC during Covid-19 pandemic. “The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released to CNN on Friday new evidence showing how US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials were pressured by Trump administration officials to alter scientific guidance and prevented from communicating directly with the public.”


BBC: Covid: Austria orders nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated. “Austria is placing millions of unvaccinated people into lockdown from Monday amid record infection levels and growing pressure on hospitals.’We are not taking this step lightly but it is necessary,’ Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said. Unvaccinated people will only be able to leave home for a limited number of reasons, like working or buying food.”

Associated Press: As COVID-19 Surges In Eastern Europe, Leaders Slow To Act. “At the main hospital in Romania’s capital, the morgue ran out of space for the dead in recent days, and doctors in Bulgaria have suspended routine surgeries so they can tend to a surge in COVID-19 patients. In the Serbian capital, the graveyard now operates an extra day during the week in order to bury all the bodies arriving. For two months now, a stubborn wave of virus infections has ripped mercilessly through several countries in Central and Eastern Europe, where vaccination rates are much lower than elsewhere on the continent. While medical workers pleaded for tough restrictions or even lockdowns, leaders let the virus rage unimpeded for weeks.”

Euronews: Latvia bans unvaccinated MPs from voting and suspends pay. “Latvian MPs who have not been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 will have their pay suspended and no longer be able to take part in parliamentary votes. MPs approved the measure in a vote on Friday with 62 votes in favour in the 100-seat parliament.”

BBC: Why China is still trying to achieve zero Covid. “A person walks into a five-star hotel to ask briefly for directions and ends up in two weeks quarantine because a guest had some coronavirus contact. One crew member on a high-speed train has close contact with an infected person, and a trainload of passengers is sent to quarantine for mass testing. In Shanghai Disneyland, 33,863 visitors suddenly have to undergo mass testing because a visitor the day before got infected. Welcome to life in the country which now feels like a perpetual, back-to-zero-Covid world.”


Tennessean: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signs sweeping COVID-19 legislation into law. “With a stroke of a pen Friday afternoon, Gov. Bill Lee signed into law an expansive legislative package strictly limiting the authority schools, health agencies and businesses have over COVID-19 restrictions. The law now takes immediate effect in Tennessee and will almost certainly face swift legal challenges. ”

CBS Denver: COVID In Colorado: Gov. Jared Polis Cites New Mexico As Example Of Why He’s Not Planning To Bring Back Mask Mandate. “The Governor of Colorado says he does not plan on bringing back a mask mandate throughout the state even as COVID-19 cases surge. Gov. Jared Polis said he would leave masking orders to the counties, citing that neighboring New Mexico has a mask mandate and cases were comparable to those seen in Colorado. However, Polis did push for more people to get vaccinated.”

Ars Technica: States expand boosters, activate crisis care as delta rolls on. “While cases and hospitalizations have subsided in previous southeastern hotspots such as Florida and Alabama, the wave has headed north and west. Nationally, new cases of COVID-19 have plateaued at a high level of more than 70,000 per day, down from September peaks of upwards of 160,000. North Dakota, Colorado, Minnesota, Alaska, and Vermont currently have the top-five highest case rates per 100,000 people, according to tracking by The New York Times. New Mexico, which ranks seventh for the highest daily case rates, is seeing a surge in hospitalizations, and more facilities are moving to crisis standards of care.”

ArmyTimes: Oklahoma Guard goes rogue, rejects COVID vaccine mandate after sudden change of command. “The new commander of the Oklahoma National Guard has declared the organization will not enforce the Defense Department’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on its troops, according to local media outlets. Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino was announced as the state’s new adjutant general Wednesday, though he has not yet been confirmed by the state Senate, according to a press release from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office.”

CBS News: COVID booster shots allowed for all adults in California, Colorado and New Mexico. “Three states — California, Colorado and New Mexico — are allowing COVID-19 booster shots for all adults, even though federal health officials recommend limiting shots to patients considered most at risk. The three states have some of the nation’s highest rates of new COVID infections.”


WDSU: Newborn finally discharged after being hospitalized for 6 months with COVID-19. “A newborn baby will spend his first night at home Wednesday after contracting COVID-19 over the summer. Monchell Cruppi told WDSU that her son Byron was born prematurely in April. ‘He actually came from Touro when he was two months, and right before he was getting ready to get discharged, he got COVID,’ Cruppi said. ‘That extended his stay four extra months.’ Doctors said Byron was infected by a visitor who did not realize they were sick.”

StarTribune: Ironman COVID-19 survivor rewards Minnesota caregivers. “Not many patients return voluntarily to intensive care units where they endured pain and nightmares, but Ben O’Donnell stopped by the University of Minnesota Medical Center on Friday to thank those who saved him from one of the state’s first and most shocking COVID-19 cases. The 40-year-old presented his finisher medal from the Ironman Tulsa triathlon on May 22 to caregivers who treated his COVID-19 in March 2020 — a pick-me-up for a critical care team that didn’t expect to be battling the pandemic 20 months later.”

BBC: The Nigerian artist who turned pain into fame during lockdown. “The beauty of paintings by Ijeoma Ogwuegbu disguises the pain she is living through. Stacked up against a wall in the Nigerian artist’s home studio in Lagos are canvasses adorned with swirls and circles of bright colour. Some are abstract and some have more recognisable forms but are clearly impressionistic. These are the works of an artist who took up painting 18 months ago as a way to deal with the searing discomfort caused by a condition known as fibromyalgia.”


Boing Boing: Gene Simmons rants about anti-vaxxers: enemies with an “evil idea”. “Kiss frontman Gene Simmons is a tangled man when it comes to politics. He has described himself as both ‘an avowed democratic capitalist’ and a ‘social liberal/equal rights & fiscal/foreign policy conservative’ (see Tweet below). He voted for Obama, according to Rolling Stone, but was then dissatisfied with his vote ‘in a lot of ways.’ He also once said about Trump: ‘He’s good for the political system.’ But one thing he is clear about: Anti-vaxxers are the enemy.”


University of Washington: Post-COVID-19 symptoms appear rare in college athletes. “The observational study looked at 3,597 male and female athletes from 44 colleges and universities. All of the athletes had been infected by COVID-19, but just 1.2% were found to have persistent symptoms – defined as those lasting more than three weeks from initial illness or symptom onset. During return to exercise, the prevalence of exertional symptoms – including chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and heart palpitations – was also low, in just 4% of the study cohort.”


Newswise: New Research Shows Virtual School Can Harm Children’s Vision. “When COVID-19 first shut down classrooms and virtual schooling became the new norm, ophthalmologists predicted an increase in digital eye strain in children. New research from ophthalmologists at Wills Eye Hospital confirms that the increased screen time did lead to more eye strain in children, as well as a more troubling eye condition called convergence insufficiency, which can cause difficulty reading. The study is being presented at AAO 2021, the 125th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.”

San Diego Union-Tribune: Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Newsom’s school mask rules – The San Diego Union-Tribune. “A San Diego County judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the state’s school mask mandate, saying that Gov. Gavin Newsom has the legal authority to enforce universal masking. Judge Cynthia Freeland dismissed the lawsuit filed by Let Them Breathe, a local group that has led opposition efforts against mandatory COVID precautions in schools across the state.”


Newswise: Flu Season Underway Amid Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. “For the second straight year, flu season is emerging against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the number of flu cases was relatively low last year, experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine say that this year, it could be much higher.”

CNN: The Covid-19 numbers seem stuck. That doesn’t bode well for winter, experts say. “The coronavirus numbers don’t look so good this week. New Covid-19 diagnoses are up in about half of US states over the past week. Hospitalizations are up in 11 states, and deaths have risen in 17 states. US coronavirus cases have plateaued in recent weeks, holding on to about half of the growth from this summer’s latest surge. While new cases have fallen in some states, they’re rising in others, particularly some region’s cold-weather states.”

CIDRAP: WHO, CDC warn COVID disruptions could stall measles battle. “Missed measles vaccine doses for babies and deteriorating surveillance for measles during the pandemic are setting up a perfect storm for the disease to come roaring back, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned today.”

CNN: Flu shots uptake is now partisan. It didn’t use to be. “Uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine has, unfortunately, become partisan like so much else in our society. Almost every Democratic adult (90% to 95%) has gotten a shot, while a little less than two-thirds of Republican adults have. That partisanship appears to have transferred to at least one other important vaccination. An examination of flu shot data suggests that which party people belong to is highly correlated with whether they have or will get a flu shot this season — something that was not predictive of flu shot uptake the last few years.”

BBC: Covid vaccine ‘waning immunity’: How worried should I be?. “There have been warnings from doctors and the UK’s Health Security Agency that waning immunity is leading to deaths even of people who have had two doses of a Covid vaccine. So how much protection are we left with?”

NBC News: People got sicker during the pandemic, even without Covid-19. “A new study found that the number of Americans able to keep their blood pressure at healthy levels dropped significantly in 2020 —either because people avoided the doctor’s office or were unable to get care because their physicians closed their offices temporarily during the pandemic. The research, presented Saturday at an annual meeting of the American Heart Association, showed that on average, only 53.3 percent of adults in the U.S. had their blood pressure under control last year, compared to 60.5 percent in 2019.”


Newswise: Can Ancient Botanical Therapies Help Treat COVID-19?. “A novel study is assessing whether medicinal mushrooms and Chinese herbs provide therapeutic benefit in treating acute COVID-19 infection. MACH-19 (Mushrooms and Chinese Herbs for COVID-19) — a multi-center study led by University of California San Diego School of Medicine and UCLA, in collaboration with the La Jolla Institute for Immunology — is among the first to evaluate these specific integrative medicine approaches using the gold standard of Western medicine: the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.”


Los Angeles Times: As infections rise, the San Joaquin Valley becomes the land of the eternal COVID surge. “This is what the COVID-19 pandemic looks like in the part of California where the Delta variant surge refuses to let up. In Fresno County, understaffed hospitals have been so clogged that ambulance crews have stopped transporting people unless they have a life-threatening emergency. In Tulare County, a Visalia hospital — which has been treating more COVID-19 patients in recent days than any other medical facility in the state — declared an internal disaster last week on a day 51 patients in the emergency room waited for a bed to open up. And this week, sparsely populated Kings County, which has one of California’s lowest vaccination rates, had one of the state’s highest per capita COVID-19 hospitalization rates.”


New Zealand Stuff: Covid vaccine not a freedom threat, unvaccinated host population is. “There will be very few people now who have not had an opportunity to be vaccinated. No one in mainland New Zealand is so isolated from society that they have not been to town in the past year. Most will have driven past a medical clinic, GP clinic or vaccination venue several times in that time. We must stop making excuses for them. There are none.”

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