You can either bookmark this post or the actual URL that makes up the image above. The URL (or more accurately, URI) of the image stays the same, I think, but the data changes.
I’m glad it exists. I check the hospitalization and ICU numbers that come out every Thursday and they seem to align with the wastewater signal. That’s an indication for me at any given week how we are doing in terms of COVID-19, despite the dearth of other metrics like case loads or deaths.
While things in the first quarter of 2023 are better than the first quarter of 2022, there are still relatively high levels of COVID-19 in the wastewater. Manage your risk accordingly.
For more on wasterwater data, go here.
Travel has changed in the time before, during, and “after” the pandemic. I noticed many differences in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Here’s what I jotted down during my trips in the hopes you and I may find it useful in the future:
- Masks: last year everyone wore masks during travel, save for when they ate. There were a few idiots who resisted, but mostly people stayed masked. Not now. In 2023, a few people wore masks, but not many. They are no longer mandatory anywhere going to Canada to the US. I think I would have been comfortable wearing a mask in 2023, but I did not.
- Testing: in the middle of the pandemic you had to get tested before you departed and when you returned. You had to upload that information as well as your vaccine status into various travel apps if you were using them. So far this year you don’t have to do any of that.
- Bags: baggage continues to be a problem. Expect to pay for all non carry on luggage. Once you could use the kiosk to get your luggage tag. Now some if not all airlines insist you go to a staffer who will weigh your bag and may charge you regardless of its weight. (Remember when lighter bags were free?) As a result people have these smaller roller bags that fit overhead. But now there are more of these bags than there are spaces for them, airlines are making some travellers check their bags (for free for now) at the gate. (This can be a problem if you have only a short time to get to your connecting flight.) Small carry on bags continue to be free for now but you want to insure they fit under the seat: you may get to your seat to find you cannot squeeze it in over you.
- Boarding passes: you can print your boarding pass at home, but consider doing it at the airport. My printer wasn’t good enough to print the code on it: luckily you can download a QR code in some apps and use that. I did. (Consider taking a screen grab of that QR code: you can show that picture to get through, which is less trouble than displaying it via the app.)
- Fees/services: Airlines continue to ever slice and dice their service and charge you for everything. (See my bag comment above. Also you can pay to change your seat, get a bigger seat, etc.) The levels of service are ridiculous also. Once you just had first class and economy. Then business class. Now there can be five or more classes. Very classy! 🙂 Pretty soon you might pay by the square footage you take up. As for food, I was surprised how little was available even on 2 hour flights. Consider bringing food onboard: you can’t be certain you’ll get much more than almonds and water.
- Variability: on my recent trip I was on four different types of planes while travelling to the US. One flight had wide seats that had entertainment (TV, music, movies, games) on them (bring headphones and something to charge your phone). Others had tiny seats I could barely fit into and no entertainment. Other variations: the airline moved me from one seat to another. They kept me in an aisle, but I was surprised to see I moved in the time I had printed my boarding pass. So keep an eye out for that. Of course check for gate changes too.
- Apps: one thing that is getting better are the airline apps. Get the airline app for the airline you will be travelling on. They will have lots of helpful info in it, including your boarding pass, where your plane is (is it at the gate or on the way), your seat and gate, etc.
- Security: security seems better…maybe because there are more agents than the worst of the pandemic. Try and have empty pockets before you get to the bins to dump your stuff. Take out your computer and put it in a separate bin with your electronics. Take off all your coats and sweaters, even boots and belts and watches and anything with a hint of metal. I like to have no liquids on me whatsoever, and take an empty bottle to get water later.
- Canadian customs: still not great but better. In 2022 it was very slow. In 2023 it was very fast. They got rid of the desks the staff sat at and had many of them prepared to deal with you quickly. Not sure that will continue, but it was good to experience this time.
- Declarations: For people who haven’t travelled in awhile, you no longer have to fill out a declaration card in Toronto. Instead you go to this goofy machine in the custom area, insert your passport, wait for it to take a bad photo of you, and then gets you to declare, upon which it spits out a declaration sheet you give to Canadian customs. (If the machine isn’t automatically reading your passport just go to another one quickly. I’ve had a few bad machines.) As of now the amount you are allowed for under a week but more than a day or two is $800. I still remember the days it was $200.
- US customs: if you go to the US regularly, get a Nexus card. It makes a huge difference. Otherwise after you get through security, you will need to go through the slow process of going through US customs. Before you get to an agent, know where you are going, why you are going there (business, vacation), the address of where you are staying and how you know the people you are staying with. One women ahead of me did not know this and kept changing her answer and this got her into a lot of trouble. Be brief, polite and consistent.
(I said “after” the pandemic because it feels like we are through the pandemic in February 2023, even though our problems from COVID-19 are not done.)
P.S. BlogTO recently did a piece on what it’s like to fly on the new planes from Porter Airlines, and the service described was similar to what I experienced for several of the planes, down to this:
Ok, some of the planes had more room than this (thank god), but airlines need to back off a bit. Anyway you can see why I try to get an aisle seat. 🙂
It’s good not because I want him to be ill! Not at all. Rather, it’s good because what came out of that is this fine essay: I caught COVID, again – this time, nobody cares (The Globe and Mail). It nicely catches where we are in this ongoing pandemic. Not just by writing about the disease and what we are doing or not doing about it, but also what else is competing for our attention. I highly recommend it.
I hope by the time you read this Ian is well and none the worse for having suffered through another bout of COVID.
During the pandemic I had a recurring dream that was unique to me. It’s not unlike the recurring dream people have about showing up to class and realizing there is a test. In my recurring dream I am travelling somewhere and I know this because I am on a boat or at an airport or in the process of transporting from A to B. But I can’t get to B. Something in the dream starts to come undone: the transportation breaks down, or I don’t have my travel documents, or I have to go back. I keep trying to prevent the breakdown, but it continues until I wake up. Or in some dreams, I say to myself: you are having the Failed Travel dream again, it’s not real.
I wonder if others have had a similar dream or their own dream during the pandemic?
I wanted to record this in case I forget that this occurred.
Recently I was reporting COVID-19 data daily. I wrote a program called covid.py that scraped the Ontario.ca Covid web site and and pulled out data for hospitalization and cases. It was a rough but useful gauge to see how COVID was going in Ontario, and I was able to get the information in a snap.
Unfortunately the information is no longer posted on the page I was visiting with my code. The data is out there somewhere in the datasets, but I think I will reconsider things before modifying my code. It is a shame that the data is harder to get though.
All these actions by government organizations to make it harder to get data is a bit frustrating. I read people say: you should track the pandemic and make good decisions. It’s hard to do that though when the information is hard to get.
For more information and data: Government of Ontario data sets on COVID-19 are here. Government of Canada COVID-19 information is here. More on my code, here.
Last Monday (Jan 3) my daughter had a sore throat. She got tested later that evening and was positive for COVID. No one in my house/bubble had symptoms before that, but by Wednesday morning, all but one of us had them.
Our experience with the disease was similar to Liz Renzetti and her family, described here: Opinion: Lessons from the COVID not-so-sick bed – The Globe and Mail.
All of us felt tired and exhibited symptoms associated with COVID. I had a incessant cough, runny nose, stuffy head, and at one point fever then chills. I also slept a lot. Normally I am restless so if I am sleeping that much then I am sick.
We all isolated from each other as much as we could. We had a hepa filter going, and we were all vaccinated (and in some cases boosted). We did what we could to minimize the impact. As it was, the course of the disease took under a week (at least in terms of present symptoms).
People were great in offering us well wishes and close friends offering to bring us food. We were lucky to be able to have food delivered and appreciative of the people who did so.
We only had one rapid antigen test between us. (Good luck getting one of those anywhere.) We were all pretty sick, but we used it and the results were negative. My doctor friend tells me the false negative percentage is 30% (vs 1% false positive). We acted all we all had COVID anyway and we likely did.
I don’t have any great insights into the disease. Get as vaccinated as you can as soon as you can. Follow local public health guidelines. Take care of yourself and others. Hang in there.
(Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash )
Here is Jason Kenney on twitter in July, 2021, celebrating removal of health restrictions:
Here is a tweet from Robson Fletcher of the CBC on Kenney’s province and Scott Moe’s province in September of the same year:
I mean, if people in your province are dying at 4X the rate of the other provinces because of direct policy changes you made, you are essentially killing people in your province under your leadership. I don’t know how else to put it.
Also, Jason Kenney should not speak for the Prairies or the West. Both Manitoba and British Columbia are doing better than Alberta and Saskatchewan. It’s not just right wing leaders either. Other right wing provincial parties have been much better stewards of their regions. Kenney and Moe and their leadership are to blame here.
It is terrible when leaders fail their provinces. But this is way beyond typical failure. I feel great sympathy for the people of this province who have died unnecessarily on their watch.
Liisa Ladouceur (shown above) has written a thorough guide for anyone who wants to go skating in Toronto during the pandemic. No, you cannot just show up with your blades and start skating. You need to do more. And you should do more, because skating is a great way to enjoy winter in the pandemic era. So read this: Where to go skating in Toronto in 2020 by Liisa Wanders. Then get out there! Maybe I will see you at a socially safe distance with a fun mask on too.
Posted in advice
Tagged advice, blues, covid, covid-19, covid19, fitness, fun, pandemic, skating, Toronto, winter
This is a smart reuse of old VD posters to warn against the dangers of a new biological thread: COVID. Via The Daily Heller:
Adrian Wilson, provocateur par excellence, recently revisited a vintage poster prevention campaign against VD used during World War II, and remixed the various messages into a current cautionary attack on CoViD-19. This genre of repurposing images and words is not new or novel, but when accomplished satirically and wittily, as Wilson has done below, it can be an effective public messaging tool.
For more of Wilson’s work, click on the link above. It’s great.
I understand the importance of Thanksgiving in the US. It’s a big deal, and a big part of that is coming together. But coming together might mean spreading COVID-19, not just with the people you visit, but others after the visit.
Because of that, I hope you will stay in your respective dwellings and take advantage of this offer from Zoom: Thanksgiving on Zoom: Your family get-together can surpass 40 minutes.
Normally if you have a free Zoom account, you are limited to how long your online session can last. Happily, Zoom is waiving that for this year. It’s a great offer: you should jump on it.
I hope people will meet up virtually in the US this Thanksgiving. It will make a world of difference.
Posted in advice
Tagged advice, covid, covid-19, covid19, family, gettogethers, holidays, pandemic, Thanksgiving, travel, USA
You might think so if you read this piece in the New York Times.
It has definitely changed, just like so much has changed during the pandemic. I predict the weekend will come back in time. Meanwhile, consider ways to make you day / days different enough so that it doesn’t just feel like one big endless day. It will take some creativity, but it’s worth it.
Your weekend is coming up: find ways to make those days stand out from the others.
I am sure many parent in Ontario are wondering what will happen if students at Ontario schools get infected with COVID-19. I know I am wondering. Worried too. The best thing to help deal with worry is to get some practical information.
You can get some of that, here. That link to a BlogTO post has a good summary of what will happen, as well as links out to other sites with more detailed information.
No one knows for sure what will happen. But reading that will give you a better sense of what may happen.
By having very strict controls.
This piece, New Zealand goes 100 days with no coronavirus community spread – Axios), shows just how strict they are:
By the numbers: New Zealand has 23 active coronavirus cases, all NZ residents newly returned from abroad in managed isolation facilities.
Of note: The border remains closed to non-residents and all newly returned Kiwis must undergo a two-week isolation program managed by the country’s defense force, which sees all travelers tested three times before they leave.
Police are stationed outside hotels where travelers are in quarantine. Officers have taken prosecutorial action against several returned travelers who’ve breached these rules by fleeing the facilities under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act.
So good for New Zealand for doing this. But I wish people wouldn’t say New Zealand has beaten the coronavirus. What they have done is control it better than anyone.
Image by Adam Nieścioruk
Sure, the pandemic isn’t over. In some places, it’s far from over. But that’s no reason to be totally pessimistic. If you feel that way, I recommend you read this: Six reasons to be optimistic about Covid-19.
It’s not the end of the pandemic. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it is at least the end of the beginning. Things are going to get better.
It’s not good to be too confident with making pandemic assessment, but the evidence is that Sweden has failed in their approach to dealing with it. According to this, via Sweden Has Become the World’s Cautionary Tale – The New York Times:
This is what has happened: Not only have thousands more people died than in neighboring countries that imposed lockdowns, but Sweden’s economy has fared little better.
“They literally gained nothing,” said Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “It’s a self-inflicted wound, and they have no economic gains.”
The experiment was Lose-Lose: they suffered more deaths and their economy is worse off.
There is much to be learned from what happened in the Nordic countries. We are learning at the expense of the Swedish people. Read the article for more details.
Because as this shows, How California went from a coronavirus success story to a new hot spot – Vox, all you need to do is let your guard down and the disease comes back. I am reading stories of many places having surges and many places are having to go back into lockdown. I understand why people want to read stories of places like New Zealand where life has returned to normal. Life hasn’t returned to normal: all places have done is managed through strong measures to stop it from spreading in their area. Meanwhile it is spreading to other areas of the globe, like India. All it will take is enough relaxing of controls and it could come back stronger.
We know very little about this disease. Social distancing and masks seem to be helping to control it. That’s what we have for now: some level of control. No medicine is coming to help us yet. No mutation is coming to blunt it yet. We may have a long way to go.
I don’t know, but I do know this is a good piece to read for anyone interested in establishments having some degree of success with them: Meal kits were dying. Covid-19 brought them back to life. | The Counter.
I am not sure what the future of restaurants will be. Or any places that depend on having many people close together for periods of time. If COVID-19 sticks around for months and years, we are going to be forced to find out. Whatever that future is, it will be substantially different to the time before the arrival of this disease.
I recommend you read this: ‘Feeling Like Death’: Inside a Houston Hospital Bracing for a Virus Peak – The New York Times.
Sure, your survival rates may be higher than someone much older than you. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t suffer intensively and be weakened for much longer in the future.
Will people be largely changed by the pandemic, or will they revert to the way they were? My initial thought was that people would all be changed to some degree by the pandemic. I am now leaning towards thinking that it will depend on two things: the degree it impacts them and the plasticity of the individual.
By plasticity, I mean malleability but in a way that once reshaped, you likely do not go back to your original shape. Some plastics are very easy to reshape and some are not. I think some individuals are like thin plastic bottles that crumble with the least pressure, while other individuals are more like thick plastic bottles that revert more or less to their original form once you release the pressure on them.
Plasticity is one thing. The other thing to consider is the impact the pandemic has on a person. A person that lost a loved one or their job or their business suffers a big impact. If your biggest impact is missing going out or to the gym or getting a haircut then the impact is little.
Given that, I think the pandemic will change people in the following ways:
|Impact vs plasticity
||Hard to shape
People easily shaped that experience a big impact will be seriously changed by the pandemic. Most others will experience some change, and a certain class of person will not change at all.
Here’s a link to get you the information: 15 Places Online to Buy Reusable Face Masks That Comply with the CDC.
Style and safety. It’s a weird time, so might as well make the most of it.
My first question is: really? Are you absolutely sure? Positive? Can’t just use some hair product or a hat?
Ok, if you are still determined to do the deed, then consider reading this: How to Cut Your Own Hair at Home (Long, Short, Wavy, Curly, Kids, Bangs) | WIRED.
Despite being in Wired, it is surprising detailed and gives lots of practical advice.
Good luck. And if you are using anything electric to cut or trim, make sure it is well charged and not old: you don’t want them giving out on you midcut.
It’s not a fun time, and it’s not an era for travel, but if you want a souvenir of your non-travels from the pandemic, head on over to Colossal and check out: Witty ‘Coronavirus Tourism’ Posters Advertise the Thrilling Adventures of Staying Home
Better still, if you like the one above, or any of the other ones, visit the artist’s commercial site and buy one!
Hey, what’s the point of (non) travel if you don’t get a souvenir or two.
There will be much discussion about social distancing in the future, and much of that discussion will center on whether or not it has been worth it. One of the ways to better discuss this is to be aware of what Sweden has done. Here’s some key points from this piece Coronavirus: Is Sweden have second thoughts on lockdown? | The Independent:
Sweden, in contrast with most of Europe, has not enforced a lockdown on its citizens. In the balmy Easter weather, people sit and soak in the spring sunshine.
Despite the mounting concerns of experts both at home and abroad, Sweden continues what Anders Tegnell, the country’s chief epidemiologist, has called a “low-scale” approach. He insists this “is much more sustainable” in the long run.
But Sweden’s cases are rising. The country of some 10 million now has more than 10,000 cases and 887 deaths. Its total death toll is higher than that of all the other Nordic countries put together.
The government has said repeatedly that the main cornerstone of their strategy is to protect the elderly. Since the beginning of the crisis, they have been asked to stay home but despite these measures, the virus has spread to one-third of nursing homes in Stockholm, which has resulted in a spike in fatalities.
Prime minister Stefan Lofven recently admitted in an interview with daily Svenska Dagbladet that “Sweden has not succeeded in protecting it’s elderly”. Mr Lofven also warned citizens to prepare for possibly up to “thousands” of deaths.
In the long term Sweden may ultimately have less deaths and suffering because of their hands off approach. Right now, they are doing much worse than other countries practicing social distancing.
It has been very hard for people to social distance but they have because they believe it is worth it. Sweden is now acting as a control in this global experiment and may save many lives globally by showing that social distancing is the way to go. I hope they end the experiment soon.
I am guessing that
- your exercise routine has died (if not, kudos!)
- you feel like you should do some form of exercise
- you are feeling worried about doing workouts outdoors
If this is true, you need some workouts to do at home. Now you might be thinking that you don’t have room or equipment or even the energy to workout at home. Think again: these eight workouts below can be done by most people. There’s a combination of things to make yourself more active during the day, from stretching to exercising:
- Morning Stretching
- Morning Workout
- Energy Boost
- Reset Stretch
- Mini workout while watching TV
- Or while playing video games
- Office Yoga
- Simple workout before bed
All these workout comes from the DAREBEE website, which has an impressive and excellent database of exercises. You can find all the workouts here, and they are all easily searchable. You can find a workout for pretty much anything.
These days of staying at home during the pandemic are hard days. Being inactive can make it harder. Try lightening things up with a bit of physical activity.
This is a fine analysis of why people are still crowding on certain TTC routes despite everyone being told to stay home: Mapping TTC crowding during a pandemic | Marshall’s Musings.
Even during a pandemic, some people have to go in to work, and some people don’t have the money to have their own car to do so. Those are the people likely crowding still on the buses.
Maps are a great tool during breakouts of epidemics and pandemics, and this one is no exception (map above linked to in the article).
There’s already been some pundits claiming autocratic countries have been handling the pandemic better than democratic countries. This piece on the website for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argues differently. It’s worth reading, but a key part of the piece is this:
Despite attempts by politicians to use the crisis to tout their favored political model, the record so far does not show a strong correlation between efficacy and regime type. While some autocracies have performed well, like Singapore, others have done very poorly, like Iran. Similarly, some democracies have stumbled, like Italy and the United States, while others have performed admirably, like South Korea and Taiwan. The disease has not yet ravaged developing countries, making it impossible to include poorer autocracies and democracies in the comparison.
Keep this in mind, especially afterwards, when writers and authorities argue that we need more controls on people to fight future pandemics.
Note: this is meant to be humorous. For proper guidance, please refer to your local government of medical authorities for assistance.
I’m not a ventilator expert, but I am curious as to what it takes to get more to patients who are sick due to COVID-19. This will give you some answers as to what it takes to get more out there: Why U.S. hospitals don’t have enough ventilators – The Washington Post