The coronavirus pandemic has been changing the global economy, our lifestyle, our ways of interacting with each other and our vision of the future. The Cointelegraph team keeps working from home offices, and all the events we planned to participate in have been canceled. But there is still a lot that is happening in the crypto and blockchain field that needs to be covered, so the work keeps us occupied, and that helps us keep our spirits up. The impact of the quarantines and economic restrictions is felt throughout all of the places where we are based, waking up fears and offering new hopes. We found out that talking about the situation helps us to cope with it, and we decided to share with our readers how the current circumstances are influencing our professional and private lives.
Jay Cassano, Editor-in-Chief
New York City, USA
We closed down the Cointelegraph office in New York early on — in the beginning of March — as a precautionary measure. New York was slow to react to the pandemic, and now we’re paying the price in the toll it’s taking here. News this week about the possibility of temporary mass burial sites is heartbreaking. The emptiness of the streets is eerie, even in Brooklyn. A month ago, a friend driving into town had to circle my neighborhood to find parking. Today, there’s not a single car parked on my block.
For the past three weeks now, I’ve been staying indoors as much as possible. It’s a beautiful day out today, the kind where I’d encourage people to go work on the roof of our midtown Manhattan building or take a long lunch and stroll to Bryant Park. Or hell, fake being sick to take the day to just lie out in the grass in Prospect Park or go play skee ball on Coney Island. Being cooped up on a day like today just feels wrong, and yet I know it’s the only thing we can do to help flatten the curve and stem the tide of illness overwhelming hospitals in the city.
The team at Cointelegraph has been incredible working through this time, in part because we’re already used to working across locations and time zones. I also think that — even if we’re not providing vital, frontline news like some journalists are right now — everyone here takes a lot of pride in their work and hopes that it can be useful, informative, entertaining or, at minimum, distracting right now.
Jon Rice, Managing Editor of Cointelegraph Magazine
I live on a farm in the Midwest, and our family self-isolated a month ago. We’re in a part of the country that has almost completely ignored the pandemic — the schools didn’t even close until it was already Spring Break last week. Every television in every doctor’s office and diner here displays Fox News all day, and the never-ending spring of denial infects people. So, they do nothing.
My daughter’s friends are still hanging out, going to events… but she has demonstrated remarkable maturity in asking questions, reading news sources that carry science-based information, and understanding that the safest and most sensible thing to do right now is stay away from people who won’t take any action to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And since she loves to bake, I’m getting a lot more scones for breakfast than I used to. Bonus!
For me, the major change has been in the tone of the conversations I have with people all over the world. People are scared, angry at the deliberate misinformation. Most of them aren’t concerned for themselves, but for their parents or grandparents. This industry is filled with people who have taken the time to educate themselves on an emerging technology, and they take the time to investigate the science behind the scare. They know there is a very real threat.
I work remotely, and have done for over a decade. So, I’m accustomed to this way of life. We have the tools to work as a decentralized organization, and we use them. I will miss going to Consensus and seeing friends and colleagues in New York, but there will be other times.
The truly scary thing, apart from the lives that will be lost, is that there may well be an acceleration toward nationalist centralization around the world. More surveillance. More fear. Authoritarians using this to their advantage. The best source of early information on the coronavirus was the crowd — real people in hotspots, telling the truth before governments were willing to share it. If anything has proved the case that centralized authorities aren’t living up to their duties, surely this is it. The case for some degree of decentralization has never been stronger.
I am very lucky… we can’t see a neighbor from our home, and so we can walk around outside, hang out with Moose, Waffles and Shawn (our trio of miniature cows) or walk the dogs without ever seeing another human.
We’re comfortable and safe, and I wish good health to everyone reading this.
Steve D’Agostino, Head of Social Media
San Francisco, USA
I am based in San Francisco but live a bicoastal lifestyle, as my family is all in New York City, as is the Cointelegraph home base. Sad to say my family is having a hard time coping with this event, and it has been very challenging to stay calm while so far away from them. I am currently in Joshua Tree, working hard everyday and trying to put good energy into a difficult situation.
I am beyond grateful for my Cointelegraph family and everyone here who works so hard to provide current, comprehensive and breaking news to the crypto world. I hope to help create a positive community through our social media that is a warm respite from the often horrific news cycle. We will make it through this, and the world will keep turning. I have faith and hope.
Michael Kapilkov, Reporter
New York City, USA
I am stuck in my regular location: NYC. Doing fine. Though, I do have a friend in northern Italy. I attended his wedding last june, and they are expecting a baby soon. Decameron.
Rachel Wolfson, Reporter
Dallas, Texas, USA
I am currently in Dallas, Texas at my parent’s house. I decided to travel to Dallas after attending the Hyperledger Forum in Phoenix. I had intended to visit for a week and then return to San Francisco. Yet, as the coronavirus news started becoming more frequent and frightening in the States, I became hesitant to travel — not just for my personal health, but also for the safety of others. San Francisco just announced today (March 16) that it is practicing “shelter in place,” meaning everyone must stay inside their homes unless they need to buy groceries or walk their animals. I am not sure when I will return to San Francisco, but it seems like it will happen sometime in April when the shelter-in-place policy ends. The hardest part is being seperated from my boyfriend, who is currently in San Francisco. Otherwise, things in Dallas are fine. The gyms and many other public places have all closed today. I am staying sane by running outside and distracting myself with writing.
Kollen Post, Policy Editor
Washington, D.C., USA
Washington really didn’t close down until March 15, and the region just crossed 1,000 COVID-19 cases. Definitely not as bad a situation as New York, which is probably because the city itself is not as densely populated and people don’t spend as much time in shared public spaces, on average.
That being said, while people are still milling about on the streets, the place has gotten eerie. Weirdly specific to D.C. is that the whole machinery of events has ground to a halt. From panels at think tanks to the cherry blossom festival. Congress has canceled or postponed hearings. Concert venues have shut down.
Given that D.C. culture is heavy on a specific sort of type-A extroversion, it’s a pretty stark change.
Gabriel Rubinsteinn, Cointelegraph Brasil Managing Editor
São Paulo, Brazil
Personally, I am trying to avoid panic. I won’t stock tons of food and toilet paper, but I am taking basic measures to avoid problems. As I was already working from my home-office, my routine won’t change that much, but I won’t be visiting my parents nor any other older people for a while. I am not going to the gym nor any other crowded place until confirmed cases stop growing.
With around 230 confirmed cases (as or March 17) in a huge territory and with a population of 220 million people, Brazil isn’t the most dangerous place right now. On the other hand, the Chinese and European situations show us the virus can spread really fast.
Brazil’s president, Bolsonaro, doesn’t agree. While most countries are trying to avoid the pandemic, he says that there’s too much hysteria about this subject and that the coronavirus is not as dangerous as the media says.
At the same time, most state governors are going in a different way. In the state of São Paulo (the one with more people and more money), the governor canceled all public events (museums, concerts, cultural events, schools, universities, etc.) and said all public employees 60 years old or those with health issues can work from their homes.
Most private companies in São Paulo are also sending their employees to home offices — Facebook, Netflix, the World Bank and some other big firms have already done so. Traffic jams dropped drastically as people are avoiding leaving their houses.
Felipe Erazo, Reporter
The situation has become somewhat tense here in Cali, Colombia, with many people crowded into supermarkets to face a possible quarantine. Fortunately, I bought enough food to face the situation. In the country, cases have been detected in several capital cities, which makes the situation even more complex. I had prepared a vacation to the United States to attend a wrestling event that usually has an attendance of 80,000 people, but all this forced me to cancel. Recently, I was traveling within Colombia by plane, always passing through airports with international connections, so I am now in a “voluntary quarantine.” I could say that the only positive thing about this is that I can spend more time with my family, and this has allowed me to finish reading some books that I had pending. My thoughts are with Italy, especially with the northern part, as I’ve visited there three years ago and I fell in love with the people and the region.
Amey Wang, Cointelegraph China Managing Editor
Xinzhou City, Shanxi Province, China
Before Chinese New Year’s Eve, which was Jan. 24, hundreds of people tested positive for the coronavirus every day. On Jan. 23, I went home to northern China from Shanghai for the Spring Festival. After a week’s holiday, COVID-19 hadn’t been controlled completely. So, we try not to go out and we must wear masks if we have to go.
While most of the cities in China keep the number of new infections at zero now, we are still working online from home. And we adapted to it after a whole month. Teleworking is new for most Chinese people because we prefer face-to-face communication in the office.
But in fact, this time-saving mode makes our work more efficient. And thanks to it, we have more time to spend with our families outside of work. It is luxurious. For me, it’s the first time that I have been with my parents for such a long time since I started my career 10 years ago. I enjoy the warmth of my family and the happiness to eat, walk and chat together. This special period has awoken me to cherish my health and family.
Erhan Kahraman, Cointelegraph Turkey Managing Editor
Turkey was one of the last countries in the region to announce the official numbers. As with many other countries, Turkey also saw a rapid increase in cases since the first confirmed case on March 11.
Since the Cointelegraph Turkey team works remotely, mostly from home, there was no dramatic change in our daily lives. We were homebodies way before this pandemic. So, we try to keep our morale high, joking about how our daily lives are nowadays called “quarantine,” and try to focus on work instead of social media to avoid depressing stories.
An apparent change in my personal life: Schools and preschools are closed for two weeks (for now), so my four-year-old daughter is at home during my work hours. I try to strike a balance between covering good stories for our readers and telling good stories to my daughter to avoid boredom for both parties.
Turner Wright, Reporter
Sano, Tochigi, Japan
I have been in Japan since the start of the outbreak. Though finding a mask or wet wipes is still next to impossible, toilet paper and paper towels are slowly becoming more available in all stores. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of hoarding anything. My residency is ending and I had been planning to relocate to Vietnam to work remotely, but I’ll have to take that a step at a time, checking updates on mandatory quarantines and travel restrictions every morning. Major events like the cherry blossom gatherings have been canceled, and the load on public transportation has been reduced with more people staying home.
Joseph Young, Reporter
Seoul, South Korea
South Korea has taken the approach of rigorous testing but leaving the country open. Anyone can go out to get food, coffee and necessities at any time, and most cafes and restaurants are open, operating as usual.
It’s really not all that bad, given that the nature of my work is mostly digital. I never left my home office all that much before anyway, but the fact that I cannot go out to cafes, restaurants and stores whenever I want is making it more difficult to cope with.
Working from home, I am trying as much as possible to do my part to slow the spread of the virus, not leaving the apartment complex as much as possible and always wearing a mask whenever I go outside.
I am definitely watching more Netflix than ever before.
Gareth Jenkinson, Reporter
Durban, South Africa
Life in South Africa has also been dramatically affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Following reports of the first case in the country at the beginning of March, things have moved pretty quickly. What started off as government guidelines for the public to practice social distancing quickly escalated to a nationwide, 21-day lockdown, which came into effect on March 27.
At that stage, South Africa had recorded just over 1,000 cases of Covid-19, and the government was desperately trying to “flatten the curve” in the country. South Africa’s poorer populace struggles with high infection rates of HIV and tuberculosis — which makes our people particularly vulnerable to aggressive diseases.
At this stage, I am still able to work, albeit from home in Durban. I am currently continuing to do radio from the comfort of my living room. The rest of my time is spent exercising, working on articles for Cointelegraph and spending time with my wife. Trips to shops for groceries and medicine is permitted, but any other movements in public have been restricted.
Things are quiet in Durban, and it is an eerie feeling. We hope we have acted quickly enough here to avoid more serious situations like those we’ve seen in China, Italy and Spain.
Osato Avan-Namayo, Reporter
My city, Lagos, Nigeria, is on a two-week lockdown as the government tries to slow the spread of the virus. As someone who has been working from home since 2016, the forced quarantine doesn’t feel any different from my usual schedule. I am grateful for the efforts of our brave medical personnel putting their lives at risk, and I’m committed to doing my part by staying indoors and hoping for a swift end to the current pandemic.
Andrew Fenton, News Editor
As luck would have it, I came down with something that had all the symptoms of the virus about eight days after attending the Golden Plains music festival, where there was a confirmed case. My body’s internal thermostat seemed to break: I started off with chills and was shivering no matter how many clothes I put on or how much I cranked the heat. This flipped into being so hot and sweaty that I kept having to change my soaked T-shirt even when simply lying in bed. I felt like I’d been run over by a truck and had a constant headache, which spiked in pain every time I coughed. About four days in, my lungs became very painful, like they’d been slashed with a knife, and I had a bit of a panic attack that things were starting to get serious.
The doctor wouldn’t see me but prescribed antibiotics to guard against a secondary infection over the phone and told me I should get tested for the virus — but when I looked up the criteria, you needed to either have just returned from overseas or had direct contact with a confirmed case, so I decided I was too sick to waste my time trying. So, I won’t know if I’ve had coronavirus, or just had some horrible flu, until antibody tests become available. The senior editors were very understanding and told me to take as much time off as I needed, but I decided to work most days anyway to just take my mind off things. It was really stressful watching the world fall apart while being horribly ill, potentially with something that was causing all the drama.
It took about 10 days from the first fever to get over it, and I’m still tired. Despite a horrible couple of weeks, I consider myself very lucky — I live about 200 meters from three very well-stocked supermarkets, I go on hour-long bike rides along a beautiful creek path every day, and Australia is both isolated from the rest of the world and has excellent medical care. I was already working from home, so there’s no material change in my day-to-day work life except I now have a colleague in the form of my girlfriend who’s working remotely for the first time. I actually think everyone in crypto and blockchain is pretty fortunate under the circumstances — it’s a decentralized industry that’s well-placed to survive and potentially thrive during the biggest global crisis in years.
Samuel Haig, Reporter
It has been a shock to see my island state shut off from the rest of the country, and to watch the number of confirmed cases in the country double every four to five days. For the first time that I have experienced, police and military personnel are patrolling our beaches and threatening to arrest individuals who are caught out-and-about with no purpose. I am thankful that none of my family has been infected yet. I feel for everyone out there who has been impacted by the virus.
Serguei Medvedev, Chief Business Development Officer
Saint Petersburg, Russia
I live in St. Petersburg, Russia, and since March 31, we are in lockdown, but people aren’t panicking — for Russians, crisis and stagnation are pretty familiar things over the past 30 years.
Public transport is still working, shops are well-supplied, but people are too self-assured. Many of them don’t even pay attention to basic antiviral protection.
For me, working from home is a common thing. I used to work like this for years, and the Cointelegraph team is truly decentralized.
The funny thing is that this week is officially paid vacation for all employees in Russia. The president generously made this gift to the nation, but businesses should pay for it by themselves…
The aftereffect for Russia, I think, will be more than a disaster, and a lot of small businesses will be closed. But at the same time, it is such a great opportunity for e-commerce. Even my elder relatives have started using delivery apps and other online services.
We are still waiting for the infection’s peak. Let’s see what will be, but I prefer to think positive.
Veronika Rinecker, Cointelegraph auf Deutsch Managing Editor
I’m working from home right now, and that’s certainly not a problem. I’ve been working out of the office for a long time, and I’ve learned to organize my day in a way that separates work from home and family.
But it’s hard not to go out at all because I’m used to having an active social life and to moving and traveling a lot. I live in Dortmund in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the region with the most confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Germany. All cafes and cultural institutions are closed, which is morally pressuring (and I have my wedding in early May and need to postpone it). And since yesterday (March 22), we can only go out in groups of two (to the pharmacy, to the doctor, for walks/sports in the open air, to the grocery store).
And it is not the quarantine itself that is hard, but the fact that you do not know how long it will last. It’s hard that people die, and I feel so sorry for those who have lost their loved ones or are fighting for their lives now. I’m even thinking about volunteering: helping out in clinics on weekends or buying groceries for the elderly. But I’m also afraid of getting infected because the long-term consequences of the coronavirus are still unknown. Recent research has shown that even people with mild symptoms may have respiratory problems in the future.
But I’m in a positive mood. I’m reconsidering my attitude toward life and the environment.
Less buying, less spending on unnecessary things, more self-development and thinking about others.
It’s time to stop a little and think about something more.
Time to get involved in the right way of life and put good habits into your routine and give up bad things.
People’s strength is in adapting to their circumstances. And I wish everyone not to despair and take the best of the situation. And, of course, good health to you and your loved ones!
People here in Germany are beautiful and responsible, are willing to sacrifice their freedom and personal preferences for the benefit of society as a whole. And you cannot stand aside when everybody is so united, tries to follow all the rules, and keeps their distance with people during quarantine.
As for our small German team, we try to ask each other every day how we are doing. But we’ve done it before, as we’ve been working from a distance for over two years and we live in different cities. I wouldn’t say that today’s coronavirus situation has had a big impact on our work.
Mike Vishnevsky, Head of Video
Tel Aviv, Israel
The situation in Israel is fairly good. We took measures early on and have been quarantining for about three weeks already — right after Purim. Currently, there are around 8,000 people infected, and 40 have died. The biggest hotbeds of COVID-19 are the overcrowded religious districts of Bnei Brak and Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim. The minister of health has recently tested positive, and now he along with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the head of Mossad are also on quarantine.
As for myself, my life hasn’t changed much. I’ve been working from home even before the COVID-19 outbreak. My ulpan, a Hebrew school for the new immigrants, was canceled just a week before the final exam, but now it has launched online courses and we are studying even though we were supposed to take a 1.5-month break. Life goes on.
Workwise things did not change significantly. Everyone from my team just took the computers and cameras home. Slack, Zoom and Frame allow Cointelegraph’s video department to work fully remotely. The team misses office snacks but proves it still can survive without them.
I live in the biggest city in Israel, Tel Aviv. I have roommates, so I don’t feel lonely: We go shopping together, party, watch movies and still don’t hate each other. Everyone is doing their own stuff and I am happy I don’t live alone.
At the moment, we are restricted from walking further than 100 meters from home — Otherwise, there is the risk of getting a pretty big fine (5,000 shekels, or almost $1,400). Recently, this led to clashes between some of the population in Jaffa with police. As summer is approaching, I feel it will be a bit more difficult to stay home, given I live very close to the beach.
I feel safe here, and I think Israel is very well prepared for such extreme events. First, Israel went through so many wars that it is always ready and has all the infrastructure in place. Second, Israeli medicine is one of the best in the world. My brother and his wife are doctors here, both their hospitals are being redone to only accept patients with the coronavirus, and I know that the process of treating COVID-19 patients has been thought through. Israel is already preparing a strategy to end the lockdown, with the first steps to take place on April 19.
My advice to those who are bored and are alone: Check out the StayTheFuckHomeBar. It is a virtual online bar where you can drink with random people and have fun.
Kristina Lucrezia Cornèr, Managing Editor
I am based in Padova, in northern Italy, just 10km from the place where the first cases of COVID-19 in Italy took place. We’ve been living in isolation for almost four weeks, not allowed to go farther than 200m from home. To go any extended distance, one has to have a special certificate. Shops and pharmacies are open — but only on weekdays, and you are only allowed to go to the closest one to your house. This situation will last at least until April 18. But, of course, everyone is preparing that it may be longer. Everyone is preparing for big financial losses. We are waiting for what will happen next.
For me personally, nothing changed from the professional point of view: I am working from home, just digitalizing my life even more than before. Suffering without my regular dance classes, I launched a platform for digital dancing for those who are stuck home. I am connected now with the universities I attended as a student to join courses that went digital. I talk to friends on the other side of the world, with whom I could not find time to communicate for years. I go outside to make a hundred steps around our house and feel how wonderful it is to have the prerogative of just walking under the sun.
We have definitely entered a period of economic recession. But it also gives us an opportunity to think of the future and what we want to see in it, which alternatives to global capitalism we could find in order to avoid such a global crisis in the future. It is quite clear that the world will never be the same, but it depends on us: whether we will use the lessons of 2020 to make it a better place to live or not to care.