Wednesday, July 22, 2020

SearchResearch Challenge (7/22/20): What's the latest regulation about COVID-19?

I had a personal information challenge the other day... and I failed!  

Maybe this has happened to you as well.  

We were about to visit a friend's house for dinner--socially distanced, of course!  The plan was to go to their house and dine outdoors.  With the late afternoon breezes coming off the bay, it seemed like a safe-enough thing to do.  We'd be more than 2 meters (6 feet) apart at all times.  Why not?  

Monet's Garden Party - Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (right section), 1865–1866, with Gustave Courbet, Frédéric Bazille and Camille Doncieux, first wife of the artist, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Monet's Lunch on the grass - Le déjeuner sur l'herbe. Musée d'Orsay

It would just be the four of us in the garden at a long table under the trees.  I made a lovely nectarine-raspberry crostata for dessert, they supplied a kind of lentil-veggie stew and a couple bottles of wine.  

But as I was walking out the back door, warm crostata in hand, I noticed a headline on the hardcopy of today's local newspaper:  "Call it anti-social distancing" with a sentence in the first paragraph that caught my eye: "..backyard barbecues...are prohibited under the state's COVID-19 health order."


Was the thing I was about to do prohibited by the latest state regulation?  

Technically, what we were about to do wasn't a barbecue 
in any way (which is, as you know, a meal or get-together at which grilled foods are served--we didn't have a grill).   

Nevertheless, I thought I'd spend a few minutes and see if I could find the relevant state regulation.  

I checked the paper--maybe they'd have some useful links on the article.  Nope.  Unfortunately, this paper doesn't make the current edition available online until a day or two after hardcopy publication.  

I did the obvious searches and spent about 15 minutes searching around, but failed!  

This was a  frustrating experience, so naturally, I thought I'd turn it into a SearchResearch Challenge.  Can we come up with a search strategy for finding the latest and most relevant regulations about behavior?  

Here's the Challenge for this week: 

1.  Can you find the local--and CURRENT--COVID regulations about what is permissible behavior in your town/city/county/state?  Once you've found them, what was your strategy?  

This is clearly news you can use in our time of COVID.  

How does one find the currently operative regulations about whether you need to wear a mask, or limits on get-togethers, or length of self-quarantines?  

Clearly, we need to find the latest regulations.  But how can you do that?  How do you figure out what government agency has authority to issue health behavior regulations (or suggestions, as the case may be)?  

While I'm curious about what the regulations are where you live, I'm MUCH more interested in how you found those regulations.  What thought process did you follow to locate the relevant documents?  

Be sure to let us know what you did.  I fully expect that the strategies will be different from place-to-place.  (What works in Portugal might not work in California and probably won't work in Canada or Mexico.) 

I'll summarize what we find next week.. after we've figured out what is allowed. 

(For the record, we went and had a lovely dinner, blessed by zephyrs of ocean air, under the spreading branches of an apple tree as the sun set behind a grove of massive eucalyptus trees.)  

Search on! 


  1. I started at our the coronavirus web site by the Department of Health for my state. There are several links to FAQ's about the status.

    One of those links took me to governor's roadmap to reopening. Each county may be in a different stage of reopening. There was a map with links to each county where they post information about their phase and what is allowed and what is not.

    On the county site, there are PDFs with executive order details from the county chairperson.

  2. I am in British Columbia Canada so [BC ministry of health covid] which finds lots of good stuff right off the top.

    This also showed up:

    and BC Centre for Disease Control has lots

    Dr Bonnie Henry our wonderful Public Health Doctor says this which would apply to your situation on this page:

    “If you are hosting a small gathering, remember ‘fewer faces and bigger spaces.’ Keep your gatherings small, know everyone who is coming, stay outside as much as possible and have a designated ‘contact keeper’ so you are able to quickly alert everyone afterward, if necessary."

    This took no more than a minute or two to find.

  3. Just listen to our Dr Bonnie who gives a report like this nearly everyday. Here is today's

  4. Nectarine-raspberry crostata sounds delicious and I am very happy you had a fantastic time with your friends.

    Socially distanced is very important as it is the use of masks. I have always thought different name could be better because in this time we need to be closer socially and with more physical distance.

    While reading your news, I was wondering how states or cities can enforce those rules like the BBQ one. I think it is more about us than about governments and especially when we keep reading that someone says x and others says y and others say z. Of course, there are some rules that everyone should obey but even those aren't always enforced.

    In Mexico most of the messages are like if you can stay home. Some decrees had good intentions and bad outcomes. Here in Puebla, for a while we had a day without a car and that made that more public transport was used incrementing the infections. About masks, there is also a decree to wear them and if you don't there is no punishment. So I have seen many without it, especially men. Another case is restaurants. By decree there is only pick up or delivery to home. However, I have seen that some restaurants and other "not essential" businesses are in business and authorities just put attention to some.

    1. Can you find the local--and CURRENT--COVID regulations about what is permissible behavior in your town/city/county/state? Once you've found them, what was your strategy?

    My strategy was to find the quickest possible way the answers and also decided to follow Europe and other recommendations like Dr. Sanjay Gupta and U. S. Surgeon General's.

    To find the rules and data that are specific to follow and obey in Mexico and in Puebla:

    a) I search on Google [Puebla covid] and find data, news and lots of links to information.

    b) Then searched for official sources. And the quickest way was to find the Gobierno de Puebla Twitter account (Gob_Puebla). Then, I read our municipal government account to verify if there is news.

    c) To be informed about cases and how are we doing as a country and states, I found Dr. Erdely's Twitter account (ArturoErdely)

    d) When I need to find if a business is open, as an example, my strategy is to search for Social Media of that business.

    I like a lot the advice from Dr Bonnie Henry. Thanks Jon!

    1. Photos related to Social Distancing. In Mexico today many don't believe in masks, and many forget or doesn't care about social distancing. However, found these photos. The first is Canada vs the United States. The second is a funny one

      This photo, taken at Niagara Falls, shows the contrast between passengers on a Canadian boat VS one from the US. Posted by Martin Lindstrom

      Maybe Canada side is still closed and The United States is already open,

      social distancing as a diet

      While copy & paste the link, thinking how can we search for YouTube posts? We can use maybe site:youtube,com/post but I don't think that will help as no other description is available. I think the way is to go to some channel that we like and check if they have posts in the community tab.

    2. As I couldn't post in your Talk post ( it vanished in preview), I'm posting here.

      I liked " The Joy of Search" on Sonama Valley Authors talk! Thanks for sharing. For those, like me that couldn't watch live, if you register, you can still watch and enjoy at anytime

  5. Dan, I follow your blog posts by email and enjoy your posts but could you PLEASE change your font? It is almost illegible in my email, with overlapping rows. I can't be the only one experiencing this problem.

    1. Can you please send me a screenshot? It looks good on my test phones, so I wonder what's going on.

      Are other people having this issue as well?

    2. I read your blog on my PC and for some reason this post is in an enormous serif font. The replies are normal size, sans-serif.

    3. Screenshot. Browser is Chrome, PC is Win 10.

  6. I googled and the first site that came up was
    That site (updated yesterday) clearly states that you are supposed to stay home.
    "All individuals living in the State of California are currently ordered to stay home or at their place of residence, except for permitted work, local shopping or other permitted errands, or as otherwise authorized (including in the Questions & Answers below)".etc etc.
    New Zealand had full lockdown for about 8 weeks, and it worked! We are more or less back to normal now, just testing and catching cases at the border. The tourism industry is suffering, but most people are back to work and school. My overseas holiday is looking unlikely though...

    1. That is a good site: -- and it is updated frequently. It also gives links to each county's updated pages as well. Nice find.

  7. Our s has everything under the Department of Health and the site is updated regularly. I would not look anywhere else.

    1. Slight edit in your URL--I think it should be:

  8. Here in Manitoba (Canada), all the information is collected on our provincial government's COVID website - This is the specific link to the current public health orders (which I found by searching "public health orders" in the site's search box):

    I have heard that this is a good collection of other Canadian COVID-related laws, etc., but for some reason the link isn't working for me right now -

  9. Dandy 30 sec slo-mo vid of talking, coughing and sneezing showing how well various masks work.

    Stay at least 2 metres away from your screen. haha

    Gezunderheiten jon

  10. Here's another thing that might help make a decision about a face-to-face - without masks - backyard gathering during our current pandemic. There's a dashboard that provides level of risk for groups of people by county: The current risk level in my county for a group of 10 people is 35%. (You can use the slider on the left side of the screen to put the event size down to 10 people.) How do you happen to find this type of tool via a straight Google search?