There was a bit of ambivalence for me yesterday. The people who work in our hospitals posted “Stay at home”
But the official line from Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, is that we can and should go for a walk as long as we distance ourselves socially. This is clearly easier to achieve in some places than in others. The images that accompany this post show what was going on yesterday in Locarno Beach and Spanish Banks. The logs are now removed to prevent collection in one place.
Then this appeared on Facebook this morning. Everything below is a quote.
Good reading. Please share subject: Eye opening
Very, very important information from Jonathan Smith:
Hello everyone, as an epidemiologist for infectious diseases (even if only to a small extent), at this point in time feel morally obliged to provide some information about what we see from a transmission-dynamic perspective and how it is applied to the social distancing measures. Like any good scientist, I have noticed two things that are either not articulated or not found in the “literature” of social media. I also mark my much smarter friends of infectious disease epidemiologists for reviewing this post. Please correct me if I am wrong (seriously).
In particular, I would like to make two aspects of these measures very clear and unambiguous.
First, we are still in the early stages of this epidemic. This means that even with these measures, cases and deaths will continue to increase worldwide, nationally and in our own communities in the coming weeks. Our hospitals will be overwhelmed and people will die who didn’t have to. This could lead some people to believe that the social distancing measures are not working. They are. You can feel senseless. You are not. You will feel discouraged. You should. This is normal in chaos. But this is also a normal epidemic course. This enemy we face is very good at what he does; we don’t fail. We need everyone to keep the line, as the epidemic will inevitably worsen. That is not my opinion; This is the unforgiving math of the epidemics for which I and my colleagues have devoted our lives to understanding with great nuance, and this disease is no exception. We know what’s going to happen; I want to help the community prepare for this impact. Stay strong and show solidarity and know with absolute certainty that you will save lives even when people get sick and die. You may want to give in. Not.
Second, although social distancing measures have been well received (at least temporarily), there is an obvious but overlooked phenomenon when groups (i.e. families) are considered in the transmission dynamics. While social distancing reduces contact with members of society, it naturally increases your contacts with group members (i.e. family members). This small and obvious fact has surprisingly profound effects on the transmission dynamics of diseases. Study after study shows that even if there is little correlation between groups (i.e. social dinners, game dates / playgrounds, etc.), the course of the epidemic is not much different than if there were no action. The same principles of disease transmission apply, and the result is that the community has all social and economic disorders but very little public health benefit. You should see your entire family as a single entity. When a person puts himself at risk, everyone in the unit is at risk. Seemingly small social chains are growing large and complex at an alarming rate. If your son visits his girlfriend and you later sneak up for coffee with a neighbor, your neighbor is now connected to the infected office worker who the mother shook hands with your son’s girlfriend. That sounds silly, it isn’t. This is not a joke or a hypothesis. We as epidemiologists keep seeing it in the data and no one is listening. Conversely, any break in this chain interrupts the transmission of disease along that chain.
In contrast to hand washing and other personal measures, social distancing measures are not about individuals, but about societies that work in harmony. These measures also take a long time to see the results. It is difficult (even for me) to imagine how “a quick little get-together” can undermine the whole framework of an intervention in the area of public health, but it does. I promise you. I promise it. I promise it. I promise it. You can’t cheat on it. People are already itching to cheat on social distancing precautions just a “small” one – a game date, a haircut or picking up an unnecessary item in the store, etc. From a transmission dynamics point of view, this quickly restores a strongly connected social network undermines all the work the community has done so far.
Until we get a usable vaccine, this unprecedented outbreak will not be overcome in a grand, sweeping gesture, but only through the collection of individual decisions that our community will make in the coming months. This virus is unforgiving to unwise decisions. My goal in writing is to prevent communities from being “beaten up” by what the epidemiological community knows in the coming weeks. It will be easy to get involved in the idea that what we are doing is not working and be paralyzed by fear, or to “cheat” a bit in the coming weeks. Knowing what to expect and how important it is to maintain these measures, I hope to promote the continued community spirit, strategy and action to persevere in this time of uncertainty.
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