As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, technology, medical, literary and finance experts have published the COVID-19 Solutions Guide, which was released on June 17.
The COVID-19 Solutions Guide details ways readers can utilize technology to maintain normal lives during this challenging and unpredictable time. The real-life stories collected in the book cover personal, financial and emotional struggles.
“The hardest thing was keeping [the book] current up until the last possible moment before publication,” said author Gary Feldman, a former public health officer of Ventura and Riverside counties.
He pointed out that everything related to the pandemic - medicine, science, politics, economics - is in a constant state of flux.
Feldman includes a range of real-life stories in the book and found that the pandemic has become a partisan issue in the U.S. He personally knows a number of local health officials who have either resigned or retired since the pandemic began, hoping to avoid attacks such as death threats for trying to impose restrictions - like requiring masks and limiting gatherings - that could prevent the spread of the virus.
Co-author Judith Langer also shared her observations.
“Violence at home has increased during COVID-19 due to job loss and ensuing financial problems, particularly with spouses or partners of either gender who have been borderline emotional copers,” she said.
Langer is the Vincent O’Leary Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Albany, State University of New York. She was also the co-director of the National Research Center on English Learning & Achievement.
Co-author Ron Baecker, an Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, said that reviewers have complimented the relevant solutions offered in the COVID-19 Solutions Guide.
“I’ve been told the book is easy to read, educational and broadly applicable to many readers and their individual situations,” co-author Justin Stein added. Stein is a financial advisor who helps families and business owners protect and manage risk.
Baecker and Feldman are currently interacting with their readers through ongoing blog posts and contests in which contestants can win money for charity by submitting pictures of good and bad examples of virus prevention measures and creative virtual gatherings.
Starting on July 14, the authors plan to host webinars with a group of researchers from CanCOVID, an expert network created by Canada’s Chief Science Officer. The Stanford School of Business and the University of Toronto Centre of Ethics have also sent out invitations to further discuss the book, Baecker said.
One of the blog posts mentioned models that predict the growth and spread of COVID-19 should be user-friendly and available to the public.
“Pandemic forecasting models guide the life-and-death decisions about how quickly physical distancing rules or guidelines should be relaxed by various jurisdictions. They also have become weapons,” the blog post, written by Baecker read. “The problem is that the FEMA model and the algorithm that determines its predictions are secret. Nobody from the media, from the medical establishment, or the public can examine the assumptions used to derive conclusions and to guide policy, and to help it be wise policy.”
“I believe that almost all developers of the pandemic models would be pleased to make their models transparent, but many do not know how,” Baecker continued.
For pandemic models to be transparent, Feldman said the models and software used to build them should be released on a public domain.
“The real problem is ...politicians and ...governments that view science as an instrument of state policy rather than as a path to enlightenment and better decisions,” Baecker added.