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"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 20th May 2020

Isolation Tips
How to survive self isolation with your partner during the novel coronavirus
After weeks of isolation with a partner, all of this togetherness may be getting old and taking a toll on marriages and intimate relationships. Dr. James Rouse of Denver7’s Human gRace Project has some suggestions to work through those tough times. “The more things aren’t working out there, we’re like ‘I gotta make everything work here’ and we get a little overzealous and that’s brings a lot of stress into those relationships,” he said.
‘There have always been barriers for us’: how Covid-19 has further isolated deaf Australians
Even before isolation, Gavin Balharrie was used to feeling isolated. It’s a side effect of being deaf in a hearing world. “In a way [the deaf community] has been preparing for this our whole lives,” he says. “There have always been barriers for us, so we are kind of used to it.” There were plenty of extra barriers for Balharrie as the Covid-19 pandemic hit Australia. The first hurdle was just getting information, as Auslan interpreters weren’t initially common at press conferences.
Ramadan during the coronavirus pandemic — how a new perspective made me feel less alone
It is easy to complain about not being able to see my family or not being able to attend social gatherings. But the core of what Ramadan is supposed to be has never been the social aspect of it. Once I stopped focusing on the things I would miss during the special month, I realised that there were a lot of things that I still had, which made me grow as a person. I may not be able to see my family, but at least my family is safe and well back home and I have good friends here to keep me company.
Hygiene Helpers
Facebook to limit offices to 25% capacity, require masks at work
The social media company outlined to staff globally how it plans to handle a return to major job sites starting July 6, providing a glimpse at what offices may look like more broadly when businesses reopen their doors in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Facebook will also limit how many employees can gather in meeting rooms, create 6-foot spaces between work stations, replace cafeteria buffets with grab-and-go meals and initially keep office gyms closed, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing company internal policy. The Menlo Park, California-based company also will bar outside visitors initially.
Anti-coronavirus partitions designed to socially isolate passengers - and stop battles for armrests
Aviation designers who overhauled the last British Airways Concord cabin are creating anti-coronavirus partitions to help keep economy passengers socially distanced. It comes after criticism that some airlines still operating were failing to ensure social distancing for infection control and were still cramming in passengers onboard. The lightweight modules would physically separate people sitting in the aisle and window seats, being secured using the plane’s seat belt buckles and two armrests.
Community Activities
Drive-in concerts to be tested in Australia this week
This Thursday (May 21), singer-songwriter and Australian Idol winner Casey Donovan is set to perform with her band at Sydney’s first-ever live theatre drive-in. The performance is organised by Drive-In Entertainment Australia and will be held at the Robyn Webster Sports Centre from 12:00pm to 1:00pm AEST. In accordance with current social distancing rules, patrons will participate in the concert remotely from their vehicles with two options for sound: tuning into an FM radio frequency and/or rolling down their windows. Extra safety restrictions will be enforced to ensure the event complies with government-mandated regulations.
Cinemas start to reopen in Japan, showing Hollywood classics like The Wizard of Oz and Ben Hur
Cinemas across Japan have begun to reopen, after being closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Without any new blockbuster releases, however, cinemas are resorting to screening old Hollywood classics to draw in crowds. Sword-and-sandal flick Ben Hur and musical fantasy The Wizard of Oz are among the films returning to cinemas.
Florida music students play 'Lean on Me' from their yards to honor frontline workers
When Florida schools shut down in March because of the coronavirus, music teacher Amy Isenhower knew she wanted to organize an event that brought students together. On Friday, her idea came to life when secondary music students from Oak Hammock K8 School in Port St. Lucie stepped outside at 7 p.m. to play "Lean on Me" – the Bill Withers classic – on their lawns to honor frontline workers and those who have sacrificed as a result of the pandemic. "It was a very cool experience for the kids to be able to reach out to the community and to each other," Isenhower said Monday.
Volunteers helps Nevis Range prepare for life after lockdown
Volunteers are rallying around to prepare the Nevis Range resort for a return after lockdown and the biggest challenge in its 30-year history. The snowsports, mountain biking and outdoor activities destination near Fort William has organised a bike trail maintenance day and a litter-picking weekend in advance of re-opening when restrictions are lifted. Dates for the events will be scheduled when the lockdown eases and it is safe for staff and local volunteers to work alongside each other. Already more than 50 people have signed up to help and others have expressed interest in getting involved.
Online dance lessons can keep you on your toes during coronavirus isolation
Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, based in Fort Lee, has been hosting free noontime dance classes online five days a week since late March, shortly after everything got firmly locked down by the coronavirus pandemic. The one-hour sessions, streamed live on Zoom, include instruction on a particular dance style by a dancer/teacher affiliated with the company followed by a “meet the artists” opportunity. All skill levels are welcomed, no matter how many left feet they have.
GoFundMe for Latino meals at coronavirus isolation hotel raises more than $5,000
A North Shore woman raised more than $5,000 this week to provide meals of chicken, arroz con gandules, and sweet plantains to patients who are staying at the COVID-19 isolation hotel in Revere, after learning that the state was providing Italian food to a mostly Latino population. “I just felt like it’s such a small gesture that could mean something," said Cindy Ross, a yoga teacher and board member at the Salem nonprofit Root, about organizing the fundraiser.
Working Remotely
Will home working become the new norm post Covid-19?
A Jersey employment lawyer has told ITV News he thinks it will be difficult for employers to refuse applications from their staff wishing to work from home beyond Covid-19. For many people, working from home over the last few weeks has been a positive experience. Employers too have seen that this could form part of a new norm. Legally, we can ask to work from home. Jersey's employment law states that employees can apply for a change in their working conditions, including their place of work. The reasons for refusing such a request are fairly limited, and employers would have to show that working from home would either create additional cost or have a detrimental impact on their business.
Can Working Remotely Lead Us to a Cleaner World?
“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic dropoff over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA, told reporters for CNN of the recent environmental changes in China. "I am not surprised because many cities nationwide have taken measures to minimize the spread of the virus." Not surprising maybe -- but the implications of what these changes teach us about a world gone remote are incredibly significant.
Survey: 55 percent of employees say they work 1-10 extra hours remotely amid COVID-19
A recent survey done by Fishbowl, a employee social networking platform, found that the majority of its respondents said they were are working up to 10 more hours at home than they normally would if they were still working from their offices. The survey ran from May 14 to May 17 and asked 16,585 participants if they were working more or less hours per week since many companies transitioned to having their employees work remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Happier working from home? You're not alone
Among employees working from home and even those who are not, there was an uptick in employee happiness and the survey's Workforce Happiness Index was up by two points to 73 out of 100 when compared to 71 points during the same period last year.
Signs are communication have improved colleague relations as more work remotely
New research reveals that 64 per cent of professionals feel connected to their colleagues, despite working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although stringent social-distancing rules have prohibited staff from working alongside one another in the office since 23rd March, TopCV’s data revealed that just 13 per cent of those surveyed have reported feeling ‘disconnected’ from colleagues. Instead, a surprising 64 per cent reported feeling either ‘connected’ or ‘very connected’ to their co-workers since the shift to homeworking.
Virtual Classrooms
How coronavirus is widening the gap in schools
When Darwen Vale High School offered an online English class for Year 10 students, staff were keen to monitor who was showing up in the virtual classroom, as the coronavirus lockdown turned its pupils into distance learners overnight. With almost half of students receiving the “pupil premium” for less well-off children — Darwen Vale in Lancashire is in the 14th most deprived borough in England — there were fears that already disadvantaged students would fall further behind. Sure enough, the data showed that only 45 per cent of those with the pupil premium had attended the class, compared with 72 per cent of their peers — a 27 percentage point gap that the school is now trying to shrink.
Virtual classrooms, online learning gain grounds amid pandemic
In an interview, Robert Speed, Vice President at Blackboard for the Middle East and Africa, said Blackboard has been operating in the ME Region for the last 20 years, “so we have been a key part of developing teaching and learning online pre-COVID-19.” He noted that COVID-19 has been such a disruptor in the education sector across the Middle East Region with a huge shift, and at pace and scale from traditional face to face learning to a purely digital teaching and learning environment.
Coronavirus: 'Campus experience' on hold as Cambridge moves lectures online for next academic year
Cambridge University has said lectures will only be held online for the academic year beginning in September because of coronavirus. It follows a similar move by the University of Manchester, which said its lectures would be online-only for the Autumn term. If more universities follow suit, and with the situation still unclear as to when bars and clubs will be able to open fully, it could mean increasing numbers of students due to begin their courses in September deciding to defer their studies until 2021/22.
Some fall classes at Florida universities will stay virtual
Florida’s 12 universities are in the planning stage for students and staff to return to campus this fall, but health concerns and challenges with social distancing will make the 2020 college year unlike any before. The universities’ presidents have been working on measures to reopen campuses for weeks. Florida State University President John Thrasher said every decision administrators make results in five more questions for them to answer. Thrasher said he has multiple phone calls a week to discuss best practices.
Teaching remotely: Yakima Valley teachers find challenges, opportunities working from home
Schools were asked to make their best efforts to reach every student in their enrollment, whether online or through mailed paper packets. It looks different in every district, and even from teacher to teacher, student to student. Several weeks into the remote schooling system, practices have begun to iron out. Yakima Valley teachers shared a peek into how they run their remote classrooms, what lessons they plan to take back to campus when the time comes, and what hurdles still stand in the way for them or their students.
Public Policies
Jacinda Ardern flags four-day working week as way to rebuild New Zealand after Covid-19
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested employers consider a four-day working week and other flexible working options as a way to boost tourism and help employees address persistent work/life balance issues. In a Facebook live video Ardern said people had suggested everything from the shorter work week to more public holidays as a means to stimulate the economy and encourage domestic tourism, while the borders remain closed to foreign nationals. The prime minister’s informal comments have excited New Zealanders, many of whom are questioning whether seismic, systemic change will result from the pandemic – or whether life will return to normal; with its associated problems.
Can I go to the beach in lockdown? UK coronavirus rules explained, and the difference between countries
Boris Johnson recently unveiled plans for lockdown restrictions to ease in England over the coming months, as part of phased plans to reopen shops, pubs, restaurants and get kids back to schools. Exercise is now allowed on an unlimited basis, but is a day at the beach allowed? Here’s what you need to know.
Is self-isolation for seven days enough to stop the spread of covid-19?
The UK government published their approach to exit lockdown on 11 May 2020. Self-isolation of infected individuals will remain a key part of the response to coronavirus, however the UK guidance to the general public is to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of symptoms. After this individuals only need to continue to self-isolate if they still have a high temperature regardless of the continuation of other symptoms, with no recommended fever-free period at the end. This is at odds with guidance from other countries.
'I can taste the flavour much more': Italians rediscover eating out
For some, being able to frequent Italy’s bars and restaurants on Monday after more than two months of lockdown was akin to ending a strict dietary regime. “I can taste the fullness of the flavour much more,” said Sandro Urbani as he drank a glass of white Sangiovanni wine outside Caffè Barrique in the Umbrian town of Orvieto. “It’s as if I’ve been on a diet over the past few months and all of a sudden I can eat a slice of salami.” Italians have been given another taste of freedom with the reopening of bars, restaurants, hairdressers and all other retailers on Monday as the country tries to revive its economy after the coronavirus emergency.
Coronavirus: Spain lifts ban on flights from Italy and reopens sea border as lockdown eased
Spain has lifted a ban on all sea and air travel coming from Italy as it looks to further ease lockdown restrictions, officials have confirmed. Travellers from Italy will have to comply, however, with a two-week quarantine like other foreign visitors, while a state of emergency remains in place. Officials in Madrid announced a nationwide lockdown on 14 March in a bid to help stop the spread of the disease, but have begun to loosen measures in recent weeks.
France, Germany chart 500 bn euro virus rescue as European lockdown eases
France and Germany on Monday laid out plans for a 500-billion-euro ($544 billion) European fund backed by joint EU borrowing to fight the economic fallout from the coronavirus, as the continent pushed ahead towards normality with major landmarks reopening after a two month-hiatus. St Peter's Basilica and the Acropolis in Athens opened their doors to visitors alongside many European shops, restaurants and churches, as Italy reported that its daily death toll from the virus had fallen below 100 for the first time since early March. More than 4.7 million people have tested positive and 315,270 have been killed by the disease since it emerged in Wuhan late last year, according to an AFP tally. Recent days have seen soaring infections in Brazil, India and South Africa.
Gujarat Lockdown 4.0 Guidelines Update: No relaxation in COVID-19 Containment Zones; Shops, offices to open
In a major relief to people affected due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the Gujarat government on Monday announced several relaxations, including opening of markets and shops in non-containment zones, from Tuesday. While there will be no relaxations in containment zones, shops and offices in non-containment zone can remain open between 8 am and 4 pm, said Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. However, such business and commercial establishments need to follow odd-even formula, wherein only 50 per cent establishments can remain open on any given day. Moreover, the government has also allowed reopening of barber shops and salons in non-containment zones besides shops selling paan masala.
MPs hear why Hong Kong had no Covid-19 care home deaths
Hong Kong has recorded zero deaths in care homes from Covid-19 by employing strict infection control measures that were ignored in the UK, MPs were told on Tuesday as the death toll from the virus in English and Welsh care homes reached almost 15,000. Despite sharing a border with China, Prof Terry Lum, the head of social care policy at Hong Kong University, told the UK parliament’s health and social care select committee that Hong Kong treated the outbreak like Sars, the killer virus that hit Asia in 2003, and saved lives. By contrast, the UK’s response to coronavirus was based on planning for a flu pandemic.
Up to 1,500 English primary schools to defy 1 June reopening plan
Up to 1,500 primary schools in England are expected to remain closed on 1 June after a rebellion by at least 18 councils forced the government to say it had no plans to sanction them. As the backlash escalated over the government’s policy of lifting the coronavirus lockdown on schools in a fortnight, a number of new local authorities said on Tuesday they would not force primary schools in their area to follow the plan. Councils joining those already in opposition included Birmingham, Calderdale council in Yorkshire, and Conservative-controlled Solihull. In total they represent more than 1,500 maintained primaries.
Scientists propose a 50 days on, 30 days off coronavirus lockdown strategy
Fifty days of strict lockdowns followed by 30 days where measures are eased could be an effective strategy for reducing Covid-19 deaths while ensuring some level of economic protection, scientists claim. In an EU-backed study published on Wednesday, a cohort of researchers from nine countries simulated how various lockdown strategies would impact the spread of the coronavirus.
Maintaining Services
A perfect storm for medical PTSD: Isolation, intensive care and the coronavirus pandemic
The traumatic stress associated with medical treatment, the health care environment and chronic illness can lead to a wide variety of mental health problems. Medical post-traumatic stress disorder, or m-PTSD, as well as depression and anxiety, can worsen patients’ physical health and harm their quality of life. Medical trauma arises from a complex interaction of risk factors associated with a person’s unique experiences and their perceptions of the events, as well as environmental factors. But unlike other types of trauma, it is a direct result of experiencing medical treatment – the very interventions designed to protect patients’ physical health and their lives. It is because of this context, in part, that medical trauma is often overlooked and misunderstood. After all, the hospital is where you go to heal.
Germany invests in e-learning after 220000 migrants had to interrupt integration courses
Many government services in Germany have been suspended because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. These include integration and language courses coordinated by the German asylum office, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). All courses were suspended on March 16. To help approximately 220,000 migrants in Germany resume their lessons, BAMF now said it has invested some €40 million to continue the courses in a digital format. Currently, nearly 83,000 immigrants are participating in digital integration and language courses, Uta Saumweber-Meyer, BAMF department head told Funke Mediagroup.
Mubadala making facemasks out of plane parts plant
Production is designed to cater to demand in the United Arab Emirates for N95 masks, as part of the personal protective equipment supply chain. Manufacturing giants around the world are repurposing their assembly lines to address the undersupply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent novel coronavirus infection. In the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi state-owned investment company Mubadala is making N95 facemasks out of an airplane parts plant.
Italy Reopens Hair Salons as Coronavirus Crisis Eases
Italy Reopens Hair Salons as Coronavirus Crisis Eases - NYT reports on how Italy's hair salons are re-emerging from the coronavirus crisis
New Zealand becomes the latest country to allow children back to school
Hundreds of thousands of New Zealand children returned to lesson on Monday as schools around the world continue to reopen as coronavirus lockdowns ease. Excited youngsters greeted classmates for the first time in eight weeks in cities such as Wellington and Auckland after parents dropped them off at 'kiss and go zones' at the gate as part of strict social distancing measures. Schools in Austria, Belgium and Portugal also reopened their doors for the first time in weeks on Monday, while more children were allowed to return to lessons in Greece. Lessons have already resumed for pupils in France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Australia, parts of Canada and China as the global spread of disease slowed.
Healthcare Innovations
To prevent a second coronavirus wave, we need to look beyond the R number
In Germany, where shops and restaurants have tentatively reopened, the reproduction number R has risen to 1.1. In Seoul, a recent outbreak of at least 170 infections has been linked to five bars and nightclubs. Even in South Korea, one of the most successful countries at controlling the virus, there’s no room for complacency. As a veterinary epidemiologist, I study how viruses spread between animals and animal populations. The principles of viral transmission are much the same in humans (indeed, many scientists work on both). The concept of a second wave in public health is often linked to factors outside of human control. This might include the birth of infants who are susceptible to a particular disease causing the wavelike patterns we see in childhood illnesses, or environmental factors that influence the seasonality of influenza. But for Covid-19, the anticipation of a second wave has more to do with actions within our control.
Coronavirus: Private company rises to 'exceptional challenge' to double antigen testing
The government's early response to COVID-19 showed the "frailty" in our testing capacity, according to a private laboratory working with the NHS. Source BioScience is one of a small number of private companies processing antigen tests for the government, letting NHS staff and patients know if they have COVID-19. The chief operating officer at Source BioScience, Russell Wheatcroft, said he hopes the UK can learn from the pandemic and that there will be more "significant investments" in testing.
Coronavirus: Want to know the risk of Covid in your area? Think tank ranks every council ward by probability of deaths and infection
A map ranking the Covid risk for each of Scotland's 354 council wards has been created, with parts of Inverclyde and Clydebank most in danger. Researchers and analysts at new think tank Scotianomics used multiple dataset sets to draw up its Covid-19 Community Risks Index, the most detailed possible picture of which Scottish communities are most under threat.