With covid-19, basically everyone in the world is facing a set of personal problems that they didn’t have before, but which have much in common with everyone else’s new problems. Most basically, how to go about life without catching a deadly or crippling disease. But also, how to make alternative activities workable, and how to thrive and be happy in this potentially oppressive circumstance.
With everyone thinking about what to do about similar problems, an interesting set of questions to me is where do ideas for ways to improve the situation come from, and how do they spread? That is, how do people learn about them? How much are people benefitting from other people’s thinking about similar problems?
I’ve been extremely lucky in having a job that can continue fine from my house, living with a bunch of people I like who can also work from home, having started dating someone I already lived with in January, being in San Francisco, and having some spare money this year, so I’m not compelled to do anything very risky and thus my exact problems and solutions may differ from others’. Nonetheless, it seems good to share them.
Here are pieces of my own current apparatus for avoiding covid and enjoying life despite it:
|Tool||Purpose||How it reached me|
|microcovid.org||estimating covid risk of activities||One of my friends helped make it|
|Agreement with my housemates to accrue less than 15 minutes of expected covid harms to the house each day, with spreadsheets calculating the expected harm from covid and documenting our potentially risky behaviors and estimating their costs, based on the downloadable microcovid.org spreadsheet||for negotiating risks with people I live with||we made it (a lot of what we made initially was similar to microcovid.org but less thorough and worse to use, so we replaced it with their spreadsheet.)|
|Instacart etc||safe groceries||I already used it a lot of the time|
|surgical masks||for doing things that aren’t very risky, like going for walks outside with a low-risk colleague or alone.||I somewhere got the impression that they were better than the cloth masks that I used to use|
|P100 masks||being potentially very safe from covid at the expense of being a bit uncomfortable after several hours and being a bit less audible (e.g. important indoor medical appointments, flying)||I somehow vaguely knew about them and so in ignorance of anything bought one in March as soon as things looked potentially bad and before they had become scarce on Amazon|
|The impression that touching things isn’t that bad||allowing me to be less cautious there (though I still use hand sanitizer)||people around me reason about this a bit, and public authorities say things about it [ETA: but maybe it is much worse—yet to investigate]|
|Hand sanitizer with more than 70% alcohol||cleaning hands out and about||suggested by housemate probably, and I forgot what the actual relevant % was meant to be|
|Alcohol spray, preferable of a drinkable variety||cleaning groceries (we did this at the start, then judged that it was not risky enough to be worth it)||housemate suggested it|
|Goggles||reducing risk at expense of some difficulty seeing (usually worn with P100)||suggested by Facebook friend, then confirmed later by other friends|
|Gather||virtual events that can have lots of small group conversations instead of one giant awkward one like Zoom||a friend invited me to one probably|
|Delivery restaurants||low effort relatively covid-safe food||my household calculated the risk in a very hand-wavey fashion, though this is out of date. Also, we hear other people do this, including in China.|
|At home tests, e.g. Pixel (others listed here)||checking if I have covid at home for free, with about three days of delay or two if I bought a test in advance||a housemate told me about these and I investigated online|
|Quarantine area||place to leave packages before bringing them into the house, to let some virus die off and reduce risk||in March we assumed the worst about everything as a first pass, then had to do research on virus longevity to feel comfortable letting packages in at all, and found papers on it; we shortened it to one day probably based partly on the impression that other people we knew were being less cautious, and partly on guesses and calculations.|
|Copper tape||killing covid faster on high-touch surfaces||was rumored in my online social circles to be somewhat helpful early on, so we put some around; haven’t heard update on whether it is actually helpful|
|Disinfection in the oven (200 degrees F for 15 minutes)||disinfecting delivery food if we are concerned about it||employee and maybe housemates knew about this method, and figured out relevant temperatures|
|Virtual coffee||catching up with colleagues casually||my employees and I came up with this early in the year, so that we would feel like we were at work more and have ‘water cooler’ type conversations rather than just meetings.|
|CIRES airborne transmission tool||I haven’t used it but might investigate if I needed to do some more serious airborne transmission evaluation e.g. wanted to know if it was safe to repeatedly spend time in some large but ventilated space||read about it online somehow|
|Air purifiers||reducing covid risk, I haven’t had reason to use much, though glad of dentist having one||colleague probably|
A lot of these I got from people I know personally. Does everyone have the same list at this point, which spread through acquaintances? Or does everyone have a different list, based on who their acquaintances are? Do my acquaintances drastically overrepresent the kinds of nerds who read lots of papers and make spreadsheets at the slightest nudging and who were already worrying about global catastrophes?
I’m especially curious to hear what is on your list and not mine.