A new variant of coronavirus is upon us. As is its wont, Omicron is more infectious and is spreading fast. While, in the past, the virus impacted only a handful of close friends and family, the recent spike has impacted quite many friends. A few of them are struggling, despite having been vaccinated. 

As I was researching the possible impact of the new variant, I couldn’t help but notice how difficult it was to find accurate, actionable information about Omicron and how to deal with it. Except for a handful of writers — Ed Yong of The Atlantic, for example –, one gets quickly sucked into a quagmire of hot takes and incremental information.

It leaves you even scratching your head, perhaps highlighting the problem we have in an Internet-centric information economy. Information is easy to produce, but intelligence remains in short supply. 

In the end, I ended up emailing a few friends — who are experts, doctors, or both, and they all pointed me to a handful of sources to make an informed decision. On their recommendations, I have been following Bob Wachter of UCSF on Twitter and Katelyn Jetelina (aka YourLocalEpidemologist) on Substack. They are pretty direct and clear in their communication about the virus and its reality.  

I was planning to travel for the holidays, but instead, I have gone into a self-imposed lockdown. Sure, I have been vaccinated and received the booster, but why take unnecessary risks. I hope you are doing your bit to keep yourself safe! 

December 21, 2021. San Francisco

Geeta Dayal, a well-respected art critic and music journalist, is helping organize a music concert, Music for India, on Saturday, June 5th. She announced the news about the concert on Twitter. All proceeds from the concert, which will stream online, will go towards COVID relief efforts in India. Headlining the event is legendary musician Terry Riley. Indian classical violinist Kala Ramnath and pedal steel guitar explorer Chuck Johnson are going to join Riley. Several other musical acts are likely to join the concert. I am going to watching this concert and doing my best to support the relief efforts.  You can follow Geeta on Twitter to get updates on the concert.

It has been a rough few days for the citizens of India, who have been struggling with the rampaging COVID-19 virus. The pandemic is more widespread than either media or official figures seem to indicate. Many of you emailed and asked about what is the best way to offer help and aid. Here is a list of simple resources to get you started. 

  1. Joy of Sharing: This is a Norwalk, CA-based charity group that gathers funds for vital supplies. Please select COVID-19 INDIA to designate your funds. 
  2. Aid India: Like Joy of Sharing, it too accepts credit cards for online donations. 
  3. Mission Oxygen: This is an initiative by a community of founders from the Delhi region to donate life-saving equipment to hospitals.
  4. Give India is helping organize funds for oxygen, food, survivor support, and other needs for those who desperately need it. 
  5. Hemkunt Foundation is helping laborers and migrant workers who have been made jobless and homeless. They are helping to provide them with food, shelter, and basic hygiene/survival supplies.

I hope this list helps. I will keep updating the links as I find them. 

Bryan William Jones, a good friend and a professor at the University of Utah, is a fine photographer. Like me, he too is biased towards Leica, and Leica SL in particular. He used Leica and the Apple iPhone to capture moments from inside the Covid-19 MICU at the University of Utah’s Medical Center – the state’s flagship operation.  The staff wanted their story told, and finally, it can be told. Bryan made some powerful images and shared them in this visual essay.

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