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This article was published on March 20, 2020

Introducing our new newsletter, Coronavirus in Context

Introducing our new newsletter, Coronavirus in Context
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

Today we’re introducing our brand new newsletter: Coronavirus in Context.

In this weekly email, we’ll bring you facts that matter about the COVID-19 pandemic and the technology trying to stop its spread. You can subscribe here.

Here’s a first taste of what it’ll look like…

First things first, let’s talk about why this coronavirus outbreak is a pretty huge deal — and if you have any reluctant boomers in your family, here’s what you should tell them.

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, meaning we’ve never seen it before. This makes it challenging for medical professionals to come up with treatments and a vaccine — none yet exist and no, Trump, you can’t treat or prevent it with a flu shot.

The good news? The prognosis for a vaccine is excellent. Experts believe we could have one in 12-18 months. In the meantime, we should all follow the guidelines for proper hygiene and social distancing in order to limit the spread and flatten the curve.

Don’t know what social distancing is? Here’s a primer from John Hopkins Medicine, and here’s artist Juan Delcan’s depiction of why it’s crucial:

Even better news: For the first time in human history we’re not facing this challenge alone. The age of artificial intelligence has given us a powerful ally in the form of automated testing and machine learning-powered insights for virologists and researchers building a vaccine.

For now, avoid unwittingly spreading or contracting the virus by following this simple but effective mnemonic device, courtesy of Wu Tang Clan:

And while you’re reading up on the CDC’s report on Coronavirus Symptoms, we recommend Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers) to get the message stuck in your head.

Don’t forget to subscribe here to keep receiving Coronavirus in Context!

By the numbers

Each week we’ll zoom in on a different statistic, and give it some context. Today we’re looking at COVID-19 cases reported globally as of 8AM PST today as compared to those estimated for the entire 2009 H1N1, or “swine flu,” pandemic. (Note: While the numbers are far less, COVID-19 is no less deadly. Here’s an article from Live Science breaking down why.)

2009 H1N1 Pandemic (April – August 2009)

  • Global estimated cases: 1.9 billion
  • Global estimated deaths: 289,000
2020 COVID-19 Pandemic (November 2019 – present)
  • Global cases reported: 255,294
  • Global deaths: 10,456

Tweet of the day

What to read

Spare computing power, secret cell phone data hacks, and airline bailouts…
  • Everyone’s at risk: Nearly half the coronavirus patients in ICUs are under the age of 55. (Washington Post)
  • While we’re all fighting coronavirus, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is under attack from hackers. (Bloomberg)
  • The Google coronavirus testing site that Trump touted is live now, but it only works in California for the time being.
  • Trump had a 2-hour phone call with tech giants including Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, and Cisco. On the agenda: Combating the spread with AI, cloud-computing, and tackling misinformation.
  • Israel’s using secret cell phone data to track coronavirus. (The New York Times)
  • You can donate your computer’s spare power to help find a cure for COVID-19.
  • Let the bailouts begin. Nearly every airline will go bankrupt without intervention. (Financial Times $)
  • Coronavirus quarantine anxiety? There’s an ASMR for that too. (The AV Club)
  • Amazon gave its drivers a single wipe to clean their trucks because, apparently, it’s an endless pit of evil. (Bloomberg)2


We know, we know… there are a million articles out there on how to stay sane at home: What yoga moves to do, what sourdough bread to bake, how to pick up a phone and actually call someone… so we’re adding to the noise!

In this section, one of our writers will share one weird internet thing they’ve been obsessing over while in lockdown. First up is editor, creative, and Big Spam mummy Georgina:

It’s interesting to see what kind of ~*content*~ is picking up speed these days — obviously, many social distancing memes. I haven’t seen it yet, but surely clean-fluencers should be having a moment? I’m going to do my part by recommending Mrs. Hinch.

Honestly, if you haven’t heard of Mrs. Hinch by now, I don’t know what you’ve been doing. Sophie Hinchliffe is a housewife from Essex who became an Instagram sensation for posting incredibly soothing videos of her cleaning. That’s it, just cleaning.

She’s now got over 3M followers, multiple branding deals, a published book, and my heart forever. Give her a follow, and let her anti-bacterial goodness soothe your soul in these times of constant hand-washing.

I’m also very unironically into the mindlessly grey vlogger aesthetic? Idk, my standards for entertainment are dropping.

Bye for now!

We’ll be back with more Big Spam tomorrow, and the next Coronavirus in Context returns on Tuesday. Subscribe here to receive it in your inbox.


Until then, practice social distancing, and please don’t take advice from strangers on the internet. Instead, get up-to-date facts at the following official resources:

Stay healthy and take care of each other,


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