01 May Epidemiology 101
This requires an advanced degree in common sense..
When the two urgent care physicians from Bakersfield used smoke and mirrors to egregiously massage their data and mislead the American public regarding social distancing, I knew it was important to share some basic tenets of math and biology.
Let’s start with the R0-value, also known as the “basic reproductive number.” The R0-value indicates the number of secondary infections generated from one infected individual in a naive population. If the R0-value is greater than one, that means the infections are on the rise. The graph will go up. If the R0-value is less than one that means the infection rate is on the decline. The graph will go down. Currently the R0 value for COVID-19 in the US is between 2-3. That means we are still on the rise, and in a serious way, in the number of infections.
Next— Flattening the Curve. The buzz phrase “flattening the curve” means that we have been successful in not overwhelming the healthcare system. In the mind of experts, flattening the curve involves reducing the number of new COVID-19 cases from one day to the next. A flattened curve looks how it sounds: flat. A flattened curve will show a downward trend in the number of daily new cases. The graph to your right reflects the number of confirmed cases globally. China and Asia have basically accomplished this goal of flattening the curve, but the remainder of the world has not.
I hear arguments that the healthy population should be able to go back to work as we can easily isolate the elderly and infirm. Well.. If isolating the elderly and infirm is so easy, then why haven’t we been able to do it? The elderly are dying in record numbers, and that is with utilizing social distancing. If we reopen the country, how is that going to improve isolating the elderly?
I encourage everyone to turn off their TV’s and quit watching Fox News or CNN or MSNBC. Go to ourworldindata.org or worldometers.info and look at the numbers yourself. Are the infection rates decreasing? Is the R0 value less than one? Is the graph flat and heading downward? If the answer is “no” to any of the above, then this is not the time to open the country back up.