Coronavirus Tidbits #251, June 25, 2023


First, there is now a Resources Page here for the most commonly asked questions I'm getting.

Happy to continue to answer your questions/concerns as best I can, so don't be shy about that.

Reminder, Resilience: One Family's Story... is increasingly pertinent, as some of our politicians shift rightward. All proceeds go to Holocaust education.

Available here.



Weekly Update for the United States

Hospital Admissions (In Past Week)     6,649

Trend in Hospital Admissions               -7.6% in past week   May 15, 2023Jun 13, 2023

Deaths  % Due to COVID-19 (In Past Week)   1.2%

Trend in % COVID-19 Deaths             +9.1% in past week   Apr 29, 2023Jun 17, 2023

~ ~ ~

COVID reinfections

are making up a greater share of the total cases, hospitalizations, and deaths since the arrival of the newer Omicron lineages. (MMWR)

~ ~ ~

Covid reinfections were rare (~1%) through the Delta wave variant, but broke through to high levels once Omicron (BA.1) and its subvariants came along new @CDCMMWR
~ ~ ~

Asymptomatic testing key to pandemic preparedness, new study finds

Asymptomatic PCR testing for NHS staff, provided by the Francis Crick Institute and University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust and its diagnostic partner Health Services Laboratories, effectively detected COVID-19 infections that would have otherwise been missed, preventing some people from being infected.

~ ~ ~

Study: Altering Microbiome Alleviates Symptoms of Long COVID

CHICAGO—Modulation of the gut microbiome using a novel probiotic–prebiotic combination formula helped relieve symptoms related to post-acute COVID-19 syndrome in a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial presented as a late-breaking abstract at Digestive Disease Week 2023.

“This is the first randomized controlled trial showing that modulation of the gut microbiome with a novel microbiome formula alleviates gastrointestinal and neuropsychiatric symptoms of post-acute COVID-19 syndrome,” said lead researcher Raphaela Iris Lau, MSc.

A Synbiotic Approach

The study, conducted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, included 463 patients with symptoms of long COVID who received six months of treatment with an active microbiome product that was a combination of probiotic and prebiotic material, called a synbiotic (SIM01) (abstract 913a).

Compared with blinded controls, the actively treated patients were likely to report improvement in various symptoms, including digestive problems, fatigue, difficulty with concentration, memory impairment and “general unwellness,” reported Ms. Lau, a PhD fellow at the university. For example, improvements in digestive complaints were observed in 70.2% of SIM01 recipients compared with 54.1% of controls, who received vitamin C, Ms. Lau reported.

Developed by Ms. Lau’s co-investigators, SIM01 is an oral, microencapsulated formulation of three lyophilized Bifidobacteria and three prebiotics shown to be beneficial for the growth of these bacteria, offering a total of 20 billion colony-forming units per daily dose. In a previous randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, SIM01 was shown to significantly reduce adverse health outcomes of COVID-19 in elderly patients and patients with type 2 diabetes (Nutrients 2023;15[8]:1982). In a proof-of-concept study, SIM01 also hastened antibody formation against SARS-CoV-2, reduced nasopharyngeal viral load and pro-inflammatory immune markers, and restored gut dysbiosis in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 (J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022;37[5]:823-831)....

...Dr. Zarrinpar commented. “The precise content and mechanism of action of SIM01 remain unclear” and the study “was not registered in, which is the biggest red flag for me” because it “makes it challenging to verify its objectives and power analysis,” he noted.

~ ~ ~

Long Covid impacting economy:

About 18% of those with Long COVID have not returned to work for over a year. Data comes from NY Workman's Comp

  • Almost one-third of all workers infected with Covid-19 suffered or are suffering from Long Covid, with the percentage peaking during the initial phase of the pandemic and falling over time.
  • The percentage of female workers with Long Covid (37 percent) was 11 points higher than that of male workers (26 percent).

~ ~ ~


still an incredible, negligent last of testing.

Drugs and Vaccines:

On new fall monovalent Covid vaccine:
Latest US #SARSCoV2 genomics shows continued XBB.1.16 growth advantage vs XBB.1.5 variant with new booster (September) expected to be monovalent XBB.1.5
This graphic shows the 2 spike mutations added in XBB.1.16 vs XBB.1.5 (E180V and 478R). While the new monovalent booster vs XBB.1.5 will be better than current bivalent BA.5, this is not even "variant chasing" and further highlights the need for variant-proof vaccines.
~ ~ ~
Further evidence that bivalent booster shots reduced Covid infections, approximately 30%, among nursing home residents (compared with no booster)
~ ~ ~

A looming penicillin shortage threatens pregnant adults with syphilis and their newborns

Pfizer announced last week that it expects to run out of a key drug for treating syphilis in the near future — a looming problem that health professionals say could exacerbate syphilis rates, widen racial disparities in sexually transmitted diseases, and stymie global access to the antibiotic, especially within lower-income countries.

The drug in question is Bicillin, an injectable, long-acting form of penicillin most commonly used to treat syphilis in adults as well as childhood infections. In a letter to customers last week, Pfizer estimated that the supply for kids may run out as early as the end of the month, while supply for adults could deplete in September.

For the most part, there are alternative antibiotics that doctors can use to treat childhood infections and syphilis in adults. But Bicillin is the only treatment safe enough for pregnant adults with syphilis, said Erin Fox, associate chief pharmacy officer at the University of Utah Health and an expert in tracking drug shortages.

~ ~ ~

New data: Vaccinated mpox patients have less severe illness

study today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report looked at a recent cluster of 40 mpox cases in Chicago and suggests that vaccine protection may wane over time, but vaccinated patients do well recovering at home, and vaccination protects against severe mpox.

~ ~ ~

RSV Vaccine for Older Adults found Protective

GSK plc today announced new data from the AReSVi-006 phase III trial evaluating the efficacy of a single dose of AREXVY™ against lower respiratory tract disease caused by the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in adults aged 60 years and older over multiple RSV seasons and after annual revaccination.

The results presented on June 21, 2023, show that one dose of AREXVY is efficacious against RSV-LRTD and severe LRTD over two full RSV seasons.

As of June 2023, there are two approved RSV vaccines for older people in the U.S.


Epidemiology/Infection control:

Tips, general reading for public:








Wisconsin Assembly passes bipartisan bill to allow pharmacists to distribute over-the-counter contraception

~ ~ ~

The New York State Legislature gave final approval on Tuesday to legislation that provides legal protection for New York doctors to prescribe and send abortion pills to patients in states that have outlawed abortion.

~ ~ ~

Your reminder that Republicans added an amendment to a government funding bill that would ban travel funding for reproductive health care needs for military members and their families.
~ ~ ~


Humanity’s groundwater pumping has altered Earth’s tilt

Massive shifts of water have caused Earth’s poles to wander

While spinning on its axis, Earth wobbles like an off-kilter top. Sloshing molten iron in Earth’s core, melting ice, ocean currents, and even hurricanes can all cause the poles to wander. Now, scientists have found that a significant amount of the polar drift results from human activity: pumping groundwater for drinking and irrigation.

~ ~ ~

@craigtimes   Jun 18
23 years after #Florida & the feds began #Everglades restoration, #climate change concerns are prompting a reevaluation.

~ ~ ~

@ezraromero   Jun 23
MAP: More Than 5K Toxic Sites Along SF Bay Threatened by Rising Groundwater, @kzhill @ced_berkeley “It’s like a graveyard. Everything we’ve done in the past is coming up with that groundwater to haunt us in the present.” @kqedscience @kqednews
~ ~ ~


@kylegriffin1  Jun 18
$930 million: That's the amount in grants the Biden admin just announced to expand internet access to every home in the U.S. The effort will be concentrated largely in hard to reach, rural areas of Alaska, Texas and dozens of other places where large gaps in connectivity exist.
~ ~ ~
Raskin has a way with words:  Jun 21
"But don't take my word for it. Read Friday's statement by the twice impeached inciter of insurrection sexual abuser defamer of women, and indicted pilferer of national security secrets, war plans and top secret classified documents himself."
~ ~ ~
@SollenbergerRC   Jun 20
Roger Stone and his wife settled a $2 million unpaid taxes civil case with DOJ last year — they weren't charged criminally, unlike Hunter Biden, so they didn't even get probation
~ ~ ~
Free lunch:
~ ~ ~
Sick days:
@IBEW   Jun 20
After months of negotiations, the IBEW’s Railroad members at four of the largest U.S. freight carriers finally have what they’ve long sought but that many working people take for granted: paid sick days.
~ ~ ~


So RFK Jr was pushed to run by Steve Bannon, fundraises with David Sacks, gets promoted by Elon Musk and Tucker Carlson, agreed to be Jim Jordan's witness, and now has a super PAC run by a team that also works for Marjorie Taylor Greene and George Santos
~ ~ ~
Good lord- RFK Jr. claimed on Rogan’s podcast that there is good evidence that the flu vaccine caused the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Slight problem with that claim: influenza had not even been identified until the 1930s and a flu vaccine wasn’t available to the public until 1945.
~ ~ ~
@jefftimmer   Jun 17
This fact makes GOP heads explode: Every single Trump state, including FL & TX, is a welfare state subsidized by taxpayers in blue states. Every red state receives more federal $ than they contribute. Every one. All of them. Rely on majority Dem taxpayers for their state spending
~ ~ ~
@highbrow_nobrow   Jun 16
Fox News host Jesse Watters calls for viewers to "stigmatize" unhoused people: "You have to call them what they are: These are people that have failed in life and they're on their deathbed."
~ ~ ~
@CREWcrew   Jun 19
Julia Jenkins Fancelli, the Publix Super Markets heiress, is the sole funder/president of the George Jenkins Foundation, which made a $1.3 million contribution to steer even more money to another group that sponsored the rally preceding the Jan 6th attack.
~ ~ ~
@themorrancave   Jun 20
With the Hunter Biden plea making headlines, it's worth revisiting this 2017 @ProPublica story. NY prosecutors were prepping a criminal case against Ivanka & Donald Trump Jr. until they were overruled after a top donor paid a visit to the Manhattan DA:
~ ~ ~
Justice Samuel Alito Took Luxury Fishing Vacation With GOP Billionaire Who Later Had Cases Before the Court
~ ~ ~
@petestrzok   Jun 20
Wait, an Alito free private luxury jet trip to Alaska with Paul Singer, the same Paul Singer who initially funded Fusion GPS’s oppo work on Donald Trump? World sure is funny. Gift link
~ ~ ~
@SenWhitehouse   Jun 22
Yes, but it’s actually worse. Scalia took >6 dozen apparently “comped” undisclosed vacations on theory that “personal hospitality” was created by “personal” invitation, even from someone he’d never met.  Many had gun, Republican & fossil fuel folks along.
~ ~ ~


Vanderbilt University Medical Center provided transgender patient records to the Tennessee attorney general's office as part of an investigation into potential medical billing fraud.

If you're LGBTQ+, you are absolutely NOT safe going to VUMC for care.

~ ~ ~

@Esqueer_   Jun 21
Florida has lost their case denying trans people medicaid coverage for gender affirming care. This is another final judgment. The precedent could be used to challenge restrictions on adult care in Florida. The wins keep coming!
~ ~ ~
NSC-131, a white supremacist/ neo-Nazi group, gathered outside Teatotaller in NH, protesting the cafe hosting a drag story hour.
~ ~ ~
@scopedbylarry   Jun 18
Twin Brothers Made News Headlines After One Boy Is Deemed 'Citizen' While The Other Isn't
~ ~ ~
Native Americans:
@LucasBrownEyes   Jun 22
1 in 3 people on the Navajo nation rez don’t have access to clean water. 1 in 3!! Natives have the highest rates of plumbing poverty is just one of the many inequalities that are forgotten and ignored in Native communities. Natives are out here fighting for basic human rights.
~ ~ ~
@JulieCSuk   Jun 21
German Constitutional Court just ruled that states must remunerate prisoners w/better pay & benefits for their labor, because German constitution requires that punishment serve the goal of reintegrating offenders into society.
~ ~ ~


These states apparently mandate reporting on patients with autism:

  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • West Virginia
  • North Dakota

~ ~ ~


@catypayette  Jun 24
Absolutely incredible how DC registers you to vote when you apply for a driver’s license unless you opt out. A model every state should follow!!!
~ ~ ~

A Delaware city is set to give corporations the right to vote in elections

~ ~ ~

@notcapnamerica   Jun 16
Patrick Braxton was elected as Mayor in the majority Black town of Newbern, Alabama. But the previous office holder, a white man, and the town’s council, also white, have refused to vacate the office. For years.
~ ~ ~
#Florida  @GovRonDeSantis' picks legislator with no higher education experience & a prior arrest for impersonating a cop to lead South Florida State College.
~ ~ ~
@mynbc15   Jun 21
NO ACCESS: All books challenged for pornographic or obscene materials in Escambia County FL must now be removed from school libraries within five days
~ ~ ~
@LqLana  Jun 24
DeSantis quietly approved Senate Bill 7050. Targeting third-party voter registration and restricting mail-in voting. You see, DeSantis knows that he doesn't have the Black vote or the youth vote. So he's attacking organizations that specifically help get Black people and young…
~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~
@ashtonpittman   Jun 19
NEW: Mississippi state offices remained open today on the Juneteenth federal holiday—even though officials closed state offices two months ago to celebrate the state's Confederate Memorial Day holiday.
~ ~ ~
New Mexico:
A New Mexico judge ordered Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin be removed from office, effective immediately, ruling that the attack on the Capitol was an insurrection and that Griffin’s participation in it disqualified him under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. This decision marks the first time since 1869 that a court has disqualified a public official under Section 3, and the first time that any court has ruled the events of January 6, 2021 an insurrection.
~ ~ ~
12 Days. I-95 is open.
~ ~ ~
South Carolina:
@JuddLegum   Jun 15
1. A South Carolina high school forced an AP English teacher to scrap a unit on Between The World and Me, the award-winning memoir by Ta-Nehisi Coates The teacher was accused of BREAKING THE LAW & trying to indoctrinate students on racial issues
~ ~ ~
@Taniel   Jun 18
The Texas legislature had actually passed a bill to ease ballot access with people with disabilities, but Governor Abbott just vetoed it. @nataliaecj had previewed the bill here:
[And his settlement for the accident is 6 figures for the rest of his life]
~ ~ ~
@jarvisjohnsontx   Jun 17
While I'm out celebrating Juneteenth, I just got an alert @GregAbbott_TX vetoed my bill to establish a Sickle Cell Registry. I'm furious. Myself and advocates have been working for YEARS to pass this bill, and the CDC is currently funding state registries. #txlege
~ ~ ~
San Antonio wax museum removes Trump figure because visitors kept punching it.
~ ~ ~
@OshetJimmy  Jun 19
Kudos to Greg Abbott for letting Texans openly carry guns without permits or licenses! Who needs safety measures? Oh, wait, the result? A 62.5% surge in mass shootings. Bravo, Governor! #GunPoliciesAtWork #SafetyNotIncluded
~ ~ ~
@Laurie_Garrett  Jun 18
It's TEXAS again. The Governor signed House Bill 2127, which will nullify any local city ordinances that require water breaks for employees who work in the heat and prevent any local jurisdiction in the state from passing such laws in the future. It's called the "Death Star" law because it prevents any local city or county government in the state from passing laws that contradict anything in Texas state code. Read More: Death on the Job: Texas Says "NO" To Water Breaks in the Heat |
Recent heat indexes have hit 120 degrees across the state.
~ ~ ~
#Utah district returns Bible to school libraries after reversal of parent-led ban  #BookBans
~ ~ ~
@asosin   Jun 20
“[Vermont] has begun emptying hotels of about 2,800 homeless people living there as part of a pandemic-era program — and offering them tents — after federal funding ran out.” @jrusstimes
~ ~ ~
@chrishendel  Jun 20
"With waiting lists for shelter beds and transitional housing, the only option available to most of those forced from hotels this month was a free tent. Across the state, social service workers handed out camping equipment, a gesture that pained providers..."
~ ~ ~
Wisconsin State Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego), speaking against access to contraception, says it leads to infidelity, men devaluing women, women thinking they're better than nature and the "proliferation of STDs."
~ ~ ~
@AlecMacGillis   Jun 16
Wow: all 750,000 Germans turning 18 this year get 200 euro to spend on any cultural good: concerts, theater, movies, musical instruments, books, records etc. It'll cost 100 million euro and is given in recognition of what young people lost during pandemic.
~ ~ ~
see Prisoners, above
~ ~ ~
Hong Kong:
@hkfp   Jun 19
[Recap] Hong Kong student arrested over ‘seditious’ posts handed strict bail terms incl. deleting all social media apps
~ ~ ~
@sallyhayd   Jun 19
“I am struck by the alarming level of tolerance to serious human rights violations against refugees, asylum seekers and migrants that has developed across Europe,” says Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, @Dunja_Mijatovic, in Lampedusa today.
~ ~ ~
Jun 22 US Senators @LindseyGrahamSC (R) and @SenBlumenthal (D) introduced a bipartisan resolution declaring Russia's use of nuclear weapons or destruction of the occupied Zaporizhia Nuclear Powerplant in Ukraine to be an attack on NATO requiring the invocation of NATO Article 5.

Feel good du jour:

Comic relief:

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~


Bits of beauty:

Three sailboats in the fog






Share this post: