Wednesday CoronaBuzz, November 17, 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.


New York Times: How to Host Thanksgiving With Unvaccinated Friends and Family. “In addition to the big, juicy turkey on the table, there’s also an elephant lurking in the room this Thanksgiving: the vaccination status of your guests. It’s a tricky thing to talk about. Do you ask your aunt if she received the Covid vaccine after she R.S.V.P.s? What if she says no? Do you endure another scaled-back celebration, like last year? Or should you serve up a bunch of precautions?”


Eyewitness News 7: COVID hospitalizations tick upward again; LA County may get downgraded to ‘widespread’ by CDC. “COVID-19 hospitalizations in Los Angeles County ticked upward again as health officials encouraged people to get vaccinated, again warning that unvaccinated residents are far more susceptible to becoming severely ill or dying if they get infected.”


CNN: Viral video purporting to show vaccinated woman’s plane tantrum is fake. “The viral video is a staged scene from a professional film. The tantrum-throwing woman is an actor, as is the supposed pilot who challenges her at the end of the video. The video was produced by a man known as Prince Ea, an entertainer and creator of online content who has a history of using authentic-sounding titles about hot-button social issues to get people to watch his scripted footage.”

Becker’s Hospital Review: Houston Methodist physician resigns following suspension over COVID-19 social media posts. “Mary Bowden, MD, an ear, nose and throat physician in private practice, recently joined the medical staff at Houston Methodist Hospital, the flagship of the Houston Methodist system. The hospital suspended Dr. Bowden’s privileges on Nov. 12 after the physician used her social media accounts to spread ‘dangerous misinformation which is not based in science,’ the hospital said.”

The Conversation: COVID vaccines don’t violate the Nuremberg Code. Here’s how to convince the doubters. “People opposing vaccine mandates, or COVID vaccines more broadly, have claimed the vaccines violate the Nuremberg Code. They say COVID vaccines are experimental and people have been coerced into vaccination. They say this breaches the ethical code drawn up after the second world war to guide medical research and human clinical trials. But this argument is flawed. Here’s why the Nuremberg Code doesn’t apply, and how to correct this misunderstanding.”


Poynter: There is no scientific basis for claims of ivermectin’s success in Uttar Pradesh, India. “Claims regarding the supposed success of ivermectin in preventing COVID-19 in India have been around for months, and have recently popped up again as India’s case numbers subside. India stopped recommending the use of ivermectin for management of the virus in September, citing a lack of scientific evidence of its benefits.”

ABC News: Florida woman dies after suing hospital to get ivermectin. “A 47-year-old Florida teacher hospitalized with COVID-19 has died after her husband sued in an unsuccessful effort to force doctors to treat her with ivermectin. Tamara Drock died Friday, 12 weeks after being admitted to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Ryan Drock told the Palm Beach Post.”


Politico: Is the economy really worse off than in April 2020?. “Consumer sentiment has nosedived over the past month as Americans feel the pinch from surging prices on everything from gasoline to ground beef. What can the shift tell us about the broader economy? It’s complicated. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, a monthly survey that measures people’s perceptions of current and future economic conditions, hit 66.8 on Friday, its lowest level in a decade. The numbers stunned economists, who had expected the reading to rise slightly to 72.”

Newswise: Who Bought Firearms During 2020 Purchasing Surge?. “A new Rutgers study has found that people who bought firearms during the COVID-19 pandemic and national surge in firearm sales tend to be more sensitive to threats and have less emotional and impulse control than firearm owners who did not make a purchase during this time.”

Route Fifty: Gun Violence Has Soared During the Pandemic, a New Study Finds—But the Reasons Why Are Complex. “In a new study, we found that the overall U.S. gun violence rate rose by 30% during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic compared to the year before. In 28 states, the rates were substantially higher between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, compared to the pre-pandemic period from Feb. 1, 2019, through Feb. 29, 2020. There were 51,063 incidents of gun violence events resulting in injury or death in the United States in the first 13 months of the pandemic compared to 38,919 incidents in the same time span pre-pandemic.”


Daily Beast: Anti-Vaxxers Are Plunging Germany Into a COVID Death Spiral. “Germany is scrambling to deal with a raging fourth wave of COVID-19 as the country this week recorded its highest number of cases yet amid flatlining vaccination rates, fractured political decision-making, and an increasingly radical anti-vaccine movement. More than 16 million people aged 12 or above—around a third of the country’s population—remain unvaccinated, according to Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease control agency, and health minister Jens Spahn has publicly blamed those people for what he calls a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated.'”

Washington Post: Protesters display swastika, Star of David outside Jewish politician’s office to oppose vaccine rules. “New York Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz expected anti-vaccine mandate protesters outside his office in the Bronx on Sunday. The Democrat even warned constituents to ‘please avoid the area’ if they were concerned about potential exposure to the coronavirus. But Dinowitz did not anticipate that some demonstrators would show up sporting antisemitic symbols.


The Atlantic: Why Health-Care Workers Are Quitting In Droves. “Since COVID-19 first pummeled the U.S., Americans have been told to flatten the curve lest hospitals be overwhelmed. But hospitals have been overwhelmed. The nation has avoided the most apocalyptic scenarios, such as ventilators running out by the thousands, but it’s still sleepwalked into repeated surges that have overrun the capacity of many hospitals, killed more than 762,000 people, and traumatized countless health-care workers. ‘It’s like it takes a piece of you every time you walk in,’ says Ashley Harlow, a Virginia-based nurse practitioner who left her ICU after watching her grandmother Nellie die there in December. She and others have gotten through the surges on adrenaline and camaraderie, only to realize, once the ICUs are empty, that so too are they.”


StarTribune: Minnesota has nation’s worst 7-day rate of new COVID-19 infections. “Minnesota’s rate of new coronavirus infections has been worst in the nation over the past seven days, according to the latest federal data, and has brought the state’s hospitals closer to capacity. State health leaders encouraged Minnesotans to protect themselves with mask-wearing and social distancing measures that Gov. Tim Walz no longer has authority to impose.”

Detroit Free Press: Michigan is now worst COVID-19 hot spot in nation; hospitals pushed to capacity. “Michigan catapulted Tuesday to the worst COVID-19 hot spot in the nation, as the seven-day case rate rose to 503.8 per 100,000 residents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitals statewide say they’re feeling the pressure as the number of COVID-19 patients has climbed nearly 50% in the last month — from 2,097 patients admitted with confirmed cases of the virus on Oct. 18 to 3,082 on Monday, according to state data.”


BBC: Coronavirus: Cathay Pacific imposes tough new rules on aircrew. “Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific is imposing tough new restrictions on its aircrews, as it tries to stop the spread of Covid-19. Those returning to the city from layovers abroad have been told to remain at home and “avoid unnecessary social contact” for a total of 21 days.”

Politico: Moderna nears deal to pledge more vaccines to lower-income countries. “After months of intense negotiations, vaccine maker Moderna is nearing an agreement to pledge many millions more doses of its Covid-19 shot to low- and middle-income countries in 2022, two people with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO.”

New York Times: Pfizer asks the F.D.A. to authorize its Covid antiviral pill.. “Pfizer has applied to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its antiviral pill to treat unvaccinated people with Covid-19 who are at high risk of becoming severely ill, the company said on Tuesday. The drug, which will be sold under the brand name Paxlovid, could become available within weeks if authorization is granted. It is meant to be dispensed by pharmacies and taken at home.”


Associated Press: Ukraine offers payments for COVID jabs amid record deaths. “Ukraine reported record daily COVID-19 deaths Tuesday as authorities struggle to boost the country’s vaccination rate amid rising coronavirus infections. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised Monday to pay 1,000 hryvnias ($38) to each Ukrainian who gets vaccinated. Ukrainians can receive their payments starting Dec. 19, authorities said.”

Associated Press: Cambodia reopens 2 weeks early, buoyed by high vaccine rates. ” Cambodia reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers on Monday, two weeks earlier than originally planned, as it emerges from a lengthy lockdown bolstered by one of the world’s highest rates of immunization against COVID-19. The program allows visitors to skip quarantine measures if they are fully vaccinated, test negative 72 hours before they enter the country and test negative upon their arrival.”


Miami Herald: Legislators push controversial records exemption to protect unvaccinated employees. “Under the bills, SB 4B and HB 3B, the Florida Attorney General would be allowed to launch investigations into businesses that require employees to be vaccinated and, if found in violation of a new vaccine mandate law, the state may impose fines of $10,000 to $50,000 per violation. But under the bills, the public wouldn’t be able to know what companies are being reviewed or investigated, and there is no requirement for the state to report its findings.”

San Francisco Chronicle: Gov. Newsom warns of California winter surge, with virus ‘coming back in force’. “Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Tuesday that the state is in for another potentially devastating winter surge and sharpened his call for all Californians 18 and older to get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.”


Gothamist: NYC Says Any Adult Can Now Get A COVID Booster Shot. “Any New York City adult can now decide for themselves if they meet the criteria for a COVID-19 vaccine booster, health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi announced Monday. Chokshi said he had issued a new advisory to vaccine providers as part of a bid to remove barriers for accessing the booster shots. The guidance applies to anyone 18 and older and plays off a current recommendation that permits additional doses for people living or working in high-risk settings.”

CNN: NYC will allow thousands to join in Times Square NYE celebration, with proof of vaccination. “New York City will once again welcome thousands of people to Times Square for the famed New Year’s Eve ball drop tradition, so long as they show proof of vaccination against Covid-19, officials said Tuesday.”


Radio Free Europe: Russian MMA Fighter Charged In Guam For Stabbing Doctor To Death During COVID Vaccine Dispute. “A professional Russian mixed martial arts fighter has been arrested on the U.S. territory of Guam for allegedly killing a doctor during a dispute over COVID-19 vaccines. Akmal Khozhiev, 27, who called himself the ‘Unvaccinated Assassin’ in social-media posts, has been charged with aggravated murder and aggravated assault after stabbing Dr. Miran Rabiti with a knife and a bone, according to multiple reports from local media.”

Daily Beast: COVID-Positive Republican Senator Charged for Inappropriately Grabbing Nurse. That’s STATE senator. “John Bizon, a Republican state senator of Michigan and a doctor, has been charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly grabbing a nurse practitioner and squeezing her waist inappropriately, according to ”


ABC 7: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ judge Derek Hough says he has COVID-19. “‘Dancing With the Stars’ judge Derek Hough says he tested positive for COVID-19. The 36-year-old made the announcement on Tuesday on his Instagram, telling his followers in a video: ‘I have some news to share and I wanted you to hear it straight from me. Even though I’ve been fully vaccinated, I have just been diagnosed with a breakthrough case of COVID. I just found out.'”


Associated Press: Jamie Scott who won freedom from prison in 2011 dies of COVID-19. “A woman who won freedom from prison a decade ago after being convicted with her sister in a 1993 armed robbery in Mississippi, then went on to become an advocate for justice, has died of COVID-19. Jamie Scott died Nov. 9 after contracting the illness caused by the coronavirus, according to a statement issued Monday by the organization Sisters of Hope, which she founded with sister Gladys Scott. She was 49.”

WRAL: Unvaccinated couple dies of COVID-19 weeks before wedding. “Family and friends of a Chicago couple are mourning their passing when they should be celebrating a new marriage. Luis Suarez and Norma Franco were planning to get married just after Thanksgiving, but COVID-19 had other plans. Instead of a wedding, family members are now planning a memorial service after both died last month.”


NHL: Senators, National Hockey League postpone team’s next three games . “In conjunction with the National Hockey League and in light of evolving COVID-19-related health concerns, the Ottawa Senators announced today that the team’s games originally scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 18, against the Nashville Predators and for Saturday, Nov. 20, versus the New York Rangers at Canadian Tire Centre have been postponed. The team’s contest scheduled for tomorrow night at New Jersey has also been postponed. Rescheduled dates for each of the three games are to be determined.”


USA Today: Family drama: Parents didn’t want child to wear mask at school. Here’s how we resolved it.. “I am a clinical psychologist in Alabama, where less than half of the population is fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Although children 5 and older are now eligible for vaccinations, mask-wearing remains an important protection from the deadly virus. And, in my state, mask-wearing is a controversial and adversarial issue. Even within families. I treat all kinds of individual and family problems. Recently, I saw a family that had a pandemic-related issue that could not be resolved. The 10-year-old daughter was passionate about wanting to wear a mask at her school. Her parents were dead-set against it because they think ‘all this pandemic talk is just a bunch of overblown nonsense.'”


Associated Press: New outbreak prompts China to lock down university campus. “China has confined nearly 1,500 university students to their dormitories and hotels following an outbreak of COVID-19 in the northeastern city of Dalian. The order was issued Sunday after several dozen cases were reported at Zhuanghe University City and hundreds of students were transferred to hotels for observation.”

Inside Higher Education: The State of Virtual International Exchange. “A new survey on the state of virtual international exchanges found growth in virtual exchange programming spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also identifies gaps in data about these programs and their quality and outcomes.”


Route Fifty: Mental Health Disorders Qualify You for a Covid-19 Booster. It’s Unclear How Many People Know That.. “With an upcoming trip to plan for, psychologist Jacob Dean hopped online to check the eligibility requirements for Covid-19 booster shots in New York City, where he resides. ‘At the beginning of the pandemic I qualified because of body mass, but since then I’ve lost 75 pounds,’ he said. “I was wondering whether I qualified for a booster, and then I saw that anxiety and depression were listed among the underlying conditions. And I was shocked, because they definitely weren’t there before.””

Associated Press: Racial disparities in kids’ vaccinations are hard to track. “The rollout of COVID-19 shots for elementary-age children has exposed another blind spot in the nation’s efforts to address pandemic inequalities: Health systems have released little data on the racial breakdown of youth vaccinations, and community leaders fear that Black and Latino kids are falling behind. Only a handful of states have made public data on COVID-19 vaccinations by race and age, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not compile racial breakdowns either.”

Newswise: Study helps understand why obesity increases risk of cardiovascular complications in COVID-19. “In COVID-19 patients, obesity is the factor most associated with the development of endothelial dysfunction, a condition in which the blood vessels become unable to contract and relax adequately, increasing the risk of events such as heart attacks, thrombosis (blood clotting), and stroke…. The association between obesity and endothelial dysfunction in COVID-19 patients is analyzed in an article published in the journal Obesity.”

Washington Post: Opinion: The pandemic is not done yet . “Plenty of smart people are putting forward the narrative that the pandemic is essentially over. This is understandable; after all, it’s hard to blame anyone for feeling fatigued after 20 months of the same health crisis. But the sentiment is misguided. There’s much more reason to suspect the pandemic is not done yet. Even after the recent decline in cases, Americans are dying from covid-19 at the pace of 440,000 a year. Deaths from the opioid epidemic, by contrast, reached almost 70,000 last year. Covid-19 is still here and spreading fast.”

Newswise: Automated Texting System Saved Lives Weekly During First COVID Surge. “A life was saved twice a week by an automated text messaging system during the fraught early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and, overall, the patients who enrolled in that system were 68 percent less likely to die than those not using it. These insights about Penn Medicine’s COVID Watch – a system designed to monitor COVID-19 outpatients using automated texts and then escalate those with concerning conditions to a small team of health care providers – were published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.”

Washington Post: 50 percent of people who survive covid-19 face lingering symptoms, study finds. “At least 50 percent of people who survive covid-19 experience a variety of physical and psychological health issues for six months or more after their initial recovery, according to research on the long-term effects of the disease, published in the journal JAMA Network Open.”

Michigan Tech: Guest Blog: Get ‘UP and Moving’ (Exercise as Medicine During the Pandemic). “Importantly, the COVID-19 vaccine is the most effective tool we have to protect against the virus. Breakthrough infections, while rare, can occur — and thus, the vaccine is not perfect. Aside from getting vaccinated, continuing to wash your hands, wearing a mask and social distancing when appropriate, exercising regularly may be the single most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of becoming very sick if infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”


NPR: As vaccination apps catch on, some require more data than others. “Showing proof of vaccination is becoming more routine in places like New York City and Los Angeles. And while your vaccination card will usually get you into, say, a restaurant, big venues are starting to ask people to use phone apps. NPR’s Martin Kaste reports on one app that’s quickly gaining ground, even as privacy experts raise concerns.”

Georgia State University: Georgia State Researchers Develop Rapid Computer Software To Track Pandemics As They Happen. “Researchers at Georgia State University have created lightning-fast computer software that can help nations track and analyze pandemics, like the one caused by COVID-19, before they spread like wildfire around the globe. The group of computer science and mathematics researchers says its new software is several orders of magnitude faster than existing computer programs and can process more than 200,000 novel virus genomes in less than two hours.”


CNN: Little kids can likely read your emotions even when you wear a face mask, study finds. “Little kids can often tell how people are feeling, even if that person is wearing a face mask, a new study published Monday found. There has been some concern that the face masks used at school during the pandemic may be hurting younger children’s development, but this research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that kids recognize emotions about as well as they could without masks.”

Newswise: COVID patients on SSRI antidepressants are less likely to die, UCSF-Stanford study finds. ” A large analysis of health records from 87 health care centers across the United States found that people taking a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), particularly fluoxetine, were significantly less likely to die of COVID-19 than a matched control group. The results add to a body of evidence indicating that SSRIs may have beneficial effects against the worst symptoms of COVID-19, although large randomized clinical trials are needed to prove this.”

Newswise: Where COVID-19’s death grip slipped (briefly). “[Lex] Van Geen and his colleagues wanted to find out if the relatively low number of officially reported COVID-19 deaths in rural Bangladesh in 2020 could have been the result of massive under-counting. To find out, his team, working remotely, called each home and family to ask a series of survey questions that allowed them to find out if and how the pandemic had touched these households. In order to contact so many households, the survey team ran the equivalent of a call center with 50-plus enumerators. What they found, as just reported in the American Medical Association journal JAMA Network Open, was surprising.”


The Ohio State University: Survey finds Americans still plan to be cautious during holiday celebrations. “With the holiday season here, and COVID-19 vaccines rolling out to millions of American children 5-11 years old, celebrations could look a little different this year compared to the scaled back or cancelled holiday plans in 2020. While experts say small gatherings for those who are vaccinated can be safe for the holidays this year, a new national survey conducted by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found many Americans still plan to celebrate very cautiously.”


Michigan Tech: Hello, Bias: The Third Party in Every Vaccination Conversation. “This process of forming and solidifying biases happens every day. None of us are immune. Much of the time we’re unaware because most biases are subconscious. It takes an event or conversation to bring them to light. However, once confronted with information that contradicts our own interpretation of the world, it’s our responsibility to investigate — because new information and different perspectives are how we solve big challenges, like keeping us all healthy.”

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