Friday CoronaBuzz, January 14, 2022: 36 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.


WCAX: Vt. launches website for rapid tests; 350K nabbed in under 5 hours. “Vermont officials Wednesday launched a new website as part of a pilot project to deliver rapid antigen tests to Vermonters. As of 10:00 a.m., Vermonters began ordering the COVID tests online as part of the ‘Say Yes! Covid Home Test’ program. Officials say demand was heavy and all 350,000 tests in the first phase of the program were snatched up by 2:45 p.m.”

KATU: Oregon rolls out website, hotline for those who test positive for COVID. “Oregon is rolling out a new website and hotline to help track people who test positive for COVID-19 using an at-home test kit. The new opt-in method for tracking coronavirus cases comes with a shift in how the Oregon Health Authority investigates coronavirus cases.”


Associated Press: Omicron wave prompts media to rethink which data to report. “For two years, coronavirus case counts and hospitalizations have been widely used barometers of the pandemic’s march across the world. But the omicron wave is making a mess of the usual statistics, forcing news organizations to rethink the way they report such figures.”

WBUR: ‘Unambiguously good news’: Sharp decline in COVID wastewater levels in Boston area. “New data suggest omicron cases may have peaked in the Boston area. In December, the level of COVID found in the metro area’s sewage rose extremely rapidly. Now, those numbers show a sharp decline.”


Washington Post: Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker promoted a ‘mist’ that he claimed would ‘kill any covid on your body’. “As the coronavirus was sweeping across the United States last summer and the country was still without a vaccine, Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker promoted a ‘mist’ that he claimed would ‘kill any covid on your body.'”

Tech Policy Press: Scientists, Doctors Call on Spotify to Implement Misinformation Policy Over Claims on Joe Rogan Show. “More than 260 doctors, nurses, scientists, health professionals and others have signed an open letter calling on the streaming media platform Spotify to ‘implement a misinformation policy’ in the wake of controversy over podcaster Joe Rogan’s promotion of an anti-vaccine rally with discredited scientist Robert Malone in an episode published on December 31st.”


Associated Press: Anti-Vaccine Protesters Try to Storm Bulgarian Parliament. “Protesters opposing COVID-19 restrictions in Bulgaria clashed Wednesday with police as they tried to storm the Parliament in the capital of Sofia. A heavy police presence prevented protesters from entering the building and some were detained. Several people, including police officers, were injured during the clashes. Eventually, the protesters were pushed back and police cordoned off the building.”


KVUE: Dell Children’s sees unusual trend of kids infected with COVID-19, other viruses at the same time. “During this COVID-19 surge, pediatricians are seeing an unusual trend of patients being infected with COVID-19 and a typical winter virus like the flu at the same time. ‘In pediatrics, very rarely you have two or three illnesses happening at the same time,’ said Dell Children’s Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Meena Iyer.”


Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Queen’s Punchbowl declares internal state of emergency due to staffing shortage. “The internal declaration sets certain procedures and processes in motion to allow both operations time to decompress their emergency departments and ensure safe care for patients. The declaration for the Punchbowl hospital comes two days after one was issued for QMC-West on Monday as the rate of hospital admissions there outpaced the number of available beds.”


Business Insider: Google is supplying full-time staff with rapid COVID-19 tests while contractors must wait for slower mail-in results. “Since December 2020, Google has offered full-time employees free rapid COVID-19 tests that can be administered at home, via Cue Health, and which deliver results in minutes. But its temporary contractors must report to Google’s offices in-person to do a PCR test, which is then mailed to healthtech firm BioIQ, and results are delivered in the following days.”

Reuters: Moderna expects COVID-19 vaccine trial data for children aged 2-5 in March. “Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it expects to report data from its COVID-19 vaccine trial in children aged between 2 to 5 years in March.”

The Guardian: ‘Not the cruise I signed up for’: 30-fold increase in Covid cases upends industry. “Over the holidays, passengers found themselves floating around on ships that couldn’t dock because foreign ports were turning them away or facing long, onboard quarantines before being allowed to come home, after testing positive for Covid. Dozens of cruises have been cancelled and some ports in the Caribbean and South America are turning ships away from making daily visits.”


Associated Press: Fed survey finds economy growing modestly despite COVID. “The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that the economy was growing at a modest pace at the end of 2021 but was still being held back by ongoing supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages. In its latest survey of business conditions around the country, the Fed said its 12 regional banks found that the economy was continuing to grow. But many regions reported a sudden pullback in spending on leisure travel, hotels and restaurants because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.”


Havana Times: COVID-19 in Cuba: Strange Things in the “New Normal”. “Cuba reopened its borders on November 15th, amid a tense political climate and with 959,307 positive cases and 8284 deaths racked up until this date. This opening and the arrival of some tourists went hand-in-hand with a gradual relaxation of services, recreational activities and other social activities. Once again, the ‘new normal’ was beginning, this promise of going back to a life like the one we had pre-COVID-19.”

Kyodo: Japan’s daily coronavirus cases top 13,000 for 1st time in 4 months. “Japan’s count of reported daily coronavirus cases exceeded 13,000 on Wednesday for the first time in over four months, as a sixth wave of the pandemic spurred by the Omicron variant continues to spread across the country.”

NPR: Quebec’s ‘unvaxxed tax’ has people rushing to get vaccinated. “Quebec’s plan to put a ‘significant’ health tax on unvaccinated people — who account for a large share of COVID-19 hospitalizations — quickly drove a rush of new appointments this week, health officials say.”

Reuters: Italy’s sewers will give early alert for future COVID spikes. “Italy will use the nation’s sewage to predict future coronavirus spreads and to alert authorities to rising cases and new variants before they appear in testing and hospitals, a senior official said, announcing a project to be launched in coming months.”


WRIC: Virginia Department of Corrections suspends in-person visits through Jan. 28 due to COVID-19 cases. “The Virginia Department of Corrections has temporarily suspended in-person visits at all facilities through Jan. 28 due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Video visitation will remain in place for most facilities, but Red Onion State Prison has canceled video visits for Housing Unit B-6 and the Virginia Correctional Center for Women has suspended them for the Red and Yellow zones. It’s unclear when video visits will reopen for those specific locations.”

AMNY: On hold: COVID-19 contact tracers won’t call anymore due to heavy volume of infections, Hochul said. “Contact tracers will no longer call people who test positive for the virus and instead launch a new website Wednesday offering guidance for the public and employers that still aligns with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the state’s top doctor.”

VTDigger: Thousands of Covid-19 test results delayed in Vermont as hospitalizations hit record high. “Vermont set a new record Monday with 101 people hospitalized for Covid-19, according to state officials. Meanwhile, thousands of Vermonters who were tested for the virus at state-run sites last week are experiencing significant delays in getting their results, and case counts could be increased retroactively.”

State of New Jersey: Governor Murphy Reinstates Public Health Emergency to Respond to Omicron Variant of COVID-19. “Governor Phil Murphy today reinstated a Public Health Emergency, effective immediately, in order to ensure that the State is able to respond to the continued threat of COVID-19 and the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. Executive Order No. 280 declares a Public Health Emergency and restates the existing State of Emergency across all 21 counties in New Jersey, allowing state agencies and departments to utilize state resources to assist the State’s healthcare system and affected communities responding to and recovering from COVID-19 cases.”

State of North Carolina: Governor Cooper Announces Policy Allowing State Employees to Use Volunteer Days to Provide Support in Schools. “Governor Roy Cooper today announced plans to help combat staff shortages in K-12 school districts across the state during the current surge of COVID-19 cases. The policy will allow state employees to use volunteer days with supervisor approval to work in North Carolina public schools as substitute teachers, bus drivers and cafeteria staff.”

Nebraska Public Media: COVID Cases Surpass 2020 Peak in Nebraska, Hospital Treatments in Short Supply. “COVID-19 cases in Nebraska surpassed the 2020 peak earlier this week. According to the most recent seven-day average from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nebraska is averaging more than 3,300 new COVID-19 positives per day.”

Associated Press: Strike teams aid COVID-19 battle, Pritzker preaches vaccine. “Mobile strike teams of medical professionals are being dispatched to parts of Illinois most in need of assistance battling COVID-19 that has sickened record numbers and stretched health care resources thin, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday. But Pritzker and his public health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike continued to pound the drum that vaccinations, booster shots and masks are the best way to prevent the spread of the disease that has landed an unprecedented 7,100 people in hospitals across the state.”

Fort Wayne’s NBC: Lawmaker proposes bill to promote ivermectin as effective treatment for COVID-19. “A state representative from Goshen believes health providers should not discourage use of the drug ivermectin to treat coronavirus patients, and he is pushing a bill in the Indiana General Assembly to get that done. The FDA, however, does not think use of the drug for COVID-19 is a good idea.”

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: NCDHHS Updates COVID-19 Vaccine and Booster/Additional Dose Data. “The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today updated the COVID-19 vaccination dashboard to better show how many people in North Carolina are up to date with current COVID-19 vaccination recommendations. NCDHHS has added state-level and county metrics on people who are vaccinated with at least one booster/additional dose. The ‘Fully Vaccinated’ metric is now ‘Vaccinated with Two Doses or One Dose J&J.'”

State of Maryland: Governor Hogan Announces Statewide Distribution of 20 Million N95 and KN95 Masks to Marylanders, Six Additional Hospital-Based Testing Sites to Open Next Week. “Governor Larry Hogan today visited the location of a new state-run COVID-19 testing site at UM Shore Regional Health in Easton and announced the locations for five additional hospital-based testing sites that will open by the end of next week. The governor also announced that the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) will begin distributing 20 million N95 and KN95 masks to Marylanders next week at no cost, through multiple channels, including local health departments, state-run testing and vaccination sites, and nursing homes.”


New Zealand Herald: Tennis: Novak Djokovic cops backlash after startling Covid-19 confession. “Novak Djokovic is copping a tsunami of backlash after the Serbian tennis star admitted to conducting an in-person interview despite knowing he had tested positive to Covid-19. The world No.1 shared a lengthy statement to his 9.9 million Instagram followers on Wednesday afternoon, revealing his agent ‘ticked the incorrect box’ on his travel declaration before entering Australia.”


Teen Vogue: Students Walk Out Over Covid in New York, Michigan, Oakland, Boston. “Teachers’ unions and local governments are in a tug-of-war over remote learning policies, but little attention has been given to students’ preferences, instead putting youth in the middle. Recent days have seen a resurgence of student organizing in response, specifically to accommodate online learning amidst the omicron variant and spiking COVID spread.”

WLWT: Schools in Greater Cincinnati continue adjusting classroom calendars due to COVID-19 spike. “The rise in coronavirus cases is not stopping kids from learning in-person in [Karen] Bunton’s classroom. That seems increasingly unusual as the list of districts going remote or temporarily closing grows, placing yet another burden on parents.”

Associated Press: Large Alabama school system goes online because of COVID-19. ” Alabama’s largest public school district, Mobile County, said it will switch to virtual classes Monday because so many staffers have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 it’s difficult to keep buildings open.”


New Zealand Herald: Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: mRNA vaccine credited with removing warts in weird booster side effect. “A Sydney-based woman has credited her booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine with removing two persistent warts she’s had for five years. Erin Riley said she made the discovery two weeks after receiving a mRNA Covid vaccine, which currently include Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.”


Medical Xpress: Study shows COVID-19 vaccines offer lasting protection. “Vaccination offers long-lasting protection from the worst outcomes of COVID-19, according to a new study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The emergence of the delta and omicron variants has raised questions about whether breakthrough infections are caused by waning immunity or by the more transmissible variants.”

Bloomberg: Scientists discover gene that increases risk of dying from Covid – Times of India. “Polish scientists have discovered a gene that they say more than doubles the risk of falling severely ill with, or even dying from Covid-19. The health ministry in Warsaw expects the discovery to help identify people who are most at risk from the disease, which has already killed more than 100,000 people in Poland alone. It also plans to include genetic tests when it screens patients for potential Covid-19 infections as soon as the end of June.”


The Guardian: My wife had long Covid and killed herself. We must help others who are suffering. “Watching long Covid systematically take her apart, organ system by organ system, was the most terrifying deterioration of a human being I have ever witnessed. My wife was an avid 90-minute-a-day walker, ate only organic (and mostly vegan) food, and hadn’t had an alcoholic drink in three and half years. Within six weeks of noticing ‘Covid toes’ and some gastrointestinal issues she could barely walk from excruciating nerve pain in her feet so extreme as to mimic advanced diabetic neuropathy.”

New York Times: To Fight Covid, We Need to Think Less Like Doctors. “Caring for an individual and protecting a population require different priorities, practices and ways of thinking. While it may sound counterintuitive, to heal the country and put our Covid-19 response on the right track, we need to think less like doctors.”

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