Seattle Flattens Curve from R0=2.7 to 1.4
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From the New York Times:

Coronavirus Slowdown in Seattle Suggests Restrictions Are Working

Officials in Washington State worry that their gains are precarious, but they see evidence that containment strategies have lowered the rate of virus transmission.

By Mike Baker
March 29, 2020

SEATTLE — The Seattle area, home of the first known coronavirus case in the United States and the place where the virus claimed 37 of its first 50 victims, is now seeing evidence that strict containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off — at least for now.

Deaths are not rising as fast as they are in other states. Dramatic declines in street traffic show that people are staying home. Hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed. And preliminary statistical models provided to public officials in Washington State suggest that the spread of the virus has slowed in the Seattle area in recent days.

While each infected person was spreading the virus to an average of 2.7 other people earlier in March, that number appears to have dropped, with one projection suggesting that it was now down to 1.4. …

The problem is that 1.4 is still bad: a typical flu has an R0 of about 1.3, and flus spread rapidly. As I pointed out 3 weeks ago, we need to crush the curve below 1.0.

The progress is precarious, and the data, which was still being analyzed and has yet to be published, is uncertain. Officials said that expansive social distancing policies will remain a key part of daily life for weeks to come.

But the findings offer a measure of hope that the emergency measures that have disrupted life in much of the nation can be effective in slowing the spread of the disease. …

President Trump said on Sunday that the federal government’s guidelines for social distancing would remain in place until April 30, backing down from his previous comments that he hoped the country could go back to work by Easter. …

While the restrictions have apparently helped slow the virus, they have devastated businesses, in particular restaurants and hotels.

… Washington state, which enacted some of the nation’s earliest and most stringent containment policies, has continued to see its death toll climb: The state recorded 23 deaths on Friday, the most in a single day since the outbreak began; 16 were in King County, which includes Seattle. …

The death toll has been doubling about every eight days in Washington, compared with every two or three days in New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Louisiana.

Doubling every eight days is still really bad, but it’s progress.

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