This Calculator Shows The Impact That Your Self Isolation Has In Flattening The Curve

Published on April 3, 2020

It’s hard to truly picture the impact that self isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic because if we all do it right, it will look like we over-reacted to a problem that could have easily been far-worse than it already is. Scientists have shown us in recent weeks that self isolating can help stop the spread of the virus, but without knowing exactly how we’re all helping or not helping it’s hard to visualize what our efforts are coming to.

A new algorithm designed by a student at Jagiellonian University in Poland named Anna Szczepanek shows exactly how many lives you could potentially save through self isolation during these key weeks of the COVID-pandemic. “I turned to a physicist, Dominik Czernia and together we based the calculator on research by the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases COVID-19,” said Szczepanek in a statement to Grit Daily. “The tool shows how many lives you can save by isolating yourself in a given outbreak scenario,” Szczepanek said.

Social distancing measures were put in place to save lives, but it’s hard to see just how many.

Users input some essential information into the calculator such as how often you go out and how distant you stay from others when you do go out in public. The numbers range from zero social distancing measures at all, to complete isolation except for gathering supplies from a local grocer or essential business.

The calculator works for all outbreaks and users can adjust other scientific information such as the initial cases, the R-naught (the rough average of how many infections result from a single infection), and the time it takes patients to self isolate completely once symptoms begin to appear, as recommended by a local government.

Tracking your own social distancing progress.

With the numbers already set to accommodate to Coronavirus, all you would have to do is input your own efforts into the calculator to see exactly how many lives you, alone, are saving by staying home. Let’s say you’ve stayed at home 100% of the time because you are able to, that could mean you’re saving the maximum number of people.

I have not left my house in weeks, except for a couple of grocery store trips that were limited to essential supplies only (including to pick up a copy of Animal Crossing). My results, based on that input, says that I can protect as many as 399 immediate people from infection (and likely more, as those people would infect others, and so on), resulting in as many as 14 lives saved. That’s enough to keep me at home for the foreseeable future.

You can check out the calculator to see how your own self isolation efforts are helping to flatten the curve right here.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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