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This article was published on June 23, 2020

Pandemic? What pandemic?

Pandemic? What pandemic?

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 totally-not-having-a-pandemic pals,

I woke up early on Saturday and went outside. Dogs were barking, children were playing. People were gathered in groups. It was as if the pandemic had never happened in my cozy little beach barrio. 

Nobody was wearing a mask. Social distancing? People were hugging and leaning on each other.

Days later and everywhere I go people are suddenly eager to shake hands, high-five, and fist-bump.  

I hear it’s the same all over. In the States, my friends tell me that most people are only wearing masks in places where it’s required. 

I guess the majority has decided we’re not playing COVID-19 anymore? 

That’s a bit scary. The country with the largest concentration of cases, the US, is currently experiencing record numbers of new cases on a daily basis in at least 12 states. And the national numbers are just as bad. Brazil and Germany are also seeing huge spikes in case numbers. 

It’s become impossible to objectively discern what’s actually going on with the pandemic. For all the good our technology seems to be doing for the general population, we may as well be in the pre-internet era. 

In one news cycle we’ll see reports that a specialist in Italy claims COVID-19 is weakening and may die out without a vaccine. This is juxtaposed against coverage in that same cycle claiming those who developed antibodies after contracting and recovering from the disease are only seeing short-term immunity before those antibodies fade.

It’s getting harder to figure out whether we should be scared to death, nonplussed, or just careful. I believe we should all err on the latter: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of regret. 

The outlook remains bleak. Some experts are predicting that it’ll be another week before we see the ramifications of the protests and other gatherings show up in the death toll — a grim specter, but nonetheless a reality most of us need to face. 

If you’re among those who are still concerned, still protecting yourself and others by self-isolating, social distancing, wearing a mask, and limiting contact: you are not alone. 

It’s hard right now. I’m already getting dirty looks and sneers when I have to walk two meters into traffic to avoid a group of sidewalk pedestrians not wearing masks. And I live in a fairly liberal area. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to maintain what should be the status quo until a vaccine for COVID-19 is found in conservative areas of the world. 

All we can do is stay the course. That, and install politicians in our respective nations who care more about human lives than “winning” a pandemic. 

By the numbers

Last week we looked at the three tech moguls who’ve profited the most during the pandemic.

The highest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic began was on Sunday 21 June. This week we’ll look at data from the three nations with the largest increase on that day. (Source: Time)

Brazil: 54,771 new cases

USA: 36,617 new cases

India: 15,400 new cases

Tweet of the week

What to read

Apple doesn’t know what Boris Johnson is talking about, nobody knows what Trump is talking about, and here’s what we’re talking about…
? How far should we *really* be standing apart in order to effectively social distance? (The Conversation)
Second wave? Second wave!?! We’re still smack-dab in the middle of the first one! (CNN)
? Pride’s not canceled, it’s just going virtual this year. Here’s a guide to help you find the celebration.
? It was bound to happen. COVID-19 claimed its first cruise ship company. (The Points Guy)
US airports are trialing thermal cameras to detect body temperature. Someone should tell the US that more than half of all COVID-19 carriers present without symptoms for weeks at a time. (Washington Post)
? Boris Johnson decided his app wasn’t good enough, so he announced that the UK would switch to a contact-tracing app made by Google and Apple.
?  but Johnson forgot one important detail: He didn’t tell Apple about it!
? Trump insists he wasn’t kidding when he told rally attendees he asked his administration to slow down coronavirus testing. How is that even.. what?… I can’t. (Politico)
? Meanwhile, experts (not former reality TV show hosts) believe as many as 80% of all COVID-19 cases in the US went undetected in March. (CNN)
? Death isn’t the only metric we should be concerned with. Surviving COVID-19 could mean permanent brain damage. (BBC)


In this section, one of our writers will share one weird internet thing they’ve been obsessing over while in lockdown. This week’s comes to us from TNW’s own Georgina Ustik:

The other week, one of our colleagues shared Radio.Garden over Slack. It’s a website that lets you “Explore live radio by rotating the globe.”

The interface is really nice — it’s basically a geographical map of the world that you can scroll around on. You can select a city, and then choose the radio program you want to listen to.

I love radio — I’ve been a devoted listener of NPR since I was a kid, and I’ve even written about my favorite online radio stations for TNW before. Websites like this are an amazing music discovery tool — I’m jamming to Radio Somada streaming out from Cape Verde as we speak. Whoop, now I’m grooving to Dr_Dick’s Dub Shack from Bermuda. Now I’ve hopped over to Classic Radio in Sri Lanka! My head is spinning!!!

My only complaint is that there’s no randomization, but I enjoy the search. It’s also a great way to listen to local talk radio in places you know nothing about.

Tweet me with any good stations you find!


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:

The Center for Disease Control’s myth-busting section on COVID-19

After Recovering from COVID-19, are you immune?

John Hopkins Univeristy COVID-19 myth vs fact

Don’t believe everything you read on social media. Stay healthy and take care of each other,


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