Thursday CoronaBuzz, January 6, 2022: 47 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

Please get a booster shot. Please wear a mask when you’re inside away from home. Much love.


Vice: Anti-Vax Podcaster Who Got COVID at a Conspiracy Conference Has Died. “Doug Kuzma, 61, from Newport News, Virginia, died on January 3 after being hospitalized 10 days earlier. Kuzma broadcasted on the FROG News podcasting network, which stands for ‘Fully Rely On God.’ Kuzma and his FROG fellow hosts pushed an array of conspiracy theories ranging from QAnon to COVID denial and election fraud lies.”

BBC: Covid: Anti-vaccine campaigns are mumbo jumbo, says PM. “Boris Johnson has accused anti-vaccine campaigners of speaking ‘mumbo jumbo’ when it comes to coronavirus jabs. The prime minister said those spreading false information on social media were ‘totally wrong’ and it was time for him ‘to call them out’.”


New York Times: Lifesaving Covid Treatments Face Rationing as Virus Surges Again. “At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, scarce ventilators and protective equipment faced strict rationing. Today, as the pandemic rages into its third year, another precious category of products is coming under tight controls: treatments to stave off severe Covid-19. There is a greater menu of Covid pills and infusions now than at any point in the pandemic. The problem is that the supplies of those that work against the Omicron variant are extremely limited.”


KSDK: St. Louis ‘crushed’ by omicron-fueled COVID surge, task force leaders say. “A surging number of COVID-19 patients combined with fatigued, short-staffed medical teams is leading to a ‘nightmare scenario’ for the St. Louis area. St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force leaders said Wednesday the virus is winning, and the fear is that things will get worse before they get better over the next couple weeks.”

WILK: ‘We are very concerned’ — COVID puts strain on Michigan hospitals. “The number of healthcare workers testing positive for COVID in Mid-Michigan is going up, putting another strain on the system. ‘Frankly, we are very concerned about what’s going to come in the days ahead,’ said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, with Henry Ford Health System. More than 700 Henry Ford Health employees are unable to work currently after testing positive for COVID. Doctors said as case numbers rise in the community, they’ll rise among healthcare workers too.”

ITV: ‘Everyone’s like zombies’: NHS staff ‘reduced to tears’ by Covid shortages. “NHS workers in England have been “reduced to tears” by staff shortages caused by the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Royal College of Nursing has said. RCN director for England Patricia Marquis said the government needs to be ‘honest’ with the public about the pressure being put on the health service, adding that patient care is being impacted.”

Reuters: UK health staffing crisis risks derailing attempts to solve hospital backlog – lawmakers. “Attempts to deal with record waiting lists for hospital treatment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are at risk of being derailed by a staffing crisis, which is being exacerbated by the Omicron wave, a lawmaker report said on Thursday.”

The Scotsman: Covid Scotland: Nearly 600 ambulance staff absent as emergency services and health service bear brunt. “Nearly 600 members of staff at the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) are now absent due to Covid-19 related reasons, with the under-pressure frontline service turning to bank and relief staff in an effort to fill shifts.”

Associated Press: Georgia hospitalizations keep climbing in COVID-19 wave. “Nearly 4,000 people were hospitalized Tuesday with COVID-19 statewide, a number that has more than tripled in the past two weeks. Hospitalizations in metro Atlanta’s two core hospital districts are now as high or higher than during the delta wave in late summer. Almost 40% of all patients in a hospital district in Atlanta’s northwest suburbs have tested positive for COVID-19.”

WKZO: Adult COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide at record levels, local hospitals at 95 percent capacity. “According to the latest statistics from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there were 4,197 hospitalizations as of Monday compared to 3,839 hospitalizations on December 28. There were a then-record 4,185 hospitalizations in late November.”

CBS News: New Jersey hospitals face staffing shortages as nurses see some COVID patients “not win that battle”. “Nearly 6,000 hospital staff members across New Jersey have gotten COVID since Christmas. The state is asking its national guard and FEMA for help with staffing. Fourteen hospitals in the state face a critical staffing shortage and at least three more are expected to be by the end of the week. The shortage is happening as the state sees more than 700 patients in the ICU.”

Austin American-Statesman: Amid omicron COVID spike, Texas hospitals see staffing shortages accelerating. “In the weeklong period that straddled the end of last year and the dawn of 2022, about 1,500 employees at one of Texas’ leading treatment hospitals for COVID-19 tested positive for the virus, aggravating a staffing shortage amid yet another spike in the pandemic that has frayed the health care system for nearly two years.”

KSDK: BJC halts elective surgeries after COVID patient surge that is ‘beyond anything we’ve seen thus far’. “A rapid rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations has led BJC HealthCare to postpone elective procedures starting Thursday, Jan. 6. Hospital officials said it was a difficult but necessary decision. There were more than 500 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across BJC’s system Tuesday.”


CNET: Omicron spurs cancellations, delays: Grammys, Sundance and other events impacted. “The US reported more than a million COVID cases on Monday as the new omicron variant rages across the country following the holidays. As the number of people infected rises, more events change plans for the sake of health safety.”

Mashable: Photos show deserted CES, and wow. “The annual Las Vegas consumer electronics convention typically draws massive crowds, with journalists jockeying for space and scoops as thousands of exhibitors show off their wares. But with the coronavirus continuing to run rampant across the United States, 2022 is not a typical year — a fact made clear by photos showing the comparatively empty halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center.”


CNN: Norwegian Cruise Line cancels voyages on 8 ships. “Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the cancellation of voyages on eight ships, citing ‘ongoing travel restrictions.’ A Norwegian Getaway cruise set to embark on a nine-day Caribbean itinerary was canceled ‘due to COVID related circumstances’ on Wednesday, the same day it was scheduled to set sail.”

South China Morning Post: Rotting fruit, sinking fortunes – Covid-19 curbs take their toll on China’s Myanmar border. “Thousands of tonnes of watermelon are lying dumped by the roadside along Myanmar’s border with southwestern China, with local exporters complaining that strict Covid-19 pandemic controls had made trade in perishables ‘nearly impossible’. Major road links to the city of Ruili in Yunnan province – China’s major gateway to Myanmar – remain jammed with hundreds of trucks waiting to clear the checkpoints.”

CNBC: Walmart cuts paid Covid leave in half, as CDC isolation guidance changes. “Walmart is cutting pandemic-related paid leave in half — from two weeks to one week — after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cut isolation requirements last week for asymptomatic people with Covid and shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.”


CNET: CDC panel recommends boosters for kids 12 and up. “A committee that advises the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Wednesday to recommend Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster for kids age 12 and up, at least five months after their second shot.”

Route Fifty: Census Recounts Fail to Account for Covid Chaos, Cities Say. “Communities that believe the pandemic made it impossible for census workers to get an accurate count of their populations may have trouble qualifying for a recount and miss out on state and federal funding.”

New York Times: For C.D.C.’s Walensky, a Steep Learning Curve on Messaging. “President Biden came into office vowing to restore public trust in the C.D.C. after the Trump White House had tied the agency’s hands and manipulated its scientific judgments on the pandemic for political ends. Yet in his first year of battling the coronavirus, Mr. Biden has presided over a series of messaging failures that have followed a familiar pattern, with Dr. Walensky and her team making what experts say are largely sound decisions, but fumbling in communicating them to America.”

Washington Post: Postal Service asks for temporary waiver from Biden vaccine requirement. “The U.S. Postal Service has asked federal labor officials for a temporary waiver from President Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, setting up a showdown on pandemic safety measures between the president and one of the government’s largest agencies.”


Associated Press: Italy requires coronavirus vaccines for people 50 and older . “The Italian government approved a measure Wednesday requiring people older than 50 to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. as the country struggles with nearly daily new records of fresh infections fueled by the omicron variant. Earlier in the day, 189,000 new infections were confirmed in the country of some 59 million people.”

Reuters: Brazil to vaccinate children aged 5-11 against COVID-19 – minister. “Brazil’s Health Ministry said on Wednesday that it will go ahead with the voluntary vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years old against COVID-19 and dropped plans to require a doctor’s prescription. While vaccination will not be mandatory, state governments have the final word on public health decisions and could require that children be vaccinated to be able to attend school.”

ProPublica: I Saw Firsthand What It Takes to Keep COVID Out of Hong Kong. It Felt Like a Different Planet.. “On a visit to Hong Kong, ProPublica reporter Caroline Chen encountered a 21-day quarantine, a bevy of COVID tests, universal masking and, finally, a fear-free family holiday.”

Reuters: Ukraine offers booster COVID-19 shots to all adults. “Ukraine is now offering booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines to all adults as the Omicron variant is spreading and is likely to lead to a spike in coronavirus infections next month, Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said on Thursday.”

Reuters: Austria decides new COVID-19 measures including shorter quarantine. “Austria will impose new COVID-19 measures from Saturday including shortening quarantine times to five days, requiring people to wear masks outdoors when in crowds, and limiting to six months the validity of vaccine certificates, officials said.”

Reuters: Smash and shout: Dutch find new ways to vent COVID-19 frustrations. “One swinging a sledgehammer and the other a crowbar, twin brothers Steven and Brian Krijger grin as they take turns pulverising a Peugeot 106 spray-painted with the words ‘F*** COVID’. They are participants in ‘CarSmash’, a Dutch project aimed at providing locked-down locals with ways of releasing anger and frustration built up during a pandemic now entering its third year.”


WSPA: SC Dept. of Corrections cancel all visitations due to COVID-19 concerns. “Visitations at South Carolina prisons are canceled this weekend due to COVID-19 concerns. The South Carolina Department of Corrections tweeted that both in-person and virtual visitations are canceled for the weekend at all institutions due to COVID-19 concerns.”

KMBC: Missouri lawmakers back in session amid rapid COVID-19 surge. “Missouri lawmakers are back in Jefferson City. The new session opens amid a rise in COVID-19 cases. Despite the COVID-19 surge, there are no mask mandates in place at the Missouri State Capitol. In the Missouri Senate and the Missouri House, some lawmakers say that COVID-19 is a big concern.”

AZ Mirror: COVID-19 cases rising at ‘fastest rate’ the state has seen, experts say. “On Monday, the number of daily reported COVID-19 cases soared to more than 14,000, the second-most since the pandemic began, surpassed only by the 17,000 reported exactly one year ago.”


NBC Miami: Miami Fire Captain Survives COVID-19 After 60-Day Hospital Stay. “A Miami fire captain survived COVID-19 after being hospitalized for 60 days at Cleveland Clinic. Javier Valdes, 42, was once a healthy and active Miami fire captain. However, COVID-19 sent him to the emergency room after he couldn’t break a fever.”

New York Daily News: COVID cases surge in NYC courts: ‘Everyone who is entering these spaces is getting sick’. “In New York City’s courthouses, omicron is so out of control that arraignments have turned into a hot zone where anyone present receives a COVID-19 exposure alert, public defenders said Wednesday.”

KCAL: Los Angeles Fire, Police Departments Grappling With COVID Outbreaks. “First responders in the City of Los Angeles have been hit hard by this latest surge of COVID-19 infections. The Los Angeles City Fire Department is grappling with a major outbreak. Chief Ralph Terrazas says 7% of his staff – nearly 300 firefighters – have been infected and are not working. That’s the highest number of positive cases in the department since the start of the pandemic.”


Radio Prague International: Virtual virtuosity: Czech device lets musicians play together across vast distances . “A device developed by Czech researchers enabling musicians thousands of kilometres apart to play together virtually – with no perceptible delay – proved invaluable during the pandemic. So much so, in fact, that the unique device won a European Heritage ‘Europa Nostra’ Award, for helping bring together students and teachers of classical music, as well as entire ensembles. The idea to develop such a device actually came to Dr Sven Ubik of the Czech Technical University years ago, while attending a concert also broadcast on television.”


CNNWire: Couple with COVID-19 dies within moments of each other while holding hands. “William and Carol Stewart of New Hampshire died within seconds of each other of COVID-19, holding hands as they took their last breaths. Daughter Melissa Noke said their entire family of eight tested positive for COVID-19. Carol was on life support for two weeks, William for eight days. William suffered from lung, kidney and renal failure towards the end of his life.”

CNN: Arizona siblings lose both parents to Covid-19 in less than 48 hours. “Bob and Sue Walker were inseparable during more than 44 years of marriage and called each other ‘mate’ and ‘matey’ because they were soulmates, their adult children told CNN. They died of Covid-19 over the holidays on separate floors in an Arizona hospital.”


BuzzFeed: Novak Djokovic Has To Leave Australia After His COVID Vaccine Exemption Visa Was Canceled. “Australian authorities canceled the visa of the world’s No. 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic, on Thursday after he failed to provide appropriate proof regarding his exemption from rules requiring foreigners to be vaccinated, officials said.”


Associated Press: Dogs to visit 3 school districts to sniff out COVID-19. “Two dogs trained to detect an odor distinct to people who are sick with COVID-19 will visit three school districts in Bristol County this week. A black Labrador named Huntah and a golden Lab called Duke can detect the smell of the virus on surfaces and will sit to indicate when they pick up the scent.”


WRAL: NC hospitals say 100% of COVID-19 patients on ventilators are unvaccinated. “Getting vaccinated and boosted is the key to staying out of hospitals or becoming seriously ill from coronavirus, all three physicians urged. At WakeMed and UNC hospitals, 100% of COVID-19 patients on ventilators are unvaccinated, they said. At all WakeMed hospitals, only 1 in 10 ICU patients are fully vaccinated, and at Duke, all the patients on ECMO, a form of life support used for only the sickest patients, are unvaccinated.”


Stony Brook University: Dry Heat Disinfecting of N95 Mask Works, Preserves Fit. “. A study led by Stony Brook University researchers discovered that a readily available method using dry ovens can be used to disinfect N95s for reuse, in settings where new masks may not be available. Their findings are published in PLOS ONE.”


The Mercury News: COVID surge: Outbreaks hit multiple Bay Area homeless shelters. “The Division Circle Navigation Center, a large shelter in San Francisco that also helps occupants access medical, mental health and substance abuse care, reported more than half of its 88 residents — plus three staff members — have been infected. Another 17 residents and nine staffers have tested positive at San Francisco’s MSC-South shelter.”

BBC: Covid-19: More than 100 test positive on an Italy-India flight. “A total of 125 passengers who arrived in the northern Indian city of Amritsar on a chartered flight from Italy have tested positive for Covid-19. They will be placed in isolation, health officials said. They were among 179 passengers on the flight from Milan which landed in Amritsar on Wednesday afternoon.”

CBC: Natuashish reporting double-digit case numbers as COVID-19 hits community for first time. “COVID-19 has entered the isolated community of Natuashish for the first time — in a large way — and contact tracers are having difficulties, according to Mushuau Innu First Nation Chief John Nui. Nui said he and council got their first update from their health workers on Tuesday, and the community of 935 people, located 295 kilometres north of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, has since reported 30 cases.”

CityBeat: Cincinnati Doctor: Local Omicron COVID-19 Cases Doubling Every Few Days. “During a media briefing on Wednesday, three Cincinnati officials loudly sounded the alarm that COVID-19 still is a major problem within the region and is actually getting worse.”


Notes from Poland: Murderer on the run for 20 years arrested after not wearing mask to shop. “A man who fled a conviction for a murder committed two decades ago has been arrested after police caught him by chance when stopping him outside a shop for not wearing a face mask. He will now serve a 25-year prison sentence.”

CBC: Passengers on Sunwing party plane could face jail time, thousands in fines. “A group of Quebec influencers and reality show stars could be facing thousands of dollars in fines, after videos surfaced showing them partying without masks on board a Sunwing flight from Montreal to Cancun. Images from the Dec. 30 flight showed passengers ignoring public health measures, jumping and dancing in the aisle, vaping and openly passing around a bottle of hard liquor on the plane. In one video, a person could be seen crowd-surfing while the plane was in the air.”

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