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Testing Alone Doesn’t Stop the Virus

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press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who tested positive today

Photo: SAUL LOEB / Contributor (Getty Images)

What surprised me was not that the president contracted the coronavirus, but that it took so long. He doesn’t wear a mask; he is often surrounded by others who do not wear masks; he tells people speaking to him to take off their masks. It almost seems like he was relying solely on the frequent testing of those around him to somehow stop the virus.

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Testing is important, but it can’t actually stop the spread of COVID-19 on its own. Testing just tells you who has the virus. It gives you the opportunity to fight with your eyes open.

What you need to do besides just testing

The health of the whole community—even the whole world—matters, but let’s do a little thought experiment. Let’s assume you only care about one person: yourself. You show up to work every day, where you are the boss. How do you reduce your own personal chances of getting the virus?

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Let’s assume you’re already staying away from people who are known to have it. Not just six feet away—you wouldn’t want to be in the same room as them. They should stay home. Not come to work. Not attend parties.

And because not everybody who has the virus knows that they have it, you should do your best to stay away from everybody you don’t absolutely need to interact with. To reduce your risk when you’re near people with unknown status, you’d wear a mask, and ask them to wear a mask (or make them wear a mask, since you’re the boss). You’d wash your hands frequently and have your staff sanitize surfaces, just for good measure.

Testing only helps if you know what to do with the results

Okay, but testing should still help, right? Sure, but only if you take the appropriate actions based on the results.

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Here’s where that pedantic distinction between isolation and quarantine becomes important:

  • Isolation is for people who know they have the virus.
  • Quarantine is for people who have been exposed to the virus and might have it, but do not know yet.

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So if your close coworker has tested positive, they should isolate. You, since you’ve been in contact with them, should quarantine.

This protocol was apparently not being followed at the White House. Kayleigh McEnany kept showing up to work over the past few days because her tests were coming up negative, even though she had recently been in contact with other people, like Hope Hicks, who’d tested positive.

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A negative test doesn’t mean you’re uninfected

Importantly, a person can have the coronavirus and still test negative. This may be because they got a false negative result. Among the possible reasons why: maybe the swab didn’t pick up enough viral RNA, or maybe the person is in the very early stages of the infection when it’s harder to detect. The FDA notes in a fact sheet on PCR testing that, “a negative result does not rule out COVID-19 and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions. A negative result does not exclude the possibility of COVID-19.”

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Importantly, the test the White House was using, Abbott’s ID Now test, was created for use on people with symptoms (for example, at urgent care centers) and isn’t intended to pick up the disease among people who aren’t showing symptoms yet, STAT reports. The company states that it detects 95% of cases in people “within 7 days post symptom onset.”

People with COVID can test negative several times before eventually testing positive. That may be what happened with McEnany, for example, as she had multiple exposures to people who later tested positive. It’s why Joe Biden’s negative tests don’t guarantee that he’s virus-free. Anyone who has had contact with someone who tested positive should quarantine for 14 days, as the CDC clearly states, whether they are a friend of the president or not.

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Cloud Foundry coalesces around Kubernetes

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In a normal year, the Cloud Foundry project would be hosting its annual European Summit in Dublin this week. But this is 2020, so it’s a virtual event. This year, however, has been a bit of a transformative year for the open-source Platform-as-a-Service project — in more ways than one. With Cloud Foundry executive director Abby Kearns leaving earlier this year, the organizations’ former CTO Chip Childers stepped into the role. Maybe just as importantly, though, the project’s move to Kubernetes as its container orchestration tool of choice — and a renewed focus on the Cloud Foundry developer experience — is now starting to bear fruit.

“In April, I took over the job. I said: ‘Listen, our community has a new North Star. It’s to go take the Cloud Foundry developer experience and get that thing re-platformed onto Kubernetes . No more delay, no more diversity of thought here. It’s time to make the move,’ ” Childers said (with a chuckle). “And here we are. It’s October, we have our ecosystem aligned, we have major project releases that are fulfilling that vision. And we’ve got a community that’s very energized around it continuing the work of progressing this integration with a bunch of cloud-native projects.”

Developers who use Cloud Foundry, Childers argued, love it, but the project now has an opportunity to show a wider range of potential use that it can offer a smoother developer experience on top of virtually any Kubernetes cluster.

One of the projects that is working on making this happen — and which hit its 1.0 release today, is cf-for-k8s. Traditionally, getting up and running with Cloud Foundry was a heavy lift — and something that most companies left to third-party vendors to handle. This new project, which launched in April, allows developers to spin up a relatively light-weight Cloud Foundry distribution on top of a Kubernetes cluster — using projects like Istio and Fluentd, in addition to Kubernetes — and to do so within minutes.

“It comes along with the whole process of reimagining our architecture to pull in other projects a lot more aggressively and allows us to get to feature parity [with the classic VM-focused Cloud Foundry experience] using a lot more complementary open-source projects,” Childers said about the larger role of this project in the overall ecosystem. “That lets our community focus less on building the underlying plumbing and [spend] more time thinking about how to speed up innovation and the developer experience.”

This wouldn’t be open source if there wasn’t another project that does something quite similar — at least at first glance. That’s KubeCF, which hit its 2.5 launch today. This is an open-source distribution of the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime that, as Childers explained, is meant for production use and that was originally meant to provide existing users a bridge onto the Kubernetes bandwagon. Over time, these two projects will likely merge. “Everyone’s collaborating on what this shared vision looks like. They’re just, they’re just two different distributions that handle the different use cases today,” Childers explained.

After six months in his new position, Childers noted that he’s seeing a lot of energy in the community right now. The job is hard, he said, when there’s unhealthy disagreement, but right now, what he’s seeing is “a beautiful harmony of agreement.”

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VidCon is planning to return in summer 2021, and will allow people to attend digitally

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VidCon, an annual convention focused on digital creators, is tentatively planning to return to Anaheim, California next summer if conditions allow, but organizers are preparing to let people attend digitally for the first time.

The new digital option will allow people to purchase tickets for a number of live-streaming and “key fan-focused sessions” for those who don’t or can’t travel to the actual convention. The move comes after VidCon saw success in many of the digital sessions the convention held this year (referred to as VidCon Now) after the COVID-19 pandemic led to organizers deciding to cancel the actual in-person event.

Nearly 1 million people tuned into digital events held by VidCon over the last few months, according to general manager Jim Louderback, adding that nearly half of that audience was streaming from outside the United States.

“We’ve clearly demonstrated that VidCon transcends borders — more than 180 of them to be exact. Our new hybrid digital and IRL model will extend VidCon’s global reach with more new ways to be informed, entertained, and inspired than ever before.”

In order to reach a more international audience, VidCon’s digital portion will also program different panels and sessions in partnership with VidCon Mexico and VidCon Asia. These panels will be created in a country’s native language and will be scheduled for the appropriate time zones, according to a press release.

Alongside VidCon’s new digital plans, the organization is also introducing a rebrand that is meant to focus on all digital creators instead of honing in on YouTubers. This includes making VidCon Now events — those digital panels and sessions that took the place of a physical VidCon this past summer — year-round. VidCon Now, which includes speakers and experts from YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, and more, will pick up again on October 27th.

“We started VidCon more than a decade ago to help strengthen and promote the explosion of creativity that was happening online,” co-founder Hank Green said in a press release. “We did that by bringing together the entire ecosystem: the creators who make amazing things, the fans who love them, and the industry that supports them.”

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Snapchat’s anime lens was a huge hit, Snap confirms

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Snapchat’s anime filter was used more than 3 billion times in the first week after it was released, Snap said today, confirming what we already knew: it was a huge hit.

The filter, which morphs its subject into an anime character, is just the latest in a line of fun AR lenses from Snapchat that have gone viral and helped drive usage on the platform. During its third quarter, Snapchat had 249 million daily users, up from 238 million last quarter. The company’s revenue was also up to $679 million, a 52 percent increase even as the pandemic chilled ad spending elsewhere.

There are signs that Snap’s growth is more robust than drive-by filter users. The average number of Snaps created each day is up 25 percent year over year, the company said (though it didn’t say exactly how many that is). Time spent watching shows on Snapchat also grew by 50 percent.

Snap called out the success of its AR features, in particular, when highlighting where it saw growth in the longer term. “The adoption of augmented reality is happening faster than we had previously anticipated, and we are working together as a team to execute on the many opportunities in front of us,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in remarks alongside the company’s earnings release for the third quarter of 2020.

Though Snapchat tends to get less attention than other social networks, it’s among the bigger apps out there. Twitter reported having 186 million daily users last quarter, and TikTok reported in August that it had 100 million daily users in the US. (Snapchat has 90 million daily users in all of North America.) It’s still tiny compared to Facebook and its suite of apps, though. Instagram had 500 million daily users when it last provided an updated number in 2018.

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