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Covid-19 info page


Updated March 9, 2020

You probably have questions about the global spread of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), and associated illness (COVID-19), and how it might impact our lives. In the interest of providing meaningful information, we have collected some data from valid sources (science or medical community).

R0: SARS-CoV-2 has an estimated transmission rate R0~2.3 (the reproduction ratio, i.e., the average number of people an infected person will infect, see this). The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 2 m or 6 feet)  through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

CFR (mortality ratio):  CFR is hard to estimate. The initial estimates were ~2-4%. CFR is unevenly distributed across age (low in children and higher for older adults  [ref and ref]). It now looks like CFR estimates may increase somewhat with time as more patients complete the course of disease [ref]. The WHO is estimating it now at ~3%. A *crude* estimate of deaths/(deaths + recovered) yields today about 6%, but there are unavoidably many undetected + recovered cases, lowering this figure, and in fact, the actual number may indeed end up in the 2-3% range [see ref].


About  80% of detected cases of people with COVID-19 develop mild respiratory symptoms and fever on an average of 5-6 days after infection (mean incubation period 5-6 days, range 1-14 days).   Severe or critical forms of the disease are reported at ~14% and 6%, respectively. Undetected cases are likely to be substantial in number at this stage and mild (thus evading detection). For some hard data, see this and this.


COVID-19 will likely infect 40-70% of the population in the coming year, and become endemic or seasonal [ref]. There is no recommended specific antiviral treatment as of yet, but smart people are working hard on it. 


The steps that you can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will also prevent the spread of all ordinary diseases, like colds, flu, and other viruses. Please encourage all members of your household  to take the following steps:


  • If you feel sick (fever and dry cough, see this also), stay home and work remotely.

  • Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

  • Keep your child home if they have a fever or are sick. Stay with them if needed and work remotely.

  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for 30-40 seconds [ref]. Always wash your hands when they are dirty, after using the bathroom, before you eat, and when you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze, or after you shake hands. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash

  • For cleaning crews: clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

  • Consider working remote work it this is a possibility

  • Consider walking or bicycling for transport

  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth (viral points of entry)

  • You don’t need to wear a face mask unless you are sick [ref]

  • Reduce travel, try to force teleconference meetings as much as possible, check with your manager before traveling. If you have traveled to affected countries (see L3), you may have to work from home for two weeks.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick (at least 1 meter [ref])

  • Avoid large crowds, reduce close contact with others in general

  • Exercise simple social distancing measures: e.g., do not shake hands

  • Exercise, stay strong

  • If you smoke, this is a really good time to stop

  • Keep non-perishable food at home (about 2-3 weeks worth) in case you get sick


We encourage all to stay informed. Please learn more about COVID-19 from reputable sources like the CDC or the WHO and avoid sensationalist/fake media sources.  Use your technical and scientific education to select valid sources of information and draw your own conclusions.

Here are some links you may find helpful from reputable sources:

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