1 April 2020 – Wednesday – #17

Let’s start today with maps. Kinsa, a company that has sold a million smart thermometers, sees evidence that social distancing in the US is paying off. The company provides a live map of data from is US customers. Map viewers can drill down to results in their zip code. Here’s a map from two days ago.

Kinsa smart thermometer data at 30 March 2020, atypical readings in the US from 162,000 thermometers

The company’s tracking algorithms typically pick up flu trends 1-2 weeks before government agencies that rely on reporting from healthcare providers. Where Covid-19 lockdowns took effect, the company measured drops in both flu and Covid-19 infections. I expect the CDC will report decreases in other infectious and sexually transmitted diseases as well.

So, now that we have measurements showing that social distancing works, how is the US doing at social distancing? Even more important, how are your neighbors doing at social distancing? Unacast uses cell phone data to determine how people have changed the movement patterns.

Unacast cellular-based social distancing by state from 30 March 2020

Other than the chart legend characterizing the results as “Change in Average Mobility,” I wasn’t able to find an explanation of how Unacast produces its scores, but the models appear to be good enough to drill down on your neighbors’ social distancing by state and county. Unacast also provides Covid-19 infection data with its social distancing data. For instance, Manhattan (New York County, New York) has earned an A grade for social distancing:

Unacast cellular-based social distancing data for Manhattan as of 30 March 2020

The Canadians have maps, too! Here’s a Covid-19 heat map from Flatten. Shrey Jain, a University of Toronto student, started the site after his university sent students home. Jain simply asks people to provide data about their health and then combines this data with location data into a heat map. Because the data set includes more users from Toronto, the high level analysis is skewed towards Covid-19 events in that city.

I’m looking for European Covid-19 map data. If you know of any please leave a comment or send me a note.

FlightAware isn’t a Covid-19 tracking site on purpose, but take a look at this morning’s data.

Even the airplanes in Western Europe are practicing good social distancing. Three aircraft over all of Spain! There are small clusters around Heathrow and Amsterdam, but does anyone know what the curve of aircraft on the right is about? It looks like Russian airspace to me, but I’m wondering what the route is.

In US Covid-19 news, many of the three million newly unemployed workers are losing healthcare benefits during a pandemic. The Trump White House won’t open up Obamacare enrollments to help out. Luckily, though, since it’s April Fools day, US residents don’t have to pay their April rent or mortgage.

April Fools!

Spanish petroleum distribution numbers suggest energy use is much lower than previously thought during the Covid-19 pandemic.

ProductYear-over-Year Consumption Decrease
Gasoline83%
Diesel61%
Aviation Fuel85%
YoY decrease in Spanish petroleum product consumption during Covid-19 pandemic

It looks like truck usage is down by more than half while automobiles and airplanes are essentially parked. Assuming Spanish energy use is similar to the rest of Europe, the Covid-19 pandemic will provide climate change models useful data about reduction in human CO2 generation.

While the cars and trucks are taking a vacation, the Internet is on fire. Nielsen estimates that US streaming video viewing is up 85%.

I’ve had a couple of good writing days and even allowed myself to start thinking about life after isolation. I like my cooking, but a great meal out would be such a treat right now. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what will be open in May because I read what’s happening in California. The California Restaurant Association wrote Governor Newsom that it expects 30,000 California restaurants, or 30% of California’s restaurants, to close in the wake of the state lockdown.

Here in Barcelona, a food blogger provides updates on the cuisine scene during the lockdown. Chefs are providing online tips and the city’s Mercats are open reduced hours.

The calçot is a regional favorite. A calçot is skinnier version of a leak that’s typically roasted on a grill outside and served with Romesco sauce. It’s a mess and total fun. The season ended just before the pandemic took off.

Calçots on display in Gracia

Ana, a friend and local food critic, took Brad and me to one of the specialty calçot restaurants. What a feast! If there’s a silver lining for the restaurant business around Barcelona, it’s that these calçot restaurants only operate during the calçot season, so they’re normally closed from March until November. I’m counting on more calçots later this year.

Last but not least, if you have a fever, make sure it’s not cabin fever before you call your healthcare provider. This video may help with your cabin fever diagnosis.

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