Thursday CoronaBuzz, March 10, 2022: 41 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.


NBC News: Death toll nears 6 million as pandemic enters its 3rd year. “The milestone is the latest tragic reminder of the unrelenting nature of the pandemic even as people are shedding masks, travel is resuming and businesses are reopening around the globe. The death toll, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, stood at 5,996,882 as of Sunday morning and was expected to pass the 6 million mark later in the day.”

Associated Press: How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed after two years?. “More countries are shifting toward a return to normal and learning to live with the virus. Safe, effective vaccines have been developed and there’s better understanding of how to treat people sickened by the virus. Two years after the pandemic began, questions remain about the coronavirus. But experts know a lot more about how to keep it under control.”


Slate: An Anti-Vax Judge Is Preventing the Navy From Deploying a Warship. “At this moment, the United States Navy is preparing to deploy a 10,000-ton warship carrying 320 officers and sailors, along with missiles, torpedoes, and a mounted artillery gun…. But the Navy cannot currently deploy this warship, because it has lost trust in its commanding officer, an anti-vaxxer who has repeatedly disobeyed lawful orders, misled superiors, and allegedly exposed dozens of his crew to COVID-19 due to a refusal to get tested.”


ABC News: Ivermectin, condemned by experts as COVID-19 treatment, continues to be easily accessible through telemedicine. “Ivermectin advocates often cite ‘dozens’ of studies that show benefits of ivermectin in combating COVID-19, but a closer look at the studies shows that some of them have been retracted for flawed or fabricated data and analysis, while many randomized trials have shown no benefits. There have been some small studies that did suggest positive effects of ivermectin on treating COVID-19 patients, but no large, rigorous, randomized controlled trial has shown that ivermectin is effective at treating or preventing COVID-19, medical experts say.”


New York Times: Rents Are Roaring Back in New York City. “While rents plunged at the start of the pandemic, they are now surging, and the increase is double the national rate, amplifying the city’s affordability crisis.”


Vox: Maternity wards are shuttering across the US during the pandemic. “Across the country, from suburban San Diego to rural Connecticut, maternity wards have been shutting down for good during the Covid-19 pandemic. This wave of closures has been building for years, but it appears to be accelerating during the pandemic. It could make birth even more dangerous in the US, which already sees far more deaths per capita among infants and pregnant women than comparably wealthy countries.”


DCist: The Smithsonian Is Ending Its Indoor Mask Mandate On Friday. “Visitors to Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will no longer be required to wear a mask starting this Friday, March 11. The shift in policy ‘reflects recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and national guidelines around masking indoors,’ the organization said in a news release today.”


Associated Press: Thousands of people leaving restaurant industry. ” The volatility of the industry, the health risks associated with COVID and worker burnout have led to a loss of 1.8 million hospitality jobs in the U.S. since February 2020. Working in the service industry has never been easy. The hours are long, the customer interactions can be stressful and the wages are relatively low. But COVID introduced new problems, which pushed many people to reconsider their circumstances, Larry Barton, professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida, said.”

Newsday: Restaurant advocate: Replenish COVID-19 grant program for eateries, bars . “Long Island’s restaurants, bars and catering halls need Congress to replenish a pandemic-relief grant program, with some of them facing closure as their unpaid bills multiply, a top lobbyist said on Sunday.”

Financial Times: Moderna vows never to enforce Covid jab patents in policy U-turn. “Moderna has pledged never to enforce its Covid-19 vaccine patents in low- and middle-income nations following searing criticism by campaigners that its opposition to waiving intellectual property rights threatens Africa’s access to life-saving jabs.”

New York Times: A Two-Year, 50-Million-Person Experiment in Changing How We Work. “When one of America’s earliest open-plan offices debuted in Racine, Wis., in 1939, women made up less than one-third of the country’s labor force. The design of that early office, not so different from the one that modern workers experience, fit the needs of a particular employee: someone who could stay late because he didn’t have to rush home to make dinner for his children; someone pleased to cross paths with the boss because it meant time to talk golf. The office, in other words, was never one size fits all. It was one size fits some, with the expectation that everybody else would squeeze in.”


Associated Press: WHO says COVID boosters needed, reversing previous call. “An expert group convened by the World Health Organization said Tuesday it ‘strongly supports urgent and broad access’ to booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine amid the global spread of omicron, capping a reversal of the U.N. agency’s repeated insistence last year that boosters weren’t necessary for healthy people and contributed to vaccine inequity.”

Khaleej Times: India: 92% of patients who died from Covid were unvaccinated, reveals official data. “Official figures revealed that 92 per cent of patients who lost their lives to Covid-19 in India in 2022 were unvaccinated.” Note this in 2022.

New York Times: Empty Stores and an Exodus: Hong Kong’s Covid Crackdown Stirs Panic. “Tens of thousands of new Omicron cases are being reported each day, and deaths have surged. The anxiety gripping Hong Kong is not just about the explosion of infections, but also about what the government will do next. Mixed messages from officials have left residents wondering: Will there be a lockdown? Will we be sent into isolation facilities? Will our children be taken from us if they test positive?”

Yonhap News Agency: S. Korea’s new daily COVID-19 cases top 300,000 for 2nd day as omicron spreads fast. “- South Korea confirmed more than 300,000 coronavirus cases for the second consecutive day Thursday as the dominant omicron variant of the coronavirus continued to spur new outbreaks nationwide. The country reported 327,549 new COVID-19 infections, including 327,490 local cases, raising the total caseload to 5,539,650, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).”

CNN: Covid-19: As Ukrainians contend with Russia’s unprovoked invasion, the virus is complicating the picture. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing a devastating humanitarian crisis in the country, with at least two million people fleeing into neighboring countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) warning that the deteriorating conditions will make it easier for Covid-19 to spread.”

The Guardian: Johnson announces terms of reference for Covid inquiry. “Boris Johnson has promised bereaved families will have their voices heard, as he published wide-ranging terms of reference for the public inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The prime minister bowed to pressure last year and announced the inquiry, which will be chaired by the retired judge Lady Hallett.”

BBC: Covid: Austria suspends compulsory vaccination mandate. “Austria has decided to suspend its mandate for compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations for over-18s, days before it was due to start enforcing it. It was the first EU country to adopt the measure. The government now says it considers it disproportionate to the threat posed by the Omicron variant.”


NBC News: TSA to extend mask mandate for planes, public transportation until April 18. “The Transportation Security Administration is extending the mask mandate on public transportation until April 18, according to a White House official and a TSA official.”

Federal News Network: Exposed to COVID-19 on the job? New website lets you join class-action lawsuit for hazard pay. “Federal employees who were exposed to COVID-19 while working can now join a class-action lawsuit. The American Federation of Government Employees, along with the law firm Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch have created a new website for those who want to join the suit.”

NBC News: Americans are besieged by stress, poll finds. “Financial woes, coupled with a barrage of horrifying scenes from Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion, have pushed a majority of Americans to unprecedented levels of stress, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association.”

NBC News: New Covid fraud prosecutor steps up effort to convict people who stole billions in relief benefits. “The federal government’s new top prosecutor for serious fraud against the massive pandemic relief program is setting up teams to analyze what he has called ‘an almost shocking amount of data’ that could bring new charges.”


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Number of Arkansans hospitalized with covid drops below 400 for first time since November. “The number of Arkansans hospitalized with covid-19 dropped below 400 Saturday for the first time since Nov. 29, 2021, shortly before the surge of the omicron variant, according to data from the Arkansas Department of Health. After a slight increase Friday, the number of hospitalizations fell by 41 to 371. Covid-19 patients in intensive care also decreased Saturday after increasing Friday. The new total of 121 intensive care patients is the lowest level since Nov. 18, according to Health Department data.”

ABC News: DeSantis aide bucks medical consensus that healthy children should get COVID vaccine. “Despite widespread support for pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations from the nation’s top health officials, Florida will become the first state in the country to advise against vaccinating healthy children for COVID-19, the state’s Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, announced on Monday.”

Bureau of Governmental Research: Public Entities Should Continue Online Meeting Access After The Pandemic. “This report calls on more government entities in Louisiana to livestream and archive video recordings of their meetings online, so citizens can continue to enjoy the benefits of remote access as pandemic restrictions ease and in-person meetings resume.”


Associated Press: Big cities drop more COVID-19 measures in push for normalcy. “The moves to ease the mandates comes as government officials around the U.S. have been easing COVID-19 guidelines and signaling that the risk of virus spread is retreating — at least for now. Illinois lifted face mask requirements for many indoor spaces on Monday, and Boston will lift similar rules on Saturday. Chicago stopped requiring proof of vaccination to dine in restaurants.”

The Hill: Boston follows other cities in lifting mask mandate. “Boston on Saturday became the latest city to lift an indoor mask mandate as cases of the novel coronavirus and severe hospitalizations from COVID-19 continue to decline nationwide.”

San Diego Union-Tribune: Judge declines to order sheriff to improve COVID-19 protections in San Diego County jails. “Judge Joel R. Wohlfeil has upheld his tentative ruling from last week and rejected a plea to issue an injunction that would have forced the San Diego Sheriff’s Department to do more to protect people in county jail from COVID-19. A trio of civil rights law firms sought the order earlier this year, saying too many men and women in San Diego County jails were exposed to the virus due to lax protocols by sheriff’s deputies.”

San Francisco Chronicle: San Francisco drops vaccine mandate for indoor restaurants, bars. “Starting this Friday, March 11, San Francisco will no longer require people to provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to enter indoor restaurants, bars and gyms, city health officials announced Wednesday.”


KOB 4: Roswell man who spent more than 500 days in hospital for COVID returns home. “One New Mexican man spent 550 days in the hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19. After being away from his family for more than a year, Donnell Hunter was finally able to go home.”


ABC News: Return to pre-pandemic normalcy not yet on the horizon for many immunocompromised Americans. “Like many children across the country, Xiomara and her brother were forced to trade their backpacks for laptops as the virus forced schools online. However, unlike most students, who are now back to in-person schooling, Xiomara, who was born with a number of medical conditions affecting her airway, lungs, heart and kidneys, has not yet been able to return. Because she is immunocompromised, her parents have been faced with the difficult decision to keep her away from her peers in virtual schooling while the virus is still circulating.”

New York Times: It’s ‘Alarming’: Children Are Severely Behind in Reading. “As the pandemic enters its third year, a cluster of new studies now show that about a third of children in the youngest grades are missing reading benchmarks, up significantly from before the pandemic.”

New York Times: What Young New Yorkers Think About the End of the School Mask Mandate. “New York City officials this week eliminated the mask mandate for public school students that had been in place since fall 2020, an aggressive step toward normalcy two years after the coronavirus began battering the city. Some expressed joy at the chance to remove their masks, but not all the students and parents interviewed this week were comfortable with the change. Here’s what some students and parents had to say.”


ABC News: 5 ways we’ll know COVID has become endemic: ANALYSIS. “How can we know if it’s safe to unmask and resume our normal activities? What signals should we look for to determine if we need to resume social distancing? Below are five indicators that may provide us with answers.”

BBC: Scans reveal how Covid may change the brain. “Catching Covid may cause changes to the brain, a study suggests. Scientists found significant differences in MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans before and after infection. Even after a mild infection, the overall size of the brain had shrunk slightly, with less grey matter in the parts related to smell and memory.”


Bleeping Computer: Dozens of COVID passport apps put user’s privacy at risk. “Roughly two-thirds of test digital vaccination applications commonly used today as safe passes and travel passports exhibit behavior that may put users’ privacy at risk. The risks are substantial as these apps are required for large populations worldwide, allowing hackers an extensive target base.”


PsyPost: Facemasks and makeup result in overestimation of age of young adult women. “According to a new study published in the Applied Cognitive Psychology, facemasks and makeup result in an overestimation of young women’s age, compared to neutral faces. However, the combination of these two is not additive.”

PsyPost: National narcissism identified as a robust predictor of belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories. “New research published Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin provides evidence that national narcissism is strongly tied to the spread of COVID-19 conspiracy theories. National narcissism, a type of collective narcissism, refers to the belief that one’s nation is exceptional and entitled to special treatment.”

San Francisco Chronicle: How UCSF’s data science team took on COVID. “When the pandemic hit in early 2020, getting accurate, real-time data became essential at every level of society: Government agencies enacted lockdown measures based on data, hospitals relied on it to forecast bed shortages and the general public used it when gauging the safety of everyday activities. Since then, government agencies, research labs and media organizations have worked tirelessly to provide this kind of accessible data. UCSF’s data science and innovation team was at the forefront of these efforts in the Bay Area. ”


New York Times: F.B.I. Sees ‘Massive Fraud’ in Groups’ Food Programs for Needy Children. “In court filings, the F.B.I. said it had discovered a ‘massive fraud scheme’ among groups that Feeding Our Future was supposed to oversee, saying they siphoned off tens of millions of dollars by charging taxpayers for nonexistent meals. In affidavits filed in federal court, the Justice Department said it was investigating at least 15 different feeding operations. Together, the F.B.I. said, these groups — all of which were supposed to be overseen by Feeding Our Future — had received more than $65 million from federal food programs during the coronavirus pandemic.”


Washington Post: Opinion: Vaccines work for children. Ignore the nonsense spoken in Florida.. “The final decision about whether youths should get vaccinated against the coronavirus is up to them and their parents. We think they should receive the shots; scientific evidence shows that vaccines protect young people from serious illness and death. Unfortunately, though, the message about the efficacy and safety of the vaccines has failed to reach many families. That is why the Florida surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, was irresponsible to announce on Monday that the state health department plans to formally recommend against vaccination for healthy children.”

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