Research on Social Distancing – it IS effective

By March 30, 2020 COVID-19

The graph above was pulled from this article.

The pandemic Spanish flu of 1918 was the Influenza A subtype H1N1 virus. According to the CDC, it was first identified in the spring, and about 500 million people or 1/3 of the world’s population became infected. The death toll was estimated at 50 million worldwide and 675,000 in the U.S.

At that time, there were no antibiotics to fight the secondary complications caused by the flu, and our medical technology was far inferior to what it is today. The main way to control the spread of disease was through isolation.

There is a famous case history from this time looking at Philadelphia and St. Louis

Philadelphia did not implement social distancing and experienced a significant surge in cases while St. Louis closed the city down and very effectively decreased the spread. Just for comparison, some statistics on the seasonal flu virus, according to the CDC.

2018: 42.9 million people got sick, 647,000 hospitalized and 61,200 died

2019: 3.7 million people go sick, about 41,000 hospitalizations and approximately 3,300 flu-related deaths

Coronavirus (COVID-19) stats per the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resouce Center (as of this writing 3-29-20) – https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html:
Globally: 722,289 people infected and 33,984 deaths
U.S.: 142,356 infected and 2,493 deaths
NC: 1,167 cases

Social Distancing Is Necessary to Help Flatten the Curve

The numbers for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) look small in comparison to the seasonal flu. However, its ability to spread is exponential. Exponential spread means the numbers will be rapidly increasing in the coming days because it transmits more readily than the regular influenza virus. The incubation period is longer, so people can be transmitting the virus up to two weeks before they even know they are infected. And some people (especially those below 50) may not develop symptoms. In addition, we are not testing everyone currently in the U.S. because we don’t have enough test kits. Therefore, it is unclear how accurate these numbers are. Just how rapidly it spreads and how sick it can make our most vulnerable is part of what makes it so serious since we have no direct anti-viral medication so far that is known to be effective nor do we have a vaccine.
You can learn more about the research on social distancing by watching the replay of my Live Q&A Research on Social Distancing – it IS effective WATCH NOW