"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 25th Nov 2020

Isolation Tips
Making headlines: COVID-19 and gender inequality
We have repeatedly heard about how COVID-19 disproportionately affects women. While men are more likely to die from the virus, in many other respects, women are bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s impact. The effects on women have been multiple: violence against women has increased, with incidents of domestic violence soaring. School closures, overburdened healthcare systems and social distancing measures have significantly increased many women’s unpaid care and domestic loads at home, which, in turn, has made them less able to balance these responsibilities with paid work.
Child protection referrals surge after first lockdown as councils report rise in mental health issues
Child protection referrals have surged in the months following the UK’s first lockdown as local councils report an increase in demand for mental health and family services, The Independent can reveal. New data shows more than 630 vulnerable young people a day were being referred to councils’ children’s services in July, August and September – marking an increase of 15 per cent – or 7,518 referrals – compared to the three previous months when schools and services.
Covid-19: England arrivals to be able to cut quarantine with private test
People arriving in England from abroad will be soon able to reduce their quarantine by more than half if they pay for a Covid test after five days, the transport secretary has announced. The rules will come into force from 15 December and the tests from private firms will cost between £65 and £120. Grant Shapps said the scheme would "bolster international travel while keeping the public safe". The travel industry welcomed the policy but described it as "long overdue". It follows Boris Johnson's announcement that England will come under "toughened" three-tiered regional restrictions when the lockdown ends on 2 December.
Hygiene Helpers
Hundreds in NYC line up to get tested for COVID-19 ahead of Thanksgiving
Hundreds lined up outside COVID testing facilities Tuesday morning before they even opened their doors. In Brooklyn, dozens flocked to CityMD facilities in the early hours with long lines snaking through Flatbush, Williamsburg and Bushwick. Wealthy New Yorkers are avoiding the wait by paying line-waiters $80 an hour to line up on their behalf. Gov. Cuomo warned New Yorkers in a press conference Tuesday not to be fooled by one negative test result. Americans across the country are clamoring to get COVID tests as they ignore the pleas of public health experts to cancel Thanksgiving travel plans
UK health minister says test and trace can't control COVID-19 alone
British health minister Matt Hancock said that ‘test and trace’ can not control coronavirus in the way that an effective system of mass testing can, as he defended the performance of the heavily criticised contact-tracing system. The test and trace system was inefficient and slow, Reuters found after speaking to tracers and analysing the data, making it inadequate to avoid a second wave and a new English national lockdown which started on Nov 5. “The test and trace programme, ahead of the second lockdown, was functioning to reduce transmission enormously,” Hancock told lawmakers. “By the time of the second lockdown, it had already broken the chains of transmission hundreds of thousands of times.”
Pets at Home says pets have been 'a lifesaver' during lockdown
Animals have been "a lifesaver" for people struggling during Covid lockdown, according to retailer Pets at Home which has seen sales rise sharply. Chief executive Peter Pritchard said pets had played "an incredibly important role" through a period of "social loneliness". He added that during the early days of lockdown one of the few reasons people could go out "was to walk your dog". In the six months to 8 October, Pets at Home saw revenues rise by 5.1%.
Special Report: 50,000 COVID-19 deaths and rising. How Britain failed to stop the second wave
Faced with one of the highest death tolls from the first wave of the coronavirus, Boris Johnson pledged a “world-beating” test-and-trace system to prevent a resurgence this winter. A Reuters investigation reveals how that promise came unstuck.
Community Activities
Coronavirus vaccines face trust gap in Black and Latino communities, study finds
In the US, if offered a coronavirus vaccine free of charge, fewer than half of Black people and 66 percent of Latino people said they would definitely or probably take it, according to a survey-based study that underscores the challenge of getting vaccines to communities hit hard by the pandemic. The survey released Monday is one of the largest and most rigorous to date. Other recent studies have also pointed to vaccine hesitancy in communities of color, but Monday’s survey delved deeper into the reasons, polling respondents on a spectrum of questions to get at the roots of their distrust.
Crowds of up to 4,000 and grassroots sport to return after English lockdown
Crowds of up to 4,000 people will be allowed to return to sporting events in England from next week, and grassroots sport will also resume as part of an easing of coronavirus restrictions announced by the prime minister. The changes were greeted with widespread relief after weeks of concerted pressure from sporting bodies and the public, who had both argued the importance of being able to participate in sport during the pandemic and also of the ability to watch it safely. England is to return to a system of tiered restrictions from 2 December but gyms, pools, golf courses and leisure facilities will now be allowed to open in all tiers after the government accepted their positive impact on physical and mental health
Misinformation and fear could be coronavirus vaccine’s biggest problem
These are just some of the things Londoners said to me when I asked them if they’d take a Covid vaccine. Perhaps they’ve joined the small but vocal minority claiming that the vaccine is a plot to insert surveillance microchips into the population, or maybe, like many thousands more, they simply worry the development of the jab has been rushed. We will probably never know, but while it’s easy to dismiss as ridiculous some of the more extreme anti-vaccine sentiment out there — like anyone repeating the rumour spread by Russian bots that the vaccine will turn us into chimpanzees — the number of “vaccine hesitant” people is growing. Most of them are not cranks, just cautious — and, in a climate of fear and confusion, their trust in what they read in the papers or hear in government briefings is diminishing.
In race for coronavirus vaccine, Russia turns to disinformation
When two COVID-19 vaccines were announced within a week of each other, everyone cheered that the end to the global pandemic was now in sight. Everyone, that is, except Russia. Since the summer, Moscow has conducted a global disinformation campaign aimed at both undermining vaccines produced in the West and promoting its own rival product, particularly to countries across the developing world, according to interviews with four national and European Union disinformation experts and a review of Kremlin-backed media outlets by POLITICO.
Working Remotely
Ways to foster a company culture of respect, inclusion and trust in a remote work environment
The work environment has drastically changed over recent months. For many companies, it has been very difficult to hold onto the culture it once proudly boasted about. We all know of companies that spent a significant amount of time fostering a culture with a work hard, play hard attitude. Those that held ping pong tournaments, happy hours, pizza parties and lunch and learns, are struggling right now, too. Chance meetings at the watercooler, catching up with a colleague over lunch and even office celebrations of company wins have all but disappeared. Even if this is not how you would describe your office culture, have you taken the time to consider what is important to your employees in today’s challenging work environment?
Iceland's New Remote-Work Visa Program Is Only for People Who Make More Than $88,000 a Year
A couple weeks ago, Work In Iceland — a collaborative effort between The Federation of Icelandic Industries and the Iceland Ministry of Industries and Innovation — announced some big-time visa changes for remote workers. Under a newly signed amendment, foreign nationals (people from eligible nations outside the European Schengen Area, including the United States) would be eligible for a long-term visa that allows them and their families to stay in Iceland for up to six months. All that interested individuals would need to do is demonstrate an employment relationship with a foreign company, or verify self-employment in the country where they have a permanent residence.
Remote Work: The Biggest Legacy Of Covid-19
The biggest impact of Covid-19 may be remote work. Pre-pandemic, roughly five percent of full-time employees with office jobs worked primarily from home. That figure is likely to settle at 20-30 percent in the new normal, with variation across occupations and industries. Location will become less important in hiring. More white-collar workers will live farther from city centers, in different parts of the U.S. and even outside the country, accelerating and changing geographic trends.
Remote work can make you more creative
Many of the online HR conference sessions I’ve joined recently have been dominated by discussions around finding ways to make our remote workforce more productive and efficient. Yet while productivity matters, creativity often gets left out of that conversation. If creativity is discussed at all, it’s often seen as something that we’ve lost with the move to remote work because of the assumption that creativity is the output of in-person brainstorming sessions, with creativity being measured by the number of Post-its on meeting room walls.
Nearly 7 in 10 Remote Workers Work Weekends
The idea of working from home in pajamas may sound appealing, but the reality may not be so pleasant. In fact, many employees doing their jobs remotely amid the pandemic are finding themselves with a seemingly never-ending workload. Among those who have started working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, more than two-thirds (68%) say their workload has them clocking in on weekends, according to a new survey from staffing firm Robert Half. Meanwhile, nearly half of remote employees (45%) reported spending more than eight hours a day performing job duties, perhaps leaving some workers longing for the days of commuting to the office.
The changing world of remote working – or maybe not?
You are probably fed up reading articles on home-working over the last few months. But there are a number of aspects of this topic that are going to shape the world of work going forward, long after the pandemic has disappeared. The key challenge is that organisations and their employees need to think and plan for these now. While many people assume that remote working is a relatively new phenomenon, it has been around for most of our recorded history. The industrial revolution changed that for good. As the world, and the world of work, transformed radically, most workers came to spend their days in factories or offices.
Virtual Classrooms
Why Boys Are More at Risk of Falling Behind During Remote School
Remote school has exposed a number of inequities in education, from rural residents who don’t have high-speed internet service to low-income families who don’t have laptops. Boys could be another student group that falls behind during virtual learning, according to some researchers. Studies conducted before the coronavirus pandemic reveal an academic achievement gap between boys and girls, with girls ahead. Now, some pediatric researchers say they expect the disparities to only increase. A 2018 meta-analysis of more than 200 mostly U.S. studies of teacher-assigned grades found that girls had significantly higher grades in elementary school through college than boys, including higher grades in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. The findings showed that while males are overrepresented in STEM careers it isn’t because they are outperforming females in those subject areas.
New Book Helps Teachers Excel in the Virtual Classroom
The sudden shift to remote learning in 2020 was not only a struggle for PK-12 students and their parents, but also for teachers. Even the most seasoned instructors were left scrambling to adjust their approach to a virtual classroom, often for the first time and with little training or support. With virtual learning options likely to continue growing in demand, it’s vital for our nation’s teachers to gain the necessary skills to deliver high-quality online instruction that supports student success. The National Virtual Teacher Association (NVTA) is on a mission to help teachers transition from the brick-and-mortar classroom to the virtual classroom, with the goal of providing online instruction that’s even more engaging and effective than in-person learning. Their new book, "Virtual Instruction Standards: Optimizing Teaching & Learning" (October 2020), is a comprehensive guide based on current research, proven best practices and the expertise of virtual instructors across the country that addresses all learners and learning environments, as well as the evolving needs of students, educators and schools.
Colleges pivoting classes to prepare future educators to teach students online
Adeena Wilcox took a class about digital technology in the classroom as part of her master’s program in early childhood education at Ohio State University over the summer. Now the 22 year-old from Elizabeth, West Virginia is putting what she learned into practice as she student-teaches second graders at Bluffsview Elementary in the Worthington City School District. “That class was very, very necessary for my success this semester,” Wilcox said. “I’ve used so many things that I’ve learned in that class. I think this sort of class should be a necessity.”
Most Parents Spending More Than 2 Hours a Day on Kids’ Virtual Learning
Students across the country have had to adjust to conducting their classes online because of the pandemic, but their parents are feeling the pressures of virtual schooling too. More than 3 in 4 parents (78%) report spending an additional two hours or more each day helping their children with schoolwork, according to new research from consumer product manufacturer BIC. In fact, 25% of those surveyed said they spend four or more extra hours a day helping their children compared to what they did before the pandemic. And besides having to juggle educational duties with their work, parents also find they need to reacquaint themselves with long-forgotten academic subjects, as well as deal with higher-than-usual school supply costs.
Public Policies
All Hail The Lockdown
In a five-part series, made in lockdown, Ali Rae explores the complexities of our global response to the Covid-19 pandemic
Coronavirus: French lockdown to ease after second peak passes
France will begin to ease its strict coronavirus restrictions this weekend, allowing non-essential shops to reopen, President Emmanuel Macron has said. People will also be able to share "moments with the family" over the Christmas period, Mr Macron announced. But he said bars and restaurants would have to remain closed until 20 January. France has reported more than 2.2 million cases and more than 50,000 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Germany warns of Coronavirus vaccine race between rich and poor
Angela Merkel fears a global race between richer and poorer nations to access COVID-19 vaccines. She urged government leaders at an online meeting of the G20 to ensure a fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines among impoverished countries. "To halt the pandemic, every country needs to have access to and be able to afford the vaccine. The funds pledged so far are not yet enough to achieve this. I, therefore, appeal to you all of you to support this important initiative," she said. The chancellor made clear she would raise the issue with the global vaccine alliance GAVI. "This short-term assistance is in the interest of us all. And it is also in our interest to improve global pandemic preparedness in the long term. To this end, we need to sustainably strengthen the World Health Organization."
Italy seeking EU rules for Christmas skiing to limit COVID-19 risk
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has warned Italians not to ski during the Christmas holidays to help curb a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people in Italy. He also called on other European countries to agree on common rules for the sector to prevent cases being imported from abroad if Italy keeps its slopes closed - although neighbouring Austria has already expressed its reservations about the idea. Italy’s ski resorts earn annual revenues of about 11 billion euros ($13.06 billion), a third of which comes from the days Italians usually spend in the Alps and Dolomites at Christmas and New Year.
Coronavirus: German states agree on Christmas rules
Tighten the screws in a bid to salvage some semblance of normalcy at Christmas: That seems to be the essence of a new COVID strategy for December reportedly developed by Germany's regional leaders.
Number 10 used apocalyptic Covid-19 graphs to 'frighten' public into lockdown, top statistician
Sir David Spiegelhalter suggested the Government tried to 'manipulate' Britons. Cherry-picked 'worst-case scenarios' to 'instill a certain emotional reaction.' No10 lambasted for its apocalyptic graphs and spurious data shown to public
'We must do everything to avoid a third wave and lockdown,' says Macron
France will begin easing its Covid-19 lockdown this weekend so that by Christmas, shops, theatres and cinemas will re-open and people will be able to spend the holiday with the rest of their family, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. In a televised address to the nation, Macron said the worst of the second wave of the pandemic in France was over, but that restaurants, cafés and bars would have to stay shut until January. "We must do everything in our power to avoid a third wave and a third lockdown," the French president said.
Amid lockdown worries, PM Modi holds key meet with CMs on corona surge
As the major Indian cities battle with the sharp rise in the fresh Covid-19 infections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held a virtual meeting with several Chief Ministers to formulate the strategy for the coming days. The meeting was attended by the Chief Ministers of Delhi, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. The brainstorming session gains importance as it is not only a stock-taking meeting but more centred on making urgent plans to tackle the corona surges, especially in urban areas. While nothing official has been communicated so far, there is a buzz that the state, as well as the Centre, maybe thinking on something akin to a ‘mini lockdown’.
No lockdown in Maharashtra, state Cabinet decides
In India, putting speculations to rest, the Maharashtra government has decided against imposing any lockdown in the state amid rising cases of the novel coronavirus. The decision was taken at a key cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The cabinet also ruled out clamping of a night curfew in the state.
Stricter COVID-19 measures take effect in South Korea amid rise in cases
A stricter level of physical distancing restrictions went into effect in the greater Seoul area on Tuesday as health officials scrambled to contain what they have described as a third wave of COVID-19. The government raised its distancing level on its five-tier scale, from Level 1.5 to Level 2, as new cases continue to linger at the highest levels since August. South Korea saw more than 300 cases on Tuesday, most in the Seoul metropolitan region, where roughly half of the country's 52 million people live.
Melbourne's brutal coronavirus lockdown does job
It was a grim, lifeless mid-winter in shuttered Melbourne — Australia’s second largest city and the nation’s cultural and gastronomic capital. As a second coronavirus outbreak took hold, triggered by lapses in the city’s mandatory hotel quarantine system for returning overseas travellers, the southern state of Victoria and its capital entered another lockdown, one of the West’s harshest.
England gets new set of restrictions for end of COVID-19 lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday to replace a COVID-19 lockdown in England from Dec. 2, reinforcing a previous regional approach to try to reopen businesses in areas where infection rates are lower. Just over two weeks after Johnson introduced a national lockdown in England to try to tame a spiralling increase in new coronavirus cases, he said the measures had reduced COVID infection rates and would be eased on Dec. 2 as promised. Johnson has been under pressure to scrap the lockdown from lawmakers in his Conservative Party, where many have threatened to vote against any new restrictions without more evidence of their effect in stemming infections.
UK's four nations will relax COVID restrictions to save Christmas
The four nations of the United Kingdom have agreed to relax COVID-19 restrictions for Christmas to allow up to three households to meet at home for five days. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have taken differing approaches to handling the pandemic so far but the leaders of the devolved nations reached agreement with London on Tuesday on rules governing the festive period. Three households will be able to form a “Christmas bubble”, allowing them to meet up at home, places of worship and in outdoor public places but not at indoor hospitality or entertainment venues from Dec. 23 until Dec. 27 under the plans.
U.S. officials plan to release 6.4 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses in first distribution
U.S. officials said on Tuesday they plan to release 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses nationwide in an initial distribution after the first one is cleared by regulators for emergency use. Officials from the government’s Operation Warp Speed program told reporters that states and other jurisdictions had been informed on Friday of their estimated vaccine allocations in the first shipments so they can begin planning for how to best distribute it to their high-risk populations. The officials had previously said they anticipate 40 million doses will be distributed by year end, a number they reiterated on Tuesday.
Maintaining Services
The ‘daunting’ hurdles of distributing Covid-19 vaccines in America
James English has $74,000 to figure out how to distribute the world’s first ultra-cold storage drug to a staff of skeptical and worn-out healthcare workers, as the major sources of supports to contain Covid-19 so far come to an end. English is the regional operations chief and health branch director for Covid-19 in Washoe county, Nevada, and is one of the hundreds of local public health directors across the US who will eventually help distribute Covid-19 vaccines. English faces difficulties likely to be encountered nationally, as the nation undertakes the most logistically challenging vaccination campaign in its history. “The largest hurdle – we have as a small health department – is we do multiple roles,” said English. “Our funding is very minimal.”
Kremlin says healthcare under heavy strain as COVID-19 deaths hit new high
The Kremlin said on Tuesday Russia’s healthcare system was under heavy strain as authorities reported a record 491 deaths linked to COVID-19 and infections surged. Russia has resisted imposing national lockdown restrictions, as it did earlier this year, preferring targeted regional measures, even as thousands of cases are reported each day, with 24,326 new infections on Tuesday. “The healthcare system is working under heavy strain, but with the exception of a few regions...the situation remains under control,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Restauranteurs Look To Australia For A Guide On Surviving A Winter Lockdown
In the US, as Covid-19 cases continue to rise by the day, hitting new mind-boggling heights, new dine-in ordinances are being introduced on state and country-wide levels and more states report considering closures by the day. Without bold Congressional action, restaurant and bar owners are left to their own devices to finagle new business approaches in an attempt to survive a challenging winter ahead. “Northern hemisphere restaurants would be wise to take a page from the playbook of some of their southern hemisphere counterparts,” Juan Garcia, founder of restaurant rating and review site Foodporn tells me. “In Melbourne, Australia, for example, the entire winter months of July to October were spent in stage-four lockdown; meaning restaurants, cafes and bars were completely closed to dine-in customers. This forced a transformation never before seen in Melbourne hospitality.”
French business morale hits five-month low on new lockdown
French business confidence dropped in November to a five-month low as the country entered a new coronavirus lockdown, hitting the services sector particularly hard, a survey showed on Tuesday. INSEE, the official stats agency, said its monthly business climate index fell to 79 from 92 in October, the lowest reading since June, when France was still emerging from its first lockdown. French President Emmanuel Macron is due to announce on Tuesday evening a relaxation of the second lockdown following a decline in new case numbers since it was imposed on Oct. 30.
Hong Kong to shut bars, nightclubs for the third time as new COVID-19 cases jump
Hong Kong will close bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues for the third time this year, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Tuesday (Nov 24) as authorities scramble to tackle a renewed rise in COVID-19 cases. Authorities are also reopening a temporary COVID-19 treatment hall near the city's airport. On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 80 new coronavirus cases, taking the total since late January to 5,782 COVID-19 infections and 108 deaths. The financial hub has so far managed to avoid the widespread outbreak of the disease seen in many major cities across the world, with numbers on a daily basis mostly in single digits or low double digits in the weeks prior to the spike.
Coronavirus vaccine: Transport staff and teachers should be prioritised
Key workers including transport staff and people from deprived areas should be among those included in the priority list for the Covid-19 vaccine, experts involved in health inequalities have said. Nicola Sturgeon this week set out the Scottish Government’s plan to vaccinate 4.4million Scots over the age of 18. There are hopes that around 1million people could receive the jag before the end of January. Frontline health and social care staff, care home residents and staff and all those aged 80 and over will be the first to receive the vaccine.
Nursing homes will be first to get COVID-19 vaccine in Spain
Elderly residents and staff in nursing homes will be the first to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in Spain, starting as early as January, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday, unveiling a national vaccination plan. Other healthcare workers will be next in line, with a total of 18 groups of citizens being, one after the other, allowed to get the vaccine in one of 13,000 local public health centers. Spain expects to cover a substantial part of the population within the first six months of 2021. “The COVID-19 vaccine will be free,” Illa told a news conference, adding vaccination would not be compulsory. “We’re convinced that a vaccine is better accepted if it’s voluntary.”
Ford snaps up freezers to store COVID-19 vaccine for autoworkers
Workers at automotive assembly plants are considered essential in most US states, but are not at the top of the list for early vaccine distribution. Ford Motor Co said on Tuesday that it has ordered a dozen ultra-cold freezers that can safely store Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine, a move aimed at ensuring the United States automaker’s workers have access to vaccines when they are rolled out nationally. Ford’s purchase mirrors efforts by US states and cities to buy equipment to store millions of doses of Pfizer’s vaccine at temperatures of -70C (-94F), significantly below the standard for vaccines of 2-8C (36-46F).
Healthcare Innovations
Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID vaccine works — but scientists have questions
Early data indicate that the Oxford–AstraZeneca jab is effective, but dose makes a difference. Plus, the scientific dilemma posed by emergency vaccine approvals, and an AI that sums up papers in a sentence.
Plasma from recovered patients shows little benefit in those hospitalized with COVID-19: study
Using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat patients with severe pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus showed little benefit, according to data released on Tuesday from a clinical trial in Argentina. The therapy know as convalescent plasma, which delivers antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to infected people, did not significantly improve patients’ health status or reduce their risk of dying from the disease any better than a placebo, the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found. Despite limited evidence of its efficacy, convalescent plasma, which U.S. President Donald Trump touted in August as a “historic breakthrough,” has been frequently given to patients in the United States.
3rd major COVID-19 vaccine shown to be effective and cheaper
Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world. The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.