COVID-19: Personal Perspective

I’m writing this to capture my personal perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s definitely been stressful trying to figure out fact from fiction. Being in Canada, I have high confidence in our federal and provincial health systems. What can I do to support the experts?

I can lead by example and support others in my community. Here are the actions I’m personally taking, feedback for some local organizations, and some links to further resources at the end. If you’d like to discuss any of this live, contact me in the #vancouver or #canada channels in our company Discord chat.

Business

Working from Home

My company is a distributed team. Brooke and I here in Vancouver, Daniel in Missouri, and Steven in Belgium.

Usually I go in to the live/work space where Brooke is on Main Street. She’s young and in good health. But, I need to take two buses to get there.

Action: I will be working from home. If I go work with Brooke, I’ll walk or bike.

Meetings

We already do remote video calls to talk to people all over the world. I usually do 2 - 3 in person meetings per week locally in the Vancouver area, often more focused on supporting local entrepreneurs (that is, not my “day job”).

Action: all meetings virtual.

Feedback to Vancity

I got an email from Vancity, my local credit union:

Our goal is to keep all Vancity branches open and available to serve our members.

No, your goal is to serve members, and keep your staff and members healthy. Maybe I’m being picky, but the goal shouldn’t be to keep branches open. You’ve got phone banking and online capabilities. If there are individuals who have trouble using those modes, put dedicated agents on and communicate how those individuals should get in touch with you.

I’d like to see them lead by example and close down virtually all branches. Any that need to stay open, implement procedures of checking people before they come in.

Feedback to the City of Vancouver

I saw my friend @catthekin post that the Vancouver Aquarium is open, and various Spring Break activities will see hordes of children go through there.

I signal boosted her plea for closure, and while we’re at it, swimming pools and community centres need to be shut down as well:

The mayor of Calgary @nenshi just announced a state of local emergency shutting down the various City-owned facilities. I’m hoping that we see announcements from the city and province tomorrow.

Personal

I don’t think of myself as being at-risk, but actually, I likely am.

When I was a pre-teen, I had a bad case of pneumonia. In general, growing up I had a number of respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, multiple times. As far as I know, I have reduced lung capacity in one lung from that childhood pneumonia.

And, I’m 45 years old this year. I’m not a young invincible, I’m a grizzled forgotten Gen-X-er.

I’m going to practice social isolation. That means staying at home.

What can you do? I believe going outside, going for walks or bike rides, is fine. If you’re going to go to areas (eg Stanley Park) that are likely to be crowded, stay away.

We’re lucky to have many small local stores within walking distance. We did a bit of a grocery shop, bought an extra carton of eggs.

This weekend, Rachael and I went to The Pie Shoppe for Pi Day.

We also had dinner with another couple at their apartment. Small gatherings are OK (for now, in Vancouver / BC), but you need to be really sure that the other people aren’t sick. Meeting friends and family in outdoor spaces is likely to be the safest going forward.

Action: stay close to home. Small local shops, and outdoor walks are OK.

Apartment

I live in a low rise apartment building with 10 units. I’m going to finally setup a shared email list with the others in the building to be able to support each other. And, to let us know if anyone has symptoms, or needs anything.

I’m going to call on the property management of my building to do extra cleaning, especially wiping down of shared surfaces.

If they don’t do this, I’ll look to do this myself with the other building residents.

Action: connect with those living close to you and make communication channels and ways to support each other

Useful Resources

For Vancouver and BC, I think #vanpoli and #bcpoli are existing Twitter hashtags (this is the most important political discussion at the moment!) perhaps combined with #COVIDCanada – I’ll be using these going forward.

Blocking / muting is important. If you’re on Mac or iOS, Tweetbot has excellent built in tools. Tweetdeck is web-based, also works on mobile, and can be used for advanced filtering.


Via Brooke @expede, a post on the /r/Canada Reddit appears well-researched, and is being updated.


@timbray writes Plague Advice, with a personal visit to the farmers market:

Like Tim, I trust Dr. Henry:

Here in BC we’re not in hard-lockdown where you have to stay inside and order your food. I and many others here put a lot of weight on words from our Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (no Twitter of her own but she has a fan club). As of this writing, she says that for now, it’s OK to shop for food and basics, to eat out, and especially to do things that are outside. Farmers markets offer two out of three.

Just because that’s OK for us doesn’t mean it’s OK for you. BC seems to have got lucky with early containment; it helps that anybody with Those Symptoms can have a COVID-19 test for the asking.

I suppose the containment will break down at some point and Dr Henry will bring the hard-lockdown hammer. Because she knows her shit and speaks the truth, she’ll bring the populace along with her.


This is what is meant by flattening the curve:

When agents move widely, the disease spreads very fast, and lots of them are infected at the same time. For this simulation, the maximum infection rate for widely mobile agents was 78%. For the exact same disease, with the same transmission rate and recovery rate, restricting agents to narrow mobility not only stretched out the time course of the epidemic, it also substantially reduced the maximum infection rate to only 25.6% — less than a third of what it was under widely mobile agents. – Paul E. Smaldino, Cognitive and Information Sciences Quantitative and Systems Biology, University of California, Merced

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