Monday CoronaBuzz, December 6, 2021: 49 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.


StarTribune: Minnesota reports third COVID death in teen as cases remain high. “The Minnesota Department of Health reported the death of someone age 15-19 on Friday along with 61 others of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus infection. While 86% of the 9,616 COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota have been among seniors, an increasing proportion have involved younger adults in the latest pandemic wave this summer and fall.”


Bloomberg: How a Vaccine Side-Effect Database Sowed Doubt in Vaccinations. “One of the greatest — though least discussed — challenges of the pandemic has been effective public health communication. Give people too little information, and risk anti-vaccine forces swooping in to fill the information void with falsehoods. On the other hand, too much information without the necessary context can create confusion, too.”

NPR: Pro-Trump counties now have far higher COVID death rates. Misinformation is to blame. “Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden. That’s according to a new analysis by NPR that examines how political polarization and misinformation are driving a significant share of the deaths in the pandemic.”


WalesOnline: Concern over rising PTSD cases in England sparked by pandemic. “There could be more than 200,000 new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, estimates suggest. Particular concerns have been raised about frontline health care staff and some Covid-19 patients who needed hospital care.”

New York Times: How a Cream Cheese Shortage Is Affecting N.Y.C. Bagel Shops. “Supply chain issues have plagued the United States for months, causing scarcities of everything from cars to running shoes. In Alaska, residents are struggling to acquire winter coats. Now, New York’s bagel purveyors are starting to feel the effects in a sudden and surprising development that has left them scrambling to find and hoard as much cream cheese as they can.”

The Guardian: Omicron brings fresh concern for US mental heath after ‘grim two years’. “Even though many people in the United States are now vaccinated against the virus and able to engage in something like a pre-pandemic lifestyle, the country’s population continues to suffer from anxiety and depression. And now there are fresh worries about the Omicron variant and the impact it could have on public life this winter. The new variant – which, early reports suggest, could be more contagious than previous strains – is already spreading in the US, triggering concern. If Omicron does lead to another Covid-19 surge, the impact on mental health will be serious.”


7News: Midtown Cellars & Bar in Ballarat cop bad Google reviews after closing during ‘tantrum’ protest. “A bar in regional Victoria has copped a wave of threats and bad Google reviews for closing during a protest until ‘the tantrum left town’. Midtown Cellars & Bar in Ballarat was one of many businesses that chose to close for trading on Sunday as hundreds of protesters gathered at Civic Hall carrying Australian and Eureka flags.”


CBS: South Africa investigates “sharp increase” in hospitalized children with COVID. “South African health officials said Friday they are investigating a recent surge in cases among younger age groups not seen in previous waves of the virus, as the country battles an ‘unprecedented’ surge of COVID-19 cases it believes is fueled by the Omicron variant.”

Ars Technica: COVID vaccinations spike in US as delta rages and omicron looms. “Amid a raging delta wave and fears of omicron, the United States on Thursday administered 2.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the highest single-day vaccination total since May, shortly after the shots were made widely available to adults.”

Washington Post: As covid persists, nurses are leaving staff jobs — and tripling their salaries as travelers. “Wanderlust, and the money to fund it, made Alex Stow’s decision easy. After working a couple of years in an intensive care unit, he signed up to be a travel nurse, tripling his pay to about $95 an hour by agreeing to help short-staffed hospitals around the country for 13 weeks at a time.”


Marine Times: 3rd military medical team sent to Michigan amid COVID surge. “A third 22-member medical team from the U.S. military is being deployed to Michigan, where hospitals are grappling with record-high numbers of COVID-19 patients amid the state’s fourth surge of infections.”


GlobalNews: COVID-19: Canadian zoos prepare to vaccinate animals with experimental vaccine. “Six Canadian zoos are eagerly awaiting a package this holiday season — a shipment of COVID-19 vaccine for their animals. U.S. pharmaceutical company Zoetis is donating 900 doses of a vaccine that it developed specifically for animals.”

Deutsche Welle: Hippos with runny noses test positive for COVID-19 at Belgian zoo. “Two hippos at Antwerp Zoo have tested positive for the coronavirus, Belgian media reported on Friday. While stressing that Hermien’s and Imani’s lives do not appear to be in danger, veterinarian Francis Vercammen said they were ‘expelling snot’ which prompted the animal medic to probe further.”


ABC 7: Returning to office soon? Not so fast — Experts say omicron likely to change back-to-work plans. “Stick with office reopening plans or push back timelines again? It’s a dilemma many companies are continuing to face, after multiple delays due to COVID-19 mutations. Of course, the most recent being the omicron variant.”

Inc42: Riding The Digital Storm: How India’s Startups Are Shaping The Post-pandemic ‘Normal’. “According to a Redseer report, India’s consumer digital economy which was at $85-90 Bn in the calendar year 2020, is expected to grow by 10x in 10 years, a 25% CAGR, to become an $800 Bn market by 2030. This quantum leap can undoubtedly be attributed to the pandemic. It pushed companies to a tipping point in technology and permanently transformed businesses for the better.”

Axios: The decline and fall of barf bags. “Air sickness bags have been disappearing from the seatback in front of you for years, but the pandemic has made them vanish almost entirely — to the particular disappointment of people who collect them.”

BBC: Hong Kong Covid: The Cathay pilots stuck in ‘perpetual quarantine’. “Hong Kong is one of the world’s biggest aviation hubs but also has some of the strictest coronavirus regulations in the world. Two pilots tell the BBC how these rules are affecting their mental health and putting a strain on their personal lives.”


BBC: Covid: Don’t panic about Omicron variant, WHO says. “The world should not panic about the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 but it should prepare, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. Speaking at a conference on Friday, top WHO scientist Soumya Swaminathan said the situation now was very different to a year ago.”

BBC: Covid-19: Ireland closes nightclubs and tightens Covid rules. “Irish nightclubs are to shut again and the hospitality sector faces tighter rules over Christmas as the government tries to curb the spread of Covid-19. Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin announced a number of new restrictions in a televised address on Friday night.”

BBC: Covid travel test changes a ‘hammer blow’ to industry. “The return of pre-departure tests for travellers heading to the UK has been described by the travel industry as a ‘hammer blow’ to the sector. From 04:00 GMT on Tuesday everyone aged 12 and over will have to take a test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving.”

ABC News: Unvaccinated Italians face new restrictions as holidays near. “Italy is making life more uncomfortable for unvaccinated people as the holidays draw near, excluding them from indoor restaurants, theaters and museums to reduce the spread of coronavirus and encourage vaccine skeptics to get their shots.”

Bloomberg News: Rio de Janeiro Cancels New Year’s Eve Party on Omicron Fears. “The major of Rio de Janeiro canceled plans for the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations following advice from the state that they weren’t safe to go ahead as the first cases of the omicron variant were reported in the country.”

BBC: Covid: Omicron spreading in the community, Javid confirms. “There is community transmission of the Omicron coronavirus variant in multiple regions of England, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed. He told MPs the variant was continuing to spread ‘here and around the world’ and there were now cases here ‘with no links to international travel’.”

Bloomberg News: Finnish Leader’s Night Out After Covid Exposure Causes Furor . “Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has come under heavy media criticism after enjoying a night on the town knowing she had been exposed to the coronavirus.”


CNET: Lost your job for not getting vaccinated? You still probably won’t qualify for unemployment. “Employees who don’t comply with their company’s vaccine requirements will generally be ineligible to collect unemployment benefits, but that’s changing in a few states: Iowa, Tennessee, Florida and Kansas.”

Business Insider: A Maine lawmaker who fought against vaccine and mask mandates resigns after his wife dies of COVID-19. “A Republican lawmaker from Maine who vigorously fought against COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates resigned from his post months after his wife died after contracting the virus — but defended his opposition to COVID-19 restrictions. Rep. Chris Johansen stepped down from the Maine House of Representatives on November 19.”

Alabama Public Health: ADPH launches ‘Alabama Unites’ campaign to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and testing. “The Alabama Department of Public Health has introduced a new multimedia communications campaign stressing the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as testing. The theme is ‘Alabama Unites Against COVID,’ and highlights how people from all walks of life are joining each other in their communities in the fight against the virus.”


Washington Post: The most-vaccinated big counties in America are beating the worst of the coronavirus. “About 1 in 420 Americans has died of covid-19, according to official data. And we’re still averaging more than 1,000 deaths per day. But in certain areas — and indeed in many areas in which the population is much more tightly packed and the coronavirus could transmit more easily — the story is far less grim. A big reason: widespread vaccination. Death rates are far below the national average in the most-vaccinated, often-urban areas.”

BBC: New York’s workers must all have vaccine by 27 December. “All New Yorkers will need to be vaccinated if they want to go to work, the city’s mayor has announced. Public sector employers already have to be inoculated, but the mandate will now be extended to all private sector employees, Bill de Blasio told MSNBC. The policy will take effect on 27 December, he said.”

ProPublica: COVID-19 Hit This County Hard. A Weakened Health Department Still Can’t Get People Vaccinated.. “Clayton County, Georgia’s fifth largest county, dominated headlines last year for its role in turning Georgia blue in the 2020 presidential election. Its demographics flipped as white people moved away and more people of color arrived in the 1980s and ’90s; it now has the highest percentage of Black residents in the state and is home to several immigrant communities. The county’s public health infrastructure is more strained than in other core counties in metro Atlanta — and the pandemic has made it worse. Moreover, county leaders have not taken some of the steps that those in other places have taken to convince a wary public to get vaccinated.”


New Zealand Herald: Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Hamilton mum in denial – until she caught Covid. “Hamilton mum Karina Haira thought she could beat Covid-19 when she first caught the virus. ‘I just thought, I can beat this. It’s just the flu,’ said 37-year-old Haira, an active asthmatic who played a lot of sport. She has never smoked and doesn’t take drugs. Six days after her Covid swab came back positive in November, Haira’s condition suddenly deteriorated. Her initial chills and body aches developed into a high fever; she was bedridden and couldn’t breathe.”


Associated Press: Former Dutch queen Beatrix tests positive for coronavirus. “Princess Beatrix, the 83-year-old former Dutch queen, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the royal house announced Saturday.”


Seahawks Wire: Pete Carroll: Seahawks all getting COVID-19 vaccination booster shots. “No team has done a better job of avoiding the dangers of COVID-19 than these Seahawks. The team incredibly went the entire 2020 season without a single COVID-19 case. There’s only been one so far this year when tight end Gerald Everett tested positive. Everett is vaccinated, though and returned after missing two games. Now, coach Pete Carroll says the entire team is getting booster shots today.”


BBC: Covid in Uganda: The man whose children may never return to school. “Ten of Fred Ssegawa’s children may never go back to school again. Locked out of formal education since March 2020 by Uganda’s strict coronavirus containment measures, they have been caught up in one of the world’s longest school shutdowns. The two youngest of his 12 children were too little to have started in the first place.”


Bloomberg: Omicron’s Spread Across Hotel Hall Highlights Transmission Worry. “The omicron variant spread among two fully vaccinated travelers across the hallway of a Hong Kong quarantine hotel, underscoring why the highly mutated coronavirus strain is unnerving health authorities. Closed-circuit television camera footage showed neither person left their room nor had any contact, leaving airborne transmission when respective doors were opened for food collection or Covid testing the most probable mode of spread, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said in a study published Friday in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.”

Salon: Tremors and “internal vibrations”: Long Covid patients are reporting Parkinson’s-like symptoms. “A research paper submitted to the journal MedRXiv on Friday aims to raise awareness of a condition that has yet to be defined in people who are still struggling with lingering symptoms months or years after their initial infection with COVID-19. The neologism ‘long Covid’ is an informal term for what doctors call ‘post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection,’ or PASC; it defines to the condition in which those who previously had COVID-19, and no longer test positive, still have lingering symptoms.”

NPR: With omicron looming over the holidays, here’s how to stay safe. “The good news is, you don’t have to hibernate like it’s 2020. Experts note we’re in a much different place than we were last winter, with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters now widely available. There’s good hope that the current vaccines offer protection against severe disease with omicron. That said, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that when you don’t know what you’re dealing with, ‘we should invoke the precautionary principle,’ says Dr. Abraar Karan, an infectious disease physician at Stanford University.”

CNET: What to know about COVID vaccines and boosters during pregnancy. “As of mid-September, only 31% of pregnant people were vaccinated against COVID-19 — a much lower rate than the general US adult population — but they had a 70% increased risk of dying from symptomatic COVID-19 compared to people who weren’t pregnant. Now, research is showing that pregnant people with COVID-19 have a higher risk of their baby being stillborn, according to a November report by the CDC. ”

New York Times: The Pandemic Has Your Blood Pressure Rising? You’re Not Alone.. “On Monday, scientists reported that blood pressure measurements of nearly a half-million adults showed a significant rise last year, compared with the previous year. These measurements describe the pressure of blood against the walls of the arteries. Over time, increased pressure can damage the heart, the brain, blood vessels, kidneys and eyes. Sexual function can also be affected.”


University of Central Florida: UCF Researchers Develop Rapid, Highly Accurate Test to Detect Viruses like COVID-19. “University of Central Florida researchers have developed a device that detects viruses like COVID-19 in the body as fast as and more accurately than current, commonly used rapid detection tests. The optical sensor uses nanotechnology to accurately identify viruses in seconds from blood samples.”

Harvard Gazette: ‘This virus is a shape-shifter’. “In an effort to predict future evolutionary maneuvers of SARS-CoV-2, a research team led by investigators at Harvard Medical School has identified several likely mutations that would allow the virus to evade immune defenses, including natural immunity acquired through infection or from vaccination, as well as antibody-based treatments.”

PsyPost: New study suggests conservatives’ aversion to masks is a uniquely American phenomenon. “Politically conservative Americans are less likely than liberals to comply with recommended health-protective behaviors such as mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this is not true of conservatives in other nations, according to new cross-cultural research published in PLOS One.”

New York University: Sources of Information Influence COVID-19 Knowledge, Protective Behaviors. “While those who rely on informal sources of information, such as social media or friends and family, had the lowest knowledge about COVID-19 and were less likely to take recommended steps to protect themselves and others, these interactive sources also held the most potential to help people to engage in healthful behaviors. The findings—drawn from surveys of more than 6,500 U.S. adults early in the COVID-19 pandemic—are published in PLOS ONE.”

The Gazette: University of Iowa study: Alzheimer’s patients more likely to die from COVID. “Patients with Alzheimer ’s disease who contract COVID-19 appear to be more likely to die from the respiratory infection than do COVID-19 patients who don’t have the neurodegenerative disease, according to new University of Iowa research that could hold implications for ethical vaccine distribution and global policy decisions.”

InsideHook: Could Chewing Gum Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19?. “While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the number of tools available to fight it has increased. In the early days, we were limited to face masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing; nowadays, home testing is more prevalent, medical-grade masks are more widely available and a growing number of drugs exist that can make treatment easier. And now there’s a new tool showing promise at reducing the spread of the coronavirus: gum.”

Bloomberg News: First-Ever Covid-Killing Steel Can Destroy 99.8% of the Virus. “Researchers in Hong Kong said they have developed the world’s first stainless steel that kills the Covid-19 virus within hours, adding to the arsenal of products being created globally to curb the pathogen that triggered the worst pandemic of the past century.”


Reuters: Omicron outbreak at Norway Christmas party is biggest outside S. Africa -authorities. “At least 13 people in Oslo have been infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus following a corporate Christmas party described as a ‘super spreader event’, and their numbers could rise to over 60 cases, authorities said on Friday. The outbreak took place at a Christmas party on Nov. 26 organised by renewable energy company Scatec, which has operations in South Africa where the variant was first detected.”

Washington Post: Friends who attended anime convention with man who contracted omicron have tested positive for coronavirus, health official says. “The Minnesota man who contracted the omicron variant of the coronavirus met up with about 35 friends at a New York City anime convention and about half have tested positive for the coronavirus, a state health official said Friday.”

BBC: Nearly 70 Spanish medics Covid positive after Christmas party. “Almost 70 medics who attended a large Christmas party in southern Spain have since tested positive for Covid-19, authorities say. Most of the 68 infected are doctors and nurses working in the intensive care unit at Málaga’s regional hospital.”

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