Friday CoronaBuzz, December 31, 2021: 59 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

For 2022 I wish you nothing but peace, joy, and contentment. Please get a booster shot. Please wear a mask when you’re inside with a bunch of people. Much love.


BBC: Xi’an: Cries for help and food in quarantined Chinese city. “Some residents under lockdown in the Chinese city of Xi’an say they do not have enough food, even as officials insist there are adequate supplies. More than 13 million were ordered to stay at home last week as authorities sought to battle a Covid outbreak. But compared to other lockdowns globally, locals cannot go out even for essential reasons like buying food.”


Daily Beast: Alex Jones Threatens to ‘Dish Dirt’ on Trump for Pushing Vaccine. “Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is threatening to ‘dish all the dirt’ on Donald Trump to get back at the ex-president over his endorsement of the COVID-19 vaccine. ‘Yeah, we all wish Trump would do the right thing,’ Jones said on his Wednesday afternoon InfoWars program, before urging his listeners to ‘move on’ from Trump due to his glowing endorsement of the vaccine.”


NBC News: Essential medical workers say they’re bearing the brunt of omicron surge. “Last week, as people waited for Covid tests in lines that wound down city blocks, CityMD, the privately owned urgent care clinic in New York and New Jersey, announced that it was temporarily closing 19 of its 150 locations because of staffing shortages. It closed more locations Wednesday. Emergency Medical Service crews from New York City’s Fire Department are answering more than 4,000 calls a day, largely from people with Covid-19 symptoms, while 30 percent of EMS staff members are on medical leave, the fire department said.”

WDJT: Advocate Aurora temporarily closes 3 urgent care locations because of surge in COVID cases and staffing shortages. “Advocate Aurora has temporarily closed three of its urgent care centers due to COVID-19. A spokesperson with Advocate Aurora Health told CBS 58, ‘Managing the COVID surge combined with staffing shortages have contributed to temporary closures at our urgent care centers.'”

Philadelphia Inquirer: Pa. nurses after 22 months of COVID-19 and a new surge: ‘It is so defeating’. “As the United States enters a third calendar year of the pandemic, and braces to see whether this omicron- and delta-fueled case surge will cause hospitalizations to spike further, we talked to four nurses, who described units full of COVID-19 patients, most of whom are unvaccinated and many of whom are now skewing younger. They described the emotional toll — ‘defeating,’ ‘disheartening,’ ‘frustrating,’ and ‘exhausting.'”


WTKR: CHKD sees record number of positive COVID-19 cases overnight, highest since start of pandemic. “So far, 16 children in Virginia have died from the virus, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and positive cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. This holds true for the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Hampton Roads, where the hospital is maxed out and breaking records for positive cases. The doors of CHKD are working overtime this week as a steady stream of young patients heads into the already-bustling hospital.”


Reading Eagle: Berks County health system staggering under COVID load. “T.J. Huckleberry, executive director of the Berks County Medical Society, said the group’s members paint a picture of a health care system under a severe strain. ‘There are multiple reasons that this very unfortunate trend has occurred and will most likely continue to occur in Berks County,’ Huckleberry wrote in an email. ‘First and foremost, our community health system is in an unprecedented state of distress. The numbers of resources, staff and providers are down, while numbers of critical care patients are skyrocketing.'”

WDBJ: Virginia emergency doctors want COVID-related state of emergency. ” As the Omicron variant spreads and COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge, Virginia’s emergency departments report being overwhelmed with patients. The Virginia College of Emergency Physicians (VACEP) is calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to declare another State of Emergency to provide relief to emergency departments statewide.”

WOIO: Ohio’s per capita COVID-19 hospitalization rate is highest in United States. “Ohio’s coronavirus-related hospitalization count continues to climb at a startling rate. On Wednesday, officials announced that 5,356 people were currently hospitalized with the coronavirus in Ohio; the highest number reported in the state since the start of the pandemic.”

KIRO: UW Medicine test sites to only test those with COVID-19 exposures or symptoms. “UW Medicine announced on Thursday that it will halt COVID-19 testing for people who have not been exposed to someone with the virus or do not have symptoms. Starting Jan. 4, only people with appointments who know they have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of respiratory illness will be eligible to be tested.”

Washington Post: Hospitals, already under strain from covid cases, discourage ER visits for coronavirus tests. “Amid a surge in coronavirus infections, emergency medicine physicians are seeing a sharp increase in patients seeking tests — many of whom were unable to access testing elsewhere even as workplaces and schools require negative tests to return. ‘Do not come to the hospital looking to get tested,’ said Bill Grimes, a vice president at the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, pointing to wait times as long as eight hours because of people ‘who frankly don’t need to be there.'”

NBC New York: NJ’s Largest Hospital System Expects Hospitalizations to Exceed Worst of 2020 Soon. “As COVID-19 hospitalizations rise 10% a day in New Jersey, the state’s largest hospital system says it is a (short) matter of time until 2020’s grim record is broken. ‘If you look at what the (health) commissioner and governor are positing relative to their COVID models, sometime in the middle of January we’re likely to see the same level of hospitalization we were seeing back in March, April of 2020,’ Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief physician executive of Hackensack Meridian Health, told News 4.”

Canton Repository (Ohio): Stark coroner enlists second cold-storage trailer as morgue contends with record caseload. “A second cold-storage trailer is now parked outside the Stark County Coroner’s office, joining another already in place to help the morgue contend with more bodies than their current facility can handle. The second trailer, borrowed from Columbiana County, will add an additional 20 spaces, on top of the first trailer’s 12 and the facility’s eight refrigerators and four freezers.”


Washington Post: Amtrak cancels dozens of trains because of weather, coronavirus cases among workers. “Amtrak said Thursday that it will reduce its schedule between New Year’s Eve and Jan. 6 as it battles bad weather in some parts of the country and a surge in coronavirus cases among its employees. About two dozen trains on both its Northeast Corridor and long-distance routes will be affected.”

NBC New York: 2nd NJ Walmart Abruptly Closes as State’s COVID Outbreak Worsens. “A second New Jersey Walmart will close on short notice for cleaning and restocking, the company said Thursday afternoon, though it was not clear if there was a COVID outbreak there like the first store. Walmart sent out an email to reporters just after 12 p.m. Thursday saying its Kearny location will close at 2 p.m. and remain shuttered through Saturday morning, which ‘will allow extra time for a third-party specialist to further sanitize the store and will also give our associates additional time to restock shelves and prepare the store to once again serve the community.'”

WTMJ: Walmart to temporarily close two Milwaukee stores to sanitize for COVID-19. “Walmart announced it is temporarily closing two Milwaukee locations in order to sanitize the buildings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The retail conglomerate said in a statement Thursday the following locations will be closed starting at 2 p.m. on Thursday until Jan. 1, 2022.”


News 12 New Jersey: Rep. Bill Pascrell tests positive for COVID-19. “Rep. Bill Pascrell announced Thursday that he tested positive for COVID-19. Pascrell said via Twitter that he is fully vaccinated and boosted. He attributed those factors for his mild symptoms.”

CNET: At-home COVID tests: Pentagon awards $137M contract to boost production of critical component. “As demand for rapid COVID test kits soars, the Pentagon has awarded a $137 million contract to MilliporeSigma, a Massachusetts-based company that makes a key component of the critical diagnostic tool. Over the next three years, MilliporeSigma will build a facility in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to produce nitrocellulose membranes, the paper that displays the test’s results.”


Associated Press: Israel approves 4th vaccine dose for most vulnerable. “Israel has approved a fourth vaccine dose for people most vulnerable to COVID-19, an official said Thursday, becoming one of the first countries to do so as it braces for a wave of infections fueled by the omicron variant.”

CNBC: South Africa lifts curfew as it says Covid fourth wave has passed the peak. “South Africa lifted a midnight to 4 a.m. curfew on movement with immediate effect as it believes the country has passed the peak of its fourth Covid-19 wave driven by the Omicron variant, a cabinet statement said on Thursday.”

BBC: Covid-19: How India missed its vaccination target. “India has missed the target of giving its entire adult population of 940 million two vaccinations by the end of 2021. The target was first announced by Prakash Javadekar in May, who was a minister in the federal government at the time.”

Reuters: S.Korea to extend curbs amid Omicron surge, serious COVID-19 cases. ” South Korea said on Friday it will extend stricter social distancing rules for two weeks amid a persistent surge in serious coronavirus infections and concerns over the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.”

Reuters: Philippines on alert as COVID-19 infections hit 2-month high. “Philippine officials on Friday warned against a rise in COVID-19 cases over the New Year period as infections in the Southeast Asian country hit a two-month high, amid concerns that the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus could spread. The health ministry recorded 2,961 new coronavirus infections on Friday and reported a positivity rate of 10.3%, double the 5% recommended by the World Health Organization.”

Washington Post: Nothing said Cairo quite like the ever-present water pipe — until Egypt banned them to fight covid. “Egypt is one of several countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, where shisha bans have been enforced during the pandemic. The popular pipes, also known as hookahs and narghiles, are often passed between friends, potentially transmitting the virus. But while some other countries have gradually lifted restrictions, Egyptian authorities have maintained their crackdown. Photos published in state-run media depict the aftermath of raids, the pipes lined up in rows like criminals. This month, photos showed a front loader running over 76 shishas laid on a street in a city north of Cairo.”

Reuters: Russia braces for Omicron-led COVID wave early next year -sources. “Russia is bracing itself for another COVID-19 wave early next year, sparked largely by the spread of the highly contagious Omicron strain that has spooked markets and lawmakers in recent weeks, three sources in political circles told Reuters.”

Associated Press: Belgium reverses Covid rules for culture sector. “Belgium reversed some of its Covid-19 restrictions on Wednesday, allowing for the reopening of cinemas, theatres and concert halls. The move was a victory for the culture sector, which said it was being unfairly targeted by the rules.”

Reuters: Morocco’s tough COVID restrictions hammer tourism sector. “Businesses working in Morocco’s key tourism sector say the country’s tough COVID-19 restrictions, including a full flight ban, are undermining its competitiveness compared to rival destinations. Morocco shut its borders in late November and will only reopen them at the end of January. It has also banned new year celebrations and is enforcing its vaccine pass requirements more strictly in response to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.”

The Guardian: UK must be poised to introduce swift Covid curbs, says NHS leader. “Boris Johnson must be ready to restrict social mixing to stop hospitals being overwhelmed by an Omicron-driven surge in Covid cases, a senior NHS leader said today. The rapid spread of the new variant means the prime minister may have to introduce ‘tighter restrictions, at real speed’ to reduce the number of people falling ill with Covid.”


Baltimore Sun: Whistleblower alleges Maryland health officials failed to alert hundreds of patients of potentially spoiled vaccines. “The Maryland Department of Health for months did not notify hundreds of people who may have received spoiled vaccines from a contractor, and an employee who reported the mishandled doses alleges in a complaint that the agency retaliated against her for pressing to fix the issues.”

Los Angeles Times: A plan to offer COVID-19 survivor benefits could pave the way for California ‘baby bonds’ – Los Angeles Times. “California children who have lost a parent to COVID-19 could receive up to $5,000 in state-issued trust funds under a bill to be introduced in the Legislature next week, a proposal that suggests the state subsidy might later be expanded to a ‘baby bonds’ program for children living in poverty.”

Shreveport Times: Gov. Edwards announces new COVID daily infections record in Louisiana; warns against New Year’s parties. “Gov. John Bel Edwards urged Louisianans to limit their New Year’s celebrations to nuclear family gatherings and follow new recommendations to wear masks and get vaccinated as he announced a record number of new daily COVID cases in Louisiana during a virtual press conference Thursday…. Edwards said the Louisiana Department of Health reported 12,400 new COVID cases on Thursday. Hospitalizations have increased by 268 percent since Dec. 17.”

IndyStar: ‘Come and count them’: Indiana hospital CEO addresses Rokita’s COVID-19 numbers comment. “Indiana health care leaders and CEOs on Thursday pushed back at comments Attorney General Todd Rokita made during a recent televised interview in which he questioned the accuracy of the state’s COVID-19 data and attributed hospital staffing shortages to vaccine mandates. That is not the case, said Brian Tabor, president of the Indiana Hospital Association, though it’s a claim raised time and time again about the health care sector.”

WLTX: SC Department of Juvenile Justice issues state of emergency over COVID. “As COVID-19 cases surge, it’s causing serious issues behind the fences at the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). That’s according to an email sent to DJJ employees from Acting Director Eden Hendrick. Hendrick said the omicron variant is spreading through the agency’s facilities and it’s creating major staffing shortages.”

State of Delaware: Governor Carney to Issue State of Emergency to Fight COVID-19 Winter Surge. “Governor John Carney on Thursday announced a new State of Emergency declaration – effective Monday, January 3, 2022 – to combat the winter surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.”

State of Missouri: Governor Parson Announces Covid-19 Related State Of Emergency To Expire On December 31. “Today, Governor Mike Parson announced that Missouri’s COVID-19 related State of Emergency will expire and not be renewed on December 31, 2021. Governor Parson first issued an Executive Order (EO) declaring a State of Emergency existed due to COVID-19 on March 13, 2020.”

Journal Gazette: Hard time lies ahead, say state officials. “With almost half of Hoosiers unvaccinated, Indiana faces tough times in the weeks ahead, top state health officials said Wednesday during a COVID-19 update. Gov. Eric Holcomb, who convened the news conference, predicted ‘the next few weeks are going to be difficult.’ He cited the prospect of more cases caused by the fast-spreading omicron variant, rapidly filling hospitals and a shortage of tests and effective treatments.”


The News Tribune: Doctor wrote bogus COVID vaccine exemptions for patients, Washington officials say. “A Washington doctor has been barred from issuing COVID-19 vaccination exemptions after she administered misleading exemptions to patients, according to court documents. Anna Elperin, an osteopathic physician and surgeon in Ellensburg, Washington, had her license restricted and the Washington State Department of Health is conducting an investigation into the doctor.”


Washington Post: He died after waiting 15 days for a hospital bed. His family blames unvaccinated covid-19 patients.. “Throughout his life, Dale Weeks was characterized by family and friends in Iowa as ‘a good neighbor,’ someone who would do anything for anyone. So when he was diagnosed with sepsis last month, the retired schools superintendent and his family hoped he would get immediate care and be okay to reunite with them for the holidays. But at a time when unvaccinated covid-19 patients have again overwhelmed hospitals because of the fast-spreading omicron variant, finding an available bed at a large medical center able to give him the treatment he needed proved to be difficult.”

KNBC: ‘One Couldn’t Live Without the Other’: Married High School Sweethearts With COVID Die on Same Day. “Family members are mourning a Southern California couple after they died on the same day due to complications from COVID-19. Alvaro, 44, and Sylvia Fernandez, 42, of Loma Linda, had been together since high school. The parents of four children died Dec. 19, just hours apart.”


ESPN: More than one-third of NBA referees are in COVID-19 protocols, sources say. “As the omicron variant rips through NBA players and coaches, it has reached a season-high among game officials: 36% of the league’s referees are in COVID-19 protocols, sources told ESPN on Thursday. With 25 of the league’s 70 active referees currently in quarantine, the league has been promoting G League referees to fill out the nightly roster of games, sources said.”


WKSU: Ohio hospitals ask schools to keep or bring back mask mandates to help with soaring COVID numbers. “The state hit a record for COVID hospitalizations yesterday, and medical professionals are now battling the fast-spreading omicron variant while still dealing with the delta variant. So Ohio’s major hospital systems are asking school superintendents, administrators and board members to impose mask mandates for kids coming back to class next week.”

WBZ: Massachusetts Teachers Association Wants Schools Closed Monday For COVID-19 Testing. “The Massachusetts Teachers Association wants schools to stay closed Monday so teachers and staff can use the day for COVID-19 testing. Schools are scheduled to re-open following the holiday break Monday. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is sending out a total of 200,000 test kits to every school district, enough for them to give two at-home tests to each employee.”


The Hill: Study finds nearly all children seriously ill with COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated. “Only a small fraction of children hospitalized for COVID-19 have been fully vaccinated, according to a report released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC said that 0.4 percent of children and adolescents admitted to six hospitals during July and August with serious COVID-19 infections were fully vaccinated.”

Inside Edition: Flu Season Makes Comeback After Unusual Year Off Due to COVID-19. “The flu virus, after being subsumed by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, has made an unwelcome comeback, according to health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported some 2,500 nationwide influenza cases from clinical tests for the week ending Dec. 11. Though that figure isn’t unusual for this time of year, it also represents a number not seen since the coronavirus pandemic erupted.”


Healio: ,More screen time during COVID-19 pandemic has negative effects on pediatric mental health. “Children and youth with more screen time had increased risk for poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to results of a longitudinal cohort study conducted in Canada and published in JAMA Network Open.”


Gizmodo: Texas Scientists Are Sharing the Design for Their New, Cheap Covid-19 Vaccine. “On Tuesday, Indian health regulators granted an emergency use authorization to the Corbevax vaccine, created by scientists from the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine. The vaccine was further developed and tested in partnership with the Indian pharmaceutical company Biological E, which will handle the local production of the vaccine. Clinical trials have shown that Corbevax is safe and estimates indicate that it’s more than 90% effective against the original form of the coronavirus, as well as more than 80% effective against the Delta variant.”

HospiMedica: International Team of Scientists Create Plan for Accelerated Pipeline for Developing COVID-19 Drug Cocktails. “An international team of scientists has created a plan for an accelerated pipeline for developing drug cocktails to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Reuters: Sinovac COVID-19 shot with Pfizer booster less effective against Omicron – study. “Sinovac’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine followed by a booster Pfizer-BioNTech shot showed a lower immune response against the Omicron variant compared with other strains, according to a study by researchers. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed yet, was conducted by researchers from Yale University, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Health and other institutions.”


National Post: After two years of COVID, Canadians reluctant to participate in ‘normal’ activities: poll. “Mood of Canadians Part Four: Canadians have little enthusiasm for riding public transit, attending weddings or funerals, getting on a plane or attending concerts or sporting events.”


WTSP: Florida again breaks record with 58,013 COVID cases. “As the highly-transmissible omicron variant makes its way across the country, Florida is continuing to break its record number of COVID cases. The state reported 58,013 new COVID-19 cases for Dec. 29, surpassing the record set just one day prior by 11,090 cases, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.”

Spanish News Today: Covid cases in Madrid triple overnight. “At the height of the Christmas festivities, Madrid has experienced an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections which now threaten the capital’s New Year celebrations. On Tuesday December 28, the community notified 21,131 new Covid cases – a staggering increase from the 6,189 infections reported the previous day.”

WSOC: New COVID-19 cases, ER visits hit record highs in North Carolina, officials say. “Statewide, 18,571 positive tests for COVID-19 were reported, which is 60% higher than the previous record of 11,581 set in January of this year, officials said Thursday. The percent positive rate was 17.3%. The number of people going to the emergency room for COVID-like illness also set a new record at 4,171. The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has nearly doubled since the beginning of December, health officials said.”

NBC New York: 1 in 50 Manhattan Residents Infected With COVID in the Last Week. “About 2,012 of every 100,000 Manhattan residents tested positive in the last seven days, according to the latest transmission data posted by the city. The citywide rate is 1,742 per 100,000. The Manhattan figure is an average, though; some neighborhoods are substantially higher. The Chelsea and Clinton neighborhoods now stand at 2,600 cases per 100,000 residents in the last week; the Gramercy Park area is at 2,325.”

WCSC: DHEC director says South Carolina Covid numbers are ‘flat out alarming’. “As the omicron variant sweeps across the country, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is reporting 5,911 new cases of Covid-19, 10 new deaths, and a 20.5% positive rate in the state.”


LadBible: Brits Face Hefty Fine If They Share Photos Of Covid Lateral Flow Tests Online. “People in the UK have been warned not to post pictures of their lateral flow tests online as the codes are reportedly being traded by criminal groups who are selling negative results. Amid positive coronavirus cases reaching record highs in recent weeks, a ‘growing illegal trade’ has been identified despite hefty fines of up to £10,000 for those using or supplying fake Covid passes.”

WTNH: Man charged with faking positive COVID test result to avoid court. “A Connecticut man has been charged with illegally fabricating a positive COVID-19 test result to avoid appearing before a Superior Court judge in November. Junior Jumpp, 31, of Hartford was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count of forgery in the second degree and one count of fabricating physical evidence, according to the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice.”

Associated Press: Self-Described German Soldier in COVID Threat Video Arrested. “A man identifying himself as a German army soldier who recorded a threatening video with demands including the removal of coronavirus restrictions was arrested on Thursday, police said.”


Washington Post: Opinion: The omicron surge could be the worst public health challenge of our lifetimes. “The current omicron surge represents one of the greatest public health challenges not only of the pandemic but also of our lifetime. To deal with the surge over the next six to eight weeks, policymakers need to plan for the impact of what could be 1 million cases a day of new infections in the United States. Such planning involves being realistic about the effectiveness of vaccination at this point; taking immediate steps to improve public health messaging, data collection and the availability of drug therapies; and doing whatever is possible to ameliorate the potentially devastating consequences for our health-care system.”


The Hill: Year that broke the recall? Why COVID led to recalls flopping nationwide. “With the high profile recall against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and efforts targeting hundreds of school board members over pandemic restrictions, 2021 seemed to be the year of the recall — but the idea that this was a banner year for recalls is far from true. The stats show that 2021 may instead have been the year that broke the recall, as the measure repeatedly, and embarrassingly, flopped.”

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