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posted by martyb on Monday March 30 2020, @09:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the A-month's-worth-of-daily-stories-in-one-day dept.

This story is a merge of 30 story submissions. Given that it was well over 17,000 words of original source material (excluding HTML markup!), a great deal of pruning was performed to get it to a manageable size. I strongly encourage folks to read the linked articles for more information.

For latest statistics, and finer granularity, see https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.

As of 20200330_151936 UTC, it reported these world-wide totals:

  • Coronavirus Cases: 743,081
  • Deaths: 35,347
  • Recovered: 157,046
  • Active Cases:
    • 550,688 (Currently Infected Patients)
    • 522,206 (95%) in Mild Condition
    • 28,482 (5%) Serious or Critical
  • Closed Cases:
    • 192,393 Cases which had an outcome
    • 157,046 (82%) Recovered / Discharged
    • 35,347 (18%) Deaths

Stories appear below the fold.

Apple Says Customers Must Wait to Pick Up Repairs Locked Inside its Retail Stores

Apple says customers must wait to pick up repairs locked inside its retail stores:

Apple hasn't said when its stores might reopen

Apple customers who didn't pick up devices dropped off for repairs within two days of the company closing all of its retail stores will have to wait to pick them up until the stores reopen, an Apple spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.

When Apple announced on March 14th that it would be closing all retail stores outside China due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company said customers had a two-day window to retrieve any repairs. Apple tried to contact customers via phone and email to tell them they needed to pick up their devices, but any products that didn't get retrieved in that window can't be picked up until the stores reopen, the spokesperson told Business Insider.

In ERs Overwhelmed by COVID-19, Here's Who Might Get Treated—and Who Might Not

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

In a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine, a group of medical ethicists and public health researchers made a series of conservative estimates, starting with the estimate that about 5 percent of the US population—about 16 million—will become infected with SARS-CoV-2 within the next three months. From there, about 8 percent of those cases may need to be hospitalized. That's 1.28 million hospital beds. Of those, 960,000 may need to be admitted to an ICU.

According to the American Hospital Association, there are just under 800,000 staffed beds in community hospitals. Estimates of the country's ICU beds for adult patients range from just 68,000 to 85,000.

[...] given the rapidly rising case counts in some place, it is likely that at least some US doctors will soon face difficult choices, much like their counterparts abroad. Some of those choices will be "extremely psychologically traumatic," the NEJM article authors write.

"The choice to set limits on access to treatment is not a discretionary decision, but a necessary response to the overwhelming effects of a pandemic," they write. "The question is not whether to set priorities, but how to do so ethically and consistently, rather than basing decisions on individual institutions' approaches or a clinician's intuition in the heat of the moment."

So, in an overwhelming pandemic, how should doctors decide whom to save?

The authors lay out six recommendations, guided by four fundamental values: maximizing benefits, treating people equally, giving priority to the worst off, and rewarding instrumental value (that is, giving priority to patients who can go on to help others, such as patients who are doctors).

Their first recommendation for how to ethically allocate care in the COVID-19 pandemic is to [...] prioritize saving the most lives and more years of life.

[...] Second, the researchers recommend giving health care workers priority for COVID-19 interventions

[...] [Third, among] many similar patients with similar prognoses, [...] things like beds and ventilators should be allocated randomly, such as in a lottery.

[...] [Fourth ...] the researchers say that priorities for some resources should differ from others and follow the latest scientific evidence.

[...] [Fifth] Those who agree to take on the risks of participating in trials of experimental vaccines or treatments should also receive some priority in treatment.

Lastly, [...] these recommendations apply equally among COVID-19 patients and all other types of patients.

The researchers recommend that individual health care institutions have committees or appointed officials to help craft and apply their own guidelines—shaped by the above recommendations. Hopefully, hospitals won't need to use them. But if they do, it will both help keep overburdened doctors from making traumatic decisions on their own and help ensure equal treatment of patients.

NEJM, 2020. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsb2005114 (About DOIs).

-- submitted from IRC

Australian Pubs Sell their Stock Before Stage 3 Closes them Down

Pubs in Australia are selling off their stock before the prime minister shuts down the country for COVID-19 control. Many large businesses have already shut down.

US Finally Has Plans for the Pandemic - It Now Leads in Infections

US finally has plans for the pandemic it now leads in infections:

On Thursday, the US passed a grim milestone: it surpassed China as the country with the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases. The milestone was reached during what appears to be a growing public tug-of-war between senior Trump administration officials, who wish to see restrictions lifted as quickly as possible, and public health experts, who argue they're clearly still required for the time being. That tension may end up playing out in the implementation of a new plan being developed to guide states through their response to the pandemic.

One casualty in this fight: the work of epidemiologists. As these researchers continue to test the impact of different restrictions on the spread of infections, their models are necessarily producing different numbers. Those differences are now being dragged into the intensely political arguments about how best to respond to the pandemic.

[...] On Thursday, Trump sent a letter to US governors that contained a rough outline of a plan for containing the virus. The plan will involve extensive testing to identify the state of the virus on a per-county level. Counties will be placed in different risk categories according to the results of that testing, and the governors will be given a set of restrictions that should be put in place to help bring the risk down.

This approach is necessary in the US because the structure of government places authority for health issues in the hands of states. There is simply no mechanism by which the President can directly compel local authorities to implement these sorts of public health restrictions.

Unfortunately, that structure could threaten to undermine this program. Trump has generally tended to downplay the risk posed by SARS-CoV-2 and push the prospects of a return to normal activities, despite opposition by public health experts both within and outside the administration. While that tension is likely to play out in the crafting of the guidelines for this new policy, a number of Republican governors have decided to take an approach in keeping with Trump's wishes and declined to implement restrictions.

[...] epidemiologist Carl Bergstrom [...] publish[ed] a long lament on Twitter. We'll quote part of it below:

As infectious disease epidemiologists, biomedical researchers, and health professionals more broadly, we're fighting a battle against the biggest crisis in decades. But we are also fighting on a second front that we did not anticipate, fighting a battle against misinformation and disinformation in a hyper-partisan environment where our predictions and recommendations about the pandemic response are deeply politicized. Every twist and turn that the pandemic takes is seized upon by one side or other to claim that some fraction of us are incompetent if not outright mendacious.

Researchers are pilloried for updating their beliefs based on new information. In this environment, when unexpected facts come to light—a higher than anticipated [infectivity], for example—they are used to discredit scientists who made correct inferences given the data that they had available at the time.

To understand this pandemic, it's part of a scientist's job to produce numbers and projections, even though we know in advance that some of those will be wrong. Being wrong doesn't mean the models are useless or that the scientists were wrong. And it doesn't mean that the scientists are confused or know little about what they're modeling. These numbers are produced because they show the contrast between our actions and doing nothing—or what might happen if the virus turns out to behave differently than it appears to be.

Folding@Home Reaches 1.5 Exaflops With SARS-CoV-2 Projects

Folding@Home Reaches Exascale: 1,500,000,000,000,000,000 Operations Per Second for COVID-19

Folding@home has announced that cumulative compute performance of systems participating in the project has exceeded 1.5 ExaFLOPS, or 1,500,000,000,000,000,000 floating point operations per second. The level of performance currently available from Folding@home participants is by an order of magnitude higher than that of the world's most powerful supercomputer.

[...] The outbreak of COVID-19 has been taxing for a number of computational biology and chemistry projects. IBM recently formed its COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium that pools together major supercomputers run by various research institutions and technology companies in the USA to run research simulations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling. Cumulative performance of supercomputers participating in IBM's COVID-19 HPC Consortium is 330 PetaFLOPS.

Folding@home distributed computing project uses compute capabilities to run simulations of protein dynamics in a bid to better understand them and find cures for various diseases. Recently F@H started to run projects simulating theoretically druggable protein targets from SARS-CoV-2, which attracted a lot of attention as SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 are clearly the hottest topics these days.

Right Now People Are Pretty Fragile.' Coronavirus Creates Perfect Breeding Ground for Online Idiots

When Mak Kapetanovic reads people's jokey tweets and Facebook messages about the prospect of self-isolation with overbearing relatives as COVID-19 traverses the globe, he wants to see the funny side. But mostly, he feels a sense of deep disquiet. The 23-year-old anthropology student understands how feelings of loneliness, anger and alienation can consume you. And he knows the very dark places they can take you.

A few years ago, seeking refuge from uncertainty and turmoil, Kapetanovic found himself sucked into the narratives of white supremacist groups online. Now he fears the same conditions that sent him on the path to hate are fomenting in homes across the world.

"If people who are self-isolating together are angry at each other and not talking, that would be pretty bad," says Kapetanovic from his home in Jacksonville, Florida. He worries that tensions at home would compound an environment already fraught with fear and confusion. "Feelings of isolation, anger, grief and frustration, all of those things are happening. A lot of people are scared, and people are not sure what to think."

"It is the far right who always seem to take advantage of these insecurities," he adds.

Modelling Study Estimates Impact Of Physical Distancing Measures On Progression Of COVID-19 Epidemic

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

New modelling research, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, suggests that school and workplace closures in Wuhan, China have reduced the number of COVID-19 cases and substantially delayed the epidemic peak -- giving the health system the time and opportunity to expand and respond.

Using mathematical modelling to simulate the impact of either extending or relaxing current school and workplace closures, researchers estimate that by lifting these control measures in March, a second wave of cases may occur in late August, whereas maintaining these restrictions until April, would likely delay a second peak until October -- relieving pressure on the health services in the intervening months.

However, the authors caution that given the large uncertainties around estimates of the reproduction number (how many people an individual with the virus is likely to infect), and how long a person is infected on average, the true impact of relaxing physical distancing measures on the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic cannot be precisely predicted.

"The unprecedented measures the city of Wuhan has put in place to reduce social contacts in school and the workplace have helped to control the outbreak," says Dr Kiesha Prem from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, who led the research. "However, the city now needs to be really careful to avoid prematurely lifting physical distancing measures, because that could lead to an earlier secondary peak in cases. But if they relax the restrictions gradually, this is likely to both delay and flatten the peak."

[...] "Our results won't look exactly the same in another country, because the population structure and the way people mix will be different. But we think one thing probably applies everywhere: physical distancing measures are very useful, and we need to carefully adjust their lifting to avoid subsequent waves of infection when workers and school children return to their normal routine. If those waves come too quickly, that could overwhelm health systems," says co-author Dr Yang Liu from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Despite these important findings, the study has some limitations, including that it assumed no difference in susceptibility between children, and that the extreme distancing measures used in Wuhan may have increased the transmission within households. Finally, the model did not capture individual-level differences in contact rates, which could be important in super-spreading events, particularly early on in an epidemic.

He continues: "Given many countries with mounting epidemics now potentially face the first phase of lockdown, safe ways out of the situation must be identified... New COVID-19 country-specific models should incorporate testing, contract tracing, and localised quarantine of suspected cases as the main alternative intervention strategy to distancing lockdown measures, either at the start of the epidemic, if it is very small, or after the relaxation of lockdown conditions, if lockdown had to be imposed, to prevent health-care system overload in an already mounting epidemic."

Journal References:

Kiesha Prem, et al. The effect of control strategies to reduce social mixing on outcomes of the COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan, China: a modelling study. The Lancet Public Health, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30073-6

Tim Colbourn. COVID-19: extending or relaxing distancing control measures. The Lancet Public Health, 2020; DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30072-4

Lab Tests Using Antihistamines to Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 to Start at Helsinki University

Lead researcher Marja Jäättelä and her team from Danish Cancer Society Research Center (DCRC) have sent 12 samples of antihistamines shown to improve cancer treatment to Olli Vapalahti of Helsinki University who has set up a COVID-19 test lab.[1]

If they prove to be helpful in treating COVID-19 it would provide a much safer alternative to chloroquine and hydrochloroquine treatments, which seems to have a positive effect especially in combination with antibacterial azithromycin, but aren't as safe as antihistamines.

The specific allergy drugs who has a positive effect in cancer treatment is Loratadine where results show 24% lower chance of death and Ebastine showing 14% lower chance of death.[2]

[1]: https://www.cancer.dk/nyheder/forskere-fra-kraeftens-bekaempelse-vil-afproeve-allergimedicin-som-middel-mod-coronavirus/ (danish)
[2]: https://www.cancer.dk/nyheder/allergimedicin-kan-goere-kemoterapi-mere-effektiv/ (danish)

In Politics And Pandemics, Russian Trolls Use Fear, Anger To Drive Clicks

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Facebook users flipping through their feeds in the fall of 2016 faced a minefield of targeted advertisements pitting blacks against police, southern whites against immigrants, gun owners against Obama supporters and the LGBTQ community against the conservative right.

Placed by distant Russian trolls, they didn't aim to prop up one candidate or cause, but to turn Americans against one another. The ads were cheaply made and full of threatening, vulgar language.

And, according to a sweeping new analysis of more than 2,500 of the ads, they were remarkably effective, eliciting clickthrough rates as much as nine times higher than what is typical in digital advertising. "We found that fear and anger appeals work really well in getting people to engage," said lead author Chris Vargo, an assistant professor of Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design at University of Colorado Boulder.

The study, published this week in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, is the first to take a comprehensive look at ads placed by the infamous Russian propaganda machine known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and ask: How effective were they? And what makes people click on them?

While focused on ads running in 2016, the study's findings resonate in the age of COVID-19 and the run-up to the 2020 election, the authors say.

[...] Collectively, the IRA spent about $75,000 to generate about 40.5 million impressions with about 3.7 million users clicking on them—a clickthrough rate of 9.2%.

That compares to between .9% and 1.8% for a typical digital ad.

While ads using blatantly racist language didn't do well, those using cuss words and inflammatory words (like "sissy," "idiot," "psychopath" and "terrorist") or posing a potential threat did. Ads that evoked fear and anger did the best.

[...] "This wasn't about electing one candidate or another," said Vargo. "It was essentially a make-Americans-hate-each-other campaign."

The ads were often unsophisticated, with spelling or grammatical errors and poorly photoshopped images. Yet at only a few cents to distribute, the IRA got an impressive rate of return.

"I was shocked at how effective these appeals were," said Vargo.

The authors warn that they have no doubt such troll farms are still at it.

According to some news reports, Russian trolls are already engaged in disinformation campaigns around COVID-19.

More information: Chris J. Vargo et al. Fear, Anger, and Political Advertisement Engagement: A Computational Case Study of Russian-Linked Facebook and Instagram Content, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (2020). DOI: 10.1177/1077699020911884

See Also: Facebook takedowns reveal sophistication of Russian trolls

Trump Orders GM to Make Ventilators, Claims Company is "Wasting Time"

Trump orders GM to make ventilators, claims company is "wasting time":

President Donald Trump today ordered General Motors to make ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients and accused the company of "wasting time." Trump announced that he "signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators."

Hours before Trump took this step, GM said it is working with ventilator-maker Ventec Life Systems "to deliver the first ventilators next month and ramp up to a manufacturing capacity of more than 10,000 critical care ventilators per month with the infrastructure and capability to scale further."

Trump's statement did not specify how many ventilators GM should build, but he said that GM is moving too slowly:

Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time. Today's action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.

Trump just yesterday was downplaying the need for ventilators, telling Fox News' Sean Hannity, "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they'll have two ventilators. And now, all of a sudden, they're saying, 'Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'"

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called Trump's statement "ignorant."

"So the point is, 'well they're in a stockpile, you must not need them' is just ignorant—of course you don't need them today," Cuomo told CNN. "You need them when you hit the apex, which is 30,000. We're not there yet."

White House objected to $1 billion cost

Earlier today, Trump used his Twitter account to accuse GM of demanding too much money for ventilators, saying the company "want[s] top dollar." He also told GM to "START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!"

Separate reports suggest that the price per ventilator produced by GM would be below or at the low end of prices normally charged for ventilators, depending on features and capabilities.

Tesla Plans to Retool Solar Panel Factory to Make Medtronic Ventilators

Tesla plans to retool solar panel factory to make Medtronic ventilators:

Tesla is planning to retool its solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York, to manufacture medical ventilators, CEO Elon Musk said in a Wednesday tweet.

"Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible," Musk tweeted. "We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York."

Tesla is making the ventilators in partnership with Medtronic. Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak confirmed the relationship in a Wednesday interview with CNBC.

[...] Ishrak added that "one of the products that we make, that is not our prime product right now, is one that is perfectly suitable at least in some of these instances, they will make."

He said that Tesla would build its manufacturing capabilities "in parallel while we're focusing on the product that is our largest-volume product, which is the PB 980. We will do everything we can to help them."

Experts Increasingly Question Advice Against Widespread Use of Face Masks

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/03/experts-question-advice-against-face-mask-use-coronavirus.html

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the message from Western public health authorities has been pretty uniform in stating that the public at large shouldn't be wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19. Surgeon General Jerome Adams even sent an all-caps message to all Americans in late February imploring them to "STOP BUYING MASKS!" because they are "NOT effective" for the general public. Experts, however, aren't so sure that's the case, particularly considering that health authorities in some Asian countries have been calling on everyone to wear face masks to prevent the virus from spreading.

[...] "It's not to protect yourself. It's to protect people against the droplets coming out of your respiratory tract." Plus if everyone is wearing them it reduces any stigma attached to the face masks themselves.

Traffic Decrease During Partial Lockdown

Denmark has a partial lockdown since March 11th. Bars, restaurants, hairdressers, fitness centers, etc. are closed. People are encouraged to work from home if possible. Factories, workshops, groceries etc are not closed.

The effect on traffic is interesting. The latest statistics for the state roads is that the traffic has been reduced by 47% on March 23rd when compared to February 28th. No statistics for county or other roads, but the numbers for traffic accidents has dropped by approximately 54% so it is fair guess that traffic has been cut in half. Source: https://jyllands-posten.dk/indland/ECE12038752/fakta-og-tal-fra-et-lukket-land/ (direct google translate doesn't work so you have to copy-paste).
Statistics for other countries will likely be different due to differences in population density, infrastructure, urban sprawl, etc.

People of course don't currently drive to the fitness center or cinema, but a drop of ~50% seems surprisingly large to me. Do people really make that many non-essential trips?

Please enlighten us with traffic and traffic accident numbers from your country if they are available.

Life is Too Important to Take Things Seriously -- 40 Coronavirus Jokes

40 Of The Funniest Coronavirus Jokes To Lift Up Your Spirits During Self-Isolation:

The threat of coronavirus is weighing on every one of us. But no matter how hard it gets, there's always a cold weapon known as a sense of humor. And some people aren't missing a chance to spice up the hard times with killer jokes, viral memes, and deadly funny quips. All puns intended, of course.

Let's take a look at these hand-picked comical gems compiled by Bored Panda, and after you're done, parts one and two are waiting here and here. Don't forget to upvote your favorites and share them with your friends. But remember to stay alone when laughing together!

Some of these are absolutely hilarious! (My faves are: 3, 7, 9, 11, 19, 22, 26, and 30. I haven't made it to the other two pages yet!)

President Trump Is So Upset About This Ad Showing His Failed Handling Of COVID-19 That He's Demanding it be Taken Down

President Trump Is So Upset About This Ad Showing His Failed Handling Of COVID-19 That He's Demanding It Be Taken Down:

President Trump Is So Upset About This Ad Showing His Failed Handling Of COVID-19 That He's Demanding It Be Taken Down

Free Speech

Has no one explained to Donald Trump how the Streisand Effect works yet? His campaign has apparently been sending laughably ridiculous threat letters to various TV stations that have been airing an advertisement put together by a group called Priorities USA, criticizing the President's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The ad highlights Trump's repeated statements playing down the virus and insisting that he had things under control, even as the numbers of infected started to rise exponentially. It's a pretty effective ad. You can see it here.

Priorities also posted the ad to Twitter, and according to a Fox News article, the campaign has also asked Twitter to "flag a nearly identical ad... but the social media giant refused."

The letter is amazing in three separate, but equally dumb ways. First, it focuses solely on just one of the lines that the ad quotes Trump saying: "this is their new hoax." He did say that -- as the letter from his campaign readily admits.

[...] But the fact that the letter literally spends three pages whining about just the "hoax" line, while not mentioning any of the rest of the ad is them totally conceding all of the other moronic stuff the President has said. Indeed, one of the lines -- the "15 people" line -- is also in the ad, and the Trump campaign apparently has no problem with you knowing that he completely downplayed how many people were going to be impacted by COVID-19.

The second dumb thing about the letter, of course, is that the campaign just called a shit ton of attention to it. The ad got some attention, but now it's getting way way way more attention. And even if you took out the hoax line, it's a pretty damning account of a President who refuses to take responsibility or to recognize the seriousness of what has happened under his watch.

The third dumb thing about it is that this is the Trump campaign. They're famous for posting and highlighting selectively edited videos of people they dislike. Hell, at around the same time they were apparently sending this letter, the campaign's Twitter feed posted a heavily edited video of Joe Biden, presenting his recent TV appearances much more out of context than anything in the Priorities ad. Hilariously, the letter cites a bunch of fact checking sites -- including The Washington Post, a company that the campaign itself is currently suing, and which Trump himself regularly accuses of publishing fake news about him. And, yet, if we were to look through the fact check sites quoted in the letter, we'd find that they regularly claim that Trump himself is spewing false information -- and that's never ever stopped Trump, so why should it stop his opponents?

[...] Redacted PUSA Letter (PDF)
Redacted PUSA Letter (Text)

Charter Gives Techs $25 Gift Cards Instead of Hazard Pay During Pandemic

Charter gives techs $25 gift cards instead of hazard pay during pandemic:

Charter Communications is giving its cable technicians $25 restaurant gift cards instead of hazard pay for going into customer homes during the coronavirus pandemic, BuzzFeed reported yesterday. The gift cards are a "token of our appreciation," an internal email from management on Monday said, BuzzFeed reported. Of course, many restaurants are closed during the pandemic, so restaurant gift cards aren't the most useful perk Charter management could have chosen.

"These gift cards never expire, so if you choose a restaurant that is currently not open, the card will remain valid for future use... Please take some time out of your busy day to enjoy a meal and recharge," the email read.

Several Charter employees did not appreciate the minimal gesture. "It's really insensitive, it shows they don't care," one New York City-based technician told BuzzFeed. "You think a gift card is supposed to make us feel better?"

No hand sanitizer or gloves

BuzzFeed previously reported that Charter technicians are being sent to customer homes without protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. The internal email to Charter technicians said the company has now "secured access to hand sanitizer and gloves, which would be available for workers to use 'in the next few weeks,'" according to BuzzFeed. Numerous customers have asked Charter techs "why they aren't in full protective gear."

[...] Charter, operator of Spectrum TV and Internet service, is the second-largest cable company in the US after Comcast. Charter has been slow to let call-center workers and other office-based employees work from home during the pandemic. We interviewed several Charter employees about their work conditions last week, with one saying a call center is "an absolute nightmare breeding ground for germs on a normal basis."

Second Chinese Company Sends 90 Tonnes of Australian Medical Supplies to China

Another Chinese company sent 90 tonnes of medical supplies out of Australia in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The shipment included hand sanitiser, gloves and masks. Greenland's Australian staff were deployed from normal HR and management duties to go out shopping for masks, sanitiser, thermometers and gloves to be sent to Wuhan. The company in question, Greenland, is a property developer not a medical supplies company.

Australia is Now Locked Down

Due to fears that COVID-19 will spread Australia is now locking down further by order of the Prime Minister. Public gatherings will now be limited to just two people, under tough new restrictions, and outdoor gyms, skate parks and boot camps closed from today.

NEJM: Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1

From correspondence to the New England Journal of Medicine: Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1:

(Emphasis added.)

We evaluated the stability of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 in aerosols and on various surfaces and estimated their decay rates using a Bayesian regression model (see the Methods section in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). SARS-CoV-2 nCoV-WA1-2020 (MN985325.1) and SARS-CoV-1 Tor2 (AY274119.3) were the strains used. Aerosols (<5 μm) containing SARS-CoV-2 (105.25 50% tissue-culture infectious dose [TCID50] per milliliter) or SARS-CoV-1 (106.75-7.00 TCID50 per milliliter) were generated with the use of a three-jet Collison nebulizer and fed into a Goldberg drum to create an aerosolized environment. The inoculum resulted in cycle-threshold values between 20 and 22, similar to those observed in samples obtained from the upper and lower respiratory tract in humans.

Our data consisted of 10 experimental conditions involving two viruses (SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1) in five environmental conditions (aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard). All experimental measurements are reported as means across three replicates.

[...] SARS-CoV-2 was more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard, and viable virus was detected up to 72 hours after application to these surfaces (Figure 1A), although the virus titer was greatly reduced (from 103.7 to 100.6 TCID50 per milliliter of medium after 72 hours on plastic and from 103.7 to 100.6 TCID50 per milliliter after 48 hours on stainless steel). The stability kinetics of SARS-CoV-1 were similar (from 103.4 to 100.7 TCID50 per milliliter after 72 hours on plastic and from 103.6 to 100.6 TCID50 per milliliter after 48 hours on stainless steel). On copper, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was measured after 4 hours and no viable SARS-CoV-1 was measured after 8 hours. On cardboard, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was measured after 24 hours and no viable SARS-CoV-1 was measured after 8 hours (Figure 1A).

[...] We found that the stability of SARS-CoV-2 was similar to that of SARS-CoV-1 under the experimental circumstances tested. This indicates that differences in the epidemiologic characteristics of these viruses probably arise from other factors, including high viral loads in the upper respiratory tract and the potential for persons infected with SARS-CoV-2 to shed and transmit the virus while asymptomatic.3,4 Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days (depending on the inoculum shed). These findings echo those with SARS-CoV-1, in which these forms of transmission were associated with nosocomial spread and super-spreading events,5 and they provide information for pandemic mitigation efforts.

[...] This letter was published on March 17, 2020, at NEJM.org.

Reference:
Neeltje van Doremalen, Trenton Bushmaker, Dylan H. Morris, et al. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. Letter to New England Journal of Medicine, March 2020 DOI: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973

Amazon Has Workers Who Tested Positive for COVID-19 in 10 Warehouses

Amazon has workers who tested positive for COVID-19 in 10 warehouses - Business Insider:

  • Local news reports indicate that at least seven Amazon warehouses in the US have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • Amazon has also had confirmed coronavirus cases in three of its European warehouses.
  • Amazon has had to balance the safety of its employees against skyrocketing demand for its services amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amazon now has COVID-19 cases across 10 of its warehouses globally and faces growing pressure from unions and workers-rights groups to close its facilities.

Local news outlets have reported that there are seven cases in Amazon's warehouses: In New York, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Connecticut, and Oklahoma, workers have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Last week, a delivery station in Queens, New York, was temporarily closed; it was the first US Amazon facility to detect a case of the virus.

Athena, a workers-rights advocacy group, said workers at Amazon's warehouse in Staten Island, New York, had to continue working while the facility was being cleaned after the case was confirmed this week.

Amazon had already confirmed that three warehouses in Europe (two in Spain and one in Italy) had cases of the virus, but it ruled out closing warehouses, prompting its Italian workers to strike.

[...] While Amazon has temporarily closed some facilities for deep cleaning in the wake of COVID-19 cases, it has not halted operations at any.

This contrasts with the treatment of white-collar tech workers — Amazon and other major US tech firms have closed offices and mandated that these employees work from home.

'Stop Price Gouging,' 33 Attorneys General Tell Amazon, Walmart, Others

'Stop Price Gouging,' 33 Attorneys General Tell Amazon, Walmart, Others:

'Stop Price Gouging,' 33 Attorneys General Tell Amazon, Walmart, Others Enlarge this image

Online platforms have "an ethical obligation" to root out price gouging on hand sanitizer and other high-demand products during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, top law enforcement officials from across the country say.

In letters to Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Facebook and Craigslist on Wednesday, 33 attorneys general say these companies' efforts to crack down on overpriced items on their selling platforms have so far "failed to remove unconscionably priced critical supplies."

The officials are calling on the companies to create policies that look at prices historically to detect surges, set up a portal for shoppers to report pricing complaints and proactively monitor and respond to spiking prices at all times and not just during emergencies.

[...] Shoppers have filed hundreds of complaints of massive price hikes on face masks, sanitizers and other supplies online as they rushed to stock up for the coronavirus pandemic. This continued even as the companies cracked down, removing or even banning listings of particular products.

The attorneys general cited sellers on Craigslist and Facebook as jacking up prices on hand sanitizer by as much as 10 times the normal cost.

[...] Price gouging laws vary across the U.S., but they generally go after retailers and wholesalers for unfair markups, particularly during emergencies. Many states give some flexibility for prices to go up in response to shortages and hoarding behavior, typically by around 10% to 30% over prices in earlier months.

Hertz is Giving NYC Health-Care Workers Free Car Rentals During Coronavirus Epidemic

Hertz is giving NYC health-care workers free car rentals during coronavirus epidemic - Roadshow:

Given the fairly constant barrage of awful stuff coming at us through the news lately, it's a bit of a relief when you see a company going out of its way to help make things better.

That's the case with Hertz and its plan to help New York City health-care workers during the coronavirus epidemic by offering them free car rentals until the end of April, the company announced Wednesday.

See, Hertz is having a pretty bad time right now because so much of its business is tied to the travel industry, and we all know how that's going. This means that the huge fleet of rental cars that Hertz maintains is mostly sitting idle, collecting dust in lots. In fact, its fleet utilization is down to around 20% right now, Hertz CEO Kathryn Marinello told the Wall Street Journal. It usually hovers around the 80% mark.

"It's vital that healthcare workers have safe and reliable transportation during this time, and we are eager to help," Marinello said in a statement. "The dramatic decrease in travel means we have more vehicles to serve the most critical needs of the community. We're starting in New York City with healthcare workers and we'll continue to see how we can help during this crisis. It gives all of us at Hertz a sense of purpose and pride to lend our support as much as we can during this very difficult time."

'Officers Are Scared Out There': Coronavirus Hits US Police

More than a fifth of Detroit's police force is quarantined; two officers have died from coronavirus and at least 39 have tested positive, including the chief of police.

[...] For the 2,200-person department, that has meant officers working doubles and swapping between units to fill patrols. And everyone has their temperature checked before they start work.

An increasing number of police departments around the country are watching their ranks get sick as the number of coronavirus cases explodes across the U.S. The growing tally raises questions about how laws can and should be enforced during the pandemic, and about how departments will hold up as the virus spreads among those whose work puts them at increased risk of infection.

"I don't think it's too far to say that officers are scared out there," said Sgt. Manny Ramirez, president of Fort Worth Police Officers Association.

Nearly 690 officers and civilian employees at police departments and sheriff's offices around the country have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an Associated Press survey this week of over 40 law enforcement agencies, mostly in major cities. The number of those in isolation as they await test results is far higher in many places.

[...]

In the tiny West Texas community of Marfa, Police Chief Estevan Marquez instructed his four officers not to pull over cars for minor traffic infractions, especially if they're passing through from areas already hit by the virus.

He can't afford for anyone to get sick.

https://hosted.ap.org/berkshireeagle/article/069d01bafbb1f15b1f6c4a4479ab1456/officers-are-scared-out-there-coronavirus-hits-us-police

https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/why-americans-are-buying-guns-cops-getting-sick-departments-stretched-thin/

FBI Learned of Coronavirus-Inspired Bomb Plotter through Radicalized US Army Soldier

Now this is interesting, in an Oklahoma City bomber Timmy McVeigh sort of way.
Info from ABC News:

The suspected white supremacist who plotted to bomb a hospital facing the coronavirus crisis was in touch with a then-active U.S. Army soldier who wanted to launch his own attack on a major American news network and discussed targeting a Democratic presidential candidate, according to an FBI alert summarizing the case.

On Tuesday, as 36-year-old Timothy Wilson was on the verge of trying to detonate a car bomb at a Kansas City-area medical center, agents from the FBI's field office in Missouri attempted to arrest him. But shots were fired, fatally wounding Wilson, according to the FBI.

[...] Ahead of Tuesday's incident, Wilson "espoused white supremacist ideology" and "made a threat that if any agent attempted to [search his property] they should 'bring a lot of body bags," said the FBI alert, distributed to state and local law enforcement agencies in the region on Wednesday.

Patients at Risk of Drug-Induced Sudden Cardiac Death in COVID-19

Patients at risk of drug-induced sudden cardiac death in COVID-19:

In the meantime, the pandemic, with over 400,000 confirmed cases worldwide already, is driving researchers to find safe and effective therapies for patients with COVID-19, and an antimalarial drug is potentially on the front lines of that effort. While new and repurposed drugs are being tested in clinical trials, some of these promising drugs are simultaneously being used off-label for compassionate use to treat patients.

Some of the medications being used to treat COVID-19 are known to cause drug-induced prolongation of the QTc of some people. The QTc is an indicator of the health of the heart's electrical recharging system. Patients with a dangerously prolonged QTc are at increased risk for potentially life-threatening ventricular rhythm abnormalities that can culminate in sudden cardiac death.

"Correctly identifying which patients are most susceptible to this unwanted, tragic side effect and knowing how to safely use these medications is important in neutralizing this threat," says Michael J. Ackerman, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic genetic cardiologist. Dr. Ackerman is director of the Mayo Clinic Windland Smith Rice Comprehensive Sudden Cardiac Death Program.

A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings details more information about potential dangers and the application of QTc monitoring to guide treatment when using drugs that can cause heart rhythm changes. Dr. Ackerman is the senior author of the study.

Hydroxychloroquine is a long-standing preventive and treatment drug for malaria. It also is used to manage and minimize symptoms of inflammatory immune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. In laboratory tests, hydroxychloroquine can prevent the SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 viruses from attaching to and entering cells. If these antiviral abilities work the same way in animals and humans, the drug could be used to treat patients and limit the number of COVID-19 deaths.

[...] On a cellular level, potential QT-prolonging medications, like hydroxychloroquine, block one of the critical potassium channels that control the heart's electrical recharging system. This interference increases the possibility that the heart's rhythm could degenerate into dangerous erratic heart beats, resulting ultimately in sudden cardiac death.

Accordingly, Mayo Clinic cardiologists and physician-scientists have provided urgent guidance on how to use a 12-lead ECG, telemetry or smartphone-enabled mobile ECG to determine the patient's QTc as a vital sign to identify those patients at increased risk and how to ultimately minimize the chance of drug-induced sudden cardiac death.

Indy 500 Postponed Due to Coronavirus

Indy 500 postponed due to coronavirus - Roadshow:

Well, given the widespread cancellations and postponements of everything from concerts and movie releases to auto shows and sporting events, it should come as no surprise to learn that the organizers of the Indy 500 are pushing America's biggest open-wheel race back to Aug. 23.

This news -- which was announced on Twitter on Thursday -- comes on the heels of several other high-profile cancellations and pushbacks from Goodwood and Formula 1 due to the widespread quarantines put in place to combat COVID-19.

Obviously, moving a race like the Indy 500 is a massive disappointment to fans, but given the seriousness of the global pandemic, it's the smart move. That rings especially true when you consider that the Indy 500 typically draws a crowd numbering around 300,000 people on race day alone.

PPEs Will Be Needed Across The World

There are reports that hospitals do not have enough Personal Protective Equipment to handle this pandemic around the world. Millions of N95 masks , face shields, gloves and gowns will be needed.

Are you a maker?

There are a grass roots efforts by makers who are seeing what they can do to help. If you have a 3d printer, perhaps it is time to contact any local hospitals to see how you can help.

Here is one example of a group who want to help in Kitchener Ontario.

https://www.inksmith.ca/blogs/news/can-you-3d-print-this-file

Photographer Captures Trump's Handwritten 'Chinese' Virus Revision On Speech Script

Photographer Captures Trump's Handwritten 'Chinese' Virus Revision On Speech Script:

Trump on Wednesday dismissed the idea that the term "Chinese virus" was in any way racist. "It comes from China," he said. "It's not racist at all. I want to be accurate."

It's not accurate. Trump's own top health advisers, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield have said it is inappropriate and inaccurate to label the novel coronavirus as the "Chinese virus."

The correct term is coronavirus (officially SARS-CoV-2), which causes the disease COVID-19. Those are the terms international scientists, the World Health Organization, U.S. health officials, physicians and much of the general public use.

More on Cloroquine/Azithromycin. And On Dr. Raoult.

More on Cloroquine/Azithromycin. And On Dr. Raoult.:

Dr. Didier Raoult of Marseilles and his co-workers have published another preprint on clinical results with the chloroquine/azithromycin combination that their earlier work has made famous. And I still don't know what to think of it.

This is going to be a long post on the whole issue, so if you don't feel like reading the whole thing, here's the summary: these new results are still not from randomized patients and still do not have any sort of control group for comparison. The sample is larger, but it's still not possible to judge what's going on. And on further reading, I have doubts about Dr. Raoult's general approach to science and doubts about Dr. Raoult himself. Despite this second publication, I am actually less hopeful than I was before.

It is a long story, but he backs up his summary with copious supporting documents and analysis. If you are at all skeptical about his conclusions, I would strongly recommend reading the entire story.

Trump Extends Federal Social Distancing Guidelines to April 30

Trump extends federal social distancing guidelines to April 30:

The 15-day guidelines Trump announced two weeks ago were set to expire on Monday, and the President had suggested over the past week that he was looking to relax them, at least in some parts of the country. He even floated Easter, on April 12, as a potential date by which the country could return to normal.

But on Sunday he said he'd decided to extend the guidelines -- which include suggested limits on large gatherings -- to April 30, a sign his earlier predictions were overly rosy.

[...] The announcement marked an abrupt turnaround from a week ago when Trump said he was convinced the distancing restrictions were causing irreparable damage to the economy.


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Previously:
(2020-03-25) 2020-03-25 Coronavirus (COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2) Story Roundup
(2020-03-22) Coronavirus Roundup 03/22/2020
(2020-03-17) SoylentNews Community -- How has SAR-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) / COVID-19 Affected You?
(2020-03-12) CoronaVirus (SARS-CoV-2) Roundup 2020-03-12
(2020-02-29) COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 - CoronaVirus) Roundup
(2020-02-26) Roundup of Stories about the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus and COVID-19 Disease
(2020-02-17) Coronavirus Roundup (Feb. 17)
(2020-02-11) Coronavirus Roundup
(2020-02-07) Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Roundup
(2020-02-01) 2019-nCoV Coronavirus Story Roundup

 
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  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday March 31 2020, @07:57AM (3 children)

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 31 2020, @07:57AM (#977553) Journal

    Your calculations do not include the vast majority of people who contract the virus, self-isolate, and recover without ever being formally tested. Until we have accurate figures for the total number of infections - a test that isn't being done today - nobody can make a better estimate of the true figures. So should I now believe your figures over those provided by the scientists - no, I think not.

    Your have calculated the CFR of those people who have deteriorated to such a state that hospitalisation is essential - in many countries that is the first formal testing that is carried out. It is hardly surprising that for people with this level of medical problems the outcome is significantly higher than figures estimated from the available data for all who have been infected.

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  • (Score: 2) by drussell on Tuesday March 31 2020, @09:01AM (2 children)

    by drussell (2678) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 31 2020, @09:01AM (#977565) Journal

    Your calculations do not include the vast majority of people who contract the virus, self-isolate, and recover without ever being formally tested.

    Do you have any citations or references for this?

    People keep saying this, but I can find no data to support that claim.

    Here in Alberta, so far we have the results for 46057 tests, or one test for every 95 residents.
    Of those tests, 690 results have been positive, or 1.5% positive for those tested.

    Where are all these supposed cases hiding then?

    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday March 31 2020, @11:45AM

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 31 2020, @11:45AM (#977580) Journal

      In the UK, the instruction is if mild symptoms begin, start isolation. Nobody in isolation can leave home for any reason. If you are well after (I think) 7 days and all symptoms have disappeared then you may leave your home (under the restrictions in force at that time) and continue to follow the instructions that everyone else must follow. If the symptoms increase however, you should seek advice from the NHS who will advise on the next steps. You may be taken to hospital directly where you will be tested to confirm that your symptoms are COVID-19, or you may be visited by a specialist team who will also carry out the test. Depending upon the results then you will receive the appropriate treatment in hospital.

      So, the only test that you will actually have is to confirm COVID-19 when arriving at hospital or when visited by a specialist team. Only those with confirmed COVID-19 will be placed in a COVID-19 treatment ward.

      When a period of isolation begins at the first sign of symptoms, others in the household must self-isolate for 14 days to give the virus time to develop and and run its course again before they leave home.

      Those with only minor symptoms - which might well be COVID-19 but do not need formal hospitalisation - will recover without any significant treatment or testing and will remain at home. That is why the test to detect those who have had COVID-19 is so important. Scientists are trying to establish how many people will recover without medical intervention. Many medical staff are self-isolating with minor symptoms but afterwards it is not known whether it actually was COVID-19. This is putting additional pressure on the NHS because of staff shortages. Those that have had COVID-19 should have some immunity and could be usefully employed back in the NHS, which is what they themselves want to do.

      As testing kits become more widely available the time and location of testing will be adapted to maximise the detection rate. What is not wanted is people who might have CV-19 turning up at a testing place and potentially infecting others who might be there but do not actually have CV-19.

    • (Score: 2) by toddestan on Thursday April 02 2020, @03:03AM

      by toddestan (4982) on Thursday April 02 2020, @03:03AM (#978219)

      It's just common sense. If you start feeling sick, what are you going to do? I know what I'm going to do: Stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids, and see if I get better. If I get better, then that's the end of it. If I end up getting worse to the point where I need medical attention, I'll seek it out.

      If I start feeling sick and go to the doctor anyway, here's what's going to happen: Unless I'm really sick, they're not going test me because of the general lack of testing, so they'll just tell me to stay home, rest, drink plenty of fluids, and let them know if it gets worse. So by going to the doctor I'm not really going to be accomplishing anything but possibly putting them at risk (if I actually have COVID-19 and not just a cold) and putting myself at risk (if I do just have a cold).

      That's why I suspect that the reported number of total cases is way too low, but the good news is those unreported cases are also relatively mild and didn't require medical attention.