Coronavirus in Context is a weekly newsletter where we bring you facts that matter about the COVID-19 pandemic and the technology trying to stop its spread. You can subscribe here.
Hola Pandemic Pals,
I took a walk on the beach this morning before work.
Everyone has a story about what they were going to do in 2020 if COVID-19 hadn’t shown up. Back in late January, when things started going sour, the year was young and full of potential.
We moved to a bungalow right on the beach at the end of February. For a few brief weeks the entire Pacific Ocean was our front yard. It was glorious.
(The view from right outside my house. The beach was completely closed until last month. We’re allowed access Monday – Friday between the hours of 6AM and 10AM now).
But then the quarantine hit Mexico and inside we had to go. We went from living our best lives — starting our days with our feet in the sand and taking long, romantic, moonlit walks on the beach after watching the sun set — to stuck inside. Don’t get me wrong, if you have to be quarantined it’s not a bad deal to have a nice view and perpetually perfect weather.
Today, I went early enough to find some isolation. It was just me, a few people catching their breakfast, and some very happy beach dogs. Normally the beaches here would be full of tourists, vendors, horses, and surfers. But today it was like my own private paradise. And that made me very, very sad.
Because any day now the government is going to completely shut the beaches back down again.
Nobody’s talking about Mexico, but we’re reporting the third highest increase in COVID-19 deaths behind the US and Brazil. The common sentiment here is that the government is likely under-counting the number of cases and deaths. This, all in spite of the fact that Mexico took action earlier than the US.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to my little beach community. If the beaches don’t open for the rest of the summer, the families and workers who depend on tourism for income likely won’t make it through winter. And if Spring Break doesn’t happen in 2021, I fear hundreds of people in my neighborhood will go hungry, lose their homes, or worse.
I think about these things when I’m walking alone on the beach. But I think about them even more when I go purchase water and see people out in public without masks on or when I pick up groceries and see people shaking hands and hugging one another in greeting.
Most of us are following the rules and trying to protect each other. But a few aren’t. I wonder why those people hate my neighborhood and the wonderful people in it. I wonder why they want the beaches closed, the elderly at risk, and every sick person who lives here endangered.
By the numbers
|Last week we compared COVID-19 to Breitbart.
This week, lets forget about coronavirus and focus on what’s left of 2020. Source: (Google Calendar and I counted on my fingers)
Tweet thread of the week
That we have data emerging that indicates there is medium or long term cardiac consequences for even asymptomatic people & still decided to open schools in person.
That we didn’t put together the tools— tests & contact tracing— to make them, their schools & their families safe.6
— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt) August 4, 2020
What to read
When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
“The Kids Aren’t Alright” by The Offspring
|In this little section, we’d like to talk about the tech that’s getting us through the pandemic. This week, I want to talk about a technology that’s not getting us through this.
Virtual reality. If ever there was a disaster VR should be able to get us through, it’s a pandemic right? The idea seems sound, you’re stuck inside so why not slap on a headset and travel to far away places or visit fantasy worlds. Seriously, why aren’t we all watching sports and concerts in VR right this very moment?
Well, it’s because VR is an isolating experience. We’re already stuck inside our homes, slipping a headset on makes it even more lonely. VR doesn’t make me feel connected, in fact it does quite the opposite. If I need a break from the chaos of life and a moment to get really lost, I’ll pop on my Oculus or HTC headset.
But what I need — what I think most of us need — right now is human connection. And you can get that a lot better from a Zoom call than you can trying to run up your Beat Saber high score.
Maybe someone will come up with a killer app for VR that makes us all feel like we’re gathering together again without having to risk infection, but until then I’d rather see your smile than your avatar.
We’ll be back next Tuesday. And every Tuesday after that until the pandemic ends. Because we’re all in this together.
In the meantime, here’s a few links to help you manage the misinformation as the disease hits its peak:
Don’t believe everything you read on social media. Stay healthy and take care of each other,