Coronavirus Tidbits #78 8/30/20

Announcements:

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.

News 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/28/us/politics/joe-biden-trump-conventions.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

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Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) informed congressional intelligence committees that it will cease to provide in-person briefings on foreign interference with the 2020 elections...They will only provide written notices.

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The Kenosha shooter was one year away from having a badge, a state-issued weapon, and qualified immunity...

FBI warned of white supremacists in law enforcement in 2006, more than 10 years ago. Has anything changed?

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/amp/nation/fbi-white-supremacists-in-law-enforcement

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A Kenosha Militia Facebook Event Asking Attendees To Bring Weapons Was Reported 455 Times. Moderators Said It Didn’t Violate Any Rules.

the next highest event for the day had been flagged 18 times by users compared to the 455 times of the Kenosha Guard event.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/kenosha-militia-facebook-reported-455-times-moderators

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Covid gag rules

Workers at Amazon, Cargill, McDonald’s, and Target say they were told to keep Covid cases quiet. The same sort of gagging has been alleged in OSHA complaints against Smithfield Foods, Urban Outfitters, and General Electric.

Also, the school district in Jacksonville’s home county of Duval emailed a warning to employees. Any social media posting that would “reflect badly” on the district’s reputation “may lead to disciplinary actions,”

federal laws, including those that created OSHA and the NLRB, guarantee employees the right to communicate about and protest their job conditions. The federal bodies have failed to make companies obey the law. Many thousands of OSHA complaints about coronavirus safety issues have yielded citations against just two companies

Trump-era NLRB rulings have expanded companies’ discretion to restrict activist workers’ speech on subjective grounds such as offensiveness. And the scant number of inspectors under OSHA’s purview—862 as of January, enough to inspect each workplace once every 165 years—has left it at a nadir. OSHA hasn’t issued any regulations to address the pandemic. It’s received more than 8,000 related health and safety complaints, while state agencies have received more than 24,000.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-08-27/covid-pandemic-u-s-businesses-issue-gag-rules-to-stop-workers-from-talking

More at https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-08-27/covid-19-lawsuits-california-business-liability

In the meanwhile, McConnell wants blanket immunity for employers, even though many do not provide basic safeguards.

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Critical care specialists, Infectious Disease Society, HIVMA and other experts blast CDC's rec to cut back on testing asymptomatic people.

https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/88339?

"It is essential that public health guidelines be rooted in the best available scientific evidence.  Testing asymptomatic individuals who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 remains a critical evidence-based strategy for containing the pandemic and reducing transmission."

bit.ly/3hB0SYG

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Love this story:

Penzey's Spices is 'looting' its own Kenosha store in a statement about priorities

From Bill Penzey:

"Someone wrote to say that you would be singing a different tune if it was your store being looted. I'm by no means perfect but seriously no, I wouldn't. Human life means everything; stuff, not so much.

Hearing that the NBA Milwaukee Bucks, in response to yet another police shooting of a Black man, this time just south of Milwaukee in Kenosha, Wisconsin, chose in unison to walk away from yesterday's playoff game and were willing to take the loss, for me brought such s asens of hope that the tide will no longer stay unturned.

"What if we looted our own store?" What if we took a snapshot of our Kenosha store's inventory tonight and simply gave away exactly that amount of inventory in the coming weeks? Unlike the Minneapolis Uptown store that was in the center of things, our Kenosha location is out by the highway and does not have much chance of looting itself. What if we just gave our spices and seasonings to food pantries and gift boxes to organizations trying to raise money to fund change?

https://www.upworthy.com/penzeys-spices-looting-its-own-store-for-racial-justice

Diagnostics:

still an incredible, negligent lack of accurate  and timely testing.

A dilemma for ‘long-haulers’: Many can’t prove they ever had Covid-19

because of our lack of accurate tests.

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New: Abbott's Fast, $5, 15-Minute, Easy-to-Use COVID-19 Antigen Test Receives FDA Emergency Use Authorization

sensitivity of 97.1% and specificity of 98.5%; less than ideal for home use because it still requires nasal swabs & further processing steps

Trump promptly announced a $750 million deal is with Abbott

SalivaDirect test is less expensive and easier to conduct.

Drugs:

Moderna failed to disclose federal support in vaccine patents, researchers say

The company with a leading coronavirus vaccine candidate did not adhere to a law designed to protect public investment

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/28/moderna-vaccine-patents-darpa-funding/

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Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Shows Immunogenicity in Older Patients

Moderna today presented Phase I data showing that its closely-watched messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 showed immunogenicity in patients 55 years old and older that was roughly the same or higher than data seen in younger patients at the dosage the company is using in its Phase III trial.

Moderna’s series of two 100 mcg doses of mRNA-1273 seroconverted all 120 participants in a Phase I trial (NCT04283461)

https://www.genengnews.com/news/moderna-covid-19-vaccine-shows-immunogenicity-in-older-patients/

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FDA Advisory Committee to discuss COVID-19 Vaccines to meet Oct 22 

webcast at https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-announces-advisory-committee-meeting-discuss-covid-19-vaccines

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Here’s how the U.S. could release a COVID-19 vaccine before the election—and why that scares some

by Jon Cohen

Public Citizen, a public advocacy group, has argued that regardless of whether a COVID-19 vaccine is effective, an EUA could fuel existing vaccine hesitancy. “The ‘logic’ of saving several months by a faster but riskier EUA pathway will surely be outweighed by the loss in public confidence in the vaccine, accompanied by decreased willingness to be vaccinated,”

If a hastily approved COVID-19 vaccine candidate proves ineffective or has serious side effects, confidence in what many see as the best hope to ending the pandemic could plummet. The Solidarity Vaccines Trials Expert Group of the World Health Organization (WHO) argued in an editorial published in The Lancet yesterday that a weakly effective vaccine could actually worsen the pandemic if it induced authorities to relax control measures, such as mask wearing, or if vaccinated people believed they were immune and increased their risk-taking behavior.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/08/here-s-how-us-could-release-covid-19-vaccine-election-and-why-scares-some

Devices:

Epidemiology/Infection control:

Nearly 180,600 Americans have died from #Covid19.

To put that in context, that's roughly the population of Providence, RI. Or Fort Lauderdale, FL. Or Chattanooga, TN. Approaching Brownsville, TX. That is a whole lot sadness. statnews.com/feature/corona

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On prisons and Covid-19:

and read her work in the Marshall Project: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/08/13/con-air-is-spreading-covid-19-all-over-the-federal-prison-system

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More data that coronavirus is most deadly if you are older and male 

Age is the strongest predictor but men are almost twice more likely to die from the coronavirus than women

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02483-2

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More Evidence Points to Kids Being COVID-19 'Silent Spreaders'

— Study: 93% of infections would have been missed if only symptomatic cases were tested

Children with COVID-19 may shed the virus for up to three weeks, even when asymptomatic, according to a study from South Korea.

but in another study, Less than 1% of asymptomatic children test positive for SARS-CoV-2 in US hospitals

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Six feet may not be enough to protect against coronavirus, experts warn

Factors such as crowd density, ventilation, face masks and whether people are silent, speaking, shouting or singing should all be considered in assessing distance.

One helpful analogy is the cloud from a cigarette smoker. “As you move farther away, you’re exposed to less because it becomes more diluted,” Marr said. “The smoke doesn’t stop, though, at six feet.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/08/27/coronavirus-social-distancing-6-feet/

https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3223

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Other new visual tools to help reopening from www.covid19reopen.com

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Interesting success--Maine has excelled in their Covid response,

until the Millinocket wedding fiasco, which spread Covid to a nursing home and jail, among other.:

A thousand kids and counselors went to summer camp in Maine. Only 3 got the coronavirus.

https://news.yahoo.com/a-thousand-kids-and-counselors-went-to-summer-camp-in-maine-only-three-got-the-coronavirus-215917612.html

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A different take: Household transmission of COVID-19-a systematic review and meta-analysis

Highlights

  • Infection risk of household contacts is 10 times higher than other contacts.
  • Risk of household transmission in adults is about 3-times higher than that in children.
  • SARS-CoV-2 is much more transmissible than SARS-CoV and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in households, which challenges the home isolation of COVID-19 patients.

https://www.journalofinfection.com/article/S0163-4453(20)30571-5/fulltext#%20

Tips, general reading for public:

StayAtHome

Wash your hands.

Rinse and repeat.

How to tell if a story is #FakeNews #FakeNewsMedia from @monmouthu

bit.ly/3jtwoZc

Politics:

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In contrast, at this week's March on Washington:

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https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/1298673811425034242?s=20

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https://twitter.com/sree/status/1298953739324264449?s=20

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The president's travels keep sickening and sidelining @SecretService agents. Five had to be replaced in Tampa. Two fell sick when assigned to Bedminster for Trump's golf trip there. Agents who will take a bullet for democracy now risk lethal virus

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/secret-service-copes-with-coronavirus-cases-in-aftermath-of-trump-appearances/2020/08/28/fa0e7b6e-e22a-11ea-8dd2-d07812bf00f7_story.html

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https://twitter.com/joshscampbell/status/1299203202328354816?s=20

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From Michael McFaul: on autocracies

For those of us who study autocracies, including elections in autocracies, there were a lot of familiar messages, symbols, and methods on display this week at the #RNCConvention.

1. Cult of the Personality.

2. Administrative resources. Autocrats and semi-autocrats frequently use government resources for personal electoral gain. We have #HatchAct to prevent such behavior in the U.S. It's obviously not working.

3. Blatant disregard for the law. That Trump's team dared anyone to charge them with violating the #HatchAct is exactly what Putin and others autocrats do all the time. Laws don't apply to the king & his court, only to the subjects.

4. Blatant disregard for facts. As U.S. ambassador to Russia, I found this Putin regime trait most frustrating. We - the U.S. government- were constrained by facts. They were not. Trump obviously was not constrained by facts last night. He usually isn't:

5. Us versus Them populism. "Elites" versus "the people" nationalism. Autocratic populists use polarizing identity politics to divide societies all the time. Many populist leaders actually have little in common with the "masses."

6. The opposition is the "enemy of the people." Putin & other autocratic populists cast their opponents as radicals & revolutionaries. They don't focus on their own records - often there is little to celebrate - but the horrors that will happen if they lose power. Sound familiar?

6b. There is one difference between Putin and Trump so far. Putin also claims falsely that his political opponents are supported by foreign enemies, the U.S. & the West. Trump has not gone there full-throated yet. But my guess it's coming. "Beijing Biden" is a hint.

7. Law and Order. Autocratic populists all shout about it, even when the opposite is happening on their watch.

8. The good tsar versus the bad boyars. Kings and tsars always blamed bad provincial leaders for national ills. Putin blames the governors all the time... just like Trump.

9. Individual acts of royal kindness. Putin, like the tsars he emulates, does this all the time. Trump offering a pardon or "granting" citizenship (which of course he didnt & doesn't have the power to do) are typical, faux gestures of royal kindness toward his subjects.

10. Homage and fealty. Vassals must signal their complete loyalty and absolute devotion to kings and autocrats. Those that don't are banished from the royal court or the party. (Where were the Bushes last night?)

11. The royal family. In this dimension, Trump acts more like a monarch than even Putin. (but watch Lukashenko and his gun-toting teenage son in Belarus)The many Trump family members who performed this week - even a girlfriend got a slot - went beyond even what Putin does.

12. There's still one big difference. We still don't know who will win the November election. That uncertainty is a crucial difference between electoral democracies & electoral autocracies. Its also a difference that has no guarantee of lasting, depending on the outcome this year

For further reading on populists in comparative perspective, see Report: Global Populisms and Their Challenges from Stanford U profs

https://fsi.stanford.edu/global-populisms/global-populisms-and-their-challenges

OR most anything by Sarah Kendzior, who predicted all of this years ago, like https://prospect.org/politics/institutional-failure-and-autocracy-in-waiting/

Comic relief:

Perspective/Poem

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“Come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and has failed.” - Lucille Clifton

Bits of beauty:

 

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