Physical distancing seems to be working in Seattle: report

Apr 15 2020, 9:01 pm

We’ve got some good news for you: a new report has revealed that King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties are seeing positive results from physical distancing efforts.

Since the implementation of Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, the measure of how many new infections a single coronavirus infection will produce has dropped in King County, with similar trends observed in Snohomish and Pierce counties.

“We know the sacrifices and uncertainty families, businesses, schools and communities across Washington have faced. This new report confirms that working together through this crisis with unwavering commitment is slowing this serious disease,” said Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy in a press release.

The report comes from Bellevue-based Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM), who provided enhanced results from previous virus transmission models that analyzed the overall mobility of people in King County, both before and after physical distancing policies were announced.

In addition to the IDM model, the University of Washington has revealed a visualization of how physical distancing networks work, and why we are not yet in the clear to go back to life as normal.

The UW model aimed to answer the question “Is there really so much harm in meeting up with just one friend?”

The below images show a community with 200 households. The green dots represent households, and the gray lines represent links between members of two households. Blue dots are households with essential workers.

Life before coronavirus:

Perfect isolation:

If one in 10 households contain an essential worker, these are the connections they could make:

Here’s what happens if an average of two people per household decide to visit “just one friend”:

Here’s what happens if just one person from each household is able to visit one friend:

Although the dots aren’t a perfect representation, they do show how reducing connectivity through social networks continues to help the general public.

As Jeff Duchin said in a press conference, “Now is not the time to relax; we need to continue with the current measures and further decrease transmission. The threat of a rebound that could overwhelm the healthcare system remains if we let up too soon.”

Washington state currently has 10,694 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 541 deaths.

Alyssa TherrienAlyssa Therrien

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