Quarantine or Social Distancing

In a previous post I noted that there are almost nothing on my calendar, things I had to do. Yesterday I discovered there is a very low correlation between what is on my calendar and things that come up and have to get addressed in short order.  Yesterday was a very long day.

Here in Tampa, the city, county and state are all considering whether to issue a “stay at home” order as have states such as California, New York, New Jersey and others. A lot of people don’t realize that Florida is now the 3rd most populous state, so the decision is pretty critical.

Sometime last century I graduated college with a BS in Mathematics and from time to time I set aside the Bible, spiritual reading and the like, and take up a book about Mathematics – sometimes pure, some times applied – whatever strikes me as “well…that might be interesting!” One area I studied in graduate school was Operations Research (OR), a discipline that deals with the application of advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions. OR folks are assessing the effect of Covid-19 on supply chains, health care capacity, virus patient isolation models and strategies, joblessness rates, unemployment processing systems, and more than could be listed here. Most of the articles are steeped in language not geared for the non-specialist.

One area of study that we are all interested in these days are the effectiveness of quarantine/stay-at-home or social distancing. That difference has huge implications socially, spiritually, economically and in more ways that we are aware. Harry Stevens has an article in the Washington Post on “Why outbreaks like spread exponentially and how to ‘flatten the curve’.”  The article is very readable and is one of the practical features of where OR and simulation meet the all-too-real world. Beyond reading, the article has some great visuals that show simulations that speak to the effectiveness of quarantine, social-distancing, and a hybrid.

Take the time. It is a great article that opens up and much talked about topic – while it clearly point out the limits of its modeling. Nicely done!


The Washington Post is providing free access to this article and offering a sign-up for their “Coronavirus Update Newsletter.”

2 thoughts on “Quarantine or Social Distancing

  1. As a student nurse 50 years ago, I remember seeing a film about TB showing how the droplets fly when a patient sneezes or coughs without covering their mouth. When people cough without covering, a 6 foot distance is probably not enough. Sometimes oldies ( like me) can be the worst offenders. Youngsters are taught about coughing in your elbow these days. My mom used to say, “ when you cough or sneeze or sniff, do it in your handkerchief “. She always made sure, I had one in elementary school. By high school, I carried tissues but most did not. We oldies, are at higher risk but we may also be the worst offenders, second only to preschoolers 🤪!

  2. Great article Fr. George… Thanks for sharing… Now we have something else in common… In addition to being Brother Franciscans, I used to teach Operations Research to graduate students… I love ❤️ you, man‼️ Buzz

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