May 24: UF in the News 5/21/21-5/24/21

The latest coronavirus comes from dogs — The New York Times, 5/20/21

Scientists have discovered a new canine coronavirus in a child who was hospitalized with pneumonia in Malaysia in 2018. If the virus is confirmed to be a human pathogen, it would be the eighth coronavirus, and the first canine coronavirus, known to cause disease in humans.

“We have to be careful, because things show up all the time that don’t become outbreaks,” said John Lednicky, a virologist at the University of Florida who was not an author of the study.

'Life-altering:' As millions cope with smell loss from COVID-19, researchers find new explanations and possible treatments — USA Today, 5/23/21

As the pandemic continues, more information is accumulating about the loss of smell that afflicts as many as 70% to 80% of people who catch COVID-19 and seems particularly common among those with mild disease. 

Truly understanding what causes smell loss from COVID-19 and other causes will make a big difference for a field that hasn't always had a lot of answers, said Steven Munger, a smell expert and director of the Center for Smell and Taste at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "If we understand what's going wrong, that gives us mechanisms and targets that we can hopefully work to fix," he said. "Otherwise, we're sort of going blind."

How to know whether the stock market is in a bubble — MarketWatch, 5/21/21

Investors have a hard time shaking that nagging feeling that the current bull market is characterized by unhealthy levels of speculation and even irrational exuberance.

Is there a way of quantifying the market’s bubble potential, which instead of relying on our hunches and intuitions is based on solid historical data?

Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida, and his comprehensive historical database of IPOs are cited to explain some of the speculation.

What’s the best covid vaccine? Why it’s not so simple — The Washington Post, 5/24/21

As scientists raced to develop Covid-19 vaccines, public health specialists were hoping that more than one group would succeed. Having multiple companies producing vaccines would make it easier to inoculate a lot of people fast. A range of vaccines with different efficacy results now has given rise to worries that some people may refuse the shot on offer in hopes of getting a “better” one later.

UF research is cited to explain how different vaccines respond to variants of the coronavirus.

Ball pits could be re-opening soon. But should you let your kid get in? — The Tampa Bay Times, 5/24/21

Could ball pits make a comeback? Should they?

"I think I’ve always had a bit of an ‘ick’ factor when it comes to ball pits,” said Cindy Prins, associate professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Prins said the ball pit “is not inherently an evil place.”

“To me it’s not the ball pit, it’s the distancing,” she said. “It’s all about taking the regular precautions ... just trying to minimize that airborne and droplet spread.”

My search for the Tulsa Massacre's missing dead — The Hill, 5/22/21

Phoebe R. Stubblefield, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Florida, contributed this opinion piece on her years of work using forensic techniques to find the final resting place of Black Tulsans who were killed in the 1921 Tulsa Massacre.

Trampled plants & stressed-out wildlife — What have we done to the great outdoors? — Refinery 29 

Heather Gibson, a professor of tourism, hospitality, and event management at the University of Florida, recently conducted a study about how well people adhered to social distancing on hiking trails. She found interesting data points on how social distancing, in turn, impacted the trails and parks. “We did find that people, particularly on the narrower trails, were going off trail” to maintain social distancing, she says. “After a while, ecological damage occurs because trails are there for a reason.”

Many Americans don’t trust elections. What can be done? — The Christian Science Monitor, 5/21/21

Can elections be armored against disgruntled efforts to subvert them? Perhaps more important, can changes to the electoral system regain trust that has been lost on both sides? “There is no evidence passing new laws affects voters’ perceptions of election integrity,” Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who specializes in American elections.

DeSantis suspended mask mandates. But what about hurricane season? — The Tampa Bay Times, 5/21/21

As of this week, about 36 percent of Floridians had been fully vaccinated. Even as more people get the shot, it will still be impossible to tell who in a shelter is vaccinated and who isn’t, said Dr. Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist with the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions.

Vaccines provide the most protection, Prins said, and she recommends that Floridians get inoculated as part of their hurricane preparation plans. But masks help, too.

Greenwood, 1921: One of the worst race massacres in American history — 60 Minutes, 5/23/21

60 Minutes explored the story behind the thriving Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma that burned, leaving hundreds dead. An excavation in October, led by University of Florida forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield, revealed a mass grave with at least 12 individuals. Determining cause of death will be complicated, because of that period's Spanish flu pandemic.

State wildlife officers, UF team up on animal forensics to pursue violators — The Gainesville Sun, 5/24/21

Jason Byrd, associate director of UF's Maples Center for Forensic Medicine, works with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to help officers punish deer poachers, turtle egg thieves and other violators of state fish and wildlife laws.

Capt. James Barrow of FWC’s statewide investigations section said the collaboration has led to convictions.