Shannon Roddel | April 4, 2020
Social distancing — the main containment strategy for the coronavirus pandemic — is showing tentative results in lowering the rate of transmission in several U.S. cities.
Not only does social distancing work to slow the spread of the virus, it’s an exercise in probability, according to Richard Sheehan, finance professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.
Sheehan, who specializes in applied econometrics, has developed a model that shows viral transmission as a probability rather than a certainty and demonstrates how social distancing — or changing the probabilities — slows the spread.
Sheehan calculates higher numbers of infections and deaths under current plans for containment than other models currently being shared. His predictions so far have been accurate, but his emphasis on how our behavior can improve the odds is an encouraging sign as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds.
“I think people deserve the truth,” Sheehan said. “And I think that Dr. Anthony Fauci has, certainly, hinted at extreme possibilities, but he's walking a tightrope between trying to inform and trying not to scare.”
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