Saturday CoronaBuzz, January 8, 2022: 37 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.


CNN: Partying passengers stuck in Mexico after airlines decline to fly them home. “Some members of a rowdy group shown dancing, drinking and vaping maskless aboard a flight to Cancun find themselves stranded in Mexico after their return flight to Canada was scrubbed and other airlines have declined to fly them home.”


Daily Beast: QAnon Star Who Said Only ‘Idiots’ Get Vax Dies of COVID. “Cirsten Weldon had amassed tens of thousands of followers across right-wing social media networks by promoting the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy under the screenname ‘CirstenW.’ She was prominent enough to become a sort of QAnon interpreter for comedian conspiracy theorist Roseanne Barr, and started recording videos about QAnon with her.”

Associated Press: FACT FOCUS: Unfounded theory used to dismiss COVID measures. “An unfounded theory taking root online suggests millions of people have been ‘hypnotized’ into believing mainstream ideas about COVID-19, including steps to combat it such as testing and vaccination.”


Associated Press: Omicron explosion spurs nationwide breakdown of services. “Ambulances in Kansas speed toward hospitals then suddenly change direction because hospitals are full. Employee shortages in New York City cause delays in trash and subway services and diminish the ranks of firefighters and emergency workers. Airport officials shut down security checkpoints at the biggest terminal in Phoenix and schools across the nation struggle to find teachers for their classrooms. The current explosion of omicron-fueled coronavirus infections in the U.S. is causing a breakdown in basic functions and services — the latest illustration of how COVID-19 keeps upending life more than two years into the pandemic.”


New Zealand Herald: Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: National Party MP Harete Hipango attends second anti-lockdown and mandate protest. “Whanganui list MP Harete Hipango has posted pictures of herself on Facebook, at a rally in her electorate. But the post has been deleted after being contacted by her party’s leader Christopher Luxon. She wrote about freedom and choice in her post and criticised the label anti-vaxers.”


Des Moines Register: Photos: Respiratory Therapists on the COVID-19 front lines. There’s not really an excerpt so I can’t give you one. It’s a collection of 47 photos, mostly following two specific health care professionals as they work.

NPR: Short-staffed and COVID-battered, U.S. hospitals are hiring more foreign nurses. “Billings Clinic is just one of scores of hospitals across the U.S. looking abroad to ease a shortage of nurses worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. The national demand is so great that it has created a backlog of health care professionals awaiting clearance to work in the U.S. More than 5,000 international nurses are awaiting final visa approval, the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment reported in September.”

Austin American-Statesman: The number of Texans in hospitals for COVID-19 has increased by more than 50% in the past week. “Health officials on Friday recorded 9,216 people in the hospital for COVID-19 statewide, more than a 50% increase in the past week. The summer surge peaked at 13,932 patients on Aug. 26, 2021. The pandemic high was in January, when 14,218 Texans were hospitalized.”


BuzzFeed News: The CDC Is Warning That Child Hospitalization Rates Are Breaking Pandemic Records. “CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned on Friday that pediatric hospitals are seeing record numbers of children with COVID-19, as the Omicron variant surges nationwide.”

New York Times: Covid may raise the risk of diabetes in children, C.D.C. researchers reported.. “Children who have recovered from Covid-19 appear to be at significantly increased risk of developing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday.”


The Atlantic: Hospitals Are in Serious Trouble. “Here, then, is the most important difference about this surge: It comes on the back of all the prior ones. COVID’s burden is additive. It isn’t reflected just in the number of occupied hospital beds, but also in the faltering resolve and thinning ranks of the people who attend those beds.”

WTKR: Sentara postpones non-emergent surgeries, procedures as COVID-19 hospitalizations reach record highs. “Sentara Healthcare announce Friday that starting Monday, Jan. 10, it is postponing all hospital-based non-emergent surgeries, procedures and diagnostic testing due to the surge in COVID-19 cases across the U.S., saying its team members are ‘stretched to their capacity.'”

WHAM: Rochester-area hospitals make unusual moves in wake of latest COVID surge. “The hospital says health care workers willing to pick up extra shifts and overtime are making up the difference. And next week, the hospital will attempt something it’s never done. Two dozen office workers will temporarily replace nurses doing clerical work so they can be used to provide much-needed patient care.”

New York Times: More Patients, Fewer Workers: Omicron Pushes New York Hospitals to Brink. “At Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn, the intensive care unit is full, mainly with Covid patients. In a scene reminiscent of spring 2020, patient beds have been set up in the hallway. But on Wednesday, when Interfaith asked city officials to divert ambulances to other hospitals, the request was granted for only two hours, the hospital’s top executive said. Emergency rooms at neighboring hospitals were also overflowing, or precariously understaffed.”

Associated Press: Western Michigan hospital turns to heated tent to ease COVID-19 crush. “A hospital in Western Michigan is using a heated tent as extra emergency space due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. The tent at Mercy Health Muskegon was set up a few weeks ago but put into service Thursday, WOOD-TV reported.”


Associated Press: CES gadget show turnout falls more than 75% thanks to COVID. “The Consumer Technology Association said on the show’s closing day that more than 40,000 people attended the multi-day event on the Las Vegas Strip. That’s less than a quarter of the more than 170,000 the CTA said were there for its 2020 convention.”


Stuff New Zealand: Documenting the pandemic – how Archives NZ and the National Library are keeping tabs. “For millennia humans have documented their time in unusual and humorous ways that people before or after didn’t understand. During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, people shared cartoons and jokes making light of a terrible situation, many of which don’t make any sense today. Things are no different in the 21st century, but now technology is revolutionising the way we communicate.”


CNET: Amazon reduces COVID-19 isolation period for US workers. “Amazon is cutting down the amount of time that US workers have to isolate if they test positive for COVID-19, the company said in a Friday memo sent to employees. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the news, which an Amazon representative confirmed to CNET.”


Xinhua: Mauritania tightens restrictions amid rising COVID-19 cases. “The Ministerial Committee in charge of monitoring the development of COVID-19 in Mauritania on Friday tightened restrictions amid rising COVID-19 cases. The committee banned ‘all public gatherings’ and ordered the ‘closure of theatres.'”

Buenos Aires Times: Argentina surpasses 100,000 Covid-19 infections in a day. “Argentina on Thursday surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in a single day for the first time, breaking its record high since the start of the pandemic for the third day running. The country, which since the end of 2021 has been facing a dizzying rise in coronavirus infections, is now one of the countries in Latin America where the disease is progressing most rapidly.”

Reuters: China warns hospitals against rejecting patients over COVID curbs as cases decline. “China reported fewer COVID cases on Friday as several cities have curbed movements, while a top official warned hospitals not to turn away patients after a woman’s miscarriage during a lockdown in the city of Xian sparked outrage. China reported 116 domestically transmitted infections with confirmed clinical symptoms for Thursday, mostly in Xian and the province of Henan, down from 132 a day earlier, official data showed on Friday.”

ANI: COVID-19: Non-essential shops to be opened on odd-even basis in Delhi. “Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases in the national capital, the Delhi government on Friday said that shops dealing in non-essential goods will only be allowed to open on an odd-even basis between 10 am to 8 pm.”

AFP: World tops 2mn new daily COVID-19 cases. ” The world recorded more than two million daily coronavirus cases on average between January 1 and 7 with figures doubling in 10 days, an AFP tally showed on Saturday. An average of 2,106,118 new daily infections were reported over the seven-day period, shortly after the one million case threshold was passed in the week of December 23-29, 2021.”


California Governor: Governor Newsom Activates National Guard to Bolster State’s COVID-19 Testing Capacity. “Governor Gavin Newsom today announced that he has activated the California National Guard to support local communities with additional testing facilities and capacity amid the national surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant.”


NBC News: Covid plagues mass transit, leading to staff shortages, service disruptions. “The start of a new year has done little to slow the crippling effects of the pandemic weighing on U.S. public transit systems battling reduced services, Covid-related staffing shortages and slumping ridership. Cities such as Portland, Oregon, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., are reducing mass transit services as their employees contract the coronavirus and are unable to work.”


ABC 7: Texas teacher accused of locking son in car’s trunk to avoid exposure to COVID-19. “A Houston-area teacher allegedly locked her 13-year-old son in the trunk of her moving car as she drove him to a COVID-19 testing site because he had already tested positive and she didn’t want to be exposed, authorities say. Police issued an arrest warrant for the teacher, 41-year-old Sarah Beam, for felony endangering a child after investigating the incident.”

Associated Press: Georgia woman gets prison time for COVID relief fraud. “Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Hunter VanPelt of Roswell submitted six false loan applications to the Paycheck Protection Program from April to June 2020. She requested a total of more than $7.9 million and received more than $6 million, prosecutors said in a news release.”

The Wire India: Bihar: FIR Against Octagenarian Who Took 12 Doses of COVID Vaccine. “Embarrassed by an 84-year-old man’s revelation that he took 12 COVID-19 vaccines in 11 months, Madhepura district’s health officials have filed a police complaint against Brahmadev Mandal for cheating and disobedience of a public servant’s order.”


Shelton Herald: Shelton senior center director becomes COVID test ‘lifeline’. “Doreen Laucella remains a lifeline for those homebound senior citizens seeking a COVID-19 test…. for those unable to leave their home, Laucella wants them to know she is a resource in attempting to get test kits to those who may be experiencing symptoms or who could have been a close contact to someone who has tested positive.”


NBC Washington: Montgomery County Public Schools Drops COVID-19 Policy Days After Introducing It . “Montgomery County Public Schools will no longer consider virtual learning for every school that has 5% or more COVID-19 cases, but will instead make the decision for virtual learning on a case-by-case basis, the superintendent announced Friday. The news comes a day after the school system said online that more than 10,000 students and staff reported testing positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. MCPS went from having 11 schools in its ‘red’ category to 126.”

Chalkbeat New York: ‘Spread very thin’: NYC schools remain open during COVID surge, but learning is disrupted. “Far more school staff and students have reported testing positive for COVID since Dec. 24 than the rest of the school year combined. On Thursday alone, nearly 11,000 students and more than 2,200 staff reported testing positive, keeping them out of classrooms. On Friday, Chancellor David Banks acknowledged that staff attendance ‘has been lower than we wanted to see,’ but education department officials have refused to provide specific numbers.”

WWMT: Battle Creek Public Schools returns to virtual learning amid rising COVID-19 cases. “Battle Creek Public Schools students will not be in the classroom Monday morning. In a letter posted on the district website Thursday, Superintendent Kim Carter said the district was returning to remote learning Monday, Jan. 10. due to rising COVID-19 cases in the community.”

Reuters: French schools “overwhelmed” by COVID-19 and contact tracing. “Less than a week has gone by since French schools reopened after Christmas, but at the Jean Renoir high school in Boulogne-Billancourt, just outside of Paris, one in four teachers and nearly 50 pupils are already sick with COVID-19.”

Washington Post: ‘I’m barely clinging onto work’: Exhausted parents face another wave of school shutdowns. “Latoya Hamilton had just taken a job as a medical assistant when she got notice last week that her daughter’s school was going online temporarily. The single mother asked for time off. When it was denied, she did the only thing she could: quit. A lack of child care had prompted Hamilton to resign once before early in the pandemic, when she left her $26-an-hour job at NYU Langone Health to care for her three school-aged children. But this time is different. She feels more alone, she said, and unsure of how to make do, both logistically and financially. Federal assistance has expired, and she has depleted her savings and maxed out her credit cards.”


The Michigan Daily: ‘I feel disrespected overall by the administration’: UMich students face long waits, difficulties with quarantine and isolation policies. “When LSA freshman Ruide Xu — who lives in South Quadrangle residence hall — tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, his first thought was to contact the quarantine housing hotline — only to be met with no response after multiple calls and emails….Eventually, Xu said he was able to contact a representative from the U-M Division of Public Safety and Security but was informed that he was not on the quarantine housing list despite being enrolled as a student living on campus who tested positive for COVID-19.”


Boston 25 News: Could Friday’s snowstorm slow the spread of COVID-19?. “In the midst of an Omicron-fueled coronavirus surge that is pushing hospital capacities to the brink, could Friday’s big snowstorm be just what the doctor ordered? Dr. Jeremy Faust, an emergency medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, thinks the snow came at the perfect time.”


USA Today: COVID-19 boosters offer ‘potent’ protection against omicron, study says, recommending Pfizer and Moderna. “New evidence underscores the importance of boosters against omicron, with an mRNA vaccine booster offering the best protection against the fast-spreading variant. People who got either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series and then a booster achieved ‘potent’ neutralization against omicron, a paper published Thursday in the journal Cell found.”

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