Categories
pandemic work

Alberta Parents’ Guide to Returning to School

The Alberta government today released their parents guide for the 2020-2021 school year.

“Your child may feel nervous about what school will be like. While there will be changes, the key school experience will be the same as before—they will learn in class with their teacher and see friends.”

Parents’ Guide 2020-2021 School Year PDF

Categories
humor pandemic

COVID-19 Risk Chart

From XKCD

First prize is a ticket to the kissing booth.

Randall Munroe runs you through risky behaviour in this handy chart that applies for both pandemic and non-pandemic risks. I’m betting that I’ll be doing in-person classes come September. The minister of Alberta Education will let us know as of August 1st — though some teachers believe the decision has already been made and they’re waiting for August to improve the optics. It’s not like it really matters what they “decide” because things will change the moment we have confirmed cases at school — at least I hope so.

As for the chart, I feel like, “Skateboarding into a mosh pit on a cruise ship” should be rated as higher risk than “Getting a Covid test from a stranger at a crowded bar” on the non-Covid risk axis.

(via Kottke)

Update: Apparently at the same time I was posting this the Alberta Government decided to make the announcement early: School is back on in September. It turns out I was right about the decision being already made and this was confirmed by a leak to the Globe and Mail.

Categories
pandemic

COVID-19 Cases in Alberta and the Rest of Canada

I’ll try to keep this interactive graph up to date with the number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the rest of Canada. My spreadsheet can be found here.
I’ve started breaking the charts down by month, here’s one for April:
Data from Coronavirus Info For Albertans and 2019 Novel Coronavirus Infection.

Categories
pandemic

COVID-19

The Atlantic is providing free ongoing access to its Corona Virus information.

This recent article from Kaitlyn Tiffany’s conversations with a number of public health experts about The Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing’ is enlightening. From the article:

If you’re confused about what to do right now, you’re not alone—even these experts occasionally disagreed on the answers to my questions. Where there were discrepancies, I’ve included all the different answers as fully as possible. This guide is aimed toward those who are symptom-free and not part of an at-risk group, with an addendum at the end for those in quarantine. If you are symptom-free but are over 60 years old; have asthma, heart disease, or diabetes; or are otherwise at risk, experts recommend defaulting to the most conservative response to each of these questions.

I created this graph of the number of cases in Alberta compared with the rest of Canada. This is just the beginning. I, for one, am skeptical that Alberta is going to have much success flattening the curve until they cancel school. Hopefully that happens before it’s too late.

Data collected from https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx

Update: School in Alberta is cancelled.

Categories
pandemic

How Should We Respond to Coronavirus

The Making Sense podcast episode on “How Should We Respond to Coronavirus,” is required listening. In this episode, Sam Harris speaks with Nicholas Christakis about the coronavirus pandemic.

From the episode:

“Even if we’re all destined to get this thing, or even if 75% of us are destined to get it, getting it later is absolutely better when you consider the implications for our health care system. Here are just the numbers, we have something like a million hospital beds (speaking now about the United States) there are something like 2.[8] beds for every 1000 people. […] So just imagine a situation where everyone gets this at once. It’s just a tsunami of illness. You have a break-down of the health care system.

Listen to the entire episode.

Categories
pandemic

The Many Times Donald Trump has Downplayed COVID19

This must be tough watching for any Trump apologists and at the same time crazy-making for anyone in North America directly affected by the outbreak here. Trump has continued his repeated, months-long “it’ll just go away” denialism but now with the unprecedented actions of provinces, states, cities and private companies in North America it’s obvious that acknowledgement of the crisis had to happen at some point.

Updated from the Washington Post:

(via DaringFireball)

Categories
biology technology

Meet the Next Generation CRISPR

There’s a new version of CRISPR, the gene editing tool that cuts swaths out of DNA and replaces them with new DNA that, for example, doesn’t contain the code for vulnerabilities to genetically inherited diseases. This version, however, radically improves on the old technology because it can rewrite DNA without actually cutting the DNA (which can damage and introduce errors into the genome). It’s called “prime editing”.

From MIT Technology Review’s article by Antonio Regalado:

Today, in the latest — and possibly most important — of recent improvements to CRISPR technology, Liu is introducing “prime editing,” a molecular gadget he says can rewrite any type of genetic error without actually severing the DNA strand, as CRISPR does.

The new technology uses an engineered protein that, according to a report by Liu and 10 others today in the journal Nature, can transform any single DNA letter into any other, as well as add or delete longer stretches. In fact, Liu claims it’s capable of repairing nearly any of the 75,000 known mutations that cause inherited disease in humans.

From the abstract of the report:

Prime editing substantially expands the scope and capabilities of genome editing, and in principle could correct about 89% of known pathogenic human genetic variants.

Wired, Scientific American, and Nature all have more on this story.