Tag Archives: guest blogger

Guest Post: Why social distancing works

NOTE: Updated 3-21-20 — 8 months in the second to the last paragraph was incorrect. Dean asked me to change it to 8 weeks.

My husband is a biostatistician for the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). He sent my kids and me an email explaining why social distancing works. (Emphasis mine)

Here’s something I wrote up about social distancing.

If life continued without change, on average, someone with COVID-19 might infect somewhere around 3 others. And it takes about 6 days, say a week, for someone to infect others.

So in two months just from that one person we go from 1 to 3 to 9 to 27 to 81 to 243 to 729 to 2187. All from one person.

With social distancing suppose that we reduce this to 2. Now in 2 months we go from 1 to 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 to 32 to 64 to 128. Still explosive growth but 128 is about twenty times less than 2187. While most people who are infected don’t need to be hospitalized, there are still twenty times as many hospitalizations if we do nothing.

In fact we want to reduce this number (called R0 or R-naught) to way less than 2. If it is 1.25, then after 8 weeks we expect about 5 cases. And if we keep it less than 1, the epidemic will die out.

That’s why governments are introducing drastic measures. If we keep the growth down, the hospitals can better handle the cases. We can better learn how to treat cases. We can do studies to find what treatments really work and which give false hope. And it buys us time to evaluate vaccines.

Rupert Bear’s open letter to Google

I’ve been busy trying to learn how to make PDF files accessible, so I’ve recruited a guest blogger today. He’s in a foul mood though… Sorry about that.

He wanted send a message to Google about today’s Google Doodle.

I give you, Rupert the Bear.

Dear Google,

This morning when I logged onto my computer home page I couldn’t help but notice that you are paying homage to Paddington Bear on the anniversary of his 50th year. While I don’t mean to take away from Paddington’s celebrations, I must admit to feeling a little left out. Only three years ago I celebrated my 85th anniversary, and did anyone at Google make me a Google Doodle? Nope. Not even a sketch. I mean, 85 is awfully old for a bear.

You may or may not know, but Paddington and I have a long-time rivalry. Here in the States, where I’m now staying with Dona and her family, no one knows who I am. Everyone thinks I’m Paddington. They don’t even know I was around first!

Dona tried a website about my adventures, but the rhyming scheme just got too much for her.

But I digress.  Google, I’m fully expecting that in the year 2020, on 8 November, you will dedicate a Google Doodle to me for my 100th anniversary. I even made one for you, so you don’t have to do any work. Just put it on your Google calendar. Or send yourself a Gmail.


Rupert Bear
Formally of Nutwood.

PS I’m not that other bear either — the one that cannot spell and who lives in the Hundred Acre Woods.