More COVID-19 dispatches

Fabricating masks

April 5, 2020

I made some of the masks in this video from UnityPoint Health in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I used scrap fabric I had around, planning on inserting some kind of filter into my mask. This New York times article on mask materials was an accessible summary of which materials that (limited) research indicates works best for homemade masks.

I took the idea of reusing a produce twist tie to allow shaping the mask nose from this video. That video was interesting because it introduced me to PM 2.5 filters, which seem popular for people worried about air quality.

The CDC has a number of mask designs and instructions as well, that are a bit simpler.

The CDC says masks can be washed in the washing machine. A doctor told NPR that masks should be thought of like underwear and washed after each use.

Every map of Chicago is the same map

April 5, 2020

WBEZ reports “in Chicago, 61 of the 86 recorded deaths – or 70% – were black residents. Blacks make up 29% of Chicago’s population.”

On Friday, ProPublica reported “African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% black.”

A great testing explainer

Both for work, and as someone living through this, I’ve been trying to understand how testing for the new coronavirus works. The inability for many people getting tested has many contributing factors, and the language of what constitutes a test “kit” is confusing. How Coronavirus Tests Actually Work (538) is an accessible explainer that is consistent with what I’ve learned from other sources over the last few weeks.

Explaining uncertainty

There is so much that researchers are still learning about the new coronavirus. While I think it’s comforting to have clear answers, it’s often more truthful, and useful to just break down the uncertainty. Every expert opinion you’ve heard about wearing masks is right (Quartz) does a good job of explaining why differing advice about whether or not the average person should wear a mask to help stop the spread of this virus is grounded in evidence.