Coronavirus Containment Reference Mode

I ran across this twitter thread this morning, describing how a focus on border security and containment of existing cases has failed to prevent the takeoff of coronavirus.

Here’s the data on US confirmed cases that goes with it:

US confirmed coronavirus cases, as of 3/2/2019. Source: Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard, https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

It’s easy to see how this behavior could lure managers into a self-confirming attributions trap. After a surge of imports, they close the borders. Cases flatten. Problem solved. Why go looking for trouble?

The problem is that containment alone doesn’t work, because the structure of the system defeats it. You can’t intercept every infected person, because some are exposed but not yet symptomatic, or have mild cases. As soon as a few of these people slip into the wild, the positive loops that drive infection operate as they always have. Once the virus is in the wild, it’s essential to change behavior enough to lower its reproduction below replacement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× 1 = 4

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.