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July 11, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Friday brought 321 new COVID-19 cases for Canada, and 10 deaths. At 27,466, the active case count is essentially unchanged, still higher than 2 days earlier.

All I'm going to say about the U.S. is 71,787 new cases in one day (yesterday), and that's likely an under-count. 849 deaths, which I think is going to look good compared to what is coming.

PPE

How Well Do Masks Work?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tp0zB904Mc (runs over 8 minutes)
So, a guy (Matthew Staymates) uses the pandemic pause to turn his garage into a small lab to do some science and share the results. How could I resist and not share this?
References for the video above:
https://sites.google.com/view/why-masks-work-references/home

National Geographic article on face masks
How to make masks that everyone will want to wear
National Geographic contacted engineers, physicists, psychologists, and fashion designers to find out the best tips for building better masks.
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/07/how-to-make-coronavirus-masks-that-everyone-will-want-to-wear-cvd/

The great PPE panic: How the pandemic caught Canada with its stockpiles down
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/ppe-pandemic-covid-coronavirus-masks-1.5645120

We aren't stocked with adequate PPE in Canada yet for medical and community health workers, and the non-medical essential workers, or the rest of us. It appears we are making progress on some specific items, but not universally. Until we are stocked and self-sufficient, we could face the same kind of overwhelming outbreaks and surges in cases as are being seen elsewhere in the world. For now, our best path forward remains suppressing virus transmission. And if that means a cautious, careful and measured re-opening of the services sector which is mindful of our constrained medical response capacity, I'm in favour.

That said, it is time to start ramping up more intense medical services outside the emergency departments and intensive care units to address the COVID collateral damage being done now. Where the case counts are low, this should present a minimal risk for individuals or the system. Obviously, if things go off the rails, we go back to higher degrees of local restrictions. Think of returning community activities to more desirable levels as the ultimate team event. And in team events, each participant is expected to do their part.

I recently received a face-shield from ETM Industries in Renfrew, and have now developed a first generation curtain for it. Expect a second-generation design for this one in days to come for easier installation and removal. Image at https://www.econogics.com/c4c/COVIDCurtain.htm .

Economy

You read it here first: a checkmark-shaped economic recovery. I have seen pundits writing about L-shaped and V-shaped recoveries, but I don't think they evoke the right image or mindset.

A checkmark shape acknowledges the hard, fast drop we witnessed in March and April. However, we are seeing the dire consequences from forcing a fast supposed recovery (V-shape) elsewhere, and it's not a good way to go. The L-shape doesn't really indicate a recovery at all.

We will increase economic activity in the future as we adjust to living with COVID-19 in our midst. Also, I like the association of the checkmark with a checklist; having a plan, a list of items to be covered, and an order to completing a multi-step activity.

953,000: The number of jobs added to the workforce last month as Canadian businesses slowly began reopening.
That number includes 488,000 full-time and 465,000 part-time positions. The unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent in June after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.

Given the number of jobs related to sectors that are not moving back to pre-COVID operations levels, and the number of businesses which were shuttered or evicted, that may indicate a reasonable step towards a stronger future economy.
https://financialpost.com/news/economy/newsalert-economy-adds-953000-jobs-in-june-unemployment-rate-falls

I'm still seeing anecdotal reports of businesses saying they are having trouble finding new workers, and are blaming the CERB for this. Still, with this kind of job growth, including almost half-a-million part-time jobs created in one month, perhaps, it isn't the CERB that's the problem. Maybe it's the lack of jobs that pay enough to get above the poverty line. Or the amount of crap floating about pretending to be job postings. Here's an example. This is an actual job description for a mid-level position I have seen multiple times now.
"If you like wild growth and working with happy, enthusiastic over-achievers, you'll enjoy your career with us!"
That's it. That's the entire job description.
Or the 'positions' which have been listed for over 6 months, where the application deadline expired months ago.

I just realized the 're-open everything now' faction hasn't been championing Sweden for a few weeks. I wonder if this might be the reason.
Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale
"This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better."
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/business/sweden-economy-coronavirus.html
Evidence and science vs. greed and myth-based ideology. It shouldn't be a tough choice.

While I, and others, have been arguing for more self-sufficiency in Canada for critical items as a lesson to be learned from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this next item seems to moving in the other direction. Surely, in modern Canadian society, clean electricity is a critical item.
B.C. power producers alarmed by plan to buy power from U.S.
https://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/regional-news/b-c-power-producers-alarmed-by-plan-to-buy-power-from-u-s-1.24162893

;-) Q: What do you call two straight days of rain in Seattle?
     A: A weekend.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 10, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

371 new COVID-19 cases in Canada yesterday, and 12 additional deaths. Active cases at 27,482, up 32 from the previous day.

Again, surviving a COVID-19 infection can bring adverse long-term health effects.
Brain problems linked to even mild coronavirus infections: study.
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/brain-problems-linked-to-even-mild-coronavirus-infections-study-1.5015319

This map shows why it would be 'terrifying' to open Canada-U.S. border.
https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/this-map-shows-why-it-would-be-terrifying-to-open-canada-u-s-border-1.5012933

Pandemic accelerating, global peak still to come: WHO chief.
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/pandemic-accelerating-global-peak-still-to-come-who-chief-1.5014246

What's the Objective on COVID-19?

Eliminating COVID-19 cases in Canada will exact too heavy a toll on society, health experts say
https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid19-reopening-balanced-1.5642689

PPE

9 face shields to help protect yourself this summer (U.S. article, U.S. prices)

If you use the pleated rectangular face masks, please view this video to learn how to make them more effective, especially for those who find commercially available masks are large.
(on TikTok, does not require an account, openly accessible - runs about 1 minute)
https://www.tiktok.com/@oliviacuidmd/video/6841373365500955909

Fraud

Health Canada issues warning over counterfeit N95 respirators.
https://www.msn.com/en-ca/health/medical/coronavirus-health-canada-issues-warning-over-counterfeit-n95-respirators/ar-BB16q3P9

Disinformation

Facebook (sigh)
Facebook met with civil rights groups after hundreds of companies joined ad boycott
Civil rights leaders organizing a major advertising boycott of Facebook said they remained unconvinced that the social network is taking enough action against hate speech and disinformation after meeting with Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives on Tuesday.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/07/07/facebook-boycott-civil-rights-zuckerberg/
Zuckerberg Tells Facebook Employees He's Not Going To Change Policies In Response To Advertiser Boycott
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/zuckerberg-tells-facebook-employees-hes-085232861.html
Zuckerberg Tells Facebook Staff He Expects Advertisers to Return ‘Soon Enough’
https://www.theinformation.com/articles/zuckerberg-tells-facebook-staff-he-expects-advertisers-to-return-soon-enough
Climate Denial Spreads on Facebook as Scientists Face Restrictions
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-denial-spreads-on-facebook-as-scientists-face-restrictions/
Facebook takes down accounts tied to Roger Stone, others amid civil rights audit findings
https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/facebook-civil-rights-audit-hate-speech-bias-1.5642311

As I have said before of social media, if you don't understand how you are paying for the product, you are the product.

If you are interested in learning more about the Stop Hate for Profit movement and the companies which have joined the advertising boycott, you can find the list here:
https://www.stophateforprofit.org/participating-businesses

Coal

Bringing coal back
In a desperate economic moment, Alberta is abruptly reshaping a decades-old balance in the Rockies and Foothills, chasing opportunity in the volatile market of coal exports, at the risk of the very land that defines the province and its people.

COVID Deficit

Some commentators are decrying the expenditure of $343 billion dollars by the Canadian government save lives and keep the Canadian economy afloat since COVID-19. It's a big number. It's a big problem. It has avoided what I believe would be a bigger overall economic hit if we had allowed over a million Canadians to flounder into bankruptcy, taking many businesses and possibly a couple of banks with them. But let's break that big number down to human terms. If we viewed it as a mortgage with a 25-year amortization rate, spread across the population of Canada, what would that number be? $343 billion / (37 million people x 25 years x 365 days/year) is about $1 per day per person. I present that for perspective as the noise level goes up in days to come.

$343 billion is roughly the federal government operating expenditures for 2018-19 ($346 billion).

Calgary has a population around 1.2 million. The recent hail storm there is expected to cost insurers at least $1.2 billion. So the real costs will be more (small amounts of damage won't be claimed if they don't significantly exceed policy deductible amounts).
Calgary’s June hail storm will cost insurers at least $1.2 billion
https://livewirecalgary.com/2020/07/08/calgarys-june-hail-storm-will-cost-insurers-at-least-1-2-billion/
That's $1,000 per person for a one-time event that lasted minutes.

The 2013 Calgary and Toronto floods cost insurers over $2.5 billion, both multi-day events.
https://www.lowestrates.ca/news/calgary-and-toronto-flooding-estimated-cost-25-billion-626

;-) Is it Friday yet?
     Yes, back in sync. Just in time for 'the weekend', whatever that is.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 9, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Wednesday, Canada reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 and 26 additional deaths. Active cases count dropped slightly to 27,450.

Airborne Transmission

Controversy over airborne transmission of COVID-19 'a tempest in a teapot,' Dr. Bonnie Henry says.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/controversy-over-airborne-transmission-of-covid-19-a-tempest-in-a-teapot-dr-bonnie-henry-says-1.5639958

Why Canadian health leaders are downplaying concerns about airborne COVID-19 microdroplets
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/why-canadian-health-leaders-are-downplaying-concerns-about-airborne-covid-19-microdroplets-1.5014023
I liked the comments from Dr. Isaac Bogoch:
In Bogoch's view, Canada has proven that the current precautions and restrictions have slowed the spread of the virus.
"We're using personal protective equipment to protect us from droplets and contact transmission of this virus… and when we use droplet precautions -- the right mask, the right gloves, right down to the right eye protection -- we were using it properly and we're not getting this infection," Bogoch explained.

This article on virus and droplet sizes (focus on N95 respirators) provides some background.
Fact check: No, N95 filters are not too large to stop COVID-19 particles
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/06/11/fact-check-n-95-filters-not-too-large-stop-covid-19-particles/5343537002/

In short, the virus doesn't travel alone in air. Aerosol events outside the ICU are rare events. Canada has been wrestling the case counts down based on evidence that person-to-person transmission via droplets are the key path (which appears to be working), while 2-step transmission via surfaces also play a smaller role. Keep doing what we're doing (in most of Canada).

Transmission Via Surfaces

Expert says studies on risk of virus transmission through surfaces don't reflect real world.
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/expert-says-studies-on-risk-of-virus-transmission-through-surfaces-don-t-reflect-real-world-1.5015069
Here are the key quotes for me:
Emanuel Goldman, Professor of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the New Jersey Medical School, wrote in a comment published in the scientific journal The Lancet last week, that he believes the risk of virus transmission through infected surfaces has been “exaggerated.” ...
“It’s not that the studies are wrong, it’s that they’re the wrong studies.”
My take-away, keep disinfecting shared surfaces regularly, but focus your efforts on avoiding person-to-person transmission via close exposure. 2-metre rule, impermeable barriers ...

Rules and Behaviour

As more jurisdictions in Canada (notably Ottawa and Toronto today) are requiring cloth face masks (Ottawa) or facial coverings (Toronto) to be worn in City and publicly accessible indoor spaces (e.g. stores), I'm concerned that there is no education on acceptable masks (or better) or how they should be used (proper donning, wearing, doffing, storing, cleaning ...).
For that matter, from my own observations, I suspect some folks could benefit from refresher training on proper hand washing, and how far 2 metres is.

PPE

Some prefer face shields to cloth masks. Experts are split on effectiveness.
https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/some-prefer-face-shields-cloth-masks-experts-are-split-effectiveness-n1232453
There's a reasonable discussion in the article above, most of which is not new to readers here.
However, there is the first mention I have seen in mainstream media about the desire for protection against virus in the air which could reach the eyes or 'leak' to the face around the edges of a face shield. Which is why I started working on the addition to the face-shield (Curtains for COVID) several weeks ago. (More on that at https://www.econogics.com/c4c/, including getting the generic pattern to make your own. Progress continues.)

This headline overstates the text a bit, but the fundamental message is valuable.
Cloth face masks offer zero shield against virus, a study shows
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13523664
(I have not tracked down the actual study yet, but will keep looking.)

;-) Is it Friday yet?
     I've lost track. Again.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 8, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada reported 232 new cases on Tuesday, and 18 additional deaths. The active cases count dropped slightly to 27,573. Complacency and frustration are likely our new most potent issues in the near-term. It's worth noting that only a very small portion of Canadians have yet been infected, about 0.2%. That's good news in the sense that what we are doing to block transmission is largely effective. It also means that most of us are still vulnerable to infection. Remember also, there is no evidence yet of long-term immunity after being surviving a COVID-19 infection.

The world is on the cusp of 12 million cases, a quarter of which are in the U.S. Canada has a front-row seat to what doesn't work to curb transmission.

The COVID-19 death count in the U.S. has now passed 130,000. That is almost certainly an under-count. That's .04% of the total U.S. population. So far. The confirmed cases count is over 3,000,000. That's almost exactly 1% of the U.S. population. Those numbers cannot help but change the country once the reality sets in. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the U.S. is still in the 'first wave'.

However, the U.S. is not even the worst case. San Marino has a small population, but over 0.1% of them have died (so far) from COVID-19 - more than one in a thousand. About 2% have been infected; 1 in 50.

PPE

Protective gear for medical workers begins to run low again (U.S.)
https://apnews.com/481d933b0caa6f5fc61f466c86d4777b
The headline is from the U.S., but PPE shortages are a global issue still.

COVID-19 and Climate Change

If you thought the COVID-19 pandemic pause was going to lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere, you will find this story disappointing.
Carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa reaches new record high at 417 ppm
https://www.msn.com/en-ca/weather/topstories/carbon-dioxide-at-mauna-loa-reaches-new-record-high-at-417-ppm/ar-BB15VuKj
If we want a survivable planet a few years from now, it appears we're going to have to do the necessary work and make the essential changes ourselves, not leave the job to the pandemic.

A huge factor in this is dramatically reducing our use of carbon fuels (oil, gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas, propane). There is good news on this front.

Electric vehicles are already cheaper to own over their lifetime cost of ownership (LCO) than gasoline or diesel vehicles, due to lower maintenance and fuel costs. The electricity grids are getting greener as renewables are coming online and coal plants are being retired.

Keep an eye on fuel costs for those of you burning gasoline for ground transportation. Industry analysts are forecasting a spike in oil prices as economic activity ramps up. Disruptions in the oil sector may also lead to localized fuel shortages. Both of those will be used to justify higher gasoline prices.

Record debts come due for Canadian oilpatch after 5 years of crisis This year's price collapse has led Canadian producers to curtail output and scrap drilling plans
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadian-oilpatch-record-debt-levels-1.5638782
Interest rates are low, but the finances of the small and medium producers are weak now. The fundamental question is whether or not this is a short-term or long-term issue. If we're planning to survive climate change as a species, it has to be a short-term issue; the demand for fossil carbon fuels can't be allowed to recover in the long-term.

Fossil fuel pipeline operators are finally being held accountable by the courts in the U.S. (and to some extent, regulators in Canada), which will slow new pipeline builds, and encourage better maintenance.
[U.S.] Supreme Court deals major blow to Keystone XL project
https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/politics/keystone-xl-supreme-court-pipeline/index.html
Judge orders temporary shutdown of controversial Dakota Access Pipeline https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/business/dakota-access-pipeline-shutdown/index.html
Duke Energy, Dominion abandon the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline https://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/news/2020/07/05/duke-energy-dominion-abandon-the-atlantic-coast-p.html
This one is confusing, because the 'Line 5 pipeline' is actually 2 pipes, an east leg and a west leg. So the shutdown was for both, but the order to restore flow was for only the western line.
Judge shuts down energy pipeline in Michigan’s Great Lakes
https://apnews.com/2b1ef26c525805a74f050ecff61d1da6
Michigan judge allows restart of disputed oil pipeline
https://www.woodtv.com/news/michigan/michigan-judge-allows-restart-of-disputed-oil-pipeline/
N.L. oil and gas board acted unreasonably by extending offshore drilling licence, court rules
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-nl-oil-and-gas-board-acted-unreasonably-by-extending-offshore/
Global LNG terminal survey casts doubt on industry as ‘safe bet’
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/07/07/news/global-lng-terminal-survey-casts-doubt-industry-safe-bet

Making more energy efficient buildings and housing are already more cost effective than building to code minimum standards on an LCO basis. That message needs to be driven home to buyers over the focus on sticker price. Cost of ownership is not just the mortgage payment, it's also the energy bills and maintenance costs over the life of the structure. An extra $50 a month on the mortgage payments is a better than spending $75 more a month on heating and cooling bills.

Reducing natural gas use will have a significant impact on overall GHG emissions as we continue to learn that fugitive emissions are a bigger GHG source than previously believed. The shift from natural gas electricity generation to using daily storage and generation from renewables will reduce the demand for natural gas. That's why the oil and gas industry is promoting the hydrogen energy fantasy, as that's their last hope for enduring markets for methane (making hydrogen from cracking natural gas, which does not reduce GHG emissions).

;-) I had this strange dream the other night, July 7th to be exact.
     I was alone in this wide open field, and on this field was a
     large number seven. This confused me, and woke me up, I looked
     at the clock and sure enough it was seven o’clock. I thought
     this was strange but didn’t think too much into it, that was
     until I hailed a taxi and, of course it was number seven as well.
     I got to thinking, “how can I use this to my advantage?” So I
     went to the local horse track, and in the seventh race of the
     day, there was a horse named “Lucky Number Seven,” so I placed
     my bet and wouldn’t you know it ...
       He came in seventh.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 7, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

399 new COVID-19 cases reported in Canada yesterday, and 9 additional deaths. Active cases at 27,672, which is an increase over the previous day, and change in the direction of the trend which had been very gradually declining.

U.S. and world COVID-19 news and data continue to be depressing. Showing the numbers each day simply doesn't register the enormity or the on-going tragedy that the rates of new cases and deaths keep going up.

The government and health authorities have to balance the well-being of their citizens on multiple scales. Health is more than deaths. Short-term financial support carries long-term consequences. We do need an economy to provide us with essential goods, services and incomes for workers. That's been proved to be a difficult balancing act in good economic times without an active pandemic. Trying to get it right with incomplete information and crisis-level pressures to act, while having to keep an eye open to political consequences and needing the prescience to see what's coming next is simply impossible.

What is within your control is protecting yourself and those close to you via preventive measures. Yes, the COVID mantras, but also managing stress, anxiety, boredom, loneliness and maintaining a healthy diet. A healthy diet is key to keeping a strong immune system, the second line of defence against COVID-19 (avoidance is the first line).

COVID Collateral Deaths and Reduced Health

Efforts to beat the coronavirus pandemic could cause over 1 million extra deaths from other diseases, experts warn
https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/06/health/death-toll-other-diseases-pandemic-coronavirus-wellness/index.html

Facebook (sigh)

Climate Denial Spreads on Facebook as Scientists Face Restrictions
The company recently overruled its scientific fact-checking group, which had flagged information as misleading
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-denial-spreads-on-facebook-as-scientists-face-restrictions/

A ‘mass experiment’ for the climate

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200624-has-covid-19-brought-us-closer-to-stopping-climate-change
Personally, I think this optimism is misplaced, and the dip in fossil fuel use was an aberration. Unless many of us take concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the spectrum, we'll just go back to business as usual on climate change as the economy 're-opens'. China's coal use has already jumped back up.
https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-chinas-co2-emissions-surged-past-pre-coronavirus-levels-in-may
Which makes this news item curious, as it may indicate China is not meeting its GHG reductions targets.
https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/china-coal-group-halts-demand-index-used-as-economic-indicator-1.1460953

'Silver bullets' are not going to eliminate COVID-19 in the short term, and we have over 30 years experience now proving they don't solve climate change. What works is massive numbers of small steps in the right direction.

Project Spotlight: Scotia Plaza's 40 King St. W. reaches new heights with first ZCB-Performance v2 certification
http://newsmanager.commpartners.com/cagbc/issues/2020-06-30/1.html

Audience Participation - Restoring Wild Waters & Safe Food to Eat
I'm connected to 2 entries related to protecting and restoring water on the planet in the Create the Future contest. Please visit these 2 links and read them. If you think they have merit, sign up and vote for both. Votes matter when we try to move these forward to find partners to make these into reality.

https://contest.techbriefs.com/2020/entries/sustainable-technologies-future-energy/10412

https://contest.techbriefs.com/2020/entries/sustainable-technologies-future-energy/10514

If you want a better 'after', that's a pretty minimal effort on your part.

;-) “Reality continues to ruin my life.”
     - Bill Watterson, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 6, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

Canada reported 219 new cases on July 5, and 10 additional deaths (weekend reporting). 27,613 active cases. Dr. Theresa Tam indicated that 66% of those infected have recovered.
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/news/2020/07/statement-from-the-chief-public-health-officer-of-canada-on-july-5-2020.html

Ponder that for a moment. Our new cases numbers have been trending down to pretty low numbers for weeks now (certainly since early June). But 34% have not recovered. About 8% of those have died. So what's the status of the other 26%? As far as I know, Canadian health officials are not tracking that data, or at least are not reporting it.
26%. That's a staggering number.

The U.S. reported 44,530 new cases yesterday - weekend numbers - and there is good reason to believe there is systemic under-counting in a number of states. I am not looking forward to the new case and death counts over the next 3 weeks as the impact of July 4th gatherings becomes evident.

World-wide, the news isn't much better. The World Health Organization said its member nations reported more than 212,000 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the highest single-day total and increase since the start of the pandemic.
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/who-reports-record-level-of-new-coronavirus-cases-largest-single-day-increase-1.5011405

Is the COVID-19 virus airborne?

I don't have the expertise or capacity to contribute to the conversation, but we need to be aware of the discussion. If the virus is airborne (per the medical definition), that has serious implications for how we implement measures to break the transmission path.
Hundreds of scientists say coronavirus is airborne, ask WHO to revise recommendations
https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/scientists-who-coronavirus-airborne-1.5638444

As I have said here before, we're still learning about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Data points to come.
1st glimpse of Canada's true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July from immunity testing
https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-19-masks-convincing-1.5638205
Take-away, we still need to increase our testing capacity.
First formal mention I have seen of a 'third wave'.

We don't have a vaccine, and we may never have one for SARS-CoV-2. I hope we do, but there is no guarantee. And a science-fiction story spread by elected leaders (U.S.) on how we can produce one on an accelerated schedule doesn't make it reality.

In my view, holding out the idea that an effective vaccine can be developed, tested and distributed within the next few months is a combination of offering false hope and disinformation.

Anybody looking at the recent new cases trends in Texas and Florida still thinking that the warm weather will be the end of COVID-19?

The truth can be uncomfortable. Believing in mythology can get you killed. Your choice.

;-) “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds.
     that I don't know the answer”.
     - Douglas Adams

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 5, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

226 new cases reported in Canada yesterday, and only 21 deaths (weekend day). After weeks of no new cases, PEI reported 3 new cases yesterday. These are not related to the re-opening of non-essential travel into toheprovince as part of the Atlantic Bubble, they were community spread from people already living there. Remember, COVID-19 is still out there, looking for its opportunities.

Disinfo

Cyber Security Today – Beware of these post office, bitcoin text scams
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/cyber-security-today-beware-of-these-post-office-bitcoin-text-scams/432650

A bit on why disinformation thrives during the pandemic.
Why conspiracy theories soar in times of crises
https://www.eurozine.com/why-conspiracy-theories-soar-in-times-of-crises/

Beating COVID-19

This aligns with something I suggested weeks - or was it months - ago. (Pandemic time, it's elastic.)
Weekly COVID-19 testing with household quarantine and contact tracing is feasible and would probably end the epidemic
https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.200915

'After'

I have been wanting to get seriously into the subject of 'after' for a couple of months now - yes, really months. Time flies during the pandemic. Actually, it's more about trying to keep up with the crazy news stories, some possible real progress, and conscious disinformation. There are limits to what people want to read in a day, and even on how much I can research, synthesize and write.

But as others are also now doing regular writing on COVID-19, a bit of serendipity. The Conversation has gathered up a series of articles about 'after', so having given them credit, here they are.

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: The power of everyday actions can bring about change
https://theconversation.com/how-to-build-a-better-canada-after-covid-19-the-power-of-everyday-actions-can-bring-about-change-140687

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Make telehealth the primary way we deliver health care
https://theconversation.com/how-to-build-a-better-canada-after-covid-19-make-telehealth-the-primary-way-we-deliver-health-care-140702

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Transform CERB into a basic annual income program
"https://theconversation.com/how-to-build-a-better-canada-after-covid-19-transform-cerb-into-a-basic-annual-income-program-140683

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Rethinking immigration can boost the economy
https://theconversation.com/how-to-build-a-better-canada-after-covid-19-rethinking-immigration-can-boost-the-economy-140928

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Launch a fossil-free future
https://theconversation.com/how-to-build-a-better-canada-after-covid-19-launch-a-fossil-free-future-140691

In a similar vein,
Pandemic stimulus could be a game changer for climate goals — if focus switches from fossil fuels, say some
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/pandemic-stimulus-could-be-a-game-changer-for-climate-goals-if-focus-switches-from-fossil-fuels-say-some-1.5636391

The above not intended for reading at a single sitting. Come back later to pick up the links as you have time. There's a lot to unlearn before we can take a rational approach to building back better. Everything connects.

It all starts from these core elements:
1) Safe air to breathe
2) Safe water to drink
3) Safe food to eat
4) Safe soil to nurture food and other plants
5) Safe shelter from the elements and other dangers
6) Wild waters that can sustain marine life and land that can support flora and fauna
But the world is complicated.

Masks (the stories keep coming)

Cloth masks likely to become mandatory on Monday — details to come.
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/cloth-masks-likely-to-become-mandatory-on-monday-details-to-come

Face shields AND face masks now mandatory on Qatar Airways.
https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/face-shields-qatar-airways/index.html

In case you thought wearing a mask or shield or both was a bit much, consider this approach for flying
Sana Javed lauds healthcare workers as she heads to airport in a hazmat suit.
https://www.geo.tv/latest/296245-sana-javed-pays-rich-tribute-to-healthcare-workers

;-) My wife and I just had a daughter and named her JuneJulyAugust.
     We call her Summer for short.
     (and in most of Canada, summers are short)

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 4, 2020 - United States Independence Day

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On July 3rd, Canada reported 319 new cases of COVID-19, 21 additional deaths, and the active case count is 27,735. (The U.S. reported 54,904 new cases, 1,522,999 active cases and 616 deaths yesterday.)

Non-medical Cloth Masks

I expect some find it tiresome that I keep coming back to this topic. (Heck, I'm getting tired of coming back to this subject). But it's important. We need to get better at breaking the virus transmission pathways. Consistently. Effectively.

Non-medical masks are not a panacea. They bring a host of their own issues, some of which I have set out in earlier posts. The reason they keep coming up in the COVID conversation is because governments around the world have not managed to produce enough quality PPE for medical staff, so they can't offer that option to others. People decided to create solutions for themselves, and now government leaders are trying to get in front of that parade.

The headlines almost always use the simple word 'mask', not making a distinction between paper, plastic, fabric, factory-produced, home-made or other features which affect their utility and effectiveness. Seeing people out in public in recent days, and in recent video footage for news, makes it clear that many don't know how to properly wear a mask, which renders them useless. That's part of the over-confidence issue; a mask worn as a chin strap isn't helping anyone, but it might be aiding virus transmission (more face touching, more contaminated material). A mask is a physical barrier device, not a magical amulet.

The terminology should not be 'mask'. It should be face covering or face protection. In fact, in most of the materials I have read from health experts, the terminology is usually something like Dr. David Williams said on May 20.
"In certain situations such as transit where you cannot be assured that you'll be able to guarantee that two metre or six foot distance, and we are recommending, strongly recommending the use of [a] facial covering, non-medical, in that time so as to prevent any further transmission to others and to respect their space as well as your space in that regard," Williams said.
https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/it-s-now-recommended-that-canadians-wear-face-masks-1.4946752
Note: The doctor never used the word 'mask'. The URL and news headline used only the word 'mask'.

Yes, 'protective face covering' is more than 4 characters long. But, in this case brevity is distorting the key message. We need to communicate that there is another option, which has definite advantages, and strong advantages for some individuals.

It's important because we're starting to shame people for not wearing 'masks', even though some people should not wear masks for medical reasons. In another part of my life, I argue repeatedly for 'performance-based' standards over 'prescriptive' standards. The former is about the desired result; the latter is about a specific and often arbitrary implementation. There are real downsides to prescriptive standards. A performance-based standard would say 'put a human on the moon'. The prescriptive standard might describe the size of slingshot to be used to accomplish that, and not allowing for any other technology to be used.

Our immediate objective is to break the transmission path for the virus. How we do it should be open to innovative approaches, as well as the tried-and-true: isolation; physical distancing; frequent hand washing with soap or using hand sanitizer; no face touching; cough and sneeze into your elbow; stationary physical barriers; and, where those aren't available, effective face coverings.

I'm still befuddled by what I perceive as mixed messaging on disposable masks. I see photo ops where government officials are handing out these plastic-wrapped masks (disposable packaging) for people to wear on public transit vehicles. These masks don't protect the wearer (don't cover eyes, don't fit tightly at the edges, and the one-size-fits-none means people wearing them touch their faces MORE. The implicit threat is that the wearer is contagious, or enough of them are to be a threat to the general population if we don't all wear masks.

I'm OK with that logic so far, even if it seems extreme compared to the statistical evidence in hand for most of Canada today. However, if the assumption is that an appreciable number of those disposable masks were contaminated by people who are contagious, why aren't we putting out bio-hazard containers to collect them, rather than just tossing them in with the regular trash (or just dropping them on the ground)? Who else is being exposed to the virus as a result of putting used masks into open trash containers or left to blow around?

Yesterday, I posted elsewhere about PEI making the shift from single use plastic bags to reusable bags ( https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/single-use-plastic-bag-ban-pei-1.5632650), including a quote to the effect the transition was made without fuss or bother - 'seamless' was the word. Can we not apply the same logic to protective face coverings? Which would include face shields (and yes, my enhancement on those - more on that at https://www.econogics.com/c4c/).

Today's last word on protective face coverings goes to Dr. Isaac Bogoch:
https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1759842371794/ (1 minute, 32 second video)

;-) July 4th PSA: On one hand fireworks are a lot of fun.
     On the other hand I only have 2 fingers.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 3, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Thursday, Canada reported 501 new cases and 27 additional deaths. The active case count is at 27,783.

If you are looking to protect your computer against ransomware, I got notice this morning from Avast Anti-Virus that their RansomWare Shield is now part of their free offering. Not only is this protection for what is now the electronic lifeline for many of us, it uses the words Virus and Shield in the product and feature names. How could I resist? And like the COVID-19 virus, you should take reasonable precautions, and then not rely on them by acting as if they aren't in place. You don't want ransomware or a virus on your computer, just like you don't want to catch the SARS-CoV-2 virus. (I have no financial interest in Avast. I use their free anti-virus software.)

I have not had time to second-source this story, but Forbes is usually pretty good on this stuff.
Anonymous Hackers Target TikTok: ‘Delete This Chinese Spyware Now’
https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2020/07/01/anonymous-targets-tiktok-delete-this-chinese-spyware-now/

Still on the China / technology bad actors front, with a Canadian aspect
Did China Steal Canada's Edge in 5G From Nortel?
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-07-01/did-china-steal-canada-s-edge-in-5g-from-nortel

I'm really trying to avoid looking continuously at the on-going train wreck which is euphemistically called COVID-19 response in the U.S. And I really try to minimize the amount of that I bring here, because there's little I can contribute, and Canada has problems of its own still on getting through the pandemic and coming to an 'after' which benefits for harsh lessons being learned here and elsewhere. With that said, take the time to read this article.

‘We Are Not Even Beginning to Be Over This Pandemic’
CDC Deputy Director Anne Schuchat did something really radical. She told the truth about Covid-19 in the US.
https://www.thenation.com/article/society/schuchat-truth-pandemic-coronavirus/
(For background: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5c3vx0ACv8&feature=youtu.be)

On Thursday, July 2, 2020, the U.S. reported 57,236 new cases of COVID-19. Looking at their stats from June 15 onwards, the rate appears to be not just increasing, but in the last week, accelerating.

We're still learning about this virus, and the associated 'infodemic'.
Canadian-led research casts doubt on accuracy of COVID-19 antibody tests
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/canadian-led-research-casts-doubt-on-accuracy-of-covid-19-antibody-tests-1.5007343

Coronavirus Australia live updates: more than 10,000 in Victoria refuse testing as state records 66 new Covid-19 cases – as it happened
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2020/jul/03/coronavirus-australia-balmain-covid-19-victoria-nsw-queensland-cases-security-guard

As the news out of the U.S. suggests we're going to need more PPE world-wide than anyone can supply, this could be useful.
Researchers Identify N95 Respirator Decontamination Method Using a Microwave
https://scitechdaily.com/researchers-identify-n95-respirator-decontamination-method-using-a-microwave/

;-) WebMD is updating its server because of a virus.
     Well, they think it was a virus, but it could also be malaria,
     kidney failure, a heart murmur, gallstones, or possibly appendicitis.
     — Crystal Lowery

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 2, 2020

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

On Canada Day, this country reported just 67 new cases and 24 additional deaths. I suspect reporting was impacted by the national holiday.

Yesterday, being a slow news day, I announced my 'Curtains for COVID' idea had been accepted by the Create the Future competition, just beating the buzzer as the deadline for entries was yesterday.
I'm just going to repeat the URL for that here:
https://contest.techbriefs.com/2020/entries/medical/10565

I think this could be a valued addition to our inventory for suppressing virus transmission. If you agree, I would appreciate help in building up the vote count for the idea.

Build Back Better

I lifted this phrase from the B.C.-based Dogwood Initiative. https://dogwoodbc.ca/
They're a community-based organization with a focus on democracy, energy and the environment. I like the words, cadence and alliteration of that phrase: Build Back Better. Words to aspire to.

How to build a better Canada after COVID-19: Launch a fossil-free future
https://theconversation.com/how-to-build-a-better-canada-after-covid-19-launch-a-fossil-free-future-140691

I am seeing some progress - people are at least engaging in conversations about making a better future, in Canada and elsewhere. The crisis capitalists have long clung to the phase, never waste a crisis.

Perhaps, this time, those of us who want a survivable planet for our kids and grandkids can take control of the agenda. If so, it will be via initiatives big and small. Where you can, be open to the spectrum of possible ways forward. Call out the cases where government and industry are using COVID for cover to expand their unsustainable practices, environmental and financial.

Part of that effort will be blocking new unsustainable policies and undoing many that exist. There is a lot of talk about systemic racism in recent days. That's an important conversation, but so is systemic support for unsustainable practices.

UVic's oily governing boards lay bare fossil fuel's deep entrenchment in Canadian society
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/07/02/opinion/uvics-oily-governing-boards-lay-bare-fossil-fuels-deep-entrenchment-canadian

Ontario extends logging industry exemption from endangered species law
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/30/news/ontario-extends-logging-industry-exemption-endangered-species-law

Something that is not sustainable is the U.S. discovering over 40,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day. For me, it's mind-boggling; I really can't wrap my head around those numbers. I can foresee this actually breaking that country's future, economically, politically, socially. Where we can, we need to do better.

Build back better. Make 'after' better than 'now'.

It's going to take some work. We're seeing the alternative south of the border. It will be worth the effort, for us, for our kids, and their kids. We're making decisions right now that are going to have very significant long-term consequences. Let's get those decisions as right as we can, recognizing we don't have complete information, but even more, we don't have the luxury of time to wait. 'Business as usual' is not a viable long-term option.

;-) What if climate change is a hoax, and we create a better world for nothing?
     Joel Pett's cartoon

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


July 1, 2020 - Canada Day

COVID-19

Warning: these posts are for 'adults'; people with the ability to think for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and prepared to work for the greater good. If that isn't you, remember to wash your hands and face with soap regularly and don't touch anything. Stay home. The Internet has plenty of content to entertain you.

It's Canada Day! By coincidence, today I'm also revealing 'Curtains for COVID'. (more below)

Canada reported 286 new cases yesterday (June 30), and 25 additional deaths. The national death rate remains in the 8.2% to 8.3% range.

PPE News

N.L.-produced gowns, face shields get green light from Health Canada.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/ppe-produced-newfoundland-labrador-eastern-health-canada-certified-1.5631021
Operation Protect collects 1.25 million pieces of PPE for BC - BC News.
https://www.castanet.net/news/BC/303806/Operation-Protect-collects-1-25-million-pieces-of-PPE-for-BC

More on Masks

Thinking about wearing a face mask? Here's some data from the BCCDC.
https://bc.ctvnews.ca/thinking-about-wearing-a-face-mask-here-s-some-data-from-the-bccdc-1.5005515
Face mask construction, materials matter for containing coughing, sneezing droplets.
https://phys.org/news/2020-06-mask-materials-droplets.html

Better Protection for the Rest of Us

Regular readers know I have reservations about cloth masks, which are forcing themselves into mandatory status because we simply have not managed to provide quantities of non-medical PPE in quantity for those who want or need them. I have been working the issue, and as of yesterday, I have some news.

I have designed and built prototypes of what I think is a better solution: a face-shield with a wraparound fabric curtain. I call it 'Curtains for COVID'. The idea has now been accepted for the Create the Future contest. You can find the entry here:
http://contest.techbriefs.com/2020/entries/medical/10565

Over the past 5 days, the U.S. has reported more than 40,000 new cases per day - each day! SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variant G appears to be more contagious and infectious than previous versions.

If you think we need a better solution for personal protection against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, something affordable that we can easily make in Canada and potentially save lives, then sign up to participate in the Create the Future contest and vote for this entry. Then share with family, friends and colleagues.

Disinformation

Democracies must unite in disinformation fight, LeBlanc says
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/30/news/democracies-must-unite-disinformation-fight-leblanc-says

There does seem to be a move afoot from the grassroots, which is driving major and mid-size corporations to get out in front of the 'Stop Hate for Profit' movement. Even social media platforms like Reddit and Twitter are taking real, if minimal and cautious, steps towards balancing discussion by tagging or removing the most egregious violations of their long-standing but minimally enforced terms of use. Facebook continues to mouth platitudes about doing something vague at some undetermined date in the future. Presumably they need to receive stronger messaging to actually live up to their own published standards for content, but until then, profits rule.

If you do use Facebook, you can still have an impact. Two key things for you to do.

1) Wherever you see information you know is incorrect or obviously slanted, call it out. It takes a little courage the first time, but you might start a supporting avalanche will cause the platform owner to take notice. If you want a safer, more transparent Internet, you can't leave all the work to others.

2) Don't click on ANY ads on Facebook. If you're tempted by something, note it, open a different shopping app (Google search, eBay, Etsy, Wish - there's about a zillion others now) and buy it on that platform. I'll put in a plug for this one:
https://www.webgiv.com/eorc.html
If you do your online shopping starting from that link, say to buy something like a book (say The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy - great, award-winning author [smile]), and make the purchase (say from !ndigo), then the organization gets a small contribution from WebGiv, at no additional cost to you (other than a few extra keystrokes).

If you stop making the advertising profitable for the advertisers on a specific platform, they'll notice. If you start creating friction for the disinformation trolls, it will slow them down (though this takes time).

By the way, this is EORC - The Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre.
https://www.eorc-creo.ca/EORC.php
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their workload and decreasing their usual donations funding base - like just about every other community health and services agency. Give the WebGiv application a try, and help them out. Make a better community and better Canada.

;-) What is a Canadian?
     A Canadian is a fellow wearing English tweeds, a Hong Kong shirt and
     Spanish shoes, who sips Brazilian coffee sweetened with Philippine
     sugar from a Bavarian cup while nibbling Swiss cheese, sitting at a
     Danish desk over a Persian rug, after coming home in a German car
     from an Italian movie… and then writes his Member of Parliament with
     a Japanese ballpoint pen on French paper, demanding that he do
     something about foreigners taking away our Canadian jobs.

Spread knowledge, not the virus.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home if you can.
We're not done yet. Not nearly.


For earlier entries, see earlier blog file.

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