Categories
TWTW

The week that was

We collectively gasped when we read of a tractor-trailer full of toilet paper going up in flames. This week, a more severe and darker tragedy struck when a tractor-trailer of N95 masks caught fire.

More than 40 employees spent the last 28 days living at their factory, split between two 12-hour shifts working around the clock to make polypropylene, the raw material used to make N95 masks, hospital gowns and sanitary wipes. On Monday they went home to their families.

Governors worked the phones, bidding against each other, to secure valuable medical supplies and equipment. Maryland’s first lady, used her native language and connections to score 500,000 test kits direct from South Korea for her state.

The Governor of Illinois made plans to fly charter jets to China to pick up supplies but is keeping them secret because he’s worried the feds might try to seize the shipment.

At the tail end of a press conference, President Donald Trump suggested the possibility of an “injection” of disinfectant to cure those with the virus. This forced Lysol to warn folks not to try this at home. The president later said he was asking the question sarcastically “just to see what would happen.”

The Reuters headline told all you needed to know, Special Report: Former Labradoodle breeder was tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force

Reader’s Digest wants us to know that the Q in Q-tip stands for quality.

Remember those scary Boston Dynamics robots? The company is now looking to deploy the robots to assist in remote triage of Covid-19 patients in a dystopian version of the St. Bernard Rescue Dog.

A woman walking down a street in Toronto felt “heat and pain in her left chest.” She had been shot but was unharmed because the bullet was lodged in her left silicone breast implant.

The rapper Travis Scott held a virtual concert in the game Fortnite and 12 million showed up.

Colin Cosell, the announcer for the New York Mets and grandson of Howard Cosell, has recorded over 600 walk on announcements for medical workers and first responders.

A pro cyclist in Northern Italy is riding supplies and medicine from the next town to the elderly residents in his town.

As the lockdown in New York enters its second month, Governor Cuomo declared marriage via, “audio-video technology” legal and binding. Yup, Zoom marriages are here.

Stay safe, hug your kids (if you can).

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Current Events

Ads in the time of Covid

In times of uncertainty, it’s best to stick to the pack.

Categories
TWTW

The week that was

An elderly and reluctant Frenchman was ejected from an Air Force fighter during a retirement day outing. I promise you, this isn’t clickbait.

As with every news outlet, Footwear News, looking for their coronavirus story, found it.

“We are literally making electricity out of thin air.” Almost by accident, Yao noticed the devices he was experimenting with were conducting electricity seemingly all by themselves.

An evangelical pastor in Virginia who vowed to keep preaching unless he was “in jail or the hospital” succumbed to Covid-19. Florida declared professional wrestling an “essential business” so matches could continue.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci is everyone’s hero. A Connecticut toy company is making a Dr. Fauci plush doll. As of this writing, the petition to name him People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive had over 18,000 signatures.

Thousands protested Michigan’s stay-at-home laws and marched on the capital holding signs that unironically said Live Free or Die.

In Kenya, the Governor of Narobi said that they will be tucking a small bottle of Hennessy into the care packages going out to its citizens.

Stimulus checks from the US Treasury went out with the expected mix-ups. Scores of deceased received a check and one firefighter in Indiana was shocked to find himself $8.2 million richer instead of the expected $1700.

Just in time for the afore-mentioned stimulus checks, Apple announced the iPhone SE at a $399 price point. Meanwhile, if you were the proud owner of a top of the line Mac, a set of wheels would put you back $699.

The pandemic has postponed many trials winding thru the judicial system, including one for Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes.

Land o’ Lakes butter decided it was time to retire the Native American “maiden” from their packaging. The new package just has a lake.

Looking to spice up your next Zoom call? Invite this farmer’s lama or goat and totally confuse your colleagues.

The National Guard was called, in Vermont, to build a hospital, in four days.

Categories
Office

Coronavirus Data

When you work for a news app and there’s lots of news, you’re busy.

At SmartNews we’ve been busy trying to get a handle on the numbers behind the Coronavirus pandemic and present it in a way that is meaningful to SmartNews users.

We started with a simple widget with totals for confirmed cases along with those that had recovered. We designed a way to put US and Global numbers in once widget that updated daily. Tapping on the More data link to you to a full page with interactive graphs showing the cumulative totals of these numbers over time along with the death count.

As casualties grew and recovery data started to look inconsistent (it’s not clear when you recover and many states do not require hospitals to record recovery rates), we made the difficult decision to post the death count on the widget, replacing the recovered figure. We re-built the data pipeline to pull in data more frequently so we added a counter to show the current daily totals compared to yesterday’s total.

Then we added county-level data to satisfy the growing interest in local information.

The most recent iteration, in the app today, adds back in the global number to give context to the US figures. We’ll continue to iterate on this widget to bring the most useful information to our users.

Categories
TWTW

The week that was

Nudists sunbathing in the Czech Republic were reprimanded for not wearing masks. “Citizens can be without clothes in places designated for this purpose, but they must have their mouths covered,” said the police spokeswoman.

As the novelty of the daily presidential briefings wore off and we grew weary of hearing the president boast of his accomplishments, the nation found solace and sage advice in the twitter account of a frozen meat product.

A university in Japan is giving graduates the chance to walk the stage to receive their diploma, via a remote-controlled robot.

What’s weirder then playing professional sports to an empty stadium? Playing a professional sports to a stadium of robot mannequins.

While preparing for the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congo was hoping to be able to announce the end to the Ebola outbreak. Then someone got Ebola.

An Australian astrophysicist was admitted to the hospital after getting magnets stuck up his nose while inventing a device to stop people from touching their faces during the coronavirus outbreak. “My partner took me to the hospital that she works in because she wanted all her colleagues to laugh at me.”

Due to the pandemic, the US Postal Service is suspending delivery of international mail to nearly two dozen countries including the Cayman Islands, Honduras, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Botswana. Oh, and the US Postal Service is nearly out of money and it may impact their ability to deliver ballots in the upcoming election.

Tesla shared a prototype of a functional ventilator using spare parts from its automobile production line.

The New Zealand sex toy industry reported a spike in sales in the days leading up to that country’s lockdown. The largest retailer, the Adult Toy Megastore has been deemed an “essential business” by the government and allowed to stay open.

Honolulu police will use aerial drones to keep people off the beaches. A loudspeaker on the drone will announce “Aloha, the stay at home order is in effect. Please do not gather or sit on the beach.” No word on if there will be a Hawaiian music accompaniment.

Categories
TWTW

The week that was

Field hospital tents were set up in New York City’s Central Park in anticipation of an expected surge of Covid-19 patients. The last time this happened was during the Civil War. Later in the week, the naval hospital ship Comfort docked in New York harbor.

Comfort’s sister ship, the Mercy docked in Los Angeles harbor and was later attacked by a reality-challenged individual who attempted to ram the ship with a train.

The National Symphony Orchestra was let go by the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Their last paycheck will be on April 3.

Kobe Bryant’s used towel from his last game with the Los Angeles Lakers sold at an auction for $33,000.

Home from school and stuck in social isolation, students from UPenn, BU, UCLA, Northwestern, Oberlin and other schools worked together to re-create their campus, online, in Minecraft. Many of these projects will now serve as a virtual stage for commencement ceremonies.

President Trump announced that Navy ships will be deployed near Venezuela to beef up counter-narcotics operations. A Venezuelan Navy offshore patrol vessel sank after ramming a cruise liner in the Caribbean Sea. The cruiser, which had a reinforced hull to sail through ice-filled waters, suffered minimal damage.

The coronavirus has taken out of commission one of the largest ships in the US Navy. The captain of the ship was later relieved of duty.

Tragedy struck as a truck carrying thousands of rolls of precious cargo crashed and burst into flames.

The New England Patriots flew their team plane to China to pick up a load of 1.2 million N95 masks and bring it home to hospital staff in Massachusetts.

A New Jersey paper delivery man took it upon himself to bring more than just the daily news and is now taking orders to deliver much needed groceries to his homebound, at-risk clientele.

The Pentagon confirmed that it’s working to provide FEMA with 100,000 “pouches to address mortuary contingencies.”

A group of MIT scientists have designed a ventilator that can be made from readily available hospital gear for about $500. Open Source communities are sharing designs for ventilators and masks.

A 104 year-old World War II veteran from Oregon became the oldest survivor of the coronavirus.