Hold the Line.
‘This virus is unforgiving to unwise choices’
As an infectious disease epidemiologist (albeit a junior one), I feel morally obligated to provide information on what we are seeing from a transmission dynamic perspective and how it applies to the social distancing measures. Like any good scientist, I have noticed two things that are either not well articulated or not present in the “literature” of online media. I have also relied on other infectious disease epidemiologists for peer review of this piece.
Specifically, I want to make two aspects of these distancing measures very clear and unambiguous.
First, we are in the very infancy of this epidemic’s trajectory. That means that even with these measures in place, we will see cases and deaths continue to rise globally, nationally, and in our own communities. This may lead some to think that the social distancing measures are not working. They are. They may feel futile. They aren’t. You will feel discouraged. You should. This is normal in chaos. This is the normal epidemic trajectory. Stay calm.
The enemy we are facing is very good at what it does; we are not failing. We need everyone to hold the line as the epidemic inevitably gets worse. This is not an opinion. This is the unforgiving math of epidemics for which I and my colleagues have dedicated our lives to understanding with great nuance, and this disease is no exception. Stay strong and in solidarity knowing that what you are doing is saving lives, even as people continue getting sick and dying. You may feel like giving in. Don’t.
You should perceive your entire family to function as a single individual unit: if one person puts themselves at risk, everyone in the unit is at risk.
Second, although social distancing measures have been (at least temporarily) well received, there is an obvious-but-overlooked phenomenon when considering groups (i.e. households) in transmission dynamics. While social distancing decreases contact with members of society, it of course increases contact within a group (i.e. family). This small and obvious fact has surprisingly profound implications on disease transmission dynamics. The basic mechanics of this…