Friday CoronaBuzz, January 7, 2022: 53 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

Just a reminder that while this is a digest newsletter, all CoronaBuzz items are individually indexed and tagged at . I wrote an article explaining how to monitor by tag, category, or even search term: that’s at . Currently there are 12,698 items. Please get a booster shot. Please wear a mask when you’re inside away from home. Much love.


BuzzFeed News: The Latest Stage Of The Pandemic: Chaos. “You can get together safely with vaccinated loved ones over the holidays, but maybe you should reconsider. Omicron appears to be more infectious, but less deadly; though you should still worry about Delta, which is less infectious, but more deadly. Schools are still open — until they’re not, sometimes not even virtually. Social media is full of posts from friends either out partying or at home quarantining. Please still wear a mask in public, but not a cloth one, even though it’s still common to exercise in most gyms without one altogether. Rapid tests are useful but hard to find and maybe not so useful after all.”


Fox 13: Utah tech executive resigns after anti-Semitic email rant. “The founder and chair of Entrata, a Silicon Slopes tech firm, has resigned his position after sending an email to a number of tech CEOs and Utah business and political leaders, claiming the COVID-19 vaccine is part of a plot by ‘the Jews’ to exterminate people.”

Ars Technica: Tracking Facebook connections between parent groups and vaccine misinfo. “Misinformation about the pandemic and the health measures that are effective against SARS-CoV-2 has been a significant problem in the US. It’s led to organized resistance against everything from mask use to vaccines and has undoubtedly ended up killing people. Plenty of factors have contributed to this surge of misinformation, but social media clearly helps enable its spread. While the companies behind major networks have taken some actions to limit the spread of misinformation, internal documents indicate that a lot more could be done.”

Poynter: No, Tylenol doesn’t ruin your ability to fight COVID-19. “As the highly transmissible omicron variant fuels a surge of COVID-19 cases across the country, treatment advice has ramped up on social media. Some users are warning against the use of Tylenol, with claims that it does more harm than good.”


BBC: Staff shortages in care industry: ‘It takes a strong person to do this job’. “Across Norfolk, there are currently 210 people in hospital who should be in a care setting. Of those 210, 120 people need home care and the remaining 90 require care home beds. The problem they, and those responsible for their welfare face, is a dire shortage of available care.”

WPRI: Outbreak hits Rhode Island hospital after COVID-positive staff called in to work. “Eleanor Slater Hospital in Cranston on Thursday reported 28 patients had tested positive for the virus as of that morning, totaling about 14% of the facility’s roughly 200 patients. The outbreak of cases comes in the wake of the state announcing it would align with federal guidance and permit COVID-positive health care workers to continue treating patients.”

Baltimore Sun: Staffs of Maryland hospitals, stressed and sickened with COVID-19, know ‘cavalry’ isn’t coming. “As COVID-19 hospitalizations climb into uncharted territory, fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant, Maryland’s medical work force is increasingly diminished by illness and exposure, burnout and turnover. Gov. Larry Hogan has responded with pleas for people to get vaccinated and boosted and wear masks to spare the hospitals. The state opened several testing sites near hospitals so people would stop flooding emergency rooms with nonemergencies.”


WXPR: Wisconsin hospitals strain as confirmed number of daily COVID cases surpasses 11,000. “About 2,000 Wisconsinites are currently hospitalized with the virus. Statewide, 97 percent of intensive care beds and 98 percent of immediate care beds are full. Thirty-five Wisconsinites died from the virus Thursday.”

The Sun News: Horry hospital beds 90% full during omicron surge, leaving staff ‘emotionally drained’. “Hospital bed occupancy has reached 92.2% in Horry County, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and positive tests are being recorded at a higher rate than at most points throughout the pandemic. In total, 701 hospital beds are in Horry County, 646 of which were occupied as of Thursday. COVID-19 patients make up 91 of the beds across the county.”

OPB: Oregon announces long-awaited crisis care standards for hospitals as COVID-19 numbers rise. “The Oregon Health Authority has published new directions for hospitals in the event they need to triage patients and decide who gets urgent, life-saving care in a crisis — and who may not — when there aren’t enough critical resources, such as intensive care beds, available.”

Canton Repository: As COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, Ohio hospital leaders say situation is worsening outside northern Ohio. “Ohio has broken its daily COVID-19 hospitalization record for nine days straight. As of Thursday, there were 6,540 Ohioans with the virus being treated in Ohio hospitals. The Buckeye State over the past two weeks is also seeing a rise in COVID-19 deaths. According to New York Times data, Ohio is only second in the nation after Wyoming in deaths per capita, at 1.09 deaths per 100,000 people.”

BBC: Covid in Scotland: NHS major incident warning as military help called in. “NHS Grampian could declare a major incident next week amid rising Covid cases, as extra military staff begin arriving to help three health boards. Grampian warned trigger points could be met as early as the end of next week amid an ‘exponential growth’ in cases.”


CNET: E3 2022 will be online-only again due to COVID. “E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is another event that will go online due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases. This marks the third year the show won’t be held in person because of the pandemic.”

San Antonio Magazine: San Antonio’s MLK March Canceled as COVID-19 Cases Surge. “The Martin Luther King Jr. Commission voted late Thursday to cancel the march planned for Monday, Jan. 17, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases locally. Metro Health upgraded the local COVID-19 risk level to ‘severe’ earlier this week and over 2,300 new cases of the virus were reported in Bexar County on Thursday. The citywide interfaith worship service scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 16, also has been canceled.”


Hollywood Reporter: ‘Star Trek: Picard’ Production Paused After More Than 50 Test Positive for COVID-19 (Exclusive). “Sources say more than 50 members of the large production tested positive on Monday, which was the first day of work after the Christmas break. The Patrick Stewart-led series has one of television’s biggest crews, numbering more than 450 staffers. The infections impacted multiple zones, including cast in zone A.”

AFP: Leaked memo says rusty Qantas pilots making errors: report. “Some Qantas pilots are making mistakes as they return from long breaks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an internal memo reported by Australian media on Wednesday. Among the errors listed in Qantas pilot reports: starting take-off with the parking brake on and misreading the altitude as airspeed, said a report by the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s Age.”

Argus Leader: COVID-19 cases rising again at Smithfield plant as standards relax, union leader says. “United Food & Commercial Workers Union leader B.J. Motley told the Argus Leader that many workers at Smithfield have COVID-19 once again. The company has been doing daily testing as the Omicron variant rises, but monitor duties were cut, he said.”


Associated Press: Navy blocked from acting against 35 COVID vaccine refusers. “A federal judge in Texas has granted a preliminary injunction stopping the Navy from acting against 35 sailors for refusing on religious grounds to comply with an order to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Reuters: U.S. FDA cuts gap for Moderna COVID-19 booster dose to five months. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Friday it shortened the stipulated time between the primary series of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and a booster dose by a month to at least five months for people aged 18 or above.”

Washington Post: White House, USPS finalizing plans to begin shipping coronavirus test kits to U.S. households. “The White House is finalizing details with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver 500 million coronavirus test kits to households across the country, according to four people familiar with the plans, kick-starting a key part of President Biden’s response to the raging omicron variant. The administration will launch a website allowing individuals to request the rapid tests, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private planning sessions. Officials aim to begin shipping the kits by mid-January.”

Reuters: State lawyers arguing against Biden vaccine mandates test positive for COVID-19. “Two officials presenting arguments on Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to block vaccine mandates ordered by President Joe Biden’s administration have tested positive for COVID-19 and will make their cases remotely, their offices said. Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers and Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill will argue against the vaccination and testing requirements by phone, according to their offices.”


Nature: WHO chief Tedros looks guaranteed for re-election amid COVID pandemic. “Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), is all but ensured to lead the organization for a second term, from 2022 to 2027, because he is the only candidate in the race. As a matter of procedure, on 25 January, the WHO’s executive board is expected to nominate him for re-election in May.”

BBC: Covid: Deadly Omicron should not be called mild, warns WHO. “Recent studies suggest that Omicron is less likely to make people seriously ill than previous Covid variants. But the record number of people catching it has left health systems under severe pressure, said WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. On Monday, the US recorded more than one million Covid cases in 24 hours.”

Bloomberg: Hong Kong birthday bash lands 30 officials in quarantine. “All of the approximate 100 guests at a celebration thrown for a representative of a mainland Chinese agency were being sent to the quarantine camp in Penny’s Bay, local media reported Friday. Some of Hong Kong’s most senior politicians — along with more than 20% of its new ‘patriots-only’ legislature — will be confined to 20-square-meter rooms with no wifi access, just as the government fights an outbreak of the infectious omicron variant.:

Cuba News: More than 90% of Cubans fully vaccinated against COVID-19. “The Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) reported this Monday that 91.6% of the island’s population has already received the complete COVID-19 vaccination scheme. The national director of Epidemiology, Dr. Francisco Durán, explained in his usual morning press conference that 9.673 million Cubans — out of a population of 11.2 million — have already received the three-dose scheme of one of the three nationally developed vaccines against the coronavirus.”

Reuters: Germany says boostered people need no COVID quarantine after contact. “Germany will exempt people who have received a booster shot against COVID-19 from quarantine requirements after contact with an infected person, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Friday.”


4WWL: Visitation for Louisiana-run prisons suspended indefinitely due to COVID. ” The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections has suspended prisoner visitation indefinitely starting Thursday. According to the DOC, the precautionary measure was made after the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The department also suspended volunteers from entering any of the eight state-run prisons.”

WCAX: NH House votes to further limit governor’s COVID powers. “The New Hampshire House has voted to further limit the governor’s authority in future public health emergencies. Previous state law allowed the governor to declare a state of emergency and renew it every 21 days as long as he or she found it necessary to protect public safety.”

NBC LX: Which States Saw the Most COVID Deaths in 2021? America’s Least Vaccinated. “States with the U.S.’s lowest vaccination rates lost residents to COVID at a rate two to five times higher than states with high vaccination rates in 2021, according to an analysis of the country’s 458,000 COVID-related deaths and nearly 500 million vaccines administered this year.”

Fox 5 New York: NY reports highest single-day COVID deaths since mass vaccinations began. ” In New York, 130 people died due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, 62 of whom were from New York City, according to the latest data released by the state. The total is the largest number since mass vaccinations began.”

Everything Lubbock: Ten Texas Juvenile Justice Dept. employees test positive for COVID-19. “Ten employees at the McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Mart have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 24 hours. This comes after the Texas Juvenile Justice Department announced in December that 68 cases were active across its facilities (37 youth and 31 staff).”

Daily Beast: Ron DeSantis: I Let a Million Unused COVID Tests Expire in State Stockpile. “Amid a shortage of COVID-19 tests that left huge swaths of the U.S. facing bare pharmacy shelves, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allowed a million testing kits to expire in a state stockpile. The head of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management Kevin Guthrie made the shocking admission Thursday during a press conference alongside DeSantis. Guthrie said, ‘We had between 800,000 and a million Abbott test kits in our warehouse that did expire.'”

WESH: 80% of Florida will have caught COVID-19 by end of omicron wave, UF report says. “According to a new report from the University of Florida, most of the state’s population will become infected with coronavirus in the latest omicron wave. UF biostatisticians have been studying the way that the omicron variant behaves. They say data shows that omicron is twice as infectious as delta and spreads quicker, too.”

NBC Miami: Florida Department of Health Issues COVID-19 Testing Guidance That Contradicts CDC’s. “New COVID-19 testing guidance released by the Florida Department of Health Thursday is at odds with federal guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new guidance from the department of health comes days after Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said the state is following a ‘sensible public health’ campaign that focuses on testing only at-risk patients and those showing symptoms of COVID-19.”


NBC DFW: COVID-19 Cases Spiking At Fort Worth Police, Fire Departments. “COVID-19 cases are on the rise among Fort Worth firefighters and police officers. and firefighters. The Fort Worth Fire Department reported that 116 of the department’s 927 firefighters are out on COVID-related leave. At the Fort Worth Police Department, 56 positive COVID-19 cases were reported on Dec. 30, an increase of 24 cases from the previous report on Dec. 17, the department said.”


BBC: Covid-19: Indian man has taken at least eight Covid jabs. “A man in India got jabbed with a Covid-19 vaccine at least eight times last year, a health official said. Brahmdeo Mandal, 65, has claimed that he received 11 doses of the vaccine in Bihar state.”

WFAA: After COVID coma, Cedar Hill school custodian finds renewed appreciation for job. “Looking for the greatest job in America? It can be found at Permenter Middle School in Cedar Hill. Just ask the custodian.”

Complex: DJ Kay Slay Hospitalized Due to COVID-19, Brother Shares Update on His Condition. “After Wack 100 posted a concerning message regarding DJ Kay Slay’s battle with COVID-19 earlier this week, his brother has offered an update on the 55-year-old DJ.”


Digital Spy: James Corden’s Late Late Show taking break due to positive COVID-19 test. “The Late Late Show with James Corden is now a late-night television staple in the US, but the series will be taking a break over the next few days. Corden, who took over as The Late Late Show’s host back in 2015, confirmed the news on Instagram yesterday (January 6), telling followers that he has tested positive for COVID-19.”


Military Times: 4 reservists died of COVID-19 complications in a single week. “Four more deaths in the final days of 2021 capped off what have been the military’s deadliest months of the pandemic. After reporting a total of 14 deaths in 2020, the services jumped from 27 deaths overall in June to 86 total — making the 2021 toll for service members 72.”


KRON: Some San Francisco teachers stage ‘sickout’ for COVID safety. ” Some San Francisco teachers are fed up with the school district saying they didn’t prepare for the expected surge the city is experiencing right now with omicron cases. So on Thursday, teachers in the union are holding a sickout — demanding safer work conditions. This is on top of the over 600 San Francisco teachers who actually called out sick yesterday due to symptoms or exposure to the virus.”

Michigan Daily: New-York disability advocacy group files restraining order against AAPS. “After Ann Arbor Public Schools resumed classes virtually on Wednesday, a disability-rights advocacy group asked U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy to stop Michigan school districts from cancelling in-person classes going forward. The Brain Injury Rights Group (BRIG) is a New York-based legal rights advocacy group that offers pro-bono services to individuals with disabilities.”

Mississippi Clarion-Ledger: Study: More parents are wary of sending their children back to school amid COVID-19 spike. “A nationwide study conducted by My eLearning World found 43% of parents overall said they’re more concerned about sending their child back to school due to the recent spike. About 51% of parents with vaccinated children and 35% of parents with unvaccinated children said their concerns have increased, the study states.”


CNBC: You should report your at-home Covid test results, experts say — here’s how. “Clinics and doctors’ offices are required by law to report Covid test results to state and local public health officials, but people who take at-home tests aren’t — and many of those test results don’t get reported. Now, many health experts are encouraging people to report positive at-home tests to their state’s public health agencies to help their area’s pandemic response planning, which includes guidelines for contact tracing and mask-wearing.”

New York Times: Can You Get the Flu and Covid at the Same Time?. “As flu season sets in and the Omicron variant continues to surge, how worried should we be? We spoke to experts to better understand what it could mean to test positive for both infections. Here’s what we learned.”


StateTech: The Pandemic Has Highlighted the Need for Accessible Technology in Government. “The coronavirus pandemic has changed a great deal about how state and local governments operate, with many agencies expanding digital services. However, with governments turning increasingly to remote work, virtual meetings and online service delivery, the pandemic has also shown the shortcomings of such solutions and technologies for those with disabilities.”


NBC New York: Study Offers Reassurance on COVID Shots, Women’s Periods . “One of the first studies to track whether COVID-19 vaccination might affect women’s periods found a small and temporary change. Research published Wednesday tracked nearly 4,000 U.S. women through six menstrual cycles and on average, the next period after a shot started about a day later than usual. But there was no change in the number of days of menstrual bleeding after COVID-19 vaccination.”

Oregon State University: OSU study reveals how COVID shutdowns, restrictions affected countries’ electricity use. “A recent study from Oregon State University found that countries with stricter COVID-19 lockdowns and larger decreases in local travel early in the pandemic experienced steeper declines in electricity use than countries with more lax restrictions.”

Oak Ridge National Laboratory: Refrigeration — Cooling COVID-19 vaccines. “Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have retrofitted a commercial refrigeration container designed to ensure COVID-19 vaccines remain at ultra-low temperatures during long transport and while locally stored.”

CIDRAP: Lack of high school education predicts vaccine hesitancy. “A lack of a high school education was the most important predictor of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in 3,142 US counties, finds a study yesterday in the American Journal of Infection Control. And a research letter yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that 15 state lottery-based incentive programs didn’t significantly increase vaccination rates compared with 31 states without such programs.”

Cornell Chronicle: Faster checkouts could reduce virus spread at stores. “[Professor Jamol] Pender specializes in queuing theory – essentially the science of waiting in lines. His research has sought to ease traffic congestion, help driverless vehicles navigate and minimize the wait for rides at Disney World. So he turned his attention to a similar kind of queueing and set out to model the probability of how often pairs of shoppers might overlap in a store – an approach that could be used to predict the transmission of COVID-19, and guide strategies to reduce its spread.”

The Conversation: From delta to omicron, here’s how scientists know which coronavirus variants are circulating in the US. “How do scientists know what versions of the coronavirus are present? How quickly can they see which viral variants are making inroads in a population? Alexander Sundermann and Lee Harrison are epidemiologists who study novel approaches for outbreak detection. Here they explain how the genomic surveillance system works in the U.S. and why it’s important to know which virus variants are circulating.”


Daily Beast: Paramedic Busted for Secret Vax Card Side Hustle. “David Hodges, 30, was assigned to a vaccination facility in Dover, according to the complaint. In early 2021, he ‘devised a plan to obtain COVID-19 vaccination cards for the purpose of selling the cards to individuals who did not receive the vaccine,’ states the filing.”

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