Bullet points: High quality, somewhat under the radar coronavirus readings, including history, global, and mutual aid

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so…like this one, which is out on, er, Tuesday! This is Week 14. I’m back on schedule. :)

“It is not your fault, I know, but of those who put it in your head that you are exaggerating and even this testimony may seem just an exaggeration for those who are far from the epidemic, but please, listen to us” — intensive care physician Dr. Daniele Macchini, in translation from Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Bergamo, Italy, Friday 6th of March 2020. (Additional attribution information.)

Same day as Dr. Daniele Macchini’s testimony from Italy, “Q: Mr. President, you were shaking a lot of hands today, taking a lot of posed pictures. Are you protecting yourself at all? How are you — how are you staying away from germs? THE PRESIDENT: Not at all. No, not at all. Not at all. […] Q: Have you considered not having campaign rallies? THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven’t. […] Q: Isn’t it a risk if there’s that many people close together? THE PRESIDENT: It doesn’t bother me at all and it doesn’t bother them at all.” Transcript provided by White House of Friday 6th of March 2020 remarks by Donald Trump after tour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Georgia.

A week prior at a rally, Trump said: “[T]he Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs [… The Democrats] have no clue, they don’t have any clue. […] this [disagreeing with him regarding coronavirus] is their new hoax.” Transcript of Trump rally Friday 28 February 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Analysis using the Flesch-Kincaid scale, developed in 1975 for the US Navy to assess the relative difficulty of understanding training manuals, finds US president and self-proclaimed “very stable genius” Donald Trump speaks at the reading level of a fourth grader, which explains his huge popularity among certain segments. The above image superimposes a picture of Trump yelling “Have you seen my ratings?” upon a photo taken by a nurse, showing the inside of a bodybag-laden truck at an ambulance bay outside a New York City hospital, Sunday 29 March 2020, shared with Buzzfeed by the nurse.

This post provides 10 bullet points that suggest and summarize various readings regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic, plus a bonus eleventh section at the end filled with uplifting material. I recommend further study of any or all of these linked materials, which have flown across my radar in the past few weeks. Whereas on Monday 23 March 2020 I wrote a guide for getting caught up on the pandemic if you’ve been living under a rock or enslaved (imagine someone just getting off a lengthy hiking trip in the middle of this or out of a psych ward), this entry is more a grab bag of important COVID-19 items that are a bit off the beaten track of typical US news readers. In the near future I’d like to write a guide helping US news readers develop a 60-90 minute routine for staying up to date on the pandemic daily by plugging into sources such as local and state public health officials, the World Health Organization, and a steady supply of high quality information from self-governance radicals. Hopefully soon I’ll return to writing more narrative-y blog entries, but as the globe is a bit of a bullet point place these days, I hope you find value in the below and if so, consider sharing this post, supporting me via donation, and/or replacing GovCorps around the world with prosocial ideas and actions. Without further ado:

  • A Monday 23 March 2020 article by Jim Geraghty at the (rightwing but literate) National Review titled “The Comprehensive Timeline of China’s COVID-19 Lies” documents the day-by-day, month-by-month, blow-by-blow of the Chinese government cover-up of the capability of novel coronavirus to transmit from human to human. As best understood to date, the disease jumped from animal to human in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.

  • You should know the story of Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, whistleblower in this pandemic, or “awakener” as some in China call him as a compliment. The Lancet, one of the longest running and most prestigious medical journals in the world, published an obituary (1-page PDF version) for Li Wenliang by freelance journalist Andrew Green on Tuesday 18 February 2020 (corrected Tuesday 25 February 2020). On Friday 7 February 2020, the New York Times interviewed Li days before he died. Briefly: Li worked at Wuhan Central Hospital, where in late 2019 he saw laboratory result reports, being circulated within medical circles, that led him to tell his fellow medical student classmates in a private chat group that “it has been confirmed that they are coronavirus infections, but the exact virus is being subtyped […] tell your family and loved ones to take caution.” He knew that patients were already being treated under quarantine, so he suspected human-to-human transmission was possible and urged caution, though at first he did not want his messages spread further. (Speculation: I’d guess because of the risk from various Chinese authorities, and I’d guess also because at that point Li might have wanted rock solid scientific confirmation of human-to-human transmission, before wider circulation.) The conversation among his fellow doctors was that SARS (i.e. SARS or a SARS-like disease) might come back and that they needed to be careful. Against his wishes, his messages spread more widely on social media, leading Wuhan cops to force him at their station to admit a “misdemeanor” and to promise not to commit further “unlawful acts” like this “spreading rumors.” Seven others also were arrested, but as of a Thursday 23 January 2020 article at Poynter by Cristina Tardáguila and Summer Chen, their identities and fates are unknown (will update if I hear back). Li felt wronged by the cops and as time passed, he came to appreciate, despite the punishment, the value of his warning messages having spread, telling the New York Times later that he “felt very sad seeing so many people losing their loved ones.” He returned from the police station to the Wuhan hospital and, while treating a glaucoma patient, contracted the very virus he had warned of. While he was hospitalized in an intensive care unit, Li spoke out about his experience at the police station, including releasing the document he was made to sign, telling Beijing-based media group Caixin that “I think a healthy society should not have just one voice,” and the New York Times: “If the officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, I think it would have been a lot better. There should be more openness and transparency.” At the time of his death, he was survived by his four-year-old son and wife, who was five months pregnant with their second child.

    Image of Li Wenliang by Anthony Kwan for Getty Images, 2020

    Social media users in China wrote in loud favor of Li Wenliang and against the Chinese authorities, saying on Weibo that, among other things, according to the New York Times, they wrote out of shame and guilt for not standing up to an authoritarian government. Others shared variations of a quote by Chinese writer Murong Xuecun, “He who holds the firewood for the masses is the one who freezes to death in wind and snow,” which the NYT has to explain “was written as a reminder to people that it was in their interest to support those who dared to stand up to authority. Many of those people had frozen to death, figuratively speaking, as fewer people were willing to publicly support these dissenting figures.” Additional sources regarding Li Wenliang: Friday 7 February 2020 article by Zhuang Pinghui in the South China Morning Post; Friday 20 March 2020 article by Helen Davidson at the Guardian; Friday 7 February 2020 article in the New York Times.

  • And regarding the importance of whistleblowers in general, check out this February 2018 panel on whistleblowing at the Oxford Union, which included Heather Marsh, CIA senior management David Shedd, and a Guardian journalist who though employed by one of the world’s biggest newspapers did not write about the Oxford Union censorsing the panel he was on (you read that right, about whistleblowing), although I sure as hell did at Buffalo’s The Public and by contributing to BoingBoing. You can read the panel transcript by Heather who had to whistleblow her own whistleblowing panel, or listen to her 22-minute audio of it below. BTW, the Guardian journadoodle who did not mention, via his salaried job at one of the world’s most important newspapers, the Oxford censorship, then got immediately bribed/rewarded with a paid lecture series at Oxford… a paid lecture series about… yes, about whistleblowing … while I, a devout anti-careerist, essentially have lost 100% of my day job hours due to covid-19 and, while restraining myself from retweeting silly Star Trek photoshops, am writing to you on my blog right here right meow and all these other people with really cool ideas and deeds and artworks and cats are also… okay you get the point, but the tough part might be, not forgetting the point/truth and also following it to all the places where it leads.

    Transcript; Heather’s analysis of the censorship

    And regarding the Chinese and British empires, these 2012-2013 tweets from the orange menace:

    A failing state in debt to Beijing, Russia does much of China’s dirty work. May 2018 at OpenDemocracy.Net: “They put a bag on my head, cuffed my hands behind my back and tortured me with a taser”: anarchist Svyatoslav Rechkalov on torture at the hands of Russian cops. April 2018 at The Russian Reader: Stay Human, How Russia is hunting down anarchists & anti-fascists and torturing them. Coronavirus, shit is getting real.

  • On Monday 30 March 2020, Europe-based journalist Balazs Csekö tweeted the Hungarian parliament had that day passed a bill giving Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán unlimited power and proclaiming: – State of emergency without time limit – No elections – Parliament suspended – Rule by decree – Spreading fake news and rumors: up to 5 years in prison – Leaving quarantine: up to 8 years in prison. On Tuesday 7 April 2020, Andrew Stroehlein, the European media director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted “One week ago, the European Union ceased being a bloc of democracies, as Hungary’s ruler seized unlimited power in his country. Since then, the other EU member states and the European Commission have done nothing about it.” And the same day he tweeted: “There’s an outright dictatorship within the [European Union]. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has seized unlimited power for an indefinite period of time. That the rest of the EU doesn’t care enough to act is a threat to the very EU itself.”

  • Regarding federal legislators flying around and thus spreading the virus or exposing themselves to it, as the Wall Street Journal published an article partially about on Friday 27 March 2020, see this from Heather Marsh in 2012: “We no longer live in a world where one individual has to make a long arduous journey to appear in person to represent their town or region, we need to work to ensure there is no reason why individuals cannot represent themselves in any circumstance” and “There are two underlying concepts which must be universally accepted for representative democracy to function: groups may act as individuals and individuals may act as groups. These two ideas are fundamentally unsound.” If you want more after that, see her 2017 talk (video and transcript) “The evolution of democracy.” For those asking, due to the pandemic, what we should do regarding governance, and demanding short, more practical/pragmatic readings on the topic rather than books, I highly recommend her 2014 “Installing new governance” and you might also read her 2017 “A societal singularity.” Life’s not really about whatever stupid shit Trump said lately, or whether Nancy Pelosi is going to do this or that. Instead look at the more ludicrous things, the federal legislators jumping on planes instead of picking up phones because people are mentally enslaved by these bizarre memes about Ancient Greece city-states or whatever, or the third rail topic of voting elections integrity or even whether voting for faraway celebullies to represent you and the neighbor who completely disagrees with you, and neither of you have or ever will meet the legislator anyway, makes any lick of sense at all (see my post this year on that and Russiagate whistleblower Reality Winner), and maybe then also realize, in order to uproot all of those echoes of long ago thoughts spellbinding billions of humans for millenia, might take more than a two sentence explanation of “well what should we do instead” and you might need to read and experiment and do different things to work toward replacing entrenched broken systems (i.e., us, we all are the broken system!).

  • From the 1936 sci-fi movie Things To Come, based on HG Wells’ writings. This is a demagogue leader from the film yelling at a fourth grade reading level except for “muddle”, which is advanced vocabulary I suppose
  • The 2019-2020 novel coronavirus is deadlier than the 2002-2003 coronavirus SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), but this 2003 unclassified paper on that earlier and related virus, produced by the CIA’s Strategic Assessments Group, may still be of interest for autodidacts and others studying public health systems responding to epidemics/pandemics. The paper is subtitled Lessons From the First Epidemic of the 21st Century: A Collaborative Analysis With Outside Experts. It’s a 17-page PDF: click here for the PDF at the Homeland Security Digital Library (sponsored by US Homeland Security, FEMA, and the US military’s Naval Postgraduate School).

    The unclassified paper describes its scope as follows:

    In June 2003, the CIA’s Strategic Assessments Group (SAG) sponsored an unclassified workshop with experts from various health-related disciplines titled “SARS: Lessons Learned,” held at the National Science Foundation. The group included leading virologists, epidemiologists, public health experts from academia and government, senior officials from WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and authorities in global public health, health communications, and economics. The meeting’s objective was to extract valuable lessons learned to help prepare for future epidemics of new and reemergent infectious diseases. The group reviewed the SARS experience from its medical-scientific, public health, psychosocial and risk communications, economic, and political dimensions. This report conveys the lessons participants found most important for the containment of SARS and for dealing with future epidemics.

    Before going to other bullet points recommending other texts, I excerpt below many of the lessons noted by this 2003 report:

    * SARS has served as a sobering warning about the serious worldwide consequences that can occur at every level—public health, economic, and political—when unanticipated epidemics arise in a highly connected, fast-paced world.

    * The ability to contain the next pandemic or to achieve global eradication of SARS remains uncertain. The disease could reemerge in fall or winter or move from its animal hosts to humans again at any time.

    * Honesty and openness from governments and public health officials is especially important. Without understating the risks or dismissing people’s fears, officials with relevant expert knowledge should advise the public on what measures to follow.

    * Official announcements will need to be bolstered by ongoing public education programs to avoid panic and help motivate first responders to take reasonable risks in treating the sick.

    * [T]he panel warned that the economic impact of an epidemic involving more deaths, plant closures, and population dislocations could be more significant than the modest SARS-related losses

    * Psychological intangibles — fear, risk avoidance, and resilience — are not currently represented in economic models use[d] to gauge the impact of epidemics.

    * The panelists stressed that the US defenses against infectious disease outbreaks depended on the expertise and competence of local public health officials worldwide. [Note by Doug: last chance for smug US intelligentsia to stop rolling eyes whenever anyone brings up international law, universal human rights, the importance of global telecommunications and planetwide collaboration, etc.]

    * The effective application and efficacy of quarantine and isolation proved a pleasant surprise to the public health community. Equally unexpected was the widespread acceptance of the need for these measures by the general public, panelists observed.

    * [P]eople were more prone to comply with quarantine rules when there was no familial or financial hardship involved

    * Continued efforts by local health-care workers in a high-risk environment were facilitated when the workers were reassured their families would be cared for and when the press portrayed them to the public as heroes. Conversely, when these measures were not taken, workers were much less willing to put in the long hours and expose themselves to SARS.

    * While participants lauded the overall rapid and effective mobilization of the international public health community, they did note that [the World Health Organization] was quickly overstretched in early phases of the epidemic, despite supplemental aid by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations. One participant declared that [the World Health Organization] probably could not cope with a second public health-care crisis [simultaneously] on top of SARS [i.e., SARS plus another crisis at the same time]

    * A fearful and confused public, surrounded by speculation, rumor, and exaggerated media reports can lead to genuine panic — facilitating disease transmission and hindering quarantine efforts

    * Participants cited the following reasons for lack of transparency in the case of China […] Fear of upsetting foreign investors and incurring sizable economic losses […] Cultural reticence to reveal information that could be perceived as a weakness.

    * The panelists also affirmed that the experience with SARS had enabled the Chinese Government to gain valuable crisis management experience in areas such as effective inter-governmental actions when forced to shut down parts of Beijing. They commented that with outside support, China could begin addressing some of its major public health problems such as inadequate rural health care, rapidly increasing rates of HIV infection, hazardous animal husbandry and trade practices, and live animal markets which could easily lead to another pandemic

  • 2016 opinion piece in the Washington Post by Ronald A. Klain, Ebola czar at the White House from 2014 to 2015. The title is “Zika is coming, but we’re far from ready” and here are the key passages in my opinion:

    The man who led the effort to wipe out smallpox, Larry Brilliant, often says that the seemingly complex challenge of successful epidemic control can be summarized in one phrase: “early detection, early response.” […] If it seems like the world is being threatened by new infectious diseases with increasing frequency — H1N1 in 2009-2010, MERS in 2012, Ebola in 2014, Zika in 2016, yellow fever on the horizon for 2017 — that’s because it is. These are not random lightning strikes or a string of global bad luck. This growing threat is a result of human activity: human populations encroaching on, and having greater interaction with, habitats where animals spread these viruses; humans living more densely in cities where sickness spreads rapidly; humans traveling globally with increasing reach and speed; humans changing our climate and bringing disease-spreading insects to places where they have not lived previously. From now on, dangerous epidemics are going to be a regular fact of life. We can no longer accept surprise as an excuse for a response that is slow out of the gate.

  • Improve your food storage techniques with the following resources. SaveTheFood.com, derived from Dana Gunders’ work; Seattle Public Utilities 2-page PDF guide on food storage techniques; World Healthiest Foods, where you type a food item into the search box, then check out the “How to select and store” section on the resulting webpage.

  • A Wednesday 25 March 2020 article by David Kaplan at the WTAE ABC affliate in Pittsburgh reports that a public school district in the greater Pittsburgh region has been using AM radio to provide lessons to students.

    Elementary and secondary school teachers record lessons the night before and send them in. Then, 680 AM WISR in Butler broadcasts the lessons. Secondary students get their lessons at 9 a.m. and elementary students at 9:30 a.m.

    “I thought the idea was great. It kind of takes you back in a way to think about the days of fireside chats,” said Hope Hull, the principal at Connoquenessing Elementary School.

    Hull says she thinks this exercise improves listening skills for students. She added that her teachers are excited to put these lessons together.

    Somehow makes me think of this April 30, 1981 Bloom County cartoon by Berkeley Breathed (my favorite cartoonist from newspaper days).

  • The University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine maintains a digital repository/encyclopedia with documents from and texts about the US flu epidemic of 1918-1919. I believe that encyclopedia was the source for some of the images in the Thursday 26 March article in the California Sun by Mike McPhate titled “Photos of the 1918 flu pandemic in California,” which begins: “We’ve been through shutdowns like this before.” Below follows some of the images McPhate’s piece republished. I’m unfortunately just going to copy his descriptions and sourcing information for each image without doublechecking them all myself as I would usually do, since by this hour I’m half falling asleep as I’m standing here typing this very sentence.

    A group in Mill Valley in November, 2018.
    Raymond Coyne/Mill Valley Public Library
    The Oakland Municipal Auditorium is being used as a temporary hospital with volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tending the sick there during the influenza pandemic of 1918, Oakland, California, 1918. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
    People lined up for masks in San Francisco, which made their use mandatory.
    California State Library
    Physicians vaccinated each other in San Francisco.
    California State Library
    American Red Cross volunteers prepared masks in Oakland.
    Oakland Public Library

    The University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine’s digital repository/encyclopedia also has city essays that tell the stories of 50 US cities and how each responded to the 1918-1919 flu epidemic. Here’s the Dallas essay, timeline, and gallery. Here’s the Seattle essay, timeline, and gallery. As the saying goes, Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  • This last of the ten bullet points (before the bonus eleventh), perhaps the most important, consists of mutual aid resources recently compiled/tweeted by @YourAnonCentral, whom you all should be following on Twitter. First, a five-and-a-half minute video by subMedia.tv explaining what mutual aid is:

    Required viewing

    Now, some resources. US-based COVID-19 Mutual Aid and Advocacy Resources, a shared Google Doc. Here’s how to organize a neighborhood pod, for you and your neighbors to help each other. It’s a 4-page shared Google Doc and it includes flyer templates for getting to know your neighbors, and more. This 9-page PDF is a small zine of compiled resources on safety practices for mutual aid food supply and distribution, such as safe delivery and collection protocols, quite useful if, say, you are in the habit, as I am lately in the habit, of delivering boxes containing food and supplies to the grassy outskirts of an apartment complex in view of a particular young woman standing up high on a balcony peering down and observing with untraversable and seemingly infinite physical distance your discombobulated attempts to erect the structure of a normal conversation, like a (Thomas Otway remix of a) Shakespeare scene. Here’s a United States progressive group (yes I know), The Center for Popular Democracy, gathering data for a week of action to demand coronavirus tests if you want to fill that out. Here’s a mutual aid hub map primarily for the United States, linking for instance to the North Texas Democratic Socialists of America’s COVID-19 Mutual Aid Coalition website listing resources and offering a form to fill out to request and/or volunteer help. Also check out MasksForDocs.com. They have one goal: Get personal protective equipment (not just masks, despite their name) into the hands of healthcare workers as quickly as possible. Open, healthy, inclusive, grassroots, free. They’re accepting volunteers, donations, and requests. Bellevue’s nonprofit hospital Overlake, in the Seattle metropolitan area, just received 262 face shields from MasksForDocs.

Okay, we made it! Note please that the above is a shotgun approach (when is the twitter-news not a shotgun approach?), so please read carefully, think for yourself, your mileage may vary, at least one person on those eight million shotgun approach mutual aid resources is probably going to be unfun to hang out with at best (ten-point checklist by CrimethInc for spotting snitches, infiltrators, etc.), and so on. So, the eleventh bonus bullet point is some heartwarming examples of mutual aid, big and small, mostly via @YourAnonCentral on Twitter recently, ending this post. See below, and see you next week!

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Bullet points: High quality, somewhat under the radar coronavirus readings, including history, global, and mutual aid, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/04/07/coronavirus-readings-history-global-mutualaid/. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Oops I missed Week 13

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so…except when I’m not: I missed week 13! This is a placeholder entry marking last week’s missed post (for Monday 30 March 2020).

Note: On Tuesday 7 April 2020, I corrected this post from erroneously saying I missed Week 12 to correctly saying I missed Week 13, since Week 12 was actually 23 March 2020‘s blog post. I miscounted! This URL will still wrongly say Week 12 because too much trouble for too little benefit to try to alter the URL.

So Doug…why did you miss your blog post for Monday 30 March 2020?

Um…I’m posting later today for Week 14 (Monday 6 April 2020), but as for Week 13, not going to say…except…um… here’s a hint:

image via Peakpx

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Oops I missed Week 13, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/04/06/oops-i-missed-week-12/. You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Bullet points: HOWTO catch up on coronavirus fast if you’ve been living under a rock (or enslaved)

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released Mondays or so…LIKE TODAY’s! This is Week 12‘s.

“It is not your fault, I know, but of those who put it in your head that you are exaggerating and even this testimony may seem just an exaggeration for those who are far from the epidemic, but please, listen to us” — intensive care physician Dr. Daniele Macchini, in translation from Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Bergamo, Italy, Friday 6th of March 2020. (Additional attribution information.)

Artwork via Colombian Julián Valencia, but original artist unknown.

Let’s say you’ve been living under a rock — or enslaved by time-consuming wage-work or an abusive chattel owner or months/years of lock up or an unhappy, exploitative marriage or other — and you exit that problem (at least partially) to simply arrive at another: everything’s suddenly different and everyone else has been talking, and continues to talk, about some sort of coronavirus deal. If you think that’s a joke, consider the number of people exiting various forms of confinement daily, not to mention the other scenarios in this paragraph.

Thankfully, you’re literate and you have about three hours on your hands, so what quality information should you read to catch yourself up on the scary COVID-19 disease caused by late 2019’s new version of coronavirus (a family of related viruses)?

Below are ten bullet points, plus a bonus eleventh, listing links to study up on, primarily — but not only — regarding the medical and practical sides of things, to help you catch up quickly on the pandemic. I’ve been reading about novel coronavirus (just a fancy way to say new coronavirus), since late February; that’s how I’m distilling down your reading to essential material. Required texts would differ regionally, of course, yet as a Seattleite previously from North Texas, I’m gearing the present post toward the United States. Seattle is also where the index case (aka patient zero) happened in this country, so compared with the rest of the US, Seattleites have had a head start on this new world. Without further ado:

1. On Friday 6 March 2020, Dr. Daniele Macchini, an intensive care unit physician at the Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in Bergamo, Italy, wrote a Facebook post in Italian that the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera (Bergamo edition) republished the next day, probably contributing to an English translation appearing on reddit Sunday 8 March 2020. To perceive clearly and quickly how serious all this is, read Dr. Daniele Macchini’s March 6, 2020 message in Italian or English. Epidemiologist Silvia Stringhini might have been the Italian-to-English translator (see this twitter thread of hers), but I’m not sure. I’ll try to update the translator info. Here’s a Wednesday 11 March 2020 Snopes piece providing attribution information for Dr. Macchini’s post. Here’s Dr. Macchini’s staffperson page at the Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital.

2. On Wednesday 11 March 2020, Dr. Tedros, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), an agency of the United Nations, announced, after the agency had been tracking the disease from the start, that WHO made the assessment that day that COVID-19 is a global pandemic. Though definitions of “pandemic” vary, change, and are debated (here’s the WHO’s from 2010), pandemic etymologically means all people, indicating plainly that all humans, including you and me and everyone else, are at risk of exposure. Dr. Tedros’s announcement of the disease’s global pandemic status came in his opening remarks during one of the frequent novel coronavirus press briefings WHO has been holding. His announcement is a document well worth reading, short and well written and well structured, and it should be looked back upon by future historians. Dr. Tedros called for immediate intelligent action everywhere, what his announcement terms a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach” planetwide. Also, Dr. Tedros said this is the first pandemic in history that, in his judgment as WHO director general, can be suppressed and controlled, i.e. by humans acting knowledgeably (I presume he’d say this is because of the Internet/global communications). Below, the full 59-minute video of the Wednesday 11 March 2020 press briefing. Dr. Tedros’ opening remarks are from 1 minute to 9.5 minutes.

World Health Organization Wed. 11 March 2020 daily press briefing on COVID-19, 59 minutes

3. Understand four reasons why it matters that this coronavirus is new/novel. Coronavirus is a family of similar/related viruses. It’s important to emphasize that this brand new version from late 2019 is a new coronavirus, or meaning the same thing, a novel coronavirus, because, as Dr. Francis Riedo, an infectious disease and travel medicine expert from Seattle’s EvergreenHealth healthcare system, explained during a Saturday 29 February 2020 Washington state Department of Health press conference, a) No one has immunity to it yet, b) No vaccine for it exists yet, and c) No treatment agent targeted specifically at it exists yet. I would add d) Researchers, scientists, and similar still do not have enough information about it. A-D of course exclude unusual and strange possible situations such as personalized medicine for the powerful. If anyone can forward me the raw video for that press conference with Dr. Francis Riedo, perhaps at C-SPAN, I’ll add it here and credit your name/pseudonym as you specify. Or I’ll do it myself later.

4. Understand exponential growth. Addition and exponentiation are both arithmetic operations. Here’s an addition example: 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 12. Here’s an exponentiation example: 34 = 3 × 3 × 3 × 3 = 81. That exponentiation is 3 times itself four times. It depends, but disease spread can often be more exponential than straightforward addition. Exponential because each infected person, especially prior to becoming incapacitated (but possibly even then), can infect many people, not just another single person. This Tuesday 10 March 2020 Washington Post article explains it quite well: “When coronavirus is growing exponentially, everything looks fine until it doesn’t.” Two screenshots excerpting that WaPo article:

This Friday 13 March 2020 article at USA Today explains what exponential growth means in terms of overwhelmed hospitals running out of beds in the United States: “A USA TODAY analysis shows there could be six seriously ill patients for every existing US hospital bed. No state is prepared.”

On Monday 23 March 2020, CNN journalist Ryan Struyk tweeted CNN’s figures for the United States, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country for each day in March.

5. Here’s a practical, comprehensive guide to novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. This all-in-one coronavirus guide, started Sunday 8 March 2020 and updated daily, is by Ars Technica (Latin: the art of technology), a web magazine that’s been around for more than two decades in various incarnations. Condé Nast currently owns it (they also own Wired, The New Yorker, and plenty of others). If you spend an hour slowly and carefully working your way through that guide, you’ll be in pretty decent shape in terms of catching up. Other guides include this collaborative one out of Berlin, by a hacker and an artist, with input for healthcare professionals. This document/guide for COVID-19 mutual aid and advocacy resources across the United States might also be useful. If you have any other really excellent guides, please put them in the comments to this post or email them to me at DAL@RISEUP.NET.

6. Here’s the COVID-19 advice for the public section on the World Health Organization website. Study that material thoroughly. And better yet, start studying the COVID-19 section entire on the WHO’s website. It explains, among other things, that people of all ages, regardless of their other medical conditions or lack thereof, can become infected with COVID-19. All ages can die from it, again regardless of their other medical conditions or lack thereof (see also Thursday 19 March 2020 Bloomberg article). While a Monday 23 March 2020 WHO situation report says “For most people, COVID-19 infection will cause mild illness however, it can make some people very ill and, in some people, it can be fatal,” with the sheer quantity of “some people” — hundreds of thousands (or more) who will quite possibly become infected (hopefully not) — that means already overwhelmed hospital systems all over the planet will be in even more dangerous shape, especially countries without widespread access to healthcare such as the United States. Finally, it helps to understand the World Health Organization’s web address: https://who.int. WHO obviously stands for World Health Organization, but .INT is a sponsored top level domain that many in the United States might not be familiar with. It means international.

7. Understand soap and hand sanitizer. “Toilet soap” is the term for that category of soap everyday people are typically familiar with, such as in domestic cleaning or bathroom settings, as opposed to say industrial thickening soaps outside the realm of common experience. It depends, but regarding novel coronavirus, toilet soap may generally be more reliable than hand sanitizer (alcohol-based hand rub); however, hand sanitizer might be helpful for settings where people can’t access toilet soap: paid-workers taking hand sanitizer briefly out of their purses on public transit, for instance, or to replace toilet soap when people are at risk for certain skin reactions, including the hand dermatitis health care workers can get (and get fired for in some places) after years and years of washing their hands a zillion times on the job daily — that’s one reason why health care workers in specialized settings are often using alcohol-based hand rubs (hand sanitizer). Hand sanitizer may also be better for those directly caring for patients. On a daily ordinary human level, use regular toilet soap such as bar soap. The corporate bar soap, including Dial products, is marketed as antibacterial. But a virus causes COVID-19; thus, antibacterial doesn’t help with coronavirus specifically (viruses and bacteria are two completely different enemies/pathogens). Further, even the US Federal Death Agency, I mean the US Food and Drug Administration, wrote for consumers in May 2019 that there’s not sufficient scientific evidence to say antibacterial soap is any extra helpful against bacteria/generally, and they also wrote it (well, soap with the ingredient triclosan) may even be harmful, and not just because of antibiotic resistance. Prior to this pandemic, I used plain ol’ Dr. Bronner’s bar soap. A subcategory of “toilet soap” is “Castile soap,” Castile referring to a historical region in Spain, but meaning in practical terms the soap is based on olive oil. For toilet soaps to work against viruses (remember, not talking about antibacterial or antibiotic), you want them to be surfactants (short for Surface Active Agents) containing amphiphiles. Instead of trying to kill all the pathogens, the point of bar soap is more to escort the viruses down the drain. That part, and the part about amphiphiles and surfactants, I don’t understand fully, but suffice to say, Castile soap — or at least Dr. Bronner’s bar soap — is a surfactant with amphiphiles, so I feel comfortable enough to continue using it during this pandemic. Finally, the good information about handwashing for 20-30+ seconds, minding to clean each finger and cut your nails etc., is getting newly amplified due to this pandemic, yay! You’ll want to wash your hands like that regularly with soap and water. The soap details, and the soap vs. hand sanitizer debate, may be a lot more complicated than this (there are even studies about what to do, when washing your hands, with the ring or wristwatch you typically wear), but my bullet point write-up is a bit of a rush job. Here are resources: 270-page WHO report from 2009 about guidelines on hand hygiene in health care (may not apply to everyday folks); 7-page 2009 WHO brochure for those directly involved in patient care; Lisa Bronner of the Bronner family, consumer education / advertising, especially this post; under-5-minutes video, by TV personality and chef Alton Brown; US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handwashing section; 13 March 2020 New York Times article praising toilet soap; World Health Organization handwashing post for World Water Day 2020. This research/writing should be continued further and may change as more is learned especially about novel coronavirus. I receive nada from Dr. Bronner’s and the Bronner family, I just like their stuff and frequently buy it myself.

8. Keep track of worldwide statistics using the following dashboards, but understand their limitations. Online dashboards give statistics for COVID-19 in different countries and their provinces, statistics such as number of confirmed cases, number of tests performed, number of deaths (often wrong since complications/comorbidities matter in determining what causes a death), and number of people recovered. However, there are lots of undetected cases, whether asymptomatic, mildly symptomatic, or very symptomatic and not counted. Asymptomatic (no symptoms) or mildly symptomatic (symptoms so mild they might not even be noticed) individuals can still be infected and transmit their infection to other people. Since the dashboards don’t track asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases, the true scale of the problem is bigger than the dashboards suggest. Further, some countries including the United States are not testing sufficently, and public health experts anywhere would presumably like to run more tests if possible. So, that means there are more people who are very sick and would count as confirmed cases if only tests were available enough — another reason the true scale of the pandemic is worse than the dashboards suggest. Finally, confinement facilities such as prisons, pretrial jails, psychiatric wards, detention camps, and others have a track record of not counting people accurately, to say the least (lockup facilities are targets for human traffickers), so that’s yet a third reason why already grim dashboards are not as grim as the full reality. On Wednesday 22 January 2020, the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering first publicly shared their dashboard (which has a frequently asked questions and an article in The Lancet). A version of the John Hopkins dashboard, at Esri/Environmental Systems Research Institute’s ArcGIS geographic information system website, might be easier to use. I also very much like https://nCoV2019.live/data, created around Wednesday 25 December 2019 by Avi Schiffmann, a high schooler near Seattle. All three of those pull data from authoritative sources and refresh very frequently. Here’s one for Canada by PhD epidemiology candidates @JPSoucy and @ishaberry2 at the University of Toronto’s public health school, with the COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group curating data. There’s another, very official government dashboard for Canada, but I lost track of the URL. If you have it, please post it to the comments on this post or email it to me: DAL@RISEUP.NET. Here’s global and regional COVID-19 data from the WorldOMeters.Info website, its sources listed at the bottom of its webpage. Finally, the World Health Organization’s great COVID-19 global dashboard.

Artwork via Colombian Julián Valencia, but original artist unknown.

9. As this Saturday 14 March 2020 reddit post suggests, and as the World Health Organization is changing to, don’t say “social distancing,” say “physical distancing.” As I put it: Humans are unchangeably social animals, so social distancing kills us / drives us extinct. Physical distancing is accurate and encourages people to keep interacting socially, checking on each other, talking via video or email or phone call, etc. If you’re afraid of becoming unpopular as a result of saying something unusual, namely physical distancing, nobody ain’t got no time for that lifestyle anymore. As George Orwell, Heather Marsh, Philip K. Dick, and plenty of others have said over and over, language is so powerful as to be coercive (even if the effect is sometimes only short lived). Words matter. On Friday 20 March 2020, at the daily press briefing on COVID-19, Dr. Kerkhove said the World Health Organization is changing from “social distancing” to “physical distancing” (video, see 17:40 to 18:40).

10. Review quality scientific literature or other medical expert information. If you recover from COVID-19, can you get re-infected with it later, or do you develop immunity? Very likely you develop immunity; still uncertain. A Thursday 27 February 2020 Reuters report said a Japanese tour bus guide got re-infected after recovering, but that report, a Friday 28 February 2020 Wired piece raised questions about the next day. The Guardian on Monday 16 March 2020 reported experts say the possibility of re-infection after recovery is “unlikely”, though more research is needed to be sure.

Then we have this 5.5-minute video, embedded below, by Science/Business Insider, uploaded to youtube by them Wednesday 18 March 2020. The short video uses authoritative sources, including the World Health Organization, to explain what coronavirus symptoms are like day by day. Very highly recommended:

Regarding the gastrointestinal (GI) system, two peer-reviewed medical studies about novel coronavirus in the fairly high impact scientific journal Gastroenterology, authored by different sets of Chinese doctors, are worth reading: 6-page PDF from Wednesday 26 February 2020 and 15-page PDF from Thursday 27 February 2020. By now you’ve learned the new coronavirus is spread by droplets from sneezes and coughs, and even droplets from talking and heavy breathing, and that the most common symptom is fever, with the second most common symptom being a dry cough, ANY OR ALL OF WHICH CAN THEN TURN INTO RESPIRATORY FAILURE AS FOR THIS MAN IN HIS MID THIRTIES, Clement Chow, an assistant professor of genetics at the University of Utah.

However, the Gastroenterology studies say the disease is also spread by the oral-fecal route (e.g., I assume, dirty diapers, oral sex, et cetera). A Wednesday 4 March 2020 research letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association disagrees, but does not cite the Gastroenterology studies. Though I’m not an expert, I say take the Gastroenteology studies extremely seriously and keep an eye on this/related research. The Gastroenteology studies also say COVID-19 can cause mild to moderate liver damage, and that some infected populations have shown less common GI symptoms — namely diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort — prior to the onset of the more well known respiratory symptoms. This all may change as further research is done, so keep an eye on this sort of thing and learn to read scientific/medical material. Yet also keep in mind the 2015 piece by Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, a piece that includes this:

‘A lot of what is published is incorrect.’ I’m not allowed to say who made this remark because we were asked to observe Chatham House rules. We were also asked not to take photographs of slides. Those who worked for government agencies pleaded that their comments especially remain unquoted […] The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, ‘poor methods get results’.

Would you like solutions to that massive worldwide problem? Here are solutions to that massive worldwide problem: “A societal singularity” by Heather Marsh and her GetGee framework for a collaborative global data commons for public information. I’ll try to write knowledge-bridging posts to connect that material of hers to COVID-19 soon.

The above ten bullet points leave a lot out, including political and economic material, such as international borders closing for whatever duration including the US – Canada border, but there’s enough to keep many readers busy for a while.

Bonus: The final eleventh bullet point, optimistic material, which comes in two parts. First, the 14-minute Friday 13 March 2020 Democracy Now! video interview with 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, the creator of the https://ncov2019.live/data global dashboard, who’s been programming since he was seven and says “You can learn anything online.” His site has been visited by 35 million people and counting. Avi Schiffmann’s next project is a COVID-19 vaccine tracker to keep tabs on the progress clinical trials. The transcript is here and the video is embedded below.

Democracy Now! 14-min inspirational interview with https://ncov2019.live/data dashboard creator Avi Schiffmann, a 17 year old near Seattle

Second, this Monday 16 March 2020 Common Dreams article collects short videos, mostly social media posts, of physically distancing people singing, chanting, applauding with each other across balconies during covid19 pandemic. Includes Italy, the city of Wuhan in China, Lebanon, and Spain. To finish this blog post, I’ll embed items from the Common Dreams article below.

44 seconds of singing across balconies during COVID-19 physical distancing in Spain
https://twitter.com/SupYouFoundJay/status/1239231997584826375
15 seconds of chanting across balconies during COVID-19 physical distancing in Lebanon
~1-minute video of singing across balconies during COVID-19 physical distancing in Italy
45-second video of applause/ovation for healthcare workers during COVID-19 physical distancing in Spain
https://twitter.com/UnknowTalo/status/1238979243343843328
12-second video of applause/ovation for healthcare workers during COVID-19 physical distancing in Portugal
1-minute video of residents of the city of Wuhan in China chanting “Jiayou!” meaning “Keep up the fight!” or “You can do it!”

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Bullet points: HOWTO catch up on coronavirus fast if you’ve been living under a rock (or enslaved), by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/03/23/howto-catch-up-coronavirus-fast-underrock-enslaved/ You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Oops I missed Week 11

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so…except when I’m not: I missed week 11!

Well, you know the drill: I missed another week of my blog, but hopefully I’ll be all caught up tonight and/or tomorrow.

(Source; person found them at thrift shop)

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Oops I missed Week 11, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/03/22/oops-i-missed-week-11/ You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.

Oops I missed week 10

Note: In 2020, I’m writing 52 blog posts, one per week, released on Mondays or so…except when I’m not: I missed week 10!

Pending imminent collapse, tomorrow we return to our regular scheduled programming with a post providing a collection of links helping you get all caught up and advised on COVID-19 in about ninety minutes of reading. In the meantime, enjoy this music video, under one minute and embedded below: “Coronavirus! Shit is getting real!”

Creative Commons License

This blog post, Oops I missed week 10, by Douglas Lucas, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (human-readable summary of license). The license is based on a work at this URL: http://www.douglaslucas.com/blog/2020/03/15/oops-i-missed-week-10/ You can view the full license (the legal code aka the legalese) here. For learning more about Creative Commons, I suggest this article and the Creative Commons Frequently Asked Questions. Seeking permissions beyond the scope of this license, or want to correspond with me about this post otherwise? Please email me: dal@riseup.net.