Monday CoronaBuzz, February 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.


Belfast Live: New website shares Derry children’s stories of living through lockdown. “Children from Derry have shared their stories of living through lockdown through a new website set to launch this week. The website, which was organised by the Kumon Foyle Study Centre, will go live at the Guildhall on February 13.”


Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis: COVID-19 exposure-alert system that uses smartphones expands in Missouri. “Washington University in St. Louis is expanding access to MO/Notify, a smartphone system that privately sends pop-up alerts to users in Missouri when they have spent time near someone who later tests positive for COVID-19. The system uses the same COVID-19 Exposure Notifications System developed by Google and Apple that is now available in more than 25 states, including California, Alabama, North Carolina and Wisconsin.”

ITV: New web tool illustrates spread of Covid-19 variants across Northern Ireland. “A new website which shows how coronavirus variants are spreading in Northern Ireland has been launched. It allows users to access maps, graphs and videos which illustrate instances of Covid-19 variants such as Delta or Omicron in each local government area.”


Grid: The hacked account and suspicious donations behind the Canadian trucker protests. “The jumble of misinformation, online fundraising groups and amplification from right-wing political figures suggests there’s more to these protests than meets the eye.”


NPR: What a bottle of ivermectin reveals about the shadowy world of COVID telemedicine. “Data shows that prescriptions for drugs like ivermectin have surged in the pandemic, but patient-doctor confidentiality often obscures exactly who is handing out the drugs. [Ben] Bergquam’s testimonial provides new and troubling details about a small group of physicians who are willing to eschew the best COVID-19 treatments and provide alternative therapies made popular by disinformation — for a price.”

Daily Beast: Ivermectin Fans Are Back With Even Weirder Drugs for Your COVID. “Is your anti-worm medication failing to treat COVID-19? Not to worry, says one of the loudest organizations promoting anti-worm medication for COVID patients: Try adding a cocktail of anti-depressants and androgen inhibitors to your medical mix.”

Washington Post: Mexico City gave ivermectin to thousands of covid patients. Officials face an ethics backlash.. “As the coronavirus coursed through Mexico City early last year, ravaging neighborhoods and overwhelming hospitals, local officials made an unusual decision. They gave out tens of thousands of medical kits to covid-19 patients containing ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medication. The drug has been championed by anti-vaccine activists around the world as a cure for covid-19 — despite warnings from international health authorities that there’s insufficient evidence of any such benefit.”


Arizona State University: Online dating is booming, changing in pandemic era. “Online dating is the number one way to meet a romantic partner in the U.S., says Liesel Sharabi, assistant professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication and director of the Relationships and Technology Lab at Arizona State University. Sharabi, whose research focuses on the connection between communication technologies and interpersonal relationships, says the growth of dating applications over the past decade continues to attract more people to the digital ecosystem and break taboos that once kept hesitant users away from the platform.”


Hollywood Reporter: Oscars: COVID-19 Vaccination Will Not Be Required for In-Person Attendees (Exclusive). “The Academy intends to require just a negative PCR test or a negative rapid antigen test on the day of the event, unlike the SAG Awards and Critics Choice Awards, which will require proof of vaccination.”


CNET: Delta wants Justice Department to put unruly passengers on national ‘no fly’ list, report says. “Delta Air Lines reportedly wants the Justice Department to place convicted unruly passengers on a national ‘no fly’ list that would ban them from traveling on any US commercial airlines.”

CNET: Johnson & Johnson reportedly pauses COVID vaccine production, raising vaccine access concerns. “Johnson & Johnson has temporarily stopped making its COVID-19 vaccine at the only facility producing usable doses, The New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the situation. Production has reportedly been paused since late last year. The facility, located in the city of Leiden in the Netherlands, is now producing an experimental and potentially more profitable vaccine for a different virus, according to the Times.”

New York University: Most Workers Experience Multiple, Interconnected Vulnerabilities to COVID-19. “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on people’s physical and mental health and has caused economic hardship. However, this adversity has disproportionately hurt certain populations—including essential workers and women—deepening existing disparities. One reason behind these disparities? The same people have been affected by clusters of interrelated factors, according to new research published in PLOS Global Public Health.”

CNET: Pfizer postpones request for FDA to authorize COVID vaccine in kids under 5. “Pfizer and its partner BioNTech on Friday said they are postponing their rolling application to the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 6 months to 4 years. The delay means parents hoping to get younger kids vaccinated will have to wait a little longer. ”


CNN: Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and wife test positive for Covid-19. “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife, Emine, have tested positive for Covid-19. Erdogan said on Twitter that the couple had contracted the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and were experiencing mild symptoms.”

BBC: Covid: Australia to reopen borders to international travel. “Australia has announced the reopening of its borders to vaccinated tourists and other visa holders for the first time in almost two years. ‘If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.”

PBS NewsHour: Denmark’s queen and Spain’s king test positive for COVID. “The queen of Denmark and the king of Spain both tested positive for the coronavirus despite being vaccinated, their respective royal houses announced Wednesday.”

BBC: Covid: Self-isolation law could be scrapped in England this month. “All remaining Covid restrictions in England – including the legal rule to self-isolate – could end later this month, Boris Johnson has said. Under the current rules, anyone who tests positive must self-isolate for at least five full days.”

Sky News: Prince Charles self-isolating after positive COVID-19 test, Clarence House says. “It is the second time the 73-year-old has contracted coronavirus, after he fell ill with the virus in 2020. It comes after Charles met several people, accompanied by his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, at a reception in the British Museum last night.”

Associated Press: Prince Charles’ wife Camilla tests positive for COVID-19. “Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall has tested positive for COVID-19 four days after her husband Prince Charles was confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus, the couple’s office said Monday. Clarence House said Camilla was self-isolating. Charles has been isolating since he tested positive on Thursday, but Camilla had continued with public engagements while taking daily tests.”


New York Times: The Biden administration remains cautious about easing masking and other Covid safety measures.. “The White House has been quietly meeting with outside health experts to plan a pandemic exit strategy and a transition to a ‘new normal,’ but the behind-the-scenes effort is crashing into a very public reality: a string of blue-state governors have gotten ahead of President Biden by suddenly abandoning their mask mandates.”

BBC: US consumer prices rise at fastest rate since 1982 . “Price rises in the US accelerated by more than expected last month, pushing annual inflation up to 7.5% – the highest rate since 1982. Food and energy costs helped to drive the increases, which left few spending categories untouched. The rising prices are squeezing household finances as wages fail to keep pace.”


NPR: Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware set timelines to end mask mandates for schools. “Connecticut is the latest state to set plans to lift its statewide mask mandate for schools, following earlier announcements Monday from New Jersey and Delaware. The loosening guidelines are signs that the three Northeastern states are changing how they manage the COVID-19 pandemic as cases from the omicron surge continue to subside.”

WJCL: Proposed Georgia law would end all childhood vaccination requirements. “Seventeen Georgia state senators have proposed a new bill aimed at getting rid of all routine childhood vaccination requirements. The bill was drafted on Jan. 14 and in it, the senators hope to make it illegal to check proof of vaccination. Right now, there are eight vaccines required by the Georgia Department of Health. This includes shots to prevent diseases like measles, mumps and chickenpox.”

CNN: California’s indoor mask mandate will end next week for vaccinated people, governor says. “Citing a 65% drop in Covid-19 cases since the peak of the Omicron surge, California will end its statewide indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals next week, nearly two years after it was first implemented, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Monday.”

WHAS: ‘Moving in the right direction’: Gov. Andy Beshear says COVID-19 cases significantly down. “Gov. Andy Beshear provided updates on the latest coronavirus pandemic and the state’s vaccination status in a press conference Monday. Beshear said the positivity rate is down to 23.51% and cases are on a downward trend. Kentucky health officials said 3,835 new cases and 29 deaths were reported Monday, compared to 4,950 cases reported last Monday.”

Des Moines Register: New reported COVID-19 cases drop by 44% as Iowa prepares to shutter tracking site. “COVID-19 continued to decline across Iowa in the state Department of Public Health’s data release on Wednesday, which is expected to be the last full update before the state’s dashboard is taken offline and the data is transferred to the health department’s main website.”

ABC 7: California to lift indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people on Feb. 15, Newsom says. “California will end its indoor masking requirement for vaccinated people next week, but masks still are the rule for schoolchildren, state health officials announced Monday amid rapidly falling coronavirus cases.”

Washington Post: Abrupt end to mask mandates reflects a shifting political landscape. “State officials say the decisions are driven by data showing that the worst of the omicron surge has passed, but acknowledge they must also weigh a weary public’s tolerance for pandemic life. Even as the Biden administration continues to recommend mask requirements, many of the biggest states led by Democrats are abruptly taking a different tack.”


NOLA: ‘A forgotten population’: For the immunocompromised, learning to live with COVID is life-threatening. “Connor was born with a rare brain malformation that causes him to be developmentally delayed. He is also on several medications that suppress his immune system in a way that makes it very difficult for him to fight off infection or develop antibodies from vaccines. A cold turns into pneumonia, which leads to a stay in the pediatric ICU – something that’s happened twice over the last few years. He’s managed to avoid infection and other illnesses during the pandemic through isolation, masking by his family and high-tech air ventilation, but it’s been at a cost.”


BBC: Winter Olympics: Andrew Young on cross-country sprint effort after Covid. “Three weeks after catching Covid-19 and suffering ‘quite badly’, Andrew Young is just pleased he managed to make it to the Olympic start line. Beijing 2022 is the 29-year-old cross-country skier’s fourth Olympics, and he was coming into the Games feeling in the best shape of his life, with a medal his target.”


CNET: The Great Resignation Hasn’t Hit School Teachers Yet. Here’s Why It Still Might. “The pandemic may be the last straw for a profession mired in stagnant pay, compounding demands and endemic burnout. The situation has some asking if the field of teaching needs a reset.”


Washington Post: American University unknowingly distributed counterfeit KN95 masks, officials confirm. “American University began distributing new KN95 masks on campus Monday after learning an initial batch of face coverings handed out by the school recently were counterfeit, officials said.”


IOL: African founded AI company could hold key to saving millions of lives during the pandemic. “InstaDeep, which was founded in North Africa and has offices around the world including South Africa, teamed up with BioNTech, the German biotech company behind the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, to develop an AI tool that detects high-risk Sars-CoV-2 variants based on their genetic code. The AI system has already identified more than 90% of variants of concern, on average two months before their designation by the World Health Organization (WHO).”

New York Times: New York Deer Infected With Omicron, Study Finds. “White-tailed deer on Staten Island have been found carrying the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus, marking the first time the variant has been reported in wild animals.”

NBC News: After Covid, risks of heart problems remain elevated for up to a year. ” it appears the coronavirus can leave patients at risk for heart problems for at least one year following infection, according to one of the largest analyses of post-Covid health effects to date. The study, published last week in Nature Medicine, found that the illness increased the possibility of heart rhythm irregularities, as well as potentially deadly blood clots in the legs and lungs, in the year after an acute infection.”


New York Times: Republicans, Wooing Trump Voters, Make Fauci Their Boogeyman. “Republican attacks on Dr. Fauci are not new; former President Donald J. Trump, irked that the doctor publicly corrected his falsehoods about the virus, called him ‘a disaster’ and repeatedly threatened to fire him. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, has grilled Dr. Fauci in nationally televised hearings, and Dr. Fauci — true to his fighter-from-Brooklyn roots — has punched back. But as the 2022 midterm elections approach, the attacks have spread across the nation, intensifying as Dr. Fauci draws outsize attention in some of the most important state and local races on the ballot in November.”

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