Wednesday CoronaBuzz, December 22, 2021: 40 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

There are now 12,027 covid-19 articles, all tagged up, at . Indexing begins mostly on March 14, 2020 (there were a few things indexed before in ResearchBuzz.) Category-specific search form in the right column, an overview of how to search/monitor tags, search terms, and categories at . Please get a booster shot. Please wear a mask when you’re inside with a bunch of people. Much love.


NewScientist: Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the US in 2020. “More than three million deaths were recorded in the US in 2020 – an increase of 500,000 from 2019. The coronavirus was responsible for more than 350,000 deaths in 2020, according to the CDC.”

Associated Press: As COVID fueled the drug crisis, Native Americans hit worst. “As the pandemic ravaged the country, deaths from drug overdoses surged by nearly 30%, climbing to a record high. The drug crisis has also diversified from an overwhelmingly white affliction to killing people of color with staggering speed. The death rate last year was highest among Native Americans, for whom COVID-19 piled yet more despair on communities already confronting generations of trauma, poverty, unemployment and underfunded health systems.”


ABC News: With pediatric COVID cases surging, millions of children remain unvaccinated. “Since the emergence of the delta variant, children have been a significant driving factor behind the nation’s latest coronavirus surges, accounting for about a quarter of the nation’s reported weekly COVID-19 cases. Since July, more than 3.3 million have tested positive for the virus, representing 1 in every 4 cases, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. In addition, the U.S. has not seen a week with fewer than 100,000 new pediatric cases since early August.”


NBC News: ‘I am terrified right now’: Hospitalizations are again on the rise as Covid cases surge. “Hospitalizations around the nation have risen 39 percent from Nov. 1 to Tuesday, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services. The number of people with Covid has risen by 30 percent in the last two weeks, according to NBC News’ tally.”

The Oakland Press: Michigan hospitals ‘teetering’ under current COVID-19 surge. “Hospitals in southeast Michigan today are in worse shape than they were during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. With the holidays approaching and the unknowns about the Omicron variant, hospital administrators are concerned.”


The Wrap: Fox Scraps Times Square New Year’s Eve Telecast Due to Omicron Surge. “Fox will not be ringing in 2022 from Times Square. The network said on Tuesday that it has canceled its planned broadcast from New York City on New Year’s Eve due to the surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.”


MarketWatch: Biden administration to stockpile 4 million COVID-19 therapies by end January: report. “The administration of President Joe Biden plans to have 4 million various therapies to treat COVID-19 in its pandemic arsenal by the end of January, according to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday that cited sources. ”

The Guardian: First Thing: Biden seeks to rally the troops in Covid battle. “Half a billion free at-home coronavirus tests will be sent to the American public in the fight against Omicron, Joe Biden announced yesterday while pushing back against resistance to vaccine mandates by saying they are intended ‘not to control your life but to save your life'”.

CNN: FDA authorizes first pill to treat Covid-19. “The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, to treat Covid-19 in high-risk individuals age 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds. This is the first antiviral Covid-19 pill authorized for ill people to take at home, before they get sick enough to be hospitalized.”

CNN: Biden extends pause on student loan repayment through May 1. “President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he is extending the pause on student loan payments until May 1. The payments, which were set to restart on February 1, have been paused since the beginning of the pandemic. Biden pointed to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis in the country as the reason for the extension.”


Reuters: Poland reports highest number of COVID-related deaths in fourth wave. “Poland reported 775 COVID-related deaths on Friday, the highest daily number in the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the data from the health ministry showed.”

New York Times: Israel will roll out a fourth dose of the vaccine.. “Israeli officials said Tuesday that the country will administer a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, in a bid to curb the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Israel is believed to be the first country to offer a fourth round of doses.”

Reuters: Philippines cuts COVID-19 booster shot interval to three months. “The Philippines’ health ministry on Tuesday halved the wait time for a COVID-19 vaccine booster to three months to help prevent the spread of the more infectious Omicron variant. A growing list of countries, including South Korea, the United Kingdom, Thailand and Germany, are shortening the interval for boosters to try to stave off a new surge in infections.”

Reuters: Despite consumption hit, China to stand fast on tough COVID-19 curbs. “China’s strict COVID policy is weighing on consumption and rattling foreign firms, but its effectiveness and the imperative to maintain stability heading into a sensitive year mean Beijing will stick to its approach, experts say.”

Reuters: German health experts urge more COVID curbs as lockdown not ruled out. “German health experts said on Wednesday that new coronavirus curbs probably did not go far enough to keep the Omicron variant in check, as the country’s health minister said he had not ruled out a full lockdown if cases spiked. The measures, decided on Tuesday, include limits on private gatherings, closing clubs and discos and banning spectators at football matches and are set to be introduced from Dec. 28.”

Washington Post: While omicron explodes around the world, covid cases in Japan keep plummeting and no one knows exactly why. “As the omicron variant surges around the world, Japan’s overall coronavirus cases and deaths have been plummeting. And no one seems to know exactly why. Call it the hunt for a potential ‘X factor,’ such as genetics, that may explain the trend and inform how Japan could deal with the next wave. While the new highly transmissible omicron variant has appeared in the country and experts suspect there is already some community spread, the overall transmission rate of the virus and coronavirus-related deaths in Japan have remained low.”


Delaware: DPH Launches QR Tool Giving Delawareans Convenient Access to Their COVID-19 Vaccine Record. “The digital COVID-19 vaccination card now includes the QR code and is available through the DelVAX Public Portal, a site where those who were vaccinated in Delaware can access their immunization records. When the person accesses their COVID-19 record they will be able to download a PDF version of it, which resembles a vaccine card and includes the QR Code. The image can then be saved to a phone gallery, or printed on paper.”

Washington Post: D.C. to require coronavirus vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms and other businesses. “D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) on Wednesday announced that patrons age 12 and older at many indoor venues, including restaurants, will be required to show proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter under new rules she plans to unveil next month.”


City of Chicago: City of Chicago Announces Vaccine Requirements for Restaurants, Bars, Gyms, and Other Indoor Public Places. “Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) announced that any individual 5 years of age or older will be required to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to dine indoors, visit gyms, or enjoy entertainment venues where food or drink are being served. This new requirement goes into effect on January 3, 2022 and is in response to an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases both locally and nationally, driven in part by the Omicron variant, and is similar to requirements already in place in other large cities, including New York City and Los Angeles.”

Fox 6 Milwaukee: COVID vaccination agreement Milwaukee, police union. “The City of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA) have signed an agreement that requires union members to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, officials announced on Wednesday, Dec. 22.”

6 South Florida: Miami-Dade Expanding COVID-19 Sites, Bringing Back Masks in Buildings Amid Surge. “Miami-Dade is expanding COVID-19 sites and hours and bringing back mandatory masks in county buildings as the county deals with a surge in cases and high demand for testing ahead of the holidays, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday. Levine Cava said the county is hoping to open between three and five new sites and expanding hours at existing sites in response to the accelerated demand for testing. The new sites and hours will be announced on the county’s website.”


Daily Herald: ‘I have changed’: A nurse suffering long-haul COVID-19 effects looks toward Christmas. “This is long COVID. You cannot see it. What you would see is just another middle-aged woman, overweight, slow, lazy even. A complainer with nothing to complain about. Two years ago, I would have been described as fun, energetic. Youthful even. That woman has disappeared. In her place is a knockoff version, shoddy and not meant to last. And for this counterfeit self, lockdown has never ended. She does not do anything inspiring or go anywhere of note, but for work, part-time now, and essential shopping. She is but a shell of her pre-COVID self, as drab and unadorned as the tree standing in the corner.”


Sports Illustrated: Jets Coach Robert Saleh Tests Positive for COVID-19. “Jets coach Robert Saleh has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Wednesday. Saleh is symptomatic, per the Jets, and the team says he is vaccinated.”

Sports Illustrated: ACC Adjusts COVID Policy Forfeiture Rule. “The league’s athletic directors unanimously voted Wednesday to adjust the forfeiture rule from the policy, effective immediately. Moving forward, if an ACC game among winter sport programs – including basketball – cannot be played due to COVID-19 issues with either team, it will be rescheduled, or declared a no contest if it cannot be rescheduled.”


JournalStar: Teachers file class-action lawsuit against Peoria-area school districts over COVID rules. “Teachers in two Woodford County school districts are among plaintiffs in a lawsuit that seeks to end state COVID-19 mitigation efforts as an employment requirement. Attorney Thomas DeVore filed the lawsuit Monday in Sangamon County Circuit Court in Springfield. Defendants include Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education.”


WTKR: UVA mandates COVID booster shot for spring semester. “The University of Virginia has announced students, faculty, and staff will be required to get a COVID-19 booster shot for the spring semester.”

New York Times: Another Surge in the Virus Has Colleges Fearing a Mental Health Crisis. “Colleges across the country are facing a mental health crisis, driven in part by the pandemic. After almost two years of remote schooling, restricted gatherings and constant testing, many students are anxious, socially isolated, depressed — and overwhelming mental health centers. At a few institutions, there has been a troubling spate of suicides. Now another swell of Covid cases, driven by the Omicron variant, threatens to make life on campus worse.”


Washington Post: Don’t feel ashamed for getting covid. “As two variants collide and states hit new records daily, breakthrough cases are becoming more normal and less of an exception; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns these cases are now ‘likely’ to occur. For many people who test positive during this latest surge, the virus is sparking yet another unpleasant feeling in an ordeal that’s churned out plenty: shame.”

Sky News: COVID infection reduces sperm quality for up to three months, study claims. Not peer-reviewed yet. “Men who become infected with coronavirus can suffer reduced sperm quality for up to three months, a new study has suggested. Research carried out on 120 men in Belgium by local academics showed that semen is ‘not infectious’ with COVID-19 and therefore cannot be transmitted through sexual contact.”

City AM: Mild or not: Omicron variant doubles risk of catching Covid aboard a plane. “Passengers are twice or even three times more likely to catch Covid-19 while flying since the emergence of Omicron according to a top medical adviser to airlines. Sitting in business class rather than the tightly packed economy section can reduce your chance of catching Covid-19 David Powell of the International Air Transport Association told Bloomberg.”


Defense One: US Army Creates Single Vaccine Against All COVID & SARS Variants, Researchers Say. “Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as from previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide.”

Technology Networks: Researchers Pinpoint Indicators of Severe COVID. “In a study led by researchers at the Hull York Medical School and Department of Mathematics at the University of York, the scientists analysed blood samples from hospitalised Covid patients. They detected markers in the blood associated with patients becoming so ill they needed treatment in intensive care. The findings may lead to new ways for triaging and assessing the risk of Covid patients, relieving the pressure from hospitals during infection spikes.”

Bloomberg: Covid: Omicron has 80% lower risk of hospitalization, new study shows. “South Africans contracting Covid-19 in the current fourth wave of infections are 80% less likely to be hospitalized if they catch the omicron variant, compared with other strains, according to a study released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.”


W42ST: Hell’s Kitchen Positive Tests Surge Over 550% — Latest City Data. “Hell’s Kitchen’s COVID-19 infection rate is trending up with an exponential curve as positive cases in the neighborhood increased by 578% since this time in November, according to city data released this afternoon.”

Local 10: Florida adds nearly 13,000 new COVID cases, largest jump since Sept. 11. “As the contagious omicron variant takes over as the dominant strain, Florida reported 12,915 new COVID-19 cases to the CDC from Monday, the state’s biggest single-day increase since Sept. 11. Over the past week, Florida is averaging 8,605 new cases per day, the CDC data shows, a significant spike after that number hovered below 2,000 from late October through early December.”

Akron Beacon Journal: Omicron variant helps fuel surge to record number of COVID-19 infections in Ohio since pandemic began. “The infections are skyrocketing as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads rapidly, particularly in Northeast Ohio. Omicron is now the second-most contagious known disease, behind only measles, according to a Cleveland doctor. Tuesday marked the highest number of new coronavirus infections in a single day in Ohio, with 12,502 additional cases reported.”

NBC New York: NJ COVID Cases Spike 42% in a Day as Cities Rush to Impose Masking, Close Schools. “New Jersey reported 9,711 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest by far of the entire pandemic and a 42% increase from the day prior. The stunning surge puts in stark relief just how quickly the omicron variant is spreading in the state and the region. The old record, from mid-January, was nearly 3,000 cases lower than this new single-day mark.”

WRAL: Hundreds of COVID cases reported across NC nursing homes. “150 nursing homes and 66 residential care facilities are reporting a coronavirus outbreak. One of the worst in central North Carolina is at the Carolina Rehab Center of Cumberland County. 87 people have tested positive, most of them being residents. So far, two residents have died from the virus during the recent outbreak, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.”


Department of Justice: College Football Player Arrested on Federal Charges of Orchestrating Fraudulent Scheme to Obtain COVID-Related Jobless Benefits. “A college football player was taken into custody this morning on federal charges alleging he orchestrated a scheme that fraudulently sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-related unemployment benefits. Abdul-Malik McClain, 22, who currently attends school in Jackson, Mississippi, surrendered to federal law enforcement this morning in Los Angeles before being arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court.”


New York Times: Facts Alone Aren’t Going to Win Over the Unvaccinated. This Might.. “While small positive incentives such as free doughnuts or entries into statewide lottery programs may have motivated some people, those and similar methods don’t seem to motivate people to get vaccinated on a scale large enough to close the vaccination gap. The incentive that seems to work especially well is the employer vaccine mandate, a negative incentive.”

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