Bookmarked Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance by an author (Medium)

Strong coronavirus measures today should only last a few weeks, there shouldn’t be a big peak of infections afterwards, and it can all be done for a reasonable cost to society, saving millions of lives along the way. If we don’t take these measures, tens of millions will be infected, many will die, along with anybody else that requires intensive care, because the healthcare system will have collapsed.

Tomas Pueyo follows on from his post exploring why we need to act now and unpacks what the next 18 months could look like. As the opportunity for containment has been missed, we are therefore left with mitigation or suppression as our only options.

The Mitigation Strategy doesn’t try to contain the epidemic, just flatten the curve a bit. Meanwhile, the Suppression Strategy tries to apply heavy measures to quickly get the epidemic under control. Specifically:

  • Go hard right now. Order heavy social distancing. Get this thing under control.
  • Then, release the measures, so that people can gradually get back their freedoms and something approaching normal social and economic life can resume.

The benefit of suppression is that it would provide us time to develop new testing methods, build capacity in regards to equipment and get things in order. Overall this would provide a number of benefits, such as:

  • Fewer total cases of Coronavirus
  • Immediate relief for the healthcare system and the humans who run it
  • Reduction in fatality rate
  • Reduction in collateral damage
  • Ability for infected, isolated and quarantined healthcare workers to get better and back to work. In Italy, healthcare workers represent 8% of all contagions.

Pueyo suggests that a suppression strategy can be understood as a hammer and a dance.

During the Hammer period, politicians want to lower R as much as possible, through measures that remain tolerable for the population. In Hubei, they went all the way to 0.32. We might not need that: maybe just to 0.5 or 0.6.

But during the Dance of the R period, they want to hover as close to 1 as possible, while staying below it over the long term term. That prevents a new outbreak, while eliminating the most drastic measures.

What this means is that, whether leaders realize it or not, what they’re doing is:

  • List all the measures they can take to reduce R
  • Get a sense of the benefit of applying them: the reduction in R
  • Get a sense of their cost: the economic, social, and ethical cost.
  • Stack-rank the initiatives based on their cost-benefit
  • Pick the ones that give the biggest R reduction up till 1, for the lowest cost.

A lot of this is elaborated on further in the Imperial College’s report Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand.

We show that in the UK and US context, suppression will minimally require a combination of social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases and household quarantine of their family members. This may need to be supplemented by school and university closures, though it should be recognised that such closures may have negative impacts on health systems due to increased absenteeism. The major challenge of suppression is that this type of intensive intervention package – or something equivalently effective at reducing transmission – will need to be maintained until a vaccine becomes available (potentially 18 months or more) – given that we predict that transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed. We show that intermittent social distancing – triggered by trends in disease surveillance – may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound. Last, while experience in China and now South Korea show that suppression is possible in the short term, it remains to be seen whether it is possible long-term, and whether the social and economic costs of the interventions adopted thus far can be reduced.

Bookmarked Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now by an author (Medium)
Tomas Pueyo digs into the reported numbers of cases from a number of countries and compares this with the estimated rate of spread. He provides estimates for what the true numbers probably are:

We don’t know the number of true cases, but it’s much higher than the official one. It’s not in the hundreds. It’s in the thousands, maybe more.

Although we may have an idea on the rate of spread, this often depends on variables such as age and weather.

Age distribution in each country will also have an impact: Since mortality is much higher for older people, countries with an aging population like Japan will be harder hit on average than younger countries like Nigeria. There are also weather factors, especially humidity and temperature, but it’s still unclear how this will impact transmission and fatality rates.

The reality is that the best possible response is to act fast and act early:

Countries that act fast can reduce the number of deaths by a factor of ten. And that’s just counting the fatality rate. Acting fast also drastically reduces the cases, making this even more of a no-brainer. Countries that act fast reduce the number of deaths at least by 10x.

The reason for taking action is to reduce the stress on the healthcare so that we are able to better cope with the spread until a time when a vaccine is available.

If we reduce the infections as much as possible, our healthcare system will be able to handle cases much better, driving the fatality rate down. And, if we spread this over time, we will reach a point where the rest of society can be vaccinated, eliminating the risk altogether. So our goal is not to eliminate coronavirus contagions. It’s to postpone them.

Such actions come in may forms, however they depend upon which stage things are at.

There are several stages to control an epidemic, starting with anticipation and ending with eradication. But it’s too late for most options today. With this level of cases, the only options politicians have in front of them are containment, mitigation or suppression.

The problem is that many countries have missed the opportunity to contain the virus and are left with mitigation and supression.

Once there are hundreds or thousands of cases growing in the population, preventing more from coming, tracking the existing ones and isolating their contacts isn’t enough anymore. The next level is mitigation or suppression.

Pueyo warns that one of the biggest challenges with the virus is that those who are contagious are often asymptomatic.

If you’re still hesitating because nobody is showing symptoms, just realize 26% of contagions happen before there are symptoms.

Although many of the statistics Pueyo provides are most likely dated, this post is useful in providing a clarity about why social distancing, working from home and school closures are so important.


Kristine Ziwica discuses the move to make childcare free. As Laura Tingle highlights, nothing will be the same again. However, as Lisa Bryant points on:

Every playground in the country has been closed to stop the virus spreading. So why is it OK for hundreds of children to play together at a childcare centre?

Services should be open for essential workers and vulnerable families. But others should consider keeping their children at home where possible.

I’m also sad because not all our education and care services will be protected, not all educators’ and teachers’ jobs will be safe.

This is why I would rather try and continue keeping my child at home. However, I am happier that the government has stepped in to cover the cost, rather than be charged for absence days.

Bookmarked ‘Panic-gogy’: Teaching Online Classes During The Coronavirus Pandemic (

On one level, Panicgogy means understanding students’ limitations. Some only have smartphones. Some have family responsibilities. But ultimately, panicgogy is about applying compassion to learning.

Anya Kamenetz discusses the challenges of transitioning to online learning in the middle of a pandemic, something some have termed ‘panic-gogy’:

Sean Michael Morris and other colleagues have a tongue-in-cheek name for what they’re doing right now: “Panic-gogy” (for panic + pedagogy).

On one level, Panicgogy means understanding students’ practicalities. Some only have smartphones. Some have family responsibilities. Some have been sent home and need to find a new place to live, new job, and new health insurance. Professors may feel that the simplest option would be transitioning to class over video chat, but for all these practical reasons “It’s not really realistic to think that students can just show up and start taking class at the same time every day in an online environment,” says Morris.

Robin DeRosa explains that where an online course can take up to a year to develop, therefore the current transition is about care, compassion and community. Additionally, where possible this work should engage with the current situation:

“Whatever field you teach, I think it’s worth asking how is that field affected by the public health crisis and what contributions could the field be making right now to help people in their communities.”

Bookmarked Online Learning in the time of a pandemic: What it is, What it isn’t. (Joel Speranza)

Because of the Coronavirus, schools across the world are sending students and teachers home and moving towards online learning. Parents and students are being assured that the learning will continu…

Joel Speranza adds some thoughts to the discussion about the transition to online learning. He argues that this needs to be understood as an emergency measure that should focus on self-paced learning. It is not a time for rethink everything, but instead to be kind to yourself and your students.
Bookmarked Can livestreaming help music adapt and overcome in the age of coronavirus? (triple j)

“My #1 piece of advice? Artists can’t think of livestreaming as a substitute for live performance,” Dom says. “You can’t just take what you’re doing on stage and put it on screen. That’s not going to work, you need to think of it as a completely new offering, whatever that is.”

“If you’re offering content, an experience, or opportunities online that they cannot get if they came and saw you live — there’s a reason for them to pay money for that.”

Al Newstead discusses the impact of coronavirus on live music and the subsequent rise in livestreaming.
Bookmarked The National are meant to be in Australia — here’s what they’re doing instead (Double J)

“Making a song, or even making a drawing or anything out of some of this anxiety is the only thing that’s ever helped me really. Watching the news, talking about it, speculating and debating with friends, it never really makes me feel any better. It just gets me more riled up.

If you don’t write, Berninger reckons engaging with prose, music and art is a nourishing way to spend these anxious times.

“I have found art, listening to music, or just flipping through a book of paintings or photographs or reading an old book really changes your chemistry and is enlightening in a mental and a spiritual way,” he says.

Matt Berninger talks about art as an antidote for anxious times.📑
Bookmarked What Our Contagion Fables Are Really About (The New Yorker)

In the literature of pestilence, the greatest threat isn’t the loss of human life but the loss of what makes us human.

From Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year to José Saramago’s Blindness, Jill Lepore traces the portrayal of pandemics in literature through time. Again and again, these stories help us address what it means to be human.

Albert Camus once defined the novel as the place where the human being is abandoned to other human beings. The plague novel is the place where all human beings abandon all other human beings. Unlike other species of apocalyptic fiction, where the enemy can be chemicals or volcanoes or earthquakes or alien invaders, the enemy here is other humans: the touch of other humans, the breath of other humans, and, very often—in the competition for diminishing resources—the mere existence of other humans.

An important part of this question of humanness and suffering through each of these stories is the act of reading and books themselves. Lepore suggests that reading itself can sometimes be understood as a contagion infection on minds, while at other times it acts as an antedote.

Reading is an infection, a burrowing into the brain: books contaminate, metaphorically, and even microbiologically. In the eighteenth century, ships’ captains arriving at port pledged that they had disinfected their ships by swearing on Bibles that had been dipped in seawater. During tuberculosis scares, public libraries fumigated books by sealing them in steel vats filled with formaldehyde gas. These days, you can find out how to disinfect books on a librarians’ thread on Reddit. Your best bet appears to be either denatured-alcohol swipes or kitchen disinfectant in a mist-spray bottle, although if you stick books in a little oven and heat them to a hundred and sixty degrees Fahrenheit there’s a bonus: you also kill bedbugs. (“Doesn’t harm the books!”) Or, as has happened during the coronavirus closures, libraries can shut their doors, and bookstores, too.

In a seperate piece, Alain de Botton discusses Camus’ exploration of human suffering captured in his novel The Plague:

“The Plague” isn’t trying to panic us, because panic suggests a response to a dangerous but short-term condition from which we can eventually find safety. But there can never be safety — and that is why, for Camus, we need to love our fellow damned humans and work without hope or despair for the amelioration of suffering. Life is a hospice, never a hospital.

For a full list, Bryan Alexander has collated a list of texts on the plague, while Cory Doctorow has recorded a number of his own stories on the topic.

Bookmarked Kawehi Covers, by Kawehi (Kawehi)

20 track album

I came upon I Am Kawehi via YouTube and her cover of Nirvana’s Heart Shape Box:

I love the way in which she reproduces the various songs, but also provides her own twists. As much of her music is built around loops it also helped appreciate the different parts.

Place between Kimbra and Reuben Stone

Bookmarked Coronavirus Is Serious, But Panic Is Optional – That Seems Important (That Seems Important)

The worst possible thing to do for your immune system is to live in a constant state of stress. And if this global pandemic requires a healthy strong immune system in order to fight it, then the most responsible thing you can do if you’re feeling afraid is to stop watching the news.

The story you’re telling yourself is you can’t disconnect because you won’t be “informed.” I’m telling you: You’re not informed as it is. The only thing you have to gain by strategically disconnecting is your sanity.

Margo Aaron breaks down the way in which the media drives panic and fear around coronavirus. Much of this is driven around the use of headlines:

Media headlines are like the drunk girl at a party. They don’t care why everyone is staring at you while you puke into the cheese plate, they’re just glad they have your attention and they’re going to keep it by any means necessary. Even if it means sleeping with Tim. I know, gross.

And in this case, Tim is a metaphor for scaring the shit out of you. Repeatedly. For money.

Media companies care about attention and the easiest way to garner that is the feed our fears:

Fear is what makes people mean to each other, divides us, fuels racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. It makes us petty, defensive, conspiratorial, and individualistic. It also makes us susceptible to a LOT of cognitive and logical biases, such as:

Ad hominem, moral equivalence, straw man arguments, the false dilemma, circular arguments, the bandwagon, appeal to authority, the domino theory, hasty generalizations, anecdotal evidence, the correlation/causation fallacy, and many, many more (this is my favorite roundup of Logical Fallacies, if you’d like to geek out, courtesy of PBS).

Point is: You can’t think straight when you’re afraid.

Aaron suggests that if the media were serious about their civic duty then the focus would be on settling everyone’s nerves and emotions as this impacts our immune system and therefore our ability to fight the virus.

Like Cal Newport, Aaron suggests that during this time we need to turn away from the media as we are never as informed as we think we are.

Bookmarked 10 Tips For Parents Homeschooling Young Children – Kathleen Morris | Primary Tech | Resources to help teachers with technology in the classroom
With so many parents being forced or deciding to keep their children home from school, Kathleen Morris shares her experiences of homeschooling. A useful post, especially alongside Austin Kleon’s reflections. It is interesting to consider this list and compare it to what does and does not happen in school.
Bookmarked This Is The Time – Ideas and Thoughts

School systems are looking for ways to replicate the simplest and most basic level of education that is centred around sheer content delivery. I don’t intend to chastise anyone for this approach, but it reflects a rather a limited view of both technology and education; it’s a futile attempt to uphold pre-existing structures of teaching and learning. Online learning, while in existence for decades, is a brand new practice for the majority of classroom teachers. I would venture to guess that far fewer than half of all teachers have dabbled in creating any kind of online or even blended learning environment. There are many unique affordances with learning online but indeed we will recognize the downsides.

Dean Shareski suggests that with the current crisis providing an opportunity to change how we do school, it is time to:

  • Explore the advantages and disadvantages of learning online
  • Understand the power of technology
  • Foster community
  • Explore joyful learning
  • Begin to address issues of equity.
  • Give up control and embrace personal learning
  • Rethink assessment
  • Extend Grace
  • Prioritise well-being above all else

This is a similar sentiment put forward by Gary Stager:

So, there is reason to celebrate (briefly), but then you must act! Use this time to remake schooling in a way that’s more humane, creative, meaningful, and learner-centered. This is your moment!

In the absence of compelling models of what’s possible, the forces of darkness will fill the void. Each of us needs to create models of possibility.

Whatever model is proposed, Mal Lee suggests that we need to assume that students will attend a physical space at regular times.

Work on the reality that society will expect the kids to go school, and return home at a set time each day, five days a week, for X days of the year, and break for holidays in the same weeks each year.

Bookmarked Corona Virus, Schools and the Window of Opportunity | The Digital Evolution of Schooling

Work on the reality that society will expect the kids to go school, and return home at a set time each day, five days a week, for X days of the year, and break for holidays in the same weeks each year.

And just maybe some of the opportunities opened by the pandemic will be realised.

Mal Lee discusses the reality that has come apparent through the current crisis, that parents and society expect students to go to school.

What is now patently obvious from the pandemic experience is that physical attendance at a physical place school must be core to schooling forever.

Change therefore needs to be within this contraint.

Bookmarked We Need A Massive Surveillance Program (Idle Words)

What is the point of building this surveillance architecture if we can’t use it to save lives in a scary emergency like this one?

Maciej Ceglowski puts forward the idea of utilise the surveillance infrastructure developed by platform capitalism to aid in the fight against coronavirus.

Of course, all of this would come at an enormous cost to our privacy. This is usually the point in an essay where I’d break out the old Ben Franklin quote: “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither.”

But this proposal doesn’t require us to give up any liberty that we didn’t already sacrifice long ago, on the altar of convenience. The terrifying surveillance infrastructure this project requires exists and is maintained in good working order in the hands of private industry, where it is entirely unregulated and is currently being used to try to sell people skin cream. Why not use it to save lives?

This is a wicked question. As John Naughton raises the concern that such a decision would consitute ‘crossing the rubicon’:

If we use the technology for this purpose we will have crossed the Rubicon into nightmare territory. And if we do cross, there’s unlikely to be a way back — because once states have acquired access to this technology, they rarely give it up. So will we do it?

I guess Ceglowski’s point is that the genie is already out of the bottle, the challenge is using such powers for good.

I continue to believe that living in a surveillance society is incompatible in the long term with liberty. But a prerequisite of liberty is physical safety. If temporarily conscripting surveillance capitalism as a public health measure offers us a way out of this crisis, then we should take it, and make full use of it. At the same time, we should reflect on why such a powerful surveillance tool was instantly at hand in this crisis, and what its continuing existence means for our long-term future as a free people.

Bookmarked 7 Lessons from deep in the inquiry trenches…

Who else is flexing their inquiry muscles right now? As we all rapidly transition to teaching online or trying to support our learners at a distance (not all kids around the world have access to internet and devices #justsaying) teachers everywhere are immersed in personal inquiry. I am no exception…

Kath Murdoch reflects on her personal inquiry into online learning. She structures her thoughts around seven things that she has noticed:

  1. I have a real need to inquire
  2. My learning journey is messy
  3. Skills and dispositions are my most important asset right now
  4. I don’t know what I don’t know
  5. I really wrestle with feeling incompetent and uncertain
  6. I don’t want to be talked at for too long
  7. I have welcomed being able to manage my time and learning at my own pace

One of the messages that stood out to me was the impact having skin in the game had on her learning:

Would I have a sustained interest and desire to learn about online facilitation had there been no real purpose for me? Probably not. Would I have fully engaged with this inquiry if some well-meaning ‘teacher’ told me I had to?  I doubt it. I am doing this because I can see the value and purpose in it.

I think that this is a great post to consider when working with staff or students as they grapple with the changing learning landscape. It is also interesting to consider this alongside David White’s wondering about engagement and learning narratives.

Bookmarked Visitors & Residents – teaching during Coronavirus (David White)

Fundamentally, one mode or tech is not ‘better’ than another. What is important is how we connect them as a learning narrative and how we communicate that narrative to foster engagement. This helps to ensure we provide opportunities which are mindful of the range of technical, geographical (time-zone), cognitive, social and emotional contexts/experiences of our students and teaching staff.

David White uses his vistor vs resident model to make sense of online learning and the challenge of engagement during such times when everybody is forced into different spaces. He explains that what matters is not the technology, but rather the learning narrative that surrounds this use. It was interesting reading this alongside Kath Murdoch’s personal inquiry into online learning.
Bookmarked How to Clean and Disinfect All Your Gadgets by Tim Brookes

Hands holding and wiping a smartphone screen with a cloth. progressman/Shutterstock
Whether you want to protect against COVID-19 or just give all your gadgets a deep-clean while you’re stuck at home, now’s the ideal time! Here’s how you can safely clean your tech gadgets, without damaging anyt…

via Ian O’Byrne
Bookmarked How some cities ‘flattened the curve’ during the 1918 flu pandemic

Social distancing isn’t a new idea—it saved thousands of American lives during the last great pandemic. Here’s how it worked.

Nina Strochlic and Riley Champine discuss responses in America to the Spanish Flu. They highlight the importance of social distancing:

Of course, getting citizens to comply with such orders is another story: In 1918, a San Francisco health officer shot three people when one refused to wear a mandatory face mask. In Arizona, police handed out $10 fines for those caught without the protective gear. But eventually, the most drastic and sweeping measures paid off. After implementing a multitude of strict closures and controls on public gatherings, St. Louis, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Kansas City responded fastest and most effectively: Interventions there were credited with cutting transmission rates by 30 to 50 percent. New York City, which reacted earliest to the crisis with mandatory quarantines and staggered business hours, experienced the lowest death rate on the Eastern seaboard.

The authors also highlighted the need to sustain this for an extended period of time as “relaxing intervention measures too early could cause an otherwise stabilized city to relapse.”

Bookmarked School closures and COVID-19 – what the research says we should be doing (EduResearch Matters)

We must close all schools in Australia before the spike in the epidemic. Whistle-blowing doctors argue this is a critically important part of using ““every mechanism to ‘flatten the curve’ “ and will buy them time to equip and cope with the rise in cases.

Rachel Wilson looks at the research into the influence of school closures have on flattening the curve of a pandemic.

blockquote>Leaving closure until things look grim, near or after the epidemic peak, means that they are likely to be less effective in slowing the disease.

Interestingly, there was no discussion of the idea that students may not stay at home when they are out of school and expected to stay at home. I still think this is a part of the government’s thinking as confirmed by Brendan Murphy on Four Corners.