Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve” — The Washington Post #COVID-19

From The Washington Post (Harry Stevens). Click through for the full story and the interactive graphics. Here’s an excerpt:

After the first case of covid-19, the disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus, was announced in the United States, reports of further infections trickled in slowly. Two months later, that trickle has turned into a steady current.

Graphic credit: The Washington Post

This so-called exponential curve has experts worried. If the number of cases were to continue to double every three days, there would be about a hundred million cases in the United States by May.

That is math, not prophecy. The spread can be slowed, public health professionals say, if people practice “social distancing” by avoiding public spaces and generally limiting their movement.

Still, without any measures to slow it down, covid-19 will continue to spread exponentially for months. To understand why, it is instructive to simulate the spread of a fake disease through a population…

Even with different results, moderate social distancing will usually outperform the attempted quarantine, and extensive social distancing usually works best of all. Below is a comparison of your results.