Quarantunes, Riddles, and Musicals on Lockdown

Quarantunes, Riddles, and Musicals on Lockdown

I first heard of the word quarantunes from Rita Wilson, the wife of Tom Hanks. She was one of the few high profile celebrities who first tested positive for covid-19 last April. As a way of coping with the pandemic’s direct impact, she produced an open Spotify playlist of tunes called Quarantunes. People now have various hobbies. In between covid-19 related work and volunteering for CoronaTracker, I find myself occasionally checking out riddles posted on Facebook just to kill time.

I also enjoyed looking at the kitchen adventures of my friends. Most of my friends generously post about their cooking exploits similar to what Amy wrote about here in The Other Side a few weeks ago. I still have mediocre kitchen skills but new things came out of the pandemic quarantine that I am happy about.

A lot of generous folks from the media industry also released access to Youtube videos of concerts and plays. Most of these were fundraisers for covid-19 relief efforts and was released publicly for a limited time. Recently, I was able to watch The Phantom of the Opera and a local play called Ang Huling El Bimbo in the comfort of my own home and with my husband and two kids.

This May 15, The Shows Must Go On Youtube channel is airing Cats the musical for free to the public as well. It will air for only 48 hours and I’ll definitely be watching this play with my family during the days it’s made publicly available. Broadway is now within virtual reach for most of us who still have to stay home to flatten the curve. We are lucky to have all these resources opening up at our disposal and helping us manage our new normal during this global crisis.

The show must go on mentally as we try to survive the new normal. But as the new normal on a lockdown has taken hold, I also noticed some subtle changes in the way I deal with people. I find myself waving to my neighbor eagerly now when I see him or her from our window. I used to ignore these chances or take these for granted when I had the actual freedom to go out and pay my neighbors an actual visit.

Resolutions have been made; I plan to be more expressive of gratitude to the people I am able to interact with because I sorely missed that interaction now that I am stuck at home. I am introvert but I still miss having the abiity to visit family and friends. I am just grateful I have a fun and supportive spouse locked down with me who helps me with the household chores and caregiving duties for our kids. Not everyone is in the same fortunate situation. Some front-liners have to battle out with the virus risks directly in the hospitals. Covid-19 patients have to fight for their lives and very survival while they wait for a negative swab test result. I hope I don’t forget the reason why I am able to stay home; it’s because of these heroes who are on the front lines of the pandemic battle.

What about you? What new hobbies and interests has this pandemic uncovered in you lately?

Get to Know CoronaTracker’s Open Data Lake and API

Before we suffer from information overload (as we are mostly glued to our screens with lockdown protocols worldwide), know that there is a true pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that is data for the pandemic age. Our open data lake is free, accessible, and rich in insights that can last more than this lifetime. Join us in this journey and together we can learn and beat this invisible enemy that is common to most countries in the world today.

Coronavirus — act responsibly

CoronaTracker is stepping up its game from being an ordinary dashboard into being a world-class hub for garnering insights through its API and open data lake for interested entities and researchers all over the world. We have gathered and continue to gather enough official data to create a data lake or open repository for all on matters of covid-19 as it happened and continues to happen in our lives today. The gatekeeping to keeping data integrity intact despite the growing information continues. We have previously been recognized by the World Health Organization for our initial work that was published last month, and it does not end there. 

Embed or Access Our Data Freely via Widgets or API

If you have your own use case for CoronaTracker’s data, you are also welcome to use it even without joining our research team. At present, a lot of individuals and groups are able to make use of embedding CoronaTracker iframes on their websites for their purposes of informing the public. Aside from this, we have a well-documented API that allows you to pull the data from our database for your personal use. 

Coronatracker API Documentation

For example, you can use a GET request with the right parameters to view stats per country. Some of the other things you can get from our API include total daily cases, top statistics, deaths, and getting the data of a country between a specified start and end date. There is also a separate document on accessing our data lake to be rolled out soon. These are all free of charge for public consumption. The documentation is well-written and easy to follow. 

The Covid-19 Data Frontlining Work

Data without action is useless. We are not just collecting data into our open data lake for the sake of storing information. There are open areas of research across various disciplines that require collaboration and a robust framework of analyzing the big lake of data. 

Our collaborative synergy with our network of volunteer researchers has 6 active research threads open today: 

  • Epidemic curves by country
  • Economic impact of COVID-19
  • Differentiating country covid rates by cultural factors
  • Differentiating country COVID-19 rates by demographic factors
  • Climate factors influencing COVID-19 rates
  • Transportation/network model (flights/telco) to predict COVID-19 trends

Data Visualization of Covid-19 as it Happens

Coronatracker’s App Analytics Dashboard for the Public

Even without special access parameters from API or the data lake, you can still view the platform at coronatracker.com free of charge anytime. If there is anything that needs correcting, our team of volunteers is actively making the necessary corrections to maintain data integrity for all the data points being shown on the dashboard we have created for public consumption.

You can join us in this challenge of studying these active areas of research today. You can also learn more about our open data lake initiative by visiting our site. Thank you for your continuous support of our app. 

Of Covid-19 Scenarios and Indoor Hobbies

This morning, I just realized that I already read 30 books for the year 2020 due to the enhanced community quarantine. I have a Goodreads account (add me up in there if you are also into books!) where I put in the books I intend to read and it has been incredibly helpful in keeping track of the books I have read this year and want to read in the future.

Staying indoors may be introducing a lot of new hobbies to people in the world today. Some of my friends have taken to gardening, taking online courses that are offered for free during Covid-19, or learning a new language using Duolingo app. It’s every nerd’s fantasy world if you take out the fatality rates of this horrendous covid-19 pandemic.

As an introvert, with the exception of grocery issues, my routine of reading books has been amplified by the inability to go outside and have other leisure activities.

Another obsession in the research community by anxious math geeks on lockdown is making epidemic models that predict the course of the coronavirus problem in the world.

In line with this, I recently attended a very interesting podcast about epidemic modeling for Covid-19 hosted by Data Ethics Philippines. It emphasized the need for appropriate domain knowledge to be able to map an epidemic outbreak and not make speculative models that scare a lot of people.

Here at CoronaTracker, we have medical doctors and researchers joining us in our explorations because we don’t want to be misled by a purely mathematical perspective. These statistics are not just numbers on a chart; these are real live human beings whose lives are being changed or sometimes even being claimed by this virus.

The math nerd in me is still itching to play around with some variables so I also took some time to check out this tool of Neherlab made by a bunch of coding epidemiologists who took some time to study possible scenarios of Covid-19 in selected countries. They call it the Covid-19 Scenarios Explorer. You basically input parameters like population, number of hospital beds, infectious period, and many others, and then it will generate the compartmentalized SEIR model of the virus for a country, like this:

It is very interesting to me how much of technology has been tapped to create insights like this readily available to the general public.

Despite the scary and invisible enemy that is Covid-19, we have all these technological tools and there is so much room to innovate from exploring vaccine solutions to even simple things like conserving the data by updating numbers on a spreadsheet. We here at CoronaTracker have our live dashboard and our research here and so many others out there are doing impressive mixing of domain expertise and technology work to help combat this virus in their own way. It’s not in a front-liner kind of way, but every little bit helps and goes a long way especially when powered by a lot of people.

As we turn the page in Covid-19 when all this is over, I hope our book of history in the future tells us of a happy ending powered by technology and a spirit of goodwill among people.

Taking Time to Smell the Flowers during Covid-19

My son and I went to our garden today and we spent an hour looking at flowers and sitting by the stairs near the gate. The baby was asleep and my husband was cooking spaghetti in the kitchen while we puttered around with the birds and the bees outside in the yard. We’re not allowed to go beyond the gate in keeping with social distancing here in the Philippines.

Take time to smell the flowers.

These days, we have maximized every possible nook and cranny of our house. The locks that malfunctioned that needed attention are suddenly DIY projects for my husband and he actually has the time to do them at home.

I’ve come to appreciate my home more during this lockdown. We’ve always had the garden but I never had the time to take a closer look at what’s in there. It’s only now during this lockdown that I was able to spend time with my 3-year-old son and sing nursery rhymes while he picked two flowers to give to me this afternoon. These are tiny moments with a toddler that we quickly lose in the sands of time. When he grows up, I know that this is one of the biggest moments to treasure with my child.

However, this is no regular spring vacation. Silently and inside my head I keep asking the question that’s on everyone’s mind: “When will this end?”

And the fact that there are no clear answers to that question is a cause for worry or anxiety. I have seen better days than recent days in social media where people are on edge and experiencing a lot of new and intense emotions. I have been used to working from home so the lockdown or quarantine introduced less of a jolting adjustment to me and my husband. I rarely go out of the house and we are both introverts. But this is not the case for my other friends and family members who are used to being out and about before the social distancing measures began. It must be incredibly difficult to suddenly be tied down to a single place especially if one is a jetsetter before the lockdowns began.

What keeps me going is the faith and the optimism that the whole world will overcome this. There are some tiny things to thank for in the midst of this lockdown. The world’s air quality has improved and the earth seems to be healing itself in the midst of the quarantine protocols.

Aside from that, there is more time for family members to spend with each other. And in family matters, the little things are really the big things. I have seen firsthand how efficient my husband is when he does the grocery runs and my love for him has grown even more these days. It’s a challenge and occasionally suffocating to be with the same person 24/7, literally. But for the most part, being together on a government-imposed lockdown with enough food while being covid-19 negative is a PRIVILEGE during these trying times. Not everyone is as lucky, and this gift must be received with gratitude despite the challenges of this pandemic.

The front-liners are out there suffering the risk of infection and being away from loved ones. They help keep me safe at home. In the midst of my mommy and wife duties and CoronaTracker volunteer work, I utter a prayer here and there for the front-liners like medical workers and food industry workers who have to keep going with some risk of exposure to this invisible enemy called covid-19.

These would have been unthinkable if the situation did not require all of us to literally slow down. We are now forced to take time to smell the flowers, and in spite of the genuine challenges of this lockdown, there is some genuine good that can come out of that.

Covid-19 Hits Close to 1 Million Cases Globally; How’s Your Mental Health?

Data from CoronaTracker today indicates that over 1 million cases from official sources have already been recorded for the covid-19 virus all over the world. This still happened despite the numerous collective efforts of lowering transmission rates by social distancing and flattening the curve for some locations. 

In most countries, people are fraught with anxiety of the uncertainty of the lockdown protocols and the risks of catching the virus via local transmission. With the exception of countries like Sweden which has taken a rather stoic approach to the coronavirus threat, most countries’ daily activities are interrupted significantly and most brick and mortar businesses are forced to undertake a contingency plan or some form of digital transformation in order to keep business operations running albeit in an irregular manner.

The ongoing lockdown protocols in various countries are transforming landscapes and people. The IMF recently called in a global economic recession, airline operations halted because there was diminished demand for commercial travel, and one of the few perks is that the air quality in some areas has improved significantly because people are staying in their homes. 

People are now advised to stay at home and practice social distancing. While this is hardly threatening news for introverts who are happy curling up with a good book and a cup of tea, it may significantly be a huge problem for the more gregarious people who are used to being on the go, traveling, or meeting outside with family and friends. Given this invisible pandemic tying most people to their homes and the rising number of covid-19 cases in the news, it’s incredibly challenging and if unchecked, it might take a toll on one’s mental health. 

A lot of self-care is in order in addition to caring for the more vulnerable segments of the population like the elderly and the immunocompromised people who can have adverse and fatal reactions to the coronavirus once it enters their body systems. Some of the things that can help lower anxiety involve meditating, doing yoga or stretching exercises, gardening (if the space and climate allows it), talking to friends even through video chat or messaging apps, engaging in DIY projects (a Lego model, perhaps?), and learning new things. 

A lot of companies are offering lessons for free in the wake of the pandemic locking people in their homes. It’s good to take advantage of these resources which usually cost a lot under regular pricing. One such example is the Coursera MOOCs offered specifically during this season of covid-19 social distancing

Another way to channel or divert the negative energies is by means of volunteering or helping beat covid-19 in some form. For me, personally, volunteering for CoronaTracker has helped me significantly in coping with the uncertainty and the troubles that are happening globally because of the pandemic. We are using science, verified official data, and analytics to beat the pandemic.

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