Archive for March, 2020

COVID-19 Over the Next Two Weeks

Friday, March 27th, 2020

I am not an epidemiologist. That’s very important to keep in mind.

But I do have a little experience with data analysis and spreadsheets so I’ve been tracking the COVID-19 data from in this spreadsheet, trying to make sense of it. Specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out what might happen over the next couple of weeks, say, by Easter.

Bottom line: what we do next could be the difference between 10,000 and 100,000 deaths.

First, I started by modeling the “growth rate” of the total confirmed positive cases. This isn’t a great number because we know we’re not testing everyone, so the actual number is probably significantly higher. But looking at all the countries, there’s a noticeable pattern:

Every country went through a spike as it saw outbreaks and then a gradual tapering down as they started to take action. The U.S. started taking aggressive action a week or two ago (depending on the state) and so it’s possible that we’re starting to see a slowdown of the growth. The two dotted lines represent my guess over the next two weeks depending on whether we stop isolation or if we continue isolating. So from there, we can extrapolate numbers for the total confirmed cases:

Depending on what we do, this could be the difference between 750,000 and 3,000,000 total confirmed cases. From there, I tried to estimate the number of total deaths that would be by trying to guess what the “lethality” is (the number of deaths per confirmed case). Again, it’s not a great number because there are so many factors going on. But looking at the graphs for all the countries, there seems to be a reasonable pattern:

The countries that have taken aggressive action seem to level off at some ratio, which is probably proportional to how much testing they do. But some countries start seeing so many cases that their medical infrastructure starts to get overrun and then they start seeing more deaths per case. I took a guess at what that might look like in the U.S. From there, we can use that to extrapolate how many people might die in total:

And what you see there is the difference between 10,000 and 100,000 people dying from this. The scary thing about the “No Action” scenario is that it’s exponential growth, which means that it’d hit 1,000,000 deaths a week later. This is why we need to take this seriously. Yes, the cost is huge and not just economic. But if we do the right thing, we can get through this.

In related news, I’m glad to see that Japan postponed the Tokyo Olympics. I’ve never been so happy to have a video made obsolete.

Humor During a Pandemic

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

It’s been a crazy week. The COVID-19 coronavirus has been in the news for months, but it wasn’t all encompassing. At work on Monday, we launched another release of our team’s product. On Tuesday, we were pretty busy discussing what we were doing next when we got an email saying that it was recommended that we all start working from home on Wednesday and … that was it. We spent rest of the day preparing to work from home and that was the last time I will see everyone for a month or so. By Friday, my kid’s school announced closures. Kinda surreal. It’s surprising to see how fast things can change.

It’s been interesting to see what’s changed and what hasn’t. Shopping has been intense. Fortunately, there hasn’t been much hoarding in my area, but the grocery store was the busiest I’d ever seen. The climbing gym that I usually go to was pretty quiet, but not extraordinarily so.

But one thing that surprisingly hasn’t changed (as of the time of this writing) is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in about five months. So, since I make videos about the Japanese language, I made a video about this as well. I’m hoping that I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like it’s prudent to continue with a large-scale event like that so close to a pandemic. Who knows? Maybe it’ll all be over in a few months.

On a related note, I actually made two versions of this video. The first one didn’t seem quite right so I redid the whole thing to what you see above. But if you’re curious, here’s the Pi Day version of the video and you can learn a bit more about “my process”.


Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

For Christmas, my wife got me a weekend workshop course of blacksmithing at the crucible! I was a great couple of days and by the end of it, I made a hook, a knife, a spoon, and a fork. I also had made a little snail on another day that I had access to a forge, which I heat treated with oil during the workshop.

It was a lot of fun, but whoa was it hard on the hands. By the end of it, I had a lot of blisters. See, the hammer isn’t super heavy but you hold it kinda loosely and let gravity do the work. But then the hammer grip rubs back and forth, which led the the aforementioned blisters. But it was all worth it because now I have my very own set of cutlery.