To circle back a bit on something I said yesterday… with a bit more detail…
The incubation period of a virus (which is up to 14 days in this case) indicates the period of time where someone might be infected, but not show any symptoms. Some viruses can be contagious during that time… as is this one.
In B.C., we were told to go home (and stay home) sometime around March 16th — 11 days ago. It was a bit of a loosey-goosey following to begin with… but it tightened up a few days later… 19th or 20th. Let’s call it 8 days ago.
With an incubation period of max 14 days… and without a serious lockdown until 8 days ago, we have a trailing 6 days where we were all going about our daily business, feeling fine and possibly not too concerned about the possibility of either passing this off or getting this from — someone else. Unfortunately, during that time, both of those things could have happened.
Which means, at this moment, we have this big unknown for the next 6 days… where we might see a spike in cases. The degree of that spike remains to be seen. That’s the potentially bad news.
The potentially good news, however… is that not all cases take to the last minute to show up, so we can learn a bit about what’s happened so far. During these 8 to 11 days of isolation, cases have certainly shown up… and our (for the moment, and hopefully forever) very capable medical infrastructure has been dealing with them.
Also, every single case that developed during that time in (proper) isolation, infected, at most, the people isolated around them. Let’s say that person is isolated in a home with 2 others. The N went to, at most, 3N.
What would have happened if that person were wandering around, not isolated?
R0 (“R nought”) is the number assigned to describe on average how many people someone who’s infected is likely to themselves infect. COVID-19 seems to have a R0 of around 2.2.
So… that one person, instead of infecting just those closely around them, might be outside somewhere infecting 2 or 3 random people. And those people might each infect more people. And if that’s happening every few days, after 3 weeks, that’s repeated 7 times… and now there are 250 cases. All from that one person, if they, and everyone else below them, infected an average of 2.2 others.
That is exponential growth. That is that scary growing curve we’re seeing in many places, like the U.S. That is why you always try to pay-off your entire credit card. That is why you try to keep your money where it’s earning interest that’s compounding. That’s why you’d better know what you’re doing if you’re breeding rabbits. And that is why physical isolation is so ridiculously important… and, when done correctly, effective. One person can make a colossal difference.
Guess what — that one person may have been you, and you didn’t even know it because you never developed symptoms. But by being responsible and staying isolated and not passing it along to someone else… well, one or more of those 250 could have developed serious (even fatal) symptoms. But they didn’t, because you’re doing the right thing. You may actually have saved a life.
And a bit of further potentially good news… at least here in B.C., there is most definitely a flattening of that curve. The numbers are certainly growing, but the growth is linear, not exponential. Like that N that turned into 3N instead of 250N. It’s growing, but not as steeply as the scary scenarios. Including a spike of 83 new cases 11 days ago, the average increase in cases in B.C. during that time has been 63 daily. Today was 67. Yesterday was 66. That yellow line is so linear you can put a ruler to it. For now.
As for all of Canada… well, there’s a definite separation between us and the U.S. We have had 4 straight days of decreasing growth, on a percentage basis. For now, that national curve is also flattening, and gapping notably with the emerging disaster south of the border.
I find myself saying “for now” a lot, and it’s because we’re dealing with a lot of unknowns. Like what the next week may bring. But if you want to be cautiously optimistic, it would appear that just one week of physical isolation is having a very measurable, positive effect.
And if that is the case, now is the perfect time to not go out rejoicing in the streets. The thing to do is what you’re doing. Stay home. What else are you going to do, anyway… it’s rain for the next several days. Yay Vancouver weather!!
That’s it. It’s not too much to ask. You’re not being called to charge Vimy Ridge. You’re not being called to storm the beach at Normandy. You’re being called to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. I have all the faith in the world you’re up to the task.