How various levels of social distancing can decrease the spread of COVID-19

Understanding the math behind social distancing.

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  • Proper social distancing includes staying 6ft (2m) away from other people, avoiding all non-essential gatherings or crowds, and working from home if possible.
  • During the COVID-19 incubation period of 5 days, each infected person can infect 2.5 more people.
  • Using this math, it's easy to determine how many people will go on to be infected after the initial person contracted COVID-19 using various levels of social distancing (0%, 50% and 75% examples are found in this article).
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How NASA is keeping coronavirus off the International Space Station

A mission is planned for just three weeks from now, but NASA has a plan.

Image source: NASA.gov
  • Before liftoff on every mission since 1971, NASA crew members spend two weeks in a "health stabilization" quarantine.
  • Other employees of the agency have been given a response framework that tells them where and how to proceed with their duties.
  • For upcoming launches, NASA is depending on Russia and SpaceX to step up to the challenge.
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ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images

The spread of the new coronavirus, which has infected over 80,000 people worldwide and resulted in the death of more than 3,000, has raised alarms around the world.

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Is COVID-19 really any worse than normal seasonal flu?

Answer: You don't want to get either.

Image source: twinsfisch/unsplash
  • Many are suggesting coronavirus is just flu-season business as usual. It's not.
  • No sensible comparison can be made anyway, for a few reasons.
  • The one that's less bad — whichever that is — can still kill you.
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The awkward truth about choosing charities

Philosopher Peter Singer broaches an uncomfortable truth about the Make-A-Wish Foundation and GoFundMe pages.

  • None of us have infinite bank accounts so when we make charitable donations we have to weigh up how to do it most effectively. What is the most suffering you can reduce for the amount of money you have?
  • Philosopher Peter Singer uses the Make-A-Wish Foundation as an example. It's a much loved charity for the joy it gives to dying children. Yet the cost of the average wish is $7,500—an amount that, if spent effectively, can save one, two, three, four, or more children's lives, says Peter Singer.
  • "We ought to think about that before we respond emotionally to what seems like a great idea," says Singer. "If you compare saving a child's life with giving a child one great day then anybody—the child, the parents—anybody would say 'Oh, so much better to save the child's life, of course.' And you can save not just one child's life but more than one."
A free download of the 10th anniversary edition of The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty is available here.