The most important thing to know about social distancing

By Mark Kaufman
Mashable
March 24, 2020

You’re watching the numbers go up every day.

Yet, mayors and governors around the nation have ordered Americans to stay inside. Sports are canceled. Birthday parties are canceled. The Rolling Stones tour is canceled. Pick-up basketball in parks, canceled.

When will these unprecedented social distancing measures — intended to significantly reduce the uncontrolled rise in new coronavirus infections — work? When is the big payoff? The answer is to be patient, and expect to be patient for perhaps a month, if not considerably longer. Social distancing doesn’t pay off immediately. It can’t…

“The immediate goal is to protect our healthcare capacity,” said Amanda Simanek, an associate professor in epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Continued, prolonged periods of social distancing will be uncomfortable for us, a hyper-social species. But, we’re up against a microbe that has easily spread around the globe, and will continue spreading if we present it with more willing hosts — us.

“[Social distancing] can seem daunting to the American people,” said Simanek. “But it’s better to overreact, than to lose time because we underreacted,” which would mean more infections than we can handle.

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