March 20, 2020 by Steven Ng (Updated November 24, 2021)
Update from November 23, 2021 - this article has not been updated in a long time (and is no longer being updated), so it may contain out-of-date information.
Why Is This Article Even Here?
I normally stick to business and tech topics, but the pandemic is an extraordinary event, perhaps the biggest global event of my lifetime. This pandemic affects everything and everyone. Business and tech aren't free of its impact, and it's going to be at the forefront of our consciousness for some time.
The most important piece that I've read so far has been Dr. Michael Lin's presentation on SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19. Dr. Lin is a PhD/MD who teaches at Stanford. His presentation covers many aspects of the virus and resulting disease, and is incredibly information dense. While there are a lot of scientific terms in it, I tend to think most people should be able to read and understand what he's trying to communicate.
Just a note, this is an American article, so "CA" is referring to California, not Canada.
Another note, Dr. Lin updates the document periodically, but that Google Drive link above should always have the latest version.
While there are other excellent long form pieces to read, this will be the only one I am linking at this moment, only because I know that many people don't want to read long form articles, and it's easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out by a deluge of information.
If, however, you are looking for a good list of curated long form articles, Jason Kottke has been posting and summarizing many of the ones he's been finding on his blog.
Other General Information Links
- Coronavirus Case Tracker
- Coronavirus Trends
- Infection Trajectory - See the infection curve for different countries
- Johns Hopkins Global Dashboard
- Bing's Coronavirus Tracker
- Reddit's Subreddit on Novel Coronavirus
- Should COVID-19 Patients Avoid Taking Ibuprofen? Snopes considers this unproven, but if you have symptoms, get advice from the health practitioner treating you.
- Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide
- The coronavirus pandemic in five powerful charts
- Grocery shopping information
- How Coronavirus Tests Actually Work
- Ventilators 101: What They Do and How They Work
- NYT has released its US dataset of confirmed coronavirus cases - For non-commercial use, attribution required.
- The Case for Universal Cloth Mask Adoption & Policies to Increase the Supply of Medical Masks for Health Workers
- What are the best materials for making DIY masks? Any filtration is better than no filtration.
- Face masks for COVID-19: A deep dive into the data
- A.B. Mask Pattern - designed for a nurse by a nurse
- Rag Mask Pattern
- How To Sew Your Own Fabric Mask
Information for Canadians
- A Good Dashboard for Ontario COVID Stats
- The official Government of Canada page for COVID
- COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
- A flowchart of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and EI
- Carleton University Professor Jennifer Robson's Breakdown of Canada's Various Programs
- Bank of Canada Statement on Cash
- Dutton Law's FAQ on the CERB
Important: The Government is not contacting people by phone, email, text or door-to-door offering free tests. These are scams, so please do not fall for them.
I have found that YouTube channels have been much better at creating informative, educational content related to the virus and pandemic than the traditional TV news media. I'm biased, but I think clear explanations, with easy to understand visuals are a critical tool to get everyone on board with all of the measures being taken to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
The communication problem as outlined by a UX researcher..
Micro Droplets Suspending in Air
This is an interesting, if not gross, explanation of droplets being suspended in air after sneezing and loud talking, etc.
Micro droplets suspending in air from MixonK on Vimeo.
Should People Wear Masks?
CBC interviews a couple of doctors on this issue, including Dr. Michael Lin, whose PDF documented I linked at the top of this page.
Pandemic Preparedness in the Next Administration: Keynote Address by Anthony S. Fauci
A speech by Dr. Fauci made in early 2017 seems quite prescient today.
The Coronavirus Explained & What You Should Do
A very well researched and sourced video.
Why Fighting the Coronavirus Depends On You
This is the best explanation I've seen so far on "flattening the curve". Right now, I don't get the perception that most people realize that they will likely get the virus at some point, and are somewhat dismissive of social distancing efforts. Social distancing efforts in the west right now are all about managing load on the health care system.
As it relates to health care capacity in Canada:
- As of 2018, Canada has a population of ~37M people
- For that population, Canada has 5000 ventilators spread across the country
- As of 2017, Canada has 2.52 beds per 1,000 people, a number that has been steadily declining. Globally, we're ranked 36th in this metric. For comparison, China has 4.34/1000, Italy has 3.18/1000. At the top of the list are Japan and Korea, with 13.05/1000 and 12.27/1000, respectively.
- Keep in mind that many of those hospital beds are already occupied with other illnesses.
- As of 2013-2014, it was estimated that Canada had 12.9 adult ICU beds per 100,000 population. If you want to extrapolate, that's roughly 4800 adult ICU beds spread across the country. In reality, those beds aren't spread evenly across the country, nor in each province.
If, for argument's sake, only 1% of Canada's population gets severe symptoms from a SARS-CoV-2 infection at around the same time, that's 370,000 people. Our entire health care system would collapse under the weight. That's why we need to flatten the curve. Everything we're doing is about managing load and slowing the spread. Vaccines are over a year away, SARS-CoV-2 is not going to disappear in that time period.
How Soap Kills The Coronavirus
Vox has a nice little video explaining how simple soap is a critical tool during this pandemic.
How Germs Spread
Mark Rober has an excellent video that will help you visualize the spread of germs.
TED Interview With BIll Gates
Bill Gates on how we must respond to the pandemic.gu
Why New Diseases Keep Appearing In China
Vox has an explainer on why zoonotic viruses keep appearing in China.
A couple of important notes:
- Not all wet markets are wildlife wet markets.
- If you are looking to allocate responsibility, focus on the policies that allow wildlife markets to exist, and the small number of individuals/entities responsible for those policies. Please don't go around blaming an entire ethnicity or country's population for an outbreak, because a) that blame is misplaced, and b) it's racist and/or xenophobic. I debated as to whether to include this video, and I did so with the good faith belief that everyone is capable of critical thinking. Please don't prove me wrong.
Supplementary viewing/reading for this particular video:
- New York Times: How the Virus Got Out - Free but requires registration
- "The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb." - A quote from a 2007 paper on SARS reemerging
- Nature: The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2
- Netflix: Explained Season 2, Episode; The Next Pandemic
- Netflix Canada: Contagion (fictional but realistic account of a similar but more deadly pandemic)
- Office Noise Simulator - Simulates the ambient noise found in an office setting
- Online Symptoms Checker
- Epidemic Calculator - This lets you simulate the effects of a pandemic.
- Virus Spread Simulator - While not a real world simulation, the visualization of spread is still educational.
- How Much Toilet Paper? - While this might seem like a joke, the phenomena of toilet paper hoarding is very real. This calculator can help alleviate some of that perceived anxiety for this one critical staple product.
Let's all remember that the impact to society isn't just medical. There's a huge economic cost as well. People who can't afford to miss work will be impacted severely. Businesses will close, many permanently.