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June 30, 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 668 new cases on Monday. Even allowing for the 3 days of backlogged Quebec data, this still suggests an upward trend since June 25th, which showed another anomalous spike. 44 additional deaths were reported, again a spike reflecting the catch-up on Quebec data. Active cases dipped to 28,174.

What does it take to trigger a fresh outbreak?
Sharing a cigarette lighter may have sparked a COVID-19 outbreak in Australia.
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/sharing-a-cigarette-lighter-may-have-sparked-a-covid-19-outbreak-in-australia-1.5003305

Virus Mutation

This coronavirus mutation has taken over the world. Scientists are trying to understand why.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2020/06/29/coronavirus-mutation-science/
Please read the article above. Here's a couple of sentences from it:
"At least four laboratory experiments suggest that the mutation makes the virus more infectious, although none of that work has been peer-reviewed. Another unpublished study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory asserts that patients with the G variant actually have more virus in their bodies, making them more likely to spread it to others.
"The mutation doesn’t appear to make people sicker, but a growing number of scientists worry that it has made the virus more contagious."

This speaks to the need for even more vigilance on breaking the transmission pathways, and our testing has to tell us which variants we are dealing with, as that may inform treatment decisions as we gain more experience and options.

Deception - It's not going away

Ransomware is now your biggest online security nightmare. And it's about to get worse.
https://www.zdnet.com/article/ransomware-is-now-your-biggest-online-security-nightmare-and-its-about-to-get-worse/

He quit his job to take a new position — but the job offer was a scam.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/job-offer-sobeys-scam-covid-19-fraud-1.5628966

Canada's new contact tracing app is likely going to be deployed in Ontario this week or next. The bogus versions intended to steal your personal information are already in the wild seeking victims. If you plan to download the app - when it becomes available - make sure you get the legitimate version and not a fake.

Speaking of tracking people, Tim Horton's is very interested in their customers's habits and travel patterns. It would make me uncomfortable to have their app on my mobile device.
Canadian privacy commissioners to investigate Tim Hortons data collection practices
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/canadian-privacy-commissioners-to-investigate-tim-hortons-data-collection-practices/432594
On the other hand, I wish they would focus on just getting my lunch order right (though it is a long time since I provided them any business).

Got a webcam on your laptop or other computer or mobile device? Then you might find this unsettling.
Webcam Security: How to Stop Your Camera from Being Hacked
https://www.avast.com/c-webcam-security

COVID-19 is bad enough. We don't need people being victimized by scams, hoaxes, disinformation, identity theft, ransomware, etc. Keep your guard up against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the other less physical pestilences which are circulating now, too.

Expect more stories like this (U.S., but Canada won't be immune from this sort of fraud).
FEMA Ordered $10.2 Million in COVID-19 Testing Kits It’s Now Warning States Not to Use
https://www.propublica.org/article/fema-ordered-10-2-million-in-covid-19-testing-kits-its-now-warning-states-not-to-use
He Removed Labels That Said “Medical Use Prohibited,” Then Tried to Sell Thousands of Masks to Officials Who Distribute to Hospitals
https://www.propublica.org/article/he-removed-labels-that-said-medical-use-prohibited-then-tried-to-sell-thousands-of-masks-to-officials-who-distribute-to-hospitals

The 'After' Economy

It really is too early to get overly concerned about how we're going to pay for the Canadian federal government's ongoing expenditures to keep many Canadians from financial ruin, but already the right-wing ideologues from the "don't tax my wealth" camp are trying beat that tattoo. Too soon, because we don't know what the final tab will be, but also because we need to start the discussion by looking at the alternative, which would include massive numbers of recently-working Canadians declaring bankruptcy, taking small businesses and creditors with them. Canadian banks are already heavily leveraged due to their massive exposure to the collapsing Canadian bitumen industry. The prospect of massive consumer bankruptcies and the disappearance of the small businesses they gouge continuously also disappearing is probably an existential issue for the banks. Strategic investments by the Canadian government (note the provincial governments have been almost universally silent about strategic investing for their business sectors), it's possible we could be creating a revival in small and medium businesses in manufacturing and the sectors that support manufacturing (minerals, agriculture, forestry, energy). In the longer term, that's going to depend more on Canadian consumers and the behaviour of other countries ('trading partners', though I think the term 'partner' is a bit generous in view of recent (mis?)behaviour by some of those countries in the past months).

So, who is going to pay for all the money the Canadian federal government is spending now to protect Canadians from the COVID-19 pandemic? How about the Canadians who will be alive and healthy a year and more from now, working to make PPE for the continuing demand in Canada, but especially for export markets. Perhaps even innovative products. People working to implement environmentally superior energy systems based on efficiency, conservation, wind, solar and other renewables, and efficient energy storage. People working in revitalized long-term care facilities, home and community health care because we shift priorities, demonstrate that we value these people in care, and those providing the care. People developing and making the innovative products and approaches to delivering that care to improve quality of life. So much more to be explored on this topic.

And, based on today's stories, there will be money to be had recovering funds from those supplying fraudulent materials under the cover of the pandemic panic purchasing. There may also be some lawsuits related to operators of long-term care facilities, and fines.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy Canada Day.

;-) This is too difficult for a mathematician. It takes a philosopher.
     - Albert Einstein [on filing income tax returns]

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


June 29, 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.

Quebec daily data is still missing. The rest of Canada reported 218 new cases, and 6 additional deaths on Sunday, June 28th. Much of the rest of the world is not doing as well. Seems there is more to controlling COVID-19 than just waiting for warm weather.

I'm just going to quote from the World Health Organization Situation Report for June 28th. I don't know how to summarize this or emphasize the seriousness beyond their text.
========================================================================
Situation Report–160
Data as received by WHO from national authorities by 10:00 CEST, 28 June 2020
Today we report a record number of new cases in the last 24 hours globally (189 077 cases), with several countries reporting their highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period. As Dr Tedros remarked in his media briefing on 24 June, ‘(E)ven as we continue research into vaccines and therapeutics we have an urgent responsibility to do everything we can with the tools we have now to suppress transmission and save lives.’ WHO has recently updated guidanceon critical actions countries can take.

Planes carrying more than 4.7 million items of personal protective equipment, procured by WHO/Europe with funding from the European Union, have landed in Azerbaijan, Belarus and Ukraine over the last two days. The essential protective equipment will help health-care workers in the three countries respond effectively and safely to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The phenomenon of an ‘infodemic’ has escalated to a level that requires a coordinated response. An infodemic is an overabundance of information–some accurate and some not–occurring during an epidemic. WHO is holding its first Infodemiology Conference, with a public conference on 29 June followed by a scientific conference from 30 June through 16 July.
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200628-covid-19-sitrep-160.pdf
========================================================================

On Sunday, the world exceeded ten million reported, confirmed cases of COVID-19. That is almost certainly an under-count based on the politicization of the pandemic in many countries. World-wide we also exceeded half-a-million dead from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Again, likely an under-count. Globally, the rate of new daily cases and related deaths are both accelerating.

Coronavirus milestones: 10 million cases, 500,000 deaths worldwide
https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/06/28/Coronavirus-milestones-10-million-cases-500000-deaths-worldwide/1401593351186/

PPE

You might be wearing your mask, gloves wrong. How to use PPE properly
https://globalnews.ca/news/7106999/coronavirus-how-to-use-masks-gloves/

The 'After' Economy

BP's stranded Canadian, Angolan assets expose wider industry risks
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-bp-strandedassets-analysis/bps-stranded-canadian-angolan-assets-expose-wider-industry-risks-idUSKBN23V1ZY
"When BP (BP.L) slashed its long-term oil price outlook last week, prospects in Canada and Angola were rendered worthless"

If you are an oil investor, that has to get your attention. There are a lot more oil majors invested in Alberta bitumen than just BP, though those numbers are declining significantly in the past 2-3 years. Fortunately for shareholders, Alberta's government has no intention of asking those mostly foreign-owned multi-national mega-corporations to clean up their own messes - per their legal obligations - not when the bill can be handed to Canadian taxpayers.

Kenney government boosts budget for public inquiry looking at how anti-oil groups are funded, extends report’s deadline.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7110718/alberta-public-inquiry-oil-environment-october/

Until there is an equivalent, government-funded, inquiry into the funding of oil exploration and production operations, this is implicitly a disinformation operation, paid for by taxpayers.

New report suggests Alberta is overspending public dollars on fossil fuel research and technology development
https://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/alberta-diary/2020/06/new-report-suggests-alberta-overspending-public-dollars-fossil

Another pipeline wrinkle
Michigan judge shuts down Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in Great Lakes.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/article-michigan-judge-shuts-down-enbridges-line-5-pipeline-in-great-lakes/

This may not be the news the oil industry was looking for, but it's going to let millions of Californians breathe a cleaner sigh of relief.
California's Landmark Electric Truck Rule Targets 'Diesel Death Zone'
https://www.npr.org/2020/06/26/883634480/californias-landmark-electric-truck-rule-targets-diesel-death-zone
I liked this quote from the article:
"The drivers love 'em," says Bill Bliem, who oversees truck fleets for NFI. "They have nothing but great things to say about them — how quiet they are, how, you know, they don't come home smelling like diesel."

On a positive note, if responding effectively to oil spills is of any interest to you, take 4 minutes and check out this entry in the Create the Future competition produced by Tech Briefs.
Greatly Expanding Means of Cleaning Near-shore and Inland Waterways
https://contest.techbriefs.com/2020/entries/sustainable-technologies-future-energy/10514
(I'm part of the team, and this model builds on years of research on vessels designed to be affordable, trailerable, multi-functional, capable of quick reconfiguration, and respond to various on-water events including oil spills, algae blooms, picking up plastic and other floating pollution, and a host of other tasks. If you think this subject is important as part of 'after', please take the time to Sign Up and then, once registered, vote for this entry.)

;-) What do you call the world's most famous oil painting?
     The Gulf Of Mexico.

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


June 28, 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 238 new cases on Saturday, presumably not including Quebec which has halted daily reporting since June 25th until some time this coming week. 8 additional deaths, not including Quebec.

Alberta records biggest jump in COVID-19 cases since May 16.
https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/alberta-records-biggest-jump-in-covid-19-cases-since-may-16-1.5002917

Asymptomatic COVID-19 findings dim hopes for 'herd immunity' and 'immunity passports'.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/asymptomatic-covid-19-1.5629172

My opinion, the eventual solution - after we have exhausted all others - is the conceptually simple one. Division by controllable jurisdictions. Test everyone. Real isolation for active carriers until they test negative - twice - tests 2 weeks apart. Hospitalization for those with serious symptoms. Enforced perimeter controls. Open borders slowly when there is evidence that new cases are at zero on both sides. Sufficient capacity for fast reaction contact tracing when cases do appear. Continue improving testing technology to reduce false positives and false negatives, and make testing more available and with faster turn-around on results. Lock the virus down and lock the virus out. In the meantime, keep at the boring stuff that actually works to break the transmission chain.

We have not beat COVID-19, and we're playing defence. Even small lapses will let the virus spread into new outbreaks. Keep your guard up, and don't rely on luck to keep you safe. Help keep others safe as well.

Disinformation

Russian hacker group Evil Corp targets US workers at home.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53195749

Facebook
Zuckerberg Loses $7 Billion as Firms Boycott Facebook Ads
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-27/mark-zuckerberg-loses-7-billion-as-companies-drop-facebook-ads
Seems $7 billion IS enough to get Mark Zuckerberg's attention. Not enough to get an actual commitment to stop taking money for spreading disinformation and hate speech, but enough to get his attention, for a few minutes. Perhaps $70 billion could get him to actually focus, which is just over 10% of the company market valuation at the start of the week. Until then, the world's biggest disinformation engine will continue to operate and profit from misinforming Facebook users.

More than 80 brands join movement to pause Facebook advertising — here’s why
https://globalnews.ca/news/7116313/brands-halt-facebook-advertising/
From that article:
In a statement, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg are “no longer simply negligent,” but “complacent in the spread of misinformation, despite the irreversible damage to our democracy.” - and -
Johnson said these actions will “upend the integrity” of the 2020 Presidential election.

Sask. walks back chief medical health officer's pledge to share more detailed COVID-19 info
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/walks-back-pledge-to-share-more-detailed-covid-19-info-1.5628932
So long as the Saskatchewan government only permits lifting of restrictions based on the same (large) zones as it is prepared to report at, I suspect this is OK. However, if restrictions are based on more smaller zones, that's not transparent and is open to external pressure.

PPE

Local businesses 'very grateful' for donation of face shields (4 photos). [Orillia, Ontario]
https://www.orilliamatters.com/coronavirus-covid-19-local-news/local-businesses-very-grateful-for-donation-of-face-shields-4-photos-2523113
This is the medical grade Shield-U product made by Molded Precision Components and Sterling Industries.
https://shield-u.com/

Family doctors turn to charity, other businesses to address PPE shortage.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/covid-19-family-doctor-ontario-personal-protective-equipment-1.5626694
If we want to re-open, slowly, cautiously and safely, we need gear for workers which breaks the virus transmission chain.

Freeland pitches 'made in Canada' supply lines as country braces for 2nd COVID wave
The government is asking manufacturers to build up domestic supply lines to prepare for the next catastrophe
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/chris-hall-freeland-pitches-made-in-canada-supply-lines-as-country-braces-for-2nd-covid-wave-1.5629066
Perhaps Canada is not quite so 'almost self-sufficient' in PPE as the messaging on Friday. If you are looking to pivot to making PPE from whatever you used to be doing, I suspect there is still time and need.

Shift to reusable PPE 'an immediate need' for public health — but transition won't be simple, experts say.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/reusable-ppe-covid-19-manitoba-1.5628089
Note mention of N95 respirator masks which can be reused up to 30 times - developed in Manitoba.

;-) What's the best thing about Switzerland?
     I don't know, but their flag is a huge plus.

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


June 27, 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.

Only 172 new cases reported in Canada yesterday (Friday). The number of deaths rose by just 4. Amazing - or an anomaly due to the end of daily reporting by the province of Quebec, which accounts for most of the new cases and deaths in Canada. Active cases count at 28,560, a very small drop.

One day after announcing the end of daily statistics reporting, the Quebec government reversed course and said it will go back to daily reporting.
Quebec reverses decision, will resume daily COVID-19 reports
https://www.thewhig.com/health/quebec-reverses-decision-will-resume-daily-covid-19-reports/wcm/7159dd83-1c7f-46fa-a83b-c71ea437a3b9

I guess we may get an unpleasant surprise on Monday or Tuesday when the Quebec stats start being reported again.

PPE

Canada almost self-sufficient in PPE as Canadian businesses step up: PM
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-ppe-covid19-1.5628237
This is good news indeed, for Canadian front-line health workers, for Canadian businesses which made the shift and now are selling product, and all of us who will benefit indirectly. I look forward to the stories from medical workers (hospitals, dentists, optometrists, long-term care, home-care) that they are so awash in medical and N95 masks that they are being used as intended - single use per patient encounter and then discarded as (potentially) contaminated waste.

Once we reach that desired level of supply within the country universally, it will be time for EDC (Export Development Canada) to step up with their programs to help these businesses move into export markets - notably the U.S. due to proximity and demand.

The U.S. reported over 37,000 new cases on Thursday and 41,000 cases on Friday. Now that's a growth curve. And almost certainly under-counting as testing is not keeping up.
Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

Next PPE niche to address: medical gowns
The Latest Pandemic PPE Shortage: Gowns
https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/932991"

Toilet Paper

Because COVID - still weird the supply chains have not adjusted yet.
Australia caps toilet roll sales after panic-buying
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-53196525
Which somehow makes this newsworthy. Sigh.
'I love your rolls, baby!' Rebel Wilson kisses her stash of TOILET PAPER... amid re-emerging panic buying crisis
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-8463529/Rebel-Wilson-kisses-stash-TOILET-PAPER-amid-emerging-panic-buying-crisis.html

In actual news - well - a new report about an old story about toilet paper ...
U.S. toilet paper production is wiping out Canada's boreal forest, report claims
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/toilet-paper-wars-contested-report-claims-tp-production-devastating-canadian-forests-1.5577467

Don't we have better uses for actual logs? Structural lumber? Furniture? Toothpicks? Quality paper? Leave it standing to capture more CO2 from the atmosphere? Habitat for endangered species?
Really, toilet paper is pretty much the poster-case for a single-use product, which is going to meet its (or your) end for a necessary yet unattractive function. Does it really require virgin lumber or have to be cosmetically perfect to hold its place of prominence in the loo?

In your 'after' (or even 'now'), take 30 seconds when buying your TP to look for an indication there is some recycled content in the product. Yes, there are companies that use recycled paper to make toilet paper. Cascades is one, there are likely others.

;-) Stock Market Report
     Helium was up, feathers were down. Paper was stationary.
     Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading. Knives were up
     sharply. Pencils lost a few points.
     Hiking equipment was trailing. Elevators rose, while escalators
     continued their slow decline. Weights were up in heavy trading.
     Mining equipment hit rock bottom. Diapers remained unchanged.
     The market for raisins dried up. Balloon prices were inflated.
     And toilet paper touched a new bottom.

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


June 26, 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.

380 new cases reported in Canada yesterday, a slight rise over the previous 4 days. The number of deaths rose by 20 to 8,504. Active cases count at 28,693. The trend is progress, but the bumps say we need to remain vigilant and continue doing the boring stuff. Be careful as you attend re-opening locations, you really don't want to catch this virus.

I was going to pass on doing a post today, but a few items popped yesterday that I don't want to wait.

This Calgary apartment building is a hotspot for COVID-19
https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/this-calgary-apartment-building-is-a-hotspot-for-covid-19-1.4998988

CDC chief says coronavirus cases may be 10 times higher than reported
Agency expands list of people at risk of severe illness, including pregnant women
https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/06/25/coronavirus-cases-10-times-larger/
If you don't test for the virus, that doesn't mean it isn't out there. Just like, if you don't test an elected official's IQ, it doesn't mean he isn't stupid.

If you are a Canadian business, and you're looking for current and future export markets, the U.S. is going to be buying all the PPE and other treatment options they can - at least until their economy implodes for lack of healthy workers. It's just my opinion, of course, but this is going to go from bad to catastrophic. Plan accordingly.

Global report: WHO warns of global shortage of oxygen equipment
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/25/global-coronavirus-report-who-warns-of-global-shortage-of-oxygen-equipment
“Many countries are now experiencing difficulties obtaining oxygen concentrators,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Demand is currently outstripping supply.”

Covid-19 vaccine may not work for at-risk older people, say scientists
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/23/covid-19-vaccine-may-not-work-for-at-risk-older-people-say-scientists
A vaccine against Covid-19 may not work well in older people who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill and dying from the disease, say scientists, which may mean immunising others around them, such as children.

Quebec stops publishing daily COVID-19 data despite leading country in number of cases
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-covid-19-death-1.5626260
I always worry when an ideological regime chooses to become less transparent on data which shows them in a poor light (a trademark move of the past Harper government). The Quebec government data was already not granular enough, which led other organizations to do the analysis linking cases in Montreal sub-regions to income and ethnicity correlations. The question in my mind today is, what is the Quebec government looking to hide in future data?

Masks and Shields

Should You Wear a Clear Plastic Face Shield?
https://vitals.lifehacker.com/should-you-wear-a-clear-plastic-face-shield-1844154537
Coronavirus and Face Masks: Everything You Need to Know This Summer
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a32703820/coronavirus-face-mask-guide/

For those of you still keeping track, today is Friday.

;-) Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.

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


June 25, 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.

279 new cases reported in Canada yesterday. 30 additional deaths. 28,667 active cases.

Household (Indoor) Air Quality - Pathogens

We know about washing our hands, not touching our face, coughing and sneezing into our elbows, isolation, staying at home, physical distancing, disinfecting surfaces and the rest of the COVID-19 mantras.

Is there anything else we can do to combat virus spread, particularly in our homes where we are spending more time during pandemic? Probably. We can actually treat the air in our homes.

Before going further, a couple clarifications. Most 'air purifiers' can be categorized as filters or ionizers.

Filters don't directly kill viruses; they collect them in the filter, and the virus will likely eventually die without a host cell to live in. The filters have to be very fine to trap viruses. High Effciency Particulate Air (which is why everyone just calls them by the acronym HEPA) filters are not all equal, they come in varying grades as to how fine a partical they can trap. Cutting to the chase:
"HEPA H13-H14 are within the highest tier of HEPA and are considered medical grade quality. Whereas H10-H12 filters only trap 85-99.5% of all particles that are 0.1 microns in diameter, HEPA H13 and H14 trap 99.95% and 99.995% of such particles, respectively."
[https://medifyair.com/blogs/blog-feed/medical-grade-hepa-true-hepa-and-hepa-type-what-s-the-difference]

If you are using an air filter as an air purifier in your home during the pandemic, when removing a used filter, treat it as though it is holding live SARS-CoV-2. There is no way for you to know if it is or not while handling it. Wear a face shield, have an intact plastic bag big enough to enclose the filter ready, don't knock the filter around when removing and containing it, seal the bag, and then wash your hands and face with soap and water.

If you think that's overkill, why are using an air cleaning filter during the pandemic in the first place?

This article from Consumer Reports focuses on air filter type purifiers. Note their cautions.
What You Need to Know About Air Purifiers and the Coronavirus
https://www.consumerreports.org/air-purifiers/what-to-know-about-air-purifiers-and-coronavirus/

One additional catch for using filters against SARS-CoV-2. To be effective, the virus has to reach the filter. So far, the balance of evidence suggests that this virus is not airborne for very long; it tends to fall onto surfaces and the ground.

Ionizers

Despite recent interest in devices which create negative ions for dealing with airborne SARS-CoV-2 viruses, this is not a new technology. If implemented properly, the technology can be effective on various bacteria and viruses. Much of this technology evolved from smoke removers (when smoking tobacco indoors was a common habit). A sampling of studies and articles.
Effect of Negative Air Ionization on Airborne Transmission of Newcastle Disease Virus (1994)
https://www.jstor.org/stable/1592107?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
Air ionisers wipe out hospital infections (2003)
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3228-air-ionisers-wipe-out-hospital-infections/
Ionizing air affects influenza virus infectivity and prevents airborne-transmission (2015)
https://www.nature.com/articles/srep11431
Effectiveness of negative air ionization for removing viral bioaerosols in an enclosed space (2017)
http://www.csbe-scgab.ca/docs/meetings/2017/CSBE17062.pdf
Plasma Air Ionization Proven to Reduce Coronavirus Surrogate MS2 Bacteriophage by 99% in Independent Spanish Testing (2020)
https://www.ptcommunity.com/wire/plasma-air-ionization-proven-reduce-coronavirus-surrogate-ms2-bacteriophage-99-independent

The viruses still have to be mobile in the air (in the air during the short time they are sinking to the ground or a surface) to be ionized and captured. Still, these devices are effective against other particulates and pathogens, so likely will contribute to better indoor air quality.

UV (UV-C) Light Disinfection

Caution: looking directly at a UV light source can cause damage to the eye. So, don't.

Despite Mr. Trump's spurious idea of internal use of UV light to cure COVID-19 (don't do it, don't), we do know that UV-C light does kill microbes on surfaces exposed to fairly intense UV-C light. There is interest in using UV-C light to sterilize PPE which is being re-used. I don't think the industrial grade UV-C disinfection equipment for hospital rooms is appropriate for households. There are potential negative health impacts from improper use of this equipment.

There are household devices which use UV-C light to disinfect airborne pathogens, notably bacteria. Again, the catch is you have to get the virus to pass through the device for it to be effective, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn't stay airborne over long distances (hence the 2-metre distancing rule). However, other things do hang about in the air for longer periods, and the household UV-C devices could be effective against those.

[Personal experience: I purchased 2 UV 'air purifiers' and gave them away because I could not abide the sound they made. Nobody else seemed to notice the sound, so I expect my experience is rare. (I did multiple tests with the devices on and off, and with each individually. There's no doubt I heard a sound associated with their operation, and it was the same for both units.)]

Seriously, don't look at the UV light.

Repeat Warning - Bogus Contract Tracing Smartphone Apps - Contain Ransomware

Hackers target Canadians with fake COVID-19 contact-tracing app disguised as official government software
https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/hackers-target-canadians-with-fake-covid-19-contact-tracing-app-disguised-as-official-government-software
The initial sites distributing the malware have been taken down, but rest assured new versions will pop up. There's money to be made off the unsuspecting by the bad guys.

By the way, the proposed Canada/Ontario contract tracing app is not available yet, perhaps in early to mid-July. Wait for assessments by credible security experts before even thinking of putting this app on your mobile device.

;-) A clean house is a sign of no Internet connection.

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


June 24, 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.

Over the previous 2 days, Canada reported 626 new cases, and only 24 deaths. The latter figure is encouraging. Current active cases are reported as 28,805. At the provincial level, Quebec appears to be flattening its curve, while Alberta and Saskatchewan are seeing increases in new cases over the past week. BC, Manitoba and Ontario keep grinding along. Numbers from the northern territories and the Atlantic provinces continue to be encouraging, despite the outbreak in Campbellton NB.

Still, if you think we're winning the fight with COVID-19, we're not.
On June 21st, the World Health Organization reported the largest single-day count in new cases world-wide at 183,020. That's new cases in ONE day. If you think we'll want to re-open the borders someday, then this is a global undertaking.
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200621-covid-19-sitrep-153.pdf

COVID-19 isn't the flu. It's mutating. The antibodies don't last much more than 2 months in those that were infected and recovered. If you are infected by this virus in Canada, there is an 8.3% chance it will kill you. If that's not stark enough for you, recovery is not a bowl of cherries for many, either. There is a significant population of 'long-haulers' who suffer symptoms for months. There are others who recover from COVID-19, but with new long-term chronic health conditions.

The big concern among senior health officials across Canada now is that a sense of complacency is setting in, and people are letting their guard down. Perhaps if we think about the coronavirus like carbon monoxide - just because you can't see it doesn't mean it can't kill you. Here's a sense of what complacency will get us.

Brazil

Brazil now 2nd to US in world in COVID cases
https://abcnews.go.com/Health/coronavirus-updates-covid-19-study-aims-vaccinate-10000/story?id=70824051

United States

Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count
Over 2.3 million cases, and we know some states are under-counting; over 121,000 dead.
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html
The map frightens me. Red is bad. Look at the U.S. south from Texas to Florida.

Others in the ravaged category include the UK, Spain, Italy, Peru, and Chile.

Latin America opens up before it’s ready
https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2020/06/20/latin-america-opens-up-before-its-ready

A very few jurisdictions really seem to have a handle on COVID-19, and they are learning to keep their borders closed tight against typical travel, and to react in minutes to discovery of new cases. As some Canadian provinces have learned in the past month, when you think you have it contained, it pops up and bites you. But the drumbeat to 're-open everything now' continues, with what are now predictable results (particularly in the U.S. in the news I'm seeing): breakouts of more cases, filling ICUs and more deaths.

Restaurants and bars which re-opened in Alberta are now closing again

At least 6 Edmonton restaurants close temporarily because of COVID-19
https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/at-least-6-edmonton-restaurants-close-temporarily-because-of-covid-19-1.4993779
At least 5 Edmonton restaurants temporarily closed due to COVID-19 cases
https://globalnews.ca/news/7091136/greta-bar-mkt-covid-19-voluntary-closures/

Please stop the COVID-coaster, I want to get off.

More News on Why You Don't Want to be Infected with SARS-CoV-2

This is going to produce cognitive deficits': Famed neuroscientist Adrian Owen launches COVID-19 brain study
https://nationalpost.com/news/this-is-going-to-produce-cognitive-deficits-famed-neuroscientist-adrian-owen-launched-covid-19-brain-study
Rare multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children linked to coronavirus
https://theconversation.com/rare-multisystem-inflammatory-syndrome-in-children-linked-to-coronavirus-140152
Rising rates of COVID-19 in children, adolescents spark concerns about back to school plans
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-rising-rates-of-covid-19-in-children-adolescents-sparks-concerns/

Can we please stop the memes about COVID-19 virus parties and herd immunity? The antibodies don't last long enough to create immunity in a population. Over 8% of Canadians who get infected, die. The impacts on those that survive can also be devastating. Yes, the restrictions are annoying, inconvenient and might be reducing your income compared to what it was in 2019. Beats dying or becoming chronically ill.

If you are worried about the future government financial deficit, consider the health system deficit we're making worse now with each new COVID-19 case which leads to survival with new long-term chronic health effects. People who can work 'after' can help pay down the debt government is accumulating now. Break the transmission chain; emulate places like New Zealand, and let's shut COVID-19 down so we don't have to keep locking down, again and again.

I understand that COVID-19 is a multi-faceted beast and a lot of people are doing what they can to deal with the disease, its consequences and demands, while keeping essential services functioning, the economy still operating, and coping with other issues which have not simply hit pause during the pandemic. A 'thank you' doesn't begin to convey my appreciation for what is being done.

COVID-19 taught Canada a costly lesson — that early border closures can work
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/covid-coronavirus-pandemic-trudeau-borders-1.5619705
I agree with the premise of the headline. Some countries did lock down before Canada, and most of those reaped some benefits. And most of those are islands, although I have pointed out before that Slovakia achieved the same results, and it is landlocked. The article also points out that some island states (e.g. the UK) got socked hard by COVID-19.

In hindsight, we would likely be better off if Canada had closed its borders earlier to non-essential travel. But the political reality of the time was that unilaterally closing the border to the U.S. would have unleashed a political storm from the south, and there was no widespread support for closing the borders within this country. On March 12th, the Premier of Ontario was telling residents to go travel outside the country and have fun. The federal government has only a minority in the House of Commons, and would have been unlikely to get enough support to implement a travel ban if it came to a vote in Parliament earlier than it did.

PPE Production in Canada

COVID-19: Surrey manufacturers hit $4M in PPE sales
https://vancouversun.com/health/local-health/covid-19-surrey-manufacturers-hit-4m-in-ppe-sales

And I'm going to leave you today with a tease.
Rear View COVID Curtain

;-) What's the fastest ride at the carnival?
     You would think it would be the roller coaster.
     But really the carousel has the most horse power. (credit Upjoke.com)

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


June 22, 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.

708 new cases in the past 2 days. Ontario and Quebec are seeing dramatic drops in their daily new cases counts. 84 deaths in those 2 days, although the Sunday number of 20 seems way off the trend line. Active cases are at 29,021, still coming down very slowly. The death rate from reported cases has now exceeded 8.3% for Canada. For those who like to look south to feel smug about our national response to COVID-19, the U.S. rate is 5.2%.

Coronavirus accelerating in 'new and dangerous phase', says World Health Organisation
Almost half of new cases were reported from the Americas as UN body warns countries over easing lockdowns
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/06/19/coronavirus-accelerating-new-dangerous-phase-says-world-health/

I am told there is a recent meme being floated by some elected officials (mostly U.S.?) and circulating on 'social media' to the effect that the COVID-19 virus is mutating into something weaker, and is going to become less of a problem in months, possibly weeks. That timing feels like it's meant to fit a different schedule which hits its critical date in November. However, there's no data to back up this story. The virus is mutating; viruses do that. The SARS and MERS viruses did largely lose their impact and very few cases appear now. There is no evidence that is happening with SARS-CoV-2. It may be developing more paths to infect cells, and recovery times for recent mutations may be taking longer than the strain(s) identified in 2019.
The COVID-19 coronavirus is changing. What's not clear is what it means
https://nationalpost.com/health/the-coronavirus-is-changing-whats-not-clear-is-what-it-means/wcm/aa0f8563-ea5f-4cd6-814a-64749711a14e/

Water and 'After'

As the climate is changing, and we're expecting sea levels to rise, storm systems to become bigger and more violent, and flooding to increase, have you considered how vulnerable safe drinking water could be?

Floods can move pollution across land which has producing water wells, contaminating them and making the water from them unsafe. Rising sea levels and storm surges can inundate land with saltwater, affecting fresh water reservoirs and ground tables, impacting local drinking water sources. Storm damage can render drinking water delivery systems inoperable, whether via pipeline or road vehicles, or even by ship if wharfs or ports are taken out of service.

Do you have a backup plan for your personal drinking water supply beyond 72 hours of bottled water (as recommended by many emergency measures organizations)?

Is it feasible for you to have a rainwater collection system and a means of sterilizing or pasteurizing water?

Here are a couple of ideas I have found interesting.
https://web.archive.org/web/20091026171828/http://www.geocities.com/davidmdelaney/soda-bottle/soda-bottle-pasteurizer.html

(I met David Delaney a couple of times; we could use more thinkers like him today.)
BlackRock Leads $50M Investment Into Off-Grid Solar Technology That Generates Water
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/blackrock-leads-50-million-investment-in-off-grid-solar-technology-that-makes-water

Moving from drinking water to water that sustains life for flora and fauna that lives in water, we know that plastic pollution, and especially microplastic pollution is a growing problem for water quality, but a bit like COVID-19, we're still learning how much of a problem it is in terms of quantity and impacts. And perhaps not just microplastics and plastic microfibres.
Cotton fibres, microplastics pervade Eastern Arctic, study finds
https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/eastern-arctic-microplastics-nu-1.5617223

On a personal note from the 'saving-the-world' department related to fabric microfibres, I am pleased to report that my entry into the Create the Future contest for a device to capture microfibres from household laundry wash water has been accepted and is now visible on their competition website.
http://contest.techbriefs.com/2020/entries/sustainable-technologies-future-energy/10412

There is a 'popularity contest' aspect to this competition as well as the official judging by the experts panel. If you think this potential product has merit, taking the time to register and vote for it will improve its chances of becoming real. Inviting others to do the same helps even more.

If you want to learn more about plastic pollution, this is a good starting point:
https://restco.ca/Plastic_Pollution.shtml

Now, I need to focus on a couple of other 'save-the-world' initiatives. Part of my efforts to make the world better for 'after'. Perhaps some additional positive announcements in days to come.

;-) You all know the chemical formula for water, H2O.
     What is H2O2? Hydrogen peroxide, which is not very stable, but is
     highly reactive.
     What is H2O3? It doesn’t exist. The electronic structures around
     hydrogen and oxygen don’t allow this molecule to form and be stable.
     So what is H2O4?
       Drinking, bathing, swimming, etc.

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


June 20, 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.

409 new cases reported on Friday. There is a small but definite upward trend in these numbers over the past week. 46 additional deaths. Also showing an upward trend over the past week. Active cases at 29,280. If the growth rates continue per the past week, we will exceed 8.3% death rate in the next day or two.

We know what works to greatly reduce the transmission of COVID-19. We ignore this knowledge at our peril. It is clearly a deep personal struggle for many to understand and recognize facts when those conflict with our short term desires. Harsh lesson for New Zealand, we all need to learn from.
New Zealand ends Covid-free run with two cases from UK
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/16/new-zealand-records-first-new-covid-19-cases-after-women-arrive-from-uk-carrying-virus

For the short term, I don't see a better solution than isolation and quarantines until the virus is eliminated from specific geographic areas. Unlike the pine beetle, the virus doesn't just hitch a ride on the high elevation winds and drop down live and effective a thousand kilometres away. We transmit it from person to person (and occasionally via surfaces) over very short distances. Once an entire zone - with sufficient, timely, quality testing - is virus free for a defined period (a month?), then people within that zone should be able to get back to life as close to what used to be normal as seems possible now. Until there's a vaccine, any other path of premature re-openings - however limited - seems a path to a roller-coaster of outbreaks.

Recent studies indicate the antibodies only last about 2-3 months. So that's not a path to lasting 'herd immunity'.

This story suggests we missed the diagnosis on some early cases in Canada. This sort of thing is why data is important - it allows us to question our dangerous assumptions and beliefs.
New StatsCan data reveals hundreds of 'excess' deaths in Canada amid pandemic
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/excess-deaths-covid-1.5619723

If the competing echo chambers are going to have debates over how dangerous COVID-19 is, we should at least force the discussion to be based on the best data and evidence available. Based on the track record to date, two things continue to be clear to me. We had better start dealing better with uncertainty, and this virus is going to continue to surprise us.
Italy sewage study suggests COVID-19 was there in December 2019
https://nationalpost.com/pmn/environment-pmn/italy-sewage-study-suggests-covid-19-was-there-in-december-2019

We still don't have enough PPE for our medical workers, so the 'strategy' of letting the virus loose and we'll deal with those that get sick as they arise seems pretty foolish in light of the experiences in our long-term care homes and the high-rate of infections in front-line medical staff.

Masks and Shields

We should get smarter about what amateur face coverings we're using as well. There are no panaceas here, so far anyway. Despite the 'social media' memes and mainstream media confusion, the science and data on cloth masks makes it clear they MAY help reduce virus spread and they DON'T protect the wearer. So, there is increased interest in face shields (and I am using them now because the cloth masks make me physically uncomfortable, and what I have learned from my research). In recent hot days, I hear people complaining about the warming effect of multiple layers of cloth over their faces, which is going to lead to more touching/adjusting, improper wearing, and generally wearing them less. As for making masks mandatory, some people actually can't wear them safely due to the restriction of air flow, skin conditions and some other health reasons.

We Need Better Masks
https://hbr.org/2020/06/we-need-better-masks

Face shields are easier to talk in, but are they safer than masks?.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7075262/face-shields-covid-19-coronavirus/

Demand for face shields looks to be heating up as Canadians seek summertime COVID protection.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/buckner-face-shields-demand-1.5613976

Surrey company hits home run with baseball cap face shield | Watch News Videos Online
https://globalnews.ca/video/7079031/believe-bc-surrey-company-hits-home-run-with-baseball-cap-face-shield
Website for the Surrey company
http://vitalmfg.com/
No office? No problem. Employees of 2 Dartmouth companies making face shields at home
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/no-office-no-problem-employees-of-2-dartmouth-companies-making-face-shields-at-home-1.5619605
Website for Spring Loaded's medical face shields (Scotia Shield)
https://scotiafaceshield.ca/

If we do a good job of shutting down the transmission of the novel coronavirus over the next six months, it will also likely lead to much lower transmission rates of other coronaviruses, like those that cause the flu and colds.

This is not heartening information, as these 'communities' tend to breed disinformation in support of their own world view.
Canadians among most active in online right-wing extremism, research finds
https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/canadian-right-wing-extremism-online-1.5617710

If you are looking for a way to get a bit of the illusion of normalcy back in these times, this story might interest you. More practical during the warm weather, perhaps less attractive in February. But enjoy the summer as much as you can, while you can.
Eastern Ontario couple hopes new dining trend catches on during COVID-19 pandemic.
https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/eastern-ontario-couple-hopes-new-dining-trend-catches-on-during-covid-19-pandemic-1.4991914

;-) What did the hot dog say when his friend passed him in the race?
     Wow, I relish the fact that you've mustard the strength to ketchup to me.

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


June 19, 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 ticked past another milestone - 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases (100,220, increase of 367, and clicked to precisely 8,300 deaths (46 new yesterday). The active case count is 29,424.

Contact Tracing

Yesterday, the Canadian federal government announced it will be releasing a new contact tracing smart-phone app in early July, starting in Ontario.

I have personal reservations about providing personal location information to any entity connected to governments. I devoted some time to contact tracing aps back on May 6th ( http://www.econogics.com/blog_2020_May.htm#2020.05.06) and May 18th ( http://www.econogics.com/blog_2020_May.htm#2020.05.18).

I do see a couple of positive elements in this announcement. The app is being built by Blackberry and Shopify. I think it's a positive step that Canadian tax dollars are being spent to hire two Canadian companies with demonstrated international chops in the areas of digital system security, understanding Bluetooth technology, and in the area of making consumer friendly user interfaces. As I understand the news item, the underlying application will not provide actual location data (though I suspect with enough of the token records someone could make a pretty good estimate of an individual's travels). I'll wait to see what some independent security analysts have to say about the app in days to come.
Canada's Shopify, BlackBerry develop COVID-19 contact tracing app with local governments
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-canada-app-idUSKBN23P2TB

Herd Immunity and Antibodies

This study suggests the effective production of antibodies in those infected by SARS-CoV-2 may be short-lived (2-3 months), which is not enough to get the population through annual resurgences typical of other coronaviruses. COVID-19 'virus-sharing' parties (Tulsa, are you listening?) look increasingly like a bad idea.
Clinical and immunological assessment of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0965-6

If you were one of those thinking COVID-19 was about culling the old, a couple of items that run counter to your thinking.
More young people in Ontario are getting COVID-19. Why is this happening?
https://globalnews.ca/news/7076078/more-young-people-in-ontario-are-getting-covid-19-why-is-this-happening/
More worrying for me on a social responsibility level are a growing number of reports that some of the long-term care resident deaths were more attributable to neglect (malnutrition, dehydration) than to the actual virus. That makes a certain macabre sense as a consequence of the LTC lockdowns.

As we are increasingly aware, those facilities were chronically understaffed before COVID-19. One result was that a significant amount of care (e.g. feeding) fell to visiting family members, rather than staff. With the family visits cut off, that level of personal support disappeared overnight.

The Current Pandemic - It Could be Worse

Covid-19 Is Bad. But It May Not Be the ‘Big One’
https://www.wired.com/story/covid-19-is-bad-but-it-may-not-be-the-big-one/

This could be bad enough.
Is it flu, coronavirus or both? Experts discuss a combined pandemic and flu season
https://www.today.com/health/it-flu-coronavirus-or-both-experts-discuss-combined-pandemic-flu-t182150
It's certainly going to make widespread, fast and more effective testing a core treatment tool this coming fall and winter. That makes the current trend and chatter in some countries to reduce or dispense with testing quite troubling.

Climate Change

COVID-19 shutdowns will give wildlife only short-term relief from climate change and other threats
https://theconversation.com/covid-19-shutdowns-will-give-wildlife-only-short-term-relief-from-climate-change-and-other-threats-139193

Some things related to climate change did not get any better due to the pandemic life-pause.
Special Report: Millions of abandoned oil wells are leaking methane, a climate menace
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-drilling-abandoned-specialreport/special-report-millions-of-abandoned-oil-wells-are-leaking-methane-a-climate-menace-idUSKBN23N1NL

And some things got worse.
Alberta environmental monitoring remains suspended as state of emergency ends
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/18/news/alberta-environmental-monitoring-remains-suspended-state-emergency-ends
Ottawa asked to intervene, reinstate Alberta's oilpatch monitoring
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/oilsands-letter-alberta-to-reinstate-oilpatch-monitoring-1.5607471
Scientists criticize Alberta’s monitoring suspension, lack of consultation
https://www.reddeeradvocate.com/news/scientists-criticize-albertas-monitoring-suspension-lack-of-consultation/

Another saying from my project management experience: you can't manage what you can't (or in this case - don't) measure.

By now, you likely know I like good data, solid thinking and informed decision making. To me, deliberately gutting the data record is a direct attack on democracy, as it takes the legs out from under informed decision-making. Ideologues don't like data.

;-) Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind already is made up.
     - George D. Aiken

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


June 18, 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 386 new cases, taking us to within spitting distance of 100,000. 41 new deaths. Active case count is at 29,582. Roughly 80% of the deaths in Canada associated with COVID-19 are associated with long term care homes. If we had managed our LTCs as well as we did in our hospitals, our death rate would have been below 3% instead of over 8%.

Yesterday, Quebec announced it will have an official, provincial inquiry into the long term care deaths in that province.

Cyber-crime

Yesterday I received a scam email from a Hong Kong domain to my email address (not my actual name) inviting me to collect my 2019 Canadian income tax refund. The scams, malware, phishing expeditions are everywhere. Be wary of anything you get via the Internet these days. The black hats are still breaking into people's email address lists, so even if you think that email is from someone you know, it may be that their computer is doing someone else's dirty work.

It's been a little while since I covered cyber-naughitness here, and quite a few items piled up. Here are some of those that I thought are worth sharing.

Why a warning wasn’t enough to stop this ransomware attack
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/cyber-security-today-why-a-warning-wasnt-enough-to-stop-this-ransomware-attack/431985
Ransomware attacks aren't only for big organizations, the bad guys are happy to take your bitcoin as well. You're dealing someone who is prepared to steal from you, so why do you believe they will be honouable about restoring your computer after you pay them? Do your backups, install security applications and tread cautiously out there on the disinformation superhighway.

Like COVID-19, recovering from a ransomware attack can also take months, and some businesses don't survive.
Restructuring of IT infrastructure to take ‘several months’ after ransomware attack, says eHealth Saskatchewan
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/restructuring-of-it-infrastructure-to-take-several-months-after-ransomware-attack-says-ehealth-saskatchewan/431942

Six months after cyberattack, LifeLabs says it has appointed a CISO and rolled out new security policies
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/six-months-after-cyberattack-lifelabs-introduces-ciso-and-new-security-policies/432119

COVID-19: Lessons learned by enterprises during the remote work era
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/covid-19-lessons-learned-by-enterprises-during-the-remote-work-era/431864

Cyber Security Today – Warning to Claire’s shoppers, Tim Hortons app location data controversy and snooping through light bulbs
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/cyber-security-today-warning-to-claires-shoppers-tim-hortons-app-location-data-controversy-and-should-turn-your-lights-off/432114

Speaking of light bulbs, do you really need WiFi-enabled light fixtures?
Are "smart" light bulbs a security risk?
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/are-smart-light-bulbs-a-security-risk/

Really, all I want is a 'bulb' that provides good light without wasting energy (and money), and the current generation of dumb LED lights does that for me. If I need more control than a light (dimmer) switch, there are timers and photosensors and motion sensors. I can think of one feature a smart bulb could do that might have value: tell me when the bulb has failed, or better still, is about to fail. But in my reading on these devices, I don't see that as a listed feature.

Energy

Speaking of light and saving energy, yesterday I (finally) put up a shade cloth over half of our sun-facing patio door. (The half that doesn't open.) On the outside, with a slight space between the cloth and the glass. How does that save me energy and money?

Yesterday, it was bright, sunny and hot. 32 degrees C in the shade during the afternoon, and good solar cooking conditions out in the sun. My old solar cooker used a pane of glass to convert sunlight into heat (infra-red) energy. The patio door does much the same, but it cooks the inside of the house.

My objective is to keep the house interior comfortable, while using the air-conditioning (electricity) as little as possible. A single patio door is almost 2 square yards of solar cooking surface, and at 50% efficiency, that's something like putting a 1,000 watt heater in your wall when the sun is shining brightly. Brilliant - in February. Not such an advantage on hot summer days. The difference between the heat on the shaded side and unshaded side of the patio doors was immediately evident.

Putting up curtains inside the windows doesn't prevent the unwanted heat from getting into the house, it just traps the heat against the window - for a while. Eventually that heat comes into the building, and on hot days, that's not desirable. So, the trick is to shade the window outside, like awnings do. However, there isn't always space for awnings, and they don't block early morning or evening sun. Spacing the cloth off the glass provides an additional air gap to reduce heat transmission to the house, and allows the other panel or screen to slide open without obstruction. (Next trick, figure out how to do the opening side.)

The shade cloth does its work mostly in the heat of the day, when most air conditioners are working hardest. That means when the local utility grid is experiencing its highest demand, which is when we turn to natural gas (and in some places, still coal) to produce the additional electricity supply. Which means we're producing a lot of waste heat to provide the electricity to cool our buildings, which are hot, in part, because we're putting so much waste heat into the air and water around us. That's not even as smart as a 'dumb' LED light bulb.

To the extent we can avoid using carbon fossil fuels, like this does, we can do a little more to mitigate climate change impacts.

Clearly I'm not alone on the DIY front during the COVID-19 life-pause.
Do-it-yourself projects making life more bearable during pandemic
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/pandemic-projects-home-diy-1.5559357

A couple more ideas recently in my reading on shifting to green ideas.

How investing in green infrastructure can jump-start the post-coronavirus economy
https://theconversation.com/how-investing-in-green-infrastructure-can-jump-start-the-post-coronavirus-economy-139376

This Yukon First Nation wants to use native plants to help remediate abandoned mine sites.
https://thenarwhal.ca/yukon-first-nation-native-plants-remediate-abandoned-mine-sites/

;-) How many consultants do you need to change a light bulb?
     You’ll get an estimate a week from Monday.

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


June 17, 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.

320 new cases reported in Canada on Tuesday, and 38 more deaths. Active cases at 29,811.

One treatment - not preventative, but for people seriously ill with the SARS-CoV-2 virus - dexamethasone, made news yesterday.
Steroid drug hailed as 'breakthrough' for seriously ill COVID-19 patients
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-steroid/steroid-drug-hailed-as-breakthrough-for-seriously-ill-covid-19-patients-idUSKBN23N1VP

Just like COVID-19, if we want to face up to another global challenge - catastrophic climate change - we're going to have to work together to save our future selves. The difference is: one is killing us now and is novel although it looks a lot like things we know, while the other is killing us now, but has been known for a few decades and has a global PR campaign telling us not to worry about it.

Well, actually, maybe COVID-19 also has a massive PR campaign telling us not to worry about it. Certain government leaders seem prepared to sacrifice citizens on the altar of their political agendas. The recent actions of U.S. VP Mike Pence drew attention in the past few days.
Pence Misleadingly Blames Coronavirus Spikes on Rise in Testing
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/15/us/politics/pence-coronavirus-governors.html
Mike Pence falsely claims Oklahoma ‘flattened the curve’ ahead of Trump rally.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7070489/coronavirus-oklahoma-mike-pence-trump/

That's a disinformation campaign. Perhaps the White House has an eye on the U.S. official COVID-19 death count creeping up to 120,000, and really want to change that channel on that story.

Fortunately, in Canada, when elected officials were saying similar things (mostly back in March - like 'go away, have fun' and more recently referring to COVID-19 as an influenza), they have been shut down by enough experts and media (but not all mainstream media), that better information has survived. (I have been told that there is still a strong COVID-19 isn't dangerous to (most) people message circulating on social media. If you are still using social media as a news source, well, I have covered that here several times before.)

The big thing I see in common is that both require us to act almost universally for a shared goal, and against our learned greed behaviours. Humans are social creatures, we thrive when we cooperate and share, both assets and responsibilities. This is so ingrained in us that our greatest punishment meted out to an individual is to be cast out; exiled, jailed or executed. I think that is why we are so averse to the isolation and physical distancing preventive measures, which makes us - as a species - a playground for COVID-19.

'Now'

As I have said before, we cannot recover the economy until have wrestled COVID-19 down to manageable levels. You can't run capital-intensive consumer businesses like airlines in this scenario.
More than 60% of flights to Beijing canceled amid new coronavirus outbreak
https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2020/06/17/more-than-60-flights-beijing-canceled-china-raises-warning/3204549001/
Or agriculture like this:
Mexico halts its temporary farm workers coming to Canada–for now
https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2020/06/16/mexico-halts-its-temporary-farm-workers-coming-to-canada-for-now/
A not-so-proud moment for Canada - Mexico stops a decades-old practice because Canada is too dangerous for these workers.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 is still 'a risk everywhere'
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-covid-19-update-june-16-1.5614512
That message comes from a senior health official who is generally regarded as having done a good job of bringing COVID-19 under control (not eradicated) in BC.

With enough light being shone on using COVID to cover unrelated ideological moves, the Ontario government reverses course on stopping environmental monitoring. (Still waiting for Alberta.)
Doug Ford government restores environmental protections it suspended amid COVID-19 https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/15/news/doug-fords-government-restores-environmental-protections-it-suspended-amid-covid-19
And also this.
Youth hit back against Ford government’s effort to dismiss climate case
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/16/news/youth-hit-back-against-ford-governments-effort-dismiss-climate-case

'After'

Climate worst-case scenarios may not go far enough, cloud data shows.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/13/climate-worst-case-scenarios-clouds-scientists-global-heating
Ottawa Citizen: How COVID-19 could alter the course of climate change.
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/how-covid-19-could-alter-the-course-of-climate-change
But only if consumers make a determined effort to consolidate the potential climate change gains, and so far it looks like that's not on the menu.
Emissions Are Surging Back as Countries and States Reopen
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/17/climate/virus-emissions-reopening.html

If you are spending a lot of time in front of screens these days to pass the time, and the idea of doing something about the future related to climate change, you could spend some time at climate-change.ca, but I'm biased, and I have not spent as much time updating that site in recent days (about 94 days now actually) as it deserves. It's past time to get educated on climate change.

Here's someone who did something about one aspect of climate change, which is also a health story and Canadian.
After son's bout with Lyme disease, woman invents new tick repellent
https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/news/article/after-sons-bout-with-lyme-disease-woman-invents-new-tick-repellent

;-) According to a new U.N. report, the global warming outlook is much
     worse than originally predicted.
     Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy
     the planet.
     - Jay Leno

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


June 16, 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 Monday, 360 new cases took Canada past the 99,000 mark. 39 additional deaths. Our death rate is now above 8.2%. 29,930 current active cases. This number is steadily moving down for about 2 weeks.

Is it The Second Wave - or a Long First Wave?

https://email.nationalgeographic.com/H/2/v400000172b96fdd93a1f2c56e96638858/ae8c4e15-6c5d-4bc3-9cf8-3c522a485717/HTML

Or is COVID-19 not really like the Kansas Flu of 1918 pandemic? (The "Spanish Flu" didn't start in Spain, it originated in Kansas.) So perhaps the 2 seasons 'rule' isn't going to apply here. We don't know.

COVID-19 may not be finished delivering surprises to us yet. Our governments are not driving this bus, the virus is.
Mutation in new coronavirus increases chance of infection: study
https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-infectivity/mutation-in-new-coronavirus-increases-chance-of-infection-study-idUKKBN23M1M9
We're still learning.
How we treat Covid now
https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-nightly-coronavirus-special-edition/2020/06/15/how-we-treat-covid-now-489529

Another thing we are learning is that areas that let their guard down are susceptible to resurgence.

South Korea

Resurgence of coronavirus threatens South Korea's success story
https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/resurgence-of-coronavirus-threatens-south-korea-s-success-story-1.5607406

China

Beijing lockdown tightens as new coronavirus outbreak spreads
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/15/beijing-lockdown-tightens-as-new-coronavirus-outbreak-spreads

U.S.

Some States Are Learning What Happens to COVID-19 Cases If You Reopen Too Early
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/covid19-cases-rising-states-reopened
(Have you noticed that the U.S. media is now so bored with COVID-19, that it only makes the headlines anymore when another 10,000 people have died? And 110,000 barely got a mention. Canadian media isn't much better, it notes deaths in the thousands, which is about the same proportion of population as the U.S. marking at 10,000s.)

India

India's Chennai to reimpose lockdown as coronavirus cases surge
https://news.yahoo.com/indias-chennai-reimpose-lockdown-coronavirus-cases-surge-145506689.html

Iran

Iran Sees New Surge in Virus Cases After Reopening Country
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/18/world/middleeast/iran-coronavirus-surge.html

Mexico

Hidden Toll: Mexico Ignores Wave of Coronavirus Deaths in Capital
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/08/world/americas/mexico-coronavirus-count.html

There are more such stories (Chile, Pakistan ...), not including countries like Brazil that never seemed to get a handle on the 'first wave'.

Let's not add Canada to this list. That's on us, as the national population. Keep doing the boring stuff that keeps transmission down. Each day seems to bring another reason you don't want a COVID-19 infection - of any of the apparent multiple flavours. And even if you're immune to one version (which seems increasingly unlikely), does it mean you're immune to a mutated version, or one that attacks cells via a different receptor?

How Ready Are We for Round 2?

'How do you find the masks?' Reopening strains businesses still hunting for COVID-19 safety gear
For businesses already struggling from the pandemic, further constraints on time and costs are now hitting them hard
https://nationalpost.com/news/world/americas-reopening-puts-a-strain-on-businesses-still-hunting-for-covid-19-safety-gear
Ottawa orders 13 million non-medical cloth masks months after discouraging public mask use.
https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ottawa-orders-13-million-non-medical-cloth-masks-months-after-discouraging-public-mask-use
The government tender says the masks are not for health-care workers but for other employees whose work may lead to 'inadvertent exposure to this virus'

In my reading, the science on cloth masks has not changed - they may help where distancing is not possible; they don't provide much, if any, protection to the wearer; they have to be discarded after use or washed and dried between uses ...

Just my opinion, but this may signal that the Canadian government is conceding it simply can't source enough medical or air quality masks to supply businesses in Canada. They are not alone in that in the world. With China facing a new outbreak in Beijing, expect quality supplies from Asia to dry up immediately, and they were hard to get already. Canada needs to make the PPE we actually need, in Canada.

If you want to make your own masks, the government tender document sets out some usable requirements you could use as a guide, such as the need for 4 sizes of masks.
https://buyandsell.gc.ca/cds/public/2020/05/27/cdb3cf754470db03755c1ecb4e0c529c/ABES.PROD.PW__PR.B768.E78770.EBSU000.PDF

Treatments, Cures and Vaccines Updates

Hydroxychloroquine: US revokes emergency approval of malaria drug for Covid-19
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/15/hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-fda-emergency-authorization

Here’s Exactly Where We Are with Vaccines and Treatments for COVID-19
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/heres-exactly-where-were-at-with-vaccines-and-treatments-for-covid-19

The first COVID vaccines may not prevent you from getting COVID
https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/the-first-covid-vaccines-may-not-prevent-you-from-getting-covid-1.1450446

Fast COVID-19 vaccine timelines are unrealistic and put the integrity of scientists at risk
https://theconversation.com/fast-covid-19-vaccine-timelines-are-unrealistic-and-put-the-integrity-of-scientists-at-risk-139824
There's an old aphorism in project management: nine women can't make a baby in a month. COVID-19 is tough, but screwing up a vaccine isn't better.

;-) Who on earth came up with the brilliant idea of calling the fear of
     long words hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia?

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


June 15, 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 377 new cases and 39 additional deaths on Sunday, but let's remember these are weekend reports. Active cases are at 30,369.

Ontario's new case count continues to climb, Quebec is showing some flattening in the past week, while Alberta is going in the other direction, and New Brunswick is battling a new outbreak. The other provinces and territories are in good shape or making progress on new case counts. Toronto and Montreal remain the major epicentres.

The Virus Will Win

Americans are pretending that the pandemic is over. It certainly is not.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/virus-will-win/612946/

In at least 3 Canadian provinces, it appears we are practising the same delusion, though so far we're not as aggressive about lifting restrictions.

A Second Infection Path for SARS-CoV-2?

One of the confounding things about COVID-19 is that it presents not only respiratory symptoms, but also blood system symptoms and neurological/nervous system symptoms. The last of these may be explained by a second virus entry path into cells.
These 2 articles are pre-prints.
Neuropilin-1 facilitates SARS-CoV-2 cell entry and provides a possible pathway into the central nervous system
https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.07.137802v2
Neuropilin-1 is a host factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection
https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.06.05.134114v1

A slightly morphed version of the teaser phrase from the National Post is stuck in my brain. Given what we keep learning about the SARS-CoV-2 virus - the virus Dr. Anthony Fauci has described as his 'worst nightmare' - how dorky are you willing to look in order to not get or spread the virus?
This link shows key features of the outfit used by the plague doctors.
https://plaguedoctormasks.com/costume/
Not ready to go quite that far?

COVID Chic

Thai mom's face shields protect against virus and villains - The Jakarta Post
https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/06/14/thai-moms-face-shields-protect-against-virus-and-villains.html
Perhaps this will help face shields get more traction with those seeking protection from infection. How about one with a red maple leaf outline on it? Only 2 weeks to Canada Day.

Getting to Cleaner Air - Electricity Generation and Renewables

One of the persistent myths about shifting to renewable energy for electricity generation is that the grid can't manage the unpredictable supply of power from wind and solar. Another myth is that we can't rely on these sources because we can't control when the sun shines or when the wind blows.

In reality, the electrical grid is designed to manage variable supplies and demands from minute to minute (actually it reacts faster than that) by having flexibility built in via a number of mechanisms. 'Spinning reserves' means there is power on tap ready to ramp up to meet surges in demand or sudden loss of generation from a source. In Ontario, we tend to provide this reserve with hydro power. In other jurisdictions, it's natural gas 'peaker' plants operating at stand-by levels. However, the new king of fast response to fluctuations in supply and demand is big, utility scale batteries.

We can manage intermittent energy sources on the grid because we have the ability to store some energy, typically in the form of pumped storage, hydraulic reservoirs or fuel. However, being a generator who can't supply electricity on demand (known as dispatchable power), means taking a lower price for your energy. The ability to store energy from when it is generated from wind or sun until it is needed (generally on a daily cycle) greatly increases the price that energy fetches on the market. The key is finding affordable storage. As the cost of making advanced batteries has fallen over the past decade, the industry has crossed the line to where on-site energy storage creates a financial advantage for the generator.

Which is why a big wind power project in Alberta is working with Tesla to install a big battery system. Yes, that Alberta.
Tesla deploys new Megapacks at ‘WindCharger’ project.
https://electrek.co/2020/06/15/tesla-deploy-megapacks-windcharger-project/

Incidentally, Alberta is also shifting to solar for electricity generation, because it is the lowest cost option they have available, based on tenders for generation they have received since 2017.
Update On Alberta’s Solar PV Electricity Procurement
https://albertapowermarket.com/2017/06/05/update-on-albertas-solar-pv-electricity-procurement/
Alberta government contract to result in three new solar power plants; construction to begin in 2020
https://globalnews.ca/news/4967533/new-solar-power-plants-alberta/

It does make you wonder why Ontario is so fixated on getting more natural gas generation, when the province that produces the most natural gas, oil and coal is shifting to renewables - because economics.

Getting back to batteries, Australia has also reaped huge benefits from installing grid-scale battery systems to avoid grid failures, better manage generation, and reduce costs via power conditioning.
Tesla's Battery Has Already Saved South Australia a Huge Amount of Money
https://www.inverse.com/article/51515-tesla-s-battery-has-already-saved-south-australia-a-huge-amount-of-money

Also worth noting that the home of coal-fired steam power and electric generation, the UK, has now gone for over 2 months burning zero coal for generation. That capacity is now being supplied by renewables.
Britain goes coal free as renewables edge out fossil fuels
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52973089

;-) Did you hear what the foolish gardener did?
     The guy planted a light bulb and thought he’d get a power plant.

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


June 14, 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 467 new cases - on a Saturday - which is a slight increase over the previous 2 weekdays. Could be a blip, one day does not make a trend. New deaths were at 58, which fits the average over the past 2 weeks. Active cases continue to decline, to 30,949.

We are starting to see some reports on lessons learned.
The Lancet's editor: 'The UK response to coronavirus is the greatest science policy failure for a generation'
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/14/the-lancets-editor-the-uk-response-to-coronavirus-is-the-greatest-science-policy-failure-for-a-generation

Do not mistake this for evidence we have seen the worst of COVID-19 yet. Let's be aware that we have some concurrent widespread problems, like the disinformation 'infodemic' and what I have concluded is a pandemic of stupid combined with arrogance being mistaken for competence.

As sovereign states (because that is how we control health care funding) and societies, why did we make the choices we did in western democracies, some of which appear blindingly obtuse in mid-sight?

It isn't just luck, and it's not just about being on a physical island. Consider Slovakia. With a population of about 5-and-a-half million, it has recorded 28 deaths and about 1400 total cases, very much in line with New Zealand. But Slovakia is land-locked.

We have so much to learn from COVID-19, and I don't think the biggest lessons will be in health care, though we have some harsh lessons to learn there, without question.

Why did Canadians choose to be so unprepared for a zoonotic pandemic which had been forecast for over a decade and after we acknowledged we got lucky with the warning shot that was SARS, which originated in China and killed 44 Canadians despite being aggressively contained.

Why have we chosen to champion an inferior near-oil product (bitumen) to the exclusion of saner approaches to meeting our energy needs? (Note news of a new oil spill in BC related to the antiquated Trans Mountain pipeline that Canadian taxpayers overpaid for.)
Trans Mountain Crude Pipeline Is Shut After Spill in B.C.
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/trans-mountain-pipeline-shut-spill-203228879.html

And clearly while we still can't figure out how to prevent oil spills, or how to clean them up
effectively.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddawkins/2020/06/10/billionaire-vladimir-potanin-promises-to-clean-up-his-mess--diesel-fuel-spill-could-cost-russias-richest-man-4-billion/
Even though better technologies exist, and cost less to deploy than the industry 'standards'.

Why are we adamant as a society to not adopt electric vehicles, despite the fact that we have pretty green grids in the three most populous provinces, and the social benefits of the shift have great value to our environment, health and other social benefits?
Study Suggests Each Electric Car Brings Nearly $10,000 In Social Benefits.
https://clearingtheair.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Clearing-The-Air-OPHA-EDC-Final.pdf
Interactive maps at:
https://clearingtheair.ca/

Why are we so reluctant to get past the electric vehicle mythology and embrace the economic opportunity that would come from making electric vehicles here in the facilities being abandoned in Canada by the major (so far) automakers, and the parts that go into them? We have lithium and cobalt and the other required minerals here.

Why have we apparently forgotten the imminent crisis that is climate change, based on it disappearing from news headlines around the world?

We're actually increasing the amount of single-use plastic as a function of COVID-19 testing and more food packaging and more take-out food due to closed in-restaurant dining, while we are learning that plastic pollution is more harmful and more widespread than we had believed, even recently.

As we are 're-opening' the economy, why aren't we moving back to environmental monitoring and inspections to pre-COVID levels? Is that a science-based decision? I doubt it.

We have many lessons to be learned from COVID-19. Most of them aren't about ground-level health care.

;-) Understanding causality and correlation. Correlation shows that the
     more firefighters you send to a fire, the more damage that is done.
     Obvious extrapolation and policy decision for tax-cutters:
     Close the fire stations and fires will stop, saving taxpayers money.

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


June 13, 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 Friday, Canada reported another 55 deaths, taking us over the 8,000 mark. New cases are creeping up to the 100,000 mark, with another 413 yesterday. Active cases continue to decline slowly, now at 31,371.

About 80% of the COVID-19 deaths in Canada have been connected to Long Term Care homes. If we had been nearly as effective on stopping outbreaks in LTCs as we were in the general population, our death count would be well under 2,500. Others have done much better. It's worth asking why as we shift to 'after', so we can do better.
Australia's COVID-19 successes shine a light on Canada's troubled long-term care sector https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/australia-covid-19-long-term-care-1.5591912

Data

As we continue to see questions about where COVID-19 actually originated, and where it is going in terms of travel vectors and new outbreaks, this app looks like amazing addition to our data tool-set.
Scientists develop an app that tracks how COVID-19 mutates person-to-person
https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1750253635918

Face Shields and other COVID-19 face protection

The National Post teased this article with this line: "how dorky are you willing to look in order to not spread the virus?" Perhaps we need a better marketing term for a new fashion trend. How about 'pandemic geek', err, I mean 'pandemic chic'?
Faces masks, goggles, shields and visors: Experts weigh in on the best COVID-19 protection
https://nationalpost.com/news/what-to-wear-first-face-masks-now-goggles-and-shields-experts-weigh-in-on-the-best-covid-19-protection
I spent 2 weeks wearing a face shield instead of a mask, and I'm never going back
https://www.businessinsider.com/face-shield-versus-face-mask-more-comfortable-option-2020-5

Spotting Fake News

A quick 5-point guide to simplify spotting fake news and doint your part to stem the transmission of the disinformation pandemic.
How to spot fake news
https://www.nationalobserver.com/spot-fake-news

International Trade, the COVID-19 Pandemic and 'after'

Canada is a trading nation. We are rich in natural resources and agricultural capacity. It makes sense that other nations without those natural benefits would want to buy foodstuffs, lumber, minerals and other materials we have in abundance and they do not. We have signed a lot of trade agreements with other nations to enhance the flow of goods across borders. Those realities need to be recognized as we move into a discussion of what 'after' might look like.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pointed out a lot of weaknesses in our economy and social fabric. However, it has not broken us as a country, and it has provided us with a laundry list of action items where we can, and in some cases, truly need to do better. We invented a new word in Canada in response to the pandemic: caremongering.

Relying on international trade for critical items has fully failed us. It allowed other countries to weaponize supplies of critical items, notably China and the U.S., including products where Canada supplied some of the raw materials to make the goods. We need to ensure we are not vulnerable to such tactics by 'partners' again in the future. This is an opportunity for Canada to strengthen and regionally diversify light manufacturing capacity, and create jobs. Creating jobs outside our major urban sprawl zones may drive new demand for housing. That new housing should be made to meet higher energy efficiency and indoor air quality standards, so we are better positioned to withstand coming shocks to supply lines due to international politics and increasing impacts from climate change, as well as reduce the lifetime cost of ownership of the building.

One of the factors which led to more severe symptoms and deaths in some who were infected by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was pre-existing respiratory disease or impairment. Air pollution is causally linked to respiratory impairment. We need to make our air quality better. That means burning less fossil fuels. It also means suppressing forest fires, which is now inextricably linked to 'forest management' and climate change.

If we do choose to burn less fossil fuels, then we can start shifting from those extractive activities and toward sustainable solutions for our energy needs. Efficiency, conservation (that means saving money), renewables (like wind and solar which are now less expensive than coal, nuclear and new-build natural gas for electricity generation). That means we don't need more 'energy' pipelines, and especially not those being funded by taxpayers (e.g. TMX, Keystone XL) because industry and for-profit banks are not prepared to make those high-risk investments. While the world seems to have forgotten, there is that 'climate change thing'.
Canada undermining its own climate goals by supporting pipeline projects: Report
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/10/news/canada-undermining-its-own-climate-goals-supporting-pipeline-projects

Perhaps EDC could pivot away from funding fossil fuel infrastructure (which we're not exporting), and focus on finding export markets for the Canadian businesses which have stepped up to make the PPE we need in Canada now, and presumably will have production capacity in excess of the Canadian market a few months from now.

;-) Do you know what they call a solar energy spill?
     A nice day.

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


June 12, 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 405 new cases, and 34 deaths. Active cases at 31,878.

Sources other than the Quebec government provided data showing a correlation between low average income and COVID-19 cases by area within Montreal. It's troubling from a competence perspective that this information did not come from the Quebec government.
Montreal's poorest and most racially diverse neighbourhoods hit hardest by COVID-19, data analysis shows
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/race-covid-19-montreal-data-census-1.5607123

COVID-19 Scams

Suppose you were an unscrupulous sort, and learned you could get $2,000 a month for a while, simply by applying for it online with some stolen identity credentials and a bank account you also set up online to receive the money? Be handy to get some other people's key information. But how? Why would people willingly give you their personal information during the COVID-19 pandemic? Enter the fake contact tracing app for smart phones.
Bogus 'contact tracing' apps deployed to steal data: researchers
https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/bogus-contact-tracing-apps-deployed-to-steal-data-researchers-1.4978348

I really recommend at this stage that people NOT put contact tracing apps on their smart phones. Not just because it might be an identity-theft scam, but for a lot more reasons I covered on May 6. ( https://www.econogics.com/blog_2020_May.htm#2020.05.06)

Ottawa Shepherds of Good Hope - A COVID-19 Good News Story

How the Shepherds of Good Hope put the brakes on a COVID-19 outbreak
https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/how-the-shepherds-of-good-hope-put-the-brakes-on-a-covid-19-outbreak/wcm/5955d9b5-7610-43fe-98f3-e027208099e7/
Also nice to see some solid local reporting in a newspaper in a major Canadian city.

PPE

We still don't seem to have a full handle on sourcing and distributing real PPE in quantity and in a timely manner. I think we're going to need this gear for a long time to come, so we need to get this right soon (as in months ago) on quantity and quality.
Renfrew paramedics 'shocked' after discovering non-medical masks in supply.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/we-were-let-down-renfrew-paramedic-service-investigating-bad-mask-supply-1.5606036

Face Shields

I have been looking for a reasonable face shield now for a couple of weeks. I have seen complaints about cloudy shields and fragile parts on items I gather are produced outside Canada. After the number of times I have been asking for Canada to create in-country manufacturing capacity, I did want to find something made here. Yesterday, success at last.

I picked up 3 shields in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau QC, which is between my house and cottage. I like the design. It's light in weight, so it's not going to create neck strain if you have to wear it for a while. The shield is very transparent. For shipping, everything can be flat. Mine came in a 14x10 envelope. Took me less than 10 minutes to assemble it. (Instructions came in French only.) Image below (don't hold the face of the mannequin against the quality or value of the shield).
Face Shield

If you are interested, you can find ordering instructions online at:
https://confectionscarcajou.ca/collections/covid-19/products/face-shield
(and they have a better looking mannequin). If you live in the area (Pink Road near Vanier Road in Aylmer QC), and want to save on shipping time and cost, you can pick up at their premises on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons).

'Re-opening the economy'

Yesterday, the major stock markets in Canada and the U.S. took a serious plunge. Likely related to this story.
Stock markets sell off sharply as COVID-19 fears come roaring back
TSX has now fallen for three days in a row
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/dollar-markets-thursday-1.5607808
If we're hoping for a consumer-led economic recovery, it's going to be based on the people with comfortable incomes and RRSPs who think they can afford to make significant purchases, not by those who have received the maximum 16 weeks from CERB and using credit cards right now to get by, or those hospitalized or in long-term recovery. A healthy population not worried about being infected by COVID-19 is a fundamental base for bringing the economy back to anything like where it was 6-12 months ago.

Even Wall Street and the U.S. Federal Reserve seem to have figured this out now.
Federal Reserve Will Keep Rates Near Zero Until 2022 As Recession Continues
https://www.forbes.com/sites/sergeiklebnikov/2020/06/10/federal-reserve-will-keep-interest-rates-near-zero-until-2022/#8865df22f8ea
My takeaway - the U.S. Federal Reserve understands COVID-19 is going to be with us for a couple of years still.

The economy can't recover until the people have recovered, because the people are the workers and the consumers.

Canada's four Atlantic provinces are contemplating a 'travel bubble', as they see themselves as having brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control, which makes a lot of sense to me. This will - with justification - inspire confidence in that population and a sense of reward for good behaviour since mid-March. By pushing on the 're-open' accelerator before having the same degree of COVID control, ON, QC and AB don't indicate they have learned the appropriate lessons. That's why you see BC residents don't want Albertans visiting yet, and most of Ontario outside Toronto and the Niagara region want to restrict travel from those areas to the rest of the province, and re-open on their own schedules based on their local progress.

From my perspective, the next story suggests the Ontario provincial government can't hear reality over its own ideological noise. Again, there are lessons to be learned right now.
82% of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care, new data reveals
https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2020/05/07/82-of-canadas-covid-19-deaths-have-been-in-long-term-care.html
Demands grow louder in Ontario to end for-profit nursing homes
https://www.rankandfile.ca/end-for-profit-nursing-homes-in-ontario/
COVID-19: Majority of region's long-term care deaths occurred in for-profit homes
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/for-profit-nursing-homes-83-percent-of-covid-deaths-eastern-ontario-1.5604880

This isn't that lesson.
Mike Harris is raking in profits from long-term care system he helped create
https://canadians.org/analysis/mike-harris-raking-profits-long-term-care-system-he-helped-create
More Ex-Ford Government Staffers Hired By Private Care Home Companies
https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/more-ex-ford-government-staffers-hired-by-private-care-home-companies/ar-BB157WZg

Below is a graph from Ottawa Public Health, which I took from their daily dashboard.
https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/reports-research-and-statistics/daily-covid19-dashboard.aspx
Ottawa Public Health Graph - COVID cases by sector
Note the dotted black line: institutional outbreaks, in this instance, mostly about long-term care facilities.

;-) Even duct tape can't fix stupid.
     But it can muffle the sound.

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


June 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.

On Wednesday, Canada reported 472 new cases and 63 deaths. There was some concern over the rise in cases in the 20-something age range. Active cases at 32,526. Death rate now at 8.2% (ratio of deaths to reported cases).

Recent news on the virus

Most of don't really understand infectious diseases and how they spread, even for the ones we have centuries of experience with, let alone one where we're learning daily. So, here's a perspective from over 500 epidemiologists and how they're planning their own lives in the age of COVID-19.
When 511 Epidemiologists Expect to Fly, Hug and Do 18 Other Everyday Activities Again
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/08/upshot/when-epidemiologists-will-do-everyday-things-coronavirus.html

Was the SARS-CoV-2 Virus Circulating in August 2019?
This paper is a pre-print, and has not been peer-reviewed for publication.
https://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/42669767
Data - documented and validated - is key to understanding.

Neurological
COVID-19 and your brain: Can the coronavirus cause long-lasting neurological damage?
https://nationalpost.com/news/covid-19-and-the-brain-can-the-virus-attack-the-brain-and-cause-long-lasting-neurological-damage
Neuropathogenesis and Neurologic Manifestations of the Coronaviruses in the Age of Coronavirus Disease 2019 - A Review

Short-lived antibodies
Coronavirus: Fewer antibodies capable of neutralizing the virus after six weeks.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7045528/coronavirus-fewer-antibodies-capable-of-neutralizing-the-virus-after-six-weeks/
I think this may be the myth-buster on 'herd immunity' for COVID-19 without a vaccine or similarly effective treatment. Note this may mean that effective vaccinations, if they are successfully developed, will require multiple booster shots.

Take Your Vitamins
Just a couple of stories that try to link COVID-19 positive outcomes to vitamins intake. For the most part, it can't hurt. The body is pretty good at getting rid of excess vitamins. Consider your diet for vitamin intake.
Vitamin K found in some cheeses could help fight Covid-19, study suggests
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/05/vitamin-k-could-help-fight-coronavirus-study-suggests
Vitamin-D and COVID-19: do deficient risk a poorer outcome?
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(20)30183-2/fulltext
Our Vitamin D level tends to be lower in the winter (less sunlight), which aligns with winter coronavirus potency. Also vitamin D helps many people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Testing
Main coronavirus test produces ‘false negatives’ at least 20% of the time, study shows.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7045805/coronavirus-test-false-negative-study/

PPE
Recall of multiple hand sanitizer products (industrial ethanol)
Health Canada recalls six hand sanitizers containing industrial-grade ethanol.
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/health-canada-recalls-six-hand-sanitizers-containing-industrial-grade-ethanol-1.4973056

Quebec companies answer the call to provide protective equipment.
https://montrealgazette.com/business/local-business/masks-and-ppes-made-in-quebec
Fabric comes from Ontario, the gowns are sewn in Quebec, millions being produced for use in Canada, and they're creating jobs during the COVID-19 employment crisis. Also important, we are creating a domestic supply chain for critical health items. What more do we want, other than more stories like this one?

Survival of the fittest: Entrepreneurs improvise in bid to save companies during COVID crisis
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/covid-19-entrepreneurs-business-economy-1.5603163

I'm happy to see this has finally happened.
Feds launch online portal for buyers and sellers of PPE, COVID-19 supplies.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7044791/coronavirus-web-portal-ppe/
You can find the portal here:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-services-procurement/services/buying-selling-personal-protective-equipment-covid-19-overview.html

Hydroxychloroquine 'useless' on COVID-19 patients, researcher says.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/hydroxychloroquine-covid-recovery-trial-1.5600821
Surgisphere: mass audit of papers linked to firm behind hydroxychloroquine Lancet study scandal
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/10/surgisphere-sapan-desai-lancet-study-hydroxychloroquine-mass-audit-scientific-papers

WHO expert backtracks after saying asymptomatic transmission 'very rare'
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/09/who-expert-backtracks-after-saying-asymptomatic-transmission-very-rare
The world media were quick to pile on over the off-the-cuff response to a question by a WHO official. I think a little balance is in order. When the media gloss over deaths in excess of 400,000 people so far as being a small number in repeating talking points proffered by the 're-open now' brigade, 'very rare' should be acceptable prose for an event which only appears to play in a small subset of the community spread of the virus, compared to say the number of in-person human interactions worldwide since January. For a better sense of what was actually said, read the article at the link above.

Scientists say lockdowns prevented millions of COVID-19 cases and warn against loosening measures.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-scientists-say-lockdowns-prevented-millions-of-covid-19-cases-and-warn/
Note the graph in the article is on a logarithmic scale. (Takeaway: the boring stuff - hygiene, disinfecting surfaces, distancing and isolation - work to reduce the number of cases.)

Closing for today with this cautionary note from Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci Warns That the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Far From Over
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/health/fauci-vaccines-coronavirus.html

;-) I'm not sure if I lost my camo pants
    or if they're just doing a really good job.

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


June 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.

On Tuesday, Canada reported 409 new cases and 62 deaths. Active cases count is 33,184. Let us hope that the data is right, and that Canadians are going to make good decisions in the months to come.
‘A warning sign to us all’: Family gathering leads to at least 15 COVID-19 cases in B.C.
https://globalnews.ca/news/7047260/family-gathering-coronavirus-cases-bc/

About 5% of the tests done so far in Canada have yielded confirmed cases. There is an inherent bias in that number (mostly symptomatic people get tested), and it does not represent the population at large.

Alberta is pushing the envelope on 're-opening', despite having new outbreaks increasing their numbers of reported new cases (27 new cases on June 9th alone).
Alberta leaping forward to reopen economy on Friday
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/10/news/alberta-leaping-forward-reopen-economy-friday

Back to Clean Air Transportation (for a moment)

It seems that if you end up getting an electric car this year, you won't be alone.
Canada: Plug-In Electric Car Sales Increased By 50% In Q1 2020.
https://insideevs.com/news/427255/canada-plugin-car-sales-q1-2020/amp/

One of the automakers who may make the shift more successfully than most may surprise you: Hyundai.
Tipping point: Hyundai has bigger market share for EVs than combustion cars.
https://electrek.co/2020/06/08/tipping-point-hyundai-has-bigger-market-share-for-evs-than-combustion-cars/
I had the opportunity to ride in a Kia Niro over a year ago. It deserves to do well in the market.

Using Stimulus Funds with a Plan for a Better Future

5 green infrastructure projects engineers recommend to boost COVID-19 economic recovery.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/pandemic-recovery-green-infrastructure-1.5595704

Canada’s Clean Energy Sector Can Help Drive Economic Recovery From Covid-19.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ankitmishra/2020/06/08/canadas-clean-energy-sector-can-help-drive-economic-recovery-from-covid-19/

If you want affordable electricity, think photovoltaics. Pity Ontario bet big on nuclear and natural gas.
1.35 Cents/kWh: Record Abu Dhabi Solar Bid Is A Sober Reminder To Upbeat Fossil Fuel Pundits
https://cleantechnica.com/2020/06/08/1-35-cents-kwh-record-abu-dhabi-solar-bid-is-a-sober-reminder-to-upbeat-fossil-fuel-pundits/

90% Clean Grid by 2035 Is Not Just Feasible, But Cheaper, Study Says.
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/90-clean-grid-by-2035-is-not-just-feasible-but-cheaper-study-says

Omission of air pollution from report on Covid-19 and race ‘astonishing’.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/07/omission-of-air-pollution-from-report-on-covid-19-and-race-astonishing

How to Reopen Canada Properly
https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/05/13/Coronavirus-Curated-How-To-Reopen-Canada/
A collection of pieces by The Tyee from about a month ago (because you can't talk about COVID-19 without a reference to toilet paper).

Preempting Bad Messaging

Because the multi-national corporate media will be trying to demonize the human rights protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, and have already floated the potential increase in COVID-19 cases as a bad outcome they can attribute directly to the protesters, here's a preemptive news piece to debunk that story when it is presented in days to come with no data or misleading statistics.
Covid-19 Cases Were Already Rising Before the George Floyd Protests
https://www.wired.com/story/covid-19-cases-were-already-rising-before-the-george-floyd-protests/

If someone wants to link a rise in COVID-19 new cases to the protests, they need to present the following at a minimum. Watch for opinion pieces masquerading as 'news' stories that don't meet this standard.

A) allow for the incubation period - so it's cases 2-3 weeks from now that count, not the ones showing up this week or next.
B) find out who the initial spreader is at a protest event
C) follow the contact tracing data to make their case because even an uptick in cases may not be related to a protest event (and note at many of the protests, the protesters are maintaining spacing and wearing masks per local health authority guidance, and they are massing outdoors)
D) where those protective measures were not followed, how many were caused by actions by authorities (kettling of protesters, stampeding protesters with pepper spray, tear gas, moving riot squad lines ...).

I'll add this personal comment. It is the responsibility of the government and the police to "protect and serve" the citizens. If either of those entities were interested in actually doing those things, it is ENTIRELY within their power to avoid confrontations at the protests. The government COULD carry out its sworn duty to uphold the laws of their jurisdiction, which do not include systemic discrimination on the basis of skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, gender and more. If they actually upheld their own laws, there would be no need for the current protests, and no need for additional possible virus exposure. Police COULD de-escalate the tensions at the protests by showing up in regular patrol uniforms instead of in full military gear or presenting riot squads as their first face to their citizens exercising their legal rights to assemble and protest. (I'm fully expecting the armoured police forces will be ready and waiting near by, and quickly deployed if appropriate.)

Until then, the confrontations and violence will make the headlines, and the media will - whether they want to or not - make it clear who is seeking a confrontation. It may be that governments which have clearly failed their populations on their COVID-19 response are OK with deflecting the media story line to something else, even if it is their own unlawful treatment of their own citizens. Personally, I have no idea how they can conceive that paints them in a better light.

Again, just my opinion, but if there is an upsurge in COVID-19 cases tied to the current protests, that is entirely owned by the government if the protests are conducted peacefully, and on the police if the protests turn violent as a result of police actions. For now, my advice to protesters is:

maintain physical distancing per health guidelines;
wear face masks and especially face shields as protection against pepper spray;
make it obvious that your intentions don't include violence;
keep your video cameras / phones recording constantly (take power bank batteries with you if necessary); and,
make it apparent to authorities that they are being recorded continuously.

In the U.S., it is increasingly clear that police are deliberately targeting the press. They have learned their lesson from the video of George Floyd's death: don't allow a video record of their actions.
I had hoped they were going to learn a different lesson from that event.

;-) For today, a visual diversion:
     https://www.boredart.com/2016/06/amazing-huge-street-art-on-building-walls.html

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


June 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.

545 new cases were reported on Monday, June 8th. 35 deaths. 33,409 active cases. All the numbers are trending down, slowly, which allows for some cautious optimism.

First, a thank you to readers who are sending me questions, ideas and links. They help. I should also explain that my purpose here is not to repeat material - especially health guidance - which is reasonably available elsewhere from more knowledgeable sources. I do try to point out such sources when it seems approrpriate.

Today's lead story has to be:
New Zealand ends its lockdown after eradicating Covid-19 with NO active cases
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8397579/New-Zealand-ERADICATES-coronavirus-COVID-19-Jacinda-Ardern-says-ZERO-active-cases.html

Dear 're-open now cheerleaders': that is how it is done. In Canada, you are not yet at step 1 for 're-opening', which is to be making enough quality PPE in Canada for all Canadians who need or want it. It's called a 'secure supply line' for critical items, or 'economic sovereignty'. Profits before people is a dead end. In the case of COVID-19, literally so. You need people to be your customers, or your business is over. So it's better if they survive. Also note that consumers can choose who they buy from, so you might want to consider how your business is going to look in hindsight a few months from now, compared to your competitors. (Step 0 is to control the COVID-19 outbreaks.)

This is how not to do it.
As Trump touts increased production, coronavirus swabs made during his Maine factory tour will be tossed in the trash
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/05/trump-maine-puritan-throw-away-coronavirus-swabs/3153622001/
A photo op is not more important than providing people with COVID-19 tests.

This is also how not to do it.
Sweden: Will COVID-19 Economics be Different?
https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2020/06/01/na060120-sweden-will-covid-19-economics-be-different
It's a good piece, with references to real data and good charts for illustration. Here are a couple of phrases I thought were key to the conclusions.
"However, visits to workplaces appear to have fallen more than predicted by the less restrictive containment policies."
In other words, the lack of a government-enforced lockdown did not stop major impacts on the economy, or people choosing to work from home.
"Most forecasters agree that Sweden will face a severe recession this year, but it is too early to say whether this strategy will prolong the recession or aid the recovery."
Not having a lockdown did not protect the Swedish economy from a recession.

Pandemic Economics: It’s the Virus, Not (Entirely) the Lockdowns
https://www.nber.org/papers/w27264.pdf (May 2020)
"Are lockdowns crashing the economy, or is Covid-19 and the fear of infection? That question will soon be tested, as restaurants open at limited capacity, for instance, and as people cautiously venture out to shop. In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, researchers conclude it’s a mix, calculating that lockdowns account for about half of job losses in the pandemic.

"Researchers looked at economic data from a region in South Korea, Daegu-Gyeongbuk, that suffered a significant Covid-19 outbreak early this year as the rest of the country remained relatively free of the virus. Contrasting this region with the rest of the country, they calculate that “a one per thousand increase in infections causes a 2 to 3 percent drop in local employment.” South Korea never instituted a lockdown, even in Daegu-Gyeongbuk, but the US and UK did; British and American employment dropped “from 5 to 6 percent” for each Covid-19 infection per 1,000 people, they write, “suggesting that at most half of the job losses in the US and UK can be attributed to lockdowns.”

"The authors’ conclusion: “This suggests that the primary culprit of the COVID-19 recession is COVID-19 itself, rather than lockdowns, so that the lifting of lockdowns around the world may lead to only modest recoveries unless the infection rates fall. The best way to revive the labor market is to eradicate the virus.” "

COVID-19 Can Last for Several Months
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/06/covid-19-coronavirus-longterm-symptoms-months/612679/
Having people remain sick or relapsing repeatedly makes them unreliable employees and a continuing cost to the health care system. 'Re-opening' before having control of the infection rate is a recipe for human misery, but also for continued economic uncertainty and on-going societal costs, not for a solid economic recovery.

Not allowing front-line health care workers in the regions most impacted by COVID-19 a chance to recover before taking the gamble on creating a new set of outbreaks also seems like a questionable economic move to me. Who's going to tend to the next inundation of those sickened by COVID-19?
Burnt-out health-care workers warn of mass exodus, with no end in sight to mandatory redeployment to CHSLDs.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/mandatory-long-term-health-care-deployment-1.5600449

'Re-opening' under the 'flatten the curve' model really means we're prepared to risk a new up-tick in infections and severe illnesses - in other words, we have room in the ICU for you now.

It's going to make for a dramatically different economic picture in Canada if Montreal and Toronto continue to be mired in COVID chaos while the rest of the country can get on with life and business. Will Vancouver continue its ascendency in their place? Will Kingston become a new hub for economic activity? Will the wealthy in Toronto and Montreal exit for more isolated second residences? Will those areas permit the commuter influx?

How Canada has bungled the COVID-19 endgame
https://www.macleans.ca/society/health/how-canada-has-bungled-the-covid-19-endgame/
In this case, don't equate 'Canada' with the federal government. The primary responsibility for health care rests with the provinces, and their responses have been - to be charitable - uneven.

Despite that, there have been a lot of attempts to throw shade on the federal response in Canada. I think it has value to consider the alternative courses to the actions taken which have drawn criticism.

As one example, it was discovered that the federal government disposed of a number of expired N95 masks early in the PPE shortage, and the federal government was roundly criticized for this. However, suppose the feds had continued to store the expired equipment, and there was not a sudden and unforeseen demand for the N95 masks. The feds would certainly have been criticized for spending money on storing expired equipment. Or suppose the expired N95 masks had been kept and shipped to hospitals as part of the COVID-19 response. The feds would have been criticized for providing expired gear. And presumably, copious supplies of current equipment were not available as a cost-containment measure to keep costs down, because somebody would have criticized the government for buying health care equipment which is a provincial responsibility, and for which there was no foreseeable need. If you were making the decision a year ago on how to manage the federal government N95 mask inventory, which choice would you have made?

The WHO has new advice for wearing masks and making your own
https://apps.who.int/iris/rest/bitstreams/1279750/retrieve
Table 3 on page 9 is worth a quick look, as is a thorough reading of the text about use of non-medical masks.

;-) Wearing a mask inside your home is now highly recommended.
     Not so much to prevent COVID-19 but to slow calories intake.

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


June 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.

On Sunday, Canada reported 642 new cases and 27 new deaths (likely a weekend effect), bringing the totals to 95,699 and 7,800 respectively. The death rate has edged up past 8.1%. Active cases count is at 33,666.

Carrying on from yesterday's post, one thing we can do to improve our indoor air quality and our respiratory health is to improve our outdoor air quality.

We know from years of studies and experience that poor outdoor air quality leads to poor health outcomes, including more cases of asthma in children to various respiratory conditions in adult life. We are familiar with 'air care' days, where people are told to stay indoors and refrain from heavy physical activity because the air around us is literally dangerous to our health. (Note that Ontario has had only 2 'air care' days affecting small areas for hours since 2014, which aligns with shutting down its last coal-fired electricity generation.)
End of coal-fired plants has cleared Ontario's air
https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/end-of-coal-fired-plants-has-cleared-ontarios-air/

I have seen several reports over the past couple of months about how outdoor air quality is improving. (I have noted a few of the early ones here in past posts.) Stories like this:
Phys.org: Clear reduction in urban carbon emissions as a result of COVID-19 lockdown.
https://phys.org/news/2020-05-reduction-urban-carbon-emissions-result.html
Economic slowdown has cut air pollution in Canadian cities
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/05/22/news/economic-slowdown-has-cut-air-pollution-canadian-cities

But we aren't getting the gains many people had hoped for as a silver lining.
Air pollution in China back to pre-Covid levels and Europe may follow
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/03/air-pollution-in-china-back-to-pre-covid-levels-and-europe-may-follow
Atmospheric CO2 levels rise sharply despite Covid-19 lockdowns
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/04/atmospheric-co2-levels-rise-sharply-despite-covid-19-lockdowns

We can clean up our household air pollution contribution by reducing our use of burning wood, oil, natural gas and propane. We can do that by reducing our total household energy use, by switching to renewables to provide some or all of that energy (notably with active and passive solar), and by helping green our electrical grids.

We can also clean up our air quality through our transportation choices. COVID-19 has meant many Canadians aren't travelling to or because of work. Of course, having been told to stay home, there is increased interest in walking, just to have a reason to go outside. There has been a marked increase in interest in bicycles.
Bikes in big demand, short supply during pandemic
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/covid-19-cycling-increase-popularity-demand-backlog-lack-of-supply-1.5596814

In Ontario and other parts of the country, we're allowing car and truck dealer showrooms to re-open. In our cities, transportation based on fossil carbon fuels is a major contributor to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, another option has become available: plug-in vehicles that operate partially or entirely on zero-emissions electric drive. That includes electric-assist bicycles.

For many people, this is the 'shocker' (pun very much intended): owning an electric car can cost less than a gas or diesel vehicle. I know, because I have been driving electric vehicles (EV) since 1979.

In an electric car in Ontario right now, fuel cost is about 2 cents a km. Based on the gas station price signs, with gasoline at $0.96 per litre, the fuel cost for a compact gasoline car is about 10 cents a km. And as oil prices move up with increased demand, so will gasoline and diesel prices.

In 2011, West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI) was selling for about US$120 a barrel. The price of gasoline around here hovered in the $1.10 to $1.30 per litre range. So, roughly a 100:1 ratio between the oil price per barrel and the gasoline price per litre. Last week, WTI was selling at about US$35 a barrel, and locally gasoline was selling for around $0.95 per litre. Roughly a 37:1 ratio. In other words, the retail price of gasoline has increased by about a factor of 3 times compared to the price of crude oil in 9 years. Rest assured, integrated multi-national oil industry profits are safe, though it's a tough time to be a small oil producer. But for gasoline consumers, there is no happy ending on gasoline prices.
CTV News: Oil prices sit at about $30 per barrel, but pump prices over 90 cents in.
https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/gas-prices-in-calgary-and-edmonton-hover-around-90-cents-per-litre-1.4951684

In a battery electric vehicle (BEV), there are also huge savings on maintenance. No oil and filter changes. No exhaust system. No ignition system. No pollution controls. No fuel pump or fuel lines. EVs do still have to maintain things like tires, cabin air filters and wiper blades. Many insurance companies offer discounts for electric and hybrid vehicles, based on their loss experience. There is still a price premium due to the price of the big battery, but battery cost numbers are falling over the years. You may have to make a real effort to get a gasoline car company dealer to actually talk to you about the EVs in their vehicle line-up, but with the federal incentive still in place, and additional incentives in BC and QC, you may want to at least consider the option if you are going to be travelling to work again in the future. Especially if public transit is not an option, possibly due to crowding as the pandemic continues.

It really does make a difference to air quality to drive electric.
The Conversation UK: If all cars were electric, UK carbon emissions would drop by 12%.
https://theconversation.com/if-all-cars-were-electric-uk-carbon-emissions-would-drop-by-12-139155

If you liked the quiet and cleaner air we have experienced the past couple of months, there are things you can do to keep those 'after' as we move back to more employment, including exercising more work from home options to reduce your commute times and expenses.

And 2020 is the year that the mid and large truck EV options are expected to appear in Canada.
Zero-Emission Medium- & Heavy-Duty Vehicle Models To Increase 78% This Year In US & Canada.
https://cleantechnica.com/2020/06/06/zero-emission-medium-heavy-duty-vehicle-models-to-increase-78-this-year-in-us-canada/

Politically, we can demand a shift from massive long-term financial support for polluters to the policies the western nations agreed to in 2009, but have not acted upon. It's not as though these industries are big job creators. Other than pipeline construction we're funding to create short term jobs in the U.S., the fossil fuels sector in Canada has been cutting jobs over the past decade and more while increasing production via use of more automation. (I don't count the Trans Mountain eXpansion - TMX - as industry-funded activity, as that is being paid for by Canadian taxpayers.)

If you would like to take a more hands-on approach to air quality monitoring and improvement:
Discover Magazine: Can This Cheap, DIY Air Pollution Sensor Help the World Get Clean Air?
https://www.discovermagazine.com/environment/can-this-cheap-diy-air-pollution-sensor-help-the-world-get-clean-air

Our household made a small gain on our personal air quality yesterday. We assembled a pergola to provide a convertible top for the outdoor dining table on our backyard deck. The deck is made from deckboards made from recycled post-consumer plastic. The deck, on the south side of our house, reflect winter sunlight onto our windows and solar heating panels - especially effective when there is a layer of highly reflective snow laying on it. That helps reduce our heating bills. But in the summer, on a sunny summer day, the deck becomes unpleasantly hot in the direct sun. Based on one day of testing, but in strong sun, the pergola shading is making the difference from inhospitable to comfortable. Without walls, it allows the breeze to move through for additional cooling. That means we can spend more time outside, but at home, as the long emergency continues, and it adds to the usable living space so there's another spacing option for us. A small victory, but these days we'll take our wins where we can get them.

;-) Did you hear about the lonely battery?
     Poor guy was never included. (credit https://upjoke.com/)

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


June 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.

For Saturday, 722 new cases reported in Canada, 79 deaths and 33,670 active cases. Other than Ontario and Quebec, notably the Toronto and Montreal regions, the country has largely managed to 'flatten thc curve' through the measures used to break the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Why is it that health officials see being outside as less dangerous than the same spacing between people indoors when it comes to COVID-19 virus transmission? Wind is one factor, but the wind is not always blowing. It's also about indoor air quality (IAQ), or rather the degraded quality of the air inside our homes and other buildings. As many of us are spending more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is worth some thought.

In much of Canada, this used to be a cold-weather issue, as we buttoned up our houses and turned on the heat. With insufficient air exchanges and many people living in confined spaces, this increases the chances of infection by virus and bacteria. This is a factor in the continuing battle with tuberculosis in Canada's north.
Tuberculosis rate among Inuit is 290 times higher than for non-Indigenous people in Canada. Here's why https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/cbc-explains-tuberculosis-banerji-tb-1.5046336

"The bacteria that cause tuberculosis spread from one person to another through droplets released into the air — by coughing, sneezing, laughing, spitting, or even just talking."
Sound familiar in the COVID-19 era?
Out in the cold: What the TB crisis in Nunavut reveals about Canada
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-out-in-the-cold-what-the-tb-crisis-in-nunavut-reveals-about-canada/

Low air quality also introduces other health issues around small particulates and toxic off-gassing within the building.

The World Health Organization have covered the issue of indoor cooking and air quality.
Indoor air pollution and household energy
https://www.who.int/heli/risks/indoorair/indoorair/en/

Those of us in the western world may be less impacted by this, but we are not exempt. There are diminished but real impacts from household heating, clothes drying, water heating and cooking with heating oil and natural gas, which produce carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulates within the building envelope.

Increasingly, as our climate warms and weather becomes more volatile, we are closing up our houses in the summer as well. The amount of waste heat we produce in our cities (heat island effects) also lead us to rely more and more on air conditioning to maintain comfort, which creates a vicious circle: turn on the air conditioner because it's hot outside; use energy that produces waste heat; make the outside hotter; use even more air conditioning (and energy making more heat) to counter the hotter outside temperature, and the spiral continues infinitely.

Much of the waste heat in our cities comes from our transportation choices. The conventional gasoline and diesel engines are known as 'heat engines'. That's because they produce a lot of heat energy and then try to capture a portion of that energy to do useful work. But, the majority of the energy released from burning gasoline and diesel fuel is expressed as heat - over 80%. As our cars and trucks are running while stuck in traffic in our cities, that heat contributes to the heat island effect. Less waste heat, less need for cooling.

Coronavirus and the air conditioned nightmare
https://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/coronavirus-and-air-conditioned-nightmare.html

KSL.com: Could energy-efficient design be the cause of 'sick buildings' in the workplace?.
https://www.ksl.com/article/46758977/could-energy-efficient-design-be-the-cause-of-sick-buildings-in-the-workplace

Energy efficiency in housing is not the natural enemy of air quality, but bad designs can put them in opposition. Instead, we need to embrace techniques which bring air quality and energy efficiency into alignment. Some of the principals at RESTCo have spent years on these issues, and some of their work, including houses they have actually built, is captured at:
Adaptable Housing and Infrastructure for a (Climate) Changing World
https://restco.ca/RESTCo_House_Infrastructure.shtml

That includes work on indoor air quality related to building materials.
The Research House for the Environmentally Hypersensitive
https://restco.ca/Research_House_for_the_Environmentally_Hypersensitve.shtml

Deep energy retrofits could be part of the solution to reduce waste energy from household heating and cooling. The Pembina Institute is working this issue right now, with a webinar coming up on June 10th (this coming Wednesday).
https://www.pembina.org/event/reframed-tech-series

A significant investment in the short term in improving both indoor air quality and overall housing energy efficiency would lead to long-term energy cost savings, reduced waste heat in our built environment, increased employment in doing the retrofit work and in creating the materials (insulation, superior window technology, next generation heat recovery ventilators, HEPA filter technology which can trap viruses ...).

Oh, and plant a tree. Trees help moderate temperatures - cooling in the summer and warming in the winter, as well as consuming carbon dioxide and absorbing other toxins from the air and soil.

;-) If at first you don't succeed,
     we have a lot in common.

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


June 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 609 new cases and just 66 deaths on Friday. Active cases at 34,064. Our death rate has increased to 8% (fatalities as a percentage of reported cases). Canada remains in the middle of the stats for countries, better than the worst, worse than the best. For now, the glaring examples of how not to manage COVID-19 are the U.S., Brazil, Russia and to a lesser extent, Sweden.

I was pleased to see that the Ontario government has brought in Jane Philpott to clean up the data issues in the Ontario health 'system' Ontario appoints Jane Philpott to lead pandemic data effort
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-ontario-appoints-jane-philpott-to-lead-pandemic-data-effort/

Having harped on the lack of good and reliable data as a huge handicap in making good decisions about our COVID-19 response here for almost 3 months now, I see this as big gain. And from my 10 years supporting health care agencies and sectors, I fully agree with this quote attributed to Dr. Philpott:
“There are real challenges in health data. There are real challenges with a health care system that for as long as I’ve known it has had … silos”.

Data point - Ottawa

June 5: about 1% of residents have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus
Small percentage of Ottawa residents infected with COVID-19: Ottawa Public Health
https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/small-percentage-of-ottawa-residents-infected-with-covid-19-ottawa-public-health-1.4971434
That tells me that transmission suppression techniques have been pretty effective, and a race to developing 'herd immunity' is going to be a much bigger challenge than the advocates think.

Data point - Vancouver Island

No active cases on Vancouver Island as last COVID-19 patient sent home from hospital
https://www.cheknews.ca/no-active-cases-on-vancouver-island-as-last-covid-19-patient-sent-home-from-hospital-672874/

I see creating COVD-19-free islands, literal and figurative, are key first steps to managing the pandemic. As we continue to suffer from lack of critical resources, creating regions where front-line health can ramp down from worst-case scenarios to just heightened awareness allows us to focus on the areas where the highest impacts are being experienced, such as Montreal and Toronto. It's heartening to see that we are finally seeing those pockets of no active cases starting to happen. It should be instructive to other regions that we can get to zero, which is the real base from which some degree of normalcy can arise again. I think protecting these zones with perimeter controls and requiring isolation periods for those coming in from areas with active cases are key to making this strategy work (as recently demonstrated in Campbellton NB). The measures we are using now for cross-border movement of goods, including trucks and drivers also seem to be working, which is a stunning achievement on the part of those workers and those monitoring.

It's great news to see that we are really starting to seriously build up our ability to produce critical items in Canada.
A Windsor company is set to produce N95 masks
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-company-produce-n95-masks-1.5599447

Testing capacity is finally ramping up to useful levels, and contact tracing capacity now appears to be sufficient in many areas as the new cases counts become manageable. Ottawa's new COVID-19 dashboard (announced June 5) shows The vast majority of new cases are being traced for contacts in under 24 hours. The average number of contacts per new case is 3.8, which indicates that activity restrictions are working, by keeping the number of contacts per case down, and by keeping the number of new cases from community spread down.
Ottawa COVID-19 Dashboard
https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/reports-research-and-statistics/resources/Documents/covid-19/05-Jun/Ottawa-COVID-19-Dashboard_Jun-5.pdf
(I hope they create a URL which will point to the current version at all times.)

In summary for today, I think we're starting to see efforts of most Canadians take effect in pulling COVID-19 impacts on a day-to-day basis to a manageable level. This is because health guidance, hygiene and self-isolation measures are working. My takeaway for now is we can manage COVID-19 by keeping up the recommended actions. Without letting those guards down, it's OK to let some of the stress and anxiety subside. It should also be reasonably safe to start ramping up other medical care like surgeries, chemotherapy, MRIs, etc. in most of Canada now (other than the GTA and Montreal area).

Other coronaviruses like the 'common cold' and influenza strains tend to be most prevalent in the winter, so our big opportunity to really beat COVID-19 down is this coming summer. It might put a bit of a damper on your usual summer fun activities, such as big social gatherings, but it could really dampen the impact of the anticipated second wave this coming autumn and winter.

;-) The road to success is always under construction.
     But you still need a map to get to your desired destination.

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


June 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.

On June 3rd, Canada reported another 675 new cases and 103 deaths. Yesterday, another 641 and 139 respectively. Active cases now at 34,350.

I'm astonished to see that an ongoing pandemic which has killed about 7,500 Canadians and about 100 more per day and over 100,000 Americans so far and about another 1,000 a day, not counting the active cases and those that are 'recovered' but have have long-term health issues, has been so totally eclipsed by the racist violence incited by the impeached POTUS and ignited by the death of yet another black male at the hands of white police officers. More death due to disinformation. It's criminal.

This time it's not specifically about COVID-19, but this is how disinformation works.
Twitter shuts down white nationalist group posing as Antifa after Donald Trump Jr. shares its tweet
https://www.salon.com/2020/06/02/twitter-shuts-down-white-nationalist-group-posing-as-antifa-after-donald-trump-jr-shares-its-tweet/
Essentially, a fascist organization poses on social media as an anti-fascist organization, makes a reprehensible call for violence to misdirect the public, which is then amplified by a primed audience of bots and those with an agenda to stir up anger, dissent and confusion. Which then gives someone in a position of power justification to target the wrong party as the perpetrator. We used to call this a 'false-flag' operation.

Not be be outdone in flogging falsehoods to its audience and serving people up as fodder to those with malicious agendas, Facebook (more correctly referred to now as Fakebook), abdicated its responsibility to safeguard its audience.
Here are some instances where Facebook has been an arbiter of truth
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/28/facebook-has-been-an-arbiter-of-truth-here-are-examples.html
Fakebook had so much credibility gap on disinformation, it hired thousands of fact-checkers.
Fact-Checking on Facebook: What Publishers Should Know
https://www.facebook.com/business/help/182222309230722

In case you think this is a new issue for Zuckerberg and Fakebook, this story is from 2018.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Truth Problem
https://fortune.com/2018/09/11/mark-zuckerberg-truth-problem/

If you are relying on 'social media' for news, you are being misinformed. Intentionally, maliciously and repeatedly. I used to say of social media and other online tools (before I gave up wasting my time, breath and keystrokes), if you don't understand how you are paying for the product, you are the product.

The legitimate investigative media are routinely targeted by those who wish to manage what is reported in all information channels, are increasingly have to protect themselves digitally as well as physically. The delegitimization of and direct threats to the U.S. and foreign mainstream media by the current U.S. administration are not a personal quirk, they are part of an orchestrated campaign to control the news and journalism.
Digital Safety: Protecting against targeted online attacks
https://cpj.org/2020/05/digital-safety-protecting-against-targeted-online-attacks/

These attacks on press freedom and journalists have ratcheted up in recent months, partly due to a strategy that dates back to Rupert Murdoch and corporation concentration of mainstream media in the western world, to the 2016 U.S. national Republican nomination campaign, through the current presidency, and now stepped up under the cover of the COVID-19 campaign and set ablaze by the death of George Floyd.
Press freedom violations at George Floyd protests by the numbers: a shocking and unprecedented level of attacks on journalists
https://freedom.press/news/press-freedom-violations-george-floyd-protests-numbers-shocking-and-unprecedented-level-attacks-journalists/

In Canada, this corresponds to the period that Stephen Harper muzzled scientists, redirected funding from environmental science to oil industry 'research' funded by taxpayers, closing down science institutions (PEARL, ELA ...) and defunding humanitarian organizations (e.g. KAIROS) under the guise of fake austerity triggered by tax cuts for the richest in Canada. The current U.S. playbook was partly written in Canada. And you can measure the extent to which we have recovered in Canada in the past four years by two items: taxpayers were tapped to buy the troubled Trans Mountain pipeline and are committed to building the expansion which means Canada cannot meet its climate change action targets; and, the federal department of Environment and Climate Change Canada is seen as the most ineffective and invisible agency of its kind in the western world.
ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE CANADA WINS CODE OF SILENCE AWARD
https://caj.ca/blog/environment_climate_change_Canada_wins_2019_Code_of_Silence_award

That is disinformation. It is insidious. It harvests people as pawns. It slows me down at every turn as I have to think and research (to the extent I can) any message I distribute, because I don't know what sources I can trust. But with time, I'm developing a toolbox that helps with that.

If you still have some time due to COVID-19 restrictions and impacts, perhaps you could contemplate the state of democracy in our country, and what is really going on. Here's a starting point.
Here’s every environmental protection in Canada that has been suspended, delayed and cancelled during COVID-19
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/03/news/heres-every-environmental-protection-canada-has-been-suspended-delayed-and-cancelled
Defence Department accused of using pandemic to withhold info
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/06/03/news/defence-department-accused-using-pandemic-withhold-info

If you want a better 'after', we need citizens and voters to take control of our governments from foreign corporations and their proxies.

Some real information - remember Sweden?

A few weeks ago, Sweden was held up by the 're-open now' faction as the poster nation for dealing with COVID-19 'right'. As the drum-beat for 're-open now' continues in Canada, still without enough or proper PPE for workers, without enough population testing, without enough contact tracing capacity, without effective medical treatments, consider this recent story out of Sweden.
We got it wrong, says man behind Swedish virus plan
https://www.msn.com/en-ph/news/world/we-got-it-wrong-says-man-behind-swedish-virus-plan/ar-BB1503vu
You can count on the disinformation demons to change horses off this one in days to come. A couple of weeks ago, I thought Israel might have been the new candidate, but perhaps not now.
Virus cases see largest spike in a month with 116 new diagnoses in 24 hours
Death toll rises to 290 with 5 new deaths; Health Ministry reportedly set to recommend shuttering all high schools to curb infection rates
https://www.timesofisrael.com/coronavirus-death-toll-rises-to-289-as-nation-grapples-with-mounting-cases/

This story is also troubling. These are the front-line health care professionals who presumably have whatever quality PPE that is available. Now, think about why staff in long-term care facilities, who have been told in some cases not to wear PPE, even items they have purchased themselves, are fleeing their places of employment once there is an outbreak.
COVID-19 death toll among nurses doubled in past month, says nurses group
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-nurses/covid-19-death-toll-among-nurses-doubled-in-past-month-says-nurses-group-idUSKBN23A1KY

Still on long-term care facilities, Ontario is having to take over management of more LTC homes.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/province-appoints-st-mary-s-general-hospital-to-temporarily-manage-forest-heights-long-term-care-home-1.5595042
https://globalnews.ca/news/7026459/coronavirus-ontario-long-term-care-home-woodbridge-vista/

;-) “Only fake people value fake news.”
     - Oche Otorkpa

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


June 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.

758 and 705 new cases reported in Canada in the past 2 days. Ontario's counts are increasing. This may be related to increased testing numbers under more relaxed rules for eligibility, but are more likely connected to May long weekend contacts and virus spread. We may also be seeing the effects of the first re-opening of non-essential businesses. And Ontario still is having issues getting its overall testing and reporting system running smoothly.

Hundreds of positive COVID-19 cases not reported to Ontario public health units
https://www.cp24.com/news/hundreds-of-positive-covid-19-cases-not-reported-to-ontario-public-health-units-1.4964852

Nation-wide, only 100 new deaths were reported over the 2 days, about half the trend for the past 2 months.

Active cases in Canada as of yesterday (June 2) were 34,658. There still aren't any good data I have found on 'recovered' cases which have new long-term health issues.

Take Care of You

In addition to avoiding infection and the physical aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there are social and mental health issues which come with isolation, loneliness, fear and the anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In most of Canada, we do have some services available for those who need support from friendly calling social services, to distress lines, to counselling and even medication with diagnosis from a medical professional. Some of us could use a little help, even if we don't feel the need to reach out to these levels. For many, life presented enough challenges before COVID-19 showed up. This article talks about some things you can do to reduce your own feelings of anxiety and stress.
7 mental health coping tips for life in the time of COVID-19
https://theconversation.com/7-mental-health-coping-tips-for-life-in-the-time-of-covid-19-138479

In some cases, you may also be an informal home care giver to someone who requires support on a regular basis due to illness or chronic conditions, COVID-19 or other causes. This article indicates this is another of the forgotten front-lines. My term over the years has been "invisible". We don't pay these people or support them adequately. They are not on anybody's radar for being provided with even the most basic PPE. But the health care 'system' absolutely relies on this volunteer effort to prevent the 'system' from being overwhelmed in 'normal' times, let alone during pandemic.
Informal home care providers: the forgotten health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31254-X/fulltext

Contemplate for a minute the implications for informal home care givers with COVID-19 in the home environment, exposed every day, when you read the next article about trained, paid and equipped health care workers.
DID YOU KNOW: 87% of people with COVID-19 in Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon work in health care.
https://www.caledonenterprise.com/news-story/10000279-did-you-know-87-of-people-with-covid-19-in-brampton-mississauga-caledon-work-in-health-care/

Masks and Invincibility

I'm tired of talking about cloth masks, but I thought this commentary was worth sharing. It reflects what I'm seeing when I go out, which isn't much.
Pssst... That face mask isn't a force field against the coronavirus.
https://www.cnet.com/health/pssst-that-face-mask-isnt-a-force-field-against-the-coronavirus/

And this commentary reinforces what I have been saying about the additional implications of the pandemic on personal health which is not getting the coverage accorded to the 'box scores'.
Strange symptoms, flare-ups, weeks-long illnesses for some COVID-19 survivors.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/strange-symptoms-flare-ups-weeks-long-illnesses-for-some-covid-19-survivors-1.5587446

Privacy Rights and Digital Contact Tracing

Privacy watchdog doubts current law completely protects Canadians for COVID-19 apps
https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/privacy-watchdog-doubts-current-law-completely-protects-canadians-for-covid-apps/431502

;-) I had to remove the battery from my carbon monoxide detector.
     The constant beeping was giving me a headache and making me
     feel sick. (credit https://upjoke.com/)

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


June 1, 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 757 new cases yesterday, but deaths were reported as 222, the highest single day value yet in Canada. Active cases at 34,773. The news out of New Brunswick is cautionary, and flight of workers from a long-term care home there gives cause for concern as to how well those workers perceive their protection working in an LTC with outbreak (likely based on experiences in neighbouring Quebec).

Over the past 11 weeks or so, I have tried to impress upon readers that we don't really understand the impacts of COVID-19 yet, and we have much yet to learn. So far, there hasn't been a lot of good news. If there's one point I would reinforce now, it's that you don't want to be infected by this virus. It kills people, and not just the old. It leaves even more people sick for extended periods of time, some with multiple relapses and others with new chronic health conditions. Still more people are affected by the deaths and illnesses, even if they are not infected or sickened themselves. Mourning and funerals are challenging in the COVID-19 period, and caring for infected household members is challenging and a personal risk. The impacts of this pandemic go beyond the 'box scores'.

Here's another perspective on the health effects of COVID-19, sent to me by a reader.
Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything
https://elemental.medium.com/coronavirus-may-be-a-blood-vessel-disease-which-explains-everything-2c4032481ab2

If you can, stay home as much as possible. Follow all the health guidance, because we know that works to break the transmission chain.

Core Item: Safe shelter from the elements and other dangers

Without shelter, you likely won't survive a year - certainly not in most of Canada.

One of the key mantras of the guidance on breaking the COVID-19 transmission chain and avoiding being infected was to 'stay home'. Implicitly, this means you have a home, and that 'home' is a safer place than other places you could be. That is not the case for all Canadians.

Not just for COVID-19, shelter is a key prerequisite for effective health care, and even just registering as a person when it comes to getting basic supports from government agencies. How do you get a bank account if you don't have a home address? How do you receive government funds if you don't have a bank account or a mailing address? Without a home address, how do you get on the patient list with a general practitioner (GP) doctor? Without a GP, how do you access the health care 'system' in Canada? In short, you don't.

Like health care, housing is a right
https://www.nationalobserver.com/2020/05/11/opinion/health-care-housing-right

CBC.ca: New respite centre for Ottawa's homeless to 'make a big difference'.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/homeless-ottawa-covid-1.5544164

Housing First strategies work. That's why municipalities invest in them.
Canadian Housing First Toolkit
http://housingfirsttoolkit.ca/
'It absolutely works': Housing First marks 1 year in Regina
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/housing-first-regina-homelessness-one-year-1.4210744

It's also important that whatever home or shelter that is available to people is a safe environment. Not just from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Experts on domestic violence are concerned that the number of calls they are receiving during lockdowns and self-isolation are markedly reduced. Kids who are not in school are not being seen by independent adults on a regular basis, which has long been one of our societal trip wires for uncovering child abuse. The second trip wire has been the hospital emergency departments, which are also reporting lower than usual visit numbers during the COVID-19 activity restrictions.

We also don't have enough shelters for those abused by spouses, and workers in the field of looking after kids we have rescued from abusive situations have long been open about the lack of resources at their disposal.

Like the issues in long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec, advocates have long been reporting we do not have sufficient or adequate housing or shelter for the disadvantaged in our population, presumably another population taxpayers and the leaders who cater to the lower taxes fan base are prepared to sacrifice in exchange for a few dollars a year or providing welfare to major foreign-owned corporations instead.

If we want to create jobs as part of our post-COVID-19 economic recovery, building housing is a great strategy, including for the disadvantaged in our society. It creates jobs in the construction industry and in the creation of building materials. Canada creates a lot of structural lumber, gypsum (for drywall board), steel (for nails, screws and other construction hardware), and so far, Bay Street has been challenged to figure out how to off-shore the jobs associated with actually constructing a building in Canada. Some construction jobs don't require a lot of academic credentials, and it is a field where one can still learn on the job. It is a sector where we can create work for some of the service workers whose jobs aren't going to come back after COVID-19 (e.g. closed bank branches that aren't going to re-open).

A COVID-19 Recovery Plan Requires Keeping People Housed
https://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/a_covid_19_recovery_plan_requires_keeping_people_housed

;-) Seen on a road-side sign on the way into Carp (Ontario):
     THANK GOD IT'S ...
       wait - what day is it?

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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