Accurate Coronavirus Information
& Safety Practices

En Español

Bottom line: The best way to reduce health and economic impacts is to:

  1. Cover nose and mouth with a reusable cloth mask (85%± risk reduction)
  2. Physically distance (82% of the risk at 3 ft, 91% at 6ft 95% at 10ft)
  3. Connect outdoors (95%± risk reduction—if not outside, ventilate as much as possible; roll windows down)
  4. Eye protection, Wash hands, etc,

Wear a mask. Go outside to sociallze. Don't touch anyone but your partner, or people you are caretaking. Don't get within six feet of anyone else without covering your face with a reusable cloth mask.
If you have disposable masks—donate them to your local hospital or clinic to keep health care workers at work).

These suggestions are based on a synthesis of all the latest science (see links above and below).
Breathing in droplets seems to be the main mode of transmission. The dose matters; you don't have to eliminate virus inhalation, just reduce it to where your immune system can fight it off.

Outside seems way better than originally theoretically thought, with few actual cases.

Aerosols appear more important than previously thought(tiny droplets that stay airborne in poorly ventialated indoor spaces for hours).

Surface transmission is seeming less important. The theoretical increased risk reduction value for combining masks and outdoors was obtained by multiplying the values for each studied individually; these havenot been studied together. It seems likely all the other stuff (surface disinfection, etc...) does not appear to weigh anywhere near as heavily as the first three.

What has changed? Because this is a novel virus, we had no emperical data, just theory and extrapolation. Now there is data from contact tracing, and we have the start of visibilty into how the virus transmits in the real world.

This is dynamic and may change again as more data comes in.


Details and rationale below—


Curated information on the pandemic and what to do.

On this page:




Practice 'Information Hygiene'

Avoid contracting or spreading the pandemic of misinformation about Covid 19. The useful, accurate information below has been carefully curated, and sanitized of misinformation.


Look to most any other country to see how to better manage the pandemic than the US

For the first time in human history, an exponentially surging epidemic with community spread was reversed, in China (for now).

This was thought to be impossible. With a very aggressive approach, they got from 3,400 new infections per day January 2020, to just 24 new infections on March 11th, 2020.

Since then, Most of Europe, Slovakia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Singapore have contained the pandemic. Each used their own custom version of physical distancing, masks, handwashing, contact tracing, and quarentine of infected individuals.

What they all have in common: Science based, non-politicized reponse, public trust in leadership, and willingness of the clear majority of individuals to act in the common good.

What US, Brazil, and Russia have in common: politics-based, divisive response, non-science based, with low trust in government, universal confusion, and widespread pushback by large segments of the population.

More reading

Slovakia's president, Zuzana ?aputová, and its nascent government administration, which came to power amid the pandemic, were among the first to model best practices for how to handle the outbreak—most notably by wearing protective masks and gloves for the government’s swearing-in ceremony.

The pandemic reveals US structural and cultural weaknesses we need to work on

Two days after Italy shut most of its economy down, in the US the headlines were "Trump defiant on testing and handshakes even as third Mar-a-Lago case emerges" and "Coronavirus is shutting down American life as states try to battle outbreak"

Years of wealth extraction from the health care system have left us with barely any more ventilators and hospital beds than were already in use before the pandemic in this active flu season. In Santa Barbara County, we may need several thousand intensive care beds, and we have several dozen, and this is a wealthy area.

Wealth extraction and concentration have left the social safety net thin and frayed.

The main risk of the coronavirus outbreak isn’t that you’re going to get sick and die, it’s that so many people are going to get sick so quickly that our healthcare services and infrastructure are going to be completely overwhelmed, with lots of collateral damage...and that our country


From the excellent article Coronavirus will radically alter the U.S, 3/19/2020:

What happens next in this pandemic depends largely on our government, health institutions and 327 million inhabitants — all making tiny decisions on a daily basis with outsized consequences for our collective future.

When Jason Christie, chief of pulmonary medicine at Penn Medicine, got projections on how many coronavirus patients might soon be flocking to his Philadelphia hospital, he said he felt physically ill. They saw how quickly the surge would overwhelm the system, forcing doctors to make impossible choices — which patients would get ventilators and beds, and which would die. “They were terrified. And that was the best-case scenario.”'



What to do to

We have to flatten the curve for the rate of new infections vs time, so—


Philadelphia did not cancel a parade in the 1918 flu epidemic, St. Louis did:


Bay Area is Flattening the Curve Early data indicates effectiveness of Shelter in Place

Suggested alert for your area:

ALERT: shelter in place and physical distancing required for pandemic safety. Stay >6’ from all but partner, your small children. If closer contact is required, cover face with cloth. Donate gloves, goggles, disposable masks to hospital or clinic. This is working to save lives elsewhere. Practice distance socializing for mental health and community cohesiveness.

Stay well ahead of the infection curve

These are in order of importance—


More reading—


Cover your nose and mouth...and help convert us to a face-covering culture

Places where mask wearing is culturally encouraged have slower infection spread

Japan has the strongest mask-wearing culture in the world and one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates


'Distance Socializing' and other ways to stay as healthy and balanced as possible

The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to reboot your brain in exponential pandemic mode

Our brains are wired for linear change; things drift, you make a change, then you don't have to pay attention for a while. That's not what's happening.

In an exponential situation, it seems like nothing is really happening for a long time, then maybe something, than wham! every day is a totally different deal than the day before. Gathering of under 250 people are OK, then 50, then 10 people a few days later, and then as close as you can get to zero. Then, the storm will pass, and we'll come out blinking in a different world.

If exponential change is what you expect, you will a) not be surprised, and b) be able to get ahead of the curve, help flatten it, stay within the capacity of the health care system, and reduce mortality by almost 10x.




Parameter Regular mode Pandemic mode
Physical connection Engage in healthy social touch Act like a crazy (but effective) germaphobe; no hand shaking, no hugging, except with people in your innermost circle, until unless they or you become infected
Emotional connection Regular level connection Connect extra deeply and authentically
Handwashing Save water, soap, and paper towels Remove all virus possible
Travel, events Live it up Withdraw physically, reach out digitally
Mental model of change Linear Exponential


What does keeping ahead of the exponential curve look like?

After a long, quiet incubation period, suddenly every day what makes sense is dramatically different than the day before, or the day after. With actual cases doubling about every 3 days, timely action makes all the difference:

instead of 10 Million cases in the United States if we wait 30 days, if we act 18 days sooner, we will have only 160,000 cases

Norway acted now, because it’s less economic impact to take drastic measures early than to do them later, and it saves a lot of lives and suffering by doing so. And Norway has only one confirmed death as of this writing.

Physical distancing must be ahead of the actual cases curve, which means being a week or so ahead of the reported cases curve:


Here's what my days are like:

Date # reported cases in Santa Barbara County/ tests Physical distancing effort Pandemic mode
March 6 0 cases/
? tests
50% Level 0-life as usual; with one more crisis that isn't discernibly affecting me. Last community dance with 50+ people, hugged, shook hands, and made PSA about handwashing technique and get ready. Barely washing hands after using bathroom.
March 11 0 cases/
? tests
75% Level 1–dress rehearsal; practicing really washing hands, physical distancing, elbow bumps. Wondering if we should get more food, washing hands 15 x a day.
March 12 0 cases/
7 tests
80% Level 2–preparation; buying last of food, soap, disinfectant, medicine; discussing plans with housemates, checking on family and friends, sounding the alarm in earnest. Washing hands 20 x a day, sometimes right after I just washed them, when I may have touched something some one else touched. Meeting 3 feet away from at risk (but still healthy) people we're checking on. No touching even with elbow. Lots of explaining. Touch of panic, able to push it back.
March 15 1 case/
15 tests
90% Level 3–cocooning; hunkering down with immediate family and housemates. After going to the market for possibly the last time in 3 weeks, took off "around people" clothes and wallet and put them in a designated drawer, washed hands, showered, and wiped down phone with alcohol. Took two long walks in the fresh air with my partner; video chat with far away family. Trying to wrap my mind around these changes, and imagine what life will be like in a week.
March 16 2 cases/
25 tests
95% Level 4–physical isolation; Setting up so we can split the house in two in case some of the four of us get sick. Not going around others physically at all. Exercising in the fresh air far from people, communicating for hours with friends and family remotely.
      —I am guessing from here on out—
March 26 1,000 cases 98% Level 5–physical isolation between people with and without virus in same house; Separate bedrooms, bathroom, and provisional cooking facilities; mask on when interacting, constant online re-assurance of others, gratitude that water and power are still working.
June 21 200,000 cases 75% Level 1–post-pandemic; people coming out of physical isolation to meet in person again at last, and cope with worldwide economic recession, hopefully more galvanized to at last effectively deal with climate disruption, a far greater threat than the coronavirus pandemic.


Stealth transmission is a thing

How do you tell if you have coronavirus?

Loss of smell and taste may be an early, distinguishing symptom of the novel coronavirus.


Here are the most common symptoms and the percentage of people who had them:

(from WebMD, based on World Health Organization analysis of more than 55,000 confirmed cases in China)


Help researchers: COVID Symptom Study on the App Store / Google Play


COVID-19 is a lower respiratory tract infection, which means that most of the symptoms are felt in the chest and lungs. That’s different from colds that bring on an upper respiratory tract infection, where you get a runny nose and sinus congestion. Those symptoms seem to be mostly absent for people with COVID-19, though they’re not unheard of.

The good news is that in China, most people who have gotten sick -- about 80% -- have had mild* to moderate symptoms.

*Note: this widely reported "80% mild" idea is misleading, because in China where this statistic came from, “mild” cases were not like a mild cold. ″‘Mild’ was a positive test, fever, cough — maybe even pneumonia, but not needing oxygen,” Bruce Aylward of the WHO told The New York Times. ”‘Severe’ was breathing rate up and oxygen saturation down, so needing oxygen or a ventilator. ‘Critical’ was respiratory failure or multi-organ failure.”)


Antibody Test, Seen as Key to Reopening Country, Does Not Yet Deliver The tests, many made in China without F.D.A. approval, are often inaccurate. Some doctors are misusing them. The rollout is nowhere close to the demand.

The virus test is often slow.

What to do if you get sick

If you start to show symptoms, call your doctor's office. Don’t go there before calling -- that might spread the infection around the doctor’s office. They may want to talk to you on the phone in a telemedicine visit.


Well...depends on where you are and what resources are available. With luck, there will be community resources marshalled to help you. Most likely if you are in the US, you will be mostly on your own—

What does the future hold?

There is a wave train of exponential curves coming our way

Including these:

These curves are roughly, qualitatively right to give an idea of what's coming.


The only thing that matters now is the speed of your response

Interactive graphs showing the current action status by state, timeline for action vs probable outcome


Animated covid-19 outbreak simulation with custom parameters

Epidemic Calculator with custom parameters

Timing is everything...start 50% sooner, get 98% fewer deaths!

...also, you can see that if you take timely never looks like that action was warrented:


Start masking and distancing on day 100 ... 500± deaths in SB South Coast

Start masking and distancing on day 75...200± deaths in SB South Coast


Start masking and distancing on day 50...8± deaths in SB South Coast


Estimated current infections should be the top line statistic and basis for decision making

Estimated current infections is roughly right as a basis for decision making Confirmed infections are 'preciscely wrong' as a basis for decision making The confirmed infections are a few weeks—about four doubling times—behind current actual infections. If testing is low, the numbers are even further off.  Deaths are more accurate, but further out of date; around six doubling times.

Timeline of events in Hubai graph and analysis. Note that true cases preceded official cases by 11±days



More information


Santa Barbara local info

Reliable news

Mental and emotional health

For government


For health care practitioners

For Manufacturers/ trades people


For businesses

Detailed analysis & more info




 • Copyright © Art Ludwig 1997–2018 • Content Use Policy