Until Covid-19 messaging improves, who do you turn to?

It’s February tomorrow – a snow day here, yey!! – and over a full year into this pandemic. It’s frustrating that to manage every new situation, the general public still has to scour Twitter for a prevailing consensus. We don’t have better guidance on masks (like what type and where to get them) and managing risky situations like public transportation. I fully agree with this piece in the NYTimes: It’s been ten months, and I still don’t know when to replace my masks!

“Quickly synthesizing emerging evidence and providing practical guidance for the public and communicating it well is what the C.D.C. should be doing, and should have been doing. The new administration seems to have hit the ground running, and I hope that this is what it will be doing going forward.”

Began using these when I started a new project; the NYC subway is packed at rush hour!

So, like many, I often field questions from friends and family (or push unsolicited advice to counter clearly misguided or false information). Since national messaging might take a while to cohere (there’s been active sabotage on our national systems and infrastructures, after all), below is a list of regularly updated and easy-to-understand resources that distill the rapidly changing Covid-19 advice for us lay folks. I’ve been referring folks to these same sites and experts for months cuz they’re who I turn to. Hope it helps!

On Masks, now that the variants are a real threat. Your mask criteria are FIT, BREATHABILITY, and FILTRATION. For example, if your glasses are fogging up then your FIT is off. See the below for great advice:

  • Great mask guidance for these precarious next weeks, in anticipation of the variants–> Friendly Neighborhood Epidemiologist (27 Jan 2021).
  • I’ve tried tens of masks on my family over the past year, e.g., masks from Etsy or retailers in the $5-30 range. I’ve put the others on a ‘backup’ bin and highly recommend these below. Note each one’s specific washing instructions to maintain full efficacy.
    • Livinguard mask – Their 3-layer Safety masks have the best fit and breathability for me and my family. The hygiene technology is based on positive and negative charges to trap and inactivate the microbes’ protein structure (destroying the virus) on contact. Read their FAQ for more info.
    • Rafi Nova – Their 3-layer Performance masks come with toggles to pull either the ear or chin seal tighter. We really love these masks and love the family’s philosophy on giving back to and helping the community. Some of their textiles are sourced from the minority communities in Laos.


  • In the Bubble is a great podcast from Andy Slavitt, an advisor in the Obama administration and now a senior advisor on Biden’s Covid-19 Team. The conversations between the science, health and medical experts are designed for practical consumption by the general public. The January 18 episode is particularly useful, given the variants’ debuts and threats to impact the US (no new guidance, just double down on what we should already be doing). Slavitt’s Twitter stream is also excellent.
  • Unbiased Science talks about current issues in the sciences, and in the past year the topics have been mostly about Covid-19. But they still occasionally cover other items, like dismantling the myths around organics or helping to understand GMOs, etc.

Twitter streams:

  • Zeynep Tufekci – Turkish sociologist and writer, focusing on ‘the social implications of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data, as well as societal challenges such as the pandemic using complex and systems-based thinking.’
  • Andy Slavitt – tirelessly engaging both professionals and the general public in conversation since this pandemic began, to offer all of us some practical guidance. From his profile: ‘White House Sr Advisor for COVID Response – Let’s Work Together to Defeat COVID-19. Past head of Medicare/Medicaid for Obama/Biden. Personal account.’
  • Michael Mina – Covid-19 diagnostics, like gold standards for testing and thoughts on public health approach. From his profile: ‘Epidemiologist, Immunologist, Physician, Harvard Public Health/Medical School. Discuss vaccines, immunity, infectious diseases, public health, and tests
  • Angela Rasmussen, PhD – From the latest studies to the newest guidance, her stream is very useful. From her profile: ‘Excessively direct virologist. Affiliate @georgetown_ghss. Soon @VIDOInterVac. Emerging virus host responses. 1X Jeopardy! loser. Rep: @anniescranton. she/her’
  • Peter Hotez, MD PhD – From his profile: ‘Vaccine Scientist-Pediatrician-Author-Combating Antiscience, Prof Dean @BCM_TropMed @TexasChildrens, Univ Prof @Baylor, Hagler Inst @TAMU, Founding Ed @PLOSNTDs
  • Eric Feigl-Ding, PhD – From his profile: ‘Epidemiologist & Health Economist. Senior Fellow, FAS. Fmr 16 yrs @Harvard. Health justice advocate. RoomRater 10/10. COVID19 updates since Jan ’20′

Facebook pages – and they are all women scientists from various fields, US states and backgrounds! They have also consulted each other to coordinate their content and messaging:

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