There are some great sets of guidelines assembled, but what they lack are dives into causal/explanatory mechanisms. Guidelines alone aren't good enough when they don't allow you to know how to act in unanticipated situations. This is a post aggregating three areas:
- Sourcing trusted information
- Causative factors (what we know we know, as well as what we don't know)
- Guidelines (what we do)
Time is an important factor here, as well in multiple dimensions:
- When we don't know if doing something is dangerous, but the risk is high, we must err on the side of caution.
- As we transition into fall, and winter, a lot of behavior we've learned during the spring and summer will no longer keep us safe.
- As knowledge of the virus increases, we can (possibly) adapt our strategies to compensate for it. This means safe conduct rules can change over time.
- As I learn more, this should receive corresponding updates.
The trudge of time, gradual change of what safe conduct means, and the general suck of isolation is causing understandable tension in my personal life. This results in a predictable, hard situation: it becomes easy to lash out at people enforcing safe conduct, especially when the guidelines appear inconsistent. Although different people have different guidelines, generally, people in a group must comply with the person possessing the strictest guidelines. This misunderstanding and discontentment could instead be transformed into generative thought, useful discussion, and deeper understanding. That is the purpose of this page - changing the discussion from
- "How come you said I couldn't do x, but now you're doing y?" into being able to answer
- "It's raining outside. How safe (or not) is it for us to be indoors together?"
Sourcing Trusted Information #
Before getting into details, there is one final piece of context-setting which must be done. There have been a chain of institutional failures which necessitate me even writing a blog post like this in the first place. The question of "what sources and experts can we trust?" has been made complicated.
The west has failed our handling of COVID. COVID-19 was killing an American every 80 seconds... in August. This is a virus which goes across state lines, meaning this is a country- (global-) scale problem. Even if one state handles the virus well, if they're next to a state which doesn't, they can't be a green zone while sick people who infect others keep intermingling. The largest scale institution we have and the only one capable of dealing with this virus is the federal government. Despite the predicted nature of this pandemic, President Trump disbanded our preventative experts and expired our PPE (personal protective equipment) supplies. When this pandemic started spreading through the USA, we didn't have enough reserves of equipment.
In order to cover up their unpreparedness, our public health institutions lied to us about their efficacy ("masks don't work"/"masks aren't necessary"). They used up the last trust the public had (at the beginning, we looked to our scientists) and lied to us to "achieve a better outcome," which is a euphemism for "hide the fact we're unable to defend ourselves from an invading virus in order to avoid liability and panic." The WHO (World Health Organization) has similarly been revealed to house individuals who are instruments of China. The Imperial College, historically a highly trusted source, published a horrendously wrong study used to justify incorrect policy. The informational landscape has been, and is, chaos.
I'll cut it off here, and summarize the chaotic informational landscape:
- President Trump isn't a strong enough leader to grapple with the virus. He's impotent in the face of this crisis.
- The CDC has lied in the name of "public health."
- The WHO is compromised.
- There are many idiots in institutions we should hopefully trust speaking and giving bad advice.
- We can't trust mainstream media, and Facebook/Twitter are also engaging in forms of censorship with varying results.
Tl;dr - We didn't buy insurance when it was cheap. We knew this virus was coming, but there were no adults left in room smart or strong enough to respond correctly.
Who can we look to? Who can we trust? In this we're dubiously lucky. Listen to the people who were right, regardless of their institutional involvement. Ignore the rest.
On January 26th 2020, Joseph Norman, Yaneer Bar-Yam, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb published a paper on the right way to react to COVID in order to prevent massive damage. Where everyone else was wrong, they were right. One of the main criticisms lobbied at them is "you didn't predict the exact # of cases..." However, what they made were system property-based predictions (here is generally what will happen) vs point-based predictions (exactly this many people will get sick by that date). This is a bad criticism because property-based predictions include the span of possibilities on what could happen, where a point-based forecast makes assumptions about one set of circumstances (which is would be more useful? The property-based one, obviously).
This indicates a useful fact: the people worth listening to have both an understanding of medicine as well as complex systems.
For guidance on how to behave in general, as well as high trust in sources they trust:
And for specifics on actual causal mechanisms:
Otherwise, journalistic resources and other institutions might be useful to demonstrate "a thing happened," but not good enough for us to make decisions on how to behave. I hope to expand this list.
The virus doesn’t care about economic considerations, political opinions, belief systems, conspiracy theories. Any gathering of people has a significant potential and unnecessary risk of infection. What we do is on us.
Information sourcing will start at these places. If they trust a source, I trust it (after some light verification).
Causative Factors #
Key facts and sources on how the virus actually spreads and what it looks like.
What are the symptpoms of COVID? #
Short-term key symptons:
- Shortness of breath
Shor-term all Symptoms:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- New fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Congestion or runny nose
- Manifest brain damage even for 'asymptomic' individuals.
- Loss of short-term memory
- Loss of smell
- Loss of muscle control (tweet has since been censored)
- Alzheimers-like symptoms
- Impairment in at one or more organs, 4 months afterwards
What is the incubation period for COVID? #
The incubation period varies from 2 to 14 days.
How does it get transmitted? #
Spreads through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes (source).
COVID-19 Mainly Spreads through Indoor Air
Six feet of separation substantially reduces the spread of large droplets, but even though we know that it is much less effective for smaller aerosol droplets, it remains the standard.
We know that speaking, singing, and even just exhaling, produce aerosols, and that aerosol plumes can linger for hours, likely in direct proportion to occupancy and in inverse proportion to ventilation mixing.
And just to make it really interesting, they can travel and carry viral content for tens of meters
If droplets reach your nose, mouth, airways, and lungs they can potentially cause an infection.
How does dosage relate? #
(Need to re-find source for this, was noted in care settings)
There's evidence that the higher the dosage of droplets you get, the more intense your symptoms. This makes sense as there's more of the virus to ravage your body, and less time for your immune system to forge the defensive antibodies.
Are children less likely to spread it? #
Transmission from children is as common as transmission from adults.
Can you get sick after you've already gotten sick? #
Do masks work? #
But but but masks/plandemic/etc #
Masks work. The virus spreads through droplets put into the air by infected individuals. Masks both hinder the spread of these particles (because the droplets are caught in the mask), and hinder the reception of these particles (the droplets are caught by masks before entering the mouth). They aren't 100% effective, but they dramatically lower the rates of infection.
If that isn't enough to convince you, consider there are countries which have used masks and countries where they haven't. Only countries using masks have a successfully ended the virus and turned into green zones. If you say you want to end this virus, then copy approaches which work.
If you still believe that masks don't work, please change your mind.
If you're unwilling to change your mind, reconsider. You're playing russian roulette.
One of the few benefits of this pandemic is we now get to observe how people behave in an uncertain information environment where the survival of us and those close to us is on the line. You have skin in the game, whether or not you recognize it. How smart are you? How aware are you? Can you make the correct choices? How good is your judgement? This is a rare circumstance where there are actually measurable right answers. The experiment is running in all scenarios. This pandemic is a great character filter.
If you're telling others that masks don't work and you won't change your mind with new information, you're causing needless human suffering. You've failed. You don't pass the filter. You're an idiot (especially so if you're against masks because someone told you to be). Let us part ways here, until later when it's time to inflict the personal, professional, and reputational harm on you you deserve. This is on you.
To avoid this, change your mind and help stop suffering now, while it matters. Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.
These are not policy-decisions or guidance. These are at the scale of individuals, and local friend-groups/family.
There is no eliminating risk. There is only choosing different kinds. You might do everything right, and still be unlucky. The goal is to minimize big risks.
- Stay at least 6 ft away.
- Avoid being indoors with others. If you have to be, minimize your time there.
- Wear a mask. Indoors, outdoors. Prefer window, outdoor environments with configurations you're not downwind.
- Wash your hands.
The goal is minimizing droplet exposure. If a behavior has low risk but massive quality of life enhancement... it's worth taking to preserve sanity.
Some risks worth taking:
- Quick indoor bathroom trips, 1 person at a time w/ mask on
- Outdoor spaces events with limited attendance/adequately spaced seating
- Single-person servers (minimzing contact across individuals)
Design Mechanisms (coming soon) #
There must be possible design approaches to increase safety in varying situations. Here are some ideas I want to develop:
- Ultra-intense UV + circulation for indoors
- Outdoor tent/radian fireplace/projector/stall design (for backyard movie nights even in the dead of winter)
- Planning for outdoor events
- Planning for indoor events? (unsure if possible)
I expect I should need to change this. Updates will be noted here, newest -> oldest. If you see something here that should be different (or updated), email email@example.com or open an issue. The actual update frequency will likely be once every 1-2 weeks, so a set of changes will be applied then.
Suspected Censorship #