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Why social distancing and staying at home works

Many across the state and country are probably getting tired of staying in their homes. They may question whether it really makes a difference in reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

Well, it does. And it does in a really big way.

Here's why: Compounding. 

Like investing money in the stock market. For instance if you and a colleague both work at the same job for 40 years. You invest $200 per month for 10 years in a stock fund and stop investing, but your colleague starts investing when you stop, and invests $200 per month for the next 30 years in the same stock fund as you did. You invest nothing during this time. Both of you see a return of 7% per year on your investment.

You both leave all the money you have invested in the stock fund until you reach 60.  

You will have invested around $50,000 less than your colleague, but at age 60, you will have more money in your account than they will. 

This is the power of compounding.

The virus relies on compounding, too. 

Every 6.2 days, the virus doubles the number of people infected. On average a person infected with COVID-19 infects 2.5-3 new people.


But for the sake of easier math, let’s assume a virally infected person infects only 2 more people every 6 days. 

In 10 doublings - an single infected person will infect over 1000 other people, a sequence of infected people of  2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024. Given a doubling time of 6 days, that would be the result of a single person spreading the virus in 60 days or 2 months.

It grows logarithmically.  

If that person is not detected and continues to spread person to person, in another 60 days, that person will have led to the infection of 1 million people. In another 60 days, that person will have led to the infection of 1 billion people.

The impact of compounding. 

Like money, the virus thrives on unimpeded compounding. 

What happens if we break that cycle early?

Lets study San Francisco versus New York City. 

On March 16, New York City and the Bay Area had the same number of COVID-19 cases. San Francisco went to a stay at home order and New York City did not. 6 days later, SF had 1023 COVID-19 positive people, New York City had 15,507 COVID-19 positive people.

The life blood of the spread of the virus is us. 

We pass the virus to each other and unless we break that cycle of connectivity early, we give the virus an opportunity to compound. 

That is how we use our power to stop this logarithmic spread.  

If we break the cycle early, we break the compounding effect of spread. 

That is what we are doing.

Using our power to disable the compounding effect of the virus. 

Thank you, West Virginia. You are making a real difference.

Keep it up.