Tuesday CoronaBuzz, March 15, 2022: 36 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

I started this newsletter two years ago yesterday, March 14, 2020. In that time I have indexed 13,371 articles and added no telling how many tags. The newsletter will continue as long as covid does, and if you’re spent any time looking at Asia you know this is not over. Stay safe, much love, wish I had something more to offer than this.


CBS News: COVID pandemic death toll may be 3 times higher than official tally, new study finds. “Two years after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, new research suggests around 18.2 million people have died worldwide as a result. That toll is more than three times higher than the WHO’s tally of nearly 6 million officially reported COVID-19 deaths through the end of 2021.”

San Francisco Chronicle: S.F. homeless deaths more than doubled during the pandemic’s first year — but not because of COVID. “The grim findings echo a similar mortality spike in Los Angeles, where officials contending with rising housing costs and homelessness also used a wave of pandemic funding to test new approaches like sanctioned tent cities and state-funded hotels. Interventions like shelter-in-place hotels likely did help mitigate deaths due to COVID-19 and related health conditions, the report authors found, but lockdowns diverted resources and increased isolation that may have compounded other risks.”

Politico: Covid chaos fueled another public health crisis: STDs. “After an initial dip when the pandemic began in the spring of 2020, cases of gonorrhea and syphilis surged, reaching new highs by the end of the year, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Progress on HIV, which President Donald Trump pledged to end by 2030, also slowed significantly. Public health experts expect that when the CDC releases 2021 numbers later this year, they will show that Covid-19 made a bad situation exponentially worse as clinics closed, people lost health insurance and risky behavior surged.”

The Guardian: Covid exposed the cracks in the US food system – meet the people trying to fix them. “Long before most of the emergency rooms were overloaded, it was the food system that showed the first signs of the enormous impact the pandemic would have. Empty shelves at the supermarket. Closed restaurants. Farmers dumping milk out into their fields or euthanizing animals as meat processing plants became overwhelmed or shut down. And it wasn’t just farmers or the restaurant owners or the agricultural industry that suffered: hunger spiked across the country. Food insecurity in the US increased from 11% to 15% during the pandemic, with at least 60 million Americans visiting a food bank during 2020, an increase of 50% from the year before.”

New York Times: Covid restrictions prevented dengue in hundreds of thousands of people in 2020.. “Public health measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 had an unintended consequence across Latin America and Southeast Asia in 2020: Dengue virus infections were prevented in hundreds of thousands of people, according to a study published in The Lancet this month. The research offers clues for new strategies to combat a dangerous tropical disease that had been infecting more people each year.”


New York Times: Inside the High-Stakes Race to Test the Covid Tests. “Over the last two years, a group of researchers at Emory and other Atlanta institutions has played a key, but largely hidden, role in getting Covid tests into the hands of Americans, working with the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.”


Associated Press: For kids with COVID-19, everyday life can be a struggle. “More than 12.7 million children in the U.S. alone have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Generally, the virus doesn’t hit kids as severely as adults. But, as with some adults, there are still bizarre outcomes.”


Belfast Telegraph: Northern Ireland libraries offered a virtual lifeline during pandemic: ‘We do see ourselves as community hubs’. “In our Environment in Focus Week it seemed only natural to pay homage to the institutions that provide a lifeline for many — and who continued to do so throughout the series of lockdowns and while physical doors were closed. Stephen King calls books a uniquely portable magic, and lockdown gave many a chance to catch up on their reading. It’s clear, reading the figures of the quantity of books borrowed, that Northern Ireland is a place of story lovers.”


CNN: White House will unveil new data-sharing initiative with companies to address supply chain crunch. “The Biden White House, trying to expand its limited supply of inflation-fighting tools, will on Tuesday unveil a new one. Dubbed ‘Freight Logistics Optimization Works,’ or FLOW, the effort joins administration officials and major private sector businesses in a data-sharing initiative designed to enhance the efficiency with which companies move imported goods to stores.”

Canadian Press: Quebec sugar shack owners say the COVID-19 pandemic saved the iconic industry. “The spring sugar shack experience — eating beans and ham at long tables with strangers, enjoying tractor rides through the melting snow and nibbling snow-chilled maple syrup on wooden sticks — was on the decline before the pandemic. But two years of COVID-19 lockdowns have forced the traditional industry to reinvent an outdated business model, and some say it is more sustainable than before the health crisis hit.”

Axios: Pfizer CEO: Fourth shot of COVID vaccine “necessary”. “A fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be necessary in order to maintain manageable levels of hospitalizations and mild infections, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday.”

Gizmodo: Foxconn Halts Apple iPhone Production in China’s Tech Hub as Covid-19 Cases Soar. “Foxconn, a major supplier for Apple and critical partner for the manufacturing of the iPhone, has halted production in the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen, according to a spokesperson from the tech giant. The halt in operations is a direct result of soaring covid-19 cases in China, a country that has managed to keep cases relatively low for the past two years.”

Axios: Streaming boom propels film industry’s pandemic recovery. “A sharp uptick in paid online video subscriptions and original content production for streaming platforms has helped the movie industry recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report. Why it matters: The global streaming and theatrical movie market raked in a nearly a combined total of $99.7 million in 2021, eclipsing pre-pandemic sales.”


The Guardian: Dismay as funding for UK’s ‘world-beating’ Covid trackers is axed. “If anything about the UK’s response to Covid-19 was world-beating, it was our surveillance system. From the World Health Organization to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health teams around the world have praised the UK’s infection-tracking capability, and used our data to plan their own pandemic measures. Despite this health ministers have cancelled future funding for the React-1 study and other research projects.”

Reuters: COVID surges in Hong Kong, leader urges vaccines. ” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Friday that the city’s COVID-19 vaccination program would focus on its elderly and children, as authorities battled to reduce a massive surge in infections and climbing death rates. Health authorities reported over 29,000 new infections and 196 deaths on Friday.”

Hong Kong Free Press: Covid-19: 17 million locked down in Shenzhen as virus cases double nationwide. “China placed all 17 million residents in one of its biggest cities under lockdown on Sunday, as virus cases doubled nationwide to nearly 3,400 and anxiety mounted over the resilience of its ‘zero-Covid’ approach in the face of the worst outbreak in two years.”

Yonhap News Agency: (3rd LD) S. Korea’s new COVID-19 cases above 300,000 for 3rd day as omicron rages. “The country added 309,790 new COVID-19 infections, the majority of which coming from local transmissions, putting the total caseload at 6,866,222, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.”

Deutsche Welle: COVID digest: Germany’s situation ‘critical,’ Lauterbach says. “Despite planning to further relax COVID-19 rules, Germany logged a record high number of coronavirus infections in 24 hours on Thursday, and a figure almost as high, 252,836 cases, on Friday.”

BBC: China: Businesses shut as officials widen Covid lockdowns. “Multinational companies have halted some operations as China widens its Covid lockdowns – among its biggest since the start of the pandemic. Tens of millions of people across the country face restrictions, including the entire Jilin province and technology hub Shenzhen, as authorities report record numbers of cases.”

NBC News: Covid cases climb in Europe as restrictions ease and BA.2 subvariant spreads. “Among the countries with the biggest recent surges are Finland, where new cases jumped by 84 percent in its weekly case total, to nearly 62,500 weekly cases; Switzerland, whose weekly total rose by 45 percent, to 182,190; and the United Kingdom, which had a 31 percent increase, to a weekly total of 414,480 new cases. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy have also recorded double-digit percentage increases in their weekly tallies.”

Haaretz: BA.2 Variant Drives Up Israel’s COVID Infection Rate Ahead of Purim Holiday. “Health Ministry officials are worried about the continued rise in the rate of COVID infections and its possible effects on the number of patients in serious condition, as the infectious BA.2 variant continues to spread ahead of the Purim holidays.”


ABC News: Rise in COVID-19 infections overseas may foreshadow increase in US, experts say. “When the coronavirus receded across much of the globe last month and the omicron surge declined, many Americans were hopeful that was perhaps the signal that the United States was entering a new phase of the pandemic. However, new data indicators, domestically and internationally, suggest that the virus continues to spread.”

East Bay Times: How low will it go? California COVID cases, hospitalizations back to pre-delta lows. “As we enter year three of the pandemic, COVID case rates, the number of patients hospitalized with the virus, and the test positivity rate have all dropped below the level we saw during the most recent low point — during the post-delta, pre-omicron lull. California has not seen COVID numbers this low since the summer of 2021, at the height of the country’s vaccination campaign, before the delta wave set the stage for omicron’s massive spike.”

Politico: Email: Government scientists prep to slash Covid research in funding gap. “Scientists at the National Institutes of Health are scrambling to decide whether all its coronavirus research and development can continue after Congress dropped new funding from its sweeping budget bill. There are immediate implications for government trials on Covid-19 therapies, tests and vaccines that run out of funds as soon as this month, according to an internal email obtained by POLITICO.”

CNET: FDA Warns Against Some COVID Tests From Popular Brand Flowflex. “If you have an at-home COVID-19 Flowflex test that came in a dark blue box, don’t use it, the US Food and Drug Administration said this month. At least, if you got it in the US.”


Politico: CDC wants to monitor poop: States aren’t all on board. “Probing poop can help public health officials more quickly identify and respond to clusters of Covid cases or other viruses. But lackluster participation leaves gaping holes in what public officials intend to be a comprehensive early warning system for infectious diseases, rendering the country vulnerable to the next Covid-19 variant or public health crisis, according to POLITICO interviews with state health officials and wastewater experts across 17 states.”

Washington Post: Opinion: How does Ron DeSantis sleep at night?. “Florida residents were, since vaccines have been widely available, nearly seven times as likely to die from covid-19 as residents of D.C., nearly three times as likely to die as residents of California and 2½ times as likely to die as residents of New York. With Florida’s population of about 22 million, that’s a lot of unnecessary deaths.”


ABC News: Inside woman’s long COVID battle as US marks 2nd anniversary of coronavirus pandemic. “Nicole Wahler was in her mid-20s and in the best shape of her life when she tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020. Now, nearly two years later, Wahler, 28, said she is still suffering from the effects of the virus, which to date has killed nearly 6 million people around the world.”

Washington Post: For these young people, the pandemic has been harsh. Here are their hopes for the future.. “In 2021, as the pandemic showed no signs of abating, young people across the country were dealing with isolation and altered dreams, and were trying figure out what their futures would be like. We were among them — two college students who wanted to see how our generation was coping. For six months, we crisscrossed 23 states and interviewed more than 80 young people suspended in that transitional time between adolescence and adulthood.”


ABC News: Barack Obama tests positive for COVID-19, former president confirms on Twitter. “Former President Barack Obama has tested positive for COVID-19, he tweeted on Sunday. Obama said he is ‘feeling fine’ other than a scratchy throat, reminding people to get vaccinated even as the number of cases in the U.S. goes down.”


Arizona State University: The importance of parents when starting college during a pandemic. “A new study has shown that parent-child relationships protected students who started college in the midst of the pandemic from alcohol misuse and mental health problems. The study followed 425 first-year students who started college in the fall 2020 semester, a time when many classes were still offered remotely and social distancing impacted extracurricular activities. Nearly half of the participants reported mental health struggles, alcohol use or a combination of both.”


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: A ‘tornado’ in the body: Battling long COVID, months after infection. “While the pandemic may finally be easing in Western Pennsylvania, COVID-19 is not over for patients like Mr. [Joseph] Wheeler, who have what is known as long COVID. Most people who get COVID-19 recover within a few weeks, but others can develop new or lingering health problems that last for months after first catching the virus. For many of these long COVID patients, symptoms are debilitating or disruptive to daily life. Some can’t return to work or enjoy many of the activities they once did.”


Mozilla Blog: The pandemic changed everything — even the way we use browser extensions. “On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Within days, practically the entire planet was on lockdown. We went indoors and online. So how did the sudden mass migration online impact browser extension usage? Pretty dramatically, it turns out. On this two-year mark of the start of the pandemic we looked back at Firefox extension installs and usage data to discover several compelling trends.”


PsyPost: Focus on money lessened throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “A series of three studies examined the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on materialism, finding an overall decrease in the importance people place on money. This research was published in the journal Psychology & Marketing.”

PsyPost: Unvaccinated Trump supporters are mostly unmoved by expert messaging, study finds. “Trump voters are more likely to be swayed by a political figure endorsing the COVID-19 vaccine rather than factual, scientific testimony by doctors, a new study published in PLOS One suggests.”


HuffPost: I Gained 70 Pounds During COVID. Here’s What Happened On My First Day Back In The Office.. “When we are finally able to climb out of survival mode after this traumatic, globe-changing event, I’m hoping most people will be far more concerned about how to acclimate back into their long-abandoned routines, how to fortify their depleted mental health, how to honor those we have lost by relearning the little things we didn’t know were what added up to make us human. I hope it’s soul stuff we’ll be focused on, not bodies. I do want to get back to a more active lifestyle, because, well, movement feels good. But whether I eventually lose the weight I gained or not (and if I do, I will miss you, massive boobs!), I have to do my best to accept my body where it is every step of the way.”

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