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Four Animated Simulations that Demonstrate How and Why "Social Distancing" Works


“Right now, myself personally, I wouldn’t go to a restaurant,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on the CBS Sunday morning show “Face the Nation” – right around the time that Rep. Devin Nunes was on Fox News, encouraging people to do just that.


“It’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant,” Fresno’s GOP congressman said on “Sunday Morning Futures." He added that the timing is perfect for folks to “get in easily” to their favored eateries.


And, after all, who you gonna’ believe – the nation’s leading authority on infectious disease epidemics or the guy who sued a fake cow for being mean to him on Twitter?



Alas, Nunes is not the only elected official urging people to get out there and party hearty amid the coronavirus pandemic (shout-out Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt!) even as politicians living back on Planet Earth struggle with whether to order shutdowns as crowds continue to defy the laws of science by cramming into favored restaurants.


As business owners try to cope with the economic ravages of COVID-19, however, "social distancing" appears to be one of the few effective strategies now available against the pandemic, in the absence of a vaccine, a shortage of testing kits and necessary hospital facilities and the Trump Administration's slow and botched reaction to the pandemic.


The just-stay-home method works, not only by reducing direct contacts between those who may be unknowingly carrying and shedding the virus and and previously uninfected people, but also - and more importantly, in the long term - by "flattening the curve" of its exponential spread, effectively slowing it down to help prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.




The clearest demonstration of exactly how social distancing works that we've found comes via an interactive simulation in today’s Washington Post, which displays in real time the impact of a hypothetical disease under four scenarios – “free-for-all” no-social-distancing; an attempted quarantine; moderate distancing and extensive distancing.


The interactive simulations were prepared by Post graphics reporter Harry Stevens. Newsmakers says check it out.


Images: Anthony Fauci (CBS News); Devin Nunes, plaintiff, and defendant fake cow (Washington Post); Chart showing graph of four simulations of effect of social distancing on disease spread (Post).



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