Wesley's Journal

Alameda Air Quality Maps & Apps. Which is the Most Helpful During Wildfire Season?

Posted by Anne Wesley on

AirNow Alameda AQI

Spoiler: Purple Air Map using the LRAPA Conversion on a short-time interval

For those of us living in the San Francisco Bay Area, October 2017 was the beginning of a "new era" in terms of wildfires. In 2018, Northern California experienced the deadliest wildfire and in 2020, we are in the middle of the largest combined wildfire in California history. Jake Hess, Cal Fire Unit Chief for Santa Clara, says we're now living in an era of "mega-fires."

For those of living Alameda, we're quiet lucky because the risk of death or damage by these fires is probably non-existent, but it doesn't mean we are free of potential health risks; air pollution. This especially applies to children and teens, seniors, and/or those with lung disease. A John Hopkins study found that children exposed to outdoor coarse particulate matter (PM10-2.5), were more likely to develop asthma and need emergency room or hospital treatment for it.

For those who have children or even pets that are treated like children, it's not realistic to stay indoors all the time, especially when there are windows in the morning, late afternoon, and evening when the air quality is moderate enough for some outdoor exposure. But to choose the right time, we need to know which Air Quality Map, Monitor, or App is best to make that decision.

On August 24, 2020 at 12:32pm, here are the US AQI readings for my Central Alameda location from what I believe are the most popular sources:

AirNow.gov App & Website: 153 (unhealthy). Side note, ten minutes ago it was showing reporting 98 (moderate). That's a huge jump in just ten minutes, I'll tell you why in a bit.

Airvisuals: 181 (unhealthy)

Purple Air Map (closest sensor LRAPA conversion showing real time): 154 (unhealthy)

While the AirNow and Purple Air are showing very similar readings, that's actually more coincidental than anything else.

As I "spoiled" at the beginning of this post, I choose Purple Air's Website using the LRAPA conversion. Here's my reasoning.

AirNow is definitely using the most accurate equipment at their stations. From what I've read, these are $20K stations. The problem is how they report. AirNow, for Alameda specifically, uses information from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). BAAQMD feeds Airnow with an hourly average from two hours before, choosing the highest number among the West Oakland, Laney College, and East Oakland stations.

BAAQMD AQI Data

Hence, that's the reason why at 11:59am, Air Now can be reporting an AQI of 98 and in the next minute an AQI of 153. Not only that, but 98 and 153 are readings from 9am and 10am, respectively, which is two hours before. This obviously isn't very helpful if you step out the door to let you children play at 11:59am, thinking that it should be okay for the time being. In reality, you're making decisions using somewhat outdated information.

Also, surprisingly, the AQI can vastly differ from mile to mile. For example, using the BAAQMD readings, the AQI 7am average was 90 at Laney College and 52 in West Oakland, which is about a five minute drive. That's a 73% increase between the two sites. Using the Purple Air map, my closest Purple Air sensor shows an AQI of 147, while Ballena Bay is showing an AQI of 63. That's a huge difference for a location only 1-1.5 miles away.

While Airnow has the most accurate information in term of technical readings, but relatively speaking, it's outdated and not very useful if you're not right next to the stations.

Airvisuals Alameda AQI

Moving on to AirVisual, the app combines official government and Purple Air as sources. Between 2-3pm, AirVisual is reporting an AQI of 144 for all of Alameda. Unfortunately, they don't discuss exactly how they get that number, though they do cite the sources. From what I can tell, it is an hourly average from the previous hour, but from how many and which monitors is unknown. Once again, not very helpful in making decisions.

For example, right now at 2:59pm, Airvisuals last updated "Alameda" at 2pm, while I can go to the Purple Air Map and see that the real time data shows an AQI 66 with the LRAPA conversion for the closest station to me, Sherman St. Using the AirVisuals data, I'm still stuck in my house, using the Purple Air data, I can confidently leave the house.

Why can I be confident? Because the EPA, South Coast Air Quality Management Department (SCAQMD), Berkeley Labs, Lane Regional Protection Agency (LRAPA), are among some of the agencies studying the accuracy of Purple Air Sensors. While almost all agencies say that Purple Air over reports PM2.5 levels, which is what is most important during the wildfires, according to Berkeley Labs, "the relative changes correlated well with both the regulatory and professional monitors." The South Coast AQMD also found this correlation for PM1 and PM2.5, though the correlation is not very good at PM10.

Berkeley Labs found that if they multiplied the reading by 0.48, it gave similar readings as their institutional equipment. Not surprisingly, the 0.48 multiple is very close to the LRAPA conversion given on the Purple Air website. From what I've read, this conversion is most useful when the pollutant is basically from wildfires.

With multiple agencies validating the Purple Air Sensors correlation with regulatory and professional monitors, which is mostly corrected using the LRAPA conversion, it's hard to argue against using the Purple Air Map on Alameda. On Alameda, there are 11 outdoor sensors feeding data covering most of the island, though one or two sensor seems to be an outlier at times. Unless you're staring right at Laney College, these sensors are much more applicable for those on Alameda.

Finally, the Purple Air map gives you an option of seeing real time data, so you're not basing decision from an hourly average one or two hours ago.

Purple Air Alameda Map AQI with LRAPA conversion

At 3:30pm, AirNow is reporting and AQI of 159, based off a reading two hours ago at the East Oakland station, Airvisuals an AQI of 91, last updated 30 minutes ago and based off of some unknown modeled data from stations that may or may not be near me, and Purple Air is showing me an AQI of 50 from the closest sensor to my location, the "Sherman St Station," with the LRAPA conversion applied.

Knowing that the Purple Air sensors have been well studied for correlation accuracy against regulatory and professional monitors, using the LRAPA conversion, and looking at the sensors closest to me, I can confidently take a step out of my house while those looking at AirNow or even AirVisual are waiting for better readings.

Read more

AirNow Alameda AQI

Spoiler: Purple Air Map using the LRAPA Conversion on a short-time interval

For those of us living in the San Francisco Bay Area, October 2017 was the beginning of a "new era" in terms of wildfires. In 2018, Northern California experienced the deadliest wildfire and in 2020, we are in the middle of the largest combined wildfire in California history. Jake Hess, Cal Fire Unit Chief for Santa Clara, says we're now living in an era of "mega-fires."

For those of living Alameda, we're quiet lucky because the risk of death or damage by these fires is probably non-existent, but it doesn't mean we are free of potential health risks; air pollution. This especially applies to children and teens, seniors, and/or those with lung disease. A John Hopkins study found that children exposed to outdoor coarse particulate matter (PM10-2.5), were more likely to develop asthma and need emergency room or hospital treatment for it.

For those who have children or even pets that are treated like children, it's not realistic to stay indoors all the time, especially when there are windows in the morning, late afternoon, and evening when the air quality is moderate enough for some outdoor exposure. But to choose the right time, we need to know which Air Quality Map, Monitor, or App is best to make that decision.

On August 24, 2020 at 12:32pm, here are the US AQI readings for my Central Alameda location from what I believe are the most popular sources:

AirNow.gov App & Website: 153 (unhealthy). Side note, ten minutes ago it was showing reporting 98 (moderate). That's a huge jump in just ten minutes, I'll tell you why in a bit.

Airvisuals: 181 (unhealthy)

Purple Air Map (closest sensor LRAPA conversion showing real time): 154 (unhealthy)

While the AirNow and Purple Air are showing very similar readings, that's actually more coincidental than anything else.

As I "spoiled" at the beginning of this post, I choose Purple Air's Website using the LRAPA conversion. Here's my reasoning.

AirNow is definitely using the most accurate equipment at their stations. From what I've read, these are $20K stations. The problem is how they report. AirNow, for Alameda specifically, uses information from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). BAAQMD feeds Airnow with an hourly average from two hours before, choosing the highest number among the West Oakland, Laney College, and East Oakland stations.

BAAQMD AQI Data

Hence, that's the reason why at 11:59am, Air Now can be reporting an AQI of 98 and in the next minute an AQI of 153. Not only that, but 98 and 153 are readings from 9am and 10am, respectively, which is two hours before. This obviously isn't very helpful if you step out the door to let you children play at 11:59am, thinking that it should be okay for the time being. In reality, you're making decisions using somewhat outdated information.

Also, surprisingly, the AQI can vastly differ from mile to mile. For example, using the BAAQMD readings, the AQI 7am average was 90 at Laney College and 52 in West Oakland, which is about a five minute drive. That's a 73% increase between the two sites. Using the Purple Air map, my closest Purple Air sensor shows an AQI of 147, while Ballena Bay is showing an AQI of 63. That's a huge difference for a location only 1-1.5 miles away.

While Airnow has the most accurate information in term of technical readings, but relatively speaking, it's outdated and not very useful if you're not right next to the stations.

Airvisuals Alameda AQI

Moving on to AirVisual, the app combines official government and Purple Air as sources. Between 2-3pm, AirVisual is reporting an AQI of 144 for all of Alameda. Unfortunately, they don't discuss exactly how they get that number, though they do cite the sources. From what I can tell, it is an hourly average from the previous hour, but from how many and which monitors is unknown. Once again, not very helpful in making decisions.

For example, right now at 2:59pm, Airvisuals last updated "Alameda" at 2pm, while I can go to the Purple Air Map and see that the real time data shows an AQI 66 with the LRAPA conversion for the closest station to me, Sherman St. Using the AirVisuals data, I'm still stuck in my house, using the Purple Air data, I can confidently leave the house.

Why can I be confident? Because the EPA, South Coast Air Quality Management Department (SCAQMD), Berkeley Labs, Lane Regional Protection Agency (LRAPA), are among some of the agencies studying the accuracy of Purple Air Sensors. While almost all agencies say that Purple Air over reports PM2.5 levels, which is what is most important during the wildfires, according to Berkeley Labs, "the relative changes correlated well with both the regulatory and professional monitors." The South Coast AQMD also found this correlation for PM1 and PM2.5, though the correlation is not very good at PM10.

Berkeley Labs found that if they multiplied the reading by 0.48, it gave similar readings as their institutional equipment. Not surprisingly, the 0.48 multiple is very close to the LRAPA conversion given on the Purple Air website. From what I've read, this conversion is most useful when the pollutant is basically from wildfires.

With multiple agencies validating the Purple Air Sensors correlation with regulatory and professional monitors, which is mostly corrected using the LRAPA conversion, it's hard to argue against using the Purple Air Map on Alameda. On Alameda, there are 11 outdoor sensors feeding data covering most of the island, though one or two sensor seems to be an outlier at times. Unless you're staring right at Laney College, these sensors are much more applicable for those on Alameda.

Finally, the Purple Air map gives you an option of seeing real time data, so you're not basing decision from an hourly average one or two hours ago.

Purple Air Alameda Map AQI with LRAPA conversion

At 3:30pm, AirNow is reporting and AQI of 159, based off a reading two hours ago at the East Oakland station, Airvisuals an AQI of 91, last updated 30 minutes ago and based off of some unknown modeled data from stations that may or may not be near me, and Purple Air is showing me an AQI of 50 from the closest sensor to my location, the "Sherman St Station," with the LRAPA conversion applied.

Knowing that the Purple Air sensors have been well studied for correlation accuracy against regulatory and professional monitors, using the LRAPA conversion, and looking at the sensors closest to me, I can confidently take a step out of my house while those looking at AirNow or even AirVisual are waiting for better readings.

Read more


Making Sense of the CDC's Position on Face Masks

Posted by Craig Wesley on

Update: March 31, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is giving “serious consideration” to broadening the existing guidance on face masks.

Update: April 2, 2020, Trump admin moves toward promoting broader use of face masks

For the first time in our blog, I'm writing somewhat politically charged posts, but I've realized how important it is to help people funnel through the information that's out there. First, let me present some fact and then I'll give you what I think is pretty much the most logical conclusion on face masks.

On February 27th, 2020 the CDC tweeted: "CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks to help prevent novel #coronavirus"

On March 1, 2020, the Surgeon General said "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

On March 3, 2020, a senior official with the Strategic National Stockpile said that the "department intends to purchase as many as 500 million respirators and face masks over the next 18 months."

On March 4, 2020 the Department of Health and Human Services stated that they only have 1% of the "required respirator masks that would be needed for medical professionals if the COVID-19 outbreak were to erupt into a pandemic here."

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.

On March 11, 2020, a bill is drafted to put give face mask manufactures "blanket liability" so that they do not have to fear lawsuits in quickly producing face masks.

Conclusion:

I hope you can see that there is a logical conclusion here. If not, then let me break it down for you. The USA is well understocked for face masks and respirators for healthcare professionals. In fact, only 1% is available. Therefore, the Strategic National Stockpile is planning to purchase up to 500 million respirators and face masks in the next 18 months. The government needs to speed up production so much that they are potentially freeing all manufacturers of face masks of all legal liability, or "blanket liability."

I hope there isn't any doubt that the government NEEDS the face masks to protect healthcare workers from COVAD-19. Let me put it to you in another way, healthcare workers are humans and face masks protect them from COVAD-19.

So, why would non-healthcare workers, who are also human, not be protected by face masks? Simple answer, the surgeon general and CDC knows that the majority of people will not know the correct procedure of putting on masks, which include fit/seal testing, the correct procedure to take off a face mask, and finally the correct procedure of disposing of a face masks. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in that and honestly I can't argue that.

For example, people in the San Francisco Bay Area are OK with wearing N95 masks during the wild fires, but in this situation they are afraid that people will think they are sick. So, OK to wear a face mask during wildfires, not OK to wear a face mask during a viral pandemic. That's the pure level of stupidity we're dealing with.

Professionals are trained on the topic, but guess what. It's literally not rocket science. 3M, the manufacturer of most of the face masks, has instructional guides on youtube.

Anyway, that's my conclusion and my prediction is that when we get deeper into this pandemic, which is only going to get worse according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, people who were making fun on those wearing masks are going to change their minds just as quickly as they were to make judgement on those wearing them.

Update (March 31, 2020): No surprise, but my prediction that I made over 2 weeks ago seems like it's coming closer to being true. Dr Anthony Fauci, as well as the CDC, is slowly backtracking about wearing face masks. My next prediction is that once there are enough face masks for health care workers, all americans will be advised to wear them from Fauci and the CDC. BTW, the stock ticker symbol for 3M is MMM.

South Korea's version of Dr. Fauci is Dr. Kim Woo-Joo and in this interview he did with the YouTube Channel "Asian boss," he understands why the US and European countries are not suggesting face masks (limited supply), but he also believes it's a mistake to say that face masks do not help.

Please stay safe and healthy and good luck.

Read more

Making Sense of the CDC's Position on Face Masks

Posted by Craig Wesley on

Update: March 31, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is giving “serious consideration” to broadening the existing guidance on face masks.

Update: April 2, 2020, Trump admin moves toward promoting broader use of face masks

For the first time in our blog, I'm writing somewhat politically charged posts, but I've realized how important it is to help people funnel through the information that's out there. First, let me present some fact and then I'll give you what I think is pretty much the most logical conclusion on face masks.

On February 27th, 2020 the CDC tweeted: "CDC does not currently recommend the use of facemasks to help prevent novel #coronavirus"

On March 1, 2020, the Surgeon General said "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

On March 3, 2020, a senior official with the Strategic National Stockpile said that the "department intends to purchase as many as 500 million respirators and face masks over the next 18 months."

On March 4, 2020 the Department of Health and Human Services stated that they only have 1% of the "required respirator masks that would be needed for medical professionals if the COVID-19 outbreak were to erupt into a pandemic here."

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic.

On March 11, 2020, a bill is drafted to put give face mask manufactures "blanket liability" so that they do not have to fear lawsuits in quickly producing face masks.

Conclusion:

I hope you can see that there is a logical conclusion here. If not, then let me break it down for you. The USA is well understocked for face masks and respirators for healthcare professionals. In fact, only 1% is available. Therefore, the Strategic National Stockpile is planning to purchase up to 500 million respirators and face masks in the next 18 months. The government needs to speed up production so much that they are potentially freeing all manufacturers of face masks of all legal liability, or "blanket liability."

I hope there isn't any doubt that the government NEEDS the face masks to protect healthcare workers from COVAD-19. Let me put it to you in another way, healthcare workers are humans and face masks protect them from COVAD-19.

So, why would non-healthcare workers, who are also human, not be protected by face masks? Simple answer, the surgeon general and CDC knows that the majority of people will not know the correct procedure of putting on masks, which include fit/seal testing, the correct procedure to take off a face mask, and finally the correct procedure of disposing of a face masks. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in that and honestly I can't argue that.

For example, people in the San Francisco Bay Area are OK with wearing N95 masks during the wild fires, but in this situation they are afraid that people will think they are sick. So, OK to wear a face mask during wildfires, not OK to wear a face mask during a viral pandemic. That's the pure level of stupidity we're dealing with.

Professionals are trained on the topic, but guess what. It's literally not rocket science. 3M, the manufacturer of most of the face masks, has instructional guides on youtube.

Anyway, that's my conclusion and my prediction is that when we get deeper into this pandemic, which is only going to get worse according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, people who were making fun on those wearing masks are going to change their minds just as quickly as they were to make judgement on those wearing them.

Update (March 31, 2020): No surprise, but my prediction that I made over 2 weeks ago seems like it's coming closer to being true. Dr Anthony Fauci, as well as the CDC, is slowly backtracking about wearing face masks. My next prediction is that once there are enough face masks for health care workers, all americans will be advised to wear them from Fauci and the CDC. BTW, the stock ticker symbol for 3M is MMM.

South Korea's version of Dr. Fauci is Dr. Kim Woo-Joo and in this interview he did with the YouTube Channel "Asian boss," he understands why the US and European countries are not suggesting face masks (limited supply), but he also believes it's a mistake to say that face masks do not help.

Please stay safe and healthy and good luck.

Read more


Coronavirus (Covad-19) and Pregnancy...Why People Should Be Taking The Coronavirus More Seriously Than They Are Now

Posted by Craig Wesley on

Update March 13, 2020: Newborn believed to be youngest coronavirus patient in the UK To further prove my point, the mother was taken days before giving birth with a case of pneumonia.

I generally hate to express strong opinion pieces on our company blog, but I thought it's necessary because my wife and my mom were just listed as most at risk of "serious Covad-19" by the Center for Disease control. The list included underlying conditions that are of no surprise, such as asthma, which my 69 mom has and was hospitalized in 2019 due to simple air pollution. But, what I'm hoping is the real game changer is that the CDC lists "Currently and recent pregnancy in the last two weeks"

The link to the CDC Bulletin is here and the full list is at the bottom in Appendix A. So, even if you don't care if grandma or grandpa or your aging parent is going to battle something like pneumonia, then hopefully people will care about their pregnant wife and their unborn child going through something like that.

My mom was lucky enough not to have pneumonia last year when she was admitted to the hospital twice, but even without it, she looked in frightening shape. I cannot imagine how bad it would have looked if she did have it. Now, imagine your wife who is already going through something physically demanding suffering from pneumonia, feeling like they cannot breathe, and needing to be hooked up to a ventilator.

I haven't discussed this, but Anne & I have been going through the IVF Process in the very busy city of San Francisco, California. Two hours after we transferred the embryo, I read the CDC Bulletin, which is practically buried with all the other coronavirus news. So, I went from worrying just about my mom getting sick to now my potentially pregnant wife and unborn child.

Anyway, that is my argument for why people should be taking the coronavirus way more serious than I've seen. People call the news "fear mongers," but I can tell you from my personal situation that I have literally everything to lose and for the most part is because of some weird lackadaisical attitude towards the coronavirus. Maybe it's a defense mechanism where people think coronavirus just exists on TV and not in real life, but this is really happening. I almost can't believe it's happening, but I cannot afford to pretend it's not happening and so I'm up-to-date on all information regarding COVAD-19.

I think it's important to keep up-to-date, as well as managing the stress of the situation, which I'm trying to learn how to do, but it's a lot of information to process. I believe it's true that preparation is the only thing that makes you feel like you have some control of a seemingly uncontrollable situation.

OK, to all those who are in risk of serious COVAD-19 or have family members, which should be many people, stay safe and healthy. Good luck.

Underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of serious COVID-19 for individuals of any age.

•Current or recent pregnancy in the last two weeks

•Blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell disease or on blood thinners)

•Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been toldto avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or isunder treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis

•Chronic liver disease as defined by your doctor. (e.g., cirrhosis, chronichepatitis) Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose ofmedications because liver disease or is under treatment for liverdisease. 6

•Compromised immune system (immunosuppression) (e.g., seeing adoctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation,received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses ofcorticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS)

•Endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus)

•Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders andmitochondrial disorders)

•Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failureand coronary artery disease)

•Lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonarydisease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic conditionsassociated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen

•Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopmentconditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheralnerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders),stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay,muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord inju

Read more

Update March 13, 2020: Newborn believed to be youngest coronavirus patient in the UK To further prove my point, the mother was taken days before giving birth with a case of pneumonia.

I generally hate to express strong opinion pieces on our company blog, but I thought it's necessary because my wife and my mom were just listed as most at risk of "serious Covad-19" by the Center for Disease control. The list included underlying conditions that are of no surprise, such as asthma, which my 69 mom has and was hospitalized in 2019 due to simple air pollution. But, what I'm hoping is the real game changer is that the CDC lists "Currently and recent pregnancy in the last two weeks"

The link to the CDC Bulletin is here and the full list is at the bottom in Appendix A. So, even if you don't care if grandma or grandpa or your aging parent is going to battle something like pneumonia, then hopefully people will care about their pregnant wife and their unborn child going through something like that.

My mom was lucky enough not to have pneumonia last year when she was admitted to the hospital twice, but even without it, she looked in frightening shape. I cannot imagine how bad it would have looked if she did have it. Now, imagine your wife who is already going through something physically demanding suffering from pneumonia, feeling like they cannot breathe, and needing to be hooked up to a ventilator.

I haven't discussed this, but Anne & I have been going through the IVF Process in the very busy city of San Francisco, California. Two hours after we transferred the embryo, I read the CDC Bulletin, which is practically buried with all the other coronavirus news. So, I went from worrying just about my mom getting sick to now my potentially pregnant wife and unborn child.

Anyway, that is my argument for why people should be taking the coronavirus way more serious than I've seen. People call the news "fear mongers," but I can tell you from my personal situation that I have literally everything to lose and for the most part is because of some weird lackadaisical attitude towards the coronavirus. Maybe it's a defense mechanism where people think coronavirus just exists on TV and not in real life, but this is really happening. I almost can't believe it's happening, but I cannot afford to pretend it's not happening and so I'm up-to-date on all information regarding COVAD-19.

I think it's important to keep up-to-date, as well as managing the stress of the situation, which I'm trying to learn how to do, but it's a lot of information to process. I believe it's true that preparation is the only thing that makes you feel like you have some control of a seemingly uncontrollable situation.

OK, to all those who are in risk of serious COVAD-19 or have family members, which should be many people, stay safe and healthy. Good luck.

Underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of serious COVID-19 for individuals of any age.

•Current or recent pregnancy in the last two weeks

•Blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell disease or on blood thinners)

•Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been toldto avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or isunder treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis

•Chronic liver disease as defined by your doctor. (e.g., cirrhosis, chronichepatitis) Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose ofmedications because liver disease or is under treatment for liverdisease. 6

•Compromised immune system (immunosuppression) (e.g., seeing adoctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation,received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses ofcorticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS)

•Endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus)

•Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders andmitochondrial disorders)

•Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failureand coronary artery disease)

•Lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonarydisease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic conditionsassociated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen

•Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopmentconditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheralnerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders),stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay,muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord inju

Read more


Visting San Francisco During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Posted by Craig Wesley on

I am not a health professional so please read the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control for the latest information, advice, and situation report before reading this blog post.

Update March 11, 2020: It's only been one day since I posted this blog post and the situation is escalating quickly in the USA. While my advice below still stands, avoid San Francisco (really any big city) if you can.

I'll start by saying that I'm actually taking the coronavirus situation probably more seriously that most people because I have a 69 year old mom who was hospitalized in 2019 for asthma, something that she's battled for 40+ years. With her age and underlying health condition, she's in one of the higher risk profiles. Luckily, Anne & I work from our home in Alameda and have been Amazon Prime Members since its inception and basically limit our time spent outside of house to a minimum. We all live in the same house, so it basically means if Anne and I get the coronavirus, then my mom is almost certainly to get it.

While I am not a health professional, and I'm not here to argue whether or not you should or shouldn't come to San Francisco, but I did want to give my advice to those visiting San Francisco on how to minimize your risk of being exposed and hopefully exposing others if you have the coronavirus and don't know it.

1. Don't visit crowded areas

A recent article from the South China Morning Post detailed a case study of how coronavirus spread during one particular bus ride in China, which had closed circuit security cameras. The study showed that the virus can infect someone up to 4.5 meter, almost 15 feet, linger in the air for more than 30 minutes, and survive for days on certain surfaces.

Generally, this means that any visit to San Francisco means you should avoid the most crowded tourist spots, such as Fisherman's Wharf, Coit Tower, the wonderful museums, most shopping areas, sporting events, and basically any place where you can't practice social distancing. While the official recommendation is about 6 ft., the study linked above says it should be more than 15 ft.

But, as you can guess, if you stay outdoors with plenty of space between you and other people, then the risk should be greatly reduced, except for crowded events, which should be avoided. Fortunately, there are so many things to see without being around the crowd.

Obviously, the Golden Gate Bridge is perfect. If you're being extra caution, then I would suggest not to walk the span because it can be crowded, also to avoid the popular spots to view the bridge. Instead, consider getting a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach. I've been to Baker Beach on several occasions and there's always plenty of distance between people. More crowded, but still less so than the popular viewing points is around Torpedo Wharf near Crissy Field.

Other great spots without the crowd:

  • Ocean Beach
  • Presidio. Immigrant Point Overlook and Inspiration Point are great spots for views and photos. Generally, I would advice Twin Peaks, but it can actually get crowded, especially on weekends. On a weekday, it might be ok, but if there's fog, then you're not going to see much of anything.
  • Golden Gate Park. Places you should probably avoid going into are the Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum, California Academy of Science, and Conservatory of Flowers. I know, those are generally the main attractions, but that's why they would put you into close proximity with people.
  • The Painted Ladies. I'm not a fan, but there's usually plenty of space between people.
  • Mission Dolores Park
  • Treasure Island. Treasure Island has the best view of San Francisco Skyline.
  • Marin Headlands
  • Driving Lombard Street. I'm really not a fan, but if you insist on seeing it, then drive it rather than going at the bottom of the street where the crowds gather.
  • Driving along Highway 1 for great coastal views. There are rarely any large crowds along the coast and it's absolutely beautiful.
  • Muir Woods. Muir Woods is actually relatively crowded for a park, but it's still a park and has plenty of space.
  • Angel Island. It does require a ferry ride, but probably less risky alternative to Alcatraz and taking their guided tour in relatively enclosed areas.

2. Rent a car

This is literally the only time I've ever advised this, but in this scenario, you're best off renting a car, making sure to clean the handles and interior yourself. I always tell people to take public transportation, but in the time of Covad-19 it's a riskier proposition.

Even if you're not in the same bus, muni, or BART as someone who has the coronavirus, then you're still at risk if you're touching the poles, handrails, etc. Especially if it's true that the virus can linger in the air for 30 minutes and survive on surface for days. In 2018, approximately 631K people per day used SF public transportation, according to the city website.

Meanwhile, if you're renting a car, then you only have to worry about the people who used it before you, as well as the people working with the car before being handed off to you. Remember though, if you're being super paranoid, then 30 minutes still applies to your rental car if the person dealing with the car before you has the coronavirus. So, take your time getting your car and air it out.

3. Stay at an Airbnb or VRBO versus a crowded hotel

In the same line of thought as the rental car, a hotel sees a lot of travelers from all over the world and staff that service travelers from all over the world. An Airbnb or VRBO, you generally just have to worry about the guest before you and the host. In most cases, you only have to worry about  atwo or four story unit, instead of a massive hotel with hundred of guests and staff. And, of course, in a hotel, you'll generally have to be in an elevator serving hundreds of people a day.

In either case, I would probably want to clean and disinfect the space myself, at least the most common touch points.

Another benefit is that you can cook your own food, rather than always having to be in restaurants. South Park Cafe in San Francisco just closed because an employee tested positive.

4. Considering wearing a N95 mask when you can't avoid crowds

According to the WHO and CDC, they do not suggest people without symptoms to wear a face mask because they are in short supply and should be saved for caregivers.

That being said, it also basically means that if you want to prevent contracting the coronavirus, then you should probably wear a mask when in crowded and/or enclosed areas. In South Korea, the government wants everyone to wear masks to help stop the spread, has banned exporting masks, and is trying to increase manufacturing.

South Korea is also the most progressive in terms of how many people are tested, with 196,000 tested as of March 9, 2020 versus 4,384 in the USA. The US Population is almost 100 times bigger than South Korea and the USA isn't even remotely close to testing the same percentage of the population. While the number of cases in both cases should be under counted, it's even more so in the USA. As of March 10, 2020 there are only 14 confirmed cases in San Francisco, but it's safe to say that is a significantly major under count. You can't count the number of cases if you don't test for it.

There are some officials saying that wearing a mask can be more dangerous and that's because they know most people will not learn how to put on and take-off a N95 mask properly. Thankfully, the internet exists and it's certainly not rocket science. If you get a 3M mask, then the company posts instructional videos for specific models, but the concepts are the same for all masks.

5. Check the Health Score of Restaurants

Most restaurants have taken a big hit, so in a weird way you don't actually to worry about crowded restaurants and of course it's best to avoid them for those restaurants lucky enough to still have a crowd. Still, if you can't prepare your own meals, then in these times you'll want to check the health score before sitting down and eating a meal at any restaurant.

While the list is a little dated, the San Francisco Chronicle made a list of restaurants with perfect 100 health scores. But every restaurant must post their score and you shouldn't eat at any place that doesn't display it. While a 100 health score doesn't mean you're safe from the cornavirus if you eat there, it's hard to argue against going to a restaurant that follows health codes strictly versus one that doesn't.

6. Seriously, Learn How to Wash Your Hands and Do It Often

As I mentioned at the top of the blog, you should visit the WHO and CDC website before going through my list, but I'm still going to mention hand washing. Watch the World Health Organization video on washing your hands. Right now, this is the best protection you have.

Read more

Visting San Francisco During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Posted by Craig Wesley on

I am not a health professional so please read the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control for the latest information, advice, and situation report before reading this blog post.

Update March 11, 2020: It's only been one day since I posted this blog post and the situation is escalating quickly in the USA. While my advice below still stands, avoid San Francisco (really any big city) if you can.

I'll start by saying that I'm actually taking the coronavirus situation probably more seriously that most people because I have a 69 year old mom who was hospitalized in 2019 for asthma, something that she's battled for 40+ years. With her age and underlying health condition, she's in one of the higher risk profiles. Luckily, Anne & I work from our home in Alameda and have been Amazon Prime Members since its inception and basically limit our time spent outside of house to a minimum. We all live in the same house, so it basically means if Anne and I get the coronavirus, then my mom is almost certainly to get it.

While I am not a health professional, and I'm not here to argue whether or not you should or shouldn't come to San Francisco, but I did want to give my advice to those visiting San Francisco on how to minimize your risk of being exposed and hopefully exposing others if you have the coronavirus and don't know it.

1. Don't visit crowded areas

A recent article from the South China Morning Post detailed a case study of how coronavirus spread during one particular bus ride in China, which had closed circuit security cameras. The study showed that the virus can infect someone up to 4.5 meter, almost 15 feet, linger in the air for more than 30 minutes, and survive for days on certain surfaces.

Generally, this means that any visit to San Francisco means you should avoid the most crowded tourist spots, such as Fisherman's Wharf, Coit Tower, the wonderful museums, most shopping areas, sporting events, and basically any place where you can't practice social distancing. While the official recommendation is about 6 ft., the study linked above says it should be more than 15 ft.

But, as you can guess, if you stay outdoors with plenty of space between you and other people, then the risk should be greatly reduced, except for crowded events, which should be avoided. Fortunately, there are so many things to see without being around the crowd.

Obviously, the Golden Gate Bridge is perfect. If you're being extra caution, then I would suggest not to walk the span because it can be crowded, also to avoid the popular spots to view the bridge. Instead, consider getting a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach. I've been to Baker Beach on several occasions and there's always plenty of distance between people. More crowded, but still less so than the popular viewing points is around Torpedo Wharf near Crissy Field.

Other great spots without the crowd:

  • Ocean Beach
  • Presidio. Immigrant Point Overlook and Inspiration Point are great spots for views and photos. Generally, I would advice Twin Peaks, but it can actually get crowded, especially on weekends. On a weekday, it might be ok, but if there's fog, then you're not going to see much of anything.
  • Golden Gate Park. Places you should probably avoid going into are the Japanese Tea Garden, the de Young Museum, California Academy of Science, and Conservatory of Flowers. I know, those are generally the main attractions, but that's why they would put you into close proximity with people.
  • The Painted Ladies. I'm not a fan, but there's usually plenty of space between people.
  • Mission Dolores Park
  • Treasure Island. Treasure Island has the best view of San Francisco Skyline.
  • Marin Headlands
  • Driving Lombard Street. I'm really not a fan, but if you insist on seeing it, then drive it rather than going at the bottom of the street where the crowds gather.
  • Driving along Highway 1 for great coastal views. There are rarely any large crowds along the coast and it's absolutely beautiful.
  • Muir Woods. Muir Woods is actually relatively crowded for a park, but it's still a park and has plenty of space.
  • Angel Island. It does require a ferry ride, but probably less risky alternative to Alcatraz and taking their guided tour in relatively enclosed areas.

2. Rent a car

This is literally the only time I've ever advised this, but in this scenario, you're best off renting a car, making sure to clean the handles and interior yourself. I always tell people to take public transportation, but in the time of Covad-19 it's a riskier proposition.

Even if you're not in the same bus, muni, or BART as someone who has the coronavirus, then you're still at risk if you're touching the poles, handrails, etc. Especially if it's true that the virus can linger in the air for 30 minutes and survive on surface for days. In 2018, approximately 631K people per day used SF public transportation, according to the city website.

Meanwhile, if you're renting a car, then you only have to worry about the people who used it before you, as well as the people working with the car before being handed off to you. Remember though, if you're being super paranoid, then 30 minutes still applies to your rental car if the person dealing with the car before you has the coronavirus. So, take your time getting your car and air it out.

3. Stay at an Airbnb or VRBO versus a crowded hotel

In the same line of thought as the rental car, a hotel sees a lot of travelers from all over the world and staff that service travelers from all over the world. An Airbnb or VRBO, you generally just have to worry about the guest before you and the host. In most cases, you only have to worry about  atwo or four story unit, instead of a massive hotel with hundred of guests and staff. And, of course, in a hotel, you'll generally have to be in an elevator serving hundreds of people a day.

In either case, I would probably want to clean and disinfect the space myself, at least the most common touch points.

Another benefit is that you can cook your own food, rather than always having to be in restaurants. South Park Cafe in San Francisco just closed because an employee tested positive.

4. Considering wearing a N95 mask when you can't avoid crowds

According to the WHO and CDC, they do not suggest people without symptoms to wear a face mask because they are in short supply and should be saved for caregivers.

That being said, it also basically means that if you want to prevent contracting the coronavirus, then you should probably wear a mask when in crowded and/or enclosed areas. In South Korea, the government wants everyone to wear masks to help stop the spread, has banned exporting masks, and is trying to increase manufacturing.

South Korea is also the most progressive in terms of how many people are tested, with 196,000 tested as of March 9, 2020 versus 4,384 in the USA. The US Population is almost 100 times bigger than South Korea and the USA isn't even remotely close to testing the same percentage of the population. While the number of cases in both cases should be under counted, it's even more so in the USA. As of March 10, 2020 there are only 14 confirmed cases in San Francisco, but it's safe to say that is a significantly major under count. You can't count the number of cases if you don't test for it.

There are some officials saying that wearing a mask can be more dangerous and that's because they know most people will not learn how to put on and take-off a N95 mask properly. Thankfully, the internet exists and it's certainly not rocket science. If you get a 3M mask, then the company posts instructional videos for specific models, but the concepts are the same for all masks.

5. Check the Health Score of Restaurants

Most restaurants have taken a big hit, so in a weird way you don't actually to worry about crowded restaurants and of course it's best to avoid them for those restaurants lucky enough to still have a crowd. Still, if you can't prepare your own meals, then in these times you'll want to check the health score before sitting down and eating a meal at any restaurant.

While the list is a little dated, the San Francisco Chronicle made a list of restaurants with perfect 100 health scores. But every restaurant must post their score and you shouldn't eat at any place that doesn't display it. While a 100 health score doesn't mean you're safe from the cornavirus if you eat there, it's hard to argue against going to a restaurant that follows health codes strictly versus one that doesn't.

6. Seriously, Learn How to Wash Your Hands and Do It Often

As I mentioned at the top of the blog, you should visit the WHO and CDC website before going through my list, but I'm still going to mention hand washing. Watch the World Health Organization video on washing your hands. Right now, this is the best protection you have.

Read more


Review: Donut Petit (shouldn't it be Petit Donut?) in Alameda, California

Posted by Craig Wesley on

If you're read my previous blog posts, then you may know that I've been self-studying French for 2 years. So, the first thing I noticed about Donut Petit, located at 711 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, CA, was the fairly glaring grammatical mistake. Heck, even in English it directly translates as "Donut Small," which is also incorrect. Oddly enough, in French, many adjectives are actually placed after the noun, but "petit" is not one of them.

I believe the owners also own the very popular Cafe Jolie, which is also grammatically incorrect, and I'm sure there is a good reason, most likely legal, for the adjective swap because they're certainly no dummies.

Alameda's West End is already home to Lee's Donuts and Hometown Donuts, which are both very similar in style in regards to not only their donuts, but also interior "vibe." They remind me very much of the Fosters Family Donut shop my mom regularly brought me to in La Crescenta, CA over 20 years ago. In my mind, Lee's and Hometown is what most Americans would consider a traditional donut shop.

Donut Petit has decided to carve its own niche with gourmet donuts. While you can still pick-up a regular glazed donut for $1.50 and a Bearclaw for $2.50, they have creative offers such as the Creme Brulee and Strawberry Flat Donut at $3+. To set themselves further apart from Lee's and Hometown, there is also a selection of Vegan and Gluten Free Donuts.

Donut Petit Alameda Creme Brulee Strawberry Flat Donuts

Anne & I decided to do a traditional Bearclaw, Creme Brulee, and Vegan Lemon Donut. We actually wanted to also try the regular glaze, but I think the sales associate got a bit confused during our ordering. For us, the Creme Brulee donut was the star out of the three, even though I did get a bite of really burnt sugar that gave me second thoughts. In fact, I will probably ask for a donut with minimal charring the next time around to make sure I get my $3.00 worth.

Donut Petit Alameda Creme Brulee Donut

This was actually our second time trying a Vegan Donut, but honestly the first time was about two years ago and so its hard to compare how it stands up to other vegan donuts. The Vegan Lemon Donut is in the style of a classic cake doughnut. The decoration is top-notch, but other than being vegan, it's not as remarkable as the Creme Brulee donut. But I suppose that if you can't tolerate, which is my case, or are allergic to dairy, then there's not much option. Fortunately, it's certainly a solid option.

Donut Petit Alameda Vegan Lemon Cake DoughnutThe Bear Claw is also fairly traditional in the sense that it doesn't necessarily stand above any other Bear Claw i've had before, but it's certainly not bad and there's nothing wrong with it. There's just not much to write about...

Donut Petit Alameda Bear Claw

Those visiting Donut Petit will most likely need to splurge and go for the more specialty gourmet doughnuts, such as the Creme Brulee donut, to get a more remarkable experience. If you're vegan or have a gluten allergy, then Donut Petit will most likely be your "go-to" in Alameda. There is also plenty of seating available and so is a great alternative to West End Crepe if you're looking for a dessert or snack while you're on the West End of Alameda.

For those looking just for a traditional donut, then they'll best be served at Lee's or Hometown. Donut Petit is definitely more of a special treat spot for us. In fact, we popped in on Valentine's Day. As crafters, artists, and creatives, we don't have a lot of money and so Lee's Donut and Hometown are the more economical and really equally satisfying choice. Safeway and Lucky's donuts are probably even cheaper, but are terrible in my opinion and nearly a waste of money.

There's no doubt a place for Donut Petit on the West End of Alameda. My only hope is that they actually expand to traditional French Croissants and Baguettes. If they don't, then you never know, someone may take the spot of the recently closed Albert's Cafe to open a French Bakery. (This is my sneaky way of "scaring" the owners of Donut Petit into action)

Update: I'll be honest, the one thing that really bothers me about Petit Donut is that they always seem to park their company car in public parking spots without paying the meter. In my opinion, and this is just an impression, I do feel like the owners of Cafe Jolie and Petit Donut get a weird level of preferential treatment from the city. It's just a feeling, not fact, but my hunches are more often right than wrong.

Donut Petit Alameda Vegan Donuts

Donut Petit Alameda Gluten Free Donuts

Donut Petit Alameda Regular GlazeDonut Petit Alameda Display Case

Read more

If you're read my previous blog posts, then you may know that I've been self-studying French for 2 years. So, the first thing I noticed about Donut Petit, located at 711 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, CA, was the fairly glaring grammatical mistake. Heck, even in English it directly translates as "Donut Small," which is also incorrect. Oddly enough, in French, many adjectives are actually placed after the noun, but "petit" is not one of them.

I believe the owners also own the very popular Cafe Jolie, which is also grammatically incorrect, and I'm sure there is a good reason, most likely legal, for the adjective swap because they're certainly no dummies.

Alameda's West End is already home to Lee's Donuts and Hometown Donuts, which are both very similar in style in regards to not only their donuts, but also interior "vibe." They remind me very much of the Fosters Family Donut shop my mom regularly brought me to in La Crescenta, CA over 20 years ago. In my mind, Lee's and Hometown is what most Americans would consider a traditional donut shop.

Donut Petit has decided to carve its own niche with gourmet donuts. While you can still pick-up a regular glazed donut for $1.50 and a Bearclaw for $2.50, they have creative offers such as the Creme Brulee and Strawberry Flat Donut at $3+. To set themselves further apart from Lee's and Hometown, there is also a selection of Vegan and Gluten Free Donuts.

Donut Petit Alameda Creme Brulee Strawberry Flat Donuts

Anne & I decided to do a traditional Bearclaw, Creme Brulee, and Vegan Lemon Donut. We actually wanted to also try the regular glaze, but I think the sales associate got a bit confused during our ordering. For us, the Creme Brulee donut was the star out of the three, even though I did get a bite of really burnt sugar that gave me second thoughts. In fact, I will probably ask for a donut with minimal charring the next time around to make sure I get my $3.00 worth.

Donut Petit Alameda Creme Brulee Donut

This was actually our second time trying a Vegan Donut, but honestly the first time was about two years ago and so its hard to compare how it stands up to other vegan donuts. The Vegan Lemon Donut is in the style of a classic cake doughnut. The decoration is top-notch, but other than being vegan, it's not as remarkable as the Creme Brulee donut. But I suppose that if you can't tolerate, which is my case, or are allergic to dairy, then there's not much option. Fortunately, it's certainly a solid option.

Donut Petit Alameda Vegan Lemon Cake DoughnutThe Bear Claw is also fairly traditional in the sense that it doesn't necessarily stand above any other Bear Claw i've had before, but it's certainly not bad and there's nothing wrong with it. There's just not much to write about...

Donut Petit Alameda Bear Claw

Those visiting Donut Petit will most likely need to splurge and go for the more specialty gourmet doughnuts, such as the Creme Brulee donut, to get a more remarkable experience. If you're vegan or have a gluten allergy, then Donut Petit will most likely be your "go-to" in Alameda. There is also plenty of seating available and so is a great alternative to West End Crepe if you're looking for a dessert or snack while you're on the West End of Alameda.

For those looking just for a traditional donut, then they'll best be served at Lee's or Hometown. Donut Petit is definitely more of a special treat spot for us. In fact, we popped in on Valentine's Day. As crafters, artists, and creatives, we don't have a lot of money and so Lee's Donut and Hometown are the more economical and really equally satisfying choice. Safeway and Lucky's donuts are probably even cheaper, but are terrible in my opinion and nearly a waste of money.

There's no doubt a place for Donut Petit on the West End of Alameda. My only hope is that they actually expand to traditional French Croissants and Baguettes. If they don't, then you never know, someone may take the spot of the recently closed Albert's Cafe to open a French Bakery. (This is my sneaky way of "scaring" the owners of Donut Petit into action)

Update: I'll be honest, the one thing that really bothers me about Petit Donut is that they always seem to park their company car in public parking spots without paying the meter. In my opinion, and this is just an impression, I do feel like the owners of Cafe Jolie and Petit Donut get a weird level of preferential treatment from the city. It's just a feeling, not fact, but my hunches are more often right than wrong.

Donut Petit Alameda Vegan Donuts

Donut Petit Alameda Gluten Free Donuts

Donut Petit Alameda Regular GlazeDonut Petit Alameda Display Case

Read more