I’ve been on self-quarantine since returning from the NICAR conference, where one attendee later tested presumptively positive for the new coronavirus.

One result of this is being able to do some maintenance on this website and I thought I’d use it to take some notes on information that stands out.

Fabric masks

I’ve seen a few guides on how to make fabric masks, and heard stories about how some hospitals requesting homemade masks, but this doc, Fabric Mask Best Practices, has the most detail I’ve seen and an appropriate amount of caveats.

A really good show

I’ve seen people organize online poetry readings and fashion shows, which is awesome, but it’s been hard to make some of these or it’s felt strange to enter an intimate space, even a virtual one, with strangers. Don Giovanni Records has organized an online fest, Going the Distance, and I am truly excited.

It starts at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 23 with the last set at 11:00 p.m.

Nasal swab

March 18, 2020 01:30 a.m.

If you’re curious about what a drive-through COVID-19 test looks like, this is it:


March 18, 2020 01:20 a.m.

I live with roommates, and really have done so for most of my adult life. This resource offers reasonably simple ideas for reducing risk to people you live with.

Things to do

March 17, 2020 12:30 a.m.

Tonight I went to a restorative yoga class. It was over Zoom. It was harder to focus, lying on a mat in my room, which has become my office and dining room and still had the remnants of each scattered around me. Still, it felt nice to do something that was in real time, even if everyone was remote.

It seems like many people are trying to find ways to be social, even as we try to keep a healthy distance. I’ve seen dance parties, a calendar of livestreamed musical performances, meditation, origami instruction and people hanging out in colorful 3-D virtual worlds.

Coronoavirus and the incarcerated

March 15, 2020 7:35 p.m.

Coronavirus and Prisons: A Toxic Combination (The Marshall Project) is a good rundown of the dangers facing incarcerated people from this virus which include barriers to hand washing and bans on hand sanitizer.

In Illinois, activists are petitioning the governor to provide medical furloughs or compassionate release for elderly or infirm people in prison who would be at higher risk if infected.

There are already some changes that will impact those in the criminal justice system. The Chief Judge in Cook County, Illinois has postponed most court cases for 30 days. Many on probation do not need to meet in-person with their probation officers.

Simulating social distancing

March 15, 2020 4:30 p.m.

The Washington Post has published a great visual explainer showing how different strategies for limiting social interaction slow and limit (or fail to) the transmission of the disease. It’s important to understand that these visualizations are for a simulated infection, not the new coronavirus, but this was the first time I really understood what it looked like when infected people have broad contact with others.

I think part of that struggle is the disconnect between the present and the past and between here in the U.S. and other places.

A timeline of the United States’ slow response

March 15, 2020 4:30 p.m.

The March 11 episode of “The Daily”, Why the U.S. Wasn’t Ready for the Coronavirus, has an easy-to-understand timeline of the U.S.’ misteps in making testing available to the virus, from the president shutting down a White House office created to respond to global health crisis, the delays caused by the decision of the CDC to make its own test instead of using the WHO’s and prohibiting researchers in Washington State from using an existing infectious disease research program and their own test to understand the spread of the virus.

A wild information environment

March 15, 2020 2:45 p.m.

I’ve seen even journalists share later discredited information, or be imprecise about the takeaways from even credible news. For example, the Los Angeles Times reports that some people who testedvery positive for the virus and recovered from symptoms are once again testing positive for the virus. It’s easy to take away from this that people are getting reinfected, but a careful reading of the article shows that there are a number of reasons why someone might retest as positive.

As with everything about this virus, there’s still a lot that experts are learning.

The U.S. is testing more slowly than other countries

March 15, 2020 2:35 p.m.

Rani Molla (Recode) made this chart and writes:

As of March 12, Americans had tested fewer than 10,000 people total when South Korea was testing that number of people in a day. Even Italy, where the coronavirus’s spread has forced the country to shut down, is testing people at a much higher rate than the US.

Source: VoxCare Newsletter, March 13, 2020