Tag Archives: CORONAVIRUS

The difficulties of testing for COVID-19 in the United States

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt globally and as the number of cases keeps rising, people are wondering how testing is being counted. 

The United States became the country with the most cases of coronavirus worldwide on March 26 with over 100,000 positive cases of the virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control, which is based in the states says that there are 95 public health laboratories spread across all 50 states that are verified to test for COVID-19. The CDC also states that certified laboratories no longer need to get their tests verified by the Food and Drug Administration before putting tests into action but have 15 days after designing the test to communicate to the FDA, according to a CDC diagnostics policy document

Typically during a health crisis the CDC is the first to develop diagnostic tests in the U.S. however due to problems manufacturing their test the CDC and FDA have allowed commercial manufactures and certified public health labs to make the tests more readily available to the public, according the U.S. FDA. 

Due to public health labs making their own tests there are no FDA guidelines on recording the tests, whether positive or negative of coronavirus, this has led to some inaccuracies in numbers and ordinary people to take charge. 

Data Source: Our world Data Coronavirus Testing

As of April 1 there have been 1,149,960 tests taken in the United States, according to the COVID Tracking Project. 

The project comes after officials plead for more tests and numbers of testing are being questioned. 

The COVID Tracking project was started by journalists to attempt to gather correct testing numbers throughout the country from state and local governments, verified news sources and the federal government. It is made up of journalists who contribute by attending official press conferences and ask local, state and federal leaders how many cases there are and 100 volunteers who gather data.  

In comparison, in the UK the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England reports there have been 152,979 people tested, positive and negative, for coronavirus.

In the UK “the results of these tests are submitted to PHE through the Second Generation Surveillance System (SGSS). Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested as supplied by the laboratory information systems,” according to a PHE COVID-19 dashboard document.

Photo by: Brian McGowan on Unsplash

In order to be tested in the United States, you must exhibit symptoms call your local doctor and then be referred to a testing center near you, register for a spot on the list to get tested, attend and wait in line, then wait for test results days later.

“If we had all the resources in the world and could wave a magic wand, we would be happy to test these people, but they’re not there, so I’m afraid we’re having to prioritize,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN.

Why does toilet paper take so long to get to grocery stores?

Since the coronavirus ramped up and became a pandemic one essential hygiene product is flying off the shelves in grocery stores all over the world: toilet paper.  But why does it take so long to restock? 

Toilet paper can be made by recycled paper’s pulp or through tree pulp that is then dyed with chemicals to give it the white appearance.  The treated pulp is then sent to paper mills where it is converted into large sheets of paper and then cut into napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels in different sizes.  

Last year, the UK used around 1.25 million tonnes of hygiene paper of which over half were in the form of toilet paper, according to a statement by The Confederation of Paper Industries and The Paper Industry Technical Association.  

An unusually full stock of toilet paper sold 2 for 1 and limited to 4 single rolls per family. source: Natalia Jaramillo

Toilet paper mills, pre-pandemic, were already running 24 hours a day seven days a week and now with COVID-19 impacting worker’s schedules and increasing demand, the industry is having a tough time catching up. 

Kimberly Clarke, producer of popular toilet paper brands such as Andrex and Cottonelle said in a statement: 

“We have plans in place to address the increased demand for our products to the extent possible, including accelerating the production of essential products and reallocating inventory to help. Our teams continue to monitor demand and we will make adjustments to our plans accordingly.” 

Kimberly Clarke’s plans to ramp up production of essential products like toilet paper means slowing production of non essential products all meanwhile implementing worker safety protocols that may slow down production.  

“Some of the additional measures include regular cleaning of work areas, shift rotations, distancing reminders where people queue, and temperature scans at entry points. We’re also encouraging our employees to stay at home if they feel unwell,” read a Kimberly Clarke statement for the company’s COVID-19 response. 

In order to get toilet paper into grocery store shelves,  trucks have to be packed at paper mills driven to grocery stores and then unpacked and restocked onto the shelves. 

“I asked when the next shipment of toilet paper was coming and the cashier said to come early morning on Saturday,” said Viviana Riveros, a grocery store customer. 

When she arrived at 9 am, one hour after opening, the store was sold out of its supply of toilet paper.  

Grocery store shelves where there should be toilet paper are left empty due to COVID-1. Source: Natalia Jaramillo

Another popular toilet paper maker Essity, who makes Cushelle, already increased net sales in 2019 by 10.6% and is now further increasing due to the pandemic response to panic buy. 

“As a leading global hygiene and health company, we are currently also doing our utmost to continue to manufacture and deliver essential products such as hand paper towels, soap and sanitizers, toilet paper, handkerchiefs and diapers to consumers and customers around the world,” said Magnus Groth, CEO and President of Essity. 

The shortage of toilet paper comes after the UK government issues statements advising people not to panic buy. 

Institutions face structural changes to support students amid the COVID-19 pandemic

As the UK government begins to up its efforts in impeding the growth of the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions have been forced to introduce structural changes.

Multiple universities have moved to online classes through means of digital platforms such as Blackboard and Canvas – sites prominently used among institutions across the UK.

Blackboard CEO Bill Ballhaus took to its official site with a notice, highlighting their plans to support institutions across the UK during the outbreak. He ensured that Blackboard will continue making online learning feasible for both staff as well as students.

According to the statement, the number of online users ‘has doubled every day’ and the platform is working diligently to keep up with this unprecedented surge.

To meet service user needs, Blackboard’s pro-active measures include activating ‘cross-functional response teams’ to ensure the functioning of the platform.

Universities have introduced responsive measures such as online libraries to make academic sources and books accessible to students.

Nottingham Trent University recently announced that it will waive accommodation fees for students who have the left the city during the nation-wide lockdown. Students who have vacated their residence provided by the university and are not returning will no longer be required to pay rent.

In a statement, the professor’s vice-chancellor Edward Peck said: “At every stage in this national crisis Nottingham Trent University has been committed to following Government and PHE advice whilst ensuring that the interests of our students are always paramount in every decision that we take.”

“We understand that many of our students rent from private third-party providers, both purpose-built student accommodation and houses in multiple occupation. NTU is not able to make a unilateral decision on behalf of our students regarding accommodation fees charged by these providers.”

PhD and master’s students have also signed an open letter urging research councils to publish a plan outlining the additional financial support required for postgraduate students.

Due to fieldwork at halt and university labs and libraries being shut, many are unable to complete their research projects.

March is a typically active period of the academic year – with lecture theatres packed and assignment deadlines approaching. This year, there is an unprecedented silence.

Users took to social media sites expressing that they are ‘mentally tapped out’ and ‘paralysed’ from the on-going situation.  

A PhD student at the University of Westminster stated that: “The assumption to go about academic responsibilities in one’s home has been readily taken advantage of. For many, staying at home brings forth added care responsibilities.”

“At present, many of us are taking on this additional workload to help us survive in the face of a virus that knows no boundaries. If these changes that are being introduced are causing more stress to students, then perhaps it’s time to reorganise the education system.”

To learn more about the government response and information provided by universities regarding COVID-19, visit this webpage.

Tesla, Apple and Coca Cola are among companies not providing enough protection measures for employees during the coronavirus pandemic according to Teamsters union.

Many United-States-based companies are not increasing protections enough for their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the union giant Teamsters.

Tech giants Apple and Tesla are not reimbursing shuttle drivers like their competitors Facebook, Genentech, Electronic Arts, Linkedin, Twitter and Salesforce, who are offering shuttle drivers reimbursements, health care and ensures contracted drivers will receive paychecks throughout the pandemic, according to a statement by Teamsters union joint council 7. 

Great Lakes Coca Cola, a company controlled by another American giant corporation Coca Cola, is not offering its employees similar protections due to the coronavirus as their competitors. 

Great Lakes Coca Cola’s competitors, Pepsi Co. Beverages North America and the American Bottling Company, are offering their employees percentage-based increases to their essential workers in addition to their regular hourly pay, paid sick leave to those diagnosed with COVID-19 or forced to quarantine and paid sick leave for workers due to factory closures, according to a statement by Teamsters Local Union number 727 of Park Ridge, Illinois. 

Photo by: Maximilian Bruck on Unsplash

How Has Coca Cola Responded? 

Great Lakes Coca Cola proposed a $100 US dollar weekly stipend only to employees who complete all of their weekly shifts. 

Yet, popular union Teamster is not happy with this proposition.

“It’s absurd that any company during an international health crisis is essentially telling its members they must come to work, no matter what,” said John Coli Jr, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local Union 727 based in Chicago.  

Coca Cola has increased their sanitation efforts to thoroughly clean high touch surfaces, restricts visitors, encourages remote working and will implement isolation protocol if an employee becomes diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a statement. 

Photo by: Julian O’hayon on Unsplash

How Has Apple Responded? 

Apple reopened all of its greater China stores on March 13 while closing all stores outside of the greater China region but continues to take orders through their online stores and promises “fast and free delivery”, according to Apple’s official website. 

Apple is continuing to deep clean office spaces while asking employees who are able to work from home to do so, conducting health screenings and temperature checks, according to a statement on March 13. 

Hourly workers will also be receiving usual pay as with business as usual operations and Apple has extended their leave policy to include health COVID-19 related health circumstances such as recovering from coronavirus, caring for a sick loved one, mandatory quarantining or childcare challenges due to school closures, according to a statement. 

Photo by: Tesla

How Has Tesla Responded?

In a Feb. 4 newsletter Tesla explained they want to “become the world’s safest company by continuously integrating safety into the way we work and the products we build, which is why we rely on each of our employees, dedicated leaders and Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) professionals and service providers to promote a culture of safety,” wrote Laurie Shelby, Vice President of Environmental, Health & Safety at Tesla. 

Teamsters Local Union 853 represents over 1000 shuttle drivers some of which work for Tesla and Apple in the area. 

“I am shocked that Apple and Tesla would be so cold-hearted as to refuse to do even the minimum that the other companies are doing for the drivers,” said Stacy Murphy, Teamsters Local 853 Business Representative. 

Safety precaution or fashion accessory?

Photo by Maatla Kebs on Pexels.com

The recent Coronavirus outbreak has had its time in the public eye, while individuals try to remain precautious and positive. The real demand has sprung from the high request of products such as face masks, hand gel and even toilet paper.

The awareness has been spread over the media as to what necessities are needed to stay fit in this health crisis, but one outcome that has taken a toll concerning the fashion industry is the popularity of face masks.

It can be certain that fashion industry strives upon social trends. At present, the majority of individuals globally are wearing masks; triggering the fashion industry to take part, whether it be for health reasons or to push a fashion trend.

Fashion accessory

Due to the virus, face masks have been sold out in the majority of places. But why not pay a little extra to get a luxury face mask? The mask with many meanings was once developed for streetwear fashion, some of which are still being produced today; from companies such as Bape and Off-White. Hypebeast brands such as the duo, live off online resellers such as StockX and are seen to double or even triple the cost of this accessory.

This product is seen to be the most on-trend piece at the moment and have been worn by A-listers over the past couple weeks. At the Grammy Awards, artist Billie Eilish was dressed head to toe in Gucci with a personalised face mask. Although promoting safety measures, there is a difference between a ‘surgical’ and ‘fashion’ face mask.

At present, people are buying or even making homemade masks as there is a lack of precautious masks out there to cater to such a diverse audience. This can be misled by what can be interpreted as a precautious mask and a fashion accessory. 

This pandemic has caused the United Kingdom to act and think fast, leaving the majority of the community without essentials to protect themselves from this crisis.

What are the different forms of masks? – Interview with a General Practitioner

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

An insight to the different types of face masks from Dr. Sikander Ladha a General Practitioner from Cheshire.

Surgical masks

These masks are used to protect others from oneself and does not prevent one from catching any germs.

FFP3 masks

Used in hospital settings, it has a filter mainly used in intensive care to protect yourself from any form of contamination.

Homemade/DIY masks

Ineffective, will allow droplets to seep through the fabric. The mask will not prevent germs being caught if an individual coughs or sneezes near you. One can also breath out germs through the fabric used from the homemade masks.

Fashion masks

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

A form of accessory used in streetwear. This can be used multiple times and rewashed. If not washed regularly, it can cause a spread of germs. Although It may look appealing to the eye, the most important aspect at present is safety.

The fashion sector will likely combine surgical and fashion masks in due time. Although being in a global pandemic, the fashion sector has not failed to deliver the means of safety precautions on-trend. Additionally, it can be understood that face masks are a fashion accessory.

CoronaHack: Self-quarantining has introduced creative ideas for time pass

The coronavirus, or COVID-19 which has now enveloped across the world has left many of us in a state of uncertainty and a relentless need for distractions. As countries begin their collective efforts to self-quarantine, people have begun to entertain themselves in remarkably amusing ways.


1. Missing friends or family while social distancing? Have an online Netflix Party together

A video posted on TikTok soon spread across other social media channels – guiding users on how to livestream Netflix content together whilst exercising social distancing. It is a fast and simple set-up, all you need is a good connection and a group of people willing to join.

2. In these tough times, balcony-singing Italians inspired solidarity across the world

And in some places, it didn’t:

3. Travel plans cancelled? Compensate by introducing these creative alternatives

Compensating for upcoming plans that are now cancelled can be tough. Unprecedented cancellations and an abrupt stop to our daily routines is challenging, but the most we can do is to respect guidelines given by health and government professionals and hope that better days lie ahead.

Breaking news over breaking news, especially when fairly grim notifications are all that pop-up can be mentally draining. Take a break, relax and invest your time into something else. Perhaps those travel funds can be an exchange for something you never knew you needed. Maybe a drawing tablet, a gaming console, a piano – whatever alternative that may offer you some relief.

4. Take up a free online MOOC course ranging from Architecture and Design to Literature and Science

MOOC – also known as a ‘Massive Online Open Course’ is a website that includes free online courses from top universities and institutions such as Harvard and Microsoft in a variety of subjects ranging from business, arts, medicine and literature. Simply choose an area of expertise you want to explore and dive into an intellectually stimulating experience.

You’ll not only be distracted – but you may find the commitment you were craving for and fulfil certain educational needs.

5. Read the books you never had time for, kickstart a project you always wanted to

Amid the panic and hysteria surrounding the virus – an unsettling fear and uneasiness is bound to overcome many of us. One begs to ask the question of how long this period in life may last. Every day of this virus – which we are not entirely aware of and how fast its spreading – starts to feel like a Sunday on repeat. It is natural to be worried for the well-being of yourself and many others.

“There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us.”

A Stoic’s key to peace of mind – Seneca’s 2,000-year-old antidote to anxiety

Chin-up, read a book or kickstart that project still on hold. If we abide by the necessary instructions and ensure the protection of one-another, this too shall pass.