If you’re still debating whether social distancing is really necessary, watch this.
Barack Obama wants you to engage in social distancing, and he’ll tell you why.
The former President was one of the many re-sharing a frightening infection simulator over the weekend which showed just how fast the coronavirus can and will spread if left unchecked.
“Watch this,” Obama wrote. “It shows why we should all do the right thing and stay home to the fullest extent possible. All of us can help slow the spread of the virus, protecting the elderly, the vulnerable, and each other.”
Published by The Washington Post, it plots a curve of population infection in four different scenarios: free-for-all, forced quarantine, moderate social distancing, extensive social distancing.
The simulations are randomly generated and completely unique for every person who views them.
They show a box, representing a town of 200, with 199 blue ‘healthy’ dots and one brown ‘sick’ one. As the dots are left to move randomly, watch how scarily quick that one brown dot infects every other in the box, with each bump spreading the ‘simulitis’ virus exponentially.
“Our simulation town is small — about the size of Whittier, Alaska — so simulitis was able to spread quickly across the entire population,” the article warns. “In a country like the United States, with its 330 million people, the curve could steepen for a long time before it started to slow.”
The second simulation proposes a forced quarantine — like the one imposed on the epicenter of Wuhan, China. In this simulation, a quarter of the population are walled off with patient zero, who quickly infects them all… but then a gap in the wall appears, and infected people slowly start to leak out, before once again infecting everyone with jarring speed.
“Whoops! As heath experts would expect, it proved impossible to completely seal off the sick population from the healthy,” the article points out.
A third simulation shows moderate social distancing, in which 75 percent of the dots remain stationary, while only 25 move around, including patient zero, and the difference in the infection rate is stark.
The final simulation shows what happens when only one in every eight people move around; even those with the floppiest grip on math will see why it is important to maintain social distancing during the current outbreak.
Unfortunately, there are differences between simulitis and coronavirus. Simulitis patients cannot be reinfected once they recover; and everyone eventually recovers from simulitis. Some COVID-19 patients have contracted the virus twice; while eight per cent of all resolved cases have resulted in death.
“Simulitis is not covid-19, and these simulations vastly oversimplify the complexity if real life,” the author warned. “Yet just as Simulitis spread through the networks of bouncing balls on your screen, covid-19 is spreading through our human networks — through our communities, our workplaces, our towns, our families. And, like a bouncing ball across the screen, a single person’s behavior can cause ripple effects that touch faraway people.”
There have been more than 175,000 cases of coronavirus worldwide so far, and more than 6,700 deaths.