Thursday CoronaBuzz, March 17, 2022: 34 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.


CNN: US Covid-19 community metrics continue to fall, but officials keep close eye on surge in Europe. “Only about 1.7 million people in the United States — less than 1% of the total population — live in counties where the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends universal indoor masking, according to the latest Covid-19 community level data, updated by the CDC on Thursday. This is about 5 million fewer people than last week, when about 2% of the US population lived in counties considered to have ‘high’ community levels.”


Los Angeles Times: The wellness community’s fight over COVID vaccine misinformation – Los Angeles Times. “The vaccination selfie, showing a gloved hand holding a needle and a smiling face hidden behind a mask, looked like thousands of others posted to Instagram as the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out across the U.S. But the comments it drew did not. Sell out puppet, sneered one user in response to Dr. Michael Greger’s photo. Burning your book tonight in my fire pit, said a second. Another simply wrote: 👎💔💩.”

Stuff New Zealand: Covid 19 NZ: The strange story of a man who has found fame in the anti-vaccination ecosystem. “This is the strange story of the man who went from complaining about “bullet-hard” lentils to becoming a leading voice in New Zealand’s anti-vax movement. Keith Lynch looks at how an alternative online ecosystem allows someone with seemingly little or no relevant background in vaccination to position themselves as an expert.”

Poynter: How memes are used to spread misinformation. “Memes can be fun ways to comment on current events or pop culture. They also build a sense of community on social media. Unfortunately, memes have also become a sneaky way to spread misinformation. This viral meme was shared on Facebook, stating that COVID-19 cases are much higher now than before there was a vaccine. To some, it could sound like the vaccine is causing this high number of cases. Here’s how we fact-checked it.”


New York Times: Two Years of the Pandemic in New York, Step by Awful Step. “Two years and 40,000 deaths later, there remain rips and rifts in the social fabric that have not been repaired and may not be for a while. Something has been lost, some kind of trust perhaps. Time has been lost, definitely. And yet the dire predictions of a city damaged beyond repair proved wrong. As Plague Year 3 dawns, infection rates have plummeted. But the arrival of a new subvariant is also a reminder that the pandemic is not over.”


Washington Post: Pfizer and BioNTech to seek authorization of second coronavirus booster shot for people 65 and older. “Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, will seek emergency authorization for a second booster shot of their coronavirus vaccine for people 65 and older, an effort to bolster waning immunity that occurs several months after the first booster, according to three people familiar with the situation.”

BBC: KFC-owner Yum sales plunge as China Covid cases surge. “The owner of KFC and Pizza Hut said sales plunged by 20% in the first two weeks of March as a surge of new Covid cases spread across China. Yum China said ‘the situation has rapidly deteriorated’ as regional lockdowns have been put in place to stem the outbreak. More than 1,100 of its stores are temporarily closed or offering takeaway and sales are ‘still trending down’.”


New York Times: In Africa, a Mix of Shots Drives an Uncertain Covid Vaccination Push. “In the tumbledown concrete room that has been commandeered as this sleepy African trading center’s Covid-19 vaccination headquarters, a battered freezer holds stacks of boxes with dozens of small glass vials. Stuffed among shots for rotavirus and measles are four brands of Covid vaccines.”

BBC: New Zealand border to reopen from next month, PM Ardern says. “New Zealand has brought forward plans to reopen its borders to international travellers after a Covid lockout of more than two years. Australians will be allowed to enter the country without needing to quarantine or isolate from 13 April. Fully vaccinated travellers from about 60 countries on a visa-waiver list will be able to arrive from 2 May. Those nations include the UK and US.”

Yonhap News Agency: (2nd LD) S. Korea’s new COVID-19 cases surpass somber 400,000 milestone amid omicron wave. ” South Korea’s new COVID-19 cases hit yet another somber milestone of more than 400,000 on Wednesday, driven by the dominant omicron variant spreading at an overwhelming speed. The country added 400,741 new daily COVID-19 infections, mostly locally transmitted, raising the total caseload to 7,629,275, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.”

The Mainichi: 10,221 new COVID cases recorded in Tokyo on March 16. “Japan’s capital reported 10,221 new COVID-19 cases on March 16, after recording 7,836 positive cases the day before, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced. Of the 10,221 newly infected people, 4,553 had received two COVID vaccine shots, 96 one shot, and 3,112 were unvaccinated. The vaccination status of 2,460 was unknown.”

Breaking News Ireland: Covid: Ireland logs 14,096 cases as WHO says recorded numbers the ‘tip of the iceberg’ . “Ireland logged 14,096 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, as the World Health Organisation warned that a global surge in newly recorded cases could be just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as countries reduce testing. 5,452 cases were confirmed by PCR testing in Ireland while 8,644 people registered a positive antigen test result through the HSE’s portal.”

Associated Press: South Korea’s omicron deaths surge amid faltering response. “South Korea reached another daily record in COVID-19 deaths on Thursday as health officials reported more than 621,000 new infections, underscoring a massive omicron surge that has been worse than feared and threatens to buckle an over-stretched hospital system. The 429 deaths reported in the latest 24 hours were nearly 140 more than the previous one-day record set on Tuesday. Fatalities may further rise in coming weeks considering the intervals between infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”

CNN: Irish Taoiseach abruptly leaves DC gala attended by Biden after testing positive for Covid-19. “Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin, known as the Taoiseach, tested positive for Covid-19 Wednesday while attending a gala in Washington, DC, that had just been addressed by President Joe Biden.”

ABC News: UK easing COVID-19 testing, monitoring despite case uptick. “After dropping nearly all coronavirus restrictions last month, Britain is now ending some of its most widespread COVID-19 testing and monitoring programs, a move some scientists fear will complicate efforts to track the virus and detect worrisome new variants.”


New York Times: Health Agency Under Cuomo ‘Misled the Public’ on Nursing Home Deaths. “The administration of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo failed to publicly account for the deaths of about 4,100 nursing home residents in New York during the pandemic, according to an audit released on Tuesday by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audit found that Health Department officials at times underreported the full death toll by as much as 50 percent from April 2020 to February 2021, as Mr. Cuomo faced increasing scrutiny over whether his administration had intentionally concealed the actual number of deaths.”

Washington Post: TSA has investigated more than 3,800 mask-related incidents since mandate went into effect. “The Transportation Security Administration has investigated more than 3,800 incidents of potential violations involving the federal mask mandate, assessing more than $644,000 in civil penalties, according to a report this week by the Government Accountability Office. The TSA, charged with enforcing the mandate in airports and other public transportation settings, has issued more than 2,700 warning notices, the report said. It issued civil penalties in about 900 instances, roughly 24 percent of cases that occurred between Feb. 2, 2021, and March 7, 2022.”

ABC News: US retail spending slows as inflation starts to bite. “Retail sales increased 0.3% after registering a revised 4.9% jump from December to January, fueled by wage gains, solid hiring and more money in banking accounts, according to the Commerce Department. January’s increase was the biggest jump in spending since last March, when American households received a final federal stimulus check of $1,400.”

New York Times: At least nine House Democrats test positive for the coronavirus after a party retreat and late-night voting.. “At least nine House Democrats have announced in the last five days that they tested positive for the coronavirus, with more than half of those cases emerging after lawmakers attended a party retreat last week in Philadelphia.”

Reuters: Omicron sub-variant makes up 23.1% of COVID variants in U.S. – CDC. “The BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron was estimated to be 23.1% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of March 12, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday. Scientists are tracking a rise in cases caused by BA.2, which is spreading rapidly in parts of Asia and Europe.”

The Hill: CDC lowers COVID-19 warning on cruise ships from ‘high’ to ‘moderate’. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lowered its COVID-19 warning for cruise ships from ‘high’ to ‘moderate’ on Monday as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. decreases. The agency, however, still recommends that individuals boarding a cruise ship are ‘up to date’ with COVID-19 vaccines, including booster shots for those eligible and additional doses for individuals who are immunocompromised.”

Associated Press: Emhoff tests positive for COVID-19, VP Harris still negative. “Second gentleman Doug Emhoff has tested positive for COVID-19, the White House announced Tuesday. Vice President Kamala Harris tested negative, but is curtailing her schedule as a result of her husband’s positive test.”

Politico: Some hospitals ask patients, visitors to remove N95s, citing CDC. “They fear that surgical masks put the most vulnerable people at higher risk of catching Covid-19. N95s, which seal tighter to the face, offer better protection against the airborne virus, studies show. For more than a year, many have called on the Biden administration to change its guidance to offer more protection inside hospitals, even as mitigation measures have been dialed back and case counts decline. And yet, patients across the country say they are often told to replace their N95s with surgical masks as they enter hospitals.”

New York Times: Jeff Zients to Leave as Biden’s Covid Czar and Be Replaced by Ashish Jha. “Jeffrey D. Zients, an entrepreneur and management consultant who steered President Biden’s coronavirus response through successive pandemic waves and the largest vaccination campaign in American history, plans to leave the White House in April to return to private life, President Biden said in a statement.”

ABC News: New federal ventilation guidelines mark next step in fight against COVID. “The Biden administration will announce new building ventilation standards for schools and businesses on Thursday — a welcome step for experts who feel the U.S. has long been behind the curve on using air filtration as a valuable tool to fight COVID-19.”


San Francisco Chronicle: COVID, scandal, heartbreak: Vincent Zhou tries to move past Olympic nightmare. “Vincent Zhou gets another chance next week. It’s not the Olympics. But the skater from Palo Alto whose Beijing Olympics were derailed by a positive coronavirus test will compete in the World Figure Skating Championships, which begin Monday in Montpellier, France.”

Route Fifty: Lacking Mental Health Support, First Responders Turn to Peers. “Covid-19 revealed a mental health crisis among health care workers. A peer support group in Colorado is trying to help.”


New York Daily News: Unvaccinated Yankees and Mets can’t play at home under current NYC rules. “Unvaccinated players on the Yankees and Mets are covered by the same private sector employer mandate that is keeping Kyrie Irving off the court in Brooklyn, a City Hall spokesperson told the Daily News. Mayor Eric Adams repealed the Key2NYC vaccine mandate covering indoor spaces like gyms, dining and entertainment on Mar. 7. But Irving remained ineligible to play under a separate regulation: A private employer mandate put in place by the de Blasio administration on Dec. 27.”


NBC News: Scientists explore potential connection between Covid and diabetes. “Emerging evidence shows that the coronavirus — like some other viruses — can attack insulin-producing cells in the pancreas — a process that might trigger at least temporary diabetes in susceptible people. Rising cases might also reflect circumstances involving pandemic restrictions, including delayed medical care for early signs of diabetes or unhealthy eating habits and inactivity in people already at risk for Type 2 diabetes.”


Vox: The surprising link between Covid-19 deaths and … internet access. “This March, researchers at the University of Chicago published a study in the journal JAMA Network Open that showed one of the factors most consistently associated with a high risk of death due to Covid-19 in the US was the lack of internet access, whether broadband, dial-up, or cellular. This was regardless of other demographic risk factors like socioeconomic status, education, age, disability, rent burden, health insurance coverage, or immigration status.”


New York Times: As Virus Data Mounts, the J.&J. Vaccine Holds Its Own. “Roughly 17 million Americans received the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine, only to be told later that it was the least protective of the options available in the United States. But new data suggest that the vaccine is now preventing infections, hospitalizations and deaths at least as well as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.”

Jerusalem Post: Fourth vaccine offers little protection against COVID-19 – study. “The study, published by The New England Journal of Medicine, examines the efficacy of the fourth coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna. The interim results released show that the vaccine offers little to no protection against the virus when compared to young and healthy individuals vaccinated with three doses. However, the vaccine did prove to provide moderate protection against symptomatic infection among young and healthy individuals in comparison to those inoculated three times.”


WRAL: Garner man uses fake companies named after Game of Thrones references to scam government out of $1.7 million. “Tristan Bishop Pan, 40, submitted false Paycheck Protection Program loan applications designated for small businesses. He made false claims about companies he didn’t own and employees he didn’t have, according to federal court documents. He named his companies using references to the popular book series ‘Game of Thrones,’ including names and titles like Khaleesi, White Walkers and the Night’s Watch.”


New York Times: In Impasse Over New Covid Relief Aid, Neither Side Is Willing to Bend. “The White House wants more money for treatments, tests, vaccines and research, but Republicans in Congress insist the administration will have to repurpose existing funds.”

CoronaBuzz is brought to you by ResearchBuzz. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you.

Categories: coronabuzz

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply