Well, that escalated quickly. As we catch our breaths with the pace of COVID-19-related disruptions and happenings, this post will update frequently with the latest perspectives, support efforts and information from the blockchain community at large. Have something to add? Tweet at @CoinDesk with #CoronaEfforts.
Perspective: Matthew Graham, CEO, Sino Global Capital
“The COVID-19 quarantine has been the most surreal experience of my entire life. Here in China where I live and work this has been my lived experience for several months now. When the virus first exploded in January, I made the decision to stay in China for family and business reasons. From the extraordinary precautions being taken, it was immediately evident this was an extreme situation. I was staying at a fully booked hotel with a capacity of two hundred rooms. Very quickly the hotel emptied out until only three or four guests remained. Soon the hotel was ordered to close, and I made the decision to self-quarantine.
Like many, if not most in China, I very rapidly realized that this was a time for extreme steps. I ordered a large quantity of masks for family, friends, and clients, paid a neighborhood kid to deliver food, and closed the door.
ONLY IN THE LAST FEW DAYS HAS CHINA REALLY STARTED TO VENTURE BACK OUTSIDE.
Only in the last few days has China really started to venture back outside. The country feels like it’s coming back to life step by step, but yet, it’s not quite recognizable. There are thousands of people on the streets, and every single one wears a face mask. Checkpoints for temperature checks are everywhere, and we scan QR codes for big data contact tracing.
Three days ago I went outside. The first time in six weeks.
I feel safe. Safe, but worried for my friends and family back home.”
Following the social buzz
People have been quick to notice how social media has become the de facto source of information since the outbreak of COVID-19. For weeks, the media and governments alike tried to downplay the potential impacts of the virus, to disastrous effect.
That’s why Will Bleakley spun up the Covid-19 Live Display Hub, a real-time stream of COVID-19-related posts on various social platforms. The hub aggregates regionally- and country-specific content, so readers can stay up-to-date on what’s happening around them.
To decentralize the news gathering process, the Covid-19 Live Display Hub sources information from local media organizations, regional World Health Organization Pages, government agencies, politicians, and other public accounts.
While the official line is to “Stay the F Home,” Drew Hinkes, a crypto attorney with Carlton Fields, ventured outside yesterday to cast a ballot.
“Based on what we’re hearing from scientists and specialists, it is smart to take precautions,” Hinkes said in an email. But still, there are some forms of public engagement that take precedence over public health, namely, the health of our democracy.
“I do feel strongly that as Americans, we should vote while it’s still safe to do so,” he said.
Sky Guo, the founder and CEO of the smart contract platform Cypherium has some thoughts to share about the possibility of a market recovery, following the Covid scare.
The virus has been contained in China, and is now under control in Korea. As long as quarantines and other measurements are adopted in a timely manner, we shouldn’t be afraid of the virus. The crypto markets, like our immune systems, can self-heal and gain strength for future crises.
People in our community are not very worried about the crisis. They’ve been discussing the markets in a very calm and analytical way. People are hoping for a recovery, and for Bitcoin to reach a new all-time high after the halving this year.
DIY Home-Schooling Guide
Jenny Balliet, founder and CEO Lula & Co., a consultancy that advises on blockchain applications among other fields, is curating an ongoing teaching guide for stressed-out parents who’ve never, until the past week’s wave of shutdowns, had to think of home-schooling their kids.
She describes herself as a “diehard Vygotskian” – a reference to the cognitive development theories of Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who advocated social learning as a predecessor for cognitive development.
Applying those ideas, Balliet came up with this handbook. The first updates to the guide, she says, will be about oil markets, bitcoin resources, gaming for a cure and writing meta-cognition.
Blockseer Founder’s Nationwide Test Data Site
Test, test, test and test some more. That’s the mantra from pretty much every expert about how communities can get ahead of the coronavirus pandemic and figure out how best to respond and assign scarce resources.
But none of that is good for much if the data on the pandemic is not captured, aggregated and delivered in a reliable way for health professionals, political leaders and ordinary folk to make sense of. This is why an initiative by Danny Yang, founder of block explorer Blockseer, is potentially so important.
The site repeatedly scrapes data from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and aggregates them in real-time, creating easy-to-follow charts. It may well be the most up-to-date, most reliable source of official data available. Check it out here: coronavirusapi.com.
Reflections on an Eerily Quiet NYC
Arnold Waldstein is a veteran marketing and business strategist with a passion for environmental solutions and wine. But he’s best known in the crypto community for his interests in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and in pioneering an NFT fundraising model with the “Honu” turtle-cat CryptoKitty, which raised $140,000 for ocean conservation.
Today he dedicated his blog to reflecting on what life in the busiest city in the world has become like in just a few short days.
In doing so, he demonstrated the power of the written word and of storytelling to reach across the void and connect with others – as vital a service as any in this uncertain period of radical social distancing.
Meltem Demirors Shares Her Plan
“Here’s what’s going on,” began the level-headed Meltem Demirors, founder of crypto investment firm CoinShares.
“This is my third crypto bear market and my second financial crisis, and our exec team has seen several macro market cycles and three global re-pricing events, so we are staying calm, analyzing the market, and building for opportunities we believe will we are well-suited to capitalize on in the weeks and months that follow,” she said.
Demirors is focused on communicating and connecting with her team, clients, partners and portfolio companies in this time of uncertainty. In her own words:
1. We’re actively reviewing all of our counter-party exposure, risk exposure, and business continuity plans, and proactively communicating internally and externally. Crypto community has been resilient, our counterparties are doing a great job!
2. Calling all of our portfolio execs on the venture investing side, sharing what we’re hearing, and making sure they’re feeling supported. Helping them secure 12 – 18 months of runway if needed:
3. Publishing fact-based research.
4. Checking in and texting, calling, emailing, and letting people know I’m thinking of them. I’m setting up hangouts to chat, share ideas, and keep the community intact during these difficult times, and joining other people’s webinars and conference calls to hear what they’re thinking about. Also – lots of VR hangouts in bitcoin!
5. Lastly, memes and humor. A little bit of laughter never hurt anyone!
CryptoMondays Goes Virtual Reality
With help from Bits and Tokens, a blockchain media company, and featuring a fireside chat with CoinDesk reporter William Foxley, CryptoMondays was able to avoid the perils of meatspace and convene digitally.
Lou Kerner, the meetup’s organizer said it “was pretty cool, until the trolls came.”
Timothy Mackey, an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego, thinks that blockchain can help solve some of the current “choke points” affecting coronavirus patient care.
Forbes reports the professor of health studies has added a blockchain solutions module to his Global Health Policy undergraduate course, which has since gone remote. Mackey believes blockchain is an important tool in helping to spread accurate information about infectious diseases, as well as maintaining healthcare supply chains.
“This is likely just the beginning of a norm of the globalization of infectious disease outbreaks,” Mackey told Forbes. “And we can’t effectively respond without leveraging technology to enable better international cooperation.”
The blockchain author and futurist writes:
Bunkered in Charlestown, MA, overlooking a now-very-quiet Logan Airport, anxiously awaiting my delivering of TP from Amazon which allegedly will be within days not weeks. Heavily working the phones and chat groups to similarly isolated colleagues, some of whom are organizing data analytics syndicates to address COVID-19 related global health data sharing (leveraging work I did for the UN on training crisis response teams from UNOCHA and UNHCR on the use of big data during large-scale humanitarian crises).
An insurance provider in China used a blockchain-based settlement system to offer quick, one-time payments to victims of the coronavirus.
Xiang Hu Bao, an online mutual aid platform, reportedly began paying out (a maximum of) 100,000 yuan ($14,320) claims to some of its 104 million health plan participants.
Ant Financial, the platform’s parent company, has funded the payments.
“Xiang Hu Bao has been able to process claims and make payouts to participants quicker, due to the decentralised, trust-free nature of blockchain technology,” an Ant Financial spokesman told the South China Morning Post.
Headspace, a meditation app startup, announced it will offer free subscriptions for healthcare professionals working in public settings.
At a $70 value, the subscriptions will run until the end of 2020, according to PitchBook, a financial data provider.
The healthcare startup has reportedly seen a doubling of inbound requests from members since Friday, as well as a 100 percent increase in corporate clients looking for ways to improve employee’s mental wellbeing, according to PitchBook.
Vinay Gupta, CEO of Mattereum
The CEO of the Ethereum-based startup writes:
Some people take whatever solution they have knowledge of, be it cryptocash or cleaning products, and try to wedge it in to the crisis. We are against this. It’s important to be clear and realistic about the suitability and capability of one’s technology. That said, we are looking at the situation around the rapid, decentralized mass production of ventilator systems and other medical equipment, and wondering about things like certification of schematics, “as manufactured” parts lists, maintenance records, safety recalls and so on. Mattereum’s core operating principles about product authentication work equally well for fine art as for engineering products, but this is a sobering scenario, and we are being responsible as we look at scenarios.
3D Printing at FabLab
Massimo Temporelli, founder of The FabLab in Milan, used a 3D printer to build a needed component for a breathing apparatus.
According to industry publication 3Dprintingmedia.network, the machine was used to intubate 10 patients over the weekend, possibly saving their lives.
“As the virus inevitably continues to spread worldwide and breaks supply chains, 3D printers – through people’s ingenuity and design abilities – can definitely lend a helping hand. Or valve, or protective gear, or masks, or anything you will need and can’t get from your usual supplier,” David Sher reports.
Mir Liponi, Milan
The bitcoin meetup organizer and entrepreneur writes:
During the first days was almost like normal life during the summer, when many shops and businesses are closed and few people around. Now, it’s different because we basically can’t move from home. The city is like a ghost town. It’s becoming difficult to get food and I’m starting to see the negatives of the situation. I’m kinda reclusive, but this is very extreme… Because it’s not only you, but everyone else who is living like this. Italians are great in keeping company and they are discovering digital ways to connect to each other or just singing from the balconies… So you don’t feel so alone after all. We have to find a new routine, a new way to feel good and connect with the others.
Reuben Yap, project steward at Zcoin, lives in Malaysia, which has recorded a total of 553 COVID-19 cases so far. He said the country is going into lockdown.
His wife works on the frontlines at the Sarawak General Hospital.
“She works in anesthesia and intensive care,” Yap said. “I have an elderly father as well who lives in a house down the road from me and my wife has her own family as well.”
“The impacts are quite severe for my wife and I. This week she’s undergoing hazmat suit training and if she’s required to intubate or be exposed to the patient, she’ll have to be quarantined in the hospital.”
Today, Malaysia banned all foreign travelers from entering the country. “Malaysians can return and self-quarantine. They cannot fly out,” Yap said.
“Essential shops are kept open but private offices, religious places, all societies and everything are closed. There are mad rushes to stock up now but luckily I stocked up earlier.”
Ryan Zurrer ‘Helping to Prevent DeFi From Defaulting’
Amid this period of severe market fluctuations, investor Ryan Zurrer is helping to prevent “DeFi” from defaulting. Zurrer, founder of Dialectic, a Swiss-based crypto-asset firm and former chief commercial officer at the Web3 Foundation, has taken on “very conservative” collateralized debt positions (CDPs) to keep MakerDAO functioning.
MakerDAO nearly collapsed last week after the Ethereum blockchain failed to keep up with investor demand. To this end, Zurrer has also spun up a Keeper bot in anticipation of the potential auction – which could draw in a huge wave of investors, again – later this week.
“For me, MakerDAO is DeFi and one of the most compelling projects on Ethereum, so I will not let it capitulate to a full-on Black Swan event without doing everything in my power to protect it,” Zurrer said.
17-Year-Old Tracks Instances of Coronavirus
Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior from Mercer Island, just outside Seattle, launched a website to track instances of coronavirus in late December. It has since become a vital resource for researchers and the public working to stay safe in questionable times.
Using the most recent figures from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, Schiffmann’s site presents the most up-to-date local, national and global information in an easy to read format. This includes information on the amount of confirmed and recovered cases, and deaths, as well as a Wiki and newsletter to provide basic facts about the virus.
The site has been visited by millions of people.
“The main goal of it was to provide just an easy way to see the straight facts and the data, you know, without having to make a website that was biased or, you know, full of ads or anything like that,” Schiffmann told Democracy Now!
The Giving Block, a crypto charity initiative, is partnering with nonprofit charities to launch a crypto fundraiser this week.
“Government responses are failing. Nonprofits, companies and individuals need to step up,” Giving Block co-founder Alex Wilson said in an email. “Crypto and tech saw it coming first so we’re hoping this community will be particularly supportive.”
All donations go directly to wallets controlled by the nonprofit, and clients have the option of automatically converting their crypto to fiat. Recently, The Giving Block teamed up with Gemini for an International Women’s Day campaign that raised $15,000 (in crypto) in 24 hours.
Gitcoin will match up to $100,000 in donations made in ETH or DAI during the campaign, and Brave will provide free advertisements. More details, including its nonprofit partners, are forthcoming tomorrow.
Xenia von Wedel, COO of Transform Group
The COO of the crypto PR firm writes:
Apart from the financial worries that our economy if going to tank, I actually enjoy the luxury of extra time to do yoga, and I signed up for afternoon CNA training. That way I will be able to volunteer at the local hospital in case there is a need for extra hands. Don’t get me wrong, doing PR for blockchain companies is a great job, but it might be nice to have a positive impact on some people’s lives for a change… However, I hope in a couple of months life will be back to normal.
Helping People Volunteer
New York Cares is hosting digital orientation sessions so volunteers will be ready to participate in their communities once it’s safe again to leave the house.
“Whenever the coronavirus is in our rearview mirror, hopefully, we know that there’s going to be a huge amount of service that we’re going to try to grow and meet,” Gary Bagley, president of the volunteer coordinating agency, told The City.
Distributed Work to Build 3D Models of COVID-19
[email protected] uses computer simulations to build models of virus proteins, which may assist in the hunt for a vaccine. They could use your help.
Using distributed work from computers around the world, volunteers can contribute their excess CPU or GPU space to help run these modeling experiments.
“These calculations are enormous and every little bit helps! Each simulation you run is like buying a lottery ticket. The more tickets we buy, the better our chances of hitting the jackpot,” the [email protected] team writes.
To help, you can download the [email protected] software package, or make a donation to the team.