And We Moved It Online! – EOH 08/21

Despite having the entire summer to prepare, our education systems at all levels are not dealing well with COVID-19. From violating a student’s privacy to threatening to take people’s children away if they forgot to login to Zoom to go to class, educational authorities have been handling the second round of online schooling ineffectively.Considering their poor performance the first outbreak earlier this year , a second poor performance is unsurprising. 

What is more troubling are the examples of government overreach. Assigning every child a government minder? The parents definitely know what is best for their children’s education versus the government If the spring was a tragedy, this upcoming school year is a farce. 

COVID News

The primary focus for today is how universities and other educational facilities are handling COVID-19. 

Remote Learning Is a Bad Joke

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/08/kindergartener-virtual-education/615316/

“When I imagine the worst-case scenario for Raffi and the fall, I see the kind of operatic tantrum that leaves the apartment trashed and everyone’s nerves shot, like what happened daily in the spring. When I imagine the best-case scenario, I see a kid who has fought and lost, who’s gritting his teeth through a required task because we’ve promised him fruit snacks—hardly horrifying, but definitely sad.  Even our worst-case scenario is a privileged one; a trashed apartment and frayed nerves are nothing in comparison with what other parents are about to undergo. My husband and I can work at home, and we can afford some assistance with child care. The huge number of parents who must work outside the home, parents who can’t afford any child care, and parents who don’t feel comfortable managing a sitter’s viral risk alongside their own are in a far worse situation. But no one’s situation is good. Kids like Raffi—who seem predisposed against online learning—are going to turn the fall into a battle. While I won’t go so far as to preemptively throw in the towel, I’m not sure how long or how hard I’m prepared to fight.”

Notre Dame, Michigan State Shifting Online as Campus Outbreaks Grow

“A week into the fall semester, the University of Notre Dame announced on Tuesday that it would move to online instruction for at least the next two weeks in an attempt to control a growing coronavirus outbreak, and could move to shut down campus entirely. “If these steps are not successful, we will have to send students home, as we did last spring,” Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, said in a video address to students, noting that he had been inclined to take that step before consulting with local health officials. The announcement came as universities across the country are struggling to control fast-growing outbreaks among returning students. On Monday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill moved all of its undergraduate classes online, also a week into the fall semester. And Michigan State on Tuesday shifted its reopening plans, telling students not to return for the start of classes in two weeks. At Notre Dame’s campus near South Bend, Ind., 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students were tested before they could return to campus on Aug. 3 to start classes a week later. The few dozen who tested positive were told to stay home. Yet by Tuesday, the school reported that at least 147 people had tested positive for the virus over the last two weeks.”

Editorial: We all saw this coming

https://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2020/08/covid-clusters-edit-0816

“We’re only a week into the semester and four COVID-19 clusters have already surfaced on and around campus. Two COVID-19 clusters — one at Granville Towers and one at Ehringhaus Residence Hall — were reported Friday. On Saturday, UNC confirmed reports of a third cluster at the Sigma Nu fraternity house, and a fourth, at Hinton James Residence Hall, was reported Sunday. In the messages, UNC clarified that a “cluster” is five or more cases deemed “close proximity in location,” as defined by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. We all saw this coming. In his fall semester welcome message, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz wrote, “As always, remember that it is our shared responsibility to keep each other safe. Every person you walk by on campus will be counting on you to diligently work to prevent the spread of the virus.” But University leadership should have expected students, many of whom are now living on their own for the first time, to be reckless. Reports of parties throughout the weekend come as no surprise. Though these students are not faultless, it was the University’s responsibility to disincentivize such gatherings by reconsidering its plans to operate in-person earlier on.”

Stanford Reverses Plans and Decides to Deliver All Instruction Remotely

“A dramatic reversal in Stanford University’s reopening. Stanford University reported yesterday that it altered its plans announced in June for graduate education during the autumn quarter and that it won’t be bringing students back for on-campus learning, due to the increased spread of COVID-19. (There have now been nearly 600,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 10,000 deaths in California, and much of the state, including the whole Bay Area.) “We are planning for almost all undergraduate instruction to be delivered remotely during the autumn quarter, with very limited in-person offerings,” explained Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President of Stanford, in a letter to the institution community. “We will continue to offer on-campus housing for those undergraduates who were previously approved to be in residence due to a special circumstance and who continue to wish to be on campus, despite the plan for mostly remote instruction,” he added.”

‘Frats Are Being Frats’: Greek Life Is Stoking the Virus on Some Campuses

Did universities really think that students would not party?

“The big bouquets of roses. The towering signs spelling out the letters of each house in Greek. And the hundreds of rushees clutching their acceptance envelopes as they run through campus together. Bid day at the University of Alabama, when sororities decide which pledges will join their sisterhoods, is cause for celebration. But this past weekend, women at the school, which has one of the biggest Greek systems in the country with 11,000 members, were warned not to party following their invitations to join any of two dozen sororities because of the potential spread of the coronavirus. That did not stop all of them. The bars and sidewalks along the Strip were crowded on Sunday as sorority members and other students reveled in their return-to-school rituals, sparking criticism from public officials, the fury of university officials and worries from other Tuscaloosans. The concerns over Greek life come amid reports of virus outbreaks at fraternities and sororities across the country. Universities are struggling with how to prevent tightly packed sorority and fraternity houses from turning into coronavirus clusters. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, officials abruptly called off in-person classes on Monday after identifying four clusters in student housing facilities, including one at the Sigma Nu fraternity.

Georgia college students throw massive party ahead of school year starting, ignoring COVID-19 guidelines

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/university-of-north-georgia-college-students-party-coronavirus-pandemic/

“A now-viral video posted on social media shows a massive gathering of University of North Georgia (UNG) students at a party on Saturday night. Partygoers flooded the lawns of off-campus houses in Dahlonega, Georgia, two days before the school year officially began. It is unclear who originally posted the video, in which dozens of students flouted guidelines against large social gatherings and few, if any, were wearing face masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19.In a statement to CBS News, UNG’s executive director of communications, Sylvia Carson, confirmed that a large outdoor party was held at a privately-owned, off-campus apartment complex near the school’s Dahlonega campus Saturday night.”

Your child’s a no-show at virtual school? You may get a call from the state’s foster care agency

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/08/15/metro/your-childs-no-show-virtual-school-you-may-get-call-states-foster-care-agency/

“Massachusetts school officials have reported dozens of families to state social workers for possible neglect charges because of issues related to their children’s participation in remote learning classes during the pandemic shutdown in the spring, according to interviews with parents, advocates, and reviews of documents. In most cases, lawyers and family advocates said, the referrals were made solely because students failed to log into class repeatedly. Most of the parents reported were mothers, and several did not have any previous involvement with social services. The trend was most common in high-poverty, predominantly Black and Latino school districts in Worcester, Springfield, Haverhill, and Lynn; advocates and lawyers reported few, if any, cases from wealthier communities. Among those parents is Em Quiles, who struggled to work her full-time job while overseeing her young son’s schooling. During remote class time, her 7-year-old was largely supervised by his teenage brother, who had his own school work to do. Academy in Worcester in the spring that her work schedule made it tough to assist with virtual schooling and she struggled to navigate the school’s online platforms. “They didn’t offer any help,” she said. Then in June, Quiles was stunned to receive a call from the state’s Department of Children and Families. The school had accused Quiles of neglect, she was told, because the 7-year-old missed class and homework assignments.”

Fearing coronavirus, a Michigan college tracks its students with a flawed app

“But less than two weeks before students began arriving on campus, the school announced it would require them to download and install a contact-tracing app called Aura, which it says will help it tackle any coronavirus outbreak on campus. There’s a catch. The app is designed to track students’ real-time locations around the clock, and there is no way to opt out. The Aura app lets the school know when a student tests positive for COVID-19. It also comes with a contact-tracing feature that alerts students when they have come into close proximity with a person who tested positive for the virus. But the feature requires constant access to the student’s real-time location, which the college says is necessary to track the spread of any exposure. The school’s mandatory use of the app sparked privacy concerns and prompted parents to launch a petition to make using the app optional. Worse, the app had at least two security vulnerabilities only discovered after the app was rolled out. One of the vulnerabilities allowed access to the app’s back-end servers. The other allowed us to infer a student’s COVID-19 test results.”

Tennessee Officials Wanted To Make Monthly ‘Well-Being’ Inspections of Every Child in the State

“A week ago, Tennessee’s Department of Education announced it was going to start conducting monthly “child well-being” assessments of every single kid under age 18 in the state. These could be by phone, email, or a knock on the door. On home visits, the so-called “well-being liaison” would be allowed to interview the children privately. Did the state set any standards for what sort of person would be given kind of access and responsibility? Well, the liaisons had to be at least 20 years old, and they had to pass a background check. That’s it. The parental uproar that ensued, I’m happy to report, was immediate and deafening. By Friday, just three days after the initiative was announced, it had been withdrawn by Gov. Bill Lee (R) and the state’s education commissioner, Dr. Penny Schwinn. “Although well-intentioned, we have missed the mark on communication and providing clarity around our role in supporting at-risk students during an unprecedented time,” Schwinn wrote in a letter to the state’s General Assembly. “Governor Lee has asked our department to remove this guidance and go back to the drawing board so we get it right. I want to assure you that we recognize the concerns that you and your constituents share.””

Research

Progress report on the coronavirus pandemic

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02414-1?utm_source=twt_nnc&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=naturenews

“In the space of eight months, the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have dominated the work of thousands of researchers in an unprecedented global effort. In a series of editorials, we look back at key scientific findings that have revealed important characteristics of the virus and COVID-19, including emerging approaches to treatment and prevention. We begin, this week, with how the virus was identified; the molecular details of its mechanism of infection; how it transmits between people; and the many ways in which it affects the human body.”

Hydroxychloroquine Safety Outcome within Approved Therapeutic Protocol for COVID-19 Outpatients in Saudi Arabia

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.08.16.20175752v1

“Healthcare systems globally have been challenged following the COVID-19 pandemic, since late 2019. Multiple approaches and strategies have been performed to relieve the pressure and support existing healthcare systems. The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) launched an initiative to support the National Healthcare System. Since the 5th of June 2020, 238 outpatient fever clinics were established across Saudi Arabia. Methods: A cross-sectional study included 2,733 eligible patients subjected to MOH treatment protocol (hydroxychloroquine and zinc) and revisited the clinics within 3-7 days after treatment initiation. This study aimed to assess the safety outcome and reported adverse events from hydroxychloroquine use among suspected COVID-19 patients. The data was collected through an electronic link and cross-checked with that of the national database (Health Electronic Surveillance Network, HESN) and reports from the MOH Morbidity and Mortality (M&M) Committee. Results: Majority of the cases were males (70.4%). Upon reassessing the studied participants within 3-7 days, 240 patients (8.8%) discontinued the treatment protocol because of the development of side effects (4.1%) and for non-clinical reasons in the remaining (4.7%). Medication side effects overall were reported among (6.7%) of all studied participants, including mainly cardiovascular adverse events (2.5%), followed by gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (2.4%). No Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission or death were reported among these patients. Conclusion: In our study, results show that the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients in mild to moderate cases in an outpatient setting, within the protocol recommendation and inclusion/exclusion criteria, is safe, highly tolerable, and with minimum side effects.”

What’s Driving Excess Deaths for 25 to 44 Year Olds?

“Weekly USA death counts by age from the CDC as shown in figure 1 show some interesting trends: CDC COVID-19 Excess Death Dashboard. For age groups under 25, an excess death trend is not seen. The death rate profile for 25-44 year old age range shows a significant flat bump that does not correlate with overall COVID-19 death trends.  For age groups over 45, the excess deaths clearly match the COVID-19 death curves.For reference, in figure 2 we present the overall trend of reported and fit of actual COVID-19 related death dates for the USA utilizing our methodology described here: Reported versus Actual Date of Death. You can see the date of death curve matches the excess death trends for 45+ age brackets from figure 1.”

Charts and Graphics

Google Mobility: Social Interaction Score (UK vs Sweden)

A comparison of mobility rates between the United Kingdom and Sweden. Through mobility data, it is possible to see behavior  differences between the United Kingdom’s lockdown and Sweden. 

Argentina Normalized Weekly Cases and Deaths YTD 2020-08-16

Argentina compared to the United States and Western Europe has a growing number of cases and fatalities..

AZ – Patients with COVID-like Illness vs Patients Coded with COVID-19 Overlaid with Detected Cases and 7-Day Death Avg

A recent update on the  AZDHS dashboard makes it easier to track patients who are coded as with COVID-19 and those who don’t..

An Additional 7.2 Million People Aged 16 and Over Report Experiencing a Mental Health Problem, which is “Much More Than Usual”

One of the results of the lockdown is a large increase in mental health issues as routines are disrupted and people are unable to interact with each other. This has caused an increase in mental health problems, particularly for the young.   

Daily Confirmed COVID-19 Deaths Per Million, Rolling 7-Day Average

Despite the new lockdowns in Australia, the number of new dailyCOVID-19 cases in Australia is rising This could be a sign of a seasonal dynamic. As Ivor Cummins explains, most coronaviruses  spread more in the winter.. 

International News

‘It just feels surreal’: Military posted at checkpoints as Australian state extends COVID-19 lockdown

https://t.co/nnUjPzCXP2?amp=1

“They are living under some of the most draconian lockdown restrictions in the world. A spike in coronavirus cases led authorities in the Australian state of Victoria to declare a state of disaster on Aug. 2, allowing police checkpoints to be put in place and establishing hefty fines for residents and businesses caught breaching the regulations. And any hope people had of returning to something like normality has been abandoned: On Sunday, lockdown measures were extended for four more weeks. “I actually have my travel letters on the front seat in my car, and I have my hospital identification on me, because I’m afraid I’m going to get stopped,” said Dr. Carmen Brown, 47, adding that similar measures should be introduced in the United States to combat the virus. Brown, an obstetrician from Atlanta who moved to Victoria’s state capital, Melbourne, in 2016, said she has to drive out of the city to the rural hospital where she practices, so she is routinely stopped. “Even more frightening,” she said, was the fact that military personnel were monitoring some of the larger checkpoints. “It just feels surreal. It doesn’t feel like this is normal life at all,” she said.”

Coronavirus outlier Sweden chooses its own path on face masks

https://www.ft.com/content/3148de6c-3b33-42d3-8cf6-d0e4263cea82

“Sweden does not mind standing out from the crowd on coronavirus, and the latest sign is on its refusal to introduce face masks. The Scandinavian country, renowned for its lighter-touch approach to Covid-19 regulations, is one of the few European countries not to recommend using face masks after neighbouring Norway, Denmark and Finland all changed their positions in the past week. “It is very dangerous to believe face masks would change the game when it comes to Covid-19,” Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s state epidemiologist, told the Financial Times. Mr Tegnell has been branded stubborn by some for again refusing to follow most of the continent. But infectious disease specialists say there are reasons why Sweden has so far resisted their use for the general population. Jonas Ludvigsson, professor of clinical epidemiology at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said one was the way the country was governed. In Sweden, independent bodies such as Mr Tegnell’s public health agency played a “very strong role” and elected officials listened to them, he said. “In Denmark and Norway, politicians have a stronger role. Politicians in this era of crisis want to look strong and don’t always take decisions that are evidence-based,” he added.”

BBC: Sweden’s Economy Is Doing Way Better Than the Rest of the EU During the COVID-19 Pandemic

https://fee.org/articles/bbc-sweden-s-economy-is-doing-way-better-than-the-rest-of-the-eu-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

“In July, The New York Times claimed that Sweden had made a grave mistake by not imposing a government lockdown as other nations did. “[Sweden’s] decision to carry on in the face of the pandemic has yielded a surge of deaths without sparing its economy from damage — a red flag as the United States and Britain move to lift lockdowns,” the Grey Lady reported. Similar claims were made by numerous other media outlets, including Politico and Financial Times, which stated Sweden was “unlikely to feel economic benefit” of its no-lockdown approach. The drumbeat from the press presented a clear message: Sweden would suffer the same economic turmoil as everyone else despite its dangerous laissez-faire approach to COVID-19. Preliminary data for the EU’s second quarter are telling a different story, the BBC recently observed. While Europe plunged into a deep recession, Sweden did not.”

No new symptomatic COVID cases, 300 asymptomatic, after Wuhan-wide tests

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-wuhan/no-new-covid-sufferers-300-asymptomatic-after-wuhan-wide-tests-idUSKBN23915R

“The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus outbreak began, has found no new cases of people suffering from COVID-19 after testing almost its entire population, and 300 asymptomatic carriers of the virus, officials said on Tuesday. Authorities launched the vast testing campaign on May 14, and reached 9.9 million out of 11 million people, after a cluster of new cases raised fears of a second wave of infections. China does not count people who are infected with the virus but do not show symptoms of the disease as confirmed cases.”

Other Section

One of the members of our community, @Hold2LLC, after dealing with online threats, decided to show what “build and share” really means. Hold suggests donating money to Trak Tucson, a therapeutic animal ranch in Tucson.