Tuesday CoronaBuzz, December 21, 2021: 41 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.


Medical Xpress: Web-based version of researcher’s CARD game helps improve kids’ vaccination experience. “Anna Taddio, a professor in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and a senior associate scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and her team have developed a web-based version of the CARD game (short for Comfort, Ask, Relax and Distract) she originally created to help kids receiving vaccines in school-based programs. The system addresses fear of needles through pain management and coping strategies. The new web-based version of the game is intended for younger kids who are currently being encouraged to get vaccinated.”


TimeOut New York: Broadway launches website to track what shows are playing. “As New York’s live entertainment world reacts to increasing concerns about a return wave of COVID, the Broadway League is taking action to keep audiences informed. The trade association has launched a new website… to help potential spectators track Broadway schedules week by week, with the most current information available on performance times and cancelations.”


Associated Press: Omicron sweeps across nation, now 73% of US COVID-19 cases. “Omicron has raced ahead of other variants and is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S. Federal health officials said Monday that omicron accounted for an estimated 73% of new infections last week.”


Mashable: The best, worst, and weirdest pandemic TV moments of 2021. “Over the past two years, how and why COVID-19 is portrayed on screen has grown more and more interesting. Some flagrantly fictional worlds have bent to accommodate the real crisis, while their more realistic counterparts sidestepped the matter altogether. So how was the pandemic addressed on TV this year? Listed in no particular order, here are 12 note-worthy Covid moments from 2021 television.”

Associated Press: US population growth at lowest rate in pandemic’s 1st year. “The United States grew by only 0.1%, with an additional 392,665 added to the U.S. population from July 2020 to July 2021, bringing the nation’s count to 331.8 million people, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. has been experiencing slow population growth for years but the pandemic exacerbated that trend. This past year was the first time since 1937 that the nation’s population grew by less than 1 million people.”


Associated Press: Thousands in Brussels protest renewed COVID-19 restrictions. “Thousands of peaceful protesters have demonstrated in Brussels for a third time against reinforced COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Belgian government to counter a spike in infections as the omicron variant sweeps across Europe.”


KHN: As Hospitals Fill Up, Paramedics Spend More Time Moving Patients, Less on Emergencies. “The night after Thanksgiving, a small ambulance service that covers a huge swath of southwestern Colorado got a call that a patient needed an emergency transfer from the hospital in Gunnison to a larger one with an intensive care unit 65 miles away in Montrose.”


NPR: With omicron now dominant, depleted U.S. hospitals struggle to prepare for the worst. “America’s hospitals are in bad shape right now — overwhelmed and understaffed — just as the omicron variant of the coronavirus takes hold across the country and Americans begin traveling and socializing for the holidays.”


BBC: Davos business leaders’ event postponed over Omicron. “The elite annual gathering of business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos has been postponed due to the spread of Omicron. The meeting was due to take place in Switzerland from 17-21 January, but is now planned for ‘early summer’.”

Washington Post: ‘SNL’ scraps show and sends cast home amid coronavirus fears; Tom Hanks and Tina Fey pitch in. “In a first for ‘Saturday Night Live,’ hours before an episode was set to air, producers scrapped the planned show and sent most of the cast home.”


New York Times: Metropolitan Museum of Art Limits Attendance Amid Virus Surge. “The Metropolitan Museum of Art said Tuesday that it would limit attendance to roughly 10,000 visitors per day because of the highly infectious Omicron variant. During a normal holiday season, the museum would expect nearly twice as many visitors.”


CNBC: Walgreens limits at-home Covid tests to four per customer due to demand surge amid omicron fears. “Walgreens on Tuesday limited purchases of at-home Covid tests in its stores to four per customer as demand for tests surges ahead of the holidays and as the omicron variant spreads throughout the U.S.” Note to history: tests started selling out over the weekend and this is completely pointless.

Slate: I Pointed Out That Our Hosts Were Unvaccinated. Airbnb Deleted My Review.. “A couple of months ago, my father and I stayed at an Airbnb in Moab, Utah. On my way home, I wrote a five-star review of the experience, in which I described the breakfasts (hearty and home-cooked), the rooms (clean and comfortable), the location (quiet yet proximate to downtown), and our hosts (friendly and full of good advice). After much deliberation, I closed out my review with the following line: ‘At the time of our stay in October 2021, the hosts told us that they were not vaccinated against COVID-19.’ Four hours later, I received a message from Airbnb: My review had been removed because it ‘didn’t have enough relevant information to help the Airbnb community make informed booking decisions.’ ”

New York Times: Fox tightens its vaccine rule, removing a test-out option for N.Y.C. office workers.. “Fox Corporation, the owner of Fox News, told employees on Friday that those working in New York City would have to show proof they’d had at least one dose of the Covid vaccine by Dec. 27, removing the option to get tested weekly instead.”

NPR: SpaceX reports LA County’s highest number of workplace COVID-19 cases. “At least 132 employees at the SpaceX rocket factory near Los Angeles have tested positive for COVID-19, making it the site of the largest recent countywide workplace outbreak tracked by local health officials. According to a report released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Monday, the Elon Musk-led company currently accounts for nearly 30% of workplace COVID-19 cases in the county.”


ABC News: Biden to announce plan to mail 500 million free rapid tests to Americans next month. “President Joe Biden will announce a plan on Tuesday to distribute 500 million free at-home rapid tests to Americans beginning in January as part of an attempt to double down on the spread of a transmissible variant that has hit the U.S. distressingly close to the holidays.”

CNN: Daily Covid-19 case numbers with Omicron ‘could exceed previous peaks,’ CDC warns. “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the Omicron coronavirus variant could drive Covid-19 cases higher than ever before, according to modeling posted on the agency’s website this week.”

CNN: Secret Service accelerates crackdown on Covid-19 scams. “In nearly two years of the coronavirus pandemic, the US Secret Service has seized more than $1.2 billion in relief funds obtained by fraudsters. Now, the agency is stepping up its efforts to claw back the billions more that Covid-19-related fraud has cost the economy by tapping a senior official to work with law enforcement agencies across the country on the issue.”


BBC: WHO urges cancelling some holiday events over Omicron fears. “The World Health Organization has urged people to cancel some of their holiday plans to protect public health as the Omicron variant spreads globally. ‘An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled’ said WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that ‘difficult decisions’ must be made.”

BBC: Covid: No new measures in England but we rule nothing out, says PM. “The government needs to ‘reserve the possibility’ of bringing in new Covid rules in England as cases of the Omicron variant surge before Christmas, the prime minister has said.”

IDEX Online: Covid Travel Bans Destroying Economy, says Botswana President. “Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi has slammed Covid travel restrictions newly imposed by Western nations, saying they are destroying his country’s economy. The USA, France, Germany, and the UK are among the countries that have banned flights to Botswana and elsewhere in southern Africa.”

AFP: EU secures extra 20 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses for Q1 2022. “The European Commission said today it had reached an agreement with BioNTech and Pfizer for an extra 20 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to be delivered to EU member states in the first quarter of 2022. These doses come on top of an already scheduled 195 million doses from BioNTech-Pfizer, bringing the total number of deliveries in the first quarter to 215 million, a commission statement said.”


Washington Post: Gov. Larry Hogan tests positive for covid-19. “Gov. Larry Hogan, who is fully vaccinated and received a booster, has tested positive for the coronavirus, he announced Monday. Hogan said he received a positive rapid test on Monday as part of his regular testing routine. He said he was ‘feeling fine at the moment.'”


Gothamist: Adams Cancels Inauguration Plans In Face of COVID Surge. “Mayor-elect Eric Adams said Tuesday he will cancel his inauguration in the face of a startling rise in coronavirus infections driven largely by the omicron variant. Adams had originally intended to hold his inauguration indoors at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre, bucking the tradition of having the ceremony outside on the steps of City Hall.”

Reuters: U.S. Cities Try New Way to Help the Poor: Give Them Money. “At least 16 cities and counties are handing out no-strings-attached payments to some low-income residents, a Reuters tally found. At least 31 other local governments plan to do so in the months ahead. That’s a departure from most U.S. anti-poverty programs, which provide benefits for specific needs like groceries or rent and require recipients to hold a job or look for work.”

City of Chicago: CDPH, Discovery Partners Institute Announce Citywide System to Monitor COVID-19 in Wastewater. “The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced the citywide system to monitor the virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants in wastewater will continue for two years, leveraging $2.14 million in federal funding. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is detectable in human waste nearly from the onset of infection, while symptoms may not appear for three to five days – or for some, not at all.”


American Society For Biochemistry And Molecular Biology: Why we are developing a patent-free COVID antiviral therapy. “In March 2020, we started COVID Moonshot, which we believe is the first open-science effort to develop an antiviral drug. Now we are close to bringing an oral antiviral that’s effective against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) to the clinic, with no patent protection. As soon as the drug is approved, any drug manufacturer around the world can manufacture and sell it without needing to license it, thus driving prices down.”


BBC: Rafael Nadal tests positive for Covid-19 on return to Spain. “Rafael Nadal has tested positive for Covid-19 after returning home from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. The 20-time Grand Slam champion was beaten by Britain’s Andy Murray in the semi-finals of the exhibition event on Friday.”

Tone Deaf: Evanescence postpone tour amid “multiple” coronavirus cases. “Evanescence has announced they will be postponing their remaining tour dates until January after ‘multiple’ members of their crew tested positive for COVID.”

CNN: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and family test positive for Covid. “Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, his wife, and their teenage son have tested positive for Covid-19, his office announced Tuesday. The Democratic governor said that he and his wife Gwen tested positive Monday night following a PCR test after initially testing negative for the virus earlier that morning.”


Al Jazeera: Iran’s top diplomat in Yemen dies of COVID-19. “Iran’s top diplomat in Yemen, Hassan Irloo, has passed away due to COVID-19, days after being flown to Tehran for treatment, officials said. Irloo, 63, was named last year as Iran’s ambassador to the areas of the war-torn country controlled by the Houthi rebels, which for seven years have been fighting a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia in support of Yemen’s internationally recognised government.”


Gothamist: Personal Foul: NFL Officials Allowed To Skip COVID Testing Line In Manhattan. “Employees of the NFL were allowed to skip the line at a COVID testing site listed as a state-partnered facility on Monday, a facility employee and league spokesperson confirmed, sparking outrage among the 100 or so people huddled in the cold who said they’d spent hours queued up for pre-scheduled appointments.”


Chalkbeat: Omicron and schools: What we know now. “What is clear is that some school systems are already adjusting course, but most have not yet made big changes to their plans for schooling in January or in-person learning this week. Here’s what we know so far.”

BBC: How Covid deepened America’s teacher shortages. “The autumn school term that has just ended in the United States was marked by a shortage of teachers and support staff. The pandemic has heightened the long-running problem – with a huge spike in retirements and resignations.”

New York Times: Are Schools Ready for the Next Big Surge?. “Districts say they don’t want to close classrooms again. But the latest wave in Covid-19 cases could challenge the rickety infrastructure that has kept schools running this year.”

Americas Quarterly: With Schools Reopening, Latin America Surveys the Damage. “As schools gradually reopen around the world, two questions are at the front of educators’ minds: How much ground did students lose during more than 20 months of pandemic-imposed closures, and how can policymakers close the learning gap? In Latin America and the Caribbean, both questions are just starting to be answered. Schools in the region were closed for an average of 231 days prior to October 2021, longer than any other part of the world.”


Massachusetts Department of Public Health: Breakthrough case review finds 97% of COVID-19 cases in vaccinated individuals don’t result in severe illness. “Today the Massachusetts Department of Public Health released a review of breakthrough COVID-19 cases in vaccinated Massachusetts residents and found nearly 97% of all breakthrough cases in the Commonwealth have not resulted in hospitalization or death. Additionally, the review found unvaccinated residents are five times more likely to become infected than fully vaccinated residents (two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson) and unvaccinated residents are 31 times more likely to become infected than fully vaccinated residents who have received a booster.”

BBC: Omicron: South African scientists probe link between variants and untreated HIV. “South African scientists – hailed for their discovery of Omicron – are investigating the ‘highly plausible hypothesis’ that the emergence of new Covid-19 variants could be linked, in some cases, to mutations taking place inside infected people whose immune systems have already been weakened by other factors, including, though not limited to, untreated HIV.”


Central Maine: How Maine lost control of coronavirus and became a national hot spot. “Maine had the country’s fourth-highest number of new cases per capita over the past week – a daily average of 78 per 100,000 people – a rate more than double the national average. The state also had the second-fastest rate of change – an increase of 148 percent over 14 days – after Connecticut, according to a national tracking database of statistics from state and local health agencies maintained by The New York Times.”

Associated Press: After reprieve, NYC is rattled by a stunning virus spike. “An omicron-variant-fueled wave of cases is washing over the nation’s most populous city, which served as a nightmarish test case for the country early in the pandemic. While health officials say there are important reasons why it’s not spring 2020 all over again, some Broadway shows have abruptly canceled performances, an indoor face mask mandate is back and testing is hard to come by.”


Reuters: Three arrested in Sicily for anti-vax COVID-19 jab scam. “Anti-vaccination holdouts in Sicily paid a nurse to give them fake COVID-19 jabs in order to obtain a health certificate that is mandatory for some professions, police said on Tuesday.”

CoronaBuzz is brought to you by ResearchBuzz. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you.

Categories: coronabuzz

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply