Monday CoronaBuzz, March 28, 2022: 35 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.

I had a hardware failure Thursday and lost the newsletter. I tried to put it back together but it ended up being without links and all messed up. This one is correct and hopefully I will have no failures in future.


Mashable: It’s not too late to socialize your pandemic puppy. “Along with separation anxiety, socialization is a behavioral challenge that many ‘pandemic puppies’ are now facing. Introducing your puppy to new experiences is a critical part of their development. Simple things like having friends over to your house, taking your puppy out to a pet-friendly restaurant, or going to in-person puppy classes are all ways to socialize your pup — and all are experiences they may have missed out on when we sheltered in place.”


The Mainichi: Baseless coronavirus rumors damaging families, relationships in Japan. “Two years have already passed since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Japan, and measures such as multiple state of emergency declarations have been taken intermittently. But misinformation and false rumors about the virus and vaccines have been spreading as if to take advantage of people under stress and anxiety, and have damaged relationships and family ties.”


ABC News: For red and blue America, a glaring divide in COVID-19 death rates persists 2 years later. “Unvaccinated Americans are several times more likely to be hospitalized and die and those living in rural areas, as well as conservatives and Republicans, were among the most hesitant to be vaccinated, according to a September 2021 ABC News/Washington Post poll. For unvaccinated Americans, the decision to not wear a mask or follow other restrictions, ultimately caused increased transmission, which in turn, resulted in more severe outcomes, experts suggest. The end result is a gulf in COVID-19 death rates between red and blue states, one that is particularly amplified when examining the most and least vaccinated states.”

NPR: Welcome to the wedding boom. How couples are handling the busiest season in 40 years. “It’s not only the number of weddings that’s up this year; The Wedding Report estimates spending per wedding will also jump 15%. The wedding site ‘the Knot’ is projecting a 25% increase. Part of that is due to inflation and higher labor costs. That’s scaring some couples into shrinking their shindigs, but plenty of others are planning bashes bigger than ever. One sample cocktail napkin on display, sums up the sentiment: ‘We waited an extra year for this. Party accordingly.'”


ABC News: Free COVID-19 tests ending for uninsured Americans. “Americans who don’t have health insurance will now start to see some of the free COVID-19 testing options disappear, even if they are showing symptoms.”


ABC News: US airline CEOs call on Biden to lift mask mandate on travel. “A group of CEOs from all major U.S. airlines called on President Joe Biden to lift the federal mask mandate on public transportation. The group — which includes the heads of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines — said current restrictions such as international predeparture testing requirements and the federal mask mandate are ‘no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment.'”

Bloomberg: Pfizer to Sell Up to 4 Million Paxlovid Doses to Poorer Nations. “Pfizer Inc. will sell as many as 4 million doses of its Paxlovid pill for Covid-19 to low- and middle-income countries as part of an agreement with Unicef, the global relief organization.”

New York Times: What’s the Deal With Masks on Planes?. “Air travel has been one of the last holdouts for strict pandemic mask requirements. In the United States, for example, the mask mandate — which was recently extended to April 18, when it comes up for review again — is still enforced. Over the last year, 922 of those who didn’t wear masks received fines from the Transportation Security Administration, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. But there are hints that the tide may be turning: Within the past few weeks, Danish airports and London’s Heathrow Airport have lifted their mask requirements, as have several major British airlines.”

New York Times: She Was a Candidate to Lead Levi’s. Then She Started Tweeting.. “Jennifer Sey left Levi’s after her advocacy against school closures and mask mandates for children gained attention. She says it’s a matter of free speech. The company disagrees.”

CNN: Oil tumbles 8% as China locks down Shanghai for Covid outbreak. “Remote or virtual work is becoming increasingly attractive to workers, and employers are taking notice, amending their policies to help recruitment efforts. According to a poll from Morning Consult, 82% of employees say they enjoy working remotely. ”


BusinessTech: Government to keep Covid database going permanently – with plans to expand it. “The government aims to keep the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) operating long-term in South Africa and use it as a potential springboard to launch a portable healthcare record system, says communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.”

BBC: China: How is its zero-Covid strategy changing?. “The latest jump in daily cases, widely spread across the country, has been driven largely by the Omicron variant. Millions of people in China, including the entire north-eastern province of Jilin, and the tech-hub city Shenzhen in the south, have been ordered into lockdown. Other cities, such as Shanghai, have also tightened restrictions by enforcing strict controls on movements.”

Jerusalem Post: COVID-19 in Israel: New variant similar to Omicron, no rise in serious cases. “The R-rate currently stands at 1.35, a slight reduction compared to late last week when it measured at 1.4, but still considerably higher than it had been in recent weeks. The increase in infections that is reflected in the R-rate can also be seen in the number of total new infections over the last seven days – around 88,500 – which were 85.3% higher compared to a week prior. Despite the considerable increase in daily infections, there has not been an increase in serious cases, they are, in fact, still continuing to decline.”

CNN: Shanghai to lock down each half of city for mass Covid-19 testing. “Shanghai has said it will lock down each half of the city by turns for mass Covid-19 testing starting Monday amid surging infections. The eastern half of the city — comprising around 11 million residents — will go into lockdown at the start of the week for four days, while the 14 million remaining people will start lockdown from Friday, the Shanghai government said on Sunday night.”

UPI: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tests positive for COVID-19. ” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said in a statement Monday, a day after he met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.”

Daily Beast: COVID Wave That Hits Children Hardest Is Headed to the U.S. . “The new wave of cases in the U.K., which is part of a wider wave across Europe and Asia that’s driven by the new BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron variant of the novel-coronavirus, is disproportionately affecting children. More pediatric cases. More hospitalizations. And possibly more long COVID, the poorly understood syndrome characterized by fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms that can linger months or years after an infection clears up.”


Associated Press: Experts worry about how US will see next COVID surge coming. “As coronavirus infections rise in some parts of the world, experts are watching for a potential new COVID-19 surge in the U.S. — and wondering how long it will take to detect. Despite disease monitoring improvements over the last two years, they say, some recent developments don’t bode well.”

Politico: CDC updates Covid-19 guidance to allow patients wear N95s. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday updated its guidance so that people visiting health care facilities are allowed to wear highly protective masks such as N95s. The change comes after a POLITICO report last week found that hospitals around the country routinely ask patients and visitors to wear a surgical mask instead of their own N95.”

The Hill: White House to announce second COVID-19 booster for older Americans: report. “The Biden administration will be giving elderly Americans a second COVID-19 booster shot, multiple people familiar with the plan told The New York Times. Those above the age of 50 will be able to get a second booster of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.”


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Arkansas Health Department to continue free covid testing for uninsured even without federal help. “Although a federal program is no longer paying for it, the Arkansas Department of Health will continue to provide free coronavirus testing for the uninsured at its local health units around the state, a spokeswoman said. Over the past two years, the Health Department has received $13.4 million from the federal Covid-19 Uninsured Program for providing the tests — more than any other health care provider in the state, according to data from a federal website.”


Route Fifty: Federal Pandemic Aid is Providing a Boost to City Housing Programs. “City officials are tapping American Rescue Plan Act dollars to expand affordable housing and reduce homelessness, challenges that predate Covid-19 but that were also heightened by it.”


Deadline: Steve Wilhite Dies: Beloved Inventor Of The GIF Was 74. “Steve Wilhite, who is credited with inventing the GIF file format, which makes possible the proliferation of funny Simpsons and SpongeBob memes across the internet, died on March 14 due to complications from Covid. His wife Kathaleen announced the news to NPR.”


The Guardian: Stepladders and sanitiser: how Covid hit non-league football – in pictures. “As football welcomes back Non-League Day after a Covid-19 enforced two year hiatus, we take a look at the work of photographer Colin McPherson who has chronicled non-League football in England as it wrestled with restrictions and battled on in the face of almost impossible odds.”

WIRED: Even the Pandemic Couldn’t Stop Button Soccer. “WHILE THE PANDEMIC has hit the sports world hard globally, one Brazilian sport, which has been played in the country since at least the 1920s, has found a way to survive by streaming itself and connecting players on the internet. Called ‘button soccer,’ the premise of the game is very similar to that of regular soccer—11 players on each side competing to score goals with a ball—except it’s played on a table with buttons.”


Schools Week (UK): Covid pupil absences triple in two weeks and almost 1 in 10 teachers off. “The number of pupils missing school due to Covid has more than tripled in just two weeks, and almost one in ten teachers are now absent nationally, new government data suggests. The Department for Education’s latest attendance survey data estimates that on March 17, 202,000 pupils, or 2.5 per cent of the pupil population, were absent for Covid-related reasons.”

Chicago Sun-Times: CPS has lost 8% of schools’ ‘tech assets’ during COVID, tens of thousands of computers, even air purifiers, defibrillators. “Among the missing items: tens of thousands of computers, iPads and other high-tech devices. They were lent to students during remote learning but weren’t returned. The police suspect that much of the other property CPS listed as missing actually was stolen by people with access to school buildings during the pandemic. It isn’t just computers. Air purifiers, defibrillators, a treadmill, lawn equipment and other property also vanished from schools since the beginning of the pandemic.”

The 74: Oregon Fines School District $43,000 For Violating State’s Mask Mandate. “The decision by Oregon’s Alsea School Board to make masks optional for students and staff a month before the state ended masks mandates will cost the district $43,000, according to the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Oregon OSHA investigated after at least eight complaints were submitted following an announcement from then-superintendent Marc Thielman that masks would be optional at schools beginning Jan. 31. The state mask mandate didn’t end until March 12.”


The Conversation: A computer science technique could help gauge when the pandemic is ‘over’. “In early 2022, nearly two years after Covid was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, experts are mulling a big question: when is a pandemic ‘over’? So, what’s the answer? What criteria should be used to determine the ‘end’ of Covid’s pandemic phase? These are deceptively simple questions and there are no easy answers.”

HackADay: Used Facemasks Turned Into Rapid Antigen Tests With Injection Molding. “Here’s a little eye-opener for you: next time you’re taking a walk, cast your eyes to the ground for a bit and see how far you can go without spotting a carelessly discarded face mask. In our experience, it’s no more than a block or two, especially if you live near a school. Masks and other disposal artifacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have turned into a menace, and uncounted billions of the things will be clogging up landfills, waterways, and byways for decades to come. Unless they can be recycled into something useful, of course, like the plastic cases used for rapid antigen tests.”


NPR: Evidence grows that vaccines lower the risk of getting long COVID. “Unfortunately, the only sure way to avoid long COVID is not to catch the virus in the first place. But there is now a growing body of research that’s offering at least some reassurance for those who do end up getting infected — being fully vaccinated seems to substantially cut the risk of later developing the persistent symptoms that characterize long COVID.”

Bloomberg: People with Covid-19 and flu at greater risk of severe illness and death. “Adults in hospital with Covid-19 and the flu at the same time are at much greater risk of severe disease and death compared with patients who have Covid-19 alone or with other viruses, research has shown. Scientists found that patients who had both Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, and influenza viruses were more than four times more likely to require ventilation support and 2.4 times more likely to die than if they just had Covid-19.”

UNC: A New Route for Remdesivir. “Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are testing a new route for remdesivir, a pill form of the COVID-19 treatment that could make it accessible for early treatment. In laboratory tests, a modification of remdesivir was as effective as molnupiravir, another oral antiviral, at treating COVID-19 in mice. Further, the new drug compound can be adapted into a pill designed to halt coronaviruses before they multiply and cause severe disease.”


BuzzFeed News: People Are Frustrated There Isn’t A COVID Vaccine For Babies — And It’s Not Just Parents. “BuzzFeed News asked readers to tell us how they feel about the vaccine delay and received over 1,000 responses from parents, teachers, and other people who interact with and take care of children. While we may be only weeks away from a safe and effective vaccine for kids under 5, many people have felt lost and isolated in the process.”

University of California: People turned to gardening for stress relief, food access during pandemic, new survey says. “People who turned to gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic did so to relieve stress, connect with others and grow their own food in hopes of avoiding the virus, according to a survey conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) and international partners.”


Boston Globe: COVID cases soar at Wellesley Middle School after student performance of ‘Frozen’ . “Wellesley Public Schools administrators tightened COVID-19 protocols again Friday after an outbreak among the cast and crew of a middle school musical performed last weekend contributed to a surge in cases. As of Friday, 44 new cases had been reported among middle school students and staff since March 19, more than 60 percent of the 72 infections reported in the Wellesley schools in that time period, according to the district’s COVID-19 data dashboard.”

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