Wednesday CoronaBuzz, February 2, 2022: 35 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.


Alabama Today: Alabama Department of Public Health launches new COVID-19 information website and media campaign. “The new website… helps users locate vaccination and testing sites, updated guidance, frequently asked questions, vaccine information, and what to expect when testing for COVID-19.”

WFYI: How much are Indiana schools spending in COVID relief? A new database tracks it. “The Indiana Department of Education has launched a public database showing how much schools are spending in federal pandemic relief funding. Indiana schools received a total of $2.8 billion in federal dollars through three rounds of stimulus through the CARES Act, a second stimulus bill under President Trump and the American Rescue Plan under President Biden.”


Motherboard: When Famous COVID Skeptics Finally Get Sick, It’s a Marketing Opportunity. “As the Omicron wave continues to swamp the world, many, many more people are getting sick, including people who have made COVID skepticism or outright denial a cornerstone of their public-facing personae. And when anti-vaccine, anti-mandate celebrities and influencers get sick, they’re afforded a huge opportunity to show that they were right all along—that their refusal to take the virus seriously, or their faith in alternative treatments, was warranted.”

The Verge: Here is the Spotify COVID content policy that lets Joe Rogan slide. “Spotify employees are vocally upset inside the company over the streaming platform’s deal with Joe Rogan due to his views on COVID vaccines, but their executive leadership has mostly stayed quiet both inside and outside the firm. Today, however, Dustee Jenkins, Spotify’s head of global communications and public relations, posted a message to the company Slack addressing employee concerns about Joe Rogan’s presence on the platform after Neil Young removed his music in protest.”

BBC: Joe Rogan pledges to try harder after Neil Young Spotify row. “Joe Rogan has pledged to try harder to offer more balanced views on his podcast, after he was criticised by Neil Young and Joni Mitchell for helping to spread Covid misinformation. The Canadian musicians asked to have their music pulled from the streaming platform as a result. Spotify has since said it is working to add advisory warnings to any podcast discussing Covid-19.”

New York Times: No, athletes are not dying from Covid-19 vaccines.. “The conspiracy theory that athletes are collapsing or dying after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine resurfaced this week after two prominent voices advanced the idea. Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, spread the falsehood in an appearance on the conservative podcast ‘The Charlie Kirk Show.'”

Poynter: Donald Trump falsely claimed that New York delayed COVID-19 treatment for white people. “At an Arizona rally, former President Donald J. Trump stirred up the crowd with inaccurate claims about how white people are being put at a disadvantage when seeking health care during the pandemic.”


The Guardian: Laurence Fox says he has coronavirus and is taking ivermectin. “The vaccine sceptic and anti-lockdown campaigner Laurence Fox has said he has coronavirus. The actor, who finished sixth in last year’s London mayoral elections, tweeted a picture on Sunday of a positive lateral flow test.”


The Graphene Council: Tonnes Of Used Face Masks To Be Turned Into Energy. “Researchers say that during the coronavirus pandemic people on the planet started using more than 130 billion masks every month, which turn into hundreds of tonnes of polymer waste. When burned it emits toxic gases, so the task of recycling this waste is particularly urgent. Scientists at NUST MISIS, together with their foreign colleagues, have developed a new technology for producing cost-effective batteries from used masks, where waste drug blister packs are also used as a shell. Thus, medical waste forms the basis for creating batteries; all that needs to be procured is graphene.”


CBC: Protest mars family’s last moments with dying mother. “Every day for the past six years, Nancy Hall made the trip from her home in Chelsea, Que., to visit her mother in a long-term care residence attached to Ottawa’s Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital in Lowertown. Recently, Alice Hall’s health took a turn for the worse. She died Monday. She was 94. Nancy Hall said the noisy demonstration by truckers and others opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ottawa made an already sad situation immeasurably worse.”


WSOC: ‘I will die free’: Unvaccinated Burke County man denied kidney transplant by hospital. “A Burke County man’s decision not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine means he also won’t be getting a much-needed kidney transplant. Chad Carswell, a double amputee who has undergone several major surgeries on his heart, now faces a different battle. Carswell told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty his kidney is only operating at about 4%.”


CNET: Pfizer will reportedly ask FDA to approve COVID vaccine for kids under 5. “Pfizer and its vaccine partner BioNTech are expected as early as Tuesday to ask the US Food and Drug Administration to approve emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Monday.”

CNN: The restaurant business will probably never recover from Covid. “The restaurant industry will likely never return to its pre-pandemic state, according to the National Restaurant Association. The trade group says 2022 will be a ‘new normal,’ for the sector as it struggles to rebound and as competition for workers remains intense, according to the association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report, which was released Tuesday.”

Washington Post: ‘Sham’ coronavirus testing company gave people false results as samples piled up in trash bags, lawsuit claims. “Last month, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spread throughout the United States, a woman in Washington state grew frustrated after waiting five hours for her rapid coronavirus test result. But when she returned to the site, a staffer told her the clinic had lost her result, court records state. The woman told authorities she got a second coronavirus test at the same Center for Covid Control site. But two hours later, she was told her test result had been misplaced again.”


BBC: Sue Gray: Failure of leadership over Downing Street lockdown parties. “Sue Gray has blamed a “failure of leadership” for allowing parties to take place in Downing Street when the country was under strict lockdown. In long-awaited findings, the senior civil servant says some events ‘should not have been allowed to take place’.”

Associated Press: German air traffic rebounded last year but still far to go. “Nearly 74 million passengers last year took off from or landed at the 23 largest commercial airports in Germany, which has Europe’s biggest economy, the Federal Statistical Office said. That was about 27% more than in 2020, when the pandemic hit and travel came to a near-standstill, but close to 68% fewer than in 2019, when a record of nearly 227 million passengers used German airports.”

BBC: Denmark Covid restrictions lifted despite increase in cases. “Denmark has lifted all of its domestic Covid-19 restrictions, including the wearing of face masks, making it the first European Union country to do so. Nightclubs have reopened, late-night alcohol sales have resumed, and the contact-tracing app is no longer needed to enter venues.”


GAO: For the Federal Response to COVID-19, Significant Improvements Are Needed in Leadership and Oversight. “At GAO, we’ve been monitoring the federal response to COVID-19 since the first dollar was spent. And today, we issue our ninth comprehensive report. In it, we take the significant step of designating the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’s) coordination and leadership of public health emergencies as High Risk. We also make five new recommendations to improve the federal response to the pandemic. Today’s WatchBlog post explores.”

CNET: Moderna’s COVID vaccine wins full FDA approval. “Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the US agency announced Monday. The company’s vaccine has been available for adults age 18 and up since since December 2020 under emergency use authorization.”

New York Times: The defense secretary tells Republican governors: National Guard troops must be vaccinated.. “Lloyd J. Austin III, the defense secretary, has written a letter to seven Republican governors, rejecting their requests for exemptions from coronavirus vaccination mandates for their states’ National Guard troops. The rejection — sent to the governors of Alaska, Oklahoma, Texas, Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska and Wyoming, who have all sought to allow their guard troops to refuse the vaccine without consequences — sets the stage for a potential legal battle.”


WGBH: A shot and a swab: New Hampshire to sell at-home COVID tests in liquor outlets. “If you live in New Hampshire and are having trouble getting an at-home rapid COVID-19 test, you might soon find them among the bottles at state-run liquor stores. The New Hampshire Executive Council approved the request to sell 1 million at-home rapid COVID tests at liquor outlets across the state, Gov. Christopher Sununu said.”


CNN: Shanghai metro sparks Covid panic with festive red QR codes. “Chinese social media users reported Sunday that the Shanghai metro’s QR code — which passengers scan when they enter and exit stations -— had changed color from its usual black to red, according to state-run news outlet The Paper. It sparked terror in many passengers, and for good reason. For the past two years, a red QR code in China has meant that you have — or are suspected to have — Covid-19.”

Gothamist: NYC Health Workers Discouraged Pregnant Women From Getting COVID Vaccines, Defying Guidance. “Officials have recommended COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy for months. But another pregnant person who spoke to WNYC/Gothamist about getting vaccinated at a separate city-run site said the staff there also defied established health guidance.”

Gothamist: Some Unvaccinated City Employees Could Be Fired, But Thousands More Are Still In Limbo. “Three months after the city’s vaccine mandate took effect for all municipal workers, the Adams administration has yet to make a determination about thousands of city employees who sought an exemption from the shot.”


Poynter: He started an LGBTQ magazine during the pandemic. Here’s what he learned.. “Ten years have passed since the germ of the idea for a Florida-based LGBTQ publication first came to journalist John Sotomayor. And in 10 years, much has changed. To start an LGBTQ magazine based in Ocala, one of the last remaining pockets of old Florida, surrounded by unvarnished nature and nicknamed the “horse capital of the world,” was already an ambitious idea. But to start one at the beginning of a global pandemic? That was on an entirely different level.”

Democracy Now: Leonard Peltier Has COVID; His Lawyer — an Ex-Federal Judge — Calls for Native Leader to Be Freed. “Jailed 77-year-old Native American activist Leonard Peltier has tested positive for COVID-19 less than a week after describing his prison conditions as a ‘torture chamber.'”


Washington Post: A couple recovering from covid couldn’t smell the smoke when their house caught fire. Their toddler saved the family.. “Kayla and Nathan Dahl were fast asleep when their toddler approached their bed one recent morning to utter two of the few words he knows so far — words that would save his family from danger. ‘Mama, hot,’ Brandon, who turns 2 on Sunday, said while tugging his mother’s foot. Initially, Kayla, 28, said she thought her son just wanted his pajamas removed. But seconds later, she realized what her youngest child was trying to tell her: The family’s one-story colonial house in Alvord, Tex., was engulfed in flames.”


Reuters: COVID cases mount as athletes, personnel arrive in Beijing. “During the past four days China has detected 119 COVID-19 cases among athletes and personnel involved in the Beijing Winter Olympics, with authorities imposing a ‘closed loop’ bubble to keep participants, staff and media separated from the public.”


Route Fifty: Teachers ‘Beaten Down’ By Staff Shortages, Covid. “Carina McGee, a high school teacher in the Aiken County Public School District in South Carolina, expected to teach until retirement age. But just three years after beginning her career, she’s reevaluating whether she made the right decision. ‘Everything that has come with COVID, it has just been an absolute nightmare. I have been so much more overwhelmed and exhausted and just beaten down,’ said McGee, 24. ‘I thought I would retire when I was like 65 from teaching, and now I’m considering leaving within the next two years.'”

CBC: 60 schools lacking ventilation systems now have HEPA filters to help combat COVID. “The 60 New Brunswick schools without integrated mechanical ventilation systems have a new tool to combat COVID-19 — HEPA, or high-efficiency particulate, filters. Forty-seven of the schools tested high for carbon dioxide, “but within the safe range,” CBC News has learned — almost double the number the Department of Education initially reported last fall. CO2 levels are considered a good indicator of ventilation efficiency.”


Associated Press: Omicron amps up concerns about long COVID and its causes. “More than a third of COVID-19 survivors by some estimates will develop such lingering problems. Now, with omicron sweeping across the globe, scientists are racing to pinpoint the cause of the bedeviling condition and find treatments before a potential explosion in long COVID cases.”


CNET: Test for COVID using your phone camera? A university lab is trying it out. “Getting shipped a handful of free at-home COVID tests from USPS was helpful, but what if you could test yourself whenever you wanted, using your phone’s camera? Academic scientists have developed a testing method that just needs some affordable lab equipment and your smartphone, and early results suggest it’s as accurate as PCR tests.”

PsyPost: Patients who are slow to wake up after severe COVID-19 are likely to recover consciousness, study indicates. “Most patients who suffer impaired consciousness as a result of COVID-19 recover within six months, according to new research published in Neurology. The findings provide new insight into the outcome of neurological complications related to severe COVID-19.”

CTV News: Kidney successfully transplanted from donor who died of COVID-19 after scientists tested tissue for virus. “It may still be possible to safely use organs from donors with COVID-19, according to a new report on the successful transplantation of a kidney into a new patient from a person who had died of COVID-19 complications.”


NBC New York: Long Island Nurses Make $1.5 Million in Fake Vaccine Card Scam: DA. “Two nurses working on Long Island are accused of forging official COVID-19 vaccination cards and entering the information into New York’s statewide database — a scheme that allegedly brought in over $1.5 million. The district attorney in Suffolk County announced Friday the arrests of Julie DeVuono, 49, and Marissa Urrao, 44, who worked at Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare in Amityville. DeVuono was the its owner and operator, the DA said.”

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