Monday CoronaBuzz, April 11, 2022: 53 pointers to updates, health information, research news, and more.


International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development: New Project Archive Launched: How Religious Actors Respond to COVID-19. “What started as an online document has evolved into a professional online platform: the Faith and COVID-19: Resource Repository. This collaborative project was supported by the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) and other organisations. It collects information about religious actors responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Boing Boing: Hundreds of flights canceled due to Covid illness immediately after airlines canceled mask policy. “As US airlines push to have in-flight mask mandates lifted on the federal level, mask-optional European airlines are seeing hundreds of flight cancelations due to (yep, you guessed it) out-of-commission employees sick with Covid-19. For instance, Swiss-based EasyJet lifted mask requirements on March 27 and, lo and behold, cancelled 202 of its 3,517 flights between March 28–April 3 due to Covid illness, according to CBS. During the same time in 2019, the number of cancellations was zero. As in 0.”

New York Times: As Yet Another Wave of Covid Looms, New Yorkers Ask: Should I Worry?. “The city is registering about 1,500 new cases a day and a positivity rate of nearly 3 percent, both figures more than double what they were a month ago. In Manhattan, where the last wave also first emerged, the positivity rate is above 6 percent in some neighborhoods. In another potentially worrisome indicator, the prevalence of fevers across the city — which can offer a forewarning of Covid trends — has reached levels last seen at some of the worst points of the pandemic, according to data from internet-connected thermometers.”


Route Fifty: Pedestrian Deaths Were Up 17% in the First Half of 2021. “The number of people killed in traffic crashes while they were walking shot up 17% in the first half of 2021, compared to a similar period the year before. The toll of pedestrians killed by drivers rose to 3,441 people in early 2021.”


Associated Press: Nursing home care, funding system need overhaul, report says. “To anyone who saw the scourge of COVID-19 on the country’s most vulnerable, the findings of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine might seem sobering but unsurprising, as the long-term care system’s inadequacies were made plain by more than 150,000 resident deaths. The authors of the 605-page report insist it could be an impetus to address issues that have gotten little more than lip service for decades.”


Brookings Institution: How public health policies protected women-owned businesses during the pandemic. “Our recently published paper explored the potential effect of public policy responses on gender-related differences in enterprise performance. Exploiting the large cross-country variation in public health and economic policy responses, we studied whether good public policies were associated with a narrower performance gap between male- and female-owned businesses.”

New York TImes: Lockdowns in China Block Truck Shipments and Close Factories. “China’s mounting Covid-19 restrictions are creating further disruptions to global supply chains for consumer electronics, car parts and other goods. A growing number of Chinese cities are requiring truck drivers to take daily Covid P.C.R. tests before allowing them to cross municipal borders or are quarantining drivers deemed to be at risk of infection. The measures have limited how quickly drivers can move components among factories and goods from plants to ports.”

ABC News: Atlantic City 2021 casino earns surpass pre-pandemic levels. “Figures released Friday by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement show eight of the nine casinos posted a gross operating profit last year. Collectively, the nine casinos earned $766.8 million in 2021, far eclipsing the $117.5 million they made in 2020.”

Reuters: Moderna recalls thousands of COVID vaccine doses. “Moderna said on Friday it was recalling 764,900 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine after a vial, made by its contract manufacturer Rovi, was found contaminated by a foreign body. The doses were distributed in Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden in January.”


Channel 4 News: NHS services under ‘enormous strain’ due to staff shortages and Covid cases, leaders warn. “NHS leaders in England have warned that services are under ‘enormous strain’, due to a combination of high demand, staff shortages and high levels of Covid. It’s already prompted a number of trusts to declare critical incidents.”

The Mainichi: COVID isolating foreign residents in Japan, some contemplating suicide. “A fair number of foreign nationals in Japan have been growing emotionally unstable amid the coronavirus pandemic, and some 20% of respondents to a survey targeting Vietnamese residents answered that they had thought of taking their own lives. An expert believes that behind this reality is the tendency for foreigners to become isolated in Japan, as they are away from their home country and do not have family or other loved ones near them.”


The Register: Locked-in and hungry, Shanghai residents can’t complain online. “The 25 million plus residents of the Chinese city of Shanghai are being warned not to spread rumors online or to complain about conditions during ongoing and strict COVID-19 lockdowns imposed since March 28. The Shanghai office of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) warned citizens against spreading misinformation in an announcement on Friday after rumors started appearing on WeChat that armed police would take over the city, and bulk communal buying of food would be outlawed.”

CIDRAP: Study sheds light on death spike in Hong Kong COVID-19 surge. “The recent Omicron variant surge in Hong Kong came with a mortality rate among the world’s highest yet in the pandemic, a troubling development in a region known for its strong pandemic measures, and today researchers from the United States, Hong Kong, and China who dug into the data suggest that vaccination lapses in older people played a major role.”

ABC News (Australia): Social media videos show ‘riots’ over food as Chinese city Shanghai enters third week of strict lockdown. “Small ‘riots’ have broken out in Shanghai as residents who have been confined in their homes for two weeks show their frustration at China’s strict ‘COVID-zero’ policy. The city has been under lockdown since March 28 and, with supermarkets shut and deliveries restricted, there have been increasing reports of residents unable to access bare necessities.”

Straits Times: Shanghai tests 26 million residents in one day under extended lockdown. “Shanghai said it would continue with a lockdown as it reviews results of a massive exercise on Monday (April 4) to test all 26 million of its residents, in China’s largest public health response since the initial days of the pandemic. This is the first time that the city has ordered all residents to be tested since the current outbreak started in early March.”

New York Times: Many Shanghai residents say Covid lockdown measures have caused food shortages.. “Before Guan Zejun’s apartment block was locked down on March 27, he bought enough noodles and bread to last a week. He figured that if he ran out, he could always order in. After all, this was Shanghai. Soon afterward, however, the authorities locked down the whole city of 26 million in a bid to contain China’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began. On Friday, Mr. Guan, a 31-year-old programmer, posted a picture on the social media platform Weibo of his nearly empty box of supplies and pleaded for government help.”

The Mainichi: Japanese people living in Shanghai stressed over COVID-19 lockdown. “People affiliated with Japan’s Gunma Prefecture who reside in Shanghai have been facing difficulties amid the Chinese city’s COVID-19 lockdown. Toru Dobashi, director of the Gunma Shanghai Office, told the Mainichi Shimbun that he has been subjected to continuous restrictions from April 1, and has been unable to go out even though he has received no rations of food and other daily necessities.”


Reuters: U.S. poor died at much higher rate from COVID than rich, report says. ” Americans living in poorer counties died during the pandemic at almost twice the rate of those in rich counties, a study released Monday by the Poor People’s Campaign showed.”

Washington Post: U.S. life expectancy continued to drop in 2021, new analysis shows. “Life expectancy in the United States, which declined dramatically in 2020 as the coronavirus slammed into the country, continued to go down in 2021, according to a new analysis that shows America faring worse during the pandemic than 19 other wealthy countries — and failing to see a life expectancy rebound despite the arrival of effective vaccines.”

Washington Post: CDC, under fire for covid response, announces plans to revamp agency . “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky announced plans Monday to revamp the agency that has come under blistering criticism for its performance leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying, ‘it is time to step back and strategically position CDC to support the future of public health.'”

ABC News: COVID vaccine program prevented millions of US deaths, study finds. “The U.S. COVID-19 vaccine program is now estimated to have prevented 2.2 million deaths, 17 million hospitalizations and 66.1 million additional infections through March 2022, according to updated modeling from the Commonwealth Fund, an organization advocating for improved healthcare for marginalized communities. In the analysis of recent trends, researchers estimated that the daily peak of deaths pre-omicron, and without vaccination, would have exceeded 24,000 per day, far surpassing the actual peak of 4,300 per day, experienced by the country during the winter of 2021.”


The Verge: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tests positive for COVID-19 . “Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced Saturday that he tested positive for COVID-19. Driving the news: ‘I’m both vaccinated and boosted and thankfully my symptoms are mild. If you have yet to get vaccinated and boosted, please don’t wait,’ he wrote in a tweet.”

The Hill: Sen. Collins tests positive for COVID-19. “Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) announced on Thursday that she had tested positive for COVID-19, soon after she was on the Senate floor to vote for the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court.”

NPR: Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tested positive for COVID. “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement the California Democrat released Thursday. ‘After testing negative this week, Speaker Pelosi received a positive test result for COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic,’ her spokesman Drew Hammill said on Twitter. “The Speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided.”

Washington Post: He’s a pandemic pundit on TV. Now he’s Biden’s new coronavirus czar.. “Ashish Jha, the Ivy League doctor who begins this week as President Biden’s new coronavirus czar, has never held a full-time federal job, let alone one in the political crosshairs. Skeptics question his ability to navigate the toxic politics of Washington. Those who know Jha counter with stories like how he single-handedly short-circuited a Harvard faculty revolt.”


Denver Post: Colorado closing 40 state-run COVID-19 testing sites in April. “About one-third of state-run COVID-19 testing sites across Colorado will close in April as the state continues winding down its emergency response to the pandemic. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced Wednesday that 40 sites will close, with most listing April 30 as their last day. The remaining 80 sites have the capacity to offer about 26,000 tests per day.”

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Arkansas’ active covid cases grow 2nd straight day, though concern of new surge still low. “Growing for the second day in a row, Arkansas’ active case total, representing people who tested positive and are potentially still infectious, rose back above 1,000 on Thursday even as the state’s number of hospitalized patients continued to decline. The state’s death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Arkansas Department of Health, rose by five, to 11,301.”

WJAR: Massachusetts State Police fire 11 troopers, 1 sergeant over vaccine mandate. “A spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police said 11 troopers and one sergeant were fired Friday for failing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The spokesman said the fired troopers were dishonorably discharged.”

New York Times: Why This Coastal County Has the Highest Covid Death Rate in Its State. “Ocean County, a coastal region in central New Jersey, is home to some of the state’s most exclusive waterfront communities and its fastest-growing town, Lakewood. A Republican bastion in a state controlled by Democrats, the county is largely suburban, encompassing more land than all but one other county in New Jersey.”


Sacramento Bee: Sacramento County supervisors ‘abandoned’ public health during COVID-19 crisis, grand jury finds. “Sacramento County supervisors ‘abandoned’ the public health department in the early months of the pandemic, failing to quickly provide support, oversight and funds to the agency at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis, a grand jury report concluded.”

San Francisco Chronicle: San Francisco has the highest COVID rate in California. Here’s why. “The Bay Area is reporting about 700 new cases a day across its nine counties, still reflecting its steep drop since the winter surge that saw a peak of more than 18,000 new daily cases. But the number remains much higher than the 200 reported during last year’s summer lull before the delta variant of the virus took hold.”

WHYY: Philly COVID cases creep closer to levels that would trigger a return to mask requirements. “The city is still at the ‘all clear’ level, the lowest of four response levels the city unveiled earlier this year. Under this level, no masks are required and there are no vaccine or testing requirements for restaurants or other indoor locations. To reach the next level, known as Level 2: Mask Precautions, two of three criteria must be met. Those criteria include an average of new cases per day of more than 100, hospitalizations over 50, and an increase in cases of more than 50% over the past 10 days. The city is very close to reaching all three of those metrics.”

HuffPost: Top New York Judge Not Complying With Vaccine Mandate. “Judge Jenny Rivera, one of seven jurists on the state’s Court of Appeals, is barred from court facilities and has been working remotely since October, court officials said. She is one of four judges statewide who have been referred to the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct for being out of compliance with the mandate that applies to all court personnel.”

Deadline: Los Angeles Covid Cases Up 78% In Past Four Days As Officials Warn About Holiday Gatherings, Outbreaks. “Indeed, the 7-day test positivity has risen 50% since Tuesday, from 0.8% to 1.2% today. That kind of jump in a 7-day average is worth noting, even though the percentages are still relatively low. Cases have risen even more sharply. On Tuesday, L.A. County reported 708 new cases. Today, the number had risen 78% to 1,263 new cases, up from 1,088 yesterday.”

New York Daily News: NYC Mayor Adams tests positive for COVID. “[Eric] Adams went into isolation, canceled his public events for the rest of the week and planned to begin taking antiviral medication, his office stated. He had no symptoms other than a raspy voice, it added.”


New York Times: I Reported on Covid for Two Years. Then I Got It.. “Two years after the coronavirus became the focus of all of my coverage as a science reporter for The Times (and all of my thoughts every waking hour), it happened: I tested positive for the virus. My case was mostly mild, as the virus generally is for any healthy 40-something individual. But the experience nevertheless gave me perspective I would not have gained from reading scientific papers or interviewing experts.”

WUFT: Community advocates have worked tirelessly to close the Latino vaccination gap. It’s working.. “At the beginning of the vaccine rollout in 2021, data show Latinos lagged behind whites in vaccination uptake. In Florida, that trend is reversing with Latinos now taking the lead.”

Al Jazeera: How Uganda’s endangered mountain gorillas survived the pandemic. “Since Rafiki, no other gorillas have died amid a surge in poaching during the pandemic and since 2020, there have been at least 34 new births, according to Guma. Still, concerns about COVID-19 remain.”


BBC: Queen reveals Covid left her ‘very tired and exhausted’. “The Queen has revealed Covid left her ‘very tired and exhausted’ after she caught the virus earlier this year. The monarch, 95, was taking part in a virtual hospital visit when she described her experience to a former virus patient, whose father and brother had died with the illness.”


Orlando Sentinel: Colleges must prioritize students’ mental health post-COVID | Commentary. “Since that fateful week in March of 2020, students throughout Florida and the greater United States have been dealing with challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from college closures and graduations put on hold, the pandemic brought an even bigger challenge: mental health. How have colleges and universities adapted? How are they utilizing their resources to help curtail the ongoing physical and mental toll of COVID on students? To understand the impact of this pandemic on college students’ mental health, I want to break down some statistics and relate them to what I’m experiencing at my school, Rollins College.”


New York Times: Is This What Endemic Disease Looks Like?. “For months, some American and European leaders have foretold that the coronavirus pandemic would soon become endemic. Covid-19 would resolve into a disease that we learn to live with. According to several governors, it nearly has. But we are still in the acute phase of the pandemic, and what endemic Covid might look like remains a mystery. Endemic diseases can take many forms, and we do not know yet where this two-year-old disease will fall among them.”

CNN: Long Covid-19 may remain a chronic condition for millions. “Covid-19 has become a chronic condition for tens of millions of people — and an expensive one, as well. Long Covid — a condition marked by lingering symptoms that can involve multiple bodily systems — has cost a cumulative $386 billion in lost wages, savings and medical expenses in the US alone as of January, according to one estimate.”

Globe and Mail: Getting COVID-19 twice with Omicron is more common as immunity wanes. “Christine Enns said she was shocked when a rapid test showed she had tested positive for COVID-19. Enns, who received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot, already had the virus in early February and thought reinfection was rare…. Reinfection of COVID-19 was considered unusual, but then the Omicron variant arrived.”


Vox EU: The Great Upgrade: Website technologies in the pandemic. “Digital technologies have played a crucial role in helping firms weather the worst of the COVID shock. This column uses a dataset containing information on 150 million active websites around the world to measure the impact of COVID-19 on technology adoption. The authors find that the timing of lockdowns strongly predicts increased use of e-commerce and online payment technologies. The shock appears to have resulted more in a trend shift than a shift in levels, suggesting that COVID-19 may have transformed the trajectory of online market growth.”


UMass Chan Medical School: New UMass Chan study finds smoking rates increased in pandemic, looks at related stresses. “The early months of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a net increase in smoking rates among a group of people who had previously participated in a study to quit smoking, according to a new study led by Rajani S. Sadasivam, PhD. The study appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research.”

New York Times: Why a Coronavirus-Flu ‘Twindemic’ May Never Happen. “The idea is that it wasn’t just masks, social distancing or other pandemic restrictions that caused flu and other respiratory viruses to fade while the coronavirus reigned, and to resurge as it receded. Rather, exposure to one respiratory virus may put the body’s immune defenses on high alert, barring other intruders from gaining entry into the airways.”

Stanford Medicine: With chicken eggs and household supplies, undergraduates blaze a path toward low-cost antiviral. “Stanford researchers, including six undergraduate students, have created an inexpensive method for making nasal drops that could stem the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. The approach could be particularly useful for people living in low-resource countries. Using chicken eggs and household items, they devised a way to extract and purify antibodies present in yolks — called immunoglobulin Y (IgY) — that are proven to be safe and may prevent or treat many infectious diseases.”

CNN: This invisible Covid-19 mitigation measure is finally getting the attention it deserves. “Two-plus years into the Covid-19 pandemic, you probably know the basics of protection: vaccines, boosters, proper handwashing and masks. But one of the most powerful tools against the coronavirus is one that experts believe is just starting to get the attention it deserves: ventilation.”

PsyPost: New research uncovers a surprising link between conscientiousness and vaccine hesitancy. “A new study has identified several psychological factors, including psychopathic tendencies and narcissism, that are related to vaccine hesitancy. The findings, which appear in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, provide insight into what types of people are predisposed to support or oppose vaccines.”

PsyPost: Intelligent people became less happy during the pandemic — but the opposite was true for unintelligent people. “A person’s level of intelligence was related to their psychological response to COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research published in the Journal of Personality. The study found that more intelligent people tended to be less happy with their lives during the pandemic than their less intelligent counterparts. The new findings provide evidence that higher intelligence can have a downside in the modern world and support a growing body of research known as the savanna theory of happiness.”

Independent: Omicron Covid symptoms ‘last half as long as common cold – if you’re triple jabbed’, study says. “Omicron symptoms disappear in half the time of a common cold if the sufferer has received three Covid jabs, a new research study has shown. Researchers at King’s College London studied 62,000 vaccinated people during the Omicron outbreak which began in November 2021. The scientists found notable differences in recovery times depending on how many Covid doses sufferers had received.”


Washington Post: After Gridiron Dinner, a covid outbreak among Washington A-list guests. “As of Tuesday morning, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Ca.), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced they had received positive results on coronavirus tests after attending the dinner at the downtown Renaissance Washington Hotel. In addition, about a half-dozen journalists, and members of the White House and National Security Council staff also said they tested positive following the event. Their names are being withheld because they have not announced their status publicly.” Just as I finished typing this I got a tweet that Merrick Garland has also tested positive from the same event.


Boing Boing: A child born in 2020 tries to get hand sanitizer out of a brick, and everything else, in adorable video. “A cute little girl born during the pandemic plays make-believe by walking around trying to squirt hand sanitizer from every square-shaped object in reach. A true sign of the times.”

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