Friday CoronaBuzz, February 25, 2022: 37 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

Please get a booster shot. Please wear a mask if you’re in a red zone. Much love.


Washington Post: Opinion: How many people died believing vaccine misinformation?. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 eligible Americans have yet to get their first vaccine dose. Millions of people remain unvaccinated. They were 14 times more likely than the vaccinated to die of covid, as of December, the latest month for which data is available. How many of the 551,168 covid deaths in the United States since Jan. 1, 2021, could have been averted with vaccines? Too many. No more powerful case can be made than the voices of those who hesitated to get vaccinated and then faced the awful consequences. ”


Washington Post: For low-income parents, no day care often means no pay. “An analysis of census survey data shows low-income parents lost both child care and income at much higher rates than their wealthier counterparts during this winter’s covid surge.”

CBS News: For most Americans, owning a home is now a distant dream. “Nationwide, there are only about 250,000 homes currently for sale that are considered affordable for households with between $75,000 and $100,000 in annual income — a sharp decline from the roughly 656,000 available homes prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent analysis by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found. This means there are now about 65 households in that income bracket for one listing, up from 24 households in 2019.”


Newshub (New Zealand): ‘Got dysentery’: COVID anti-mandate protesters mocked in Google reviews of Parliament. “Protesters in Wellington are being mocked in Google reviews of Parliament after revelations some had thrown human waste at police officers and allegations of raw sewage being emptied into the stormwater system around the Beehive. ”


WDSU: COVID-19 hospitalizations average $4,000 in out-of-pocket costs per visit, research says. “Measures to protect patients hospitalized with COVID-19 from financial liability have been rolled back by most insurers in the United States, leaving the vast majority of patients with an average out-of-pocket bill of about $4,000 for each hospital stay, according to research published this week in the journal JAMA Network Open. Between March 2020 and January 2021, less than 9% of patients with private health care insurance had any cost-sharing associated with COVID-19 hospitalization. By March 2021, more than 84% of patients with private insurance had some financial responsibility for a COVID-19 hospitalization.”

University of British Columbia: New COVID-19 study links nurses’ mental health to quality of care. “The study, published recently in the journal Healthcare, found that the more severe the mental health symptoms reported by nurses, the more likely they will rate the quality of care in their work units in hospitals, long-term care homes and community health centres as poor.”

Newswise: Research reveals impact of COVID-19 on dental hygienists. “Nearly two years into the pandemic with widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines and a decrease in infections, new studies reveal dental hygienists have low COVID-19 infection rates and high vaccination acceptance. In addition, less than half of dental hygienists that left employment early in the pandemic have returned to the workforce in 2021, and staffing challenges, exacerbated by the pandemic, persist.”


The Guardian: ‘People are dying on the floor’: healthcare workers tell of Covid devastation in Solomon Islands. “A senior doctor and two nurses at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) in the capital of Honiara have told of how there are no beds for Covid patients – leading to people dying on the floor of the wards – as well as a lack of facilities and staff shortages that have led to Covid-positive nurses being recalled to work and probationary nurses tending to critically ill patients solo, when they should be supervised by a more senior nurse.”


Washington Post: Dry cleaners are beginning to close as the pandemic drags on. “The first to go in the neighborhood was GQ Cleaners, where the ‘For Rent’ sign quickly replaced any semblance of life inside the blue-walled shop. Next was Kim’s Cleaners, now an empty sliver of a strip mall up the street. Gary and Chong Whitesides had for the past three decades run a dry-cleaning business in Alexandria halfway between the two shops, and they hoped they might inherit some customers to lift sagging profits at Auburn Cleaners. But the pandemic eventually shut them down, too.”

HBR IdeaCast: Why Some Companies Thrived During the Pandemic. “Keith Ferrazzi, founder of the consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight, led a survey of more than 2,000 executives to study how they reengineered operations during the pandemic. The research identified a kind of extreme adaptability at the team and organizational levels that helped some companies come out on top. Ferrazzi argues that after months of ruthlessly adapting, leaders should continue on a path of resilience and agility to stay competitive in the post-Covid-19 world.”

The Verge: Apple Stores drop mask requirements for customers in several states. “Apple will no longer require customers to wear masks in a number of Apple stores across the US, including in Ohio, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and other states that have recently dropped local mask mandates, according to a report by Bloomberg. Employees at Apple stores will still be required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, however.”

The Verge: Google won’t fire or suspend unvaccinated employees, but they need approval to visit the office. “Google is no longer requiring its US-based workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to CNBC. ‘We’re not enforcing vaccination requirements as a condition of employment for US office workers at this time,’ Google spokesperson Lora Lee Erickson said in a statement to The Verge after we first published this article…. However, a policy that requires staffers to be vaccinated to return to the office is still in effect.”


BBC: Covid: England ending isolation laws and mass free testing. “All Covid restrictions will end in England on Thursday and free mass testing will stop from 1 April. The prime minister told MPs the legal duty to isolate for those who tested positive would be dropped as he unveiled his ‘living with Covid’ plan.”

BBC: Queen cancels virtual engagements as she recovers. “She will continue with light duties, Buckingham Palace said. Further engagements over the coming week will be decided upon nearer the time. The Queen had no public engagements in the diary this week except for some scheduled video meetings.”

The Guardian: NSW police investigating complaint of alleged intimidation of MP by anti-vaccine mandate activist. “The New South Wales police have confirmed they are investigating a complaint of alleged intimidation of Liberal MP Fiona Martin after she was confronted by a pro-Russia anti-vaccine mandate activist.”

BBC: Hong Kong orders compulsory Covid tests for all its citizens. “Hong Kong’s government has ordered the compulsory testing of all of its 7.5 million citizens as the city battles surging coronavirus infections. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said residents would have to undergo three rounds of tests starting in mid-March.”

Times of Israel: New COVID cases, deaths fall further in Israel and globally as Omicron wave fades. “In the UN health agency’s weekly pandemic report, WHO said there were more than 12 million new coronavirus infections last week. The number of new COVID-19 deaths fell 8% to about 67,000 worldwide, the first time that weekly deaths have fallen since early January. The Western Pacific was the only region that saw an increase in COVID-19 cases, with a 29% jump, while the number of infections elsewhere dropped significantly.”


The Guardian: CDC changes guidance and advises longer interval between vaccine doses. “CDC officials said they were reacting to research showing that the longer interval can provide more enduring protection against the coronavirus. Research suggests that 12- to 64-year-olds – especially males ages 12 to 39 – can benefit from the longer spacing, the CDC said.”

NBC News: Indoor masking no longer necessary across most of the U.S, CDC says. “Most Americans are safe going without a mask in indoor settings, including in schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The highly-anticipated change to the agency’s mask guidance leans less heavily on Covid-19 cases as a key metric, instead giving more weight to hospitalizations and local hospital capacity.”


KMBC: Wastewater testing shows Missouri is back to pre-omicron levels. “Wastewater testing shows that Missouri is back to pre-omicron levels of community spread. The Missouri Sewershed Surveillance Project tracks weekly samples of COVID-19 in wastewater. Those levels have dropped for weeks.”

Associated Press: Florida Surgeon General Confirmed Despite COVID-19 Controversies. ” Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo was confirmed to his position Wednesday, as Senate Republicans approved the nomination of the state’s top doctor over criticism that his opposition to coronavirus mandates is too aligned to the politics of Gov. Ron DeSantis.”


Route Fifty: A Looming Threat for City Budgets. “The rise of remote work could permanently reduce the number of people coming into cities, eroding taxes and fees on everything from coffee sales to parking.”


The Hill: Fox’s Neil Cavuto returns to air, says he was in ICU with COVID-19. “Fox News and Fox Business Network host Neil Cavuto returned to the air on Monday and revealed he had been in an intensive care unit while battling pneumonia and the coronavirus.”


The Next Web: How robots and remote-editing helped photograph the 2022 Winter Olympics. “The Games took place in a ‘closed-loop’ environment comprised of gated ‘bubble areas’ that contained housing, event locations, and transport links. There were also no tickets sold to the general public, while many media professionals worked from home due to COVID concerns. The conditions left Getty Images, the official photo agency for the International Olympic Committee, with reduced support teams on the ground. To tackle the challenges, the team tapped into robotic cameras and remote editing.”

Alaska Public Media: ‘You’re all on the same team’: Junior Native Youth Olympics bring Alaskan kids together. “The Native Youth Olympic Games test athletic abilities required to survive in Alaska. The games were traditionally used to build the strength, endurance and teamwork needed for subsistence activities like hunting and foraging. This year’s Junior Native Youth Olympic Games are virtual, with nearly 300 participants sending in videos of themselves competing in the events.”


NBC News: ‘Paper terrorism’: Parents against mask mandates bombard school districts with sham legal claims. “The parents’ strategy is simple: Try to use obscure and often inapplicable legal claims to force a school district to make a policy change. And while the claims have no legal standing, they have been effective at spreading confusion and wasting school districts’ resources, even though the paperwork doesn’t require a formal legal response.”

KCUR: What can Missouri kids do when politics interfere with school safety? They can walk out.. “In January, high school students walked out of their Columbia, Missouri, classrooms to pressure their school board to reinstate a mask mandate. With COVID prevention policies expiring statewide, their experience — and a whole history of student-led walkouts — might prove instructive.”


Mustang News: New Instagram Account Sharing Cal Poly COVID-19 Concerns Says Student Health Is Not ‘Negotiable’. “A new Instagram account is sharing anonymous posts written by Cal Poly students who have had negative experiences with COVID-19. These posts criticize Cal Poly’s testing centers, isolation policies and the administration’s response to the omicron surge. The account also urges Cal Poly to change their COVID-19 policies.”


Washington Post: Five months post-covid, Nicole Murphy’s heart rate is still doing strange things. “A pivotal study that looked at health records of more than 153,000 U.S. veterans published this month in Nature Medicine found that their risk of cardiovascular disease of all types increased substantially in the year following infection, even when they had mild cases. The population studied was mostly White and male, but the patterns held even when the researchers analyzed women and people of color separately.”


University of Michigan: ZIP codes matter when it comes to severe COVID-19. “COVID-19 has sent nearly 900,000 Americans to the hospital in the past two years. A new study shows that the ZIP codes they came from had a lot to do with how sick they were when they got to the hospital, and how much care they needed once they were there. But those differences disappeared by the time their stays were done—whether they left the hospital alive or dead.”

King’s College London: Gut health compromised in severe COVID-19. “Lymphoid tissue in the gut normally maintains healthy intestinal microbial populations which are essential for good health. Researchers observed that the system that would normally regulate the composition of the microbial communities – otherwise known as Peyer’s Patches – were severely disrupted in severe COVID-19. This was irrespective of whether there was evidence of virus present in the gut or not.”

Newswise: Exercise Doesn’t Change COVID-19 Booster Immune Response in People with Autoimmune Disease. “A new study suggests that a single bout of exercise does not change the immune response to a coronavirus booster shot in people with rheumatic autoimmune diseases. The article is published ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology.”

Newswise: Two studies find only small elevated risk of blood clots following AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination. “There is a slightly elevated risk of intracranial thrombosis events following vaccination with the AstraZeneca ChAdOx1-S COVID vaccine, according to two new studies publishing February 22nd in PLOS Medicine. The first paper, by William Whiteley of the University of Edinburgh, UK, and colleagues from the BHF Data Science Centre, UK, analyzed the electronic health records of 46 million adults in England. The second paper, by Steven Kerr of the University of Edinburgh, UK, and colleagues, used a dataset of 11 million adults in England, Scotland, and Wales.”

Johns Hopkins University: Study finds COVID-19 vaccine protection against severe disease remains strong at six months. “An analysis of research literature published last year before the omicron variant took hold found that while COVID-19 vaccines lose some effectiveness in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection, the vaccines retain nearly all of their ability to prevent severe disease up to six months after full vaccination. The study, which appears online February 21 in The Lancet, was led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the World Health Organization.”

Newswise: COVID-19 genetic risk variant protects against HIV. “Some people become seriously ill when infected with SARS-CoV-2 while others have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. In addition to risk factors such as advanced age and chronic diseases, like diabetes, our genetic heritage also contributes to our individual COVID-19 severity risk.”

Newswise: High BMI in upper teens a risk factor for severe COVID-19. “Men with a high body mass index (BMI) in their upper teens had an elevated risk of severe COVID-19, requiring hospitalization, later in life, University of Gothenburg researchers show in a register study.”

Washington Post: Coronavirus vaccine protection was much weaker against omicron, data shows. “While coronavirus shots still provided protection during the omicron wave, the shield of coverage they offered was weaker than during other surges, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The change resulted in much higher rates of infection, hospitalization and death for fully vaccinated adults and even for people who had received boosters.”

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