Coronavirus Tidbits #73 8/13/20

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

Tidbits will likely be a bit shorter and a little less frequent for the next little bit. I have been immersed in it and I need to spend a little more time on self-care, which for me means seeing the spring flowers emerge and digging in the dirt.

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



CONVERSATION with Dr. Anthony Fauci and experts from National Geographic and ABC News, as well as Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, on why the pandemic is wreaking havoc on communities, and the lessons we can learn from pandemics throughout history.

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Over 1,000 health professionals have signed a letter titled “Shut It Down, Start Over, Do It Right.” “We continue to lack a coherent national strategy to prevent the transmission of COVID-19,” @meganranney on why she chose to help write & sign the letter

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Long after the fire of a Covid-19 infection, mental and neurological effects can still smolder

As many as 1 in 3 patients recovering from Covid-19 could experience neurological or psychological after-effects of their infections

[I suspect some of the psychological effects are due to ICU psychosis, which is pretty common, especially in elderly patients. Also, separating patients from family and being cared for by unrecognizable health care workers who are masked, gowned, and gloved, undoubtedly has its own toll. Imagine if we had enough PPE so that families could be with their loved ones…]

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New Zealand inexplicably has new Covid-19 cases. 

One hypothesis is very disconcerting if true…but we won’t know for a few days

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COVID-19: Herd immunity in Sweden fails to materialize

They did not lockdown the country, predicting that 40% of the Stockholm population would have had the disease and acquired antibodies by May 2020. However, the actual prevalence figure was around 15%. While clinical and research findings suggest that severely infected Covid-19 patients do acquire antibodies in the immediate and early recovery phase of their illness, antibodies are much less commonly found in only mildly ill or asymptomatic patients. This means they are very likely not to be immune, and so cannot act as a bulwark against further spread of infection amongst the community.

[Also, the economy did not tank less than countries that did lock down.]

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New COVID-19 Cases in State Prisons Surge in July

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Good news of the day, though non-Covid: Nootkatone

CDC discovers active ingredient for development into new mosquito/tick insecticides and repellents. Nootkatone repels and kill ticks, mosquitoes, and a wide variety of other biting pests.  Nootkatone is responsible for the characteristic smell and taste of grapefruit and is widely used in the fragrance industry to make perfumes and colognes. It is found in minute quantities in Alaska yellow cedar trees and grapefruit skin.

CDC has partnered with Evolva since 2014. In 2017, Evolva was awarded a Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) contract with the key objective of advancing the development of nootkatone and nootkatone-based products for protection against mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue and Zika. also

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How to stop COVID-19 fuelling a resurgence of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis

A focus on the coronavirus has disrupted detection and treatment of other infectious diseases. Governments and funders can do four things to avert a catastrophe.

AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (TB), three of the deadliest infectious diseases, together kill 2.4 million people every year, with TB alone responsible for 1.5 million deaths. And deaths from these diseases could almost double over the next year, according to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a consortium of donors that funds treatments. The reason: coronavirus.


still an incredible, negligent lack of testing.


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Taxpayers paid for the research. US pays $1.5 billion to Moderna for 100 million doses of vaccine. When buying unproven drugs, why are we not requiring us to get our money back if they don’t work?  – Andy Slavitt

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Pfizer signs on to produce Covid-19 drug Remdesivir for Gilead – @MedCityNews Gilead Sciences said it would partner with companies in North America, Europe and Asia to manufacture the antiviral drug.


Running Low on New N95s? Reach for These Alternatives

— Some worked almost as well in a lab study

Expired as well as fresh N95 respirators cleaned with hydrogen peroxide solution retained over 95% of fitted filtration efficiency, a small laboratory study found.

N95 respirators in the wrong size had around 90%-95% fitted filtration efficiency.

“Importantly, no documented SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks have been linked to settings in which surgical masks were assiduously used in lieu of N95 masks, which suggests that even if airborne transmission is a considerable contributor to SARS-CoV-2 transmission, surgical masks are likely sufficient to prevent it,” the editorialists Caitlin Dugdale, MD, and Rochelle Walensky, MD, (Mass General) wrote.

Tie-on masks were better than those w ear loops in this cited study.

 JAMA Intern Med 2020; DOI: 10.1001/jama.2020.4221.

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Wearing a neck gaiter may be worse than no mask at all

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Coronavirus transmission risk increases along wildlife supply chains for human consumption

The mixing of multiple coronaviruses, and their apparent amplification along the wildlife supply chain into restaurants, suggests maximal risk for end consumers and likely underpins the mechanisms of zoonotic spillover to people.

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Tips, general reading for public:


Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

Fraud Alert: How to Spot Scammers Posing as Health Department COVID-19 Contact Tracers

Do NOT click on links in messages claiming to be from the Health Department.

Legitimate contact tracers call, text, or email (and in some cases, come to your home) to say you may have been exposed to the virus, and to explain what precautions to take. They will also want to know who you’ve been in contact with and may have unknowingly infected.

In some states, contact tracers send a text message prior to calling, explaining that you should expect a call—from a specific number—about an urgent public health matter. There is never a link to click on, and never a number for you to call.

When they call, real contract tracers ask how you’re feeling, where you’ve been, and who you’ve been in contact with recently. They will also ask for some basic personal information, such as:

  • Name and address
  • Date of birth
  • Occupation and work status
  • Contact information and contact preferences

Five Questions You Should Not Answer

Here are five ways you can tell the difference between a real contact tracer and a scammer. According to the FTC, contract tracers will never:

  • Ask for money or payment of any kind.
  • Ask for your bank account or credit card number.
  • Ask for your Social Security number.
  • Ask for your immigration status.
  • Ask you to click on a link in a text or email.


Destroying the USPS to steal the election, hurting seniors who rely on medicines by mail…

83% of Etsy shops are run by women. Postal Service disruptions could devastate them. ‘If a customer’s package isn’t delivered relatively quickly … they will take it out on the business’

The GOP including $0 for the USPS, $0 for our elections, and $21,300,000,000 for the Pentagon in a COVID relief bill.

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Another stupid move – Security theater, appealing to his base

Totally useless given the number of cases we have in the US

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Feel good du jour:

Interesting background on Kamala’s family…makes me feel more positively about her and Biden for choosing her.

Shyamala Gopalan was a breast-cancer scientist who emigrated from India in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at UC Berkeley. Donald Harris is a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics, who emigrated from British Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study in economics at UC Berkeley.

And a younger sister who attended Stanford law school and became Executive Director, @ACLU of Northern California.

Heartwarming. Kamala’s Jewish step kids call her Momala. Sweet story:

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When Covid closed the library in Australia:

Staff called every member over 70 to see how they were doing and if they needed help with accessing any services, counseling support, tech help or anything else.


Comic relief:




New Zealand has had remarkable success w Covid…We don’t hear much about Vietnam, which maintained a 99-day streak without community transmission of COVID-19, and it has 19.5x the population, 15x the population density, and 1/15th the GDP/capita of NZ.

Other successes we read little about – Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Mumbai slum (


Bits of beauty:


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  • Joe R McDaniel

    My retired nurse wife mentioned that pulse oximeters are very effective diagnostic tools for COVID-19 and only cost $15 to $30 [and are built into Fitbit, etc. bands]. Between thermometer and oximeter, I suspect fairly effective screening can be done cheaply.