Saturday, March 28, 2020

Flattening the curve by social distancing - Evidence from 1918

Social distsancing
Evidence from 1918 for social distancing.
Weekly deaths per 100,000 from 1918 pandemic
above the expected death rate.
Shaded bar is duration of social distancing.

National Geographic reports on How some cities ‘flattened the curve’ during the 1918 flu pandemic. Social distancing isn’t a new idea—it saved thousands of American lives during the last great pandemic. Here’s how it worked.

From left to right, top to bottom:

“Philadelphia waited eight days after their death rate began to take off before banning gatherings and closing schools. They endured the highest peak death rate of all cities studied.” 748 deaths per 100,000 during 24 weeks.

“After relaxing social distancing measures, San Francisco faced a long second wave of deaths.” 673 deaths

“New York City began quarantine measures very early—11 days before the death rate spiked. The city had the lowest death rate on the Eastern Seaboard.” 452 deaths

“St. Louis had strong social distancing measures and a low total death rate. The city successfully delayed its peak in deaths, but faced a sharp increase when restrictions were temporarily relaxed.” 358 deaths

For data on more cities consult the National G report.

And here’s an instance of what happened when social distancing was not implemented.

PHILADELPHIA DETECTED ITS first case of a deadly, fast-spreading strain of influenza on September 17, 1918. The next day, in an attempt to halt the virus’ spread, city officials launched a campaign against coughing, spitting, and sneezing in public. Yet 10 days later— despite the prospect of an epidemic at its doorstep—the city hosted a parade that 200,000 people attended.

We cannot afford an Easter opening - unless we want to do the Philadelphia thing for the whole nation. And that would trigger a catastrophic Trumpidemic.

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