Charts That Will Convince You to Stay Home

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One bright side of the coronavirus crisis has been the use of data visualization to convince people of the merits of social distancing. As a data nerd, it makes me incredibly happy to see a sizable chunk of the non-nerdy population talking about “flattening the curve.”

If you understood this chart, you’ve understood normal distribution, standard deviation, and variance, three foundational statistical concepts. The idea behind social distancing is to stay at home or away from people (whether you have the virus or not) so you can slow the spread of the virus and not overburden the healthcare system. The flatter the curve, the higher the standard deviation, which in this case means fewer people are infected at the same time.

If you’re not still not convinced that social distancing would help, here’s a series of simulations by the Washington Post that go through various hypothetical scenarios from forced quarantine (as China did in some provinces) to moderate self-imposed social distancing. The interactive charts clearly show that when fewer people are out and about, the virus takes much longer to spread. 

This chart from Datawrapper shows some countries have been able to slow down the spread of the virus by visualizing how long it takes for the number of COVID-19 cases to double. Turns out that many European countries and the U.S. are still seeing cases double every 2-3 days, but South Korea and China have been able to slow the number of cases doubling to much longer, thus flattening the curve.

Last, but not the least, this positive chart from epidemiologist Britta Jewell shows how one person can make a huge difference. According to her estimates, your choice to socially distance yourself today can prevent 2,400 people from being infected over a month. Yet if you wait another week to hole up, you’ll only avert 600 infections. The coronavirus may spread exponentially, but so do the benefits of staying home and checking out cool charts. 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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