Saw this good explanation on Nextdoor.com today. It's reassuring so you may want to share it with friends or family who are worried.
We hear about Social Distancing and have several measures implemented to encourage it in Riverside County but the reason for it doesn't seem to be well communicated. I think it would be helpful if we understood why. While I am not involved in the decisions I am aware of the study conducted recommending Social Distancing and it doesn't take an expert to see its relevance to the Riverside community.
The study being performed by Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science first examines the demographics of various jurisdictions looking for demographic differences and uses the data to identify where new hotspots are likely to occur. The results are not surprising, communities with aging populations are hit the hardest. Italy has the second-largest percentage of seniors in the world and has the greatest number of deaths outside of China. These demographics combined with cultural practices that encourage integration between the old and young is considered the reason for the severity of the pandemic in Italy.
The researchers also look for outliers where regions have beaten the odds. This is where Social Distancing is shown to be important. When the pandemic first started in Italy there were few measures in place to discourage interaction between the old and young. The mortality rate near the epicenter is very high. As Covid-19 spread to adjacent regions some authorities implemented Social Distancing measures and these regions are experiencing a flattening of the infection curve and, more importantly, lower mortality rates. The evidence was presented in a report called "Demographic Science & COVID-19". I would paste a link but I got the report through a paid science publication subscription service. I don't know if it's been made available for public consumption and it's too analytical for most people's tastes.
Riverside County has similar demographics to Italy, albeit there tends to be less interaction between old and young, but the lesson learned from Italy can still save lives. A few things I think we can take away from this:
1) Social Distancing works.
2) It's not just about social distancing to flatten the infection curve, it's also about distancing the old and the young. Practices such as young adults delivering goods to the elderly or grandparents babysitting the grandkids because of the school closures may have unintended consequences.
3) It's not about this pandemic being worse than other pandemics. It's about learning from experience and mitigating the consequences by implementing better measures than we previously used. We are learning society that improves with each pandemic and doesn't just accept fate out of laziness or unwillingness to change. With each pandemic, we have gotten better and now that we know Social Distancing can save lives, let's do our best to implement it.
Another thing that makes Covid-19 unique is the degree to which it impacts groups with certain vulnerabilities (compromised respiratory, cardio or immune systems) which are more common amongst the elderly. Not all viruses are so targeted or deadly. Since the pandemic began our ability to cure the infections has drastically increased and is increasing more. The initial mortality rate was 20%. It has been speculated that within a few months the mortality rate can be reduced to less than 1%. A flatter infection curve provides more time to fine-tune our medical approach and save more lives.
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