"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 12th Nov 2020

Isolation Tips
5 ways to identify a child in need during virtual learning
Teachers have many jobs these days—educator, IT professional, custodian, and mentor, just to name a few. But arguably one of the biggest jobs for teachers in today’s distance learning environment is being able to provide a sufficient level of support for students’ social, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Children have been isolated from their peers and teachers, and many are in homes where there is trauma from COVID-19 or the economic crisis. Strong, supportive relationships not only help keep students engaged, but also provide a foundation for building a classroom community where all children, including a child in need of help, feel safe and secure. Safety and security are especially important for children who may be experiencing the effects of violence, abuse, or addiction in the home. While child abuse reports are down nationally by 40 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts fear that it has actually risen behind closed doors.
Many taxpayers could face surprise bill over remote work misconceptions, study finds
The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up much of Americans’ financial lives this year – and it could bring tax surprises next year for many workers who are not aware of the repercussions teleworking can have. More than half of taxpayers who have been working remotely throughout the pandemic are not aware of any tax-related consequences that could apply to them if they do not update their withholding to reflect their work location, according to a new study by The Harris Poll and the American Institute of CPA’s. Another 47% were not aware that each state had separate laws governing its remote work liabilities, while 71% did not know working out of their state of residence could impact taxes owed.
Social workers' efforts to protect children in lockdown have gone unnoticed
The news that the numbers of babies in England that have suffered serious injury or neglect during the pandemic has increased by a fifth compared with the same period last year and eight have died from their injuries has been met with understandable shock and public concern. It is perhaps all the more shocking because so little public attention has been given to child protection during the coronavirus lockdown and particularly to what is happening to babies and children who aren’t old enough to be at school. The same public invisibility applies to social work, the only profession consistently going into homes since the pandemic began to try to safeguard children and help families.
Hygiene Helpers
Covid-19 face masks with valves don’t work
Wearing a face mask helps stop the spread of coronavirus and keep others safe, unless it has a valve on it. New research has revealed how ineffective these types of masks are. High speed cameras have been used to capture the air flow from an uncovered mouth alongside two different kinds of face mask. As the video above shows, the type of mask with a valve on it still allows a jet of virus-containing air to escape.
Covid-19: Liverpool mass-trial sees 23,000 tested with 154 positive
More than 23,000 people have been tested for Covid-19 in Liverpool's mass trial with 154 testing positive. City mayor Joe Anderson said 23,170 people have been tested since midday on Friday with 0.7% testing positive. Those testing positive had no symptoms, testers said. All residents and workers in Liverpool have been offered tests. There are 18 test centres - including Liverpool's Anfield stadium - and Mr Anderson said there had been a "great response" from people. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had urged all the city's 500,000 residents to take part, saying "do it for your friends, for your relatives, for your community" in a bid to drive the disease down".
West Indies cricket squad stripped of training rights due to New Zealand COVID-19 protocol breach
The West Indies cricket squad has been stripped of the right to train while in managed isolation after players were found to have breached rules around their 14-day quarantine. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said CCTV footage from the team’s Christchurch hotel showed players mingling in hallways and sharing food in violation of managed isolation regulations. The ministry said all incidents occurred within the hotel and there was no danger to the public. The West Indies squad, which has completed 12 of its scheduled 14 days of isolation under COVID-19 regulations, will not be able to train again until its full managed isolation period has been completed. The isolation period might be extended if any further concerns arise, the ministry said. West Indies Cricket chief executive Johnny Grave told New Zealand media it is “hugely disappointing that players that knew the protocol completely broke that.”
Community Activities
A Hub In DC Public Housing Helps Kids With Distance Learning
An 11-year-old girl took a math test on decimals. A nine-year-old boy solved a word problem that directed him to calculate the attendance size of the Super Bowl. His seven-year-old sister doodled in a notebook during a break from her virtual second-grade class. The students are part of a learning hub inside the Greenleaf Gardens Apartments, a 493-unit public housing community in Southwest D.C. Worried that students were falling behind academically after the coronavirus pandemic forced most classes online for the city’s schoolchildren, residents at Greenleaf and other public housing developments approached the non-profit GOODProjects about creating the hub, said Darius Baxter, the organization’s founder.
Covid-19: Universities to oversee student exodus for Christmas
An evacuation-style plan will aim to get students home safely for Christmas. Students in England are to be allocated departure dates during a "student travel window" between 3 and 9 December, to minimise the risk of them spreading Covid-19. In Wales, they are being asked to travel by 9 December at the latest. Many will be offered rapid result tests, while teaching will move online from 3 December in Wales and 9 December in England. The Scottish government wants as many as possible of the 80,000 or so students going home for Christmas to be offered voluntary tests before they travel. Northern Ireland is expected to publish plans for students' return in the coming days. One union said the plan for a week-long travel window in England "leaves little room for error"
Covid: Lockdown 'exploited by extremists to recruit'
The second lockdown in England is making more young people vulnerable to being groomed by extremists, a senior counter-terror officer has warned. Supt Matthew Davison, from Counter Terrorism Policing, said extremists were using the pandemic to spread hate and disinformation online. He said young people were being targeted "in their bedrooms". At the same time referrals to the anti-extremism Prevent programme are falling. The government said it would "continue to challenge and disrupt extremists who sow division".
Working Remotely
Ways managers can provide feedback during remote working
The current situation has forced companies to make their employees work remotely from their homes. To maintain the essential rule of social distancing, employees from various regions and places are practising work from home. Communication has become very difficult to maintain and everyone is struggling to communicate their feelings and stance on the vast change in workplaces.
Staff who work from home after pandemic 'should pay more tax'
Economists at Deutsche Bank have proposed making staff pay a 5% tax for each day they choose to work remotely. They argue it would leave the average employee no worse off because of savings made by not commuting and not buying lunch on-the-go and fewer purchases of work clothing. Alternatively, the report suggests the tax could be paid by employers who do not provide their workforce with a permanent desk.
Meet the Travelers Who Are Taking Advantage of Long-term Remote Work Visas in Paradise
If you are a globetrotter bemoaning the long pause on international travel, try setting your sights on an area of the industry that is actually growing amid the pandemic: the remote work visa. A legion of new foreign visas for full-time workers, freelancers, and digital nomads have been introduced over the last few months, offering a sundry of options for those keen on changing their lifestyles and real-life Zoom backgrounds. Many of these palm-studded countries, like Bermuda, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Mauritius, and even the United Arab of Emirates, rely on tourism to sustain their economies, and they’ve realized they can attract long-term visitors who suddenly find themselves with the freedom to work remotely. Of course, visiting for months at a time lets you contribute to the economy without taking away local jobs for the ultimate win-win.
Remote work is 'here to stay' — even with a vaccine, says former IBM CEO
Former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said she believes pandemic-driven tech trends will continue after scientists find a Covid-19 vaccine. Her comments came on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that its coronavirus vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing infections. Investors are trying to gauge whether trends such as working from home will continue after a vaccine arrives.
Virtual Classrooms
Should all N.J. schools go virtual? Some teachers unions and experts say yes as cases continue to rise.
As New Jersey prepared to reopen its schools in August, East Brunswick Superintendent Victor Valeski sat alongside Gov. Phil Murphy at a press conference outlining the state’s plan to return students to the classroom safely. East Brunswick was held up as a model of a public school district that had its social distancing measures in place with a hybrid model to bring students into their classrooms a few days a week on a rotating basis.
Is the hybrid classroom here to stay?
As is the case every year, this autumn thousands of students set their sights and ambitions on a brand new academic year. However, unlike previous years this just so happened to be during a global pandemic. And while the typical social and extra-curricular activities that schools are renowned for had to be significantly reduced and in some cases canceled, lecturers and teaching faculty members assured nervous students, and their families, that their academic experience would remain uncompromised. Despite these uncertain and challenging times, many academics and university lecturers are choosing to view this as an exciting opportunity for never before seen large-scale digital transformation. While unusual, these circumstances present the perfect opportunity to create and revise existing content to ensure it is, not only engaging and challenging for students, but has long-term potential.
Curricular Counsel: Parental support crucial to maximize virtual learning
To ensure learning continued amid coronavirus-related school shutdowns that began in spring, districts built in a fair bit of flexibility around not just where learning could take place, but when. While there were some synchronous learning opportunities, "the bulk of the day was perhaps spent with students simply doing an activity, doing the assignment, and then turning it back in to their teachers," said Clay Hunter, interim associate superintendent of curriculum and instructional support for Georgia's Gwinnett County Public Schools.
Public Policies
US states resume lockdowns as COVID-19 hospitalisations skyrocket
Several US states on Tuesday imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus as people admitted to hospitals soared, straining the facilities and medical resources across much of the country. The number of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 in California has risen by 32 percent over the past two weeks and intensive-care admissions have spiked by 30 percent, Dr Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary told reporters.
What Joe Biden Has Said About a Nationwide Lockdown If U.S. COVID Cases Continue to Spiral
President-elect Joe Biden has said he will do "everything possible to get COVID-19 under control" in what he describes as "the worst wave yet in this pandemic," following his first coronavirus briefing this week. Biden expressed similar sentiments in August, saying he would do "whatever it takes to save lives," including a national lockdown, if COVID-19 infections surged in January, exacerbated by the flu season. "I would shut it [the country] down; I would listen to the scientists," Biden told ABC News anchor David Muir.
Italy Virus Cases Pass 1 Million With Second Lockdowns Under Way
Italy led the way in fighting the early wave of Europe’s pandemic back in March, imposing a strict three-month lockdown that halted the contagion but almost crippled its economy. Now, with cases topping 1 million, a second round of shutdowns has made Italians anxious about the economic impact and weary of the return to restrictions on daily life. The government’s wavering response hasn’t helped.
Japan's surge in COVID-19 cases reignites debate over tougher virus law
As flu season approaches and new cases of the novel coronavirus remain consistently high or surge again in several cities, fears of a twofold crisis have led many to call for laws to be revised to distribute power concentrated in the central government and appease municipal leaders demanding teeth in the fight against COVID-19. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga maintains that legal revision is an arduous political process that should be shelved until after the coronavirus is contained. But experts say doing so is an immediate necessity, one that could be achieved within months if not for complacency and bipartisan politics. “It’s better to have a tool and not use it, than to not have it and suffer the consequences,” said Shuya Nomura, a professor at the Chuo University Graduate School of Law. “It’s true that the country has avoided heavy casualties without imposing citywide lockdowns or strict measures, but we don’t know why we got lucky or if those methods will continue to work.”
Anti-lockdown MPs add to pressure on Boris Johnson
The Treasury’s top civil servant has agreed to consider releasing part of the advice by officials on the economics of England’s second lockdown, as the government’s preferred measure of deaths across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic rose above 50,000. While Tom Scholar, the Treasury’s permanent secretary, and Clare Lombardelli, its chief economist, denied there was “a separate forecast” of the impact of the second lockdown, as suggested in the minutes of the government’s scientific advice, they agreed on Wednesday to consult on whether the Treasury could release a selection of “ongoing” policy advice to ministers. The commitment came amid testy exchanges at the Treasury committee in the House of Commons in which MPs sought with difficulty to get Treasury officials to outline the thinking on the costs and benefits of the second lockdown.
Ukraine approves lockdown restrictions at weekends to fight COVID spread
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's cabinet voted on Wednesday to impose a national lockdown at weekends to strengthen steps to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said the weekend lockdown would be in force from Nov. 14-30. The decision will mean closing or restricting the activity of most businesses at weekends with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals and transport. The cabinet also stepped up restrictions on operations of restaurants, cinemas, gyms, and public events.
Hungary's COVID-19 deaths near record on eve of partial lockdown
Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government a special 90-day mandate to rule by decree in an effort to curb a spiking coronavirus pandemic, and they approved new restrictions amounting to a partial lockdown. Hungary’s government reported 103 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, making it the third hardest hit country in Europe in terms of deaths per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, behind the Czech Republic and Belgium, European Union data showed. Orban, signalling a shift away from his policy of avoiding tough restrictions in order to protect the economy, announced a limited lockdown from 12:01 a.m. (2301 GMT) on Wednesday to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed.
Lebanon orders full lockdown to combat COVID-19, boost hospital beds
Lebanon ordered a full lockdown for around two weeks to stem a rise in COVID-19 infections and allow a badly strained health sector to bolster capacity as the country buckled under a financial meltdown.
Putting pressure on Johnson, UK Conservatives set up COVID group
Conservative lawmakers have set up a new group to fight what they call a cycle of lockdowns to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, yet another sign of discontent in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s governing party. While most Conservatives backed the government last week in supporting a second lockdown in England to try to bring down rising cases of COVID-19, more than 30 of the party’s lawmakers broke ranks, seeing the measures as draconian. The new internal group, called the Covid Recovery Group, is the latest to be formed by Conservative lawmakers, part of wider efforts to apply pressure on a government which many feel is not listening to the party’s concerns.
Europe to pay less than U.S. for Pfizer vaccine under initial deal - source
The European Union has struck a deal to initially pay less for Pfizer's PFE.N COVID-19 vaccine candidate than the United States, an EU official told Reuters as the bloc announced on Wednesday it had secured an agreement for up to 300 million doses. The experimental drug, developed in conjunction with Germany's BioNTech 22UAy.DE, is the frontrunner in a global race to produce a vaccine, with interim data released on Monday showing it was more than 90% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 in a large-scale clinical trial.. Under the EU deal, 27 European countries could buy 200 million doses, and have an option to purchase another 100 million. The bloc will pay less than $19.50 per shot, a senior EU official involved in talks with vaccine makers told Reuters, adding that partly reflected the financial support given by the EU and Germany for the drug’s development.
Merkel warns of winter long haul as German COVID deaths soar
Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against reading too much into a moderate drop in new coronavirus infections almost two weeks into an emergency lockdown in Germany, which reported the biggest rise in COVID deaths on Wednesday since April. Europe’s biggest economy, in a partial lockdown since Nov. 2 designed to tame a second wave of the coronavirus, recorded 18,487 new infections and 261 deaths in a day, the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases said. “As it was the case with the Spanish flu, we now also have to expect that the second wave will be more severe,” Merkel said during a video conference with the government’s council of economic advisers. The government says the emergency month-long lockdown that includes the closure of restaurants, gyms and theatres was necessary to reverse a spike in coronavirus cases that risks overwhelming hospitals.
Bill de Blasio says lockdown restrictions are 'on table' as the NYC infection rate jumps to 2.34%
Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his daily coronavirus press briefing earlier today that the city will ‘have to do something quickly’ to prevent a second wave. He said the city's latest figures are 'very worrisome' and a 'warning sign if I've ever seen one' during his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday. On Monday, NYC’s daily positive test rate for the coronavirus was 2.88 percent – the highest single-day figure since at least early August. De Blasio added that the city’s seven-day rolling average of new cases has now hit 2.34 percent, with NYC recording an average of 795 new cases of per-day
Maintaining Services
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine needs to be thawed from -94F and has to be used within five days: State officials scramble to carry out 'very complex' plans and overcome logistical ...
State health officials in the US are concerned the 'very complex' race to prepare for effective vaccine distribution could be thwarted by logistical challenges. While distribution is being handled on a federal level, state and local healthcare providers are responsible for storing and administering vaccines once delivered. Officials say they've had just weeks to prepare large-scale efforts after recently learning of specific storage requirements for vaccines. Pfizer's vaccine poses the biggest logistical issues so far given doses must be stored at -94F. Other vaccines currently being developed do not need to be stored as such a low temperature The US government plans to start vaccinating Americans next month if Pfizer has its COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA
Deep-Freeze Hurdle Makes Pfizer’s Vaccine One for the Rich
When Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine rolls off production lines, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. will be waiting to distribute it through a complex and costly system of deep-freeze airport warehouses, refrigerated vehicles and inoculation points across China. After they reach vaccination centers, the shots must be thawed from -70 degrees celsius and injected within five days, if not they go bad. Then the herculean journey from warehouse freezer to rolled-up sleeve must be undertaken all over again -- to deliver the second booster shot a month later. The roadmap sketched out by the company, which has licensed the vaccine for Greater China, offers a glimpse into the enormous and daunting logistical challenges faced by those looking to deliver Pfizer’s experimental vaccine after it showed “extraordinary” early results from final stage trials, raising hopes of a potential end to the nearly year-long pandemic.
What you need to know about BioNTech — the European company behind Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine
Pfizer says its coronavirus vaccine — developed in partnership with BioNTech — was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection. The news was hailed as a significant milestone in the race to deliver a vaccine that can help bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic. There are still huge challenges ahead for the development of a vaccine, but as hopes rise worldwide, CNBC takes a look at BioNTech’s history.
Record Covid-19 Hospitalizations Strain System Again
Hospitals across the nation face an even bigger capacity problem from the resurgent spread of Covid-19 than they did during the virus’s earlier surges this year, pandemic preparedness experts said, as the number of U.S. hospitalizations hit a new high Wednesday. The number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients reached 65,368, according to the Covid Tracking Project, passing the record set Tuesday for the highest number of hospitalizations since April. A spring surge in the Northeast pushed hospitalizations near 60,000. Hospitalizations hit a nearly identical peak again in late July, as the pandemic’s grip spread across the South and West. Epidemiologists said the record is likely to be swiftly replaced by another as Covid-19 cases soar nationally. “We already know this is going to go far north,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Spain hopes to receive first Pfizer vaccines in early 2021 - minister
Spain stands to receive its first vaccines against COVID-19 developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech in early 2021, the health minister said on Tuesday, under a deal being negotiated by the European Union. The EU hopes to sign a contract soon for millions of doses of the vaccine, the European Commission announced on Monday, hours after the two companies said it had proved more than 90% effective, in what could be a major victory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Spain would initially get 20 million vaccine doses, enough to immunize 10 million people, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on state broadcaster TVE, adding that the vaccination would be free.
India’s Covid-19 Cases Have Plummeted. Many Fear a New Wave.
Two months ago, India looked like a coronavirus disaster zone. Reported infections neared 100,000 a day, deaths were shooting up, and India seemed ready to surpass the United States in total recorded cases. Today, India’s situation looks much different. Reported infections, deaths and the share of people testing positive have all fallen significantly. By contrast, infections in Europe and the United States are surging.
Road to recovery for rural India post-pandemic; how skilled migrant workers can boost hinterland’s growth
As a measure to contain the virus, India declared a lockdown on 24 March 2020 for 1.3 billion people with the prime minister calling for joint action by people, not-for-profits, corporates, and governments. The complete lockdown in the country significantly impacted the quality of life and livelihoods of people. Considering that there has been a historical divide between rural and urban India with regard to the essential infrastructure for Health, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), supply chains, and other important services, the impact of COVID-19 was far more alarming for the rural community.
Melbourne counts economic cost of coronavirus lockdown, offering harsh lesson to other cities
The lockdown cost US$71 million a day and resulted in a daily average of 1,200 jobs being lost across the state in August and September. Business leaders say it may take years for Melbourne – which was last year ranked as the world’s second-most liveable city – to recover.
Healthcare Innovations
Study of nearly 2,000 Marine recruits reveals asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 transmission
A study of nearly 2,000 Marine recruits who went through supervised quarantine before starting basic training revealed several instances of asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, despite the quarantine measures. The findings have important implications for the effectiveness of public health measures to suppress transmission of COVID-19 among young adults, whether in military training, schools, or other aspects of the pandemic. The researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Naval Medical Research Center studied new Marine recruits while they were in a two-week supervised quarantine. The study results, publishing November 11 in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that few infected recruits had symptoms before diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, that transmission occurred despite implementing many best-practice public health measures, and that diagnoses were made only by scheduled tests, not by tests performed in response to symptoms.
People with one of eight genes found on seven chromosomes are at a much higher risk of dying from Covid-19, study shows
Scientists have identified eight genes that have a major influence on a person's likelihood of survival if they become infected with the coronavirus. Faulty versions of these genes, known as super-variants, were discovered scattered across seven chromosomes by researchers at Harvard University. Having just one of these faulty genes can slash the chance of survival by at least 20 per cent. Data from the UK Biobank, released in August, allowed researchers to scrutinise the genetics of 1,778 people who contracted Covid-19. Of these, 445 people died, equating to just over a quarter of the study cohort. A computer scanned through the genomes of the infected people and looked for genetic locations which crop up that may be linked to mortality. But having three or more can see survival likelihood plummet to as low as 60 per cent.
This $1 made-in-Africa Covid-19 test kit could revolutionize testing on the continent
For the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak began, Africa may be poised to reshape rapid testing for the virus on the continent. The Pasteur Institute, a biomedical research center based in Senegal's capital city of Dakar, says it is close to producing an affordable, handheld Covid-19 diagnostic test kit that can give results in a matter of minutes. The institute is running a new venture called DiaTropix, which has been working in partnership with five research organizations since March, including Mologic in the UK, to create the test kit. Amadou Sall, director of the Pasteur Institute and DiaTropix, told CNN that the biomedical center hopes the kit will cost as little as $1 to purchase. "This is a very simple technology, like a pregnancy test that you can use everywhere at the community level, which is important for Africa," he said. According to Mologic, this rapid test kit does not require electricity or need laboratory analysis
Uzbekistan to carry out late-stage trial of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine candidate
Uzbekistan will carry out a phase III trial of a coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co., the Central Asian nation’s ministry of innovative development told Reuters on Wednesday. The deal makes the Zhifei Longcom vaccine the fifth COVID-19 candidate in China to enter late-stage, large scale human tests overseas. “The third phase of the pilot process will be conducted in Uzbekistan for 5,000 volunteers and the process will continue for a year,” the ministry said, adding that volunteers were aged between 18 and 59 and would undergo eight medical examinations within a year.
Moderna Vaccine Trial Reaches Key Goal to Gauge Shot’s Merit
Now it’s Moderna Inc.’s time to be in the spotlight. The same U.S. explosion of Covid-19 cases that helped Pfizer Inc. get results for its vaccine trial earlier this week is helping speed along Moderna’s trial. Moderna said Wednesday its study has accumulated more than 53 infections, allowing a preliminary analysis of the shot’s effectiveness to begin. The shares jumped. Moderna didn’t predict how long it could take an independent monitoring committee to analyze the data, but said the company could get the data to the committee within days. The company said it is still blinded to the data.