Monday CoronaBuzz, December 27, 2021: 47 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.


CNET: COVID vaccines for kids: What to know about boosters and more. “The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine boosters for teens 16 and older, while Pfizer tests a new three-shot vaccine protocol for kids under 5.”


Vox: Welcome to Covid-19’s “junior year.” It’s not pretty.. “After a brief reprieve from surging cases in the fall, omicron, the newest and most transmissible Covid-19 variant yet, is tearing its way across the nation, causing a nearly 30 percent spike nationally in cases in a matter of days. As communities roll out eerily familiar safety measures, for some, it’s feeling like 2020 again: In the past few weeks, California and New York reinstated indoor mask mandates, restaurants from Philadelphia to Houston to Los Angeles are temporarily closing amid outbreaks, at-home rapid tests are sold out from coast to coast, and some universities are sending students back online.”

KERA News: North Texas food banks prepare for another uncertain year as COVID-19 omicron variant hits. “Food banks across North Texas are preparing for another uncertain year as the new COVID-19 variant omicron spreads across the country. For Kara Nickens, CEO of the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank, 2021 looked a lot like 2020. ‘Last year, we [distributed] 4.4 million pounds of food, and we’re right on track to end with that same amount,’ Nickens said. ‘We’re a small food bank. So for us, that’s a lot. It really pushes the limit because we have such a small staff here, and we have a 12-county area.'”


CNET: The great resignation is changing work in America, and experts say it’s here to stay. “Whatever the reason, this great resignation, as some have called it, is quickly remaking what it means to work in America. For some, that means rethinking their careers. For others, it’s a spiritual awakening, with a renewed commitment to a healthier balance between work and home. Some people moved away from big cities while working remotely during the pandemic, and now they don’t want to move back. Others are finding plentiful opportunities for jobs they can perform anywhere, whereas before the only jobs they could find were near where they lived.”


Canadian Press: Dentists see pandemic stress in patients with more grinding, cracked, broken teeth. “Stress and anxiety connected to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is revealing itself in people’s mouths, say dentists who report increasing cases of patients with cracked, broken and damaged teeth over the past 20 months.”

Columbus Dispatch: Preventable tragedies are unfolding in Greater Columbus hospital, doctors and nurses say. “Dr. Andy Thomas, chief clinical officer at the Ohio State University Wexner Center, said with family and friends celebrating the season together, a post-Christmas uptick in COVID-19 cases is inevitable in Columbus. ‘We’re seeing … case numbers in the northeast Ohio area that are nine to 10 times higher than what they were just six weeks ago. We are lucky right now in Columbus that we are not seeing those same numbers, but we expect in the next two to three weeks that we will,’ Thomas said during the Dispatch presents Columbus Conversation, ‘An Urgent Appeal for Help Stopping the COVID-19 Surge.'”

WRAL: U.S. Blood Banks Experiencing Biggest Shortage in a Decade. “The pandemic has caused many supply-chain bottlenecks in everyday life, but few are as critical as the United States’ ever-shrinking blood banks. For the American Red Cross, which supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood, and other nonprofit blood centers, the problem lies mostly at the top of the chain: the diminishing number of healthy donors.”


Morning Sun: 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.”

Fox 11 LA: Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations surpass 900. “The number of COVID patients in county hospitals increased to 904 Sunday, up from 849 the previous day, according to the latest state figures. Of those patients, 188 were in intensive care, up one from Saturday. The number of hospitalized COVID patients has been rising in recent days, after falling as low as 551 in November.”

Louisiana Department of Health: COVID-19 hospitalizations double in one week amid Omicron surge. “The Louisiana Department of Health announces that 449 people in Louisiana are hospitalized with COVID-19 – a figure that has doubled in the last week. The last time we reported this many COVID-19 hospitalizations was mid-October, as we came down from our third and then-worst COVID-19 surge. Eighty percent of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.”


Vanity Fair: “I’ve Just Been Swept Up in This Wave”: How the Earliest COVID Coverage Shaped Our World. “The omicron surge now dominating headlines comes as pandemic content has long been at the forefront of news coverage, a far cry from the murky, early reports—shared largely among specialists this week in 2019—of a mysterious pneumonia-like illness in Wuhan.”

Poynter: More than 50 local newsrooms launched during the pandemic. “The pandemic changed the news business and, in a lot of ways, not for the better. It accelerated layoffs. It hastened the end of more than 100 news organizations. It led a handful of newsrooms losing their actual newsrooms. But in some communities, the pandemic also clarified the value of reliable information. More than 50 local newsrooms launched in the United States in 2020 and 2021. Nearly as many local newsletters started publishing in that time. We found them in 27 states and Puerto Rico.”


Associated Press: Despite supply issues and omicron COVID variant, holiday sales rise 8.5%. “Mastercard Spending Pulse, which tracks all kinds of payments including cash and debit cards, reported Sunday that holiday sales had risen 8.5% from a year earlier. Mastercard SpendingPulse had expected a 7.4% increase. The results, which covered Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, were fueled by purchases of clothing and jewelry. Holiday sales were up 10.7% compared with the pre-pandemic 2019 holiday period.”

CNN: Cruises are once again facing disruption because of Covid-19. “At least four ocean cruise ships were turned away from ports of call or were prohibited from letting passengers disembark in the Americas this week because of Covid-19 cases aboard. Though other cruises have had cases since US-based ships resumed service this summer with vaccine requirements and other measures meant to minimize outbreaks, the rate of cruises forced to alter their itineraries appears to have ticked up.”

Charlotte Observer: Wells Fargo makes another major change to its return to office plans during COVID. “After postponing its return to the office three times, Wells Fargo has delayed its return to the office yet again, this time indefinitely, the bank said in a statement Monday.”

CNN: Travel nightmare: Another 2,500 flights canceled Monday. “More than 2,500 flights have been canceled Monday as Covid cases surge across the globe. Of the more than 2,500 canceled flights, nearly 1,000 were within, into or out of the United States, according to FlightAware. Almost 8,000 flights are delayed.”


MassLive: COVID cases likely to ‘go much higher’ as health officials battle ‘rapid spread’ of omicron, Fauci says. “As federal, state and local health officials grapple with the ‘rapid spread’ of the ‘extraordinary’ omicron variant, the U.S. is headed for a continued surge of COVID-19 cases this winter, Dr. Anthony Fauci says. ‘Given the sheer volume of cases that you see now, every day it goes up and up,’ Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, told ABC News’ “’This Week’ on Sunday morning. ‘The last weekly average was about 150,000, and it will likely go much higher.'”

Associated Press: FEMA wants to give families up to $9,000 for COVID funerals, but many don’t apply. “When Wanda Olson’s son-in-law died in March after contracting COVID-19, she and her daughter had to grapple with more than just their sudden grief. They had to come up with money for a cremation. Even without a funeral, the bill came to nearly $2,000, a hefty sum that Olson initially covered. She and her daughter then learned of a federal program that reimburses families up to $9,000 for funeral costs for loved ones who died of COVID-19.”


Associated Press: France records over 100K COVID-19 cases in one day for first time. “France has recorded more than 100,000 virus infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic and COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled over the past month, as the fast-spreading omicron variant complicates the French government’s efforts to stave off a new lockdown.”

Yonhap News Agency: Korean Air ordered to temporarily suspend flights to Hong Kong due to virus infections . “Korean Air Lines Co., South Korea’s national flag carrier, has been ordered to suspend flights to Hong Kong for two weeks due to coronavirus infections found among its passengers aboard a plane that landed there last week.”

Associated Press: Live Updates: Israel trials 4th dose of COVID-19 vaccine. “Israel has begun trials of a fourth dose of coronavirus vaccine in what is believed to be the first study of its kind. The trial began at Sheba Medical Center, outside Tel Aviv, with 150 medical personnel who received a booster dose in August receiving a fourth shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The staff receiving the additional dose were tested and found to have low antibody levels.”

Reuters: China regulator to suspend two China Eastern flights from New York due to COVID-19 cases. “China’s aviation regulator will suspend two China Eastern 600115.SS flights from New York to Shanghai from January 3 due to COVID-19 cases, the Shanghai government said on Monday.”

Reuters: UK’s daily COVID-19 infections dip under 100,000 mark. “Britain reported 98,515 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 143 deaths within 28 days of a positive test result. Data was also published for Dec. 25, showing 113,628 infections and Dec. 26, showing 108,893 infections.”


Morning Sun: Whitmer predicts tough 4-6 weeks in COVID-19 battle. “The governor said from Jan. 15 to Dec. 3 in Michigan, 88% of COVID cases were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, while 88% of the hospitalized COVID patients were unvaccinated and 85.5% of the COVID deaths were people who were unvaccinated.”

Auburn Citizen: Illegal price gouging on COVID-19 test kits reported. “In a news release, Attorney General Letitia James said that her office has received complaints of COVID-19 testing products being sold at double or triple retail price. Standard BinaxNOW brand test kits sold at stores for between $14 and $25 for a package of two tests are reportedly being unlawfully sold for more than $40 and up to $70 per package.”

WCVB: National Guard begins hospital deployment amid COVID-19 case spike. “Gov. Charlie Baker activated up to 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to address the non-clinical support needs of hospitals and transport systems. Hospitals have also been directed to postpone or cancel all nonessential elective procedures that would likely result in inpatient admission.”

Concord Monitor: Flush with federal COVID relief funds more states consider employee bonuses, wage increases . “Like private-sector employers, state agencies nationwide are struggling to find and keep workers amid a tight labor market and burnout because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And governors, like business owners, are proposing higher pay in a bid to recruit workers and convince them to stay, helped by federal aid and huge budget surpluses in most states. They include even some Republican governors, who tend to frown on spending increases and can be openly antagonistic to state workers and their unions.”


The National Academies: Lessons from COVID-19 on Executing Communications and Engagement at the Community Level During a Health Crisis. “On May 20, 2021, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a virtual convening of public health and communications practitioners to examine the challenges, opportunities, and lessons they saw while executing effective communications and community engagement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

News 12 The Bronx: MTA: Subway services to see slowdown due to rise in COVID cases. “The MTA says it’s making service cuts because of the latest COVID surge as the Omicron variant sweeps through the city. Officials say they’re working to keep service consistent, but that you may have a longer wait for your train, adding that reducing scheduled service will help them put train crews where they’re needed most to avoid canceling individual trips.”

NBC Washington: DC Residents Can Now Self-Report Their COVID Cases in App. “People can now report if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 using the DC COVID Alert Notice (DC CAN) app. D.C. health officials say the app’s new feature will speed up the District’s contact tracing efforts. Right now, the app’s latest feature available only for iPhone users. Android users will be able to get the feature starting Jan. 4.”


WCMY: KISS’ Paul Stanley contracts COVID for second time: “My entire family has it”. “Stanley previously tested positive for COVID-19 this past August, as did his band mate, Gene Simmons. As a result, KISS postponed a number of dates on their ongoing End of the World farewell tour.”


ESPN: Military, Fenway Bowls canceled because of COVID-19 issues. “Two more bowl games have been canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. The Military Bowl Presented by Peraton and the Wasabi Fenway Bowl were canceled Sunday because of COVID-19 issues in the Boston College and Virginia football programs. Boston College had been set to play East Carolina on Monday afternoon in the game that was set to air on ESPN.”


Michigan Daily: Over 700 UMich students send open letter advocating for fully in-person semester amid calls to modify plans. “Over 700 University of Michigan students have penned an open letter calling for the University to keep its plan for the Winter 2022 semester – which includes a face covering mandate, mandatory COVID-19 booster shots, and primarily in-person classes. The letter, dated Dec. 22, comes after over 900 members of the University community wrote an open letter to University President Mark Schlissel to delay in-person learning in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. ”

Poynter: How COVID-19 impacted student life at a one Texas commuter campus. “Think ‘student life’ on an American college campus and you’re likely to imagine hanging out on the quad, evening concerts and cheering on club sports. But the student life picture looks different at Texas A&M University San Antonio — a Hispanic-serving institute that’s just 12 years old, has one residence hall and sits on 700 acres of underdeveloped Texas countryside. So what’s a student club to do to get people to engage?”


Bloomberg: Coronavirus Can Persist for Months After Traversing Entire Body. “The coronavirus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, can spread within days from the airways to the heart, brain and almost every organ system in the body, where it may persist for months, a study found.”

NPR: What our family learned from our post-Thanksgiving coronavirus outbreak. “Breakthrough experiences are becoming more common as our vaccine protection wanes, our pandemic precautions fade and the variants become more prevalent and more evasive. Our family’s saga began the Monday after Thanksgiving. And it left us with a handful of questions that I’ll try to answer in the hopes that our experience may help others navigate the December holidays.”

Mashable: Lost your sense of smell? It may impact your sex life.. “It is, after all, my job as a sometimes sex writer to think about life through an erotic lens. And I’d noticed that, around the same time my sense of smell started to fade, sex had begun to feel somehow flatter to me — like there was less feedback pulling me into and engrossing all of me within the moment. I wondered whether that was a coincidence, or yet another unexpected effect of my slow sensory decline.”

NPR: With omicron, you need a mask that means business. “With another coronavirus variant racing across the U.S., once again health authorities are urging people to mask up indoors. Yes, you’ve heard it all before. But given how contagious omicron is, experts say, it’s seriously time to upgrade to an N95 or similar high-filtration respirator when you’re in public indoor spaces.”


The Guardian: No comfort at the bottom of the feed: how to prevent information overload in the time of Covid. “Information-seeking has become a complex habit to manage during recent years of plague and unrest. For some, both relief and anxiety are found on platforms where work, play and social connection are increasingly blurred. It feels necessary to be informed and prepared, but it’s also easy to fall into the numbing embrace of case rates and vaccination statistics – as if comfort can be found at the bottom of the feed.” I am actually not doing this to keep myself informed or because I like scaring myself silly. I’m doing this because I think this collection will be useful to researchers when they want to study this time in history. And if it won’t, well, at least I’m keeping myself busy.


Newswise: Patient Receives Antibodies Discovered at Vanderbilt to Prevent COVID-19. “On Dec. 22, Caroline Davis of Nashville became the first patient at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to receive injections of a new antibody combination to protect her from COVID-19. Davis, who is being treated for cancer at VUMC, said she could not produce antibodies against the COVID-19 virus on her own, despite receiving two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and a booster, because the chemotherapy she is receiving suppresses her immune system.”

University of North Carolina: Sugar-coated COVID-19 test takes advantage of coronavirus’ sweet tooth. “Even those tracking each new discovery about the coronavirus and its variants may not be aware of the virus’ sugar cravings. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of California San Diego take advantage of the virus’ sweet tooth in the design of a sugar-coated COVID-19 test strip that’s been effective at detecting all known variants of the coronavirus, including delta.” This article came out just slightly before omicron blew up.

Physician’s Weekly: Cancer Patients With Breakthrough COVID-19 Remain at Risk for Severe Outcomes. “Patients with cancer who develop breakthrough infection following COVID-19 vaccination remain at risk for severe outcomes, according to a study published online Dec. 24 in the Annals of Oncology.”


Newswise: COVID-19 infection detected in deer in 6 Ohio locations. “Scientists have detected infection by at least three variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 in free-ranging white-tailed deer in six northeast Ohio locations, the research team has reported.”

New Zealand Herald: Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Auckland Christmas partygoers urged to get tested immediately. “Partygoers who attended an Otara Christmas party are being asked to self-isolate and immediately get tested after a guest tested positive for Covid-19. A Christmas party held on Thursday December 23 at East Tamaki Community Hall in Otara has been identified as a new location of interest. Anyone who attended this party has been identified as a close contact.”

WLWT: Ohio reports more than 20,000 COVID-19 cases over holiday weekend . “The holiday weekend brought more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases in Ohio. The 20,917 cases reflected totals from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. More than 100 people were hospitalized because of the virus.”

USA Today Network: Lee County’s COVID cases up 248%; Florida cases surge 333%. “New coronavirus cases leaped in Florida in the week ending Sunday, rising 333% as 124,865 cases were reported. The previous week had 28,841 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.”


XKCD: Rapid Test Results . This is a cartoon, and moreover it’s an XKCD cartoon so there’s no way I can do it justice. Just click on it.

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