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Not time to spike the ball

The last week has been comparatively good to Montana as far as the Covid-19 virus pandemic although we still have ill people recovering and still are having deaths. I have been shocked as many have been about the amount of misinformation and lack of a consistent strategy in dealing with this issue.

I am somewhat reticent to add to the cacophony but occasionally note items that don’t seem to emphasized in media or government content. It seems like different issues have been characterized as dichotomous choices. We maintain social distancing or we don’t, we reopen or we don’t, we have herd immunity or we don’t. Most of these issues are in fact not either/or. I think Governor Bullock's comments and policies reflect this. He doesn’t make ridiculous comments like “we will rocking and rolling” by July in fact he states “this is not the time to spike the ball”.

On the technical side, I want to comment on how population immunity may impact transmission even at levels that do not confer herd immunity. In a population with no immunity to the virus (Montana January 1, 2020), and a “reproductive rate” or R0 of 2.2, one case would lead to about 90 people being infected in five generations of the virus. If we assume one week per generation then that is five weeks. If 10% of the population is immune then that number would be about 60 people in five generations. The common sense point is that as population immunity increases, the same level of control measures should be more effective in reducing transmission.

The last observation is that even without a vaccine or effective treatment there is much we can do to control the virus - Montana has proven that.


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