Did We “California Roll” the Stop?

The White House has extended its Stop the Spread guidelines in an attempt to answer the rising number of Americans affected by COVID-19. The original cutoff date was mid-April; it is now recommended that we should set April 30 in our sights to continue observing suggestions like:

  • Avoiding social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people
  • Working and schooling from home
  • Avoiding both foreign and domestic discretionary travel

As someone who had an eye on the coronavirus in early January; questioned friends’ decisions to go to Japan in mid-February; and has tracked the virus’s spread, I’ve found folks’ resistance to exercise caution interesting (if not curious).

College students still partied on spring break.

Miami was downright POPPIN’ as recently as six days ago.

Some politicians from one political party called the virus a hoax as their colleagues unloaded stock in anticipation of its resulting economic fallout.


Seems a rather cavalier approach to an illness with an R0 higher than influenza, AKA: the flu, BKA: that sucky bug that comes around every year.

“What’s R0?” you ask?

Kate Winslet explains it beautifully in a scene from the movie that makes me stay inside anyways, ‘Contagion’:

Ok, Kate Winslet is beautiful & the writers wrote a delightfullysuccinct explanation that she delivers beautifully… but I digress.

R0—pronounced “R naught”—is a term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. It’s also referred to as the reproduction number. As an infection spreads to new people, it reproduces itself. The reproductive number is used to explain how “bad” a disease is, AKA: the number of secondary infections generated from one infected individual.

COVID-19’s R0 is understood to be between 2 and 2.5 (other sources say 1.4-3.9–for the sake of argument, clarity, or confusion), which is higher than influenza. That is, coronavirus is more infectious than flu.

And it makes ya wonder…

If this was the case from the get-go, what took so long for everyone to get serious about it?

When it first surfaced, the coronavirus was a seemingly-foreign problem. Oh wait, no, that’s impossible when the world is so accessible and mobile… Chinese tourism alone was responsible for roughly 3 million visitors to the U.S. in both 2018 and 2019.

Products and people move around the globe with more ease than ever before.

[…even though Chinese tourism to this country saw a steady decline in the past few years (yes, during the Trump presidency)—a stat that brings up all kinds of economic issues.]

But, the ease with which [name a noun] are transmitted around the globe makes me wonder… did we slightly tap the pedal when it came to stopping the spread of COVID-19, rather than bringing it to a full stop?

I will say this…

I underestimated the response to it, because the numbers compared to our entire population didn’t seem to deserve such a freak-out…

But, New York’s situation made me reconsider; as did empathy for people’s anxiety and well-being.