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Social Distancing

Why you need to do this now, and stop bitching about it …

If we stop and consider the mathematics of our current crisis, we can quickly see why this strategy of “social distancing” works. If we consider the data from China and Italy, we should expect that the number of cases of COVID-19 to increase every two weeks. This will continue up to the point where we fully embrace social distancing.

Here is the exponential growth by date:

Jan. 14 — 0
Jan. 21 — 1
Jan. 28 — 5
Feb. 4 — 11
Feb. 11 — 14
Feb. 18 — 25
Feb. 25 — 59
Mar. 3 — 125
Mar. 10 — 1,004
Mar. 12 – 1,215
Mar. 15 – 3,492

Here is what that looks like in terms of new cases per day.

If this keeps going, by May 1 we’ll have to deal with over 1.2 million of our fellow Americans suffering from COVID-19. In real terms, based on the availability of hospital ICU beds and respirators, this means we’ll be looking at somewhere between 30,000 and 57,000 funerals. That’s a whole lot of suck.

It doesn’t have to go this way. If we hunker down, starting immediately, in our homes with our families, we can put a stop to this. Making America Think Harder about this is important. Math shows us the value of this thing we call social distancing, clear as day.

This isn’t even very hard math. It is a matter of simple probability. If you want to understand why we need to stay home and avoid congregating together, we need only to look at crowd size and infection rate.

Consider that our overall infection rate might be around 10,000 US residents. Assume (incorrectly), an even distribution across the country. If we then consider the population of several larger cities in the US, we can quickly see why gatherings of 500 people are quite inadvisable.

PopulationEqually distributed rate per 100,000 peopleLikely number of infected persons at an event with 10 peopleLikely number of infected persons at an event with 500 people
Boston685,2000.000195740.001957410.09787057
SF Bay Area7,753,1000.002215140.022151431.10757143
New York8,622,6000.002463630.024636281.231814
Los Angeles3,999,8000.001142790.011427880.57139414

I mean a gathering of 500 people in LA, SF, or NY will likely have one infectious person in attendance. Thats not the worst of it, the worst of it is that this is based on the UN-TRUE assumption that the disease is EQUALLY DISTRIBUTED across the entire US population. Which is why we need to do massive amounts of testing. Without knowing where the real risks are, it is hard to anticipate where even a gathering of 10 people is likely to cause a problem.

So, what to do? Back to social distancing. Like seriously, stay the fuck home people! Our government cannot, at present, tell us the real rate of risk due to a lack of testing. Everything is going to look like an overreaction, until it doesn’t. Literally, the best thing you can do, for you, for your family, for America is find a way to stay home.

If you are in a leadership role at a company, get your employees home, and working from home. If they can’t work from home, then pay them to be at home anyway. At least for the next 14 to 28 days.

It bears mentioning that social distancing is not the same thing as isolation or self-quarantine. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have to never, ever, ever leave. It simply means that when you are out, you need to be mindful about keeping that a 2-3 meter distance between yourself and others (except other currently healthy people you live with).

Social Distancing in a nutshell:

  • No hugs and kisses
  • No handshakes
  • No high fives / fist bumps.
  • Skip concerts, stage plays, sporting events, or any other mass entertainment events.
  • Refrain from visiting museums, exhibitions, movie theaters, night clubs, and other entertainment venues.
  • Stay away from social gatherings and events, like club meetings, religious services, and private parties.
  • Reduce travel to a minimum.
  • Skip traveling long distances if not absolutely necessary.
  • Skip using public transportation unless absolutely necessary.
  • If you can work from home, work from home.
  • Urge your employer to allow remote work if they don’t already.
  • Replace as many social interactions as possible with remote alternatives like phone calls or video chat.
  • When you do have to leave your home to go to the store for food or medicine keep that 2-3 meter distance between yourself and others.
  • Make sure you are getting out and walking around (again while keeping 2-3 meters away from others) because walking / moderate exercise both promote healthy immune function.

Now, IF you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, in particular:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

THEN do this:

Stay smart. Keep up to date at the CDC’s site. Stay together with your family unit as much as possible. Encourage your employer to allow you to work from home. If you are higher risk you will need to take even more precautions.

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