Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday April 1, 2020
Breaking down the COVID-19 numbers
In a little more than two months, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, raced around the world and turned a handful of known cases to more than three quarters of a million, with at least 36,000 lives lost – reported figures that the scientific and health communities widely agree are too low.
The spreading virus has pushed numerous countries to scramble to lock down cities, shutter non-essential businesses, and close their borders to all but their own citizens, adopting some of the extraordinary measures executed in China that might have previously been unthinkable elsewhere.
Researchers and armchair epidemiologists alike are analyzing the trove of data to create models, find patterns and clues on whether curves are being flattened, which country is on a faster or slower trajectory, why death rates and ages vary, what measures seemed to work, and when the pandemic might end.
The flood of numbers and questions they raise can be overwhelming for the average person trying to make sense of the data.
Epidemiologists and an infectious disease expert who spoke with CTVNews.ca said it was too early to make predictions or draw conclusions from the data, but stressed the importance of understanding the context surrounding the numbers.
While most of the focus has been on the daily tally of new cases, epidemiologists say that other data points are more useful.
Cynthia Carr, a Winnipeg-based epidemiologist with two decades of experience interpreting and developing protocols for gathering and analyzing health data, said the daily focus on new cases can be a distraction and spark unnecessary panic.
“[The public was] not listening to the information. They were in a store with 1,000 people at Costco buying toilet paper” when that was the last place they should be, said Carr.
The total number of tests administered, infections, hospitalizations, intensive care patients, and deaths are all key indicators for different reasons, explained Erin Strumpf, an epidemiologist and associate professor at McGill University.
“It’s more about the rate of change in those numbers than it is about the actual numbers on a given day,” she said.
The mortality and hospitalization rates – and whether they are increasing or decreasing over time – gives more context and balance to the data, Carr noted.
“You should never just look at one piece of information,” Carr said.
“I have said from the beginning, when we increase our testing capacity, you would quickly see an increase in cases… we’re getting more of an accurate denominator, an accurate representation of the number of people with the illness.” (CTV)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 11, 2020
Economic Prescription for Coronavirus: ‘You’ve Got to Go Fast’
The government can’t prevent the coronavirus from damaging the U.S. Economy.
February 28, 2020
The usual tools that economic policymakers rely on, like tax cuts and stimulus spending, won’t restore canceled conferences, unclog supply chains or persuade wary consumers to go out to bars and restaurants. Even if such policies would help, they conflict with the advice of health officials who are urging “social distancing” to slow the spread of the virus.
But that doesn’t mean policymakers are powerless. Economists say well-designed programs could limit the damage and help ensure a quick rebound.
President Trump said Monday that he would meet with congressional leaders to discuss a “very substantial” payroll tax cut and other measures. Many economists are skeptical of that approach, arguing that a payroll tax cut would be too small and too poorly targeted to be of much help.
June 28, 2018
Instead, they recommended a variety of other steps, some narrowly aimed at addressing the outbreak and some intended to bolster the broader economy. One lesson from the last recession is that the government has to move quickly.
“You’ve got to go big, and you’ve got to go fast,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve staff member who is now director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a left-leaning research organization. “If you don’t go fast, you’re not going to short-circuit it.”
Here are some forms that such intervention could take: 1) Fight the disease. 2) Cushion the blow. 3) Stimulate the broader economy. 4) What about payroll taxes? (Continued: NYTimes)
CHRONOLOGY OF A CARTOON GONE VIRAL
This particular editorial cartoon has gone through several modifications than the original one published above on March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. The original double wave cartoon received attention around the world and was modified, rather crudely, with adaptations made to my Canada flag, and translations squeezed in to replace my English “be sure to wash your hands and all will be well.” Some of the changes were done fairly well. Some of the people behind the alterations took the time to ask for permission to do so, and preserved my moniker, while others did not.
Nettuno 1958 – 5 aprile 2020
If only I got a penny for everywhere this cartoon landed I’d be rich!
Possibly my most shared, cropped, and altered cartoon ever.
A crude repurposed image showing a third wave, with my moniker cropped out, appeared in wide circulation on various social media platforms in May, 2020. It appears someone with some knowledge of image editing software duplicated the recession wave, added a third wave by colouring it rather fluorescent green and replacing the wording to climate change. In doing so unfortunately, my signature, or moniker as cartoonists call it, was deleted out. It was on its way to being meme-ified – unsourced and unsigned, the bane of editorial cartooning. I believe the flag in this example is Argentina’s.
Meanwhile, a hemisphere over in the UK, someone revised the Argentinian version, and replaced the label recession with “Brexit”. Look closely and one will note the Union Jack flies atop the Palace of Westminster! Credit goes to Twitter account RRI Tools for pointing this out in June, 2020 with this tweet.
I thought these ideas behind modification were pretty good ones, but the crop jobs weren’t so great, and the flag of Argentina only caused confusion on an idea that could work for anyone around the world. So it was then that I decided to remove the flag and create an authorized version bearing my signature. Here it is:
Originally drawn for March 11, 2020. Revised May 23, 2020.
But it seems someone else in another corner of the planet, Ricardo Hurtubia, a teacher from Santiago, Chile, had added a third wave as early as April 4! Good on him for keeping my moniker in there. News to me by the time July rolled around:
con mis fantásticas habilidades para Power Point, he logrado esta obra de arte luego de un día entero de trabajo
(broma 😜, pero el mensaje de fondo va en serio🙁) pic.twitter.com/qPrmSaneRy
In September, 2020, this beautiful hand drawn rendering was flagged by someone in Venezuela on Twitter. This is an example of the old saying, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Thank you Alejandro!
Not long after the above tweet was posted, an anonymous twitter account holder going by the name of Cilantrófago, posted a re-adapted image in Spanish that cleaned up Mr. Hurtubia’s, somewhat, adding a 4th wave. His major failing, however, is chopping out my moniker, and unfortunately, for Cilantrófago, he or she qualifies as a Social Media Jackass.
In mid June, I was included in a tweet sent out by David Obura, a director of Cordio, East Africa, a marine ecosystem consultancy based in Mombasa, Kenya. He’s also a scientist with the Earth Commission. A 4th wave had been added as a further warning regarding the effects of climate change on the world’s ecology. He isn’t actually the person who added the “biodiversity collapse”, but liked what he saw and sent it out. The re-adapted version is quite a good one, with a thought provoking message, the lettering is close enough to my own, and the image retains my moniker. Thumbs up, but I would like to know who the person is behind the re-adaptation.
The readapted readapted version of the cartoon became the centre piece of a demonstration with a Samba Band on Paignton Promenade (in Torbay, Devon, England) Sunday afternoon, August 30, 2020 with the “Four Waves Banner” shown below and paraded by the Green Spirits group:
Enchanted by the passion of the Green Spirits, and after receiving more licensing permission to use the 4 waves, I decided to update the cartoon to include the biodiversity collapse wave. The caption bubble was also enlarged, and my moniker was placed in the top corner.
As of Autumn 2020, according to google image search, there are more than 1680 posts of these variations across the Internet on various social media platforms and websites.
POV International – Brug coronakrisen som løftestang for nødvendige forandringer: Vi skal “Build Back Better”
Medium.com – Field Notes: Teaching Climate Change in Higher Education
Noted is this eerily similar looking version found on this page on a site called EcoMatcher. They aren’t based in any particular country but whether the renderer knew it or not, that’s pretty much exactly what I drew in the very first version (posted at the top of this page) to represent Canada, from the rockies in the west to the Toronto skyline in the east. Seems the readapters of the image had a pretty good idea of the original cartoon’s chronology.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 28, 2020
If the coronavirus hits America, who’s responsible for protecting Americans?
The outbreak of the coronavirus — and Covid-19, the disease it causes — in mainland China has provoked a response the likes of which the world has never seen. Hundreds of millions of people in the country have had their travel restricted; many have not even been allowed to leave their homes. All of this is aided by the vast Chinese surveillance state.
Meanwhile, though the number of new cases in China dropped to 406 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 78,000, China is ramping up capacity to treat tens of thousands of sick people, with new hospitals going up nearly overnight. Many people still haven’t returned to work, though some of the restrictions are being eased.
Draconian restrictions on movement and the intensive tracking of people potentially exposed to the virus are just some of the ways China — a centralized, authoritarian state — has responded to its outbreak.
April 30, 2009
What would have happened if the outbreak had started in the US — or if it comes here next?
The number of confirmed cases in the US is small: just 14, and 12 are related to travel. An additional 45 people who were sickened with Covid-19 abroad have returned to the US for treatment. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shifted its message on the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading in the United States. “Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a press call. She said it’s a matter of “when,” not “if,” and that “disruption to everyday life might be severe.”
October 14, 2014
There’s still a lot we don’t about the virus. It’s a novel, fast-spreading disease to which people have no known immunity. So far, no vaccines or drugs to treat it exist, though both are being developed. That said, many of the cases of Covid-19 are mild, as Vox’s Julia Belluz reports. The fatality rate — which remains an early estimate that could change — is hovering around 2 percent. A virus of these parameters could spread very quickly.
While there’s much we don’t know about how this could play out with regard to how many people will get sick and how sick they’ll get, what we do know is the United States has dealt with outbreaks — polio, tuberculosis, and H1N1 flu, for starters — before, and many health officials have been anticipating a new one. There are lots of professionals at the federal and local levels who stand ready to try to stymie the spread of coronavirus in the United States.
August 3, 2016
That’s not to say our system is perfect, or even necessarily prepared for this incoming novel virus. But it’s worth thinking through what responses are possible in the United States and how they might become politicized. There are a few really important things to know.
The biggest one: Public health is a power that’s largely left up to the states, which introduces flexibility into our system. But it also introduces inconsistencies, local politics, and laws, with varying protections for civil liberties. The biggest question remains: Can our health care infrastructure handle an influx of thousands of new patients? (Continued: Vox)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday January 29, 2020
Bigotry is the virus we should worry most about
Sadly, it didn’t take long for racism, xenophobia and social media idiocy to become part of the coronavirus story. Mere days after the first confirmed Canadian cases were identified, social media content from the wacky to the downright dangerous began making the rounds.
The virus is a U.S.-government patented germ warfare weapon. It can be treated with herbs and spices. It’s a global population reduction tool.
But the worst, and the most offensive, social media poison blames Chinese (or Asian) people in general for the virus. It has been linked to hygiene and eating habits and other things that don’t bear repeating.
Viewed in isolation, most of this stuff is just stupid, some is downright laughable. But it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Thanks to social media, the cranks, trolls and plain evil people in the world live next to a fast-moving river. They can toss their garbage in, and watch it circulate all around the world in no time. Broken telephone syndrome sets in, and then even the most innocuous claims and commentary can get twisted into something much worse. They can even devolve into fomenting hatred.
Bigotry and xenophobia directed at Chinese Canadians is not new. In the 19th century, the racist term ‘yellow peril’ was used to describe the threat posed by the expansion of power and influence of people from Asia. Racism was legislated into Canadian immigration policy.
We might have hoped that Canada had evolved past those offensive views. But the SARS crisis of 2003 proved that’s not the case. Chinese people, and anyone who looked Asian, felt naked bigotry. Businesses went from busy to empty overnight. Toronto lost an estimated $1 billion as tourists avoided the city, especially areas with many Chinese businesses.
As the current coronavirus story gained prominence, some of the same people who experienced all that in 2003 worried publicly that the same thing could happen again in 2020. Amy Go, interim president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, put it this way in an interview in an interview with The Guardian: “I was hopeful it wasn’t going to be like 2003. But it is. It’s happening now and it’s just going to be amplified (by social media).”
A group of Chinese moms worried about the “inevitable wave of racism” that would arrive with the spreading virus. One of them, Terri Chu, said: “My Twitter has just exploded with vitriol since this morning.”
A popular Toronto blog reviewed a new Chinese restaurant on Instagram and the post was drowned in a sea of racist comments. Nine thousand parents at a school board north of Toronto called for kids who have been to China recently to be kept home from school.
Here we go, yet again.
This new coronavirus, like the last one, is a scary thing. But its relative risk to the general population remains very low. In the three cases reported so far, the victims have self-identified, and in two cases have isolated themselves to protect others.
Public health authorities have implemented measures they learned from the SARS crisis. It is too early to call them 100 per cent successful, but so far they’re working. The best advice as of now remains consistent: frequent hand washing, coughing and sneezing into sleeves, reporting symptoms when appropriate and stay tuned to legitimate news sources for the latest updates.
And if you hear or see bigotry or xenophobia directed at Chinese Canadians, or anyone else for that matter, consider saying something. Don’t just scroll by in silence. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday, October 3, 2014
On The Alert For Ebola, Texas Hospital Still Missed First Case
Hospitals have been on the lookout for the Ebola virus in the United States, and Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas was no exception. A nurse there did ask about the travel history of the patient who later turned out to be infected with the virus. But some members of the medical team didn’t hear that the man had recently been in West Africa. So he was initially sent home — even though he was experiencing symptoms of Ebola, and that meant he was contagious.
“As a result,” says Mark Lester of Texas Health Resources, the hospital’s parent company, “the full import of that information wasn’t factored into the clinical decision-making.”
When the man returned two days later, by ambulance, hospital staffers finally realized what they might be dealing with.
The patient is now in isolation and being treated, while public health workers are tracking and monitoring anyone who had close contact with him.
Edward Goodman, hospital epidemiologist at Texas Health Presbyterian, said government officials have recently been bombarding hospitals with information on how to properly screen and isolate patients.
Just last week, in fact, a team at his hospital had a meeting to go over a special checklist sent out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We were prepared,” Goodman said.
Despite that preparation, they missed it. (Source: NPR)