The worst technology company in the world

Coronavirus in Context is a weekly newsletter where we bring you facts that matter about the COVID-19 pandemic and the technology trying to stop its spread. You can subscribe here.

Hola pandemic pals,
The absolute hardest thing about writing a weekly coronavirus newsletter is coming up with the lede paragraph. I always spend more time than I should trying to come up with something emotional and honest that’s also hopeful and bright.

But it never quite works out that way. Not only is polite small talk not in my wheel house, but I don’t feel hopeful and bright and none of the news I have to share can back up those tones.

And that means more doom and gloom. But I think it’s necessary. Our biggest failures during the pandemic, globally, haven’t been technological or scientific ones. We have everything we need to end the pandemic whenever we, the global community, choose to.

Want to be done with lockdowns and COVID-19? Wear a mask, social distance, and encourage everyone else to do the same. Countries that have been successful at this are already starting to open.

The biggest problem we face is human ignorance. Evil takes a close second, but for evil to have any influence ignorance must thrive.

Take for example the most evil company in the US right now: this disgusting “gig economy” startup that purports to hire people as process servers to evict US renters who are derelict in paying their rent.

Here’s the rub: It doesn’t matter what you might *think* about people paying their bills. Maybe you’re an elitist asshole who believes the ableist BS line about how “everyone has an opportunity” in the US and you look down your smug nose at those struggling with rent right now.

Maybe you’re a bleeding heart who thinks that landlords shouldn’t exist and everyone should have government housing available to them. It doesn’t matter.

Because the law is clear: Renters in U.S. cannot be evicted through the end of the year due to coronavirus. This is per an order from the Trump administration.

So how does a company that hires gig workers get away with playing headhunter for soulless landlords trying to illegally evict people during an economic disaster caused by a pandemic? Ignorance and evil.

They rely on misinformation and lies. They tell people that if they don’t get out the police will arrest them (false), and that they’ll end up owing extra fees and courts costs (false), or they use strongarm intimidation techniques like shutting off utilities and harassing tenants.

It’s possible the company is a prank (though, according to Vice, its parent company checks out). But, even if it is, it’s an evil one whose perpetrators deserve civil litigation at best and criminal prosecution at worst.

By the numbers

Last week we took a look at the vaccine outlook.

This week, let’s switch things up for the listicle lovers out there. Here are the top five most ignorant myths about the pandemic:

5. Mask don’t stop the spread. According to health experts, masks are more effective than other countermeasures (including vaccine!) aside from isolation.
4. A vaccine will make it go away. That’s not how vaccines work. If we’re lucky and the whole world starts social distancing and wearing masks and we get several vaccines soon, we might be approaching half time.
3. Once you have it you’re immune. BZZZZT! Incorrect! Several people have not only contracted COVID-19 a second time after recovering, but suffered worse symptoms upon getting it again.
2. It only effects the elderly and people w/ pre-existing conditions. Wrong. It also effects children, frontline workers, and perfectly healthy adults.
1. Wearing a standard WHO-approved facemask has negative health consequences. Lol, guess surgeons who wear them for 12+ hours at a time don’t know anything about health?

5. Mask don’t stop the spread. According to health experts, masks are more effective than other countermeasures (including vaccine!) aside from isolation.
4. A vaccine will make it go away. That’s not how vaccines work. If we’re lucky and the whole world starts social distancing and wearing masks and we get several vaccines soon, we might be approaching half time.
3. Once you have it you’re immune. BZZZZT! Incorrect! Several people have not only contracted COVID-19 a second time after recovering, but suffered worse symptoms upon getting it again.
2. It only effects the elderly and people w/ pre-existing conditions. Wrong. It also effects children, frontline workers, and perfectly healthy adults.
1. Wearing a standard WHO-approved facemask has negative health consequences. Lol, guess surgeons who wear them for 12+ hours at a time don’t know anything about health?

Tweet of the week

What to read

The CDC is a joke, a vaccine isn’t a panacea, and why do bikers love COVID-19?

Surprise! India’s COVID-19 app exposed the data of millions of people. It’s like rushing tech is a bad idea or something.

Once again, the CDC capitulates to Trump instead of serving the US people like it’s supposed to. (CNN)

Thousands more bikers attend another rally in the US. Do motorcycles make you not understand science? (CNBC)

This Italian airline is testing “COVID-free” flights where all passengers have to show proof they aren’t infected. (CNN)

Chinese billionaire jailed on corruption charges after criticizing China’s COVID-19 response. (Bloomberg)

Trump sent COVID-19 relief funds the Pentagon to buy combat gear and aircraft parts. (The Washington Post)

This ain’t Disney. A vaccine isn’t going to wrap COVID-19 up like a fairytale villain meeting its match. (CNBC)

Florida Man says coronavirus is a hoax. Florida Man’s wife dies of COVID-19. Florida Man says he believes in coronavirus now. Don’t be like Florida Man. (BBC)

An otherwise healthy 7-year-old child has succumbed to COVID-19. Those who think the virus doesn’t effect children are dead wrong. (Fox News)

Surprise! India’s COVID-19 app exposed the data of millions of people. It’s like rushing tech is a bad idea or something.

Once again, the CDC capitulates to Trump instead of serving the US people like it’s supposed to. (CNN)

Thousands more bikers attend another rally in the US. Do motorcycles make you not understand science? (CNBC)

This Italian airline is testing “COVID-free” flights where all passengers have to show proof they aren’t infected. (CNN)

Chinese billionaire jailed on corruption charges after criticizing China’s COVID-19 response. (Bloomberg)

Trump sent COVID-19 relief funds the Pentagon to buy combat gear and aircraft parts. (The Washington Post)

This ain’t Disney. A vaccine isn’t going to wrap COVID-19 up like a fairytale villain meeting its match. (CNBC)

Florida Man says coronavirus is a hoax. Florida Man’s wife dies of COVID-19. Florida Man says he believes in coronavirus now. Don’t be like Florida Man. (BBC)

An otherwise healthy 7-year-old child has succumbed to COVID-19. Those who think the virus doesn’t effect children are dead wrong. (Fox News)

¯_(ツ)_/¯

In this little section, we’d like to discuss the tech that’s getting us through the pandemic. Today, let’s talk about the internet.

If you live in the US: you can access the most important page on the internet today for Americans here:

If you live in any other country, you can pressure your American friends to visit that page today by yelling at them on the internet here, here, here, and here.

Well, bye

We’re all in this together. Even if it feels like everything is completely partisan right now… because it kind of is… we’re still members of the same human race.

Maybe 2021 will be different. But the only way that’s going to happen is if we all collectively decide to look out for one another no matter what.

The good news is that doing so is easy peasy lemon squeezy:

1. Wear a mask.
2. Stay 2-3 meters away from others in public spaces.
3. Support government officials who take the pandemic seriously.

Adios amigos,
Tristan

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