12 votes

Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of June 15

This thread is posted weekly, and is intended as a place for more-casual discussion of the coronavirus and questions/updates that may not warrant their own dedicated topics. Tell us about what the situation is like where you live!

19 comments

  1. Omnicrola
    Link
    A data scientist that was working for the state of Florida has been fired after she inquired how to file a whistleblower complaint about how she was asked to alter data to make it appear Florida...

    A data scientist that was working for the state of Florida has been fired after she inquired how to file a whistleblower complaint about how she was asked to alter data to make it appear Florida was ready to reopen.

    11 votes
  2. [3]
    vektor
    Link
    Germany's contact tracing app has been released. Generally viewed as safe and a commendable effort. It's open source https://github.com/corona-warn-app/ It looks to substantially fulfill the...

    Germany's contact tracing app has been released. Generally viewed as safe and a commendable effort. It's open source https://github.com/corona-warn-app/

    It looks to substantially fulfill the requirements outlined by the CCC: https://www.ccc.de/en/updates/2020/contact-tracing-requirements - and the CCC has not criticized this app to my knowledge. Given the previous scrutiny, this is the best grade you can expect.

    A paper outlines two potential attacks on the system. One of which could cause false positives, the other could cause privacy leaks. I've discussed the second one before on here; the major problem being that it is based upon the users actually publishing their tokens. That makes it an untargetable and avoidable attack. Similar criticisms have been voiced in german here: https://twitter.com/pavel23/status/1271881305614057474

    I'll install it.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      I’d been thinking about the issue detailed in section 4.1 of that paper last night (replaying or relaying identity messages to cause false positives). You’d have to be pretty evil to attempt...

      I’d been thinking about the issue detailed in section 4.1 of that paper last night (replaying or relaying identity messages to cause false positives). You’d have to be pretty evil to attempt something like that but I’m sure it will happen at least on a small scale.

      2 votes
      1. vektor
        Link Parent
        The main problem with that kind of attack is that you don't know ahead of time whether the signal you picked up will eventually be marked as infected. So you have to go fishing for a lot of IDs....

        The main problem with that kind of attack is that you don't know ahead of time whether the signal you picked up will eventually be marked as infected. So you have to go fishing for a lot of IDs. Currently, 1 in 200000 people get diagnosed per day. So if you want to cause one wrong case, you'd have to harvest a lot of IDs from random people (and make sure not to catch the same person a bunch of times) and find a way to broadcast them to a whole bunch of other people. The twitter thread has a back-of-the-envelope calculation on the feasibility of that, considering the inherent bottleneck of bluetooth, if I understand him right.

        So as long as the epidemic is as nicely behaved as it is right now, that's not all too viable I think. Add to that that kind of behaviour can't be done on the down-low because you're broadcasting a lot more activity in a certain place than there are people around. If someone writes an app that displays the amount of bluetooth handshakes done in the last X minutes, we know something is up.

        3 votes
  3. [4]
    Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    In the WHO's briefing today, they were clear that the pandemic is still accelerating and that yesterday was the worst day yet: It's really worrisome to see how many people seem to be treating it...

    In the WHO's briefing today, they were clear that the pandemic is still accelerating and that yesterday was the worst day yet:

    The pandemic is accelerating. More than 150 thousand new cases of COVID-19 were reported to WHO yesterday – the most in a single day so far. Almost half of those cases were reported from the Americas, with large numbers also being reported from South Asia and the Middle East.

    It's really worrisome to see how many people seem to be treating it like we've somehow gotten past the worst of the situation, when in reality almost nothing has changed. I go out occasionally to pick up take-out food or groceries, and there are so many people out that seem to just be carrying on as normal, not wearing masks, and so on. Even the traffic feels like it's pretty much back to regular levels here. It seems like we just hit a limit on how long people are willing to inconvenience their normal lives for.

    8 votes
    1. GhostHardware
      Link Parent
      Over the past few weeks, I've noticed that two opposing positions have become popular: we're either mostly past the worst, or the worst is yet to come. I think the current situation is a bit more...

      Over the past few weeks, I've noticed that two opposing positions have become popular: we're either mostly past the worst, or the worst is yet to come. I think the current situation is a bit more nuanced than those two extremes, and highly dependent on what region you're from.

      Europe (except for Russia) is mostly past the worst, with very low rates of new cases and deaths compared to only a month or two ago. South America on the other hand is currently in an immensely rough situation, with countries like Peru, Chile and most notably Brazil seeing high growth rates. The US is somewhere inbetween those two regions: daily growth of cases is more or less linear (and has been so since early April), even ever so slightly trending downwards, with a minor uptick over the past few days.

      In my home country, the Netherlands, restrictions have been slowly lifted over the past few weeks, and public life is gradually starting up again. Fortunately, there has not been an associated rise in cases. In fact, the daily amount of new cases is the lowest it has ever been. If I had to speculate, even fairly imperfect adherence to social distancing measures is sufficient in a country like the Netherlands, where probably something like 20% of the population have already developed immunity.

      like we've somehow gotten past the worst of the situation, when in reality almost nothing has changed.

      To put things in perspective, growth is much closer to linear than exponential in most of the world. That is already a huge win compared to the exponential growth seen almost everywhere in the early stages of the pandemic.

      3 votes
    2. cfabbro
      Link Parent
      Another record breaking day today too: WHO reports largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases

      Another record breaking day today too: WHO reports largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases

      The World Health Organization on Sunday reported the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases by its count, at more than 183,000 new cases in the latest 24 hours.

      The UN health agency said Brazil led the way with 54,771 cases tallied and the U.S. next at 36,617. Over 15,400 came in in India.

      1 vote
  4. MintyFresh
    Link
    I went to the BLM silent march in Seattle last Friday, so now I am on the lookout for symptoms. Everyone was wearing masks, and it was outdoors and pouring down rain, so I think I'll be alright....

    I went to the BLM silent march in Seattle last Friday, so now I am on the lookout for symptoms. Everyone was wearing masks, and it was outdoors and pouring down rain, so I think I'll be alright.
    King County recently determined that only 1% of protestors are testing positive for COVID, so they aren't recommending testing unless you have symptoms..

    6 votes
  5. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    Last Sunday the boardwalk near my house became full of people looking for fun and leisure, so the mayor closed it for the time being. The beach was already boarded. I went out for a walk just now...

    Last Sunday the boardwalk near my house became full of people looking for fun and leisure, so the mayor closed it for the time being. The beach was already boarded. I went out for a walk just now and inadvertently crossed into the forbidden zone — the signaling was not clear at all an there were no barriers so I figured it was fine. The police escorted me out — they were actually very nice (as nice as Brazilian police can be at least). The allowed zone is extremely dangerous, especially right now. I went there today and didn’t feel safe at all. I understand and approve his decision, but there are no parks around and the beach is the only way to get in contact with nature. The ocean was my daily scape. Now I can’t even look at it.

    5 votes
  6. skybrian
    Link
    President of Honduras Tests Positive for Coronavirus

    President of Honduras Tests Positive for Coronavirus

    In a televised statement late Tuesday, President Juan Orlando Hernández said his wife and two of his two aides had also become infected. He said that he began feeling unwell over the weekend, and that the diagnosis was confirmed later Tuesday.

    4 votes
  7. Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    New Zealand has had a few new cases introduced from travelers (returning citizens/residents), after getting down to zero active cases on June 8. They allowed two cases out of the mandatory...

    New Zealand has had a few new cases introduced from travelers (returning citizens/residents), after getting down to zero active cases on June 8. They allowed two cases out of the mandatory quarantine early and before they had been tested, so now there are concerns about how much they might have spread it.

    4 votes
  8. skybrian
    Link
    Mexico’s Central de Abasto: How coronavirus tore through Latin America’s largest market [...] [...]

    Mexico’s Central de Abasto: How coronavirus tore through Latin America’s largest market

    While there are no official data, vendors can name dozens of people in the vegetable aisles alone who lost their lives — green-bean sellers, chili vendors, potato men — in one of the most brutal outbreaks in the city.

    “Here we didn’t believe” the coronavirus was a threat, said 57-year-old Anastasio Ramón Alonso, a longtime tomato vendor. “But when people began to die and die and die, we lost our incredulity.”

    [...]

    The government had launched a major publicity campaign about the coronavirus, with nightly news conferences. But it failed to convince the tomato workers.

    “Mexicans tend to say ‘the government is trying to screw us,’ ” explained Omar Martínez, whose family runs the tomato stand at Q-1.

    That distrust had deep roots. Writer and activist Irene Tello Arista grew up in Iztapalapa, the densely packed borough that surrounds the market. She noted that many residents lacked even basic public services, such as reliable running water. Their attitude was: “If the government has never looked out for me in my daily life, why are they going to do it now?”

    Up and down the vegetable aisles, word spread that hospitals were dangerous places where doctors were deliberately killing people. The stories were absurd. But many vendors believed them. They were used to poor health care.

    [...]

    The market supplies 80 percent of the capital’s food; some 300,000 buyers and delivery personnel visit each day. It couldn’t shut down.

    Further complicating matters, it’s highly fragmented. The market management employs only about 1,000 of the 90,000 personnel — mostly janitors and administrative staff. The rest work for the entrepreneurs who own or lease the 7,418 stalls.

    3 votes
  9. skybrian
    Link
    Nurses stage dueling demonstrations at St. Rose Hospital amid coronavirus outbreak and state violations

    Nurses stage dueling demonstrations at St. Rose Hospital amid coronavirus outbreak and state violations

    Dozens of nurses at St. Rose Hospital who belong to the California Nurses Association on Wednesday staged a demonstration outside the Hayward hospital alleging that managers have failed to keep workers there safe.

    “We deserve this hospital’s support,” said Angelanne Fernandez, an intensive care nurse who has spent more than 13 years working at St. Rose.

    But in a counter demonstration just yards away at the hospital’s entrance, other nurses and health care workers said they think leadership has done a good job of protecting workers.

    “We’re here to support our hospital,” said Catherine Garcia, a surgical technologist who has worked at the hospital for nearly two decades.

    The dueling viewpoints came to a head following a coronavirus outbreak among hospital staff that has sickened at least 38 workers and a June 12 Cal/OSHA report noting several safety violations unrelated to the virus. The state agency found that the hospital’s failure to implement an effective workplace violence prevention plan resulted in a nurse being injured when he was assaulted by a patient’s family member in November 2019.

    2 votes