Archive for the ‘coronavirus’ Category

Santas scrooged by Trump admin after bizarre vaccine deal goes south

October 26th, 2020
Even Santas are not safe during the pandemic.

Enlarge / Even Santas are not safe during the pandemic. (credit: Getty | Kristy O'Connor)

The Department of Health and Human Services has abandoned a deal to vaccinate Santa Claus performers as part of a $250-million taxpayer-funded public relations blitz, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the nixed Santa plan, performers would have received special early access to a future vaccine against the pandemic coronavirus. In exchange, the Santa Clauses, Mrs. Clauses, and accompanying elves would have promoted the vaccine to the public and participated in regional holiday events organized by the Trump administration.

Beginning to look a lot like chaos

The deal was reportedly gifted from the troubled mind of Michael Caputo, the HHS spokesperson installed by the White House in April. Caputo had no background in health when he took the position. Instead, he was reportedly placed in the department as a way for the Trump administration to assert more control over HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Caputo is a Trump loyalist, protégé of Roger Stone, and former Moscow-based political adviser who worked on public relations for Vladimir Putin.

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Posted in alex azar, caputo, CDC, Christmas, coronavirus, COVID-19, HHS, public health, santa claus, science, vaccines | Comments (0)

The preexisting conditions of the coronavirus pandemic

October 18th, 2020
The preexisting conditions of the coronavirus pandemic

Enlarge (credit: Nancybelle Gonzaga Villarroya)

A massive new accounting of the health of humans on Earth, collating and inferring stats on hundreds of diseases and injuries across 204 nations, has mostly good news. People are healthier, and they stay that way for longer. The bad news: That’s not true if those people are poor, are people of color, live in the United States, and there’s a pandemic.

Then they’re screwed.

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Posted in coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, science | Comments (0)

Grim new analyses spotlight just how hard US is failing in pandemic

October 12th, 2020
A skeleton hand ominously puts into a map of the United States.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

A grim series of articles published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association makes clear just how hard the United States has failed at controlling the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic—from the country’s horrifying death toll to its inability to drag down its shamefully high death rates.

It was already clear that the US has tallied more deaths from the coronavirus than any other country and has one of the highest death rates per capita in the world. But, according to one article in the series, the US is also failing to lower COVID-19 death rates—even as harder-hit countries have managed to learn from early disease peaks and bring their rates down substantially.

For the analysis, researchers Alyssa Bilinski of Harvard and Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania compared the shifting COVID-19 death rates of 18 high-income countries during three time windows. The idea was to see how death rates changed as countries adopted different public health interventions, especially if they had seen surges in cases early on that boosted their overall death rate during the pandemic. Specifically, Bilinski and Emanuel looked at COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people starting from February 13, May 10, and June 7, with all three windows ending on September 19.

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Posted in communities of color, coronavirus, death rates, excess deaths, mental health, mortality, pandemic, public health, racial disparity, SARS-CoV-2, science | Comments (0)

Botched Excel import may have caused loss of 15,841 UK COVID-19 cases

October 5th, 2020
Botched Excel import may have caused loss of 15,841 UK COVID-19 cases

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Public Health England admitted on Sunday that the agency has under-reported COVID-19 infections by 15,841 cases in recent days due to a "technical issue." The missing positive tests were conducted between September 25 and October 2 and have since been added to national statistics, the agency said.

PHE didn't explain the nature of the technical issue, but a number of British news sources have pointed the finger at Microsoft Excel. Here's how the Guardian describes the issue:

PHE was responsible for collating the test results from public and private labs, and publishing the daily updates on case count and tests performed.

In this case, the Guardian understands, one lab had sent its daily test report to PHE in the form of a CSV file – the simplest possible database format, just a list of values separated by commas. That report was then loaded into Microsoft Excel, and the new tests at the bottom were added to the main database.

But while CSV files can be any size, Microsoft Excel files can only be 1,048,576 rows long. When a CSV file longer than that is opened, the bottom rows get cut off and are no longer displayed. That means that, once the lab had performed more than a million tests, it was only a matter of time before its reports failed to be read by PHE.

The agency says it will take precautions to make sure an error like this doesn't happen in the future.

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Posted in coronavirus, COVID-19, Excel, Policy, science, United Kingdom | Comments (0)

The Covid Information War Is Entering a Frightening New Phase

October 2nd, 2020
Communication from the White House about Donald Trump’s infection will be opaque at best. Into that vacuum, misinformation will flow.

Posted in coronavirus, Ideas | Comments (0)

Nearly 20,000 workers have had COVID-19, Amazon admits

October 2nd, 2020
Amazon.com Inc. signage is displayed in front of a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, US, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Enlarge / Amazon.com Inc. signage is displayed in front of a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, US, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (credit: Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Amazon on Thursday released high-level data on COVID-19 infection rates among its warehouse and in-store workers, saying that almost 20,000 "front-line" employees contracted COVID-19 between March 1 and mid-September.

Of 1.37 million people who worked either in Amazon distribution facilities or in Whole Foods stores during that period, 19,816—or about 1.44 percent—have had COVID-19, Amazon said. The company released the number in the context of a corporate blog post boasting of success with its mitigation measures.

"If the rate among Amazon and Whole Foods Market employees were the same as it is for the general population rate, we estimate that we would have seen 33,952 cases among our workforce," Amazon wrote. "In reality, 19,816 employees have tested positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19—42% lower than the expected number." The calculations do not include Prime delivery drivers, most of whom technically are not Amazon employees.

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Posted in amazon, Biz & IT, coronavirus, COVID-19, labor, labor rights, Policy, worker rights | Comments (0)

President Trump: “Melania and I tested positive for COVID-19”

October 2nd, 2020
White House in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / White House in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty)

Hours after White House aide Hope Hicks reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, President Donald Trump told the public that both he and First Lady Melania Trump had also tested positive for the virus, as determined by a test administered on Thursday.

"Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19," Trump stated on his Twitter account on early Friday morning. "We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately." This was followed by White House physician Sean Conley saying he'd "received confirmation" of that news, adding that the couple "plan[s] to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence." As of press time, no further details have been disclosed about either the President or First Lady's physical condition.

Reports about Hicks' contraction of the virus mention a timeline of her exhibiting mild symptoms on Wednesday while traveling with Trump, followed by a reportedly positive test result Wednesday evening. Later on Thursday, after Trump had already traveled to a fundraiser at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, he described Hicks' test results. Hours later, he disclosed his own test result.

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Posted in coronavirus, COVID-19, President Trump, science, Trump | Comments (0)

This Congressperson Wants to Rev Up Covid Testing

October 1st, 2020
Mikie Sherrill’s new bill would tie federal reimbursement to testing result times—and reward labs for extra quick turnarounds.

Posted in coronavirus, science, Science / Health | Comments (0)

Man refused to disband party that violated COVID order, gets year in jail

September 29th, 2020
Picture of a jail cell in which a man's handcuffed hands are sticking out through the bars.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Caspar Benson)

A Maryland judge sentenced a man to one year in jail after finding him guilty of throwing two large parties in violation of a state pandemic order that banned large gatherings. Police were called to the man's home twice in one week, and he refused to disband the party on the second occasion, authorities said.

Shawn Marshall Myers, 42, was sentenced on Friday at the District Court of Maryland, said an announcement by the state's attorney for Charles County. Myers' legal troubles began on March 22 when "multiple officers responded to Myers' residence... for the report of a large party" violating Governor Larry Hogan's order in which "large gatherings were strictly prohibited," the state's attorney office said.

Myers allegedly hosted about 50 people at the party. "Upon arrival, officers told Myers that his party violated the current mandate. Myers was argumentative with officers but eventually agreed to disband his party," the state's attorney office said.

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Posted in coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, Policy | Comments (0)

Federal Executions During Covid-19 Put Innocent Lives at Risk

September 24th, 2020
The current wave of executions is increasing the likelihood that lawyers, observers, and correctional staff could be infected.

Posted in coronavirus, culture, Culture / Culture News | Comments (0)