Monday CoronaBuzz, November 22, 2021: 40 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.


News on 6: State Health Dept. Launches New Tool To Better Share COVID-19 Data. “The Oklahoma State Health Department has launched a new tool to better show COVID-19 data. It’s a map that shows vaccine rates, case rates, and more, broken up by zip code.”


NiemanLab: How journalism in middle America helped get communities through the pandemic. “News of the pandemic’s devastating effect on journalism was conveyed by headlines across the nation telling of newsroom closures, layoffs and furloughs. But how did so many local news organizations — especially newspapers — manage to survive the pandemic? Weeklies beefed up their daily online news coverage, business models were blown up, and existing rationales for why journalism matters became more than theoretical to rural journalists.”


ABC News: Push to vaccinate children accelerates as pediatric COVID-19 cases rise. “The rush to vaccinate children against COVID-19 is accelerating amid a steady increase in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations nationwide. Last week, nearly 142,000 child coronavirus cases were recorded, with weekly infections among children up by more than 40% since late October, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA).”


Washington Post: Fauci swamped by angry calls over beagle experiments after campaign that included misleading image. “Anthony S. Fauci was swamped by so many angry messages and threats that in late October his assistant quit answering the phone for two weeks. The U.S. covid chief got 3,600 phone calls in 36 hours, just as he and other Biden administration officials were preparing for the campaign to vaccinate young children. Much of the onslaught stemmed from a viral and false claim that the agency Fauci leads, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had funded a medical experiment in which beagles were trapped in mesh cages filled with diseased sand flies, according to four National Institutes of Health officials familiar with the calls.”

AFP: Misleading report claims Covid-19 vaccines in Australia more deadly than disease itself. “An article circulating on Facebook claims Covid-19 vaccines have killed more people in Australia in 2021 than the disease itself, citing figures from the national drug regulator. The claim is misleading; the regulator’s database shows adverse reactions reported following vaccination but does not mean they were caused by the jab. There have been significantly fewer confirmed deaths from Covid-19 vaccination than from Covid-19 in Australia in 2021.”


CNET: Used car prices up 37% year-over-year as supply constraints bite. “This year’s been a norm-busting time for a number of reasons, and used car prices are included. JD Power published a market update on Monday and delivered more bad news for used car prices: they’re still rocketing upward. After a brief reprieve this summer, the latest data from October 2021 showed prices rose 37% year-over-year compared to 2020. In other words, used cars cost almost 40% more than they did this time last year.”

MarketWatch: `The inflation genie is out of the bottle’ as consumer sentiment takes a hit and Californians pay $12 for a regular burrito. “The highest annual U.S. inflation rate in almost 31 years reverberated across financial markets and in the minds of Americans this week, damaging consumer sentiment, leaving many traders flummoxed, and causing one financial firm to warn that the proverbial ‘genie is out of the bottle.'”

BBC: How child sex abuse rose during pandemic in India. “Although the publication, transmission and possession of CSAM is banned under Indian law, it is still widespread. And the problem has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to activists and police officials, there has been a surge in the online demand and dissemination of child abuse imagery in the country since last year, as lockdowns imposed to contain Covid-19 confined people to their homes.”

Route Fifty: As Food Banks Struggle to Feed More Families at Thanksgiving, Localities Step Up to Help. “Food shortages and soaring prices have hampered many charities’ ability to collect and buy enough items. Municipal governments are investing new federal funds to boost these efforts.”

The Conversation: The ‘great resignation’ is a trend that began before the pandemic – and bosses need to get used to it. “As a professor of human resource management, I examine how employment and the work environment have changed over time and the impact this has on organizations and communities. While the current resignation behavior may seem like a new trend, data shows employee turnover has been rising steadily for the past decade and may simply be the new normal employers are going to have to get used to.”


BBC: Rotterdam police clash with rioters as Covid protest turns violent. “Dutch police have shot and wounded at least two people after rioting erupted in Rotterdam over new Covid-19 measures. Protesters threw rocks and fireworks at them and set police cars ablaze. Hundreds of protesters had gathered to show their anger at government plans for a Covid vaccine pass, and a ban on fireworks on New Year’s Eve.”


Irish Times: ICU doctors speak out: ‘There’s no optimistic scenario. There’s only pessimism and carnage’. “I WAS LAST here at the Mater as a reporter in early June 2020, as we were nearing the end of the first wave and what we hoped might prove to be the end of the pandemic. Staff were tired and slightly shell-shocked, but there was a sense that a normality of sorts was beginning to return. The atmosphere today is markedly different. As before, I wear PPE and strictly adhere to the hospital’s infection-prevention controls, including social-distancing and hand-sanitising protocols. But this time no interviews take place on the wards – all are in meeting rooms on the floor where the hospital management have their offices, far away from patients. No nurses are available to talk – they are too busy – and no photography is allowed inside the hospital.”


WCCO: COVID In Minnesota: Nat’l Guard Arrives As Hospitals Are Overrun With COVID Cases. “Federal emergency relief teams from the U.S. Department of Defense are on their way to Minnesota to help doctors and nurses at two Minnesota hospitals. When the rest of the state is celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, they’ll be fighting the state’s COVID-19 surge. The shortage of ICU beds is so severe, doctors warn emergency care across the state is being compromised.”


CNET: CDC endorses Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 booster shots for all adults. “An independent panel that advises the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted unanimously Friday to recommend COVID-19 boosters for everyone age 18 and up who received Pfizer’s or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, at least six months after their second dose. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed the committee’s expanded booster recommendations shortly after on Friday, making the guidance official.”

Politico: White House: About 95 percent of federal workers have complied with vaccine mandate. “Around 95 percent of the 3.5 million federal employees covered by President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for government workers have complied with the requirement ahead of its Monday deadline, according to the White House.”


BBC: Japan: From vaccine hesitancy to vaccine success. “With just seven weeks to go until the Olympics, only 3.5% of Japan’s population had been fully vaccinated. While friends in the UK were merrily posting vaccine selfies on social media, here in the capital Tokyo, we were joking we might not see a needle till Christmas. With the Olympics about to open, it seemed astonishing the Japanese government had bungled the vaccine rollout so badly. Six months later, it couldn’t be more different.”

BBC: Covid: WHO says it is very worried about Europe surge. “The World Health Organization (WHO) is ‘very worried’ about the spread of Covid-19 within Europe as the continent battles a fresh wave of infections. Speaking to the BBC, regional director Dr Hans Kluge warned that some 500,000 more deaths could be recorded by March unless urgent action is taken.”

BBC: Germany Covid: Health minister’s stark warning to get jabbed. “Germany’s health minister has issued his starkest warning yet on the importance of getting vaccinated. ‘By the end of this winter everyone in Germany will either be vaccinated, recovered or dead,’ Jens Spahn told a news conference in Berlin on Monday. Germany is in the grip of a fourth wave of coronavirus. Cases are rising rapidly and many hospitals are full.”

BBC: Covid in Kenya: Government gives 20 million a month to get vaccinated. “Kenyans will be barred from bars, restaurants and public transport from 21 December if they are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe says. The measures are aimed at increasing the rate of vaccinations ahead of the festive season.”


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Missouri reports thousands of previously unreleased COVID-19 deaths, infections. “On Thursday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services once again reconfigured the state’s COVID-19 data dashboard, adding thousands of previously unreported deaths and infections. Some date back to the spring of 2020, and many are instances of illness or death now attributed to COVID-19 but that weren’t publicly tallied by the state at the time.”

WJHL: Tennessee counties deciding how to spend millions in ‘COVID money’. “Millions of dollars are coming to localities across Northeast Tennessee, and the time is coming for local governments to decide how to spend it. The American Rescue Plan will give over $360 billion to state and local governments across the nation to spend on a variety of needs. News Channel 11 asked the mayors of the two largest counties in the area by population, Sullivan and Washington, about their planning process on how to spend those funds.”

State of Michigan: MDHHS will issue face mask advisory for the holiday season due to rise in cases of flu and COVID-19. “With the increasing rise in COVID-19 and flu cases, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be issuing a face mask advisory and offering guidance to keep loved ones safe and prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses during the holidays. MDHHS will issue a Public Health Advisory that recommends everyone over the age of 2 should wear a face mask at indoor gatherings regardless of their vaccination status. In addition, establishments should implement a policy to ensure that all persons entering or seeking services, including employees, wear a mask. This face mask advisory will remain effect until further notice.”

New York Times: Doctor Who Swabbed Cuomo Describes a Health Department in Shambles. “The N.Y. Health Department became a ‘toxic work environment’ early in the pandemic, a high-ranking doctor told officials investigating ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.”

Route Fifty: More Than Two Dozen States in Limbo on Vaccine Mandate for Government Workers. “Officials in 26 states are awaiting word from the federal courts about whether they will have to meet a mandate to have government workers vaccinated against Covid-19 or tested weekly by a Jan. 4 deadline set by the Biden administration. If that happens, a lot of questions remain about how public sector organizations will meet the requirement.”

CNN: Judge declines Florida request to immediately block Biden HHS vaccine rule for health care workers. “A federal judge said this weekend that she would not block the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for health care workers while a Florida lawsuit challenging the mandate moves forward.”


WMTV: ‘A medical miracle’: Maine woman with COVID-19 wakes up a day before doctors planned to take her off life support. “A Maine woman on a ventilator for 60 days after contracting COVID-19 was just a day from having life support turned off when she suddenly woke up. Andrew Lerman said his mother, Bettina Lerman, 69, tested positive for the virus in September.”

KWWL: Des Moines UAW negotiator dies of COVID-19 after contract ratified. “The chief negotiator for the UAW in central Iowa died from COVID-19, after the new contract was ratified. According to the UAW 450 Facebook page, Curtis Templeman was sick while working through negotiations, then went to the doctor when they were over and found out he had COVID-19.”

BBC Sport: Australian Open 2022: Unvaccinated players unable to compete at Grand Slam. “Unvaccinated players will not be allowed to compete at the 2022 Australian Open, says tournament director Craig Tiley. There had been confusion over the issue in recent months with contradictory statements from leading Australian politicians.”


Chattanooga Times Free Press: UTC drops mask mandate despite exemption from new Tennessee law reining in COVID-19 restrictions. “The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will stand by its move to not require face masks on campus, despite the state granting the university system the ability to do so. The university system was granted an exemption from provisions in a new state law barring government entities from issuing mask and vaccine mandates to protect against the spread of COVID-19, which has killed 16,740 Tennesseans.”

Inside Higher Education: Berklee College of Music Goes Online Due to COVID-19. “The Berklee College of Music, in Boston, did not have classes Thursday and will have online classes only through Tuesday, Nov. 23. A notice on the college’s website said, ‘Classes will be cancelled for Thursday, November 18, and we will be working with faculty to move to remote instruction beginning Friday, November 19. This mode of instruction will be in effect through Tuesday, November 23. Essential campus operations will remain open under current masking protocols, including residence halls and dining facilities. Administrative offices will remain in operation, and student appointments with staff and faculty can occur remotely during this time.'”

Lansing State Journal: MSU staff want back pay for COVID-19 wage cuts. “Michigan State University faculty and staff lost thousands of dollars each in wages due to COVID-related budget cuts, and now they want to be paid back. Non-union faculty and academic staff at MSU saw their salaries cut by 1% to 7% between September 2020 and July 2021. For deans and executive managers, those cuts were between 2% and 10%. The cuts were made as a cost-savings measure as MSU dealt with the financial impacts of COVID-19. Those salaries have since been returned to pre-pandemic levels, but faculty and staff are now calling for back pay.”


Medical Xpress: Researchers confirm link between testing positive for COVID-19 and fatigue and sleep problems. “Those who tested positive for COVID-19 (confirmed by a PCR test) had an increased risk of mental illness, fatigue and sleep problems, finds a new study that analyzed the electronic primary care health care records of 226,521 people from across the UK between February 2020 and December 2020.”

The Guardian: ‘Zero-Covid is not going to happen’: experts predict a steep rise in US cases this winter. “A steep rise in Covid-19 cases in Europe should serve as a warning that the US could also see significant increases in coronavirus cases this winter, particularly in the nation’s colder regions, scientists say. However, there is more cause for optimism as America enters its second pandemic winter, even in the face of likely rises in cases.”

Associated Press: How COVID shots for kids help prevent dangerous new variants. “Each infection — whether in an adult in Yemen or a kid in Kentucky — gives the virus another opportunity to mutate. Protecting a new, large chunk of the population anywhere in the world limits those opportunities. That effort got a lift with 28 million U.S. kids 5 to 11 years old now eligible for child-sized doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.”

Washington Post: Treatments will change the pandemic, but they can’t end it alone. “The notion that a fearsome infection could soon be treatable with a handful of pills is an exhilarating idea nearly two years into a pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people, at least 770,000 in the United States. But experts — who are thrilled about the prospect of two powerful new medicines — worry that enthusiasm for the idea of treatments may distract from their limitations and the necessity of preventing illness in the first place.”

NPR: Why people with mental illness are at higher risk of COVID. “Last year, researchers analyzed data from five hospitals in the Yale New Haven Health System to see how people with a mental health diagnosis who were hospitalized with COVID-19 fared compared to others. ‘What we found was we had a higher level of mortality for those that had a prior psychiatric history,’ says psychiatrist Dr. Luming Li, who was working on her Master’s degree at Yale University at the time.”

Route Fifty: How the Pandemic Helped Spread Fentanyl Across the US and Drive Opioid Overdose Deaths to a Grim New High. “It is especially tragic that these deaths are mainly occurring in people with a disease – opioid addiction – that is both preventable and treatable. Most heroin users want to avoid fentanyl. But increasingly, the heroin they seek is mixed with fentanyl or what they purchase is just fentanyl without any heroin in the mix. While the spread of fentanyl is the primary cause of the spike in overdose deaths, the coronavirus pandemic also made the crisis worse.”

Smithsonian Magazine: Up to 1.6 Million People in the U.S. Have Long-Term Smell Loss Due to Covid-19. “A loss of smell—called anosmia—can be one of the first symptoms of a Covid-19 infection; one study reports that between 30 and 80 percent of diagnosed folks experience some variation of anosmia. Taking a big whiff of perfume, food or wine and not smelling anything at all can be an odd, confusing sensation, but around 90 percent of people recover their sense of smell as soon as two weeks, reports Ed Cara for Gizmodo. However, some people are taking much longer to recover their smell. For others, it may never come back.”


Stat News: Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine was 100% effective in kids in longer-term study. “Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday that their Covid-19 vaccine was 100% efficacious in preventing infections in 12- to 15-year-olds, measured from seven days to four months after administration of the second dose of the vaccine.”


The Guardian: ICU is full of the unvaccinated – my patience with them is wearing thin. “Enshrined in the way we protect patients’ autonomy is the recognition that others may reasonably make decisions we may see as irrational or wrong. We are all products of our upbringing, education and opportunities, and I have been hugely fortunate that in my case these have led me to make decisions I value. Who is to say I wouldn’t have made different choices in someone else’s shoes. Translating this to the choice not to take the vaccine, however, I find my patience wearing thin. I think this is for a number of reasons. Even if you are not worried about your own risk from Covid, you cannot know the risk of the people into whose faces you may cough; there is a dangerous and selfish element to this that I find hard to stomach.”

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