Why is it so important to avoid social contact ?
On the left, each person has frequent direct contact with others. Within a very short time, everyone is infected and hospitals are quickly overburdened. The black line in the graph represents hospital capacity.
On the right, only 25 out of 200 people move freely. All others self-isolate at home. It takes much longer for everyone to get infected. Hospitals can treat all patients because they don’t arrive all at once.
Both animations show 200 people. Many more people die in the left simulation (without social distancing) than the right (with social distancing). Both animations simulate how contact frequency affects the spread of the virus and are not based on real-world data.
The Washington Post was the first newspaper to publish this type of chart. Health researcher Drew Harris criticized the Washington Post for not considering deaths due to the virus. We extended their simulation to include deaths (case fatality rate within hospital capacity of about 0.5 %).