Friday CoronaBuzz, November 19, 2021: 37 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

Please get a booster shot. Please wear a mask when you’re inside with a bunch of people. Much love.


Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation: COVID-19 exposure notification tool now available. “The WI Exposure Notification tool is now available to download for free from the Google Play Store, or to enable in Settings on your iPhone. This new tool can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by notifying people who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive.”

Virginian-Pilot: Virginia’s new COVID dashboard offers ‘clearer view’ of racial and ethnic disparities. “The Virginia Department of Health is launching a COVID-19 dashboard that tracks disparities among racial and ethnic communities. Called the ‘Health Equity Dashboard,’ the new tool compares COVID cases, hospitalization, death and vaccination rates among Virginians in the white, Black, Latinos, and Asian or Pacific Islander communities. Users can look at statewide data or toggle with certain localities. They also can look at trends for the current month or over the past six months.”


NBC News: Hospitalizations rising among fully vaccinated in U.S., Fauci says. “As cases of Covid-19 rise throughout the U.S., health officials warn that an increasing number of fully vaccinated people are being hospitalized or going to the emergency room. The concern about waning immunity against severe Covid infection comes as the Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster shot for all adults 18 and older.”


Poynter: Pfizer CEO’s wife did not die of COVID vaccine complications. She is ‘alive and well.’. “As one of the companies behind an authorized COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has become a frequent subject of online misinformation, with some blogs and social media users specifically targeting company leadership.”

FTC: FTC analysis shows COVID fraud thriving on social media platforms. “With more than a century of consumer protection experience under our belt, we at the FTC know that hard times for American families can be boom times for scammers. Today’s COVID-19 pandemic is the latest crisis creating fertile ground for fraud – and scammers today have a new and powerful weapon: social media platforms. These platforms generally earn their revenue by targeting users with advertising. The more time we spend on platforms consuming content and revealing valuable personal information, the more that platforms profit by having information to target ads. So, the algorithms tend to favor content that drives engagement, which, in turn, leads to still more information gathered to target ads and to further refine their algorithms.”


Washington Post: Texas court says hospital can’t be forced to offer ivermectin to covid patient on ventilator. “A Texas appeals court ruled Thursday that a hospital can’t be forced to treat a covid-19 patient in its care with ivermectin, a drug normally used to eliminate parasitic worms, after the wife of a patient sued a hospital to demand the treatment.”


New York Times: Overdose Deaths Reached Record High as the Pandemic Spread. “In the 12-month period that ended in April, more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses, up almost 30 percent from the 78,000 deaths in the prior year, according to provisional figures from the National Center for Health Statistics. The figure marks the first time the number of overdose deaths in the United States has exceeded 100,000 a year, more than the toll of car crashes and gun fatalities combined. Overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2015.”

Arizona State University: Putting a human face on the pandemic. “COVID-19 has killed more Americans than the 1918 influenza pandemic, pushed the bounds of our country’s health care system and messed up the world’s supply chain. It has crushed businesses, plans and lives in its destructive wake. The pandemic has also exacerbated inequities in America, according to a student-led national journalism project headquartered in Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.”


WSLS: Centra’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement results in losing 0.52% of its workforce. “Thirty-six fewer people now work at Centra. The health system announced on Thursday that due to its COVID-19 vaccine requirement, it lost 0.52% of its workforce.”

Washington Post: Dozens of health groups urge businesses to voluntarily adopt Biden’s vaccine rule. “The American Medical Association and more than 60 other health care associations on Thursday called on employers to voluntarily implement President Biden’s contested vaccine-or-testing mandate, saying businesses had no time to waste ahead of the busy holiday season.”


CNBC: 4 pandemic-related questions to expect at your next job interview. “Most people are tired of thinking about the pandemic, but it doesn’t mean they’re done talking about it. That’s certainly true for job searches and interviews, according to career experts. Nearly two years into the pandemic, hiring managers are still asking candidates questions about Covid-19, be it about remote work, or how their lives or careers were impacted.”

Marketplace: “What supply chain crisis?” say Target, Walmart and Home Depot. “Supply chain crisis? What supply chain crisis? At least that’s the message that big-box retailers delivered this week. Walmart, Target and Home Depot told investors they have more than adequate inventory to weather the holidays. So, with the logjam at the ports, the shortage of truck drivers and all the rest … how exactly did they pull that off?”


NBC News: Trump gave an agency $100 million to fight Covid. Here’s what happened.. “A federal agency that was run by a college friend of Jared Kushner and assigned $100 million to spend on fixing the Covid supply chain crunch has so far failed to invest a single dime, according to a new government watchdog report.”

CNBC: FDA clears Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid vaccine booster shots for all U.S. adults. “The Food and Drug Administration authorized Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid booster shots for all U.S. adults on Friday, belatedly fulfilling a critical part of the Biden administration’s plan to administer extra doses to the general public as growing data demonstrates the efficacy of vaccines wanes over time.”

Defense One: Army to Begin Forcing Out Soldiers Who Refuse COVID Vaccine, Including Guardsmen. “Soldiers who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine and have not requested an exemption will no longer be allowed to re-enlist or be promoted, effectively ending their military careers. The new directive applies to active-duty troops as well as reservists and National Guardsmen, including those serving in states whose governors do not require the vaccine.”


Deutsche Welle: COVID: Germany recommends booster shot for everyone over 18. “Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) on Thursday recommended booster shots for all adults. A draft resolution proposing booster shots of the mRNA vaccines should be given six months after the last vaccine dose has been sent on to experts and Germany’s federal states for vote and consideration.”

Yahoo News: Why Spain has avoided Europe’s COVID surge. “As most of Europe suffers a COVID-anxiety attack, however, la buena vida continues in Spain. Crowds revel at terrace bars, drinking sangria and eating tapas into the night, the clubs have reopened, crowds frolic at beach parties and wine festivals, and unlike in many Western European countries, a vaccine passport is still not required. According to Statista, the COVID rate in Spain over the past seven days is 46 per 100,000 population, compared to Austria at 851, the Netherlands at 539 and Slovenia at 1,058.”

Deutsche Welle: COVID: Germany faces ‘national emergency’. “German Health Minister Jens Spahn on Friday said that the pandemic situation has worsened over the past week and it’s now ‘more serious than last week,’ adding that the country is facing ‘a national emergency.’ When asked about the possibility of imposing a new lockdown for everyone, he said: ‘We’re in a situation where we can’t rule anything out.'”

Deutsche Welle: COVID in Germany: Bavaria cancels Christmas markets. “Bavaria announced on Friday that it’s canceling all Christmas markets in the state because of soaring coronavirus infections. The state government has also imposed a lockdown on all districts that have a seven-day COVID incidence rate of over 1,000 per 100,000 people. In those places, bars, clubs and restaurants, as well as cultural and sport venues will be closed, said state Premier Markus Söder after a meeting of his Cabinet in Munich.”

CNN: Austria announces Europe’s first nationwide vaccine mandate and reimposes lockdown as Covid-19 soars. “Austria is going back into a national lockdown and plans to become the first country in Europe to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all eligible people as the nation’s coronavirus crisis deepens, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced Friday.”


News Center Maine: COVID-19 boosters now available to all Maine adults, Mills says. “With more people in Maine hospitalized with COVID-19 than ever before, Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced Wednesday morning that effective immediately, all Maine adults are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot. Previously, only adults with underlying medical conditions were eligible for the shot in Maine.”

New York Times: As G.O.P. Fights Mask and Vaccine Mandates, Florida Takes the Lead. “Almost entirely along party lines, Republicans passed four bills on Wednesday to curtail mask and vaccine mandates, the culmination of a three-day special legislative session that Mr. DeSantis called so swiftly it caught even Republican leaders by surprise. The session was urgently needed to combat federal government overreach, Mr. DeSantis argued.”

Hartford Courant: Gov. Lamont says all residents should get booster shot and not wait for guidance from federal government. ” With COVID-19 transmission again increasing, Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday that all Connecticut adults should immediately get a booster shot to avoid the coronavirus. ‘If you’re over 18, go get yourself a booster shot right now if you haven’t had one already,’ Lamont told reporters in Windsor. ‘If it’s six months from your last booster shot, get a booster shot. I think that’s the right thing to do. … We’re not an island. A booster shot will protect you, your family, and our state.'”

State of Michigan: Gov. Whitmer Pilots COVID-19 Testing Program to Protect Students & Families. “Governor Gretchen Whitmer today launched a new pilot program in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) called MI Backpack Home Tests to provide free, at-home COVID antigen tests to participating schools to create a safer environment for K-12 students, parents, teachers, and support staff amid the pandemic.”


The Guardian: A best friend to so many’: tributes to surgeon who died of Covid. “The death of Dr Irfan Halim came after a nine-week battle with the virus and just two months after he joined the Covid intensive care unit wards at Swindon hospital. It is believed he contracted Covid at his place of work and collapsed during a shift on 10 September. He was in intensive care in Swindon before being transferred to the Royal Brompton hospital, where he received extracorporeal membrane oxygenation treatment.”


Rolling Stone: Revealed: The Secret Covid Outbreak That Shot Fear Through the NBA Finals. “Indeed, the untold story of the 2021 NBA Finals, according to 17 sources speaking to Rolling Stone about the internal crisis for the first time, is that of a near-superspreader event chasing down the biggest superstar in the game on its biggest stage. Despite outward appearances that the Bucks were ‘all good’ and that the Suns had sealed off a Delta breakthrough case that forced its vaccinated superstar Chris Paul to miss two games during the Western Conference Finals in June, the fear in Phoenix hit both teams.”

Tampa Bay Times: Bucs’ Antonio Brown accused of obtaining fake vaccine card. “Bucs receiver Antonio Brown obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card so he could avoid NFL protocols, according to his former live-in chef. Brown’s girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, told Los Angeles chef Steven Ruiz in a text message July 2 that Brown was willing to pay $500 if he could get a Johnson & Johnson vaccination card.”


The Guardian: Mask-wearing cuts Covid incidence by 53%, says global study. “Globally, Covid cases exceeded 250 million this month. The virus is still infecting 50 million people worldwide every 90 days due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, with thousands dying each day. Now a systematic review and meta analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions has found for the first time that mask wearing, social distancing and handwashing are all effective measures at curbing cases – with mask wearing the most effective.”

CNN: How to prepare for another winter of Covid-19? An expert weighs in. “Winter is almost here. After weeks of steady decline, Covid-19 cases appear to be on the rise again. Is a surge inevitable? How should families think about the winter ahead? What can they do to prepare and get through this period safely? I discussed all of these questions with our expert, CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, who is an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.”


Arizona State University: Machine learning identifies mammal species with the potential to spread SARS-CoV-2. “Back-and-forth transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between people and other mammals increases the risk of new variants and threatens efforts to control COVID-19. A new study, published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, used a novel modeling approach to predict the zoonotic capacity of 5,400 mammal species, extending predictive capacity by an order of magnitude. Of the high-risk species flagged, many live near people and in COVID-19 hot spots.”


Medical Xpress: Same day test identifies secondary infections in COVID-19 patients. “A same-day test has been shown to successfully identify secondary infections for patients on intensive care in hours rather than days, according to research from Guy’s and St Thomas’. The DNA sequencing based test was evaluated by doctors in the intensive care unit (ICU) at St Thomas’ Hospital with 34 ICU patients during the first COVID-19 pandemic wave.”

Register-Guard: Hyperlocal COVID-19 data shows what influences transmission, vaccination rates across Oregon. “Across Oregon, communities with higher COVID-19 vaccination rates tend to have lower case rates, though the correlation varies based on factors like access to health care, race and income level. The Register-Guard examined thousands of data points around Oregon’s vaccination rates and case rates, looking at ZIP codes, groupings of ZIP codes and demographics within those areas.”

Harvard Gazette: Repurposing a familiar drug for COVID-19. “Disulfiram, a treatment for alcoholism, may cut severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, reduce likelihood of dying from COVID-19.”


New York Times: A couple convicted of stealing Covid funds is on the run, the F.B.I. says.. “When the Covid-19 pandemic began last year, a Southern California man recruited his brother, his wife and many others to use the identities of older people, foreign exchange students who had left the country and dead relatives to apply for $20 million in federal relief funds, the authorities said. The man, Richard Ayvazyan, 43, bought a $3.25 million mansion and filled it with gold coins, luxury watches and imported furniture using the stolen Covid-19 disaster-relief funds, federal prosecutors in California said.”


New York Times: I’m 87, Triple Vaxxed and Living My Life Again. “Life expectancy is just six years at my age. I want to spend my remaining time traveling, going to parties with friends and seeing all my far-flung grandchildren. I’m overjoyed that my retirement community has reopened. The dining room serves meals again, and I’ve joined both a dance and a tai chi class. I want to enjoy it all now. Time speeds up as you age. One 90-year-old friend put it this way: ‘What do I have to lose?’ Those of us in our 80s and older are used to having death for a neighbor.”

NBC News: Don’t let Trump or Jan. 6 distract from Covid accountability efforts. “As I have noted before, America has a habit of ‘moving on’ from its mistakes and failures. The folly of the Iraq War, for example, never received the kind of comprehensive U.S. public inquiry as the British Chilcot Report. And with each passing month, the likelihood of anyone in power being held accountable for the cavalier profiteering and science denialism that marked the Trump regime’s handling of the pandemic — and the resultant and ongoing Republican Party slide into vaccine hesitancy, misinformation monetization and science rejection — seems to grow dimmer.”

The Atlantic: You Should Get a Booster Now. “So far, official U.S. policy has restricted boosters to the medically vulnerable and those at high risk of exposure to the coronavirus. But in light of new evidence, the CDC should expand its recommendations to include all adults six months after vaccination. The evidence is so compelling that several states, including Colorado and California, as well as cities such as New York are advising adults to ignore CDC restrictions and get a booster.”

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